Making Business Matter
E20 - Effective Communication Skills with Suzie Parkus - Expert Interview
E20 - Effective Communication Skills: Interview with Suzie ParkusSuzie Parkus is a sought after motivational and educational speaker, trainer and soon to be author. Her expertise lay in all things communication, from interpersonal skills, relationships, emotional intelligence, networking intelligence and most importantly in today's day and age, how our state of mind affects how we act, react and interact. Good emotional hygiene is often overlooked, but once understood, unlocks the key to that all-important human connection. Today, we discuss all things communication.
You Can Read the Transcript of Our Interview Below:Nathan Simmonds: Okay. I'm paper really, got my drink. Welcome to another Sticky Interview. My name's Nathan Simmonds. I'm Senior Leadership Coach and Trainer for MBM, Making Business Matter, the home of Sticky Learning. We are the soft skills' provider to the UK retail and grocery industry. Now, the idea of these podcasts is to be sharing great thinkers, great approaches, concepts and ideas that are going to help you and your teams be the best version of their selves so that they can deliver the best possible results even in a time of crisis like this. Nathan Simmonds: Today I'm going to be speaking to friend, peer, coach, mentor, all of those things. Someone that I speak to regularly about communication and collaboration, Suzie Parkus. And reading her bio... although I've known her for some years, I want to read this bio. She is a sought after motivational and educational speaker, trainer, and soon to be author. Her expertise lay in all things communication, absolutely it does; from interpersonal skills, relationships, emotional intelligence, networking intelligence because we need to be intelligent when we're networking. Nathan Simmonds: And most importantly in today's day and age, how our states of mind affects how we act, react and interact. Good emotional hygiene is often overlooked. But once understood, unlocks the key to that all important human connection. Suzie, thank you very much for being here and part of this interview today. Suzie Parkus: Thanks for having me. Nathan Simmonds: I'm looking forward to asking you some questions about this because we met, three years ago? Two years ago. Three, it must be three years ago now. Suzie Parkus: February, 2018. Nathan Simmonds: There you go. Okay, two, in personal development seminar and we got talking eventually after that event. One of the key things that I've always struggled with is how I communicate intentionally, how I work with people, how I offer my services, and how I make contribution first rather than about what I can take from people. And there's a lot of that going on. So my key first question for you is, why do you do what you're doing? Suzie Parkus: Why do I do what I do? I think this kind of came to me when I was doing a talk last year, if I'm honest. I was given the opportunity to just take the floor and they changed the nature of the interview. In this opportunity to just kind of talk from my heart, I said something that has never left me, which is that I never got seen, heard and noticed when I was younger. It just came out as unconscious stream of thoughts. Then it got me thinking that now I do get seen, heard and noticed and part of what I do is helping other people do the same. But it's not just that PR publicity piece. It's about interacting with sort of class and confidence and consideration. I've never been interacted with like that growing up. Suzie Parkus: And so, I'm very sensitive to what it feels like not being, I didn't know, not having my feelings taken into consideration when being approached, I guess. I'm very sensitive towards others when I'm communicating with them. And that's actually the biggest piece. That's the IQ, well, the emotional intelligence. I try and ask people to get their head around first before opening their mouth so they can make sure that they are aware of not just how they're coming across but how they're making other people feel. And I think that's really where it came from. If I dial it all back, it's very much about my own experience. It's just ironic that I have a degree in communication studies when I actually wants to be a lawyer. So, it pretty always cuts out for this work. Nathan Simmonds: There is that class that you talk about and the presence that people come to. And it doesn't matter whether you're in a network, an event, building a relationship with a future spouse or working in a retail factory environment. You want to get a message across and you need to be taking into account people's feelings. And it's, people just don't do it. They don't think about it. On MBM, we have a... Darren started to talk about the don't shout campaign. Nathan Simmonds: What he meant by this is when we're giving feedback, now we don't stand there and scream at people. We don't shout at them and tell them what to do because no one likes being told what to do. You go over there and you have a level of respect for that individual's feelings and you approach them and make them the most important person in the conversation first and foremost, and then develop the relationship so that actually you can work together. Suzie Parkus: I would say first of all feedback is always great. That's kind of how our relationship started, giving you feedback on stuff, bearing in mind that we'd gotten to know each other first before asking for that. So yeah, constructive feedback is awesome, unsolicited feedback is not. That's where you start hurting people. You said about intention before. So, all forms of communication has an energetic charge. And this might sound a little bit on the woo-woo spectrum for some, but we feel a charge behind people's words. Two people could say the same thing and depending on what you're wanting to achieve when you're expressing it, it can hurt or it can elevate. Suzie Parkus: So that intention behind what you're saying has as much impact as what you're saying. That constructive feedback you're talking about. If I'm giving you some feedback and I want to see you develop yourself into the best version of you, it's coming from a nurturing, loving place. So my energy behind that is only going to be of a nurturing feeling. But if I was say jealous, judgemental, intending to pull you down, you're going to feel small as a result of that constructive feedback. Nathan Simmonds: Agreed. Every conversation has an emotional charge behind it. I've learned, and this is in various different religious texts from thousands of years ago. In short, it says what you think of people is how you treat them. That thinking might be based on a situation or a stress that you've got, but when you front load that conversation and then run into it and scream or make it unsolicited. Even asking for permission is vital. It might not be solicited. Gaining that person's trust to build the relationships, I've got some information that's going to be vital to support you and your successes. Is it okay that I give you that information? When that person says yes, then we can approach them. We can give that feedback. Nathan Simmonds: But if we're going in as a point of judgment and I'm thinking, you're an idiot, you're not good at your job, it doesn't matter what I think I'm saying; people can read between the lines, they can feel what you're thinking before you even say the words. They did a science test. They did it with plants where they subjected one plant to abuse and one plant to love and attention. I think it was in a school. So they actually tested it with bullying in a school to prove a point. And the plant that was subjected to the bullying and abusive language actually died. It's just, it's incredible. So bearing in mind that we actually hold quite a lot at a cellular level, similarities to plants, when you're giving someone that intention, that abuse, that language, that shouting behavior, it's going to have a negative impact on you in some way, shape or form. And it's not okay to be treating people like that. Suzie Parkus: So can I go a bit scientific with you? Nathan Simmonds: