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Archive for July, 2013


Tune Into Your Intuition

Intuition is knowing something without the use of rational analysis. While some view the use of intuition in business with suspicion, relying solely on reason can be detrimental to creativity and problem solving. According to brain research, the left-brain takes care of rational thought, and the right brain handles non-rational activities, such as emotions, senses, creativity, and intuition. The goal is to use the whole brain so you can access the widest range of functions to produce the best decisions. Unfortunately, the left-brain is often louder than the right brain and draws our attention more often.shutterstock_86909897

One way to hear your intuition is to quiet the left brain. You can do this with meditation, cultivating mindfulness, or just relaxing. Another way is to understand how your intuition “speaks” to you.

If you are a visual person, you may gain intuitive insights from what you see. Have you ever been torn between buying two different cars and began to see one of them everywhere? That’s your intuition speaking with images.

Have you ever had a “gut feeling” or experienced that “this-doesn’t feel-right” sensation? Feelings are another way intuition communicates.

Use your intuition by posing a question and letting your left-brain dictate logical, rational answers. Then, pay attention to visual messages and feelings around the issue to discover what your intuition has to contribute. Begin to pay attention to external and internal messages and attune your “hearing” to your intuition.


Etiquette Blunders to Avoid

Most of us tend to associate social etiquette when entertaining or at a party. However, sometimes it seems that common courtesies fly out the window the moment a person steps into the office. As Clarence Thomas, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, once said, “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.”

Although people may not remember your credentials, they will always remember how they felt in your presence. To help you ensure that you make a strong, professional impression, here are the top etiquette blunders to avoid at work.

Electronic Clutter

Although everyone knows that it is common courtesy to keep their workspace clean, many people think little of cluttering up inboxes with unnecessary emails, jokes, and other trivial things. Although sharing the occasional inspirational story can help keep up morale, keep company emails aligned with your business goals.

Forgetting to Confirm

Receiving an invitation to an event, such as a luncheon, conference, or product launch, is always an honor. Yet, failing to RSVP or confirm the receipt of the invitation can give the impression that the kindness was not noted. Even if you are busy, try to respond within three days of receiving the invitation so that the host can make the proper preparations. This rule also applies to meetings and other functions where sending a simple email is enough to confirm your attendance.

Failing to Make Proper Introductions

Introducing a new employee around the office is generally standard practice. However, in many large companies, it is common for many employees to never meet. Before a meeting convenes, it is always a good idea to quickly scan the room for any individuals you may not have met or may not know well. Make a proper introduction that highlights the role you play in the company and ask about their role. This simple courtesy can help everyone feel at ease while paving the way for better collaboration and productivity. Even if you aren’t holding the meeting, treat everyone as if you were the host.

Bottom line: Make people feel special and good about themselves. Show everyone courtesy and respect. Treat others as you want to be treated.




How to Recover from Negative Criticism

At some point, almost everyone will have to deal with negative criticism. And when that happens, it can be too easy to immediately respond by taking a defensive stance. Even when criticism is constructive, no one wants to receive negative feedback regarding his or her efforts at work. Here are some ways to recover from negative criticism while turning it into a learning experience for everyone.Slide 118 #3

Maintain an Objective View

Sometimes, a person’s reaction to negative criticism is due to their emotional attachment to the project or task being critiqued. Instead of focusing on the negative connotations, try to remain objective enough to find constructive information. Negative criticism does not always mean that your work was a failure. Analyze the criticism to find out what information can be gleaned when it is viewed objectively. Then, use this information to begin taking the appropriate steps to correct the problem or make improvements.

Vent Frustrations Constructively

When presented with negative criticism, it is important to avoid acting defensively toward your critic. Whether it is your manager or a customer, you will need to remain calm enough to fully understand their message. If necessary, find another outlet for your frustration by relaying the criticism to a trusted mentor or friend and asking their opinion about its credibility. Take a walk or hit the gym to relieve any frustration you may be feeling. Sometimes, stepping away from the situation can allow you to develop further insight that will aid you in finding a solution.

