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99 percent of the world’s problems are caused by lack of communication.  This stat is of course completely made up by myself but if you looked deep enough it may have more truth to it than some might think.  In the fast paced world of computers, TV, and all sorts of new technology we have to wonder if our communication skills are breaking down even though we have more communication avenues open to us than we have ever had before.  This article will examine some of the ways you can improve your communication on a personal level, which will then translate into success for both your business and your home life.

Many many books, articles, and T.V. shows have been created discussing the topic of communication and its importance.  For anyone who is a doubter as to the importance communication can play in your life, I recently heard the perfect story which sums up the power communication can wield.

In the Eastern part of the world lies two countries, Pakistan and India.  For those familiar with these two countries I’m sure you are well aware that they have hated each other for generations. Each country is a nuclear power and each wields influence in the region.  One can easily see in each country’s foreign policy their drive to ensure the other country does not gain an advantage.  Looking around the world it is difficult to find two countries with more distrust, and animosity towards one another.  This animosity does not stop at a governmental level, but extends to the people of each country.

So what does this have to do with communication?  Knowing the backdrop of the two country’s relations we can more greatly appreciate the following story.  I usually listen to the NPR news network on my way to and from places and they had a report about the people of India and Pakistan.  One of the reports discussed how a Pakistani woman married an Indian man.  Both families completely opposed such a union due to the generations old animosity between the two countries.  The man and woman were able to set aside this age old hatred however and communicate through a medium that one might not think of right away: art.  She is a painter, he a sculptor and through this medium they were able to communicate with each other in ways others could not.  They were able to see each other for who they were, not where they came from.  The power of communication overcame even the most deep seeded distrust.

So what does all of this mean for you? As the story above clearly illustrates, communication is the means to breaking down barriers, forming relationships, and understanding others.  This can be very important to your personal life but just as important to your professional one.  You need to be able to understand the best way to approach customers, their likes and dislikes, and how they will best respond to you.  The best way to do this? Communicate with them!

Before anyone can branch out to communication through a business image they need to start with themselves.  Here are some tips and advice for better communication on a personal level.

Tip 1:  Listen!!!  Ever met that person who seems like they are about to burst with something to say every time you talk and frequently talk over you?  It can be very aggravating.  What many people don’t realize is that almost everyone is guilty of this! Listen first, speak second.  The number one way to turn off a potential customer or even someone in your personal life is to make it seem like what you have to say is more important than what they have to say.  You need to understand what they are telling you before you can effectively respond to it.

Tip 2:  Don’t be afraid to interact with others!!  This would seem like a no brainer but many people are very shy around people they do not know or different from themselves.    Time to open the gate and let others get to know you while you get to know them!  A conversation at a bus stop with a stranger, a 20 second chat in the elevator, these are things that while they may seem small or inconsequential could be very beneficial.

A friend of mine recently experienced a perfect example of this.  He went for a job interview and entered the elevator with another man.  My friend did not say a word to him but just rode the elevator up.  It turns out the man in the elevator was one of the interviewers! A quick friendly hello in the elevator could have gone a long way to helping my friend in the interview process!

Tip 3:  Understand non verbal communication.  As Peter F. Ducker put it: “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”  Everything from a person’s posture to whether they look you in the eye or not can tell you something about them.  Let’s face it people do not always tell the truth.  It is very important to be able to discern whether their body language is matching up with their words.  If an employee is promising he’ll get to a task in a few minutes while he’s playing a game on the company computer things don’t exactly match up!

Remember though that this is not a one way street!  Your non verbal communication is just as if not more important than the other person’s!  How can anyone believe you truly care what they have to say if you seem distracted, don’t look them in the eye, or are obviously only half listening?  You must make the effort to devote your full attention to the person you wish to communicate with!

Tip 4:  Avoid arguments but don’t avoid issues.  What does that mean you ask?  While there are often very volatile issues that must be addressed in both business and personal situations arguing about things is not the way to go about it.  As Jonathan Swift put it: “Argument is the worst type of communication.”  Arguments rarely lead to anything productive and usually just entail the parties involved being angry without the issue actually being resolved.  It is very important for you to keep your cool and discuss things logically and rationally even in the face of someone else’s emotions.  That being said it is never a good idea to avoid issues entirely just to avoid an argument.  Completely avoiding important issues may buy you some time today but it will come back even worse in the future.

Tip 5:  Your ideas are not the only ideas!  I cannot even count the number of times people have turned down ideas of mine not because they were bad ideas, but because they weren’t the ones who came up with them! Even if it means you aren’t going to be the one who saves the day, it is always best to listen to ideas when they are sound and not just turn them away because they weren’t your idea.  I am continually surprised in my own life how great ideas come out of people you would never expect them to come from.

These tips are obviously just scratching the surface of communication, its importance and how to best achieve it.  Later on we will discuss communication tips more specifically tailored to your business but you can’t be effective there if you aren’t effective on a personal level!  If you have any other ideas or tips towards furthering good communication feel free to post them in the comments below or email them to me at mat@trumanburger.com.  Thanks for reading and remember, Listen first speak second!

