Archive for skill building

Micro-Aggression: A New Breed of Bully

While at the latest TriState HRMA dinner meeting, I sat in awe watching the evening’s speaker, Jonathan Segal Esq., flawlessly cover the topic of Systemic Harassment. One of the phrases that stuck out from the crowd was that of “Micro-aggression”. Jonathan went on to explain that this term refers to “a non-legalistic jargon of subtle or indirect harassment”.

It is here that I state the obvious but necessary disclaimer – nothing you read here is to be considered legal advice or endorsements of any kind by Jonathan or his employer.  All are simply my thoughts. In fact, I only mention him because his knowledge on topic was so impressive and his use of the word “micro-aggression” made a professional connection with me …and boy was he funny!

Micro-Aggression: A New Breed of Bully?

The term itself reminds me of the numerous, and unfortunate, times that I’ve heard employees claim to be verbally abused or “bullied”. A topic that I’ve written about and discussed with employees on countless occasions. Micro-aggression indeed.

definition of microaggression

In a world of increasing awareness on harassment related words, actions or intentions, the objective is to recognize and be sensitive to ANY potentially harmful activity…especially while at work.  Not a new concept, but one needing to be discussed in any employer, leadership or workplace capacity.

How often do you find yourself in a conversation with a bully? I’m not talking about someone physically pushing you around – I’m talking about the bully that wounds with words. Pushy abrasive types usually KNOW they’re being a jerk. The dangerous ones are the unintentional bullies that are completely unaware of how much power their words actually wield. They tend to exercise control over conversations by insulting, hurting or belittling the person they’re speaking to, without the intention or the realization that they have. I call them “Bullies by Tongue”…and now, thanks to Jonathan, we know they have an official name in the employee relations industry.

You’re not a micro-aggressive bully are you? It’s important to know how to tell.dont take it seriously

  1. The Disrespectful Bully speaks without thinking. This type of offender often blames (or pretends to) the fact that they’re joking.  They’ll make excuses and rarely take responsibility for hurting someone because, after all, there were “just joking”. A clearly passive-aggressive form of verbally hurting people, this bully might even turn the blame onto to victim, whose pain tends to build as they fall prey to self-doubt.
  2. The Hard of Hearing Bully is the one I get the most complaints about as an HR professional. For some reason, this type seems to think that if they speak AT you rather than WITH you, you’ll hear them more clearly, or perhaps follow their instructions better. Let’s face it, they simply shout with the intent to use intimidation or fear to motivate others.  The longer this bully’s tactics is successful, the more often they’ll use it.
  3. The Helpful Bully actually believes they’re giving sage advice. Off-putting phrases make people uncomfortable and create a negative platform for whatever conversation follows the opening statement. Ask yourself…have you ever started a sentence with these phrases?

• The way I see it…
• Let me tell you something…
• If you were smart, you would…
• You said,…
• That’ll never…

If you find yourself having said ANY of these, find an alternative way to communicate a strong opinion by beginning the sentence with intentional diplomacy and sensitivity.  For detailed examples on why these statements are deemed micro-aggressive (and how to remedy them), make sure to check out Are You a Conversational Bully?

The Discriminatory Bully is the obvious one, but deserves mention. wont teach you to twerkThis type tends to make assumptions of race, color, religious, gender or national origin. Not only does this make for an uncomfortable and hostile work environment, but it’s in direct violation with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  So yes, when you hear someone say ,”Can you do this math problem for me; You’re Asian, right?” they are flirting with employment law…whose assumptions are dangerously less than funny. Hard to believe that in this modern day in society, some folks still think that’s being humorous. #ignoranceisnotfunny


I hope to leave you with food for thought.  Should you recognize yourself in any of these bullies by tongue,  take an inventory of your communication practices and/or that of your co-workers. Employment law continues to define and defend these serious, even when unassuming, offenses. Become aware of your own messaging without allowing an inner bully to lash out.  You can always invite a professional to speak to your management group.

Increase sensitivity in your workplace communication:
Gossip in the Workplace, Friend or Foe?
Sentence starters that Kill your Independence
What is Stealth Communication?

Acceptable Slang…or Lazy Speech?

