September 13, 2018


Accepting this One Thing Will Make You a Better Speaker

Whether you’re giving a big speech in front of a crowd or simply presenting at a meeting with your closest coworkers, upping your speech game can only help you. Not only will you get your point across more effectively, you could also gain more respect and trust from your coworkers–and your boss. (And that’s always a good thing!)

What is one of the most common problems people have when speaking? You guess it… the dreaded “um,” “ah,” “like,” “so,” or “you know.” It’s a filler word or phrase that you use while you’re thinking. It can make you sound nervous or distracted or–even worse–unprepared. These words are crutches, and you need to stop using them. But how?

Instead of using the filler word or phrase, say nothing. That’s right. Say nothing! Accept the silence and be comfortable with a pause. We often feel the need to fill the silence with more words, but it’s perfectly okay to sit quietly and gather your thoughts. In fact, a pause can make us seem cool, calm, and collected–and it may even build some suspense and keep your audience glued to your words.

Still feel uncomfortable with the pause? During your next speech, any pause you take is likely much shorter than you think it is. This recent Harvard Business Review article points out that we think faster than we speak–a lot faster. That means we speak at 150 words per minute but we think at 400 words per minute, which can distort our perception of time. And if you let one crutch word slip, it’s ok. The occasional use can make you seem relatable. But the next time you feel one rolling off your tongue, bite it and stay quiet until you can gather your thoughts.

Via Institute for Web Science/Flickr.


September 11, 2018


3 Creativity Hacks to Help You Come Up With Great Ideas

It may seem that some are born with a more creative mind than others, but that may not be the case. If you can create the perfect storm, it may be easier for great ideas to rain down on you. Follow these tips and you may find that you do have at least one creative bone in your body.

  1. Talk it through with someone else.
    Whether you’re in a brainstorm meeting with multiple people or you’re sitting by yourself waiting for an idea to strike, back-and-forth conversation is crucial to creativity. Hearing your own thoughts spoken out loud, regurgitating the thoughts of others, and the questions that arise from this process will lead you down new paths and open new doors. Don’t sit silently in a corner!
  2. When lightning strikes, write it down.
    The reality is that an idea will pop into your head when you least expect it and possibly at the most inconvenient time. Even if you’re 100 percent positive that you’ll remember that great idea, write it down! Pull out your phone and put it in your notes or jot it on a napkin. Not only will the act of writing it down will help you remember it, but you’ll also now have a running list of great ideas.
  3. Surround yourself with creativity.
    We get inspired by the things we consume. If you’re feeling that your creativity well is dry, fill it up! Consume high-quality books, movies, TV shows, music, musicals, dance, food, conversation, and more. We’ve never been more connected to culture and people than in this moment. Take advantage of it!

Image via Image Catalog/Flickr.

September 6, 2018


How Small Talk Can Make You More Likable at Work

Think about how you act in these situations: at the beginning of the meeting, when you pass someone in the hall, when you see your coworkers for the first time in the morning. Are you more likely to be starting down at your phone? Do you give a quick nod? Or do you honestly stop and interact with them?

Small talk is an easy way to show that you care, to show that you’re friendly, and to show that you’re approachable. And it really only takes 30 seconds to a minute. Here are some situations you might find yourself in, and how to change your behavior:

  • Instead of typing away at a laptop before a meeting starts, strike up a conversation with others who’ve arrived a few minutes early.
  • Instead of standing quietly in the cafeteria line, get chatty with whoever is behind you.
  • Instead of diving right into a meeting that you are leading, ask everyone how their day is going.
  • Instead of heading straight to your desk in the morning, greet your coworkers.

Here are some easy small talk questions that work in multiple work settings:

  • “Nice to see you. How are you doing?”
  • “What are you working on right now?”
  • “How was your weekend?” or “Do you have any plans for the weekend?”
  • “How is your day/week going?”
  • “What do you think about… [insert relevant topic here]?”
  • “Do you need any help with… [insert relevant topic here]?”

How do you stay approachable at work? Share your talking points below.

Image via Marc Wathieu/Flickr.

