THE COMPLETE

Solutions For Today’s Workplace

PROFESSIONAL

THE COMPLETE
SOLUTIONS FOR TODAY’S WORKPLACE

PROFESSIONAL
E D ITE D
BY

B R I G IT D E R M OTT

L EARNING E XPRESS • N EW Y ORK

The Complete Professional Solutions for Today’s Workplace Edited by Brigit Dermott LearningExpress • New York Copyright © 2000 LearningExpress, LLC. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by LearningExpress, LLC, New York. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The complete professional/edited by Brigit Dermott. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 1-57685-344-6(pbk.) 1. Career development—Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Professional employees—Handbooks, manuals, etc. I. Dermott, Brigit. HF5381 .C6853 2000 650.1’3—dc21 Printed in the United States of America 987654321 For Further Information For information of LearningExpress, other LearningExpress products, or bulk sales, please write to us at: LearningExpress 900 Broadway Suite 604 New York, NY 10003 Visit our website at www.LearnX.com

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THE COMPLETE PROFESSIONAL I N C LU D E S TH E W O R K O F TH E FO LLO W I N G:

C O NTR I B UTO R S

Erik Chesla Elizabeth Chesla, M.A. Grace Fox Robert Gregor Judith McManus Susan Shelly Dawn B. Sova, Ph.D.
E D ITO R

Brigit Dermott

TAB LE O F C O NTE NTS

INTRODUCTION
Who Should Read This Book About This Book How to Use This Book to Your Best Advantage

ix ix x xii 1 1 6 9 12 22 27 29 29 35 50 54 55 56 61

CHAPTER 1: GETTING ORGANIZED
Getting Started Organizing Your Desk Space Organizing Your Files Organizing Your Time Getting Organized with Technology Summary

CHAPTER 2: WRITING FOR WORK
Getting Started Types of Documents Improving Your Writing Summary

CHAPTER 3: COMMUNICATING AT WORK
Getting Started Communication Skills

Making a Speech Communicating in a Meeting Summary

70 77 82 83 84 90 105 107 107 113 118 128 132 135 136 146 151 158 161 167 173

CHAPTER 4: RESEARCHING AT WORK
Getting Started Places to Find Information Summary

CHAPTER 5: GETTING ALONG AT WORK
Etiquette Working with Your Boss Teamwork Leadership Summary

CHAPTER 6: GETTING AHEAD AT WORK
Problem Solving Networking Moving Up Summary

CONCLUSION: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER RESOURCES INDEX

I NTR O D U CTI O N

Is your work life as rewarding as it could be or are you only work-

ing for your paycheck? While getting paid is an important part of why we work, you can also make the time you spend at your job interesting, challenging, and satisfying. You will also find that if you enjoy your work, you will be more successful. The Complete Professional is the book you need to make the most of your career whether you are just starting out or if you are well on your way up the corporate ladder.

WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK?
The Complete Professional has information that will help any professional—from those just starting out to managers—improve their

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performance at work and advance their career. If you are an entrylevel employee, this book will introduce to you important skills that will set your career off on the right foot. Working in a professional environment for the first time brings many challenges. The topics covered in this book will help you tackle them and help you avoid making some common mistakes. As a manager, you might think you know everything you need to know about working in an office, but everyone has room for improvement. Is your desk as organized as it could be? How comfortable are you writing employee reviews? Do your meetings run as smoothly as you would like? The Complete Professional addresses such topics as writing reviews, running a meeting, leading team projects, and building a professional network that are critical for any successful manager to master. Also, as a supervisor it is important to know how to help your employees be as efficient as possible. While, thankfully, you are no longer responsible for filing, understanding the principles of organized filing can help you help your employees do their jobs well, which in turn will make your job easier.

ABOUT THIS BOOK
The Complete Professional covers all the critical skills any professional needs to succeed: organization, writing, communicating, research, workplace etiquette, teamwork, problem solving, networking, and moving up. After you have completed this book, you will be prepared to meet the challenges of your workplace. You will know the fundamentals. You will be able to organize your space and your time to your best advantage. You will be able to write professional documents such as letters, memos, reports, and proposals, and you will improve the clarity and style of your writing. You will also develop your communication skills. It is

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important to be able to communicate effectively whether you are giving a speech, participating in a meeting, or just talking with your colleagues. You will also learn skills that will help you stand out. You will discover how to research for business, including using the Internet. You will come to understand some of the important fine points of business etiquette such as what to wear and how to handle office relationships. You will learn how to negotiate working with your boss, working as part of a team, and leading your colleagues. Finally, you will develop the skills you need to get ahead. One skill you should acquire that would make you an invaluable employee is problem solving. An employee who can come up with effective, creative solutions to workplace problems will be noticed and rewarded. The Complete Professional will help you become the best you can be at your job, and it will help you capitalize on your success in the workplace. When you are ready to move ahead, The Complete Professional gives you the tools you need to get promoted or find a new job. From networking, to asking for a promotion, or looking for a new job, this book has information that will make advancing your career easier and more rewarding. The Complete Professional is divided into six chapters that move from the basic skills you need to master to the more advanced skills that will help you move ahead. There are also some special features. Read the “True Stories” to learn firsthand about other workers’ experiences. These stories can help put your own workplace dilemmas in perspective, and can help you see how the skills you are learning can really make a difference. The references at the end of the book will point you to some more resources that can help you in your career.

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HOW TO USE THIS BOOK TO YOUR BEST ADVANTAGE
As we mentioned, this book has something for every professional. Where you are in your career will affect how you use this book. If you are just starting out, read each chapter carefully. When you have read the entire book, go back to the first chapter and start applying what you learned to your workplace. Get your desk organized, and improve your time management so that you are working as efficiently as you can. Next tackle your writing; are you writing as clearly and concisely as you can? Each chapter will have some advice that will help you get your career started successfully. Some chapters will be more applicable to your situation than others, but it can’t hurt you to learn some skills that will help you in the future. For example, maybe you are starting your career in advertising as a receptionist at a major firm and research seems like something far removed from your duties answering the phone. Not only does knowing where to find the information you need always come in handy, but research is a vital skill for many aspects of a career in advertising. Remember that any young professional should be looking one step ahead. Learn the skills now that you’ll need later. If you are already at a managerial level, you should still read each chapter. There will certainly be some tips in each chapter that will serve to refresh your memory of some basic skills that perhaps you’ve let lapse or never learned in the first place. Then you can focus your attention on the material that is of specific interest to you. Maybe your company is moving toward a more team-oriented approach after years of a top-down managerial style. In this case, you should concentrate on the section about teamwork strategies and the section about communicating in meetings, as you will find yourself in many more meetings. The Complete Professional is your guide to making the most of your career. Many people learn these critical skills by trial and

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error. Don’t wait to make critical mistakes at work before you learn how to write well, how to communicate effectively, or how to conduct yourself in a meeting. By learning these skills you will not only be a better employee but you will also find work more enjoyable. After all, doing a job well—without the stress of feeling overburdened or out of your depth—and earning the respect of your superiors and colleagues is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have at your workplace. So read on, make the most of your job, and get ready to move your career forward!

THE COMPLETE
SOLUTIONS FOR TODAY’S WORKPLACE

PROFESSIONAL

C HAPTE R

1

GETTING ORGANIZED

GETTING STARTED
H OW D I S O R GAN I Z E D AR E YO U? Before you can begin to get organized you need to examine the

ways in which you are disorganized and how it affects you at work. Most of us really don’t know how disorganized we are, because we can usually put the blame for our stress and frustrations on any number of other workplace problems. While these factors may contribute to our feelings of being pressured or overwhelmed, they are rarely the sole problem and they often disappear once we take control. An out-of-control work life can wear you out mentally and physically and make you feel dissatisfied with your job performance and with yourself. It can also hurt you professionally

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because, no matter how qualified and capable you are, other people will only see the deadlines that you miss and the information that you misplace. Fortunately, you can improve your professional performance and your professional image as well—if you face your problems openly.

R ATI N G YO U R WO RK EFFI CI EN CY
Identify the number of times each of the following has occurred at work in the past month and place that number on the line after the item. 1. You forgot about or failed to meet a deadline. 2. You put off returning a telephone call until “later,” then forgot until the person called a second time. 3. You forgot about or failed to show up for an appointment or meeting. 4. You completed work then misplaced it and had to do the work a second time. 5. You misplaced a telephone number or address. 6. You spent so much time socializing in the office that you were unable to complete your work. 7. You couldn’t begin a work assignment immediately because you were missing materials or supplies. 8. Your office e-mail account contained duplicate messages from people because you failed to respond to their earlier messages. 9. You submitted work that was hastily done and given only your cursory attention. 10. You took work home to finish that should have been completed during the regular business day. Total Score _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

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So what is your score? Let’s be blunt about your situation. Any score other than zero shows that you have been unnecessarily inefficient and that some improvement in organization is needed. If your score is three or less, you probably have fairly good control over your work life, even though you certainly can identify areas of improvement. You know that missing even one deadline—the wrong deadline—can ruin your professional image and make you seem unreliable to others. Forgetting to return even one telephone call or one e-mail message can hurt business relationships and make you an outsider with the wrong people. Missing one appointment or meeting can have devastating professional consequences.
I almost lost my job because I lost one piece of paper—my boss’s paycheck. Every payday I got the checks for the department and distributed them. My new boss was out of town so I held his check in my desk drawer, at least so I thought. When he got back to the office two days later, I opened my drawer to get his check and I had that sinking feeling in my stomach. It wasn’t there. I searched my office, which meant looking through all my overflowing wire baskets, all the loose papers in my drawers, through the stacks of papers on my desk. I never found it, and my boss never really trusted me again. I got a new job in my company and never let my office get that messy all over again! —KAREN, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

If your score is between four and eight, your level of disorganization is most likely taking personal and professional tolls on you. Being unable to meet deadlines, complete projects, connect with others on schedule, or finish work during the business day may leave you feeling stressed out and overburdened. Beyond the personal toll, you may find that your career has remained on hold, rather than advancing at the speed that you had expected.

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If your score is eight or above, your situation is critical and you should decide now to take the steps that can turn around your professional life. You may have a lot of work ahead, but together we can improve the situation considerably.

S ET TI N G YO U R G OALS

TO

GET ORGANIZED

Now that you know how disorganized you are—whether you need a little improvement or if your situation is critical—you can begin to tackle the problem by setting goals. Getting organized at work requires that you create a system to suit your particular needs. Some of us have difficulty completing work on time, while others run into problems with appointments and meetings. The same organizational solutions can’t be randomly applied to everyone because all of us have different needs, which change as our situations change. Success lies in directly addressing your weaknesses and building on your strengths as you create a system of organization that is right for you right now. First identify the areas in which you seem to be weakest. Don’t just put aside your responses to the “Rating Your Work Efficiency” scale—study them. Which incidents have occurred the most in the past month? Are you more likely to miss meetings or appointments? Do you habitually forget to return telephone calls? Is work often completed late? As you review your answers, do you see a pattern emerging? Identify the three areas in which you seem to have experienced the greatest difficulty in the past month, and focus your attention on developing strategies to turn those weaknesses into

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strengths. Now, identify the three areas in which you seem to have been most efficient in the past month. You have identified the strengths that you already have and that you will use to create your plan to become organized at work. To improve your organization at work you must first formulate specific goal statements that address your weaknesses and exploit your strengths. Your goals must be structured and specific. Statements such as “I hope to become better organized” or “I want to become successful” are too vague. Instead, goal statements must focus directly on your problems at work. Your goals should be realistic and manageable. If socializing at work is your weakest area, do not set a goal of eliminating socializing all together. This is not realistic. You are probably naturally friendly and, when managed effectively, this can be a great strength at work. Instead, make your goal to limit your socializing to an appropriate amount of time. Also, remember that you can work toward one goal at a time, starting with the problem that you think is the most important.

G OAL STATEM ENTS
• I will limit my breaks to five minutes, and only take one in the morning and one in the afternoon. • I will return each phone call within the hour. If I don’t have the information the person has requested, I will touch base with them to let them know where things stand. • I will start keeping an appointment calendar, and keep track of all my appointments and deadlines in one place. • I won’t let e-mail and voice mail messages accumulate. Every Monday I will go through my e-mail messages and make sure I’ve responded to

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the message or taken care of the request. I will delete any messages that are not important and archive those that are. • I will reorganize my desk files.

ORGANIZING YOUR DESK SPACE
You will feel more in control of your work if you are in control of your work environment—and for most workers “environment” means their desk and the surrounding area. You will save time and project a competent image if you can immediately locate whatever you need without having to shuffle through papers and folders or search through every drawer in the desk. As you look at the things accumulated on your desk, do you have a difficult time imagining what you can do without? Everything on your desk may seem necessary and irreplaceable, but there are a large number of items that you can live without. As with any major project, you should plan your approach before cleaning the desk. Before you begin weeding out items, obtain three boxes to contain the papers and files that you remove from the desk. You should also place an empty trashcan near the desk to encourage you to throw out useless paper and other items. To organize the desktop successfully, you must start with a clean desk surface on which to work. Clear everything off the desk—all papers, files, supplies, and equipment—then place them on the floor at a distance from your desk, so that you don’t add to the chaos. Because you plan to be thorough, take everything out of the desk drawers as well. (If your desk has file drawers, organize these using the guidelines in the next section: “Organizing Your Files.”) Separate all papers from the rest of the items. You will sort and file these papers with the piles of paper that you took from the desktop. As for the remaining items from the desk, put your tools,

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supplies, and personal items off to the side for sorting later. Once the desk has been emptied, clean every inch of it so that you can organize a truly clear desk. You should view what you are doing as marking a new beginning, because it is. Not only are you making an important effort aimed at getting organized at work, but this also means taking a new approach to your work habits. If you are extending your efforts to your desk, why not start fresh with it, as well? Treat your desk as a valued element in your working life. Start with the equipment and supplies that you removed from the desk. Ask yourself the following questions about each item and decide what absolutely must be on the desktop. Do I need this item to complete tasks? How often will I use it? How will I use it? Do I have another item that can do this task and others, as well? As you carefully make your decisions, return necessary items to the desktop one by one, and evaluate the need for each item individually. The single most important item among such essentials is your computer, which should occupy a central position on the desk unless you have been provided with a separate workstation or an adjustable desk extension for it. First position the computer in a suitable place on the desk, and then replace the other desktop items in a logical manner. IN, OUT, and PENDING boxes and other essential items that you use throughout the day, such as a desk calendar and a rotary address file, also have their places on the desktop. After you have returned all necessary items to the desktop, begin the real work of sorting through the papers and file folders. You have already placed IN, OUT, and PENDING boxes on the desk, but don’t use them immediately. Instead, begin by sorting

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THE COM PLETE PROFESSIONAL

the papers into three piles: one containing papers that you will keep at your desk or file, a second for papers that you will discard, and a third for papers that must be given further consideration. Move the trash can a little closer and begin the laborious task of deciding which papers stay and which must go. Throw away any paper that is not necessary to keep or to consider further. Before you do, record in the appropriate place any information of value that appears on a paper. For example, scraps of paper containing personal or work-related telephone numbers, addresses, or reminders should be entered into the appropriate address books or planners and then thrown out. Likewise, invitations to professional events should be recorded in the planner then thrown out. After you have sorted all the papers, you will have two remaining stacks: those to keep at your desk and those requiring further sorting and consideration. Put the second pile aside and work on the papers you are keeping. Put these papers into one of the three boxes on your desk. Place information entering the office into the IN box, and place material that should be filed, mailed, or passed on to a colleague into the OUT box. Use the PENDING box for material that represents work in progress or that requires further information. These three boxes will be valuable tools in your crusade to achieve paper control on the desktop. Sorting every paper that comes to your desk will keep you organized, but don’t allow the boxes to simply become depositories of clutter. • Items that are placed into the OUT box during the day should leave the box by the end of the day. • Items in the PENDING box should only remain there for a short time, while awaiting further action. Don’t use this box as a dumping ground for items that you don’t know what to do with. • Items in the IN box should be relocated by the end of each

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day. Place completed items into the OUT box to mail, file, or give to someone else to process. Deal with everything in the IN box each day, and do not allow items to pile up. Review all the papers in the second pile that you put aside and try to sort them as well. Many may go into the trash, now that you have given them a second review, but others may be passed on to someone more appropriate to process. After the desktop is clear, organize your desk drawers, and be as severe in throwing out unneeded and unwanted material as you were in sorting the paper. Install trays or bins to separate items and to provide order in the drawers. As you return items to the desk, return any duplicate supplies to the supply room. You don’t need to be a pack rat. You can also keep needed personal items in the desk. Use one of the smallest drawers to hold only those that you might need during the day, but don’t turn it into a junk drawer.

ORGANIZING YOUR FILES
ASSESS
THE

F I L E SYSTE M

IN

PL ACE

Filing is a key activity in any system of business organization. Information about past, present, and future activities is kept in company files—on paper, disk, or hard drive—and knowing what type of information is available as well as the correct means of accessing that information is vital to success. You probably inherited a filing system when you were hired. As you have probably already learned, not all filing systems are equally effective. Many new employees of seemingly well-established companies have been shocked by the disarray in which they find the company files. Even more shocking is that they are expected to

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maneuver through the files and continue to maintain order in a chaotic system. The first step in identifying the best filing system for your company or department is understanding the types of files that are common to all effective systems. Every filing system should contain files that fall into three broad categories: • Working files that must be kept close at hand. • Secondary files that are referred to periodically and can be less accessible. • Archive files that are rarely referred to and can be stored out of the office. Working files are active files that contain information that you need now. They should be readily accessible, in either your desk file drawers or a cabinet within arm’s reach. Client accounts, expenses, personnel records, transactions, and the like all belong in the active file. You add to active files daily as you sort and file incoming papers, and you will refer frequently to the information contained in these files. Secondary files are also current, but they consist of information that might prove useful as research or support information. They do not contain material that refers to the daily operation of the office. You should scrutinize these files more harshly and purge them more freely than you do the working files. Keep the following guidelines in mind when reviewing secondary files: Ask yourself under what circumstances you would use the information. If you can’t think of any reason to keep the material, throw it out. If you decide to keep the information, decide which key words would come to mind if you wanted to locate it. Consider how you will use the material in order to determine the appropriate key words to use. Use cross-references as they are needed. Archive files usually contain information and documentation

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that remains from completed projects or accounts that are no longer active. Laws and policies vary as to how long to keep records, and many companies that have substantial storage space simply keep everything from their first days of operation. Other companies purge their archive files on a regular basis because of space limitations, and they keep only legally required documents. Even if the records are no longer active, you should periodically go through the archived files to see if you can combine materials and organize the files to make them even more efficient. Don’t just dump a large amount of related papers into one folder. Instead, divide broad topics into new, more clearly defined categories.

K E E P I N G YO U R F I L E S O R GAN I Z E D

The following guidelines will provide long-term benefits in the amount of time that you will save and the aggravation you will avoid later. • File only what you really need to keep. • Remove paper clips from all papers because they create bulk in the folder if they stay on or accumulate at the bottom of the folder if they fall off. • Staple related pages of a single document, so that the entire letter or report will be viewed and individual pages will not be misfiled. • Check already stapled documents before filing to make certain that the pages really do belong together. • Arrange single sheets and stapled documents within a folder in reverse chronological order, placing the most recent first. No matter what organizational approach you use, you should periodically go through all the active files in each drawer of the file

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cabinet, vertical file, and desk drawer file. By doing so, you can make certain that the headings are still current and useful, and that the contents of the folders are up to date. Do you have a file maintenance plan? Do you schedule the cleaning of files on a regular basis? You should. How often you do so depends on the size of the company you work for and how busy the office is. Cleaning and reorganizing files is not an easy task, and it may take a complete day or more, even in a small company. A larger company conducts more business and records more transactions, so the files are more numerous, and organization becomes a greater chore. If the number of files is too great to go through in one day, divide the files into manageable batches. For example, organize A-D one day, and so on until you reach the end of the alphabet. Take out all the papers in one file or related group of files. Divide the papers into only two categories:“Refile” or “Discard.” As you sort through the files, be thorough and remember that the work you do now will make your daily filing much easier.

ORGANIZING YOUR TIME
Most of us could benefit from having more minutes in an hour and more hours in a day to do everything that we have to do and want to do. How often do you promise yourself to finish a task or put the finishing touches on a project “tomorrow”? Then “tomorrow” arrives and new work faces you or another uncompleted task grabs your attention, leaving earlier work incomplete and the “finishing touches” undone. Does this sound familiar? If you don’t seem to get as much done as you expected and often wonder where the time in your workday has gone, you need to identify where your minutes go and then resolve to take control of time.

G E T TI N G O R G A N I Z E D
WHERE DOES
THE

13

TIM E GO?

You probably think that you are too busy to analyze where your time goes. Yet, you need to get organized at work, and managing your time is important if you are going to succeed. A big part of managing time is setting priorities. You can afford to devote several hours to gaining control of your time and your life. Once you do, you will be happier and more productive. In which activities do you spend most of your time while at work? Are you really completing work most of the time and taking advantage of the hours available to you? Or does much of the day pass with only spurts of work being completed? What do you do during the time that you are not working? One way you can answer these questions is to keep track of your time by creating a time journal in which you record everything that you do in the course of each workday over a two-week period. This time frame is necessary to allow you to record and analyze both daily and weekly activities. Periodic tasks, those that must be completed weekly or monthly, should be noted in separate areas of the journal. In some jobs, each day is relatively the same. In this case, you can simplify your journal greatly by setting up a chart with columns that are headed by the usual tasks in a day. If your daily tasks vary and if you have specific weekly and monthly responsibilities, you should take a different approach to examining your workday. Rather than arranging the day according to tasks, view your day according to one-hour increments and identify the activities completed within each increment.

Some companies allow employees to take advantage of flextime. These employees do not work the traditional nine-to-five schedule, but structure their own work hours. If a different schedule would make it easier

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for you to balance your work and family obligations, for example, flextime might appeal to you. Find out if this option is available at your company. If it isn’t, you might consider presenting a proposal suggesting that your company institute a flextime option.

C R E AT I N G

AN

ITI N E RARY

To get organized at work, you have to use time efficiently. Creating a daily itinerary that identifies what you intend to do for every hour of the workday will structure your priorities and help you use you time wisely. The unexpected will arise and you will have to modify your schedule at times, but the basic structure should be maintained. Use your two-week time and task assessment to create your itinerary. The itinerary is important because when supervisors or coworkers come to you with unanticipated demands, you can more accurately explain why you can or cannot accomplish what is needed in the time that is allotted. That will not always eliminate late work evenings, but it will be useful in setting manageable deadlines and preventing you from making promises you can’t keep. If you are going to succeed in getting organized at work, you will have to take several important steps on your own—later we will deal with negative external influences. You—not other people—stand to benefit from becoming better organized, so begin with yourself. Following are several general ways you can manage your time. 1. Identify your periods of peak performance. According to the assessments, when do you appear to be most efficient? Are you a morning person whose energy level is highest at the beginning of the day? Do meetings,

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appointments, and telephone calls made early in the day seem to be the most successful? If so, try to manipulate your schedule so that tasks requiring more energy and concentration take place in the morning. Many people return from lunch and become sleepy within a few minutes of sitting at their desks. Are you one of these people? If so, arrange to complete the most important—and, when possible, the most boring—work before lunch. Save for after lunch those activities that will force you to move away from your desk and walk around. In this way, you can use activity to keep you awake when your body clock runs down. 2. Schedule your tasks on daily, weekly, and monthly bases. Identify how you will complete your usual daily tasks. Draw up a schedule in which you name the task and the time of the day (based on your periods of peak performance) that each task should be completed. Also establish a time-frame in minutes (or hours, as needed) within which the task should be completed. Be realistic in scheduling so that you can use the results as a guide to the success or failure of your daily (and weekly or monthly) performance. Include in your itinerary the amount of time for breaks and for lunch that your employer allows. Be honest and also include the inevitable moments that you spend in socializing, but don’t overdo it. An itinerary is only a guide, and one that is only useful when it contains current information. As your responsibilities change, make changes in your daily, weekly, or monthly itinerary and post them in full sight of your desk. 3. Remain flexible in completing tasks. You might combine several tasks or share tasks with others in the office, and this can save you time and aggravation. As

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you use new equipment or become more adept at completing repeated tasks, the time devoted to these tasks should lessen. On a periodic basis, review the itinerary and revise it by shortening your time-frame for tasks that have become second nature to you. If you can accomplish something in 30 minutes rather than the 45 minutes that it once took you, plan to put the remaining 15 minutes to better use. Your increased efficiency will allow you to take on more challenging projects and can lead to greater job security and more chances for advancement. 4. Get started now. Stop procrastinating at every point in your itinerary. Stalling for time only leaves you out of time when the workday ends. Use your schedule of tasks as a list of deadlines and decide that they will be met, so that you can end the workday on time. If your itinerary indicates that you are supposed to open the mail at 9:15 A.M., don’t decide to make calls first or to catch up with a coworker’s social life. Open the mail at 9:15 A.M.—and stay within the time-frame that you allotted to the task. Of course, the key is to remain flexible and to make up a schedule that works for you and helps you become more organized at work. You may find that you consistently avoid opening the mail as your first task of the day and that you would rather do something else to begin. If your supervisor has given you freedom to decide the order in which you complete work, rewrite the itinerary to reflect your preferences. Different tasks motivate different people. You need to find the one task that will serve as a catalyst to start your day. 5. Gather and use appropriately marked bins to lessen time lost in confusing paper shuffling. If your itinerary

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includes the use of specific files, forms, or other papers on a regular basis, obtain wire boxes to hold each type of paper. At the least, be sure to use your IN and OUT boxes to separate the work that will be sent out from the work that must be responded to and filed. Within each box, organize the papers in order of their importance or in the order in which you must deal with them, then follow through on that organization. 6. Use technology to keep you on schedule. Use a personal digital assistant (PDA) or scheduling software on your computer to aid you in tracking appointments, providing reminders, managing your calendar, and generally keeping you on top of your schedule. Many office software packages come with an electronic calendar that allows you to schedule your day and create task lists. Many will even send you reminders about the items in your agenda. PDAs differ widely in cost. They range from the lowtechnology electronic organizers that cost around $100 to full-blown PDAs, which include fax, e-mail, and paging features and cost around $800. Your needs and career goals will determine just how organized you can afford to be.

