MUDA - Delay....

Muda   The Taj hotel group had invited Mr. Masai Imai from Japan to hold a workshop for its staff.  The staff were very skeptical - the hotel is doing excellent business, this person from Japan has no exposure to hotel industry - what exactly is he going to teach?
But everybody gathered as planned for the workshop in the conference hall sharp at 9 am.  Mr. Masai was introduced to them - a not so impressive personality, nor the English all that good; spoke as if he was first formulating each sentence in Japanese and then translating it into rather clumsy English.

"Good morning! Let's start work. I am told this is a workshop; but I see neither work nor shop. So let's proceed where work is happening. Let's start with the first room on the first floor." Mr. Masai, followed by the senior management, the participants, the video camera crew trouped out of the conference room and proceeded to the destination.  That happened to be the laundry room of the hotel.  Mr. Masai entered the room and stood at the window, "beautiful view!" he said.  The staff knew it; they need not invite a Japanese consultant to tell them this!  "A room with such a beautiful view is being wasted as a laundry room. Shift the laundry to the basement and convert this into a guest room."

Aa Haa! Now nobody had ever thought about that! 
The manager said, "Yes, it can be done."   "Then let's do it," Mr. Masai said.  "Yes sir, I will make a note of this and we will include it in the report on the workshop that will be prepared." Manager   "Excuse me, but there is nothing to note down in this. Let's just do it, just now." Mr. Masai.
"Just now?" Manager  "Yes, decide on a room on the ground floor/basement and shift the stuff out of this room right away. It should take a couple of hours, right?" asked Mr. Masai.  "Yes." Manager.  "Let' s come back here just before lunch. By then all this stuff will have got shifted out and the room must be ready with the carpets, furniture etc. and from today you can start earning the few thousand that you charge your customers for a night."  "Ok, Sir." The manager had no option.
The next destination was the pantry. The group entered. At the entrance were two huge sinks full of plates to be washed.  Mr. Masai removed his jacket and started washing the plates. "Sir, Please, what are you doing?" the manager didn't know what to say and what to do.  "Why, I am washing the plates" , Mr. Masai.  "But sir, there is staff here to do that." Manager
Mr. Masai continued washing, "I think sink is for washing plates, there are stands here to keep the plates and the plates should go into the stands."
All the officials wondered - did they require a consultant to tell them this? 
  After finishing the job, Mr. Masai asked, "How many plates do you have?'  "Plenty, so that there should never be any shortage." answered the Manager.

Mr. Masai said, "We have a word in Japanese -'Muda'. Muda means delay, Muda means unnecessary spending. One lesson to be learned in this workshop is to avoid both.

If you have plenty of plates, there will be delay in cleaning them up. The first step to correct this situation is to remove all the excess plates."  "Yes, we will say this in the report." Manager.  "No, wasting our time in writing the report is again an instance of 'Muda' . We must pack the extra plates in a box right away and send these to whichever other section of Taj requires these.

Throughout the workshop now we will find out where all we find this 'Muda' hidden."   And then at every spot and session, the staff eagerly awaited to find out Muda and learn how to avoid it.

On the last day, Mr. Masai told a story.

"A Japanese and an American, both fond of hunting, met in ajungle. They entered deep jungle and suddenly realized that they had run out of bullets. Just then they heard a lion roaring. Both started running. But the Japanese took a short break to put on his sports shoes.  The American said, "What are you doing? We must first get to thecar."  The Japanese responded, "No. I only have to ensure that I remain ahead of you."  All the participants engrossed in listening to the story, realized suddenly that the lion would stop after getting hisvictim!
"The lesson is: competition in today's world is so fierce, that it is important to stay ahead of other, even by just a couple of steps. And you have such a huge and naturally well endowed country. If you remember to curtail your production expenditure and give the best quality always, you will be miles ahead as compared to so many other countries in the world." , concluded Mr. Masai.  It is never late to learn....... .

Online Reputation

What's Your Online Reputation?

In today's plethora of activities on the social networking sites quite obviously, a bad reputation earned can wreck your career. And, nowadays, your reputation includes what clients, colleagues, and hiring managers can read about you on the Web. 

Imagine that you've just applied for a new job, and that you're feeling confident about it. You have all of the skills and education needed for the role, and your first interview went well.

So you're disappointed when you hear that the hiring manager won't be calling you in for a second interview.

