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5 Ways to be a Better Listener

In the last conversation that you had with someone, did you feel like what you had to say was actually heard? In many modern conversations, instead of listening to the other person, what is actually going on is an effort to either add a personal viewpoint or to find a way to contradict the other’s opinion. By taking the time to develop the skill of active listening, more information can be effectively passed between two people because they are working together to be on the same page.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Be engaged in the conversation. There are plenty of distractions today in the modern world. Your smartphone can ding any time you get an e-mail or Facebook notification. Instead of allowing these distractions to interrupt a conversation, turn them off completely so that you can focus on what is being said instead of focusing on the anticipation of an interruption.

2. Maintain eye contact. One of the biggest reasons why people feel like another person is not engaged in a conversation is because they don’t maintain a level of eye contact. Now obviously you don’t want to stare someone down aggressively, but if you’re busy looking at your text messages, e-mails, or reading status updates on your social network, chances are you’re not really listening anyway.

3.Ask open-ended questions. Asking any question about the conversation is going to show that you’re at listening a little bit. If you can ask an open-ended question, or a question that requires more than a “yes” or a “no,” you can accomplish three very important things:

  • You can increase the amount of detailed information you receive from the other person.
  • You show the other person that you’re actively engaged in what you’re hearing.
  • You’re working on making sure that all parties are working to understand the information that is being conveyed in the same way.

4. Validate what that person is feeling. So what if the information being shared with you doesn’t mesh up with your opinion? Many conversations have “I feel” statements within them. This means that if you disagree with that person or tell them they shouldn’t actually be thinking the way they are about a particular subject, you’re invalidating their emotion. In a sense, you’re making yourself superior and the other person inferior. That stops a conversation dead in its tracks because no one wants to talk with someone who focuses on personal negatives or attacks.

5. Always repeat back what you’ve heard. The most powerful statement in any conversation is this: “Let me see if I heard you right…” and then you repeat back what you’ve heard from the other person in your own words. This allows people to bridge whatever communication gap there may be because both parties are working together to get onto the same page. When that happens, true communication occurs!

You may just find that the more you practice the skill of active listening, the more others around you may be willing to practice it as well. Take the opportunity to practice your active listening skills today and see how it might just change the way you have future conversations!

Why it is Vital to Switch off from Work While on Holiday

 

It is great to take your work seriously, but you need to take yourself seriously as well. If you spend the majority of your day focusing on productivity and getting the job done, you will only have a negative impact on your work performance and possibly, your overall well being in the long run.

Everyone, regardless of how passionate they are about their work, can suffer from extreme fatigue and even burnout. Protect yourself from those types of worker’s remorse by doing what the name “holiday” implies — enjoy and celebrate. It is important to enjoy that time away. Don’t feel guilty, and don’t hesitate to leave the work world behind. Instead, forget that stack of jumbled papers on your desk and leave those emails in the inbox for a few days.

A report in Psychology Today indicated that it is imperative for the physical and mental health of individuals to go on vacation and just escape the regular stresses of daily life. In the article, Dr. Susan Krauss Whitborne states, “Though the average citizen may not experience the kind of mega-stress of a nationally elected leader, all of us have our own home-grown version of job-related stress. We may face the burdens of meeting tight deadlines, making crucial decisions, or managing the complexities of household demands.”

Besides causing mental fatigue, stress can effect other health conditions as well, such as blood pressure, cardiac conditions, and even neurological issues, such as migraines. If you are not physically well, then odds are that you are not able to perform as well in your work related duties or your personal related duties, such as with family and home tasks. Your relationships with your partner, friends, and family members can also be negatively impacted by stress.

In order to maintain a successful career and to maintain a happy life, take time for yourself and your family. Holidays enable stress free fun-filled time designed for fun and relaxation. Take a few days to enjoy doing what you love the most, whether it be a hike in the mountains or a trip to soak in the sun on the beach.

Some studies show that people in many countries do not even use their allotted holiday time each year. Most experts recommend using any time allocated by your employer for holidays and getaways, because that time is scheduled for the employee to get rest and relaxation so job performance can be enhanced.

Another benefit to taking holidays is that reducing stress, as mentioned earlier, helps with medical conditions and can reduce the amount of time spent away from work for medical problems. So in the long run, a few days away can prevent multiple days away.

Get away from it all! Enjoy that holiday and take time to breathe. There is more to life than phone calls, scheduling, emails and piles of paperwork. Take time to clear your mind and rejuvenate. You will be glad you did, and odds are your employer will be thrilled you took the time off as well when they see the improved work performance.

