Become a Power Listener in three steps

Listening? What does listening have to do with your job as hard-working and dynamic business leaders or entrepreneurs? Well … a lot, when you get out of your own box and view your role as a workplace communicator and problem-solver for your internal or external customers.

You spend a large part of your day verbally communicating important messages to important people – customers, staff, colleagues, bosses, suppliers, partners and others. And listening is a critically important part of that verbal communication process. Yet, we tend to be terrible listeners, remembering very little of what we hear.

Become a Power Listener

One best practice for becoming Power Listeners at work is to always listen on all three levels. Any face-to-face interaction has three separate but interconnected components – the words we say, the tone of voice used to deliver those words and the visual cues from facial expressions and body language that accompany those words.

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Research conducted by Stanford University psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabien shows that words account for only 7% of the impact and retention of the message, tone of voice accounts for 38% and visual cues 55%. Over the phone, we lose the visual component. The impact of words increases to 18%, but the impact of tone of voice more than doubles to 82%.

When we listen, we must address all three levels of messaging by:

1. Decoding the factual content of the words 
2. Being sensitive to the feelings expressed by the tone of voice
3. Observing the visual cues from expressions and body language 

If all three levels of messaging are consistent, the message is reinforced and under-stood. But, if the tone and/or body language contradict the words, we get confused and typically believe more what we feel or see.

>> RELATED: Read more by Phil Stella

This listening to tri-level messages takes concentration and effort. So does transmitting them consistently. But, enhancing this skill will pay back large dividends in improved workplace interactions. 

You might even consider translating it into your personal life as well.

Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication,, 440 804-4785, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication and sales pitches A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Gold-man Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.   

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  • Next up: Make a great impression every time

    Make a great impression every time

    We are slowly returning to in-person events and we will soon be networking face-to-face again. Check out these six tips to making a great impression.


    Now that we’re getting back into more in-person business and networking events, it’s time to revisit best practices for making a Great Impression with the people you meet. The strategy is really simple and easy, yet the devil is in the details of execution.

    Here are six tips to making a great impression.

    Tip no 1: Talk less, listen more. Tell less, ask more. Actively listen to their words, tone of voice and vis-ual cues.

    Tip no. 2: Value their time. Keep the conversation short and focused. Defer to a later time if it gets overly interesting or complicated.

    RELATED: What is appropriate small talk at networking events?

    Tip no. 3: Ask focused questions. These questions can be about them on a personal or business level. Let them know that you value them enough to remember what to ask about.

    Tip no. 4: Compliment. You can give a compliment on a recent award, mention in the media, etc. This approach also subtly lets them know that you read and are interested in their accomplishments.

    Tip no. 5: Givers always gain. Be sure to ask if there’s anything you or someone you know can do to help them with a particular problem or challenge. I promise giving of your time and talent in this way will come back around to benefit you at some point down the road.

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    Tip no. 6: Follow up. After the conversation, send a brief email or hand-written note indicating that you enjoyed the chat and look forward to next time.

    And if it isn’t obvious by now, each of these tactics works with networking via email or over the phone. The medium of the communication may change, but the strategy of striving for positive first or ongoing impressions remains the same.

    Like I said, easy and simple. And don’t tell me these strategies won’t work until you try them and can tell me they didn’t work for you.

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication,, 440 804-4785, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.   

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  • Next up: 3 things to know: Marketing your business during COVID

    3 things to know: Marketing your business during COVID


    While we are still facing a global pandemic and the accompanying economic impact, your business might need a marketing boost. Here are three things we think you should know when it comes to marketing your business during COVID.

    1. You’ve got to go with SEO
    Getting your website up and running took a lot of time and effort on your part. Now that it’s where you want it, don’t hit the brakes—it’s time to get your website seen. Enter search engine optimization marketing—the best way for you to stand out to potential customers in a sea of other businesses. Still not convinced? Here are five reasons to invest in SEO, as well as 9 SEO tips to get your website noticed. We promise it’s not as overwhelming as you might think. In fact, you can set up an effective SEO strategy in just four steps. 

