Good listeners learn faster

Consider theses scenarios.

You are in a lecture and one of the students constantly interrupts the lecturer to contest what they are saying. Their motivation can be twofold: they are making a verbal pose. In other words they are demonstrating their intelligence by asking what they consider to be sophisticated questions. Or they are negative in their thinking construct and contending the lecturer’s argument or facts.

With either scenario  the student learns little from the lecture and can be a disruptive influence on their colleagues.

Their poor listening skills means they place what they hear in the category of right or wrong. They superimpose a  judgement to what they hear.

The good listener assimilates the content of the lecture, endeavours to validate and contextualise what is purported and stores the points of information for future reference. Their mindset is not what is right or wrong but rather it allows them to gain and absorb knowledge and thereby develop their mind and skills for more intelligent debate. All points of debate and discussion will have a balance in terms of perspective, application and interpretation and individual opinions will naturally diverge as we relate situations to our experience.

You can developer strong communication skills through the practice keeping in the third party space and rather than offering your personal opinion engage in the third party.

‘ That is interesting and why do you think…’ rather then ‘ I disagree I think….’

Strong communication skills are vital to developing a successful leadership profile and is the mentality all Managing Directors and Chief Executives must adopt when managing board meetings to achieve a censorial outcome.

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Who should you ask for advice!

Who is your best friend for advice!    

 So often we get the mistaken impression that friends or colleagues want advice and when we give it they will follow it avidly.

When I started as a recruitment consultant and career coach and a candidate might say,

“I need to see you and ask your advice regarding my career.” I always responded enthusiastically.

“Yes, of course. That’s my job. When would you like to meet?” I felt important. I was an advisor. I was respected for my knowledge and opinion.

Interestingly, I can categorically confirm that not one candidate implemented my advice. I formed the early impression that I was not the ‘maestro advisor’ I thought I was or there was some other factor which I had missed.

Today when a candidate tells me that they really do not know what to do in terms of career choice, I recognize it as an indication most often that they are in a limbo or at a transient stage and need time out to adjust their mentality and attitude. So, rather than making decisions for them I partner them on their journey to arrive at an action plan.

The Samaritan Organisation is a good example of ‘you know best’. The volunteers are not allowed to give advice but the unselfish sharing of their time with a distressed caller often ends with the caller’s grateful comment, “Thank you for your advice and time.” The listening ear allowed the caller to work though conflicting choices to arrive at the ‘best advice’.

I am not referring here to points of information, rather to situations which we are all confronted with and which often require tough, emotional decisions without clear outcomes.

My feedback in such situations would be to trust your own judgment. And when doubt sets in, as it always will, find a friendly, trusting and neutral ear to help you arrive at a confident decision.

Whether you prefer to make decisions on your own or through discussion with friends and colleagues will depend on your personality type. If you are familiar with my 4 personality types, you will know that the Influencer  shares their opinion and the Supporter will also discuss their concerns and thoughts with others. They will value the interactive dialogue and discussion and be influenced by it. The Analyst, however, prefers to make their own deductions which will always be evidence-based and never spontaneous. The Creative similarly will be calculated but will be influenced by visual and sensory factors.

The ’you know best’ motto emphasises the maxim that whatever your journey in reaching difficult decisions you can share your options with others but ultimately it is you who are the best judge. So be confident with the outcome and embrace it enthusiastically.

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Job descriptions and communication skills

Job descriptions and communication skills

When we read in the job description that the candidate needs ‘excellent communication skills’ we think, “What a shame. That rules me out as I’m more on the quiet, introvert scale.” Very often we interpret someone with good communication skills as one who is the life and soul of the party who can confidently stand up in front of people and talk spontaneously about most subjects.

Communication skills – what does it mean?

From my experience of interpreting job descriptions more often communication skills in our currently technology-led environment mean emails, reports, analyses, interpretation, telephone conference calls and facilitating at meetings. Detail is king. The big picture concept has taken a back seat. In other words, we know the destination and have an overview of the route but need the satnav to get us there.

