Why Be Pre-Occupied? “Just Being Present” – Part 2

Being in the lion’s pit of life is interesting at times, isn’t it? This is real tongue-in-cheek stuff. One day or even one afternoon can present so many opportunities to become waylaid with worries, fears and anxieties… enough to last the rest of the day, and into the next, easy!

But, this is where control over the mind and our mental processes can come to our rescue.

Recently, I had the privilege of reading an extraordinary piece of wisdom titled, “Practicing awareness in everyday life.”[1] It’s all about the subject of awareness; the skill of staying in the present. The author says it’s the most important skill that we could acquire.

The issue is about how much of our awake time we spend partially or completely distracted from our present activities, because we’re focused on the past or future–”neither of which exist.”

As we experience life, there are so many things that have just gone or are about to hit us that consume our ordinary thinking. This leaves us drained of the attention we could place in the present. No wonder we struggle to listen to people properly half the time.

This subject is all about staying ‘in the truth.’ It’s about sticking with our senses and what they tell us to feel, in the moment. We’re told to focus, particularly around decision-making, on what we’re actually thinking, feeling, saying and doing–that is, we need to be intimately aware of ourselves.

Even simple tasks such as brushing our teeth should require all our ‘manual’ attention. The objective here is to train the mind to think manually, and resist our preponderance to go into mental autopilot. We should “practise awareness until we can operate ‘automatically on manual’, so we can choose to ‘manually go to automatic’.”

What this means is once we’re trained to be aware at will, we then have the ability to become more competent over our attitudes; we become ‘attitudinally competent.’ We can then screen out the unhelpful emotional distractions, scheduling our focus on these for times when we wish to deliberately reflect on the past and plan for the future. We effectively hold the moment (emotionally) and deal with it at a predetermined time later.

We should become adept at being a silent observer of ourselves, being attuned to our thoughts, feelings, words and actions. There is no more basic a goal for a person to have than to become self-aware, and that continually so.

We must resist allowing our minds to wander and meander in undisciplined ways; sure, when we watch a movie and want to relax, a free mind is fine; but truly, do we think an unfocused mind dribbling through the immediate past or near future is helpful? It can’t possibly be and “running of ‘old part-fiction movies’ is insanity.”

Reflection and planning must be restricted to “fully truthful” aspects. We need to determine what truth there is, sifting out the innuendo and assumptions.

So, let’s get to work on not being pre-occupied mentally and simply stay in the moment practicing awareness. Even during so-called stressful times, we’ll benefit from the fresh perspective and strength that comes as a result.

Be Consciously Mindful of Deception and Deceit While Negotiating

Are you consciously mindful of the perils that deception and deceit have on you and the other negotiator while negotiating? There’s a very fine line between deceit and deception. Therefore, deceit and deception have to be used cautiously, less they wreak havoc on a negotiation.

The problem with using either deceit or deception in a negotiation lies in the manner in which they are perceived. Everyone practices some form of deception when they negotiate. It can be in the form of not fully disclosing your ultimate position, not disclosing information that would detract from your position, or in a myriad of other ways. Deceit on the other hand is outright lying.

The trouble occurs when you or the other negotiator feel he’s being intentionally misled. Then, trust is broken, which causes the bonding process to become stymied, which in turn causes the negotiation to proceed less expeditiously.

If you sense “something’s not right” with information you’ve been given, or you receive quizzical inquiries stemming from information you propose when negotiating, consider the following.

1. Assess what you’re sensing.

a. Try to determine what has caused you to feel what you’re experiencing. Was it the way the information was presented? Did you or the other negotiator do ‘something’ nonverbally that caused you to perceive doubt or be perceived as doubtful, about the validity of the information presented? Once a determination is made, bring it to the forefront of the negotiation and seek clarification. At that point, observe very intently the repositioning of the point. Look for uneasiness and/or the degree the new position changes from the original one.

2. Determine how best to respond.

a. In considering how best to respond, consider how your reframed position will be viewed, or how the other negotiator reframed his position. Compare the new position to how it was perceived prior to its reframing. In particular, consider if the reframed position ‘adds value’ to the negotiation, and if so, who is advantaged by the reframing. It may be more palatable to allow the position to remain unchanged, with an explanation addressing the misperception possessed by whoever initiated the point.

3. Make sure everyone understands the revised information and they agree with it.

a. Once you’ve determined to what degree the information in contention has been addressed, be prepared to move on in the negotiation. Initially, do so cautiously and observe the demeanor of the other negotiator to seek any behavioral differences in his negotiation style. If there’s no change, assume the situation has been addressed satisfactorily.

