How to Communicate Better at Work

This article is from We take no credit for this. It is written by Susan Adams a member of the Forbes staff. 

The title of Karen Friedman’s new book isn’t exactly subtle. Shut Up And Say Something: Business Communication Strategies to Overcome Challenges and Influence Listeners lays out her no-nonsense philosophy about how to best get your point across, drawn from her 35 years of experience as a professional communicator. As a TV news reporter, she worked at local stations in cities from Milwaukee to Huntsville, Ala. For the last 15 years, she’s headed up Karen Friedman Enterprises, a communication coaching firm in Philadelphia.

How does she apply her ideas in the workplace? Her No. 1 rule, gleaned from two decades in the TV news trenches: “It is absolutely critical to be as direct, to the point and concise as possible,” she says, in a lively, forceful voice with a Philadelphia tinge. Vagueness is all too common in the workplace, she observes, and you easily remedy it by following the newscaster’s drill of spelling out who, what, where, when and why.


“Bosses often say, ‘Can you have that report to me? It’s really important, and I’d really like to have it,’” Friedman says. A more effective way to deliver that message: “Can you please get that report to me? I’d like it on my desk by 5 p.m. Friday.”

Another strategy Friedman draws from newscasting: Hit the headline first. Too many of us are just plain long-winded, she says. “People don’t need to know everything we know,” she explains. “Think about what the single most important point is that you need to make, the central idea. If your computer died or the fire alarm went off, what would be the one thing they needed to hear?”

Your attitude while talking is also important. “It’s not just your words that convey a message,” Friedman says. “It’s all of you.” If you slouch, jam your hands into your pockets, shuffle your feet and avoid eye contact, people will get the impression you don’t want to communicate with them. Pry your eyes and thumbs away from your electronic devices, she admonishes. “Pretend that your colleague is your adorable five-year-old who you would drop everything for if she walked into the office,” she suggests.

Remember that the world doesn’t revolve around you. For Friedman, this was a tough lesson to learn, coming from the ego-driven world of television. If you open yourself to other opinions and perspectives, you’ll find it much easier to get your own message across. “Take a poll at your next meeting,” she suggests. “Draw the other people out.”

Do ask open-ended questions. They can buy time, clarify where another person is coming from and prevent misinterpretation. For instance: “I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying, so could you give me an example?”

Friedman is also fond of the bromide that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all. “Don’t talk about other people. That identifies you as a gossip and someone who can’t be trusted,” she advises. You may think you’re being entertaining or engendering closeness, but “you meet the same people on the way up as on the way down.”

Another Friedman rule: No bull. If you have bad news to deliver, lay it out plainly. It’s difficult to talk about layoffs and belt tightening, but if you’re in a situation where you have to convey that sort of information, your employees and colleagues likely already know something is up. It is far better to be straight with them than not to communicate at all, even if you can’t give them the answers they’d like.

Always deliver bad news in person. It may seem easier to convey negative information via e-mail, but imagine how you’d feel if you learned electronically that your best work friend had been sacked, vs. hearing it from another human being.

Finally, don’t be a naysayer. Even if you think your colleague or boss is completely wrong about something, you can counter with an open-ended question that shows respect and a can-do spirit. One possible response: “Have you had a situation where that strategy worked?” Says Friedman, “You can learn from the answer to that, and not be a negative Nellie.”

Investing In Your Employees

“Innovation” is a hot concept right now. As well-known author and speaker Guy

Kawasaki sums it up, “‘Innovate or die is how the world works.” Usually when people

discuss innovation and business, it’s associated with a company’s new product or

revolutionary process. But those are actually just the outcomes. True innovation stems

from a company’s workforce. So when you see a business with the inability to innovate,

the heart of the problem actually lies in the leaders’ inability to hire and retain quality


Finding and keeping top talent is what will make or break a company in the “new

economy,” so it is vital that as leader you do what it takes to ensure your business’

success. In order for your employees to become innovative in their responsibilities and

your employers ahead of the competition, you have to do three things. Building trust,

cultivating passion, and inspiring loyalty must be at the top of your to-do list if you want

to protect your workplace from one of today’s top business challenges – the inability to


Build Trust

Trust is a two-way street. First, your employees must trust you in order to have the

freedom to be innovative or motivation to work hard. This only comes through honest

communication and consistent follow-through from your leadership. On the flip side,

you also have to trust your employees. Kawasaki points out that you have to, “Trust

your employee(s) enough to make the right decision for customers. When you show this

level of trust and empower employees, they do the best work that they can.”

Cultivate Passion

Today’s successful businesses have the most engaged and enthusiastic employees.

