Sept 29_Blog 3

Business Small Talk

Do business meetings scare you? Would you rather stare at the ceiling as if it were the most interesting thing in the world and avoid talking to people at social events? Don’t worry! You’re not the only one. The prospect of talking to people you don’t really know, freaks most people out. Knowing how to engage in small talk is necessary in business though. So, read up on how to improve your business conversation skills.

1. Use an icebreaker.
Icebreakers are the best way to jumpstart a conversation. Hopefully, this can lead to a fruitful conversation, rather than the dreaded awkward silence. So, use questions like “How did you find yourself in the _____ field? And make sure to lessen the unnecessary silence in the room.

2. Find common ground.
When you stay on a topic that most of the people in the conversation are familiar with, you’ll lessen the pregnant pauses. Finding common ground leads to easier and more effective communication. Avoid controversial topics like politics and religion so the conversation doesn’t tense up or lead to a heated debate.

3. Ask open-ended questions.
Yes/No questions or one-answer questions will lead to a dead end conversation wise. So, avoid questions like “Where did you go to school?” “Where do you live?” Encourage your conversation partner to share some more detail (but hopefully not too much detail) about their lives. Ask them about their children or their family.

4. Share anecdotes.
It’s important for you to share a few things about yourself as well. If they bring up a topic that you have a funny story about, share it! It lets your conversation partner know that you can relate to them, and that you’ve really been listening to them. This also forms a better bond, which will help you in the long run.

Remember to remain confident all throughout your conversations. Learn the Powers of Confidence at JRP.

Sept 20_Blog 2

S/He’s Dating the Boss

Your boss: the forbidden fruit in the Eden that is your office. We get it! It’s hard to resist that charm, that intelligence and that confidence, but dating the boss probably isn’t going to end up in a fairy-tale ending like Laida and Sir Miggy did. So, if you’re dating your boss or your officemate seems like they’re in a relationship with their boss, mull over these points:

1. The choice is yours.
The very first thing you need to do is take a step back and check if everything is consensual — that no one is being forced to do anything they don’t want to do and that the choice to be in this relationship was freely made. If everything is good, we can move on to the next item.

2. Check the policy.
A lot of companies have policies in place addressing junior-senior relationships because they believe that these types of relationships can compromise business’ interests. So, make sure to check if your company has these policies and what the implications are if they do exist.

3. Draw the line.
Probably the most important tip in this list — do NOT mix personal life and professional life. Dating the boss, especially when s/he isn’t single, doesn’t give an excuse to use the relationship as an advantage in the workplace. Remember, you’re being paid to work and not to have public displays of affection in the office.

4. Expect the gossip.
Despite any and all attempts to keep the relationship hush hush or in the down low, office gossip spreads like wildfire. So, expect the outrageous rumors and even some hurtful comments. For a while, the people involved will most likely be known more for the relationship than for the work that they do.

Deal with these kinds of obstacles with grace and confidence. Learn the Powers of Confidence at John Robert Powers.

‘Reply All’ and Other E-mail Mistakes to Avoid

‘Reply All’ and Other E-mail Mistakes to Avoid

Ah, e-mail, making work life easier since the 90’s – but when you spend your whole day sending e-mail after e-mail, it kind of gets easy to overlook some mistakes. You don’t want to be made fun of by your officemates because you forgot to spell-check or because you accidentally sent a joke e-mail to your entire company, now do you? Not to worry, we’re here to remind you of some e-mail mistakes you should make a point to avoid.

1. Unforgettable Subject Lines
When writing e-mail drafts, it’s fun to think of creative subject lines, but there are times when we forget to re-edit the subject line and end up sending e-mails with things like “SO AS I TOLD YOU A MILLION TIMES BEFORE –“ or “Please let this be the last e-mail I ever send this person”. Remember: the subject is the first thing your recipient reads, so make sure it leaves a good impression of you.

2. Forgetting Attachments
Have you ever had that dream where you go to work or school and look down only to realize you’re still in your pajamas or worse, your underwear? Forgetting to attach files is basically the e-mail equivalent of that. Make life easier for you by making sure you have the word ‘attach’ in your message as most e-mail services will remind you that you haven’t attached anything or even better, attach your files BEFORE writing your message.

3. “To Whom It May Concern”
Basically, this means you haven’t done your homework. With the internet helping us access as much information as we can, there’s no reason for you not to know who you’re sending an e-mail to. This also makes the e-mail sound so generic.

4. Reply to All
Unless you’re the CEO or some high executive in your company, it’s best not to ever press ‘Reply to All’. No matter what intention (i.e. congratulating a winning team or even responding to a “Send to All” e-mail), it’s probably best not to open yourself to the kind of ridicule that a “Reply to All” could bring.

Make sure you double or triple check every important e-mail you send as well-constructed e-mail shows confidence, and proficiency. Learn the Powers of confidence at JRP.

Aug 27_Blog 3

Liked or Respected?

“Would you rather be liked or respected?” It’s a weird question to be asked, because it’s really silly to think that it’s impossible to be a leader that’s respected and liked as a person. You don’t have to be Miranda Priestly, respected but absolutely feared to the point where she’s referred to as a devil, nor should you be like Michael Scott, who is nice enough as a person, but isn’t a great boss. Here are a few things to remember to balance being respected and liked:

1. Don’t seek to be liked.
Remember not to avoid situations just so you’re liked.

2. Take time to know your people.
Understand that friendship doesn’t happen right away.

3. Be confident but humble.
Be self-assured, but share the limelight with your team.

4. Be open-minded.
Consider other views, and then weigh in.

5. Don’t let your pet peeves get in the way.
Focus on other’s needs rather than your own personal preferences.

6. Encourage diversity.
Don’t create clones.

7. Put yourself in the line with your team.
“Work it out for yourselves!” shouldn’t be in your vocabulary.

8. Seek excellence, not perfection.
Be reasonable, and make room for forgiveness when mistakes happen.

9. Provide empathy.
Attend to your team’s human needs, not just their employee needs.

10. Encourage innovation.
Change is scary, but necessary. Give your team the courage when change happens.

Being likeable alone limits you as a boss, and being respected alone is a very isolated way to live. Learn more at John Robert Powers.

Aug 22_Blog 2

Bond, Team Bond

If you want your team to be happy and engaged, simply providing them with free food, bean bags, or gym membership discounts isn’t going to cut it. Sure, those things help but what really gets a team going even in the worst of times is a good employee-employer relationship. So, here are a few tips to strengthen the employee-employer bond, as well as the employee-employee bond:

1. Non-work Life Discussions
Don’t end with the cliché, “What did you do this weekend?” but rather ask them about their interests, their families, any new shows they’d like to recommend, etc. It’s these kinds of questions that help you understand your team on a more personal level, and make sense of their actions and preferences.

2. Interesting Activities
Even the best teams can benefit from some team bonding activities. Try to stay away from activities that everyone has already tried and get your team to experience some unique bonding experiences like: game board night, a round of archery tag or attend an art workshop bonding, etc.

3. Group Dinners
While big activities are a great way to bond, having a constant, casual activities like dinners or coffee out with your team solidify your their engagement with one another. Having a conducive place for them to relax with you, and each other ensures a relationship that no longer relies on work to exist.

Make sure that teamwork truly works and be a more confident leader at John Robert Powers.