The Very Real Consequences of Evasive Answers

Some time back I was in a meeting with a project manager who presented the status on his troubled project to the project sponsor and other executive stakeholders. This project was of high interest to the sponsor and stakeholders as they were depending on its successful completion to make some major changes in their respective organizations. The project sponsor asked the project manager a very straightforward question:

Why is the project slipping?

The project manager went into a long, meandering monologue. The sponsor interrupted and asked the question again. More meandering from the project manager. Seeing the sponsor and other stakeholders’ growing frustration, the project manager’s boss stepped in and said they needed to do more homework and would come back the next day better prepared. The next day, the project manager’s boss presented the status and answered questions–along with a new project manager.

Through my career I’ve seen (and been in) plenty of situations where an exec’s (who I will refer to as “the asker”) questions were met with evasive responses. It could be that the person being asked (“the askee”) didn’t want to admit not knowing something or be proven wrong. The askee would then, as we liked to say in the consulting world, “tap dance” to attempt any response that might satisfy the asker. More often than not, the asker would grow frustrated with the evasiveness. This led me to the following hypothesis:

If an asker asks a question, the asker expects a direct answer.

When an askee is evasive, the askee leaves it to the asker to make up his/her own answer.

The askee has not only damaged his/her credibility, but now has to change the asker’s perception of the answer.

While my focus is in executive interaction, the same principle applies to other relationships like spouses or business partners. When an askee is evasive, the asker makes up his/her own answer, and the askee now has to dig out of a hole to reestablish credibility and set the record straight.

Need to build your answering skills? Keep the following eight tips in mind:

Listen first then answer – Take the time to listen to a question without interrupting the asker, then when the asker is finished, give a response. Resist the urge to interrupt to get your answer in.
Do ensure clarity – If you truly don’t understand a question, then by all means ask for clarification. But don’t continually ask for clarity; it could look like you’re deflecting.
Give straight answers – If you’re asked a direct yes/no question, give a yes/no response. If there are contextual factors that support the answer or conditions that may change the answer, then provide them–concisely. And please don’t say, “It depends” without qualification.
Don’t reframe – Saying something like “The question you should be asking is… ” immediately conveys that you think the asker isn’t intelligent enough to ask the right questions. Acknowledge the question, respond, and move on.
Don’t deflect – Changing the topic to avoid answering a question may work if the asker can be distracted, but usually the asker can sniff out when someone is avoiding a question by changing the topic. Do it once and you’ll probably get some grace for innocently not understanding the question; do it two or more times and you’ll be viewed as an avoider.
Don’t attack validity – Saying something like, “That’s not important,” or “You shouldn’t ask that,” tells the asker you believe his or her intelligence is inferior to yours. If the asker is taking the time to ask a question, then assume the question is important to him/her.
Say “I don’t know” – If you don’t know the answer to a question then be quick to say “I don’t know, I need to get back to you.” Then record the question and be prepared for a “When will you know?” follow-up from the asker.
Be quick to admit if you’re not prepared – Too many “I don’t knows” may mean you have to do more research. It’s best to avoid this by being clear on the topic and prepared to discuss it. One humiliating abrupt ending to a meeting with a “you need to do more homework” directive will motivate you to not let it happen again.
This bears repeating: the consequences of evasive answers not only means the asker makes up his/her own answer, it also harms the askee’s credibility. Give straight answers and control the narrative.

Good Tips to Avoid the Dreaded Dentist’s Bill

It is important to remember the annual dental check, otherwise you may risk a very expensive bill in the end. There is usually no one who wants it and that is why you must remember it. One of the reasons, many do not go to their dental check, is the feared bill. But if you just remember the few good and easy tips, your dentist’s bill can remain the net amount of standard dental cleaning. Holes to be drilled or teeth that need some toothpaste prefer most to avoid, as there are problems like these that mostly cost a lot of money.

There are daily routines you can do to prevent getting the big bills from your dentist. Here are 4 tips that are easy to follow in your everyday life.

