Don’t Look at Me in That Tone!

31 08 2010

Are you looking for the right things to say during the interview, the perfect ways to communicate a new project to your boss, or simply trying to stay out of the dog house with your significant other?  It all comes down to what you’re not saying, which most times speaks much louder than your actual words. 

It’s called nonverbal communication.   I’m taken back to one of the most beneficial classes in my college education, where I learned that it’s just as (in most cases, more) important to say the right things with nonverbal communication as it is with verbal communication.  Another jump back in time, and I’m reminded of my mother saying, “Kirk, I know you heard me, but did you listen?”

Here are three examples of nonverbal communication and how something unsaid can actually speak louder than words:

Look at me!

Making eye contact is crucial when you’re communicating or when you’re the one on the other side.  Lack of eye contact can be seen as a sign of disinterest, disconnection, even disrespect (although, in some cultures, direct eye contact is the very action that is deemed as disrespectful).  You want your audience, whether it’s one person or 1,000 people, to be engaged and interested in what you’re saying.  Keeping eye contact as a listener shows respect and can keep you more interactive and in-tune with the information being communicated.  As a communicator, making eye contact with your audience also shows them that you value their time and want them to get just as much or more value out of the information you’re providing.

Head, shoulders, knees & toes

Shrugging shoulders, crossing arms and slumping posture can also give a person the notion that you’re bored, uninterested, or closed to their ideas.  Some of these are more subtle than others.  I tend to cross my arms a lot – for me, it’s my thinking pose.  It’s not that I don’t agree or am bored; it just may be that I feel comfortable with my arms crossed.  Again, it’s all about perception.  Sitting up straight and keeping your stance opened can make a big difference in how your actions are perceived. 

It’s all over your face

Gestures such as winking, rolling eyes, or that expression that says “I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!!” are all facial clues to what you’re thinking.  Before you jump in with your great idea, hear the person out in their entirety.  Be respectful of their ideas first.  Then, offer your feedback.  After that, offer your ideas or solutions.  On the communicator side, these are easy signs to spot and can sometimes completely derail the entire conversation.

So, whether you’re talking or not, you’re still saying a lot about yourself.  A great way to spot your weaknesses in nonverbal communication is to video yourself during a mock interview.  Ask your co-workers, your boss, your friends and family.  They all should want to see you succeed, so shouldn’t have any qualms with pointing out your nonverbal clues. 

Are there tips that you don’t see here regarding nonverbal communication?  Feel free to leave a comment below.  Additionally, please connect with me – just click the “Let’s Connect” tab above.  All my information is there and I look forward to hearing from you!


Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in…College?

24 08 2010

Back to school….I can remember it now: the smell of fresh paint on the walls, my awesome Trapper Keeper tucked neatly away in my backpack, and all the #2 pencils I could ever dream of. Cue the Billy Madison song. Wait – that was my first day of kindergarten.

Is the first day of college (for new or returning students) that different?  As I got to thinking, I realized that no, they’re not.  That’s when I was inspired to write and crowdsource (asked a lot of friends for input) this post.  I asked each person for their best advice for college students.

Here’s what they said:

  • Don’t take a year off after high school or during your college career. Tough it out or lighten your load. It is 1000x harder to go back and get in the groove.
  • You can drop 8AM classes halfway. (nice to know!)
  • You have to earn a living eventually.
  • Choose student organizations, such as Enactus, that will help you develop your leadership skills.
  • You don’t have to know what you want to do for life at age 18! Use your college days to explore!
  • Always do the best work you can possibly do and take pride in it. Oh, and have some fun along the way!
  • Avoid posting pictures to Facebook that you wouldn’t want employers to see!
  • Enjoy every minute and have as much fun as possible.
  • Ask questions, network, stay on top of deadlines, contribute to discussions, and have fun!
  • Remember you are there to get an education first, but most importantly enjoy it. This will be one of the best times in your life.
  • Start using your career center now!
  • College is what YOUR experience. It is not your parent’s, friend’s, or anyone else’s. It is what you make it.

And one extra piece of advice: “Instead of worrying about what you want to BE, think about the things you like to DO.”

That’s it. These are just a few little nuggets of advice. Feel free to add more in the comments section.

Now, let’s ask YOU a question: What do you want to know about college and your career?

 Special thanks to Ashley Schmidtke, Marie Badger, Cindy Billington, Maura Quinn, Phillip Langham, Kim Costello, Catherine McNair, Christian Garcia & Toppel Career Center (University of Miami), Matthew Taylor, Mike Conley, and Tammy Burke.