Absolutely you can. Suzie Parkus: Okay. There's a very famous that go [inaudible 00:07:33] in water. I think I might have even told you about it before. And so, that experiment you're talking about, yes, it's been done on plants. Yes, it's been done on an apple. It's been done on lots of things. Where there is a high concentration of water, basically as beings we are 70% water and in that experiment that Masaru Emoto does, there's love written on a piece of paper with a Petri dish of water. One that says hate, same thing with the Petri dish of water. As the water evaporates, crystals are left behind. And then what's left is beautiful crystals above the love and ugly ones above the hate. Suzie Parkus: His whole point is, our words carry a charge, exactly what you're saying. So it's exactly what I said before, because if I'm saying something to you from a bad intention, I'm actually sending negatively charged particles your way, if you like, and it will hurt. The same is true about how we talk about ourselves. If we're not feeling good in ourselves right now and we're giving ourselves negative self talk and then we go to communicate with someone else, we're then projecting what we feel about ourselves onto somebody else as well. So this points a lot going on internally that we then start to project externally. Nathan Simmonds: Great. And chronically we could go down a really sciency route with this. I am aware of the water test where they did with that and it showed that when the water crystals under love and positivity, the elements froze or formed symmetrically, whereas under the stress they formed asymmetric. Like you say, in ugly shapes and forms. Then you talked about kind of the negative self talk. But it doesn't matter if someone else is projecting that thought onto or you're projecting it onto yourself, you're still causing that shift at a cellular level. And for those that are aware of Dr. Joe Dispenza and Dr. Bruce Lipton, they're talking about kind of cellular shifts energetically when we're doing this to ourselves and how we make ourselves sick quite a lot of times. I'm very worried this might not be the podcast interview to go down that road though. Nathan Simmonds: The question is, what tips have you got for people to help themselves mentally prepare for a meeting? I mean, right now mentally preparing for an online meeting because even doing this is going to have the same intention, the same impact you can still say it might seem on face, or a phone call. People can still hear the tone of your voice. They can feel if something's right or wrong. We do it with our family. I can hear something's not right, what's going on? So how do people mentally, sorry, what tips have you got to help people mentally prepare for online meetings? Suzie Parkus: Well, first of all I would say give yourself space between whatever you're doing, whether it's phone calls, other meetings, having lunch, whatever time of the day it is, give yourself space to disband energetically from whatever you were doing before so that you can realign yourself and recenter yourself ready for this. This thing that you're doing next, you're bringing your best self. Because if I was on a call before, unless I gave myself two minutes spare, and it was a harassing call, I'm going to turn up harassed for you and your audience. And that's not fair on me, it's not fair on you and it's not fair on the audience. Suzie Parkus: So it's about just recentering yourself, making sure that you're hydrated, you're wearing the right clothes. That also means not standing up in your underwear because we've seen now lots of videos where people have stood up and some people aren't wearing anything and some people are wearing underwear. So, be ready mind, body and spirit to present the best version of you for that meeting. Because again, energetically people will know if you're not present. And presence really is a gift. When you're focused and you're in the moment and you're here ready to show up and listen to and interact with the person or people that you're wanting to interact with. Nathan Simmonds: Something that I teach that goes hand in glove with that like you say, is not having the meetings back to back. Even if you're not in... we have a luxury now we're online so we have no excuse for being late because actually we haven't got to walk to a meeting room. I talk to people. I say, "How many people have got a meeting passing up next to a coaching session?" So you're in one end of the building, you've got to get to the other. It's likely that you're meeting with someone so it's going to overrun and then you turn up to a coaching session or developmental one-to-one with one of your team and you turn up 10 minutes late because you're never going to get there on time. What are you saying to that individual? Nathan Simmonds: And then also like you say, if you're harassed, have you actually given yourself the time to decompress from the previous conversation, realign your thinking and then come into that room and make that person you're speaking to the most important person in the room? Or are you complaining about all the actions and things you just picked up from the previous meeting because you haven't had a chance to decompress that thing and move forward. So, it's just giving yourself even five to 10 minutes bandwidth to shift the thinking and come into it with the right intention for that conversation. Suzie Parkus: If you're still affected by what's just happened before. You're not going to be present and you'll be vacant because you will be decompressing and processing in your brain, only partially listening to what's going on in the room right now. Nathan Simmonds: And that's just sending all the wrong signals. You're not making them the most valuable person, the most important person. That conversation is all about you, you, you, because you're still worried about: what am I thinking? What are my actions? What does my boss think of me? It's all me, me, me. And people, regardless of whether you say it or not, are going to know that you're distracted and you're not paying attention. Nathan Simmonds: Interesting thing though, and I've seen the videos of people accidentally putting their videos on Zoom and this stuff being bandied around on LinkedIn. I'm not sure if it's LinkedIn appropriate. I've seen your network and events. I've seen how you connect with people, and I've seen how you... I'm an advocate for this myself. I believe in accessorizing as a man. I wear, the belt and shoes match, the cufflinks and tie match up as well. It's meant to do this. The online world, the online meeting is a slightly different world. How would you recommend people dress for an online meeting? Suzie Parkus: I would dress how you would like to be received personally, if you were in person. I could easily have walked up to this in my hoodie, my onesie, just a tee-shirt. But that's not how I want to represent and present myself. And so it's about going, how do I want to be seen? This isn't a sneak peek into my private home life. I'm still being professional. So it's how do I want to be seen professionally. It might be the work that I do is joggers in a tee-shirt, in which case walking up in a suit would seem a bit weird. But then the reverse is also true. Nathan Simmonds: I think you've scored what we've talked about and you said dressing for the job that you want to do and you want to be in, but also dressing for the job you're actually in as well. The videos of those people that have been caught sitting there naked actually, they're sitting there naked, are they actually fully present in the conversation they're having if they're just sitting there- Suzie Parkus: They're not taking it seriously. Nathan Simmonds: No, they're sitting there with the shirts on, but they're just wearing their pants underneath. There's a level of deviancy or mischievousness. They're not taking the job seriously because they're turning out for a meeting in just their pants. That's not okay. Mentally they're just trying to deceive the people on that meeting to let them think that they are professional and they're doing a good job when really they're sitting home in