First of all, it is very important to remember to brush your teeth twice a day. Both morning and evening. Toothbrushing in the morning is important because your mouth secretes a lot of bacteria when you sleep at night. In addition to this, the toothbrush is important because the toothpaste protects your teeth from the bacteria and sugars that attack your teeth during the day. The other toothbrush session should take place in the evening before you go to sleep. During the day you have taken a lot of foods that contain sugars that can be disastrous for your teeth. If you do not brush your teeth like the last before you go to sleep, you give the bacteria the best conditions to make permanent damage to your teeth.
Even if you are careful with your brushing, it’s not always that your toothbrush gets it all. Many Danes have tight teeth that allow the bacteria to interfere and make naughty ravages as the toothbrush rarely can reach between. Therefore, a good tip is to use dental floss. The dental floss is exceptionally good at getting the bacteria the toothbrush can not remove away. It is best to use the dental floss in the evening as you have consumed food throughout the day.
It is not news that sugar is bad for the teeth. That’s why it’s a good idea to cut down on this because sugar is like the devil for the teeth. It goes straight in and sits and is one of the main causes of gaps in the teeth. Furthermore, sugar is not generally known as a good source of nutrition for the body.
In addition to reducing sugar intake, smoking is one of the very dangerous habits to grow if you want nice well-kept teeth. Smoking is most often in daily taking the most secreted to destroy our lungs. However, smoking is one of the biggest causes of yellow teeth and the feared dental disease paradoxicosis. The disease is referred to as an inflammatory condition in your gums that penetrates and destroys the tissue your teeth are stuck in. So if you are smoking and do not want to destroy your gums or lose your teeth, a smoking cessation would benefit you especially.

Personal Branding Tips to Boost Business Success

Never Forget: You’re the Face of Your Business

If I asked you what you could do to be more successful as an entrepreneur or small business owner, you would probably list off things like advertise or network more, improve your website or marketing materials and close more sales, right?

Would your answer include personal branding? It should, because it absolutely impacts your success.

First, it’s important to clarify we aren’t just talking about big brands. It’s the personalities that represent them that help these companies create a brand.

Why Branding is Important

When you purposely create a brand representation for your business, you’re incorporating several factors, including:

• How others see you

• What sets you apart (your USP)

• Your values

• Your expertise

• Your personality

• How you represent yourself in person and online

If done correctly and consistently this builds trust, loyalty, leads and sales.

Why else should you care?

• Research from Nielsen shows that only 33% of buyers trust messages from a company while almost 90% of customers trust recommendations from someone they know.

• 53% percent of vendors have lost orders based on information found or not found about them online. (Source: Kredible)

• 77% of all discussions on social media are folks seeking advice, information or help. This is much easier to answer and interact as an individual as opposed to a company. (Source: Mention)

How to Incorporate Branding into Your Marketing

Firstly, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you need to know your target audience. These are the people you want to appeal to and have on your side.

Let’s say you’re a career coach who is trading the corporate world for entrepreneurship. Your target audience may be other professionals who are leaving corporations to fly solo. From your marketing materials to how you present yourself on social media, you always want to keep them in mind.

Here are 3 other ways to create a successful brand and stand out from the competition:

1. Share Your Expertise

You want to be an expert in your field. Stay on top of the latest news and trends, understand who your competitors are and attend events. Use what you know and learn to educate, inspire and mentor others whenever and however you can.

The more visible you are the more people will associate your face with your product or service and trust what you’re selling.

2. Choose the Right Platforms

First, having a website is important! With any of your online marketing efforts, your goal should be to drive traffic back to a website that represents your brand positioning well. If your website falls short of this, your target audience will not resonate with your business and will leave.

Next, find out where the people in your target audience spend their time.

Let’s say that career coach I mentioned earlier targets professional women between the ages of 35 and 55. If research shows her target audience uses Facebook much more than Instagram, she should focus a large chunk of her efforts on creating Live videos and stories as well as participate in targeted Groups on Facebook.

