Jan 22 2016


Cold Calls Jolt Business


With FEARLESS! Reality


Love it or hate it, there is nothing like a bunch of cold sales calls to snap a ho-hum corporate or entrepreneurial business attitude into a realm of FEARLESS! reality. (Sorry, had to sneak in the link to my big project!)

It’s the place where the proverbial rubber meets the road, but typically gets dismissed as trivial, or “jittery” or time-wasting (“Other people are paid to do that!”). It’s oh so easy to wave it away with comments like: “I already did that stuff” or “I’m way past that” or “who needs it?”… or some other lame excuse.

But truth is that –something like a cold shower– it’s a great wake-up experience, a terrific way to recharge batteries, and it will definitely flash you back to what’s really important in business: HOW you communicate with a prospect to turn her or him into a grateful and loyal customer.

This does not happen with marketing automation.

It does not happen via email.

It does not happen on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook.

It doesn’t happen with clever advertising or cataclysmic branding lines.

Those may all be contributing factors that lead up to a purchase decision, but –in the end– it happens in the flesh, in person or on the phone, or through a referral from someone who’s been sold in person or on the phone. It often occurs when an online-generated order is easily and pleasantly placed — or bungled. A prospect becomes a customer when perceived value of your product or service rises to the surface.

building valueIf your marketing program is not delivering the sales you believe are possible, lead your support team to the sidewalk and make cold calls. Have them all make cold calls. Be reminded of the importance of listening 80% of the time, of addressing energy to the prospect’s concerns, issues, questions, observations, not yours. If your team needs some refresher points or sales training first, do it. Or bite the bullet and recruit some outside help. A fun/challenge attitude helps!

Then talk about the process, about what happened with each encounter, about the time and effort involved, and start to adjust your sales program and approach to reflect what you and your team learn from the experience . . . 2-3 days of pounding the pavement will be well spent, even as it may seem wasteful.

The best time to put this exercise to work is when things aren’t working the way you think they should. Can you and your team spare the time? The next question is the answer: Can you spare the lost or inadequate sales? Remember when you strip away all the decorations, the reason for being in business is to engage and nurture and please your customers. And even when this consciousness is present, there’s a tendency to overlook street smarts learning.

Cold sales call selling is like an electric jolt reminder. And if you stay open-minded and pay hard attention to what you and others learn from the process, your business will grow.

# # #



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Sep 02 2013

Leadership Talk

Yada, Yada, Yada,


 Blah, Blah, Blah…


Odds are that your best leadership response to other people’s yackity-yack is probably NOT:  yeah, yeah, yeah!

When someone who follows your lead is being busy saying nothing (hmmm, sound familiar?), try taking the person off to the side — or into a private setting — and explain that you want to share the value of some of what you’ve learned from successful sales leaders.

Start by noting that virtually EVERY exchange we have with others EVERY day –both on the job and off– constitutes an attempt to sell SOME thing.

Yes, “EVERY” and yes, “SOME.”

Think about it before jumping down my throat with some condemnation for using “ALL OR NOTHING” language. Before you throw exceptions at me, take a minute to dissect them. Odds are you’ll discover that at least one individual in every interaction has a mission to sell her or his self, or ideas, or products or services, or brands, or affections, or . . .

Here’s what the world’s most successful salespeople know and practice: LISTEN 80% of the time and TALK 20% of the time. Maybe not easy, but it IS simple. And it works! This behavior breeds success in all walks of life with all kinds of circumstances where we seek to make a sale or an impression or gain trust or show understanding.

By disciplining ourselves to listen more carefully to those we are charged with the responsibility to lead, and by being more selective and economical with what we have to say to others, we are also becoming more productive with time and energy spent.

When we can save time and energy by communicating more accurately and productively, we are getting a better handle on what others want and need and suggest, and we are saving on wasted time and energy costs and lost opportunities.

But don’t stop there!

Talking less and listening more does NOT mean talking less and HEARING more. Active listening is an acquired skill that involves open body language (no arms, legs, ankles, wrists, hands, fingers crossed and no peering over the top of your glasses), paraphrasing and asking for examples and diagrams, and nonverbal (e.g., head nodding) as well as verbal acknowledgements.

