It’s not just you; many of us are talking less these days and texting or emailing much more to communicate with one another. This week, we revisit one of the most universally relevant topics we’ve ever covered: the art of conversation in the digital age.
“I absolutely believe that technology is often negatively affecting the way that human beings interact with each other,” says Evelyn Ashley, Managing Partner of Trusted Counsel. “The reality is that technology is brilliant, but the challenge, especially in business, is the reliance on email or technology to take the place of a conversation or a face-to-face meeting where you can actually build the relationship in order to achieve your goals.”
In this episode of In Process Podcast, Trusted Counsel talks with Elaine Rosenblum, founder of ProForm U, and Jodi Fleisig, Senior Vice President of Media Strategy & Relations for Porter Novelli. They discuss the communication hurdles we face as technology is more and more ubiquitous in modern society.
Our perception of ourselves compared to our peers is skewed.
“What people do is they present a false self, and that has raised the standard for the way people think they have to present themselves,” says Elaine. “I think what that has caused, in terms of the quality of communication, is that people have felt like they need to present a false self. That lack of trust that comes from the false self is a problem.” With today’s culture of over-sharing, people actually think they need to present themselves as something more or bigger than what they actually are. “When people present false selves, of course people believe some of it. But I think people know in their hearts—they may not be able to articulate it, but they know on some level—that it is a false self. That makes them less likely to risk themselves,” says Elaine. “That goes to trust, and trust is where you build relationships and that’s actually where creativity and innovation come from. “
When it comes to conversation, you are in control.
“Conversation is a muscle, and you have to work it,” says Jodi. The popularity of text messaging and chat puts us in the habit of using snippets to communicate rather than fleshed-out thought, rendering newcomers to the work force helpless when it comes to introduction emails and cover letters. Jodi tells her clients who get anxiety about conversations (whether those conversations are interviews, public speaking engagements or everyday encounters), to come up with three key messages you want to your listeners to remember. “Everyone needs to learn: you are in control,” says Jodi. “You have to practice. Just because you’re brilliant in science doesn’t mean you’re great in English. Just because you’re a great CEO in subject X doesn’t mean you’re a good communicator. You have to learn how to communicate, whether it’s asking for a raise or appearing on a radio show or speaking to the board or just speaking to the people on your team. You don’t have to turn into an extrovert, but you need to have the confidence to say what you mean.”
Don’t rule out technology in conflict resolution—but don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk, either.
“Technology can be very efficient and very effective. I think where you have to be careful is word choice,” says Elaine. “Our default word choice, especially since we move so fast, tends to be extreme and judgmental. We are inundated with judgmental comments from movies, media. Our default tone becomes judgmental. Based on whether you neutralize that language, you can get into an uncomfortable conversation or an easy conversation.” If a conversation is escalating into unpleasant territory via email, though, it’s a good idea to pick up the phone and talk things out.
Nothing can replace an in-person meeting.
According to Jodi, technology is a tool. “The most important thing that you have to sell is yourself, and the best way to do that is to connect with people through chemistry. You can tell so much about a person when you meet them. I think you can use technology as a tool to further that relationship. One doesn’t substitute for another.”
In the technology you do use to communicate, it’s important not to be too guarded. Remember, the most effective message is going to be one that reflects the “you” that the person on the receiving end is familiar with. “You do need to put your own personality into your technology – into the emails that you write, and what you post to Facebook and Twitter. You need to break out from the clutter,” says Jodi.
Stream the conversation in the player below to learn more. Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to In Process Podcast on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future updates from the show to your smartphone.
When to Talk; When to Text
Elaine Rosenblum, Founder of ProForm U and Jodi Fleisig, Senior Vice President of Porter and Novelli
(c) Trusted Counsel (Ashley) LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Announcer: It’s time for In Process, Conversations about Business in the 21st Century with Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon. Presented by Trusted Counsel a corporate and intellectual property law firm. For more information visit trusted-counsel.com. Now, with In Process, here are Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon.
John: Hello and welcome to In Process, Conversations about Business in the 21st Century, presented by Trusted Counsel a corporate an intellectual property law firm. I’m John Monahon.
Evelyn: I’m Evelyn Ashley.
John: We are partners in Trusted Counsel. Our topic for today is the art of conversation in the digital age. Evelyn, I think this is a really important conversation, because the way we’re communicating these days is really a lot through technology.
Evelyn: Absolutely. You know I’m all about this conversation. This is one I’ve wanted to have a for a long time. I absolutely believe that technology is often negatively affecting the way that human beings interact with each other.