As a grammar geek, there have always been certain words or phrases that grind on my nerves like the screech of a breaking train barreling toward a sudden stopping point. Correcting your Grammar

Yes, I’ll admit it. I am silently correcting your grammar. And I know I’m not alone.

Perhaps it has become a matter of acceptable slang, or maybe it’s lazy speech turned habit, but somewhere along the way many common words or phrases that are being said incorrectly have become automatic to modern speech. Consequently, it goes beyond knowing when to use the correct versions of ‘to’, ‘too’ or ‘two’ and ‘there’, ‘their’ or ‘they’re’ (insert sound of nails on a chalkboard). The thing is, grammatically knowledgeable people make mistakes too.

Most of us would rather be told about something awkward up front if it could avoid potential embarrassment on a larger scale. Ever find a piece of green leaf (from the lunch you had hours before) wedged between two front teeth? How many people saw the awkward green thing and didn’t tell you? Don’t you wish someone had?

Consider this notice of your awkward green thing.

Part of being a ‘Stealth Communicator’ is becoming more aware of areas for improvement and developing the habit of recognition. Check out the table below of some commonly used mistakes and ask yourself if you’ve fallen prey to the verbal conveniences we call ‘slang’.

Words you can't wrong_tableCan you think of some more? I’d love to hear some of your own pet peeves of mispronunciation, lazy speech and fabricated malarkey…

Other articles you may find interesting:





And/But Theory: The Great Disconnector

I’ve often seen leaders and management unknowingly sabotage their own messaging by adding one itty-bitty word to an otherwise powerful statement.

The age-old discounter, the disconnector. The ‘But’.disconnecting cords

Anyone in a management position that seeks professional improvement can tell you that in order to learn and grow, one must keep reading up on available content. Specifically, the available material on feedback and constructive criticism teach us to frame any message with a positive spin. For instance, “Your strongest skill is your ability to organize.”

Often, this is the set-up phrase that will accomplish several things for the person or employee being spoken to.

  1. Gets them listening. Everyone loves a compliment.
  2. Disarms a defensive listener.
  3. Creates pride in their work.
  4. Establishes your appreciation for their contributions.

A good leader must also be able to deliver negative messages or feedback, including the bad and the super ugly. The goal for each type of message, however, should be the same – to create a learning opportunity and to produce positive results. So starting with the good stuff is purposeful because it puts the listener in a positive position to hear more.

Even with a positive start, breaking the bad news is too often done like this; “Your strongest skill is your ability to organize, but your attendance is unreliable.”

The fact is that the positive message (“your strongest skill is your ability to organize”) is overshadowed by the second part of that sentence (“your attendance is unreliable”) due to use of the word “but”. Whether intentionally or subliminally, squeezing that itty-bitty-but word into the sentence packs a punch and communicates some very clear messages;

  • You’ve discounted the positive thing.
  • The first thing is LESS important than the last.
  • You are displeased with them as a whole.

Overcome the “BUT” by consciously exchanging it for the powerful word “AND”, the most comprehensive of all Golden Linkconnectors. This accomplishes your intent to recognize the good stuff while addressing areas for improvement. A golden link of both parts, so to speak.

It’s not always easy, but creating the habit of using AND instead of BUT can change the way people feel about your feedback, while lending truth and validity to each point you make.

For more material on Powerful Phrasing, check out the following content:

Is Bad Juju in your Employee Evaluation?

Employee Evaluations. Everyone employed by a company has either got to give them or receive them at one point or another. Unless, of course, you work for yourself…in which case, count your blessings, whisper a positive mantra and then share this with a friend who may find it useful.

smiley faces

By definition, an evaluation is a “systematic determination of a subject’s merit, worth and significance, using criteria governed by a set of standards”. All of these terms – “merit”, “worth”, “significance”…hell, even “standards” are generally positive indicators. Why is it that the mere thought of being evaluated makes people nervous? In my humble opinion, I believe we all fear hearing the BAD news on how we don’t quite measure up. Some folks avoid these potentially awkward conversations altogether….but then, how will we ever know what to improve on, or where our potentials exist? If you’re the boss, how will your employee know what you expect of them and what tools they’ll be offered to meet your expectations?

