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When Taking Care of Yourself Is Good Business

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It’s never pleasant to work when you’re exhausted, but it’s a common concept that losing sleep in pursuit of pushing yourself is better for business. Despite the number of people who live by this idea, it’s not true. Mental fatigue does more harm than good.

Exhaustion Physically Changes the Brain

Scientists have found that a lack of sleep slows metabolism in several regions of your brain. Cells create energy at a slower rate, and in turn leave less and less energy to work with. In addition, blood flow lessens in the same sections. Cutting corners on sleep means your brain is literally running low on stamina.

The Frontal Cortex Suffers the Worst

This section is essentially the part of the brain that makes us human. The physiological constructs of memory, perception, and diverse cognitive processes all rely on the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Lack of sleep affects the area most strongly. It becomes harder to maintain complex thinking, and the analytical sections of the mind defer to more reflexive processes. The result is over-thinking and autonomous repetition without progression. In essence, you keep doing the work, but you get less accomplished.

When to Throw in the Towel

Each person is different, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours of sleep for most adults. Listen to your body and the signs it gives you, and adjust accordingly. Daytime drowsiness is the most common symptom of sleep loss. A depressed mood, inability to concentrate, and memory troubles can also signal the need for some rest. It may be better to put off extra work for the next day and give your brain a chance to recharge.

Lots of people also interfere with their natural sleep cycles with stimulants such as coffee, energy drinks, and external lights. Taking time away from screens and reducing caffeine intake can help your body rest more efficiently when you do sleep. Remember that overworking yourself is counterproductive in the long run. A few minutes unwinding could equal a few hours of better rest.

How to Ensure Your Employees Are Well Rested

  • Be involved. Speaking to your employees can help you catch signs of sleep loss and puts you in a better position to approach them with concern.
  • Encourage healthier lifestyles. Something as simple as a weekly newsletter can teach employees about balancing work and life.
  • Provide training. You can tack a simple rundown of sleep loss symptoms and their effects on health and productivity onto any regular meaning. It’ll show employees that you care and keep them conscious about their well-being.

While instinct may tell you to keep pushing through, exhaustion will only make you less productive. Be conscious about the signs and symptoms, and make sure you and your employees are getting the rest needed to be your very best on and off the clock.

Listening: The Golden Rule of Successful Negotiations

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You know the feeling of frustration you get when you know you aren’t being heard? It’s the same feeling your potential client has when you place more importance in the pitch you’ve prepared than what he or she has to say during a negotiation. Negotiation is about striking a balance—this isn’t possible without hearing both sides. If you don’t know how to effectively listen, potential clients will stop trying to communicate altogether.

The Importance of Listening

It’s in many peoples’ nature to talk too much when they’re nervous. Silence can feel uncomfortable during a negotiation, so negotiators strive to fill the silence with their own voice. Unfortunately, this habit gives clients the impression you aren’t interested in hearing what they have to say. Instead of nervously filling conversation gaps with empty words, try to listen.

Studies show that people spend 60% of an average conversation talking about themselves. You is a subject you know and feel good about discussing. Reverse the situation, and realize your potential client would also like to spend 60% of the conversation talking about him or herself. Now you may understand why listening is often better than talking during a negotiation.

Talking about the self encourages feelings of motivation and reward. When you allow potential client to talk about their own needs, wants, and feelings, you’re encouraging these positive feelings. Truly listening to a client makes an enormous difference in how they perceive you and your company. Practice good listening techniques, and train your employees to do the same.

Practice Active Listening

True listening is active. It’s a dynamic process that involves acknowledgement, inquiry, and restatement. It’s not static listening while your potential client talks. Psychologist John M. Grohol describes active listening as a skill that “builds rapport, understanding, and trust.” He has a few tips on how to become a better listener:

  • Summarize what you’ve heard
  • Use brief conversation prompts to show you’re listening
  • Repeat things the client says in your own words
  • Ask probing questions to draw more information from the client
  • Take advantage of silence
  • Avoid distraction while the other person is talking
  • Provide feedback to clarify certain points

Active listening not only shows your client that you care about what he or she to say, but it will also ultimately allow you to respond to clients’ needs more thoroughly. Listening is a skill that requires constant practice to keep up. If you master effective listening techniques, you’ll engage more fully with clients and reap the benefits of their appreciation: new business.