It means paying attention, staying focused, not allowing distractions. Easy stuff? No. Hardly ever is it easy. Active-listening communication is more work and it takes longer. Ah, but you simply can’t compare the success-level results you’ll get with the productivity (or lack of) that accompanies the typical 80% talking communications that surround our daily lives.

# # #

Hal@BUSINESSWORKS.US  or comment below.

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You!

Make today a GREAT Day for someone!

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May 12 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

Entrepreneurs and Leaders


Who Listen 


Win Big in Tough Times 



Do you hear what I hear? Listen, do you want to know a secret? Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears! The Listening Audience. I’m all ears!


You can’t be a better listener just because you decide to listen more. You must also decide to keep quiet. And those who excel at listening skills will tell you that you must actually use a pen and paper (you DO remember what they are?) and write down notes about what you hear. Paraphrasing is critical. So are observation skills.

Plus, taking notes flatters any speaker.

Let’s hit on some key points:


1. PARAPHRASING —“Do I understand you correctly to mean…?” and “What I think I hear you saying is…!” are the most effective and most commonly used sets of words for rephrasing some one’s comments. When you do this, you are in effect checking to make sure that you accurately understand what the speaker intends.

Yes, it takes more time. Yes, it can be harder than assuming. But–in the end– it’s like the carpenter/surgeon slogan: measure twice and cut once. It’s an insurance policy on transmitting accuracy.

2. OBSERVING — You need not be a kinetics expert to see that the body language that accompanies the words spoken either confirms or contradicts what is being said.

Someone who claims a willingness to cooperate with you, but whose arms are crossed is responding defensively regardless of what words she or he uses. Hands on hips, or clasped behind the head are signals of superiority. So is the joining of fingertips on both hands.

(The challenge is to make these postures change without directly addressing them.)

3. NODDING AND VERBAL UTTERANCES — Generally (unless they’re overdone) these physical responses indicate agreement and that the individual involved is paying attention. Not a bad idea to nod and make some positive sounding “um’s” occasionally when you want someone to know you’re tuned in, and in the boat, so to speak.

Equally commitive signals are leaning forward, sitting forward, feet flat on the floor without jiggling, and both hands flat on the table. A jiggling foot or leg indicates that someone’s anxious to get out, get away, finish up.

4. ASKING QUESTIONS — People will know you are interested and engaged when you ask good questions along the way . . . not questions to trip somebody up, questions to learn more. Whenever it’s possible and makes sense and works to clarify, ask for examples. Ask for diagrams. Ask for demonstrations. Ask for samples. Ask.

5. MONITORING YOURSELF — Stay as close to the commonly accepted effective communicator guidelines of speaking 20% of the time and listening 80% of the time. (Asking questions helps.) Take some deep breaths, especially when you start to feel impatient or edgy. Deep breathing helps you stay in control.

The dynamics of all the above apply equally to situations where you are not face-to-face. Telephone and video and webinar conferences are good examples of places to carry over the same disciplines. If you think about it, you’ll also see that similar applications are possible (and advisable) with written/email/text message communications. No, you can’t physically “see” another person, but you can sense and imagine based on responses you get.

If you work to listen better, you will hear 

more “cha-ching” in your cash register! 



# # #



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Jan 26 2011

The Million Dollar Question.



I’ve seen your resume,


Mr. Dweeb,


but what I really want


to know is what would


you do with a million


dollars cash, right now?”


One of the best –most revealing– interview questions you can ask a job applicant is ”If I handed you a million dollars right now, what would you do with it?” 

You’ll learn a whole lot more about what makes an applicant tick than you would by asking the person to explain the details of information shown on her or his resume.

Open-ended questions put an applicant more at ease than requests for formal recitations of what you already have in front of you on paper, or can easily find out. 

Open-ended questions can give you true, realistic profile. The answers are necessarily unrehearsed. You can gain valuable insights about an individual’s attitude, sense of leadership, teamwork, and self-motivation.

