Being Quiet in a Boisterous Business World

19 Apr

I’m shy. I often have a hard time speaking up in large group settings. Some people consider me an introvert and go so far as to say I that I can’t be successful in business. But is this true? In today’s society, we value the ability to speak freely and command attention. In school, we are graded on how well we participate and share ideas. At work, employers are constantly looking for those employees who stand out and exemplify the stereotypical extrovert. But what’s so special about them?

Sure, introverts aren’t always the first to speak, but when it comes to quality of ideas, an introvert’s are just as significant as any extrovert’s. Introverts tend to remain calm in demanding or stressful situations, allowing them to maintain control of subordinates despite disorder. Introverts have strong listening abilities and are more inclined to be receptive to new ideas than extroverts, which is especially useful when managing a group of proactive workers.

Now, you’re probably thinking that qualities such as listening and staying calm seem great, but the fact is, they frequently get overlooked. Here are some tips to keep from being overlooked if you’re an introvert:

1.       Manage Perceptions.

Many introverts actively process how they are viewed by others and can use it to their advantage. At the same time, introverts often have difficulty building up their strengths because they would rather let their work speak for itself. Managing others’ perceptions to your advantage is possible by understanding how bosses and subordinates view you. Perception management may seem deceptive, but it’s only a tool to help others see your value and contribution.

2.       Speak up.

For me, this is one of the hardest things to do. It would certainly be nice if people could accept that just because someone isn’t speaking doesn’t mean they don’t have anything meaningful to say. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In order to move forward in school or business, you must show others what you are capable of contributing to the organization. I have found that making yourself heard early allows you to more easily add thoughts throughout the remainder of the discussion. Let people know you have something to say. The longer you wait, the harder it is to speak up.

3.       Practice!

If you’re like me, the last thing you want to hear is that you need to practice. Speaking up and sharing your opinions is nerve-racking, especially in large groups. But without practicing, the preceding tips won’t do you much good. The more you practice, the more natural communication will become.

Remember, you don’t need to dominate every conversation, but it is important to make your ideas heard.

 by Andrea Ruegge

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/01/26/the-secret-power-of-introverts/

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/BUSINESS/11/29/introverts.leadership/index.html

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Creating Safe-Zones from Technology

19 Apr

Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. More and more social media outlets continue to pop up, promoting constant status updates and tweets to express oneself. Younger individuals sign up for these sources and feel valued by the liberty to express themselves. Our generation of now 20-year-olds has undeniably been spoiled by the constantly changing technology. Within the past decade, cell phones began to include mobile applications for Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. The appeal of having everything at our fingertips might be too much too soon. Do we have boundaries when it comes to technology?

The Increasing Power of Technology

The world of easy access becomes checking emails during breaks or Facebook updates, making simple interactions seem obsolete. Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor, believes that the recent developments in technology are “taking us places we don’t want to go” in regards to our dependence on technology. The worry stems from the fear of deteriorating face-to-face social skills. When commenting on a post or replying to an email, we have the unique ability to filter carefully and delete mistakes. In real life, that luxury does not exist.

Finding the Balance 

We need to determine where using Facebook is socially acceptable and where we should leave it behind. Adam Ostrow suggests having clear-cut places where we shouldn’t encourage the outside world to intrude through cell phones, including bedrooms and classrooms. While Ostrow makes a valid point, I don’t think we can compartmentalize our lives enough where phone usage isn’t necessary. The busy lives of working professionals require constant communication. We can reach a compromise by understanding that using phones becomes inappropriate in certain situations including business meetings. The movement towards less text and Facebook messaging will reduce the anxiety many people feel when they’re in the business world and have to give a presentation. The more common everyday conversation will help business professionals present and explain ideas in a clear manner without the protection of a phone or computer screen.

by Mahlette Mammo

Source: http://mashable.com/2012/03/01/social-media-less-connected/

Remember Your Dream Job? Pursue Your Happiness

17 Apr

I still remember my kindergarten teacher asking every student what we wanted to be when we grow up. Somewhere along the way, most of us settle for something else; we get so caught up in the day-to-day grind that we put off our dreams. Our job’s time commitment can get in the way of job searching, which is a continuous chore. It’s a viscous cycle, and it’s hard to get out of.