THE TELEPHONE

AND

TI M E MANAG E M E NT

The telephone can be a major obstacle to getting organized at work. It eats up valuable work time, whether we are making or returning calls. Nevertheless, unless we want to alienate clients and lose business, we can’t just let the telephone ring or switch on the answering machine and selectively return calls. And, despite the e-mail explosion, the telephone is still a better tool

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for making a person-to-person contact when we can’t meet faceto-face. The following guidelines can help you use your telephone time efficiently. 1. Create a directory of the most important telephone and fax numbers that you call and keep it next to your telephone for ready reference. This list should contain not only important clients and other business contacts, but should also include technical support numbers for vital office equipment. 2. Establish a specific time in the day when you return telephone calls that are not of an emergency nature. Grouping calls in this manner allows you to create blocks of uninterrupted work time and to control the amount of time that you spend—not waste—talking on the telephone. 3. Cut down on telephone tag by telling callers, either directly or by leaving messages on their voice mail, that you will return their calls at a specific time. Making telephone appointments in this manner cuts down on the need for others to call you at times when you are out. Formalizing an intended call by setting a time also makes others more likely to wait for your call, thus lessening the possibility that a flurry of telephone calls will result. 4. Return calls that do not require extensive explanations during times when the recipient is likely to be out of the office or about to leave. If your call is simply a brief response to a question, or if you have only a brief question to ask, call right before or during lunchtime or just before the end of the workday. Most people will not want to extend the conversation and you will obtain more direct responses. 5. Return calls that require lengthy explanations via email or fax to avoid misunderstandings. Let the recipi-

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6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

ent know that you are responding through one of these means and your reason for doing so. Also request that your callers provide lengthy information, which may have significant consequences, via e-mail or fax. Remind people that this arrangement permits you both to have a hard copy for future reference. Leave complete messages on answering machines or voice mail when you respond to calls or try to connect with another person. In addition to your name, telephone number, and the time of the call, leave a message that includes a time when you can be reached. If your call is to obtain information, provide your listener with your complete question and all the specific details, so they will be prepared to give you a complete answer. If you use voice mail or an answering machine, write down detailed information as you listen to each message and delete the messages immediately. Saving the messages to listen to later seems like an efficient idea, but it can backfire when you accumulate too many messages. Prioritize the information in long telephone calls, and cover the most important issues first in case the call is unexpectedly cut short. Because you might feel harried or hurried when you have numerous points to cover in a telephone conversation, organize your thoughts on paper and create an agenda before making an important call. As each point is covered to your satisfaction, cross it off the agenda and move on to your next point. Provide the recipient of your call with full information at the outset—at least give your name, affiliation, and the reason for your call—so that you will either receive needed information or your call can be transferred to the right person to help you. Use a telephone headset for your workday calls if you take a lot of calls or if you must complete other tasks

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while speaking on the telephone. Instead of twisting your head and neck to jam the telephone receiver between your shoulder and ear, you can move about freely while you sort mail and papers, clear the desk, or take notes as you listen to the caller.
I had just begun a project with a freelance editor who had a very busy and erratic schedule. She would often be away from her phone—usually at unpredictable intervals. I had a more consistent schedule, so I decided it would be easiest if I contacted her first, letting her know when I took my lunch, and when I had my weekly meetings. She called me back at a time I had suggested, and let me know how appreciative she was that I had let her know my schedule. It saved a great deal of time, and got our working relationship off to a great start! —DUNCAN, E DITORIAL ASSISTANT

MANAG I N G YO U R TI M E S P E NT S O C IAL I Z I N G

Does your workweek contain significant periods of time wasted in socializing? If it does, you can eliminate them by changing the way the people who surround you at work view you and by making them understand that you need to focus on professional, not social, tasks. This won’t be easy, and doing so without hurting the feelings of others or alienating coworkers and friends can be tricky—but it can be done. Have you ever sat patiently with glazed eyes as someone related a seemingly endless story about their weekend, while inside you may have been silently screaming with frustration, hoping to end the socializing and return to work, so that you could end your day on time? Why didn’t you? Were you afraid of being rude?

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Such concerns are admirable in most social situations, but not at work. Although you may feel pressured to join others around the water cooler or at the coffee machine, you must remind yourself that these activities will not help you complete your work. Getting organized at work means using your time to attain maximum efficiency, not becoming the most popular person in the room. So how can you make others understand and accept your new goals? Start with yourself. Review the assessments and identify the areas in which you have sacrificed work time for social time. Examine each incident carefully and try to remember how that lost time interfered with your workday and prevented you from enjoying personal time. • Did you have to stay later just to complete work? • Did you take shortcuts that lessened the quality of your work? • Did you feel frazzled? Stressed out? • Was the time spent socializing important? • What effect did the lost time have on your feeling of control over your work? • What effect did the lost time have on the extent to which you felt you had control over your life? Once you know when and where you are most likely to become distracted, plan to remain alert to those situations. First of all, you will have to convince your coworkers that the change in your attitude toward work is serious and permanent. This may be hard, because people are creatures of habit and they may have some difficulty accepting the change, especially if they feel guilty about their own behavior at work. You should assess your relationships and divide your coworkers into categories, according to their importance to your life. Three possible categories follow: (1) People whom you genuinely like and with whom you have developed an emotional

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relationship; (2) People whom you like but who have little or no impact on your life; and (3) People whom you could gladly do without. Focus on maintaining a solid work relationship with people in categories 1 and 2, and use your newfound dedication to organizing your life at work to eliminate the people in the third category. Let the people who count know what you are doing. You must communicate your goals if you expect their cooperation. Finding the words to let others know that you have changed is not as hard as you might think. Be honest. If you are tired of rushing through your work and of leaving long after the day should end, say so. If you have an especially stressful project due, or if you feel that your work performance has held you back from promotions, admit this as well. Once your coworkers know that you have specific goals, they will be less likely to take your new behavior personally. In fact, you might be surprised to see how supportive they will be of your efforts. Not everyone, however, will applaud your change of heart. You should also be ready to meet resistance, which might simply result from the desire to continue a friendly relationship with you and not a deliberate attempt to sabotage your new effectiveness. In this case, be kind but firm in dealing with the person. Offer options for socializing during lunch or after work, but do not let sympathy for a coworker’s problems or repeated dilemmas keep you from proceeding with your newly developed sense of organization at work.

GETTING ORGANIZED WITH TECHNOLOGY
Sending information via fax or e-mail is a true time-saver because you can send it at any time—day or night—and you don’t have to be present when people respond. Unlike telephone

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calls and voice mail, both fax and e-mail provide you with hard copy to read, study, and keep. The technology helps you organize your communications on your own schedule, because you can respond at your convenience. You also avoid the lost time involved in waiting for the mail—even express mail—to arrive, and your schedule is not disrupted by having to wait for a telephone call. Extensive as the advantages may seem, faxes and e-mails are not an appropriate means of communication in all instances. Do not send an important document via either fax or e-mail if the appearance of the original is vital to the recipient’s appreciation of its value. Business etiquette requires that formal correspondence should be sent in their original condition with the original signature. You should also refrain from sending a letter via fax or e-mail if your boss has instructed you to obtain a signed return receipt from the recipient. A fax or e-mail message report is not legal proof that a person has received your document. The law still requires an actual signature for such verification.

W H AT C A N F A X M A C H I N E S D O

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YO U?

The fax machine can save you a lot of time, because you can complete work on letters or documents late in the day yet deliver them via fax transmission before the business day ends. Knowing that you have such flexibility permits you to schedule other, more pressing work that might have to reach the package shipping counter or the post office before it closes. Your deadlines to complete work actually become more generous when you are able to send a document via fax. Other features, such as polling and broadcast, can increase your time flexibility and allow you to plan in advance long tasks that might take up the better part of a day.

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THE

AR E YO U G ET TI N G

M O ST

FROM E-MAIL?

The benefits of e-mail are many. E-mail allows you to respond instantly to messages, by simply typing in your response and clicking the “reply” button. You don’t have to use letterhead or prepare an envelope. Using e-mail also helps you avoid the dreaded “telephone tag” game. E-mail is more economical than fax transmission, because you can send messages locally or thousands of miles away for the same cost of a local call. This is one advantage over the fax machine, which accrues long distance call charges for long documents sent to distant sites. E-mail is also convenient because you can send a message at any time of day or night, and you can read your respondent’s reply with the same freedom. The message waits until you and your recipient are free to access it. You are not limited to simply brief messages, but you can attach long files when you want to transfer a report or even a book manuscript. If your office computer has a scanner, you can scan pictures, graphics, and text into your computer then send this information as an attachment, although the potential for distortions in transmission should be taken seriously. In addition, you can program your software to save all of your incoming and outgoing messages in an electronic file cabinet, thus to maintain a complete record of your electronic correspondence.

HOW CAN

THE

I NTE R N ET H E L P YO U?

How much time would you save if you completed a large part of the busywork of business tasks while sitting at your desk? What if you did not have to travel to the office supply store to pick up stationery or supplies? What if you did not even have to sit at your desk holding the telephone receiver and waiting until a customer service representative became available to take your order?

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Think of how you could plan and schedule your workday if you knew that you would not have to worry about being interrupted and asked to go to the bank to verify account records or transfer company money. How much better organized could you be if you accessed government statistics via your computer rather than trudging to the library, researching, then copying the information? If the ability to do all of this and more while seated at your desk and using your computer appeals to you, get ready to go online! Several organizing tools make searching and communicating on the Internet more manageable, including search engines and bookmarks. Search engines help you locate sources of information and web-based services. Each of the premium provider services has its own form of search engine. In addition, several others can also be accessed by typing in their addresses or by going to their sites. For Yahoo, type in http://www.yahoo.com, and for AltaVista, the address is http://www.altavista.com. You can obtain the names and site addresses of others by simply typing in the words “search engine” in some provider programs. How can search engines work for you? Let’s assume, for example, that you wish to compare the prices of office supplies from various companies, so that you can reduce costs and increase your convenience in ordering. A large number of companies of all types have websites and offer online ordering. You could go to the search engine, type in the phrase “office supplies,” and the engine, or browser as it is sometimes also called, will give you a list of other websites that will give you more information. A search engine allows you to become a more competitive shopper. Instead of maintaining your company’s association with one distributor who may not charge the lowest prices, you can now get a listing of other distributors. Using search engines allows you to get the same comparative shopping information in

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a matter of minutes, where it would have previously taken days to gather the same pricing information. Bookmarks, like their physical counterparts, allow a computer user to save a place—in this case, a favorite website. After typing in the site address or finding one through a search engine, you can just bookmark it and the computer will save that website address. The next time that you wish to visit the site, all you have to do is click on the bookmark option on your screen, then select the name of the exact page, and the computer will automatically take you there. The services offered on the Internet are indeed quite vast, but here are four key ways that it can directly help to organize any business and save you time. The first is through comparative shopping, the second is facilitated ordering, the third is online tracking, and the fourth is research access. Comparative Shopping. Basically any good or service that you can think of can be found on the Internet. Because these companies have lower overhead costs they can offer the consumer discounted prices. Not only can comparative shopping on the Internet save you time, but it could also save your company money. Ordering Online. This can make your life a little easier. It provides you with a way of organizing your time because you can plan when and how long you will search. Tracking Shipments. The Internet offers a way for you to check the status of your shipment efficiently, which can save you time that would have been spent on the phone with customer service. Major shipping companies have now developed online tracking software that you can install on your personal computer free of charge. Research Access. Many organizations and government agencies have websites, which offer a wealth of information available online. You can print out case studies and profiles of various countries, compliments of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or locate and print out a copy of current legislation that may still

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be in Senate committee, compliments of the Library of Congress. Many government agencies, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of the Census, provide useful and current data. To access research sites, use the same approach that you used to locate goods and services. Locate a search engine and simply type in the topic in which you are interested. Then bookmark the sites to which you expect to make repeat visits. Once you gain an understanding of how the Internet can help you and your business, it will save you both time and money. You will find that you will have more time to plan and to schedule other activities, and you will become more organized in the process.

SUMMARY
Getting organized at work will make you much more efficient and will greatly reduce your stress level. First you need to find out how you are disorganized, since we all have our own trouble spots. Analyze the types of problems you’ve had recently that resulted from being disorganized, and then concentrate your efforts on correcting the problem. Approach any organizing project—whether it is your messy desk, your chaotic files, or your hectic schedule—methodically. When you reorganize your desk take everything off the top and out of the drawers. Consider each item and only replace those items that are essential to your day-to-day work. Your goal is to create a clutter-free desk where everything has a place. Analyze your filing system—you should have working, secondary, and archive files—and make sure that you are filing things in the appropriate place. Only file what is useful and necessary, and file items in a consistent, logical manner. Finally, consider how you use your time and then take control of the hours in your day.

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When you create an itinerary that structures your time and tasks so that you maximize your efficiency, you will find that you are able to meet your deadlines and use your time at work effectively. Limit your socializing to the people who are important to you, and manage your telephone time so you don’t waste countless minutes playing phone tag and trapped in unnecessarily long phone calls. Finally, use technology to increase your efficiency. Faxes, e-mail, and the Internet can all save time and make your work easier. When you are working in an organized and efficient manner you will find you have more time to concentrate on developing other skills instead of struggling to keep up with tasks and keep track of your work. Writing and communicating are two important skills that every professional needs to conquer. Writing for business is addressed in the next chapter.

C HAPTE R

2

WRITING FOR WORK

GETTING STARTED
writing has several characteristics and standard practices that make it different from other kinds of writing. More than any other kind of writing, writing at work is audience specific: What you say and how you say it depends entirely upon to whom you are saying it. This means that before you begin to write, you need to be very clear about your audience. Workplace writing is also distinguished from other types of writing by its focus on purpose. In anything you write for work, your reason for writing must be made clear, and made clear from the very beginning. You must let your readers know, as quickly and as clearly as possible, why you’re writing to them and what it is you want to convey.
Workplace or business

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K N OW YO U R AU D I E N C E

It is essential to keep your reader foremost in your mind at all times. After all, writing is communication—and if the person receiving your communication doesn’t understand your message, you’ve failed in your task. You need to know to whom you’re writing in order to choose the right kinds of words and to present the right attitude,or tone.Are you: • • • • • • • A superior writing to a subordinate? A subordinate writing to a superior? A coworker writing to an equal? A customer/client writing to a company? A company writing to a customer/client? A company writing to a potential customer/client? A customer/client writing to a company?

If you’re a subordinate writing a request to a superior, for example, your tone should be gentle and polite, but not overly polite or flattering. A superior writing a request to a subordinate, on the other hand, would still be polite but be more straightforward or demanding.
My boss asked me to write a cover letter on her behalf to accompany a press kit being sent to a client. I, personally, didn’t know the client, so the cover letter I wrote was brief and very impersonal. When I showed my draft of the letter to my boss, she explained to me that my company had a long-term and friendly business relationship with this client, and the client might consider the impersonal tone of the letter rude. I have learned to write letters with the recipient’s relationship to my company in mind. —SARAH, ADVERTISING ASSISTANT

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Before you begin to write, think about your purpose. Often the purpose of your writing will fall into one of the four following categories: • • • • Informing and reminding. Requesting and inquiring. Following up and responding. Thanking, welcoming, or congratulating.

The strategies for writing a communication that aims to inform or remind are really very simple. First, tell your readers what you’re going to tell them in a clear opening sentence. Second, provide the specific information you need to convey. Finally, indicate to your reader why this information is important. Requests and inquiries follow the same general format as communications that inform and remind. Specifically, in requests and inquiries you should first indicate the general nature of your request. Then, make the specific request (kindly), and be as detailed as possible so your reader knows exactly what you want. Always explain why you need it and by when, if applicable. Finally, thank your reader. Remember that people are far more likely to give you what you want if you are gracious about it. When you are writing to follow up on a meeting or conversation or to respond to a letter or phone call, begin by thanking the person for the letter, memo, telephone call, meeting, or whatever. Then, remind the person of the highlights of your meeting or conversation, if applicable. Provide the information or items the person requested, and/or explain why you can’t provide it. End on the assumption that you will continue working together or with a “looking forward” or “best wishes” type of statement.

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For communications that thank, welcome, or congratulate, be specific about what you’re thankful to the person for, welcoming the person to, or congratulating the person for. Use exact names, dates, places, and so on. Keep your message brief. If your message is too long, you may come off sounding insincere. Remember that timing is important. Make sure you send your thanks, welcome, or congratulations promptly. A late message may be interpreted as a sign that you don’t really mean it. Knowing the purpose of your writing guides how and what you write. If you begin with a clear purpose, you will be able to write succinctly and effectively.

EDITING

AND

REVISING

Another key to successful business writing is editing and revising your work. Even the best, most experienced writers don’t get it right the first time. In fact, the more experience a writer has, the more drafts he or she tends to write. Experienced writers know that they should first get their ideas down—however roughly—and then worry about making it sound “perfect.” The process of revision means just that: re-vision, to look at again. In other words, revising means reviewing what you’ve written to make sure that it does what it’s supposed to do and it does it effectively. To evaluate your work be sure to get feedback. Read your writing aloud or show your work to someone else. Reading your work aloud enables you to hear how your writing sounds and catch confusing ideas and errors. By showing your work to others, you can get objective feedback about how well you’ve fulfilled your purpose. Don’t expect to write and revise a perfect memo or proposal in ten minutes. In fact, the earlier you begin your writing task, the better, because a little distance always helps. That is, if you

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draft your communication and then sit down to revise it right away, your draft may be too fresh in your head for you to think clearly about revisions. However, if you can put what you’ve written aside for a while—even if it’s just for 15 minutes while you have a cup of coffee—when you come back, you will be able to think more clearly and creatively about what you’ve written.

N E AT N E S S

AND

AC C U RACY

Finally, you must remember that when writing for business neatness and accuracy count. This may seem obvious, but often neatness and accuracy get lost in the rush to meet a deadline, to get a letter out before the end of the day, or to respond quickly. Writing with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or poor presentation will undermine your purpose and alienate your audience. How you present what you say often matters as much as what you say. Readers will form an opinion of you and your company simply from the appearance of your document, and this can make all the difference in how seriously your readers treat what you have to say. Here are a few general rules about presentation: 1. Proofread any written work before you send it out. And proofread it not just once, but twice—even three times. 2. Think about the appearance of your document. Don’t crowd words onto the page, and balance the white space. 3. Use a font and type size that is easy to read. Take the time to be accurate and to check your accuracy. Here are some examples of ways to improve your accuracy:

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1. Give exact dates whenever possible. For example, if you are writing to request a raise, don’t estimate the time you have worked at your company. Instead, give the specific date you were hired. An estimate might seem like you are stretching the truth. A specific date appears honest and professional. 2. Don’t guess the spelling of a person’s name. Check to make sure you have the name of the person you are writing to spelled correctly, as well as any people you refer to in your document. 3. Check any figures in your document, and double check your math. 4. Get your facts straight. Your readers will draw conclusions, take action, and/or make recommendations based on your document. You could be putting your company and your job in jeopardy if your document includes false information.
I was in charge of setting up my boss’s appointments for an upcoming international book fair, some of which were with very important contacts she had not yet met in person. I was eager to make the correspondence “perfect,” so I made sure to spellcheck everything. Only, there was one problem. My fax template was set to “automatic replace” when spell checking, and I did not modify it to “ignore” my boss’s name. The result was that on each and every fax, her first and last name were replaced with a rather embarrassing pairing of words, and the faxes were all sent with this incorrect name. I learned the hard way to always proof all correspondence before sending it out. —JOHN, FOREIGN R IGHTS ASSISTANT

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TYPES OF DOCUMENTS
Now that you have mastered the basic principles of writing for work, you are ready to apply them to specific types of business documents. The four basic types are letters, memos, reports, and proposals.

LETTERS

Business letters can have up to eleven parts. You may not use all of them every time. They’re listed below in the order in which they should appear in a letter. 1. Writer’s address. If your letter will not be sent on company letterhead, make sure your full name and address are the first items on your letter. Include your title and company name. This way your reader knows immediately who has sent them a letter. Write out all the words in this address (write Street, not St.) except the abbreviations for Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., and the state (IN instead of Indiana). Note: In business letters, the titles Mr., Mrs., and Ms., are often omitted in the writer’s address. Dr., however, usually remains. 2. Date. Next, type the month, day, and year. Write out the full name of the month (September, not Sept. or 9) and use the number for the day (12, not twelfth or 12th). Don’t include the day of the week. 3. Inside address. Write the full name, title, company and address of the reader. Don’t abbreviate except for Mr., Ms., Mrs., and Dr., and the name of the state. 4. Subject or Re: line. Re: is an abbreviation for regarding. The re: line (often called the subject line) is a quick reference telling the reader what the letter is about. The

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re: line is not mandatory, but it’s very helpful and it’s almost always used in correspondence regarding legal matters or past due accounts. The re: line should be no more than a few words and is usually underlined. It can range from an account number to several words describing the letter’s main subject. 5. Salutation. The salutation is the greeting or opening of the letter. Begin with the word “Dear” and be sure your salutation properly reflects the formality of your relationship to the reader. Here are some guidelines for determining the proper salutation: a. If you are not on a first-name basis with the reader, use Mr./Ms./Mrs. and the reader’s last name. b. If you don’t know the reader’s name, use Sir/Madam, or use the person’s title (for example, Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Customer Service Representative). c. If you know the reader’s name but don’t know whether the reader is male or female, do not assume or guess. Use Mr./Ms. ____ or use their first and last name (For example, Dear Randy Jones:). Follow the salutation with a colon (:). 6. Body. The body of the letter (your actual message) is usually single spaced, with double spacing between paragraphs. 7. Close. This is your “goodbye.” There are several options for how to close your letter, and again, your close should reflect the formality of your relationship with your reader. The following list of closing words and phrases in order of formality, with the first being the most formal: Very truly yours, Yours truly, Sincerely yours, Sincerely, Cordially, Best regards or Best wishes, Regards, Best, Yours.

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8.

9.

10.

11.

“Sincerely,” is the most common close used in everyday business communications. Only the first word of a close gets capitalized, and be sure to put a comma after the close. Signature. Four lines beneath your close, type your full name and, directly beneath that, your title. Sign your full name in the space between the two. However, if you are on a first-name basis with the reader, just your first name will do. Letters without signatures are generally not considered valid, and if someone else signs for you, it shows that you haven’t taken the time to sign yourself. Steno line/File number. If someone else types your letter for you—or if you are typing a letter for someone else—this should be indicated on your letter. One or two lines beneath the signature, the typist should write the initials of the letter sender in capitals followed by a slash (/) and then his or her own initials in lower case letters. Thus if you wrote the letter and your initials are JTE, and a typist with the initials DF typed it for you, the steno line would look like this: JTE/df. Sometimes, in combination with or in place of the steno line, there is a file name or number to indicate how the document has been saved, filed, or stored on the computer. Both conventions (the steno line and the file name or number) are used primarily to help track down documents and document errors. Enclosures. If you’re enclosing documents with your letter, you need to include the enclosure line. Type “Enclosure” or “Enc.” against the left-hand margin. You can list the documents that are enclosed, but this is not always necessary. CC:/Distribution. If people other than the addressee are to receive copies of your letter, and you want your

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reader to know that these people are receiving copies, then use a “CC” line. CC stands for carbon copy, a leftover from the days before copy machines when duplicates were made with carbon copy sheets. For example, if you were to write to someone and wanted to send a copy of that letter to your boss, you would double space down from the enclosure line and type the name of your boss: CC: Joanne Berg. If you want to send copies to several people, there are two choices for how to list those names: You can list those people in alphabetical order, or you can list them according to rank. You can also show their titles. (Note: CC can be printed in capital or lower case letters.)

