Get Real: When “Just” You is Just Enough

August 7, 2014 by  
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Get RealI think it’s fair to say that most of us either are now or started out as solopreneurs in our small businesses. If you’re not familiar with the term, simply put, we’re talking about a “company of one”—a company of one where YOU are the ONE. If you’ve been around MomBiz now for a while, you have probably heard me refer to you as being CEO of your company. Well, when you are a solopreneur, CEO stands for Chief Everything Officer! Now if we’re really honest with ourselves, most of us, at least in the beginning, try our best to obscure the fact that we’re “going it alone” from our market, prospective clients, and competition. I’d like to make an argument today for some compelling reasons to stop the madness and own up to the way things really are. I think the potential outcomes of authenticity just may surprise you.

 

Here are some signs you’re struggling with “just” being you.

 

Let’s go to your business website and take a look at two details. Answer these questions for me. Do you have an “About Me” page or an “About Us” page? How about your contact form? Does it promise to “Contact Me” or “Contact Us?” Use of the “royal we” is one of the main signs that authenticity is a challenge for you. Now if this is you, and you’re really identifying with what I’m saying here, there is no condemnation! When I created my very first website I used that royal we EVERYWHERE. I talked about myself as though I were multiple people. And certainly, I do juggle a lot of roles that can make me nearly schizophrenic at times. But it’s not real, is it? It’s not honest.

 

Why in the world do we do this?

 

If you’re using the royal we at every opportunity, chances are you may be concerned that you won’t be viewed as credible or professional or established enough in comparison to your competitors. First of all, let me tell you it is okay to feel that way. Of course you want to create an image that people can trust. Your motivation is spot-on. But let me remind you for a moment that creating that image—that not quite you image—is an action based on fear. And any time we make choices based on fear, crazy stuff happens. Bottom line is you are trying to be something you’re not, and in turn, the foundation you are building from is the self-limiting belief that you are not enough—not good enough, not worthy enough, not credible enough, not big enough. All of that is just fear talking. None of that is true.

 

Why it’s worth it to let your clients get to know the real you:

 

The real you is a lot more interesting than that image of what you think you should be. If you believe that about yourself, so will others. I invite you to just consider authenticity. Be enough. When you trust you, when you decide that you’re good enough, when you know you have something of value to offer… something kind of magical begins to happen. Your potential clients get to know you.   They like who you are. They trust you, because you’re someone like them. You’re real.

 

I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

 

Do you struggle with letting your market get to know the real you?

 

How can you demonstrate to others your faith in yourself that you are enough?

 

 

Ready, Set, Grow!

July 22, 2014 by  
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ready set growSo we’ve determined YOU’RE GROWING. What next? Well, we don’t just want to grow until we split at the seams, do we? While explosive growth can be exciting momentarily, what we really want is to grow successfully—intentionally, focused, with our goals in mind. Your existing structures and systems can only take you so far, as evidenced by some of the crunches you feel as you approach your maximum capacity for sales, for time… for life! Growth is a good thing, so we want to support that growth with positive changes and flexibility in our systems that will allow us to continue to expand our influence and reach outward.

 

Here are some areas we need to examine as we prepare to get growing:

 

Your business plan. Take a look at your current business plan. What’s missing? Let’s narrow the focus a bit by concentrating on what goals you’d like to achieve in just the next 30 days. What strategies do you need to have to make these goals happen? What actions do you need to take to make these strategies happen? Create that 30-day plan for your business and don’t stress out too much about what the extended future holds. One step at a time!

 

Your marketing plan. When you’re full to capacity with clients and orders, it’s easy to get comfortable and discontinue your marketing efforts. Ladies, listen to me when I say that would be a monumental mistake. Do not stop moving forward with your marketing. Create a marketing plan that capitalizes on the great success you’re having and don’t let it waver or wane. It may mean delegating or even outsourcing as you stretch and grow, but keep that marketing plan in front of you and never get too comfortable.

 

Your support systems. Do you have the staff in place to handle the growth you are projecting for the next month? How about the vendors? What about administrative support? Is it time to hire a virtual assistant? A webmaster? Order fulfillment? I know that’s a lot to think about, but what is it that you need in order to follow your plan and allow the growth you’re experiencing to continue? It has to look different than it does right now. These are the “what’s missing” in your current systems.