Let’s break the myth that there is need for concern, whether giving or receiving an evaluation. Turn the bad juju into good.

Positive feedback is an essential part of any successful career or growth opportunity. It’s a way of staying on track with good behavior, and learning to redirect the not-so-good behavior. Without feedback, many people may not know that their work is sub-par, but more importantly, they may not know HOW to achieve a different outcome.

What are your Evaluation Communication Goals?emp-evaluation stick figure

  • To identify and record areas for improvement in performance & productivity
  • To uncover training and development needs
  • To provide corrective or constructive feedback
  • To set realistic and achievable goals
  • To rate or track the progress made (or lack thereof)


Watch out for these Evaluation Errors

  1. Bias: When your values, beliefs or prejudices distort the ratings you give or the opinion you have. It’s important to assess the performance, not the person.
  2. The Halo Effect: Halo error occurs when the employee is great at one area, but is rated similarly for all other areas, even when the other areas are not as strong.
  3. The Horn Effect: This means that you might focus on one area of weakness and assess other areas more harshly than if they stood alone. This error may throw off the overall results.
  4. Leniency or Strictness: These errors occur when either no low scores are given, skewing the results to be falsely positive or exaggerated (leniency) or when no high ratings are given and true achievements are overlooked (strictness).
  5. Primacy or Recency: Primacy happens when more focus is given to someone’s earlier performances, let’s say at the beginning of the year, while overlooking a change in certain areas since then. The opposite occurs in Recency when you base your assessment on activity from the last month or so, without considering the big picture performance.
  6. Central Tendency: This error occurs when you rate all employees within a narrow range, perhaps a middle of the road score, regardless of what the actual performance should rate.

Guidelines for Giving Feedback

As with any verbal or written communication, we should always be sensitive to sending an accurate message in a way that will be best received. This requires one part empathic truth and three parts positive twist.

  • Describe the performance, don’t judge it.
  • Assume the attitude of helpfulness, not domination.
  • Empathize; listen with an open mind.
  • Give specific examples of good/positive performance. Don’t be general, don’t be vague.
  • Stick to the facts, not your opinion.

Positive Power Phrases to Use

  • You did great on these items. Let’s take a closer look at…
  • Can you help me understand why ___.?
  • You’ve reached your latest goal of __ AND [instead of but] we want to add these next level goals.
  • I might have done it differently. Can you show me how you’ve worked on ___?
  • How can I help you tackle this challenge?
  • What do you need from me to achieve these goals?

Warning Signs that Your Evaluations Stink

In giving staff/employee evaluations, one has to remember that your role as a leader/supervisor is to assist the employee to reach successful levels. To achieve this, your feedback is required all year round, not just once a year (or less frequently). Without thinking of the evaluation as a tool, or a Cheat Sheet for Success, you may find yourself facing these types of results;

  • Your employee is shocked and awed by their results and didn’t see it coming.
  • Ratings are all the same with no change from one to the next.
  • Great employees receive same ratings as those that lack in performance.
  • Employees who are terminated had recently received good, or even average, ratings.
  • Productivity goes DOWN after an evaluation period. Constructive and achievable feedback should have an improving effect.
  • Someone runs crying from your office (okay…this one’s obvious for humor’s sake)

The bottom line is that most folks get a bad vibe at the thought of being evaluated because they expect, or even fear, a negative result. An effective communicator can turn bad juju into good by practicing the intention and structure that it takes to guide others toward success.

Want to be a better communicator? You may be interested in these other topics:

8 Ways to Talk to Difficult People

Shut Your Pie Hole: A Lesson in Listening

Are You A Conversational Bully?

Shut Your Pie Hole: A Lesson in Listening

A colleague and I were recently discussing the ongoing challenge of helping people learn how to communicate more efficiently with their peers, co-workers and subordinate staffing. As a company, we persistently train on positive communication, choosing words wisely, using diplomacy, exercising conflict resolution tactics….and still our leaders in management are feeling repetitive and misunderstood. Why aren’t these fundamental skills being transferred to the employee in a way that helps everyone understand each other?