• SAM

PLE

B

USI N ESS

LETTE

R

Mary Morrison The Ithaca Community Center 100 Elm Street Ithaca, NY 14850
April 16, 2000 Jim Keller Keller Productions 1200 Broadway New York, NY 10036 Re: Ithaca As It Was Dear Jim: Thank you for all your hard work on Ithaca As It Was. We are delighted with the video, and are looking forward to showing it at our annual Ithaca Celebration. I have processed your final invoice, so you can expect to receive payment in two to three weeks. I would also like to arrange for the return of the material from the Historical Society Archives. Please send the photos by FedEx using our account number, and, of course, pack them carefully since they are valuable originals. We would love to invite you as our guest to the screening of Ithaca As It Was, which will be held on May 19. Please let me know if you would like to attend and we will make arrangements. Again, thank you for this wonderful history of our town. Best regards, Mary Morrison Enc: FedEx shipping label CC: Carl Harrington, Archivist, Ithaca Historical Society

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MEMOS

Memos are generally used for most internal workplace communications. A memo is the “letter” that is sent internally, within companies or organizations. You may also have the occasion to write an external memo— a memo to someone outside of your company. It might be a company that you regularly communicate with for reasons not having to do with your normal moneymaking business. For example, if you and two other companies share a security service for your building and you had to communicate something regarding security, you’d send a memo instead of a letter. The main difference between memos and letters is that memos are less formal. Like letters, they can have a variety of subjects, purposes, and formats, and all memos have the same parts. Memos are divided into six parts that fall into two main sections: the heading and the body. The heading shows who is writing to whom, when, and about what; the body then conveys the message. The heading of a memo should include these five parts in this order: 1. To. List the recipients of the memo. Include first and last names, and titles (or departments) for more formal memos or memos to superiors. Even if the subject is not formal, include titles if you’re not sure everyone on the list knows everyone else on the list. If all recipients know each other’s names and positions, then you can use just the first initial and last name of each recipient. When you have several recipients, you have to decide how to list them. As with ccs on letters, you have two choices: list them alphabetically or by rank of position. Either order is acceptable. If you are writing an external memo, then you should include the name of the company that each recipient works for as well.

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If your memo is going to a lot of people, you don’t have to list dozens of names. Instead, you can name the group or groups that the recipients belong to (so long as everyone in that group is getting the memo). Here are some examples: TO: TO:
All Employees Production Managers Production Line Assistants

2. From. List the author(s) of the memo. You should generally list the name(s) and/or title(s) of the author in the same way you’ve listed the name(s) and/or title(s) of the recipients. If the memo is from several people, follow the same rule: List them alphabetically or by rank. 3. Date. List the month, date, and year just as you would in a letter. 4. Subject or Re: line. The re: or subject line is much the same as the re: line in a letter, with one important exception: In a memo, the re: line should be more specific. It should still be short enough to fit on one line, but it should give readers a precise idea of the subject matter of the memo. Specific re: lines help personnel instantly prioritize their internal mail. 5. Distribution/CC. This part of a memo is just like the CC section of a letter. List those readers who are not direct recipients of your message but who should have a copy for their information or reference. The same rules apply for the order and format in which you list these names and/or titles. The body of a memo is usually separated from the heading by a solid or dotted line or by several spaces. Some writers use asterisks (*) or other symbols. Check with your company to see if there’s a routine way of separating the heading from the body.

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The body of a memo, like the body of a letter, is usually single spaced with double spacing between paragraphs. Writers use several strategies to make the body of a memo easier to read and understand. First, the body of a memo should include parts that serve as an introduction, body, and conclusion. Thus, memos usually: 1. Start by stating the general facts, problem or issue of discussion. What is the memo about? Begin with a clear topic sentence. 2. Then, state the facts or discuss the problem or issue. Provide support for the topic sentence. 3. Finally, discuss the significance of the facts, problem or issue and/or request an action from your readers. In other words, what does this add up to? What should the reader do? For longer memos, use headings to break the subject matter into logical sections. You can bold face, italicize, and/or underline these headings so it’s clear that they’re headings (but don’t do all three). Headings are most clear if they are on a line by themselves, but as long as they are boldfaced, italicized, or underlined, they can begin a paragraph. If your memo includes instructions or a number of items to be discussed, use lists. The items in your lists can be numbered, bulleted, or marked with letters of the alphabet. If your memo includes a lot of numbers and statistics, use a table or graph to convey that information. By putting information into a table or graph, you make it easier to read.

• M

E M ORAN DU M

To: All Employees From: Karen Marx Date: May 14, 2000 Re: Memorial Day Picnic! Memorial Day is just around the corner, and that means it’s time for the annual company picnic. The picnic will be held this year at Great Falls State Park on Saturday, May 25. There will be bus service to the park leaving from the building at 10 A.M. Please sign up if you plan to come by bus. The sign-up list is posted on the kitchen bulletin board. For all you drivers, the festivities will start at 11:00. I’ll send an e-mail later in the week with more information about planned activities and, of course, food and drinks. Looking forward to seeing you all on the softball field!

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R E P O RTS

At work, you may be called upon to give an account of something you’ve done, seen, heard, or learned. More often than not, you’ll have to put that report into writing. In any report, there are certain items you must cover: the who, what, when, where, why, and how. These are the basics in any report, and the more specific you can be, the better. For many types of reports it is important to be objective, to provide the facts so that people can then form their own opinions. When a report requires that you offer impressions and opinions, this report takes on the status of an analysis, review, or editorial. Some types of reports include a section for conclusions or recommendations. If you are writing this kind of report, you should offer conclusions or recommendations that you feel are logical based upon what you’ve seen, heard or learned. Clearly the recommendation of a report will be subjective, but in order for it to be valid, it must be based upon the objective material presented somewhere in the report. Here are some of the types of reports you may have to write: meeting reports (minutes), progress reports, periodic reports, trip reports, production reports, incident reports, accident reports, and work reports. Some of these reports are written on a regular basis (every day, week, month, or year). Some reports are made on preformatted forms and you will just have to fill in the blanks. For others, you’ll have to start from scratch. Either way, you should know the general format for reports and some specific report formats. Unlike letters or memos, most common workplace reports don’t have many parts. They usually begin with a simple title that indicates their subject, like “Work Report” or “Accident Report,” and then list the author and date of the report. Then, the body of reports usually follows a structure similar to the body of memos.

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Most of a report—the body, so to speak—consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. First, the beginning of a report introduces the subject and purpose of the report, using a clear topic sentence. Reports may also begin with a sentence that summarizes the information to be contained in the report. If a report is to be filled out on a standard form, or if the report is one that employees fill out frequently, there’s often no need for an introduction, because the information provided at the top of the form tells readers everything that would be in such a topic sentence. The paragraphs in the body of the report support the main idea. The more detailed and specific you are in this support, the better. Remember that the body of your report should not evaluate or assess the facts you report. Opinions or impressions should be reserved for the conclusion or recommendations section. The body of a report, like the body of a memo, can be made reader-friendly by the use of headings, lists, tables and graphs. The conclusion should tell readers if there is any action to be taken or if there are any recommendations based upon what you’ve reported. For example, in a progress report, your conclusion might present your goals for the next report period or discuss problems you’ve been having during this report period. An accident report might recommend changes to be made to prevent similar accidents in the future. Now let’s look at how this report structure works for a few specific types of reports. Progress reports. Most reports follow a chronological order. A progress report, for example, will begin by naming the time period covered in the report. Then the body will be organized as follows: • Past: what has been accomplished? • Present: what work is in progress? • Future: future plans/goals and a time line for completion.

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Be specific about what you have accomplished and plan to accomplish. List any issues or concerns that you may have (things that may prevent you from achieving your goals, for example). Trip report. A trip report should be formatted as follows: • Past: what you did or saw. • Present: how you feel about it, how you are using it in your work. • Future: how this can be used in your work, other trips, etc. Meeting minutes. A report containing minutes for a meeting should be formatted as follows: • Past: unfinished business from last meeting. • Present: current issues. • Future: when and where the next meeting will be held. Meeting minutes include the time and date of the meeting, who attended, and who would usually attend but was not there for this meeting. Another type of report is an employee review. Reviews, unlike other types of reports, are marked by personal opinion, impression, or reaction. A review, in short, says, “Here is what I think, and here’s why.” What distinguishes a good review from a bad one is the “why”—how much and what kind of evidence is offered to support the writer’s assertions. In general, a review should do the following: make a strong, clear assertion about the person, place, or thing being reviewed; offer a brief explanation of why an issue is being reviewed, if applicable; and offer strong evidence supporting the opening assertion. Offer specific, detailed support for your assertions in a review. A review should contain both the good and the bad. A review

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that is entirely one-sided (either completely positive or completely negative) might not be taken as seriously as one that shows some balance. This doesn’t mean that you can’t write a good or bad review; it simply means you should show that you’re discriminating—that you’ve looked for the bad in the good or the good in the bad. When you note areas of an employee’s performance that could use some improvement, it is always good to include suggestions to resolve the problem.
As a manager, I have to write performance evaluations for my employees. One employee had a particular problem with her phone manner. When making calls, she would rarely, if ever, begin the call by stating her name, the company, or her reason for calling. Because of these weak phone skills, the calls she made were resulting in fewer sales than the calls her coworkers were making. Rather than citing only her low sales in the evaluation, I suggested that she begin her calls more clearly and that she practice calls with coworkers to become more comfortable with customers. My suggestions worked, and not only did her sales increase but her attitude improved dramatically. In this situation, offering suggestions to an existing employee was easier and much more effective than hiring and training a new employee. —J UAN, TELEMARKETING MANAGER

PROPOSALS

A proposal is a formal attempt to convince someone to approve, sponsor, agree to, or support a project or idea. Like all types of business writing, in order to convince your reader you must know your audience and your purpose. First determine

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exactly whom are you trying to convince? The more specific you can be about your audience, the better you will be able to determine the wants and needs of your readers. And the more you know what your readers want and need, the easier it is to show how what you want fills their desires or needs. Next, brainstorm about your purpose. Clearly, your main goal is to convince. But what exactly do you want to convince your readers to think or do? Again the more specific you can be the more convincing your proposal will be. Once your audience and purpose are clear, the next step is to clarify exactly how your readers will benefit from doing what you ask. You know how you’ll benefit from what you want; now ask yourself how will the reader or the company benefit? So you’ve told your readers that they will get certain benefits from agreeing to do what you ask. Why should they believe you? The answer, of course, is to provide specific evidence for your claims. If what you want requires people to give up time, energy, or money—especially if you want them to spend money—they are probably going to have reservations or objections to what you want them to do. And if they are going to have to get approval from someone else, that person might have reservations and objections as well. You’re much more likely to convince people if you acknowledge and overcome their reservations and objections. Another strategy for effective convincing is to request a specific action from your reader. You’ve asked for what you want; you’ve shown readers exactly how they will benefit; now, as you conclude, tell readers exactly what you want them to do. Now that you know the basic strategies you can use to convince the reader of your proposal, you are ready to write. There are many different kinds of proposals, and they can range from the very complicated to the very simple. Generally, whatever the kind, proposals fall into one of three categories:

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• Proposals to provide a good or service • Proposals to make a change or improvement • Proposals to approve a program or project Some proposals combine purposes. In any case, all proposals, complex or simple, follow this very basic organizational structure. Proposals have several parts. Depending upon the length and complexity of the proposal, these parts may or may not be separated as individual sections, and not all parts are applicable for every proposal. 1. Title. Make sure your proposal has a simple, direct title and that it indicates the date, the author of the proposal, and the receiver. If you’re writing your proposal in memo form, then this information will be taken care of in the heading of your memo and you should not repeat it in the body. 2. Problem statement. Describe the problem. Be sure to provide sufficient background information so that readers fully understand the problem. 3. Describe the solution you are proposing. First, use a general topic sentence to summarize the solution. Then provide the specific details of the solution. Readers need to know exactly what’s involved in a solution before they can approve it. You can break the solution down into the following parts: • Procedures. If your solution requires several steps or complicated procedures, a procedures section will be helpful for readers. List the steps to be taken in chronological order. Readers need to know exactly what’s involved in a solution before they can approve it. • Personnel. If several people will be working on this solution, explain who those people would be and why they’d be the best ones to accomplish those tasks.

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• Materials. If special equipment or materials are required for your solution, list that equipment or those materials. • Timeline. How long will this solution take? Can it be done in a day, a week, a year? Offer your best guess. • Budget. How much will it cost to implement you solution? If there are large costs involved, it’s a good idea to provide a budget if you can offer accurate figures. Remember, when convincing, you need to anticipate readers’ questions and objections, and one question they’re sure to ask is “How much will this cost?” 4. Summary. Restate the problem and summarize your solution. Remember that the overall goal of a proposal is to convince. That means you need to: show how your solution will clearly benefit readers; anticipate readers’ reservations and objections; and provide specific evidence for your claims.

IMPROVING YOUR WRITING
Now that you can tackle most of the types of writing that you will encounter at work you are ready to finesse your writing skills.

W R I T I N G C L E A R LY

You must write clearly. If your reader can’t understand what you’ve written, you can’t achieve your purpose and you won’t reach your audience. Here are some rules to help you write clearly. Avoid jargon. One of the most common flaws in workplace writing is the use of jargon. Jargon is technical or specialized language used by a limited audience. The key to avoiding using

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jargon inappropriately is to be sure that you write at the appropriate level for your readers. Will they understand you if you use technical language? If you’re an electrician and you’re writing to other electricians, sure. But if you’re an electrician and you’re writing to someone in accounting, for example, you’ll confuse your reader if you use electrician jargon. If you must use jargon and your audience is not technical or won’t be familiar with your specialized terms, then be sure to define those terms for your readers. This is also true of abbreviations. If you use an abbreviation readers may not know, be sure to define it. Avoid pretentious language. Writers often believe that big words impress readers, but you don’t add any authority or value to what you write by using big words when short, simple, clear words will do. For example, there’s usually no need to use words like “utilize” or “facilitate,” when “use” and “help” are just fine, and often clearer. Avoid ambiguous language. Ambiguous means having two or more possible meanings. So of course ambiguous words and phrases interfere with clarity. Take a look at this sentence, for example: “The photographer shot the model.” This sentence can be read two ways: Photographers “shoot” pictures with a camera, but this sentence can also mean that the photographer shot the model with a gun. This kind of ambiguity happens whenever a word has more than one possible meaning in the way it’s used in a sentence. Another type of ambiguity happens when a series of words is in the wrong place in a sentence. For example, look at the following sentence:“The woman ate the sandwich with a blue hat.” Here, the word order of the sentence, not an individual word, causes the confusion. Did the woman eat her sandwich with her hat? That’s what the sentence actually says, but of course that’s not what the writer intended. This sentence should be revised to read: “The woman with a blue hat ate a sandwich.” Here’s another ambiguous sentence: “When reaching for the

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phone, the coffee spilled on the table.” The sentence, as written, means that the coffee reached for the phone. Therefore, the word order needs to be rearranged. A missing word also needs to be added—the subject of the sentence—to fully eliminate the ambiguity: “The coffee spilled on the table when he reached for the phone.” Use the active voice when possible. Using the active voice means making sure a sentence has a clear agent of action and a direct approach. For example, compare the following sentences: Passive: Active: The file was put in the wrong drawer. Florence put the file in the wrong drawer.

Notice how the active sentence gives readers an agent of action—a subject performing a verb. In the passive sentence, you don’t know who or what put the file in the wrong drawer; you just know that somehow it got there. The active voice is more direct and makes a sentence sound more authoritative and powerful. There are times when the passive voice makes sense—like when you don’t know the agent of action or when you want to emphasize the action, not the agent. It’s also useful when you desire anonymity or objectivity.

WRITING

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ST YL E

Clarity is essential, but clarity alone does not make for a good workplace writing style. Also important are these three rules for workplace writing: be concise; use the right degree of formality; and get straight to your point. Time is money, and in workplace writing, you can’t afford to waste your reader’s time by taking too long to convey your message. Readers are quickly annoyed by writers who take ten sen-

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tences to say what could be expressed in four or five. Here are some ways to avoid wordiness: Cut any unnecessary words. For example,“Because of the fact that” can usually be replaced with “because.” That and which phrases can often be rephrased by turning the idea in the “that” or “which” phrase into an adjective. For example:“This is a manual that is very helpful” would be more simply phrased: “This is a very helpful manual.” Using the active voice, as discussed above, can also help to avoid this type of verbal clutter. Avoid unnecessary repetition. Make sure you are not saying the same thing in two different ways. For example, the sentence “The room is red in color” is repetitious. Use exact words and phrases. Wordiness can often be trimmed by using exact words and phrases. This means substituting a strong, specific word for a weak, modified word or phrase. (A modifier is a word that describes, like red balloon or very juicy apple.) Notice how exactness cuts back on wordiness and makes for much more powerful sentences in the following example: He walked very forcefully into the room. He burst into the room. Whenever you write, you must decide on a level of formality that ranges from very formal (proper, stuffy, distanced) to very informal (slangy, relaxed, intimate). In most cases, you should fall somewhere near the middle of the scale, but on the formal side. As the person you write to increases in rank, so should your level of formality. When you write for work, get right to the point. If you wish to get personal or add a friendly comment or two, do it at the end of your letter or memo (in no case should there be a personal message in a report or proposal) after you’ve taken care of business. You show more respect for your reader by getting straight to the point than by starting off with small talk.

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SUMMARY
Writing is an integral part of every professional’s work life. From letters to memos to reports and proposals, always write with your audience in mind and with a clearly stated purpose. Remember that writing means revising, and you should always check your documents for neatness and accuracy. Each type of business document has a prescribed format that you should follow. Finally, your business writing will be much more effective if you write clearly and with style. To write clearly you should avoid jargon and pretentious language, and write in unambiguous, active language. The style of your writing will improve if you are concise, use the right degree of formality, and are direct. Writing for business is an important part of how you communicate with your colleagues, customers, and coworkers. Verbal communication is the subject of the next chapter and it is equally, if not more important, as writing in today’s workplace.

C HAPTE R

3

COMMUNICATING AT WORK

Being able to communicate effectively is a highly valued skill in

the workplace. Many surveys indicate that executives rank good communication as a top priority for their employees. Why? Because each day in businesses around the world thousands of hours are spent creating and delivering oral messages, which are exchanged in meetings, interviews, sales pitches, customer service conversations, and formal presentations. Research indicates that you spend a minimum of 50 percent of your time at work speaking with others. If you’re a manager, salesperson, or customer service representative, the average time you spend talking to other people jumps up to 80 percent.

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GETTING STARTED
When communicating at work it is important to know three things: your audience, your purpose, and how you’re perceived. In order to communicate effectively you must consider to whom you are speaking, what you are trying to accomplish, and your audience’s points of view. Once you know these key pieces of information, you will speak with greater ease and more confidence, and you will be far more successful in your communication.

K N OW YO U R AU D I E N C E

Who are the people who will be listening to you talk? Do you work with them? Are they potential or current customers? Are they supervisors, or are they the owners of your business? The more clear and specific you can be about who these listeners are, the easier it will be to design a message suited to their needs. Ultimately, you want your audience to understand and accept what you have to say; the more you can adapt your speech to fit their needs, the better your chances are for success. Once you define your audience, you’ll be able to use the examples, language, and concepts that can best reach them. The following list of questions will help you define your audience. 1. How many people will you be speaking to—1, 10, 20, or 100? The number of people listening will determine how loud you need to talk, what kind of special arrangements you will need to make for seating and sound, and the type of audiovisual aids you will use. It will also affect the style and level of formality of your talk. Speaking with one person will be more impromptu and will involve more give-and-take, while address-

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2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

ing a large group will require a more formal, prepared speech. Are they men, women, or a mixture of both? The gender of your audience can influence what kind of examples you use. Although you want to be careful about generalizing, some examples may elicit stronger reactions in certain audiences. What does your audience know about your subject? You don’t want to bore them by telling them what they already know, but at the same time, you should never confuse them by assuming that their knowledge is greater than it actually is. Do they speak a particular jargon or do they know complex technical information? You should tailor you language to suit your audience’s knowledge. You may need to create a handout or other audiovisual aid explaining technical facts or information that is used only by your business. How long will you be speaking to the group? The difference between a five-minute speech and a thirtyminute talk is about 3,000 words. What does the audience expect from you? Once you know what they expect to have learned at the end of your talk, you can tailor your words to their expectations and incorporate valuable information into your talk. What do they have that you want? Be clear about what you want to achieve as a result of your talk. Do you want a job? Do you want money for a product? Or is having a satisfied customer reward enough for your talk?

Knowing the answers to these questions can make a major difference in creating a message that is both beneficial and interesting for your audience.

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K N OW YO U R P U R P O S E

Most of us have sat through long, drawn-out speeches at work. We’ve listened to reports or briefings and wondered what the point was. As we all know from personal experience, it can be extremely frustrating and boring when someone is speaking and you haven’t a clue where they’re headed. As a speaker, one of your most important tasks is to define your reason for speaking. It is not the responsibility of your audience to sort through your presentation, trying to figure out the objective. It’s up to you to define clearly about what you’re speaking. Each conversation, talk, or presentation that you give has a general and a specific purpose. The three general purposes in communication are to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. An informative speech is an instructional talk that is designed to increase your audience’s knowledge about a particular subject. Examples of informative speeches include a report on the sales made over the Internet in the last quarter or an introduction of a new employee. In informative speeches you present your material without bias and with an objective of educating the audience. A persuasive speech’s primary intent is to change the views, opinions, or behaviors of an audience. Persuasive speeches in business are generally designed to get the audience to accept an opinion, adopt a new strategy, or buy a product or service. The bottom line in a persuasive speech is that, as a result of your talk, you want people to make a change. An entertaining speech results in enjoyment and lifted spirits. Entertaining speeches are humorous, comprising jokes, illustrations, and stories. Generally, entertaining speeches occur at social events, such as an award gala or a banquet for key sales personnel. Your entertaining speech should keep the audience interested and amused. While informative, persuasive, and entertaining speeches have three distinct purposes, you may have overlapping objectives in

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certain speeches. There’s certainly nothing wrong with adding some information to your entertaining speech. And more likely than not, you will probably sell more of your product if you include humor in your persuasive speech. Just make sure that if your goal is to persuade, you don’t spend all of your time entertaining, at the cost of a sale.

K N OW H OW YO U’R E P E R C E IVE D

As you do more and more speaking for business, you’ll learn that one person’s interpretation of a speech may be entirely different from another’s. Researchers say this is because of differences in perception. Our perceptions influence how we view the world. They are based on where and how we were brought up, and what we learned from our guardians, friends, and educational experiences. As speakers, it is important to be open and positive, realizing that not everyone views the world as we do. Try to understand where members of your audience are coming from; that is, to put yourself in their shoes. A good speaker will treat an audience with respect, even if the views of the individuals in the audience do not match the speaker’s own beliefs. Here is an extremely valuable idea to remember: How your audience perceives your message is the key to any presentation. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what your intentions are—your audience’s perception will determine whether or not you are successful. Therefore, being conscious of the perceptions of your audience will assist you in creating a speech that will affect listeners in the way you want. Understanding perception is especially important when communicating with people from cultures other than your own. As our global village becomes a reality, people in business recognize the necessity of understanding and respecting other

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cultures. You should recognize that a person’s language not only provides a tool for relating to other people, but it is also the means by which realities and perceptions of the world are formed.
When I (an American) was interviewing for my current job at a major Christian broadcasting company in Australia, I was invited out to eat with several of the top executives of the company. I was treated to a hearty Australian dinner and said, “I have to tell you, I’m stuffed.” I couldn’t understand the uncomfortable silence. I thought maybe they took what I had meant as a compliment about the great meal as a complaint. I was shocked when my prospective boss asked me the next day what I had meant, and told me they were very concerned. I found out, in Australia, “I’m stuffed” means “I’m pregnant,” and the company’s strict moral code prohibited them from hiring an unwed, pregnant woman. We laugh about the incident now, but I almost lost a great opportunity because I wasn’t aware that colloquial phrases don’t always travel. —KELLY, B ROADCASTING EXECUTIVE

People from different cultures may vary in their degree of assertiveness. The Japanese are so polite that in business they have a distaste for the word “no.” As a result, many American businesspeople have interpreted such statements as, “We’ll need to look into it further,” “We’re not sure,” and “We’ll do whatever is possible,” to mean, “yes,” when the actual meaning was “no.” Understanding a culture’s intent and use of language can help you understand how you will be perceived. Knowing your audience’s perception is an important key to effective communication.

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COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Your ability to communicate depends upon several skills: creating a good first impression, using language effectively, controlling your voice, paying attention to body language, and listening carefully.

F I R ST I M P R E S S I O N S

The success of many communications will depend on your ability to create a good first impression. Have you ever met a stranger and realized after only a few minutes that this was someone you’d like to get to know better? If you answered yes then, like most people, you have experienced a powerful first impression. Because of this instant feeling that most people have when facing a strange business or person, you must be actively aware of the image that you and your business present. It is said that within the first four minutes of meeting a stranger, you evaluate the person and decide to continue the interaction or to part. First impressions are formed very quickly and stay with us for a long time, acting as filters through which we see everything else we learn about a person or place. First and foremost, your clothing does make a difference in how you’re perceived. In one recent study, people were asked to rate pictures of business personnel according to their credibility. The people who were dressed in a more professional manner were given the highest ratings. The most important clothing rule is to wear clean, neat clothes and jewelry that are appropriate for your work environment. Follow the explicit and implicit clothing codes wherever you work and dress appropriately. Your attitude and demeanor are also extremely important to others’ first impression. You should exhibit confidence. People want to work with those in business who believe in their product or service, as well as themselves. One way to boost your con-

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fidence is by acting self-assured. Your behavior will have a positive effect on the way you feel and vice versa. Go into every situation with a positive attitude and an enthusiastic demeanor, and you’ll be pleased with the type of responses you get.

