07 Feb HOW TV CAUSES THE FEAR OF SPEAKING by Dr. Dennis Becker

Yes, you read that correctly.  Television can promote the fear of speaking.  Several years ago we did a research study to discover if TV had any role to play in the fear of speaking that adults experience.   The study was done with 100, randomly chosen adults from a variety of occupations.   Suffering from fear of speaking was not a prerequisite to participation in the study.  In fact, it was not even mentioned.  We simply included in the list of 20 questions which were asked.

The interesting information we received led us to the conclusion that (more…)

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Dennis Becker
Dr. Dennis Becker
dennis@speechimprovement.com

10 Nov How Can Disaster Psychology Help Business Through the Economic Crisis?

How Can Disaster Psychology Help Business Through the Economic Crisis?

Kevin J. Becker, Psy, D

Dennis Becker, Ph, D

 In recent years, the world has seen a number of significantly large scale disasters; some caused by nature and some caused by humans.  For many, the word ‘disaster’ evokes images of buildings in shambles, decimated communities, and families who are homeless and uncertain where their next meal will come from.  Until recently these disasters included only such events as tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and terrorist attacks.  However in recent months an uncommon type of disaster has wreaked some if the same havoc brought about by those more familiar means.  Perhaps not surprisingly, we refer to the worldwide economic crisis.

(more…)

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com

08 Apr THE SPEECH IMPROVEMENT COMPANY CELEBRATES ITS GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY

Oldest Speech Coaching Company in the U.S. Reaches 50 Years in Business

Brookline, MA – April 8, 2014The Speech Improvement Company (TSIC), the oldest speech coaching organization in the country, today announced it is celebrating 50 years in business. This family owned second-generation speech coaching company has trained over one million people globally, including some of the biggest names in business, politics and entertainment. Current clients include Allstate, Bain Capital, Bank of America, Boston Scientific, Burlington Coat Factory, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Fidelity, IBM, IDC, Jon Platt of Warner/Chappell Music, Harvard UniversityMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Oxfam America, Staples, and TJX Companies. (more…)

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Jeff Turner
Jeff Turner
jturner@speechimprovement.com

10 Jul 5 Reasons to Say Goodbye to Shy

By Laurie Schloff, Senior Coaching Partner

There’s nothing wrong with introspection – some of the time. Most of us fall somewhere on the shyness spectrum, ranging from folks who are quiet by choice (or because they’re afraid of expressing themselves) to people who are reflective and choose to use their words sparingly. Wherever you fit on the shyness spectrum, you will probably benefit from learning outgoing behaviors and practicing a more forthcoming communication style. Here are five reasons to say goodbye to shy:

1. More opportunities. People who are shy tend to be less successful professionally than their more gregarious counterparts. There’s a strong association between possessing good communication skills (that is, expressing ideas clearly, showing support and concern for others, coming across well in interviews) and upward mobility. In these tough economic times, it’s even more critical to have an edge on getting (or keeping) a job offer or the chance for a promotion. And, for freelancers, better communication skills can keep those assignments coming your way.

2. You’ll feel better. People who have positive interpersonal relationships at work and outside of work are healthier and enjoy a better quality of life. The more you deepen your connection to others, through talking and nonverbal communication, the more you’ll have a sense of well being. You don’t necessarily have to maintain an active social life with lots of partying, if that’s not your preference – but several key relationships will be good for you, in the long run, even if developing those connections cause you stress in the short term.

3. Feelings of mastery. Learning skills for overcoming shyness and being a good conversationalist adds to the toolbox that you can use anywhere, anytime. These tools include skills in initiating conversations, continuing conversations, ending conversations, networking, contributing to a conversation, and showing an interest in others. You can pull out these tools, as you require them, to be a better manager, employee, or friend. Once you’ve mastered these social skills, you can use them, and reuse them, in different ways throughout your life.

