3 ways officials can improve COVID-19 public health messaging, according to science communication experts

public health officials Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, center, has been one of the most prominent US public health officials during the pandemic.

  • Public health officials have struggled to find persuasive ways to convince people to get vaccinated.
  • Researchers in science communication say being straightforward is the best way to make an impact.
  • They suggest being honest with uncertainty, ensuring consistency, and tapping into a crowd mentality.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Persuading people to get a COVID-19 vaccine remains a challenge even as more than a 120 million people in the US have received at least one dose.

Public health officials have struggled to find persuasive and accessible approaches throughout the pandemic, from explaining where COVID-19 originated to how the virus spreads among individuals, along with steps to prevent its transmission, its inequitable impacts on people’s lives, and now relevant risks and benefits information about vaccines.

COVID-19 is not just a medical issue. It is also a social justice, economic, and political issue. That makes it hard to figure out how best to share information about it, especially since messages come from a range of communicators – including elected officials, journalists, scientists, physicians, and community leaders – and are delivered to diverse audiences.

And the science itself has been uncertain and evolving. New information can change what’s known almost daily, making clear, accurate communication a “moving target.”

As researchers focused on the science of science communication, we can suggest several communication strategies, based on a July 2020 report from the National Academies for Science, Engineering and Medicine, that encourage protective behaviors related to COVID-19.

Clear and open, even about uncertainty

Decades of research in risk communication show that people’s perception of their own risk is key to motivating them to take preventive measures. For that to work, public health messages must be clear, consistent, and transparent.

One way to ensure that, especially for issues that have high uncertainty, like the pandemic, is for science and health messages to include context that connects the news to people’s concerns and prior experiences. What does risk or uncertainty about how the virus is transferred mean for the audience? How can they act on that information in their own lives? The “so what” of the message has to feel relevant. One approach, for example, is to emphasize how adoption of preventive behaviors – such as mask-wearing and hand-washing – leads to local businesses reopening and faster economic recovery.

Ensuring consistency in messaging, even for a rapidly changing issue, also means considering context – the bigger-picture processes shaping the issue. In other words, where do both the information and the uncertainty come from? What do scientists, policymakers, and health care workers know or not know at this point? Then, most crucially, what are people doing to address that uncertainty and what can audiences still do to act in the face of it?

Tap into a crowd mentality

At various points during the pandemic, public health officials needed to persuade people to change aspects of their daily lives. To do this effectively, it helps to remember that people change their behavior and beliefs to better match what they perceive other people are doing – especially those they most identify with. It’s human nature to want to go along with social norms.

Health messages should avoid putting a spotlight on “bad” behaviors, since that can actually exacerbate the problem. Disproportionate attention paid to vaccine hesitancy or people refusing to wear masks, for example, gives the impression that these behaviors are more common than they actually are. Rather, attention to “good” behaviors, such as small business successfully implementing social distancing practices, can be more effective.

But even well-intended efforts to promote social norms, such as vaccination selfies, may provoke significant backlash, including jealousy, anger, and feelings of injustice.

One way to avoid unintended backlash is to consider, before sharing, who is likely to see this message beyond the intended audiences. Are those who might see the message able to act on this information? If people can’t sign up for their own vaccination yet, a photo of a happy newly vaccinated person may make them feel angry and trigger negative feelings about systemic unfairness and resentment toward those who do have access.

Balancing the good news with the bad

The fear of a threat can motivate action. But a fear-based message often leads to people feeling helpless unless it’s paired with clear actions they can take to mitigate the threat.

Alternatively, hope is a powerful motivator, much more so and more consistently than fear or anger in many cases. Fortunately, for science communication in particular, surveys find that the majority of Americans remain hopeful about the promise of science to improve people’s lives.

Communicating hope can happen implicitly, through highlighting what does work and the benefits of actions. For example, clients following mask-wearing policies permitted many small businesses like hair salons to remain safely open.

What tends to be more common, especially in news coverage, is an emphasis on the negative – both in the current situation and in hypothetical futures and risks that could come if people don’t change course. You can see this focus in the coverage of gatherings that violate health regulations, like crowded beaches during spring break.

The weight of constant bad news reduces how equipped individuals feel to deal with a problem or avoid a risk. And this negative tendency can paint an unrealistic picture of an issue that has both wins and losses to report.

Without a fuller picture of the good news – what does work and what people are doing right – it becomes very difficult to envision how the world could look any different, or what anyone can do to move forward to a better place.