L ANG UAG E

As a speaker, you must try to use the most accurate, complete, and clear words so that your audience will decipher the message you send. Miscommunication in business can occur when people are imprecise, inaccurate, and inconsiderate in using the English language.

Note how precise language makes the second sentence more useful to the audience than the first. “Many people in this room will be able to afford the huge amount of money that an average house costs today.” versus “Approximately one out of four people in this room will be able to afford the $110,000 necessary to purchase a home today.”

Specific language is more effective than relative terms. For example, if you state,“It’s going to take a really long time to complete this project,” your audience could infer that you mean two months or five years. It would be better to say,“It’s going to take at least four months to complete this project.” When you define your terms, you narrow your audience’s interpretation and limit any confusion that could occur. Be aware that you may need to explain technical language. No matter what business you’re in, there will be some specialized

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language or jargon that only your trade or profession uses. If your audience is unfamiliar with the jargon you use, you can confuse and alienate them. Therefore, always explain jargon as well as any other foreign, complex, or unfamiliar words. The same is true for acronyms (using the first initials of each word to stand for the full name) and abbreviations. Always use the full name unless you are sure your audience knows the meaning of the acronym. Use concise and powerful language. Eliminate words that you don’t need. For instance, rather than saying “At this point in time,” just say “Now.” Powerful language is persuasive and believable, resulting in a credible and positive image for the speaker. Some examples of powerful language include action verbs, clear and precise descriptions, relevant and vivid examples. Nonpowerful language is most easily observable in four categories: tag questions, disclaimers, hedges, and hesitations. Tag questions are asked after a statement is made. An example of tag question is: “It’s about time that we accepted the policy, don’t you agree?” Disclaimers are words preceding a second set of words that limit the meaning of the latter. For example, “I’m not really sure about this, but . . .” Hedges are a group of words that seem to circumvent an issue or an opinion. Statements such as “I guess,” “sort of,” or “in some ways” are examples of hedges. Hesitations occur when a speaker is unsure of his or her position and pauses or interjects unrelated words. Some example of hesitations is “um,” “so, what I was thinking was . . . ,” or “I was wondering . . . .” These speech habits undermine a speaker’s credibility and should be avoided in business communication. Have you ever been in a business meeting or attended a speech and found that your mind started to wander? And then, when you focused back on the speech, you were confused about where the speaker was headed? Some studies say that people “tune out” several times during a presentation. As speakers, it is

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our responsibility to keep our audience on target so that they will understand and retain as much of our material as possible. One of the techniques that we can use is to incorporate connectives into our speech. Connectives are words, phrases, or sentences that bridge or attach two distinct ideas or thoughts. Numbering your points, for example, gives your audience markers to follow as you proceed through your speech. Cause and effect connectives, such as “as a result,” “consequently,” and “therefore” help your audience stay involved, and bridge the gap between one set of thoughts and another. In today’s business world it is essential to use nondiscriminatory language. Avoid the exclusive use of male pronouns (he, his, or him) if you are unsure of the gender of your subject. Rather than always using male pronouns in sentences, remain neutral or use both male and female pronouns. Also, avoid the use of -man on the end of some compound words. For example, instead of saying postman say mail carrier.

VOICE

What you say is clearly important; how you say it is equally important. Your voice can make a big difference in how well your message is received. Studies indicate that certain vocal qualities are most inclined to cause problems for an audience. If someone speaks in a monotonous tone over a long period of time, people decide that they’re not really interested in their material. When a speaker uses a high-pitched voice, an audience may not take that speaker very seriously. And when a person speaks rapidly, he or she may be perceived of as impatient or aggressive. It can be a frustrating experience to strain to hear a speaker, or being asked to repeat what you’ve said at a meeting. Speaking loud enough so that an audience can hear you seems to be the most important factor in controlling your voice. By standing

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erect and relaxing, you should be able to project to an audience of fewer than 200 people. If you’re addressing more than 200 people, use a microphone. Concentrate on being loud enough so that everyone can hear you, and on varying the loudness of your voice. If you’re discussing a private situation, you can speak softer for effect. When you are talking about an exciting invention, increase the volume of your voice. Novice public speakers have a tendency to speak very quickly, so just remember to go slow enough to be heard. You also need to speak a bit slower if you’re addressing a large crowd as opposed to a few people. You know you’re speaking too fast if you’re gasping for breath or running your words together. But if you find that people are becoming bored or constantly requesting that you get to the point, then you may want to speed up your delivery. Besides varying the speed of your delivery, you should utilize pauses in your verbal delivery. If you’ve delivered a particularly important point or quotation, you can pause for a few seconds to let the audience reflect on the significance of what you’ve said. Pauses can be the punctuation marks of speech. The third aspect of your voice is your pitch, or the high and low tones. Ideally, you should vary the pitch to create inflection in your voice. Most audiences find a monotone or one-pitch voice particularly irritating; aim for a middle pitch for most of your talking and work to vary the tone of your voice. If you want to change a particularly squeaky, husky, or gentle voice, you can begin by using a tape recorder. Tape yourself using higher and lower voices. Find a voice that you like and then emulate the sound repeatedly until it becomes natural.
I worked for years as a high school coach, and decided that I was ready for a change. I was offered a job as a textbook sales rep, and I was really excited about the opportunity. As a former teacher, I knew the material and the market really well, and I have

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a good manner with people. I was disappointed when my sales didn’t match my expectations. I asked an experienced rep what she thought and she told me that my loud and assertive voice, which I developed on the playing field, might be intimidating to the teachers and librarians with whom I was meeting. I practiced speaking in a softer voice, and found that my sales improved and I developed a much better rapport with my customers. —FRANK, TEXTBOOK SALES R EPRESENTATIVE

If, after several attempts, you need additional help changing your speaking voice, find a professional communication consultant or speech therapist for assistance.

B O DY L A N G U A G E

Nonverbal communication or body language is important in business. When you smile, customers think you care about them. If you are slouched over your audience might think that you have no confidence. Researchers have found that 65 percent of the emotional meaning of a message comes from the nonverbal delivery. Good posture is an important component of effective nonverbal communication for several reasons. First, a relaxed yet erect posture can boost a speaker’s confidence. Speakers look and feel more confident when they stand up straight. Second, good posture improves the quality of your voice. And finally, your selfassured posture sets the tone for your audience. If your posture is too stiff, then your listeners may feel uncomfortable. If you’re slouched, they may be inattentive. Eye contact is a key element of facial expression. Good eye contact means connecting with the person or people you are speaking to in the most natural manner possible. When speaking to a group, you need to look at as many members of your audience as you can. It’s important not to favor a few special peo-

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ple in the audience, but rather to vary your eye contact with each section of your audience. Another crucial part of facial expression has to do with the emotions we convey. Studies have found that smiling creates a favorable impression, that CEOs smile more than other workers, and that smiling can actually make you feel better. Of course, smiling is not appropriate if you’re discussing the downward trend in sales or the multiple layoffs at your factory, but, for most occasions, optimism pays off and is contagious. Body movements and gestures are other important means of communicating nonverbally. There are basically three important points to remember when using gestures. First, your movements have to look absolutely natural. In fact, the more natural you appear, the more likely you’ll be to connect with your audience. Second, both your movement and gestures need to coincide with what you saying. If you’re discussing the three main reasons to support your proposal, then you could use one, two, and then three fingers to emphasize your point. Third, remember that there is something a lot worse than not using any gestures, and that is using too many gestures. Gestures are most effective when they are so natural that an audience will look at your presentation in totality, instead of thinking about your overuse of arm, hand, or body movements. Use gestures to subtly emphasize the points you are making. Your audience will be distracted by gestures that are forced and will remember your waving arms instead of the points you are trying to make. It’s also very important to avoid distracting mannerisms. Never twist a paper clip, chew on a pencil, or play with your hair. Respect others’ space. Each of us has our own territory and we begin to feel a little nervous if someone gets in our space. Most people have a personal distance of approximately one arm’s length before they feel uneasy. Be aware whenever you interact with someone that you shouldn’t cross personal space boundaries.

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L I STE N I N G

Many problems occur in business because employees aren’t attending to the task of listening. It is interesting that most people think of listening as a passive activity and talking as an active one. And, in the world of business, most people would agree that active is better than passive. Listening, however, is an extremely active activity that requires patience, skill, and energy. Many people don’t listen because they’re too busy with their intrapersonal communication (what they’re telling themselves). When your thoughts are concerned with being angry, bored, or stressed, you don’t listen to what someone is saying. Sometimes you are so preoccupied with how you feel or how you are coming across that you aren’t aware of what someone is trying to communicate. Another reason that people don’t listen is because there is too much external noise around them. There are several types of sensory external “noise” that hinder listening. Maybe there is too much traffic outside or people are yelling in the hall. Perhaps the lights are too bright or the chairs too hard. Or it could be that the speaker’s habit of playing with his paper clip is interfering with your listening. A third reason that people don’t listen is because they’re preoccupied with their own view of what is being said. When an idea or opposing view is expressed, these individuals may think, “I’ve heard that before,” “There’s no point in listening to this,” or “I’m sure I know everything that’s going to be said.” They become close-minded and are thus shut off from any different or new ideas. It is best to listen with an open mind. The final reason that people don’t listen is because most people’s minds can process approximately 500 words per minute, while most people speak, on average, at a rate of 120 to 150 words per minute. This difference means that because most people’s minds work faster than speakers can talk, listeners’ minds may wander. Whatever the reasons, there are times when most

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people don’t listen. That’s fine when it’s your leisure time, but, when you’re being paid to work, listening is an important skill that you need to master. One of the most important things that you can do to improve the quality of your listening is to have a specific objective or purpose for listening. When you are listening to a customer’s complaint, know that your objective is to solve a problem and empathize with that person. During your annual evaluation session with your supervisor, listen for your strengths and weaknesses, and what your boss wants you to do. And when you are receiving computer instruction, listen so that you will be able to perform a specific computer task. Listen with an open mind. When you go into a situation thinking that you will not learn anything or that you have all the answers, you are shutting yourself off from effective listening and learning. Avoid jumping to conclusions about the speaker and what’s being said. Listen to the total message before you draw your conclusions. Give a speaker a chance to develop an argument and substantiate major points. Most people have a tendency to make snap judgments on the basis of an initial impression, but it’s in the best interest of you and your business not to label or stereotype someone after a few minutes. When you listen to someone, face the speaker and develop eye contact. Eliminate any external barriers to listening such as a distracting radio, a blinding light, or a humming computer terminal. Don’t interrupt people when they’re trying to talk, but do get into the habit of providing feedback to the speaker. When you nod your head or provide verbal responses, you are reminding your speaker and yourself that you are listening. It’s best to use neutral statements such as “I understand what you’re saying” until the speaker has completed his or her complete explanation. Or you can paraphrase something that has been said to make sure that you fully understand the idea. Withhold your judgments, however, until the other person has completed talking.

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Be prepared to listen. If you’re going to listen to a speech on this year’s marketing successes, make sure that you are familiar with both this and last year’s marketing objectives and strategies. Or, if you are attending a panel discussion on the annual report, make sure that you have read the whole written document. It is also helpful to keep a small notebook or laptop with you at all times to record important times, dates, and other business information. Because you cannot be expected to remember everything, a written document will be helpful to jog your memory.

MAKING A SPEECH
You are already well on your way to being an excellent public speaker. You know to define your purpose and your audience and to be aware of how you will be perceived. You know how to use language, your voice, and body language effectively. Even the listening skills you just read about can help when you are making a speech. You need to “listen” to your audience and be aware of their nonverbal cues to hear how your speech is being received. Remember communication is always a two-way process that involves speaking and listening. The skills we’ve discussed so far pertain to all types of communication, but there are some specific techniques that will help you with the difficult task of public speaking.

OVE RCOM I NG N E RVOUSN ESS

Few people can speak before an audience without feeling some discomfort. Most people experience stage fright with symptoms of sweaty palms, trembling hands, a dry mouth, or, the old standby, butterflies in the stomach. Even celebrities—

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talk show hosts, singers, and politicians—routinely state in interviews that they have had to overcome nervousness. The bottom line is that everyone is touched to some degree by stage fright, and most people who are successful have learned to channel their fear into enthusiasm for speaking. Using the following five steps, you can turn a negative emotional response into a positive experience. 1. The most important thing to do to alleviate nervousness is to use positive thinking and focus on success. All of us communicate to ourselves. The best way to become comfortable speaking to others is to become aware of what you say to yourself, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. Positive reinforcement will do a great deal to improve your self-confidence. Stop putting yourself down out loud or inside your head. Replace “can’t” with “can” and “won’t” with “will.” You won’t acquire total self-confidence overnight, but it will happen. One single act of confidence breeds a feeling of self-assurance that in turn breeds more and more acts of confidence. Try positive thinking and watch your self-confidence increase, your nervousness diminish, and your speaking skills blossom. 2. Taking several deep breaths can have a calming effect. Try inhaling through your nose and holding your breath for a count of seven. Then, exhale completely through your mouth. Repeat this deep breath a few times, and you will feel notably relaxed. 3. Expect that your audience will be attentive to your speech and interested in what you have to say. People want you to succeed. They want to learn something, be touched, or be motivated by your talk. As a result, audiences are not going to be as critical of you as you are of yourself. In most speaking situations, the audience does

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not even know that the speaker is nervous. 4. Be yourself instead of trying to act in way that you feel you should. Maximize your own personal style by relating to others naturally. Focus on your subject matter and your audience. Instead of spending your time wondering how you’re coming across, concentrate on whether your listeners understand your message. 5. Take charge of your speaking situation. Audiences want to listen to someone who is in control, so incorporate a confident demeanor into your delivery. Pause before you begin your speech, and then use short sentences in your introduction. Go slowly in order to get your bearings and never include statements such as, “I really wish I wasn’t giving this speech,” or “I hate being in front of you today.” Recognize your responsibility of speaking in front of a group, relish the opportunity to improve and increase your self-confidence, and assist your audience in understanding your information. 6. Use an outline of the main points of your speech. If you write out your speech word-for-word you will be tempted to simply read from your text instead of engaging your audience. Try writing short sentences or phrases of the most important items in your talk. Then, when you are speaking, you can briefly glance down at your main points and still concentrate on relating to your audience. The final point is crucial: Spend time rehearsing your talk. Practice delivering your outlined speech in front of a mirror or to a friend or relative. You can evaluate your own speech by videotaping or audiotaping your presentation. People are generally their own worst critics, so lighten up—you’ll probably be delighted to see and hear that you’re a much better speaker than you thought you would be.

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I really enjoyed my job as a content developer for my company’s website, but I had to make presentations at company meetings and for our investors. I was really considering resigning because public speaking was such an awful experience for me. I wouldn’t sleep at all the night before; I couldn’t eat because my stomach was so upset. I would get up before the audience feeling tired, weak, and tense. I love our website, but I wasn’t able to convey my enthusiasm because I was such a wreck. Luckily my boss recognized that I was struggling and he suggested that I take a public speaking course. I learned to relax and focus on my enthusiasm for my work when addressing an audience. Instead of seeing the audience as my opponents, I learned to see them as my allies. Now I really enjoy the chance to promote the website to a room full of people! —JANE, CONTENT MANAGER

O R GAN I Z I N G YO U R S P E E C H

How you deliver your speech is very important, but what you say is what really matters. A successful speech is one that is well organized. Even the most confident and entertaining speaker will not succeed in communicating if his or her speech is hard to follow. If you organize your speech into a beginning, middle, and end, you will help your audience understand and remember what you are saying. The introduction sets the tone for the rest of the speech. One recent study indicates that people have a tendency to remember best what they heard first or last in a speech. Consequently, you must create an engaging and instructional introduction. When creating an introduction you need to include two elements. First, you must include something that entices and interests your audience to continue listening. Second, you need to

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embody your specific purpose, telling your audience what the speech is about. There are four tried-and-true techniques that speechwriters use again and again to secure the attention of an audience. These methods include using a rhetorical question, statistic, quotation, or story. A rhetorical question is asked to motivate your audience to think about a particular topic. When you begin your speech with “How many people in this room know what they need to be financially prepared for retirement?” you don’t want everyone to yell out their answer or for someone to take a quick personal survey of audience members. You just want your audience to begin thinking about and become interested in the topic. Then you can proceed with your speech about becoming financially independent by retirement. Another technique to use in an introduction is the statistic. Statistics are numerical data stated in a comprehensible manner for your audience. For example, you might introduce your speech about waste management by stating that American households cumulatively dispose of ten tons of garbage every minute. You should frame the statistics as dramatically as possible to grab your audience’s attention. A quotation is a particularly effective way to inspire your audience and give some supplementary information on the content of your speech. You can select a quotation from someone famous, an expert in a particular area, or someone who has firsthand experience with a situation. The quotation you use should be meaningful to your speech and to your audience and the person whom you quote should have the authority, expertise, or experience to make the statement credible. For example, if you are making a speech about the upcoming company retreat that will be held at a golf resort you might begin with the famous Mark Twain quote that the game of golf is “a good walk spoiled.” Another effective way to engage your audience at the beginning of your speech is to tell a story. People love to hear personal

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accounts or stories. A personal testimony or a narrative about someone else can be a dramatic and engaging opening to your speech. For example, if your speech is introducing the expensive equipment your department has purchased for the pediatric ward, you might begin your speech with a story about a child whose life was saved thanks to this piece of equipment. Once you’ve introduced your topic to your audience, turn your attention to the middle or body of your speech, in which you will develop the main points given in your introduction. The three most common and effective ways to organize your main points are according to topic, time, or problem-and-solution. When you organize the body of your speech into topical units, you divide the main points into some common classification system. For example, when presenting your company’s new toys for the holiday season, you could organize your speech into toy categories such as computer games, action figures, and dolls. The topical organization is suitable for informative, persuasive, and entertaining speeches. An attractive aspect of the topical organization is that you can change the order of the main points depending upon the audience. You can also organize your speech chronologically. Let’s say that you have been asked to discuss the history of your small business’s use of computers. The most effective way to organize your information would be according to time. The chronological pattern is ideal for handling historical matters. A particularly effective organizational pattern to use in persuasive speaking is problem-and-solution. The first part, the problem or need section, emphasizes the necessity to change the way things are. The second component, the solution or satisfaction stage, has the resolution. No matter what organizational structure you use, the important thing is that you are presenting your material as completely as possible in a coherent and clear fashion. The more organized your main points are, the better your audience will understand

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and remember what is said. Remember that organization in speaking, as well as in business, is a highly valued commodity. Your conclusion summarizes what you’ve been saying in the body of your speech and leaves your audience with something dramatic and easily remembered. The ending is not the place to introduce any new concepts or facts, but rather the place to revisit the specific purpose or objective of your speech in a memorable fashion. There are three simple and extremely popular ways to close your speech. These techniques are the use of repetition, the challenge, and the quotation. Repetition of a message is one clear way to get an audience to remember what you’ve said. The next time you hear a commercial on television or the radio, listen to the number of times a name, phone number, or a two- or three-word concept is repeated. Quite simply, people remember something that they hear a few times rather than something they hear just once. In business you are called upon many times to motivate a person or a group of people to change the way they act, feel, or believe. One of the most effective ways to conclude your persuasive talk is by challenging your audience to make some changes. For example, you might close a speech to your company’s sales force by challenging them to exceed their sales goals for the year. If you want to end your speech on a somewhat personal tone, using a quotation is most appropriate. Using the literal words of an expert, an executive of the company or association you represent, or a business tycoon would probably carry quite a bit of credibility with most business audiences.

S U P P O RTI N G YO U R O P I N I O N

In order for your speech to be truly effective, you must support what you say. Merely stating your opinion, even in a confidently delivered, well-organized speech, is not enough. There are

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four effective types of evidence that can be used in supporting your opinions: examples, quotations, statistics, and comparisons. An example is a story about a person or place that personalizes the point you are making. Many popular speakers use anecdotes to engage an audience and maintain their interest. While you can use hypothetical examples, research has demonstrated that audiences assign more credibility to factual examples. Another effective technique for reinforcing your opinions is to use a quotation. A quotation from an expert, a respected periodical, or someone who has firsthand experience is an excellent way to add weight to what you believe to be true. Statistics are a natural way to support your argument. Any fact that can be quantified is particularly attractive in business. In fact, statistical information provides the substance of most oral and written business reports. If you can incorporate statistics into your supporting materials, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. Comparisons can be either literal or figurative. Business speakers rely primarily on the literal comparison. For example, in a speech about year-end performance you might compare earnings per share for the current year to the previous year. In business, there is great value in creating clear, succinct numerical comparisons. Figurative comparisons, or analogies, make a comparison between the unknown (for example, the workings of a microprocessor) and the known (the way a brain functions). Figurative analogies are particularly effective when explaining a very complex concept or operation. Working from a familiar concept, audiences will more easily grasp the new idea.

COMMUNICATING IN A MEETING
Communicating in a group employs all the principles of good communication skills that you have learned. To communicate

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successfully in a meeting you must also be skilled at either leading or participating, depending on your role. Many employees attend meetings and wonder why they’re there. Some businesses establish weekly meetings and neglect to inform participants what the purposes of the meetings are. Many managers do not know how to run an effective meeting. And innumerable meetings end without a summary of what future responsibilities for meeting participants will be. These problems are all failures in communication.

LEADING

A

M EETING

Being the leader of a meeting is no easy task. It involves work before, during, and after the meeting. The following list of responsibilities will help you to assume an effective leadership role when conducting business meetings. First, state the purpose of the meeting. The best thing to do is to distribute an agenda and any pertinent information before the actual meeting. This gives your participants some time to prepare for the meeting. If you encourage your participants to prepare for the meeting, their input will be more insightful and beneficial. Create an environment that encourages communication by reducing external distractions. This means that you should consider the seating, lighting, external noise, and refreshments. If you’re looking for maximum interaction among participants, a circular table works best. People can see each other better, and it’s a democratic arrangement for seating. Make sure that you have the correct number of chairs. Too many chairs limits interaction, so take a count of attendees and plan appropriately. If you’re responsible for refreshments, find out what is usually served and order those items. A combination of nerves and talking can contribute to a dry mouth, so at the very least,

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make sure that water is available. And if there are any other items (paper, pens, notepads, etc.) that are necessary, don’t neglect your duty to supply them. Before the meeting, make sure that the room is clean and the temperature is appropriate. When the meeting begins (and it must begin on time), introduce new participants, state the purpose, and refer to the agenda. As you move through each item on the agenda, adhere to a preconceived time line so that you’ll complete the meeting on time. During a meeting, keep the discussion going by asking questions, paraphrasing unclear comments, and providing background information that some participants may not have. It is also the leader’s responsibility to bring participants who digress back to the topic under consideration.

If a topic comes up that gets your discussion off track, make a procedural suggestion to table the discussion, take the conversation “off-line,” or put it on an issues chart that will be delegated or assigned for resolution outside of the meeting.

A leader must be able to handle any conflicts and be ready to step in and resolve any misunderstandings that may develop. Conflict resolution involves listening carefully to what participants are saying, being rational, and taking command of any disruptions. Throughout the meeting, a leader should praise each individual’s efforts and avoid personal criticism. At the end of a meeting, a leader should summarize the group’s major decisions or plans, review the assignment of tasks, and genuinely be appreciative of the time and energy expended by each member. After the meeting, a leader should ensure that minutes are prepared and distributed as soon as possible, and that participants are completing their agreed upon tasks.

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IN A

P A R T I C I P AT I N G

M EETING

A lot of people think that when they attend a meeting, their only responsibility is to fill a seat. Can you imagine if everyone attended meetings with that same philosophy? Not much would get accomplished. As a participant, you need to be prepared, organized, curious, analytical, and cooperative. Do your homework. Know the purpose of the meeting. If the leader of the meeting doesn’t tell you, ask for more information. Read and think about handouts and prepare any necessary written materials. Always sit in a strategic spot at the meeting, that is, one where you can be seen and heard. Sitting in a key position, such as across from or next to the leader, will increase your participation. Avoid lengthy speeches. It’s always a good idea to be brief. Make your point in four or five sentences. Then support your point with one documented reason. You can always add additional evidence later. You’ll find that simplicity pays off. Be flexible and stay alert. Meetings are full of interruptions, new ideas, and spontaneous requests. Don’t be caught daydreaming when you should be actively involved in the meeting. Practice the listening techniques discussed earlier in the chapter.
I attend a lot of meetings in my line of work. I’ve discovered that taking notes in a meeting really helps me keep up with the discussion, and shows the other people that I’m interested in what’s being said. Once I was asked to attend a meeting with the regional sales reps as a representative of my department. I wasn’t really being asked to participate, but I took notes so I wouldn’t just be sitting there like a lump in a chair. I occasionally asked a question recapping what someone had said, “If I understand what you’re saying . . .” Because I participated, instead of just attending the meeting, the sales reps remembered me and I’ve built some great

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relationships that have been very helpful. When I call to ask how a particular product is doing in their region I always get a quick call back and a thoughtful answer. —ROZ, DIRECT MAIL DIRECTOR

Focus your comments on the topic at hand. You may have an unrelated yet fascinating point to make, but avoid the temptation to discuss it. Most employees at a business meeting want to get back to their other work and they can get irritated when someone spends time on an aside. Use evidence to support your points. People will be persuaded if you back up your “I think” statements with facts, statistics, and quotations so incorporate them into your reasoning. Always assist your leader. If there is a misunderstanding among members of the group that only you understand, facilitate the rest of the group’s comprehension. For example, you might say, “I believe Mark is referring to last week’s complaint from Spitzer Industries that our deliveries are always two days late.” Agree or disagree with other members’ remarks in a rational, nonjudgmental manner. Comments such as, “I agree with Heather’s statement. We should increase our telephone budget. And based on the 20 percent increase of telephone calls we’ve made over the past two months, it’s important that we make this change immediately.” Or to disagree you might say,“John’s point does have some obvious merit. I do, however, disagree with his overall plan. Let me briefly explain our department’s three-point plan that includes John’s ideas.” As with any oral communication, watch your posture (don’t slouch), speak slowly and clearly, be attentive, and display interest and enthusiasm. It is extremely important that participants at your meeting believe that you care about the business at hand.

