Is it Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, or What?

Are you one of the people concerned that if you say the traditional holiday greeting “Merry Christmas” that people might feel you are not being inclusive or being politically correct?  But don’t you have the right to practice your own beliefs and follow your own traditions?

Stop fretting over this silly discussion.  Ignore what your parents taught you and actually have your cake and eat it too.  Say “Merry Christmas” if that ‘s your tradition or religion, and ALSO say “Happy Holidays” at the same time, to be inclusive with strangers and people you meet while out and about, especially in large, multicultural cities.  It’s not too difficult to add that phrase.  I personally grew up saying “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” so I’m just replacing the last phrase ‘New Year’ with ‘Holidays’, and then next week I’ll just tell everyone “Happy New Year” or “Happy 2016!”   I love simplicity.  🙂 

3 Questions with Communication Expert Ric Phillips | The Jenn Report

Source: 3 Questions with Communication Expert Ric Phillips | The Jenn Report 

Be clear, confident and successful! Don’t let a lack of high-level communication skills hold you back.

Advises Ric Phillips, a Communication Coach since 2006. His clients include professionals and politicians.

A few years ago, I met Ric Phillips at a local networking group and found him friendly and easy to talk to.

Recently, I asked him 3 Business Communication 101 questions. Here’s what he had to say:

1) In this digital age, what are the essential business communication skills?

Ric Phillips:  There are several essential communication skills needed for a successful business relationship, but specifically considering the digital age, I would say:

1 – The ability to build rapport in person and over the internet and phone. Business requires not just human interaction, but humans to like each other. We are not motivated to work with someone or buy something from someone whom we dislike.

2 – Sense the tone. Especially considering texts, emails and VOIP calls, we need to be able to understand not only what is truly being said and meant, but how to ensure our communications going out have a minimal chance of being misinterpreted as snobby, sarcastic or demanding, to name a few potential threats.

3 – Public speaking and presenting… (Please continue reading by clicking the link above (Source link below photo) or https://thejennreport.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/3-questions-with-communication-expert-ric-phillips/ to get to Jenn’s full blog post and finish the article.  Feel free to comment and share!  🙂

Bitch slap: How do you handle conflict? | In the Key of He

Please click the link below to read the full story on Leah’s blog.

Source: Bitch slap: How do you handle conflict? | In the Key of He

Here is an excerpt:

Conflict management

I shared a radio interview with communications expert, Ric Phillips, of 3V Communications last year and I met with him this week. I always like talking to Ric because his background in social psychology and coaching gives him an interesting perspective.

During our visit, I told him about the intended bitch slap. We discussed what my options could have been, and Ric said that when conflict arises, there are really only four possible choices:

1.  Do nothing – maintain silence and do not react;
2.  Escape the scene or person(s) to avoid further conflict;
3. Change your attitude because you have a minimal chance of changing theirs;
4. Change your behaviour (see #3).”
Please click the link below to read the full story on Leah’s blog.

Source: Bitch slap: How do you handle conflict? | In the Key of He

Tips for Teaching Business English (For TESL Ontario Members)

BusinessEnglishAs an active member of TESL (Teacher of English as a Second Language) Ontario I recently contributed my years of knowledge and experience training ESL clients and hosted a Professional Development webinar called Tips for Teaching Business English Students & Immigrants.  It ran live on July 26 2015 but it is now archived and available to those current members of TESL Ontario who wish to increase their Professional Development hours.  You can find it by signing up/in to your www.Tutela.ca  account, going to (or joining) the TESL Ontario group, and then searching under Files until you find my PowerPoint presentation under ‘Webinar Gen 10’.  You will see the ‘live’ version slides and hear our voices as though you attended the webinar on July 26th!   This webinar will be of particular interest to those currently teaching business or workplace English, or to anyone looking to expand beyond mainstream ESL teaching.  You will also learn tips about teaching communication skills to foreign workers and working immigrants.

Here is the original ad:

Webinar Description:   Ric Phillips will present this webinar. Ric will share tips on how to effectively teach business English students and immigrants (for example at LINC, post-secondary or corporate training). He will note differences in learning expectations, recommend materials, and provide templates for creating your own assessments. This webinar is ideal for teachers who are transitioning to Business English, Workplace ESL, or corporate training.

Presenter’s Bio:   Starting in 1998, Ric Phillips successfully transitioned his career from ESL teacher to Business English teacher & Academic Coordinator. He founded his own company where he is currently a coach and trainer in business communication skills for working immigrants and foreign workers.

Follow Ric on Twitter: @CommCoach

Are You the Director of First Impressions?