Almost always, clues (if not strong indications) are offered in the answers to this type of question that help the employer gain a better measure of a prospective employee’s ambitions, values, key relationships, sense of loyalty, spirituality, and even bad habits, than with traditional interview approaches. 

Ask and then listen.  Don’t interrupt.  Take notes. Ask only for clarification or examples . . . 

Oh, so what I think I hear you saying

is that you’d book the next flight to the

islands, load up on piña coladas, and

live out your life as a beachcomber?


Then ask questions about the answers you get to “the million dollar question.” 

That certainly sounds like a great vacation, but do you think you might get tired of it after awhile?  Which islands would you most likely consider and why?  Would you take up exotic foods and drinks?  What kinds of transportation would you take to get there? Who would you take with you? (Would you rush . . . or take your time, plan your routes, and see the sights along the way?)   

In responding to open-ended questions, people often tell considerably more about their real selves than what’s on a resume.  And if spontaneity and creative thinking are qualifications, you’ll get a taste of what an applicant might bring to the table.  The more you know about a job applicant, the better your odds for success with making the right employment decision.

In the end, after all is said and done, business leaders can’t be reminded enough that:

People are your most important asset.


So what would YOU do with a million dollars cash, right now?



# # #

www.TheWriterWorks.com or 302.933.0116 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!”   [Thomas Jefferson]

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

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Sep 19 2010


Loose Lips DO Sink Ships . . .

When to keep your


mouth shut, and how.


You’re a self-confident entrepreneur, maybe even cocky. The likelihood is that you have a high sense of self-esteem and a big fat ego that sometimes gets in the way of your success —  an ego that you find yourself tripping over every once in awhile.

Your $50-necktie-and-$100-white-shirt corporate brother-in-law thinks you’re a smart-ass know-it-all. The guy you’ve been busting a gut trying to get business from can’t get past the fact that you’ve been everywhere, done everything, and have the same amount (or more) experience that he has. People who work for you start to yawn when you begin ticking off your accomplishments.


“A time for everything under heaven”

is true for sure.

But believing it and acting it

may be two separate issues.


How hard is it to keep your mouth shut when a customer, prospect, employee, or supplier starts offering an opinion on something you see differently, based on your firsthand knowledge?

Do you shut down your listening skills because you’re in a hurry to impress the other person that you already know the details, the scoop, the inside story, the whatever?

If any of this sounds even vaguely familiar, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Consider that no one likes to be upstaged. No one likes not being heard or paid attention to.

Try asking questions instead of offering opinions. Remember that true entrepreneurs who start and run successful ventures seek always to find others smarter than they are to run and manage their operations 


Surely you’ve heard some grandparent

warn a child to “hold your tongue!”


It’s actually very good and often productive advice. Try putting the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth (it’s very hard to speak coherently that way) when someone else starts in on a subject about which you consider yourself well-informed.

It will force you to pay attention and wait. It will force you to take the time to present your ideas in a less offensive, more productive manner.       

If someone else is trying to impress you, it almost always means that that person is already impressed with you.

If the exchangeis a potentially good one for either and/or both of you, tolerance may get you more respect than rebuttals or one-upmanship. Respect generates trust and cooperation and sales. Information presented in a way that others might interpret as bragging does not.


Leadership is about balance.


Balanced communications is the magic combination that opens the lock. Listening, active listening — eye contact, nodding, expressing agreement and understanding, asking for examples and diagrams, questioning instead of telling and offering opinions, paraphrasing, taking notes, showing genuine interest and concern — are leadership behaviors that create balance. 

Anytime you’re tempted to pounce on a discussion topic with with a tsunami of personal experience, supportive data, resource recommendations, evidence you consider conclusive to support your position . . . STOP! Ask yourself if you are more interested in impressing someone with how much you know or are capable of, than you are with growing or boosting your business.


When you can respond instead of react,

you can never over-react!


302.933.0116 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US  

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.
 “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

28 responses so far

Jun 30 2009


  Is Your Business   




     I am convinced that the number one reason for business failure is not the economy, not insufficient capital, not poor management, and not over-regulation by government, though all are symptomatic.

