Communicating

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How to Keep Your Office Polite Even When Your Opinions are Radically Different

These are tough times. A pandemic is upon us; social issues are dividing us; and partisan politics is inescapable. Chances are that opinions on some of these problems may differ, extensively, within your workplace. Does that mean you can never have a casual lunch with colleagues in the break room again? Must we always avoid those who don’t share our perspectives to keep the peace?

Fortunately, the answer is no. If you’re willing to take the lead and model some patience, tolerance, and empathy, you could broker a successful and lasting truce among the people at your job. Here are a few suggestions to maintain a happier and more harmonious atmosphere when you’re on the clock.

Employ the “tell me more” technique

In Kelly Corrigan’s memoir, Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say, she suggests those three words to not only encourage the people in your life to open up, but to also give yourself the opportunity to listen. If someone brings up an upcoming election or a controversial article she read at the lunch table, instead of automatically shutting it down to prevent conflict or biting our tongues to avoid disagreement, we could just say “tell me more”.

It may be hard at first, especially if the person who is speaking is negative or irritable, but those simple words can really soften people up. Everyone likes to be heard; everyone appreciates respect. Prompting others to “tell me more” doesn’t mean you have to listen to a three-hour soliloquy; it just means that you’re willing to hear them out and that you’re interested.

When discussing differing opinions, find at least one thing to agree with

what do you do if you have a disagreement with someone at work

One of my pals at work is the polar opposite of me politically. The two of us have no problem discussing any topics, however, because we both know that nothing is all black or all white. We respect each other as intelligent, well informed people and often find ourselves saying things like, “well I’ll grant you that” or “that’s certainly true.” When practicing the “tell me more” technique, you can probably find at least one tiny thing your speaker says on which you could comment positively.

Is the topic climate change? Perhaps you could offer something as simple as, “Well the weather has been crazy this year.” Arguing about an election? Try offering, “It just seems like everyone running has something wrong with them.” Such statements, though not exactly worthy of a Nobel peace prize, are nonetheless bridges to those around us. Keep them generic, simple, and true and they’ll have remarkable results.

Model how to communicate and disagree professionally

People who work together usually mind their manners quite well when they are involved in their everyday tasks or teams. They are busy; there may be quotas; time is money. If you want to have friendly conversations with your coworkers at break or over lunch, you need to interact with consistent professionalism throughout the day. Show them how you can communicate a difference of opinion without judgment or rancor. Be aware of your tone. Assume the best about someone who might be making a mistake.

Instead of, “You’re doing that wrong,” try “We’ve found it usually works better like this.” Know that most people are just like you: doing their best and, sometimes, having a bad day or experiencing personal distractions that make their work a little less than optimal. When people know you are sensible and even-keeled they frequently offer you the same treatment. Such behavior is much more likely to extend to down time when it’s practiced all the time

Have a go-to phrase that changes the subject

Even when polarizing events aren’t in the news, conversations among coworkers can sometimes get heated. It may be a project that’s not going well or someone who is not pulling his weight. Whatever it is, however, people get ticked off about it. This is when investing in getting to know your colleagues pays off. In my work place we have numerous older employees who have grandchildren. Whenever words get raw in the break room, I just throw in something like, “So, Chris, how are those grandkids!” or “John, isn’t your daughter-in-law pregnant again?”

If you don’t know your coworkers very well, you could use another statement that is suitably neutral like, “Thank God the weekend’s coming up!” (even if it’s only Monday.) Or tap into everyone’s love of sports, “How ‘bout them Knicks?” The idea is to have some kind of bait ready; anything that will turn the conversation in a better direction. Others will almost always appreciate it and follow your lead.

Don’t be afraid to close down a conversation or excuse yourself assertively

disagree with someone at work

This goes along with (4) above. I’ve used my safe phrases (yes, I have several) numerous times early in conversations just to avoid the possibility that things might go south. There are certain people among my colleagues who just can’t resist the opportunity to bust one another’s chops and I refuse to be in the middle of that. Sometimes, however, the best played safe phrases fail.

When that happens I have literally said to people, “Hey, guys, it’s time to get back to work.” Or “Let’s not do this.” Pair those remarks with getting up to leave and throw in something like, “Hey, Bill, can you help me with something in my office?” Those tactics always work for me. If you’re not confident enough to execute them, however, simply excuse yourself. Don’t run away, but make sure people know you’re leaving. A simple and straightforward “I’m going to go” is enough. No one is allowed to intimidate or frighten you.

Over my numerous careers I have always found that everyone appreciates good manners, even the most curmudgeonly. You don’t have to be fake or a doormat to get along with your colleagues. You do, however, need to be aware that you’re not the only one on the job. That means you need to offer some consideration for others and not just vent about everything or everyone who irritates you. Practicing some patience and being polite is guaranteed to improve your productivity and work experience, whether in the break room or the board room. You will almost certainly find it does the same thing for everyone else.

The post How to Keep Your Office Polite Even When Your Opinions are Radically Different appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

7 Easy To Spot Signs Your Relationship Has Problems

You would probably be surprised at the number of couples I work with where one or both partners feel their problems “Came out of nowhere” or “Happened overnight.” There are also those couples where one person doesn’t feel that anything’s really wrong and is just attending counseling to appease the other.

