Online customer service agents who use emoticons and are fast typists may have a better chance of pleasing their customers during business-related text chats, according to a recent study published in Computers in Human Behavior. In the study, people who text-chatted with customer service agents gave higher scores to those who used emoticons and responded more quickly, suggesting customers prefer agents who can demonstrate their empathy through a more genuine back-and-forth conversation.
Big Bucks for .Sucks
Last month, the URL suffix “.sucks” went on sale to the general public, allowing anyone to buy a “Company.sucks” domain for just $250 from online registrar Vox Populi. Prior to the June 19th open-purchase date, the company offered businesses owning their trademarks an opportunity to pre-emptively purchase the domain for an annual $2,500 fee—a small price to pay to protect the reputation of one’s business, or a case of extortion?
Using natural sounds as opposed to conventional “white noise” in offices may boost employee moods and improve cognitive abilities, according to researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. These benefits, they state, are in addition to the advantage of sound masking, or decreasing speech distractions in the workplace. The key to choosing natural sounds, such as flowing water, is that they possess enough randomness to not become a distraction, researchers explain, and instead, potentially soothe.
Got a Problem? Write it Down!
As our days get more complicated and our lives more complex, it seems that chaos abounds. Work, family, bills and obligations eat up our time, and keep us bouncing from one circumstance to another, like a pinball caught in a never-ending game.
But one expert believes something as simple as taking a few minutes each day to write about your life can not only help you bring it into focus, but can make the tough stuff a little easier.
“Writing about your life—what we call ‘journaling’—can improve job satisfaction, help solve unemployment, aid in juggling modern family dynamics, bring focus to marital and work relationships, and simply bring about a sense of emotional, physical and spiritual well-being,” says Maureen Daigle-Weaver, author of Write Yourself Free: Conscious Living and Personal Peace Through the Power of the Pen. “One of the quotes attributed to the Greek philosopher Socrates is ‘Know thyself,’ and the basis behind the thought was that by discovering who we really are inside and out, we become our best [selves]. Our dreams, aspirations and goals become closer to reality because our self-knowledge helps us live that reality. Journaling is the easiest way to explore that idea.”
Daigle-Weaver believes people can derive benefits from journaling in a wide range of areas, including:
- Trouble at work. Whether you are unemployed, underemployed, holding down two jobs or barely clinging to the one you have, journaling can help you eject the stress and keep you on an even keel.
- Family matters. Taking care of a family financially is enough of a challenge, let alone tending to a family’s emotional needs. Finding energy and focus at the end of a long day can be a dilemma, but journaling can help you prioritize your family’s needs, along with your own.
- Stress. So many of us live life off balance, lurching from one crisis to the next, without time to reflect on what really should come next. Journaling can act as a tool to help you vent and create order amidst the chaos. It can be a source of serenity in a time when we all seem to need it the most.
“Sometimes when we get totally overwhelmed by the demands on us, emotional turmoil and stress build up, and we end up dumping it—on the wrong person at the wrong time,” she says. “Journaling is a safe, effective and healthy way of venting, and then helping to make sense of the dilemmas you face. It is a creative and transformational skill that can easily be learned and used by practically anyone for finding inner peace, personal power and freedom.”
Interview Your Future Company
Interviews can unnerve even the most confident of job hunters. Your palms sweat, self-doubt creeps into your mind, and you think: What if I’m not qualified? Will they like me?
Jacqueline Whitmore, business etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, says most people think about job interviews as a way for the company to find the right employee, but they are also a chance for the applicant to interview the company. Her advice? Take control of the interview, highlight your strengths and go beyond the job description:
- Calm down. Anxiety often replaces confidence as you walk toward the boardroom for your interview. But if you’ve been invited to interview, your resume already convinced the company you’re qualified. Don’t think about your interview as a test—consider it a conversation.
- Go beyond Google. If you’ve done your research, you know how the company presents its business. Use your interview to dig deeper. Ask questions about company culture, and get a feel for what your interviewer enjoys about his or her job. Ask something like, “What do you enjoy most about your job?” Or, “What’s the best part of working here?” If the interviewer can’t think of an answer or says something generic, consider it a red flag.
- Bring a notebook. Write your questions down before the interview, and leave space for responses. You’ll appear prepared, confident and responsible—and it will give you something to do with your hands if you feel nervous. Your attention to detail will help you stand out.
- Balance benefits and work. A majority of your questions should focus on the job and what you can do for the company, instead of the benefits. When you ask a benefit question, frame it in a way that highlights your skills, like: “Does the company invest in continuing education for its employees?” or “What training and development programs are available?” It shows you want to continue to learn and grow with the company.
- Show your interest. Ask an open-ended question such as “How do you define success in this position?” This shows you want to be successful and sends the message that you’re seriously interested in working with the company. The employer’s answer will give insight into whether or not you’ll be a good fit.
- Be bold. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that put the interviewer on the spot. Ask, “How does your company foster growth and bring out the best in its employees?” Asking a bold question will highlight your confidence. If you discover the job’s not right for you, thank the employer and use the experience as a way to present yourself in a better light at your next interview.
For more tips, visit etiquetteexpert.com.
“A new technology built upon an ancient principle.” That’s Crystal—a personality-detection app developed in the Harvard Innovation Lab which analyzes public data to help users communicate more effectively. Crystal mines the social media posts of your email recipient and suggests edits to your communication, using the words, phrases, style and tone in which the recipient prefers to communicate, rather than your own preferences.
Though a bit creepy with its personal data mining, the concept behind Crystal is sound. Understanding different communication styles is critical to ensuring accurate communication in the workplace. According to blogger Stephanie Reyes on tribehr.com, it seems simple: successful communication requires a sender to share information, and the receiver to get the message and correctly interpret it. But among other obstacles, differences in communication styles can cause your message to succumb to a tragic fate. Understanding how to interact effectively with coworkers from the four main communication styles can help you avoid a communication failure. Reyes outlines the following styles and tips:
The Relator. This interpersonal style is all about relationships. Relators are generally warm and friendly, and good listeners. Expression of thoughts and feelings comes easily, but they operate at a slower pace and prefer less intrusive interactions. To connect effectively with a relator, you should use less intense eye contact; seek their opinions, then listen; try not to counter their ideas with logical arguments; and aim for mutual agreement on goals and deadlines.
The Socializer. This affective style is characterized by a preference to work with others. Socializers are fast-paced and unafraid of risks. To connect effectively with socializers, make direct eye contact, support your ideas with the opinions of people they respect, follow up with a brief “to do” list so they remember what they agreed to, and maintain a balance between fun and achieving results.
The Thinker. This cognitive style is closed, personal and analytical in approach. He/she tends to proceed cautiously, and is generally slower to open up. To effectively communicate with thinkers, be more formal in your speech and manner, present the pros and cons of ideas along with options, be punctual, and present information in an organized and comprehensive way.
The Director. This behavioral style is generally more aggressive and competitive in nature. Directors have an emphasis on results and little concern for relationships or feeling-sharing. To communicate effectively with a director, get to the point quickly, be specific, don’t over-explain or repeat yourself, minimize small talk and focus on results. iBi