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November 2nd, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

Think Better on Your Feet - Part 2When you’re put on the spot and under pressure to answer an unanticipated tough question or respond to a pointed remark, it’s useful and important to be able to “think on your feet.”

Once you master this skill set, you’ll find it far easier not only to come up with something worthwhile to say, but to say it quite effectively. As a result, others will feel more confidence in you, and respect you as smarter and more trustworthy than someone who seems to babble and bumble under pressure.

Last time we talked about speaking from a place of confidence, and mentally preparing in advance. Here are four other, equally valuable techniques to help you think better and faster on your feet:

Relax First, Speak Second

When you’re put on the spot, your first reaction might be to take action. Since you probably can’t run away, you’ll often feel the urge to start babbling. Resist it. Whenever a spotlight hits you, adrenalin immediately tenses your muscles, which in turn tends to impair your performance. The better response is to take a few slow breaths and consciously relax before you open your mouth.

It’s easy to develop a few facial expressions and hints of body language that convey: “Fascinating question. Give me a second to think about it before I answer.” Get in the habit of using them while you prepare to dazzle the crowd.

You can even use silence to improve how others perceive you. A brief pause before you speak, or between a few of your key sentences, can convey the idea that you are in control of the situation, and can also add impact and layers of meaning to relatively simple ideas.

Observe in Depth

It’s a big mistake to shoot from the hip in unanticipated situations. You might respond to a less important part of the whole situation, or overlook the largest opportunity. Instead, get in the habit of observing the people around you in depth: not just their words, but their tone of voice, the expression in their eyes, their behavior, body language, and the words they don’t say as well as those they do.

By processing all this information you’ll come to a deeper understanding of the unanticipated situation that confronts you, and you’ll automatically have a basis to formulate a smarter response.
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October 15th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Resumark News

Male Executive With Severe Headache - IsolatedWe all report to someone, and eventually - perhaps often - that very same someone will put us on the spot by asking an unanticipated tough question or making a pointed remark that requires an immediate response.

Some people are born with the ability to think on their feet and come up with a good answer to such a challenge. The rest of us need help in developing this useful and important ability. Once we master it, we will not only be able to come up with something worthwhile to say, we will have the ability to say it effectively. Those are valuable personal attributes, because people involuntarily tend to feel confidence in these kinds of remarks, and respect as smart and trustworthy the person who makes them.

Here are some suggestions to help you improve your ability to think better and faster on your feet:

Speak From a Place of Confidence

If you have inner doubts in unanticipated situations, as soon as you open your mouth they will come pouring out for everyone to see. So the first rule of learning to think on your feet is to follow that old saw: “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Of course, NOT speaking because you’re NOT thinking is NOT going to get you very far. So the second rule of learning to think on your feet is to steadily build your knowledge of the various situations in which are likely to you find yourself, and do some thinking about them before you ever get to that unanticipated situation.
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September 26th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice

How to Help Others ImproveOne of the best ways to make yourself more valuable on your job, and in your life, is to learn some of the basic skills involved with helping others to get what they want.

You don’t have to make a career of coaching to offer other people significant help in dealing with a crisis, making tough choices, or gearing up to improve themselves.

First Steps

The start of any helpful encounter with another person is to work together to establish both the problem to be addressed, and the details of what a solution would look like.

Is the person out of shape? What would being “in shape” look like? Does the person face a difficult decision? How can he or she know they’ve made a satisfactory choice? Is the person having difficulties at work? What’s the standard for knowing those “difficulties” are over?

In setting these criteria for monitoring improvement, remember to make them as specific as possible. That way, they’re more likely to stay fixed and achievable as the situation improves.

These standards should also be measurable in some way.

You also want to make sure, as a helpful person, that these performance standards are realistic, so there’s a fair chance of achieving - and recognizing - success.

Second Steps

With the problem defined and the goals or standards for success established, it’s important to take some time and clarify the problem situation. Try to identify the important actions the person is taking, as well as the people and the forces in play. Any or all of these may be contributing to the problem or become a pathway to a solution.

The more details that are explicitly itemized about what’s going on in the person’s life and work, the more likely you’ll find the best path to an acceptable solution.
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September 10th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice

The road to successWhen Columbus discovered America, when President Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase, when the U.S. completed construction of the Panama Canal, these events changed the map of the world.

That’s a perspective you can productively maintain when you’re thinking about your own future and how to build yourself a better life.

Missing Advice

There’s lots of advice given about goals, including setting goals, honoring goals, achieving goals, breaking goals down into bite-size tasks, sequencing goals, and celebrating goals.

Those sentiments are all well and good. But we hear nowhere near enough advice about working toward really big goals that - if and when you achieve them - will change the map of your life.

Such large goals should probably not occupy all your time - after all, you have everyday responsibilities and priorities, like eating, maintaining relationships, taking care of mundane business, and so forth. But at least one “map changing” goal ought to be on your “to do” list all the time, because a “map changing” goal deserves to absorb at least some of your time and energy every day.

Map-Changers Defined

Basically, a “map changing” goal is one that will fundamentally change your life for a very long time, if not permanently. There are several important differences between a “map changing” goal and an ordinary goal. For example:
  • An ordinary goal fits into the regular flow of your life. A map-changing goal revises that flow
  • An ordinary goal should be set so you have a reasonable chance of achieving it. Map-changing goals are so large and significant that you need not expect to reach it - ever. It’s like trying to win the lottery: Great if you do; no downside if you don’t.
  • An ordinary goal is generally aimed at down-to-earth interests and objectives.
  • Map-changing goals are aimed at fulfilling your dreams and wishes.
  • An ordinary goal is all about ambition and hard work. Map-changing goals are all about overcoming fears and allowing wonderful things to happen.
The basic idea of adding map-changing goals to your life is to think big, and to take the steps necessary to allow that big thing to happen.
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August 20th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

AccountablilityIt doesn’t take a genius to look around our world and see that it’s sorely lacking in accountability. People in both prominent and obscure situations say and do the strangest things, and rarely are they held fully accountable.

That’s a real problem, particularly in the practical worlds of jobs, business, and the professions, but also in human relations.

Whether you’re leading a team or simply managing your own life, you can kick up the levels of effectiveness, responsibility, and success by practicing (and where possible, encouraging in others) meaningful accountability.

Here are some guidelines to help you:

Stop Ducking Responsibility

We live in an intertwined world, so it’s rare that a simple, single cause (”I overslept”) can result in a problem, a missed deadline, or a lost opportunity. Sure, it can happen. But, it doesn’t have to happen to you.

Practice accountability by taking meaningful steps to honor your commitments and live up to your responsibilities. If you take these seriously enough, you can be pretty sure you’ll never have to say “it’s entirely my fault”.

Set Up Accountable Situations

Airplane maintenance is a wonderful example of how to set up an accountable situation. Every maintenance procedure is clearly spelled out, and every mechanic who performs a procedure must attest to what he or she did with a signed and dated form. Many procedures also require a supervisor to check the work and sign to affirm his or her approval.

If you’re not in a life-and-death situation, you may not need such a rigorous, formal system. But you increase accountability when you have a plan of action with clear steps to be followed, and when you are careful to follow that plan. It’s even more accountable to have multiple layers of inspection and supervision.

With such a plan in place, results can more easily be traced back to the plan, and to everyone who implemented it. Whether the results are positive or negative, there’s clear accountability.
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