their pants doing not very much. Again, what are you bringing to the meeting? Suzie Parkus: I don't know. I think it'd be an interesting test for that person to one day have their trousers on and one day not have their trousers on and actually ask themselves the honest question, did it make a difference? And it really will because I think the top half of you is in the room and the bottom half of you isn't. So if you can have a complete outfit, as I said, and behave like there are people in the room that you are addressing, it will have a huge effect on your mindset as well. You'll sit differently as well. Just even as a small thing, but you'll sit differently in the chair. You probably won't have your legs spread open if you're in your tights and suit trousers. Nathan Simmonds: I think in that is you cannot be 50% committed. Or you say, no, the top half is committed and the bottom half isn't or wherever you're setting that mindset around, is you can't be 50% committed. You either are or you aren't. There is no kind of middle ground with that. So actually all you're doing good work? No, you're not. Suzie Parkus: It kind of comes back to what you were saying before as well about people picking up on signs and signals. I'm not a body language expert, but I definitely do pick up on things. Subconsciously, we are all very clever human beings. Yes, you might have people who are trained in communications like me, people who are trained in body language, people who are trained in mindset, all these different niches and expertise. But it doesn't matter. As human beings as a whole race, our subconscious is very powerful and we will ultimately pick up on the tone of voice, the pace of your voice, the words you're using, how you're holding yourself. You are giving away tells left, right and center. Suzie Parkus: One of the things I explain to people a lot, those of you that do look me up, I do have a very strong dating background as well. It's where lots of my metaphors come from. So as an example, somebody goes on a date and they have a nice time, it's okay, they don't need to make their excuses early. Will they go on a date with that person again? Absolutely not. If you ask them why, they'll say something was off. Same in business. You'll meet somebody in Zoom meeting, in person, hear them speak, you'll be like, "That was nice. Don't want any more of it." And that's because of subconscious things that are emanating from you that are turning people off rather than turning them on. Nathan Simmonds: Great. And like you say there, something doesn't feel right. The words are right, but something didn't sit right. I don't feel the need to connect or collaborate with this individual, and you put things on hold. You go in a different direction because it feels better to go in the opposite direction at that point in time. And that's huge. We have talked a lot about collaboration and mindset over the years. How do you successfully collaborate? What are the top three tips do you think? Suzie Parkus: I don't want to collaborate with everyone. Number one. We're not a good fit. There has to be a fit. You have to think about relevancy because if there's no obvious fit, then you're actually setting yourself up to fail anyway. But if I can say, you and I should speak, and there's mutual benefits, then the person's going to listen. If it's for my benefit, who's not going to listen? Nobody wants someone to approach them for their own gain. It has to be for mutual gain. But more than that you need to explain further why it's of further gain to them than it is you, where you're adding value rather than taking money for yourself. Because everyone is in business. We're all busy. We've all worked really hard and invested lots of time and money and what have you to get to where we are today. Suzie Parkus: That's why influencers, as an example, get asked to cooperate a lot because their lot of secrets are out there and they've spent a lot of time and effort getting out there. So they're a very desirable commodity to collaborate with. So of course, they're going to screen you even harder because you're looking to piggyback and leverage what they've got. And that's the same for any collaboration. Any reason you're reaching out to somebody is because they've got some level of status insofar as the relevancy as to why you should be connecting. So it would be, I want to connect and collaborate for said reason. Make it absolutely clear what the benefit is and really accentuate why it's a great benefit to them as well. Like yes, it will benefit me, but this is really how it'll benefit you. Suzie Parkus: And if you know their bottom line is really important, then talk about the figures. If you know visibility's really important, talk about how it will grow their visibility. Talk to you what's important to them, not what's important to you. And it's always about being relevant. I can't stress that enough. I talk about how to stand out above the noise and not to be part of the noise. It's too much noise anyway. So in order to cut through the noise of what's going on, whether it's the inbox, everybody wants some piece of you. All the stuff on social media, wherever the noise is coming from, the more relevant you are... it's like a laser cutting through just a load of rubbish that's out there every day, which is what unfortunately we feel like we're faced with quite a lot. That the communication coming in is irrelevant and we just see it as white noise. Nathan Simmonds: This is partly the reason why so many businesses are doing what they're doing right now. This as an interview series is part of that, is about making sure that we stay remembered, we stay relevant and we stay retailing in the nicest possible way. And it's the same for any business out there right now doing what they're doing. How are they cutting through the noise? How are they utilizing the space they've got? Who are they collaborating with, and how am I collaborating with you? What's Suzie's superpower? What does Suzie do really well? Okay, how can I get Suzie to share that with other people to support them? And then it's the same when you're inside a business. Nathan Simmonds: I remember one of my first kind of reach out emails I sent a few years ago where I wanted a director of a business to be my mentor. He was new to the business. I sent him the email, said, "I'm really interested in what you do. I'd like to learn more. I'd love you to mentor me, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." Crickets, as the saying goes. Why? Because he couldn't see any mutual or the added benefit for him. He couldn't see the greater benefit I was going to add to him. He didn't know me from Adam, so why would he say yes? Nathan Simmonds: And again, when you kind of transfer that idea into working in teams, if I want to go and connect with this person in a different department and I want their support, how do I make sure they're going to give me ongoing support? What can I give them first that's going to help them to see the benefit in helping me. So it's all about first give, give, give, give, give, and then in return, okay, what's going to come out of that? But 95% of the world are going in there and they're sort of all thinking, what am I going to get first before they've even worked out what they're going to give. Suzie Parkus: There's one crucial sort of ingredient in this recipe that we've navigated to mention so far. And it's something that I learned by default when working with the media. And that says, don't give people extra work to do. What's frightening when people come at you is you want from me, and it's like the eyes roll and it's like, "Oh, my sink." It's like everyone's flat out busy. No one's got spare time. If they do, they generally it's friends, family, charity, what have you. It's not somebody that they don't know. So you need to be compelling in such a way that somebody will want to make space for you. And ultimately when I talks about this whole approach, there's two things that people take into consideration, how much it's going to cost me? Because I don't want to spend any extra money. I don't want you to cost me any money if we're going