Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” Will Help You Get Your Point Across!

I was recently coaching an engineer who wanted to improve
his speaking skills. After videotaping him, we discussed his
strong points and then his areas of improvement. Then we
got to the area of vocal variety. Vocal variety is the quality
of your speech that hold your audience. It is the
combination of pitch changes, pauses, inflection, rhythm,
and loudness in your voice that adds “color” to any
conversation or speech. I suggested he try Dr. Seuss’s
“The Cat in the Hat.” At that point he looked at me like I
had a third eye. I then explained how “The Cat in the Hat”
could help anyone improve his or her speaking skills,
especially vocal variety, and have fun doing it.

Can you remember being read “The Cat in the Hat” by your
parents? What held your attention? What made you want
to hear “The Cat in the Hat” again and again? “The Cat in
the Hat” is set up so that you must use vocal variety to read
the story. It’s the vocal variety that held your attention.

Here’s how Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” can help you
hold your audience’s attention:

1. Buy the Book My favorite Dr. Seuss books for this type

of exercise are “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and

Ham.” You can go to any used bookstore and get a gently

used copy of the book at a substantial discount. You can

also go to http://www.half.com and get the book at more than

50% off the price.

2. Read with Passion Read to your children, nephews,

cousins, etc. While reading aloud, exaggerate your pitch,

tone, and pauses. The children will enjoy it as you will

become used to the sound of your voice. Children are the

best barometers to let you know if you are doing it

correctly. The children will have a look on their faces that

show they are hanging on every word you are saying.

Continue to experiment with different ways to read “The

Cat in the Hat” while recording yourself on audiotape. The

more fun you have, the more everyone involved will benefit

from this exercise.

3. Apply It Right Away (That’s the Way!) Immediately

apply your newly acquired vocal variety skills in any

speaking situation whether it’s in a meeting, with co-

workers, speaking in front of a group, or one-on-one with

another person. It may feel a little strange in the beginning.

However, remember the more you use your new skills, the

more comfortable you will be.

So go out, get a Dr. Seuss book, and improve your vocal
variety. You will have more people hanging on every word,
you will be more persuasive, and your speaking abilities will
be more colorful and entertaining. So do it today (It will
pay!).

Attitude – The Power of Positive in the Workplace

o Did you know that 75% of employees are unhappy in their current job?
o Have you ever thought about how your attitude affects…
o Personality and work performance?
o Your employees, your customers, your relationships and your work environment?
o Workforce diversity, career success, and teamwork?
o Bottom-line results?

It all starts with attitude! A positive attitude is a priceless possession for personal fulfillment and career success. It is also an essential element for creating a positive workplace. It’s what really matters… When we think about the basics elements of human relationships, we think primarily about the attitude we each bring to relationships, whether they are personal or professional in nature. What is the first thing you remember about someone you meet? Chances are it’s their attitude!

Noted authors, Elwood Chapman and Wil McKnight say, “The attitude you bring with you everyday will significantly affect what you can see, what you can do, and how you feel about it.”
We all know what a positive attitude sounds like, but how can we define it?
Simply stated, Chapman and McKnight describe it as the way you look at things mentally, your mental focus on the world. It’s never static; it’s always in flux – the result of an on-going process that’s dynamic and sensitive to what’s going on.

Events, circumstances, and messages – both positive and negative – can affect your attitude. A positive attitude can be infectious! Let’s face it… no one can be positive all of the time! What we do know is that a positive attitude makes problem solving easier and the more you expect from a situation, the more success you will achieve (The High Expectancy Success Theory).

Nowhere is your positive attitude more appreciated by others than when you are at work. How does a positive attitude about diversity impact the world of business? A major change had taken place in recent years in the workforce: the generational and cultural mix of employees has become more diversified. The performance standards are the same, but the workforce mix is different. Business is complex and competitive – with comparable resources, including people. People with a positive attitude are looking up and forward and are more likely to work to higher standards of quality, safety, and productivity – individually and as a team. Working near a person with a positive attitude is an energizing experience; he/she can change the tone and morale of the department and make others feel more upbeat. Sometimes the reason people lack a positive attitude is simply that they don’t realize that they have a negative one!

A positive workplace is about the people and their positive outlook about their work and the organization that make the business thrive. The war for talent exists. Do we want to hire and retain people with positive or negative attitudes? The answer is obvious…Hire for attitude; the mechanics of the job can be taught. A company gets its edge from the attitude of its people – its leaders, its supervisors, front-line, back-office, entry-level and long-term employees. Employees want to feel valued and appreciated and will most likely be more engaged and stay with an organization, as a result. The higher the engagement levels, the more their attitude barometer rises. The higher the attitude barometer rises, the more business results improve.

Building and maintaining healthy, effective relationships in all directions – with people your work for, people you work with, and people who work for you – is a key to success. Business is a team sport, that’s a given. Nothing contributes more to the process of building effective work relationships than a positive attitude. More business successes are won on attitude than technical achievement. A supervisor who demonstrates and knows how to build a positive attitude can lead a departmental workforce with only average experience and skills to achieve high productivity and successful performance. It’s called “teamwork” and it happens often!