 

Your high-payoff actions. These are the things that make you money. This is where you need to spend your time. It’s going to be more critical than ever that you keep your focus on these high-payoff actions and know that it’s okay to delegate the rest. Your time is money, so use your time to make money!

 

These are just a few ideas to help you grow responsibly and gracefully. I am so committed to helping mom entrepreneurs have the life they want through the business they want and experiencing that wonderful feeling of success when they find they are doing both. I hope these tips will have you on your way to that kind of success.

 

I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

 

What’s missing from your business plan right now?

 

What support systems can you add in order to allow growth to continue?

Growing Pains

July 10, 2014 by  
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Growing PainsPart of defining success is being willing to grow your business beyond where it is today. Growing pains are good! They are often signs that it is time to push past what we know and move toward that ultimate vision we are working so hard to reach. It’s a scary but exciting place to be, isn’t it? A lot is involved in being ready to grow. It requires having the appropriate structures, systems, plans, and mindsets in place to allow that to happen. Well, so often we don’t even recognize that we have outgrown these systems and structures until we feel the pinches and discomfort of that growth. Sometimes we may even perceive this “pain” as failure, when in reality, it’s a big, red flag that not only are we not failing, but it’s time to make some changes and expand what we’re doing to make room for even more growth. So let’s take a look at some signs that can clue you in that it’s time to grow. Are you ready?

Some signs that you are growing:

Higher volumes. This is a given, right? Woohoo! It’s time to celebrate! Higher volumes of orders, clients, or prices are all obvious signs we associate positively with growth.

But not all signs are so positive, are they? Do either of these look familiar?

Longer hours. In fact, you may be working more and more and more, but you still can’t keep up. You may be sleep-deprived, missing out on family time, or neglecting personal rest and recreation. Sometimes it takes becoming completely overwhelmed before finally realizing it’s time to get some help in order to create space for more growth.

Breakdowns. Are you forgetting things? Dropping the ball? Making promises you can’t keep? You may feel as though your whole world is falling apart, piece-by-piece, but if these sorts of things are happening across the scope of your business and personal life, it may a sign that you are outgrowing what currently works for you.

Growth is messy business. If your life is going along just fine and everything feels great and it’s all handled perfectly, then chances are you’re not growing. That’s the status quo. The status quo feels good. It’s “normal.” But we’re not shooting for normal here, are we, ladies? We are pursuing excellence. And excellence requires growth—breaking through the status quo, pushing past what’s currently comfortable for you, moving beyond what you know how to handle, and having the courage and confidence to go after your dreams.

I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

Which of these growing pains are you experiencing in your business right now?

Have you ever felt that you are failing, only to discover you have outgrown your current systems?

Overcoming The Fear Of Marketing

June 26, 2014 by  
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Overcoming the Fear of MarketingI’d say we generally understand “fear” to be a dirty, little, four-letter word.  As mompreneurs, it tends to present in our businesses looking something like this:  “I am scared I’ll look stupid” or “I don’t know how to do that” or “I’m not good enough at that yet to get paid what I want.”  These are all fears that we have.  They typically show up as a little voice inside our heads that we may not even realize we’re listening to.  It’s really sneaky sometimes.  And even though we probably feel like we’re ignoring them a lot of the time, these fears have a loud way of showing up in our lives because they keep us from doing the things that we really want to do.  Marketing is one of those things that we know we need to do, and we know we want the results, but oftentimes are just too afraid to do it, at least in a powerful way.  If you’re someone who struggles with this, I’m hoping I can give you some tools to help.

 

Here are three solutions to overcoming the fear of marketing:

 

1.  Know your target market.  Underneath it all, if you understand your target market—their top priorities, challenges, and what keeps them up at night—then you can become an expert at what your prospective clients need.  If you become an expert on what your prospective clients need, then you’ll gain some confidence in providing solutions that add value to their lives.  When you feel that confidence, it will be so much easier for you to market yourself—to share who you are in this world and what you have to offer.

