Create the Ripple is a story of how little things really can make a difference.
It has always been an ambition to complete a TEDx talk, to have an opportunity to share my thoughts and positivity with others. It makes me smile to think that one of the early ripples I made through Twitter with a wonderful lady then resulted in an invite to Swansea to take part in their TEDx Women event in October 2016. This was an amazing opportunity to share how I have used my passion for communication and authenticity with social media as a platform, connecting with tens of thousands of people around the world to create ripples of positivity every day.
Throughout my career, I have also used these learned passions and skills to engage and support the development of others by bringing my whole-hearted self to work. In a recent 20-minute GP Strategies webinar, I encouraged other learning professionals to do the same. Using an authentic approach, we can be more fulfilled, improve engagement, and also build more trust.
If you missed the session, a recording is now available online. However, if you are looking for the abbreviated version, here are a few easy ways to be even more in touch with your authentic journey and that of those around you too:
- Complete a 5 Whys analysis – Why do you do what you do? Encourage those you are working with to do this too; this is a fabulous foundation for authenticity.
- Multiple perspectives are critical when supporting an authentic learning environment. Taking the time to explore and consider different perspectives creates an opportunity for collaboration and sharing.
- Wherever possible use real-world issues and challenges to support learner relatability, this helps with the transfer of learning knowledge outside the classroom. This also means learners become emotional stakeholders in the learning, bringing their own interpretations and personal frames of reference to the content.
- Time for reflection is so important. Giving ourselves and others time to connect the dots allows us to translate the “why” into the “how and what.”
- Focus on our listening skills and thoughtfulness in all actions.
- Being mindful of language. This will be different for each organization; individuals and teams definitely have “trigger words” that people need to watch out for and either use or avoid.
- Asking people about their personal lives and then remembering what they say later. For instance, remembering to ask about an employee’s family. According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, the root causes of engagement issues are often found outside the workplace. It reveals how the insights that lead to real improvements in engagement arise when we consider the whole person.
- Keep learning and growing. By exploring and asking questions we learn even more about ourselves.
- Turn on your people before you turn on your computer!
After the presentation, several great questions came up from the audience and I wanted to share them with you. This is an ongoing conversation, and I encourage you to keep the questions coming in via the comments section at the bottom of this page. Thank you to everyone who took the time to ask questions or share thoughts during the presentation.
Q: You talked about how having an understanding of why you were doing Create the Ripple on Twitter allowed you to connect with more people; what did you do specifically differently to enable this?
A: I paused and took time! I took time to think about “why” I was tweeting and about “how” I was tweeting rather than just the “what.” I took time to think about “who” I was tweeting to which allowed me to make more personal human connections. I shared more about me, as I wanted to learn about others to create a community of individuals who connected with the ethos. Time is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone, as you can’t ever get it back; that little bit of reflection ensured that I was tweeting more meaningful messages that were relatable to the audience and also consistent. By ensuring that messages were more relevant to individuals, it also showed people that I cared, that I was authentic. This allowed me to build meaningful connections based on my “why.”
Q: Do you see the same fundamentals applying towards improving sales professionals’ communication skills?
A: Annual research by Cohn & Wolfe has shown that ‘the public feel there is an authenticity gap and that they are more likely to reward those that bridge the gap.’ Their key measures for authenticity are demonstrating reliability, respectfulness, and genuineness. The research goes on to show that brands often underperform on demonstrating genuineness, through both verbal and non-verbal communication. Sales professionals need to be aware of this as there is always the layer of self-orientation that can impact how trust is built as buyers can be more mindful of the what’s in it for us and you. By being more authentic, others are more likely to connect to our ‘why’ on a more human level.
Q: What have been some of the specific benefits you have found from creating an authentic learning environment?
A: For me one of the main benefits has been the practical application of learning outside the learning environment, be that a classroom or WebEx. The tangible difference I have noticed is at the end of an event instead of hearing from learners “I like that concept but I need to think about how that will work for me,” it becomes “I like that concept and I am going to take this specific action,” in addition to when they will do it. So practical application increases. There is a quote: “What we learn in pleasure we won’t forget.” I have also found that an authentic learning environment cultivates more laughter and passion. Even if the topic isn’t a comical one there is an increased level of engagement, curiosity, and constructive challenge creating a lasting impact more often than not.
Q: How do you find time to implement Tiny Noticeable Things (TNTs) into your day?
A: “I am not a product of my circumstances; I am a product of my choices” – Stephen Covey.
This encapsulates my view that we can make the time for the things that we want to do. So by taking the time to have more of an understanding of why and what it means to be you, you are able to be more conscious about implementing TNTs. I make the time because I can see the benefit to myself and to others around me.
Q: What are some resources I might download or research to help me gravitate to being more authentic?
A: Firstly, I would really encourage you to take time for self-reflection, considering what’s at the core of why you do what you do. A technique to help with this root cause analysis is The 5 Whys, which is simple, but do give yourself enough time to explore this. A book that I also highly recommend is Start with the Why, by Simon Sinek where he explores the 5 Whys as a fundamental way of how we should be communicating as leaders and businesses. I also advocate the work of Brene Brown, getting in touch with our vulnerability to help us to be more true to ourselves. There is a growing amount of research and science behind the benefits of creating an authentic environment for our employees and customers, especially in our digital age, for example, the work completed each year by Cohn & Wolf – Authentic 100.
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- Webinar Q&A | Creating Ripples of Positivity in the Workplace - August 22, 2017