Todd Newman, assistant professor of life sciences communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dominique Brossard, professor and chair of life sciences communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Emily Howell, postdoctoral fellow in life sciences communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Conversation
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5 daily habits of business leaders on top of their game

business team talking
An important habit of a strong leader is to be present and transparent with their teams.

  • Sports entertainment firm founder Tanner Simkins says good leadership is key to running a business.
  • Not everyone can replicate leadership traits, but it’s easy to start implementing great leadership habits.
  • A great leader is proactive, communicative, and embraces the opportunity to learn to better themselves.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The best leaders get the most out of their teams, inspire their employees to constantly get better, and smoothly lead their businesses through difficult periods. The importance of good leadership, especially during periods of change or crisis, can’t be overestimated.

Employees who trust and respect their leader are much more likely to be committed, engaged, and happy in their jobs. Plus they’re more productive and less likely to leave.

The importance of being a great leader can be overwhelming for some in managerial and leadership roles. However, the good news is, as basketball coaching great Mike Krzyzewski says, “Leadership is an ever-evolving position.” Plus, while some leadership traits can be hard to replicate, leadership habits can be immediately implemented by anyone.

With that in mind, here are five habits of successful leaders to begin implementing today.

1. Focus on time management

Leaders have a long to-do list every day and it’s easy to get almost constantly diverted from the most important items on that list. Without good time management, leaders can find themselves constantly reacting to issues that arise and not spending enough time on the tasks that matter most.

To avoid this common problem, leaders need to be proactive about time management. Doing so will ensure that tasks don’t fall through the cracks, that you’re focused on the right priorities, that you’re modeling good habits, and that you’re meeting all commitments. While time management can be difficult, it is a habit that can be developed and internalized. Here are a few tips to help develop the habit of good time management.

  • Schedule your time the night before. Once the day starts, things can quickly get chaotic and it can be difficult to properly allocate time. Spend a few minutes every evening to prioritize and schedule the next day’s tasks.
  • Delegate whenever possible. Good time managers are able to determine which tasks require their attention and which tasks can be delegated. Delegation is essential for time management because it ensures that leaders are focused on the right tasks and strategically allocating their time.
  • Plan for focused periods of work time. Leaders are usually good multitaskers, as they’ve had to learn to juggle many different responsibilities. While multitasking is important, it’s not always a good thing. Difficult and demanding tasks require periods of focused concentration, so it’s important to schedule your time so that each task gets the focused attention it deserves.
  • Schedule the hardest tasks early in the day. It can be tempting to put off difficult projects as much as possible, but it’s best to schedule the most challenging things on your to-do list early in the day when you have the most energy and focus. Plus, getting these tasks done early ensures that they don’t serve as a distraction throughout the day.

2. Be present and transparent

One of the most important habits of strong leaders is being present, visible, and transparent with their teams. This often means simply walking around and checking in with employees. While it might seem like unproductive time, taking the time to be present with employees, in any way possible, is time well spent.

During these informal interactions, always be honest and as transparent as possible. This authenticity will build trust between you and your team. It also will lead to stronger relationships and healthy culture. Further, you’ll likely find that this time observing how your team and business runs will help you identify problems and opportunities.

3. Listen

Communication is regularly discussed when talking about great leaders. While communication is essential for great leadership, it’s particularly important that leaders are good listeners. The best leaders prioritize listening and ensure that they’re not just listening for content but also for context. Additionally, strong leaders listen without judgment and without trying to control the conversation.

Being a good, deep listener will not only build trust and respect but also ensures that you’re getting the information you need to make good decisions for your business.

4. Get to work early

One habit of great leaders that might seem insignificant is their commitment to getting to work early and being the first person (or one of the first people) in the office every day. Getting in early gives leaders time to organize their thoughts, handle a few mundane tasks, and respond to email before the busyness of the day begins. Additionally, it sets the tone for the team and lets them know that you’re present, committed, and working as hard as (or harder than) they are.

Being early to work is just one way that you can set the tone for your team and help build a healthy and productive culture. It’s worth noting that with so many teams working remotely now, this habit might not seem particularly important. However, even when working remotely, “getting to work early” will help to focus your day, ensure that you’re addressing any last minute changes to the day, and modeling good habits, no matter what the working situation.

5. Look for learning opportunities

The best leaders approach every day looking for something new to learn. They make learning a habit and always look for ways to gather new knowledge, information, and skills.

Learning can be formal, like participating in professional development or working with a mentor. However, it can also be informal. This includes talking to team members, asking probing questions, listening, taking notes, and observing. Throughout the course of each day, there are ample opportunities to learn. The best leaders seek out these opportunities and ensure that they’re always learning.