 

2.  Create your 10-second elevator pitch.  This unique business statement (around ten seconds, hence the name) tells your niche market who you are, what you do, and why they should care.  You’re going to practice this statement again and again and again so that there is absolutely no doubt, even in your most panicked situations, who your target market is, what value you bring to that market, and how to describe yourself in a way that makes that value evident.  This is a practical tool to help you get out of your own way and overcome some of the fears you may have around marketing yourself.

 

3.  See yourself as valuable.  Yes, you are a mom, and a good one at that!  And any time we put the word “mom” in front of “entrepreneur,” that says something about our priorities.  But just because your first priority is being an awesome mom does not mean that you can’t contribute to the world in other ways.  You can do it.  You are smart enough.  You deserve it.  Those fears inside us that talk to us about “But what if…?” and “But I’m not…”—they’re just fears!  Fears are not the truth about who we are and what we’re capable of, and if we’re going to be successful and if we want to share the wonderful work that we’re up to in the world, we’re going to have to stop them in their tracks.

 

I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

 

Do you have a 10-second elevator pitch?  Share it with us!

 

In what ways can you speak truth to yourself instead of fear? 

What Are You Afraid Of?

June 15, 2014 by  
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What Are You Afraid Of“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  ~Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

Cliché?  Maybe.  But I think there is something to be said for fearing the fears that frighten us into self-limiting beliefs, indecision, or inaction.  Today I want to talk to you just a little bit about our fears of marketing ourselves—selling ourselves—especially in casual or social situations.  This is a common fear for mompreneurs and one that can be absolutely paralyzing, so we’ve got to take an honest look at ourselves and head this stuff off at the pass, in order to really overcome these obstacles and do what we want to do.

 

So let’s take a look at some of the most common issues we, as mompreneurs, face when it comes to the fear of marketing ourselves:

 

1.  We tend to downplay ourselves and our businesses in casual conversation.  Am I hitting a nerve yet, girls?  It goes like this:  You’re at the park and a fellow mommy asks, “Hi, so nice to meet you.  Oh, me?  I’m just a stay-at-home mom.  What do you do?” and you answer, “Oh, I stay at home too.  That and I have this little business thing I do on the side, but you know…” See how we just downplayed that?  Your little “business thing” doesn’t sound very significant, does it?

 

2.  We are scared of what people think.  Let’s face it; we all know somebody who is just in nonstop used car sales mode, don’t we?  You know the one.  She is constantly promoting herself and generally annoys everyone around her.  We don’t want to be that person!  And so we are afraid that if we are open and expressive about our passions and what it is we do, we will be perceived as pushy—so instead, we keep our mouths shut.

 

3.  We are afraid we won’t say the right thing because we don’t have a unique business statement, a.k.a. the “10-second elevator pitch.”  Because we don’t have a clear and concise way to communicate what it is that we do, we are left with the anxiety of not knowing what will come out of our mouths when asked, and the very real possibility of stumbling over our words.

 

4.  We don’t know what message to deliver if we don’t know for absolute certain who we are delivering it to and what they need.  This is the question of “Why would they care anyway?”  Who are we targeting and what are that niche market’s top pain points.  Once we know that, we can speak confidently about what we do and why it’s important.

 

5.  We have a mindset of insignificance.  Sometimes we moms just forget that we are very valuable humans in and of ourselves, not just as mothers, and not just compared to what we did before we had children.

 

Do you recognize yourself in some of these common fears?  Are you letting limits you’ve placed on yourself keep you from pursuing what it is that you really want and have worked so hard for?  It’s critical that we recognize these beliefs in ourselves so we know what it is that we’re overcoming!

 

I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

 

Which of these issues do you identify with most?

 

What can you start doing today to move away from fear and toward success? 

Why We Settle and What We Can Do About It

June 3, 2014 by  
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Why We Settle and What We Can Do About ItSo we all know we do it, and you can read about some of the more common ways in which we settle HERE, but let’s devote some time to figuring out WHY we settle for less when we deserve what we really want, and then more importantly, what we can do about it.

 

1.  It’s familiar.  Some things bring a sort of sad satisfaction just because they are familiar.  It’s what we know how to do.  It’s predictable.  It’s comfortable.