I can tell you with certainty that nothing causing problems in a relationship happened overnight or came out of nowhere, and if one partner thinks there are problems, then there really are and counseling is a good choice. Many couples go for too long with blinders on, ignoring the signs there are problems in the relationship. By the time the issues are too big to ignore they’re also often too big to be dealt with alone and require professional help.

If you want to keep your relationship strong, healthy, and happy, it’s much better to tackle issues as they arise and while they are still small. If you don’t, it’s like a snowball. Before you know it the small thing that may have been worked through with a thoughtful conversation or two is now tangled up in all the other issues it caused and requires counseling to sort out and fix the damage caused.

So, if you want to save yourself a lot of frustration, pain, and complications, there are some common signs to watch out for that can indicate you’re moving to shaky ground.

You’ve stopped talking and laughing together

relationship trouble sign

Communication is crucial to a happy relationship and not just the communication that allows you to work out problems. Couples need to be able to talk like friends and laugh together, even over silly, non-crucial things.

So much focus is given to the communication skills that relate to conflict resolution that we often forget that couples also need to be able to just chat, laugh, and enjoy each other. If you’ve noticed that you and your partner no longer do this regularly, consider it a warning sign there are problems looming and fix it.

You have secrets

Maybe they’re not big secrets and don’t seem like a big deal. You bought something and don’t want to deal with the conversation about spending, or you grabbed a drink with a friend after work and it doesn’t feel worth discussing. It’s not the specific thing that is a problem in most cases, it’s the fact that you purposely didn’t tell your partner.

Secrets, even the small, stupid ones, cause problems. And the little ones inevitably lead to bigger ones – don’t doubt me on this. I’m not suggesting that you each need to detail every little thing you’ve done every single day, but if you feel even slightly inclined to not tell your partner something then it’s a pretty sure bet you should.

You’re not completely sure you trust your partner

This doesn’t mean you have to suspect them of having an affair or leading a double life, but more likely that you have a nagging “curiosity” regarding certain things that seem odd or unclear about their behavior. Maybe it’s a, “I wonder who that text was from,” or “Is there more to the story that you’re not telling me?”

These minor cracks in trust are a problem even if they’re unfounded. Your partner (or you) may be doing nothing wrong, but the fact that one of you is concerned means that something needs to be done to fix the trust problem before it gets larger and potentially destroys your relationship.

Doing things together doesn’t interest you

If your reaction to, “Let’s go to dinner, movie, for a walk, bowling, etc.” is, “Meh, no thanks” it’s a problem. Just like you need to be able chat and laugh together, you also need to be able to do stuff together and enjoy each other’s company.

Arguments don’t ever get resolved, just ignored

If the end to an argument is, “Fine, whatever,” it hasn’t been resolved. Unresolved arguments are like tooth decay, they will eat away at your relationship and eventually cause a painful cavity. If, as a couple, you are finding it harder and harder to resolve your disagreements there’s a bigger problem and it’s time to fix things. This doesn’t get better without intervention, it gets worse.

The physical has fizzled

relationship troubles

The intensity of intimacy in a relationship will ebb and flow, that’s completely normal. But when the desire leaves entirely it’s a red flag. Intimacy is crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship, it’s part of what keeps you bonded and satisfied with each other. So, if one or both of you seem to have lost interest entirely it’s time to figure out why and fix it.

You’ve stopped hearing each other

This is a big one and hard for some people to understand, but as a couple you need to really hear each other. Many times, one partner will say things like, “I tried to tell you,” or “I’ve said it over and over” and the other (often the man) will be oblivious. There is also an element of nonverbal communication that can be difficult for people to get, but is worth trying to understand. One partner may communicate through their actions how they’re feeling more than their words. While this isn’t an advisable way to communicate, if you’re worried that your relationship is starting to have problems, it’s worth paying attention to.

If any of these sound familiar it’s time to act. Doing so now can prevent larger problems and keep your relationship on solid footing. Know that encountering these issues in a long-term relationship is very common and doesn’t spell doom for the two of you, nor does it mean you have to go to counseling. Catching these things early may just mean you will be able to resolve them more quickly and happily than if you wait too long.

The post 7 Easy To Spot Signs Your Relationship Has Problems appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Why Virtual Events Make A Lot Of Sense

Are virtual events the future of events? Much of our lives has moved online, and going to a big event just doesn’t seem appealing anymore. Work travel is always difficult and it’s becoming more difficult. This means that all the huge events like continuing education seminars and conferences are going to be in trouble if they don’t adapt. Virtual conferences can be just as engaging, if not more engaging, than in-person conferences. So why isn’t everyone doing virtual conferences?

Big Conferences Can Be A Waste Of Time

big conference

Going to a big conference can be fun and exciting, but how much value are you really getting from it? Oftentimes, huge conferences and events draw exhibitors and vendors from many different related fields. While you may be there to learn about specific developments in your own field, you often have to sift through about 90% content and exhibits that are not relevant to you.

This leads to a lack of engagement in the events overall because people scan the booths or scan the lectures, don’t see much of anything that really applies to them, and then go to a museum instead after attending maybe one lecture. Not that it’s bad to take in the local sights when you are at a conference, but if you can’t get people to engage in the conference at all, what’s the point?