to do this. And also what are you going to cost me in time? Like what's my investment in this? Suzie Parkus: If you can say, actually you don't need to do anything... So let's say as an example I collaborated with somebody recently and I said, "It's really as simple as we'll set up the MailChimp email for you so you don't even need to do the tech. We'll even write the email for you. You just need to okay it and we'll hit send on your behalf." So it's all GDPR friendly, but you don't need to do anything. You don't need to worry your head about getting your head around technology. Also, you don't need to write the email, we'll write it for you, we'll just hit send when you say yes. And the benefit for them was actually adding value to 500 customers and they didn't have to do anything but they looked better in their customer's eyes. And it's about taking that responsibility away from them to do extra duties but including them in what's going on as well. Nathan Simmonds: And we see that a lot from the manufacturing side of it. People don't understand leadership starts internally. When I'm talking to people I say, "Okay, how are you approaching it?" "Well, I go to my boss and I say I've got a problem." And I say, "Was that your first mistake?" Because the first thing you're doing is saying you've got a problem. And what's your boss going to say? "Good for you. Because I've got enough of my own problems. I've got a list of problems as long as one arm and a to do list as long as the other, I don't want any more problems." Nathan Simmonds: So what I'm explaining to people that are doing this is, come up with three or four solutions. "These are my three or four solutions. This is what I'm thinking of doing. This is the risk to it. What else would you suggest in order to make this a success?" "Now, option two is good. Go away and come back." You're not giving the problem, you're taking action and you're also showing yourself as initiating and motivated and got a desire to learn and actually create success results with these people without adding to their workload. Because people don't want more to do. Suzie Parkus: Actually you're showing that you care. You're showing that you've got initiative. You're showing that you're positive because if you only give a go to someone with a problem, I can say that's the fastest way to the door. No one wants someone that's just a negative Nellie and it's like, "I see problems everywhere." It might be well intentional, but as you said, don't come with problems, come with, "I've identified there's a problem. It's affects could be and will be X, Y and Z." So you're making them aware why it's a problem. You're not just looking for problems. "And these would be my suggestions. Do any of these sit with you? I'm just looking out for the betterment of the business in my department, you as my boss," whatever it might be. Suzie Parkus: You're also sharing that you've got that leadership material in you as well. That's also how to stand out in a crowded workplace if you're in a big company as well. When it comes to promotion, they're go, "Do you know that guy Jack, he was always coming up with problems with amazing solutions. And actually over the years he's saved us I don't know how many thousands of pounds. We're looking for new whatever, director, et cetera. Let's get him in for an interview." And that's how you get approached internally. You get headhunted internally by showing your value constantly. Nathan Simmonds: And it's not necessarily an overnight thing that happens. It takes time. You have to build credibility and credits in the solution bank, in the collaboration bank so that people go, "Oh yeah, I want to go and work with that person because actually they do come up with great solutions. Well, let's get him involved in this other department over here. Let's get him involved in this conversation. What do you recommend? You're at the coalface, what else can you bring to this?" And Jack, the hypothetical person we're talking about, suddenly feels more valued and is in different spheres and different arenas creating new ideas and new potential for himself, which is phenomenal. And that's the benefits of collaboration. Suzie Parkus: Yep. You mentioned the V word. It's huge. Feeling valued. When you value someone, it's like sticking more fuel in the tank because we all like to feel appreciated and acknowledged. And so, when there's more of that happening, you'll get more of that good stuff from your employees as well. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, and it's interesting that the power phrase of Jim Rohn quote from Cranky the 80s, and he said, "You can get $6 an hour for sweeping the floor at McDonald's, or you can get $6.50 for doing it with a smile on your face." So that value piece, what people I think specially in certain work environments get caught up on is they think, "Oh, I'm worth more than this but I don't have to put the work in." It's about making sure that you are adding value so you're seen as more valuable and then you will be paid for that value. Nathan Simmonds: And again, like I said, it takes time to get to that place. But people expect it's that gang thing, I'm doing this, therefore you owe me that. No, no, no, no, no. You contribute this and give more than you want back in return. You have to create an excess so that then people can give to you from that excess in the relationship that you're building with them. People get the equation run the wrong way, whether it's from getting a promotion or whether it's wanting to connect with a celebrity influence. Suzie Parkus: Yeah. We have a self-imposed value rather than a demonstrable value. I mean, again, we can go down a rabbit hole, but just to surmise, some people are told that they're really, really good at something constantly, therefore they think they're shining at it, but they're not working at it. So that's where we have the self-imposed value when we think I'm worth more because I've been told constantly I'm amazing at X, Y, and Z. But you might not realize that you're actually not demonstrating it to your boss. And also they're the ones that are paying your bills. Nathan Simmonds: That's kind of getting into the realms of care with the work and the fixed mindset and the growth mindset where that individual peeps getting praise, praise, praise, praise. So it's "I'm good at this so I don't have to try any harder." And actually it's that complacency which causes their own downfall at the end of it. So it's, when you're in a work space, it's constantly looking for ways to add value. Where do I create the most profit for the business, for my team, for my client? How can I add to their world? And by adding that value to them, there is that law of reciprocity. By me doing that, there will be a loop that will come, a return on that. Nathan Simmonds: But it doesn't come until you give. They're all a contribution. We don't get... if you keep take, take, take, eventually the ecosystem collapses on itself. We have to give and create the ecosystem so we get that return and that value back. But that comes from adding value, becoming valuable and then getting that value back. It's not bad but you can't... it's not a chicken and egg scenario. Doesn't work that way. Suzie Parkus: Before you move on from that point, because one thing I notice it says a lot. Call it the lack mindset, I don't know. Call it tit for tat, I'm not quite sure. I've come across this before. I'll do this for you if you do this to me, or I did that for you so you'll do this for me. No, you won't tell me what to do. It should be free will. I think a lot of people see others whereby people are running around after them. They're getting offered opportunities, life just seems like a breeze. But they haven't actually taken a step back to go, why is everybody coming forth for this individual? Because maybe they looked out for needs of others. Maybe they communicated in a way that landed with a deeper level of connection rather than transaction. It's how we make people feel. Suzie Parkus: And if we make people feel like, I have to do something because you've done something to me, I can tell you they won't