“Director of First Impressions”

I snapped this picture a few weeks ago while i was visiting my local Scotiabank branch here in Toronto.  I’m not sure how widely used this new labelling is – maybe it’s a national or even international initiative – but it’s eye-catching to say the least.  For me I immediately responded to it because as you know I’m a big fan of interpersonal skills, and I run a coaching program and a workshop entitled “The Art of Small Talk & Winning First Impressions.”  The focus of the training, which has been running since 2007, has always been to help those with technical skills or social shyness to improve their business or social interactions, and leave a lasting positive impression.  This is important to build and enhance relationships in our network or social circle.

What I find interesting is that a bank has chosen to change the typical ‘Help Desk‘ label to this new title, since banks provide a large portion of my clientele.  🙂  Yes, I’ve trained many accountants, financial advisors and planners, wealth management managers, auditors, consultants and the list goes on.  Not only are soft skills extremely important for client engagement in the banking industry, but also for team cohesion.

I love this new sign as to me it signifies the bank wants to be more approachable and communicative with it’s customers, and also – that it is aware that the first person we speak to is indeed the Director of First Impressions.  🙂

Are you the Director of First Impressions at your place of business?  Are you good at it?  Or is there a better fit for this role in the office somewhere?  These are some questions I’d like you to ask yourself and your team while examining who speaks to customers first and how do they interact with the typical customer.

Dealing with “Fishy” Customer Service

gone-fishingMy friend recently received some strange customer service while dealing with a mid-sized company located in the USA.  He had purchased some sport fishing products about a year ago and, to his surprise, when he reached for the pole a couple of weeks ago, it broke in two.  He is very familiar with and loyal to this particular brand, and was shocked with the pole snap because it has a good name in the market.  Therefore he was convinced this breakage was not normal and must be faulty, and so took pictures to send to the company via email.  He also included a photo of the original receipt.

He emailed the company with the 3 pictures, and their response was so short and to the point it gave him the feeling of rudeness.  It read basically “Please send us the pictures in a standard format, like JPEG.”  Now I’m a big fan of making emails short and to the point, but that is ridiculous.  Where’s the sugar?  Where’s the concern, empathy or reassurance that they will look into this matter?

This is the point when my friend contacted me as apparently I’m a bit more tech-savvy than he, and so I helped covert the 3 original photos to .jpg and we emailed the company again, referencing the new file number they had also provided him.

He got an email the next day basically saying the same thing – that they could not see the pictures and to please send them in standard format.  I double-checked our email and assured him that we did indeed send the photos as jpeg, but also suggested we send a new, fresh email with the jpegs attached, so that they do not get them confused with the old pictures that are sure to be on the thread.  That is what I assume might have happened.

The response to that email was basically “Send us a picture showing the date of purchase.”  What?  We wondered who was on the other end of this computer.
Regardless we took a new picture of the receipt that showed the date of purchase and jpeg’d it and emailed it to them with the reference file number.  Their response the next day was “Please pay a processing fee of $9.95.”  I kid you not.

This morning my friend had reached his limit in patience and wrote an email complaining about the time wasted in these emails, noting his confusion over the mysterious processing fee, and swearing that he would never use nor recommend their products again.  He luckily called me before he pressed SEND.

He read it to me over the phone and asked for feedback.  I asked him “What is your goal?”  He replied to tell them how he feels.  I suggested that the chance of resolving the original issue is very low if you share your feelings and then sever ties.  I advised him to use the 1-800 number and call the company and speak to someone about this issue instead of firing off the ‘burning-bridges’ letter.  I told him we both understand that the person on the other end of the computer is customer-service handicapped, so more emails, including the letter, will get no response or at best a one-liner.  I told him to keep calm and call them, and just ‘follow up’ on the previous emails, and ‘inquire’ about the processing fee.  He agreed.
He called me back swiftly and told me that the company will be sending him a new fishing pole – but they just require a small processing fee.  My friend should receive the new product in a week. 🙂

By keeping his cool and not resorting to threats and ultimatums, and by not allowing the truly terrible customer service emails to interfere with his right to seek answers and possibly get reparation for his broken pole, my friend was able to find the true meaning behind the cryptic and stunted emails.  By ‘upgrading’ the communication from computer to phone, he found out the company’s true intentions to replace his product, and will now get it in short order.