When you ask why, she tells you that she was put off by flippant comments that you'd made about your colleagues on a social networking site. That's not the kind of behavior that she wants to encourage in her organization.

Maintaining a Positive Online Reputation
What personal information are you sharing with clients, colleagues and hiring managers via social media?.

Despite having the right experience and qualifications, your online reputation has taken you out of the running for the role.

Reputation management is an essential part of career management, and your reputation now includes what people can find out about you online. Photos, tweets, and comments - even those posted years ago - can easily be found online, and they can come back to haunt you.

The Importance of a Positive Online Reputation

Your online reputation is now just as important as your offline one. In fact, it can be more important, because content on the Web is, for the most part, there indefinitely.
Recruiters, clients and employers routinely search the Web to uncover the "real life" of applicants, business partners, and employees. If people don't like what they find, your reputation could be seriously damaged.

Employees at all levels are affected. For example, the CEO of a global company posted online images of his elephant-hunting trip in Africa. The images were graphic, and upset thousands of the company's clients when they were circulated online. The company lost clients as a result, and the CEO's reputation was tarnished.

On the flip side, a positive online reputation can enhance your career, and can open doors that you might never have opened on your own. For example, intelligent comments or thoughtful blog posts can lead to promotions, new clients, and new opportunities in your current role.

For instance, one woman was promoted after her employer discovered that she had sent out encouraging tweets to potential recruits. Her manager appreciated the positive message that she was presenting about the company, and remembered this when a more senior role opened up.

Keep in mind that your company may have policies covering the use of social media.
For example, some organizations specify how employees should use social media when at work. Others have rules in place for personal social media use, as well.

In some circumstances, your job can even be terminated if you make inappropriate comments online. Check your organization's policies carefully.

Enhancing Your Online Reputation

The thought of checking every online entry about yourself can seem overwhelming, especially because you can't control what others say about you.

The good news is that there are plenty of tools - most of them free - that can help you manage your reputation online. Let's look at how to get started.

Survey Your Current Reputation

Start by simply searching for your name online, looking at both the image and website results generated. Put your name in quotation marks, and include other keywords, such as your employer's name or the city where you live.

Self-searching is also an easy way to uncover any comments, blog posts, videos, or pictures that you may have forgotten about. Do internal site searches if you use social media sites such as Facebook®, Instagram®, Flickr®, Twitter®, LinkedIn®, or Google+®, as parts of these sites can be inaccessible to a general online search.

Next, set up a Google Alert for your name. Once you have signed up for this free service, Google will email you when new content is posted that includes your name. This will help you to monitor what's being published about you as soon as it's live.

Limit Damage

It's important to go through these results and think carefully about whether they present you in the best light. If you wouldn't say something out loud at work, then it's not something that you should say online. And if you would be embarrassed to have your boss or potential employer see content about you, it's best to take it down.

So, what do you do if you uncover an embarrassing picture, comment, or testimonial that you want to take off the Web?

If you don't control the site in question - for example, if it appears on someone else's Facebook page - you'll need to contact the owner or webmaster and ask them to remove it.

In some cases, Google will remove content or images at your request. However, this only happens when certain laws are being broken. If you suspect that inaccurate or confidential information about you is being displayed on the Web, you can report the violation and ask for the content to be removed.

Other search engines offer similar services.

You can also manage negative personal content online by uploading more positive content. Google ranks content according to relevancy, so newer content, or content that many other sites have linked to, shows up higher in search rankings.

So, how can you generate positive content about yourself?

Future-Proof Your Reputation

Think about how you'd like clients, managers, and future recruiters to view you online. You can build that positive online reputation in several ways.

First, consider starting a blog. There are numerous free blogging sites, and many allow you to personalize the appearance of your blog, so that it reflects the content that you plan to post.

You could focus on your industry or area of expertise, or you could write informative articles that teach others a useful skill. A blog will not only show off your communication and branding skills, but it will also strengthen your reputation as an expert. And, of course, you're publishing content that you want others - current or future employers - to see.

If you don't have the time to maintain your own blog, consider becoming a guest contributor for established blogs and websites, or think about commenting on content on social media sites such as LinkedIn.

It can be tempting to slip into an informal or humorous communication style when using social media.

However, bear in mind that humor or a light-hearted response may not be appropriate in a professional setting, especially if people could misunderstand you.

When posting online, treat others as you wish to be treated, and take the time to think about your responses fully. This is especially important if you're discussing sensitive or controversial issues - here, you might want to use a pseudonym.