Communication skills – we all have these

So do not be put off when you read advertisements which appear to over emphasise amazing communication skills. Read the detail and interpret the context for yourself. Does it incorporate training, advising, instructing, influencing and/or presenting? Is the audience internal or external, stakeholders or clients? Is the content for communication highly technical or of an easy interpretive nature?

Communication skills-examine their role

I am constantly reviewing job descriptions in preparation for generating an advertisement to be placed on the major job boards. I analyse the dominant tasks of the role and highlight the essential skills to perform the key responsibilities successfully. The advertisement will tell you how the role interacts with other functions and activities and for interactions, substitute communication.

So in future interpret this communication skill factor in the context of its channel, application and context. And when you read an advertisement asking for a geek or nerd with amazing spontaneous communication skills you can be sue that this is not a realistic wish list.

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Our Economic future! The facts or just a punt!

1438c249e7e01023b39e6950c8e4bb2aOUR ECONOMIC FUTURE

Sounds a boring subject but it is one which will influence our lives and if we were to ask a sample of people at random, we would receive many different and many contradictory answers.  And then you can superimpose on that whether the person is an optimist or pessimist; whether they have a good knowledge of economics or a related subject and, to complicate it even more, it will depend on the individual’s mood and attitude at the time of asking.  So who really knows our economic future?

Call the experts!

The real answer will cheer you up or have you more confused; it is, of course, nobody knows.  We can only indulge in that speculative exercise of trend prediction.  And if you are in any doubt about the communal, economic, and agnostic state, then you only have to refer to the biggest ever credit crunch, which did not appear on the radar of the experts though, in hindsight, the catastrophic event seemed obvious, predictable and transparent.

This is a good time to introduce another dimension.  For economic, read socioeconomic.  Too often we refer to our economic future in raw data, obliterating any human interaction or intervention.

In the halcyon days before the credit crunch, there were many Boards who knew that their virtual performance graph was unsustainable and that their market must implode.  But it would have to be a brave MD who would put their head above the parapet and say, “I foresee a crisis.  We must curtail our growth, reserve our cash, reduce our profit and accept share devaluation.”  In other words, enter the socio element of trend prediction.

The media don’t help as they tend to have a negative and polemical interpretation of data.  At the time of writing, we have just had record manufacturing output which is buried in the unreported archives and up jumps the pronouncement of a small rise in unemployment.

Can we predict the future?

Can we realistically predict the future in terms of economic well being?  In this short-termist society the answer must be, probably no.  Plan the now and you are planning the future.   Globalisation, which has launched us on to the world stage and technology, which is challenging our work and social modus operandi, have collectively put us in a different space which is new and adjunct to riding a roller coaster.

Societal Values, Environmental Ethics, Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility Policies, Fat Cats, Human Rights, Hacking and Freedom of the Press are now becoming present and intergenerational issues for debate.  No longer is economics and the run for profit seen as the only corporate goal.  Our present generation is demoting corporate greed and elevating ethics and work/life balance as the ultimate goals in an environment where challenge means change and change is endemic.

So, if the future is now and like me you love the rock and roll aspect of technological advancements, its potential implications and applications, we can positively look forward to an exciting if unpredictable ride.

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I hate Fat Cats but do love their salaries

I hate fat cats but love their salaries

The  banking crisis  caused us to focus on the contradictions in our society whereby we tolerate what is generally accepted as greedy by behaviour, greedy because the beneficiary does not deserve the reward.  It is rather like borrowing a friend’s money and betting it on a horse. If the horse wins you give the money back or bet again and retain further wins.  If the horse loses well – you have lost a friend.

There is underlying anger and frustration whereby the incompetence and cavalier attitude of part of commercial society has caused innocent parties to have to make financial sacrifices.  The blameless do not enjoy losing their job because the banking sector decides to run amok without financial expediency.

