Teach Yourself to Smile

[This post is also available at www.guestfriendly.org.]

That’s right. I said, ‘Teach Yourself’. Just because you have a face and positive emotions doesn’t mean you have a good smile. Don’t believe me? Check out my post, “The Problem With Your Face!” When I realized that my habitual smile looked more like a scowl than anything else I realized I needed to fix it. Here are a few steps I recommend to get you started:

STEP 1: EVALUATE YOUR ‘REAL’ SMILE.

First, it’s important for you to get a good, solid evaluation of your smile. I’m not talking about the pasted smile you put on when you are taking a picture. I’m talking about the smile you use every day at home, work, in the store, etc. You’ll need input from more than yourself too. This will require a good dose of humility on your part.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Look in the Mirror
    As long as you aren’t embarrassed being with yourself too much, this one is really easy. The next time you are alone in the bathroom spend some time smiling at yourself. The best way to do this is to just ‘pretend’ you are in different scenario’s and smile like you would at those times. While doing this, ask yourself, “Is this what I want people to see?” The first time I did this I became very frustrated. I found that I didn’t really know how to smile except when I was getting my picture taken or was laughing. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with my facial muscles and worked on retraining them.

    But don’t stop there. Just because YOU like your smile doesn’t mean others do!
     

  • Ask Someone You Trust
    This means you have to admit that you might have a problem and need help. I know enough about us leaders that this one hurdle may be bigger than the smile itself. Assuming you can get over whatever pride you may be carrying, find someone you trust to give honest feedback. You’re not looking for someone who is afraid to hurt your feelings. That’s totally counter-productive. Find someone who will honestly evaluate your natural smile and ask them their opinion and thoughts. Then, as they give you feedback, just listen, ask clarifying questions and resist the impulse to defend yourself if the evaluation you receive is less than you expected.
     
  • Ask a Stranger
    OK. Maybe that’s going a little too far. You’ll have to decide. But consider this, your most trusted friends are used to seeing your face every week. It’s possible they will not be capable of giving you an objective opinion. So ask a stranger. Next time you are sitting in a waiting room or standing in a line, humble yourself and ask the person next to you for some feedback. You might start by simply smiling at the person before saying something like this: “Excuse me. I know this might sound really weird, but I am a public speaker and recently I’ve been wondering what kinds of first impressions I make when I smile. If it doesn’t make you too uncomfortable, could you just rate your impression of my smile just a moment ago as well as right now while I’m talking on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being that I seem really mean and 5 being that I seem very friendly and approachable? Again, just let me know if you’d rather not. I know it’s a very strange request.”
     
  • Ask a New Acquaintance
    Finally, you can ask someone you have recently become acquainted with. Perhaps it’s a pastor or leader from another church, a new attendee in your church, or a next door neighbor. You could use a similar approach as above and solicit their feedback.
     

STEP 2: DEFINE YOUR NEW SMILE

Next, you need to begin working on your new smile (assuming you need to). This isn’t something you will accomplish in one sitting. It will likely require a concerted effort on your part over a period of days, even weeks before you find the smile you are really looking for. Here are more suggestions:

  • Focus on Your Muscles
    Ask yourself what muscles you are using when you are truly smiling. There are over 50 muscles in your face. It’s highly likely that there are some that you almost never use and don’t even know are there. In fact, a good 20 minutes of ‘smiling’ could leave your facial muscles feeling sore. That’s a good thing. Find and consciously discover the new muscles you are using. You’ll need that knowledge later when you want to smile but don’t have a mirror in front of you to make sure you’re doing it right!

    A lot of research has shown that great smiles use the orbicularis oculi muscle. This is the muscle that surrounds your eyes. Good smiles will produce a slight squint in your eyes that help transform the smile from a ‘fake’ smile to a genuine one – sometimes called ‘laugh lines’. 
     
  • Ask Yourself How Your Face Feels
    This sounds weird but it works for me. I’ve discovered that when I’m smiling properly my cheeks touch the bottoms of my glasses and I can feel a different kind of pressure on the edges of my mouth. Again, that’s great knowledge to have when I’m out and about. About the only time I can genuinely ensure I’m smiling while talking to people is during a Skype call where I can see myself at the same time as the person I’m addressing. Since you and I don’t live on Skype we need some ‘help’ making sure we’re getting it right.
     
