Thursday, September 18, 2008

Six Sloppy Speech Habits

Six Sloppy Speech Habits
by Diane Diresta
Monster Contributing Writer

You may look good on paper or in your suit, but if you're looking to nail your big interview, looks aren't everything. How you sound is often more important. But many job seekers let careless speech habits sink their chances of landing that plum job.

Here are six common language mistakes and how to keep them from sabotaging your interview:

1. Non-words

Filler words such as "um," "ah," "you know," "OK" or "like" tell the interviewer you're not prepared and make you sound like a Valley Girl (or Boy). A better strategy is to think before you speak, taking pauses and breaths when you lose your train of thought. Everybody utters an occasional "um," but don't let it start every sentence.

2. "Up-Talk"

A singsong or rising inflection at the end of every sentence creates a tentative impression and makes it sound as though you're asking a question instead of making a definitive statement. You need to speak with conviction when selling yourself in an interview. Bring your intonation down when ending a sentence to avoid talking up.

3. Grammatical Errors

The interviewer may question your education when you use incorrect grammar or slang. Expressions such as "ain't" "she don't," "me and my friend" and "so I goes to him" aren't appropriate. Be sure you speak in complete sentences and that tenses agree. The interview is not the venue for regional expressions or informality.

4. Sloppy Speech

Slurring words together or dropping their endings impairs the clarity of your message. To avoid slurring and increase understanding, speak slowly during an interview. Make a list of commonly mispronounced words, and practice saying them into a tape recorder before the interview. Some common incorrect pronunciations include "aks" for "ask," "ath a lete" for "athlete," "wif" for "with" and "dree" for "three."

5. Speed Talking

While everybody is a bit anxious during an interview, you don't want your information to fly by like a speeding bullet. A rapid speaking rate is difficult to follow, and speed talkers are seen as nervous. Slow down your racing heart by doing some breathing exercises before the interview. To avoid rushing, listen to the question, and then count two beats in your head before answering. When you finish a sentence, count two beats again before continuing. Don't be afraid of silence. Pausing is an effective communication technique. The interviewer needs a few seconds to process what you just said anyway.

6. Weak Speak

Wimpy words modify or water down your conviction and in the end your position. When you pepper a conversation with "hopefully," "perhaps," "I feel," "kind of" and "sort of," the message you convey is a lack of confidence. Use power words such as "I'm confident that," "my track record shows," "I take the position that," "I recommend" or "my goal is." The language you use gives the listener an impression about your level of confidence and conviction.

The Bottom Line

You don't have to study elocution to speak well. Simply slow down, take time to pronounce all the syllables, and leave slang at home.

Companies want job candidates who are well-spoken and articulate, and recruiters won't represent a job candidate if they don't match the client's profile. According to Lori Zelman, vice president of human resources at Strategic Workforce Solutions in New York City, "The people most highly sought after are the ones who are succinct in the explanation of their work experience."

[Diane DiResta is the author of the public-speaking best-seller, Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message With Power, Punch, and Pizzazz, and the president of DiResta Communications Inc., a New York speech coaching and training firm.]

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tips to Beat Job Burnout

Hi! 
Here's an interesting article I found and want to share this with you.
Al


Tips to Beat Job Burnout
by Shelly Field, Monster.com

One of the best ways to defeat burnout is to make your job more enjoyable. "That's impossible," you say. Not necessarily. Sometimes you just have to change how you think.

No matter how boring or depressing your job may be at times, you have to find chances to laugh. Laughter breaks the tension of difficult situations. It helps cut the stress you feel and the tension you may be under. The more you laugh, the better you will deal with work, and the less burned out you'll be. Many people aren't aware that stress-related hormones are suppressed by laughter -- so you know what you have to do.

Try to become more social. Talk to people. Find activities to do with coworkers, friends and family members. Feeling connected to others is a great way to reduce stress and burnout.

Many people in my seminars tell me that by the time they get done working for the day, they are often so exhausted that they just want to go home and be left alone. I understand and often feel the same way.

However, a number of studies indicate that adults who have the fewest friendships and are least active socially are most likely to die prematurely. If that's not enough to make you want to get out and have fun, I don't know what is.

Listen to conversations in your workplace. You might notice that a good percentage of discussions are negative. Work on training yourself to see the positive in situations -- see the humor and knock out negative thoughts and conversation. Negativity just makes you feel worse.

Adding fun to your day will help decrease burnout. Here are several simple ideas you can incorporate into your workplace:

  • If you have a break room, consider filling it with toys and games. Coloring books will bring you back to your childhood. A puzzle will take your mind off things. Games are fun too. 

  • If you don't have a break room, get some little toys and games and keep them on your desk. You'll be surprised how many people stop for a moment to play with your Silly Putty, shake a snow globe or put the magnetic beard on the man. 
     
  • Consider putting up a bulletin board in a break room or employee lounge. Ask everyone from entry-level employees up to administrators and supervisors to bring in baby pictures. Post the pictures on the board. Everyone will enjoy looking at the photos and laughing at each other. It's fun to guess who's who. It also shows that no matter where anyone is in the hierarchy of the facility, everyone started out as someone's baby. 

  • Create a stress-free zone for when employees are feeling burned out. It doesn't have to be a big space -- even just a hallway outside a conference room. Consider putting in a hammock or a lounge chair and perhaps an inflatable palm tree and picture of the ocean. 

  • Schedule activities you enjoy in your day and week. Buy one perfect flower, and keep it in your workspace to view. Take a walk outside during a break. Take a mini visualization vacation and go where you want to go, even if it's only for five minutes. 
     
  • Plan a visit to the zoo, the movies, the gym, a spa or a local cafe. Go window-shopping by yourself or with a friend. What's important is having something to look forward to doing after work.

You can't control everything, but you can control what you are able to and forget the rest. You can beat burnout before it beats you. You just have to try.