Large conferences can be a boon to many businesses. These types of events add $1 trillion in spending to the economy each year, including airfare, space rental, hotel stays, dining, transportation, and more. But with big economic impacts come big economic losses when things go wrong. Some people derive a great deal of value from such conferences, but there’s probably a better way to get engagement and more bang for your buck.

Going Virtual Isn’t What You Think

Virtual events have been around for a long time, but no one has really noticed until recently. They are more than just Zoom meetings with a thousand tiny heads, too. Virtual meetings and conferences can have all of the major parts of an in-person conference but can be done in a way that participants engage with each other online.

With virtual conferences, attendees can fill out a profile that will be used to match them with the content that is most relevant to them, as well as to the people who would be most valuable to their networks. Attendees can experience lectures, panels, and group discussions virtually, and do so without having to leave their homes and offices.

What’s more, 80% of those who attend virtual meetings and conferences say they are just as engaged, if not more engaged, than they have been in in-person meetings and conferences. While there are some things lost when you don’t attend in person, you can still derive a great deal of value from a virtual event with lots of benefits to boot.

Benefits Of Virtual Events

virtual events benefits

Think about how much it costs to go to a big summit or conference for work. There’s the price of the tickets, which can often be in the thousands of dollars. Then there’s the cost of travel, including airfare and ground transportation, which can also be more than a thousand dollars. Then you have lodging and meals, entertainment, and more. It can cost thousands of dollars to go to an in-person conference that might not even be totally relevant to your business.

Virtual conferences are significantly less costly than in-person conferences. The ticket prices are cheaper, but it’s also more affordable for the organizers to put together, so they can often spend more on talent like keynote speakers. Events can be more focused on one area of a field rather than being a catch-all to draw the biggest crowd.

On top of all these benefits, virtual conferences can legitimately claim a much smaller carbon footprint than large in-person gatherings because most people don’t have to travel to attend.

Are Virtual Conferences Here To Stay?

Now that we have easy access to all of the technology we need to make these virtual conferences a reality, more people are going to be choosing the ease and relevance of virtual events over the hassle of travel and the costs associated with in-person events. Learn more about the shift toward virtual events!

See Also: 5 Remote Collaboration Challenges and How to Overcome Them

The post Why Virtual Events Make A Lot Of Sense appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

5 Questions to Ask Roofing Contractors When Hiring

As our home’s first line of defense against harsh sunlight, torrential rains, heavy snow, and the elements in general, the roof is the part of our home that tends to sustain a lot of damage over time.

Considering the importance of our roof, any sign that it has a problem must be addressed right away. That means hiring roofing contractors to fix the roof or replace it if needed.

However, it would be a mistake to just hire the first roofing contractor that comes your way. As mentioned above, your roof is a very vital part of your house, and you will want good roofers to work on it. You wouldn’t want to make mistakes like hiring people who don’t have proper insurance for roofers or roofing contractors who aren’t legally allowed to be in the business.

So when you’re interviewing potential roofing contractors, you need to ask the following questions:

What is your business’ legal name?

interviewing a roofer

There are people who pretend to be roofing contractors online and otherwise. So when you get to talk to a representative of that company, make sure you ask them about their legal business name.

If you’re talking to legitimate roofing contractors, there will be no hesitation as to the name of the company they are working for. Once you get the name, you can always do some research afterward to verify things. Legitimate roofers will be in state and federal directories, so if you do a search and the business name you were given doesn’t appear, then you’re likely being targeted by a scam.

It would also be nice if you can get them to email you a copy of their license to provide roofing services in your state, as it gives you more information that you can verify via government regulatory websites.

Do you have roofer’s insurance?

One of the biggest mistakes you can ever make is hiring a roofing contractor that doesn’t have roofer’s insurance.

Always keep in mind that roofing jobs are performed at higher than usual heights, which makes them quite dangerous. Roofing is, in fact, considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. The likelihood of them getting injured on the job or causing injury to someone else is high. There’s also the danger of them causing property damage while working on your roof.

You need to make sure that the roofing contractor you’re eyeing has roofer’s insurance, as well as worker’s compensation coverage. This will both protect you from any liability should an accident happen and result in injury or property damage.

If the prospective roofing contractor answers in the affirmative, don’t just take his or her word for it. Always ask for verifiable documentary proof. You also need to make sure that the amount of their coverage matches or exceeds minimum state requirements.

Do you have customer references?

A great source of information about the quality of work roofing contractors—or any other type of contractor, for that matter—provide are past clients. Sure, some former customers may not like the idea of being used as a reference, but in cases where it’s okay, make sure you check out the references the prospective roofing contractor provides.

If you’re concerned about the possibility of roofers cherry-picking their customer references to those they know will give them a good review, then you can look at how they’re doing in crowd-sourced review forums, where former clients won’t hesitate to tell all about any contractor they’ve worked with in the past.

Will you be the one working on my roof?

choosing a roofer

We live in a world where just about anything can be outsourced, and the roofing industry is no exception. There are roofing contractors who outsource their jobs to other roofers.

While it doesn’t automatically mean that the subcontractors they hire aren’t any good, it can be a bit uncomfortable for you to be talking to one company and doing all sorts of research on them, only to find out later that someone else you haven’t done any vetting for will be doing the job.

Then again, whether or not you’ll hire a roofing contractor that subcontracts jobs is ultimately your call.

Does your roofing work have a warranty?