  • Get More Feedback
    You’ve developed a new smile and you like it. So you begin turning on the charm everywhere you go . . . and people start running. What gives? Try going back to Step 1 and get more input. For all you know, your new ‘smile’ still says things you never intended (and never said before). The last thing you want is for your first impression to be, “I’ve lost my marbles and hope you know where they are!”
     

STEP 3: PRACTICE

You spent most of your adult life perfecting that grumpy look. I guarantee you won’t ‘fix’ it in just a couple of weeks or even months. They say it takes 21 days to build a new habit, but in this case I suspect we’re talking more like 6 months. Practice, practice, practice. Check out your smile in front of the mirror often. Look it over every day. Until you know you are representing the ‘real you’ stay on your guard whenever you respond with a smile.

 

Skype Tips

Skype LogoI use Skype several times a week to communicate with the various pastors/leaders I provide ongoing coaching to. Once we work out the logistics it is almost always a great way to meet together without the expense and extra time necessary for travel, food and lodging. I highly recommend it. In fact, in the past year I have successfully utilized Skype not only for 1 on 1 coaching, but also for team coaching (2-10 individuals) and workshops for as many as 15 people.

That said, I’ve also discovered a few things that new Skype users should consider and look into before setting up Skype appointments. Feel free to email me with any further questions you may have.

Skype Tips:

  • Make sure you have the latest version of Skype.
    This is important. Skype works hard at fixing call difficulties with every upgrade. If you’re running an older version of Skype, you risk having more difficulties during your call. To check your version, select Help/Check for Update.
  • If possible, don’t use a laptop webcam.
    Laptop webcam’s are traditionally difficult to use for a myriad of reasons. The main reason I don’t recommend laptop webcam’s is the mobility issue. It can be difficult to get your image centered properly for the other skype caller as well as have the picture on the screen where you want it so you can see well. Also, often the microphone on laptop’s can be difficult to work with and will sometimes create feedback for the other user.Webcams are pretty cheap now ($30-$50) and it’s well worth the cost for even just a couple of Skype calls. Your standard webcam will come bundled with a microphone so you’re getting a quality upgrade for both audio and video at the same time.
  • Check Audio/Video settings before your Skype call.
    Go into Tools/Options before each Skype session and ensure your Audio Settings and Video Settings are set to the right webcam.
  • Make sure your computer isn’t doing stuff or using the internet during your call.
    Often, the reason a Skype call is interrupted is because your computer is trying to use the internet or doing other tasks in the background. Make sure these background tasks have been paused during the call. For example, I have both Dropbox and Carbonite backup on my computer. I make sure they are both either paused or closed so they don’t try to sync during the Skype call. Common background tasks to look for include virus scans, Microsoft Security Essentials scans, security update downloads, online backups, and synchronization services like Dropbox, Outlook sync, etc.Finally, close unnecessary programs and browser windows during your phone call. I use Microsoft Outlook a lot and will often close it down during the call so it doesn’t start looking for mail and downloading attachments during the call – taking up internet bandwidth and computer capacity.
  • If possible, don’t use wireless internet during the call.
    You won’t always have this as an option, but if it’s easy to plug in a wired internet connection during your Skype call, do so. 
  • Check your internet plan.
    If you consistently have problems with Skype calls it could be that your internet plan with your service provider needs to be upgraded. Call your Internet provider and find out what your upload/download speeds are and ensure they are fast enough for video calls.
  • If you have echo problems, check the speaker settings.
    Sometimes I’ll experience a problem with echo’s, where I can hear myself through the other user’s speakers or they can hear themselves through my speakers. Often, this is because there are several options for speakers and you must select the appropriate one for Skype to work. For instance, if you have laptop speakers but are also using separate speakers plugged into your laptop or connected to an external monitor. In these scenario’s go into Tools/Options and check Speakers in the Audio Settings.Also, sound problems can be dealt with by ensuring you are in a quiet location. Additionally, the closer your microphone is to your mouth and the further your microphone is from the speakers the better.
  • Spend the first two minutes of your call checking voice/video.
    When you first start the call, ask your caller if the can hear you and see you well. Check the quality on your end as well. If there are problems, check some of your settings on each end. You may want to quickly exchange phone numbers if there seems to be difficulties so you can call each other if the call gets dropped. On occasion, call problems can be fixed by dropping the call and making the call again.
  • Check out the short troubleshooting video’s on the Skype website.
    Skype is committed to helping it’s customers have a positive experience. Check out this page on their website to see if you can learn other tips to ensure your Skype calls work well.
Hope that helps. Happy Skyping!