Amidst the frustration-laced conversation, Colleague says, “Can you just find a non-offensive and professional way to tell people to SHUT THEIR PIE HOLE and listen first?!”

Challenge accepted.

It’s often overlooked that listening is at least 50% of the components needed for effective communication.  Choice of words, tone of voice, body language and demeanor all comprise a combination of the other half. Why is listening important?  Because so much of the message that is exchanged depends on how we understand what is said by the other person. But why is it so challenging just to listen?

Listening doesn’t always come easily.  There is so much going on in our brains already; Generally,the intent to reply

  • We want our side to be heard
  • We’re already thinking about how we’ll respond, even while the other person’s still talking
  • We tend to want to interrupt, whether due to excitement, disrespect or disagreement
  •  Our face wears our reactions to what’s being said, whether good or bad
  •  Sometimes, in an argumentative scenario, we simply want to “win”

Effective listening is an acquired skill – and we have to practice it consistently in order to make it a good habit.   Listed below are NineListening Intentions that help polish our active listening skills;

1.       Keep quiet while someone else is speaking.  Avoiding interruption makes you a respectful conversationalist. People don’t always need to be right, sometimes they just need to feel heard.

2.       Avoid distractions. Give what you expect – if you want someone to listen to you, make sure you pay it forward, give them your attention and focus on the message you’re hearing.

3.       Offer unbroken eye contact. To look away portrays disinterest, apathy or indifference.

4.       Nodding adds a level of engagement and acknowledges that they are being heard.

5.       Tilting of the head signals interest and subconsciously shows concern in what’s being said.

6.       Relax body language. Minimizing gestures and motions can avoid putting the other person on edge or in defense mode. Watch any urges to squint or roll the eyes, arch your brows or shrug shoulders.

7.       Ask for clarification. If something isn’t 100% clear to you, don’t hesitate to ask for more detail.  Rather than offend someone, this tactic usually shows that you care to understand. Most would rather clarify themselves than to be misunderstood.

8.       Engage in repetition. Restating what you believe you’ve heard not only proves your engagement in the conversation, but also allows for the opportunity to be corrected if you’ve misunderstood.

9.       Sharpen your skills with listening games, activities or exercises.  Practice may not make ‘perfect’, but it certainly can make ‘better’.

Check back for a complete list of listening games and exercises for leaders, teams and staff in  my next post.

Gossip in the Workplace: Friend or Foe?

When used appropriately, gossip can be an influential interpersonal communication tool and a lighthearted way of spreading information. As luck would have it, the same concept that creates bonds and builds relationships can often rear an ugly head.


According to Wikipedia,  gossip is idle talk or rumor, especially about personal or private affairs of others. The term is often used to specifically refer to the spreading of dirt and misinformation, as (for example) through excited discussion of scandals.

Nigel Nicholson of Psychology Today magazine recognizes, “there are three very essential functions of gossip: networking, influence and social alliances.”  It’s also been said that gossip is a way of having intimate conversation between those with similar style, personal and domestic or workplace scope and setting, while providing the comfort of validation and camaraderie. The challenge becomes drawing (and to keep from crossing) the line between sharing information and being hurtful to the reputation of yourself and others.

Learning to balance over that line with the ease of an expert takes conscious effort and a careful attention to detail. Simply calling gossip “networking” introduces the risk of overlooking (or straight-up ignoring) the dangers that lurk in the workplace. Unfortunately, it seems that the cons outweigh the pros in this potentially harmful practice.

The CONS of Workplace Gossip

  • Spreading wrong information
  • Loss of productivity and habitual wasting of time
  • Erosion of trust and morale
  • Divisiveness among employees as people take sides or “gang up on others”
  • Increased anxiety among employees as rumors circulate without clear factual evidence
  • Hurt feelings and reputations; feeling attacked or targeted
  • Being perceived as unprofessional
  • Disrespect toward supervision
  • Disconnect to company brand loyalty
  • Turnover increases due to good employees leaving what they perceive as an unhealthy work environment or atmosphere.
  • Costly Legal Ramifications: bullying, libel, hostile workplace and harassment case filings

How Can I Avoid Gossiping at Work?