The main lessons here I think are:
1 – don’t lose your cool not matter how frustrating the communication is
2 – if you don’t understand emails, pick up the phone
3 – never close the door on a brand you actually like and want to keep using
4 – don’t assume you know what the other party is thinking.  Get a clear answer.
5 – Jpegs are a common format for sharing photos
6 – It’s okay to use friends who are tech-savvy and/or knowledgeable about professional communication strategies. ☺

Your Communication Coach,

How to Develop & Deliver an Effective Pitch (with Slides)

Ric at TechSoup Canada 2Recently I gave a short seminar at TechSoup, located in the CSI (Centre for Social Innovation) building here in Toronto. TechSoup had asked me to speak about developing and delivering an effective pitch, with a slide deck. Their target audience is non-profits who want or need to build their technical skills to help improve efficiencies in their organization. The seminar had a small live audience and it was live-streamed as well.

Just as I teach my clients, I broke my talk into three main chunks: pitch structure, slide guide and public speaking & body language tips. I wrote a brief article on my LinkedIn profile going over the key takeaways, so please click this link to see the article, and then like and share (either here or there) if you found it useful.  Thank you.  🙂

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/develop-deliver-effective-pitch-ric-phillips

And if you desire more info on pitching and presentations, please see my brand new ebook called “3V Podium Power:  Next Level Public Speaking, Presenting, Pitching & PowerPoint Repair!” located on this site here in the ‘store’.

UPDATE:  TechSoup did a great recap of my seminar, and have also included the slide deck I used in case you want to see them (but the 2 videos I used are not included, fyi).  Please click here to see their summary and my slides.  Please share this info here, there, or anywhere.  🙂

https://www.techsoupcanada.ca/en/community/blog/effective-pitches-nonprofits

Thank you so much!

The Art of Small Talk and Deeper Conversation

My friend and fellow Communication Expert Mark Bowden was recently on the TV show The Social, and revealed some great verbal and non-verbal communication tips for us to use or avoid when in conversation.  Many people have a difficult time with the art of small talk, not only with getting the conversation started, but with keeping it going and making it more meaningful.  This lack of confident communication can affect us both at work and in our social lives.

One of my most popular communication coaching programs (and has been for a number of years) is called “The Art of Small Talk & Winning First Impressions.”  It’s no wonder it’s so popular – small talk is no small matter!  🙂  If this topic interests you and you would like to improve your soft skills, here are some useful links for you to explore.  Enjoy!

Link One – The Art of Conversation on The Social (article and Mark’s TV appearance):

http://www.thesocial.ca/real-life/relationships/the-art-of-conversation

Link Two – Just the video:

Link Three – A little about my interpersonal coaching programs, and how to connect with me to request a brochure and set up a free initial consultation if interested:

http://communicationcoach.ca/#interpersonal

Link Four (and more)Effective Communication Skills – Never be Stuck for Words Ever Again! Ebook (epub) by Ric Phillips on iTunes, Nook, Kobo and Lulu (prices vary beyond my control):

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/effective-communication-skills/id465102075?mt=11

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/effective-communication-skills-ric-phillips/1113132339?ean=9781257554706

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/effective-communication-skills-never-be-stuck-for-words-ever-again

http://www.lulu.com/shop/ric-phillips/effective-communication-skills-never-be-stuck-for-words-ever-again/ebook/product-20860764.html

PDF Version herehttp://www.lulu.com/shop/ric-phillips/effective-communication-skills-course-workbook/ebook/product-638214.html

Enjoy your small talk more from now on, and have deeper conversations with more impact.

Negotiations Are Easier With the ‘3 Ls’ Technique

"Let's talk negotiations"

“Let’s talk negotiations”

On April 30th 2015 an organization I am proudly a part of, YEDI – York Entrepreneurship Development Institute, held its inaugural alumni meeting at York University (Toronto, Ontario). As a Program Advisor and Business Communications Specialist I was asked to partake in the Panel Discussion along with the other YEDI Program Advisors to share insights and tips with entrepreneurs on the very popular but somewhat mysterious and intimidating topic of “negotiations”.

I posted an article on LinkedIn, so please follow this link to read it – thank you.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/easy-technique-help-negotiate-confidently-business-3-ls-ric-phillips

If you like it and find the tips useful, please like and share.  🙂

Books I Read and Recommend for Improving Communications

I love to share information and recommend resources to my friends and clients, and love hearing about books and authors that have made a difference in their life too.  Like many I have an Amazon page that lists the books I use in my coaching and training to help clients and teams improve their skills.  The skills we may focus on include effective interpersonal skills, reading body language, small talk and rapport-building skills, leadership development skills, professional communication strategies, presentations, conflict management, ESL (English as a second language) improvement including grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, etc.  There are even a couple martial arts books in there too!  🙂   If you’d like to know what books I read and recommend, please check out:

“Ric’s Recommended Communication Skills Training Bookstore”

Happy Reading!