To help those looking for a place to start or move his or her current search forward, I will discuss the following:

1) Build a Network of Contacts

2) Revamp the Résumé and Cover Letter

3) Follow Up

The most important of these three to finding your dream job is building a large network of contacts. Letting these contacts know what you are capable of and what you are interested in may land you an interview regardless of an opening.

Build a Network of Contacts

Contacts can range from classmates to businesspeople. Every person can prove to be helpful in the future, so widening your circle of friends and acquaintances as much as possible is significant. Classmates are an easy place to start by building on friends and then friends of friends. Although they may not be in an influential hiring position now, they may be in the future. Professors are another great place to build your network because they can directly hear of employment opportunities from hiring executives. By keeping up with college professional groups such as Alpha Kappa Psi or with community organizations such as charities, you can meet the leaders and businesspeople of your industry. Any exposure is better than none, and the networking can be beneficial now and in the future.

Revamp the Résumé and Cover Letter

Having a professional résumé and a sincere, interested cover letter will take you far in the interview process. A clean résumé and effective cover letter shows your communication skills, and every employer knows the value of communication. To effectively show your communication skills, keep your résumé simple and easy to follow by using larger font headlines and indenting your content.

Follow Up

After the interview, the interviewer will usually tell you when they will tell you the results. If they don’t get back to you by then, wait two days to send a follow up email. Sending a follow up email shows interest, and waiting a few days gives them space.

An individual’s job may not define who that individual is, but it sure affects that individual’s quality of life. Remember Confucius’ words: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

by Shailesh Choubey

Don’t Rush

17 Apr

Business communication requires a fair amount of planning.  You must think everything out and edit it for content. Today, you must consider everything before you write or say it, and without this careful planning a simple statement can be taken as offensive.

So what happens when you don’t get a chance to plan?  We call this impromptu.  You have to come up with things off the top of your head, hoping they are appropriate.  Usually what you say after some thought is okay, but a prime example of what not to do comes from conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh.

Background

On February 29, 2012, a law student named Sandra Fluke asked that women receive free birth control to treat a variety of reproductive health issues, such as ovarian cysts.  Her reasoning was that many women can’t afford these medicines, but they are essential to health.  She mentioned nothing about the use of birth control pills as contraception.

Rush’s Reaction

When Rush Limbaugh heard about this, he went on the air calling Fluke a prostitute and a slut saying, by giving women free birth control, we were paying them to have sex.  He publicly disrespected Fluke on national radio, and made jokes about her private sex life, when she wasn’t even asking for the pills for herself.

What’s Wrong Here?

There are obviously many things wrong with this situation.  Rush Limbaugh verbally attacked a woman on air.  He said many inappropriate things, and lost the respect of many viewers.  He lost many of his network sponsorships because of those statements.  What he said are thoughts that you keep to yourself; you don’t broadcast over the air.  He may have disagreed with what Fluke said; however, there are better ways to demonstrate disagreement. 

Simply put, Rush rushed.  Because he felt so strongly about the subject, he should have let himself cool off and think before he said anything offensive.  The moral of the story: Think before you speak.

by Rebecca Berels

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/rush-limbaugh-sandra-fluke-slut_n_1311640.html

Rush’s Spirit of the Radio

17 Apr

Rush Limbaugh, the outspoken conservative radio host known for his inflammatory and controversial remarks, once again made news on Thursday, March 1 for his comments concerning Georgetown University student, Sandra Fluke.

Sandra Fluke was scheduled to speak in front of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee about Georgetown’s policy of not covering birth control under their insurance policy. Limbaugh’s comments concerning Fluke crossed the line when he called her a “slut” and a “prostitute” during his Wednesday show. Fluke was interviewed on “The Ed Show,” a part of MSNBC’s lineup and declared that “this is outside the bounds of civil discourse.”

Fluke is correct in stating that the comments should not be a part of the discussions in the political field. Rush’s insults take away from intelligent, thoughtful deliberations that occur concerning our nations policies, and instead puts the focus on personal battles and mud-slinging. When trying to communicate or persuade, it is important to focus on the issue rather than make personal attacks against the opposing viewpoint’s supporters.