Think Global, Act Local (with Your Personal Brand)

17 08 2010

Photo credit: Faerie Girl

Think globally, act locally.” That’s a term that has been used quite often in the past centering mostly on environmental factors and how thinking about the global effect of a community’s actions.  I’d like to turn that phrase into a new direction.  When you’re thinking about your career, your personal brand, and your outlook on business, I’d like you to think about the BIG picture.

The internet and social media have opened doors to an international realm that our parents could have only dreamed of in their day.  This generation’s graduates are already talking to friends and business contacts in China, India, Japan, and Mexico (the list goes much farther than these four examples) through video conferencing technology, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Their personal brand is not only visible to their immediate circle of friends, coworkers and family, it’s also “on” 24/7/365 for the rest of the world to see.

The public and private school systems are also using this technology to utilize resources across the globe in an effort to educate their students about history, culture, science, and more starting with kindergarteners and up!

So, before you post those photos of last week’s frat party, that snarky comment, or attack on another’s character, think about who you’re broadcasting it to. It’s a small world and with the advancement of technology, it gets smaller and smaller each day.

What message are YOU sending?

Developing an Effective Strategic Plan

10 08 2010

Strategic planning – now there’s a scary subject.  When you hear those terms, you’re likely to think about military strategy, perhaps even a game of chess.  In life, whether it’s part of the job hunt or not, having a plan is crucial.  Not only is it important to have a plan, it’s also good to know the plan and adjust it as things change. 

“Vision without execution is a daydream. Execution without vision is a nightmare.” -Japanese Proverb

Create the plan.  It all starts with having a plan.  Know what your goals are and what you want to achieve within one month, 6 months, and a year.  When creating your strategy, it’s also important to set deadlines for achieving or implementing that plan. 

Know the plan.  You can’t just create the plan and call it good.  If you plan to achieve your objectives, you’re going to need to know what the plan is, when the deadlines are approaching, and what you need to do. 

Review the plan.  Not all plans are perfect, especially the first draft.  Things change and goals are re-prioritized.  Review your plan on a regular basis, adjusting where it is appropriate.  By the time you reach the deadline, you most likely will have had tweaked your strategy bit by bit so that it fits with your priorities. 

Keep planning.  After the month, 6 months or year has gone by, take a look at your plan, your accomplishments, what worked and what didn’t work.  This is a great way to really see the true outcomes of your strategy.  Not all plans work the first time.  If you’re able to admit this and move forward, you’ll be just fine. 

Little adjustments here and there will help make your plan work out smoothly.  I’d like to share something that has helped me in all aspects of my life, including strategic planning:

Serenity Prayer

God, please grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

Regardless of what your religious views are, I say take your inspiration where you can get it.  By keeping all four of the points above in mind when creating your strategic plan, you’ll set yourself up for success in all that you do. 

Please feel free to add your comments below.  I would love to know what you think about strategic planning.  As always, thanks for reading.

Minding Manners Matters

4 08 2010

Photo credit: Lady_K

Have you ever wondered what’s happening to etiquette and manners in society? Is it the responsibility of the parent? The university? The individual? I think it’s a good mix of “all of the above”.

I’ve noticed a lot recently that people in general seem to have completely forgotten about their manners and appropriate etiquette. This topic could really go into some great depth, but I’ll focus on just a few points (look for another post soon).

Believe me, people notice good manners and they also notice bad manners. Here are some examples:

Replying to Someone

When someone asks a question, it’s good manners to reply with a “yes” or “no”. To go one step farther, you could add formality and address the person as “ma’am” or “sir”. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many times you can catch yourself saying “yeah” or “yep”.

I was summoned for jury duty last week and in the process, the entire group was questioned by a judge. I can’t believe how many people addressed the judge with “yeah”, “nope”, etc. There were even a few that added snide comments that were completely unnecessary and unsolicited.

Lending a Helping Hand

Look around and be observant. This could be as simple as opening a door for an elderly person or someone with a disability (or simply to be nice!). I’m notorious for looking at my cell phone more than my surroundings, completely immersed in email or a phone call.
If you’ll look up once and awhile, you’ll find plenty of ways to help others in need. Sure, they could do it themselves with some difficulty, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could assist?

Please & Thank You

In this hectic world where everything is GO-GO-GO, we sometimes forget the little things like please and thank you. A good friend of mine reminded us of this in a recent blog post, Saying Thank You. It’s more than saying please and thank you. It’s also about saying “you’re welcome” instead of “no problem”.

How does this relate to job seekers or those already employed? Well, you want to make a positive impression in the interview, on the first day of your new job and going forward, right? Start with these three things. It’s all about respect and etiquette.

Please feel free to add your comments below. If you’re not already a subscriber of Campus to Career, you can fix that by clicking the “subscribe” button at the top of the page. 🙂 Also, we’re on Facebook. As always, thanks for reading!