do anything for you because no one wants to be beholden. You're actually screwing around with our free will. People put you on a pedestal, value you, respect you, want to do things for you when you come from a good intentional place, when you have that good mindset, when you make others feel good, where you're constantly adding value and you're looking out for them. Look out for others and they'll look out for you. Suzie Parkus: And then you also were talking before about the way we're conducting ourselves, it all comes down to relationships as well. This is all relationships, in business and in our personal life. It's very easy to draw parallels around where we're not maybe adding value in our personal life and go, "Oh gosh, I might be doing this in business as well and vice versa." Because we are creatures of habit but we are also able to be coached and we are able to grow as well. Nathan Simmonds: Interesting. You say about the relationships at home as well and I think human beings are very good at compartmentalizing themselves and separating themselves and they'll act one way when they're at home with family and friends or children or whatever and then they'll act another way in business. But in truth you're exactly the same person. So you can't be having a completely holistic approach to life if one element is off kilter. And so the question I often ask people is, "Okay. You're approaching it in this way. Would you talk to your wife and children this way? Or how would they respond if they heard you talking like that to another person?" And getting people to calibrate that thinking is, does the video and the audio sync up. Now, the home and the work life, do those things correlate? Nathan Simmonds: Because if you wouldn't speak to another person like that in front of your daughter or want your daughter to marry someone that talks to people like that, that's a clear indication that maybe that choice of language needs to shift and the way that you want to have that mindset and the way that you want to connect and collaborate with people. If it's all about me, me, me, and it's not about, we, we, we, the giving element, the system's going to fall down on itself. And that system is actually you as a business entity in your career, in your entrepreneurship and in your team. You could end up with your team not being successful, you losing your job or your business folding completely. It's not uncanny. Suzie Parkus: It comes back to what you were saying before with the apple and the plants. You need to nurture and develop and value. Nathan Simmonds: Funny though as you were saying that you need to nurture, value and develop yourself because all of this stuff, if you can't do it for yourself, how can you give it to other people? And that might require a coach, that might require some additional training, that might require just actually how do I talk to myself and what do other people hear when that voice is in my head when I'm talking to them. I've heard before, when you have children, your outer voice becomes their inner voice. So it's, how are you speaking to the people around you? Nathan Simmonds: And from a leadership point of view, I talk about leadership and parenting being one and the same thing, is when you're talking to your team, how you talk to your team about the work that they are doing is how they will talk to themselves about their work, whether there'll be critical or championing. And then when they become leaders and managers, that's exactly how they will talk to the people in their teams. They will just repeat exactly what was done unto them. So it's vital that we understand what the voice is we've got up here, how we focus that on ourselves and how we judge people, or not judge get curious, how we talk to them and what sort of ripple effect that's actually causing down the line for these people as they get promoted and get into their own realms. Suzie Parkus: I found that, getting curious bit, quite interesting because it's a phrase that I was quite connected to last year. Because we have this awareness that something's not okay or we've done something and we have that moment of, "Ah, I shouldn't have done that." So get curious in that moment. What was the trigger? Why did I do that? Because that's where you can do a pattern interrupt in that moment. Say it won't happen again or it won't feel as bad again because we are, again, creatures of habit and if you get curious, understand what the trigger was, maybe dissolve the trigger or catch yourself before you do same thing again. You actually start becoming better at your actions and interactions later on. Nathan Simmonds: Agreed. There's the quote that I love and I think is Walt Whitman, I think is Walt Whitman. "Be curious, not judgmental." And in that, it's just asking questions. We know because we've trained under various teachers previously the moment that you judge someone, you cannot influence them. Yet if you ask the right questions and you get curious, you can ask people, and that include yourself. And the interesting choice of language you use is, "I shouldn't have done that." What I've come to learn is should is the language of guilt and shame. "I shouldn't have done that. I shouldn't be here. Oh, I should have said that." Well, the truth is either you did it or you didn't do it. Nathan Simmonds: And it's that moment of judging yourself as being incapable of actually delivering or following through on that thing that you should have done, you start to judge yourself and therefore you can't influence yourself. And in that result is then you cannot create another action that will actually change it when you move forward. So the way that I've started teaching people is rather than saying I should this, should that, whatever. Actually, what did you do? What didn't you do? What did you learn from that situation that you need to improve on next time? Because then that creates the action in your head rather than a guilt complex. "Oh, actually if I do this next time it will be better." Okay, which one would you like to prefer? Sit there and wallow in your own guilt about the situation or create a new action that's actually going to improve it? Oh yeah. Develop from what happened and enjoy the failure process almost in these situations. Suzie Parkus: I do think there is a different kind of growth, sorry to interrupt. There's a different kind of growth to be heard when we're self coaching compared to the external coaching and I also think it's a practice. Again, you and I have been on a journey and we're quite following that journey, but it's one that's never going to stop. So if you're someone who's new into kind of personal development or developing yourself, I definitely think that an external coach will ask better questions than we can ask of ourself until we're a little bit further down the line. Nathan Simmonds: Agreed. And you know what, I'm going to use this moment to plug the Making Business Matter coaching cards because we learn how to coach, and there's a reason why I'm plugging them now and I'll talk about that. We learn how to coach and it's easy for us to go and ask other people those questions. But we have an internal bias where maybe we don't want to ask ourselves those questions and face up to the truth of what's going on. And this is where those coaching cards come in is you can play solitaire with yourself. You can lay the cards out and you can pick five cards from each section going through the GROW coaching model and almost force yourself to ask the question as if it was an external person doing it. Nathan Simmonds: It just gives you that little bit of a nudge just to go down that road a little bit further and get curious about yourself and actually what is it. And also at the same time in a safe environment where you're doing it on your own terms, not in a room with someone maybe you don't know. So, I had to drop that in there because it'd be remiss of me not to. So if you want to go and get the pack, go and get the pack. Nathan Simmonds: Mindset. I'm thinking, we're going down a couple of rabbit holes here, Suzie, like it, love it. Mindset. And I've been looking here, one of the key prompts