229: How to Wow with Powerful Words and Presence with Frances Cole Jones

By November 13, 2017Podcasts

 

 

Communications consultant Frances Cole Jones shares her best strategies to address her clients’ most pressing questions.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How to tell if you’re a boring speaker…and what do about it.
  2. The key word that instantly makes your message more engaging
  3. Another power word that increases listener buy-in from 60 to 94%

About Frances

Prior to founding Cole Media Management Frances worked first as a nursery school teacher and then as an editor of commercial nonfiction in NYC. Being a teacher helped hone her negotiating skills (If you can handle 12 toddlers you can handle any CEO). Her experience helping authors find their voices is something she uses with all her clients to ensure they sound like themselves – themselves on their best day.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Frances Cole Jones Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Frances, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Frances Cole Jones
Thank you so much for inviting me on.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I know you have so much wisdom to share. I’m really excited to dig into it. But first, I want to hear a little bit about your wisdom – you’ve got 20 years of experience as a yoga practitioner and teacher on top of everything else you’re doing. What’s the story here?

Frances Cole Jones
Yoga is my sanity, and it’s not the kind where you lie around on the floor and wear socks. Although that’s lovely and I think that’s fantastic, I’m a little too high-strung to enjoy that. So, Ashtanga moves pretty fast, and it’s fairly mentally and physically demanding, which is great. There are days when I leave my practice and if I lived through that, the rest of the day is a cakewalk.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, cool. So, you’re staying sane and that’s great, amidst all of the work that you’re up to. And I’m really intrigued, in particular, how you manage all of your email, because you’ve got a prominent “Ask a Question” tab on your website, which we’ll totally link to in the show notes. And so, I’m amazed, first of all just by that workload. So, you must get a whole lot of questions flooding in. How do you even manage them, in terms of life and responsibilities and your carpal tunnel syndrome and all that?

Frances Cole Jones
I highly recommend for almost anybody in any type of business putting an “Ask a Question” button on your website. It actually reads even better than kind of the “Contact” button, and everything rolls directly to my phone. I don’t do a lot of things very well – I’m not a good driver and I don’t enjoy decorating or shopping, but I’m excellent at sitting at my computer and typing, and I write fast. So yes, I just love it, and it’s always fun and it’s fascinating, and it frankly feeds my work and my books, because so many of the questions have common themes. So, it’s a wonderful way to keep my finger on the pulse of how people are feeling and what they’re talking about.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, certainly. And I want to talk about some of those common themes, in terms of, what are the, I don’t know – two, three, four-ish questions that you seem to get again and again and again these days from professionals, and what are you answers?

Frances Cole Jones
One of the first is often about jobs and job interviewing, because I think a lot of people have a job but they’re looking for a better job. So, I do a lot with that kind of, how to network effectively, how to follow up professionally, how to make sure you exit your current situation gracefully – that kind of thing. And that’s always fun.

I do quite a bit with negotiating. People will write me and they’ll either say, “I’m going in to pitch my idea and ask for the financial wherewithal to make it work.” So, there’s quite a lot of kind of fundraising for entrepreneurs, which I also enjoy.

And then oddly, recently I’ve had a lot of queries – or maybe not, under the circumstances – I’ve had a lot of people approaching me with questions about social anxiety, which isn’t necessarily my wheelhouse, because I do business, but it’s more about kind of social scripts for sticky situations, is how I’ve decided to think about it. So, “My coworker needs to borrow money”, or “I’m being shamed into buying something that I can’t afford.” So, those kinds of social anxiety scenarios are coming up quite a bit.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s intriguing. Well, could we zoom in even just a little deeper there, in terms of interviewing? Within that ballgame, what’s a top question folks ask you about interviewing, and a top answer?

Frances Cole Jones
Well, one of the things that I encourage everybody to think about is I want them to think of, before every interview, what are the worst three questions you’re going to be asked? Look at your resume, have someone you trust in your field – not your nana – look at your resume and say, “Wow, these are the two or three things that jump out at me.” And if you haven’t done that yet, go on a few informational interviews and use that time to ask those people what they’re thinking. I think informational interviews are so underrated and they’re such an easy way to move laterally, or to even change fields.