 

Tactical Tip: Backup Your Files!

You’ve heard the horror stories – maybe you even have one of your own. A computer crashes and everything stored on it gets wiped out. Lost forever. In fact, this story rings true for me very recently. This past year my laptop hard-drive got corrupted and by the time I got things up and running again I discovered that my whole hard drive had been wiped clean. Thankfully, the only stress I carried was the loss of time and energy – I had a solid backup of everything.

I have a very easy, cheap suggestion for you to backup your files. And once you’ve set it up, you’ll never think about it (unless you need it). Before I share my solution for you, I thought you might appreciate this fairly relevant and humorous clip about a time when Pixar almost lost ‘Woody’ during the creation of their hit movie “Toy Story”.

If you can’t see this video, try clicking this link.
Trust me. You don’t want to be caught in this scenario. I’ve discovered a great solution, but it’ll cost you $59/year. That said, the peace of mind you will receive at that cost is well worth it. I’ve successfully restored all of my files this past year alone. I’ve also been able to grab files I accidentally deleted. Even better, there have been a couple occasions when I needed to get a copy of a file from a couple ‘versions’ back – this solution even took care of that!
 
If you balk at the cost, just consider how much time you have spent pulling together the various files you have on that computer. How much would it be worth to you to keep them safe?
 
It’s very simple. You install a program that runs in your computer in the background all the time. You select the files you want backed up – there’s no space limit. It automatically keeps your files backed up all the time.
 
Here’s the solution – I recommend you look into it today (Note: I’m endorsing this company solely because I believe in them, not for any personal gain). Go ahead – give it a try (click the below image).
 

Image compliments of David Castillo Dominici on freedigitalphotos.net.

Tactical Tip: Return Emails Within 24 Hours

Recently, I sent an email to a leader in my life asking a question and making a suggestion I thought he might appreciate. I didn’t hear back from him for more than two weeks. After the first couple of days I started to wonder if perhaps I didn’t actually send it, so I double-checked. A few days later I started to wonder if I had somehow offended him. Every day thereafter I discovered a pattern whereby I would battle with imagined stories in my head regarding why my friend never responded. I didn’t really want to email or bring it up again simply because I didn’t want to be a pest. Finally, I got the anticipated response. He answered my question and expressed gratitude for my suggestion, which he had already acted on. Needless to say, I put myself through a lot of emotional trauma for no reason at all. This could very easily have been prevented by my friend. 

I’m sure we’re all guilty of this at some point or another. Our Inbox gets inundated with every sort of email imaginable. You know some emails can be deleted, many can be dealt with in just a few seconds, a handful will only take a minute or two of your time, and then there’s the rest. Those emails will require some sort of follow up, action, research, or a lengthy response. That last category of email are the ones that will sometimes sit in the Inbox for days – even weeks.

Today’s Tactical Tip is simply to get into the habit of returning every email within 24 hours.

This is so simple to do, it’s actually embarrassing. Obviously, we can’t control what others might think about us on the other end, but we certainly can minimize the chance that they tell the kinds of ‘stories’ I was guilty of telling myself! Here are three simple steps that will help you build this new habit into your email ridden life.

  1. Read or scan the email and determine what you need to do (and when) in order to properly respond.
  2. Place a task in your Task List or Calendar which includes a deadline on when you believe you can reasonably respond.
  3. Reply to the email author and let them know you have received their question/request and how long it will take for you to get back to them.
Perhaps this scripted response might help:

Jim,

Thanks for sending me this email. I just looked it over and realize that I won’t be able to respond to you the way I really want to right away. I’d like to take some time to process and think it through. I’m also right in the middle of a couple other projects that take precedence right now. I’ll do my best to get back to you on this in about five days.

Thanks for your patience! 