I put down here was, what is the impact and importance of having a connection and collaboration mindset. Suzie Parkus: What is the importance of having a connection and collaboration mindset? It comes about, it's exactly what we said before. It's what's in it for us. Where am I adding value, not what's in it for me. If it's all selfish and it's about me, it's going to feel ugly to the other person and it's going to fall on deaf ears and you're going to be pedaling really hard and they're going to be trying to get away from you really quickly. And so, it really comes back down to the intentional piece. Looking at it as a whole, why am I approaching that person? What am I bringing to the table? What's in it for them, what's in it for us? And it will feel nice and you'll be able to ad lib and navigate the conversation and the dynamics of the communication much better than if you want to have a certain outcome in mind that is also very you centric. Nathan Simmonds: I mean, it's interesting you talk about the collaboration piece. Linking it back into that curiosity piece is actually getting to paying attention to the people so that if you come into the conversation in the wrong way or say something out of context with that, is being conscious enough to see that the person is emotionally, verbally, physically backpedaling, and helping yourself to switch that mindset back on. Because like you say, it's ugly, it doesn't feel right. And most people know when they've said the wrong thing or most people get that sensation on, "No, that didn't come across right." When you feel that, you can even flag on for me personally and say, "You know what? I think I came out the wrong way. I think I need to shift the perspective a little bit." And even verbalizing it sometimes can actually soften the conversation. It's going to just enable you to actually come back to that. But it's having that- Suzie Parkus: Well, it's also, sorry, I was going to say it's responsible communication, isn't it? Nathan Simmonds: Yes. Suzie Parkus: Rather than having a conversation with yourself after the conversation, "I shouldn't have said that." Say sorry in the moment. It's hard to come back afterwards because then you're reigniting the feeling for them to go, "I need to feel that again." Oh yeah, I'm not okay with your apology or I am or whatever. You actually just reminds me of a conversation I had Friday before last. This person has got a big personality and like I do, you'll say quite jovial. It was almost like a backhanded compliment, but it wasn't. Suzie Parkus: It was actually a forward compliment that I guess, because we hadn't really connected properly before, she was on the back foot and not understanding where I was coming from. And then it felt really awkward to have to over-explain myself that it actually was a compliment. And then it was kind of like, "We're good with the conversation now." And that's the other part of it. We have our own personality. We might be jovial, we might be quiet, whatever, but you do need to kind of match the energy and personality to some extent at the person you're talking to just to make it feel a bit more comfortable. Nathan Simmonds: Great. Talking about matching the energy, you introduced me to the five love languages. I've read that and done, there's a free online test that goes with it, which is phenomenal. One of the elements that we teach at Making Business Matter is around the communication styles from David Merrill. I teach that with the same premise though as the five love languages. We spend our whole lives talking to everyone how we want to be spoken to rather than speaking to people the way that they need to be spoken to. Because, again, we're all walking around as the star of our own movies, wondering why everyone's not doing what we're telling them to do. Because actually you're not speaking to them the right way. If you learn to speak to them how they want to be spoken to, they'll react and respond in a much more fluid way and supportive way because they can hear what you're saying rather than you trying to impose your thinking onto them for your own benefit. Suzie Parkus: That comes back down to awkward conversation. It's like two people could say the same thing in a very different way and they go with the other person not you because you're coming at it from your way of how you like to be spoken to and the other one's going, "I'm going to match the other person. I understand their love language as it were and I'm going to speak to them in a way that they'll understand." That's the difference between speaking Chinese to an English person kind of thing, which is how it can come across when you're imposing your thinking on someone else. Suzie Parkus: So I'm very fluffy and creative and if somebody is very black and white and direct, but sometimes it can be a real struggle to meet in the middle. And again, it's something I've had to learn, know who I'm talking to first to meet them because I'm reaching out to them. That's the difference. If you're reaching out to someone, it's your job to match them, not feel like they're an idiot or whatever because they're not understanding you. It's about making the conversation easy for both of you. Nathan Simmonds: And that's one of the things that actually you have pulled me up with absolute love and respect on, and I know that I have done it before is, I would have half a conversation in my head as if I'm talking to the person and then I'll dive into the conversation exactly the point I left off and the person's left wondering, "What the hell are you talking about?" Because I can see all the benefits and pluses because I've had half the conversation. But the person can't engage and they're left confused and bewildered and they have no idea what they're saying yes or no to. And we all know that confused people don't buy in the nicest possible way. We are selling ourselves into a relationship with an individual and that person, if they're going to collaborate or mentor us or support us, has no idea what they're going to get. And so they're like, "No, it doesn't feel good. I'm out." And then they'll check out- Suzie Parkus: Yeah, there is a problem to that. Coming back to this whole responsible communication piece, I would challenge people to think about Imago technique, which is effectively saying, "So Nathan, what I've heard you say and what I understand you to say is..." So even if you have come in halfway through the conversation because you've had half of it with yourself and you'll be like "No, no, have you missed out the other bits?" And then I get the opportunity to go, "I'm really sorry, what other bits? The only things that you've discussed with me today are..." Suzie Parkus: And when people are reaching out, whatever it might be, it's another company in turn linked to their senior director, whatever, it's about having an understanding as well that somebody might not have the communication skills that you've got. This has been something that I've had to really work hard on because I'd like to hear things in a certain way. I don't want you to make me think harder than I need to. It's like, you want to talk to me about something, make it easy for me to understand. Suzie Parkus: But then you have to kind of quieten that voice down a bit and go, "They're trying." And also it can be quite intimidating to reach out to someone who you perceive to be a competent communicator, a good communicator, a senior, et cetera. That's why we have to take a step back and go, "So to my person below me or the person that's reached out to me. Again, Nathan, thanks for reaching out today. So just to be clear, the collaboration that you're interested in and the thing that you're proposing to me is..." So I'm giving you a chance to go, "Yes, that's what I'm saying." Then I know I'm clear on what I'm making a decision about rather than being dismissive, thinking I've understood you and going, "Not for me." Nathan Simmonds: Not many leaders will do that because they believe they don't have the time to actually get curious. THey're too busy judging that person without getting curious and thinking about, actually this person's making the