Maintain Privacy

You're probably connected to family, friends, and work colleagues through social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This can make it difficult to keep your personal and professional lives separate. However, most sites have options that allow you to limit who sees what.

    Facebook - To limit who can see a wall post, go to your privacy settings page and select the "Public," "Friends," or "Custom" button. The Custom button allows you to select the individuals who can see a particular post or image.

    Twitter - On Twitter, you have the option to make your tweets public or private. Public tweets are visible to everyone and can show up in search engines. Private (or "protected") tweets are visible only to users whom you have approved. These tweets cannot be retweeted.

    To protect your tweets, select the "Settings" option from the drop down menu at the top right of the page. Scroll down to the "Tweet Privacy" button, and check the box next to "Protect My Tweets." Then click the "Save" button at the bottom of the page.

    Pinterest - If you link your Pinterest account to other social media such as Facebook and Twitter, others will be able to find your account faster. To avoid this, go to the "Settings" page, and switch the "Search Privacy" option to "Yes." Next, click "Save Settings." This will tell search engines to ignore your profile, although the changed settings can take several weeks to be processed.

    LinkedIn - LinkedIn is generally considered to be "safe" social media because it's a professional social network. However, its privacy settings can still affect your reputation. For instance, your Twitter feed can show up on your LinkedIn profile page, and your professional history can show up in a Web search.

    LinkedIn has many options that let you control how much others can see in your profile. Visit the "Managing account settings" page for a full list of options for controlling the privacy of your profile.

Key Points

It's just as important to manage your online reputation as it is to manage your offline one.
Negative online content can turn up years after it was posted, affecting how clients, colleagues, and hiring managers view you. Such content could even cost you your job. On the other hand, a positive online reputation can open doors and lead to new opportunities.

To manage your online reputation, set up a Google Alert that notifies you whenever someone mentions your name online. Carefully screen content that you've posted in the past on Facebook, Twitter, online forums, or other websites. If you'd be embarrassed to have your boss or colleagues see this content, try to take it down.

Last, manage what people see by posting positive content about yourself. Create a blog, and write tweets or status updates that demonstrate your expertise and willingness to help others.

This is a Wonderful article from MINDTOOLS

How to Deal With Difficult People

How to Deal With Difficult People

Whatever role you're in, you'll have to deal with people who upset you at some stage. So, how can you prepare for these situations?

"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured."
- Mark Twain, American author.

All of us experience anger from time to time. It's a normal, commonly experienced emotion.

However, anger can be incredibly destructive if we don't know how to control it. Frequent or misplaced anger can hurt our reputations, destroy our relationships, limit our opportunities, and even damage our health.
In this article, we'll look at what anger is, and what its consequences can be. We'll also look at 12 strategies that we can use to control anger and aggression.

Understanding Anger

According to psychologist T.W. Smith, anger is "an unpleasant emotion ranging in intensity from irritation or annoyance to fury or rage."

Every day, we can experience things that could make us angry. Common causes include feelings of:

    Injustice, whether real or perceived.

Other causes include:

    Requests or criticisms that we believe are unfair.
    Threats to people, things, or ideas that we hold dear.

People experience anger in different ways and for different reasons. Something that makes you furious may only mildly irritate someone else. This subjectivity can make anger difficult to understand and manage. It also highlights that your response to anger is up to you.

The Dangers of Anger

An appropriate level of anger energizes us to take proper actions, solve problems, and handle situations constructively.

However, uncontrolled anger leads to many negative consequences, especially in the workplace. For instance, it can damage relationships with our bosses and colleagues, and it can lead people to lose trust and respect for us, especially when we react instantly and angrily to something that we've mis perceived as a threat.

Anger also clouds our ability to make good decisions and to find creative solutions to problems. This can negatively affect our work performance.

Frequent anger poses health risks too. One study found that people who get angry regularly are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, eating disorders, and obesity. Research has also found a correlation between anger and premature death. Further studies have found that there is a link between anger and conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Managing Anger

We manage anger when we learn to defuse it before it becomes destructive.

Below,  12 strategies are outlined that you can use to control anger when you experience it.
These reflect an abridged version of 17 strategies that Drs Redford Williams and Virginia Williams described in their best-selling book, "Anger Kills."

1. Acknowledge That you Have a Problem
If you find it difficult to manage your anger, the first thing you need to do is to be honest with yourself and acknowledge that you have a problem.

