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Silence as a medium

Silence can be uncomfortable, and it can be tempting to rush to fill “dead air.” When silence falls upon a meeting or lands abruptly in conversation, it can be unsettling and anxiety-provoking. You may question the efficiency of communication or worry that your message has been misunderstood.

But silence is one of the most powerful communication tools we can use. When harnessed, silence allows room for focus, self-reflection, empathy, and introspection. Sometimes, silence is exactly what is needed for a creative storm to follow.

The next time you find yourself in a silent standoff with a friend or among colleagues… pause. Invite silence into the space and watch what blossoms.

“Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Words come out of the void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness.”

Wayne Dyer

Avoiding burnout

This is an important question. These six considerations can help:

  1. You can’t be everything to everyone, and that is okay.

2. Sometimes you will be recognized for your work. Sometimes no one will notice. Surround yourself with like-minded people — people who have your back and respect what you do.

3. Take time away. Say no. Know what you need to do your work and remain focused on creating art.

4. “Straight As” are overrated. Show up, earn that “C,” and be on your way. This is perfectly acceptable.

5. Cultivate a toolkit of music, art, dance, sports, writing, meditation, yoga, cooking, and friends. Regularly return to what brings you joy.

6. Remember: Take care of yourself. The world needs you.

woman in blue suit jacket

7 steps to better questions

Better questions deepen relationships, build trust, and increase confidence. With intention and practice, your questions can become tools that strengthen your business and enhance personal relationships. Here are seven ways you can start:

1. Begin with an informed approach.

Before asking any questions, do your research. Learn more about the company, read up on the open position, see what you can find about the person you are interviewing. The best questions are grounded in knowledge. When you understand more about the person you’re speaking with, you can shape questions to be more engaging, thought-provoking, and relevant.

2. Get curious.

The best questions come from a genuine place of curiosity. Asking questions with sincere interest provides the platform for questions to serve as welcome invitations, not invasive challenges. Remember: Curiosity fosters excitement, and excitement is contagious. Your interest conveys positive intention.

3. Mirror spoken and unspoken language.

Notice the language used by the person you’re speaking with. Are they communicating in a formal tone or comfortable with casual phrases? How about their body language; are their hands folded in their lap or are their arms crossed over their chest? Just as you can mirror someone’s body language, you can also copy their speech. Observe patterns in pitch, vocabulary, and physical posture. You don’t need to imitate someone, but reflecting their physical and verbal communication styles can establish rapport and create a sense of familiarity.

4. Lead with empathy.

While asking questions, seek to understand that person’s worldview. What contributes to the way they see the world? How do they interpret events around them? Maintaining eye contact, using appropriate physical markers (nodding, facing your body towards the person you’re speaking to, and uncrossing your arms), and asking clarifying questions are ways to display empathy. Respect encourages openness and honesty.

5. Stay present.

If a difficult topic or answer arises, remain focused and grounded on the present moment. Do your best to avoid unnecessary distractions from your phone and the environment around you. If you’re struggling to hear the other person, make adjustments, and if the circumstance is too distracting, kindly ask to schedule another time to meet.

6. Open a door.

Open questions usher meaningful conversations. A question that can be answered by a “Yes” or “No” or a simple phrase won’t invite reflection or engagement. While open questions may be more challenging to ask (you’ll have to think carefully), these kinds of questions are more valuable for relationship-building. Here are a few examples of open and closed questions:

Closed: Did you have a good day?

Open: What was the best part of your day?

Closed: Did you like that product?

Open: Which feature was most valuable for you?

Closed: Do you like to travel?

Open: What’s your favorite travel memory?

Closed: Are you happy with our meeting?

Open: How are you feeling after our meeting?

The point of a good question is to open doors for conversation to take place.

7. Listen with intention.

After you ask a question, pay attention. Listening carefully after you’ve asked a question shows willingness to understand and learn. Instead of viewing silence as a rebuff, reframe it as a breath: You’re opening the bottle and giving ideas room to expand. Pause provides space for reflection and thought. Let the person fully explore your question and their answer.

How do you ask questions? Tell me on twitter @redheadlefthand.

ethnic female cafe owner showing welcome we are open inscription

Show, don’t tell

If you want to attract premium clients, selling won’t work. You have to show why someone should buy from you.

Sure, a high-end customer might be ready to pay, and they may want to commit long-term. Why? Because they trust you. They’ve watched you regularly show up and prove that what you say and do align.

Want better clients? Consistently demonstrate you’re worth investing in.

turned off laptop computer

“Can coaching help me?” 7 questions to ask

Is coaching worth the investment?

Coaches can be the spark plug you need to move towards goals and become more aware of sabotaging patterns. A trained coach holds you accountable, charts your progress, and cheers as you make professional and personal strides. But how do you know which coach is right for you?

Before you choose to enlist a coach for extra support, get clear on the help you’ll receive. Research your coach’s background, training, and past success. Many coaches offer a complimentary session before you commit to working with them. Use that time to better understand the training and offerings of this professional. Here are a few questions you can start with:

Have you worked with other professionals in my industry?

Do you have a process for your work with clients?

How would you describe your coaching style?

What can I do to get the most out of our time together?

What is the most common struggle you see with clients?

Tell me about a time you helped a client and felt proud of their progress.

Do you provide outside resources — books, podcasts, worksheets?

Have you worked with a coach? Let me know @redheadlefthand.

What is marketing?

When I changed industries — from social work to advertising — I was skeptical. Why would an international branding agency want to hire me, a M.S.W. (social work) graduate from Columbia?

They did, and here’s why:

Empathy.

They knew I could question: How to analyze behavior and communities, how to look for factors that contribute to the way in which someone sees the world; how to start conversations to learn how people see themselves.

This is marketing.

As part of my social work degree, I had two clinical internships. For the second, I was placed in the counseling clinic of an all-girls college. My experiences prior to this was with drug and alcohol addicts, youth on probation, middle school students. Yet now I was playing the role of therapist in a clean office, listening to educated young women talk about their anxieties and frustrations.

These women had resources. They had money and options and opportunities. Yet their worries were the same as those kids on probation and the middle schoolers who walked up flights of dark stairs in Section 8 housing to go home.

Will he/she love me?
Will my family be proud of me?
What should I do for work?

Since then I’ve worked with Buddhist monks and young leaders in Nepal. Our yearnings are largely the same, but our resources are not.

If we fail to recognize these differences as marketers, we have no chance of winning.

I believe we can use this same awareness to create incredible marketing campaigns — and a better world.

Which audience will I care about?
Who do I want to impact?
Which traits do I want to develop?