Quick Tips on Professionalism

November 9th, 2009

After having not updated the site in  quite a while, I’ve decided that I’ve neglected it for far to long.  As a quick dip back into the shallow end I’m providing several of my thoughts on professionalism which I hope will be found useful.

1.  Practice Good Hygiene – This should really go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people just don’t get it.  Take a shower before you go to work.  Brush your teeth and hair.  Wear clothes that are appropriate to your work environment.  Wear clothes that are clean and ironed if necessary.  If you must wear a scent of some kind, don’t overdo it.  Some people are allergic, others just don’t like having to smell you coming down the hall.  Your appearance is a very important aspect of your overall professional presentation.

2.  Be Positive – No one cares about your problems.  It’s just the way things work.  I know your divorce, custody battle, bad night with the in-laws, or recent arrest are at the tip of your consciousness, but try to leave those things at home when you leave for work.  They only serve as a distraction to others and ultimately paint you as a negative person.  Whether others know it or not they are forming impressions of you which are not positive, that last.

3.  Be in the Moment – Refrain from zoning out during meetings, falling asleep, checking your cell phone constantly, doodling on your note pad, or anything else that will take your mind off the conversation at hand.  Not only will you not know what’s going on but others notice this and they will start to see you as indifferent.  This is not a good thing.  You want to appear as though you actually care about what’s going on.

4.  Be Courteous and Understanding – Everyone has different opinions, thoughts, ideas, and general perspectives.  Yours are not the only correct ones.  Listen to what others have to say.  Do not talk over people.  Pay attention to what they’re saying and digest it instead of tuning them out, thinking about what you’re going to say next.  When someone says something that you disagree with, decide if arguing your side has any merit.  If there’s nothing to gain other than making your point avoid it all-together and move on.  If there is merit in defending your side find a tactful, fact-based approach to doing so.  Do not fight, argue, or insult.  Debate professionally.

5.  You’re Not a Politician – These days inner-office politics are more prevalent than ever before.  Typically nothing good comes from this.  Don’t look at your job, career, profession, or interactions with other people as ongoing chess matches.  Sure there are times when you need to think very carefully about what you say before saying it.  There will also be times when you need to take certain actions in order to increase your chances of promotions, recognition, etc…, but don’t fall victim to the paranoia-induced politically-charged workplace infighting that tends to exist all over the place.  Ultimately, if you do the best job you can and follow all the basic rules of professionalism success will come.  If you have to play the political game, it takes a lot of your fate out of your hands.

6.  Be True to Your Ethics and Morals – To whichever set of ethical and moral beliefs you subscribe, be true to them.  Don’t let your quest for success, recognition, fame, or fortune tempt you to stray from a path that lets you feel good about yourself.  Stand up for your values and beliefs and don’t be afraid to admit to yourself that you have them.  It’s not a bad thing.

7.  Don’t Break the Law – It’s never worth it.  There is plenty of business out there to go around and it can be acquired through legal and ethical channels.  Don’t be tempted to cut corners, seek back doors, exploit relationships that should not be leveraged, or anything else that would otherwise be considered illegal or unethical.  You’ll go to jail and it will all be over.  It’s not worth it.

8.  Manage Yourself – No matter what you do for a living, take responsibility for your own job and your own actions.  Don’t expect others to have to tell you what to do.  Don’t expect that you can get away with anything unless you are caught.  Don’t expect others to have to micro-manage your time spent on tasks.  Take control of your daily schedule.  Take charge of your task list.  Do what you’re supposed to do.  You’re getting paid for it.  You have a responsibility to do what you’re being paid to do, and you should do it well.

9.  Be Self-Motivated – Volunteer for tasks that aren’t in your job description.  Offer to help a coworker in need.  Force yourself to want to do more than you’re being asked to do at work.  These are all things that will make you more successful in your profession.  Don’t wait to be asked to help with something.  Don’t sit idle when others have backlogs.  Help.  You will be rewarded.

10.  Be Confident – No matter what you do for a living, if you’re to be taken seriously you have to look like you know what you’re doing.  I’m not saying you should pretend to know something you don’t.  If there are knowledge gaps in your doing of what you do, fill them.  But always be confident.  In meetings, make eye contact.  Think about what you are going to say before you say it.  Don’t fidget.  Don’t keep your hands in your pockets.  Practice good posture.  Sit or stand confidently.  When you speak avoid words and phrases like “um”, “like”, “okay”, ending sentences with the word “right”.  Avoid using buzzwords to mask the depth of your subject-matter knowledge.  Be direct, honest, and confident.

    Though this list is far from complete, I think it’s a good start for anyone who wants to improve their overall professionalism.  The basic concept is, if you present yourself in a professional and non-offensive manner at all times you will go places.

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    Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Holidays

    December 7th, 2008

    Shopping during the holidays can be an overwhelming endeavor. As we check off the days on the calendar, we find ourselves running out of time to find a special gift for a special someone. I’ve put together a list of last minute ideas that will surely make someone a very happy camper. If you have an ideas that you feel should belong on this page, please feel free to comment.  Each item in this list can also be found in the Blackstreak.net store.