Following some basic guidelines to gossip will allow for maintaining strong bonds OUTside the workplace without sabotaging accomplishments IN the workplace.

  1. Never engage in gossip that is purely associated with malicious content and intent. To hurt someone else does not make you the better person. Ever.
  2. Avoid disclosing pay rates and earnings information. It is no one’s business what you make, just as it’s not your business what anyone else makes. Similarly, discussion about whether or not you find your boss’ pay fair and reasonable is completely inappropriate.
  3. Don’t discuss social plans or un-work-related activities during a shift, meeting or company function. To portray yourself as anything less than focused on your work is a disservice to those who are. Off-site and off-shift (ie., home, parking lot or on your cell phone after hours) are more appropriate times and places for social conversation.
  4. If you question a co-worker’s opinion or decision, discuss it with them in private. Never challenge, embarrass or deface someone’s character in front of an audience of mutual peers or associates. The term “peer” indicates a certain level of respect.
  5. Obtaining a good lead or gaining insider commentary is a benefit of communication with friends, but can lead to loss of trust from your associates and coworkers when you are careless with their tips.
  6. Never recite, even in jest, a friend or co-worker’s social misadventures to your mutual work associates. We are all entitled to a personal life, as well as a private one. What happens between friends outside the office should stay there. Far too often, juicy stories can result in the loss of respect from fellow peers and associates for the both of you.
  7. If irreconcilable differences do occur, keep in mind that while your out-of-office relationship (romantic or otherwise) may be over, chances are you still need to work together to some degree. Be sure to cut ties in a clean and professional manner and bear in mind that no one needs to know what happened between you. We don’t always have to like the people we work with, but we DO have to do our jobs to the best of our ability.

Other networking success resources:

Have I missed some pitfalls of gossip in the workplace?  Please share your advice on keeping positive communication a priority at work…

Are you saying “Maybe” when you mean to say “NO”?

Where do you draw the line between being a team player and becoming a push-over?

Believe it or not, it’s more than just saying “NO”. Why? Because too often, instead of saying no, we find ourselves qualifying the statement with things like, “Maybe” or “Not now”,  “I’m not sure I can” or “We’ll see”.  None of those statements have actually said NO, even if you’d intended for them to.

In fact, I often hear people venting that they thought they said NO, but they find themselves still obligated to the thing they didn’t want to do;

·         “Well, I told her I didn’t have time, but she said to take it home,” or “I thought I said no but it’s still on my desk,” or even  “It’s not my job but if I don’t do it, nobody else will.”

It’s an unfortunate possibility that these are the stories we’re telling ourselves to justify why it was too awkward or difficult to be clear and stand firm to the decision.

As with most communication solutions, it’s all about creating better habits.  In this case…the habit of providing the ‘asker’ with other options of their own.

5 Solid Steps to Communicating Your Final Decision

  1.  Acknowledge the request. We all have equally pressing items to get done at any given moment. Keep in mind that respecting that knowledge comes first – Ex., “I know this is important and I can see that you are concerned about it getting done.”
  2. Decline the request. You have to actually say it. This is not the time for passive aggressiveness – do not grunt, whine or roll your eyes in distaste; they are only signs of doubt.  Ex., “I’m not able to help you,” or “I simply cannot add anything to my own obligations.” Be sure to consciously use a firm, but respectful tone of voice and body language. DO NOT say things like, “I’d love to but…” or “I know you  need me, but…” – it’s likely that neither statement is 100% true and both set the tone for sounding like you actually do want to say yes.
  3. Give reasons. It’s perfectly okay to state what you are already working on, without sounding like it’s an excuse and without leaving the door open for deviation.  Ex., “I need to complete my own deadlines this week,” or “I have to turn in this report on time.”
  4. Suggest alternatives. While it’s never okay to name names, suggesting they try someone else is a viable alternative. Just remember not to insert reasons you think someone else may be available – let them determine it for themselves. Another alternative can be to provide a time frame – Ex., “Check back with me next week, I’ll have a better idea of my workload by then.
  5. Stop accepting favors. Favors are a common way to sugar-coat a request into sounding personal, and therefore more unavoidable. Keep things professional and negotiate instead. If you’re going to accept someone’s task today, be sure you establish the exchange at that moment; know what you’ll be getting in return (and when). Avoid owing anyone anything – scorecards tend to become blurry with time.