Categories : Personal Growth
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Just about anyone who has been on the internet has heard of Facebook, Myspace, and other social networking sites.  Everyday more and more people are creating accounts, logging in, and connecting with people all over the country and across the world.  While these social networking sites are great for finding old friends and making new ones, they also attract sexual predators, con artists, and hackers all with the intention of using the website as a means to harm you or a loved one. In this article we will examine some of the simple ways you can set up your accounts to help ensure your safety online.

Of all the major networking sites, Facebook has become the most popular by far.  Therefore we will be looking specifically at Facebook in this article.  Some of this information may be common sense to long time Facebook users, but for those just starting out it will prove very useful.

Before we get into specific safety tips, I’d like to share with everyone a story that I recently witnessed firsthand involving Facebook.  In one of the classes at the college I attend we were assigned to pick a topic relating to safety and community policing and report on it.  Topics ranged from undercover work to K-9s.  One group however decided to cover the very topic we are discussing, Facebook safety.

The two young men in the group were both 21 years of age but created a profile claiming to be a 16 year old girl who would be attending a local high school.  They picked a random person who attends the high school and decided this person would be their “target.”  The goal of the experiment was to see if they could obtain the target’s personal information.  So using a fake name, fake pictures, and a fake account the group began trying to friend people from the high school to legitimize their fake account.  After about a week they had 260 friends and had plenty of people looking forward to meeting their false identity in real life.  They were unable to friend their “target” however so they friended her sister instead.  The sister accepted the friend invite and from there the game was on.  Using information from the sister’s page, the two young men were able to obtain detailed information about the whole family.  Had the young men actually been criminals and not criminal justice students, they had obtained all the information they needed to do whatever they were planning to their “target” without her ever even friending them.  These young men had never tried anything like this before, so imagine what someone who was well practiced at it could do.

The thought of predators online stalking your children or even you is a scary one indeed, but there are things you can do to protect yourself and your children.

Tip 1:  Maximize your profile security options.  After you log into your account there is an option in the top right corner called “Account.”  Clicking on it gives you a drop down menu, select Privacy settings and you will get several areas you can then go into including profile and contact settings.  Within each of these areas are several more options where you can actually set your privacy level.  The three options are for everyone to be able to see the information, for friends of friends , or for friends only.  Set every option to friends only.  This will give you complete control over who sees any of your information as you control who you friend.

Tip 2: Only friend people you know!  There is quite a bit of ego involved in how many friends your page says you have.  The quest for running up your friend numbers can be very dangerous to you!  If someone you don’t know sends you a friend request you should most likely just ignore it!  If you just can’t help your curiosity however, you have the option of sending them a personal message to find out who they are why they are friending you before actually accepting.

Tip 3: Be careful what pictures you post online.  A  professor of mine once said, “Once something is on the internet it is on there forever.” He is absolutely correct.  Pictures that are from something as harmless as a block party could lead directly to a predator on Facebook gaining all the information he or she would need.  Any pictures with addresses, license plates, or easily identifiable landmarks around where you live could be potentially dangerous!

Aside from dangerous predators you would be incredibly surprised who looks at Facebook pictures.  Businesses often look at your Facebook profile when doing a background check! While we all like to post pictures of our weekend exploits on Facebook, some pictures are better off just left off your profile because you never know who could be looking at them.

Tip 4: You don’t have to enter real information!!!  Unfortunately while you can set your security to friends only, this security feature can be easily hacked by anyone who knows what they are doing.  If you enter your phone number, address, or any other information online hackers can easily obtain it.  If a friend wants to call you, email you, or contact you in some way they can easily send you a private message and you can give them the real information.  There is no reason to enter your real contact information.

Tip 5: Be careful of what activities, bands, local venues or other local information you enter.  If there is something only local to your area such as a food stand or movie theater, predators can use that information to hone in on your location.  Even something as innocent as posting what high school you play for and what sport you play can turn into dangerous information for predators to use.

Tip 6: If your children are using Facebook, make sure you are monitoring it.  Being a young man myself my teenage days are not too far behind me so I know all about the whole privacy teenage thing.  Facebook and other online mediums however have the strange effect of children throwing out the “don’t’ talk to strangers” rule.  You should be well aware of who your children are talking to on Facebook.

Tip 7: Remember, not everyone is who they say they are! Unless you actually know the person from real life, always be skeptical when dealing with an unknown person on Facebook.  They could be who they say they are, or they could be someone completely different.  The kids who friended the fake profile from the story above were quite surprised when they found out the young attractive 16 year old girl was actually a 21 year old college student!

These are but a few tips that can help with your online safety.  Online safety extends far beyond Facebook and some of these tips are useful in all areas of online safety.  If you have any other tips or ticks you would like to add feel free to post them in the comments section of this article.  Or you can email them to me at mat@trumanburger.com.  Thanks for reading and stay safe out there!

Categories : Internet Marketing
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