5 reasons to avoid a promotion

The poisoned chaliceSuch is the reward for being good at your job: the poisoned chalice is all yours.   Going from numbers, codes and mechanisms to the murky world of people is like jumping from being a great Mechanical Engineer to Chief Architect.   The skills needed for one role seem to have no bearing on the other.

As you stare into the screen and bite your lip, you realise 5 reasons that you should have said ‘no’ to the offer of a step up:


No. 1

Suddenly I’m managing my peers.  I used to sit and take the p*ss out of management, complaining about stuff with them.  Now I realise that: a) I’m going to have to get rid of Bob/Jo/Mo if they don’t buck up their performance b) they expect me to do something about whatever we were grumbling about.  As some of those concerns were related to difficult people, I’d rather be playing Candy Crush Saga and not making difficult decisions.”

If you avoid a problem, you could risk this becoming a crisis, so it’s important you know what to challenge and when. With a few techniques and help in developing understanding about how your teams work, instead of avoiding challenging conversations, you’ll learn to face them with confidence.   That doesn’t mean you’ll bound out of bed in the morning, elated at the thought of slapping your colleagues down (although I know one or two who rather warm to this idea). However, the dread does subside and a clearer sense of resolve results.  The outcome is greater respect from those around you.


No. 2

This leads to my second quandary.  I’m now appearing at Senior Management Meetings and have to prove myself but they’ve an entirely different way of conducting meetings and it’s all so political.  It’s like an episode of The West Wing, and I’m nothing more than the notepad, such is my ability to influence them.”

There are many techniques for influence and persuasion, some of which you’ll find here.  Every situation is different and yours is unique so you may need help in getting clarity on your specific situation.  It’s worth thinking about how you the impression you may be giving others, non-verbally as well as verbally.


No. 3

They’re talking to me about Business Development.  What?  Was I trained in a souk?  How the hell am I meant to go from code to drumming up business.  What are Sales and Marketing doing?”

They need you to translate the technolingo to suppliers, distributors, resellers etc.  and you’ll probably be doing 121 and team meetings and presentations, if not already, very soon.  Also, if you were to look at who you’ve already been working with, you’d realise you’re the best person to make the contacts: people know you and trust you.   Building on that secures opportunities for you and your team.  Even if you understand the rationale behind Business Development in your position, one IT Director with whom I was working with was at a loss at to how he could gain from networking.  With a bit of coaching he was able to recoup the £1000s he was spending on a major trade annual networking event in won business and surprised himself by having a lot of fun in the process.


No. 4

I’m hiding behind two 22 inch computer screens at the moment but I know they’re going to find me.  I can’t run and I can’t hide.  I’m now accountable to the forces that be for how my team perform.”

Managing up, as well as across and sideways are essential skills for you to develop if you don’t want to be that supplicant, begging to your boss for mercy as you see a metaphorical blade in suspense above your head.  Get good at the managing up and it will help you manage down and across.


No. 5

Apparently, my focus needs to shift from detail to ‘big picture’: manageable short term tasks to reach those obscure long term goals.”

Suddenly, you have to be more bi-lingual than you were before, being able to understand the large goals, how they translate into your remit and spread this across to your people.  Motivation is increased when you know why you’re doing something and it’s meaningful.  This also means, a finer grasp of the relationships between departments.

All 5 of the toxins in the poisoned chalice have one characteristic in common:  communicating with others.  It’s not the technical challenges but how you handle others to achieve that’s more important in a new role.

Ella Fitzgerald created a message especially for you but Bananarama’s is the version that I sing to, so here they are (and, oh my, you’ll just love the hair!):



Click here to see how I’ve worked with different teams to get them back on track in their interpersonal communication.

8 ways to get what you want from presentations

follow uupYou’ve just finished a fantastic presentation and people are gurgling with joy about you/your content/your services.

You get back to base expecting the phone to ring, your diary to be heaving at the seams and working out whether you need an office in New York and Hong Kong.