But that passion has to originate at the top. “The leadership team must be passionate

in order for the rest of the organization to be passionate,” said OtterBox founder and

CEO Curt Richardson in a recent article. “Who wants to come to work for

someone who is just going through the motions and working for the next professional

advancement?” So make sure you’re excited about your company’s goals and mission,

then work to spread that excitement.

Inspire Loyalty

Maintaining an innovative workplace means that you must also foster a loyal workforce.

Hiring top talent is the first step, but keeping your talented workers engaged and

invested in your business is the only way to achieve long-term success. There are many

ideas out there on how to build employee loyalty, but it really boils down to leadership.

As the leader, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, says

Kawasaki. “Employees need to know that you’ll do the dirty, hard, and frustrating jobs


If you want your business to be successful and stay ahead of the competition, then you

must realize that hiring and retaining top talent is the only way. A passionate, engaged

workforce is the key to becoming an innovative industry leader. But, it’s up to you to

provide an environment that allows your employees to innovate. Give them what they

need, and they’ll return the investment, ten-fold.

Make Sure Your Customers Can Find You!

How many times have you attempted to contact a business or a specific person at a company, only to find the information is incorrect?  Remember the frustration you felt?  Now, think about your own behavior…Did you continue to look for the correct information or did you simply move your business to a new vendor?

Most people will not put the time and effort into trying to figure it out. It’s easier to find someone else to work with — whose contact information is correct.

That’s why it’s important for our members to keep their business contact information up-to-date!  The Chamber website is the most trusted source of business information and the place most people turn to in order to find products, services and businesses.

Now is the time to double-check your information as The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce heads into the production of its printed Membership Directory.  By taking a few minutes to check your business listing on our website, making any necessary edits – your customers will always know how to reach you.

Check out my #constantcontact newsletter for more information on how to do this easily!

3 Sure Signs of Effective Leadership

Everyone has their own opinions of what characteristics make up a good leader.

From well-spoken and patient to charismatic and forceful, the list of qualities

can run the gamut. But, sure-tell signs of effective leaders aren’t in their traits,

but in their results. As you look within your own company and try to gauge the

effectiveness of your own leadership, or the leadership of others, look for these

three indicators.

Consistent Growth

True leaders know they are neither perfect nor omniscient. They are always looking

for ways to be better and never veer from the path of self-improvement. One of

the best signs of a good leader is a slight spirit of discontent. You have to be able

to recognize that you are better today than you were a year ago, but still focus on

becoming even better a year from now. And, growth can never take a backseat to

your busyness. In the book Great Leaders Grow, by Mark Miller and Ken Blanchard,

they point out that, “If you get too busy with your job to grow, your influence and

your leadership will stagnate and ultimately evaporate.”

Continual Success

If the proof is in the pudding, then a good leader’s team will achieve success again

and again. This is true in the business world and on the football field. Take Terry

Bradshaw, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who led his team to multiple

Super Bowl victories, for example. You could not be an ineffective leader and

still lead your team to win four Super Bowl titles. A poor leader might have a few

victories, but continual success is the result of good leadership. A recent Forbes

article echoes this assertion with its statement, “The result of good leadership is

high morale, good employee retention, and sustainable long-term success.”

Contagious Spirit

Another quick way to determine the quality of someone’s leadership is to look

at their teammates, co-workers, or employees. Are they excited about what they

do? Are they stepping up and taking on leadership roles of their own? A leader’s

power doesn’t just rest in his or her ability to do a task well, whether it’s throwing

a football or running a business. The real power lies in their ability to inspire

greatness in their team. You are not a true leader if you simply inspire fear or

mediocrity. Good leadership begets good leadership.

Many people proclaim themselves to be good leaders. After all, no one wants to

be told that they’re a bad or ineffective leader. But, good leadership is proven

through results, not words. If you really want to gauge the effectiveness of your

own leadership, consider your growth, your team’s success, and your teammate’s

attitudes. Those three elements will tell you what you need to know.

Superintendent Glenda Ritz At Our 2013 Education Forum

Glenda RitzWe are excited to announce that the Chamber will have Democratic School Superintendent Glenda Ritz  here in Bloomington as part of  our 2013 Education Forum!

Since we scheduled Ritz back in April, many issues have come up regarding our state’s education system.

These include the dropping of the A-F grading system in the state of Indiana, Core Competencies  regarding  the most effective ways to teach our youth , and our most recent issue regarding Grade Transparencies.

Attendees of the forum will be able to have a Q&A session with Ritz.

She will be here on October 1st from 4-5pm at Deer Park Manor.

For more details, click here 

7 Steps to Productive Business Use of Social Media

forbesForbes posted and article written by Ric Dragon, an expert on online marketing, about the best ways that a business can use its social media. Here is our summarized version of the article.