Great leaders get the most out of their teams and ensure that their businesses continue to grow and develop no matter what challenges they face. While being a strong leader is not easy, the good news is that there are some habits that anyone can adopt to be a better leader. Start with these five habits to become a better leader now.

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19 things you should never say to your coworkers

pregnant colleague
Never ask a coworker if she’s pregnant.

  • Having friends at work can make you more productive.
  • A 2019 article found positive work gossip can lead to friendships and warn others of bad managers.
  • But gossiping and being too comfortable at work can backfire.

Getting along with your coworkers is a beautiful thing. It can make your workday less dreary, help you focus better, and make you more productive.

While making work friends can be awkward, one way to break the ice is to start complaining.

Complaining about work tasks means you trust the other person not to spill your secrets, and can lead to closer friendships down the line, according to The Cut. One researcher calls productive work gossip “pro-social,” or gossip that can lead to warning your peers about difficult managers or other information that results in more productive work.

Some experts, however, warn against getting too chummy with your coworker. While some lighthearted gossiping can be positive, there are certain phrases or conversations that can make you sound unprofessional (and even harassing).

“In conversation, use a little common sense and discretion, especially when there are others present,” says Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, an etiquette and civility expert and the author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.” “The general guideline is that if you wouldn’t say it in front of your boss, don’t say it.”

Aside from the obvious – like profanity and insults – here are some words and phrases you should never utter to your coworkers.

Don’t ask to borrow money

Most of us have forgotten to bring cash or our wallet to work once or twice. Randall says that in this rare occasion, it might be OK to ask your understanding coworker to borrow some money for lunch.

“But if your wallet is always in your ‘other purse,’ don’t be surprised if you’re excluded from future lunches,” she says.

Stop using the phrase ‘honestly’

Barbara Pachter, an etiquette expert and author of “The Essentials of Business Etiquette,” says that drawing attention to your honesty at that moment can lead people to wonder, “Aren’t you always honest with me?”

Don’t spread rumors

“Spread gossip, and you become labeled as a gossip,” says Vicky Oliver, author of “Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots” and “Power Sales Words.”

“Negative comments about a coworker to another coworker will make you look worse than the person you’re talking about, and guess who will be the one who looks bad when it gets back to the person you’re talking about?” Randall says.

Don’t tell your coworker you like the way her pants fit on her

Be selective about what you compliment.

Commenting about a coworker’s physical appearance is considered unprofessional, Randall says – and worse, could be sexual harassment.

Don’t tell a coworker, ‘You people are always causing problems’

Topics like religion, politics, and child-rearing sometimes come up in the workplace, Randall says. But to negatively comment about any group is unwise and unprofessional, and it could get you in trouble for harassment.

Never ask a coworker if she’s pregnant

This question rarely results in a positive outcome.

“If your coworker is not pregnant, you have insulted her,” Oliver says. “If she is pregnant, she probably isn’t ready to discuss it yet. Keep observations like this to yourself.”

Don’t say, ‘I’m sorry to be a bother’

“Why are you saying you’re a bother?” Pachter asks.

And if you are truly sorry about something you haven’t done yet, why would you go ahead and do it anyway?

“Excuse me. Do you have a moment?” works much better, she says.

Don’t tell your coworkers you are looking for another job, or ask if they know who’s hiring

“Sharing this with your coworkers may cause them to instinctively distance themselves, knowing you will no longer be a part of the team,” Randall says.

“They also might unintentionally leak the information to your supervisor, which could explain your lack of productivity and absences, resulting in a poor reference or an invitation to pick up your paycheck earlier than you expected,” she says.

Don’t say: ‘See this rash? I’m expecting the lab results tomorrow.’

“Except for maybe your mom or spouse, no one really wants to see or hear about peculiar rashes or any nausea-inducing medical conditions,” Randall says. “Limit your sharing to a cold or headache.”

Try not to start all of your sentences with ‘I think’

Saying “I think” is sometimes acceptable, but only if you truly are unsure.

“Using ‘I think’ can make you appear wishy-washy,” Pachter says. When you know something, state it directly: “The meeting will be at 3 pm.”

Don’t tell a coworker you were surprised when she was asked to present

You might as well say, “It should have been me.”

“The professional response would be, ‘Congratulations,'” Randall says.

Don’t say: ‘Do you mind covering for me while I’m in Bora Bora?’

Flaunting your luxurious lifestyle with your colleagues may set off a jealousy epidemic, Oliver says. In general, it’s best to avoid bragging about how great your life is.