So, I want people to think of the answers to the worst three questions they might get, but then I want them to also have the answers to the softball questions. To me the classic one is, “So, tell me about yourself”, which is not the time to say, “Oh, I grew up in Rhode Island and I’m one of six kids.” No, no, no, no, no. [laugh] “Your job description says you’re looking for someone who can do X, and not only can I do X, but I can also do Y and I can do Z.” So, just knowing how to answer, again, the tough questions, and the softballs.

Pete Mockaitis
I like that. And you say – and I think it’s well said – that hope is not a strategy when it comes to anticipating the most dreaded questions. It’s like, “Ooh, I don’t know how I’m going to answer those. Well, hopefully they won’t ask.” No, no. You’re not done.

Frances Cole Jones
And the other thing I want people to think about – I was just talking to someone this morning, a client, about it – is very often talking about money makes almost everybody nervous. And I think at this point most people would rather talk about their religion, their politics, their sex life, but they do not want to discuss money. So you really have to practice saying what you’re asking for out loud, so that it sounds kind of the way that you need it to be, whether that’s confident or… I was talking to someone this morning about channeling what I refer to as your “inner New York restaurant hostess”, because she’s like, “Oh, your table is going to be another half an hour”, so it’s like I’m looking for something in the range of X to Y. So you need to kind of sound a beat around that, because if you sound tentative at all, people are going to jump on that.

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve worked with many clients when they say something and then their face and their tone of voice at the same time conveys, “If you don’t hate that.” And it undermines effectiveness in a hurry. Well, speaking of you talking about vocal intonation and facial expressions – the verbal versus non-verbal cues – I heard you on an interview mention that there was a controversial UCLA study that mentioned… Maybe listeners have heard this before; I’ve heard it many times, about communication is 7% the words you say and 93% the other non-verbal things. Or we only remember 7% of what you say and 93% of the non-verbal things. There’s a lot of ways that this study’s been characterized, and I’d love it if you could just set us all straight. What’s the deal with verbal versus non-verbal, and the study, and what it means, and what should we do with that?

Frances Cole Jones
Right. It is a rabbit hole of epic proportions. What’s interesting to me is that in way back when days, the person who was the first person to kind of bring this to everyone’s attention, was Rodger Ailes, when he wrote his book a million years ago. And I know he’s become, again, a very controversial figure, but he wrote a book ages ago called You Are the Message. And I think he was the first one who really solidified this idea for everybody. So, from there again the Internet has gone wild and everyone is furious about the study and they say it’s completely ridiculous, or there are aspects of it.

In my opinion, I know from my experience that, as you say, physicality and tonality have everything to do with how your message is received. And yes, I want everything you’re saying to be as memorable as possible, I want you to stay away from useless modifiers, like “Great”, “Amazing”, “Awesome”, “Incredible” – they mean nothing to me – but I really need you to have a sense of how you’re coming across, again, with your tonality and your physicality.

And the easiest way to do that is videotape yourself and watch it, because I can’t tell you how frequently I will video tape a client and we will play it back and they’ll say, “Oh my goodness, I am so boring.” And I’m like, “Okay, so tell me more about that.” So yes, if nothing else I think the study draws attention to the amount of awareness everybody needs to pay.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, understood. And I’m fascinated that that’s sort of a takeaway that people often encounter when they review video footage of themselves – it’s not like, “Uh, I’m ugly” or “I hate the sound of my voice”, but it’s like, “Wow, I’m boring” as a top recurring theme. So while we’re on the subject, could you share what are a few pro tips for being less boring?

Frances Cole Jones
One of the first things that you need to realize is that the television camera or the Skype camera, if you happen to be doing an interview or a meeting – it flattens the personality. So you have to be so much more animated than feels probably normal or natural to you. So again, one of the great things about having video – we can video everything on our phones – is it’s so easy now. It’s not like the old days when I used to drag big, gigantic video cameras with VHS tapes around Manhattan. You can check and see how you’re coming across. So that is one of the first things.

The other thing is if you just do a lot of work on the phone, I highly recommend doing it standing, because standing automatically gives your voice so much more energy and enthusiasm, and doing it looking in a mirror, because it is impossible to stand in front of a mirror and not amuse yourself, right? So you’re going to look at yourself and you’re like, “I’m so funny and I’m so interesting”, and your voice is going to follow along with all of that.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s excellent. So you’re saying that with a mirror in place… I guess maybe we’re all just very, very vain or self-centered. So you’re saying the reason a mirror works is because us looking at the mirror is entertaining to ourselves, because I guess we find ourselves fascinating.