You can then make a plan to deal with it.

2. Keep a Hostility Log

Do you know what causes your anger? Chances are, you don't understand why you react angrily to some people or events.

When you know what makes you angry, you can develop strategies to channel it effectively.

3. Use Your Support Network

Let the important people in your life know about the changes that you're trying to make. They can motivate and support you if you lapse into old behaviors.

These should be give-and-take relationships. Put some time aside every day to invest in these relationships, especially with close friends and family. You need to be there for them, just as they're willing to be there for you.

You can alleviate stress when you spend time with people you care about. This also helps you control your anger.

4. Interrupt the Anger Cycle
When you start to feel angry, try the following techniques:

    Yell "Stop!" loudly in your thoughts. This can interrupt the anger cycle.
    Use physical relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or centering.
    Count to 20 before you respond.
    Manage your negative thoughts with imagery and positive thinking.
    Close your office door or find a quiet space, and meditate for five minutes.
    Distract yourself from your anger - visit your favorite website, play a song that you like, daydream about a hobby that you enjoy, or take a walk.

Another approach is to consider the facts of the situation, so that you can talk yourself out of being angry.

To use this strategy, look at what you can observe about the person or situation, not what you're inferring about someone's motivations or intentions. Does this situation deserve your attention? And is your anger justified here?

When you look only at the facts, you'll likely determine that it's unproductive to respond with anger.

5. Use Empathy

If another person is the source of your anger, use empathy to see the situation from his or her perspective.

Be objective here. Everyone makes mistakes, and it is through mistakes that people learn how to improve.

6. See the Humor in Your Anger

Learn to laugh at yourself and do not take everything seriously. The next time you feel tempted to lash out, try to see the humor in your expressions of anger.

One way to do this is to "catastrophize" the situation. This is when you exaggerate a petty situation that you feel angry about, and then laugh at your self-importance.

For example, imagine that you're angry because a sick team member missed a day of work. As a result, a report you were depending on is now late.

To catastrophize the situation, you think, "Wow, she must have been waiting months for the opportunity to mess up my schedule like this. She and everyone on the team probably planned this, and they're probably sending her updates about how angry I'm getting."

Obviously, this grossly exaggerates the situation. When you imagine a ridiculous and overblown version of the story, you'll likely find yourself smiling by the end of it.

7. Relax

Angry people let little things bother them. If you learn to calm down, you'll realize that there is no real need to get upset, and you'll have fewer angry episodes.

Regular exercise can help you relax in tense situations. When possible, go for a walk, or stretch and breathe deeply whenever you start to feel upset.

You will also feel more relaxed when you get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet.

Dehydration can often lead to irritability too, so keep hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water.

8. Build Trust

Angry people can be cynical. They can believe that others do things on purpose to annoy or frustrate them, even before anything happens. However, people probably focus less on you than you might think!

Build trust with friends and colleagues. That way, you'll be less likely to get angry with them when something goes wrong. You'll also be less likely to attribute the problem to malicious intent on their part.

To build trust, be honest with people. Explain your actions or decisions when you need to, and always keep your word. If you do this consistently, people will learn that they can trust you. They'll also follow your lead, and you'll learn that you can trust them in return.

9. Listen Effectively
Miscommunication contributes to frustrating situations. The better you listen to what someone says, the easier it is to find a resolution that doesn't involve an angry response.

So, improve your active listening skills. When others are speaking, focus on what they're saying, and don't get distracted by formulating your response before they've finished. When they're done speaking, show that you listened by reflecting back what they have just said.

10. Be Assertive

Remember, the word is "assertive," not "aggressive." When you're aggressive, you focus on winning. You care little for others' feelings, rights, and needs. When you're assertive, you focus on balance. You're honest about what you want, and you respect the needs of others.

If you're angry, it's often difficult to express yourself clearly. Learn to assert yourself and let other people know your expectations, boundaries, and issues. When you do, you'll find that you develop self-confidence, gain respect, and improve your relationships.

11. Live Each Day as if it's Your Last
Life is short. If you spend all of your time getting angry, you're going to miss the many joys and surprises that life offers.

Think about how many times your anger has destroyed a relationship, or caused you to miss a happy day with friends and family. That's time that you'll never get back.

However, you can prevent this from happening again - the choice is yours.

12. Forgive and Forget
To ensure that you make long-term changes, you need to forgive people who have angered you.

It's not easy to forget past resentments, but the only way to move on is to let go of these feelings. (Depending on what or who is at the root of your anger, you may have to seek a professional's help to achieve this.)