John: I’m guilty of it myself. I pull out my cell phone all the time. I’m checking my email at home. I’m on the iPad checking football scores. I think today’s conversation about how to best use technology to communicate and how it’s affecting our society, I think it’s going to add a lot of insight.
Evelyn: I think it is. The reality is, technology is brilliant. Being able to have a conversation and say, “What was the name of that movie? Let me put in some keywords and it pops up,” or “I didn’t really know anything about the history of that.” You can actually enhance a conversation because you actually have reference materials immediately available or whatever. I think the challenge is, particularly in business, the reliance on email and technology to take the place of a conversation or a face-to-face meeting where you can actually build a relationship in order to achieve your goals.
John: I think we’ll be digging into a lot of that about not only its effect on society as a whole, but how it affects business issues as well and how you might be able to solve things better through technology or not as well through technology.
Evelyn: We have some great guests for that.
John: We’re thrilled to have two guests today that can give great insight into effective communication in the digital age. Elaine Rosenblum is the founder of ProForm U. Elaine teaches collaborative communication, negotiation skills not only to professionals at all levels, but also to budding professionals including students preparing for college and job interviews. Across careers as an entrepreneur, attorney, teacher, marketer, Elaine acquired deep experience working at and consulting for corporate organizations from startups to Wall Street. At the intersection of advancing technology and diminishing human contact, Elaine combines her corporate and legal expertise to realize her vision that collaborative communication techniques are among the most viable professional skills and that expectations for productivity and profit margins demand them.
Jodi Fleisig is Senior Vice President of media strategy and relations for Porter and Novelli. Jody spent 10 years as a senior executive producer and supervisor at CNN. She was in the control room during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and guided the networks live global coverage during the first eight hours of the crisis. She was named 2012 Media Professional of the Year, awarded by the Bulldog Reporter. She has also won five television Emmy awards and is an acclaimed network television senior executive producer and supervisor. Jodi has been a TV, radio and newspaper journalist for more than 20 years and has a successful track record of achieving measurable results and fast paced pressured environments. She provides clients with experienced counsel and strategy creation, crisis issue communications, message development, e-communications, executive media training, and multi media campaigns. She’s based in Atlanta and provides network leadership to Porter and Novelli offices around the world. Elaine and Jodi, welcome to the show.
Jodi Fleisig: Thanks for having us.
Elaine R: Thanks for having us, John.
John: Thank you for-
Elaine R: And Evelyn.
Evelyn: As you can tell, John really loves the bios.
John: They’re easier to read when I’m not looking straight at the microphone. Thanks for joining us, one thing that I wanted to start off the conversation with is just a really broad question. The way today’s technologies are, we have such control of our communications we get to curate what we’re going to put online, what we’re going to type this email. How’s that affecting the way that we communicate with each other these days?
Elaine R: I think that what people do is they present maybe a false self and that has raised the standard and the way people think they have to present themselves. I think what that has caused in terms of the quality of communication is that people have felt like they need to present a false self and that lack of trust that comes from the false self is a problem. Jodi, what do you think of that?
Jodi Fleisig: I think that technology’s a tool. I go around the country teaching CEOs and C- Suites and middle managers how to communicate with other people in their offices, with television reporters, with print reporters, and I think the most important thing that you have to sell is yourself. The best way to do that is to connect with people through chemistry. You can tell so much about a person when you meet them. I think you use technology as a tool to further that relationship. I don’t think one substitutes for the other, because we all came in here, and we got to know each other, and we got the chemistry warmed up, and we’re going to have a great conversation. When I walk into a room, whether it’s, I’m asking for a raise, and I’m doing it myself, or I’m trying to teach others, I need to spend the first 15 minutes of that conversation warming that person and getting [crosstalk 00:06:10] the energy going and developing that trust. Then, from there, you can use the technology to enhance what you’re doing. I would also say to put your own personality in your technology and in the emails that you write or your post on Facebook or Twitter, because you need to break out from the clutter.
Evelyn: I do think that Elaine raises a really valid point that there is this, there’s this thing that’s happening where people actually think they need to present themselves for something more or bigger than who they actually are, which is …
Elaine R: This false, it’s almost a false [crosstalk 00:06:49] self. I think when people present false selves, of course, people believe some of it, but I think that people know in their heart they may not be able to articulate it, but they know on some level that it is a false self. Then, it makes them less likely to risk themselves. Then, that goes to trust. Trust is where you build relationships and that’s actually where creativity and innovation come from.
John: I once read an article, I can’t quote, which one, but it said that there’s a direct correlation between how many selfies someone takes and their level of depression. So, people who are taking a lot of selfies, are actually very depressed. You’d think they would be very confident, because they’re always taking pictures of themselves, it’s quite the opposite, because they’re always looking for affirmation. That’s why they’re constantly posting selfies. [crosstalk 00:07:38].
