When maybe means no

maybe2“What do they mean?” How many times have you been asked this question by a friend who needs to get a handle on what someone’s trying to say to them? Part of what I do is helping people read in between the lines. People who have crossed continents or have a disability that impacts on their “inter-personal” communication skills and in turn their business.

Putting it in a nutshell, the bit of information they usually need when they ask me this question – even though they don’t know it yet (because you can’t possibly know what you don’t know) – is: the person you’re communicating with is an indirect communicator. The e-mails are confusing you because you’re a direct communicator. You take words at face value. To you maybe means maybe. To the indirect communicator maybe generally means no. Indirect communicators don’t want to say no directly because that can lead to embarrassment and conflict.  Honesty is important to them as is harmony. Like any skill communicating in a non-direct style can be learnt.

If you want to know more about

The impact of direct and indirect communication

Whether you’re a direct or indirect communicator?

A future post will follow shortly on how to become a better indirect communicator. If you have any thoughts or ideas on this, I’d love to hear from you. Please do add a comment and perhaps I’ll use it in a future post.

Effective e-mails: 6 useful tips

email meContacting influential people – whether they’re newspaper editors or MPs – can be a little like walking a tightrope. You know they’re busy people so you don’t want to hassle them unnecessarily; but you  really want to engage them with your latest news, ideas, campaign . . .

Here’s some strategies that have worked for me:

  • Do your research. Do you know someone who knows them? Perhaps they can give you an insight into the editor’s future scheduling; or an issue that’s keeping the MP awake at night.
  • Keep the e-mail short, simple and straight to the point. 
  • Have these three key sentences ready: an introduction proving that you know something about the person; why you’re contacting them; and what your idea, offer or question is.
  • Include your URL in signature. Make it easy for people to contact you.
  • Be realistic and generous. Thank them in advance for any help they can offer. If you don’t get a response, don’t take it personally. Follow-up though.
  • Write short, descriptive subject lines that give the reader a reason to open up. So you really need to know your audience. What’s important to them at the moment?

If you want to know more:

How to email important people

Best practice in writing email subject lines

Perfect subject lines

Do you have an email tip to share? Please do add a comment; and why not follow me on twitter @businesses4good.

 

Blue heaven: 8 effective communication tips

tree image“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

George Bernard Shaw

 This quote speaks to me at the moment. Over the last month people who need communication help have been coming forward to get a bit of advice and support. Here’s 8 business4good tweets from last week all aimed at promoting effective communication:

If you’re interested in becoming a more effective communicator or perhaps you think your organisation could do with a quick communication audit why not give me a ring on 07966 369579. Always interested in good communication tips. Why not add one.

Please do follow me on twitter @businesses4good.

Some useful public affairs resources #1

japan

Political round-up of the week (wb 04.02.13)

Grow Your Charity Online provides free training+tools for smaller charities

Jargon buster: select committees

 14 campaign tips

Helpful advice on planning a charity event 

Business tips to improve your copy 

New young philanthropists want to be more involved in the creation of charity  projects 

Older people learn better reading comics thanks to creative visuals and storytelling

 

From this week’s top Businesses4good tweets.

If you want to know more about how I can help you communicate, campaign and lobby more effectively why not give me a call on 07966 369579. 

14 campaigning tips: to help you out

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAProud to share 14 group learning outcomes from a recent successful Creative Public Affairs workshop Create Impact: Campaign Training aimed at community groups and smaller charities in Reading.

  • Make campaigning a key discussion in your organisation.
  • Understand the impact you want to have as a starting point.
  • Keep focused on that objective
  • Have a good, strong, clear, memorable strap-line (campaign objective).
  • Identify your key stakeholders: the high interest, high influence group.
  • Be effective. Always use strategies that are minimum effort, maximum impact.
  • Have a clear strategy.
  • Prioritise. Being over-ambitious means you spread yourself too thinly which leads to being ineffective.
  • Speak to and discuss ideas with lots of people.
  • Create coalitions: work with other groups who shared concerns and outcomes.
  • Don’t lose sight of direct action and ‘old’ off-line techniques. Don’t necessarily expect to rely on technology and social media for the entire campaign
  • Be flexible and willing to adapt where necessary.
  • There is no one magic solution.
  • Remember the key words: impact, outcomes, influence and effectiveness.