So, start today. Make amends with one person that you've hurt through your anger. It might be difficult, but you'll feel better afterwards. Plus, you'll be one step closer to healing the relationship.


These strategies are only a general guide. If anger continues to be a problem, you might need to seek the help of a suitably qualified health professional, especially if your anger hurts others, or if it causes you physical pain or emotional distress.

Key Points

Anger is a powerful force that can jeopardize your relationships, your work, and your health, if you don't learn to manage it effectively.

To manage anger, acknowledge that you have a problem, keep a hostility log, and build a support network based on trust.

Also, use techniques to interrupt your anger, listen, empathize, be assertive with others, and learn to relax, as well as laugh at yourself.

Finally, don't let anger get in the way of the joys in life, and learn to forgive people that who make you angry.


Busch, F. N. (2009) 'Anger and Depression,' Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, July 2009.
Chida, Y. and Steptoe, A. (2009) 'The Association of Anger and Hostility with Future Coronary Heart Disease,' Journal of the American College of Cardiology, March 2009. 

 Smith, T., Glazer, K., Ruiz, J., and Gallo, L. (2004) 'Hostility, Anger, Aggressiveness, and Coronary Heart Disease,' Journal of Personality, Volume 72, Issue 6, December 2004. 
 Staicu, M.L. and Cutov, M. (2010) 'Anger and Health Risk Behaviors,' Journal of Medicine and Life, November 2010.
Williams, R. and Williams, V. (1993) 'Anger Kills,' New York: Harper Collins.


The Thematic Appreciation Test... That was devised by me in this page is linked to

I don't understand this language but still Thank you to have shared the Test...

Back to blogging...

It has been more than a year and a half since I had tried to put in some thing here that could transform the young minds....

So I'm starting with a new series....

Back to blogging...

Its been a long time since I had posted here on this blog.... Facebook kept me occupied with its notes feature to post a few good articles...
I am posting a few of them here....

Winning by Giving.... Succeeding Through Kindness

Win With Generosity!

Do you regularly "give" to other people at work? If not, you and your organization could be missing out!

Karen is one of those people who others love to be around. She has a broad smile and a kind word for everybody, and she takes sincere pleasure in helping members of her team.

Although she spends a lot of her time and energy on others, she succeeds in her own role too, and her colleagues routinely offer their assistance and expertise to her. Overall, her love of giving seems to cement her team together.

When we're at work, we can spend a lot of energy trying to get help from those around us. However, how much time do we spend helping others in return?

Having a strong social support network at work raises morale, productivity, and overall success. If we truly want to succeed, however, each of us must spend time "giving ourselves" to those in our network. Only then will we experience the true benefits that giving brings, and start to see the success we've dreamed of.

Benefits of Giving

Giving makes us happy. The happier we are, the more energy we have, the better we think, and the more friendships we develop. Giving not only feels good, but research shows that it lowers your chance of depression, strengthens your heart, lowers stress, and can literally add years to your life.

Professionally, giving also offers several benefits. One study found that fostering positive social support at work raises productivity. Another study found that those who give at work ("work altruists"), are far more engaged with what they do and are more often promoted, compared with colleagues who stay isolated while doing their job.

However, you probably don't need research to tell you that giving makes you feel good! Just think back to the last time you helped a colleague who was stuck with a problem, or took your assistant out to lunch. Giving boosts our energy in a way that nothing else can. We feel connected and engaged when we help others, because it reminds us of what it means to be human, at its best.

All this, in turn, comes back to us in ways we could never expect or predict. Giving creates a network of trust, goodwill, and good energy at work that can pay off many times over in the future.

Giving and kindness also have an important ripple effect, which is why one generous person can transform a team or an organization. The person you give to feels great about the help they received. This can create a desire in them to "pay back" that kindness to someone else. Much like ripples in a pond, one act of kindness can impact dozens, or even hundreds, of lives.

How to Give More

The good news about giving is that you don't need to invest huge chunks of your time to do it. Often, the smallest acts of kindness and consideration can have a big impact on those around us.

So, how can we give at work?

1. Just Listen

A great way of giving is simply to listen to others.

When you do this, listen without contributing your opinion, and without trying to "top their story." Use Active Listening skills, so that you can fully grasp what they're telling you, and respond with empathy and understanding.