Elaine R: It’s almost like Pavlov’s dogs or the levers and the mice. People are looking actually for a hit. I don’t have the actual numbers, but the level of anxiety and depression in the United States has gone up significantly. I think in the world probably. Then, as we talked about before the level of conflict, which speaks to a lot of what I talk to people about conflict resolution. That the level of conflict has gone up significantly. We don’t have to look far to notice that.
Evelyn: I think it’s, that’s a really interesting point, because and we face this all the time in what we do at the firm working with clients. People have, they see everything as a difficult undertaking. It’s a difficult conversation any concept of conflict means, “Oh my god! I’m going to avoid that situation rather than trying to resolve through communication.” And in my mind it typically needs to be delivered in what I would call a human based communication as opposed to using email or anything else to communicate.
Elaine R: You can use technology. It can be very efficient and very effective. I think where you have to be careful is word choice. I think our default word choice and, especially because we move so fast tends to be extreme and judgmental. We are inundated with judgmental comments and from movies, media, television, we have talking heads screaming at each other on TV. Then our default becomes judgmental and if you can just neutralize that language and that’s what I work with a lot with people on, is how to shift from the judgmental to the neutral so you can get into an uncomfortable conversation or an easy conversation.
Jodi Fleisig: I also think nuance is really important, I was telling Elaine this morning. My stepson went to Alabama and he comes home with a bunch of kids on a Friday night and I texted him, “How many kids are you coming home with and what time? Why do I want to know, because I need to know how much to cook and what time to have dinner on the table.” He’s like, “What is she judging how many kids I’m bringing home and I want to go out and party.” I’m like, I picked up the phone and I said, “Hey, I just want to know how much food to cook” and he’s laughing. You have to be really careful about what you say and how to say it. I got an email the other day from a client and it almost sounded like the questions they were asking you, it was either just friendly questions or a witch hunt. You pick up the phone and you say, “Hey, can you just explain to me what you’re looking for,” in a very warm … tone and say, “Hey, tell me what you’re looking for and I’d love to help.”
Evelyn: “I’m not exactly sure what you’re trying to say in this email, maybe you could explain it to me.”
Jodi Fleisig: Your tone on the phone in person is the key, because you can’t be defensive or confrontational. You just very open.
John: Well, we got to take a break. When we get back we will discuss a little bit more about why people don’t pick up the phone.
Announcer: Now, back to In Process, Conversations about Business in the 21st Century with Evelyn Ashley and John Monohon. For more information visit trusted-counsel.com.
John: Welcome back. When we left off we were talking a little bit about just picking up the phone and having a conversation, because there’s so much in technology that can be lost in translation and interpretation, so just pick up the phone and get to the root of it, a lot of this stuff can be put to bed. There’s a real fear today among some people who use technology all the time about communicating in that way. It’s very spontaneous and you don’t have control over your message. Is that something you guys are encountering a lot?
Elaine R: I’m seeing it a lot with young people in preparing for interviews. They really struggle with the face-to-face conversation or a phone conversation. Their default is to text. Or the other thing I’m seeing is that when they need to write an email even as something as simple as a cover letter, they don’t know the way in. They’re not used to having a real conversation. They’re used to having snippets. Their default is text. They do not want to speak on the phone, because conversation via face-to-face or on a phone is a muscle and you have to work it. They have never really exercised their muscle. It’s almost like they have an atrophy muscle for phone and face-to-face conversation.
Jodi Fleisig: You said something about, you don’t have control of the message. You absolutely have control of the message. I have dealt with people who are really nervous and have anxiety and they could be a CEO of a major company and they’re just not built for public speaking. I have people who could sit like me and just talk to the wall for hours. You just have no inhibitions sometimes. The thing that I teach everybody is whether we work really hard to get you that interview, when you get that interview you are in control. It doesn’t matter what somebody asks you, it’s what you want to push out. It’s the first five minutes of a conversation where you get out what you want to say.
I teach people when I do media training, you come up with three messages, three key messages, and in the first five minutes you push those out and it’s a win. If you’re in a conversation with somebody young, they may not know how to deal with it, but everybody needs to learn. You are in control. Like Elaine and I said before we came in here, what are the three things we want your listeners to walk out with?
Elaine R: Jodi, what are your three things? Then I’ll tell you mine.
