Personal Presentation for Success: Roxana Radulescu

Next week we will be holding our Personal Presentation for Success: A Public Speak Workshop, so we thought it was a great time to introduce you to our facilitators. First up is Roxana Radulescu, the Founder of All Personal, a bespoke training and coaching agency, as well as host of the All Personal Podcast. We sat down with Roxana to find out a little more about our workshop warrior.

How did you discover your interest in public speaking/personal skills development?

I was an IT trainer for an international law firm (about 15 years ago). And one day I had to do a mini-training session for all the lawyers in our office – in 5 minutes. On Excel! I remember I worked for those 5 minutes about 5 hours to make it easy to understand, engaging and fun! And it was. Imagine a room of about 30 lawyers, eyes on you. Imagine you speak about Excel. Imagine they laugh and shake their heads in understanding. And now imagine they ask for a next one. That’s when I knew I loved presenting. And then I went for learning & development, creating and designing ‘soft’ skills courses and having such a great time doing that! To me, it’s easy: presenting and public speaking are the same as providing services. If there’s value in what you give, people will love it. And you will love it more.

Thus far in your career, what would you say are some of your lessons learned?

Biggest lesson: asking questions is the ultimate proof of really listening to someone! And it’s one exercise I am practicing each day, because good questions at the right time are sometimes all we need, especially when we want to work well with others.

IMG_3161.PNG

Why do you think communication skills are important, especially when it comes to the workplace?

Communication skills are at the core of what makes us human. The better we’re able to communicate our wants and needs, and the more we’re able to depict them from others around us, the better our relationships are. The better our relationships, the better the quality of our lives, because, ultimately, we are ‘social animals’ – both at work and at home. We all crave to be heard, understood and accepted. Or, better yet, loved.

Given your experience training executives and professionals, when it comes to communication, what is one mistake you often see women making?

Not communicating – their expectations, their ideas, their wishes, their refusals, their frustrations, their needs. Not communicating and trying to fix the problem themselves, before anyone else knows there even is a problem.

What advice would you give to women either starting out in their career or making a transition?

I don’t like to give advice, I love asking questions. ‘If you had a Superpower, what would it be? What would you do, how would you walk, how would you talk? Who would you be? How much of that power is already in you now? Who are You and what do you really want for Yourself?’

Roxana Radulescu is the Founder of All Personal, a bespoke training and coaching agency. She helps individuals (re)discover and work-out their personal skills ‘muscles’, so they increase their self-awareness and improve their confidence, impact, relationships, and ultimately, quality of life. She trains and coaches executives, business owners and professionals on practical techniques that they can easily apply in any area of their life, with a strong focus on communication (verbal and non-verbal), change, feedback, presenting & speaking, team & self-management, teamwork, leadership, coaching & mentoring.

All Personal Series: Nodding doesn't guarantee listening – so, what does?

YWiB Toronto has partnered with Roxana, Founder of bespoke training and coaching agency All Personal, for a blog series written by her. She helps individuals (re)discover and work-out their personal skills ‘muscles’, so they increase their self-awareness and improve their confidence, impact, relationships and, ultimately, quality of life. This series will provide insight into how you can do the same, and ideally walk away with tips, tricks, and advice that you can apply to your own life and career. 

She trains and coaches executives, business owners and professionals on practical techniques that they can easily use and apply in any area of their life, with a strong focus on communication (verbal and non-verbal), change, feedback, presenting & speaking, team & self management, teamwork, leadership.

Roxana is a TEDx speaker, a certified coach and trainer, and a Learning & Development professional. She holds a diploma in Learning & Development and a certificate in Human Resources from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development in the UK, as well as a Master of Arts in Knowledge, Information and Project Management from the University of Bucharest, Romania.

‘No, that’s not what I meant, or ‘You’re not listening to me’, or ‘I’ve just told you that’. Familiar? 

Why does this happen, when all we did was listen? We thought we were listening, because we were nodding our head over and over again, humming as well, and even maintaining eye contact.

So why is it then that, at some point in the conversation, we get this feedback that we weren’t, in fact, listening. What is listening and what makes it so difficult?

First off, we tend to treat listening as this passive thing we do (or don’t have to do?) when the other is talking. We look at it as ‘let them talk, while I can think about my ‘groceries shopping list’’. 

The brain is busy thinking about the next actions we need to take, even when we don’t want it to. This is how, especially when we think we don’t have to do anything, we’re always busy thinking about something.

One of the most difficult things to achieve is to clear our minds, not think about anything, and those of you who meditate or ever tried to, perfectly know this feeling. Because there’s always a buzz, a hum, a thought, a fraction of an action hidden right there, in a corner of our mind.

