Thursday, July 10, 2008

Four Tips for Looking More Intelligent

Regardless of your actual IQ score, you can make others believe that you are highly intellectual, and here are four simple ways to do it.

First impressions really do count. Unfortunately, it is human nature to make quick judgments. However, with a little careful planning you can also turn this to your advantage. Do others have the impression that your IQ is way above average, or are they thinking, 'Well, he/she is definitely NOT the sharpest tool in the shed!' Regardless of your actual IQ score, you can make others believe that you are highly intellectual and here are four simple ways to do it.

1. Speak Rarely
A person who just can't keep a lid on it doesn't really give the impression of being intelligent. Oftentimes that person will just blurt out what's on his or her mind without really thinking. In fact, that person probably enjoys hearing the sound of his or her own voice. Just consider that a simple nod of the head can mean ten words. No need to make a production just to get a point across. By keeping your mouth shut, you will convey a sense of serenity and wisdom. Intelligence begins with as little words uttered as possible…

2. Listen Intently
This tip is a continuation of the first point. You're probably used to using grunts and unintelligible words to show your interlocutor you haven't fallen asleep. Sounds such as "Hunh", "hmm", yeah", "ah" are not words, so drop them from your vocabulary. Instead, replace your profound interjections with the more intelligible "I see", "yes, of course", "in fact" or "I agree". By using these terms, you are expressing your deep understanding of his or her monologue. Using interjections give the impression that you are actually learning something new. By expressing yourself properly, you are conveying the message that you fully grasp what is being said, and that no further explanation is necessary.

3. Avoid Answering Questions

If a conversation veers towards a more cultural or current events aspect, you will no doubt be asked to share your views ("Did you watch the news?"). If you have applied the two points mentioned above correctly, there is a strong chance your intellectual demeanor will receive your interlocutors' rapt attention… You will answer in the same sparsely worded manner. Lift your gaze casually and say something like: "The issue was well addressed". This is a perfect way to focus their attention on something they will be less eager to bring up in conversation, for fear of looking like fools. Generally speaking, only give information that you master completely and only speak when spoken to.

4. Keep Your Love Of Sports To A Minimum
A person gifted with wit is not usually enthralled with sports or other such "brainless activities". Nevertheless, nothing should prevent you from knowing a little about it, especially if you use it as a metaphor. Using expressions that contain sporting terms shows that the speaker enjoys a certain degree of sharpness and smarts. For example, if you wish to say that you have worked or done more than necessary, use the idiom "to be ahead of the game". "To carry the ball" implies to be responsible for a project or a business deal. In basketball terms, a "slam dunk" is a decisive action that was easy to accomplish. Why not a boxing term for example? To "throw in the towel" means to give up, to not pursue an objective. Do not forget, sprinkling expressions or English idioms into your conversations shows that you possess a theoretical mind and tact for analyzing a situation. These are indicative of a creative and witty mind.

If not all of this works and you still wish to appear intelligent then a simple solution is to mingle with idiots. At least in this way you may be the smartest of the batch!

Mediation: Shorter, Faster, Less Expensive: What's Not to Like?

Mediation is getting a second look from companies concerned about hair-raising judgments and settlements from traditional court disputes. Should your organization be looking, too?

Mediation is a simple concept, says The Justice Center of Atlanta:

"Bring both sides of a dispute together. With the assistance of a neutral mediator, enable them to speak their mind fully, and to hear and understand each other. Help them find the common ground that may have existed all along, but was hidden by anger, or fear, or misunderstanding. That is the essence of mediation."

What should you expect at mediation? Here's a summary of the typical steps in the process:

1. Opening Statement by the Mediator

The mediator's opening statement sets the tone for the mediation and provides ground rules. The content is up to the individual mediator, but typically it covers the following:

-- Mediator's identity and qualifications.
-- Mediator's role. "I am not a judge or a decision maker. My job is to facilitate 
-- Assertion of neutrality and impartiality.
-- Ground rules for the process, and the mediator's expectations for the parties.
-- Confidentiality rules for what the mediator can and cannot reveal.
-- Confirmations:
     -That the parties are there voluntarily,
     -That they are prepared to attempt to resolve the dispute in good faith, and
     -That they have the authority to mediate and make agreements on behalf of the organization.

2. Opening Statements

Each party presents an opening statement, typically covering:

-- Its view of the dispute
-- The relief or resolution that it thinks is appropriate
-- Anything that they wish to add to shed light on their position

Usually the party taking action, the complainant, goes first. Both parties fully explain their positions, even if they become emotional. (Venting by the parties can be the first step in putting the dispute behind them and moving toward resolution.)

3. Joint Discussion

The mediator generally starts the joint discussion by summarizing the parties' opening statements. Clarifying questions are then asked of each party so the issues can be properly identified, and so the mediator is satisfied that he or she understands the issues. The mediator may allow or encourage the parties to ask questions of each other.

4. Caucus with the Parties

At some point in the discussion, the mediator typically breaks the parties into separate groups called caucuses. During this time, each group is in a different physical location. The mediator meets privately with each party. This step often lasts for several hours. Virtually everything discussed in the caucuses, unless it was previously disclosed, is confidential. The mediator does not reveal the information to the other party.

Caucuses and joint sessions may continue to alternate. At some point, the mediation process will come to a close.