But it all falls flat as a pancake. Nothing. Nichts. De Nada. And you think ‘Was I imagining that enthusiasm?’

It’s very likely you weren’t but we’re goldfishes: as soon as we come away from the context of the talk, we remain with the shadow of the impact, not the full-on spirit of the moment. This means that you need to be proactive, if you want to pick up on opportunities to:

1. gather support for a plan;

2. acquire further knowledge or spread your own;

3. win business;

4. build networks of influence.

What I’ve gathered here are 8 ways you can create opportunities to get what you need.

The presentation may feel like a main course but often it’s the starter: the prelude to actually doing business. In conferences, you may have so many speakers that they all blend into each other.

Make yourself stand out and keep in the minds of your audience and influencers. Here are several ways that you can do this:

  1. use to post slides to them (the transcript of the slides appears underneath);
  2. post a survey. can do this easily and send it out to social networks;
  3. send an opt-in form to register interest in products or services. Research has shown that by getting people to indicate interest before you start ‘the sell’, sales can increase by as much as 50%;
  4. write a blog or, even better, have a member of the audience write and post one for you if you don’t have time. Sharing your knowledge with the audience, means that you can then catch it in your own blog, in the time it takes to buckle a belt;
  5. offer a follow-up webinar with a small group, individuals who want to go further into the details;
  6. arrange one to one’s with interested individuals or individuals you’re interested in meeting up with (scanning the audience list for opportunities before the presentation will allow you to catch your prey);
  7. catch names of attendees and have them on your mailing list so you can keep them as warm leads, instead of waiting for them to go ‘cold’;
  8. set up and invite attendees to a forum – online or offline – to exchange ideas and opinions about your content;

One or any combination of the above can help you to benefit from the opportunity of presenting so, no matter what happens on the day, you can still seize the moment and maintain the momentum, and who know: New York and Hong Kong may just be starting points…next, The World!


Breaking the Email Backlash

emailPeople do all sorts of things that can p!ss you off in emails, such as:

  • getting stroppy and obstructive;
  • being patronising and bossy;
  • ignoring you;
  • making trouble by copying in more people than necessary.

Here’s what to do:

Click here for an edited version of my workshop booklet, Breaking the Email Backlash.

The workshop you need to pay for as it’s hands on, personalised and face to face.  The download, though, is free.

Then, either pass this around through, say, HR, or use this email download as a signature for your own emails, thereby politely encouraging your recipients to polish up on their written communication skills.

Job done. Peace will reign.

Download here to get it immediately.

2 quick tips for productive meetings

Only too often, we sit in meetings, bored to tears by the tangential conversation, the conversation hoggers and the lack of relevance to the agreed agenda.

I’ve put together two magic tips you can use in your next meetings to save your time, increase engagement and maximise productivity.

Does this make steam come out your ears?

Ah, the joys of email communication.

So many times, communication between people can break down simply because of how they’re using emails.

Ignoring how we use virtual communication when we look at relating to others, is like trying to run a car with a flat tyre: it’ll go but not very efficiently.

These three tips will keep that car away from the relationship breakdown garage, helping smooth the communication.

1. Irritation One: the words ‘should’:
For example, ‘You should let me know when you have authorisation for this and then I will action the request’. Similarly, replacing that with ‘have to’, which is even stronger, may start to annoy your recipient.

It could be seen as: patronising.

The Recommendation: replace ‘should’ and ‘have to’ with ‘You’ll need to’ or I’d strongly recommend that…’   This is easier to hear and act upon. It means the same without sounding like a finger-wagging parent.


2. Irritation Two: presumptuous wording such as ‘As you know…’ then adding totally new information that is unknown to everyone, but should have been known.

It could be seen as: someone covering their back

Recommendation: writing, ‘As you may know…’ and sticking to possibilities unless you can be certain.


