About a year ago I participated in a work training around collaboration and culture. We were asked to play a game which involved getting into a pair with someone else around the same height, clasping hands, and attempting to make contact with the partner’s shoulder. The objectives of the game were described as “to win” by “getting more points.” It was not clear exactly who needed to earn those points; that’s where the trouble started.
Continue reading Why Do We Sometimes Compete When We Should Collaborate?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go through media training. Much of the training was common sense: Prepare for your interviews, hone the points you’d like to make, and stay on message. But one counter-intuitive tip had to do with the ways we automatically insert pauses into conversations to buy ourselves time to formulate answers. Continue reading (Don’t) Repeat After Me: The Not-So-Quotable You
I’ve never felt confident in my ability to create visually compelling presentations. I’m a words person with spatial confusion, which I believe is the exact recipe for boring slides. Add to that the fact that I’ve worked in big companies that tend toward information-packed slides with tiny fonts and lots of charts, and you can see why I’m semi-obsessed with collecting tips and best practices for better presentations. Here are some good ones: Continue reading Up Your Visual Impact: Tips to Improve Your Next Presentation
With the end of the year and final exams approaching, many students are scrambling to find ways to either boost their grades or postpone their deadlines. That means that all over the world, teachers are suddenly fielding a thick flurry of emails containing variations on a theme. If you are the grandparent of a college student, you should be very fearful for your health and indeed your life around the time of final exams. Science has shown grandmothers are a whopping 19 times more likely to die before their grandchild’s final exams (when proof of death is the grandchild’s say-so). Continue reading Teachers’ Motivation, Semester-End Excuses: A Plea to College Students
I took my first psychology class in college without really knowing what psychology was or what psychologists did. When I was a first-year student at Harvard, the policy was that you declared a major by your second semester. My foray into English studies was a flop, so I declared psychology and hoped for the best. Fortunately, what I found in those early psychology classes was a revelation: A language to explain the behavioral and emotional phenomena I’d experienced and witnessed my entire life. Continue reading How to Describe What I Know: The Appeal (and Frustration) of Psychology
When do you know you’ve crossed the line from not knowing to knowing? How do you know when you can do something? I’m not talking about being an expert necessarily, but being competent and capable. These sorts of ideas have been on my mind in my new job as I find myself grasping for reassurance that I know what I’m doing. I’ve found that the more I try things, even when I’m not quite sure how to do them, the faster I learn them. This is scary, because trying things when you’re not confident about how to do them means you might fail. Continue reading Learning by Experience
I have a few general criticisms of personality tests in the workplace, many of which stem from people’s interpretation of them as deterministic diagnoses. Too often, I think people take personality tests and use the results to defend unproductive behaviors (“it’s classic ENTJ, what can I do?”) or as a reason not to work at a professional relationship (“we’re too different”). Another issue that happens when these tests are administered in a work setting is that the results are never really discussed at all. They disappear into the ether, instead of becoming a helpful tool to guide effective collaboration. Continue reading Case Study: The Lion and The Owl Share a Manager. He’s a Cat.
I’m a very detail-oriented person. Fortunately, I think I am also pretty good at looking at the big picture, but I struggle with letting go of the details. It turns out, sometimes it may be important to do just that if you want to remain organized with a busy schedule and competing demands. Continue reading Manage Your Time Like the CEO
In the abstract, I’d advise against traveling down an Internet rabbit hole. You know the situation: You start reading an interesting story, and you see a link to another site midway through that sounds interesting. You click the link and open it in a new tab. Now you’re browsing back and forth between two tabs, and then you open a third interesting link. Before you know it, thirty minutes have passed and you’re on a website that is completely unrelated to your original task. Continue reading Nemawashi: A Japanese Management Style for the Modern American Worker
I’m still relatively new at my job, and there is a lot I don’t know. I’m not familiar with all aspects of the company. I’m focusing on a different segment of the healthcare industry than where I cut my teeth. I’m learning the ins and outs of a back-end technology that is new to me. All of this means that I need to ask a lot of questions at work, and it’s weird. Continue reading On Asking for Help