What happens when you get push-back?

Standing your ground is all well and good, but sometimes people simply don’t respect your boundaries. The bottom line is that only you are in control of your own time and work ethic – Don’t allow someone else to RE-prioritize you. 

Tactics to following your Solid Steps;

  • Be the Broken Record – You may find yourself having to repeat steps 2, 3 and 4. So be it. The  moment you change or deviate from your message, there is an opportunity for the asker to wiggle in with reasons of their own.
  • Support Your Opinion – Ultimately it’s YOUR decision to say yes, not anyone else’s. Be okay with having to agree-to-disagree and simply state, “I’m sorry it’s not what you want to hear, but I see it differently.”
  • Have a Visible PlayBook – Call it a gameplan, a timeline, a bulletin board, an action chart…whatever, but feel free to publicly showcase your priorities. People can see that you intend on staying the course with your own goals; this ultimately serves to support and validate step #3.

Other Great Resources:

Communicating with Difficult People

9 Practices to Help You Say No

10 Guilt-Free Strategies for Saying NO


The Modern Day Dear John Letter

The Modern Day Dear John: Telling of Character….or Telling of the Times?

I was watching a delightfully obnoxious sitcom the other night whose topic of interest was the inconsiderate break-up.  Not just any break up, but the curt, impersonal, less-than-40-characters one…you got it, The Text Break-Up.

My mind immediately time-warped back to that episode of Sex in the City when Big broke up with Carrie on a post-it note.  Ouch!  Has this level of disrespectful communication actually become acceptable outside of TV humor and inside of our real lives?  I decided to ask the masses. 

So off to Social Media I went, where I posted the question, “Is it ever ‘ok’ to break up with someone in a text?”  For days I received a barrage of opinionated answers spanning from Facebook and Twitter to emails and…but of course, texts.

Here’s what the majority of responders feel about the subject:

We live in a modern era where time is sensitive and brevity in communication is honored. Beyond a generational thing, most people from pre-teens to housewives and from the small business entrepreneur to the Wall Street mogul prefer sending, reading and receiving messages using brief and direct methods including these we discuss here.  We live in the tell-me-what-you-want-and-don’t-waste-my-time era. These practices are widely understood, accepted and generally cool…No Big D.

Until it becomes personal.

Most folks became a bit heated (and some downright enraged) when they gave my question some introspection. It seems there was initial agreement that there may be circumstances where, says one Facebook friend, “…courtesy may not be required,”…like “if you have a restraining order,” says another. In fact, there were a few reasons (from 10% of the responders) that felt YES, given the circumstances below; it is ‘ok’ to break-up with someone in a text.

  • Neglect
  • Abuse
  • Stalking
  • Adultery
  • Pre-teen/Teenager

But what if none of those circumstances apply and you thought things were coming along nicely? You had a good rapport, perhaps even a relationship.  What if there had been a considerable amount of time invested…is it THEN acceptable to give the Dear John message, out of the proverbial blue? 

These words were tossed about from the 90% whose impassioned response was of the “no way, no how – it’s never ‘ok’” opinion;

  • Cowardly
  • Immature
  • Disrespectful
  • Ill mannered
  • Thoughtless
  • Ignorant

To be super clear on the math, while 10% of the responders had been able to justify texting the demise of a relationship due to extenuating or unsafe conditions, only 1% of those had said [paraphrasing], “Eh, whatever.”

What’s the communication lesson in today’s story?  We all accept that we want ‘quick and easy ‘, but when it comes to the human component of emotion, trust and love, most people still feel as if taking the time to have the actual conversation is worthy and respectful.

Communication is at the crux of our society, if we cannot effectively exchange positive messages, we find fewer successes along our path.  Exercise thoughtfulness, compassion and consideration in each of the words you choose. If you know your message is going to be hurtful to someone, take the time to deliver it in person…or at the very least, on the phone.

90% of you think it’s “just the right thing to do.”