It is standard practice for roofing contractors to offer a warranty for their work. If a roofing contractor says there are no warranties, cut the interview short and move on to the next one on your list. Legitimate roofers offer a warranty for their work. Most offer a year-long warranty, although some roofers offer longer ones.

There are many other questions that you might want to ask potential roofing contractors, but the five questions mentioned above should be enough to get you started on your search for the right roofer for the job.

See Also: Roof Issue: Why Metal Is Better Than Asphalt Shingles And Tiles

The post 5 Questions to Ask Roofing Contractors When Hiring appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

7 Little-Known Tips For Effective Communication

It’s easy to assume that as your relationship grows so will your closeness and ability to communicate with one another. That may be the case for some couples, but for many, this just isn’t true.

Trying to manage daily life, family, jobs and all the other stressors that we face can leave couples disconnected and unsure of how to talk to one another. This kind of communication breakdown usually occurs slowly. Over time, it can lead to big problems.

The mistaken idea that love and communication grows naturally without any effort and work is one of the biggest contributors to marital problems. Many times, couples assume that the love in their relationship is gone and things have come to an end — when really what they need to do is spend some time working on their communication so they can bring things back to a healthy point.

How To Start Improving Communication

Knowing this doesn’t mean it will be easy, though. Practicing good communication skills takes effort and thought. And it can be hard to know where to start — and how. Check out these tips for effective communication below.

Watch your body language

We overlook this quite often but our nonverbal communication typically starts the conversation before we even speak, and not always in a good way. Crossed arms, a half-turned head, not making eye contact – these are all signs of disinterest or even hostility. They are less than conducive to effective communication.

So, start paying attention to what your body is doing as you speak and try to maintain an open posture.

Watch your partner

tip for effective communication

Similar to needing to watch your own body language, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your partner’s. Taking cues from the way they are holding themselves can tell you a lot about how they are responding to you.

Being attuned to these things can help you alter your approach, check your own body language or redirect the conversation as needed. The changes you make can be mirrored by your partner and change the dynamic for the better.

See Also: How to Improve your Body Language

Listen and respond

This may seem simple, but if you stop to think about how many times you have uh-huhed your way through a conversation, you can see that it’s easy to forget to actively listen. A conversation is between two people which means that both need to participate fully.

And participation means you look at your partner, listen to what they say, and respond accordingly. This is also a sign of respect, which is a cornerstone of a strong and healthy relationship.

Your way isn’t always the right way

This is where a lot of couples get tripped up, especially when it comes to household duties. It’s easy to assume there’s always a right or a wrong way to do things and that you and you alone know the difference — you don’t.

And acting as though you do will immediately put your partner on the defensive. So, understand that different approaches or different ways to handle things doesn’t equal wrong.

Know the difference between communication and sparring

An adversarial approach will sink a conversation and never result in a positive outcome. Your partner shouldn’t be your enemy – so don’t treat them like one.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

effective communication tips

You know what it means to you, so understand that’s it’s equally as important to your partner and to the health of your relationship. Snide or sarcastic comments, dismissive behavior, and lack of interest in what he or she has to say is not only rude, but it also closes the door to any kind of positive communication.

Mind before mouth

Not everything you think needs to be said. Knowing which thoughts to keep to yourself, or to rephrase before speaking, is important in all aspects of life. This is especially true in a romantic relationship. Words spoken in anger or without regard to how they will be received can be extremely hurtful and do a lot of damage.

These seven tips for effective communication are not an exact formula, but they are essential components. Without these things present, there will be problems. But each couple is different and precisely what is needed to improve communication can vary. More important than any one of these things is the fact that you are interested and willing to try to make improvements.

The post 7 Little-Known Tips For Effective Communication appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Breaking The Cycle of Confirmation Bias

No matter how much you share political stories on Facebook, you’ll likely never change your friends’ opinions on the issues. In fact, sharing and reacting to political posts will only create a more polarized community because Facebook’s algorithms show you what you like. This is where learning how to avoid confirmation bias becomes tricky.

Polarizing Opinions on Social Media

On social media, Democrats and Republican link to articles that share their party’s natural bias. Almost half of the links shared by Congress members come from these slanted sources. It’s not just political figures that tend to be biased, either.

Each time you like an article on one side of the debate or ignore a post from an opposing side, Facebook gets more data on what you want to see. Over time, your news feed will show information from fewer sources and you may even land yourself in a fake-news bubble.

This sort of echo chamber occurs when dissenting opinions are filtered out of the dialog. It enables confirmation bias, the natural human tendency to overemphasize information that supports one’s opinion and overlook anything that could prove it wrong.

This underlying human flaw doesn’t just change how we consume information; it affects how we share it as well. Social media users share news articles from liberal or conservative sources 22% more often than stories from more centrist outlets.

Investigating Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias lets us cherry-pick information without even realizing we’re doing it. Multiple studies show that humans tend to have a strong tendency to hold to an established opinion, regardless of evidence.

In 1975, the Stanford suicide note legitimacy study asked two groups of participants to determine whether each of 25 suicide notes were real or fake. The psychologists running the study told each group their score, giving one a false high score and the other a false low score. Even when they revealed that the scores were fake, participants believed they had done well or badly according to the score they were assigned.

Another experiment at Stanford, the capital punishment study in 1979, grouped participants based on their established views on the death penalty. Both groups were present with two fictitious studies: one supporting capital punishment and the other questioning it. Both groups found the studies credible and felt that both studies supported their existing views.