2. Offer Specific Help

How many times have you heard a colleague say, "Let me know if you need any help!" but had the distinct feeling they didn't really mean it? Vague offers of help can come across as half-hearted or insincere. Offering help in a specific way shows that you mean it.

For instance, your colleagues may be complaining about their workload. So, offer specific help: volunteer to collect their lunch for them, so that they can continue working, or give them a hand with a task if your own workload allows. When you offer specific assistance, you let others know that you're truly willing to help.

3. Show Gratitude

If you're in a leadership position, how often do you give praise to your team? How often do you say "thank you" to your assistant for the good work he or she does every day?

Showing gratitude to those around us, whether above or below us in the hierarchy, is a simple but powerful way to give. So, find ways to say "thank you" to your team and colleagues. You might be surprised at the difference that this makes to your relationships!

4. Become a Mentor

When you mentor others, you can share a lifetime's worth of knowledge and skill in order to help them succeed. This unselfish act not only benefits the professionals you work with; it can change your own life in many ways.

It probably goes without saying that your organization will benefit when strong mentoring relationships are formed within it. Start mentoring in the workplace now, and experience the satisfaction that comes with helping others to succeed.

5. Share Resources

If your team or department has ample resources or supplies, why not offer to share them with another team or department, particularly if it is not as well funded as yours?

This could include sharing resources such as physical supplies, but also knowledge, technology, and team member expertise as well. (This won't be viable in some situations. Use your own best judgment here, and make sure that you're doing your own job properly as well!)

6. Offer a Hand to New Employees

Can you remember what it was like on your very first day at the organization? You didn't know anyone, and you probably felt overwhelmed by all of your tasks and responsibilities.

When a new employee joins your organization or team, spend time with her during her first few weeks and help her have a successful induction. Offer to help her get used to her new role, and take her around to meet everyone that she'll be working with. Share your knowledge about the organization's culture and values.

This can make a challenging transition smoother and less stressful.

7. Practice "Random Acts of Kindness"

Random acts of kindness can transform both you and the person you help. When you are kind to someone anonymously, you give for the simple, ego-less pleasure of giving, and that's it. So, practice random acts of kindness when you're at work.

What can you do? Leave a cup of gourmet coffee on your colleague's desk when he or she is having a bad day. Send an anonymous "thank you" letter to your organization's cleaning staff. Bring some healthy snacks or homemade cookies to work, and leave them anonymously in the break room, with a note letting others know that they're for everyone.

There are endless ways that you can make a positive impact on someone else's day. Just use your imagination!

8. Find Your Purpose

Every job has a purpose. It's easy, especially when we're busy and stressed, to forget how our role helps others. But, no matter what we do or where we do it, ultimately our work should benefit someone else.

Take time to find your purpose at work. Once you dig down to find the ultimate meaning of what you do, you may be surprised by how much your work helps others.

Key Points

Giving our time and energy to others not only feels good, but it's been proven to make us happier, more productive, and more engaged with our team and organization.

Giving also offers positive physical benefits as well: it helps alleviate stress, helps lower our risk of illnesses like depression, and even helps us live longer!

You can give back to others by doing any or all of the following:
  1. Just listen to others.
  2. Offer specific help.
  3. Show gratitude.
  4. Become a mentor.
  5. Share resources.
  6. Offer a hand to new employees.
  7. Practice random acts of kindness.
  8. Find your purpose.
Make an effort to give regularly - you'll love the results!


Secrets of Job Satisfaction... Job satisfaction is closer than you think...

Think back to a time when you worked on a project that you really enjoyed.

Chances are, the work was meaningful, it brought you pleasure, it challenged you enough to make you feel that you'd accomplished something really worthwhile, and the people were great.

When a project resonates with us like this, we put forth our very best effort. Why? Because doing work like this is pure joy. In fact, it hardly seems like work at all!

When we work on these projects regularly, we're happy, we're productive, we're optimistic, and we're deeply engaged in what we're doing. So, how can you target projects that will give you this type of engagement?

Discover work that you love.

 One way of doing this is to use the Meaning, Pleasure, Strengths (MPS) Process. In this article, we'll discuss what MPS is, and we'll see how you can use it to increase the proportion of rewarding work that you do.

About the Tool

The MPS Process was created by Harvard professor and best-selling author, Dr Tal Ben-Shahar, and was published in his book, "Happier." The model develops ideas from positive psychologist, Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Dr Csikszentmihalyi's groundbreaking work was on the concept of "flow." When we do work that is both meaningful and moderately challenging, we can slip into flow, losing track of time and our sense of self as we focus solely on the task at hand. This can be enormously enjoyable and satisfying.