1. Focus on desired outcome first

Figure out what your “platform” is. Is it to increase brand awareness, lead generation, service and support, management? And make sure you focus on it. Pick one or two

2. Incorporate brand personality and voice

Make sure that all team members that administer your social media use the same voice. Customers these days want a “humanized” voice.

Ex: NPR has a twitter account called “today in 1960″ that tweets headlines from the corresponding day in 1960. How unique is that?!

3. Find the smallest segments of your constituents

Dont make your tweets, Facebook posts or what have you so general. Try to create a community that will engage with you and feels a connection with your company.

Here’s an example, Lady Gaga refers to her fans on twitter as “Little Monsters” and she is “Mother Monster.”Of course we do not suggest you calling your customers this, but you get the idea.

4. Identify the communities for these micro-segments

This aligns a lot with number 3. The best communities become your best advocates.

5. Identify the influencers of these communities

In the generation of social media, feedback is immediate compared to the old days of waiting months for results. Use this to your advantage and spend those months “influencing the influencers”

6. Create an action plan with metrics

Create a plan that aligns with your goals. The most common/useful plans include a listening plan, channel plan, SEO plan etc. Also make sure that you are using social media to build relationships and to start conversations.

7. Iteratively execute and measure results

You cannot expect to get the results you want immediately. So you have to make sure to tweak and adjust your plans according to the results you get. And its not something you do once.



The Strides That HYPE and The Franklin Initiative Program are Taking

MicrosoftRecently Microsoft and the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship posted an article talking about the benefits of entrepreneurship education for students.

We might just be a fly over state in the United States but the Chamber is proud to say that here in our little college town we have programs that mirror the essential characteristics talked about in the article.

Teaching young people the skills

Microsoft and DFE(Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship) stress the importance of teaching students the skills that encourage them to “take initiative, explore opportunities, and be enterprising.” They refer to these skills as entrepreneurship skills(no surprise there) and are not only useful for these young people and children in starting their own companies, but also helps them develop fundamental values that drive them in whatever path they choose in the future.

hype logo for wordpressBloomington  version: As many of you know, the Chamber has a program called HYPE which focuses specifically on young professionals and teaching them how to network, communicate with others effectively, as well as providing them with general tips on how to manage finances in order to be successful.

Businesses involvement

According to Microsoft, the corporate world has an important role in educating the young entrepreneurs of tomorrow. The key to success is bridging practice and theory which can only be achieved with real live involvement. DFE and Microsoft offers guest speakers, jury members and even business idea competitions in their program overseas.

tmp_447_8-31-2009_101251_Bloomington version: Here at the Chamber we might not have a partner with a name as big as Microsoft to help with our youth. However, we have The Franklin Initiative program which provides simulation programs that show a link between academics and salaries, job fairs and job shadowing with local businesses in the area, as well as a Speakers Bureau which focuses on real-life glimpses into the world of work.

What can you do?

If you are a business involved with the Chamber we encourage you to find ways to become more involved with the young entrepreneurs that are walking the halls of our high schools and middle schools today. This window of opportunity can be the difference between the struggling economy of today and the thriving economy of tomorrow.

For more information about the topics talked about today:

The article:


The Franklin Initiative:

Kudos from one of our Community Partners About hYPe!

We at the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce are very prohype logo for wordpressud of our hYPe (Helping Young Professionals Excel) program. It was started a few years ago as a way to engage our community’s young professionals, helping to deepen their roots here in Bloomington. As part of that program, we honor ten young professionals under the age of 40 at our “10 Under 40″ Awards. Not only is it a fun evening, but incredibly inspiring too as we see the achievements of the ten honorees.

You can’t blame us for being proud.   It’s a great program with resounding benefits for all involved. But what makes us even more proud is when others in our community take note and publicly applaud the program too. That’s what Ron Walker, President of the Bloomington Economic Development Corp., did recently. He used his Sunday column to talk about hYPe and the 10 Under 40 honorees.

We’d “proudly” like to share Ron’s words with you:

I’d like to use this month’s update to congratulate this year’s 10 Under 40 winners and encourage support for “helping Young Professionals excel” (hYPe), a program of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce that provides professional development and personal enrichment opportunities for young professionals.

The importance and role of hYPe and specifically, the annual 10 Under 40 awards, can easily be underestimated. However, if you look closely at what is happening among this growing group of young professionals you will find yourself inspired and impressed, and it will give you confidence in the quality and character of Bloomington’s growing millennial population.

I previously thought of this cohort of our population as comprised of future leaders.  I’ve since come to realize that many of them are already leading. Besides working here, they volunteer, serve on boards and commissions, organize events, and help new young professionals integrate into the community.