Fancy terms

It does not help when banks use strange terminology: ‘swaps’, ‘puts’, ‘call’, ‘caps’, ‘vehicles’, ‘instruments’ terms which have nothing to do with cars or saxophones and they also seem to use complicated mathematical computations:  and up until the credit crunch there was a: ‘well they know best’, ‘my pension is being carefully managed by knowledgeable executives who are ensuring that it is safe and making an equitable gain and I can look forward to a good outcome’.

Crash, banks go bust, government to the rescue (that’s your money).  And why did nobody see this coming?  Economists, professors, financial reporters, independent experts did not warn us. Senior leading deistical Executives who were giving high profile speeches at international conferences as the orclaces of global banking became the managers of the biggest financial disasters in history.

Boxes with financial goodies were traded like ‘pass the parcel’ yet nobody wanted to open the parcels despite warnings that some only contained no more value than a pair of old socks.  Keep it moving, get shot, was the dictate.  But of course like most deliveries they have to arrive somewhere and when the Directors of a famous financial institution commissioned the auditors to open the boxes, it was not a pretty sight.  ‘We’ve been robbed!’ – they might shout. But no, they were just the unlucky ones who ended up with the duff goods.  Most people do of course open the parcel to check what they have ordered was delivered.

Open the box

My analogy may be a bit colloquial but it represents the scenario.

And I think the maxim ‘they know best’ is no longer good enough.  You must open every box and if it has funny names like puts, calls or subprime then check it out – as your cat is about to lose a lot of weight.

 

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University-lets have you

University-lets have you

You are really looking forward to your first year at university.

You have discovered your personality type and how your strengths will relate to the workplace. You have a clear understanding regarding your choice of modules and how they will complement your career options. It is good to know your options at this stage as it acts as a motivation throughout the year, particularly when you are struggling to get that essay in on time and wondering if the course ‘is right for me’.

Know why you are there

Having a strong career plan at an early stage gives me a good study focus and expert reference point. I need this independent support as my colleagues are in the same sort of boat, being also not familiar with the implications of a particular career path.

I have a good similarly-minded circle of friends and mix well. I have identified my dominant personality type and what it means in terms of career choice and interacting with students and staff. I also understand the other 3 main personality types and this helps me to be more sympathetic toward my colleagues. This knowledge has developed my communication skills significantly. When I am looking for part-time work during my degree course I now know how to construct a really good CV, how to make strong job applications and how to succeed on interview.

Where did you find this info?

“I hope you don’t mind me asking but where did you get all this information from?”

“I read ‘Career Coaching’ (also called ‘Your Lowe Profile’) by John Lowe. “

“Where did you buy it?”

“On Amazon.”

Good luck with your studies! You’ll now have a great time.

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Shy is good

Shy Image

Shy is good

Many shy people would love to be that extrovert who can walk into a crowded

room and say ‘Hello’ to everyone in that positive, confident way. The shy person

may find it difficult to engage with strangers at the party as they are not sure what

to say and don’t want to sound silly.

The shy person will avoid situations in which they are the main focus. Their

friends will be few but close ones.

The opposite to a shy person is the outgoing, gregarious, extravert and seemingly

very confident individual. In the extreme form it can manifest an arrogant and

boastful persona. But we are all different and there is no right or wrong

personality type.

Read my book, “ The Psychology of Career Planning ” (also called, “Your Lowe Profile”) by John Lowe

on Amazon and you will discover how different personalities behave and interact

with others.

I have found from my coaching experience that shyness is a positive trait. It is

often the trait of a thoughtful, deep-thinking personality which fits the Analyst

type. Analysts react from a rational perspective and spontaneous small-talk is

not their forte or focus. This explains why small-talk is not within their thinking

construct. They need a base from which to develop an interactive conversation.

My heading “Shy is good” endeavours to allay the misconception that shyness is a

negative trait but rather the manifestation of a particular personality type. So no

longer envy that brash, outgoing party type. Be your shy, thoughtful self.