September 4, 2018


A Little Email Trick That Can Make a Big Difference

Have you ever thought about how many emails you send in one day? It’s probably too many to count. You interact with your boss, your coworkers, clients, acquaintances, and more. When you’re in a rush and blasting through an overloaded inbox, it’s no wonder your inquiries and responses are terse.

But here’s a little trick you can use that can make a big difference: open your communication with something conversational. A little check-in. A quick question. Something to add some humanity back into your inbox. Even if you haven’t met this person in real life–especially if you haven’t met this person!–a little “small talk” can make working together more pleasurable.

We’re talking about just one to three sentences. A friendly greeting that acknowledges the person instead of just demanding what you need. And something a little bit more than “Hope you’re well!” It may take a few more moments to compose your thoughts, but it’s worth it.

Here’s an example of how this can work:

“Hi, Chris.

Hope you enjoyed the weather this weekend! We had a nice time out on the lake. I can’t wait to get out there and jet ski again next weekend.

I wanted to check in on…”

And here’s a few other “story starters” you can use. Be sure to add a little bit more. These are just jumping off points:

  • I hope your new year/summer/week/etc is off to a great start.
  • Happy Friday! Got any fun plans for the weekend?
  • This year is flying by. Can you believe it?
  • I’ll keep this short because I imagine you guys are just as busy as we are!
  • This article made me think of you and I wanted to pass it along.

What are your favorite email openers? Comment below!

Image via Greg Jordan/Flickr.


August 30, 2018


How to Handle Conflict at Work

“Well, this is awkward…” That thought has probably passed your mind when faced with conflict. Especially at work. There will be many times throughout your career where you will disagree on how to tackle a project, move forward with a timeline, or resolve an issue. How do you express your opinion without offending someone? And how do you vocalize those thoughts when you’re too nervous to do so? Even when you know that not speaking up could be worse?

Keep this in mind: business is business. Work conflicts are different than life conflicts. They don’t have to be awkward. Instead of being awkward, be assertive. But how does one do that? There are a few small tips that can help you address the issue at hand without feeling like you’re attacking someone else’s idea.

  1. Stick to the facts: State the problem. State your concerns. Be sure to listen to their response before you chime in again. Also avoid using phrases like “always” or “never.” This isn’t an attack.
  2. Ask questions: Feel like you’re walking on eggshells around this person? Ask important questions that may help that person see where problems could arise, or can at least help you understand where they are coming from in this thought process.
  3. Present a solution: Instead of just shooting down an idea, bring another option to the table. Avoid using “but…” Instead, try “and.” Instead of saying, “I see your point, but I think…” try, “I see how that could work and I’d like to also consider…”

Image via Tom MacWright/Flickr.

August 28, 2018


How to Find Work-Life Balance…While You’re Still at Work

The struggle for work-life balance is real. There is no clear answer–it’s different for everyone and yet seemingly difficult for everyone to achieve. However, the focus often comes on how to find time for life after work. Work hours become the non-negotiable and after work becomes the time for living. But what about trying to fit in “life” while at work? Here are a few ways to do it:

  1. Eat lunch away from your desk: Not only is it good to step away from your computer and give your eyes–and your brain–a rest, it’s good to socialize with your coworkers. Set up a lunch date on or off site at least once a week, and encourage your coworkers to take a lunch break with you every other day.
  2. Squeeze in a workout: If your office has a gym–or even if it doesn’t–there’s likely a way to incorporate a workout into your day. Try using the office gym before work or right after. Or go for a run over the lunch hour. Or why not try biking to and from work?
  3. Take a 15-minute break: Mid-morning and mid-afternoon are the perfect times to take some time for yourself. Call your spouse, pay a bill, go for a short walk, or read an article you’ve been meaning to tackle.

How to you incorporate “life” into your workday? Comment below!

Image via Eric Ward/Flickr.