4. You deserve to be noticed. The speaking wheel gets the grease, and the wallflower stands alone. Just because you’re a quieter person, why should you be denied the goodies that some of the more talkative people get? Leave shyness behind, and people will be more interested in talking to you, they’ll seek you out for business networking, and you’ll be noticed in terms of attracting friends and potentially a mate. And that’s just the beginning!

5. You’ll be better appreciated. Shyness too frequently is misinterpreted as arrogance or snobbishness. Having a friendly and open facial expression, including smiling, is the most important ingredient in being seen as approachable and likeable. Everyone, whether shy or not, wants to be liked. Take a shot at it. Sometimes, all it takes is changing your countenance to change people’s response to you – and to open the door to meaningful connections.

It may require effort to leave your shyness behind, but the rewards are instantaneous. If you walk down the street and smile, 9 times out of ten, you’ll receive a smile in return. This signals that you’re on your way to becoming a friendly and approachable person – and it’s as easy as taking that first step and putting a smile on your face.

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

26 Jan Was The President Presidential?

By: Monica Murphy Senior Coaching Partner

As Speech Communication Coaches, we are regularly sought out for our communication critique. We focus on the delivery style and techniques by speakers.

The big question asked of us yesterday was , “Was Obama Presidential in his delivery of the State of the Union?”

So what is Presidential? It is subjective for certain, however, as Coaches we know that listeners describe a speaker as Presidential in their style by using the following criteria.

1.Confident posture and body language –
The President used hand gestures for impact and emphasis. His movements were slow and purposeful.

2. Use of facial expression to convey emotion-
We saw a serious determined face when talking about serious issues and a smile when using humor, for example, his reference to “crying over spilled milk”

3. Language that is inclusive-
Using words including American, Patriotic, We and Our. He did this well.

4. Voice tone that is strong and varied- Mr. Obama did this each time he said,“Put that in a Bill and I will sign it!”

5. Sentences that are short and easy to digest- Mr. Obama did this , however, particularly at the beginning of the speech, he tended to talk in phrases, which sounded too rehearsed and non – passionate. As the speech went along, he changed from approximately 5- 7 words per phrase to about 10-12 words per phrase. It was still a bit too rehearsed sounding and tended to lack the passion which the words expressed.

Obama’s combination of this criteria conveyed a decisive, deliberate and determined message. Going forward , if President Obama wants to be defined as Presidential, he must maintain a consistency in these areas.

We will be watching closely as the campaign unfolds and will comment in similar fashion.

Monica Murphy is a senior coaching partner with THE SPEECH IMPROVEMENT COMPANY INC. As a specialist in communication, she is well known in senior leadership circles. Monica has helped many strengthen their communication. Regular clients such as Bain Capitol and Ropes and Gray have enjoyed her expertise. More may be learned about Monica by clicking here

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Monica
Monica Murphy
monica@speechimprovement.com

25 Sep Defensiveness prevents clear communication.

An Excerpt from the best seller: “Mastering Communication At Work”  By Ethan F. Becker, published world-wide by McGraw-Hill

Defensiveness prevents clear communication.  In this chapter you will learn how to recognize your own defensiveness and how to diffuse others.

The First Moment:  Defensiveness

If they are defensive, your message is most likely lost.  Something has caused your listener to feel like you, intentionally or not, are attacking their idea or them.  This emotion will cause them to focus on defending the idea or their character instead of exploring solutions.  They are struggling and it may be your fault.  You may not have set the right expectations.  You may have used a tone that does not match your intended message.  You may not have given them the resources to achieve their goals.  They may just be tired.  Engage their defensiveness and you will make it worse.  If you know how to approach their defensiveness, you can instantly redirect their negative energy—whether fear, doubt, or worry, and help them leave the conversation with your message.

The Trap

They say, “No.”  You say, “Yes.”  They say, “I didn’t know.”  You say, “You should have.”  Maybe you were taught to ask questions as a way of managing effectively, so you say, “How could you not know?”  But the presupposition in this question suggests that they are somehow not smart because they did not know.  While that may not be your intended message, its there and their spine will rise and their eyes will narrow.  If you react to their posturing instead of listening, helping them sit back and reflect on what’s bothering them, they will react as well instead of focusing on the real purpose of your conversation.

