Understanding Effective Communication Strategies

Understanding Effective Communication Strategies

Every day we communicate with and to others. It does not matter if you are giving a speech in the boardroom, communicating with your partner, or the look that you give to your pet, it all means something. Understanding the various ways of communicating, will help you to make the most of each of them.

Communication affects these aspects of your life:

  • Relationships
  • Stress levels
  • Productivity
  • Satisfaction level of your life
  • Problem solving ability
  • Capability of achieving your goals

Common Communication Problems

  • Cultural Barriers
  • Language Barriers
  • Difference in Place and Time

Hearing and Listening

Hearing is easy, but listening is far more complex. Listening is the method of looking at the words and the other factors used around those words, such as body language and non-verbal communication. The skill is to interpret the entire message.

Appreciative Inquiry

Communication traditionally focuses on what is wrong and how we can fix it. Think about your last visit to the doctor, performance review, or your last disagreement with someone. Appreciative inquiry is the opposite of that. It focuses on the positive and on ways to improve. Many businesses have found it to be a refreshing and uplifting approach to problems, and revitalizing their employees.

Establishing Common Ground

Another powerful communication tool is finding common links that draw us together.  A stranger may turn out not to be a stranger to you. Someone that might have grown up in the same town that you did, or someone who enjoys a hobby as much as you do.  Whether it is a problem-solving session, a team meeting or a basic conversation, try to find a common ground whenever you are communicating. Positive connections will assist you in communicating better and building stronger relationships.

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How to Manage Your Anger

How to Manage Your Anger

Anger can be an extremely destructive energy, costing people their personal relationships, jobs and even their lives if it is not dealt with correctly. Everybody experiences anger, so it is vital to have positive approaches to managing it successfully.  Everyone is common with this emotion, but not everybody is alert of its fundamental dynamics, the fight or flight response, cycle of anger, and frequent myths about anger.

The Cycle of Anger

Anger is a normal feeling that typically originates from perceived loss or threat. It is an invasive emotion and it affects our thoughts, body, behavior and feelings. Anger is frequently described in terms of its regularity, intensity, threshold, expression and extent. Anger usually follows a predictable cycle. Accepting the cycle of anger will help you comprehend your anger reactions and others’. It will assist you in finding the best suitable reaction.

Fight or Flight

This impulse appears in physical behavior. When facing a threat, our bodies release the hormones, cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. These chemicals are intended to take us to a state of vigilance. The result being increased heart rate, slowed digestion, strength and energy. Understanding the fight or flight response will help recognize the dynamics of our anger reaction.

Myths about Anger

  1. Ignoring anger will make it go away.
  2. Anger is a bad emotion.
  3. People will think I am a pushover if I don’t get angry.
  4. You can’t manage anger.
  5. Anger must be unleashed for it to go away.

Anger Management

  1. DON’T get passive-aggressive.
  2. DON’T disregard the anger.
  3. DON’T keep the anger bottled up inside.
  4. DON’T get aggressive.
  5. DON’T use communication methods that are non-constructive.
  6. DO calm yourself prior to you saying something.
  7. DO accept that you are angry.
  8. DO clarify how you are feeling in a way that shows ownership.
  9. DO speak up, when something is important to you

Emotional signs of anger:

  • Irritability
  • Bitterness
  • Unhappiness
  • Isolation
  • Remorse
  • Lack of feeling
  • Feelings of wanting to harm somebody

Physical signs of anger:

  • Perspiration
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Trembling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling hot in the neck and face
  • Headache
  • Stomach aches

Behavioral signs of anger:

  • Raised tone of voice
  • Beating of fists on a wall or surface
  • Clenching of fists
  • Pacing

Mental signs of anger:

  • Cynicism
  • Breaks in concentration
  • Resentful thoughts
  • Obsessing on the circumstance

You are not a victim of your circumstances. You have the alternative of making a considered and conscious reaction to stressful situations. Your options in general fall into three categories: avoid, accept or modify. De-escalation skills are intended to manage the situation, cool down and decrease the possibility of being physically or verbally hurt.

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Advance Your Company With The Correct Business Etiquette

Advance Your Company With The Correct Business Etiquette

Success in any business depends on relations, whether with customers, employees, investors, suppliers or investors. When you are thoughtful and courteous in working with others, you create productive, appealing, and lasting business contacts. It is essential to learn, not only the practical side of business, but also how to conduct yourself in the company of others. This is what business etiquette is.