August 23, 2018


5 Ways to Get Over the Afternoon Slump (Without Caffeine)

You can count on the dreaded afternoon slump almost as much as death and taxes. Right? But there are more than a few ways to get over that sluggish feeling without reaching for a coffee. You’re likely feeling burned out from the long work day and you need a few minutes to recharge. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Try a standing desk: It takes some getting used to, but a standing desk (preferably an adjustable stand-sit desk) can be incredibly energizing. The constant small movements and better posture that comes with standing can keep you “on your toes”–literally!
  2. Go for an afternoon walk: This is a no-brainer but it really does work wonders. Getting a breath of fresh air (even if it’s cold!) and sunshine can be even more energizing than a cup of joe–and you won’t feel a crash afterward.
  3. Talk with a friend: Either strike up a conversation with a coworker or pick up the phone and call a friend or family member. A short five to ten minute talk can do wonders to your mood. It’s easier to tackle the remaining few hours with a smile on your face.
  4. Take a Sodoku break: Or any other kind of puzzle from crosswords to mazes. Heck, even an adult coloring book can work. Sometimes you just need to shift your mind away from your to-do list and challenge a different part of your brain.
  5. Treat yourself: But not to a sugary snack or a caffeinated drink. Visit your favorite blog, read a chapter of your book, or put on your favorite scented hand lotion. A little five minute “me” break allows you to refocus before you get back to work.

Image via Oliver Chesler/Flickr.

August 21, 2018


Add Some Oomph to Your Resume With These Words

You have one goal during the job search process: stand out from the rest. How do you do that? It starts with your resume. It’s probably currently filled with the same cliche phrases that fill everyone else’s profile like “team player,” “hard worker,” and “detail-oriented.”

If tired wording like “problem solver” or “results oriented,” appear on your resume, try to sub them out and rephrase them with something more creative. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • redesigned
  • negotiated
  • launched
  • modernized
  • orchestrated
  • spearheaded
  • influenced
  • committed
  • propelled
  • shaped
  • advocated
  • invested
  • reduced
  • improved
  • achieved

What are your favorite resume buzzwords? Comment below!

Image via Juliie Gon Námestie/Flickr.

August 18, 2018


How to End Procrastination Once and For All

Sometimes procrastination feels like a disease with no cure. In fact, some of the worst procrastinators may suffer from a lifelong infection! But there has to be a way to overcome this bad habit. What is the secret?! This Harvard Business Review article really struck a note with a procrastinator like me. “The skill we really need to develop—and it is a skill—is transitioning,” the author Peter Bregman says.

It’s so true. When we procrastinate on a task we must do, it’s because it’s going to make us feel uncomfortable. It might cause us stress or anxiety, or we might not even know where to begin so we feel overwhelmed. We’d rather stay in the comfortable zone–the zone of checking emails, doing the busy work, and finding pretty much anything else to do but the task at hand.

The “transition” skill we must develop is simply that of starting. If we can start the task at hand and move from that comfortable to uncomfortable zone, we will be more productive. All it takes is recognizing our attempts at procrastination, and then taking that first step. The more we do it, the more easily the transition will happen in the future. Before you know it, you might have the ability to overcome procrastination once and for all!

How do you beat procrastination? Share your tips below!

Image via Vic/Flickr.


August 16, 2018


InBusiness Magazine Features Spectrum Brands’ Own

This month’s In Business magazine features Spectrum Brands’ own Patty Glines-Kotecki and her appearance at Madison’s CultureCon event. CultureCon is a two-day event “on a mission to impact the workplace by connecting humans to spread positive change around organizational culture.” Glines-Kotecki led a breakout session and shared her thoughts on managing change in the workplace.

“Patty Glines-Kotecki’s title with Spectrum Brands is Organizational Effectiveness Leader, but she’s a social scientist at heart. As such, she likens the 15,000-employee organization she works for to a laboratory.

During the recent CultureCon event at the Madison Concourse Hotel, she spoke on building a change-adept culture and, in so doing, offered lessons from a change manager. Her basic message is an oft-repeated one: change is inevitable. Are you ready to manage it, especially as it becomes more and more complex?

Another part of her message is that while change is inevitable, well-managed change is not. She offers a simple model for change management that is heavily dependent on continuous learning for managers, which might meet with more resistance than the actual change itself, and she offers ways to do battle with the inevitable barriers to change.”

Read the rest of the story here.