Don’t ask your coworker if you’re invited to a party you overheard him talk about

“This is the grown-up world – not everyone will be invited to everything,” Randall says. “Besides, are you prepared for the answer?”

Don’t tell your coworkers you’re stealing office supplies

You just admitted to stealing, a cause for termination and, at the very least, loss of trust, Randall says.

Don’t bring up personal relationship issues

“Intimate details about your personal relationships can divulge unfavorable information about you,” Randall says.

Sharing intimate details about your love life falls into the “too much information” category, she says, and “if it doesn’t enhance your professional image, or enrich workplace relationships, you should keep it to yourself.”

Don’t call your coworker a “credit snatcher”

Maybe your colleague or boss took credit for your work, but carping about the problem to your coworkers rarely helps, Oliver says. Instead, it’s best to address the issue with the person who took credit for your idea.

Don’t ask your coworkers how old they are

HR experts suggest colleagues avoid this topic. Someone might think you’re questioning their authority or abilities, or worse, could accuse you of age discrimination.

Don’t comment on your coworkers hair or ask to touch it

Commenting on a coworker’s hair or asking to touch it isn’t just inappropriate, it could be considered harassment or a racist microaggression.

Don’t tell your coworkers you’re suing the company

“Whether the charge is legitimate or not, spreading it around will not serve you well – just ask your attorney,” Randall says.

If you’re really suing your employer, it’s best to conduct yourself with discretion and dignity and continue to perform your duties to the best of your ability. If this becomes impossible, you should consider resigning, Randall says.

“But if this is your go-to threat when you’re unhappy about something, stop it,” she says.

Rachel Gillett contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Read the original article on Business Insider

An early-career professional’s guide to developing strong, supportive relationships at work

Carson Tate Headshot
Carson Tate is a business consultant and author.

  • Carson Tate is the founder of a business consulting firm that works to enhance workplace productivity.
  • She says building genuine professional relationships is key to having a happy and long-lasting career.
  • Follow the platinum rule when communicating with others and learn how to control your emotional reactions during tense situations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When you are new in your career, strong, authentic relationships are vital for career success and growth. However, too often you can unconsciously undermine relationships in your interactions with your colleagues when you make assumptions about their behavior, use one-size-fits-all communication techniques, and get hijacked by your emotions.

Here are three strategies to build strong, genuine relationships.

1. Use the platinum rule to foster mutual respect and understanding

Many of us learned the golden rule, to treat others as you want them to treat you, as a young child. Your parents, teachers, and adults in your life knew that the golden rule’s core virtues of empathy and compassion for others guided positive social interaction. As an adult, I learned about the platinum rule and came to realize that it more powerfully shapes positive social interaction. It suggests that you treat others the way they want to be treated.

The platinum rule challenges the assumption that other people want to be treated the way you want to be treated. You approach people with the intention to first understand how they want to be treated and then adapt your interactions with them to meet their needs. The platinum rule can help you avoid making a negative assumption about someone’s behavior, which undermines constructive social interaction.

2. Tailor your communication to your colleagues’ work styles to be heard and understood

To use the platinum rule and help understand how your colleagues wanted to be treated, let’s explore the concept of work styles. Your work style is the way you think about, organize, and complete your tasks. In any office you will find four types of work styles:

  • Logical, analytical, and data-oriented
  • Organized, plan-focused, and detail-oriented
  • Supportive, expressive, and emotionally oriented
  • Strategic, integrative, and idea-oriented

Think about the following questions to determine the work style of your co-workers:

  • Does she consistently complete work early, in advance of deadlines, or wait until the last minute?
  • Does he send emails with only a few words or write novels?
  • Does she gesture and use her hands while talking? Or is she more controlled and stoic in her movements?

These clues, both subtle and overt, will provide insight to your team members’ work style.

Once you have identified your colleagues’ work style, tailor your communication style to align with how they want to communicate.

  • Your logical, analytical, and data-oriented colleagues want you to focus on data and the facts. Be brief, succinct, clear, and precise. If you send an email, keep it short.
  • Your organized, plan-focused, and detail-oriented colleagues want you to stay on topic, present your ideas in a sequential, organized manner and provide detailed timelines. If you send an email, outline your main points, and clearly state next action steps and due dates.
  • Your supportive, expressive, and emotionally oriented colleagues want the conversation to be informal, open, and warm. If you send an email, include a salutation, and connect with them personally before you transition to the topic of the email.
  • Your strategic, integrative, and idea-oriented colleagues want you to communicate with minimal details, provide the big picture with visuals and metaphors, and articulate how the project aligns with the organization’s strategy. If you send an email, provide the context, and avoid too many details.