Business Etiquette can help your company advance these areas:

  • Customer Care: The best way to show clients that their support is appreciated is to take care of them with consideration and respect. This will inspire a positive reaction and loyalty.
  • Branding: By being professional, you convey the message that your business is responsible and reliable. Everything you do reflects on your company and products. Personalized care is your edge against the competition.
  • Team Synergy: Etiquette establishes a good working relationship within a team, which contributes to better efficiency and productivity.
  • Employee Engagement: Good etiquette improves drive and assurance between team members and employees.


It is essential to make the most of the first meeting when it comes to networking.

  • Make an effective introduction
  • Memorize names.
  • Reduce nerves
  • Create a good impression
  • Use business cards effectively

The Meet and Greet

  • A handshake is a part of many social interactions. It’s a way to introduce one’s self, offer congratulations and even a way to conclude a business deal. A handshake is a gesture of goodwill.
  • The art of discussion is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at a tempting moment. It requires sensitivity at this stage of a relationship, the context of the conversation and the comfort level of the person you are talking to depend on it.

Business Email

Email is an effectual and convenient way to carry out business communications. While online mediums of communication have their own vocabulary, it’s best to remember to use business emails in the same format as any business letter.

Phone Etiquette

Develop an appropriate greeting, and be capable in dealing with cell phones and voicemail.

Written Letters

Even in written communication, fitting tone, format and content must be followed.  It shows professionalism, courtesy and procedure awareness. Casual business letters are a straightforward and shorter version of a formal letter. Conventional rules of spelling and grammar still applies, but with certain flexibilities.


An important element of business etiquette is appropriate presentation, not only how you wish to convey your appearance, but also the consideration you have for the persons in your company. Dress codes frequently depend on the business or company where you are employed, and also in the kind of occupation that you are in.

International Etiquette

Etiquette is greatly inclined by traditions and every nation or country has their own system for courteous behavior. When conducting business in a foreign country or dealing with international clients, it is paramount to be conscious of local etiquette procedures as good manners in one country may not be considered the same in another. Most businesses these days are operational with an international approach.

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The Importance of Assertiveness and Self-Confidence

The Importance of Assertiveness and Self Confidence

Assertiveness and self-confidence are comprised of vital interpersonal communication behavior and skills that can be practiced and learned.

What is Assertiveness?

  • An assertive person is direct and confident in communicating with other individuals. Assertiveness promotes impartiality and equality in human interactions, based on a positive sense of regard for others and self. It is the direct communication of a person’s wants, feelings and needs, without intimidating, punishing, or placing another person down.

What is Self-Confidence?

  • Self-confidence is a conviction in yourself, ability and judgment. It is liberty from uncertainty and when you think you can alter things or make a difference in a situation, you are a lot more likely to succeed.

Good communication skills are important for confident interaction with others. Communication is a significant component of our everyday life. Every interaction we have with others, including, over the phone, chatting online, face to face, or texting  is forms of communication, and having solid communication skills will promote every type of interaction we meet.

Identifying your worth

Worth is set as sufficiently good, interesting or significant to justify a certain action. Individuals with a sense of self worth display confidence in themselves. They are happy  and feel in charge of their own destiny.

Use positive self talk

Positive self talk allows you to validate, recognize, and employ your full potential in regards to all that you are, and do. This is also called an affirmation, and serves as your own private success degree.

The use of body language

Eye contact: The impact of your communication is affected by the amount of eye contact you maintain with the person with whom you are talking

Posture: Find comfortable standing and sitting postures that work for you, avoiding any slouching or rigid position.

Excessive body movement: Too much movement can deflect attention from the vocal communication.

Make first impressions count

  • Watch your body language. Remember that body language makes up to 55% of a communication.
  • Dress and groom appropriately. It’s less about your budget, and more about clean and event-appropriate clothing with great grooming.
  • Handshake. Use a firm or medium handshake grip, avoiding an overly firm or weak handshake.
  • Body movement. Use a mirror, or enlist the aid of a friend to make sure that your movements are not overly active and that they underpin the nature of your message.

Self-confidence plays a significant part in our lives. Being confident allows us to identify and achieve our goals. It offers constancy when we are faced with a challenge and helps us triumph over problems. Self trust is necessary in our professional and personal lives. It gives us the capability to stand up to face our challenges and to stand back up when we fall.


The Basics of Body Language

The Basics of Body Language

The power to read body language is a skill that will enhance anyone’s career. Body language is a kind of communication, and it has to be exercised like any other kind of communication. Whether in management or sales, it is essential to understand the body language of others and exactly what your own body is conveying.

Communicating with Body Language

We are always communicating, even when we are not speaking. Unspoken communication makes up over half of what we tell others. It bears on our work and personal relationships. Improves management, negotiating and interpersonal skills by correctly interpreting important signals  and body language.