Thanks to @GetInvolvedRDG for funding the event and @RISC_Reading for the excellent venue.

Please do comment on your favourite campaign tip; and follow me @businesses4good to find out more about how to campaign effectively and with impact.

Stakeholder mapping: it sounds scary but it ain’t necessarily so

Someone recently came for advice on how to design an effective communication plan to manage a new project. A good place to start is to draw up a stakeholder map. This is a map of people, groups and organisations who might be interested in your project. For instance, a list of stakeholders for a medium-sized charity might have politicians (local and national), journalists (local, regional and national), think tanks, local community groups, staff, volunteers, donors and funders.

A stakeholder map has an axis for interest  – the level of interest someone has in the project because it’ll either impact on them; and another for influence – the level of influence or power an individual has in shaping the project and it’s direction.

Someone’s position on the grid shows you the type of interaction and communication that would be helpful to success.

High Influence, High Interest: These are the people you must fully engage and make the greatest efforts to satisfy. They are “key players”. Regular communications and face-to-face meetings are a must either 121 or as a group.

High Influence, Low Interest: Keep satisfied but not so much that they become bored with your message. You may need their help in the future.

Low Influence, High Interest: Collect feedback from this group to make sure that no new issues are coming up. Tailor your communications to their needs. They’re often essential to the detail and success of the plan. Often in-house.

Low Influence, Low Interest: People who simply need to be kept informed. Don’t bore them with excessive communication.

If you are interested in digging deeper on this subject then it’s worth having a look at:

Mindtools

Expertprogrammanagement

Stakeholdermap

Please do follow me on twitter @businesses4good. I’d love to hear if you found this of value. Please do leave a comment.

The modern slavery story: the spirit of brotherhood?

Photo by Bella Opacic

Photograph by Bella Opacic

Media stories – like Leighton Buzzard and “modern slavery”  – can sometimes throw up hidden, cruel facts about our society; and start people talking. Talk is good. It’s a start. Media stories can also throw up startling  statistics. Evidence is good.  Here’s two statistics that help build a case for a committed, co-ordinated multi-agency approach to stop modern slavery in the UK.

• 5,000 people are in some form of forced labour in the UK (guess-timate from Anti-Slavery International)

• 1,481 reports were received by the UK Human Trafficking Centre of suspected trafficking in the two years up to end of March 2011.

The statistics sit uncomfortably with Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

If you want to know more about modern slavery, then this is a useful place to start: a Q and A by BBC Home Affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani.

Please do add a comment. I’d love to hear from you. What do you think?

Blog basics: how to write a blog

When you first start writing blogs it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to get yourself started.

Who’s your audience? Be as specific as possible. What issues have they got? How can you help them?

What are you going to put in the blog?

  • Tips around your business?
  • Answers to frequently asked questions?
  • A success story about someone you’ve helped?
  • Personal stories eg why you got interested in doing what you’re doing?
  • Lists: Do you have one you can share?

What tone are you going to use? A supportive, encouraging, friendly and open one tends to work best eg:

  •  invite feedback
  • promote a conversation/discussion
  • engage others in talking about your area of expertise
  • offer to answer their questions online
  • have a clear ask at the end for feedback and
  • canvass people’s opinion

It’s probably best to avoid shouting out your opinions, being closed so that people feel scared to share and being overly-controlling.

Why bother with blogs? They help people understand what you do; raise your expert status; add value to your brand (as they can be put on other social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter); and they heighten your online presence (search engines love blogs).

A big thank you to

for helping me understand what I’ve shared with you today.