3. Identify the SCARF threats that hijack your emotions and interactions

Have you ever been in a situation where you were hijacked by your emotions? You raise your voice, get visibly angry, or completely withdraw and abandon the conversation. Almost immediately you regret what you said or did because of social concerns. You know that your reaction could negatively impact a relationship and or your reputation in the office.

David Rock, cofounder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, has proposed a framework that captures the common factors that can activate your brain’s risk or reward response in social situations. Rock calls it the SCARF model and includes five domains of human experience: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.

  • Status is about your relative importance to others, or the “pecking order” or seniority in the office. It’s knowing who has the most power in the room due to title.
  • Certainty is about your need for clarity and the ability to predict the future. Our brains like to know the pattern that is occurring moment to moment. It craves certainty so prediction is possible.
  • Autonomy is the perception that you can exert control over the events in your life and your environment. It is the sense that you have and can make choices.
  • Relatedness is your sense of connection to and security with another person. It is whether someone is perceived as similar or dissimilar to you. We naturally like to form groups with people who are “like us.”
  • Fairness refers to just and unbiased exchange between people. It’s about a perception of a fair exchange between people.

To have more positive social interactions and build supportive relationships, identify your primary SCARF threat, and stop your emotions from hijacking your interaction colleagues.

Using the platinum rule, tailoring your communication to coworkers’ preferences, and identifying the SCARF threats that hijack your emotions and interpersonal interactions will work in tandem to advance in your career and build strong, authentic relationships in the workplace

Carson Tate is the founder of Working Simply, Inc., a business consulting firm that works to enhance workplace productivity, and the author of “Own It. Love It. Make It Work: How To Make Any Job Your Dream Job.”

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How to accept tough criticism at work without taking it personally

two coworkers talking
Criticism can be difficult to hear, but applying it can help you advance your career.

  • Executive coach Melody Wilding helps people navigate their careers and find work-life balance.
  • For sensitive people, she says receiving criticism at work can be upsetting and feel like a personal attack.
  • To cope with criticism, Wilding suggests following these five steps to process the feedback.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

No one likes criticism about their work. But being hypersensitive to criticism can feel like a burden you constantly carry.

Whether you’re getting input about how a slide deck could be improved, hearing that leadership isn’t on board with your idea, or otherwise speaking up and putting yourself out there – it can be difficult to separate a person’s response from your own self-worth.

Throughout your career, you’ll always be given feedback in some form or another. Learning to cope with criticism is a key part of professional (and personal) growth, and when processed productively, can actually boost your confidence and be extremely valuable for advancing your career.

That’s not to say, though, that it can’t be extremely uncomfortable or even upsetting: You put your all into your work and take pride in your efforts, so when you’re criticized, it can really sting.

Negative feedback tends to hit Sensitive Strivers especially hard. Because we process everything more deeply, we end up taking people’s opinions personally – seeing it as a failure or indictment on our professional aptitude and capabilities. When we get negative feedback or someone throws a comment our way, we have an intense reaction to it.

Why you’re so sensitive to criticism

It’s important to understand that as a Sensitive Striver, you are wired differently.

According to research, about 15 to 20% of the population has a genetic trait that leads to a highly calibrated nervous system. This explains why things affect you more profoundly than they might someone else.

Research also shows that Sensitive Strivers have more active mirror neurons, which means you are naturally more perceptive and attuned to your surroundings.

But as a result, you might spend more time monitoring and analyzing other people’s behavior. This vigilance can render you overly preoccupied with external approval and others’ thoughts and opinions, or cause you to read into situations more easily – sending you down an intense emotional spiral.

Nevertheless, thinking deeply is a tremendous strength. That is, as long as you have tools to harness your superpowers effectively.

A simple exercise to deal with negative feedback at work

When on the receiving end of criticism, it’s essential that you separate criticism of the message from criticism of you as the messenger.

It’s important to avoid what authors Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone call “wrong spotting” – where we go on the defensive and fall down an anger spiral that can leave us distracted and depleted.

Besides, there can be a lot of value in criticism especially when it’s delivered constructively. You want to avoid your emotions getting the better of you, and blinding you from all that there is to learn from the person’s comments.

There’s one simple exercise I give my coaching clients that helps them parse helpful feedback from that which can be left behind. It also helps them slow down their own reaction so that they can think clearly and be in control of how they respond to the feedback instead.