 

2.  It’s a habit.  We go to work because it’s what we’ve always done.  We communicate with people the way we do because it’s simply how we do it.  There’s not much contemplation behind it.  We don’t even wonder if it’s satisfying.  We are creatures of habit.

 

3.  We don’t think.  Sometimes we put up with things just because we have never thought of doing them differently.

 

4.  We’re afraid.  Fear can be a motivator, but it also has the power to paralyze us in the face of potential change.  If you find yourself beginning a lot of sentences with “But what if…?” you may be settling for less out of fear.

 

5.  We have a mindset of scarcity.  Feeling that there is nothing better out there for us is a mindset of scarcity.  It keeps us stuck and thinking, “This is the best it’s going to be, so why bother trying anything else?”  That’s a bad place to be.

 

These are only a few of the reasons we settle for less than the best, so you may have others.  And regardless of what our reasons are, this is not where we want to stay.  So what can we do about it?  How can we start to shift from settling for less than we deserve to getting more of what we want?

 

1.  Move from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance.  Instead of asking, “What if there’s nothing else out there for me?” we need to say, “What if there are a million better opportunities out there for me?”  Whichever you believe will be true for you.  Be motivated to action by the possibility of opportunity rather than paralyzed by fear of the unknown.

 

2.  Create conditions of satisfaction.  Fill in the blanks in the following statement that will make it true for yourself:  “I will be satisfied with ___________ if the following conditions are met: _____________________.”  What exactly will cause you to be satisfied with your business, your marriage, your family, your financial situation?  Be honest and specific.  And then keep those conditions of satisfaction where you can refer to them at all times, especially when making important decisions.

 

So go for the ideal.  Hold out for what you want in life.  There is nothing wrong or selfish about pushing for the best and making it happen.  Sticking to our standards and operating out of our priorities makes us better moms and better business owners.  Don’t we owe that to ourselves?

 

I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

 

What are your reasons for settling?

 

Do you have clear and specific conditions of satisfaction for your life and business? 

Are You Settling For Less Than You Deserve?

May 8, 2014 by  
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Are You Settling For Less Than You Deserve?“The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.” ~Maureen Dowd

Let’s talk about “settling.” Okay, truthfully, how many of you tensed up a little bit when you read that just now? We all do this in life, so it’s something we need to address. Why, when we deserve what we want, do we settle—put up with or tolerate—things that are less than ideal for us? We so easily adopt this perception that we don’t deserve exactly what it is that we want, or that what we already have is “good enough.” Now, I’m not speaking out against genuine contentment, but really ladies, there is a difference between being truly content and just putting up with circumstances that are unsatisfying or don’t serve us, and we know it!

Here are some common areas in which we have probably all struggled with settling at one point or another. Maybe this is you right now! If so, knowing really is half the battle, so be honest about where you are. That awareness will come in handy later, when we talk about why we settle and what to do about it.

Relationships. You may have talked yourself into believing you’re in a great relationship if most of the things you need are present, or even if some of the things you need are present, or let’s face it—even if you’re in any relationship at all, no matter how crummy it is. This is a place many of us have spent time tolerating behaviors or circumstances that are not satisfying, not empowering to us, and not adding to our happiness.

Jobs. This is another really common area, especially given today’s economy. So many are putting up with the jobs they currently have, regardless of how awful they are. People are working more, getting paid less, and job security is out the window. And yet, we continue to stay in the dead-end job, despite being terribly unsatisfied.

Routines. We’re mompreneurs. We signed up for two full time jobs when we decided we would raise tiny humans and birth our very own business, and we often have the crazy schedule to prove it! Girls, this is an area we must revisit often. Take a good, hard look at that routine of yours. Is it serving you?

These are just a few of the categories that we commonly struggle with settling in. Financial, spiritual, educational, health and wellness—these are all areas we can choose to settle for less than the best, aren’t they? It’s so critical that you spend some time in self-evaluation and really nail down where what you want isn’t quite matching up with what you’ve got. You deserve the best!

I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

In which category (or categories) do you find yourself struggling with settling?

What circumstances would satisfy you most in each of these areas?