    2. Take it to the next level with an elevator speech
    An elevator pitch is about as outdated as handshakes. It’s time to turn it up a notch with an elevator speech—keeping the mindset that these opportunities are for sharing information, not making obvious sales pitches. Here are some tips to improving your elevator speech so that—whenever you’re ready to take elevators again—you are prepared with this effective marketing tactic. 

    3. Outshine, don’t outspend
    Your budget might be a little tighter these days, but that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on marketing. One excellent and free marketing tactic is to become an MYB contributor! As an expert in your field, what better way to share your knowledge and promote your business than writing for a small business blog. Email Marie Zickefoose at for more info and to get started.

    More tips for branding on a budget include doing pro bono work and promoting customer testimonials. And, don’t forget that as long as you have your cell phone and a social media account, you can produce engaging content and free videos to amplify your marketing and drive results

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  • Next up: Month in Review: May 2021

    Month in Review: May 2021


    Mind Your Business was full of great information last month to help you grow your business.  From employee retention challenges to strategic planning—and a compilation of business resource recommendations from COSE members—check out our favorite articles from May. 

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    As a business owner, providing your employees with a safe working environment is one of your most important tasks. This includes a workplace free from unwanted sexual advances, jokes and other types of sexual harassment. It also means having an understanding of the laws created around employee-relations issues.

    Here is what you need to know about anti-harassment and anti-retaliation laws in the workplace.

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    Is there anything scarier to a business owner than those two words? Strategic plan (*shudders*). 

    But a strategic plan doesn't have to be overwhelming—or scary. In fact, the end result of a strategic plan should be a more effectively-run business, less stress, and more free time.

    MYB's very own strategic planning expert can help you get there. Read on for a breakdown of the terminology and components of a strategic plan, and guidance on how it can be helpful to your business—and to you.

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    It's no secret that the key to a great business is great employees. But does your small business struggle to hire or retain top talent? 

    From recognizing your staff to opening lines of communication, here are nine suggestions to hiring and retaining excellent employees to grow your business.

    COSE Members Share Their Favorite Small Business Resources
    We asked some of our COSE members to tell us about their favorite resources they turn to while running their small businesses and growing as leaders—and we received several noteworthy submissions to share with you.

    Podcasts, books, websites, YouTube channels... and some are even written or produced by the members themselves. Check out their suggestions and add them to your to-do list!

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  • Next up: Month in review: May 2022

    Month in review: May 2022

    It’s finally spring in Cleveland. Weather is warming, flowers are blooming and we’ve picked a bunch just for you – of MYB articles from May, that is. 

    Check out our favorite articles from last month:

    The lost art of cold calling (and why your business should revive it)
    Cold calling might be lost, but it's not dead. In fact, in this article you will hear from a company that had its best March in its 14-year history—due, in part, to cold calling. If you hate even the thought of calling someone you don't know—or if you don't know where to start—check out these tips for successful cold calling.
    >> Read more


    Get the biggest bang for your buck with these 7 marketing tips

    You worked hard to establish your business, but are you marketing it effectively? Have you set aside the appropriate funds to do so?
    As a small business owner, you have to know how to stretch a dollar in all areas—and marketing is no exception. Check out these seven tips for effectively marketing your small business while still sticking to your budget.
    >> Read more


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    You're feeling it every time you pull out your wallet lately: inflation. With a U.S. inflation rate hovering around 8%, the costs of goods and services are going up, which is sure to impact your bottom line.
    Lessen the effect inflation has on your small business with these five tips from Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland.
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    Do you leave your customers saying, "WOW!?" Setting aside a portion of your budget to go above and beyond for customers can really make a "WOW!" impression. It can also go a long way toward customer loyalty, your bottom line and the overall success of your small business.

    Create a WOW budget with these eight tips that are sure to impress old, new and prospective customers.

    >> Read more


    What's your favorite article? Let us know on twitter.

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  • Next up: A mental health check-in: Challenges to retaining employees

    A mental health check-in: Challenges to retaining employees

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