3. Be Yourself… to a Certain Extent

Don’t be afraid to show your personality and use your own voice when creating and sharing content or meeting people.

However, be cautious about sharing content that is political, religious or some other topic best avoided at dinner parties-unless it is part of your persona and/or mission and values.

It’s also important to always be honest as the face of your organization, as vegan influencer Yovana Mendoza Ayres is finding out. She was recently filmed eating fish in Bali, which caused a huge uproar among her plant-based fans and followers.

You can’t neglect your personal brand if you want to grow your leads, sales, loyalty and reputation.

It’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. People no longer look to big businesses to tell them what to buy; they want to see a face and personality that represents the product or service.

If you want to stand out from the competition, you need to an effective strategy. From your logo to your website to your social media presence, find the expertise to help you market yourself and your organization today and in the future.

Susan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.

As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.

Treatment Options for Replacing a Missing Tooth

Dental health is important to everyone, and it’s especially important for children. When a person has a tooth that falls out or gets knocked out, they may feel embarrassed about their smile. What should you do when this happens? The best course of action is to visit the dentist as soon as possible to determine what treatment options are available for replacing the lost tooth.

This article will discuss some of the different options so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are a popular option for replacing missing teeth. They consist of a titanium post that is surgically implanted into the jawbone, and a dental implant crown that is attached to the top. Implants are very durable and can last for many years. They are also one of the most expensive options, but they may be worth it if you want a long-term solution.

Removable Dentures

If you’re on a budget, removable dentures may be the best option for you. Dentures are made of plastic or acrylic and fit over your natural teeth. They can be removed for cleaning, and they come in both full and partial sets. Dentures may not look as natural as other options, but they are affordable and durable.

Fixed Bridge

A fixed bridge is a dental restoration that replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth. The bridge is attached to two implants, which are implanted into the jawbone on either side of the missing tooth. The bridge fits over your natural teeth and is held in place by metal clasps or by bonding the artificial teeth to your natural teeth. It is a permanent solution and can last for many years if properly cared for. There are two types of dental bridges: implant and tooth-supported bridges.

Root Canal

If you can’t afford to replace your missing tooth, or if you don’t want to go through the hassle of getting implants or a bridge, you may want to consider a root canal. A root canal is a procedure that removes the pulp from the tooth and replaces it with an antibiotic paste. It is a less expensive option than dental implants or bridges, and it can be done in one visit. However, a root canal does not replace the missing tooth permanently and may need to be repeated every few years.


If you’re only missing one tooth, you may be able to get a flipper. A flipper is a temporary replacement that consists of a plastic tooth attached to a metal frame. It is removable and can be worn while you wait for your permanent replacement. Flippers are not as durable as other options, but they are affordable and easy to use.

Learn More About Your Treatment Options

Losing a tooth is not the end of the world. As you can see, there are several treatment options you can undergo to mitigate the issue. However, before you make any decision, it’s essential to speak to your dentist first. This way, you can choose a treatment option that’s ideal for your situation.

The Strategic Plan For Your Brand

Solopreneurs and small business owners rise and fall on the marketplace perception of their brand, also known as one’s professional reputation. For that reason, the brand merits ongoing monitoring, enhancement and promotion as a component of strategies designed to support new business acquisition and encourage repeat business. The objective is to build and maintain a good client list. A useful way to review and evaluate your brand is with what many experts consider the gold standard of strategic planning, the SWOT Analysis.

SWOT is the acronym of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Every 18 – 24 months, self-employed professionals will benefit from examining the viability of their brand, to better understand what actions enhance the brand and what might weaken it. Conduct a SWOT Analysis and use what you discover as the foundation of a strategic plan for your brand.

