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Speechless when the VP comes around?

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in Office Management,Workplace Communication

Lisa carries herself like a true professional, unless she’s in the presence of the new VP. She can hardly squeeze out a sentence before he dashes away.

The trouble is, she needs to communicate with this boss. How can she possibly influence up or pitch her ideas, keeping them short and punchy enough to capture his attention?

Much of it boils down to confidence, says communications expert Debra Hamilton (www.businesslunchandlearn.com).

Here are some guidelines for exuding confidence:

• Avoid hedging. Tentative, qualifying words and phrases diminish your credibility. Examples: “Perhaps” or “sort of.” Also, don’t take back your message before saying it. Example: “I could be wrong, but …”

•  Don’t raise your pitch at the end of a statement, so that it turns your statement into an unsure question. Instead, lower your pitch to sound more authoritative. Cancel out filler words, such as “ah,” “um” and “you know.”

• Feel your dander rise under criticism? Keep your cool by asking open-ended questions to get at the specific nature of the objection. Example: “Which specific part of the process do you see as being a waste of time?”

• Put to bed any lingering resentment. “If you and your boss have a history of difficult communication, chances are resentment has built up from failed conversations,” says Hamilton. Break old patterns by proposing a new pattern. Example: “Because I know how little available time you have, I’d like to propose a brief morning huddle, so that I can give you more uninterrupted time during the day.”

• Paint a picture with colorful words and analogies. People listen more attentively when they’re entertained. Example: Replace, “I know this plan will work because it worked last time,” with, “This plan requires two additional IT experts to find the software errors before they become the size of Everest.”

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