Here’s how the exercise works:

1. Take a sheet of paper and split it into four columns

It’s best if you do this on hard copy versus a computer, as studies show handwriting is more cathartic. It forces your brain to be more deliberate and also serves a pattern interrupt (since you likely spend most of your day typing).

2. In the first column, write down the exact feedback

Transcribe what the person said, word for word. Use their exact phrasing and do not layer your interpretation on top of it. Remain as objective and fact-based as possible.

3. In the second column, list everything that’s wrong with the feedback

This is your chance to let it all out – your anger, frustration, insecurity. Mention inaccuracies, blindspots, and errors in the feedback. Don’t hold back.

4. In the third column, list what might be right about the feedback

This is where you start your mindset. Begin to broaden your perspective and consider where the other person might be coming from. Are there helpful improvements within the criticism they shared, for example? A new discovery or opportunity? What can you learn or take away from the information they’ve shared with you?

5. In the fourth column, commit to taking action

Note down your next steps. This may be having a follow-up conversation to clear the air, making a correction, or simply letting it go and moving on with your day.

This exercise provides structure so that you can process feedback in a more balanced way, get back to equilibrium faster, and take constructive steps forward.

Remember, receiving criticism is a fact of life and it can really bring you down if you let it. By having tools to process it you’ll be able to recover more quickly and shine like the competent professional you are.

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Oprah’s 7 best interview techniques that anyone can replicate, according to a psychotherapist

Oprah Winfrey interview Meghan and Harry
Oprah Winfrey spoke to Meghan and Harry in an interview that aired on CBS.

As a therapist and the host of The Verywell Mind Podcast, I see first-hand how the questions you ask and the way you ask them determine how open people are when they respond. Interviewers who help people feel comfortable encourage their interviewees to speak more freely.

Oprah’s interviewing skills have stood the test of time because she strikes a great balance between helping guests feel like they’re part of an intimate conversation while also helping her audience feel like they’re part of the interview.

Her recent interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry highlighted her skills as she got the couple to open up about sensitive subjects and their former life in the royal family. Here are seven reasons why Oprah is so good at asking questions that draw out candid, honest answers.

1. She is comfortable with silence

Silence feels uncomfortable for both the interviewer and the interviewee. And while many interviewers race to fill any pause that lasts more than a second or two, Oprah sits back and waits.

She knows her guests feel awkward too. And she lets them fill the gap.

The pause is often a sign that a guest is hesitating to share more information. When there’s an awkward silence, however, most guests will be eager to fill it – even if that means chiming in with the rest of a story that they’re hesitant to tell.

This is crucial as it means her guests often go on to share the harder parts of their stories or the raw emotions they’re experiencing.

2. She’s direct

Some interviewers sugar-coat uncomfortable questions. Others seem apologetic for asking about tough subjects. And a few seem to enjoy being intense in their questions as a way to create extra tension.

Oprah is kind when asking questions but she’s also direct. Her manner of asking tough questions in a matter-of-fact way helps people feel more comfortable answering.

After all, if you’re apologetic or you seem uncomfortable asking a question, people may think they should feel awkward about answering.

3. She uses reflective listening

People open up more when they know someone is really listening to them. But listening isn’t just about passively waiting. It’s about reflecting back what you hear to show you’re trying to truly understand.

When someone shares a story and then ends with a statement like, “That was so tough to deal with as a kid,” Oprah often responds by repeating back the last few words. Saying, “That sounds tough for you to deal with as a kid…” opens the door for them to keep talking.

4. She asks follow up questions

Oprah’s conversations are organic. She doesn’t just pick from a list of pre-written questions to ask her guests.

She asks follow-up questions that show she wants more information about what her guest just said. She shows she’s interested in taking a deeper dive into their wisdom and their experiences.

5. She doesn’t know all the answers

Some interviewers insist they only ask questions they already know the answers to so that they’re never surprised or thrown off guard. That’s definitely not Oprah’s approach.

Clearly, she conducts research on her guests. That information guides the question she asks. But, she also asks questions that people haven’t ever been asked before and she shows a genuine response to their answers.

6. She leans in

Oprah looks relaxed while she waits for her guests to answer her questions. This ensures that people being interviewed don’t feel rushed when answering questions.

She also leans in at just the right moment. Leaning forward in her chair when they’re sharing raw emotion sends a clear signal that she’s with them and wants them to keep going. People feel safe when they know they’re being heard.

7. The conversation is authentic

The conversation between Oprah and her guests appears authentic. The guests feel as though Oprah really wants to learn from them and the audience feels like they’re watching two people having a real conversation – rather than an expert interrogating someone about their story.