5. Closure

Either the parties reach agreement, partial or full, or they do not. In most cases the mediation session will close with at least some issues resolved. Once an issue has a specific solution agreed to, it is reduced to writing by the mediator, then reviewed and signed by the parties.

The mediation should end when settlement no longer seems possible, i.e., there is no more movement by the parties on any of the issues, and the parties and all possibilities seem exhausted, or if one of the parties withdraws from the mediation. However, the door should always be left open for future meetings as the parties may be amenable to settlement after time has passed, and particularly after a hard look at their next options.

Is mediation for you? In the next Advisor, we'll look at situations where mediation doesn't work, and at an upcoming audio conference to train your supervisors on conflict resolution.

Cover Letter Love

Eighty-six percent of executives polled say cover letters are valuable when evaluating job candidates, according to a recent survey developed by staffing service OfficeTeam and conducted by an independent research firm. What's more, eight out of 10 (80 percent) of managers say it is common to receive electronic resumes accompanied by cover letters.

Why You Must Read Biographies

"Don't worry boy, it will be alright. I've took this road you are walkin' down. I've been in your shoes. It is just somethin' that you have got to go through. I had this same talk with my dad."

Those were the words I heard from my dad at the age of twelve, when my heart had flushed my eyes with tears because the life of my dog was flickering out. Through the years I have taken walks down the same road with my dad and I've heard different versions of the same speech when business was tough, friendships ended or I wasn't feeling my best.

Sometimes it is nice to know that what you are going through isn't an experience unique to you. There is comfort in knowing that others have been there and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Often, when you are in the midst of the tunnel – the only thing that catches your focus is despair, discouragement and depression. Yet, it can turn your day around when someone ventures into the tunnel – walks with you and grabs your hand to say, 'I've been here…hang in there. I turned out alright and you will as well.'

Unfortunately, we don't all have someone who will tread into the tunnel and walk beside with encouragement. This is why it is so important to read biographies! A biography is a unique way to have a successful person walk beside you as you examine the story of their life.  You will often be surprised that the most successful people of all time experience the same struggles as you.
Einstein was divorced, Lincoln battled depression, Ronald Reagan had his heart broken by his first wife and Sam Walton went broke twice. Where did I learn these facts? From the biographies I read! Did it make me feel better because they had hard times? Yes and no. I never delight in someone else's pain. On the other hand, it is without question that Einstein, Lincoln, Reagan and Walton were monumental successes. It is refreshing and inspiring to read that they were also human and have walked down the same road that you and I have.

What an encouragement it was when my business was struggling a few years ago to read Sam Walton's biography and my eyes halted on the page where I read that at the exact age I was – at that time – that he was in an almost identical financial spot! I put the book down and a smile spread across my face. If you don't know who Sam Walton is, he started a small company called Wal-Mart a few years ago and it turned out okay.

Reading Sam Walton's biography was a neat way for me to get inspired and reminded that some pretty successful people have met discouragement head on and succeeded. In a sense while reading that book a message from the spirit of Sam Walton said, 'Ron – I have been there. It is hard, but don't give up. The reward is worth it. Now press on.' I did and I will be forever glad that I did.

Now, go to the bookstore and pick up a biography. By the way, if you are in a rough spot or experiencing some heartache... "Don't worry boy, it will be alright. I've took this road you are walkin' down. I've been in your shoes. It is just somethin' that you have got to go through. I had this same talk with my dad."
by Ron White

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cool Career You've Never Heard Of

Birth Doulas advise on birthing techniques and serve as the mother's advocate during labor. Postpartum doulas assist with emotional and physical recovery from childbirth and teach coping skills to new parents. You don't need a college degree to become a doula, but to be competitive in the field you should be certified by Doulas of North America ( The median fee for a birth doula is $700 per birth.
How to get a jump-start: Get to know established midwives and doulas in your area and ask if you can witness a birth or postpartum counseling session to see if the field's for you.

What Motivates Teams? Again, It's Not the Money

Managing teams is different from managing individual contributors. Although there is clearly overlap in the "happiness factors," there is also clearly a different perspective. Here's what BLR's unique resource for smaller HR operations, HR Department of One, sees as key "happiness" (read retention and productivity) factors for teams:

Shared Concept / Vision. Team members know where they want to go. They look to the future rather than dwelling on the past or focusing only on immediate demands.

Agreement About their Overall Purpose. Team members who agree about their purpose set priorities and assign tasks that are meaningful. And that makes them feel that they're making a specific contribution toward a valued result.

Team Thinking. People enjoy the feeling of belonging to a group. Knowing that others depend on their work is a good motivator.

Sense of responsibility to the group. Once they have committed to goals—especially those they helped establish themselves—team members feel a strong obligation to support the team, and not let the team down.

Sensitivity to Changes In Individual Roles. As roles develop and change, opportunities for learning expand. Members of a team get the benefit of learning from one another.

Free Discussion. Team members are free to present and argue their points of view safely. They feel that others really listen and respect their points of view.

Team-Set Goals. Because the team sets goals, priorities, and tasks, there is a way of evaluating and recognizing achievement. This makes work more satisfying.

Help with Challenges Beyond Teambuilding

Teambuilding is just one challenge out of—what—100 challenges HR managers face? HR is not an easy job, and it's especially difficult in a small department, where one or two people have to do it all, from succession planning to recruiting to training to recordkeeping to benefits. How can anyone possibly handle it all?