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Broadening Your Thinking

Here is a bunch and a half of articles I've written for StickyMinds.com. If you enjoy these articles, I hope you’ll check out my newsletter, Perceptions & Realities.

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What is a Customer?
When we communicate, the words sound familiar so we think we understand each other. But understanding fizzles when we attribute different meanings to our words. This article illustrates how differences in the way departments and companies define their terms can cause confusion, flawed conclusions, and faulty decisions.

What To Do When Anger Strikes
When someone pushes your buttons, anger is a natural reaction. Ideally, you can calmly express that anger, without lashing out. Sometimes, however, anger provokes a response that is excessive for the situation, inappropriate for the context, or counterproductive to what you're trying to accomplish. This article offers suggestions for controlling anger rather than letting it control you.

Thinking Inside the Box
The problem with outside-the-box thinking is that many of us do a less-than-stellar job of thinking inside the box. We fall victim to familiar traps, such as doing things the same old (ineffective) way. Thinking outside the box can generate innovative and ingenious ideas, but the results will flop when you ignore the ideas inside the box.

A Mind-Changing Exercise
After reading the above article "Thinking Inside the Box," in which I mentioned an experiential exercise I had facilitated, numerous readers contacted me to learn more about conducting such exercises. Here is one of my favorite team exercises, with details on how to conduct it and what to expect when you do.

Customer-Focused Verbs
When building successful relationships with customers, certain verbs such as "to respond," "to listen," and "to involve" are important. But there’s another verb that's not at all customer-focused: "to get." I don’t mean "to get a 50% raise for completing the project on time." No, I mean, "to get customers to do things your way." Learn how verb replacement therapy can help you build better relationships with your customers.

Picture Perfect
We often claim that customers don't know what they want, and then we expect them to tell us anyway. But does it make sense to expect customers to select from among the multitude of options when they don't even know what those options are? In this article, I recall how an unfortunate situation led me to a new approach to identifying customer needs.

Strengthening Your Speaking Savvy
As a professional speaker, I know well that speaking at a conference can work wonders for your credibility. Delivering a presentation is an opportunity to share your insights, convey valuable information, and gain a reputation as an expert on your topic. In this article, I offer suggestions for successful presentations.

Was It Something I Said?
Sometimes it seems like talking to a customer is about as effective as chatting with a brick wall. But have you ever considered that the problem may not be your customer but your communication skills? This article explains why HOW you say something can be just as important as the WAY you say it.

Through the Eyes of a Troubled Customer
Have you ever had to cope with a demanding developer? A touchy tester? A cantankerous customer? Why oh why do people act that way? This article describes the route one group took to reverse a customer's bad attitude and make her a valuable ally.

Becoming an Information-Gathering Skeptic
Customers don't always know what they want. That's a given. But even if they do know, they may not be able to communicate it clearly. That's also a given. Given these givens, you have a much better chance of comprehending your customers' needs and concerns if you’re a skilled information-gathering skeptic.

Understanding Introversion and Extroversion
Personality differences often pose challenges for people who work together. One such difference is that which separates introverts and extroverts. Just by being themselves, introverts and extroverts can drive each other crazy. But they can also benefit from each other's strengths. In this article, I offer ideas to help introverts and extroverts better understand and appreciate each other.

This Way, Mr. Roboto
Have you ever felt like you were going in circles trying to explain programming to non-technical people? My own approach is to demystify the programming world by showing people how to think like programmers—on a basic level. This seemingly intricate journey starts with a few simple directions.

Developing Sales Savvy
You're not a salesperson, right? But if you've ever tried to sell your ideas, proposals, or recommendations, you've used some sales savvy. The question isn't whether you are a salesperson, but rather how good a salesperson you are. In this article, I offer guidance and advice for selling your point of view.

Information Gathering Cop-Style and Psychologist-Style
If the questions you ask in interviewing your customers focus too narrowly on a problem that must be solved, you might miss information that could be critical to a successful outcome. To improve the odds of success, it's important to ask questions from multiple perspectives—and to pay attention not only to the customers' responses, but also to how they say it.

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