Strengths: expertise, competitive advantages, A-list clients, referral sources, strategic partnerships, educational or professional credentials, financial resources, influential relationships. They are internally generated and within your control. Potential actions include:

Leveraging resources to upgrade the types of clients you work with
Increasing sales or billable hours by a certain percentage
Developing a strategy to obtain more repeat business
Developing a strategy that would persuade clients to hire you for more lucrative projects
Weaknesses: whatever challenges your brand. Competitors, ineffective marketing, poor customer service, weak perceived value of your products and services. These are internal and within your control. Potential actions include:
Determining which inadequacies have the most negative impact on revenues
Identifying gaps that can be quickly or inexpensively remedied
Understanding how to minimize liabilities—which business practices can you modify, professional credentials you can earn, relationships you can cultivate?
Opportunities: conditions that favor the attainment of goals. These are external and beyond your control, yet you may be able to retool and benefit from their presence. Good information about business conditions in your marketplace helps business owners to evaluate and envision the potential of short-term and long-term benefits and learn how to get the pay-off. Consider the following:
What new developments can you leverage to bring money and prestige to your venture?
Do you see ROI in offering new products or services?
Are there good clients you might successfully sign or lapsed clients who, with outreach, could be willing to reactivate?
Is there a niche market you can successfully enter?
Threats: conditions likely to damage your brand, or your ability to acquire clients and generate sufficient billable hours. These are external and beyond your control, yet you may be able to retool and escape or minimize the damage caused by their presence. This element requires your immediate attention, since it carries the potential to end, or seriously cripple, your brand and business.
Has an important contact left his/her organization, leaving you at the mercy of the new decision-maker, who has his/her own friends to hire? Or has there been a merger that resulted in the downgrading of the influence of your chief contact, who may lose the ability to green-light projects that you manage?

Has a well-connected and aggressive competitor appeared on the scene, ready to eat your market share and client list by way of a better known brand, more influential relationships, a bigger marketing budget, or other game-changing competitive advantages?

If your client contact has moved on, take that person to lunch or coffee and attempt to make the professional relationship portable. If your contact has lost influence in the new organization chart, take him/her out to coffee and get information about the replacement, who may hire you for the next project if it’s scheduled to start quickly.

If competition has intensified, do everything possible to offer superior customer service, assert your expertise, step up your networking, enhance your thought-leader credentials and nurture your client relationships.

Implementing a strategy of protective action, for example, a brand relaunch or a pivot into more hospitable business turf, might be necessary. Stay abreast of current and potential developments in the industries you serve. Communicate with clients and stay current as to the state of their priorities and concerns. Good relationships will give you the resources of time and information that will allow you to evaluate and regroup.

The Importance of Consistent Branding

Its becoming increasing common for your customers to evaluate, and make, buying decisions online. Just look at your own buying habits – how often have you reviewed the competition before even walking into a store (if you even go into a store and not buy online!). This is exactly why branding is more important than ever.

So, what is branding? It essentially boils down to your customers’ perception of your business and includes personality, character, and values. Branding should extend to your storefront/office, all signage/print materials, website and online presence, customer service and team interactions.

Where do you start?

Do your research – who are your competitors, what do their sites look, feel and sound like. Should yours stand out from the crowd or be in line with the industry. What makes you unique and stand out from your competitors? Depending on who you serve (and understanding their needs) will dictate your direction.

Understand who you are and who you serve (a little more research!) – what do your customers care about the most? Put your customers first – cater to their needs from your site first, start with easy to find contact information. Ask yourself if the copy is too long or is filled with jargon. Is your content arranged on the page so its easy to read, does it tell enough of the story to be helpful, do you provide testimonials to ease decision making, are your packages/pricing easy to find and understand? Will they know what they’re getting? We have a great worksheet that helps clients understand their client, if you’d like to receive a copy – please send us an email! We’d be happy to send it along.

Define your mission statement and vision -All actions and communication should tie back to your mission statement and vision, and your brand should reflect your future goals. Let’s take for example that your vision is to recreate an industry and stand out by turning the industry on its head, sounds radical? Now what if that’s your vision, and your website is shades of grey with very formal text, heavy with jargon. How does that speak to your vision?