Jodi Fleisig: My three things are I think the most important thing is that you are in control. That you should limit the number of messages to three points, so that your very sesync, because you don’t want to over talk and you don’t want to under talk, but you want to hit it. You have to practice. Practice, practice, practice. Just because you’re brilliant in science, doesn’t mean your great in English. Just because you’re a great CEO in subject X, doesn’t mean you’re a good communicator. You have to learn how to communicate whether it’s asking for a raise or appearing on a radio show or speaking to the board or just speaking to people on your team. You need to develop those skills of, you don’t have to turn into an extrovert, but you need to have the confidence to say what you mean.
Evelyn: Before you get to yours Elaine, don’t you, do you see that often the disconnect between taking the time to prepare and think through what I want to say, how I would like it to sound is the issue, because technology has this immediacy of [inaudible 00:14:50], send, without a lot of potential thinking about what’s going on.
Elaine R: I will get to my three things, but there’s a dopamine issue there. It is, you really are wanting to take it in and get that hit back and forth. You want the drug, that’s what the selfies are all about that we were talking about. I want to go back to my three things, because Jodi got to say hers. [crosstalk 00:15:20]. She put me on the spot. I, in my head said, “Okay, you are in control. Take a breath. Think about what you want to say and own the moment.” See, I have to do it myself. So, my friend’s putting me on the spot, by the way. Now, I’m going to own the moment. I teach people to have professional conversations and that can look like a college interview, a job interview. It can be in the context of conflict resolution. It could be a salary negotiation, or it could be just negotiating a big deal. All of that takes intentional, strategic conversation. I like to think of the type of conversations that I like to teach people to have are collaborative conversations rooted in, I use a lot of mediation technique. I use some marketing principles. If you can, especially in a technology oriented culture, if you can shift from the judgemental to the neutral and use your words very, very carefully, you will separate yourself out from the crowd. People will notice you, because you are using your words in a very thoughtful way. Most people today, unfortunately, because we’re moving at the speed of light and reacting to our dopamine, are not being thoughtful about their word choice.
John: Can you give me an example of judgemental versus neutral?
Elaine R: The simplest example I can think of is if somebody, if you’re at work and somebody barges into your office and says, “You are late. You have missed the deadline. You have put us in a horrible position.” The responder says, “Why are you so angry at me?” That is the judgemental response. The way to deescalate that situation is to say, “I guess you have some concerns. Can you tell me more about that?” I might say that because it buys me more time. Sometimes I’ve been, somebody comes in and yells at you-
Evelyn: It’s a shock.
Elaine R: … it throws you off your game. You need a little time. You need to buy some time to think. I would say, “What are your concerns?” Or “Tell me more about that.” Or “I wasn’t aware of that deadline, tell me in your mind what is the deadline?” So, that you get, you deescalate the judgemental language and you get, you engage in a conversation and like you said before, you ask questions. You start by asking questions so that you can bring the conversation down a bit.
Jodi Fleisig: Diffuse it.
Elaine R: Yes, thank you. [crosstalk 00:17:57].
John: I want to ask you about technology and the use of it and value of not being connected all the time to technology. I mean is it good to have some alone time? Put the phone away. Are there sacred places?
Jodi Fleisig: We were just talking about this. I [crosstalk 00:18:16].
Elaine R: We’re both big believers in sacred time.
Jodi Fleisig: First of all, I’m one of these people who, I don’t let phones rule my kids at the dinner table. No computers at the dinner table. No, not in restaurants, not in the car. I think you really have to isolate and have some family time. I also think that I get 90,000 emails and texts and phone calls a day and I’m always on. At the end of the day, I’m not one of these people who sits in bed and goes, I’m not a big social media person for personal use. I do my Facebook and I find out who’s, what’s happening, but I need to turn it off. I need my brain to recharge. The same way you charge your cell phone, I need to charge my brain. I need to breathe. I think everybody does. I don’t think … When we used to sit in a car and daydream, or you’re in the shower, or you’re driving to work. You need down time where you’re not always working. Working just to let the great ideas bubble up and to have a conversation with the people you love. I think the rudest thing in the whole world is … being with your kids and having them think that the phone, or a box, or TV is more important than they are. What do they learn from that?
Elaine R: Exactly. I also think that what that has caused for us particularly is without that clients will often think that big concepts and strategy shoots out of your head. That we can just get on the phone and you’re going to tell me the answers. This is what I hire you for, right? There’s sometimes a challenge of, “Well, let me understand first what we’re talking about and let me understand what we’re trying to achieve and maybe I need to have a little while to step away from this and think about it,” because it’s going to provide you with a greater benefit. But, that whole immediacy thing, again, is it gets in the way sometimes.
Evelyn: Yeah, the immediate gratification is huge.
Jodi Fleisig: In the news business you’re on 24/7 and if you’re dealing with the media everybody expects you to be watching TV and reading every newspaper and being online 24/7.