Podcasting is H.O.T.

April 25, 2014 by  
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Do you listen to podcasts? Or are you scratching your head and wondering what that word actually means?

podcastPut simply, podcasting is a method of distributing multimedia files (such as audio programs or music videos) over the Internet. With the rise of DVRs, Netflix, Apple TV and such, we have the power to choose which TV shows we want to watch and when we want to watch them. (Been on a MadMen or Breaking Bad binge lately? Who can stop after watching just one episode when all of them are right there???) Podcasting works the same way, but doesn’t need you to be sitting in front of a TV. In fact, one of the reasons I love podcasts so much is that I can watch or listen to them whenever I want and wherever I happen to be: walking around the neighborhood, running on the treadmill, listening while I drive that long road trip home to Georgia, etc.)

I’ve been hosting The Mom Biz Solutions Show for over five years. Five years! Holy cow, that makes me a grandma in podcasting years! While podcasting has been around for about 10 years, it has only recently started to get a lot of attention. If you browse the iTunes store, you’ll find hundreds of podcasts on any topic you can name. A subscription to a podcast in iTunes is usually free and allows you to have new episodes of podcasts you love ready on demand in your smartphone whenever you feel like listening. (Subscribe to my show here.)

I recently listened to a webinar by John Lee Dumas of EntrepreneurOnFire (another great podcaster), and he shared some interesting stats.

  • There are 575 Million active iTunes subscribers
  • There are 315 Million mobile device users listening to podcasts
  • But only 4 out of 10 people know what a podcast is in the United States
  • Podcasting is the #1 lead generator in iTunes

While I absolutely suggest you consider subscribing to some great podcasts as a way to continue your learning as a mom entrepreneur (or to take a self-care break and listen to a podcast that entertains you when you need a lift), I also encourage you to consider starting your own podcast. After all, about 90 % of my private coaching clients first find and connect with me through my podcast. And after they’ve had my voice inside their head for a while, they call me when they’re ready to hire a business coach and get the success they want.

This inquiry came from the Contact Us form on my website today:

Hi Lara,
I discovered you through B-School a while back and have started listening to your podcasts.
You had one encouraging us to do podcasting.
It’s something I’d like to do but just reading all the details about how is overwhelming.
Do you have any experience walking someone through the process to make it easy and idiot proof?
Looking forward to hearing from you, C.

And here’s my response:

Great to meet another B-Schooler! And even better, it’s always so fun to meet one of my listeners. I’m glad you’re getting inspired to do some podcasting of your own. I have been podcasting for over five years, and I’ve coached many women to start their own shows. It can be an overwhelming process to just get started, but once you get past the setup hurdles, it’s really a breeze. I also provide coaching and support on:
- Developing and leveraging your platform as an expert (your content/what to talk about)
- How often you should podcast
- How to integrate your podcast into everything else you do and market across multiple channels
- How to find guests for your show (if desired)
- How to monetize your podcast
Want to hop on the phone and discuss how I could help you get up and running?
See that, Friends? That’s an example of how my podcast is doing a great job of attracting warm leads to me. By putting out some great content that is full of my key messages about the Mindset, Management and Marketing savvy all mompreneurs need, I attract listeners who eventually want my support as a coach.
So, what do you think? Is it time for you to start your own podcast? Ready to establish and leverage a new marketing channel for your business? I’d love to help you. Or if you are already a podcaster, can you share in the comments below how you use your podcast in your business? And of course, leave a link to your show!

Top Mistakes Mompreneurs Make

April 20, 2014 by  
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Top Mistakes Mompreneurs MakeIf you’re reading this blog, chances are you are a work-at-home mom, just like me.  And just like me, because for one reason or another you too decided to take on the roles of both full time mom and entrepreneur or business owner, we tend to find ourselves in very similar circumstances.  So I’d like to share with you today some of the biggest mistakes we, as mompreneurs, can face, in order that we can fend off these obstacles, keeping our eyes on the prize.

 

1.  NOT SETTING BOUNDARIES.  This is probably the biggest mistake I’ve made in my career as a WAHM.  If you have kids, you don’t need me to tell you what boundaries are… because your kids are pushing them!  Am I right or am I right?  Setting expectations with yourself, your family, and your clients lets everybody know when you’re available to them and when you’re not available to them.  Boundaries=stress averted!