The Stanford experiments show that confirmation bias makes people with opposing views feel validated by the same information. It even reinforced our opinions in the face of contradictory evidence. This phenomenon reduces the diversity of opinions, allows misinformation to spread, and leaves us vulnerable to manipulation.

How to Avoid Confirmation Bias

Combatting the effects of confirmation bias is difficult. One of the most important steps is noticing when you’re caught in an echo chamber. Recognizing the signs takes practice and self-awareness. Practicing mindfulness and self-reflection can help as well.

Signs You’re Caught in an Echo Chamber

confirmation bias

  • Distinct community structure
  • Strong polarization of opinions
  • Perception of facts clouded by emotional narratives
  • Shared values/meaning, leads to self-validation

While Facebook’s data collection has been the subject of a lot scrutiny for its failure to combat or flag fake news, sites like Google offer a better alternative. Google’s algorithms flag fact-checked articles for readers and punish unsubstantiated articles and attempts at misinformation. Choosing your sources carefully is a great strategy to keep confirmation bias at bay.

Another strategy is researching the evidence carefully. Use fact-checking sites like Snopes to see if a story is accurate before you share it with others. Get the news directly from reputable, less biased sources. And of course, don’t blindly trust what you read on social media.

Tips for Fighting Confirmation Bias

  • Avoid emotional thinking
  • Recognize logical errors
  • Try to understand others’ point of view
  • Remain skeptical of your own beliefs
  • Keep an open mind toward others

It can be difficult to fight confirmation bias and it’s impossible to overcome it completely. However, exposing yourself to a variety of opinions and doing your own research will help you learn and practice this skill. Instead of blocking or unfriending people you disagree with, engage in conversation and always consider the possibility you could be wrong.

Finally, to learn more about confirmation bias and its effect on social media, check out this infographic:
Confirmation Bias
Source: Psych Degrees

The post Breaking The Cycle of Confirmation Bias appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

15 Surprising Gmail Tricks and Secrets

Whenever it comes to email service providers, Gmail does not need any introduction. It has more than 1 billion monthly users. The factors which make Gmail popular are:

  • Simple interface
  • Easily integrated with other Google applications
  • Cloud-based storage device

The most important advantage of using a Cloud-based service is that the data can be accessed from anywhere at any time. This write-up explains the top tips and tricks to help you use Gmail efficiently and effectively for business as well as personal needs.

Make Use of Gmail in Offline Mode to Access Email Without Internet

gmail offline mode

In the main settings option of Gmail, a link to install Gmail offline will be there under the “Offline” tab. As soon as this Chrome plugin is installed, a user can search, read, reply, and archive the email even in the absence of an internet connection.

Actions are lined up and synced when an internet connection is there. This option is really helpful when there is a limited or unstable internet connection.

Using Canned Responses, Speed Up the Replies

If a user has to type the same reply continuously to a conversation, a lot of time can be saved by activating the option “Canned Responses” in Gmail. This option will be present under the Labs tab. Once this option has been enabled, it can be used by pressing on the arrow sign at the bottom right corner of the Compose New Email dialog box. The multiple scanned responses can be generated and a user can label them for easy reference.

An Option to Filter Emails With Many Aliases

Many people are not aware of the fact that dots in email addresses are neglected. So, users can send email to abc.xyz@gmail.com or abcxyz@gmail.com, and this will not make any difference.

A user can also add words at the end of the usual alias with the help of + symbol. For example, yourname+work at gmail.com or yourname+family at gmail.com. Such email addresses will not require any special setting. They will go to the inbox folder by default.

The filtering option makes this option really helpful. As the emails hit the inbox, a user can apply filtering option to forward it to some specific people, set labels to archive or label the emails automatically. This way, emails are sorted even before a user saw them.

Withdraw Sent Messages

It happens with everybody: a user hits the send button and then regrets it. Maybe a user has sent an email to the wrong person or committed a mistake that has been realized too late.

Fortunately, Gmail provides an option to cancel sent items in Gmail. But, for that, a user has to enable that option.

Navigate to the General tab of Settings. Enable the option of Undo Settings and select a time limit. A user has a maximum of 30 seconds to cancel a sent email.

Backup Gmail Emails Locally

Even though emails are backed up in the cloud-based storage space, it clearly does not mean that there is no need to take a regular backup. It is because in case of account hacking or accidental deletion of data, a user will definitely be left will no emails.

So, the best solution is to take a backup by using Google takeout or ‘export Gmail emails to PST‘ or other file formats using SysTools Gmail Backup SOftware and saving it on the local system. This way, not even a single email will be lost.

Schedule Outgoing Emails

Sometimes, a user composes an email but did not want to send at that time. So, Gmail provides a feature to “Send Later”. For this purpose, Boomerang is a plugin for Gmail, which adds send later button to the Compose New Email dialog window. Then, choose any time to send the message later automatically.

Convert Email Into a To-Do List

Gmail equips an option of “Task” in Gmail. This inbuilt feature is very beneficial to users who use their Inbox folder as a to-do list. In this way, if a user receives an email to perform any task, it can be added to the Task list. The subject of this email will be added to your to-do list with a due date.