The presentation of information in a negotiation can become tricky. Regardless of how you address the perception of deceit or deception, be sure to cast your efforts carefully, because those efforts will become the source of your negotiation prosperity… and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Tips Are…

· If you perceive deceit or are perceived as being deceitful, address it sooner versus later in the negotiation. You will only enhance your position be doing so.

· Deceit can be concealed in deception. Like in any negotiation, sometimes you have to rearrange what you see, in order to view the situation for what it is.

· No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. When you’re negotiating, determine to what degree a mistake is just that, versus deceit, before acting upon information.

We Are All TV Presenters

At a recent TV Presenting Course that we ran in Dublin, Ireland, it became very clear to me why most ‘presentation skills’ type courses fall short of achieving the results they should be getting – those results being a more confident, persuasive and eloquent speaker. In fact most of them miss the point completely! They fail to acknowledge the most important area of presenting – the voice.

A Speaker needs a voice! The spoken words must be the result of the 3 ‘P’s – Planning, Preparation & Performing (or Putting into Practise, if the word ‘performing’ frightens you!) Each have equal importance, and with a bit of persistence you will be amazed at how little time is required when you give each section it’s own value.

You see, an audience is not concerned with the Planning and Preparation, they only see and hear the Performance. The small window of opportunity that exists for you to speak, is what will motivate, inspire or persuade the listener to trust and believe in you. In a television programme the Presenter is the link between the ‘energy’ of the programme and the audience. Our screens are littered with examples of nonsense television with good Presenters and great subject matter with poor Presenters. Rarely do we see the best of content combined with the best Presenter performance, and when we do we over-ride all logic, cynicism and doubt and allow ourselves to be wholeheartedly taken into the speaker’s (or programme’s) world.

I have seen large, medium and small corporations spend fortunes on brochures, board rooms, PR – in fact all the things that make up the ‘corporate image’, and then fall flat on their faces when the ‘corporate voice’ – the voice that the customer hears – does not deliver the professionalism of the product, ethos or track record of the organisation. It amazes me how little vocal training many sales teams are given to help them maximise the small window of opportunity they have when in front of customers. The way I see it is: no sales = no business. Why take the risk of not ensuring your sales teams’ voices are the very best they can be?

So when I read or hear about courses that do not include at least a third of voice work delivered by voice specialists in their ‘presentation skills’ training, I realise that these people have no idea about courses they run, and have no idea how much value customers, clients and colleagues give to the vocal sound when making decisions. Call these courses ‘effective use of PowerPoint’, ‘content structures that help people understand’, ‘relax and de-stress’ or ‘how to sharpen your pencil’ – whatever – but do not call them ‘Presentation Skills’ if no serious time is given to the mechanics, physiology, psychology and delivery practises of the voice and vocal impact. This is like calling a course ‘Formula 1 Motor Racing Skills’, showing people maps of some race tracks, explaining the importance of driver focus, demonstrating how to change the engine oil and then, bizarrely, not giving them a F1 car with a skilled Instructor to guide them through their newly acquired skills!

(By the way Videoing participants and gratuitously pointing out the blatantly obvious doesn’t count! We are more interested in the cause, not the symptoms and we purposely ban video cameras from the first few days of our trainings. This ensures we guarantee long lasting change where the person no longer displays vocal and physical ‘oddities’. When our participants understand and are comfortable with their natural delivery styles and they can successfully combine this with their expert information, only then do we bring out the cameras as a means to achieve maximum effectiveness of the desired message.)

We all know the philosophical question – “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around tohear it, does it make a sound?” It demonstrates the dictum of ‘Esse est percipi – ‘ Tobe is to be perceived. This can be very easily  transferred to a sales, motivation, education or coaching environment. How often has a presentation ‘fallen in the forest’, and no one has heard it, acts on it, or even cares about it?!

In our ‘Secrets of Confident & Effective Speakers’ courses we continuously make the point that a listener doesn’t really care about the Presenters ‘stuff’ (their slides, sore throats, traffic jams, faulty projector, deadlines). An audience cares about what the Presenter says, how they say it, and most importantly how this makes the audience feel. This is what convinces them to believe, to follow, to buy!

So the next time you watch a TV programme, and you see a TV Presenter, realise that this 30 / 60 minute slot is the section on which you will judge the show, and not on the unseen weeks planning and preparation that has preceded the performance. To be at your best you must give equal time to rehearsing (or putting into practise) the skills of delivery. Only this gives you the best possible chance to do maximum justice to your integrity, ethos or product. This brings you and your message into the listeners present, and activates their response receptors. Planning, Preparation AND Performing. Does Your Performing do justice to your Planning and Preparation? Whether we like it or not, we are all TV Presenters!