Frances Cole Jones
Again, it will just remind you to smile, hopefully. If it doesn’t, please take this as a reminder. It does remind you to smile and again, all of that will come through. I’ll be frank – I have a mirror right now in front of me, because people can’t see me and my voice needs to be as compelling as possible.

Pete Mockaitis
And it’s interesting, Frances. Let’s run an experiment right now, because I am currently seated, and maybe it’s because I’m lazy or maybe it’s because I’m concerned that I’m so fascinated by this content – no joke – that I’m worried that if I stand I will be over-the-top or beyond belief, like, “This guy’s phony.” But let’s run an experiment. I’ve got a cool sit-to-stand desk, and we’re going to get it standing right now, because I’d like to put your wisdom into action. So, here we are, standing. And we’ll see; we’ll let the listeners decide if it’s over the top or kooky. But I’m standing now, and it feels good.

Frances Cole Jones
Yeah, and it also gives your voice a lot more resonance. And it is less of a concern for someone like yourself, because men have naturally lower voices, but we all need to speak from our diaphragm. And the difference is, if I can do it – if I’m not speaking from my diaphragm, I’m speaking from up here. Alright, I have no authority right now. So you really standing helps you access that lowest part of your ability to breathe and speak on an exhalation and sound as authoritative as you need to be.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright, now that’s good. And so we spoke with Julian Treasure a bit about this back in Episode 224, and I’d like your thought when it comes to that resonance, we’ve got the head voice, the neck voice, the chest voice and the diaphragm voice. Any pro tips for helping access that, beyond standing?

Frances Cole Jones
One of the things I really recommend that will be super helpful is lie on the floor, put something heavy on your abdomen, breathe until you see it going up and down. So really make sure all of those muscles are working, that support your diaphragm and are around your diaphragm. And then when you stand up, your voice will probably have dropped about an octave. So, in that moment, frankly, that’s a great time to record your voicemail greeting, because you do have this kind of nice, warm, yummy, compelling voice, yes.

Pete Mockaitis
That sounds so fun. You can then see it, directly before, after. What is this – five minutes or less of lying down, or how long should we do it?

Frances Cole Jones
Again, breathe really deep, diaphragmatic breathing, and then just stand up. Record yourself before and after, and you will hear a difference.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s exciting. Nothing like an immediate result to spark some inspiration. I love it.

Frances Cole Jones
I need a practical application element for everything I talk about, yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, it shines through and it frankly is one of the reasons why I thought, “Okay, this is a perfect fit for the show.” So again, delighted to have you here, and I’m just getting started. I’ve got so much I want to hear from you. Let’s chat a little bit about, I like your use of studies and sort of research base. Now, you’ve referenced a Yale study on the 12 most persuasive words in the English language. And I’m intrigued, one – how does one even determine that those are the 12 most persuasive words, and two – what are they, and three – how can we use them to our advantage?

Frances Cole Jones
Right, and it’s one of those moments if you go on the Internet and you Google “Yale University 12 most persuasive words”, sadly… When I first came across this information is when I was working in publishing, all these 20 something years ago, kind of before the Internet. And I learned about it from a book, the old-fashioned, old-timey way where you’re like, “Oh, I read it in a book. Somebody must’ve fact-checked it.” What you can do now is if you Google it you will see there are multiple lists and multiple people saying different things.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh my!

Frances Cole Jones
What I’ve done is, again, I’ve sorted through all the different iterations of the list on the Internet, and I want to try and keep everything in mind, but one of the things I do talk a lot about is the importance of putting everything in terms of you. Because everybody gets up in the morning and you’re the hero of your own story.

So, if you hear a speaker stand up in front of a group and say, “Let me tell you about my wonderful idea, and why I am so wonderful” – that’s not interesting. But if you have somebody who stands up and says, “I was so excited when I heard I was coming to speak with you today, because…” – that’s a very different audience response. And again, it works if you’re fundraising, if you are pitching your idea – you need to articulate immediately, how is my idea going to make your life better? Because really at the end of the day we mostly care about ourselves.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright. So that’s sort of the big picture framing – “Hey, it’s about you; it’s not about me.” And then it’s actually the word itself “You” that’s packing a punch.