     Government interference is of course particularly irksome because it’s being crafted, dictated, and delivered by an arrogant socialist stampede of naive, incompetent leaders whose total business experience equals zero.

     So, what IS the number one reason for business failure?

     Dig deeper.  

     In the past few years, I personally experienced or had first-hand reported more than two dozen incidents involving owners, operators, and managers of sizeable, established businesses hurtling their business interests the wrong way down one-way streets with reckless abandon.

     All have either since collided or failed or are on their way

All have or had the following characteristics in common:

  • Lack of follow-through and a vested interest in maintaining the status quo (amazingly, even after hiring outside consultants to ignite, stimulate, and motivate!) 
  • Disregard for and disrespect of their employees, with tokenism providing the prevailing wind 
  • Disregard of the very talents and solutions they were outsourcing to shore up their own shortcomings (hard to believe, especially after paying for services, but true!) 
  • Complete resistance to initiate two-way “partnership style” communicating
  • Not having a sense of urgency.    

     I reduce all of these weaknesses to driving a business the wrong way on a one-way street. It’s noteworthy that many of them talk(ed) the good talk…but to themselves: Mission Statements with no teeth!

     Without keeping open to and encouraging two-way communication by exercising strong listening and feedback skills, by making assumptions instead of addressing differences, and by disregarding the very consulting input they were paying for (and then not providing feedback), they were/are setting themselves up for failure. 

The economy, under-capitalization, poor management, and over-regulation are excuses. Businesses succeed–even with all of these factors working against them–by communicating openly at all levels all of the time. Communicating openly at all levels all of the time is the ultimate trigger for business transparency.

Transparency, like pregnancy, cannot be half-way.

# # #  

 Hal@TheWriterWorks.com or comment below. Thanks for visiting. 

Go for your goals, good night and God bless you!

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May 30 2009

Successful Business Owners Listen Harder

Read My Ears!


     Like a lot of communication practices, it seems most of ustend to slack off, get careless, and periodically get to a point of not listening carefully. Y’hear? It’s normal for our minds to drift off every few minutes when we’re listening to someone else… attention peaks and valleys vary with each individual. [The average American’s attention span has been reported as 12 minutes!]

     If I were, for example, reading this aloud to you, and included a sentence that mentioned the word “football,” as in the size of my 100-pound Golden Retriever on the day I brought her home, your mind might zoom away to the touchdown you scored in high school, or the Superbowl game that cost you $87,934.56 per seat, or the neighbor’s kid’s football you just leather-pancaked as you backed out of the driveway.

     Okay, you say. You’re guilty, you say. Now what? you say.

     Maybe it’s a good time to take personal inventory in how you come across to others. Why now? When business is “off” you certainly want to make the most of your potential to succeed, to make additional sales, to make efforts more productive… all of that starts (and often ends) with maximizing communication skills.

     One of the best and most immediately productive tools available to get started with is http://halalpiar.com/2009/05/4-steps-in-one-minute-zero-stress/ because it relaxes your muscles and makes your brain more alert—the perfect combination for receiving and delivering effective communication.     

     Next, it makes sense to do a little survey of those who share the inner business circle of your life. To keep things abstract and impersonal (i.e., not threatening), you can, for example, ask each person privately what musical instrument she or he most identify you with in the ways you come across to others.

     Ask for clarification, but do NOT criticize any one’s response. Say thank you and smile and walk away, then study the list you get back. What does it tell you about yourself?

     You, for instance, may think of yourself as a versatile keyboard able to perform almost any type of musical message, and someone may tell you you remind him or her of cymbals, crashing into discussions with a finalizing punctuation point of percussion, or a flighty little piccolo that dances around issues while brightening everyone’s day, but not addressing real needs or solving problems. If this exercise doesn’t bear fruit, replace musical instrument with animal.

     Once you have a better sense of what others perceive as less than optimal, focus on ways you can change that/those assessment(s) for the better. Take a quick visit to http://halalpiar.com/2009/05/hearing-is-not-listening/ and then initiate a plan of action for yourself with daily and weekly goals geared to disciplining yourself to come across better by listening more attentively, more actively, more responsively. Remember when you can respond instead of react, you can never over-react! 