Dr Ben-Shahar adapted this concept and created the MPS Process as a way for us to seek out jobs, projects, and tasks that challenge and engage us, so that we can slip into flow.

With the MPS Process, you ask yourself three crucial questions:
  1. What gives me meaning?
  2. What gives me pleasure?
  3. What are my strengths?
When we routinely do work that combines these three elements, we're much more likely to achieve flow and be happy in our careers.

The MPS Process prompts you to look deeply at what brings you meaning and pleasure. It also encourages you to understand and get to know your strengths.

For this reason, it might be best to spend several days thinking about the questions below, before answering them fully.
How to Use the Tool

Step 1: Answer the MPS Questions

The first step in using the tool is to answer the three key questions:
  1. What gives me meaning?
  2. What gives me pleasure?
  3. What are my strengths?
As we mentioned above, it's often helpful to take your time here. There are also many resources that you can use to dive deeper into these fundamental questions.

To help discover what gives you meaning, start by defining your values. These are the guiding principles that shape your behavior and judgments. Often, working on projects that align with your values helps to bring meaning to what you do.

Values can only be a part of what you find meaningful. For instance, you might find meaning through helping others, teaching someone a new skill, or coaching him or her through a crisis. So, think back to other tasks and projects that made you feel good. What were you doing during those times? What was it about those projects that made you feel good?

Next, write down the things that bring you pleasure. These don't have to be work-related; you can also list hobbies, interests, and anything that brings you joy or contentment. For instance, you may include reading, teaching others, traveling, or meeting new people.

Last, list your strengths. This can be difficult, since many of us take our strengths for granted (they come so easily!) You might have strengths that you don't even realize are strengths, such as empathy, a positive attitude, or the ability to learn things quickly.

If you're not sure about your strengths, ask your boss, colleagues, or family members what they think your strengths are. You can also do a Personal SWOT Analysis, or you can use the Strengths Finder Assessment to help uncover your biggest strengths.

Step Two: Find Overlap`

Next, look at your answers in each area and explore elements that are common to each category, or that overlap in some way. These overlapping answers offer valuable insights into the tasks that you'll find most rewarding and engaging.

For example, you might have listed the following in your answers:

Meaning - Making people happy.
Pleasure - Helping others 
Strengths - Problem Solving

These three answers clearly overlap with each other, and from this, you may conclude that you want to focus on tasks or projects that help people solve their problems.

Tip 1:
Don't rush this step - at first glance it may not be obvious which of your answers overlap.

Tip 2:
Ideally, you'll have answers that overlap in all three areas, but you may also uncover engaging and rewarding work with elements that overlap in only two.

Step 3: Shape Your Job or Career

You can now use your answers from step 2 as a guide for shaping your current role, or to find a career that you find engaging. Put simply, you want to work on projects and tasks that, in some way, incorporate elements that overlap. This is how you'll get job satisfaction.

You can do this in your current role by using job crafting. This is where you reshape your job to fit you better. For instance, are there any projects that you want to be responsible for, but aren't? Can you do your current work in a way that you'll find more engaging? Or could you do some of your boss's tasks in these areas? There are endless ways that you can reshape your role to fit you better.

You can also use your findings if you want to get a promotion, or if you're exploring possible career options.


Ellen has just answered the questions in step 1 of the MPS Process. Here are the answers she came up with.

Meaning  - Helping team members who are struggling with their work.

                     Teaching others new skills.

                    Working through difficult problems.

Pleasure - Classical music.


                   Meeting new people.


                   Being organized.

                   Helping others.

Strength -   Solving problems.

                      Being empathic.

                      Staying calm in a crisis.

After comparing each list, Ellen can see that she has overlaps between helping team members, helping others, and being empathic.

Ellen decides to craft her current role so she can incorporate these elements into her job. She approaches her manager and offers to coach and mentor less-experienced team members. She meets them on a regular basis, and helps them overcome their challenges and problems, many of which Ellen experienced earlier in her career. This gives her huge job satisfaction.

Key Points

The MPS Process was developed by Dr Tal Ben-Shahar, best-selling author of the book "Happier."

MPS stands for Meaning, Pleasure, and Strengths, and it gives you a useful insight into what truly makes you happy. This, in turn, helps you find tasks and projects that are engaging and rewarding.