    Personal media players:

    1. iPod Nano 8GB
    2. iPod Touch 8GB
    3. iPod Shuffle 1GB
    4. Zune 120GB
    5. Zune 8GB

    Digital cameras that will bring his/her photography to the next level:

    1. Canon Digital Rebel XSI
    2. Canon Powershot G9
    3. Nikon D80
    4. Nikon Coolpix P6000

    Productivity in style:

    1. Moleskine Ruled Notebook Large
    2. Moleskine Ruled Notebook Small
    3. Lamy Safari Fountain Pen
    4. Lamy Safari Fountain Pen Converter – Needed by the pend above to used bottled ink.
    5. Noodler’s Fountain Pen Ink – This is the best ink in the world. It’s waterproof, forge-proof, archival quality ink at a great price.

    Amazon.com Gold Box Deals – Browse Amazon.com’s best deals.

    When all else fails and you have no other options, why not consider an Amazon.com gift card.  Let them pick out what they want from one of the best online retailers in the world.

    Please check back often.  I will be adding new items to this post frequently.

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    How to Work Well with Anyone – Introduction

    December 4th, 2008

    Often times we are confronted with the challenge of interacting with people who are somewhat difficult to work with or simply be around.  Most people just don’t put forth any effort toward effectively communicating.  Some people don’t even realize that their ability to communicate is something that can and should be improved.  For this reason, productively doing anything as a team can be very difficult.

    This series is not about team building; It will be focusing more directly on how to interact with different types of people by applying basic communication skills as well as specific techniques to specific situations.  Prerequisitely, a basic understanding of how communication works is essential. Generally, communication is broken down into three major processes:

    Sending out Information

    Until we evolve to the point at which we can transmit our thoughts directly into the minds of our fellow humans, we are able to send information in four basic ways: audible, visual, chemical, and physical.

    Audible information is anything that can be heard.  It consists of basic parts such as sound, words, speaking, and language.  Each part is sewn together in a way that should send the desired message to the listener.

    Visual communication consists of anything that can be seen, including body language.

    Chemicals are emitted by our bodies called pheromones,  which can indicate to others, subconsciously, how we are feeling; nervous, afraid, excited, etc…

    Physically, we have the ability to communicate through touch.

    Sensing and Processing

    In order for us to receive the information that is sent to us we rely on our senses.  Again, until we evolve to the point at which we can all receive messages telepathically from others, we rely on our basic human senses for: sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, balance and acceleration, temperature, kinesthetic sense, and pain.  Whereas these all apply during communication, sight, hearing, touch, and kenesthetic sense are most commonly used.

    It is obviously possible to communicate effectively without the use of one or more of the human senses.  It is, however, important to realize that if the person with which you are interacting does indeed lack one of these senses due to a disability or an environmental obstruction, you must send information targeting his or her other senses.

    Interpretation and Response

    Once we have received information via one of our senses, we are then required to process that information in order to construct a response.  The way we process information can be very different from individual-to-individual.  The mental models that our minds have spent a lifetime creating influence our unique perspective on everything that we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch.  Throughout our life, we have, without our conscious knowledge, developed a collection of scripts or models which are used by our brain to make sense of the world.  A book that covers the mental model concept very well is “Everyday Survival: Why Smart People do Stupid Things.”  I highly recommend it.  We do, however, have the ability to rewrite these scripts that our brains have developed.  With a little knowledge and practice, we can change the way we perceive everything and in-turn, with a cleverly crafted response, influence the perceptions of others.

    Throughout this series I will cover some specific scenarios as well as a few general ones.  The purpose will be to illustrate the process by which you can devise, during each social interchange that you encounter, a strategy for effective communication.

    In this series I will be covering specific situations and discussing how to communicate with specific types of people who have common personality profiles.  If there are any situations or personality types that you would like me to cover.  Please leave a comment.

    Below, I will include links to each article in the series.  Please check back often for updates as I will be contributing frequently.

    Introduction
    General Communication Skills (Coming Soon)

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    Apps Crashing on the IPhone 3G

    December 2nd, 2008

    Let me start by saying that I absolutely love my IPhone 3G. It is, however, not without its flaws. One in particular had me very frustrated for a couple of days. Apparently there’s a tiny little bug that causes apps to crash when they’re opened. If you’ve experienced this you know exactly what I’m talking about. When you open an app, it pops up for a couple seconds then dissappears. After doing a little searching I found that this is a common problem for which there is currently no fix. There is, however, a work-around.

    1. Pick any app on your phone (preferably one with a short name)
    2. Delete it (hold your finger on the app’s icon until the display jiggles and an x shows up on the app
    3. Click the x on the app to delete it
    4. Open the App Store
    5. Search for the App that you just deleted
    6. Re-Install it
    7. Voila. All your apps should now work

    I’m not sure exactly why this works. But I’ve read that it may have something to do with the way the IPhone syncs the installed apps with your desktop through ITunes. I hope this helps.

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    Technology

    10 Must-Have Apps for the IPhone 3G

    December 1st, 2008

    I’ve recently jumped on the IPhone 3G bandwagon and thought I would give a little back to the community by posting my favorite list of apps available from the App Store. I’m sure there are other great apps that I have yet to discover, so feel free to make recommendations. The following list is in no specific order.

    1. BeejiveIM
    2. NetNewsWire
    3. Google Apps
    4. Flixster
    5. Urbanspoon
    6. i.TV
    7. Evernote
    8. Opentable
    9. Last.fm
    10. Amazon.com

    Did I leave anything out?

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