The Power of Body Language:

  • It is honest: Body language conveys truth, even when words do not.
  • Creates self-awareness: Understanding body language helps you distinguish your own activities that impede success.
  • Understand feelings: Body language shows feelings and motivations such as aggression and submission.
  • Enhance listening and communication skills: Paying attention to body language makes someone a better listener. Hear between what is being said and the words spoken.
  • Proximity: The space between people
  • Positioning: Position of a body
  • Facial expression: The eyes are especially noted.
  • Touching: This includes objects, people, and themselves.
  • Breathing: The rate of respiration is telling.

We are constantly reading the body language of other people, even when we are not aware of it. Actively reading body language, however, will improve communication and offer valuable insight. Pay attention to the motions and positions of people around you. Specifically, their head positions, physical gestures, and eyes.

The signs you send to others

You are always sending signals to other people. These signals come through voice, body language, personal space and appearance.

  • Body language: Body language includes motions, facial expressions and posture.
  • Appearance: A person’s dress and hygiene send signals to others. People get to negative assumptions based on an unkempt appearance.
  • Personal distance: Too much personal distance makes people appear cold. On the other hand, not valuing the personal distance of others will suffer negative effects.
  • Voice: Tone is important to the way we communicate. Emotions are expressed through tone.

Cultural Differences

International business means working with different cultural backgrounds. While certain expressions are generally known, many gestures are cultural. It is essential to research the communication style and etiquette of whatever culture you do business with ahead of time.

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Does Your Team Need Team Building Activities?

Does Your Team Need Team Building Activities?

Team building is an organized effort to improve the effectiveness of a team through team building activities. For team building to be effective all members of the team need to be committed to the idea. Team building can be prescribed for any team that needs help and is struggling to work together. It is also an effective way to reward a winning team and to further galvanize a team that is already working well together. Team building should never be approached as a once-off event though, but should always be seen as an ongoing process.

Benefits of Team Building Activities

The benefits of team building activities are many, the following are some of them:

  • Team building activities improve productivity and motivation  .
  • Team building activities can help increase your team’s ability to solve problems.
  • Team building activities help break down personal and political barriers.
  • Team building activities can help level the playing field between outgoing and shy team members.
  • Team building activities can help teams overcome performance problems.
  • Team building activities can help improve communication between team members.
  • Team building activities encourage cooperation among team members.

Disadvantages of Team Building Activities

The following are some of the challenges associated with team building activities:

  • For team building activities to be successful you need expert team building facilitators.
  • Part-time team members may have conflicting feelings about the amount time team building activities take.
  • If there are several levels of management on the team, the team members may be reluctant to open up.
  • Some of the team building exercises may involve touching or physical movement which can make some team members uncomfortable.

Choosing the Right Team Building Activities

There are many choices of activities to foster team building. Which you choose depends upon your assessment of the team, the skill sets of the members, the amount of available time, geographical considerations or constraints, and the team’s objectives. You also have to take the weather into consideration and decide if the activities will have to be done indoors or outdoors. The Amazing Place place offers indoor activities such as Minute to Win It, Murder Mystery, Drumming, Art Workshop and Creative Construction. Outdoor activities at The Amazing Place include Potjiekos Cooking Competition, Tribal Survivor Challenge, SA Mini Olympics, Corporate Fun Day, Boeresport, Sports Day and Hitting the Target.

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The Benefits of Group Drumming Activities

The Benefits of Group Drumming Activities

Have you ever considered Group Drumming as a team building option for your team but you are unsure of the benefits of this activity? To help you make your decision, we have put together the following list of benefits of Drumming as a team building activity.

Group Drumming Includes Everybody

Group Drumming incorporates everybody regardless of gender, age, race or nationality. Participants do not need any special talents or abilities. Drumming is universal and transcends cultural and language barriers. It is interesting to not that most cultures have some form of drumming tradition.

Group Drumming Helps to Reduce Stress

Studies have shown that drumming activities produce feelings of well-being and create a sense of deep relaxation. Group Drumming helps to reduce stress in participants and is known to lower the blood pressures of the individual drummers.

Group Drumming Helps the Team Connect with Each Other

Group Drumming activities create a sense of community among the participants. It is a very successful team building tool that teaches groups to work together and encourage communication.

Group Drumming Improves Morale

Group Drumming improves morale and motivates participants. Employees that are motivated get along better and absenteeism decrease. Studies have shown that participants of drumming activities also undergo significant mood improvement

Group Drumming Encourages Creativity

The drumming participants are encouraged to stop rational thinking and start feeling the rhythm. Both left and right brain thinking is stimulated, promoting creative thinking.