That’s how, instead of listening to what the other is saying, we’re busy trying to decipher our own thoughts all the while.

Second, we prefer to tell our story rather than listen to someone else’s. Why? Because when I’m telling my story I’m more involved, I recreate the events, which makes me also re-experience some of the feelings, which, in turn, makes me so involved in the story.

When another person tells us their story, it’s more difficult to get involved, we’re strangers to that story and it takes time to get a grip of what it is about. And unless the story teller makes it engaging (but that’s another story), we find ourselves thinking ‘shopping lists’ all over again.

The ‘shopping list’ is our metaphor for everything else we’re thinking about: what am I going to respond to what they’ve just said now (which is already what they just said a while ago, because I don’t know what they’re saying now anymore, as I’m thinking about what I am going to say); piles of work, night out with friends, things I need to start doing right after reading this article, you get the picture.

Third, we’re human. We can only focus for a little while, because we cannot help but pay attention to everything that’s going on around us. Yes, focus is the opposite of attention. Focus requires a lot of effort and us pushing every distraction aside. Focus happens especially when we’re in flow, ‘in the zone’, because that’s when we’re engaged, involved, motivated.

Focus means I zoom in to you while you’re speaking, without paying attention to who comes in the room, to what happens in my mind, to the building shaking because there’s an earthquake. But, as I said, we can only focus for a while, and under these specific circumstances of involvement and motivation.

And we already decided, we love our own stories more than other people’s stories. Which is why they don’t keep us motivated and engaged enough for us to get into that state of focus. So what can we do? It’s something we already do, just not all the time and maybe without being aware of it. Think about someone you care about, telling you they got the job they wanted.

First of all, hear their voice and how they say it. They are usually enthusiastic, and enthusiasm is catching. When we respond, we do it without thinking about our shopping list. When we hear ‘hey, I got that job’ we naturally go ‘wow, I’m so happy for you’.

We match their state of mind, because we care. Caring makes us focus on what they are saying. When I care about your story, I am there, with you, in your story. I bring my story there, because I can relate to yours now. And that’s how we can build a combined story – the story of ‘how you got that job and how we celebrated together’.

Because when I care, I can focus, and that’s what makes me capable to understand: what you’re saying and also a bit of how you’re feeling.

So now that I’m focused, I am interested, and the next thing I know is I’m asking you for more details: what will you be doing, when do you start, do they train you, how much do they pay you (ok, maybe not that, we'll leave that for the shopping list).

It’s a natural reaction for us, to ask questions when we listen. I mean, when we truly listen. Listening is a verb - it’s an action. It’s not that I don’t have to do anything and ‘just listen’. On the contrary, there’s a lot of things I do that tell you I’m listening.

Think about it: when we care and focus and truly listen, what do we do, apart from nodding and humming: we ask questions, we go back to make sure we didn’t misunderstand, we ask for clarifications, we summarize, we investigate further, we ask for the next steps.

It goes all the way back when, as children, someone was reading a story to us and, because we were captivated by it, we wanted to know more, hear more, see more. Or maybe more recently when, at some point in our lives, we asked the question: ‘so let me get this straight, are you dumping me?’. That’s one piece of active listening! And all because I cared.

The ‘recipe’ I am proposing is: start with the heart and zoom in on the mind (you add your own ingredients, in the quantities that work for you).

When I care, I will instantly focus, and when I focus, I will be able to hear what you’re saying and actually understand you. I will nod and hum, and I will also ask questions, summarise, clarify, agree next steps, maybe take notes and make sure you get them, too.

Once I listen to understand, I build the foundation for a long-term relationship.

So, ‘shopping lists’ aside, we all crave to be:

  • heard
  • understood
  • valued (or, even better, loved).

And then, once we’ve truly listened, we get a ‘that’s exactly what I meant’, or ‘thanks for listening to me’, or ‘nobody else asked me that, thank you for checking’.

Because when somebody listens to me and understands me, I feel I matter. Don’t you?

If you’re interested in this topic, you may also want to watch and read:

 

All Personal Series: (Pod)casting Our Skills Muscles

YWiB Toronto has partnered with Roxana, Founder of bespoke training and coaching agency All Personal, for a blog series written by her. She helps individuals (re)discover and work-out their personal skills ‘muscles’, so they increase their self-awareness and improve their confidence, impact, relationships and, ultimately, quality of life. This series will provide insight into how you can do the same, and ideally walk away with tips, tricks, and advice that you can apply to your own life and career. 

She trains and coaches executives, business owners and professionals on practical techniques that they can easily use and apply in any area of their life, with a strong focus on communication (verbal and non-verbal), change, feedback, presenting & speaking, team & self management, teamwork, leadership.

