Saturday, October 29, 2005

What does your body language say?

An article by Oliver Sacks in the Oct. 31st issue of The New Yorker describes how patients suffering from aphasia (a loss of language) learn to read and communicate through nonverbal language -- giving them an enhanced ability to see through artifice.

I'm thinking about how that relates to the body language of those who are shy. What kind of body language says, "I'm shy. Stay away" and what kind says, "I'm open. Come closer,"?

And if you know of any resources (web sites, articles or books) on the topic, pass those links along.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Don't you hate long email messages?

“Do they really expect me to read all this?” is what usually goes through my mind. It’s not that I don’t want to; I just don’t have the time. I spent an entire day recently going through my inbox -- saving, filing and trashing messages (not reading most of them) just to make sure I haven't missed any important ones.

To me, long email messages are unusable, in the same way a visually cluttered web site (often with too much text) is unusable.

I spend my time teaching clients how to be more usable because it's better marketing. They need to know how to write short, concise email messages that ask for (and get) a response. And we all need to know when it's time to pick up the phone.

Anyone who writes a long message – whether to someone they know or don’t know – without permission, a warning or a request, is asking for it to languish in an inbox and not be responded to.

What are some other qualities or actions that make people unusable?

(BTW: this is one of the ideas I'm developing for a short talk on "Personal Usability" -- Nov. 3rd 12:30-4 PM in NYC -- that will be part of World Usability Day, sponsored by the NYC Usability Professionals' Association, Human Factors International and others. More info and free registration here:

Monday, October 17, 2005

Are you shy because you think you know?

One of the things that people who consider themselves shy seem to have in common is that they think they know certain things, such as what others are thinking (about them) and what's going to happen.

For example, "If I speak up, they're going to think I'm stupid."

Or, "If I ask for more money, they'll think I'm greedy and I'll never get the job."

Or, "If I make a mistake, they'll get mad and it'll be over."

Is this true?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Do you need self confidence to start a conversation?

Recently, a reader of my email newsletter, Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor, wrote that her biggest self promotion challenge is how to begin and have conversations with people about what she can do for them.

“Whether they be in my network, cold calls, organizations, "warm" prospects – whoever, I often feel that I need some sort of script. Not having one holds me back from any interaction at all. I also feel like other people know how to have these conversations, and I don't - despite the fact that my services are beneficial.”

Is it a lack of self confidence that prevents us from talking to people (and makes us think others have it all together)? What exactly is self confidence and where does it come from? And more important, how do we develop it if we don't already have it?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Can you control your thoughts?

I'm here at the AWAI Copywriting Bootcamp and this morning the motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, told this room of more than 300 people that "thoughts are causes" and "conditions are effects."

So if you think about yourself as shy, the condition you find yourself in will be the effect of that thought.

He also said (and I believe this) that our thoughts are the only things we have control over. (In fact, I'm dying to read Joan Didion's new book, A Year of Magical Thinking, in which she talks about coming to the realization that she had control over very, very little in her life, despite believing for so long that she had it all under control. I know I believe that too.)

So here's my question: what steps can we take today to begin learning how to control our thoughts?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Are you an introvert? And can you change that?

Succeeding in business requires an assertive personality, self-confidence and solid communication skills. But according to the Shyness Institute in Palo Alto CA, half of all American adults consider themselves shy. In Stop Pushing Me Around (Career Press, June 2006), I will show readers dozens of surefire skills, tips and techniques to help even the most tongue-tied communicator become more comfortable and talkative.

Here's my first question: do you think it's possible for people who consider themselves shy to change that and what would enable them (you?) to do that?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Welcome to the Stop Pushing Me Around blog!

This is just an experiment at the moment. But the intention is to create a blog for the forthcoming book, Stop Pushing Me Around: A Workplace Guide for the Timid, Shy and Less Assertive by me (Ilise Benun).

But I don't plan to write this book alone. I need help from all of you so that's where this blog comes in.

I'll be posting some ideas and questions and looking for your answers and thoughts. And it's good for a little publicity too!

So here goes...