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Archive for the ‘In the Workplace’ Category

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 17th, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler   Posted in In the Workplace

istock_000018695015xsmallWhether you have a cubicle or an office, sometimes your workspace just doesn’t seem big enough. Papers end up cluttered everywhere, you accumulate bits and pieces of old projects, and you can never find the document you need when you need it. But even if you have a small space, there are ways you can maximize it, making you a more efficient and effective employee.

Get rid of your CRT monitor. It’s taking up a ton of room on your desk, and LCDs are so inexpensive nowadays that there’s just no excuse. That extra space can be put to use with organizational systems that will help keep your paperwork in order. Put in a request to your IT department to find out if it’s possible.

Make use of your walls. They can be used for more than just hanging up artwork. You can also use them to organize documents with hanging wall files. You can create wall shelves for additional storage space. And if your desk is facing a wall, it may even be possible to mount a flat-screen monitor there to give you a little more desk space. Of course, one of the most common ways to use an office wall is the bulletin board. It can help keep papers off of your desk and in your line of sight.
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September 25th, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler   Posted in In the Workplace

Breastfeeding and the WorkplaceIf you’re a working woman who has a baby, is pregnant, or plans on getting pregnant, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with how breastfeeding can work in the workplace.

Those who don’t intend to breastfeed should at least look into the research before making a final decision, because a vast number of studies show that when compared to formula, breastfeeding provides you and your little one with a many benefits, including:
  • Better protection from sickness
  • Reduced SIDS risk
  • Less chance of obesity later in life
  • Few incidences of postpartum depression for mom
  • Protection for mothers against breast and ovarian cancers
By federal law, your workplace is required to provide break time and a private spot (other than a restroom) for you to express your milk as long as your employer has 50 or more employees. Even so, a number of experts - including the Surgeon General - have said that American women have far less support than working mothers in many other countries around the world, so be prepared for the possibility that you may face resistance from your employer.

By getting a little creative and planning ahead, you can find ways to continue to breastfeed. Here are some things to try:

Make your own private space.

Just because the company doesn’t designate an area for breastfeeding doesn’t mean you can’t make your own. If you don’t have an office yourself, try to find a coworker who is willing to let you use their office or a private bathroom - just make sure to clean up afterward! Those who can’t find a space in the office may want to consider getting their car windows tinted and pumping in their vehicle.

The right pump.

If you’re going to be pumping at work, you will almost definitely want an electric breast pump because of their speed and efficiency. Check reviews for reliability, because you definitely don’t want a pump that’s going to break on you in the middle of the day. You may even want to invest in a hands-free pump. Depending on your setup, this could allow you to keep working and not lose any pay for taking time off.

Leak protection.

It’s not fun to think about it, but the fact is that breastfeeding mothers leak milk, which can be pretty embarrassing if it happens in front of your boss or coworkers. Nipple pads for your bra are a must, but it’s also probably a good idea to bring an extra blouse just in case, as well as towels and other cleaning equipment.
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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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July 27th, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler   Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

Things That Affect Your ProductivityIn part 1 of this series, I started to discuss the different ways that your environment can affect the way that you work. I brought up the three types of environmental factors that researchers point to - psychological, territorial, and physical - and discussed how your own psychology can negatively impact your ability to get things done.

Today’s post will focus on the ways in which functionality and territoriality can help or harm your productivity levels. What do those two terms even mean? Read on.

Control Matters

When we go to work, sometimes it can seem like our employers want to control every little aspect of our time there. We have specific lunch times and break times. We only have access to certain filing cabinets and offices. We share a thermostat, with no way to change it. Websites and applications are blocked - and not always the ones that you would expect.

For employers, this allows them to better dictate what we will be doing and how we will be doing it. In their minds, they are helping productivity by dictating the things that we can do and have control over. In some ways, this probably does help, such as blocking time-wasting sites like Facebook that don’t really have any true work use. Unfortunately, taking too much control and “ownership” away from us can actually hurt our productivity.
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