Speed Up the Workflow With Keyboard Shortcuts

Following shortcuts can be used for different purposes:

  • c – compose a new email
  • ⌘/Ctrl + Enter – send
  • e – archive
  • r – reply
  • / – search

For this, the option has to be activated in Settings. A plugin known as Key Rocket should be installed.

A Feature to Customize Category Tags

gmail inbox

With the help of “Social” and “Promotional” tabs, the inbox can be managed more efficiently. These tabs can be closed if a user has to use other advanced filters. Other 2 tabs that can be included are “forums” and “updates”.

Easily Unsubscribe from Newsletter

If a user has subscribed to too many newsletters, unsubscribing to them one by one will consume a lot of time. Unroll.Me will be of great help with that. A user can also select an option to receive a daily report which will combine all the relevant information in a single email.

View LinkedIn Profiles of Contacts Within Gmail

For people who use Gmail professionally, Rapportive is a very helpful plugin. This will replace Gmail ads with a summary of the sender’s LinkedIn information.

Increase the Speed of Email Responses

If a user spends a lot of time in replying to the emails, Gmail allows the user to set a time limit for writing a single email. Doing so will compel a user to be concise and write to the point without wasting the time.

Track and Follow Up the Sent Emails

In Gmail, FollowUp is a relationship manager. It will notify you when the emails are opened. It can also remind a user to follow up or sends a follow-up email automatically on behalf of the user.

Mute Noisy Messages in Gmail

In a group discussion, it is bothersome for a user to receive messages that he/she does not need. A user can mute noisy conversations in Gmail. After doing this, all the messages will skip the inbox and go directly to an archive folder.

Open Multiple Gmail Accounts at Once

Gmail facilitates the user to log in to different accounts, without signing out of the previous account.

The Bottom Line

Gmail is a cloud-based email platform which helps users save the data in the cloud. It is one of the most well-known names in the business. To make sure you get the most out of it, there are many tricks for using Gmail you’ll find handy. These 15 tips should be able to get you started right away.

See Also: How To Organize Your Gmail In 20 Minutes (And Keep It That Way)

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5 Common Mistakes When Apologizing

Do you really know how to apologize?

In some cases, saying sorry isn’t enough. Instead of smoothing things over and making the situation better, it just leads to an even bigger explosion and mess. Often, we just put our hands on our hair and wonder why the other person doesn’t seem to appreciate what we’re doing.

Why do other people always have to see what you’re saying in the worst light?

Well, it might not be their fault.

It’s possible that your apology isn’t coming over as sincere or as well-meaning as you intend it to be. That’s because many of us make mistakes when we apologize. We say and do things that don’t help what we’re doing.

For that reason, here’s a helpful guide on how to apologize.

Including the word ‘but’

In Game of Thrones, they compared everything before the word ‘but’ to horse manure. Well, that’s true, particularly when you’re apologizing.

If you say “I’m sorry, but it’s your fault, too”, then what your audience will hear isn’t the “I’m sorry” but the “it’s your fault” instead.

The best advice when you apologize is to focus on actually apologizing and leave the quibbling for later. If you’re finding it hard, just remember this: Apologies wouldn’t mean much if they were easy.

The golden rule

Do you know what the norm of reciprocity is?

It’s the one where we do unto others what they have done unto us.

For example, if you go to somebody’s house and he gave you a bottle of wine, you should do the same. If someone sent you a postcard or messaged you on your birthday, then you should do the same thing.

Often, if you want an apology to run smoothly, you should apply the same idea.

You apologize and the other person returns the apology. If you don’t do that, then things can easily get out of hand. The person who apologized first will feel that he put himself out there only to be ignored.

You’re not sincere

unsincere sorry

Apologies only work if you mean them. Often, people will say ‘I’m sorry’ and then insist that it’s not really their fault.

That’s not an apology. That’s just saying ‘I’m sorry’ before complaining.

Focus on being sincere and taking responsibility for your actions. Later on, when you’ve repaired the breach in your relationship, you’ll have time to deal with the unfairness of the world.

You’re not recognizing the other person’s feelings

Yes, it’s you that’s apologizing. All the same, that doesn’t mean it’s all about you.

To apologize effectively, you need to not just accept responsibility for what you’ve done, but also take the other person’s feelings into account.

Things like ‘I can only imagine how this makes you feel’ or ‘I understand that this wasn’t nice for you’ will demonstrate that you’re considering the other person’s feelings. It will show that you’re capable of showing empathy which can really help soothe the other person’s anger.

You’re hurrying through

Rushing through the apology and not leaving enough time for the other person to decide if the apology has satisfied him creates a bigger problem.  He can end up feeling like he’s been cheated, leading to all sorts of resentment.

So, how to apologize?

Say ‘I’m sorry’ and then give the other person enough time to respond. Practice active listening and pay close attention to what he’s going to say.

When you do this, you’ll be able to understand and respond to the actual issues you’re dealing with. It will encourage the other person to accept your apology and see it as sincere.

im sorry

See Also: 5 Ways to Say Sorry

Last words

Apologizing is a fact of life. We all screw up. Nobody is perfect. Heck, sometimes it is even a good idea to apologize when we’ve done nothing wrong.

For example, a very useful apology when you’ve done nothing wrong but the other person is still angry is to say ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’. This shows empathy and can help mollify another person’s anger. It puts you closer to fixing a problem and moving on from it.