That authenticity is why Oprah is such a trusted resource. Her body language and facial expressions match the words coming out of her mouth.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 email tips to stop your messages from being ignored, according to experts who work with Facebook and Nestle

Lee Lazarus and Janine Kurnoff are founders of The Presentation Company.
Lee Lazarus and Janine Kurnoff are founders of The Presentation Company.

  • Janine Kurnoff and Lee Lazarus are founders of The Presentation Company which teaches business storytelling to big brands.
  • The sister duo says storytelling is key to sending great emails and ensuring you get a favorable response.
  • They say to use the email subject line as your story’s headline, and to offer context before making a request.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Inboxes are overwhelming, particularly for busy managers, key stakeholders, and VIP executives that everyone wants a response from. Most of us are bombarded with dozens of emails each day, if not more, and can’t afford more than a few seconds to glance over each one before moving on. So if you want to cut through the noise to reach decision-makers and move business forward, focus on structuring every email (and we mean every email) with a story strategy.

Adopting good email strategy – the kind that gets a response – is often the result of years of experience. To save you some time, we’re sharing our five top email strategies, purely based on classic story structure. 

1. Find the right balance between brief and meaningful

Before diving into your email storytelling strategy, we want to dispel a very common myth – that emails must be super-short to get answered. This isn’t true. When emails are too brief – perhaps just requesting some immediate action – they will often be ignored because they actually “get to the point” too quickly. They lack the context that gives recipients a deeper understanding of why you’re reaching out and what you need from them.

Additional information can actually enable the reader to make a decision more quickly. If they’re confused, or your ask seems complicated, they’re more likely to put off the answer you’re looking for. Still, being overly wordy is also a sure way to get your email ignored.

Make sure you find the right balance between brevity and key details in your emails. The reader should always be left with a clear idea of what they need to know and do with your information – and why. 

Data suggests the ideal length of an email is between 50 and 125 words. Emails this length had a response rate above 50%. 

2. Always have a headline and put it in your subject line 

Good emails should tell a story. Good stories have a headline. Ergo, your email needs a headline! And where should said headline reside? Right up top of course, in the subject line. 

Unfortunately, it’s very common for people to squander this opportunity for an attention-grabbing headline and instead use boring subject lines such as “Meeting follow up” or “Project update.” These generic tags tell your recipient very little and probably won’t grab their attention. 

Maximize the prime real estate of your subject line instead and introduce the big idea of your email story. Your big idea is the key information – the ‘what’ of your story – that you want your recipients to remember the most. So, instead of “meeting follow up,” you could say “Reconnecting on next steps for sales kickoff next month.” Instead of “Project update,” you could say, “Project X is on target but needs additional design resources.”

Focus on your single biggest, most consequential, or most insightful piece of information. Put this headline in the subject line to give your email the best chance of being opened.

3. Your email opener must provide context

As we mentioned above, jumping too soon into your ask without providing context will leave your reader confused. Context is key so they can process your information (or request).

In storytelling terms, context is the combination of setting, characters, and conflict that build the arc of a story. For example, if the email is a follow up to a budget meeting from last week, the setting must take the reader back to the “scene” of last week’s financial discussion, the important “characters” affected by budget decisions, and the chief conflicts affecting those characters. 

This look back is critical to remind them who and what’s at stake, and what decisions must be made. 

4. Repeat your big idea

Being overly repetitive is the death knell for any email, however, restating your single big idea is the power move of any great storyteller. When you remind readers of your key takeaway – the ‘what’ of your email story – you cement it in their brains. 

The best way to get in that one-two punch is to establish your big idea first in your headline (i.e. your subject line), then repeat it after you’ve established your context.

5. Always unveil your resolution last

One of the hallmarks of a poorly structured email is when it begins with your recommendations or your call to action without any context. As we mentioned above, many people believe that keeping an email as short as possible is best. So, they just state upfront what they need from the recipient: “Please approve this budget,” or “Can I get your feedback?” or “Need approval for a new hire.”

These requests are all part of their resolution, the answer to a certain conflict. If the resolution comes before the conflict, the recipient is less likely to buy into why they should complete your request. So instead, have this element last in your email.

Janine Kurnoff and Lee Lazarus are authors of the new book “Everyday Business Storytelling: Create, Simplify, and Adapt a Visual Narrative for Any Audience.” These Silicon Valley-bred sisters founded The Presentation Company in 2001 and work with brands like Facebook, Nestle, and Medtronic. Follow them on Twitter. 