# # #  

Input welcome anytime: Hal@TheWriterWorks.com (”Businessworks” in the subject line) or comment below. Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals, good night and God bless you! halalpiar  # # # 

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Jan 08 2009

REASSURANCE sells, builds customer loyalty

Yes, you’ll live. Take two aspirin,


and call me in the morning!


     I read a study that said something like 94% of all doctor and hospital visits, even to emergency rooms, are for (drumroll): reassurance! 

     The extent to which we all need to have our backs, shoulders and tops of our hands and heads patted while being told that we will live after all, and that everything will be okay, seems highly improbable in the face of what the exaggerated tv news coverage and drama series portrayals would have us believe.

     I mean who among us hasn’t cringed at the thought of being thumped onto stainless steel and wheeled like so much beef through the butcher’s back door, into the chaos and hysteria of ER, or Grey’s Anatomy, or House, or Chicago Hope (reruns), or General Hospital, thinking we’re at death’s door but still not be a priority case because others (jumpers, stab and gunshot wounds, drug overdose and heart attacks) are dying quicker? Aaargh!

     Anyway, these thoughts surfaced today in a “BURRIS UNIVERSITY” customer service training session I ran for 25 management team members of BURRIS LOGISTICS http://BurrisLogistics.com on the Delaware Technical & Community College www.dtcc.edu campus in Georgetown, DE. 

     Participants who volunteered feedback comments in the training room, and many who approached me during and after were particularly vocal about the reassurance values of the material and methodologies covered (including stress management, behavioral focus and choices, written communications and listening skills, and the pursuit of increased self-awareness as keys to dealing better with others). 

     Based on this writer’s firsthand experience facilitating over 500 management training programs, the participation and energy levels of this particular cross-section-of-management group from 15 different Connecticut-to-Florida BURRIS locations, was exceptional.

     And it was a genuine pleasure to be the designated deliveryman of reassurance. 

     Reassurance increases self-confidence. Increased self-confidence boosts feelings of self-esteem. The combination serves to eliminate or minimize feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy and skepticism that hold us back from making progress . . . even hard-charging entrepreneurs need reassurance. Reassurance triggers sales and builds customer loyalty.

     Don’t you as a parent evoke the same confident behaviors and obvious feelings of self-worth from a small child when you pat him or her on the head for “a job well done”? Doesn’t this patting business work wonders on the family dog? Don’t you like it when a spouse or partner or boss or customer pats YOU on the back, even if it’s just a verbal pat? And don’t you perform better?

     Reassurance works wonders. Try some today. See how many backpats you can give out in one week! A dozen? More? I’m sure you’ve got what it takes to be that generous with your (deserving of course) compliments!    halalpiar  

Special thanks for inspiring tonight’s post to Kirk Hoover, Atlanta, GA, Vice President of Business Development, and Wendy Singer-Lowry, Philadelphia, PA, Director of Purchasing for BURRIS LOGISTICS

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Dec 02 2008


Be kinder than necessary


because everyone


you meet is fighting


some kind of battle!

     I know, I know, I promised more today on listening skills.  Well the number one rule of listening for many people and many professions is to use empathy, and that’s what this heading is all about. 

     Empathy is mentally putting yourself in another person’s shoes.  It is a step up from sympathy, or feeling sorry for someone, because empathy implies active involvement.

Of course there’s more, a lot more, to active listening skills than being empathetic, but I relate strongly to the message of the heading, so I’m leaving it there while I take you down another listening skill path: paraphrasing!

“If I understand you correctly, you are saying that . . .” or “What I think I hear you saying is . . .” or “Do I understand you to mean . . .? are three excellent lead-ins to use when paraphrasing (putting your “take” on a statement into your own words) something someone else has just said.  Why would you do this?  To make SURE that you got the opinion or information or directions right!

This paraphrasing device, by the way, when it’s delivered in a persistently unemotional, understanding tone of voice, has great value in defusing moments of conflict.  It forces a person who’s just tossed out an emotional barrage of complaints to hear how their words have come across to someone else in a non-threatening and non-confrontative way.