The speaker destroys his or her image and reputation any time insulting or hurtful language is used. Rush Limbaugh, through his use of these derogatory terms, loses credibility in his communication. A writer can preserve their standing as an effective communicator by avoiding hurtful or slanderous language when they write.

by Jeff Stoecker

Source: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73530.html

CAUTION College Students: E-Etiquette Matters

17 Apr

Electronic devices are part of every college student’s life: they rely on their phones to find out about events on Facebook, check email, respond to texts and make or receive phone calls. The e-etiquette in the business environment is more controlled and tracked, so college students should be well-informed of the changes ahead.

College E-Etiquette Today

College e-etiquette revolves around casual, constant use of electronic devices. It is difficult for college students to transition from their current behavior to that which is expected in the workplace environment:

“[Company] policies [curtail college students] use behavior: …instant communication, individuality, and creativity are valued…this adjustment can be difficult…requires a paradigm shift from a “free-range” approach to…more controlled, company-centered, and productive approach” (Langland).

There are some key e-etiquette expectations that college students should be aware of in the workplace environment. The next section will outline what college students should keep in mind on day one of their new job or internship.

Workplace E-Etiquette Tips

College interns and new hires should check their company policy and be wary of the e-etiquette expectations and concerns at the workplace.  Everyone is expected to tune into work, so here are some general points to keep in mind at the workplace (Langland):

  • Security Expectations
    • Lock any corporate-issued device with password;
    • Do not share passwords with anyone;
    • Do not download any programs or applications before checking your company’s policy.
  • Property Concerns
    • Any device issued to you by the company is subject to tracking;
    • All online activity is scrutinized by corporate;
  • It is rude to use the washroom for talking on the phone;
  • Do not lay out your phone in front of co-workers;
  • Record a professional greeting for your work: “What’s up? This is Todd” is unacceptable;
  • Do not use any corporate issued device for personal use.

College students should be careful in how they use electronic devices at work because the micro-messages they send by misusing devices, or the inattentiveness they show during a meeting can be detrimental to how others perceive their professionalism.

by Aditi Gupta

Sources:

Langland, Meg. “Evolving e-Etiquette in the Workplace.” March 2009. National Association of Colleges and Employers. 19 March 2012. <http://www.plymouth.edu/services/career/job-search-strategy/etiquette-in-the-workplace-email-social-networking/&gt;

Pandit, Madhura. “Phone Etiquette At Work.” 27 Sept. 2011. Buzzle.com. 19 March 2012.
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/phone-etiquette-at-work.html

So, You Think You’re Funny?

17 Apr

When was the last time you met a person who doesn’t like to laugh?  Never.  That’s because laughing is a universal sign of happiness.  While many people use humor in their everyday lives, you may mistakenly think that there is no place for it in business communication.  I am here to tell you that you are wrong and to show you why and how humor can be a positive force in the business world, specifically in an interview setting.

Humor Can Differentiate You

Imagine this scenario: You are interviewing 100 candidates for a job and at the end of the day they all begin to fade together.  But wait; one stands out.  Ah, yes, the one who tripped on his way up the stairs, you chuckle remembering the funny anecdote he told you.

As you can see, humor is a way to set you apart from the boring, predictable pack that employers expect.  It is a way to make someone like you.  In addition, you can express your humor in a number of ways: stories, sarcastic remarks, old-fashioned knock-knock jokes.  (Though I’m not sure starting an interview off with a knock-knock is the best way to go).  Regardless of how you choose to show your funny side, humor is a way to make the interviewer remember you.

But Watch What You Say…

You must know where to draw the line.  While sarcastic remarks can be clever, they can also be insulting and inappropriate.  As a rule of thumb, stay away from any comments related to race, gender, and religion.  Chances are these types of jokes won’t fly in the workplace.  Susan St. Maur, a UK author, says that to avoid insulting anyone, you must “use humor about situations, not people.”  This way, no one feels attacked or mocked.  In the end, if you adhere to these guidelines, showing your humor during an interview is a definite DO.

by Ally Sprague

Source: http://www.articleslash.com/Business/Marketing/14195__How-To-Use-Humor-Successfully-In-Your-Business-Communications.html