How to Turn Your Sales Force Into Expert Negotiators

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Your company perfected your training process over years of trial and error. You’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s, hitting all the fine points to create your industry’s next top negotiators. You’re probably proud of your training model and plan on using it for the foreseeable future. But you may be missing a major component: the art of teaching habits instead of just methods.

Habits: The Missing Link in Negotiations Training

When you’re under pressure, what’s the first thing you resort to? The answer is most likely habits, an instinctual reaction in stressful situations. During high-pressure negotiations, your meticulously trained sales force may forget the methods you taught them—but they won’t forget their own habits. You have the ability to mold their habits into ones that are beneficial to your company and geared toward closing a sale during negotiation.

Turning your sales force into expert negotiators takes more than giving them a list of best practices. You need to focus on the how to negotiate on top of the what to do during negotiations. Your sales team must be able to take client objections in stride without resorting to bad habits such as becoming embarrassed, backing down, or apologizing. Your sales team should enter negotiations with confidence, and habits that will help them succeed.

What Are the Best Negotiation Tools and Habits?

According to a recent article by Neil Patel on Forbes.com, the best negotiation habits to teach employees are those based around human interactions. In other words, habits stemming from body language, personal relationships, and good-natured discussion. At its core, negotiation is the art of convincing another person to agree with what you’re saying. When you establish a few simple habits for your employees to resort back to under pressure, you can enter a negotiation with relative certainty as to how personnel will react.

So what are the best negotiation habits to instill in your staff? Here are a few pointers to lead you in the right direction:

  • Engaging body language. For example, leaning into the conversation instead of leaning back in your chair can express openness and attention.
  • Keeping quiet. A common bad habit for many salespeople is to chatter when they feel stressed. Train your sales force to take the time to absorb information given to them, slow down, and keep responses calm instead of jumpy.

See if you can shape your staff’s habits to model the habits of confident, calm negotiators—and reap the benefits of cultivating a training process that focuses on the how and not just the what.

4 Simple Ways to Build Credibility (And Influence People)

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Building credibility is the first step toward influencing others. You wouldn’t want your team to say yes to someone who walked off the street with zero credentials—and neither does the client you’re pitching to. How does one build credibility in a world where businesses come and go at supersonic speeds? With honesty, authenticity, and a little bit of good old-fashioned gumption.

#1: Learn What Today’s Businesses Want to Hear

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a global survey on corporate credibility, a certain set of factors typically influence corporate reputation. When asked what the most important factors were to corporate reputation, 83% of subjects answered, “Transparent and honest practices.” Another 83% answered, “[A] company I can trust.” Compare these responses to a mere 45% of subjects who believe “financial returns” to be the most important factor—or the 58% who said, “prices fairly.”

#2: Establish Your Brand’s Authenticity

Businesses don’t want to hear about how well your company is doing this quarter. Sure, that might establish that your enterprise isn’t going under anytime soon, but it doesn’t express your trustworthiness. Instead, touch on these points during a negotiation:

• Your company’s loyal customer following
• The values your company commits to 100%
• Topics your company is passionate about
• Your company’s authenticity, proven by a blog or social media presence

By focusing on what gives your company heart, you can establish your brand’s personality. When you let the party you’re influencing get to know you and your brand, he or she will make a judgment based on an emotional connection.

#3: Support Your Claims With Statistics

Nothing builds credibility like cold, hard facts. Numbers don’t lie. If you have relevant statistics about your brand you can cite during negotiations, client will have no choice but to see that you’re credible. For example, simply stating that your client base is made up of “a lot” of returning clients sounds weaker than stating, “75% of our clients are repeat customers who come back to our company for consistent high quality.”

#4: Stick to Your Guns

A brand that wavers on its core values, beliefs, and life’s work is a banner brand for fickleness. Don’t change your values according to what you think a client wants to hear. Instead, establish your brand based on original intent for the company. During negotiations training, teach your employees to stand firm on your company’s core values. Steep your brand in concrete beliefs and confidence, and your clients will recognize you as a voice of authority—someone they trust and want to work with.