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SUMMARY
Communicating at work is probably one of the most important parts of any professional career. In all forms of verbal communication it is essential to keep in mind who you are talking to, what you are trying to accomplish, and how you come across. Successful communication relies on effective use of language, voice, and body language. And remember that communication is a two way process; it involves speaking and listening. When speaking before a group use strategies like positive thinking and relaxation techniques to overcome your nervousness. Being prepared is an important step in becoming a confident public speaker. This means planning an organized speech with a beginning, middle, and end. It is also important to support your ideas. Speaking in a meeting also requires preparation. If you are a leader, be sure you have a clear agenda and stick to it. If you are a participant, make sure you know the agenda of the meeting and come to the meeting prepared to join in the discussion. Improving your communication skills is a sure way to advance your career and make work a more satisfying experience. When you are preparing a presentation, you may need to do some research about your topic or you might want to use some statistics to introduce your speech or to support your points. The next chapter will teach you the strategies for business research that will help you find the information you need easily and efficiently.

C HAPTE R

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the process of gathering information that can be used to answer a question or solve a problem relating to your business or company. There are different methods of conducting research, but the goal is always to come up with information that your business can use to make decisions or solve problems. In order for a business to grow and expand, it has to have an idea of what it’s doing right, and in what areas it should be looking to improve. If a company that makes gloves and mittens, for instance, is selling twice as many mittens as gloves, but continues to manufacture as many gloves as it does mittens, something is wrong. Either company officials are unaware of how the product is selling, or they don’t understand the basic concept of supply and demand. In either case, some basic research and proper management of the results could help.
Business research is

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Businesses employ research in all sorts of situations: to determine if a product will be favorably received, to determine what their competition is doing, to find out to whom a product should be marketed, and for many other reasons. Basically, business research is the means of finding the answers to questions that affect a business. Regardless of how it’s done, or who does it, it’s the most direct route to gathering information. The information, in turn, can be used to make intelligent decisions.

GETTING STARTED
D ETE R M I N E YO U R O BJ E CTIVE S

The first step in any research project is to determine your objectives. Once you know the goal of your research, you will be able to figure out the best way to find the information you need. The primary goal of any type of business research is to gather information. Some other objectives that are common to all business research include: • To provide answers to specific questions. • To provide enough information so that people within the business will be able to draw accurate and conclusive results from the information gathered. • To enable decision-makers to make intelligent, timely choices based on the information collected during research. While all business research may share certain common objectives, there are different types of business research, which are used to determine different things. The most common types of business research are those used for the following reasons:

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• To determine who is using your company’s products or services. • To determine who might be persuaded to use your company’s products or services. • To locate and/or monitor competition within the market. • To assess the chances for success of a new product or service. • To assess the feasibility of expanding a business or service. • To determine why the popularity of your company’s product or service has decreased, or increased. Remember, business research can be used to figure out why things are going right, not just why things are going wrong. Normally, you’ll have a primary objective, and at least one— usually more than one—secondary objective. The primary objective is the big question. If you could learn only one thing from your research, that would be it. The secondary objectives are other things you’ll discover as a result of the research. Secondary objectives also can be identified before research begins. Often, however, they are discovered by accident as the research unfolds. To identify your research goals, simply make a list of everything you’d like to learn from the research you’ll be doing. Just be sure you have a clear idea of the purpose of the research before you start writing down objectives. List everything you can think of that you’d like to learn from your research project. If the purpose of your research is to find out who’s buying your greeting cards, your initial list of objectives might look something like this. 1. Who buys our greeting cards? 2. In what shops are our cards sold? 3. Where are those shops?

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4. Who shops in those stores? 5. Are the customer bases similar for all the stores in which our cards are sold? 6. What is the average age of the customer who shops where our cards are sold? 7. What is the average income of those customers? 8. Are our cards sold anywhere other than the stores identified? 9. Who would be the customers at those places, if they exist? Once you’ve come up with some objectives, put them into the order that you think they should be researched. Not all of the questions on your list will be worthy of an out-and-out research effort. It’s likely that some can be easily answered, perhaps simply by contacting the owners of some of the shops that sell your cards. Be sure you identify the primary objective, and list the secondary objectives in order of relevance and importance.

CHOOSING

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RIGHT M ETHOD

Now that you have determined your research objectives, you need to choose the right research method. First, there are two basic categories of research: primary and secondary. Primary research is when you start at the ground level to design and carry out a research project and gather original data in order to answer the questions your company is facing. Secondary research is the process of gathering information that’s already available. It’s considered research because the information can be difficult to locate, and may have to be verified, sorted, and organized. In many ways, secondary research can be just as difficult, as primary research, and in some cases even more difficult.

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A mistake that many new researchers make is not taking full advantage of work that’s already been done. In their haste and eagerness to get involved with a business research project, they overlook all kinds of readily available information, and spend time and resources doing the same work over again. But be sure that the information you use is up-to-date and accurate. Always use the most current and reliable sources you can find. Once you start digging into information that’s already been collected, you might discover there’s no need for primary research. If that’s the case, fine. You will have completed your task with less effort than you had anticipated. As long as you found out what you set out to learn, and conducted your project in an orderly and conscientious manner, it doesn’t matter that you used only secondary research. If you learn, however, that there’s not enough—or not any— information available concerning your research topic, then you’ll have to get down to some primary research. If that’s the case, there are two different methods that can be used to conduct primary research. They are: the quantitative method and the qualitative method. The quantitative method of research uses things like surveys or questionnaires to gather information that can be compiled and presented in numbers or percentages. This method is very structured, and the results are easier to interpret than those generated with the qualitative method of research. Qualitative research is based on techniques such as focus groups and one-on-one surveys and is used to gather descriptive information. This sort of research allows those conducting it to go into greater depth and gather more information than a survey or questionnaire could. This is one of the strengths of qualitative research. A criticism of qualitative research, on the other hand, is that it’s more subjective than quantitative, so the results can vary depending on who conducts the research and how the results are tabulated.

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Some of the most common research methods include use of the library or Internet, interviews, surveys, and focus groups. Each of these methods is discussed in detail later in the chapter, but before you begin your research project you will need to choose the right method to meet your objectives. The optimum method will vary from project to project, and depends on various factors. You shouldn’t assume that because your company used a telephone survey five years ago to collect information from its customers, that a telephone survey is the best way to proceed today. You have to take into account things such as the amount of time you have available to complete your research, how much money you can spend on your study, the amount of help and other resources you’ll have available, the type of information you’re seeking, and what information you might already have. Obviously, time is an important factor in any project, including research projects. Some methods (mail surveys, for instance), take more time than others. They simply can’t be completed quickly (unlike telephone surveys, for example). Research costs money, and some methods are more expensive than others. Telephone surveys can be relatively inexpensive, unless you have to hire people to do the calling. Focus groups can get expensive if you have to rent facilities in which to conduct them, hire a moderator and other personnel to help with them, and pay the participants. You’ll always have some control over the cost of your research, but it’s important to consider all the possible expenses before deciding which method to use. If you’ve been assigned to do a business research project all by yourself, think carefully about the method you choose. Try to get a realistic idea of the amount of work each method will entail, and consider how much help you’ll have before choosing one. Also look at what other resources you might have, such as access to lists and other sources of information. Think about what you are trying to

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learn. Is the question that prompted your research best answered with numbers or with detailed description? The final step in choosing your method of research is to confirm your decision with others. Make sure you and the person for whom you are conducting the research have the same expectations concerning the research. This will accomplish several things: • It ensures that everyone involved has the same expectations concerning the project. • It may affect decisions you’ve made about how you’re going to proceed with the project. If your boss’s deadline is sooner than you thought you may need to reevaluate your choice of research method. • It makes the research project official, and gives you a starting point and time to begin. Having your boss recognize the project and how you plan to proceed with it gives you the green light to go ahead and get started.

SET

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Now that you are ready to get started, you should get busy and set up a schedule, or timetable, for your research. A timetable is nothing more than an estimate of how long each part of your research will take. Leave yourself a little margin for error, because there’s no way to know exactly how long it will take to complete each step. If you’ve been given some breathing room on your project, consider yourself lucky. You can make yourself a comfortable working schedule and conduct your research on your own terms. If you’ve been given a specific amount of time to complete a research project, then you’ll have to work within those parameters.

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That will take careful planning, and will limit your flexibility somewhat. But, regardless of whether you have a set amount of time to complete the research, or whether you can take as long as you want to, it’s to your advantage not to drag out the project. To keep things organized and on track, you should make some sort of timetable chart. Completing such a chart and having it in front of you will keep you organized and, hopefully, on schedule. Remember, there is no exact science to setting a timetable, but, it will give you an idea of what you need to accomplish and when.

PLACES TO FIND INFORMATION
Now that you are really ready to dig into your project, you need to find the information you are looking for. There are many research methods, but there are five tried and true places to find information that can answer most research needs.

L I B RARY

If your company has a library, take a walk down the hall and see what’s available. You could have a wealth of information only a floor or two away, just waiting to be examined and used. If you’re heading for the public library, make sure you know how to make your time at the library the most productive. Your first stop at the public library should be the reference department. There, you’ll find a wealth of information, and usually some very knowledgeable librarians to help you locate what you need. The reference section of a library typically contains all sorts of directories, giving you information on everything from church-

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es, synagogues, and temples across the country, to who’s who among Fortune 500 companies. While these directories can be a bit daunting, they contain all kinds of valuable information, and it’s well worth your time to get to know about them. Here are just some examples of directories you might find useful: • The Thomas Register of Manufacturers. Lists most U.S. manufacturers and companies, and their products and trade names. • The Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory. Provides information on the nation’s largest companies, including company name, address, and phone number, members of the board of directors, principal products, sales, key personnel, the number of employees, the year founded, and stock information. • The U.S. Industry and Trade Outlook. Gives an up-to-date economic forecast for a particular business or industry. • The National Directory of Women-Owned Firms. Lists all companies in the U.S. that are owned and operated by women. • The Dun & Bradstreet Regional Directory. Gives updated lists of owners, number of employees, estimated sales, and more, of businesses within a particular geographic region. • Who’s Who in Commerce and Industry. Gives personal information about people running companies, including age, job experience, family information, what college they attended, and more. • Standard & Poor Stock Reports. Provides extensive financial profiles of more than 4,600 companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, and the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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While you’ll probably be intrigued with all the directories and guides contained in the reference department, be certain not to overlook the other useful resources there: telephone directories, chamber of commerce directories, and city directories. Of course, the library also has books—many of which can be extremely valuable to your business research project. To find the books that might be helpful, you’ll use the card catalog, or the library’s computerized card catalog. Most libraries have computerized card catalogs that are user-friendly and provide clear instructions. You simply enter the name of a particular book, the name of an author, or a subject area. If you type in “conducting business research,” for instance, you’ll get a list of any books the library has that apply to that topic. It probably will tell you if the book is currently available, and where in the library it’s located. It might even give you the names of other libraries that have the book, in case yours doesn’t.

THE INTERNET

The Internet is becoming an increasingly important source of information. It can be ideal for business research, since you never have to leave your desk to access it. You can even visit a “library” on the Internet. Aside from its convenience, the Internet probably offers the best variety of data. If you don’t have Internet access at home or in your office, try your public library. Libraries are connecting to the web at a rapid rate, and many have computers available to the public. Simply put, the Internet is a worldwide system of computer networks that link together all sorts of businesses, universities, government agencies, and individuals. The Internet allows us to access information from countless sources. Exactly how do you find out what you need to know on the Internet? How is it possible to sort through the vast amount of

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information available, and to find the pieces you want? Some of the large Internet service providers include web channels that sort the Internet into categories. These channels can include topics such as: travel, sports, computing, research, lifestyles, health, families, entertainment, personal finance, shopping, news, interests, international, local, and kids. When you “click” on any of the channels, you’ll see a submenu of what’s available for you to browse. If you prefer, you can use a search mechanism, which allows you to type in some keywords to get a list of sites on the Internet that might apply to your search. Once you’re on-line you can access other search engines, such as Yahoo!, Alta Vista, and Lycos. Like the search engines provided by some of the Internet access providers, these sites help you to narrow your search. Some of the major search sites, and where they can be accessed on the Internet, are listed below. Yahoo!: recommended for researching broad, general topics. It can be accessed at www.yahoo.com. Alta Vista: recommended for precise and complete searches. It can be accessed at www.altavista.com. Lycos: recommended for advanced searches, very thorough. It can be accessed at www.lycos.com. Excite: recommended for searches on broad, general topics. It can be accessed at www.excite.com. Hotbot: the search site of Wired magazine, recommended for finding specific information. It can be accessed at www.hotbot.com. Infoseek: not as large as some other sites, but very accurate. It can be accessed at www.infoseek.com.

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If you can’t get to the library there are several library sites online that can be very useful. A great place to access information about nearly any topic is The Research Zone’s Electric Library. A user simply types in some keywords or a question and the Electric Library searches its database of 150 full-text newspapers, hundreds of full-text magazines, two international newswires, and 2,000 classic books. It also contains hundreds of maps, thousands of photographs, and major works of literature and art. The information is updated daily through satellite transmissions, and the Electric Library is a quick and reliable means of information. Materials accessed through the service can be printed, or copied and saved into a word processing document. However, there is a subscription fee for the Electric Library. Find the Electric Library at www.elibrary.com. Other library sites include the Library of Congress website, which contains a great assortment of photos, video and sound clips, and documents about nearly everything imaginable. Find it at http://www.loc.gov. Another is Library Spot, which contains all the references you’ll ever need in one location. Find it at http://www/libraryspot.com. Also, see the resource section at the end of this book for some guides to conducting business research on the Internet that will give you many more useful research sites. Some examples of other types of sites that you will find on the Internet include company websites, on-line editions of newspapers, sites dedicated to financial news, and so on. One thing to remember when researching on the Internet is to be careful about your sources. There is a lot of information available on the Net, but it isn’t all up-to-date or accurate. Be sure you use reliable sources and try to confirm information whenever possible.

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Of course, published sources might not be specific enough to answer your particular research objectives. Sometimes people in your business or in the field you are researching will be your most direct sources of information. An interview is one research method used to gather information from people. If you need to conduct an interview for your business research project, following these steps can help you achieve the best results: 1. Explain exactly what it is you’re hoping to find out, and why you need the information. Be sure to be very courteous. Remember, you’re asking for someone’s valuable time and knowledge. 2. Be prepared to share some information about yourself and your research project. An interviewee will want to know where you’re calling from and how you will be using the information you are asking them to provide. 3. Know exactly what it is you’re trying to find out, and be ready with follow-up questions. For instance, if you’re trying to find out about companies that offer the same product as your company, be sure you have an accurate description of your product and decide if you want to know about competitors in your state, across the country, or worldwide. Don’t waste someone’s time by being unprepared. 4. Have a backup plan in case your interviewee declines to offer the exact information you are seeking. If you have some backup questions prepared, you may still be able to get something useful out of the interview. 5. Know when to quit. As important as it is to be persistent when you’re trying to get information, it’s equally important to know when to stop trying. If you’ve been

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respectful and courteous, your source is more likely to reconsider and give you the information you are looking for than if you have been overly pushy. Before you get too caught up in locating far-flung people who may be able to help with your business research project, stop and take a look around your own office. Help might be much closer than you thought. Are there people who have been with the company for a number of years? Maybe even since the company started? Is there an administrative person who knows everything about the place, right down to the birthdays, names of kids, and favorite foods of most of the employees? These kinds of people are vital to any company, and they can serve as valuable sources of help and information for your business research project. Be sure that you don’t overlook them. Consider everyone within the company, from the boss to the maintenance staff, as potential sources of help, but pay special attention to: those who came to your company from competing companies, those who have been with the company for a long time, others who have had the job you currently have, anyone who seems particularly knowledgeable about the topic you’re researching, anyone who appears particularly helpful and cooperative, and your company’s historian (either an official or unofficial position).

S U RVEYS

Another way to gather information from people is through surveys. Mail and telephone surveys are traditional and widely used tools in business research. The size and scope of the surveys can vary tremendously from project to project, but certain principles and rules apply across the board. A survey, regardless

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of how it’s conducted, is a type of quantitative research that measures results in the form of numbers or percentages. No matter what type of survey you’ll be doing, there are several things to consider. You must to determine the following: Who should be included in the survey? How large should the survey be? How would your survey best be conducted? What’s the best type of questionnaire for your survey? When considering who to include in your survey, keep the following things in mind: • Participants should be selected according to the type of information you’re looking for. • People who use your product or service will be able to give you firsthand information concerning the quality or effectiveness of the product. • Potential customers are different from actual customers, and will have different kinds of information. • Who you include in your survey could depend on factors such as where potential participants live, their age, their marital status, their political affiliation, their income, and so forth.
I was asked to research the market for a new anti-wrinkle cream that my small, natural cosmetics company was developing. I decided that a phone survey of potential customers was the best method considering my resources and time-frame. I selected numbers at random from the local area phone book. (I was trying to control costs by limiting myself to local calls.) Unfortunately, our office is located in a college town and our population is disproportionately young. My results indicated that an anti-wrinkle

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cream would not be in great demand. If I had added some demographic questions to exclude respondents under a certain age, or conducted my survey in an urban area, I might have had very different results. —ZOË, PRODUCT MANAGER

Be sure to get a group that’s large enough to give you a representative sampling. If you’re conducting the research project by yourself, you’ll most likely have to settle for a smaller group of respondents than if you have a team of people helping you. Also, if your boss has allocated only $2,000 for the project, you’ll need to have a more limited survey than if your budget was $10,000. Choosing a methodology for your survey is very important, and something on which you’ll need to spend considerable time. There are advantages and disadvantages to both mail and telephone surveys. Circumstances such as time, budget, and the amount of help you have, should also be considered when choosing your survey method. Advantages and disadvantages of a mail survey include the following: 1. It’s normally possible to ask more questions in a mail survey than in a telephone survey. However, getting too lengthy is risky, for it may discourage participants from responding at all. 2. Mail surveys are generally more expensive to conduct than telephone surveys, and they may take longer to institute. Remember that if you decide to go with a mail survey, you’ll need to have your surveys printed, provide postage-paid return envelopes, and perhaps arrange for follow-up mailings to participants. 3. You might be able to save on mailing costs by qualifying for a bulk mailing. If you do qualify, however, you’ll

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have to either sort the mail yourself to meet the postal service’s regulations, or hire someone to do it for you. 4. Getting responses to a mail survey can be a slow and frustrating process. You have no control of when your survey participants will respond, or even if they’ll respond. If you don’t get responses back by a specified date, you’ll need to send follow-up mailings, which adds expense and takes additional time and manpower. 5. Even if participants respond promptly to your mail survey, there still is the time necessary for the survey to reach the participant, and to get back to you, by mail. Even under the best circumstances, mail surveys can take at least ten weeks to see results. 6. Mail surveys often are not as accurate as telephone surveys. Participants sometimes do not follow the instructions included with a mail survey, or they answer only certain questions. The advantages and disadvantages of a telephone survey include the following: 1. Telephone surveys can be very effective, but they often are difficult to conduct, especially for small companies that try to do them in-house. Conducting surveys by phone can be very time-consuming, and may take longer than planned if there are a limited number of people making calls. 2. Telephone surveys can be implemented more quickly than mail surveys because you avoid the tasks associated with mail surveys, such as printing questionnaires. 3. Telephone surveys provide immediate responses, and can give you insights into the attitudes of participants. For instance, if a customer were happy with the service he received on his car, but was unhappy with another

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matter at the car dealership, he’d be able to relate that information more easily by telephone than by trying to write it on a printed questionnaire with little room for additional comment. 4. It’s easier to control the quality of a telephone survey than a mail survey. Researchers are taught to know which questions are applicable in various situations and should be able to obtain all answers to all the necessary questions. 5. Many people consider telephone surveys to be intrusive, and may refuse to cooperate. There is a proliferation these days of telephone surveys and solicitations, and some people refuse even to consider a call that they think might be suspect. There is another important trend in survey taking that has been widely adopted in the business world: the e-mail survey. Sending an e-mail questionnaire can give you the fast response time of a telephone survey combined with the more detailed responses you might expect from a mail survey. E-mail surveys can also be quite cost effective.

FOCUS GROUPS

Focus groups are another method of gathering information from people. Focus groups are frequently used in business research, and can be a great way to get detailed information about an idea or product. Using a focus group—a small group of people brought together to offer opinions and insight about a particular topic—is a qualitative method of research. It is intended to produce in-depth conversation, and to find out what people like or dislike, or how they feel about something. Because a focus group is based on conversations with people, instead of

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numbers or facts acquired through a survey or other means, the results are subjective. While focus groups seem relatively straightforward and easy, they entail a great deal of planning and preparation. You’ll need at least a month to prepare for a focus group. When using focus groups as part of your business research, you’re not limited to one or two groups. If you have enough time and your budget permits, you could conduct a dozen focus groups to gather information from people with many different perspectives.Your first step in planning a focus group is to figure out how many focus groups you’ll have, and who should be included in each group. When selecting candidates, it’s important to remember that different people have different perspectives, and your focus groups must be representative of your customer base if you hope to get a reliable range of opinions. Once you decide whom your focus groups should involve, you’ve got to figure out how you’ll screen potential candidates to see if they qualify to participate. In order to determine which candidates are appropriate, formulate a brief questionnaire that sets the criteria for participation. The survey allows you to screen subscribers during a brief phone call. Once you’ve selected the focus group members, it’s time to appoint a moderator and prepare a discussion guide for that person. If you’re leading the business research, you may be expected to be the moderator. If that’s the case, don’t panic. If you won’t be moderating, try to find someone to do it who is friendly but businesslike. It is very important to keep the discussion on track and moving ahead so that the entire agenda can be covered in the appointed amount of time. Professional moderators can be hired in some areas, and usually can be contacted through large marketing firms. If your focus group research is relatively simple, however, someone from within the company probably can handle it. In order to get the most out of a focus group, you should

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make arrangements to videotape, or at least audiotape, the discussion. As the date of the focus group approaches, you should send out confirmation notices to participants. Be sure to include the time, place, date, and directions. Now that you’ve taken care of the details, it’s time to think about the actual business of conducting a focus group. It may seem that a focus group is simply a time for participants to sit down and talk, but that isn’t the case. Conversation must be directed and steered to keep it on track. You need to be sure that everyone participates, and that the conversation isn’t dominated by one or two people. Let’s look at some of the things a moderator is responsible for during a focus group discussion. • Making everyone feel comfortable. Thank the participants for coming, and take a few minutes to chat about things like the weather and other general topics. Everyone should be introduced, and you’ll need to explain what your role, as moderator, will be. • Explaining the focus group process. Don’t assume that the participants know the purpose or procedure of a focus group. You should explain what you hope to accomplish by having the focus group, and how the group will operate. Be sure to tell participants that the conversation is being recorded so that you’ll have accurate records for your analysis. Assure everyone that their names will not be used in any way, and that they should feel free to say whatever they want to.
Last year I participated in a focus group called a “brain trust” led by a self-described trend-setter. My friend (working for the trendsetter) had rounded up acquaintances to meet in a hotel boardroom for a morning of questions, freebie muffins, and coffee. Unlike more typical marketing focus groups, we weren’t told the

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identity of the client or product. We broke into small groups and answered open-ended questions about the future of education, technology, communities, even food. We were also asked to select what kind of consumers we were from a list of “consumer personalities.” I didn’t really like the idea of being reduced to a consumer profile and I think almost everyone in the group had a cynical outlook about “selling” trend predictions and thought it was humorous that we could be qualified as trend-setters ourselves. The whole thing was confusing because we never knew the real objective of our group. —ABRAHAM, WRITER

• Keeping the conversation on course. This can be difficult, and requires your close attention. Just like in any situation, there probably will be people within the group that are much more talkative than others. A focus group, however, relies on input from all its members, not just a couple. It is the job of the moderator to get everyone involved in the discussion, and to be sure everyone gets a chance to state his or her opinions. • Getting everyone involved. Just as some people are inclined to talk a bit more than you’d like them to, there may be others who don’t say much or anything. If you have people like this in your focus group, try to draw them out. Ask one of them to start the discussion on a certain question. Provide feedback to their comments to encourage their participation. • Making sure the questions are understandable. Ask if everyone understands each question before you start to get input from participants. • Keeping the discussion flexible. Your discussion guide is just that—a guide. Be careful to not get too rigid about staying on schedule. If the conversation starts to wander off your scheduled topic, but is revealing important and

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applicable information about another topic, don’t be too quick to stop the new discussion. Of course, the danger is that you won’t be able to cover all the predetermined topics if you allow the discussion to wander too much, so you have to be able to determine when enough is enough, and steer the conversation back to the original question. If the conversation moves to another topic on the discussion guide that you had planned to cover later anyway, by all means, let participants continue to talk about it. Don’t discourage a natural flow of conversation just to remain on schedule. • Avoiding bias. This seems like an obvious task for a moderator, but, if you’ve never been involved before with a focus group, you probably don’t realize how easily you can bias the participants. Under no circumstances should you express your own opinion about one of the questions, or anything else related to the group discussion. Don’t agree or disagree with any comments from any of the group members. When the designated time for the focus group discussion has ended, the moderator must end the conversation. Be sure to thank participants for their help, and tell them how much you appreciate their sharing the comments and opinions. After participants have been paid and have left the site of the focus group, there are a few things you should do. • Make notes about anything that occurred during the group that you feel is especially significant. • Take the tapes and store them in a safe place. • Write each member of the focus group a short note, thanking him or her for participating.