If you are in a conversation and you notice someone getting defensive, stop.  Don’t go any further with your point.  Don’t try to make your point in a different way; it will rarely work.  If they are defensive, they aren’t listening.  They have one agenda and that is to deflect whatever they think you are attacking.  You may need to just listen, you may need to ask a question like “What do you need?” or “Help me understand your point of view?”  After the question, stop.  You may have to continue the conversation at another time.  The fact that you take time to process and digest that conversation is validation, and that’s the first step to overcoming their defensiveness.

You can fall for the same trap even when you go into a conversation knowing someone might be defensive.  If you haven’t prepared how you want to approach their emotion, rigid belief, or confusion, they will stay shut down and retreat deeper into themselves.  To help them come to a decision, or understand your point of view without feeling defensive, the format to use is called defensive persuasion.

The Format:  Defensive Persuasion

  1. Validate. If they are going to be comfortable, they have to know you value whatever issue is causing their defensiveness, or their opinion—even if you disagree.  Decide how you’re going to validate.  Will it be a head nod?  Listening?  Paraphrasing (see Chapter Five). They can’t open their mind until they know you have heard and understood their point—especially when you completely disagree.  Even in established relationships, you will need to validate.  Not as often, but if they are fired up, the only way to cool them down is to show them you recognize their value or the value of their contribution.
  2. Frame. What message do you want them to get.  You have to decide this ahead of time, and that’s why if you run into someone who is defensive and you can’t figure out why and they won’t tell you, you have to pause the conversation.  If you don’t’ know the message you want them to understand, the conversation will still go in circles, and they will stay defensive.
  3. Decide your timeline. You may not overcome their emotion in one conversation, and it may take many.  Sometimes you will have to validate for two or three conversations before framing what you need from the other person.  Having done this well, the trust you build will allow you to communicate more immediately next time.

Ethan is a Senior Speech Coaching Partner with TSIC and is currently on a long term assignment with the iclif Leadership and Governance center in Malaysia where he is working on his Doctoral Studies in Industry and Organizational psychology and conducting research on the topic of Leadership Communication from a global perspective.  He may be reached at ethan@speechimprovement.com

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Dr. Ethan Becker
Dr. Ethan Becker
ethan@speechimprovement.com

18 Aug Steven Slater: Service Traitor

By Laurie Schloff, Senior Coaching Partner

Hello people, rationality calling.

I feel real bad for Steven Slater.  Most of us would forgive him for reaching the flying freak out point one hot day in August.

We got the laugh and the vicarious revenge.  Apparently, many Americans are so fed up with the people or the boss they were hired to serve that flight attendant Steven Slater’s dramatic exit from JetBlue made them green with envy.

Sure, it’s a blast to bond over one giant slide revenge fantasy together—for a day.

But Slater’s no hero to those of us working for positive communication in the workplace. He made a rabid choice when he slid down that chute with two beers.   If only he had stopped at the beers and regained his bearing!

In addition to facing a possible seven years in prison for the most slapstick career buster ever, Steven Slater is a service traitor.

Too bad– with his know how and experience, he could have been a service first-rater.

Great service providers have to be able to take the cabin pressure.  They don’t give in to rudeness.   They break the routine by bonding in some small way with customers.  They pride themselves on keeping cool and use techniques to block negative emotion.

Service soldiers win medals for kindness, compassion and patience.  They nurture themselves with deep breaths, venting to a pal and a good foot massage.

Super servicers understand that customers can have bad days and even be bad people, but that great service providers are proud to be pleasant, even on their worst days.

Granted, Mr. Slater may end up hosting a “Take This Job and Shove It” reality show.

Sadly though, his inner reality is that he failed to be all he could be in the profession of service civility.

——

We would love your response to:

“What do you do when you are about to lose your cool at work?”

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com