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Too Busy Communicating…

We all have those ‘times of the month’… you know what I’m talking about… the times when you’re too busy to send that follow-up email, much less see if your socks match.

So what happens when you find yourself at the tail end of one of those periods?  How do you recover, follow-up, apologize, and reconnect with dignity?  Seriously… I’m asking.  Have you seen the date of my last post?  DON’T LOOK!

In my five years in professional communications, here are some key things I’ve learned about people and communicating:

  1. People are understanding (for the most part) – We’ve all been there and had those times.  We make allowances for others faults, just as others make allowances for ours.  Trust in the kindness of others.
  2. It’s ok to say ‘I’m sorry’ – Apologize if you dropped the ball, missed the deadline, or took the project in the wrong direction.  Don’t grovel or start listing all your excuses, even if they are valid or legit!  Just apologize.  Period.
  3. People don’t want to hear the list of excuses – Don’t rattle off all the things you’ve been busy with or projects you’ve worked on.  Just take ownership of the fact that you did not respond or act in a timely fashion as you would have liked.
  4. Make amends – Ask if there’s any other upcoming projects you could provide assistance with and then ‘wow’ them with your efficiency this time.  Or offer them a free product/service or discounted rate.  It’s hard to pass up a good deal!
  5. Set realistic goals – Going forward, set realistic goals for yourself and your business, and make those goals known to your client.  I’m not saying to set the bar low, but be realistic in your expectations of what you and your employees can accomplish.

Between work, family, and other commitments, life gets busy.  Learn to forgive yourself and forgive others when one of the many proverbial balls is dropped.

As these gentlemen so elegantly put it:

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.  – George Bernard Shaw

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.  – Steve Jobs

Empowering Others

What is the attraction to doing communications work for people?  The communicating, of course!

I get to meet incredible people through my work – people like the Hornans who operate Philip’s Magical Paradise in Giroux, Manitoba.
These people stole my heart from the moment I met them – such a humble, kindhearted couple who developed a magic museum to honour and preserve the memory of their brave son, who lost his battle to cancer at the tender age of fifteen.

I had the privilege of developing a website for Philip’s Magical Paradise and, during my time working on this project, re-discovered one of the greatest pleasures in my work… the honour of communicating and empowering others with a new knowledge and ability.  I LOVE teaching people and helping them discover something new that will make their business and, hopefully, life better.

Sadly, many people shy away from new tasks or challenges because they DON’T KNOW HOW or they’ve NEVER DONE IT BEFORE.  I don’t need to launch into a huge explanation of where we would be as a civilization if people like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela had shied away from trying something new and pushing the envelope.

This next week, how about trying something new and challenging yourself to attain another level in your business communications?  The rewards will surely be worth it.

 

Mentorship Inspiration

There are certainly some benefits to working by or for yourself… you call the shots, you set the goals, and you work at achieving those goals through your own determined methods.

But the entrepreneur in me will be the first to admit that even the ‘go-it-aloner’ needs support in the form of a mentor.

A mentor is someone who provides you with honest feedback; willingly discusses projects or goals with you; and challenges and excites you to improve and succeed.

Most of us, even if we work alone, have people who inspire us to be better at what we do and provide us with that honest voice of reason.  These are our ‘go-to’ people who allow us the freedom to bounce ideas back and forth without fear.  And then when we have a winning idea, they cheer us on to success.

I was recently partnered with a mentor through the Canadian Women in Communication’s Shaw Media Mentorship Program.  My mentor is the incredibly talented and hard-working RoseAnna Schick of RAS Creative and, although I have only met with her once so far, I am already blessed for knowing her.  She’s a no-nonsense, hard-working, creative type who loves what she does and does it well.  These are the traits that I admire in her and hope to emulate through ARticulate.

So now that I’ve got you excited about mentor relationships, here’s an event for you – whether you’d like to become a mentor or would just like to find a like-minded mentor.  The Manitoba Canadian Women in Communications Chapter is hosting its season finale, “Solo’s a No-No: Achieving Success through Mentorship,” at The Manitoba Club in Winnipeg this Thursday, April 12th.