John: I know that sometimes [crosstalk 00:20:31]. Even, I feel the need sometimes to respond when I see the email and so I want to.
Elaine R: It’s your dopamine [crosstalk 00:20:41] talking to you.
John: I really want to respond to this email, but then I think to myself, “I really don’t have a great response to this email yet. I got to think about it.” It might come to me a day later. I mean, usually I’ll say, “Well, I’ll think about it.” Maybe a day later the idea might hit me. Recently, I remember I had a big breakthrough over the weekend, because I finally got some down time like you were saying Jodi. I got some down time. I got to sleep. Then, I just woke up with the idea. It was like, there it is. But, if you are constantly responding, you’re probably not responding with your best information.
Jodi Fleisig: I think the best thing to do is to set your boundaries. I think it’s all about boundaries with you, your family, your kids, your work. I think you pick time to look through your Linked In, to read your Facebook, to look through your Twitter, to see how your business messages are out there if that’s where you want to go and you’re always thinking, but I do think there is a time to turn it off.
John: Welcome back to In Process. We’re here with Elaine Rosenblum and Jodi Fleisig. Right before we went to break, Elaine you were signaling that you had an a, one more thought that you wanted to add on the value of thinking time.
Elaine R: Well, if you think about it we live in a knowledge based economy. That means that everything that we need to know, we really can find on a computer. Hiring organizations today are really looking for people who can use what you can find on a computer and collaborating groups and creating groups and that goes to innovation. I think you really can’t be creative and innovative, unless, well you need trust first, which we talked about before, but then you also need down time. I think some of your greatest ideas come when you’re doing something else. If you sit down and try to think of an idea, it’s very difficult, but if you’re brushing your teeth or you’re in the shower, that’s where the great ideas might stem. What I do, in my bathroom is when I’m brushing my teeth I always keep a wipe board marker in my bathroom and when I come up with a great idea I write on my mirror. So, if you came into my bathroom right now, you would think it’s a, that movie A Beautiful Mind where the guy writes on the window. I look like a crazy person, but in fact it’s where all of my ideas, it’s how I strategize on my business. It’s how I help solve my clients problems.
Evelyn: I think that’s a terrific idea, because there’s lots of times that you’re not in a convenient place to get a piece of paper or you’re writing it down and you will lose the idea. [crosstalk 00:23:44].
Jodi Fleisig: But now let’s bring in technology, because if you take your iPhone and you’re driving and you’re not supposed to text, you push that little notepad thing and on the way to work I sit there and say [crosstalk 00:23:53], “Jodi, this is Jodi. This is some of the things that I want you to think about today. A, B, C, D.” Then I get back to my office and it’s the same as writing, except I’m driving.
Evelyn: That’s awesome.
John: Oh, wow.
Elaine R: Some people do need to write. [crosstalk 00:24:06] I really, I would much rather write than dictate. That’s why I need my wipe board marker.
John: I’m a horrible dictator.
Female: Me too.
John: I’ve never been good at it.
Jodi Fleisig: [crosstalk 00:24:15] dictate on, it’s just like brainstorming out loud just so I don’t lose the thoughts.
Elaine R: So you can follow up with it later.
Jodi Fleisig: I think a lot of people, because of technology really struggle with having, coming up with problem solving and creative ideas. I think there’s a real struggle there.
Evelyn: I think it also leads to the challenges of, because as you know we just, we also recorded a session recently on negotiation strategies and I think the idea that you can’t take the time to sync through thoroughly what it is that you’re trying to get to and how you could get there, is creates a challenge. Technology does not really support that unless [crosstalk 00:25:07].
Elaine R: You know what my favorite way to respond to that Evelyn? Is I say, “I need some digestion time with that. Let me digest that and I will get back to you.” I often say that when people are concerned that they might stumble in an interview or a presentation. Jodi and I were talking about this before that, you can say, “You know what? I need to take a second to think about that,” or “Give me a few minutes and I’ll get back to you on that. I just want to spend some time digesting it.” It’s a little harder in Jodi’s case when she’s coaching somebody for TV.
Jodi Fleisig: What I tell them to say is, “Punt.” I mean, kick the ball to somebody else. If you really don’t know the answer, then the best thing is to be honest say, “You know what? That’s a great question, but I don’t know the answer. I’d love to get one of my experts and can they call you [crosstalk 00:25:57] back by 2:00 or can they call you back in an hour?” Or “Tell me when your deadline is, because I’d much rather give you the right answer than you know-”
Evelyn: Rather than just BSing you essentially. I think this is important, yesterday I was doing a performance review for someone in our office and internally at least he has a skill, as we’ll call it, of enhancing the facts. For someone who has dealt with people in interactions for all of her career, 30 something years, it’s not that difficult to pick someone out and say, “You are enhancing the facts too much if you don’t know the answer, tell me you don’t know the answer.” This is a millennial who believes that he needs to know everything.