Frances Cole Jones
Right. It’s an easy way to make people feel included or to make someone who’s feeling uncomfortable feel comfortable. So you could be like, “As I’m sure you know”, and “I’m sure you’ve heard.” And then internally they might be thinking, “Well, I didn’t know”, but again, the presumption that they are on the same page, that they are as educated as you are, that they are as in the know as you are, that they are as hip as you are – whatever it might be – tends to make people feel, again, happy.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, so you’re saying the presumption is not so much a liability, but an asset.

Frances Cole Jones
In my opinion, yes. Again, it’s as seemingly small as if you’re talking about a restaurant that you love, like, “I’m sure you’ve been there”, or “I don’t know if you’ve been there yet”, or whatever that might be. Then they’re much more engaged, rather than, “Well, I went here and it was amazing.” It doesn’t make people feel included.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. And it’s interesting how sometimes when I get pitches they would say, “I’m sure you’ve heard about the something, something.” It’s like, “I really haven’t.” And I don’t know, in some ways it’s interesting – it makes me think, “Well, maybe I should really quickly learn about that right away”, or other times it makes me like, “Hey, who are you? You’re making me feel bad.”

Frances Cole Jones
Right, that’s just it. So then that’s going to come down to the tone. Because if somebody says it to you like, “Well I’m sure you’ve heard about that” – that’s a no-good tone. But like, “Oh, have you heard about this?” – that’s a very different kind of situation. So, it comes back to so much of how our message lands depends on our tone.

Pete Mockaitis
I like that a lot. You’re right – it does make all the difference, in terms of I feel like I’m being invited into something fun, what you said the second time. And it was not so much like, “Hey, if you don’t know about this, then you’re dumb”, but rather, “Hey, this is a fun thing. You don’t want to play a conversational game around it, you’re invited.” I dig that. So “You” is huge. And then what are the other 11 words?

Frances Cole Jones
Well again, it’s going to depend on which list you look at. It’s “You”, and then it’s “New”, kind of new as opposed to old, “Money”, not surprisingly, “Save”, “Guarantee”, “Easy”. And this is my trouble, because the two lists have kind of the same words on them, so I could tell you the ones that I’ve pulled out and put in the subtitle of my books. “Proven” is on almost all the lists, so I tend to fall back on that one. Again, we love things to be easy. “Amazing” is one of those words that work for copywriters, but it doesn’t work as an out loud word. It comes across as inauthentic. So again, hopefully if nothing else, because I’m not the expert on everything, but I do love to poke around and research – people just try it out and see what works for them, whether it’s your email subject line, or the subtitle of your book, or the headline on your presentation, whatever it might be. See what catches people’s attention.

Pete Mockaitis
“You will save money using my new easy guaranteed system.”

Frances Cole Jones
Right.

Pete Mockaitis
Tell me more, I’m excited.

Frances Cole Jones
It’s proven!

Pete Mockaitis
I like that. So now, is one of these words you’ve referenced already the one that you mention on your website that increases listener buy-in from 60 to 94%, or is this another word?

Frances Cole Jones
No, that’s a whole another…

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s go there.

Frances Cole Jones
Whole another situation and a whole other study. There’s a woman named Ellen Langer, who was in California – I think she’s at Harvard now – and she did a study that showed that giving people the “Because” behind why you are making a request, increases the possibility of cooperation from 60 to 94%.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright, so the idea is just making the request, “Can you do this for me?” versus, “Can you do this for me because the CEO’s going to be visiting next week and they want to look at this”, is all you need to do to make a huge difference.

Frances Cole Jones
Absolutely. “You need to stay late and do this” does not land well. “You need to stay late and do this, because so and so’s arriving tomorrow and my back is against the wall and you’re the person that I trust to handle this”, and that kind of thing. But always giving people the “Because” behind why you’re making any request.

Pete Mockaitis
Now, within “Becauses”, are there some reasons that have been studied to play better than others? I guess I could imagine maybe an infinite number of “Because” pieces to follow that clause. Are there some that really go a lot farther than others?

Frances Cole Jones
Well, for me my rule of thumb is after the “Because” you need to give a reason that demonstrates why their participation is going to make both of your lives better.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright, lovely.

Frances Cole Jones
This comes down to Duncan Hines cake mix marketing theory, which I also love and adore. It’s one of those things that lives in the land of myth versus reality, but I love it – which is that when Duncan Hines first started making cake mix, the decision to have people at home add the egg was actually made in the marketing department, because when we do that we think, “I baked”, right? And it’s different than when you get the mix and it’s like, “Just add water”, and you feel sad about yourself.