Roxana is a TEDx speaker, a certified coach and trainer, and a Learning & Development professional. She holds a diploma in Learning & Development and a certificate in Human Resources from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development in the UK, as well as a Master of Arts in Knowledge, Information and Project Management from the University of Bucharest, Romania.

Roxana Radulescu

Did you ever think about our skills as being muscles? Mind muscles, actually, because, ultimately, it’s all wired there, inside our brain.

I had this epiphany after I ran my first half-marathon some years ago. I’d been constantly running on the treadmill my 5 km twice a week, and it was this regular exercise that had my muscles trained and ready to run 21 km when I decided I’d give it a go. And it worked – as in, I survived! And that’s when I thought that the things we ‘train’ for everyday, the things we have a habit of doing, are the ones that make us prepared to face the unexpected in our life. You can hear all about it in my TEDx talk on How our skills muscles change the way we deal with Change.

Back to this article, as adults, we train our body muscles when we want to be fit and feel healthy. We also tend to train our skills muscles when the company we work for sends us on a training session or when we need that training for progress in our career. And so the entire perception on learning is that it is an event we go TO, spend some time there and then, it’s over, we don’t have to do anything about it anymore.

Now, the whole point of learning is seeing it as a process, not as an event. Let me explain: during a training session we learn ‘about’ new things, or theories, or concepts. We do not learn them (as in master them), we learn about them (as in find out about them). Training is where we become aware that certain concepts exist which we can use.

But it is the aftermath that makes the difference between full learning and learning ‘about’. It’s the practice. Being aware that you can give feedback in a way that doesn’t harm the other, for instance, is not the same with actually giving it properly. So what I do after a feedback training session is, often, more important than the training itself. It’s ‘how’ and ‘how often’ I use that information that matters. And it’s that kind of exercise that will take me to master that particular topic.

Think about cooking – when we learn how to cook something for the first time we usually go for the recipe. We read it (or watch it), that’s the formal training side of things. That alone doesn’t mean we now know ‘how’ to cook that recipe. So we get down to work, follow the instructions and start cooking. Now, depending on how many skills we have and which we can use in the process, the result will be a better or, let’s say, an average one. And then, we cook it again and again until we’re happy with the result. That’s the practice, which leads to full learning. Once we’ve cooked that recipe enough times, we start to contribute our own ideas to it. We start playing and improvising, using less of one spice and more of the other. That’s mastery. That’s also the point where it starts to be difficult to return to the beginner’s mind we had at the beginning of the process and unlearn the whole thing, but that’s another discussion. Idea is: it took practice to get to the mastery bit.

Why, then, do we think that we are going to be master communicators once we’ve attended a communication training?

I think we need to look at our skills from a different perspective and have an honest discussion with ourselves.

  • What are my strong skills muscles?
  • What skills am I comfortable using and why?
  • How does that make me feel?
  • Can I still improve my strong skills muscles?
  • What are those skills muscles I’ve left asleep and haven’t used in a long time?
  • What could they do to help me?
  • How can I train them now so they serve me later?
  • And how can I do that regularly?

Well (apart from working with me, of course:)) the good news is half of the job is done by answering some of these questions and becoming aware of your own skills muscles. Actually seeing them, feeling that you use them and seeing the difference they make in your life. And then, constantly deciding to practice, to train them.

If I want to improve my listening skills, the first thing to do is be aware that this is the skill I want to improve. And then, I shut up more and speak less. I pay attention to what people are saying to me instead of thinking about what I’m going to say the second they’ve finished their sentence (oh, and maybe even sooner than that, why wait?!).

And then you may be surprised to see that the practice payed off. Because one day you have a talk with a client or team mate or even friend. And you stop thinking about your list of questions, stop ticking points off that list and start having a real conversation. One that lands you a happy client, team mate or friend. One real dialogue that ends with them saying: ‘yes, that’s exactly what I meant, thanks for listening!’. All because you’ve trained that skill muscle until you don’t even realize you’re using it anymore, while it does its job brilliantly.

So, is it worth training our skills muscles? My wild guess is, well, you’ve guessed… Point is, they’re very much attached to us and yes, they can make us look good, too:). So train them on and show them off!

Her podcast series, All Personal, turns the good old saying ‘nothing personal, just business’ upside down, and proves that, in fact, it’s all personal, nothing is just business. Because it’s all about those personal skills that we bring to the table every day, and which can make the difference between us feeling successful or maybe not so much. The All Personal podcast series features entrepreneurs and professionals who discovered their unique skillset, and who are on a continuous learning journey. We recommend starting with her very first podcast, which features our very own: Diviya Lewis of YWiB Toronto and Choose Gratitude.