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Communication

June 26th, 2009 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoCommunication
By Douglas E. Welch

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Let’s Meetup In Ohio!

Douglas will be traveling back to Ohio to visit family and friends from June 28 through July 13. Would you like to meetup?

Email career@welchwrite.com and watch the Career Opportunities Community Site for more information.

Discuss this column and podcast
on the Career-Op Community Site

Way back in my college days, as part of my BA in Communications, there was a required class that we all found a bit silly at first. This class was called IPCO 305 or Interpersonal Communications. Basically, this was a class on how people talked to one another. Surely, we all knew how to talk to each other. We had been doing it for years. Still, we did as we were asked and engaged in “dyadic encounters” which were basically conversations — usually over food or beer — and then studied these conversations in a somewhat scientific way. It all seemed a bit silly at the time, but I find this experience and education more useful every day.

The fact is, we often communicate poorly, if at all. Whether talking or listening, the ideas, thoughts, or tasks we are trying to communicate get lost in the surrounding noise, are misunderstood or simply go unheard. We spend a great deal of time “talking at” people without ever really communicating. Is it any wonder that so little gets accomplished for all the talking that goes on?

One of the most insidious communication problems, in your work and professional life, is assuming that others will just understand. Instead of asking a person to do something, we merely act as if we want something done and they are supposed to pick up on these, often, non-verbal clues and do what we want them to do. We see this in families all the time. If I pick up a broom and start sweeping the floor, I might assume that you will also figure out it is time to clean and join me in the task. This is flawed thinking for a variety of reasons. First, we might not have the same understanding of what is an appropriate time for a particular task. You might think it is time to clean, but I know I have a column due on deadline and must complete that first. You might think that since I am already doing the task, you don’t have to do it and can continue doing whatever you are doing. You may even find my cleaning activities to be annoying as you are trying to finish a different project or simply get some rest. It’s odd how something as simple as picking up a broom can mean so many things to different people.

As you can see, left to our non-verbal, non-communicating devices, it is no wonder why we get frustrated with others and they with us. In many cases, we have competing desires, but we never communicate that to others. We simply grow more and more frustrated and even angry that the other person doesn’t understand us, or worse still, is ignoring us or acting out of spite. Yet, we still avoid communicating clearly when we should see how much it facilitates our lives and our work. Perhaps we do this in a wrong-headed attempt to avoid conflict or confrontation. Maybe we don’t understand how to effectively communicate our wants, needs and desires. Perhaps we are shy, quiet or simply scared of causing a stir. Whichever it is, though, we all need to break away from our uncommunicative ways and forge a new path for our careers.

Great careers grow out of great communications. We might label it drive, leadership, being a people person or a good talker, but it is a simple fact that nearly every great leader is first a great communicator and you can be, too. You simply need to start communicating. Look back in the recent past and re-imagine an opportunity you had to communicate an idea, but failed to do so. How would things be different today had you taken that opportunity to speak up? How much trouble would have been saved? How much money? How many jobs? How much better would you feel about yourself and your work? I believe that you will easily find many situations that would have been improved, or avoided altogether, had you only communicated more clearly.

Your task for the coming weeks is to look for opportunities to communicate, both good and bad news, solutions and problems, wild ideas and concrete thoughts. Look to head problems off “at the pass” by communicating more frequently, more clearly and with more people. Free up time in your busy career by communicating so clearly that extra meetings, teleconferences and follow-up emails simply aren’t necessary. Never again assume that people know what you want simply by looking at your actions. Explain to them, in both large and small ways, exactly what you want, need and desire from them. Clear communication has the ability to make everyone’s life a bit easier and a bit more productive.



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Douglas appears in “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” Segment

June 24th, 2009 3 comments

Update (6/24/09, 7:15 pm) – I forgot to include the fact that you can see the entire presentation from LaidffCampLA (where they recorded these clips) on this blog under Video: Visibility and Your Career from LaidOffCampLA.

During LaidOffCampLA back on May 1, 2009, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer sent a crew to record the sights and sounds for an upcoming report. I just found out that that story has now appeared.

Jobless Find a Creative Voice in Southern California is an overview of the issues with layoffs and downsizing and LaidOffCampLA plays a small part. I have 2 nice quotes in the video, so I wanted to pass it along to you. You will see me briefly starting around 6:50 in the video.

newshour-dew

 

Click to watch this PBS NewsHour video

 

 

Why we share

June 12th, 2009 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoWhy we share
By Douglas E. Welch

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Let’s Meetup In Ohio!

Douglas will be traveling back to Ohio to visit family and friends from June 28 through July 13. Would you like to meetup?

Email career@welchwrite.com and watch the Career Opportunities Community Site for more information.

Discuss this column and podcast
on the Career-Op Community Site

With the continuing growth of services like Facebook, Twitter and others, questions often gets asked, “Why do we share all this information? Who does it benefit? Is it too much? Is it simply a fad…or troubling…or even dangerous?” The fact is, sharing is a deep part of our basic human nature. As humans, we constantly gather together for safety, for productivity and yes, socialization. The fact that we embrace services like Facebook and Twitter should be a surprise to no one. For me, it is simply an online extension of tribe members gathering around the fire to share stories of adventures real and imagined. We have an immense need to share our lives, our knowledge, our sadness, our joys with others. The Internet simply gives us a way to share more easily and more widely. If we take sharing as a common part of human nature, though, then it pays to ask, “Why do we share? How does it complete us? What purpose, beyond basic social interaction, does it serve?”

For the individual — especially someone developing a career — sharing what you do and how well you do it is an important part of establishing your visibility in the world. As I have written and spoken about in the past, you must make your work, both personal and professional, visible to those around you. You do not build a great career by “hiding your light under a bushel.” Jesus may have been talking about faith, but I think the phrase equally applies to your gifts, your knowledge, your skills. Of course, I am not talking about arrogance, inflating your accomplishments or otherwise presenting a false picture of yourself. You share to give people a better understanding of your work and, you as a person.

Which leads us to the next reason for sharing — giving others a better, fuller, understanding of who you are as a person. If you follow me on twitter (@douglaswelch), you will see that I have many more interests than just technology or just careers. I often say, “a geek in one thing, a geek in all things.” This certainly applies to me. I geek out on coffee, wine, architecture, performing music, technology, the outdoors, gardening and a host of other things. If you only monitor one aspect of my sharing, you might think of me as only one thing or another. Those who follow me on Twitter see, what I hope, is a more complete whole.

I believe that the more information others have about you, the better chance that you will find a deeper bond, a deeper synergy, a deeper relationship, whether that relationship is personal or professional. In hiring, for example, I would be much more secure in my choice to fill a particular job if I knew more about a person than what can be discovered in a resume and through a short interview. I was asked during my talk to Tuesdays with Transitioners a few weeks ago, whether it would be useful to include links to Twitter or Facebook in a resume or cover letter. My answer was that, yes, if those sites gave a clear, positive picture of who you are, I would definitely include them. I think that doing so could help to cement a job offer that might be wavering in the middle. I also think it would make the hiring person much more secure in their choice and lead to a better work relationship the moment you walk in the door. It is like giving a jump start to your relationship.

Finally, we often share in hopes that it will improve the lives of those around us. If I can save someone hours of troubleshooting by blogging a solution I discovered, I have made the world a better place. If I can share my favorite restaurants, stores, parks — and most importantly, people — I may make someone’s life better, or at least a little easier. I may help to keep one of those family businesses viable. If I share my life with others, they may share their life with me and expose me to new ideas, new thoughts and new challenges. When we share everyone wins. When we “hide our light under a bushel” we deny ourselves and others the opportunity to connect and understand.



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