8 Ways to Write a Better Email Message

Whether you want to increase your email’s open rate, are seeking more positive feedback from your messages or your employee evaluation just came back needing improvement, you can raise the bar on your professionalism by following these simple rules for better emailing.

8 Ways to Write a Better Email Message:

  1. Announce your purpose.  A subject line exists in every email platform or program, use it. Don’t be vague or mislead the reader as to what they’ll find upon opening. Being simple is more likely to get your message opened.
  2. Keep the message simple.  Avoid discussing more than a maximum of 3 topics in one correspondence; any more than that will risk losing the reader’s interest.
  3. Use bullet points or numerals to keep your content brief. Short attention style reading is the preferred format for any email. Be respectful of the reader’s busy day and get right to message.
  4. Stick to the facts. Leave emotion out of your emails – never write or respond while angry, sad, reactionary or in haste. Once you press send it’s out of your hands. Far too often, you might have written it differently if you’d taken more time to think about it.
  5. State a clear and defined call-to-action.  Tell the reader what you want from them. If you need a response by a certain time or date, share that too. No need to be demanding, but be sure to communicate any realistic expectations, willingness for flexibility and thankfulness.
  6. Let the reader know where to find you. Close every email with a variety of ways to contact you. List phone number and website or blog address at the least. If you’re old-school you can even add an address and a fax number. But if you have them, the most valuable things you can promote are your social media platform links (Twitter handle, LinkedIn Profile or Facebook page). Use your emails to grow your audience.
  7. Keep attachments in condensed format. Sending files that are too large can clog up either or both servers, making it an inconvenience to the reader.  Files with too many graphics or video will take longer to download and use more space to save. Additionally, be sure to label each attachment clearly; never use a series of numbers as a file name or omit the date of the latest version.
  8. Copy or Blind Copy only those who need to see it.  Refrain from the urge to Reply All when there has not been a specific request to copy everyone. In cases of a response to a question or an RSVP, it’s more appropriate to reply directly to the sender. Always be cognizant and respectful of the reader’s time.

Ultimately, these 8 simple rules will keep you organized, effective and courteous.

Other related links on this and similar topics:

Got any other ideas? Send them over in a comment! 

10 Things Effective Women Do To Feel Great About the Outcome

There is a BIG difference between getting things done and feeling great about the outcome. Instead of judging ourselves in terms of how many things we got done, perhaps we can become more effective by asking ourselves how much was done with intent and presence of mind… Think about the great connections you made today, how many bursts of laughter you evoked, or how many times you successfully put out fires. What great idea did you propose that changed someone’s life today? Which actions did you take today that might bear amazing results tomorrow?

The effective woman realizes that there are more important things to accomplish than just accomplishing things.

  1. Effective women know to consider all angles of a situation before answering questions; only after careful consideration and when completely ready, they speak confidently and make sensible and firm decisions.
  2. Effective women know that competition is healthy, but teamwork is more strategic. Daring to create something “different” is better than becoming stagnant with something that stays the same without improvement.
  3. Effective women are capable of being accepting and compassionate, and being demanding and displeased, often in the same breath.
  4. Effective women are teachers, mentors and students of life. They learn more from each other than from technique, and more from work ethic than from procedure.
  5. Effective women learn how to finesse, how to influence, and how to manipulate because they are constant observers.
  6. Effective women might be afraid, but they are brave. They stretch their limits by risking failure and pursuing areas they lack experience in. They always trudge forward declaring, “Yes I can.”
  7. The effective woman seeks more than a negotiation win. Ever deliberating and astute, she seeks a “win-win-win” wherever she can find it.
  8. Effective women are as genuine and forthcoming with compliments as they are with critiques, even when they’re jealous or even when it hurts.
  9. Effective women know that time is a commodity and not to recreate the wheel. If it’s been done before they’ll strive to improve on it.
  10. 10.  An effective woman practices the kind of focus and presence of mind that engages people to talk to her with complete certainty that she’s really listening.

Being an effective woman is much more than accomplishing a purpose or getting things done. It’s about accomplishing that purpose to the best of your ability while feeling good about it and learning how to do it better the next time around.

So after all is said and done, would you call yourself an “effective woman”?