Wayne 

OK. You’ve officially been armed with an easy to do challenge. Get back to everyone who emails you within 24 hours. I’m confident people will be glad you do!

Image compliments of Salvatore Vuono on freedigitalphotos.net.

Tactical Tips

I believe that small changes can often create a big impact. The Tactical Tip series is designed to give you ONE practical idea in each post that, if implemented, can help build positive momentum in your ministry and life. Enjoy.

Common Sense Tips:
  • Return Emails Within 24 Hours
    Basic email etiquette says that individuals should not have to wait for a response from you for more than a day. That’s not always practical if the email will require more time or information that you have at your immediate disposal. This Tactical Tip outlines a simple way to always respond to emails.
  • Teach Yourself To Smile
    You’d think smiling would be a natural skill that every leader possessed. Wrong answer. Many leaders aren’t even aware of the scowl and frown they wear every day. This tip explores simple ideas to build new habits that will bring people’s perception of you just a little bit closer to reality.
  • Moving to Eye Level
    I ‘get’ to hang out with some tall people sometimes, and I’m not short. I’ve discovered that communication goes so much better when I’m not looking down or up while talking. This tip will explore why this is important and ideas on how to make it happen in everyday life.
  • Say ‘Thanks’ In Your Email
    It can be so easy for us to get into ‘work’ mode and forget that the person on the other side of our emails has feelings too. It takes 3 seconds to type, but often we don’t even think about it. This tip is a great reminder to add value to the conversation with one little word.

Leveraging Technology:

  • Backup Your Files!I’ve learned over the years how important it is to backup computer files. I also know a lot of people don’t do it. I’ve discovered a great and simple way to ensure you’ll never lose your files again.
  • Build Momentum & Create Unity With A Blog
    As an avid blogger and blog reader, I’ve become convinced that a great blog can become a powerful communication tool. It may not be for everyone, but it certainly CAN be a game changer in certain situations. This tip is the beginning of several posts that will help you understand why a blog can make a difference as well as how to get started.
  • Email Signature
    There is absolutely no reason why I should ever have to wonder WHO just wrote this email or HOW I can get hold of him over the phone. This tip gives a few pointers on building a signature for your emails. 
  • Reminder Calendar
    Pastors and leaders in general can be notorious for forgetting things. Especially little details. I discovered a method by which a Google calendar can act as a reminder to me on things I don’t want to think about. This tip will show you how to leverage this idea for your purposes.
  • The Embedded Hyperlink
    Nobody likes to get a hyperlink in the email only to discover it doesn’t work. Additionally, we don’t really care about the actual address. We just want to know WHAT we are clicking on and we want to GET there. This tip will give practical advice on expanding your professionalism and honoring your reader with the embedded hyperlink.
  • Internet Passwords
    Nearly every month I hear about someone who got ‘hacked’. I finally did some research and came up with a system to better ensure I don’t become one of those statistics. This tip will walk you through a strategy that, once learned, can help your passwords be much more difficult to be hacked.
Building Great Systems:
  • Saying ‘Thank You’ Systematically
    Everyone knows it’s important to thank volunteers and leaders. Most people just don’t take the time to do it. We’re too busy. This tip will walk you through each step of a system whereby you will always thank the people you need to thank both systematically and consistently.
Check out my Resources Page to see other past series.

Tactical Tip: Internet Passwords

A while back I had been getting nervous about all the websites where I had to enter passwords. What I was nervous about was the fact that I was using the same password on almost all of them. This always bothered me but I never did anything about it.

 
Then one day when I was talking to a friend who is a security guru at RIT, I realized how easy it would be for someone to hack into a sensitive account and totally break the bank. For instance, I might give my password to a small time business who then has access to that password in their database. How easy would it be for someone on staff there to snag that password and try it out on my eBay, Paypal, or Amazon accounts. For that matter, any online store that has my credit card information saved would be fair game!
 
Thankfully, I decided to learn my lesson the EASY way, instead of the HARD way. I instituted a new system for passwords that is working well for me and doesn’t require me to memorize more than one password. I recommend you try it out too. 
 
Note: it will sound somewhat complicated at first. However, I guarantee that once you’ve learned how to do it, you’ll remember it AND be safe.
 