Develop the Habit of Being Organized

 

Have you ever noticed that certain people seem to be highly organized, despite having a rather chaotic lifestyle? It’s not because these people have been blessed with insane amounts of energy… it’s because they have learned the skill of being organized. The good news is that anyone can learn this skill as long as they are willing to put in a little work to make it happen.

Here are the steps you can take to work on developing this skill for yourself:

Write things down: Unless you happen to have a picture-perfect memory, chances are you’re going to forget details of things. By taking a couple moments to write things down instead of trying to memorize everything, you’ll actually eliminate stressors from your life. Keep a notepad to jot down appointments, names, or phone numbers, then input them into your calendar and contacts.

Don’t allow clutter: It’s easy to put something down on a counter or a table because you’re busy. The problem is that once you allow a little bit of clutter, it can quickly multiply. Unless you use something every day, like your blender or the coffee pot, make clutter be against the rules.

Everything has its proper place: We all tend to have a junk drawer somewhere. It’s the drawer where all the miscellaneous stuff that hasn’t been assigned a home gets a home, right? The problem is that the junk drawer keeps expanding because more stuff doesn’t have an assigned spot. By making sure that there is a proper place for everything, you won’t have a junk drawer… and you’ll have less mess as well.

Don’t leave a room empty handed: How many times do you move from room to room in your home every day? How much stuff could get put away on a consistent basis if you just took one thing that was out of place and put it back into its proper place? No matter how hard we try to keep things put away, there’s always something that is invariably not where it’s supposed to be. This solves that problem.

Be proactive about filing: It’s easy to just toss something into a pile that needs to be filed. It seems like it saves some time. The problem is that it doesn’t – in fact, it wastes time because you’re stuck searching through piles for specific paperwork, bills to pay, and correspondence that needs to be addressed. Taking a few minutes to file each day can help to keep that clutter down effectively.

Purge: Some things you need to keep for a few years to make sure your taxes are in order in case you get audited. Other stuff you might want to save for memories. Then there are the things that you don’t need to save whatsoever. If you don’t need it, then get rid of it. As for clothing, if you buy something new, then donate something that is gently used from your closet.

Plan: A routine is a beautiful thing to have because it can help you keep your day planned out as much as possible. By keeping to your routine, you’ll find that there is more time for everything because you’re able to focus on accomplishing one thing at a time. Being able to check things off of your schedule can help you from duplicating certain items as well, like thinking you haven’t paid the cell phone bill and then finding out that you did.

These are the steps that today’s highly organized people take on a daily basis. Rather than having a lot of energy to spend, a small time investment is made to effectively plan out a day and then that plan is kept as good as it possibly can be. That’s the secret to staying organized – by being proactive about it.

Happiness Leads to Success

Happiness is a choice. It is a choice that we make everyday. However we have been programmed to think that happiness will come to us once we are successful, if we lose 20 pounds, have lots of money, get that perfect job, find the right love relationship, once we retired, once the kids move out, you fill in the blank. It seems that we have postponed happiness for some time in the future.

According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage,  the formula for happiness is backwards. Happiness leads to success, not the other way around. When we are more happy and positive, our brains are more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient and we are more productive at work. Our happiness also ripples out and affects people that we come into contact. In other words, the secret to success and happiness is to be happy now.

Shawn recommends 5 concrete things that we can do to be happy.

1. Live with Gratitude – Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day. Gratitude is the realization that we have enough. We have a tendency to focus on what is missing or lacking in our life. This simple act will show you that you have more than you think. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we will attract more abundance and happiness.

2. Journal – Write down 2 or 3 things that happen today that were positive. Write 2 or 3 things that you are looking forward to tomorrow. Write about good things people have said or done for you. Write about good things you will say or do for other people. When we start to write down about the positive experiences and aspects of our life, we gradually erase the negative mindset that we have been carrying around for many years.

3. Exercise –  Engage in 15 to 30 minutes of mindful cardio activity. There has been an enormous amount of research on the benefits of exercise. The bottom line is that daily exercise will lower your stress and put you in a better mood.

4. Meditate – Meditation like exercise has shown to have a positive impact on our body and mind. More and more studies are confirming what we all know – happiness and peace of mind is increased in direct proportion to the regularity of our meditations. When we meditate, we build an inner awareness which leads to greater happiness and fulfillment.

5. Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness. Do or say something nice for someone with no motivation or expectation of return. Researchers have found a positive correlation between happiness and kindness. When we are nice to others we feel good about ourselves.

