Being brief

Don’t you sometimes wish people would get to the point?

Instead we find ourselves listening to someone tell us the same thing six different ways, or giving us more detail than we need or want. This is a problem all of us have to face at some time, for we have all been on the giving and receiving end of this same problem.

How do you know if you need to self-edit? And how do you self-edit?

1. Don’t get bogged down in irrelevant details. “I went there on Thursday, or was it Wednesday, no it had to be Thursday …” Who cares what day it was? Get on with it.

2. Don’t repeat comments unless the listener didn’t hear you or indicates she didn’t understand. Say it once and go on.

3. Decide if the idea is new to the discussion. If not, don’t say it. People don’t want to hear the same ideas rehashed.

4. Eliminate extra words. Say your comment using the fewest words that can express the thought well. In writing courses, we are taught to edit our words. We can apply the same concepts to our verbal communication.

5. Say what you need to say in a pace that is easy to hear. Avoid going so slow that your listener fills in your last words since they’ve figured out what you were going to say.

6. Eliminate “uh,” “ya know,” “um,” and “like” as non-word space holders. Pause without filling in the void with a non-word.

7. Don’t discuss information that is not relevant to the majority of the group. Defer specialised conversations until later.

8. Ask questions in a group discussion that are relevant to more than yourself. If you have a question specific to yourself, ask it one-on-one later.

How to stand out at work

1. Show enthusiasm for your tasks
An employee with a good attitude will always stand out and get ahead.

2. Speak up at meetings
Prepare in advance what you’re going to say and say it.

3. Be a team player
You’ll eventually get noticed for your individual contributions to the team as well.

4. Beat your deadlines
This will give your boss an opportunity to offer any last minute suggestions on your project. Beating the deadline shows that you’ve mastered your current responsibilities and are ready for the next challenge.

5. Don’t stop learning
Widen your skills base by enrolling for short courses and diplomas.

6. Seek out challenges

Ask to lead projects. Your boss can only say no, but, then again, he/she may say yes.

5 Ways to get what you want at work

1. Do Your Research
Information is the most powerful weapon when you’re negotiating. When you’ve done your homework, you can anticipate obstacles. This way, you can prepare for and counter them before they become obstacles.

2. Know exactly what you want
If you can’t articulate your goals to yourself, you won’t be able to tell another person what they are. Be specific, and be determined – if you don’t sound convinced, your boss won’t be either.

3. See both sides
In successful negotiations, each side offers something the other wants. Think about what you have to bargain with, and the outcome that can make you both happy.

4. Know when to concede
If you have been arguing the same point for 20 minutes and you’ve got nowhere, its time you go back to your desk and plan a different approach for next time. Having your boss loose patients with you isn’t going to get you promoted. Try working harder and putting your points more succinctly; next time you’ll do better.

5. Learn how to ‘Crunch’
Crunching is the technical term for asking for more than you’ve been offered. For example, if your boss wants to give you a R500 raise, your crunch response would be to say you’re worth R1000 more. Experts advise you always to crunch your first offer – once you state a figure you set a ceiling for yourself. Within reason, aim too high and you’ll probably get what you want.

5 Tips for email users

1. Check your mail twice a day.
Checking your email frequently is one of the big time-wasters of the modern office. Avoid it if you can! Set aside two periods when you know it will be quiet – once at 8:30 in the morning and again at 6 pm, for example – and check your mail then. If you find yourself working on something during the day that you must send to someone, use a send-only program that will allow you to send any text file and avoid the temptation of reading any incoming mail.

2. Use separate accounts for personal and business mail.
Keep the personal mail out of the office (and the business mail out of your home). Also; if you’re subscribing to any Internet mailing lists, have them sent to the personal account and check them at your leisure.

3. Filter the spam
With all of the junk email circulating today, it’s vital to use an email program that can filter it, dumping it in the trash before you even get to it. But don’t just use filters to sort out junk mail – filter business mail as well. If, for example, you’re on company mailing lists that update you about the latest investment, news, birthdays and promotions, filter them into separate folders and read them when you are ready.

4. Organise your messages and addresses.
Use the address book features built into your email program, rather than manually typing addresses. It’s not only more convenient; it’s more accurate; you don’t want a typo to lead to a missed message. Organise your messages into folders, and file messages as soon as you’re done reading them – or as soon as you’ve acted on them if a message requires action. That way your Inbox will only contain messages that haven’t been read or that require further action.

5. Keep it simple.
A short email message is a good email message. Keep messages – especially replies – short. If a simple “yes” or “no” will do, that’s all you need to say.