effort. They might be intimidated, they might be flustered because this means a lot to them emotionally, where are they at from a mindset point of view? Actually my question then is, which I think is a rhetorical question, I don't think it's for an answering today, is if leaders and directors and business people actually responded that way, do you know what? I can see you're enthusiastic about more leaders and I can see you've got an interest in this. I can see... I'm curious to hear the rest of it. Nathan Simmonds: I'm trying to deescalate the situation for that individual so they can get the point across clearly. And then as a leader who is a confident communicator potentially to take the time to say, "Do you know what? I now get that, let's have a conversation about how that conversation started." And bridge that gap to help them shift the thinking, and the relationship dynamic that will happen inside businesses and inside business relationships as a result of that curiosity rather than dismissiveness would be astronomical to the relationships. It'd be huge. Can't get enough. Sorry. Hold on. I'm going to use that as a bridge though. How do you ask someone to collaborate? Suzie Parkus: How do you? Well, I suppose it depends. Are you internally asking or externally asking. But again, coming back to it it's, have a very, very clear outcome in mind. What is in this? If I know you, so it'd be Nathan. "Hi. I don't know if you've got a minute today. I've seen an opportunity that I think it'd go really, really well for both of us. On your part, I see you may be needing to do this and me needing to do that and then the outcome would be X, or there's an opportunity here for both our audiences. And actually you don't need to do anything other than send an email, which I'm really happy to write on your behalf or our behalf. And let me take that of you. I'm not asking to do anything, just hit send and take..." again, in like I said before, take that responsibility on myself. I am the one that's asking. I'm the one that wants something from you. Suzie Parkus: And if it's someone you don't know, so then you need to start to warm up the relationship first. Because otherwise you'll just end up being that influence the other guy is, "Ah, another one. Another one that wants something from me." You need to come out to it differently. You need to come across that you care. That's the difference. So many people reach out, call to somebody and it's like, I want, or I see a benefit. But you're actually not making it a human connection. You're not seeing them as a person. You're seeing them as the commodity. Suzie Parkus: And that's where you'll start actually creating walls between you and that person because they're already a commodity to so many people. The more senior you are, the more people want you. So the more you can show love, care, respect, interest, build the rapport, build the intimacy between you. I still talk about the whole dating thing. You wouldn't go from Tinder to bed. I know some people would, but in the grand scheme of things, you build a relationship and you build trust and you'd show people that you know how to treat them properly and you see them as a human, not just as an end result. Nathan Simmonds: And I think, again, it comes down to that intention. Tinder to bed is one thing, Tinder to marriage is a completely different thing. And if you wanted to get to an influencer or a mentor or support in a business venture, it's a longterm relationship and it doesn't just come from... again, I've made that mistake where I've asked people we know on a LinkedIn invite. I said, "Look, I'm doing this. I want this." I know the benefit, they will never see it. Nathan Simmonds: Whereas I've done LinkedIn requests where I said, "You know what? I was seeing this post. That's amazing. I really want to have a future conversation with you. I just want to see what's going on in your world." And start building the relationship. Okay, it might take three to five to seven messages over the course of maybe six months to get a... I'd rather now have six months of messaging than six minutes of not ever having a relationship with that person ever again. Suzie Parkus: And people will remember how you made them feel, never what you said. They'll probably delete all your emails, go, "Ah, a lot of rubbish." But your name comes up in conversation again and they've already dismissed you because they associate you with a feeling. And I'm just thinking back to an event that you and I were at last year where I know that you really wanted to connect with a certain individual who's very, very senior and you wanted to get ahold of. You connected with a person at that event and they gave you some invaluable advice, which is to get involved with somebody on the team of that person, build trust and rapport with them and let them be the champion for what it is that you want to do with the bigger person. Suzie Parkus: There are so many different ways to skin a cat at all. It really depends on who you're talking to and the outcome you wants to achieve. And that's where I'd strategize a different approach for different people. And it's also got to feel comfortable. The communication that you're having has got to feel comfortable for you. I might do things one way, but you have to do it like you because if we're supporting you to get an outcome, when you're on your own with that person, again, it's going to be like, who are you? You kind of reached out to me in a certain way and now you seem like a different person. You've always got to have that integrity and that authenticity piece. Nathan Simmonds: Great. I've known my wife 21 years this year and we've only been married, I say only been married, I think it's 12 years, is year 11 or 12 years this year. It took 10 years to get to that point before we got married. It's the same with any great collaboration and great business relationship. It's not going to be, "Oh, here's a quick cup of coffee." Set famous coffee brand logo or whatever on the corner of embankment, and that's it, done deal. No, no, no. It's conversations, it's interactions, it's the diffing, it's the value that you add. And having that integrity and authenticity in that relationship. Who would you say is a good collaborator that comes to mind for you? Suzie Parkus: I think Oprah and Ellen. If you think about it, they have a platform. I know we're going really big here, but they have a platform and they're going to be very conscientious about who they bring on the show because that's their audience. But equally the people approaching the show have got to be in align with the show and the audience and the intention. And I think they're really good people to watch in terms of who they bring on and how they guide that relationship with that person when they're in front of them. Nathan Simmonds: I've heard conversations about Oprah and how she actually supports people's nerves when they go onto stage and how Oprah just shares words of wisdom to support them through that journey. So it comes back to that integrity piece of when you're rushing and then you feel nervous about a conversation, actually for a leader to turn around and nurture you in that moment so that you can be the best that you can be, so you can learn the most. If it doesn't go anywhere, at least bare minimum, you've got some incredibly valuable positive feedback to help build the next conversation with the person who is going to be that right connection. Suzie Parkus: As I see things that are coming up for me, number one is whole collaboration piece. I've been bumped before so it's really important that I share this bit. It's very easy to get excited about people initially. Because again when dating everyone's showing their best self. It takes a while to know who you're talking to. It takes a while to see people in different situations, on the different testing environments for their personality to really come through. And your values have got to be aligned as well. Suzie Parkus: See, I reached out to somebody who's doing a collaboration and it went ahead very, very quickly. But they were very money and ego orientated and I wanted to develop