3 Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search

Nowadays, technology has advanced up to a point where resumes are no longer given the importance these documents once had in the job seeking business. With the advent of the internet and the near 100% chance of an applicant being on Facebook or other social networking sites, employers now check the qualifications and credentials directly from these sites to get a better idea of what the person is all about and to help them make a decision whether to let them on board.

The average job seeker can use this to his advantage by forming an effective social media strategy. Mentioned below are the few things that you need to take care of.

1. Know your audience. there are different types of audiences on different social networking sites. The people following you on Twitter will generally not be the same people who are your Facebook friends. You should share personal status messages and photos only on Facebook and keep your messages on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn more professional-related. You would never know when an unwanted person takes peek at your profile. For example, if you post pictures of yourself drunk at the party you attended last Saturday night on your LinkedIn profile, it will most probably not be appreciated by your future bosses, but will be celebrated on Facebook by your friends.

2. Research. Make a list of the target companies that you wish to be a part of as an employee. Use social media to research those companies to know more about employee life there to help you make a more informed decisions about the respective companies. Twitter hashtags are a good tool to find jobs. For example if you are interested in arts, you can search for #artjobs. On sites like Technorati and Twellow, you can easily search for certain employees in different companies and get in contact with them. This way, the two of you will have some understanding even before you show up at the company asking for a job. You can also use this strategy to find out about your potential interviewer and research effective ways to break the ice.

3. Know your online profile. Keep in mind that your potential employer will most probably Google your name after looking at your resume before even thinking about calling you up for an interview. You can be a step ahead be Googling yourself and making sure the search results show up exactly what you want them to about you. Visit Klout.com and check your “klout” score to have an idea how much influence you have and how engaged you are across different social media platforms. Another site is wefollow.com. It is basically a directory maintained by Twitter that lists users according to their shared interests and categories. Users have the option to add or remove themselves from certain categories or interests.

Remember that not everyone is fortunate enough to be working a job that they are pleased with and are enjoying. With a smart and effective social media strategy, you might just be able to land the perfect job for yourself.

6 Tips For Generating Strong Job Leads

Your success in your job search will be dependent on finding great job leads. The truth is that most jobs will not just fall on your lap out from the sky. Getting a job requires some hard work and effort on your part. It also requires creativity, persistence and patience. Below are 6 tips you can use to generate job leads that will eventually land you your next job.

1.      Strong Resume

A resume shows employers who a candidate is and why are they are uniquely qualified for the job. There are many tools online that will help job seekers build the perfect resume. It is always important to stand out. There are even resume apps that will allow people to create the best resume they have while anywhere on the go. A mobile resume will also allow people to take their resume wherever they go without having to print.

2.      Building a Website

Self promotion is a great way to be discovered online. This will be excellent for social networking. Job seekers can place their qualifications on their personal website or blog in order to gain notice. A resume can be posted online along with a brief introduction about who a person is. A basic website or blog is free to set, up and there is a monthly fee for those who want to add more advanced components to a webpage. A webpage will also show employers that a job applicant has a creative side and is willing to go the extra mile in order to stand out from others.

3.      Personalize

Whether it is a website or resume, add something personal to any webpage. It can be a brief, personal background or something that highlights personality.  Listing qualifications and experience is important, but adding a human factor is always a good way to stand out. Employers will see a human being instead of another applicant. This is something that many job seekers forget to do whenever applying for jobs. They sometimes forget that employers are human begins too and respond to job seekers who seek to add some personality to their resume or website.

4.      Networking

Networking is a good way to land a job. There are a variety of social networking and business sites where a person can link with others. Online communities and message boards may be able to direct a person as to where they can find the newest jobs and if a company is hiring. Though other job seekers are the competition, use them as a resource and they may be able to direct attention to new job leads.

5.      Research

Applicants must research companies before the interview. Make a list and find out what that company is about. Tailor a cover letter and resume to a specific employer. Find out what they are looking for and highlight that attribute on a cover letter. Always give employers what they want. If an ad says that an employer wants a trustworthy candidate, make a cover letter about trust, honor and loyalty. Highlighting what employers want to see is a great way to get a solid job lead.

6.      Online Message Boards         

There are a variety of sites that allow employers to list job openings. This will allow direct access to employers who are looking for employees quickly. Whenever sending a response, the title of the email should always stand out. Send a resume out with each response. Have a pre written cover letter and resume for immediate response. This will allow job seekers to send out resumes.

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