When I review my experience of coaching and interviewing thousands executives and asked them to describe their personality ‘ shy ‘ was the most common response. ‘I find it difficult making small talk with strangers’ Yet when talking about their job they were very animated and talkative which is understandable as it is related and well known territory.

I view shyness as a personality trait and do not make a valued judgement though society can wrongly consider it to be a personality weakness.

If you are the shy type i would say be shy as from my experience you are in very good company.

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Attitude before knowledge

UntitledAttitude first, knowledge second

Whatever the situation, circumstance or event if you have a negative attitude you will not succeed.

But what do we mean by good or bad attitude? We can recognize it in friends and colleagues. We describe people with the wrong attitude as being unlikely to engage or be successful at what they are trying to achieve. And commonly we hear “great attitude” as a reflection of an accomplishment or positive persona and as someone good to be with.

Attitude can be a permanent or endemic trait or it can be transient in terms of being contextual. By contextual I mean that we may or may not like, agree or disagree with a particular policy or event and subsequently our attitude will be positive or negative.

But bad attitude can be endemic and permanent and can cause poor performance in the workplace and isolation in social circles. We can recognize the attitude criteria in today’s news media which tends to be polemical and refutable in the selection of material and presentation. News covered no longer becomes balanced but rather distorted as the selection process is always based on the negative scale.

It is good to reflect on your attitudinal tendency. Do I agree in conversations and add positive endorsements or do I have a tendency to the “Ah, but..”

We need to be strong  communicators to interact positively with colleagues in today’s shorttermist and technology driven environment. Active listening is core to this skill and a balanced attitude will translate into a proactive learning disposition which will further translate into success at work.

But it is difficult just to turn on and off a good and bad attitude. Many people will feel the world has gone mad and that from their experience most people they meet are just in it for themselves. Surely manifesting this positive utopian persona to all mankind is a bit artificial.

I am now going to do a bit of self promotion. I have identified 4 different personality types which can be related to the workplace. These personalities are outlined in a publication Career Coaching [ also called Your Lowe Profile ] by John Lowe which can be sourced on amazon.

When you discover your individual personality typed you will also recognise your particular talents and strengths as an Influencer, Supporter, Analyst or Creative.

This discovery and subsequent recognition of your strong skill-set can, from my coaching  experience, boast real confidence and be a catalyst for changing attitudes with positive and happy outcomes.

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No to crowdminding at work!

depositphotos_9257709-Stand-out-from-the-crowd

I am an individual, not a crowd.

I have identified 4 distinct personality types. I have described each type in detail in my publication “Career Coaching” by John Lowe on Amazon. These 4 individual types are named: Influencer, Supporter, Analyst and Creative.

This typology is unique in that it describes the individuals strengths in the workplace which can be directly aplied to the skills specified in job descriptions’

The need for strong analytical skills is the Analyst’s strength;

Strong graphic design skills is the Creative’s forte;

The need to develop business is the core skill of the Influencer;

Building synergistic teams and training are the Supporter‘s strengths;

The Influencer is good at sales, a good persuader with a ‘can do’ attitude and a predominant people focus. The Supporter is also predominantly people focused but from a ‘help, train and understand’  perspective.

The Analyst is task focused, logical, rational and scientific in their outlook and thinking construct. The Creative too is task focused and deductive like the Analyst but with an imaginative aptitude which can design and perceive issues and subjects in a new context.

Frequently I listen to radio debating issues such as, what makes people happy at work or does nightshift work reduce our lifespan or is it nature or nurture which influences our development?

All these discussions are basically flawed because they treat the subject as a collective and ignore the obvious individualism. The 2,500 plus candidates I have interviewed and coached have all been individuals with no two the same. My research though has demonstrated that in terms of typology there are four different personality behaviours manifesting distinct perspectives and modus operandi, particularly in the workplace. I have also endorsed this distinction in my blog “What makes people happy at work?