Design and Copy – don’t underestimate the power of visual appeal. Create a logo that’s recognizable and choose a color palette that reflects your values and voice. The structure of your website should be simple to navigate, with clearly laid out text, that’s easy to digest in a clear font (not too scripty and difficult to read). Copy should be professional and demonstrate experience while speaking in a language that all can understand. Your copy should be clear of typos and grammatical errors (enlist the help of an editor, or at the very least have a trusted peer review your content).

Social media is an extension of your brand, this includes both look, feel, and content. Use social media to extend your reach with timely responses to reinforce your dedication to customer service, quality information that is curated and created in line with your vision.
And one bonus tip – create a style guide with standards for tone, voice, style; and includes standards for social media, website design, any graphic design going forward. Don’t forget to include team expectations! This is the perfect time to create guidelines for response time, signature lines, tone and professionalism.

Three Questions to Help You Keep Perspective

Friday looked to be like any other day.

I got up, had breakfast, and left the house around 8:30 for a day of meetings. We had planned on having another couple over for dinner that night and a day trip with our son on Saturday. About noon, Patty called me saying she had a pain in her abdomen since getting up and it was getting worse. I asked her if she wanted me to come home. She told me she didn’t need me home, but that we should probably cancel dinner in the event she had something contagious. I was out for a few more hours and came home to her sitting on the couch, saying the pain wasn’t going away. Her temperature was 101. We talked to a tele nurse who suggested it might be an infection and that we should go to urgent care. After a short wait we got checked in. The pain continued on, now accompanied by nausea. They ran blood tests then, after seeing the results, decided to do a computed tomography (CT) scan of her abdomen. What did the blood tests reveal? Why the CT scan? What were they looking for? What’s going on? These questions raced through my mind as they took Patty away for the scan. About ten minutes later she came back, where we sat and waited for about two hours; Patty’s pain stubbornly persistent along with the nausea. Then the doctor came in.

“There’s some stuff going on,” she said as she came into the room. In that moment I don’t know how many thoughts went through my head. “It’s appendicitis,” she said. “We’re going to keep you here overnight and get you in for surgery in the morning. Pretty routine.” A huge wave of relief came over me. Certainly, the fact that Patty was going to need surgery wasn’t good news, but on the spectrum of bad news in my head this was about the best bad news we could have gotten. She stayed overnight, then around 1:30 in the afternoon went in for a laparoscopic appendectomy, where they made three small incisions in her abdomen and, using telescopic rods and a video camera, removed the angry appendix. We were back home by 5:30PM, only four hours after the surgery, where she began her recovery.

I am writing this on Sunday, the day after her surgery. She is resting comfortably and has eaten, showered, and put on her makeup. I am so thankful that it wasn’t more serious and that she is going to be back to normal in no time. What the events of the last couple of days did remind me of, though, was two words that we as leaders need to remember:

Keep perspective.

In my career I’ve had plenty of times where I thought the whole world was crashing around me. Whether it be a slipping (or failed) project, difficult issue with an employee, or totally unforeseen issue that consumed my time, in nearly every circumstance the crisis was dealt with and didn’t impact my long-term career trajectory. I’ve had a number of times in my career where I was “reminded” that what I was dealing with was minor in comparison to major life issues such as losing a loved one. Losing my sister to cancer at age 54 was a massive wake-up call to calibrate the crisis of the day and keep perspective on problems we deal with.

Now I’m not saying that we as leaders should be tone deaf when problems arise; by all means we need to address issues and not put our heads in the sand. What great leaders do, though is address issues focused and deliberately without creating additional stress along the way.

Through my career I’ve learned to ask myself three questions to help me keep perspective when dealing with issues:

Will the crisis impact me in the future or will I have long forgotten about it a year from now?
Will someone be harmed in any way because of the crisis?
How does this crisis compare with things like sickness or losing a loved one?
As leaders, it’s easy to get consumed by the crisis du jour and allow it to wreck your day. My ask to you is that you keep things in perspective and ask yourself the three questions when you’re dealing with you next crisis. Hopefully it will give you some peace that, while the crisis is important, it may not be as earth-shattering as it feels in the moment.