It’s important to remember that we all have a choice – to be either positive or negative in any situation – and we make those choices every day. By keeping our power and being aware of our own attitude and choices, we can protect ourselves from external circumstances and people’s negativity. Safeguard your attitude by solving personal conflicts quickly, taking the “high road” if someone behaves unreasonably or unfairly, insulating or distancing yourself from a person with whom you have a repeated conflict, focusing on the work and changing your traffic pattern to avoid people who pull your attitude down. Remember: Your attitude belongs to you and you alone!

Be open to new people, ideas and processes that create positive changes and improved bottom-line results. The business world consists of many people who are different from you. We’re dependent on each other to achieve common goals. We need to understand and work effectively with all the labor resources. Opportunities for us to learn about other generations, backgrounds and cultures broaden our perspective with new ideas, talents, and points of view – it all affects bottom-line results!
A word of caution – don’t go overboard by becoming a noisy cheerleader who spends more effort on projecting your attitude than nurturing it. Above all, don’t try to be someone you are not! Be who you are… Project the real thing! Be authentic!

Life is a learning journey and all we can do is to strive to do our best each day.
A wise person once said, “If you place more emphasis on keeping a positive attitude than on making money, you’ll be successful and the money will take care of itself.”
Be good to yourself, enjoy the ride and make a Positive Impact on your career and workplace with a positive attitude!

A Positive Workplace Means Business!

How to Build Organizational Trust That Boosts the Bottom Line

The purpose of communicating with employees is to share information to influence behavior, drive engagement and achieve business goals. But what if employees distrust the source of that information–or the information itself? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening in today’s business world.

In fact, according to research from Watson Wyatt, only 39 percent of employees say they trust senior management, and a mere 45 percent say they have confidence in their management’s abilities.

As professional communicators, it’s up to us to start building trust in our organizations. While that trust must start on a personal level, there are also things we can–and should–be doing to help build trust at the organizational level.

Here are five strategies to help you do that.

1. Start sharing more information. Research from CHA, a U.K.-based consultancy, found that 90 percent of employees who are kept fully informed are motivated to deliver added value by staying with a company longer and working harder, while 80 percent of those who are kept in the dark are not. As communicators, it’s our job to encourage our executives to share information more frequently and more openly.

2. Do a trust-based communications audit. Take a look back at all communications with employees (or any stakeholder group for that matter) over the last six months. Include e-mails from top executives, intranet postings, newsletters and so on. Then evaluate those communications for their openness and honesty. Look at whether or not any commitments were made in those communications–and if those commitments were kept. Finally, determine if there was consistency in messaging across each platform. Is your organization speaking with one voice? Or are you sending mixed signals?

3. Conduct a trust-based risk assessment. When it comes to trust, it’s much more difficult to rebuild it than it is to maintain it. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive. Start by looking across your organization and pinpointing all of the touch points with your key stakeholder groups–employees and retirees, analysts and investors, media, customers and so on. Then identify the areas that are either (a) most vulnerable to a breach of trust or (b) would cause the most damage to your reputation if there was a breach of trust.

For example, an organization that has hundreds of customer service representatives taking calls 24-hours per day faces the risk that any one of those representatives could breach a customer’s trust at any moment. Just look at the damage that was caused to AOL when a customer (who also happened to be a blogger) recorded a call with one of the company’s customer service representatives when he tried to cancel his service. (If you haven’t already seen it, check out the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmpDSBAh6RY)

When it comes to breaching an employee’s trust, the most risk is likely posed by his or her direct supervisor. Failure on the supervisor’s part to tell the truth or follow through on commitments could do irreparable damage to the trust he or she has established with that employee.

4. Create SOPs for any major risks. Once the highest threats for a potential breach of trust are identified, you need to develop a risk mitigation plan. In the situation above, for example, you might offer additional training to customer service representatives that includes an overview on how social media tools like YouTube and mySpace are making it all the more important to provide excellent service on each and every call. Or you may offer workshops for managers that help build their leadership skills with an emphasis on building and maintaining trust with their direct reports.

Even with a risk mitigation plan, however, you still need to be prepared for the inevitable breach of trust. But how quickly and effectively your organization responds can make all the difference in whether the hit to your reputation is a mere chip in the armor or a devastating blow.

5. Start a dialogue about trust with your executive team. Once you’ve conducted a communications audit, completed a risk assessment and developed a preliminary response plan, it’s time to start a dialogue with your executive team about the importance of building trust with all key stakeholder groups. There is a tremendous amount of research (including the 2008 Edelman Trust Barometer highlighted in this issue) that provides concrete evidence of the low trust epidemic and how it’s affecting (among other things) employee engagement, customer loyalty and financial performance.

(c) Bon Mot Communications 2008