The Supporter personality type will enjoy work when they are a key part of a happy, motivated team but for the Analyst type the criteria for enjoyment will be the technical challenges that new firewalls constantly present. The happy atmosphere is of less importance to them.

Similarly when we approach the nature/nurture debate which tries to determine if it is the environment or the genetic make up which decides our personality, we mistakenly treat the audience as a crowd.

These discussions have a biased focus when they seek a definite answer rather than considering the individual. From the perspective of my 4 personality types, the Supporter will be greatly influenced as a child by their environment. A stable, happy home will create an excellent atmosphere for balanced development and the corollary will mean that an abusive environment can have lifelong negative effects.

The Analyst type will be less influenced by their environment and their personality will be predominantly determined by their genetic make up.

And the extension of treating work colleagues and friends as individuals and not as a crowd, means that we are more tolerant and less judgemental. We understand that the workplace needs different skills and strengths which will be personality related. We don’t expect the ‘geek’ to be an amazing sales person and we don’t expect the supporter to be an amazing graphic designer and we don’t expect the goalkeeper to be a good goal scorer. We can now value situations as different rather than being right or wrong. We can have a better perspective on our working environment  manage our life better as we understand we are not all the same but individuals with unique talents, behaviours and strengths. 

The understanding of the 4 personality types will develop stronger communication skills which are so important to the workplace. We can now empathise with friends and colleagues as  individuals and not as a crowd.

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Your personality manifesto determines your vote!

How will my personality decide my vote in the election?

pollingIn my career coaching publication Career Coaching I have described 4 personality types and their different behaviours: the Analyst, the Creative, the Influencer and the Supporter. As a Career Coach, I have described these types so that they can be used to determine what job best suits individual personalities.

But these same descriptors can be used to examine our thinking and rational process. So find out whether you are an Analyst, Creative, Influencer or a Supporter and match it with your voting preference.

The Analyst

They do not do like or dislike in terms of people. They will focus on what is said rather than who is saying it. They will look at policy and promises from a rational perspective. Thoughtful and introspective they will examine the detail. Does it stack up? Broken promises or spurious data means loss of credibility and trust which cannot be reclaimed.

The Creative

They like new pioneering policy. The stage setting for the manifesto delivery is as important as the content. Drama, hype, passion and momentum, if tastefully done, will have a direct bearing on their choice of vote. But like the Analyst, the message must be rational and the substance believable.

The Influencer

They enjoy the big stage show. They buy the candidate rather than the policies. They love the big picture as their focus and do not do the detail. The Influencer wants to be emotionally moved: ‘Great performance, very motivational, got the feel-good factor, exciting can-do promises, you’ve got my vote’.

The Supporter

Like the Influencer they are also a people first voter but they are put off by too much hype. Emotion, not the rationale is their dominant voting criteria. ‘I like, I dislike, I trust, I distrust’ will be high on their list when deciding on candidates. Aggressive, disparaging and vindictive electioneering will be a “turn off” and will not receive the Supporter’s tick in the box.

And who might be the no voters?

The Supporters and Influencers are most likely to turn out. They will vote, even though they might consider their choice as the best of a bad bunch. They feel we have a duty to vote as it will have an effect on people’s lives. They will react to policies which are people centric and are relational. Personal tax and health funding are big but their yes or no on Trident is a ‘maybe’.

The Analyst and Creative will not vote if they consider the policies unworkable and the logic or calculations to be erroneous and vacuous. Voting must be a positive and purposeful exercise and tactical voting is a sham, insincere and, by the way, we don’t play your political games.

So here are the results of all the opinion polls

If you want the Supporter’s and Influencer’s vote put on a great show, make big claims, ignore the boring facts, smile and keeping waving preferably with all the family including granny. As for the Analyst and Creative do the math, be sincere and remember substance over presentation and, for goodness sake, drop that awful cheesy grin.

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