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What Did You Say?
My table-mates introduced themselves as the reciprocal protocol began. We chatted about what we did, where we did it and what we thought of the conference. Stan joined the table as the chicken was served. He'd been introduced to me earlier and we'd talked briefly during the pre-dinner social. Now he was peppering me with intriguing business questions. This was going to be a lively and interesting discussion, I thought.
But my hopes vanished faster than an ice cube melting in the desert. I realized Stan wasn't listening. He didn't care what I had to say; he was waiting for his turn to talk. And talk he did, monopolizing the table's conversation with his back-patting soliloquy.
That experience got me thinking. My hopes had been raised believing that someone asking thoughtful questions might be interested in the answers. But that's a rare find in this too-busy-to-listen world. We're too busy answering our cell phones, checking our BlackBerries, and posting our instant messages. We're so busy communicating that we fail to communicate. We think because we said something, it was understood. We confuse communicating with understanding, and silence with listening.
But the absence of talking is not necessarily listening. Real listening requires focused attention and a quiet mind. It's deep, not surface. You do it to understand, not so you can talk when someone pauses. Deep listening comes from the heart, as well as the head.
Deep listeners ignite ideas, influence outcomes and build relationships. They're wonderful to be around. There are few behaviors more powerful in the workplace than receiving someone's focused attention on what you're saying. It makes you feel valued and respected because it's clear that what you have to say matters to them. Deep listeners create dialogues, encourage thoughtful exchanges and enhance creativity. They also build their careers.
I learned to deepen my listening skills by using a technique called reflective summary. So for example, if I said to you, "I had a flat tire on the way to work and missed my boss's meeting," the typical response might be, "Yeah, I had a tough morning, too." Or you might share a similar experience. But a reflective summary statement summarizes your understanding of what it is I said. So, you might respond, "You're concerned you missed your boss's meeting?" If you summarized my message correctly then I'd continue with my concerns. If not, I'd clarify. Either way, we'd improve our communication.
So, here's my bottom-line advice after twenty years in management. If you want to be winning at working, develop deep listening skills. You see, people who are winning at working know they learn more by listening than talking; persuade more by understanding than arguing; and problem-solve more by asking than telling. People who are winning at working have discovered the power of listening.
(c) 2005 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.
Sign up to receive Nan's free biweekly eColumn at http://www.winningatworking.com Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and instructor. Visit http://www.nanrussell.com or contact Nan at email@example.com
Who Do I Have To Kill To Get A Job?
I have had more than my amount of trouble in getting a job. I did everything I was supposed to do. I went to an Ivy League school, got a 3.75 grade average, and then graduated as president of his class. Then I entered the job market.
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With today's economy, more and more companies are finding themselves faced with the situation of having to reduce headcount to remain competitive. Here are five key factors to consider when selecting an outplacement firm if your company is ever faced with a workforce reduction. 1. Types of Services Provided. One decision you will need to make regarding outplacement is whether your displaced workers would benefit most from group or individual one-on-one outplacement. For the majority of outplaced employees, if your budget permits, individual outplacement is the preferred option since it provides one-on-one support that will help them move forward more quickly than they would on their own. If you decide they would benefit most from individual outplacement, you will then need to determine what services would be most valuable to your displaced employees. One option would be to select an outplacement firm that develops their resume and cover letter for them. Another option would be an outplacement firm that offers office space and a computer for the displaced worker to prepare their own job search materials. 2. Areas of Specialty. Another factor to consider when selecting an outplacement firm is whether it is important to you that they have experience working with the type of displaced employees you will be sending them. A related factor is whether it is important to you that the outplacement company specializes in dealing with companies like yours. If their areas of specialty are important to you, review the outplacement company's web site and other marketing materials to see what their specialty is or ask them directly. If an outplacement firm's expertise lies in serving large companies displacing administrative staff and your small business is displacing experienced managers, this outplacement firm may not be the best fit for you. 3. Experience with Current Job Search Practices. How important is it to you that the outplacement firm be experienced with Internet job search techniques? Is it likely that the Internet will play a key role in your displaced employees' job search strategy? If you determine that Internet savvy is an important evaluation point for an outplacement firm, check to see whether the outplacement firm recognizes the importance of the Internet by having a web site. Are they aware of the top online career sites? Do they offer a service to post displaced employees resumes on these top online career sites? Do they have the ability to distribution resumes electronically to a select group of employers and recruiters? 4. Length of Time Support is Provided. Another factor to consider when selecting outplacement services is the amount of time you feel the displaced worker would require outplacement support. In general, the more senior-level the position, the longer it will take the displaced employee to find suitable employment. A second time factor to consider is whether the displaced worker will receive ongoing one-on-one scheduled sessions with a career transition consultant or whether the ongoing support merely includes access to job search support materials. 5. Costs. Outplacement costs must be considered when selecting an outplacement firm. Check to see whether outplacement costs are clearly defined and stated on the outplacement firm's web site and in their marketing materials. Are you charged only if the displaced employee elects to contact the outplacement firm for support or are you charged regardless of whether the displaced employee receives support? Are there affordable packages available that provide the services you feel your displaced employees would most benefit from without providing unwanted services? Another cost factor to consider is whether the outplacement firm gives you the able to select outplacement services a la carte to meet your needs. Also determine whether the outplacement company has a minimum fee requirement or whether they will charge you only for the number of displaced employees you actually have even if the number is as few as one. By considering each of these five factors you can develop effective selection criteria for deciding on an outplacement provider to best meet the needs of your displaced employees while adhering to your budget constraints. Copyright 2001-2004, Quest Career Services, LLC. All rights reserved.
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The Chicken or the Egg?
Even before I checked my calendar on Monday morning, I knew the appointment would be there. Passed over for promotion again, Ralph wanted specifics on why I hadn't chosen him for the position. This was not a new conversation. I thought of Ralph as my chicken and egg dilemma. Ralph was the chicken. He believed he would make a great Team Leader, and when I promoted him, he would step up and show me how well he could lead. My position was that of egg. Prove to me you have leadership skills by demonstrating leadership in the job you have now, and I'll consider giving you the next position. Here's the question: is it better to do the work, knowing you will ultimately be rewarded for having done it, or should you wait until the reward is there before you do the work? Like the proverbial question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, people differ widely on the answer and run their careers accordingly. Here's the way I see it - one has more to lose by taking the position of the chicken and waiting for someone else to anoint them, than by being the egg and anointing oneself. If I had waited to be a leader until someone offered me a leadership position, I might still be wishing and hoping for someone to notice me. When I wanted to be a manager, I did the work of a manager by taking on more and more responsibilities. And, I got promoted. When I wanted to be a director, I did the work of a director, without questioning compensation or title. After proving myself, I got the job, the title and the compensation. Same with being a vice-president. Doing the job first, gave me the job. It's the same now that I'm out of the corporate arena. Take my dream of being a writer. Changing careers after twenty-something years in management, I could have waited to write a column until I secured a writing contract for one. But, why would someone pay me to write without reading my words and knowing I can. Chicken and egg again. What works for me has been consistent. When I do the work first, the rewards follow. I think of it like exercising. Doing it gives me better results than thinking about it. No one likes to be called a chicken, so ... be the egg. (c) 2004 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.
Resume Writing Tips
Make sure that your resume is up to date with your latest job experience and educational accomplishments. Have a friend or relative evaluate your resume to see if it is clear, consistent, and fairly represents your skills and experience.
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