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Archive for March, 2012


Don’t Be Fooled By Illusions!

Sometimes, what we believe is a time saver actually is a time waster. Begin to question your current beliefs about workplace productivity. Generally, if you feel stress, frustration or experience failure, you are working under an illusion.

An illusion is not real. Among a group of people, the most successful person is usually the person whose beliefs correspond most closely to reality. If you want to escape the negative effects of a workplace productivity illusion, the first step is to switch some of your current beliefs.

One common workplace illusion is this: Multitasking saves time. In reality, multitasking does not involve doing several things at once. It requires you to switch back and forth between tasks, and it significantly reduces productivity—even when you are switching between very simple and highly similar tasks. Pay attention to times when you are multitasking and ask if you would be more positively productive by focusing on one task at a time.  Chances are your answer will be Yes!


Body Language That Says “No” When You Mean “Yes”

Is your body language saying “no” when you mean “yes”—or vice versa? If words and body language clash, what the body is saying will be believed. Appropriate body language creates credibility and congruence. Watch what other people are saying with their bodies and what you are telling them with yours. Here are some examples of negative and positive body language:

Negative (“No”) Messages

  • Folding arms and crossing legs (rejection)
  • Leaning back, doodling or looking at the ceiling (boredom)
  • Sitting back and joining your fingers like a church steeple (indifference)
  • Slumping (uncertainty and uneasiness)
  • Slouching and walking slowly (reluctance and lack of enthusiasm)

Positive (“Yes”) Messages

  • Leaning forward (active involvement with what you are saying)
  • Tilting the head to one side and nodding occasionally (understanding)
  • Relaxing the face and smiling (acceptance and agreement)
  • Sitting or standing with an upright, but relaxed posture (command and certainty)
  • Walking with a quick gait and swing your arms (confidence and enthusiasm)
  • Standing and sitting with an erect, yet comfortable and relaxed posture (openness and a readiness to talk or listen)

Remember—your body speaks louder than your words.  If your actions are in conflict with your words, people will remember your actions!


Three Tools for Better Communication

One of the most common problems in communication is understanding the difference between what is said and what is heard. The key is learning to be a good listener. Here are three tools you can use to be a better listener when you’re speaking with someone on the telephone or face-to-face:

  • Verify.

Once the person has said what they want to say, verify what you think you heard. For example, use the phrase, “So, you’re saying that…” or “If I understand correctly, you said…”

  • Question.

Use phrases like, “What do you mean when you say…?” or “Have you really spent…?” These will help you further clarify that what you heard is what was said.

  • Acknowledge.

If you are in a face-to-face conversation, look at the speaker and nod to show interest and understanding. You can also occasionally say, “hmmm” or “oh, right” whether it’s a face-to face or telephone conversation.

Being a good listener can save you frustration, misunderstanding, and even time and money. Practice using these tools and see what a difference they can make!


Quick Steps to Get Organized

Getting organized takes some time, but once you get into the habit, life becomes much easier. You can be more productive—and less frustrated! 

  • Organize your space. Whether it is your home, office, closet, desk or file cabinet, go through it and throw away, put in storage or archive anything you do not use often. Then organize the rest in convenient, clearly designated spaces. 
  • Put it back where you got it. Make a habit of putting things back in their designated space as soon as you are finished using them. This means you need to designate documents for specific areas. Generally, documents you use most often should be stored nearest your work area. Documents you use less often should be farther away. 
  • Keep track of follow-up items. Calendars, planners and smartphones are excellent options for tracking what needs follow up. Whatever you use, just use one system, and use it regularly to make sure nothing falls between the cracks.

See my blog post Color Coding as a Tracking Tool for one way to manage follow up.