Category Archives: Communication

Taking Care of Ourselves and Others: Preventing Suicide

Two celebrities took their lives in May 2018 – designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain. Suicide is a cause of death that is both preventable and on the rise. According to the CDC, suicide rates in this country increased by 25% between 1999 and 2016. 

In times like these, where suicide is once again a topic of national conversation, we must be vigilant about the threat of contagion. This is a real and dangerous phenomenon that leads to a measurable spike in suicides following significant media exposure and public discussion of prominent suicides.

This happened in my small town in Connecticut. Several years ago a popular and well-known athlete hung himself in the family home only to be discovered by his younger brother. The news of his death spread like wildfire through the town. It was a tragedy felt by all. Within 24 hours, a second boy took his life in the same manner. His mother was in another part of the house at the time. Within two days following the second suicide, a third child, a girl, attempted to end her life but failed, thankfully. These children attended the same school and were very close in age. As a result, all of the children in the school were closely monitored for fear that there was a “suicide pact.” 

To halt the spread of suicidal ideation, and to care for ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors effectively, we must be fully informed about the specific ways in which we can help prevent suicide. Here are some tips for winning the fight against suicide. First, learn the risk factors. There are a number of factors that can place an individual at increased risk of suicide. If you or someone you know has one or more of these risk factors, proactive and preventative measures are even more important. These risk facts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • History of depression or other serious mental health conditions
  • Serious physical health concerns such as pain, chronic conditions, and the like
  • History of prior suicide attempts or a family history of suicide
  • Stressful life events such as financial strain, divorce, loss of a loved one, relocating to an unfamiliar place, job loss, and natural disaster
  • Traumatic life events or history such as bullying, physical abuse and sexual assault
  • Access to firearms or other lethal weapons
  • Impaired judgment due to substance abuse such as drugs or alcohol
  • Past or current work in a high-risk industry such as military veterans, healthcare workers, or farmers
  • Heavy exposure to suicides such as first responders  

Second, watch for the signs. If you suspect that a loved one or neighbor is at risk for suicide, watch for these warning signs:

  • Words that express a desire to kill oneself, even in a joking manner, a feeling of hopelessness, having no reason to live, being a burden on others, or feeling trapped in a difficult situation
  • Behaviors such as increased use of substances such as drugs or alcohol, looking for suicide tips or methods online or in conversation with others, withdrawing from favorite activities, isolating from family or friends, sleep changes, giving away prized possession, or saying goodbye 
  • Moods such as depression, anxiety, loss of interest, irritability, shame, rage or uncontrollable anger, agitation, or a sudden sense of relief after a prolonged depression
  • Mood changes, including a sudden elevation in mood
  • Rage or uncontrollable anger

Third, don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone who is exhibiting the warning signs and may be at risk for suicide. When you’ve identified risk factors and/or warning signs, don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation to directly address the issue with the person. The following tips from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline may be helpful:

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide
  • Be willing to listen. Allow your expressions of feelings to show and accept the feelings that you are having while listing to your loved one or neighbor
  • Do not judge. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Do not lecture on the value of life
  • Don’t agree to keep your concerns secret. Seek support from professionals or others
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available, not glib reassurance
  • Take action by removing weapons, pills, alcohol, and other means for acting on suicidal ideation 

Fourth, be proactive about your own emotional health. According to the Campaign for Change Director, there are five general habits that each of us should repeat consistently for good emotional health. They are:

  • Take care of yourself physically by eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and getting good sleep
  • Check in with family, friends, and counselors on a regular basis
  • Engage with others in a meaningful way. After all, you cannot be healthy if your relationships are unhealthy
  • Relax with mediation, gently activity, gardening, cooking, and other activities that bring you pleasure and gratification
  • Know the signs and symptoms of emotional suffering in yourself and others

Finally, stay informed and involved. Seek out additional resources to educate yourself on the ways that you can take action to help prevent suicide. If you or someone you know is in danger, take it seriously and act appropriately. 

  • Call 211 Infoline for the names of counselors and for guidance and support
  • Call (800) 273.8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (press 1 for veterans)
  • Call 911 if it is a true emergency requiring immediate response
  • Call (800) (On Facebook Messenger: using the “send message” button at facebook.com/crisistextline will connect you to a live crisis counselor

Take care of yourself and those around you . . .