Group Drumming Improves Communication

Drums were used as one of the earliest forms of communication over long distances. Group drumming activities improve group communication amongst the participants. During the activities the participants experience a sense of connectedness as they work towards a common purpose. Drumming highlights the importance of non-verbal communication and participants are also tested on their ability to follow instructions correctly.

Group Drumming is Fun

Drumming activities release endorphins in the brain, which is the cause of feelings of happiness and euphoria. Even the most reserved members of your team will not be able to resist joining in the fun of beating away on their drums. Drumming is a fun activity that brings the whole team together.

Group Drumming Encourages Cooperation

In Group Drumming, every member of the team is encouraged to participate. It is important that all the participants work together in harmony, making the role of each individual indispensable. Drumming creates a sense of connectedness among the team members.


The Origins of Potjiekos

The Origins of Potjiekos

Potjiekos has become ingrained in South African culture. Cooking up a potjie has evolved into a uniquely South African social happening, with a popularity only matched by the iconic South African braai. But let us have a look how Potjiekos came to be such an institution in South Africa.

With the arrival of the first Dutch settlers in the Cape, came their tradition of cooking food in heavy cast iron pots. These pots hung from the kitchen hearth above the fire. Before the arrival of the settlers, migrants to Southern Africa had learned the use of the cast iron pot from Arab traders and later the Portuguese colonist.

Cast iron pots were ideal for cooking food as they were able to retain heat well and only needed a few coals to keep the food simmering for hours. The pots allowed steam to circulate instead of escaping through the lid making them ideal for cooking tender roasts and stews. Ingredients were kept simple with meat, potatoes and some vegetables.

These cast iron pots perfectly suited the nomadic lifestyle of the indigenous tribes and Voortrekkers during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Voortrekkers traveled with their pots hooked under their wagons. The pots and their contents protected with a layer of fat. When the wagons stopped at the end of the day, the pots were unhooked and the available meat was stewed with potatoes and vegetables.

Today, cooking up a potjie, has evolved into a social happening where family, friends and work colleagues can enjoy spending time together with good food. Potjiekos Cooking Competitions have also become popular team building events. Teamwork, healthy competition and good food combine to create the perfect event for teams to get to know each other better and forge strong bonds.


Guidelines for Facilitating a Meeting

Guidelines for  Facilitating a Meeting

To facilitate a meeting you need handle the meeting in such a way that it takes the focus away from one leader and distributes leadership to all the members of the group. Facilitation is often contrasted to presentation where information is delivered to a group. Presentation is leader-centered while facilitation is group-centered.

The Meeting Facilitator

The facilitator is the person responsible for managing the process of the group-centered meeting. The Facilitator helps the group to arrive at their objective by ensuring everyone’s contribution is heard and that the processes being used are productive. He or she may also be required to help set meeting structures and manage conflicts.

Effective facilitators remain neutral to the discussion and need to be acceptable to everyone involved. They should not take a position on the issues raised nor should they advocate a solution. The objectivity of the facilitator will encourage the group members to voice their opinions. To become an effective facilitator, he or she needs to have knowledge of group process and an appreciation of democratic management. Keen observation and sensitivity are also a must-have for a facilitator to be effective.

Planning a Facilitated Meeting

The following are some steps to take when preparing for a facilitated meeting:

  • Find the right venue. The meeting venue should be conducive to comfortable discussion. Make sure you have all the required materials such as markers, nametags and flip chart paper. If breakaway rooms will be used, make sure they are also adequately prepared.
  • Set enough time for the facilitated meeting, it should not be rushed.
  • Prepare a facilitation plan. The facilitator should not go blindly into a meeting; it always pays to be prepared. He or she should know the objective of the meeting, the expectations of the group and the profile of the participants.
  • Plan how the meeting will be documented. To assist with the follow up process, the meeting should be documented.
  • The facilitator should also prepare internally before facilitating a meeting. He or she should be in a relaxed frame of mind before facilitating.

Encouraging Participation in the Meeting

These are some of the ways a facilitator can encourage participation in the meeting:

  • Provide the participants with some preparation guidelines in the meeting agenda.
  • Make sure everyone is comfortable before starting the meeting.
  • Make sure that all participants know that participation is not just welcome but integral to the process.
  • Acknowledge all contributions both verbally and non-verbally.
  • Be careful not to respond to a contribution in a way that may be seen as devaluing the contribution.
  • Encourage participation by directly asking everyone their opinion on a subject matter.
  • Build on responses by integrating each member’s response with that of other members.
  • Contribution can also be encouraged by intentionally keeping silent.
  • Thanking each member for their contribution can encourage greater involvement in succeeding meetings.