So how does this work in real life? It’s in any situation figuring out what you want and need, and their participating that benefits both of you. And again, in the job situation you want it to be, “I was so excited to talk to you because your job description says you’re looking for someone who can do X, and I can do this, and this is how I’m going to add value or make you look better once you hire me.” That’s the egg. So you always have to have the egg in any situation.

Pete Mockaitis
The egg. That’s a nice metaphor there. So in the world of, kind of the work example you shared, in terms of, “Hey, my back’s against the wall. VP’s coming in and this needs to be produced quickly” – I supposed in some ways that almost requires you to adjust the situation itself, as opposed to your wording alone, such that it is a win-win for them. I mean there may be no reason, unless you make it so there is one, like, “And we’ll make sure to put your name on the something”, in terms of the credit. Or, “We’ll make sure to highlight that you were a key contributor”, or maybe quid pro quo. So, any other ways in which you can make it more of a win-win?

Frances Cole Jones
I think I would say, “Because I want to be able to make sure that you get the credit that you deserve. I rely on you for this and I know how accurate you can be.” And if you’re feeling really fancy, you can say, “I’d love to have you come to the meeting. This is the kind of thing that I’m definitely going to factor it in. You have a review coming up, and I just want you to know how much I’m going to appreciate this.”

And honestly, as I think about it, so often just saying, “I can’t really tell you how grateful and thankful I am for your assistance on this, and how appreciative I am”, and saying that out loud – often that’s a piece that gets dropped. So it can be any number of things. Or maybe, “Can you stay late tonight and let me see if I can let you out early on Friday?” There are all different kinds of things, but again, demonstrating how their help is going to benefit both of you.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s appreciation – that’s so huge just to make it explicit. I think we maybe just assume, “Oh, they know.” They may not know.

Frances Cole Jones
“Oh, it’s their job, so I shouldn’t have to say ‘Thank you’.” I don’t care; I still love to hear “Thank you”. So yes. And actually, beyond “Thank you” to say “I really appreciate your help.” There’s something about going the extra mile of “Thank you so much, I really appreciate it” that lands for people so, so well. And even if they’re people you see every day. To finish every meeting and say “Great job today” – it sets the tone for the next day.

Pete Mockaitis
I was really struck by, the Boston Consulting Group did a study associated with what factors lead to worker satisfaction. And they surveyed, I think 100,000 plus people; it was wild. And across the world, number one was appreciation. And appreciation’s free – it’s wild.

Frances Cole Jones
Yeah. And it’s so simple and it’s so frequently overlooked, maybe because we think, “Oh, how exciting can it be? It’s not a new car.” Well, it’s really exciting to people.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, I also want to get your take – you make a reference to a number of non-verbal cues – that it’s important if you want to “Wow” to be aware of, identify and respond well to. Can you share with us a couple of these non-verbal cues that are pretty consistent, but also maybe frequently overlooked or just extra important to make sure you respond to well?

Frances Cole Jones
One of the first things that I always talk about is getting the small of your back off the back of the chair. So, I don’t want people to be all the way on the edge of their chair, like “Oh, please, pick me!”, and I don’t want them to be lounging back, that kind of “too cool for school” posture. If you’re in a meeting of any kind, you want to be sitting up and sitting up straight and getting the small of your back off the back of the chair. And honestly, one of the most helpful things in the world was when Downton Abbey was on TV, because I was like, “No, it’s like the Downton Abbey sitting at dinner pose.” So, it’s a very small thing, but it makes a huge difference in how attentive and interested you appear to others.

One of the other things I talk about is keeping your hands where people can see them. This is one of those kind of subliminal things, but if you think about it, one of the first things we say to the alleged criminal is, “Put your hands where I can see them.” So, keeping your hands where people can see them automatically makes them trust you more.

The other thing I like people to know is we love it when people write down what we say. It makes us feel so important. And so, I really encourage people, if you’re in a meeting and you want someone to like you, bring a pen and a piece of paper and just write down. I don’t care if you throw these notes in the rubbish bin when you leave, but it will really make them feel like you’re paying attention on a wholly different level.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I really like that. It’s so funny – I should’ve put that together myself, because when I’m doing speeches and I see someone taking notes, it’s like, “Oh yeah, that one likes me, and therefore I like them.” It’s like I’ve got some advocates in the room. So just throw in reverse – go ahead and be the note-taker.

