Monthly Archives: August 2008

Content Stress is Best

As a general rule,

▪ Stressed words in a sentence are considered content words. These include nouns (e.g. kitchen, Peter), (most) main verbs (e.g. visit, construct), adjectives (e.g. beautiful, interesting), and adverbs (e.g. often, carefully).

▪ Non-stressed words are considered function words. These include determiners (e.g.: the, a, an), auxiliary verbs (e.g.: is, am, were), prepositions (e.g.: before, of, in), conjunctions (e.g.: but, and, so), and pronouns (e.g.: they, she, he)

Read the following sentence aloud:
The beautiful mountain appeared transfixed in the distance.

Now read this sentence aloud:
He can come on Saturdays as long as he doesn’t have to do any homework in the evening.

Notice that the first sentence actually takes about the same time to speak well! Even though the second sentence is approximately 30% longer than the first, the sentences take the same time to speak. This is because there are five stressed words in each sentence.

How Are Your People-Management Skills?

How would your employees rate your people-management skills?

Here is an interesting find from a recent Hackett Group survey of 200 global organizations (source: HR Professional, Aug/Sept. 2008) when asked to discuss talent management practices:

More that 75% of participants rated people-management skills as very important.

I bet that you are not surprised. Me either. The fact is almost everyone, whether employee, employer, entrepreneur or customer can see the benefits of good people-management.

So here is the next part of the survey results:

Only 19% of senior managers, 10% of mid-level managers and 8% of supervisors were rated highly effective at managing people!


Why is there such a discrepancy between what we know we want and the actual results of managers in the workplace? This leads to many questions that you can ask yourself when self-evaluating.

1 – Am I as a manager trained in people-management skills, or advanced communication skills? What is available to continuously improve?

2 – Do I have a way to find out what my employees really think of my management skills or the other manager’s skills? Can an anonymous survey be done?

3 – What do my employees really want? How do they define people-management?

4 – Do my employees feel comfortable coming to me to discuss their needs without feeling intimidated or out of line?

The topic of people-management deals with issues like communication, interpersonal skills, leadership, assertiveness, conflict and many others. If you know of a highly effective manager maybe you can find an opportunity to sit down and pick their brains on how they developed their style. Ask them what books or courses they would recommend, or to tell stories of managers that influenced them. No matter what position we are in at work, we are all in pursuit of excellent management skills.

One Day Communication Workshop

If you are in the Toronto area, there is a communication workshop coming up soon that you may want to go to. BRASI is sponsoring a one-day workshop and I will be doing the training. For more information please follow this link to the BRASI website. IF interested, register through BRASI.
(Aftab Khan is the contact person there).

Thanks! I am on vacation for a week so am unable to respond to any questions until I get back on the 17th.

Don’t Hold Onto Anger

Recently a friend of mine told me this story. She came home from work and saw 2 young teenage girls chatting at the front of the building, one holding the building door open as she chatted. My friend simply walked through the open door and proceeded to the elevator. One of the ‘young ladies’ called her the dreaded ‘B’ word and even gave her the finger as the elevator doors closed, much to the surprise and confusion of my friend.

This stuff happens all the time. We could blame poor communication skills, poor upbringing of the young offender, mis-communication etc. The fact is we do not know why the girl said what she said and gestured rudely. For all we know in her head she was justified. Maybe she thought it was rude for someone to briskly walk through her conversation. Maybe there was an accidental touch of a bag or purse, unbeknownst to my friend. Or maybe she was just having a bad day and over-reacted. We may never know. So guess what I told my friend? LET IT GO.

Let it go. Be the adult. We cannot control other people’s actions, right? All we can do is control our own actions, and in this case, REACTIONS. Why would you let someone ruin your day?

We all would feel shocked and betrayed at that sudden flip-off, for sure. But what can we do now? Shall we confront the villain? Ok, get in an argument or fight. Who wins? No one wins a fight (unless it is a sport-fight). You exchange words, shouts, curses, even blows. What if there are injuries? A broken cell phone? A ripped favourite shirt? A cut that leaves a scar? Or worse! And what do you tell the police when they show up? That you were angry at someone’s word and gesture so you started a fight? Hmm….

I do believe in standing up for yourself and your loved ones. My message today is to simply choose your battles, and don’t waste your time on idiot behaviour – yours or theirs. Do not let someone else’s negativity ruin your day. Chin up, walk proud and LET IT GO. A confident person has no need to defend his/her ego over something like this.