Tactical Tip: Internet Passwords
 
Here’s what you do:
The following suggestion will be applicable to probably 95% of the passwords that you use. Most secure passwords require at least 8 characters and must also include letters, numbers, upper case, lower case, and a special character.
  • Define a Core Password:Define a password that you can easily memorize that is six characters long and includes at least one number and one special character like a question mark, hyphen, or period.  Now, for every website you go to these six characters will be six of 8 characters in the password. Just memorize them and the next step and you’ll be all set. Example: You might pick r7.ite as your core password.
  • Define a Special Rule:Next, create a rule that only you know that incorporates the site name into your password. For example, you may choose to use the first two letters of the site name or site web address – or the first and third letters, etc. and add them to the beginning, middle, or end of your predefined password. Example: Let’s say you choose to use the first two characters of a website and you will place it at the beginning of your core password. So you’re Google password (www.google.com) might look like this: gor7.ite
  • Capitalize a Character in the Special Rule:Finally, capitalize one letter in your special rule. This will add additional security to your overall password. Example: Now I will choose to capitalize the second letter in the website I am visiting. Here is what it would look like: gOr7.ite.
  • More Examples: Here are a few more examples using this rule: (1) www.amazon.com = aMr7.ite. (2) www.paypal.com = pAr7.ite. (3) www.twitter.com = tWr7.ite.
Password Resets:
Now, every once in a while you’ll run across a website that requires you to change your password every 6 – 12 months. For example, your financial institution may require this. One goal of this Tactical Tip is that you don’t have to rely on your memory anymore. So you’ll need an additional rule that you can use in these unique cases. Unfortunately, you will need to find a way to remind yourself that this particular website password will be different than the rest. I recommend you put the year of the reset into the password. Example: Let’s say it’s the year 2012 and the website is www.hsbc.com. Your password might be hSr7.ite12.
 
The Three Time Reset Rule:
Any website worth going to will give you the option of recovering your password if you’ve forgotten it. I strongly recommend you click the button to reset or recover your password after your SECOND failed attempt. Many websites will lock you out and require a phone call after three failed attempts.
 
The Behind the Times Website:
Finally, some websites just won’t stick to the standards. They ask for some odd rule that doesn’t fit the national standards. The other day I ran across a website that wouldn’t allow a special character in the password. After a few choice words, I decided to go back to my ‘old’ password that I used for all my other websites before I instituted this much more secure method. It’s not foolproof, but it sometimes works.

Image compliments of Salvatore Vuono at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tactical Tip: The Embedded Hyperlink

Have you ever received an email with a link that could probably be published as an eBook? Besides taking up valuable space in the email and looking ugly, half the time the link doesn’t work! You know exactly what I’m talking about. Here’s an example just to be sure:

Hey Jim. Check out this great article about “How to Coach Your Boss” – http://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-coach-your-boss.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+michaelhyatt+%28Michael+Hyatt%29 ~ Wayne

Frustrating. Let me help you help others with a few simple tips to clean this mess up. This email could look like this instead:

 Hey Jim. Check out this great article: How to Coach Your Boss!  ~ Wayne

Tactical Tip: The Embedded Hyperlink

Most people don’t want or need to see that hyperlink. Probably the biggest exception to that rule is if you are trying to tell someone the actual name of a website. For example:

“Hey Jim. Check out this great blog for pastors and church leaders I found at www.transformingleader.com!” 

Even in that example I embedded the actual web address so that people don’t see the http:// at the beginning. This simple task will take you approximately 10-20 extra seconds, but it will be well worth your while.

  • Your readers will be less distracted or frustrated.
  • You will be able to represent yourself and your church with a greater degree of professionalism.
  • You will feel personal satisfaction in upping the excellence of your communications.
So take a few moments right now to figure this out and send yourself (and me) a test email!
 