Gathering Information during the Meeting

The following are some techniques that a facilitator may use to gather information during the meeting:

  • In the Go-round technique, each member gets a turn to speak without getting interrupted.
  • Break out groups can be formed to divide the participants into smaller groups. A representative from each group will share the group’s point of view.
  • The brainstorming technique involves getting as many ideas from the group in a limited time. Any idea is verbalized whether good or bad. When the time is up the ideas are discussed by the group.
  • The Fishbowl Method may be used when an intense discussion of a subject is needed, but the group is large and the time is limited. In this technique, a sample of the group discusses the topic while the rest function as observers.

Synthesizing and Summarizing

Synthesis is an integration of key points in the discussion and summarizing is a recap of what has transpired during the meeting. The following are some ways the facilitator can synthesise or summarize during the meeting:

  • Let the participants summarize or synthesize themselves.
  • Ask a participant to provide a synthesis or summary.
  • Offer a tentative synthesis or summary and seek for the group’s clarification.
  • Refer back to the agenda or published documentation.

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How to Chair a Meeting

How to Chair a Meeting

Chairing a meeting is a leadership role requiring confidence and excellent communication skills. Chairing a meeting requires practice and takes time to develop. In this article, we will look at techniques that will make you a more effective chairperson.

Starting the Meeting on the Right Foot

It is important that the meeting starts on the right foot. Practicing your opening is the best way to become better at it. Over time, you will develop your style, which will be comfortable to you. The following are some guidelines to follow when opening a meeting:

  • Open the meeting by welcoming and greeting the participants
  • Introduce yourself
  • Introduce those attendees that are special guests
  • Share the need-to-know things like logistics, bathroom location, fire exits, and general meeting format
  • Discuss the purpose of the meeting and give a brief overview of the agenda
  • Discuss how the meeting is going to run

The Role of the Meeting Agenda

The meeting agenda plays a vital role without which you are sure to experience time and participant management problems. The following is a list of items the agenda accomplishes:

  • The agenda communicates the meeting topics
  • It communicates who the presenters are
  • Specifies the time allotment for each speaker
  • It clarifies the meeting objectives
  • Outlines the meeting in increments of time
  • Provides a checklist of things to accomplish in the meeting
  • Allows attendees to see both the beginning and the end of the meeting

Keeping the Meeting on Track

Clear expectations about how time management will be used in the meeting is a sure way to keep the meeting on track. If expectations are set up out front, it will put the presenters at ease knowing that that they will not be caught off guard. As chairperson, you should also feel confident to interrupt the presenter when necessary. The following are some tips for keeping the meeting on track:

  • Set expectations by letting your presenter and attendees know you intend on managing the agenda vigorously.
  • Manage the time of your meeting with a timer. Keep to the allotted time for the presentation time as well as the question and answer time. Provide a warning time for the presenters so that they do not have to stop abruptly.
  • Do not hesitate to interrupt presenters when it is necessary. When you set expectations upfront, you know that the presenters will expect the interruptions. You should also be ready to call time on questions and answers so that you can move on to the next topic.
  • Avoid being harsh but politely warn people that their time is nearly up. To keep the meeting running with plenty of participation, you want to the treat the participants and presenters with respect at all time.

Effectively Dealing With Overtime

If the meeting starts running overtime, you will begin to lose the attention of the attendees. The key to dealing with overtime is to acknowledge before it happens. If you need to go over the time allotted, you need to consider if the room is available for overtime and if there are attendees that have to travel and cannot stay. If you do not deal effectively with overtime, frustration will build among the attendees. Have a plan in place so you know what to do when the meeting runs longer than expected. The following are some tips for effectively dealing with overtime in meetings:

  • Warn the attendees well in advance that the meeting will
  • Determine how much more time will be needed.
  • Communicate the extra time to the attendees.
  • In smaller meetings, you can gain consensus whether or not to go into overtime.
  • Allow, those who have to leave, time to do so discreetly.
  • In the event that overtime is not possible, determine what part of the agenda will be missed and plan an alternative way of getting the information to the attendees.

Holding the Participants Accountable

Keeping your participants accountable involves communication. The following are some of the ways you can hold your participants accountable:

  • Set your expectations in advance in the invitation to the meeting. Outline what you expect from them so that you hold them to that expectation.
  • Clarify the consequences of not participating and let the participants know how you intend to hold them accountable.
  • Follow through on the things you said you would do. It will ensure that you have the respect of the participants, and they will naturally be accountable to you because of your work ethic.

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