Jodi Fleisig: Yes.
Evelyn: I actually said to him, Years ago, I actually had asked a lawyer, before I was a lawyer a question about a provision in a contract. He clearly did not know the answer. He spent 10 minutes talking to me, talking, talking, talking, on, and on, and on. We were all over the world and at the end of it, I said to him, “If you didn’t know the answer, I wish you had just said, ‘I’ll have to get back to you.'” It, of course, mortified him. It tells you so much about someone that they’re not comfortable enough even to say, “Wait. Can I, let me go check that. Let me get back to you.”
Elaine R: That’s that, that goes to courage and maturity and I often have to deal with that in terms of younger people when I’m coaching them for job interviewing or salary negotiations. They are concerned with having to admit they don’t know something. What I tell them when they get stumped in an interview, it’s okay, you’re a human being. It’s fine to say, “You know what? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’m going to find out and I’m going to get back to you by 4:00 today.” I tell them you better get back to them at 4:00 that day, because that’s an opportunity to build credibility with the person and build a bridge and show them, how you’re going to treat customers and clients.
John: This is a good segue, because actually we did a show the other day on millennials. It was interesting, because one of the people on there was talking about things that they teach them. It was basic things that probably our fathers or mothers would have taught us, such as make eye contact, shake hands. Certainly, people still do that, but there’s some dos and don’ts to being a great personal communicator. Since both of you teach people how to communicate effectively all the time, what are some of your tips to presenting yourself and communicating effectively face-to-face?
Jodi Fleisig: I would say the first thing is eye contact is key. Put your phone down, put it in our purse, put it in your backpack. Focus on that person, I mean, Bill Clinton does it the best. He’s just the role model. Make that person feel like they are the only person in the room. When you shake hands, it doesn’t have to be a really strong handshake, but a lot of times I’ll shake with both hands just to be warm. I try to be warm, body language is a very big deal to be open. Just be a really good listener and make that person feel important. It’s funny, I went two weeks ago to LA, because I had an opportunity to do a shoot with Katie Couric for Yahoo with a client of ours and it was on the front page of the website yesterday. It was great. Not impossible laughs.
John: That’s cool.
Jodi Fleisig: Give a little call out a nonprofit that does amazing things for people who need extra help. To make a long story short I flew out there, because I wanted to meet Katie Couric. I had worked with her previously, but I wanted to shake her hand. I wanted to tell her a little bit about myself and, because of where, if I need to pitch a story to her in the future I want my name to be not one of the [crosstalk 00:30:01] thousands of people she knows. I will follow that up with an email and we tweeted about the story yesterday, but you want to connect. You can do all the technology you want, but when the C Suite people or when you’re having a meeting with someone and it’s important, whether it’s personal or professional, it’s in person. You’ve got to have these skills.
Elaine R: You’ve got to have eye contact. You have to have that in person eye contact. I think you can build a relationship on the phone, but I think the way to solidify a relationship is you have to have an in person conversation with that person. That’s the whole purpose of interviewing. If we were going to just hire people over the phone, we wouldn’t bother to have an in person interview. I think that is very, very important and I think being able to articulate what you want to say with specificity is very, very important. I find with a lot of young people, again, they struggle, they speak in generalities and they struggle with explaining a concept or proving a point. They’ll say, “Well, I’m a really friendly person.” Well, tell me why you’re a friendly person. Or even a seasoned executive in my office yesterday said, “Well, I’m really good at what I do.” I said, “Well, prove it to me. Tell me how you’re, tell me a story.” Actually interviewing is about storytelling. Tell me a story about something that you did really well that proves the point that you are good at what you do.
Jodi Fleisig: I have to jump in for a quick second. I just want to say, that Katie Couric made me feel like a million dollars. She probably knows the entire world, but in the five minutes that we spent together, she was holding my hand, she was looking into my eyes. She made me feel like there was nothing else going on and I’m like, “Gosh, this woman is a great communicator.”
Elaine R: I love you.
John: You always hear about that, about, from very good communicators like Bill Clinton supposedly has an unnatural ability, or an uncanny ability of connecting with people.
Jodi Fleisig: But I think we can all do it, if we care enough about it to put the emphasis on it.
Elaine R: You have to be careful as a young person, as a millennial going out into the professional world, you have to be careful sometimes they ask me if you should shake with two hands. Now, Jodi can get away with that. She’s a seasoned, seasoned executive, but somebody who is in their 30s may not be able to pull that off. You’ve got to be careful. It’s a judgment call.