Gracefully Respond

If the negative criticism has some merit, and it often does, take the appropriate measures to correct it. Whether you need to revise your work techniques, address a misunderstanding, or implement a new strategy, doing so will turn negative feedback into a positive experience. Then, take the time to let your critic know how their advice has been handled. Even if the criticism was especially negative, you may still impress them with your grace and willingness to consider their advice. This will not only allow you to mend any professional ties, but it will also help you walk away from the experience with new insight and confidence.

In the words of the notable clergyman Norman Vincent Peale, “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”




How to Ask for Help Without Sounding Needy

While most people do not hesitate to ask for help at home, it can be an entirely different story when it comes to requesting assistance at work. This is usually due to the concern that asking for help can make you appear inept or simply lazy. However, doing the job wrong is often worse than not doing it at all and could have major repercussions that continue further down the line. It is always best to ask for help when it is necessary by implementing the following tips to ensure that you come across as proactive instead of needy.

Don’t Put It Off

Interestingly, the first response many people have when they need help is procrastination. Whether it is from embarrassment or the hope that a solution will automatically present itself, it is too easy to simply mumble that you are “working on it” when asked to give a report on your progress. Unfortunately, this only delays the project and could negatively impact your team. Instead, identify someone who can provide assistance and set up a time to meet and discuss your problem.

Lead with a Compliment

Asking for help can be difficult because no one wants to bother team members, who have their own deadlines and goals. However, this concern is often greatly exaggerated because most people enjoy helping someone if they are given enough time to fit it into their schedule. If you are worried that everyone else is too busy to help, start your request with the reason why you chose that person for help. Did he or she impress you with a similar project? If so, let the person know that this is why you came to them for help. Chances are, he or she will be too flattered to be annoyed.

Present Possible Solutions

Brainstorming and trying several possible solutions before asking for help will keep you from appearing needy. While you do not want to mess up a project, run through a few possible scenarios that you can offer as potential solutions. This way, you can present your options to make asking for help a collaborative effort. Even if none of your solutions work, you will still impress the person you ask for help with your efforts.

Remember that, at some point, everyone will need help as they move through the learning process. By tackling your problem now, you may one day be prepared to provide help to someone else.


The Dangers of Office Gossip

While engaging in gossip may only seem like a harmless way to pass the time at the office, it can be quite detrimental for everyone. Here are the top three dangers of office gossip along with the devastating effects they can have on a person’s career.

A Tarnished Image

In the past, whispers around the water cooler could be expected to do little more than linger in the air. However, with everyone carrying around a smartphone in their pocket, recordings of office gossip can go viral in only a matter of minutes. This means that even idle chatter could have major consequences for a company and can quickly escalate into a tarnished image that will affect every level of that company’s employees.

Inhibited Creativity and Productivity

Today’s companies thrive on the innovative ideas that come from the creativity of their employees. However, creativity can only flourish in an open environment where everyone feels free to share new ideas and voice their opinions. The stressed relationships and worry that accompany office gossip is counterproductive to this type of environment. By addressing gossip before it gets carried away, you can protect the open atmosphere that is needed to continue to progress toward company goals. When creativity is stifled, productivity suffers.

Destroyed Careers

Sadly, one of the most serious consequences of office gossip is that it can do significant damage to individuals. Through gossip, trust is broken down, and this can make it difficult to maintain professional relationships. It becomes harder to work on teams, earn a promotion, or gain recognition for achievements. At its worst, gossip can even destroy a person’s career through the shame and frustration that it creates.

While it may seem fun to engage in some light-hearted banter in the office, especially when you have “a juicy piece of news,” it is best to keep quiet. Discussions about sports, movies, and local news can help keep the focus off matters that should not be spread around. The next time the conversation veers toward gossip, steer things to a safe topic that can protect your office, your team members, and you from the dangers of rumors and distrust.