 

2.  TRYING TO DO IT ALL YOURSELF.  Asking for help doesn’t mean that you’re weak or that you’re not smart enough or good enough—which are some of the crazy conversations we have rattling around inside our heads.  Trying to do it all by yourself is a recipe for burnout.  If you are committed to the success of your business, your family and your life, get the support you need.

 

3.  NOT BLOCKING YOUR TIME.  All mompreneurs figure out sooner or later that the most efficient use of our time is not to steal a moment here and a moment there to accomplish everything from business emails to grocery shopping to laundry.  Set aside specific times for specific tasks and then be committed to the task of the moment.

 

4.  NOT FOCUSING ON YOUR MONEYMAKING TALENT.  We all got into business doing what we do best.  These are the things that make us money, and these are the things that need to be our top priorities.  Do what you do best first and save the rest for last, or better yet, delegate, delegate, delegate!

 

5.  NOT HAVING A BUSINESS PLAN.  Just like you wouldn’t take off for vacation without a destination or a roadmap, if you want to reach your goals in business, you have to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.  Once you have a plan, it’s amazing how ambitious you’ll be at making your plan work and reaching those goals.

 

These are just a few of the top mistakes mompreneurs make, including some from my own experience.  Maybe you have some “favorites” you can add to the list!

 

I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

 

Have you fallen into any of these traps? 

 

What can you do right now to avoid or set right some of these common mistakes? 

Get People To Listen To You

April 6, 2014 by  
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get people to listen to youIf you’ve been around the MomBiz community at all, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of building relationships that in turn build your business.  Now a fundamental piece of relationship building is communication, which involves both clearly articulating your thoughts and the art of listening.  Being skilled in one doesn’t necessarily insure strength in the other, and of course there is always room for improvement in both.  So today I’m going to share with you five tips to becoming a better communicator and therefore, empower you to bring about the results you want.

 

1.  LISTEN.  You may have noticed that we have one mouth and two ears.  It stands to reason that ideally, we should spend twice the amount of time listening to others as we spend talking to them.  So instead of succumbing to human nature and while you’re waiting for your turn to talk, formulating your answer, rebuttal or witty comeback, try to practice active listening.  Active listening, simply put, is listening carefully enough that you can repeat back or paraphrase some of the things that the speaker says to you.  There is a psychological agreement that takes place when we listen in this way—“You’re listening to me; therefore, I will listen to you,” which is, after all, what we were hoping for in the first place.

 

2.  CALL THEM NAMES.  No, I’m joking.  But using a person’s name in the course of conversation is a useful tool for holding their attention.  This is also a great little trick for remembering names if that’s something you have trouble with.

 

3.  GIVE THEM PROPS.  We all need a little acknowledgment.  In today’s world of social media, “virtually” patting someone on the back or expressing thanks is as easy as retweeting something someone says that we see as valuable, “liking” an inspiring post on Facebook, sharing a status.  Expand this idea to real life.  If you want people to listen to you and help you get what you want, look for opportunities to honor them.  It’s good karma and it’s good business.

 

4.  ASK QUESTIONS.  Now we’re not talking interrogation here, but more of a genuine curiosity about what the other person has to offer.  By asking relevant questions and thereby proving that you care, you actually gain greater control over the direction of the conversation and earn the right to be heard in the process.

 

5.  TAKE A BREATH.  Let’s face it.  In all reality, the person you’re talking with is probably only half listening.  So when you’re at that critical place in the conversation where you really need to drive that point home, it’s time for a change of pace.  Slowing down and building in pauses causes the other person to take notice, and also gives them time to really digest the important things you have to say.

 

These are some really simple but effective tools that you can apply to make yourself a better communicator, whether it’s with your kids, with your spouse, or with your clients and your team.  In business or in life, communication is the key to being heard and ultimately, getting the results you want.

 

I love to hear from you, so send me a comment!

 

Are you a better speaker than you are a listener? 

 

Which of these strategies do you plan to implement to become a more effective communicator? 

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