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The Importance of Meeting The Boss Regularly

Everyone knows that effective communication is absolutely necessary to make a relationship successful. Marriages fail every day due to a breakdown in communication between spouses. Professional relationships in the workplace fail for the same reason.

Misunderstandings and differences of opinion can turn into distrust between an employee and the boss. Once that happens, the workflow gets disrupted and the success of the business gets compromised. To prevent any of those things from happening, both parties need to recognize the importance of meetings.

When Meeting Regularly with the Boss is Not an Option

For a lot of employees, having a one-on-one meeting with their boss may not always be possible. This can be due to their demanding schedules and other specific deadlines that they have to meet. For some employees who are located in another office or work site, meeting with their boss regularly isn’t a practical option.

Despite those conditions, meeting with the boss should still be a priority. It’s one of the most effective means for keeping the boss updated.

If you’re one of those employees who work far from the main office or your boss is frequently away, you can turn to technology. The internet provides a lot of means to have a meeting even if the parties are not physically together. You can use your computer or your mobile phone to communicate with your boss regularly.

Things to Communicate to Your Boss

one on one meetings

To keep the boss in the loop of how things are progressing in an organization, it is advisable to keep the lines of communication open on a regular basis. One way to accomplish this is to have a regular or weekly meeting with the boss.

Some of the things to be discussed at the meeting would be:

Status of projects

It is always important to keep the boss updated on the progress of his projects. Provide regular updates and be prepared to have a full report instead of waiting to be asked for it.

Goals and objectives

The boss will want to know how well you are keeping up with your team’s goals and objectives. Meeting with the boss on a regular basis will keep him/her updated on how things are progressing and what goals and objectives are yet to be met. While written reports outline the details of your progress, being able to discuss and explain the report is much more effective.

Personal goals

A good boss will want to keep employees motivated. Therefore, he/she will want to know more about the goals or personal ambitions of the employees. These things are best discussed in a one-on-one meeting.

Ongoing issues

Most bosses prefer hearing about issues as they happen and what is being done to address them. A regular meeting with the boss can provide the necessary updates regarding those issues.

Projection of possible issues down the road

Since no boss likes being caught off-guard with bad news, your boss will want to know any potential challenges that could pop up in the near future. So, regularly communicate any negative issues concerning his employees and what things can be done to address them.

Responses to last meetings

It sounds like common sense, but employees often get so wrapped up in their day-to-day issues that they forget to address issues that were discussed at their last meeting with the boss.

Read your notes and review them from time to time. This way, you’ll have an answer to your boss in case he asks related questions on your next meeting.

Wants and needs

The boss will not know what tools, resources or training you need to be successful unless you tell him. He’ll likely assume that all is well unless he hears otherwise. If you have any request or demand, don’t hesitate to communicate it during the meeting.

Updates on schedule for upcoming vacations

It is prudent to always compare schedules with the boss to know when the boss will be going on vacation and when an employee will be out of the office as well.

Input for strategic plan of the organization

Meeting with the boss can be a great opportunity to share thoughts and ideas about what’s happening in the workplace. It’s also a good chance to alert the boss about the things that can hinder the business’ success. Honest, frank discussions where ideas can be exchanged between the boss and the employees can help in the achievement of the organization’s goals.

Building Trust

meeting importance

Regular meetings establish trust, mutual respect, and care. And the more often these meetings occur, the less anxiety employees will have when sharing honest information concerning the boss and the business. The boss, on the other hand, will find it easier to rely on his employees, knowing that they are doing their best in their job.

See Also: How To Make Meetings More Effective

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5 Behaviors That Annoy Your Customers

Frequent calls and customer complaints are staples in every business. This, however, doesn’t mean that they are completely harmless. In fact, the increasing number of calls and customer complaints can mean that your business isn’t doing well.

Today, customers aren’t afraid of switching. If they are unhappy with your services and goods, they’ll just move on and find another company or brand that can meet their needs and expectations.

So, whether you are a startup or a big player in your niche, providing the best services and products for your clients is essential. After all, the more unhappy customers you have, the less chance you’ll succeed.

With that, we have jotted down 5 things customers find annoying and what you can do to avoid them.

Slow response

One of the most common things that customers find annoying is when they can’t find a quick and instant solution to their problems. If your business fails to impress with a quick response time, it creates a negative experience and forces customers to switch to a competitor.

Introducing a live chat solution can permanently fix the problem. Your customers can connect to a live chat agent in seconds and get their questions answered in real-time, creating a positive impression.

live chat

See Also: Know Your Customers In The Digital Age

Irrelevant Information

Most businesses today focus on acquiring customers through social media campaigns. Posting engaging content with appealing headlines is the most common way to do that.

But, are you false-trapping your buyers through click baits? If yes, then you need to reconsider your strategy as soon as possible.

Customers feel annoyed when they aren’t provided with the promised content. They are likely to leave and never return if they feel like they’ve been fooled.

As a way to solve this, make sure you live up to your promises. If you are offering a solution to your customers’ problem, ensure that your content has it. In addition to that, you should also consider the way you deliver your promise.

Most web users are short on time these days and they want solutions that they can consume in a matter of minutes. If you provide that, you are most likely a step ahead of your competition.

Insufficient Value

Valuing your customers is one of the best things you can do for your business. If your customers feel privileged, they will stay and ultimately become members of your loyal tribe. On the other hand, not offering what they expect can make them switch to a competitor product.