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SUMMARY
Successfully completing a business research project can be an interesting and rewarding experience. To get your project started, first determine your objectives and choose the right method, and set a timetable. Before you begin, confirm your decisions and make sure you are on the right track. Some of the key places to find information are the library, the Internet, interviews, surveys, and focus groups. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and you should consider your objective, your timetable, and your budget when designing your research project. A well-conducted research project that is presented effectively either in a written report or spoken presentation is a surefire way to impress your colleagues and superiors.

C HAPTE R

5

GETTING ALONG AT WORK

The ability to

work well with others is essential to any successful career. How you present yourself, how you handle friendships and romantic relationships at work, how you relate to your boss, how you work in a team, and how you behave as a leader can all have a tremendous impact on your career. While getting along at work is guided by many of the same considerations as getting along with other people in any setting, there are special considerations in the workplace that are important to understand if you want to succeed.

ETIQUETTE
Etiquette, which involves social conventions and behavior, is mostly about treating others with kindness and graciousness.

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Understanding etiquette will give you the kind of polish that will make you highly promotable. Protocol is a special branch of etiquette that is practiced in virtually every office. Protocol is the usually unwritten set of guidelines that dictate appropriate behavior. If you follow accepted guidelines for behavior in the workplace, every aspect of work will go more smoothly. You and the people you work with will feel like part of a community—which an office is, after all. Knowing your way around an office socially will advance your career by making you more successful and promotable.

W H AT

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Dressing well—and appropriately—for work is important. It helps you fit in and speeds your acceptance by your coworkers, management included. It definitely can help you get promoted. Sadly, the reverse is true as well: inappropriate dress will hold you back. When building a work wardrobe, try to choose quality over quantity. A few good pieces will make everything you already own look better. A shirt or a knit jersey, for example, doesn’t have to be expensive if you wear it under a good jacket. The same is true for accessories: for example, investing in good quality shoes, replacing your backpack with a more professional bag, or wearing an expensive, yet plain watch will dress-up your overall appearance. If you groan at the thought of not being able to dress like yourself, don’t worry. Dressing for work once meant dressing in a uniform of gray and navy, but this is no longer true. Many companies conform to the business casual style of office wear. For women, the “power suit” has been replaced with a sweater set and a skirt or pants, for example. For men, khakis and a shirt,

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without a tie, are now acceptable work attire. You can still have your own style, but you’ll fare better if you dress to impress the people who make the decisions. Not dressing professionally can be a costly mistake. For example, a manager who wears a t-shirt and jeans when even his subordinates save their jeans for the weekend will undermine his authority and send a message that he does not take the workplace seriously. The price of dressing inappropriately may be that you don’t get the promotion you covet or the raise you deserve. Even worse, you’re often the last to know what is holding you back. Most bosses who will readily point out problems related to your work will be reluctant to tell you that your style of dress is inappropriate for the workplace. Companies that still conform to traditional business attire often permit the wearing of casual clothes on Fridays. However, these offices may have a host of unwritten rules about what’s acceptable. Casual Friday does not necessarily mean that you can wear to work what you wear around your house or on the weekend. In some offices, casual Fridays are just as competitive as any other workday. For this reason, it is a good idea to wear regular office dress the first few weeks on a new job so you can get an idea of what your office considers “casual.”
When casual Fridays were first introduced at my company, I was so happy. I thought, finally, one day of the week I won’t have to wear stockings, a jacket, and heels. One Friday my boss was going to be out of the office and I was planning on reorganizing the files. I decided I was going to be really comfortable. I wore my old jeans, running shoes (that I had done plenty of running in), and my college sweatshirt. Then I got a call from the CEO of the company. He usually worked out of our corporate headquarters in another state and was visiting our offices that day. He knew my boss was away so he decided to use his office to make some calls. I’ll never forget the look he gave me when he saw how I

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was dressed. He made a comment like, “When the cat’s away . . .” as I tried to explain that I was doing some clean-up. I realized that “casual” doesn’t mean dress like you’re cleaning out your garage. —MARCIE, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

OFFICE

R E L AT I O N S H I P S

We spend a lot of time at work, so it is no surprise that many coworkers form personal relationships—both friendships and romances. Being aware of etiquette in these situations can prevent you from turning this positive into a negative. Wherever people work as colleagues, inevitably some friendships develop. Outside work, you can be as tight as you like with whomever you choose, but at work, it’s good protocol to exercise some restraint. Just because you and your friend work together does not mean that it’s okay to socialize freely at work. You must also be careful of your other colleague’s feelings. Here are some guidelines to help you keep an office friendship from becoming a problem at work: • Plan social activities on your own time. In other words, do your social planning outside the office. • Avoid exclusivity. Don’t share jokes or accord special privileges from which others are excluded. • Vary your lunch partners. Occasionally go with someone else, and sometimes invite others to join both of you. In the case of male–female friendships it helps to be extra sensitive. Don’t be overly discreet. This tactic can work against you by making it look like you have something to hide. Announce that you’re having drinks together, and ask your

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coworkers to join you. Be up-front. If one or both of you are married, make a point of letting others know that you have met one another’s spouses socially. If your friendship becomes the subject of gossip, state your case and be done with it. Some people want to believe the worst, and they’ll choose to believe you are having an affair when you aren’t. Don’t feel obliged to protest the rumors if they persist.

When you are having a problem with a coworker, address the problem with them directly and before it permanently affects your work relationship. For example, maybe you feel your coworker is not pulling her weight and her long coffee breaks are becoming increasingly irritating. Instead of stewing about it and watching the clock while she flips through her magazine, try talking to her about the problem. You might find that she is more than eager to work but simply didn’t know what she should be doing. Even if she doesn’t appreciate having her break reined in, you will at least have aired your grievance and have grounds to go to your supervisor if the problem is not resolved.

Of course sometimes the rumors are right, and there is a romance behind an office friendship. Office romances happen, and when they do, they occasionally cross some uncomfortable lines. Any office affair will be easier on both participants and bystanders if everyone understands what is expected. There are both written and unwritten rules about office affairs. It is very important to know the written rules. Some companies have explicit rules against coworkers dating. Although the unwritten rules vary from company to company, a few guidelines will help you handle this situation with poise:

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• Avoid involvement with inappropriate people. In other words, do not have an affair with anyone who would create a conflict of interest; for example, someone you supervise. • Consider requesting a transfer. If you do become involved with someone you supervise, or vice versa, and the affair appears to be long-term, one of you should either arrange a transfer out of the department or look for a job at another company. It’s not fair to anyone, including your coworkers, for one worker to get special treatment from the boss. • Be discreet, particularly at first. It is not uncommon for people to have little flings. Often they don’t turn into grand affairs, so the fewer people who know about them, the better. • Don’t make a big deal about the affair. Even if it does become a grand passion, resist the temptation to announce it to the whole office. People will know you are an item, it’s true, but some things are better left unsaid. • Arrive at and leave work separately. This one small gesture can do a lot to protect your privacy; you will be less noticed and less a subject of gossip if you do this. • Treat each other like strangers at work. Well, almost like strangers. Everyone will be watching, and they don’t want to see flirtatious looks, hear jokes shared only by the two of you, and notice that you’ve stolen a few moments behind closed doors. The more normal you act, the more accepted the relationship will be. • Grant each other no special privileges. If a meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 A.M. and your beloved has overslept, that’s not your problem. Start the meeting on time. Even tiny privileges you think won’t be noticed by others will be, so don’t risk it.

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WORKING WITH YOUR BOSS
The most important office relationships are the professional ones. And your relationship with your boss will affect every aspect of your work life. Following the rules of etiquette can go along way to making this relationship rewarding and productive for both you and your boss. Everyone has to figure out how to get along with the boss— sometimes with several bosses, because the lines of authority are not clearly drawn in every company. Knowing how to make your boss—or bosses—happy is what gets you noticed and promoted. A good beginning is to understand and respect the boss’s power. A few basic guidelines will help you do this: • Call your boss what he or she prefers. Whether it’s Mr. Jones or Jim, respect your boss’s wishes. • Let your boss take the lead. This doesn’t mean you can’t show initiative, just that your boss generally gets to go first. Let your boss say what’s on his or her mind before you say what’s on yours. • Put your boss first in small things. If you’re on the phone and your boss comes into your office, end the call. If you’re chatting with a coworker—even if you’re talking about work—and you see that your boss wants to talk to you, cut your chat short. • Be friendly, but don’t overdo it. Limit your exchanges to polite conversation and work-related topics until you know your boss well enough to know whether he or she has any interest in having more personal conversations. • Don’t waste your boss’s time. This is perhaps the most important hint of all. Bosses usually are busy people; so don’t take up their time unless you have a legitimate business question that no one else can answer.

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You’ll not only want to respect the boss but also make sure he or she respects you. This is the key to getting interesting and important work assignments, to say nothing of raises and more responsibility. Respect takes time to build, so when you’re new on a job, remember that it won’t come immediately. In many offices, you will encounter an invisible barrier that holds you back until your prove yourself—or until you’re off probation. Smart bosses know better than to get chummy with new employees before they have proven their worth. They hold something in reserve because they know they may have to fire that person. For your first few months in a new job, therefore, assume that your boss doesn’t trust you. Your boss will be watching your work habits to see whether you arrive at work on time, whether you’re willing to stay late when necessary, whether you’re a team player, and how well you do your work—in short, whether you’re the kind of employee he or she wants to keep on the team and possibly take up through the ranks. You need to earn a boss’s respect on two levels. The first is the nitty-gritty everyday level, where you simply show that you are a good worker and take your job seriously. The second is a higher level that will make you look like someone who should be given added responsibilities and promotions. To earn this kind of respect, • Arrive on time. You might feel that it shouldn’t matter that you arrive 10 minutes late if you do your job well, but promptness really matters. Bosses like to walk in and see all their employees looking ready to put in a full day’s work. Furthermore, if the boss comes in early, it’s not a bad idea to do the same—if you’re ambitious. • Try arriving at work early. Apart from the edge this may give you in doing your work, this shows genuine eagerness and interest and is a surefire way to impress the

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boss. Coming in even 10 or 15 minutes early will make a good impression. Act eager—even when you’re not. In all jobs, people have to do tasks they don’t particularly want or like to do. If you show a willingness to do these things, your boss will notice and find a way to reward you. Complete assignments on time and with minimal fuss. This is how you show that you are a go-getter. Do assignments to the best of your ability, without making a big show of it, and you’ll impress your boss in a big way. Try to take on all the work you can accomplish. Don’t refuse tasks because they are unfamiliar or unappealing to you. But do be wary of promising to do something you are incapable of completing due to either time or skill restraints. Accepting an assignment you can’t complete won’t impress anyone. Take the initiative. When something comes around that you really want to do, volunteer to do it or to work with whoever is doing it. If you wouldn’t necessarily be considered for this assignment, arrange to sit down with your boss for a few minutes to pitch yourself as the person for the assignment. Leave your personal problems at home.

This last point requires a little more discussion. An employer is primarily interested in whether you are a good worker. If you are preoccupied with a personal problem, the boss may be empathetic but also begin to worry how much this situation is going to affect your ability to do your job. In a similar vein, if you go out dancing every night after work and let everyone in the office know it, the boss may start to wonder whether you are too tired to get the job done. He or she may blame mistakes on your late night habits, even if this is not the case. Leaving your personal life at home will prevent it becoming a problem at your workplace.

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Sometimes a personal problem becomes so overwhelming that you cannot keep it out of the workplace. In such situations, it’s usually better to let your boss know rather than to let him or her notice your distraction and possibly make the wrong assumption—that is, that you are simply goofing off. If a problem is serious enough, you may want to meet with your boss to discuss the difficulty, but sometimes it’s a wiser move to let him or her know in a more subtle way. If at all possible, try not to discuss personal problems until you have arrived at some solution and can offer some assurance that your difficulties are under control and will not affect your ability to do your job. One of a boss’s least pleasant tasks is to give criticism, and one of an employee’s least pleasant tasks is to accept it. It is simply not possible that you will always do your job so perfectly that no occasion will ever arise when you must be reprimanded by your boss. To put criticism in its most positive light, it can help you do your job better. If you aren’t doing something right, it’s better to be told about it so you have a chance to remedy the situation, rather than to continue doing it wrong, not understanding why you’re not getting any praise. Keep in mind that if you are not doing something right, it reflects poorly on your boss. Therefore, it reflects doubly poorly on your boss if he or she doesn’t straighten things out with you. A good boss knows how to offer criticism so you feel no sting. Unfortunately, too many bosses lack this skill. Your job is to take criticism—in whatever form—constructively. To make criticism to work for you, remember these points: • Always take it seriously. Never laugh or joke when the boss tells you that you haven’t done something correctly or as well as you might. • Never dismiss it or offer excuses. When a boss offers criticism, he or she wants a situation to improve. Your boss is not interested in why you think it can’t—or shouldn’t.

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• Ask for examples. Criticism does you little good if you don’t know specifically what you’re doing wrong. Always ask for concrete examples when someone criticizes your work. • Offer your own examples if you can. Describe a situation and ask your boss whether this is to what he or she is referring. Your boss will appreciate your even-handedness. • Ask how you can improve. This response shows remarkable initiative, and you will impress your boss with your maturity and willingness to take criticism constructively.
I was working as an assistant for a small, busy office when I first graduated from college. I worked very hard, but I often felt overwhelmed and underappreciated. My boss asked me to have breakfast with her to talk about how I was doing. I assumed that she was pleased with my performance. So, when she, very uncomfortably, said she was having some problems with my work, such as phone messages not being passed along quickly enough or worse not at all, I was shocked. I took the criticism very personally, and I did not mask my indignation. By not taking the criticism maturely and working with my boss to find a good solution, I damaged our work relationship. When I left the position, my boss told me that I had done some excellent work and that she was even considering me for promotion. Because I took her constructive criticism as an attack, I blew it out of proportion and allowed it to sour my work experience instead of using it to improve my performance. —J EFF, SOCIAL WORKER

The worst criticism is criticism that is offered publicly; even when it’s mild, it feels like humiliation. The best bosses are either extremely tactful about issuing criticism in public or offer it only in private. There is one situation where your boss is

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entitled to criticize you publicly: when your mistake makes him or her look bad. Even when it’s deserved, public criticism still stings at least twice as much as private criticism. Even so, these tips might make it a little bit easier to handle: • Stay polite. Don’t snap back at your boss or in any way make him or her look bad. Apologize, and explain how you’ll correct the problem, if possible, and that’s it. • Keep your cool. Getting emotional won’t go over well. Your quivering chin won’t win you any lasting sympathy from the boss, even if it wins you a few immediate allies among others in the room. If you have a good cry later, don’t do it in front of anyone. • Say as little as possible. Sputtering excuses or offering a long-winded explanation of what you’ll do to fix the situation only makes matters worse. Briefly respond if a response is called for, and leave it at that. Or, offer your boss an explanation later in private if he or she is interested. As a general rule of thumb, the faster you get through a bout of public criticism, the better you and your boss will feel.

TEAMWORK
The one-on-one relationship of boss and employee can be complicated and knowing business etiquette will help you make the most of your situation. However, in today’s business world, many companies are placing less emphasis on the one-on-one, hierarchical relationship between bosses and their employees, and are more focused on building teamwork and collaboration among groups of employees. Knowing how to work well within a team can be great asset in the modern business environment.

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Understanding the different roles that team members play can help you maneuver to your best advantage in a team environment. By knowing about team member roles you can have a positive impact on your team; you can curb the troublemakers and encourage the builders. Knowing what roles can be healthy for a team and what roles can be destructive will help you find roles that you are comfortable in and that help build the team. Task champions take on task-oriented, team building roles. They get the job done, while reinforcing unity by focusing on the team’s mission. There are many different types of task champions. The following list describes each type. • The initiator proposes new ideas to accomplish tasks, and is good at starting the problem-solving process if the problem being addressed is task-oriented and can be overcome by doing something. • The investigator always seeks the facts, will ask questions of everyone in order to uncover hidden clues, missing pieces of information, and like a good investigator, will remain objective or neutral throughout the questioning, reserving judgment for a committee or for someone else. • The pawn, like the pawn in the game of chess, is always willing to pave the way so tasks can be accomplished. Members in the role of pawn don’t have to be the most skilled in the task at hand, yet they are the first to jump in and start doing, once the initiator breaks the ice. • The synthesizer waits until many ideas are being discussed and then organizes the ideas into a coherent, unified solution. Synthesizers summarize the current ideas and then draw conclusions based on a little of this idea and a little of that idea.

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• The producer puts the requisite energy and effort into accomplishing the tasks at hand. Every team member should be able to slide into the role of producer at one point or another. When tasks involve everyone pitching in to get the job done, producers go to work to get the job done. Social champions take on social or emotional team building roles. They help task champions get the job done by strengthening the unity of the team through supportive and reinforcing behavior. The following list describes the various types of social champions. • The supporter encourages ideas by making members feel good about participating. Supporters often praise ideas and build commitment to the team through positive reinforcement. • The facilitator convinces other members to join the discussion. Facilitators will draw out ideas from members who may not offer their suggestions on their own. They get everyone talking. • The peacemaker reconciles conflict and builds areas of agreement between members who are not seeing eye-toeye. Peacemakers will take heated discussions and reword or reformulate the argument to draw parallels and make connections so the parties work together towards a solution instead of against each other. • The “norm”inator confronts members who act outside of the team’s accepted norms. Norminators, or “Norm Police,” attack and destroy undesirable behavior by pointing it out in front of the group and threatening to take action to punish the members who display such behavior. • The compromiser agrees with others and even shifts his/her own opinion to agree with the consensus in order

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to maintain unity within the group. A group that has too many compromisers operates with very little tension but makes sub-optimal decisions due to a general lack of differences of opinion. However, a few compromisers in a team can make for smoother discussions and can serve to ease tension. • The counselor monitors the collective behavior of the team’s members and makes recommendations to help keep the social atmosphere positive. The counselor will address issues that affect the dynamics of the group, keeping a keen focus on such elements as cohesiveness, cooperation, commitment, and motivation, whether or not they affect the task at hand. Not all team member roles are positive. Task inhibitors exhibit task-oriented, team-subverting roles. They can act against their teammates in many ways: some openly exhibit behavior that stifles unity and teamwork, while others subtly stir up discontent. The following list describes several task inhibitor roles. • The dominator takes over the lead in a discussion regardless of whether he is qualified to lead. Dominators rarely seek other opinions or invite others to participate and they monopolize discussion even when other members try to contribute. • The naysayer stops progress right in its tracks by subtly or overtly shooting down the team’s ideas. • The detractor criticizes every plan or idea. Detractors find fault with everything. • The free rider doesn’t do any work and is never prepared. Often free riders can keep their position on a team because they defend the odd ideas and win a few supporters along the way. • The digresser always takes the conversation somewhere

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else. Whether caused by a short attention span, a lack of focus, or an inability to connect one idea to another, the digresser will almost always take the focus of the group away from the task at hand. Social malcontents take on social or emotional team-subverting roles. Their behavior hinders group cohesion because they undermine the team building activities and the focus on positive attitudes by attacking members’ ideas and making the attacks personal. Social malcontents can take on several roles. • The instigator is always on the attack, not so much on other’s ideas, but on them personally. Instigators have to start fights, even if they are not involved in the fight. • The labeler has to put a label on everybody, even if the label doesn’t apply. Some members, in order to avoid real communication or having to deal with their own emotions, will put labels on other members. As you know, once labels and stereotypes are used, the communication process can be altered and the dynamics of the team certainly suffer. • The schmoozer loves to make members feel comfortable just for the sake of being their temporary friend. They are part of the team to be in the social environment and often couldn’t care less about the tasks that need to be accomplished. Of course, one person on a team may take on several of these roles. Maybe your team initiator is also a facilitator. Or maybe your team supporter is also a bit of a schmoozer. As a team member you should encourage your colleagues to adopt the positive team roles so that your team can be its most effective.

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TEAMS

In order for teams to be effective and cohesive units, working together towards a common goal, open communication has to be valued by every member. Members should feel free to say what they mean, and mean what they say. Successful teams encourage feedback and their members share emotions in a professional and constructive manner. Creating a team atmosphere where communication is open and free-flowing requires both trust and respect. When levels of trust and respect for each other are high, the resulting openness in communications can foster creativity and lead a team to high performance and unity. While most business communications should limit the inclusion of emotions and personal feelings, it is almost impossible to limit such factors in a team environment. Communications among team members will almost always include emotionally charged language based on personal feelings and not objective viewpoints. Team members should be aware of the difference between objective viewpoints and subjective feelings. Once they are aware of the difference, expressing emotions can be an effective team-building tool. Another important and often emotionally charged aspect of team communication is feedback. Feedback is essential to effective teamwork. It is the tool that lets members communicate to each other about performance, behaviors, and attitudes. Since feedback can be emotionally charged, teams need to actively manage feedback and keep it constructive. Team members should be aware of the important role feedback can play in the growth of the team, and constructive feedback should be encouraged and accepted by all members. Feedback should be used for positive reinforcement, not just to point out areas of concern or problems. Positive feedback will

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not only give energy and higher self-esteem to those who receive it, it will also serve to legitimize the negative feedback. Assertive communication is another important tool in team communication. Not to be confused with aggressive behavior, assertive behavior implies that you respect the same rights of others to assert their point of view and express their opinions and emotions. Aggressive communicators don’t care about the feelings or rights of others; they just want to get their point across and will do so at any cost. Assertive communicators respect the rights of others to express their feelings, opinions, needs, and desires and their right to seek change in other’s behavior if it is deemed destructive. Their comments and criticism are confined to behaviors and attitudes and are not made as attacks on the individual. The following steps will help you to develop your skills as an assertive communicator. 1. Give facts and use concrete examples when asserting your point of view. Describe situations with specific, objective details. 2. Express your feelings in a friendly and professional manner. When expressing a situation relate your feelings about that situation by clearly announcing opinions, emotions, needs, and desires as you own. 3. Always invite feedback from your team members. Your team members have a right to give their feedback to correct information and include their feelings, opinions, needs, and desires. 4. When seeking change in others’ behavior, clearly describe the behavior that you would like to see. Also describe the benefits that the team will enjoy if the behavior is changed. 5. Accept that your own behavior may need adjusting. When your own behavior has not been effective or has

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drawn criticism, accept responsibility and attempt to make the necessary changes. By following these steps to assertive communication you are adhering to the fundamentals of communicating effectively in a team. You are fostering trust by being clear and direct. You are encouraging openness by being open yourself. And you are demonstrating respect for others. All these elements add up to an effective team that communicates with ease and maximizes the potential of all the team members.

R E S O LV I N G T E A M C O N F L I C T

Most teams will experience conflict, but the question is whether or not they resolve it in a positive manner. Successful teams know that resolving conflict is the key to their success. Teams that use effective communication techniques and are prepared to deal with conflict in a professional and friendly manner will use conflict to strengthen their unity. One of the factors that makes a team productive and provides for a rich experience for its members is the diversity of its membership. This diversity means that there are different personalities and differing points of view on a team. Whenever you have a group of diverse people all trying to communicate with one another you will certainly have a few differences in opinion or clashing views. These differences often result in an argument, and when arguments escalate, they result in conflict. Other factors that cause members to argue and can lead to conflict include: stress; unclear objectives, responsibilities, or procedures; miscommunication; external anger or unmet needs being projected onto the team; inappropriate emotions; uncertainty about the future of the job or the team; competing personal needs; or poor leadership.