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If your successes often go unnoticed at work, here are 3 ways to speak up and get credit, according to an HR expert

woman wfh working laptop coffee sad lonely stressed
Introverts often have a harder time making their work successes known.

  • Beki Fraser, CPC, PCC is a business and leadership coach and HR expert.
  • If you usually work on your own and find your accomplishments ignored by colleages, Fraser says you may be an ‘introverted skeptic.’
  • It’s important for introverted skeptics to give their work a voice by engaging with coworkers more often and soliciting to feedback.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

In my 20-plus years as a leadership coach and a human resources leader at a variety of companies, I have coached hundreds of people who are introverted skeptics, the hybrid personality type that can be both an obstacle and an asset in the workplace.

Beki Fraser.
Author Beki Fraser.

As introverts, these individuals prefer quiet to concentrate, are reflective and comfortable being alone, don’t enjoy group work, take their time making decisions, and feel drained after being in a crowd. As skeptics, they don’t accept information at face value. They question and challenge, value evidence and proof, and seek out problems to be solved and work to fix them. 

Introverted skeptics tend to care deeply about the work they do and deliver thoughtful, well-reasoned solutions. They are often creative and have strong problem-solving skills including the ability to view an issue through multiple perspectives, connect dots, and identify opportunities, risks, and insights that others miss.

Challenges facing introverted skeptics

If you are an introverted skeptic, you may find yourself struggling because you don’t willingly engage collaborators or seek colleagues’ input – which may adversely affect the quality of your work or other peoples’ perception of it. You may be under-appreciated and overlooked because you don’t share your work and get support for your ideas as you go along. You may also become frustrated when people don’t embrace your solutions and recommendations – which were carefully constructed, but may seem to have come out of left field when they are finally unveiled to your stakeholders.

I often hear introverted skeptics express their frustration like this: “I’m not viewed as a strong contributor, because I’m labeled as negative or don’t speak enough in meetings. Of course, I don’t speak. No one is listening. I do great work and spend a lot of time doing things right, but I don’t get credit for the extras I contribute. Meanwhile, people who brag about lesser work and constantly kiss up get the promotions.” 

As an introverted skeptic, you tend to toil in solitude, immerse yourself in the challenge at hand, and build a solution block by block. It’s likely you find this type of work exhilarating and working collectively to be tiring – so you may hesitate to present updates or seek feedback until you’ve addressed every last issue and question. Like many of us, you’re inclined to spend more time on the tasks you love and less on the stuff that’s unpleasant.

Professional success, however, often requires the steps you tend to avoid when it comes to showing your work and lauding your own efforts

In coaching sessions, introverted skeptics often identify their communication style as an underlying cause of challenges on the job. The good news is there are three simple, repeatable steps that will help you properly show your work and thrive professionally. 

1. Engage stakeholders

With each new undertaking, determine who may ultimately be affected by the work you’re doing, who will have meaningful insights or points of view, and whose approval or help is required. Determine which relationships need to be managed – up, down, and sideways.

Commit to providing regular updates – even when there’s not much to report. This will keep your work top-of-mind among stakeholders, make them part of the project, and build understanding and buy-in.

2. Give your work a voice

Before you start work, share what you’re thinking and your proposed plan of action. This can be a simple email to those directly affected or, for large or complex projects, might warrant a group call or a presentation to your organization’s leadership. Ask for input regarding your approach, timing, and other considerations.

The bottom line is this: Your work doesn’t have a voice. It relies on you to share its value. Think of it like an uninterpreted data set that needs to be organized into a story to be understood and appreciated. When you keep that story to yourself, no one sees the value you create and your work won’t achieve its full potential. 

3. Listen with an open mind

Be sincere when you ask for and evaluate input. Don’t let your skepticism close your mind and learn to value different perspectives. Incorporating good ideas, and even so-so ones, into your work will give your colleagues a stake in the project and ultimately improve the final product.

On the other hand, work completed in isolation, even great work, will have less impact and do less to bolster your reputation. Share your work, share the results, learn lessons from the process, and share those, too.

With these simple steps, you give people the opportunity to see what you’re doing, understand why you’re doing it, and help you succeed. Your work will be aligned with other efforts and the organization’s overall strategy – so it can have more impact. Showing your work will showcase your initiative and talent, grow your reputation as a collaborative team player, and increase appreciation for your contributions.

Beki Fraser is a certified business and leadership coach who worked 15 years as an HR leader for a variety of companies. She holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management. Learn more on her website.

Read the original article on Business Insider