This Blog is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. I am not expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects presented but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

Tips for Interviewing: Boss Fit

In general, millenials state that open communication and support are the most important qualities in a manager/supervisor. However, individuals very different and have varied experiences, expectations, and goals. When considering whether a candidate is a good fit with the manager, the hiring manager will ask questions in the hope of understanding each candidate values and how those values match with the manager’s personal style and the job expectations. Source: Randstat’s Gen Z and Millennials Collide @ Work report, U.S. findings.

Questions the hiring manager may ask are the following questions:

  1. In your previous jobs, have you ever reported to more than one person at a time? How did you prioritize your work? How did this process work for you?
  2. Tell me about some constructive feedback you received from a manager. How did you react?
  3. In your most recent position, how much direction did you get from your immediate supervisor? do you feel that this level of supervision was sufficient, excessive, or not enough?
  4. Describe the best manager you’ve ever had. What did you appreciate the most about this person?
  5. Tell me about the manager who was the most effective in motivating you. What, specifically, inspired you?
  6. Give an example of a time when your manager did something that demotivated you. What was the situation and how did you react?
  7. Describe the manager for whom you least enjoyed working. What, specifically, did you dislike about the approach?

Hiring managers typically interview candidates who will work for others, not for themselves. As a result, the hiring manager is trying to compare the candidates stories and anedotes to what he or she understands about the position, the team, and the the manager’s leadership style. It is not an easy task to determine whether the manager (someone else) can effectively motivate the employee, deliver constructive feedback in a manner that will be accepted by the candidate, or provide the level of management the candidate will need and want.

Now, get to it . . .

This Blog is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects presented but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

Tips for Interviewing: Company Fit

Interviewing is a skill that requires cultivation and on-going maintenance because one never knows what to expect when arriving at a company for an interview. The reason for this is that interviews are often the least disciplined component of the talent acquisition process. While recruiters and human resource managers who oversee talent acquisition are trained interviewers, many hiring managers are not. Worse, many hiring managers find the task to be unpleasant and grueling. Regardless of who is conducting the interview, most interviewers have the goal of determining if the candidate is a good fit for the company, for the leadership, and the job.

To determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the company, the interviewer may ask the following questions:

  1. What do you know about the company? What aspects of working at the company are most appealing to you?
  2. Of all the companies you’ve worked for so far in your career, which one(s) did you enjoy working for and why?
  3. Where did you experience the best teamwork? What made that team successful?
  4. Provide an example of someone with whom you found it diffcult to work? Why? What did you do, if anything, to make the situation better (more workable)?
  5. Describe a time when you had difficulty accomplishing a task. What obstacles did you encounter? Who did you go to for help?
  6. Describe a time in your previous job where you were asked to do something which you didn’t agree. What did you do?
  7. Describe the different workspace arrangments you’ve experienced (open space, cubicle, private office). Which one did you prefer and why?

In general,  employees who are able to function well in teams and organizations will have had mostly positive experiences with past employers. A candidate who will fit into the work environment, work well with other members of the team, and respect company values is likely to use the word “we” more than the word “I” when describing team projects  and accomplishments and will demonstrate a measure of understanding and ownership for team objectives.

Conflict or disagreement between colleagues are bound to occur in a work setting. The ability to resolve these situations constructively is a valuable skill for employees to have and an asset to the team.

Both Gen Z and Millennials cite the people they work with as the number one attribute that enables them to do their best work. During the interview process, it is likely that candidates will be offered the opportunity to meet some of the members of the team to measure compatibility. Source: Randstad’s Gen Z and Millennials Collide @ Work report, U.S. findings.

Now, get to it . . .

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This Blog is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects presented but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

Workplace Interpersonal Skills

fotolia_88316842Well-developed interpersonal skills are extremely useful in the workplace. Managers, co-workers, clients/customers, and vendors often perceive people with good social skills as more skilled and capable than those with poor social skills. This preception may be the reason some people succeed in their professional career while others with similar strengths and personal skills do fare as well.

No one can do everything on their own. We often to cooperate with others to achieve our goals and succeed in the workplace. To work cooperatively in the workplace, co-workers need to be kind to one another and demonstrate respect for each other, their clients/customers, and vendors/suppliers.