How It’s Done:
We all use different kinds of email software and programs, so HOW to do this will vary slightly depending on your email carrier and software. That said, these steps should lead you down the right path. If you get stuck – just Google: “How do I embed a link in email using X?” with X representing your email carrier.
  • Copy Web Link
    Your first step is to copy your web link. In your web browser, go to the exact page you wish to send people to and highlight/copy the entire address in the web address field. Note: you will also find that some websites will offer to copy the appropriate address for you. For instance, youtube.com offers a ‘Share’ button that will then give you the best link to a video clip.
  • Switch to Your Email Client
    Now that the web link is copied to your computer clipboard, go to your email page or program (like gmail.com or Outlook).
  • Write Your Email or Document
    Now write your email (or document) the way you want it to appear. Don’t worry about including the embedded link yet. Just write it the way you want to say it. You may consider helping the reader know that you’ve embedded the link, depending on how the email is written. If you’re referring to a website using the web address, like www.transformingleader.org then you’re fine. Sometimes, you’ll want to give instruction to your reader though. For instance: “Learn about creating an email signature right here.” Of course, sometimes it’s just obvious: “I recommend you read this email tip: Tactical Tip:Say ‘Thanks’ in Your Email.” 
  • Highlight Your Text
    Now highlight the text where you want the link to appear. Don’t forget this step!
  • Embed Your Link
    Now it’s time to embed your link. You need to teach yourself this short step depending on your email client. There are two popular ways that links can be embedded that I’ll outline right here.
  1. Right Click. One popular method is to right click on the highlighted text and select a menu option that says something like “hyperlink” or “link”. This will bring up a dialog box where you can paste your copied hyperlink.
  2. The ‘Link’ Tool. Many web clients, like gmail.com, offer a button or menu item that should be clicked after you’ve highlighted the text. This should bring up a dialog box where you can paste your copied hyperlink. Note: sometimes the dialog box will be in two parts. One part should include the actual hyperlink text and the other part should include the actual text you highlighted or want people to see.
  • Format Your Link
    To add an extra layer of excellence to your communication, format your link appropriately. If the link is the main focus of your document, then you may want to bold it. You may also want to check the other colors in your document and make sure the hyperlink colors don’t clash or disappear. Finally, whenever possible, underline the text (I’m breaking my own rule on this blog. There’s something wrong with the template I’m using that won’t reveal underlined hyperlinks.)
  • Test Your Link
    This is an important step we so often fail to do. After your link has successfully been embedded into your text, double-check to ensure it actually works and goes to the appropriate page. 
 

Image compliments of ‘ideago’ on freedigitalphotos.net

Tactical Tip: Say ‘Thanks’ in Your Email

Everyone knows that email is grossly inadequate in communicating emotion, motives, and attitude. The ‘stories people tell themselves about you’, the content of your email and how good a communicator you are will all shape the overall ‘tone’ that the reader picks up – whether it’s true or not.

For example, consider the following email:

“The office will be closed and locked all day on Monday. However, I will be in my office. If you need to get hold of me, do not knock on the doors or call the office. Shoot me a text or ring the doorbell instead.”

There’s not a whole lot wrong with that email. It presents the information that the writer wants to communicate and states clearly what not to do and what to do if someone wants in the building. However, it’s kind of abrupt and assumes the reader isn’t reading between the lines. There is one very small thing you can commit to do in the majority of your emails starting today that will help soften your digital tone of voice.

Tactical Tip: Say ‘Thanks’ at the end of your email.

That’s it. It’s so simple, yet we often just end our emails with no closing line, like the example above. Consider that same email with that one extra word added:

“The office will be closed and locked all day on Monday. However, I will be in my office. If you need to get hold of me, do not knock on the doors or call the office. Shoot me a text or ring the doorbell instead. Thanks!”

Image compliments of scibak on istockphoto.com

Tactical Tip: Moving to Eye Level

I have a friend who is very tall. Tall like I stare at his chest when I talk to him. I know he isn’t necessarily smarter, healthier, or generally better than me. He’s just bigger than me. I have to be honest. It’s intimidating. I have to fight through several internal dialogues before I can have a face to face conversation with him and not be distracted. Several weeks ago we decided to meet for breakfast. As soon as he sat down I discovered something – I didn’t have to fight through my intimidation. Sure, he was still taller in the restaurant booth, but not as much as when I’m standing next to him. The simple act of him moving to my level bridged the gap and cleared the air for conversation. It was awesome.

It also highlights a very simple tactical move you can make every single day when meeting with people in small groups and 1 on 1. I believe it can make an appreciable difference in coaching, mentoring, counselling, and leadership conversations with others. It’s something that will take you approximately four (4) seconds to accomplish. It’s so simple and so obvious that many people never think to do it.