Frances Cole Jones
Be the note-taker! The thing that’s so great about those kinds of notes is they don’t need to necessarily be what the person is saying; you can take a note like, “He mentioned that his dog was all the way to the vet”, or “He mentioned that he just was going on vacation”, whatever it is. So then, going back to appreciation, when you write your follow-up email to say “Thank you for the meeting – “Oh, I hope you have a wonderful vacation in, wherever it is that you’ve chosen to go”, or “I really hope Fido’s feeling better.” So yeah, the notes can be helpful on a number of levels.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good, that’s good. And especially I’m thinking about people if they really nod as they’re taking that note, like, “Oh man, something really hit home there. Okay, it feels good.”

Frances Cole Jones
Just going back quickly to the nodding and to studies, because people love a study – Malcolm Gladwell did a great study in his book The Tipping Point about, if you are giving people information that they may not want or that might be upsetting or distressing to them, if you nod your head “Yes” while you give it to them, they are more likely to agree and be like, “Okay. I get that it’s upsetting, but I’m going to be okay with it.” I think it’s a University of Chicago study. But it’s one of the reasons why if you watch any of the kind of Law and Order, any kind of a trial show, the attorneys as they give their closing arguments, you’ll notice they very often are nodding their heads as they talk to the jury. So it’s a very, very specific choice that’s being made.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that is helpful. And it’s intriguing how sometimes I think I’ve even caught myself on the receiving end of that. It’s like they’re nodding and I’m nodding, and then I say, “Wait. What? No.” [laugh] And if your level of consciousness is not that sharp in the moment, you could probably pull it off, like that’s all it took to persuade someone who is unthinking and undecided.

Frances Cole Jones
Right.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, in our final moments before we shift gears into your favorite things, I’d love to get your take on just a couple of some of the easiest, yet maybe most rarely performed things, quick tactics professionals can employ to make an impression that they are all the more brilliant and worthy of promotion.

Frances Cole Jones
I think that part of it is just showing the initiative and talking to whomever is in charge of them and saying… If they don’t have a formal review set up – for heaven’s sake, get that organized. You don’t want to pounce on people, but you want to say, “Look, I really want to make sure that I’m performing in a way that you’re satisfied.” So, make sure that you have those really set kind of goals and communication in place.

The other thing that I think is really, really good is if it’s somebody that’s new to you or if you’re interacting with someone for the first time, to ask, “How would you prefer I stay in touch? Do you like email, do you like telephone, do you like Skype, do you like text?” Just letting people kind of be in charge of the form of communication goes a long way toward them being happy about receiving your communication.

The other thing I’d like people to think about is there are a number of email subject lines that just really don’t work at all, under any circumstances. So, a few that I will not ever use, and all my client know they’re never supposed to use – my least favorite one of all is “CRISIS”, all caps. Really? And the point that I always make is when something occurs in our country, does the leadership go to the crisis room? They do not. They go to the situation room. So moving forward by request of everyone is you only ever have a situation or a dilemma; you never again have a problem, or certainly not a crisis.

“URGENT”, all caps, is another email subject line that I’m just, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no”, because it comes back to the “You”. Is it as urgent for the person who is receiving it as it is to you? And if it’s not, you just seem like this lunatic with your hair on fire. So again, you want to just make sure that, again, your tone matches your message, and it lands for the person who’s receiving it in such a way that they feel included, and not just kind of the object of whatever it is that you are in the middle of writing. So again, those are just a few things.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s good, and much appreciated. And I think it’s also similar if it’s maybe not so much the all caps word choice, but sometimes with email programs you can mark it as “High importance” or “Urgent” or what not. And I think sometimes, especially when those are coming from people that I’ve never met, it is like I don’t really see how that could possibly be appropriate to categorize that, given our relationship. And then it sort of diminishes their credibility a bit for me. It’s like, “Well, okay, we’ll see just how ‘High importance’ this is, person I’ve never heard from before.”