That said,  you must focus on getting regular feedback from your audience. You can use the information you get from them to improve the products and services you offer.

Introducing a live chat can be one option but it’s not the only thing you can do. You can also offer discount coupons, freebies and more to make them feel valued. Never miss an opportunity to show how your customers are important to you.

Uniform Treatment

happy customer

 

A business has both loyal and occasional customers.  While occasional customers expect discounts and better services, loyal customers may demand more.  They should be given some liberty points, coupons or schemes to make them feel more special. Customers observe each and every detail, so you should always keep these things in mind.

Not listening to your customers

Every business has problems that their customers also feel. If you are a smart business person, you will find a way to make sure that your customers are heard.

If your customers have no platform where they can put their thoughts, they may feel neglected, annoyed and angry. This can decrease customer retention and negatively affect your overall business. A live chat can help in this case as it allows your customers to speak their mind.

See Also: 4 Surprisingly Easy Tips To Improve Customer Engagement

The Solution

You obviously don’t want to continue making those mistakes. So, here are a few notable suggestions to avoid unhappy customers:

  • Provide 24/7 online support by integrating live chat for website
  • Improve the quality of your services and products
  • Take immediate actions on customer’s feedback and complaints
  • Keep refining the products

Conclusion

Businesses should aim to improve their relationship with their customers to increase retention. The more loyal customers you have, the better your business’ survival rate is.

Avoid having unhappy customers by giving them exactly what they want. Provide a solution to their problems and make that solution easy to achieve. Be consistent in your efforts in making them feel valued and they are highly likely to stick around for a long time.

The post 5 Behaviors That Annoy Your Customers appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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5 Tips to Learn Languages by Reading Foreign Books

Language is the mirror of our culture. It reveals a nation’s secrets, shows a people’s everyday, and expresses their attitude to life.

If you want to easily speak a foreign language, you need to get to know it better. And it’s not about grammar. Traveling requires a lot of time and money, but reading is free of charge and available anytime. Through reading, foreign language book learners not only learn a new language, but also get to explore a new culture.

In case you want to learn a new language by reading foreign books, there are a few simple rules to follow. And we would like to share some with you.

Dictionary in your pocket

pocket dictionary

If you are going to read a foreign language book, get a dictionary. It won’t be much good if you skip all the words you don’t understand. Underline them, find their meanings in a dictionary, write them down and learn. It is the only way foreign literature helps you improve your target language level.

In case you like to read on your way to work, you need a pocket dictionary which won’t take up much space in your bag. It is practical so you can use it wherever you are.

Furthermore, get a notebook where you can write down all unfamiliar words. It will be easier to learn when they can all be found in one place. Writing them down on different pieces of paper will only result in a mess.

Besides, repetition is important in the learning process. That is why a small notebook is a helpful means to remember better whenever you have time.

However, most learners prefer using mobile apps to make notes nowadays. Luckily, there are tons of them with different interfaces and for different purposes. Choose what works best for you. Thus, if you happen to wait for someone and think about how to kill some time, you can learn a new language instead of scrolling through your Facebook news feed.

Double reading

This strategy requires a little bit more than just reading with a dictionary. This method involves reading two books — one original and the other translated, simultaneously.

Again, it is not actually about reading. The notes matter. They help readers catch interesting expressions, idioms, slang words and learn their meanings right away.

Also, you can use bilingual books. You get two languages in one book. To boost learning, you still have to make notes and read every sentence carefully.

See Also: 7 Reasons To Start Reading Books? Here’s why! 

Comic books to the rescue!

Comic books are like textbooks for those who learn a foreign language. Comic books tell and show at once. Pictures help us understand even the hidden meanings of phrases or jokes. Visualization makes a learning process fun, so you will definitely enjoy it.

The comic book effect is similar to watching movies with subtitles. They are suitable for beginners or someone who doesn’t want to strain their brains too much.

Considering that most people are visual learners, comic books are very helpful in boosting vocabulary. A visual image activates your memory, and thus you recall the words much quicker.

Audiobooks

audiobooks

Managing two forms of media at once may be one of the most effective ways to learn a language. At first, it seems difficult as you need to focus on two things together: reading and listening. In actual fact, this strategy has more advantages than we might think.
You can get into the habit of learning this way and it’s an extremely useful habit that will cut your learning time by a half.

The most evident advantage of this approach is to hear and understand how words are pronounced. When you start practicing, you find out your pronunciation is usually far from good. Bad pronunciation is a typical reason why people don’t even try to speak a foreign language. But you have a tool to improve it. This way, learners can get rid of a barrier of fear and try to practice their speaking skills.

Another important thing is that it makes the reading of a boring book a little bit easier. Listening while reading lets you cope with your task with less effort.

Adapted books.

If you don’t feel ready to read an original book, choose an adapted version. It allows the learner to enjoy the reading and study with pleasure.

There are books of any level — from beginner to advanced. You can choose one appropriate for you and go further when you are ready.

The purpose of these books is to educate. That is why you may find a lot of excercises of different kinds in them which will only help you remember new vocabulary as well as understand a story better. A nice way to combine pleasure with learning.

Do not put it off. Just grab a book and start learning while reading right now.

See Also: 5 Effective Techniques To Learn A Language Faster 

 

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