Tactical Tip: Move to Eye Level

That’s it. Simply do whatever you can to get on or near the same level as the person(s) you are talking to. (Note: I’m not talking about speaking to large crowds.) Moving to eye level will help to remove psychological barriers that neither of you probably even know exist. It unconsciously communicates equality and acceptance. On the other hand, NOT moving to eye level may create emotional barriers that can cause either you, or the person(s) you are meeting with to feel mildly uncomfortable.

  • When You Are Above Eye Level
    When you remain above eye level with people you may be unintentionally and unconsciously communicating that you are above or better than them in some way. At the very least, you may be increasing the potential for them to be intimidated, especially if you have an intimidating personality or are in some form of authority over them.

NOTE: Just to clear things up. Whether you are in authority over them or not, you are certainly not better than them – at least in God’s eyes. If you ‘like’ the feeling of looking down on people then I suggest you do some self-evaluation. That could be a sign of an unhealthy insecurity or pride on your part.

 

  • When You Are Below Eye Level
    When you remain below eye level you risk doing the exact opposite. It’s possible that you are unintentionally communicating that you are lower than or not as good as they are. Additionally, you may also be communicating that same thing to yourself. Personally, I don’t think you are communicating humility so much as insecurity – even if you don’ t mean or want to.

    NOTE: Again, just to clear the air, it’s not healthy to convince yourself or others that everyone else is better than you. That’s simply not true. God didn’t pick you ‘last’ for the game as if He didn’t have any other options. You have a holy calling just like the next guy/gal and it’s OK for you to live and act as someone of value in God’s sight. After all, He died for you so that you can live in complete freedom and authority.

 

How To Do It.
If you don’t normally move to eye level when talking to others, then it might feel awkward for a while until you develop the habit. For me, I often move to eye level unconsciously, without even realizing it.

Let me give you some practical examples of how to move to eye level.

  • Meet Sitting Down.
    If you know your conversation will be more than a few minutes and you are considerably taller or shorter than those you are meeting with, consider asking them to sit down with you. It doesn’t matter where. You can sit down at a conference room table, on the seats in your sanctuary or the front steps of the church.
  • Adjust Your Chair.
    Most of us have an office chair that adjusts up and down. If you don’t, then I recommend you invest in one if you are in the habit of meeting with others in your office. Adjust your seat immediately after they sit down to the most appropriate eye level. If they are taller than you, move your seat up; if shorter, then move your seat down. Don’t make a big deal out of it and don’t spend more than four seconds making the adjustment.
  • Remove Furniture That Forces Awkward Eye Contact
    Years ago I had a couch in my office. Everyone who sat in it would sink far down into the couch. Even after moving my chair to the lowest setting I would still find myself peering down at my visitors. I eventually got rid of it and have never regretted it. If you have a couch or chair in your office that is extra plush, then consider replacing it with something else or sit in a similar seat in the office that will place you near their same eye level.
  • Small Group Settings.
    If you are leading a small group discussion or meeting and plan to sit together at a table or in a circle, try to adjust your chair to the average height in the room. For example, I lead a team meeting every Tuesday at Elim Gospel Church. I sit at the head of our conference room table. One of my first acts while everyone is getting settled and before the meeting begins is to adjust my seat to a comfortable eye level with most people in the room.
  • The Wheelchair Bound
    The rules don’t change when someone is bound to a wheelchair. In fact, it may be even more important to find simple ways to meet them at eye level. They spend the majority of their time looking up at people and will very much appreciate the extra effort to meet them at their level. It will communicate volumes to them.
  • Talking to Children.
    I am a firm believer that the best way to greet a parent is to first greet his/her child. The best way to do this is to simply kneel down to their level while you are greeting them. Of course, it’s important that you maintain a safe distance from young children or kids that don’t know you so you don’t freak them out. However, children will almost always light right up when they see you stoop down to their level to talk with them. I’ve never met a parent who didn’t appreciate it either (unless you totally ignore them after you greet the child.)
Disclaimer: Please understand that I am not suggesting that you become legalistic about this tactical tip. I’m simply trying to empower you to care for, honor, and show respect for others in one very simple way whenever you can. I am also not trying to burden you by causing you to become self-conscious about eye levels when you meet with others. Just remember this tip and adjust to eye level if and when it’s most appropriate.
 

