Monthly Archives: February 2011

Good Reason to Live in Vancouver, Toronto or Calgary

A survey published by the Economist Intelligence Unit says Calgary is the fifth most livable city in the world.
The U.K.-based group analyzes 30 factors to establish its annual rankings, including stability, health care, culture, environment, education, infrastructure and personal safety.
Calgary was among three Canadian cities to land in the top ten, with Vancouver taking first spot for the fifth year in a row.
Toronto was ranked fourth on the list of 140 cities worldwide.
The highest ranked U.S. city is Pittsburgh, at 29th place.
The most unlivable city in the world is Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, the list’s authors said.

How do we say this word? – Pizza

As you know pizza is popular around the world, and you have probably eaten it several times this year.  But have you ordered pizza in a native-English speaking country before?

If you immigrate or study abroad, you probably will have to order it at some point, if not for yourself then for your friends or kids.

Looks can be deceiving.  The word looks simple enough right?  PIZZA.  So you may think logically that you pronounce it as it is written, but that is not the case.  In fact we North Americans pronounce this word like PETE-SA, with emphasis (stress) on the first syllable.

So even though the writing of the word suggests PEE-ZA, trust me, it is not pronounced that way.  You must say PETE-SA when ordering it in English.  Just a fresh tip.  🙂


Tips and a Warning When Reading Body Language

Today I would like to both share with you some useful tips of body language and other non-verbal communication, as well as warn you not to think that a little bit of reading can turn you into Dr. Cal Lightman, from the TV show “Lie to Me.” 
That TV show is based on the real-life research and books of Dr. Paul Ekman.  Dr. Ekman is the first to tell you that body language reading is not an exact science, and is not fool-proof.  
Most people are under-educated when it comes to body language, since it is not something we are taught at school.  In order to learn it we have to read many books, take seminars and workshops, hire a personal coach and practice practice practice.  I believe there is benefit to improving your ability to intuitively ‘read’ people, but do not get caught up in yourself and your ‘magic’ abilities.  Even with all the research you may have done, experts suggest it only raises our chances of accurately reading someone 10 – 17% better than an average person without such training. 
The better results gleaned from studying body language and non-verbal communication is actually that you become a better observer and listener in general, which is great to improve your communication skills, and more importantly you learn how to present yourself better in your public speaking, meetings, interviews and even on dates. 
Being knowledgeable about posture, what to do with your body parts from head to toe, voice control, eye contact etc. will quickly and greatly improve your public presentation of self.  So even if you don’t believe in the art of reading people, you can still study non-verbal communication to give you an advantage at the office or on the streets. 
I’d now like to share with you an article from the Globe & Mail newspaper that gives you tips on improving your body language for the workplace.  To be fair, I must warn you that I am shamelessly promoting myself as I was the main contributor of information in this article, so bear with me!  (LOL)

I hope you enjoy the article!

Coach Ric

It’s Like TTC is Reading My Mind! (Or This Blog?!?)

I was so pleasantly surprised Wednesday evening!  I was on the subway, heading westbound to Jane, when at approx 6:11pm the train stopped at Dundas West station for a couple minutes.  I was expecting to hear nothing about the delay, which would leave everyone wondering how long the delay would last.  And what do you think happened next?  A calm and clear voice belonging to the TTC operator announced in a very professional way that all trains were stopped due to a burning odour at St. George station, and that they were waiting to get permission to continue.  He told us he would update us again soon as progress was made.  WOW!  Fantastic.  That is a huge improvement on the usual “tell nothing” attitude.  This guy understood our feelings and kept us in the loop.  Kudos!!!

The train began to move again shortly and there were no more disruptions to my ride.  I just wanted to post that here to say THANK YOU to that operator, and to encourage all TTC operators to do the same thing;  speak to us in a calm, clear manner, and inform us of why we are being delayed and approx. how long it will last.  Is it that hard to do?  I think not.

TTC Recorded Voice vs. Live Person

If you take the TTC as often as I do, then you have heard both their recorded customer service announcements and you have also heard impromptu voices from the drivers of the trains.  The recorded voices are professional, calm and informative.  The loud speaker system doesn’t always work well unfortunately, but at least the voices are clear.

On the other hand, I would say that 90% of the drivers who make announcements over the loud speaker should not be doing so, in the best interest of the company brand.  Why?  Because – simply put – they sound aggressive, and sometimes annoyed.  (On a side note – I wonder if they receive any type of public speaking training?)

I bet they are annoyed at all the stupid questions they have to constantly and repeatedly answer all day, every day.  I bet they have heard the same questions hundreds of times, and are tired of people asking.  I bet they struggle with ESL issues on top of that.  I bet they are annoyed at all the people who stay on a train or try to enter one even after the driver has repeated him/herself 10 times “This train is out of service.  Please do not board this train.  Once again this train is out of service – do not board this train.”  Under those circumstances, not to mention normal stress from the job,  you often have yourself a short-fuse.

That is what I hear in their announcements.  I hear aggression, anger, annoyance and frustration.  So if I’m even half correct in my assumptions, then why would any company want an employee making announcements to the general public?

I know budgets are tight and the TTC is old.  It takes a lot of resources and time to upgrade.  I just want to tell them that almost every time I hear an announcement from a live operator on TTC, I feel sorry for them personally (job stress) and I feel that the TTC will have an even harder time of improving their image as a caring, friendly way of travel.