  Paraphrasing serves to slow down the rush of upset, and often prompts the other person to reconsider or at least to better explain the issues.  It sets a stage for the upset person to talk more, and often to be more careful and reasoned.

   We’ve all heard that (especially in sales, customer service, counseling, consulting, and marriage ) we need to try to speak 20% of the time and listen 80% of the time.

This may be a challenging prescription, but speaking and listening are behaviors.  We choose our behaviors.  We also choose to be challenged or we can choose to be accepting.

Water flows best downhill.  Choose the easy route.  Just tell yourself to “Listen up!” [Taking notes ALWAYS helps, and flatters as well.  “Would you please speak a little slower (or repeat that) so I can jot it down; I want to make sure I get it right!” works wonders in terms of ensuring full understanding and in boosting the other person’s ego.]

On the flip side, ask someone who’s just unloaded a barrage of concerns to help you sort them out by writing them down, one at a time, and assigning a #1 for most important and #2 for next most important, etc. to each item — and then proceed to address (chew and digest) each issue separately and exclusively, beginning with #1.

Odds are pretty good you’ll never get past the first two or three items on the list before the complainant withdraws the remaining ones or backs off the initial sense of fury, or both.  Either way, you have nothing to lose by trying, except miscommunications and upsets.

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Hal@Businessworks.US or 931.854.0474

 “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson]

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals. God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Dec 01 2008

99 OUT OF 100 MANAGERS . . .

What one thing


could you be doing better? 


     Before you start accounting for any business downturn you experience by blaming swings in the economy, in the stocks and bonds markets, in real estate, in interest rates, in politics, in government, in international relations, or anything else beyond your immediate control . . . STOP!

     STOP and reassess what IS within your immediate control that you’re not doing as well as you could be doing. 

     The odds are (assuming you’re willing to be honest with yourself) that one thing, if not THE one thing you could be doing better has something to do with communication.  Possible?  Or am I just imagining things?

     If you’re still with me, it seems fair to say that you probably agree that you and your employees could do a better job of communicating.  If that’s the case, then the liklihood is great that you and your employees most need to do a better job of listening.

     When you can become a more active, more effective listener, you set yourself up to be more in control of your business and better equipped to guide it through difficult times.

Take this little test . . . 

If you were the boss, choose one of the four choices offered (only one choice really works!) as to how you would most likely respond to the following situation: 

Disgusted with all the resistence given to suggestions offered, the disgruntled employee storms out of a meeting on how to increase sales, complaining loudly, “What the hell’s the point of coming up with innovative ideas around here anyway?” 

Should your response be A, B, C, or D?

A) “Don’t worry; you’ll come up with another good campaign.”

B) “I understand; I have trouble getting new ideas across myself!”

C) “Sounds like you’re discouraged about trying to change things.”

D)Can’t you re-think key aspects of the campaign and present it again next week?”

     If you answered A, B, or D, you chose a type of reponse that 99% of managers would have used.  While each shows good intentions (A is reassuring; B is sympathizing; and D is questioning) — they all represent roadblocks to effective communication with the troubled worker. 

     If you chose C, you may have an edge in effectively handling employee complaints.  A, B, and D represent expedient but totally nonproductive responses.  What’s going on?  Most bosses are in too much of a hurry to make the problem go away and aren’t willing to use active listening skills. 

(Test and conclusion from an American Airlines in-flight magazine article by Gage and Beuford)

     Partly because it takes more time, effort and energy to listen carefully and most people find it difficult to believe that it’s worth the effort.  Partly because most people (maybe even more than 99%) have no training in how to be active listeners. 

     When an employee complains, the instinct of almost all managers is to dispense with the problem as soon as possible.  These expedient kinds of responses are natural, but they don’t get to the heart of the issue, and, in fact, often deepen the employee’s feelings of not being understood, appreciated or accepted.

     Experiment:  Take one entire day and try to listen harder.  Make notes to yourself about what you think you really hear.  It certainly can’t hurt; it doesn’t cost a penny; and you might be surprised.    halalpiar 

Tomorrow: Active listening best practices that can impact your bottom line immediately

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