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Teams need to avoid escalating conflict, not conflict itself. Instead of trying to avoid conflict, teams should instead prepare for handling it in a positive way, because conflict can help a team grow by strengthening the communication skills of their members and helping build team unity. The best way to prepare a team for handling conflict in a positive manner is to train the members in constructive feedback practices and assertive communication techniques. Prevention is the best cure in this case, because if a team is prepared to deal with differing opinions and arguments by using constructive feedback and/or assertive communication techniques then the chances are relatively high that conflict will not escalate. When it becomes apparent that conflict has set in, it is very important to take action right away. The team should work together to resolve the conflict. The following guidelines will help you resolve conflict within your team in a professional and constructive manner. 1. Acknowledge that conflict exists and make it a team issue. 2. Identify the core issues. Separate the emotional issues from the core issues. Once the emotional issues are identified and dealt with, then the core issues need to be defined and resolved. 3. Moderate the discussion. Team members should translate what the members involved in the conflict are saying so that those members can hear what they are saying, but without the emotional attachment. 4. Explore compromise and reconciliation. Facilitate an understanding between the parties. They may not agree with each other, but the team should be able to get them to accept and understand each other’s views. 5. Agree on a solution. Seek agreement from both parties and the rest of the team for a solution that allows both

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parties to feel as if they have reconciled their differences, making sure that the team’s goals have been the top priority. While the above steps are for the team, the following tips are for the individual members involved in the conflict. a. Relax and focus on being calm and rational. b. Be empathetic. The other person has a legitimate point of view, so if you can think of what the other person is trying to accomplish you will be better at approaching what you want, particularly as it compares to what they want. c. Use active listening skills. Give the speaker your full attention and respect. Maintain eye contact and keep a positive posture. Pay attention to nonverbal cues from the other party involved in the conflict and your teammates, as well your own. Use verbal affirmations, ask questions, paraphrase, and reflect the implications. Control your emotions during the discussion, don’t interrupt other speakers, and hold off on rebutting until you have heard the whole argument of the other side. d. Defer to the group. The conflict may be between you and another individual, but the issue is a team issue and the team should be in charge of the resolution process. Cooperate with the team’s recommendations for reconciliation. When team members are encouraged to adopt positive roles and when a team communicates effectively, conflict resolution can be a team building experience. And when all these factors are in place, working as part of a team can be one of the great rewards of working in the modern business environment.

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LEADERSHIP
Many of the principles you’ve learned about working successfully with your boss or within a team also apply to being an effective leader. Trust, respect, and good communication will help you lead the people beneath you or your colleagues with strength and grace. The best managers use a light hand. Their goal is to get the work done as efficiently as possible. Tact is a necessary ingredient for any manager. There are many ways to be tactful to someone who works for you: • Use praise to motivate. People respond to honest compliments. • Criticize in private. Offering criticism behind closed doors is a good way to maintain the person’s dignity and avoid provoking their resentment. • Set a good example. Nothing is more galling than a manager who tells others what to do while failing to pull his or her own weight. If others see that you work as hard as they do, you will find you have crossed a big hurdle in getting them to work hard for you. • Soften your language. Rather than issuing commands, suggest, “You may want to do it this way” or “Have you thought about this approach?” • Take subordinates into your confidence when you can. This doesn’t mean that you have to share your every thought or confidential company information with them. Your goal is to tell people enough about company goals to motivate them. Being tactful is important in any leadership situation. It will almost always get the best results. However, if you are the boss your employees will do the job you tell them to

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do—sometimes grudgingly, as anyone who has ever had a tactless boss can attest. If on the other hand you are a team leader, either appointed or due to your initiative, tactful leadership skills are especially important.

TEAM LEADERSHIP

Team leaders need to guide their teams to the point where the members can work cohesively together to accomplish shared goals. Since most workplace teams are set up for a purpose, it is the leader’s ultimate responsibility to make sure that the team’s purpose is realized. In order for people to be effective team leaders, they should possess certain traits. They should be: • Driven. They need to achieve, their energy level is always high, and their initiative is strong. • Motivated by leadership. They inherently seek to empower others to help them reach personal and team goals. • Confident. They know that they don’t know everything and they trust their ability to get the best out of others. • Open. They share information on a professional and personal level. They are honest, trustworthy, and work with a high level of integrity. • Intelligent. They integrate and interpret large amounts of information and facilitate problem-solving and decisionmaking activities. • Original. They use their creativity and flexibility to adapt to many different situations and to fulfill multiple requirements. • Visionary. They can look ahead and envision what the team should be like and do the right things along the way to get it there.

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Team leaders take on many roles within their teams. Teams get more productive as their members work with each other and become a unit. During a team’s development, the ultimate job of a team leader is to help the team along the path towards cohesion and production. In the early stages of team development a team leader will take active leadership roles, directing members through exercises for the first time and demonstrating positive roles by leading discussions and problem-solving and decision-making tasks. A team leader should work very hard in the early stages of team development to make sure that the team’s members all participate in establishing the goals of the team. As the team moves through the early stages of development, the leader will work with individual members to make sure they are comfortable and confident in their own roles and that their roles serve the goals of the team. The leader will also serve the norminator role, acting as the watchdog to protect team norms. As the team advances into more mature stages of development, the team leader will take passive leadership roles, coaching members through exercises and facilitating discussions and decision-making and problem-solving tasks instead of leading them. Once a team advances through the different stages of development and becomes a cohesive unit that can realize its goals without the active help of its leader, the leader serves as a consultant or an advisor. As either a consultant or advisor, the team leader is present for any help the team may seek, but offers very little in terms of proactive advice or direction.
In the first month at a new job, I was invited to present my ideas about the direction of the organization I was hired to lead at a meeting of the board of directors. I wanted to make a good impression, so I worked hard on my presentation. I made sure my

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comments were comprehensive and I had all the bases covered. On the day of the meeting I was full of enthusiasm, and I thought my presentation went really well. But when I asked for questions, comments, or suggestions, the silence was stunning. After the meeting I asked one of my new colleagues what she thought of my presentation. She told me that everyone thought it was great, but I had done such a thorough job that it was clear I didn’t need anybody’s contribution. The group had come in as a team, and in my enthusiasm to impress them I didn’t allow them to work as a team. I’ve since learned that I can’t possibly have all the answers and that the vitality of any organization comes from the synergy of ideas and viewpoints—and I now know to let that happen. —H ERBERT, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC R ELATIONS

Team leaders use a soft approach in order to ensure social growth and team cohesion. They must, themselves, demonstrate these behaviors, as well as teach them to their group. Team leaders need to communicate well. They are the role models, and members frequently imitate their behavior. When team leaders communicate, they always use active listening skills and make effective use of constructive feedback. Since all teams go through periods marked by conflict, it is up to the team leader to take charge and make sure the team goes through the proper channels to resolve conflict in a constructive and lasting manner. Team leaders need to use effective group problem-solving techniques. Solving problems using critical thinking skills is important for team leaders, who must not only solve problems on their own but must also help team members solve individual problems and group problems. Teams can be very successful solving problems and evaluating opportunities if all members are given the chance to participate and the proper techniques are used to ensure quality decisions. It is the team leader’s responsibility to implement effective team problem-solving techniques.

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Without trust a team will never reach a state of cohesion. At the very nature of collaboration and teamwork lies trust. A team leader has to build trust between herself and the members, as well as between the members. Setting up open communication channels and using continuous objective feedback can help a team leader foster trust within the team. Sharing and building trust go hand in hand in creating an atmosphere where communication is open and team experiences are rich. Team leaders have to share information, power, praise, and responsibilities in order to facilitate the growth of the team. As a role model, the team leader who hides or guards information will not motivate his team. Being a team leader is excellent management training. All the leadership roles and skills discussed above can be readily applied to managing employees. After all, a company is really a team of employees with a shared goal.

SUMMARY
Getting along at work involves following the principles of etiquette, such as wearing appropriate attire and keeping office relationships, both friendships and romances, discreet. Being mindful of etiquette can make a big difference in how you succeed at work. The most important aspect of getting along at work is how you handle your professional relationships, and earning your boss’s respect is essential to a good employee/boss relationship. Respecting your boss’s authority is an important way to earn his or her respect. Teamwork is an increasingly significant aspect of the modern workplace. Understanding the roles that team members play, and encouraging the positive roles, can make teamwork exciting and rewarding.

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Good leadership skills are also vital to getting along at work. Understanding how to effectively motivate your employees with positive feedback, good communication, and tact will make you a leader who earns respect and gets work accomplished. Being a team leader can require even more diplomacy than being a boss, because you can only encourage, rather than dictate, cooperation. Understanding how the team leader’s role changes as a team develops can help you lead your team to success.

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skills you need to excel at your job. You’re organized, you communicate effectively, you can research your way out of any problem, and you understand how to work well with others to your advantage. Now you’re ready to take your career to the next level. There are two important skills that will help you move ahead: problem solving and networking. Finding creative solutions to everyday problems and knowing how to implement them is a skill that gets you noticed. Making connections with the influential people in your workplace and in your field will put you in touch with opportunities that will help you advance. Once you’ve put yourself in a position to move ahead, you’ll need to know how to make the move, either within your company or outside.
You have the

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PROBLEM SOLVING
Effective problem solvers go places. Their ability to handle difficult situations, to somehow avoid disaster and make things right again, makes them extremely valuable in the workplace. In order to become an effective problem solver you must first understand what a problem is. A problem is an undesirable situation that is difficult to change. Problems are best expressed in a twopart problem statement that describes the current situation and asks how a specific, desired goal can be reached. The solution is the mechanism employed to change the current situation to the desired situation. How do you get from problem to solution? First you have to define the problem and set goals.

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It’s one thing to know that there’s a problem. It’s another thing altogether to be able to identify exactly what the problem is. All too often we fail to solve our problems because we come up with a solution for the wrong problem. The key to accurately stating the existing problem is twofold: first, make sure your problem statement is a statement of fact, not opinion; and, second, make sure your problem statement is manageable.
I was responsible for sending out a mass advertising mailing. I had hired a temp to stuff, address, seal, and put postage on the envelopes. After only an hour, our postage meter ran out of money, bringing my mailing to a halt. I was horrified when I found out it would take about five days to get more credit to the machine, by which time it would be too late for my advertising campaign to be of any value. I spent about an hour talking with customer service explaining my dilemma and asking if there was any way to rush our payment. I was almost ready to declare my

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advertising campaign a disaster when I realized I was looking for a solution to the wrong problem. I didn’t need money on our meter so much as I needed to get my envelopes in the mail. I quickly contacted some direct mail suppliers and had my mailing out the door the next day. The revenue generated by the mailing easily offset the extra cost of paying the direct mail house. —MARY, MARKETING MANAGER

Essentially, the difference between fact and opinion is the difference between believing and knowing. Opinions may be based on facts, but they are still what we think, not what we know. Opinions are debatable; facts usually are not. Ask yourself, can this statement be debated? If you can answer yes, you have an opinion and you need to rethink your problem statement. When your problem statements are not factual, you run the risk of derailing your entire problem solving process. Imagine that you have difficulties with one of your coworkers, Sam. Your boss created work teams, and you have been assigned to group B, and so has Sam. Now, look at the following problem statements: 1. Current situation: I’ve been placed on a project team with Sam. Desired situation: How can I minimize my interactions with Sam without jeopardizing the project or my job? 2. Current situation: Sam is lazy. Desired situation: How can I avoid working with him? 3. Current situation: I need to be on a different team. Desired situation: How can I get out of this group? Problem statement #1, of course, is the most effective of the three. Why? Partly because its description of the current situation is fact, simple and straightforward. In the second example, the current sit-

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uation is clearly expressing an opinion, and not a particularly constructive one at that. Its lack of objectivity will lead to a misdirected goal and therefore a solution to the wrong problem. The third problem statement is ineffective because it, too, lacks objectivity. It not only expresses an opinion, it also suggests a solution. A problem statement that suggests a solution has several negative effects. First, your goal will be misdirected. Second, suggesting a solution in your problem statement will severely limit your ability to brainstorm for effective solutions. Effective problem solvers know that problem statements must not only be facts; they must also be focused. Focusing the problem statement makes it manageable. Your problem statement, then, should address a specific, focused problem that you can do something about. Once you’ve clearly identified the problem, you need to articulate the desired situation. A clearly articulated goal is essential to reaching an effective solution. It’s not enough to know that you want to change the current situation. For effective problem solving, you need to know exactly what you want to change the current situation to. A clearly defined goal, then, enables you to focus your problem-solving energies on generating a solution that will get you exactly where you want to go when you want to get there. Whether you’re working on a problem statement or outlining career or personal goals, there are four guidelines for effective goal setting that you should follow: 1. 2. 3. 4. Make sure your goals are specific. Make sure your goals are measurable. Make sure your goals are ambitious. Make sure your goals are realistic.

Now that you have defined the problem, established your goals, and created a two-part problem statement, you are ready to find your solution.

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PROBLEM

A problem will seem more manageable if you break it down into parts. First determine the scope of the problem by asking questions based on your problem statement. Ask a series of who, what, when, where, and why questions based on the current situation. You will clearly understand the scope of the problem, and seeking the answers to these questions will help you develop an effective solution.

PRO BLEM ANALYSIS
Current situation: Customers are complaining that their products take more than six weeks to be delivered. Desired situation: To have products in customers’ hands in three weeks or less. Here is a list of questions for the problem above. Note that the overarching question here is the first one: • Why are the products taking so long to be delivered? • What products are being complained about? (Is it all products, or just a certain few?) • When did we start receiving complaints? • How long after a customer places an order is it shipped? • Where do orders go when they come in? • How much is charged for shipping and handling? • What exactly happens to an order once it is placed? What are the steps in the order-fulfillment process? • How are products shipped? • Who handles the orders once they are placed? • Who handles the shipping?

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To maximize your time as you prepare to solve your problem, take these important steps before you begin your research: 1. Eliminate any questions that are irrelevant. Make sure each question is clearly related to the matter at hand 2. Cluster questions around related issues. Because answers to related questions can often be found in the same place, lumping the questions together like this makes it easier to find the answers you’ll need to develop an effective solution. 3. Prioritize the questions by determining the order in which they need to be answered. Because some questions are clearly more important than others, and because certain questions must be answered before others can be addressed, it’s essential to rank the questions in the order in which they need to be answered. Just as a detective needs to find the facts regarding the crime in order to solve it, problem solvers need to find the facts behind the current situation in order to change it. Before you begin brainstorming a solution, then, it’s crucial that you do your homework and find the answers to all those questions you ask when breaking the problem into its parts. As you do your research, keep the following strategies in mind: 1. Keep accurate records. As you find answers to your questions, be sure to accurately record those answers. 2. Consider levels of causation. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that there’s only one cause to your problem. There could be a series of cause and effect relationships that led to the current situation. Or there could be two or more factors working together to cause your problem.

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3. Keep asking questions. The most diligent problem solvers—those who keep asking questions—develop the most effective solutions. Once you’ve answered your questions and gathered all the relevant facts, it’s time to summarize the problem so that you can begin working on your solution. To summarize, simply restate the current situation and the desired solution, and then list the key facts that you discovered in your research.

D E V E L O P I N G Y O U R P R O B L E M - S O LV I N G D I S P O S I T I O N

The most important tool for brainstorming a solution to your problem is a problem solving disposition. What is a problem solving disposition? It means having the right attitude, rekindling your curiosity, being open to different perspectives, and igniting your creativity. The right attitude for problem solving is a positive attitude, which opens up your outlook, prepares you to expect good things, frees your creative energies, and leads you to success. You can maintain a positive attitude if you follow these steps: 1. Face reality. Acknowledge the problem and acknowledge your power to change it. 2. Embrace challenges. Don’t shy away from a problem because you are afraid to fail. Remember, problems are opportunities to learn and to develop your skills. 3. Trust your intuition. Don’t suppress your gut feelings; you’ll be surprised how often they’re right. 4. Be patient. Take one step at a time.

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You can rekindle your curiosity by tuning into your surroundings. You can’t be curious about something you haven’t noticed. Paying attention to the world around you will lead you to ask questions. A habit of looking carefully will enable you to see things others don’t and asking questions is the first step to finding answers. The ability to see situations from various points of view is essential for effective problem solving. Looking at a situation from other points of view not only expands your understanding of the problem; it also increases your ability to empathize with others. When you understand that problems affect different people in different ways, and you actively imagine the situation from those different points of view, you develop a much clearer understanding of the scope of the problem and are much more likely to come up with a solution that is not only effective, but considerate and fair. We might all be able to solve a simple problem, but a creative person will be able to develop a solution that is unique (and uniquely effective) because he or she has the ability to “see” things differently. Instead of simply taking the standard approach to problems, instead of accepting the standard notions of boundaries and limits, creative people reach out beyond the “normal” modes of thinking to see the problem or situation in a new way. The good news is that you can develop your creativity. We all have the capacity to be extremely creative, but many of us bury our creative energies under layers of fear. We’re often afraid to share our ideas because we’re afraid that we’ll be ridiculed or misunderstood. Creativity is like a muscle. If it’s not exercised regularly, it will atrophy. That’s why an active sense of curiosity and an ability to see things from various points of view are so important to creativity. They do for creativity what daily stretching does for the body: they keep you limber, ready to run with a new idea, make new connections, and see things in an exciting and innovative

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way. Another important step to building your creativity muscle is to let go of your fear. So open your eyes, be curious and open to new ideas, and then let yourself be creative. Don’t hold back and you’ll be surprised how creative you can be!

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Now you’re in a problem-solving frame of mind, it’s time to find a solution to your problem. Brainstorming—unrestrained idea production—is the place to begin. When you brainstorm, your aim is to come up with as many ideas as possible in a short period of time. There’s only one rule in brainstorming: anything goes. All ideas count, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. So don’t censor, don’t criticize; don’t worry if something seems outlandish or absurd. It’s an idea, and it may lead to another idea that may not be so ridiculous after all—it might, in fact, be the perfect solution. Here are four effective brainstorming techniques: 1. Listing. Simply, this means creating a list of your ideas. 2. Mapping. A map is a visual way of getting your ideas on paper. To create a map: put the desired solution a circle in the middle of the page, and put your ideas in circles that connect to the desired solution. If one idea leads to another, draw another circle that’s connected to the first idea. This strategy helps you to cluster your ideas. 3. Drawing connections. This is an important aspect of mapping. Think of as many connections between your ideas as you can. You never know where your connections might lead. 4. Out-of-the-box thinking. Also known as a paradigm shift. Paradigms are the major beliefs that shape our

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perceptions, like a frame though which you see the world. Creating a paradigm shift helps you break open that frame and think about your problem is a less limited way. Change one of the three key elements of the problem (even if it makes the situation absurd): the current situation, the desired situation, or the facts of the situation. It will help you think about your problem in a new way.

E V A L U AT I N G Y O U R S O L U T I O N

So you’ve brainstormed a number of possible solutions. How do you find the right one? Here are two effective strategies. 1. Simply rank the solutions in order of best to worst. Rank the solutions according to different criteria—for example, easiest to implement, most far-reaching, cheapest, quickest—and see which solution has the best overall ranking. Creating a table is good way to visualize various criteria. 2. Consider the pros and cons. List the pros and cons of each solution and determine which one has the most pros and the least cons. It is important to avoid some common errors in reasoning when you evaluate your solutions. First, beware of appeals to your emotions. Emotional appeals can cloud your judgment. For example, flattery, scare tactics (warnings that are not based on logic or reason), peer pressure, or pity can lead you to choose one solution over another, more effective solution. This is an error in reasoning. Some other errors in reasoning are slippery slope, false dilemma, circular reasoning, and non sequitur. The slippery slope fal-

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lacy assumes that if X happens, then Y will follow—when X isn’t likely to lead to Y. A false dilemma poses only two choices when there are really many choices in between. Circular reasoning occurs when a statement and the support for that statement say the same thing. Finally, a non sequitur draws a faulty conclusion through a leap in logic by assuming that Y will happen just because X is the case. Check your solution for these common errors in logic before you proceed.

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Now that you have found the best solution and checked to make sure your reasoning is sound, you are ready to implement your solution. Create an action plan. There are six steps to creating an effective action plan: 1. Break the solution down into tasks to be accomplished. 2. Determine the order in which those tasks must be completed. 3. Determine who will handle each task. 4. Determine how long each task will take and how much it will cost. 5. Set specific start and end dates for each task. 6. Develop back-up plans—especially for those tasks that depend on outside factors, such as a delivery or approval from another person. When you have created your action plan you are ready to present your solution. Unless you are your own boss, you will usually have to get support—either in terms of time, money, people, or approval—for your solution. Here are some methods to help you present your solution so that you get the support you need.

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1. Consider your audience. Think about what your audience knows about the subject, what misconceptions they might have, what their perspective might be, and what type of solutions they might be expecting. 2. Clearly define the problem. Take your audience through your problem-solving process. 3. Summarize the scope of the problem and the key facts. 4. Present your solution. Describe your solution and explain the evaluation and decision-making process. Then describe your implementation plan. 5. Anticipate objections. Carefully considering your audience’s concerns will show that you have really thought carefully about the problem. As you can see, problem solving is a thoughtful and creative process that requires planning and good communication skills. Employees who are able to solve problems demonstrate these critical skills as well as provide a vital function. Problems arise every day in the business world, and if you are able to tackle problems creatively and effectively you will be a valued employee who is ready for promotion.

NETWORKING
Networking is another important means of getting ahead at work.

W H AT I S N E T W O R K I N G ?

In its basic form, a network is the people that you know and the people that they know. Think of it as a web, with strands

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connecting people who know each other. These connections criss-cross and form an interwoven, interdependent structure. Networking is being able to locate a person within this web who can help you in a particular situation, with the understanding that that person may someday call on you for help. Some people are natural networkers. They keep up contacts, strike up conversations with new people easily, and are curious about other people’s interests—without even thinking about it. Some people have to overcome shyness, lack of self-confidence, and disinterest in people they don’t know in order to work on their network. In either case having a strong network offers great benefits. Networking will make your career more successful and your life easier. It also does the following: • Gives you access to people you want to know. Did you ever wish you could meet somebody but didn’t know how to do it? When your network is in place, you should be able to find somebody who knows somebody who knows the person you want to meet. • Keeps you in touch when you’re out of the mainstream. Keeping up with your network during times of transition is critical, because these people provide support and encouragement. • Lets you help others. As you get involved with networking, you’ll quickly learn that it’s a two-way street. You’ll also learn that the benefits of helping someone can be as great as receiving help. • Allows you to pursue your interests and develop new ones. Networking gives you access to people who know about all kinds of things, from auto racing to Chinese history.

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Before you panic about building a network from scratch, it’s important to realize that parts of your network are already in place. Your core network includes your immediate family, close friends, and relatives. Your expanded network includes people that you know casually such as friends of friends, friends of your family, former coworkers, people you know from activities, and people you know from your neighborhood and businesses. Begin building your network by listing all the people in your core network and then all the people in your extended network. You’ll be surprised by how many people you know. Of course some people on your list will be more useful than others. If you work in computer programming, your rock-climbing instructor might not be as useful to you as if you worked in sporting goods. But don’t rule people out; you might discover that your rock climbing instructor’s husband owns a small computer-consulting firm. When you are actively building your network it is important to be organized and prepared. Be sure to keep your list of contacts in a place that is easy to access and update. Some common tools are an address book, a paper Rolodex, an electronic organizer, or an address file on your computer. A business card is a must for networking. If you don’t have one through your current job, you can easily and fairly inexpensively have some printed. Some truly indispensable tools for networking—that you can’t buy but that you have within you—sincerity, a strong handshake, a ready smile, and a good dose of persistence. Your network is something that you build all the time. Always be open to the possibility that someone you know or meet might be a useful connection, or that you might be of use to that person. But sometimes you will make use of your network more actively, especially when you are ready to advance your career.

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There’s no substitute for a good mentor when it comes to getting ahead. A mentor is someone who takes an interest in your career and who is in a position to help you avoid the pitfalls and take advantage of opportunities. The sooner you are able to find someone with whom you have a good rapport who is willing to serve as your advisor the better.

First, don’t confuse the word “use” with “exploit.” A network is a two-way street, not an opportunity to take advantage of a relationship. Think about what the people in your network can do for you, and offer your help whenever you can be of assistance. When you want to ask someone in your network for help keep the following hints in mind: • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember most people are happy to give advice and share their knowledge. • If someone refuses to help, don’t take it personally, and don’t write that person off for future networking. Their reason for not helping probably has nothing to do with you. • Prepare carefully when you approach someone for his or her help. • Be direct when you ask for help. • Meeting in person is better than talking over the phone, which in turn is better than e-mailing. Try to meet faceto-face whenever you can. • Dress neatly. Not only will you make a good impression but also you will show the person that you take them and the time they are giving you seriously. • Be yourself. Building a network also means maintaining it. You can’t expect to make contact once and have the person remember you.

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It’s up to you to stay in touch with a renewed connection. Look for interesting ways to keep in touch with people: for example, sending an acquaintance an article that will be of special interest to him or her. Be positive and upbeat when you interact with your contacts. Always let a contact know if a tip or a reference they gave you resulted in a job. And, of course, always thank people for the time or advice they have offered.
When I graduated from college, I thought networking meant calling up people I didn’t know and asking them for job leads and career advice. I found the whole process really difficult, and one that I wanted to quickly put behind me. As my career has progressed I’ve realized that networking should be something you do all the time, not just when you’re specifically looking for career information. A thriving up-to-date network is the kind of thing that snowballs. When people know that you keep a database of contacts—a Rolodex, Filofax, or PDA—they start asking you for information or giving you information, then one name leads to another, and so on. I don’t wait until I need to contact someone for a lead; I just keep in touch with people and good things generally happen. —CHRIS, ACCOUNT MANAGER

Maintaining a good network is not only helpful when looking for a new job, it also makes you a more desirable employee. If you have a strong network you may be able to recommend a candidate for an open position in your company. Or, perhaps you’ve been recruited to help plan the company holiday party and your network just happens to include your college roommate who runs a wonderful catering business. Using your network at work not only makes you look good, but also helps the people in your network.