Helping people integrate into the community and feel welcome is a valuable and needed activity. A ready and talented labor pool is the critical factor affecting our economic success. Greater Bloomington’s ability to attract and retain talented young adults directly influences our capacity to be a creative, innovative and entrepreneurial community. It also affects the success of Monroe County’s existing employers in creating new jobs.

Knowing we have hYPE, and that our community recognizes the contributions and value of young professionals, gives the BEDC another resource to promote Bloomington. It is also another reason why greater Bloomington is a great place to live and work.

The BEDC’s approach to economic development is aimed at improving job opportunities, creating new wealth, increasing the tax base and serving the long-term vision of the community. We can be reached by visiting our website at

Thanks, Ron! We couldn’t have said it better!

Seven Incredible Women to be Honored with a Women Excel Bloomington Award

Seven local women have been chosen to be honored at the upcoming Women Excel Bloomington (WEB) Awards Lunch hosted by The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. This event is scheduled for Tuesday, July 9 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Liberty Ballroom in Bloomington.  Doors open at 11:00 a.m. for registration.

Those to be honored at the Women Excel Bloomington Awards Luncheon are:


  • Lisa Fulkerson – Children’s Organ Transplant Association, Vice President & C.F.O
  • Melanie Hart – TASUS Corporation, President
  • Beth Lodge-Rigal – Women Writing for Change Bloomington & Writing for Change, Owner/Founder & Creative Director
  • Natalia Rayzor – IU Credit Union, Employment Development Officer
  • Jean Willey Scallon – Bloomington Meadows Hospital, Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director
  • Melinda Seader – World Wide Automotive, Director of Marketing
  • Alisa Wright – BioConvergence, LLC., Chief Executive Officer & Compliance Officer

The honorees were selected based on their outstanding leadership and spirit in both the community and/or in their organization.  Like past awardees, this year’s recipients come from all areas of the community – both business and not-for-profit,  and from all levels within their organizations. They will be featured in the July issue of BizNet.

“This group of women exemplify the very definition of leadership and have made lasting contributions to their organizations and the community.  Their stories inspire and serve as wonderful examples for others – which is why they were selected to be honored this year,” said Kelley Brown, director of marketing & public relations for The Chamber.

This year’s keynote speaker is Jennifer Browning Holmes, founder and president of Integrating Woman Leaders, Inc., a WBE Certified Women Business and management consulting firm focused on helping women in all aspects of business.  Holmes is a dynamic executive coach who uses her more than 25 years of corporate and teaching experience to develop women’s leadership through empowerment, support and connections.

Brown adds, “Along with the examples set by our seven honorees, Jennifer’s message will resonate with our attendees as well.  We are honored that she will be with us on July 9th to reinforce the significant contributions women make in business and the community.”

This is the fourth year for the event which is expected to draw more than 250 people in attendance.  Cost is only $37 per person, and $450 for a table sponsorship. Advanced registration is required to attend the event, and space is limited. To learn more about the 2013 Women Excel Bloomington Awards or to reserve your seat, visit The Chamber’s website at or call the Chamber at (812) 336- 6381.


Our take on Mashable’s “5 Tactics to Grow Your Email List”

Mashable recently shared an article about “5 Tactics to Grow Your Email List” from Mike Holtz from ClickZ. We loved the five tactics and hope you can use them to grow your business or organization’s email contact list. Holtz did note that it is important to aim for ” your email list growth, in a safe, permission-based way.”

Tactics include:

1. Make It Easy to Opt In on Your Website

Be sure that your organization’s website homepage or landing page has a clearly marked way for individuals to opt in for your emails or newsletters. An eye-catching opt in form is better than a “Sign up for our Newsletter” button that takes individuals away from your homepage to a new screen.

2. Don’t Stop at Just One

Consider placing additional opt in forms around your website. Some individuals might be drawn to a form placed at the top of a website while others head to the footer for helpful information. Multiple opt in form locations gives more opportunities for point of entry.

3. Collect Emails at Your Stores

A simple contact sheet at checkout gives customers an additional option to opt in and stay in the loop with your organization.

4. Make It Mobile

“Don’t ask users to fill out lots of form fields. Keep the form short and simple. You can collect more information later in your welcome series using progressive profiling.”

Smartphone users will often skip an online form on their phone if it it too lengthy or not optimized for small mobile screens. Keep smartphone users in mind when designing a mobile version of your opt in form.

5. Remember Your Social Networks

“Consider using social login, also known as social sign-in. This uses existing login information from social networks such as Facebook or Twitter to sign in to a website without having to create a separate login account specifically for your website.”

Some users would rather log in with an existing account, such as Facebook or Twitter, rather than create another username and password they have to remember. Make things simple and streamlined by offering social login to opt in to your email list.