Jodi Fleisig: Right, exactly. You got to have the [crosstalk 00:32:30] credibility to be able to pull it off.
John: I don’t think I could pull it off. We got to take a quick break, when we come back we’ll discuss more about some communication skills and scenarios.
Announcer: Now, back to In Process, Conversations about Business in the 21st Century with Evelyn Ashley and John Monohon. For more information visit trusted-counsel.com.
Evelyn: Welcome back. We’re here with Elaine Rosenblum of ProForm U and Jodi Fleisig of Porter Novelli, talking about the art of conversation and the challenges that technology have delivered to it. When we broke, we were actually talking about the listening skills being so important and good interactions for important experiences that we all have. I wonder … how do you help someone learn to not be so nervous about an experience that they actually can be a good listener and relax in a situation?
Jodi Fleisig: There are a few things that I tell people. The first thing is that you want to get yourself before you enter the situation, in a zone. You want to step away from the action and the activity you want to put your phone down and the same way you stepped to the side and just think for five or ten minutes and get yourself, like before you took a test in college you looked at your notes. You just want to close your eyes and get yourself there and don’t let people distract you. Get yourself in that safe place where you are.
The second thing I would say is you want to encounter that situation enough times so that you become good at it. The first or second time you’re going to go in and speak to a boss or do a speech, you’re naturally going to be nervous, but if you keep putting yourself in those situations proactively, you’re going to get better, because your nerve’s going away. I remember playing softball, or my kids play baseball, the first time you get up to bat you’re so intimidated by everything, you don’t even think about what you’re doing. By the 15th time you’re up there, you’re swinging away. You’re smacking the ball out of the park. You need to practice. A lot of times I tell executives or people to walk around their kitchen with a spoon. Make believe that this is a microphone and just talk. Tell me what you’re going to say, because I want to make them self-conscious of hearing themselves and of walking around and of knowing that they’re on. It’s kind of like that outer body experience. You’re sitting here talking, but there’s someone above you listening. You just need to practice and put yourself in that odd spot enough times so then when you’re really in it, it’s a lot more comfortable. It’s going to take time. It really is.
Elaine R: I actually, when I’m teaching people to interview it’s the exact same thing it’s muscle memory. I mean if you think about it when you watch athletes on the Olympics. You see them walking around with their earbuds in their ears and they’re not talking to anybody, they’re getting in the zone Jodi’s talking about. When I’m prepping people for interviews or for a negotiation, a salary negotiation, we go over it and over it and I ask them questions that are difficult. I throw them off their game. I don’t want them to be surprised and we build the muscle so on game day, you walk in that room and you’re like “I’ve done this a million times.” It’s easy. It’s comfortable. You know exactly what’s going to come at you. I love it when my students who are doing college interviewing call me and go, “How’d you know what they were going to ask?” I go, “Well, there’s only certain amount of questions.”
Jodi Fleisig: When I do media training I bring a camera and I physically do two to three interviews and I hit them with the easiest questions and then I hit them with the worst questions. One of my first questions is, what keeps you up at night? What are the tough questions that you think you’re going to trip up on? Then we do those questions over and over and over again. I think actually one of the keys is that I teach people, internalize, don’t memorize. I have this big deck and I said, “If the lights went out and the electricity went out in the building, I could stand here for four hours and tell you exactly what you would need to know with no help, because it’s part of who I am. When you go out there representing your company or yourself it’s who you are. It’s not black and white, it’s gray. You have to be able to handle any question, however it comes at you. You don’t want to memorize an answer because if the question comes at a different angle than how you memorized it, you’re going to get thrown off.”
Elaine R: You have to own who you are. That’s why I like storytelling for interviewing, because it is who you are. It’s your experience and that’s why lying and not telling the truth is so difficult because it’s not who you are and when you’re being authentic, people can smell and feel it. That’s where trust is built.
Jodi Fleisig: The other thing, going back to the very first thing she said, when we’re talking about a false self in technology, social media is so transparent, you get busted so fast. That’s one of the biggest problems that brands and companies have they put something out there. It doesn’t work with the public. They take it back. You have to be yourself and you have to be honest, otherwise you’re putting a target on your forehead. It’s transparent, but people don’t realize that it’s transparent. You’ve got to think about it from both angles.
Elaine R: I think that’s true. I think, the whole idea of journalism now and how one thinks of journalists as being unbiased sources, but what we know now is the big media organizations are completely biased.
Jodi Fleisig: No, they’re not. [crosstalk 00:38:33].
Elaine R: You’ve got to be understanding of who your audience is.