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MOVING UP
Of course, the most obvious use of a network is when you are searching for a new job. We’ll discuss looking for opportunities outside your company later. First, let’s talk about getting yourself promoted.

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Of course, the best way to get yourself promoted is to follow the steps we’ve covered so far. Make yourself the best employee you can be and you will most likely be rewarded for your hard work. Sometimes, however, a position will open up that you are not offered—even though you might think you are perfect for the job. In this case, you may want to ask for a promotion. Employees rarely ask for promotions for the simple reason that most bosses like to choose whom to promote and when. This doesn’t mean you can’t ask for a promotion, and get one. Prepare your promotion pitch as carefully as you would any important presentation. Here are some hints on how to go about presenting yourself for advancement:

• Make your case. Never ask for a promotion without doing your homework first. Review what skills you’ve learned and tasks you’ve accomplished in your current job that have prepared you for the promotion. Learn as much as you can about the duties of the job you asking for so you can accurately explain why you are a strong candidate. Rehearse what you’re going to say. • Show off your accomplishments. Begin by describing what you have accomplished in your current position. Even if your boss knows all this, take a minute or two to

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review the facts. It will set the stage for your request. Justify your ability to do the job. Explain how you will be able to meet the requirements of the new position, and demonstrate that you know what the new job entails. Have someone in mind who can take over your old job. Perhaps someone you’ve been working with is also ready for a promotion. Or perhaps there’s someone in your network who would be perfect to fill your shoes. Don’t be presumptuous. Don’t claim that you’re the best person for the job; you may only remind the boss that you’re not the most obvious candidate. Similarly, don’t criticize the other candidates; you don’t want to appear to be questioning your boss’s judgment. Leave the door open for future negotiations. If your boss says that she doesn’t think this position is right for you, let her know that you respect her judgment and that you hope she will consider you for advancement in the future. You may also want to ask her what will help you become more promotable.

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If you’ve explored the opportunities for advancement in your company and have decided that it is time for you to move on, you will be faced with the difficult task of looking for a job while you are still working. The first step in any job search is to write a new resume. A resume is a sales tool. It describes your talents and work skills in the very best possible light to prospective employers. A good resume, above all else, does not waste the reader’s time. It is well written and organized logically, so that the information is easy to read. In fact, one of the purposes of a resume is to show that you can organize your thoughts and present

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them clearly in writing. State what you’ve done in very positive terms, but don’t exaggerate or embellish your accomplishments or responsibilities. Your resume also has to be easy to read and look good on the page. The heading of your resume should list information about how to reach you. Give your home address, and include telephone and/or fax numbers and an e-mail address that are not at work. No mode of communication is secure at work, and if you use one, you run the risk of having your job-hunting efforts revealed prematurely. The job objective is in some ways the most important part of your resume. Spend considerable time working on it. The job objective sets the tone for the kind of job you want. Emphasize responsibilities and skills that you enjoy, and play down—or omit—those that you don’t. Similarly, if you have a skill that is particularly desirable, say so here. You may also use the job objective to set your sights high— to skip a job level, for example, if you can reasonably expect to do this in your next job. If you don’t aim a little higher than your present position, you may well find yourself fielding offers for jobs similar to the one you have or only slightly better. On the other hand, it is never wise to appear too grandiose in your job objective. List your previous employment in concrete terms. For each job held, prospective employers will want to know who employed you, where the company was located, what your job title was, and how long you worked there. Also describe your areas of responsibility at each job; for this you can—and perhaps should—use a little creativity. You should never lie about what you have done, but you should make yourself look as good as you possibly can when you describe how you did your past jobs. Try to be as careful and accurate in describing your education as you were in listing your past work experiences. Begin with the most recent school you attended and progress backward.

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Generally, you need not list any education prior to college, or high school if a high school diploma is your highest degree. For each entry, list the name of the school, the year you graduated, your course of study, and the degree or certificate you were awarded (if applicable). Night school and any professional courses or seminars should be listed here as well. Even though it is a given that you will furnish references any time you are asked to do so, most resumes still contain a line about this anyway, such as “Reference available upon request.” Never list the names of your references on your resume. You may also decide to add one or more additional sections to your resume. If you have military experience, for example, this should be listed separately. List the branch of the armed forces, the dates of service, any special training you received, and the fact that you got an honorable discharge—if you did. If you got another kind of discharge, it is usually better not to mention this on your resume, and then to discuss it, if it comes up, during a job interview. You should never state salary requirements on a resume or, for that matter, in a cover letter—even though some job advertisements request this information. Salary is something to negotiate, and it is too important and possibly too flexible to be put into writing like this. Try to discuss this topic in person. However, if you feel you must address salary requirements in order to get a response to an ad, do this in your cover letter. You should always send out a resume accompanied by a cover letter. Even if you know the person to whom you are sending your resume, and even if that person has requested that you send it, include a cover letter. At minimum, enclose a brief note to say hello and remind the person who you are and that your resume is enclosed. A cover letter introduces you in a more personal manner than the resume. It also is a good place to emphasize one aspect of your job goals, show what you know about the company, or say why you are especially interested in the job.

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To write a good cover letter, you’ll need to do a little homework. First, try to get the name of someone to whom you can address your resume and cover letter, because it is more effective when it is directed to a specific individual. Whenever possible call and find out the name of the person who is hiring for the position and address your letter to that person. Rather than writing to “Dear Human Resources Manager:” call the Human Resources Department and ask to whom you should address your letter. Use the cover letter to show your enthusiasm for the job and the company. As soon as you officially begin to job hunt, you will need to line up some references. References are people who can vouch for your abilities, talents, and devotion as a worker. Often they are past supervisors or mentors. Rarely are personal references, such as your minister or rabbi, used in business. Before you use someone as a reference, call or write that person to ask whether you may. Then, it is especially nice to touch base with that person again each time you give out his or her name. Among other things, you can describe the prospective employer and offer suggestions about what to say that would help you get the job. When you do get a job, take a minute to drop notes to your references, thanking them for their help and letting them know where you have relocated. Sometimes you will have a bad reference, a former employer who, for whatever reason, is not going to say very nice or helpful things about you. For example, an employer may be angry simply because you left them, and refuse to give a positive reference. Whatever the reason, less-than-perfect references must be handled with special care: • Avoid listing a reference who will not speak well of you. Instead, point prospective employers toward people who will speak of you in positive terms.

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• Remind the interviewer not to contact your present boss. If your present boss is the one who would give a bad reference, say you need to be discreet because your employer does not know that you are looking for a new job. • If someone you expected to give you a good reference for some reason does not and your prospective employer questions you about the reference, ask, in a neutral way, what the reference said specifically, and then explain your side of the story briefly, calmly, and objectively. Do not criticize your former employer, even though you may feel betrayed. Keep your response as short as you can; you certainly do not want to dwell on a negative reference. Offer to give the interviewer another reference who can vouch for your good qualities. Once you have started a job search, you will need to figure out how you will balance it while working at your current job. It is always difficult to find the time to look for one job when you’re gainfully employed at another, but it certainly is less stressful from a financial point of view. Do not let your job-hunting efforts distract you in any way from your responsibilities at your present job. Similarly, do not use company time or supplies to job-hunt. More specifically, you must be careful to follow several rules: • Send your resume out on personal letterhead—never the company’s. It is entirely inappropriate to use a company letterhead to job hunt, and this tactic will work against you. People who ordinarily might have interviewed you for a job will not appreciate your lack of respect for your current employer. • Don’t use your work e-mail address. Company-supplied e-mail is not confidential, and it’s not your private line. • Make calls short and local. It’s okay to make a quick local

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call, but no toll- or long-distance calls should show up on the boss’s bill because you are job hunting. Keep your reasons for time off to yourself. If you must take time off from work to go to an interview, take a personal day and say as little as possible about what you are doing. Keep your job-hunting efforts low-key. If you can manage it, tell no one you have a new job until you have had a chance to tell the boss. You boss is entitled to hear the news first, and he or she deserves to hear it from you. It is especially tricky to deal with telephone calls about job leads when you are at work. Occasionally, though, you will have to. Here are some hints on doing this: Make phone calls related to your job search from outside the office. Take a coffee break and go use your cell phone or a public phone, or come to work a little late so you can make the call from home. If a prospective employer calls you at work, say you’ll call back later. It is okay to admit that you can’t talk and then establish a time after work hours when you can. After the employer has made the initial contact, he or she will understand that any real conversation has to be put off until a more appropriate time.

Even though it can be awkward, job searching at your current position is a common predicament. As long as you do not neglect your current job and handle your search discreetly, conducting a job search while working can be accomplished tactfully and successfully.

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SUMMARY
The first step in getting ahead is first to do the best job you can in your current position. Develop your skills such as staying organized; writing, communicating, and researching for work; working with your boss; teamwork; and leadership. These skills will help you stand out as a valued employee. Working on your problem solving skills will make you stand out as a person who is creative and resourceful. In order to become a problem solver you must first define the problem by creating a two-part problem statement. Next you should adopt a problem-solving disposition. This means having a positive attitude, being observant, asking questions, and sparking your creativity by being open to new ideas and perspectives, and unafraid of making mistakes. When you are ready to work on the solution to your problem, it is time to brainstorm, that is, freely generate ideas without censoring yourself. When you have come up with a number of solutions evaluate them to determine which one is the best answer to your problem. Check your solution to make sure you haven’t made an error in your reasoning. Finally, present your solution by taking your audience through your problem-solving process. Networking is another important skill that will help you get ahead. A network is the group of people that you know and the people that they know who can help you, and who you can help, professionally. Building a network is an ongoing process that requires being open to new people, maintaining ties with the people you have met, and keeping organized records of contact information. An active network can be rewarding both personally and professionally. Finally, when you are ready to move on from your current position you have two options. You can ask for a promotion within your company or you can begin a job search. You can ask for a

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promotion and get one if you prepare and present a strong case to your supervisor. Looking for a job while you have a job can be awkward but you can handle it successfully if you proceed with tact and discretion. After all, every employee wants to advance, and your employer will probably respect your decision to move on if he or she cannot offer you increased responsibility.

C O N C LUS I O N

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

We’ve covered a

lot of ground, so let’s recap what we’ve learned. You’ve not only mastered some basic skills that are essential for every professional, but we hope you have also acquired tools that will help you in any situation that you might encounter. You’ve learned some ways of working that are applicable to almost every avenue of work. You’ve learned that first you must define what you are trying to accomplish and then set goals. The procedures you’ve learned for getting organized, writing a letter, or conducting business research will help you to approach any situation with confidence and give you the best results. The information you’ve covered has given you solutions to almost any situation you might encounter in your workplace. • Getting organized. The first step in getting organized is to analyze where your time goes and to set specific goals for

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getting your work under control. The first place to start is with your desk. Your desk should be organized so that everything has its place and the desk stores only what you need in your day-to-day work. Then you should organize your files so that you have a streamlined information system. Finally, and probably most important, you need to organize your time. You’ve already looked at how you use time at work; the next step is to create an itinerary so that you maximize that time. Other ways to manage your time are to follow the ten telephone tips, to limit your socializing, and to use technology effectively. • Writing for work. Writing is an essential part of any professional career. When you write for work you must know your audience and your purpose. You also need to know that writing well requires editing and revising, and don’t forget that neatness counts. Every type of workplace document has a particular format. Follow the format and the conventions for each type of document. Finally, work on improving the clarity and style of writing. The topics covered in Chapter 2 will help you write with confidence and style. • Communicating at work. Like writing, communicating at work starts with knowing your audience and knowing your purpose—whom you’re talking to and what you are trying to say. When speaking, you also need to consider the perceptions of your audience. Good communicators have mastered several important skills: They know how to create a good first impression; they know how to use language, their voice, and body language effectively; and they know how to listen. Finally, the advice in Chapter 3 has prepared you to conquer your nervousness and make a well-organized, effective speech. You have also learned how to make the most of those meetings—both as a leader and a participant.

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• Research. Business research ranges from finding the best place to order lunch for a meeting to finding out how your company’s corporate catering service can attract new clients. If you have studied Chapter 4, you have the research skills to find what you need to know. First you need to determine the purpose of your research, then select your research method, and finally establish a timetable. There are many places to find information: the library, the Internet, and through interviews, surveys, and focus groups. • Getting along at work. This is one of the most important skills in today’s workplace. Work has become more collaborative and less hierarchical, so working well with others is more important than ever. Knowing proper etiquette—such as what to wear and how to handle office relationships—is essential. Even though you might be working in a collaborative office, you probably still have a boss. Following this book’s tips for earning your boss’s respect will make your job easier and more rewarding. Finally, you’ll probably have to work on some team projects and what you’ve learned about team dynamics will make this a much more productive experience. • Getting ahead. One likely reason that you’ve been reading The Complete Professional is to advance your career. As you’ve learned, problem solving and networking are two important skills that will help you get ahead. Problem solving involves first getting in a problem solving frame of mind—igniting your curiosity and boosting your creativity. Then, like many other skills we’ve covered, you need to define the problem and set a goal. Finding a solution to your problem involves brainstorming and evaluating your solution for flaws in your reasoning. Networking is the ongoing process of identifying and building connections and relationships. As you’ve

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learned, it’s a two-way street that’s as much about helping others as it is about getting help. These are the skills that will get you noticed when you apply what you’ve learned about how to negotiate a promotion or look for a job while you’re working. These tips will help you capitalize on what you’ve learned and take your career to the next level. As we’ve said, you’ve not only learned specific skills, but you’ve also learned some general tools and ways to approach any problem that will be invaluable to you. When you think about your career you can apply these skills to move your career in the right direction. First, define your career goals. Before you forge ahead, take some time to analyze your current job. What aspects of your job do you like and what don’t you like? Think about your interests, both at work and outside. When you have identified your likes and dislikes, you can start looking for ways to match your career with what really interests you. You also need to think about where you want your career to take you. In five years, where would you like to be? Do you want to be running your own business? Do you want to be the head of your department? You should also think about your longterm personal goals. Do you want to buy a house, and if so when and where? How do you want to balance your family life with work? At what age do you plan to retire? The answers to these questions can help you think such issues as about how aggressively you want to pursue your career goals and how important salary is to you. Of course these are just some general thoughts about defining your career goals. The resource section of this book will point you to some excellent books and websites that will help you discover the job that’s right for you. The point is that you need to think about where you want to be and what you want to be doing in order to get your career moving in the right direction.

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We all have the ability to find a job that we find satisfying and challenging and to be our best in that job. When you are in a job that matches your interests and that is helping you meet your life goals, you will find that you are eager to do the job as well as you can. The skills that you’ve learned in The Complete Professional will help you maximize your potential. Knowing that you have these skills will give you confidence, and confidence is a quality that marks every successful professional. When you approach your job with the confidence that you can do it well, you will find that confidence breeds success. The complete professional knows that with careful planning, determination, and good attitude any problem that he or she faces in the workplace can be solved. The complete professional knows how to negotiate the challenges of today’s workplace and is prepared to maximize his or her potential. We hope that reading and studying this book has prepared you to be a complete professional with all the skills you need to achieve your career goals and to make your work a satisfying and successful experience.

RESOURCES

GENERAL
101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques: The Handbook of New Ideas for Business, by James M. Higgins (New Management, 1994). 101 Ways to Have a Great Day at Work, by Stephanie Goddard Davidson (Sourcebooks, 1998). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Stephan R. Covey (Fireside, 1990). The 13 Secrets of Power Performance, by Roger Dawson (Prentice Hall, 1997). The One Minute Manager, by Spencer Johnson (Berkley, 1993). Practical Solutions for Everyday Work Problems, by Elizabeth Chesla (Learning Express, 2000). Successful Teamwork, by Erik Chesla (Learning Express, 2000).

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Value-Added Employee: 31 Skills to Make Yourself Irresistible to Any Company, by Edward J. Cripe (Gulf Publishing, 1999).

ORGANIZATION
Getting Organized at Work, by Dawn B. Sova (Learning Express, 1998). Keeping Work Simple, Solutions for a Saner Workplace, by Don Aslett (Storey Books, 1997).

WRITING
The 100 Most Difficult Business Letters You’ll Ever Have to Write, Fax, or E-mail, by Bernard Heller (HarperBusiness, 1994). American Business English, by Karen H. Bartell (University of Michigan, 1995). Basics of Business Writing (Worksmart Series), by Marty Stuckey (AMACOM, 1992). Better Letters: A Handbook of Business and Personal Correspondence, by Jan Venolia (Ten Speed, 1995). Effective Business Writing: A Guide for Those Who Write on the Job, by Maryann V. Piotrwoski (HarperCollins, 1996). Improve Your Writing for Work, 2nd edition, by Elizabeth Chesla (Learning Express, 2000).

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COMMUNICATION
50 One-Minute Tips to Better Communication: A Wealth of Business Communication Ideas (Fifty-Minute Series Book), by Phillip E. Bozek (Crisp, 1997). 101 Secrets of Highly Effective Speakers: Controlling Fear, Commanding Attention, by Caryl Rae (Impact, 1998). 101 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills Instantly, by Jo Condrill (Goalminds, 1998). Effective Business Speaking, by Judith A. McManus (Learning Express, 1999). Get Your Message Across: The Professional Communication Skills Everyone Needs, by Jacqui Ewart (Allen & Unwin, 1998).

RESEARCH
10 Minute Guide to Business Research on the Net, by Thomas Pack (Que Corporation, 1997). Advanced Internet Research One-Day Course, by Curt Robbins (DDC, 1999). Search Smart and Get Ahead, by Susan Shelly (Learning Express, 2000).

ETIQUETTE AND LEADERSHIP
101 Biggest Mistakes Managers Make and How to Avoid Them by Mary Albright (Prentice Hall, 1997). 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work, by Bob Nelson (Workman, 1999). The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success, by Peggy Post (Harper Resource 1999). Office Etiquette & Protocol, by Grace Fox (Learning Express, 1998).

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GETTING AHEAD
50 Ways to Get Promoted, by Nathan G. Jensen (PSI Research, 1999). 101 Ways to Promote Yourself: Tricks of the Trade for Taking Charge of Your Own Success, by Raleigh Pinskey (Avon, 1999). 1001 Ways to Get Promoted, by David E. Rye (Career Press, 2000). Great Interview, by Vivian. V. Eyre (Learning Express, 2000). Great Resume, by Jason R. Rich (Learning Express, 2000). How to Become CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization, by Jeffrey J. Fox (1998). Networking for Novices, by Susan Shelly (Learning Express, 1998). The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success, by Nicholas Lore (Fireside, 1998).

SOFTWARE
Calendar Creator 7.0 Standard, ($29.99) Calendar Creator allows you to customize a calendar to fit your needs. This is a great way to stay organized at work. Franklin Planner Software, by Franklin Covey ($75.99) This software is a great companion to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It allows you to manage your time, your duties, and your contacts in the most effective way. Great Business Graphs Charts Made E-Z, E-Z Software ($14.99) Make any presentation better with this software. This program allows you to create effective charts and graphs that are custom-made for your work.

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Office Letters 2000 1.0, Streetwise Software ($25.99) This software offers an entire library of sample business correspondence. Tips and tools allow you to improve your writing. Professor Teaches Office 2000 Plus, Individual Software ($40.99) This is a tutorial that allows you to practice using Office 2000 with easy-to-follow instruction and narration, Sidekick ’99, Starfish Software ($41.99) Sidekick ’99 is great for keeping your correspondence organized. You can use the calendar, or you can track contact information. You can even use your contact file to print mailing labels.

INDEX

A
accuracy, writing, analyzing the problem audience, writing for 33-34 139-141 29-32

resources for, setting a timetable, surveys,

90-104 89-90 96-100

C B
body language, bookmarks, websites, boss, working with your boss, brainstorming techniques, building your network, business letters, sample business letter, business research, choosing the right method, determining your objectives, focus groups, internet, interviews, libraries, 66-67 26 113-118 143-144 148-150 35-38 39 163 86-89 84-86 100-104 92-94 95-96 90-92 clothing, choosing your wardrobe, co-workers, socializing with co-workers, communication, body language, effective communication in teams, first impressions, knowing your audience, listening, making speeches, and meetings, purpose of, resolving team conflicts, 108-110 20-22 162 66-67 123-125 61-62 56-57 68-70 70-77 77-81 58-59 125-127

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brainstorming techniques, 143-144 developing your problem-solving disposition, 141-142 evaluating your solution, 144-145 finding a solution, 143-144 implementing and presenting your solution, 145-146 problem solving, 136-146 5-6 116-118 goal statements, goals, setting goals, 4-6, 136-138 63 59-60 62-64 64-66 120 121 154-155

tag questions, understanding perception, using precise language, vocal qualities, compromiser, counselor, cover letters, criticism, and working relationships,

D
defining the problems, 136-138 desk space, 6-9 detractor, 121 developing your problem-solving disposition, 141-142 digresser, 121 documents letters, 35-38 memos, 40-43 proposals, 47-50 reports, 44-47 types of, 35-50 dominator, 121 dress codes, choosing your wardrobe, 108-110

H
honesty, and resumes, 153

I
improving your writing, initiator, instigator, Internet, bookmarks, and business research, services offered, websites, interviews, investigator, itinerary, 50-53 119 122 24-27 26 92-94 26 25 95-96 119 14-17

E
e-mail, editing and revising, etiquette, eye contact,

J
24 jargon, 32-33 job searches, 107-112 K 66 knowing your audience, 50 151-157

56-57

F
facilitator, fax machines, files, assessing the file system in place, flextime, focus groups, professional moderators, free rider, 120 L 122 23 labeler, language, work communication, 62-64 128-132 9-12 leadership qualities, 78-79 13 leading a meeting, 35-38 100-104 letters, sample business letter, 39 101-104 90-92 121 libraries, Library of Congress, web sites, 94 Library Spot, web sites, 94 163 listening, 68-70 139-141

G
getting ahead, analyzing the problem,

INDEX

175

M
meetings communication and, leading a meeting, participating in, memos, moderators, moving up, see promotions 77-81 78-79 80-81 40-43 101-104

implementing and presenting your solution, 145-146 setting goals, 136-138 producer, 120 professional moderators, 101-104 promotions, 151-157, 163 job searches, 151-157 looking for a new job, 151-157 proposals, 47-50

N
naysayer, 121 neatness, writing, 33-34 nervousness, making speeches, 70-73 networking, 158, 163 building your network, 148-150 networking, 146-151 nonverbal communication, 66-67 “norm”inator, 120

R
rating you work efficiency, references, relationships, working with your boss, reports, research, choosing the right method, determining your objectives, focus groups, internet, interviews, libraries, resources for, setting a timetable, surveys, resolving team conflicts, resumes, revising your writing, 2-4 154-156 107 113-118 44-47 163 86-89 84-86 100-104 92-94 95-96 90-92 90-104 89-90 96-100 125-127 153-156 32-33

O

office relationships, 110-112 organization, 1, 161-162 creating an itinerary, 14-17 desk space, 6-9 files, 9-12 goal statements, 5-6 rating you work efficiency, 2-4 setting your goals, 4-6 socializing with co-workers, 20-22 and technology, 22-27 S telephone and time management, 17-20 salary requirements, time, 12-22 sample business letter, schmoozer, search engines, P pawn, 119 socializing with co-workers, peacemaker, 120 speeches organization of, personal digital assistant (PDA), 17 overcoming nervousness, problem solving, 136-146 supporting your opinion, analyzing the problem, 139-141 brainstorming techniques, 143-144 stress, defining the problems, 136-138 supporter, surveys, developing your problem-solving methodology for, disposition, 141-142 telephone surveys, evaluating your solution, 144-145 finding a solution, 143-144 synthesizer,

154 39 122 25 20-22 73-76 70-73 76-77 1 120 96-100 98 99 119

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64-66 163 116-118 108-110 123-125 107-112 128-132 110-112 125-127 129-132 119-122 118-127 113-118 162 52 32-33 50-53 50 29-32 35-38 40-43 33-34 47-50 44-47 39 52-53 35-50

vocal qualities, T tag questions, 63 working relationships, and criticism, team leadership, 129-132 choosing your wardrobe, team roles, 119-122 effective communication teamwork, 118-127 in teams, effective communication etiquette, in teams, 123-125 leadership qualities, leadership qualities, 128-132 office relationships, resolving team conflicts, 125-127 resolving team conflicts, team leadership, 129-132 team leadership, team roles, 119-122 team roles, technology teamwork, e-mail, 24 working with your boss, fax machines, 23 Internet, 24-27 writing, active voice, technology, 22-27 editing and revising, telephone and time management, 17-20 improving your writing, telephone surveys, 99 jargon, time knowing your audience, creating an itinerary, 14-17 letters, organization, 12-22 memos, socializing with co-workers, 20-22 neatness and accuracy, telephone and time proposals, management, 17-20 reports, timetables, research, 89-90 sample business letter, style of, V types of documents, vocal qualities, 64-66

W
websites, bookmarks, and business research, Library of Congress, Library Spot, work communication body language, first impressions, knowing your audience, listening, making speeches, and meetings, purpose of, tag questions, understanding perception, using precise language, 25 26 93-94 94 94 66-67 61-62 56-57 68-70 70-77 77-81 58-59 63 59-60 62-64

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