3. Irritation Three: cc’ing in the boss, because you can’t get what you want from a colleague.
It could be seen as: trouble-making

Recommendation: if the communication is breaking down, go and see someone to get their advice. Usually, two adults should – excuse me – need – to be able to work it out between each other by saying:

a) what needs to be done and, perhaps, why the current situation could be problemetic

b) who will do it

c) finish with ‘As soon as you have this, I’ll be happy to help you’.

If the tone is constructive and respectful, there is less chance of being cold shouldered off line or email mud-slinging.


To know how direct you can be in English, without being rude or weak, look here:

Go here for three magic ways to get people off your back or…not, if you really want to annoy them:

Click on this link below, if you want to get requests acted upon quicker:

Got any email pains you want to get out there? Share and get them out your hair!

See you in the comments below!

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Three Small Ways to Write Emails that People Act Upon

Three Small Ways to write Emails that People act on.

If you want people to reply to your emails with more speed, then use the following pointers in your messages and get rid of those ‘chase up’ flags!

1. Write Specific Titles

Make sure the title matches the subject and is specific. This email below is not specific enough:

Stella may have 3 meetings so when she sees Jock’s email, she may be confused as to which one Jock’s referring.

Now compare this email heading, where Jock’s been very specific about the subject so Stella will instantly know which meeting is being mentioned.

2. Keep Subjects Separate

It’s much easier to respond to subjects when you send each one in a separate email.

If you combine subjects in emails, there’s more risk of the them being ‘buried’ and ignored. To mitigate this, and to make it easier for you to keep track of where you are with each issue, allot a separate email to different subjects.

3. Give the right amount of information

One of the reasons why no one replies to your email, is information overload. On the other hand, too little information and the receiver can be left in the dark.

Some people want detail, some just the gist. The safest bet here is to:

  1. keep your points succinct and short;
  2. ensure your points are numbered and well space, makiing it easier for the eye to scan information;

  3. highlight important points with a space above and below in addition to emphasising with the use of a different colour.


If you need to provide extra information, you can:

  • offer a meeting/call
  • provide an attachment, giving those who want to ‘drill down’ the opportunity to get the detail.

Applying these tips will help you to get from this…

to this:

…without pulling teeth!

Close up and Personal

If you think you’re better with face to face training, Switch Vision can run courses for you – whether as a one to one or in a group.

See more: click here .

Get into the conversation:  Follow me on Twitter or Facebook

How where you sit affects your influence…

I’d been speaking to some accountants who had a disastrous client meeting.

It turned out that it was all in the seating so I’ve made this quick video so you can see how to avoid conflict and steer actions through the simple mastery of the Four Positions for Influence in Meetings.

No choreography, Kama Sutra or Yoga. These positions are much quicker to learn and won’t break your back!

Happy watching!

Kicking Open the Door

Dealing with Objections

doorWhat happens when someone raises an objection and you know there’s a way round it…if only you knew those magic tactics to turn a ‘no’ or ‘not interested’ into at least a ‘you’ve got something there: let’s talk’, or even a ‘yes’.

The Pause-Align-Deflect technique was just one of a bundle that I gave to client who need to know how to handle objections.

This technique comes in three stages:

1. Pause

Why? Because it gives you time to think. If you’re given an objection such as ‘We don’t have enough money for your service’ and then dive in, you may sound a bit desperate. You need to be regarded as a solution finder to your potential customer’s problem.

2. Align

This is where you agree with the gist of a statement, rather than the content. So in the example above you’d be asking something like ‘It’s important that you allocate money to your priorities, isn’t it?’. They’ll nod in agreement, which opens the door for you to…

3. Deflect

This is usually in the form of a question and will help you keep the door open with your clients e.g. ‘What are your priorities at the moment then?’ You may find that you can help them with those priorities! Alternatively, you maybe able to indirectly do so by referring a contact. This will gain trust and a sense of partnership so that you’ll be near the top of the list when they do need you.

Here are a few more examples that could be just a relevant to professional services as charities:

Client: “Your company’s too big”
You: “Receiving the proper attention and care is important.”
Deflect with a question:
You: “So what do you look for in a relationship? What are your expectations?”