But working with others can present difficult challenges. To overcome these challenges and get along with people in the workplace you will need to interact with others in ways that are friendly, courteous, and tactful and that demonstrate respect for others’ ideas, opinions, and contributions.fotolia_75670432

  1. Be friendly and have a positive attitude. Exchange friendly, pleasant greetings. Say “good morning” as you walk into work each day, wish people a “good evening” as you leave the office at the end of the day, or ask your co-worker about their weekend on Monday morning. You do not have to be friends with your co-workers, just friendly. These pleasantries will open a dialogue and create a friendlier, comfortable work environment.
  2. Be courteous. Mind your manners. Be considerate of the people you work with. Clean up after yourself and keep your voice low if other people are working or trying to concentrate. Don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you.”fotolia_92579538
  3. Be tactful and polite. Think before your speak and communicate clearly. Respect the other person’s point of view. Watch your language. Avoid slang, offensive language and racy jokes. Also, speak clearly and use proper grammar — even in your emails.
  4. Respond appropriately to questions, compliments, and feedback. Answer questions to the best of your ability. If you don’t know the answer, don’t be afraid to admit it and offer to find the answer. Likewise, accept compliments by saying “thank you.” If you are offered feedback, accept it graciously and use information that will be useful in performing you job.

If a co-worker behaves in a way that is offensive to you, respond in a calm and professional manner. If the problem persists, consult with your supervisor or manager, or speak to a representative in your company’s Human Resources Department.

Keep in mind that these interpersonal social skills are quite easily transferrable to your private life.

Now, get to it . . .

bitmoji1895589661This Blog/Web Site is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects covered but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

The Spice of (Business) Life is Communication, Part 1

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“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.” Abraham Lincoln

 

Communication is the sending and receiving of messages. Everyday we send and receive thousands of messages.

The five types of communication are:

  • Verbal —  messages sent from one person to another through the spoken word
  • Non-verbal — messages sent from one person to another through actions or by observing another person’s actions
  • Written — reading or writing a message
  • Listening — receiving messages by hearing and focusing on the spoken word
  • Technological — sending and receiving messages through technology

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By definition, there is no communication unless someone hears or reads the message being conveyed.

 

 

Effective communication requires the listener to:

  • Stop what he/she is doing and be ready to listen to the speaker.
    • Often a speaker will state the main point of the message when he/she begins speaking. You do not want to miss this vital message.
    • This will also serve as an indication to the speaker that you acknowledge the importance of the message and that listening is required.
  • Use body language to indicate that he/she is engaged in the conversation and listening. Examples of effective body language are making eye contact, leaning in toward the speaker, and nodding the head.
  • Ask questions if he/she is unclear about the message. Don’t ask too many questions because this can be overwhelming to the speaker. Also avoid irrelevant or open-ended questions because this could lead to a misdirection of the original message.
  • Take notes and write down important details to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings. Listen for clue words that will help you identify these important details. Examples of clue words are names, dates, times, addresses, places, numbers, descriptions, etc. Listening for details will also help you to determine what is important and what is just a minor item.
  • Once the speaker has finished speaking, restate the main points of the message. This will convey that you understand what has been said or whether additional conversation or follow-up questions are necessary. Use your notes to remember the details and indicate your attentiveness to the conversation.

fotolia_96800120Some common listening mistakes are:

  • The listener spends too much time trying to formulate an answer while the speaker is speaking. Placing too much effort or concern on having the “right” answers might cause the listener to miss the main points of the message. It may turn out that an answer is not required; sometimes the speaker just needs to know that the listener understands the message and that an answer will be forthcoming.
  • The listener thinks that he/she knows what is going to be said before the speaker says it. This type of anticipation can cause the listener to “tune out,” dismiss what is actually being said, and focus on what the listener thinks the speaker will say.
  • Allowing interruptions when the speaker is conveying his/her message. If you are “multi-tasking” while listening to the speaker (opening mail, reading emails, looking at a device, or carrying on a side conversation), your non-verbal message to the speaker is that you do not think that the message is important and merits your full attention.
  • Reacting to specifics. It is easy to stop listening and focus on other stimuli if the speaker uses language or a style of speaking (including non-verbal cues) that distract you. Stay focused on the big picture and do not let the details overwhelm or distract you.
  • Daydreaming. A daydreamer pretends to listen but is really focused on some other stimuli. The listener will miss the message if he/she is not focused on what the speaker is saying or conveying through non-verbal communication.

Now, get to it . . .

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This Blog/Web Site is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. I am not an expert in any of the areas of job search. I am writing to share my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects covered but should not be considered professional or legal advice.