How to ask for a favour

Need to ask someone to do something they don’t necessarily want to do? Try this simple change of language and see what happens.

 

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Ignore Event Prep: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

Not only does Labour Day signal back-to-school for many, it also signals the start of the autumn event season – possible the busiest season in the calendar.Exhibition floor

If you’re like many people out there, September, October and November can look like one long trip out of the office.  And even though this time of year can be tough to manage (you still need to find time to do your actual job, after all) attending conferences, trade show and meetings can represent a fabulous opportunity to meet new people, connect with customers and create relationships that lead to new business – if you do it right.

So, answer this: once you’ve registered, do you put the event out of your mind until the moment you need to show up? DON’T DO THAT.

Ignoring the event right up until it’s about to happen means that you can lose several valuable opportunities to make the most of the time you will spend there.

DO THIS INSTEAD: Spend a small amount of time to prep ahead of the event.

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Accepting Compliments: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

Compliments are lovely.  We all like to hear nice things about ourselves, don’t we?

While most of us like hearing compliments, not many of us feel comfortable receiving them.

Justify a compliment: DON’T DO THAT

Instead of being left with a sense of accomplishment when someone pays us a compliment we find ourselves slightly embarrassed; we stumble for words, look at our feet and probably mutter something self-deprecating.

Often the conversations go something like this:

‘Job well done!’ …‘Oh, I was just doing my job.’

‘You look gorgeous!’ …‘Oh, I, um…in this old thing?’

‘Great presentation.’ …‘Oh, anyone could have done that.’

Not only does this leave us feeling slightly embarrassed but it also leaves the person giving the compliment feeling awkward and takes away from their good intentions. When we make excuses and try to rationalize the compliment we run the risk of turning it into a much bigger ‘event’ than the other person intended.

DO THIS INSTEAD: Say ‘thank you’

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Come and go during conference sessions: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

Come and go during conference sessions: Don't do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

Many of the topics I cover in this series come about because I witness or experience them. This is one of those topics.

This weekend I attended a conference in town. It was a great event. I heard knowledgeable key note speakers, met terrific people and sat in on interesting breakout sessions. However, it was during the breakout sessions that I noticed an unfortunate trend: people who enter and leave, and re-enter, and re-leave (such an annoying act that I’ve had to invent a word for it…) the sessions.

Come and go during a conference session: DON’T DO THAT
No matter how quiet, or unobtrusive, or stealthy you think you’re being. You’re not. Ever.

Now, I appreciate that on occasion we can find yourselves in the wrong session, particularly when there are multiple sessions taking place at once, however, that’s not what was happening in this instance. I went to four sessions on Saturday and in every single one, people wandered in and out, over and over again, and not just at the start but throughout.

People entering and exiting a room is bad enough when you’re in a large space where doors are at the back but Saturday’s sessions where taking place in small boardrooms; there was no way of going unnoticed and yet these repeat offenders seemed oblivious to that fact.

What truly surprised me about this was the number of times people would come in and go out, and come in again, as though they were looking for the best session. This is terrible conference behaviour. It shows an incredible lack courtesy towards everyone in the room, but particularly the speaker.

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Summer dressing: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…”Summer dressing: Don't do that. Do this instead.
The rest of this lyric is “Fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high”**.  And no where is cotton (rayon, spandex, denim…you name it) higher than in summertime.

Before I begin, I would like to make a few things clear:
This is NOT a post about: how you dress for a picnic or a night out.
This IS a post about: our work lives and the perception of professionalism.

Strip down to the ‘bare’ essentials: DON’T DO THAT
When the temperatures and humidity start to soar the temptation to rid ourselves of all (or almost all) our clothes is understandable. The mere idea of being constrained in long sleeves, closed shoes or trousers is enough to make us hot and bothered.  However tempting it is to don your shorts and flip-flops and head to the office, don’t.

DO THIS INSTEAD: Find a balance
I know it can be tricky to find a balance between keeping cool and looking professional but trust me, it’s worth it.