Frances Cole Jones
Right. I got an email the other day and the headline was “Great news”, and I opened it up and I’m thinking, “Oh yay, what happened for me?” And this person was writing saying, “I’ve got a new job, and this is where you can find me.” And I’m thinking, “This is not great for me, particularly.” So, yeah, just consider how it lands for the other person.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful, thank you. Well Frances, tell me – is there anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things here?

Frances Cole Jones
No, I think that it’s been wonderful to talk to you. I guess I would just reiterate that I do have the “Ask a Question” button, and I really do respond to everyone who writes to me. So, if there’s anything that people are kind of confused by or have an opinion about and they want to write me, then please knock yourself out, because I love, love, love to hear from people. Or if there’s anything going on in your work environment that you think I might be able to be helpful with.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect, thank you. Well now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Frances Cole Jones
I often go back to the Thomas Edison quote, “Opportunity is missed by most, because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.”

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And how about a favorite study or experiment or a bit of research?

Frances Cole Jones
I’m going to go back to another study that Ellen Langer came up with, and she at one point was asking people to make the distinction between saying to someone, “Can we agree to disagree?”, which provokes a yes / no response, versus “How can we agree to disagree?”, which invites cooperation and conversation. And I think that such a small change can make such a huge difference.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And how about a favorite book?

Frances Cole Jones
I often read fiction for the relaxation purposes of my life, so I return to Salinger’s Franny and Zooey at least once a year, just to kind of ground me on the planet.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool?

Frances Cole Jones
I would have to say within the context it is a telephone, but it is actually picking up the phone and speaking to someone. I think that that is a lost art, and it goes such a long way toward problem-solving and getting to know somebody better. So, yes, use your phone, but use it to actually have a conversation, not just point out to somebody how right you are.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s funny; it’s like, “Hm, they seem to not be picking up how right I am. I better call them.” And how about a favorite habit?

Frances Cole Jones
As I mentioned at the beginning, I’m a devoted Ashtanga Yoga practitioner, but I think yoga of any kind can be incredibly helpful. I also started doing Transcendental Meditation two years ago. And I have tried every other form, but this is the one that seems to stick, and it’s been super helpful with just stress and anxiety and focus and all of those things. So, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And is there a particular nugget you share or sort of a Frances quotable original that seems to particularly get folks to take the notes when they hear it, or re-tweet it?

Frances Cole Jones
I think that everybody can be a really good speaker. I don’t think it is kind of a God-given, some people are hit with the charisma stick and other people aren’t. I think it’s a matter of digging around in these studies and seeing what works and asking your friends what they think. It’s not so much a quote as just a belief that this is something everybody can be good at, and it’s one of the joys of what I do, is just demonstrating to people how good they can be.

Pete Mockaitis
And Frances, if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them to?

Frances Cole Jones
Well, the website is my name, which is FrancesColeJones.com, and I have a boatload of resources. I’ve written three books – How to Wow, The Wow Factor, and Wow Your Way into the Job of Your Dreams. So, that’s all there, and then I blog every week, just about things that have come up that I want people… Again, if I see a common thread in the “Ask a Question”, I’ll often do a piece about that, so yeah. I also have a once-a-week newsletter called the “Wow of the Week”. People can sign up for that and it comes to you every week, whatever it is that I’m thinking about that hopefully will help you work with whatever’s going on in your life.

Pete Mockaitis
And Frances, do you have a final challenge or call to action you’d issue to folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Frances Cole Jones
I think that it’s about developing your personal self-awareness. A lot of people know how they’re being perceived, but sometimes some people have no idea. And if I have a few minutes, there’s a really good kind of exercise that you can do, is I would ask 10 different people – some of whom know you really well and some of whom you barely know at all, and say, “Can you give me 10 words that you feel describe me?” They should be single and descriptive, and they can be both positive and negative.

And then when you have assimilated all of those words, just start to see, do some of the words surprise you, and is there a theme? I had one client who we did this exercise, and all his words were “alpha”, “aggressive”. And I was like, “It’s good to have other tools in your toolbox.” I had another client who came across as cold and self-sufficient, and that was good information for him to have. So you can just begin to notice and tweak how you’re coming across for people.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright. Well Frances, this has been so helpful, a ton of good stuff. Really good, good amount of content to digest and review, probably really multiple times. So, thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your wisdom and perspective, and I wish you tons of luck with books and speeches, and all you’re up to.

Frances Cole Jones
Thank you, thank you so much. It’s been so much fun.

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The Gold Nugget

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