The stellar panel features Doug Brown, formerly of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers; Elaine Ali, former VP of Stations with CTV / Bell Media; Lesley McFarlane, Director of the Network Services Project Management Office with MTS Allstream; Colleen Coates, CHRP, CCP, National Practice Leader, Total Compensation at People First HR Services; and Michelle Sawatzky, Olympian and Morning Show co-host with Golden West Radio.

Come out for an incredibly inspiring event!  Who knows?  You may even find your mentor.

Small Steps for Big Changes

Today, as I was driving, an intriguing communication idea came to me…

I was driving through an intersection in which the roadways were not perfectly aligned (i.e. a slight turn was necessary in order to stay in the same lane).  For whatever reason (I had not had my morning coffee yet…), I found myself analyzing how just the slightest adjustment of the wheel turned my vehicle’s tires and adjusted my course so as to keep on the correct path and avoid… well… a light post.  The oh-so-slight change of course averted disaster.

My mind took this analogy to the realm of communications.  (I forewarned you I am a communications junky!)

Communication is such a phenomenal task – one in which we all engage everyday.  But how many times do we as professionals hit snags, bumps, and roadblocks as we struggle to communicate with our clients, employees, and customers, and do not know how to fix it?  Worse yet, how many times do we keep using the same communication tools and methods when they have ceased to be of value and are more a hindrance than a help?

Countless organizations are traveling on the communication superhighway, 100 kilometres per hour, because this is the highway on which they’ve always traveled, it feels familiar, or because there was no “toll” on this road and the other highways all have tolls.

But yet, a slight change to their communications plan or marketing strategy – the smallest adjustment in navigation – may prove to be a ‘crisis’ or ‘disaster’ averted.

That ‘disaster’ may be the waste of hundreds of dollars on a fruitless advertising strategy; the distrust of a group of employees who feel left in the dark; the loss of a client who misunderstood the service or product you offered; or the tarnished business reputation that resulted from unflattering media coverage.

Think about it.  What small communications adjustment can you make today?

New Beginnings

Happy New Year!

I don’t know about you, but the start of a new year makes me excited… so much to anticipate, plan, dream, organize, create, do, etc.

Ok… breathe Amber, breathe…

Another thing to which the start of a new year lends itself is reflection.  Have you done your best?  Lived the fullest?  Made the most?
Is there anything you wish you had handled differently?  If so, assess it, grant forgiveness to yourself, and let it go.

Make 2012 the year of ‘no regrets’.

Looking forward… what is going to be different about 2012 for you?  Aim high here!

For me, 2012 is the year that I make a ‘go’ with ARticulate.  It has been a dream and a desire for a couple of years now and it’s time to turn dream to reality.

Stay tuned and expect big things… from ARticulate and yourself.

To Be ARticulate

What does it mean to be ‘articulate’ and why did I name my business this?  Good questions.  I’m glad you asked.

The dictionary defines ‘articulate’ as:

  • Endowed with the power of speech.
  • To speak clearly and distinctly.
  • Composed of distinct, meaningful syllables or words, as human speech.
  • Expressing oneself easily in clear and effective language.

Don’t these definitions just make you want to ‘get out there’ and communicate all the important ideas in your mind in a powerful, meaningful, and effective manner?   What could possibly be more important than having a meaningful exchange of ideas with a fellow coworker, client, group, partner, or friend?

Ok, so maybe I’m a bit of a communication junky… I’ll admit it.

Not everyone has the ability or even the desire to practice communication with others, and it’s here that ARticulate Communication as a consultant and partner becomes important.

Meaningful and effective communication… articulate communication… are what I focus on providing for municipal governments, small businesses and non-profit organizations.

Thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to chatting with you again soon.

Have a question or comment?  I’d love to hear from you at articulatecd@gmail.com.