Client: You’re no different from anyone else!
You: It’s a minefield selecting a xxxxxx, isn’t it, especially with so many in this area. Can you talk me through your selection process?

Client: I’m not actually sure we need your product.
You: It’s really vital that you select the right resources when you’re growing. What are the main areas of your service you’d like to develop.

Client: Our budget has been cut.
You: Allocating funds to the right product is vital now. Where are your priorities at the moment?
Client: That won’t be a solution.
You: We don’t want to waste time and effort on something that won’t work. What would we need to do to make it work?

You may find that the your client/potential client isn’t ready to bite yet, for example in the last dialogue.
However, your question can perhaps uncover opportunities thay you haven’t yet considered or give you an idea of when the time is right.

What you might realise as you read this is just how applicable this technique is to discussing next steps, performance appraisals, brainstorming and more. You can deal with disagreement and keep the door open to solutions.


What specific objections do you find it difficult dealing with?  Let me know below and I’ll see if I can help you


Is your language holding you back?

A few years ago, I was coaching a senior Banker in creative thinking.  I had some music on my laptop and turned my back on him to switch the sound off. Before doing so, I said ‘sorry’, at which point he asked, “Why are you saying ‘sorry’?”

“Because it’s rude not to, when you’re turning your back on someone,” I replied,

“But you didn’t do anything wrong. Say ‘excuse me’. Why apologise?”

I nodded in agreement whilst pondering on his pedantic nature.

Firstly, he was in Banking, which has a very specific culture. Secondly as a South African male in Banking he was even more direct than many of the people I know in the same sector in the UK. When I was thinking ‘excuse me’, he heard ‘grovel, grovel, please forgive me.’


The Language Trap

Knowing how our language is interpreted in ways that we hadn’t intended was the subject of a study by Dr. Judith Baxter, Senior Lecturer of Applied Linguistics at Aston University.

She observed and recorded board meetings in 7 FTSE 500 businesses and analysed how women who have reached the top communicate and interact with their colleagues.

What she discovered is a key skill that women need to learn if they are to survive and be successful at the top. However, it’s not only women. I’ve sat in on a few meetings where men have also fallen into the same verbal trap.

The trap, as Dr. Baxter defines it, is called ‘double-voiced discourse’ (DvD). Women tend to use this more when they’re in a meeting dominated by men, mainly at a more senior level.

DvD is a type of linguistic second guessing, where possible negative reactions to colleagues are dealt with by using pre-emptive self put-downs. The message the listener gets is that of insecurity.

For example, Dr. Baxter noted that in one example a senior woman said, ‘I realise I’m talking too much, I better shut up’. She had only spoken twice in the board meeting.

Some examples of double-voiced discourse taken from the data are as follows:

  • To pre-empt criticism about a new policy, a senior woman to her team:
    ‘I know what’s going through your minds, so let me just say what I think first…’
  • In case she didn’t hear an important point in the discussion:
    ‘Correct me if I have missed something here, but it seems to me that…’
  • To soften a forceful statement if a senior women feels she is seen as threatening:
    ‘At the risk of sounding assertive, I just think…..’
  • To heighten authority if a woman feels she is not being taken seriously:
    ‘OK, guys, give me a break, you’re not listening to my point…’

I’ve found that one has to also be careful with the use of words such as ‘actually’ as in:

‘Actually, I have something to add to this’

Some may interpret that as:

‘Ooh, what a surprise! I can, in fact, add to this point!’

There’s also ‘just’ as in:

‘I just need to ask you whether we’re meeting tomorrow’

That sentence with the word ‘just’ and either softens it or can come across as almost apologetic.

‘So sorry to take up your time but can I ask, er…is it OK…to know what time we’re meeting tomorrow.’

This self-deprecating language can express a charming humility. On the other hand, there are certain national cultures and working contexts in which such forms of expression can hold you back.

(By the way, thanks to Kim Catcheside from Champollion for passing me her press release from Dr Baxter’s research.)

What specific language do YOU observe puts the speaker down?