Want to get someone’s attention? Listen

Last week I experienced something rare. I did an interview with someone who listened far more than she spoke. It was all the more unusual since I was supposed to be the one asking the questions.

I left with the feeling that I had been talking with a very smart and thoughtful person. I also left feeling flattered that she cared about my opinions.

I brought up this experience while talking to my friend Kibum, who is in his first year at law school. He was bemoaning the state of affairs in his classes where over-eager “gunners” reliably raise their hands each day to ensure that the professors choose them to answer questions in front of the class. (Clearly, nothing has changed since my law school days.) Kibum, who is of Korean descent but was raised primarily in the US, believes that Americans are obsessed with hearing ourselves speak. In Asia, he explained, there is so much emphasis on being deferential to your elders, that even when you are older, you naturally take more of a listening position in the conversation when you meet someone new. Though he admits that the Korean approach does sometimes stifle people (and schools there are now emphasizing presentation skills and speaking up), he finds that Americans are so concerned with looking smart that they sometimes they don’t even properly respond to the flow of conversation.

{Read the rest at Yahoo!}


Making Long-Distance Partnerships Work


Sharpening the Soft Skills (Which Aren’t Really Touchy-Feely)


Mastering the Out-of-Office Message

A good out-of-office message should both provide the necessary information and protect you from a barrage of unnecessary message when you return to the office.


Remember the telephone?

Recently, I did something strange. I called a fellow journalist for something we would normally talk about through email. It was so odd that I started the call with a caveat, “I don’t usually pick up the phone, but it seemed about time we had a conversation.” She and I typically communicate by email, my preferred mode of communication with just about everyone in my life. It keeps me productive. But lately I have been so saturated with email that I am starting to relish all those conversations that I long ago relegated to email.

Clearly, my phone call got that colleague (Eve Tahmincioglu) thinking because she blogged about it at her new small business blog at MSNBC.com, which is worth checking out even if it didn’t have something to do with ME!


How we introduce

This morning I had my Tuesday morning radio visit with Karen Salmansohn on her terrific show, The Be Happy Dammit Hour, on Sirius Satellite radio’s, Lime Channel 114.

We talked about the hows to introduce people – a subject I think about often. Meeting people is both part of my personality and part of my job as a journalist. But lately, as I’ve been promoting the book, I’m meeting even more people than usual. And many of those are people that friends and colleagues have told me I “need” to meet. These conversations start off much the same. There’s a conversation — or an email — in which Person X tells me I need to meet Person Y.

From there, it goes down a few paths — and here’s where I could use the help of a flow chart designer or some tool in addition to words (That’s a slash I haven’t mastered yet, so you’re stuck with mere words. Should a design-oriented reader care to illustrate this for me, I’d be more than happy to post it!)

Path #1 — Person X then writes a lovely email to Person Y raving about me before I’ve even had a chance to ask how to proceed, ensuring that person Y is receptive to my contact when it arrives. This delightful behind-the-scenes maneuver can also happen through phone calls or in-person meetings. X might copy me on the email (open or blind) or forward it after the fact, whichever her style.

Path #2 — Person X suggests that I contact person Y myself using Person X’s name — the old “referred by X” method. This has mixed results and usually means that Person X doesn’t know person Y all that well or is kind of luke warm about me. It can also mean that Person X is overextended and swamped. Or a bad networker.

Path #3 — This is my current favorite. In this version, Person X doesn’t even bother to tell me the wonderful, generous introduction she’s making on my behalf. She just does it. Then suddenly, like a tulip in spring, person Y contacts me or shows up in some way, eager to make my acquaintence. Someone recently did something in this category for me and it made me realize that this method far outdelivers any other.

That said, there are plenty of times when I resort to paths #1 and #2 myself. And plenty of times when those are enough.

Oh, I guess I left out Path #4 — That’s the one where Person X tells you they want you to meet someone and never does anything about it. Never sends you Person Y’s contact details. Never mentions it again. Acts like it never happened. Lots of things could be going on here. Most of them are bad.

I have a feeling I might amend these over time, especially after if I get some comments. So please, comment.


Resignation by Thank You Note

Last week a friend gave me a valuable lesson on how to think of a resignation letter. She told me she was blocked when she sat down to write a resignation letter that would declare her intention of leaving, give the required notice, yet also assure that she didn’t burn any bridges on the way out. Some advice from her sister saved the day. Think of it as writing a thank you note, her sister suggested. The moment my friend adopted that mindset, the words began to flow. She thanked her boss for all that she learned while at the same time explaining it was time to move on.


"Ethnic" names and other faux pas

At a party last weekend, I was engaging in a little pleasant chit-chat with a very interesting guy. We talked for a while about how he has a very unusual first name (which I won’t reveal since its unusualness would immediately give away his identity), which segued nicely into my mentioning that I had a pretty unusual surname, which I then revealed. When he heard my name, he said, “Alboher…is that an ethnic name?” I stopped in my tracks, trying to figure out what he meant. “Aren’t all names ethnic?” I blurted.

Coming from a white man, it sounded politically incorrect at best.

Upon reflection, I don’t think he meant anything other than “What ethnicity is that name?” but he had no idea how odd it sounded. {For the record, Alboher is a Sephardic Jewish name. My paternal grandfather was from Turkey, or Yugoslavia, depending what what family member is asked.}

It was a little like his assuming that my beau and I are married, which he also did. I’m not the most unconventional person around, so I get a little bit of a thrill every time I defy people’s expectations of me. But assumptions can really offend people. This was a good reminder me to be careful about my own assumptions.


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