Tactical Tip: Saying Thank You Systematically

Children know how to say the words ‘thank you’. Believe it or not, they even know when they are supposed to say them. But most parents know that expressing gratitude is not at the top of their list of things to do. Mom puts yet another meal on the table and rather than a ‘thank you’, the classic “eat your vegetables” battle ensues. Dad allows the kids to stay up late to watch a great movie and rather than a ‘thank you’, everyone just mosey’s on to bed when it’s over. Mom cleans up a messy bedroom and the child acts like he doesn’t even notice (he probably didn’t). That’s not to say that kids won’t say ‘thanks’ from time to time. No. Every once in a while it explodes from them like a burst of fresh sea air on a late afternoon day!

We all know the importance and value of gratefulness. In fact, the Bible is full of verses exhorting us to thank God Himself in all things. Paul declares in 2 Timothy 3 that ungratefulness represents a quality of ‘terrible times in the last days’. Unfortunately, and like our children, expressing gratitude is often not at the top of our list of things to do!

So in today’s Tactical Tip I am going to suggest a simple SYSTEM that will give gratitude a more prominent place in your regular routine. This system shouldn’t represent everything you do to thank your leaders and volunteers, but it’s probably more than you’re doing right now!

The Thank You System
To begin, you will need to collect a few resources. I suggest you add these to your shopping list right away or ask your spouse, secretary, or a volunteer to pick them up for you this week. Here’s what you will need: 

  • Four $40 gift cards.
  • A small notebook. 
  • Thirty stamped ‘Thank You’ cards.
Now you are ready to begin. Follow these steps to setup your ‘Thank You System’. This should take you no more than 15 minutes to complete.
  • Place one gift card into four separate ‘Thank You’ cards and wrap a rubber band around them. Place a sticky note on the wrapped bundle that says “Gift Cards”.
  • Write at the top of the first page of the small notebook the words, “Thank You Log”.
  • Place the stack of ‘Thank You’ cards, the bundle of ‘Thank You’ cards including the gift cards, and the small notebook in a convenient location near, in or on the desk in your office.
  • Create a recurring reminder using your reminder system (if you don’t have a reminder system, then check out: Tactical Tip: Reminder Calendar) to send you a reminder every OTHER Monday morning at 9am or pick the day/time of your choice. I recommend a reminder no less than once every 14 days. Your reminder should say: “Write a Thank You card TODAY!”
  • Create another recurring reminder using your reminder system to send you a reminder once every 3 months to send a Thank You card with enclosed gift card. Your reminder should say: “Write and send a Thank You card with Gift Card TODAY!”
  • Create one last recurring reminder using your reminder system to send you a reminder once every YEAR beginning 11 months from now. Your reminder should say: “Evaluate and Setup your ‘Reminder Thank You’ system for this upcoming year.”
You’re all finished! Your ‘Thank You’ Reminder System is now in place. Here is how the system will serve you:
  • When you receive your ‘Thank You’ reminder, STOP whatever you are doing or schedule a slot THAT DAY to follow up on this important task.
  • Stop and think of which leader or volunteer you want to encourage that week. Pull out your ‘Thank You Log’ and look down the list of names written there. Make sure you don’t pick someone you’ve already sent a card to, unless you specifically want to. Ensure you aren’t just thinking of the ‘obvious’ people all of the time.
  • Once you’ve decided on a person, write their name in the ‘Thank You Log’.
  • Write a heartfelt and meaningful ‘Thank You’, address and mail.
Follow those same steps when you receive the quarterly ‘Thank You’ reminder including the gift card. When you receive the annual reminder, evaluate and revise your system as needed, shop for the next year’s ‘Thank You’ cards and gift cards and set them aside for when you run out of your current supplies. I suggest you use a different ‘Thank You’ card each year.
 
If you decide to adopt this system or one like it, do me a favor – send me a ‘thank you’ via email at transformingleader@elimfellowship.org. I would love to know that this Tactical Tip has served you and your church! “Thanks!”
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