Tag Archives: professional communication

Am I a hateful person?

Hate is a strong word and a powerful emotion. So is Love. Since there’s no such thing as loving too much, I worry more about hate. It’s easy to openly declare war on personal peeves, like when people use emoticons at work, or listen in to loud conference calls on their speaker phone. Have you ever said “I hate people who use their speaker phone for conference calls!” when you really meant “I find it inconsiderate when people use their speaker phones for conference calls.” (Similarly, I have a friend who thinks everything is either “fabulous,” or “the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” Nobody seems to mind when people over-exaggerate in support of something.)  Continue reading


Talk about what you do, not who you work for

I’ve seen it a hundred times–at happy hours, weekend parties, and family gatherings.  The conversation goes something like this:

Established professional:
Young professional:
“So, what do you do?” “I work for 3M.”
“What do you do for them?” “I work in Finance.”
“Do you enjoy it?” “Yeah, it’s a good job.”

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Getting laid off? Do this before anything else.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard from a number of recent grads whose positions have been eliminated in the last month or so.  While there are some signs that the economy is recovering, and here’s a particularly promising article about the increase in rail and truck shipping, reality still presents an ugly job market for lots of Millennials. Continue reading

Skills Missing from New Grads

I took a 5 minute survey this morning about new grads and their skills.  The first question was, “What skill gaps do you find in new grads?”  Here’s my response:

It’s hard to say if these are “gaps,” per se, because they aren’t necessarily taught in college.  But skills that would help new hires achieve results faster include:
1) Professional communication.  This includes getting to the point, cutting out filler words, inductive communication, and a component of internal marketing.
2) Ability to put things in perspective.  New hires can suffer from myopia on the job.  While it’s our job to give them the broader view, it’s also their job to ask for it and actively work to fill in any blanks.

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Could You Explain this to Me?

Very few people are truly good at explaining difficult concepts to an audience.  Whether it’s enterprise technology or complex drivers behind a new business strategy, someone who can use simple, understandable language to get the point across is hard to find.  If you can build this skill at an early age, you really set yourself apart from the field.  Experience is the best way to hone this talent, but here are two quick tips you can remember to help work at it.

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Pause . . . to Speak Better

One of the most glaring differences between new young employees and successful executives is strength in communication.  Specifically speaking speed.  It seems the more experienced and successful you become (arguably because of it), the slower your speech.  In contrast, most recent grads talk a mile a minute.

We all know this to be true, though it seems a bit counter-intuitive.  After all, the more confident and knowledgeable you become, the easier it should be to talk quickly.  But studies have shown that the slower you talk, the more effective you are.

I learned this week that the average English speaker talks at a pace of 180 words per minute.  The average news anchor speaks 120 words per minute.  There must be something there, right?

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Lobbying for a Better Elevator Speech

I was going to title this post “Take Your Elevator Speech to the Penthouse,” but my editor strongly recommended a rethink.  Now we both get what we want.

After an especially rousing networking event last week, I was elevator-speeched out.  There are only so many people I can meet and try to remember before they all blend together.  Full disclosure: I’m not great at remembering people to begin with.  But that makes me a good judge of strong elevator speeches, or introductory statements, because I’m a tough customer.

The best elevator speeches are memorable and intriguing.

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