Always Push the Up Button

Years ago I concluded that life is like an elevator, in that we have a choice of two buttons to push–obviously, the UP button or the DOWN button. As with an elevator, in life we can’t push both buttons simultaneously. We have to choose.

You have observed, I’m sure, that which button you select to start your day somehow mysteriously seems to influence how that day will turn out. Push the DOWN button, and you’ll feel misplaced, possibly “in the dumps” and your interactions with colleagues, family and friends will involve an unusual degree of friction.

Ah, but when we push the UP button shortly after awakening, our mood becomes optimistic, even buoyant. Strangely, good events come our way–to an extent we wouldn’t have predicted. Apparently the universe sides with those who select UP.

A PERSONAL EXAMPLE

A couple of weeks ago I made a major technical mistake. For my weekly video/podcast “Biz Communication Show” I had recorded a 23-minute interview with a business leader who gave solid insight into her topic. I could hardly wait to post the edited project. However, I accidentally erased the interview. What a waste of time–my time and the guest’s time, both in preparing and presenting. How embarrassing, even humiliating!

PREDICTABLE REACTION AFTER PUSHING THE DOWN BUTTON

In reacting, here’s what I would have said to myself if I had pushed the DOWN button:

“You’re so dumb and unbelievably careless. You’re a loser, pure and simple. You’re not reliable. You ought to be ashamed.”

Had I launched those negative, accusatory words at myself, you can imagine how unproductive the rest of my day would have been.

PUSHED THE UP BUTTON

Fortunately, I pushed the UP button. My thoughts were:

“So you made a mistake. That’s not your first one by any means, and sure won’t be the last one. Just proves you’re quite human. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be perfect. So move along. Apologize to your guest–yet be kind to yourself. Remember the dozens of recordings you have made without any careless blunders. Stay calm, get back to work.”

Not surprisingly, my guest accepted my apology, agreeing to reschedule. My tech assistant was sympathetic when he learned why he didn’t get the interview link to edit.

The big lesson: Pushing the UP button doesn’t erase what has happened. Yet the UP button’s main value is keeping our morale high and our self-esteem intact.

“Always Push the Up Button” has been the theme of my keynote speeches for years. And in seminars that are not described as motivational, I often conclude the program with the UP button theme. In every presentation, I give each audience member an UP to wear and keep.

UP BUTTON APPROACH NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER

What message could be timelier now, when we have endured so much bad news for many months? In our Covid-19 “Twilight Zone” world most of us have very likely engaged in negative self-talk: “I won’t get a job again.” “I can’t recover with what’s happened to my business.”

I encourage you–push the UP button, always.

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Put Your Best Face Forward Every Time You Communicate

When you’re interacting with others, your facial expression has as much impact as what you’re saying–if not more.

Example: When you speak to a group or direct a meeting, within a couple of minutes you can identify participants who are highly interested–and also those who appear bored, distracted, confused and sometimes even hostile.

Remember that your facial impression includes the eyes. Centuries ago Cicero said: “The eyes are windows to the soul.” Look away from your supervisor while you are reporting on a work assignment, and your shifty eyes might suggest you are hiding something. Blink excessively, you could appear insecure. More positively stated, maintain steady eye contact to reflect poise and credibility.

Beware of frowning.
During a sales appointment a frown indicates to your prospect that you don’t feel good about the course of your presentation. That creates discomfort for both of you. Probably a lost sale opportunity too.

The most beneficial look: One that fits the tone of the meeting or conversation.
Think of your favorite late night comedian (if you stay up that late). He or she could milk roaring laughter out of an ordinary joke merely by exaggerated facial expressions.

From the opposite viewpoint, a messenger who talks about life and death matters should not smirk. A solemn facial expression matches the message.

IN A GROUP, WHO WILL YOU SELECT TO MEET?

Next time you’re with a group of people you don’t know, pay special attention to their faces. I’ll bet the ones you will want to meet appear animated, with cheerful faces. Likewise, people will consider you attractive–even a leader–when you smile, nod in agreement and give other signs of warmth and openness.

WHAT IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE SMILING?

But you might wonder, “What if I don’t feel like smiling, looking joyful and positive?” Here’s good news. Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink, cites research to show that your face can even create a mood, as well as reflect one. Start your day with a scowl, you’ll become sullen and angry. Start your day with a happy, confident face and an elevated outlook will follow.

Who could have guessed that the old adage “Fake it till you make it” has scientific backing?

In other words: Put your best face forward–every time.

COACHING HELPS YOU IMPROVE YOUR NONVERBAL MESSAGES

Here’s where videotaping comes in handy. I suggest you work with a communication coach in a Zoom session. Your coach will videotape a few minutes of conversation with you. Then the coach pinpoints what you need to do to make your demeanor more appealing. The resulting improvements generate more productive conversations, speeches, meetings and job interviews.

That’s one of the communication services I provide for clients as the “Biz Communication Guy.”

https://bizcommunicationguy.com