people, build a collaboration. They wanted the quickest way to the bank. So actually it created friction very, very quickly and it could have saved us a lot of time and energy had we realized that we weren't on the same page even though we had the same knowledge and were looking to do the same outcome. The energetic mismatch really presented itself. So I really would say take some time to know the values of the person you're talking to. Suzie Parkus: Also helps with the outreach as well. Now, if I'm at a leadership bit, as a leader, you're meant to be developing the people beneath you, or as a senior person. And I think it's about humanizing yourself in the eyes of the people beneath you as well because they will never approach you again if you come across like this face dragon who's never got any time, who's always shooting them down. They've never got anything positive to say about their approach towards you or their enthusiasm. Their enthusiasm will wane as a result. And you'll find they will stop showing up and they will stop wanting to add value because they'll just be frightened of being shot down again or being misunderstood or being judged or whatever it might be. Suzie Parkus: So it really is about, like you said, seeing who's in front of you, not assessing how they're turning up, assessing their intention and the outcome they're trying to bring to you. And then as a leader who I would hope has got developed mindset can bring all that together like you said and go, "You know what? Suzie, you might've come in here like a bull in a china shop today as an example, but your enthusiasm is infectious and I get where you're coming from. To me, I found it overwhelming so maybe I wasn't listening straight away to begin with. But you know what? This is really great. Now I'd like for you to show me a step by step plan as to how this will look." Suzie Parkus: So again, it's about going, "Suzie, please take the thinking away from me. Please you're not supposed to think about anything else, I'm a senior person. I'm on board, now show me sort of the roadmap and get me on board." It's up to them to guide you as well because that love language thing, right? We're all different people with different needs. So the minute someone's on board, again, I think it'd be really helpful to go, "This is what would help me." Nathan Simmonds: And then go away or give that person an action. "Look, I'm not going to do any more work with this. It's your idea. It's your responsibility. You want this relationship. Absolutely fine with me. Here's three things that you need to be on doing." That also shows the person you're connected with, if you take those things away, or wanting to connect with, you say there's a way; take the action on it and then bring it to life and then come back. "These are the three things. This is where I think I'm going with it. Okay, what else would you suggest?" And then you start building on. Also, putting back into the relationship that you're showing you're committed to it by following through on the actions that you're given or you're developing out of that conversation. Huge. Absolutely vital. Suzie Parkus: Yeah. I can say that knowing you personally, you are a very fast action taker and you're quite detail-orientated. I believe that you do like to know what's being asked of you and then you really put your whole heart into it when it comes across. Because I know that about you and I'm then introducing you to other people, I know they're going to have an amazing experience of you too and it's just, that's all this really is, is about sharing the best of you because that will impact what other opportunities, conversations, collaborations, et cetera, are going to come in the future. Nathan Simmonds: I think it's exactly that. So, speaking to a client this morning and how you then turn up, how you present yourself, and maybe you guys speak to someone else in a different department and they say, "Oh, there's Nathan, he's really interested in this, this, this, and this." "Okay, fantastic. I haven't seen him before. I haven't seen him thinking like this. That's really interesting." Six months down the line there's this job position comes up. And you know what? I know who would be really good for that. Nathan. Why? Because he's full of energy, is really blah, blah, blah, blah. But how do you not kind of engage with that person and start thinking or start having those conversations in different ways. Nathan Simmonds: You're not building those relationships in different spaces. You're not always confined to work in this job and just get the next job and the promotion in a straight line. Your promotion route and your career trajectory should be more squiggly than a Google route from Hastings to Leicester. It should be going in different directions because that's the way the river bends sometimes. And having the conversations, looking to connect, looking to collaborate and add value is going to get you in the right places to make that happen. It might not be the person you're speaking to, but it might be the introduction they make to somebody else that's going to get you in the next space, which is going to move you up. Super important. Suzie Parkus: That's why you need to be responsible for the conversations you're having, the communication you're having, how you're showing up, and most importantly that PR piece. How do you want to be remembered? Because it's as much about what people are saying when you're in the room as well as when you're out of the room. Nathan Simmonds: Managing your shadow. So before you even walk in the room, what shadow do you cast on the room and managing your shadow when you walk out of it, what shadow do you leave behind you? And that counts as much as in the queue of the canteen because you have no idea who's standing behind you when you're talking to people or how you're talking about people or who hears what. And it's just been about mindful about being that person that you truly are, integral and authentic all of the time. Not just based on an environment or a situation or experience you're in. Actually, who are you in that moment? Who are you in the face of adversity or stress, and be that. But ultimate question, how do you make behavioral change stick? Suzie Parkus: How do you make it stick? Nathan Simmonds: How do you make it stick? Suzie Parkus: Oh, how do I? Okay. I make it stick by showing the difference of, well, basically what got you here but won't get you there. That kind of thing. So let's assess what is going on right now and what kind of things would you like differently? Then obviously, once it's been demonstrated that by doing something different you can have a better result, people don't go back. You just don't. Once you've had a taste of something better and you've known how to get it, you're not going to have something that's not of an equal standard or not on par. So you're going to keep pushing forward. That's been my experience anyway. Nathan Simmonds: Amazing. Where can people find you? Suzie Parkus: It's www.suzieparkus.com which is, S-U-Z-I-E P-A-R-K-U-S. And all my social media handles are @SuzieParkus. Nathan Simmonds: Amazing. Suzie, thank you very much. For those listening, those paying attention, there is a whole heap of value in this conversation, in this interview that we have just had. It's about giving. About contribution. It's about having that collaborative networking mindset in place and being responsible for when you are communicating all of the time. If you want to move, you want to develop yourself internally in a career or in a business or the business in its whole, how you talk to people, how you communicate, how you show up every single time is actually vital, which is what Suzie Parkus shares with the world and is passionate to get across to people because there are so many people lacking this integrity, unfortunately, surprisingly and shockingly. Please go back over the interview, pick out the nuggets again, use it, share it, teach it. Massively appreciated. Get you on the next one. Thanks very much. Suzie Parkus: Thank you. Nathan Simmonds: Thank you.
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