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Overload your ‘To’ address field: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

Too Many Cooks (or in this case, recipients)

Cooks?
What have cooks got to do with anything? What am I talking about? Well, here is what I’m talking about: ‘too many cooks spoil the broth‘.  In essence, this means that if too many people are involved, no one knows who is meant to do what: “have you added the salt, do I need to add the salt? I’ll just throw a little extra in to be safe”.

The same thing happens when you include everyone in the To box when addressing your emails. If you pile everyone into the To box then those you are writing to don’t know what their role is meant to be: are they meant to reply? reply all (this requires a whole post of its own!)? ignore it? wait until someone else replies first? HELP!

Mass all your recipients in the To field: DON’T DO THAT
When you lump everyone in that one box you generally create confusion, and here is what happens (or doesn’t happen) as a result:

  • No one knows who is expected to act
  • No one replies (because they are waiting for someone else to do so)
  • Some people reply, but forget to ‘reply all’, so only you get the information
  • Some people do ‘reply all’ but forget that they are speaking to everyone, and inadvertently cause offense
  • Everyone replies, at the same time, with differing ideas and opinions – leaving you to sort out the ensuing mess

There are other scenarios but we haven’t got the time. So, instead of being the architect of the above (or worse):

DO THIS INSTEAD: Clearly address your emails
The genius of email is that it offers up terrific options to organize your audience. This not only helps you sort out who needs the information but also helps your audience understand their roles. Couple this with a clearly worded email (letting every one know their part) and you will be on to a winner.

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‘Hey!’: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

HEY!

Relax, it’s 2016
Yes, yes it is, and life is generally less formal than it used to be – which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, there are times when a lack of formality can lead you down a path that impacts your professionalism.

Be fooled into foregoing formalities: DON’T DO THAT
Recently, a short video was doing the social media rounds. It showed a group of young reporters receiving a briefing in the White House press gallery. During their briefing, President Obama made a guest appearance: he sauntered in, relaxed, smiling and carrying his cup of coffee.

When the group was invited to ask questions, one young women started hers with, ‘Hey’.  If you’ve seen the clip, you’ll know that President Obama, ever the diplomat, responded with a smile and a ‘Hey’ in return. HOWEVER, look closely, that smile is one tight smile.  In this situation, some (teeny tiny) leeway would have been granted because of this person’s age and inexperience, and nerves, but it still impacted how he responded.

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RSVPs: Don’t do that. Do this instead

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

R.S.V.Ps

Who doesn’t love a party?RSVPs: Don't do that. Do this instead
I suppose that’s a loaded question because some people don’t actually ‘love a party’. But there the invitation sits: on your mantel, in your inbox, lurking in your voicemail.

So, whether you can’t wait to arrive, and out stay your welcome (that’s a different post), or you want to make a brief appearance and leave early, you need to reply to the invitation.

Neglect to RSVP: DON’T DO THAT
These days the idea of letting your host know that you are (or are not) going to attend an event – an event to which you have been so graciously invited – seems to be something that people think is ‘optional’.

It’s not.

I repeat, not replying is not optional.

Whether it’s a wedding, an office event or a backyard BBQ, if you’ve been invited you MUST reply.

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LinkedIn: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

LinkedInLinkedIn: Don't do that. Do this instead.

Six degrees of separation

LinkedIn is a fabulous business tool in so many ways, not least of which its ability to create powerful connections. That’s why it drives me nuts when people initiate those connections in the most anonymous way possible.

Sending the ‘standard’ LinkedIn request: DON’T DO THAT
We’ve all received it, it reads:

Hi Hilary, I’d like to join your LinkedIn network.

And that’s it. No background, no context.

When I receive requests like this, unless I know exactly who that person is, I ignore them, and I know from conversations with others that I’m not alone in this.

Now, I will admit that it is partly to do with the way LinkedIn operates. There are times when you click the ‘Connect’ button and the next thing you know LinkedIn is telling you that the request has been sent. If you are me, you then find yourself yelling ‘Argh!’ at the computer.

So, if you want to really grow your network on LinkedIn in a meaningful way:

DO THIS INSTEAD: Personalize every request
If you want to make sure that people will pay attention to your request, then include a note, every time.

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