Evelyn: Absolutely and maybe that’s it. [crosstalk 00:38:41].
Female: Some of them are and some of them aren’t.
Evelyn: Playing to an audience, we absolutely. I would agree with that.
Elaine R: Know who your audience is.
Evelyn: Certainly, what we would think of as being the popular newscast. Certainly do present their limited political views to get the right response from an audience and I think that it just plays into the fact that we have turned into a sound bite nation and hasn’t technology actually inspired that in a lot of respects?
Elaine R: I actually just saw something on Facebook that was your five words that are your best piece of advice and mine was, choose your words very carefully. You have to be thoughtful and to have a knee jerk reaction to, and I’m holding my phone in my hand is a dangerous proposition.
John: Another reason why the phone is sometimes good. Everything you said in electronic form stays forever for forwarding purposes. You just never, you never know where it might come up again.
Evelyn: I know I have family members where I’ve seen my sister or my brother-in-law basically educate their child on, don’t do that on social media. Do not talk about that. People look at these things.
Elaine R: Yeah, well when people are interviewing I have to tell them about scrubbing their social media. People have no concept of the fact that even if you put your privacy settings in place, doesn’t mean you’re protected.
Jodi Fleisig: When I interview people at Porter Novelli, I always look at their Facebook and their Twitter page to see if this is the kind of person we want representing our company. When my stepdaughter graduated college, I’m like, “Girlfriend, you better look at what you wrote.” I told her all through college, “I know you think this is fun, but people like me are going to be looking at what people like you say and deciding if we want to hire you.”
John: Especially in your industry. I mean, it shows, it’s doubly important.
Jodi Fleisig: I have a student who’s getting his MBA at Columbia and I went on his Facebook page and there’s was just, there was nothing really wrong with anything on his Facebook page. There were just a lot of pictures of him without his shirt on. I just said, I don’t even care if you’re interviewing in the tech world and they don’t care. I think we need to take them down. He struggled with that.
John: One thing that I wanted to talk about is, is a specific scenario, because when we did the prep pre-call on this, we talked about the value of communication in the way that people, somethings aren’t best said in an email. One thing I wanted to ask you about is we’ve all had situations in life or professionally where you just have to say, “Sorry. You know what? The result wasn’t what we wanted.” Or “I’m sorry, screwed up.” What’s the best way to deliver sincere apologies?
Elaine R: Jodi, I’m going to let you speak and then I’ll follow up.
Jodi Fleisig: I think you either in person or on the phone, not via email, if it’s a big one, especially. You say, “You know what? I made a mistake. I’m so sorry for the inconvenience and the trouble that it caused you.” I think you fess up. I think you gain a whole new level of respect. I think you show that you’re human. I think you show that you’re part of the team, but if you don’t … it is a disaster in the making.
John: If you do it over a email, do you think it has any [crosstalk 00:42:21].
Jodi Fleisig: You know what?
Elaine R: Depends on the level of apology warranted. I think that if you were late to a meeting, you could send an email that says, [crosstalk 00:42:34]. I think a text or an email is fine in that situation. I think when the stakes are high or you have done something that where you have wronged someone else or caused them a lot of anxiety or grief, then you have to a, take responsibility for whatever it was you did. You have to take ownership of it. That goes to what Jodi was talking about in terms of respect and you have to give a sincere apology. “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Is a very shallow apology and people love it. That’s one of their favorites.
Evelyn: I know.
Elaine R: You have to say, “I did something wrong and this and I apologize. I was disrespectful to you and this is how I’m going to change in the future.”
John: I think that’s a good tip actually. My mother is still angry at somebody over the, “I’m sorry you took it that way” apology. [crosstalk 00:43:30]. It rings true.
Elaine R: It’s detrimental to relationships.
John: We like to say thank you to our wonderful guests, Elaine and Jodi thank you so much for joining us.
Elaine R: Thank you.
Jodi Fleisig: Thank you.
John: If you’d like to learn more about Elaine Rosenblum and ProForm U, you can visit their website at www.proformu, that’s the letter u, .com. If you’d like to learn more about Jodi Fleisig and Porter Novelli, please visit their website, www.porternovelli, that’s with two l’s, .com. We hope you enjoyed In Process today. If you have any questions on the topic today, please reach out to email@example.com. If you are interested in learning more about us, please visit our website at www.trusted-counsel.com, where you will also find a listing of our past and upcoming shows. Thank you for joining us.
Evelyn: See you next time.
Announcer: This has been In Process, Conversations about Business in the 21st Century with Evelyn Ashley and John Monohon. Presented by Trusted Counsel, a corporate and intellectual property law firm. For more information visit trusted-counsel.com.