To use the MPS Process, think about what gives you meaning and pleasure, and analyze your strengths. Then identify elements that overlap in these three areas.

You can then shape your job or career to incorporate the elements that overlap the most.


Conflict Management at workplace...Conflict is essential but should be managed effectively....

Bell and Hart's Eight Causes of Conflict

Understanding the Causes of Workplace Tension

Eight Ways to Prevent Conflict

Conflict is much easier to manage and prevent when you know about its common causes. So, what are these?

You've just arrived at your office, which you share with a colleague, and it looks as if it's going to be another frustrating day.

Your side of the office is neat as a pin and incredibly well organized. You always arrive at work on time and you take care not to talk loudly when you're on the phone, so that you don't disturb your office mate.

Your colleague, however, is the exact opposite. Empty cups and stacks of dusty files litter his side of the office. He often rushes into the office late, and he sometimes puts the radio on while he's working, which breaks your concentration. You love your work, but dread coming into the office every day, simply because you don't like sharing your space with your colleague. He drives you crazy, and you often argue.

If you thought about it, you'd quickly recognize that there's conflict between you because the two of you have completely different working styles. Once you'd realized this, you'd have a starting point for thinking about how you could work together more effectively.

All of us experience conflict like this at work. Conflict can be useful, since it can push conflicting parties to grow and communicate, and it can improve conflicting ideas. However, this can only happen if we understand why the conflict is there in the first place. Once we've identified the root of the problem, we can take the right steps to resolve it.

In this article, we'll look at eight common causes of conflict in the workplace, and we'll explore how you can use them to manage conflict more effectively.

About the Eight Causes

According to psychologists Art Bell and Brett Hart, there are eight common causes of conflict in the workplace. Bell and Hart identified these common causes in separate articles on workplace conflict in 2000 and 2002.

The eight causes are:
  1. Conflicting resources.
  2. Conflicting styles.
  3. Conflicting perceptions.
  4. Conflicting goals.
  5. Conflicting pressures.
  6. Conflicting roles.
  7. Different personal values.
  8. Unpredictable policies.
You can use this classification to identify possible causes of conflict. Once you've identified these, you can take steps to prevent conflict happening in the first place, or you can tailor your conflict resolution strategy to fit the situation.

How to Use the Tool

Let's take a closer look at each of the eight causes of workplace conflict, and discuss what you can do to avoid and resolve each type.

1. Conflicting Resources

We all need access to certain resources - whether these are office supplies, help from colleagues, or even a meeting room - to do our jobs well. When more than one person or group needs access to a particular resource, conflict can occur.

If you or your people are in conflict over resources, use techniques like Win-Win Negotiation or the Influence Model to reach a shared agreement.

You can also help team members overcome this cause of conflict by making sure that they have everything they need to do their jobs well. Teach them how to prioritize their time and resources, as well as how to negotiate with one another to prevent this type of conflict.

If people start battling for a resource, sit both parties down to discuss openly why their needs are at odds. An open discussion about the problem can help each party see the other's perspective and become more empathic about their needs.

2. Conflicting Styles

Everyone works differently, according to his or her individual needs and personality. For instance, some people love the thrill of getting things done at the last minute, while others need the structure of strict deadlines to perform. However, when working styles clash, conflict can often occur.

To prevent and manage this type of conflict in your team, consider people's working styles and natural group roles when you build your team.

You can also encourage people to take a personality test, such as the Myers-Briggs Personality Test or Firo-B. This can help them become more accepting of other people's styles of working, and be more flexible as a result.

3. Conflicting Perceptions

All of us see the world through our own lens, and differences in perceptions of events can cause conflict, particularly where one person knows something that the other person doesn't know, but doesn't realize this.

If your team members regularly engage in "turf wars" or gossip, you might have a problem with conflicting perceptions. Additionally, negative performance reviews or customer complaints can also result from this type of conflict.

Make an effort to eliminate this conflict by communicating openly with your team, even when you have to share bad news. The more information you share with your people, the less likely it is that they will come up with their own interpretations of events.

Different perceptions are also a common cause of office politics. For instance, if you assign a project to one person that normally would be someone else's responsibility, you may unwittingly ignite a power struggle between the two. Learn how to navigate office politics, and coach your team to do the same.

4. Conflicting Goals

Sometimes we have conflicting goals in our work. For instance, one of our managers might tell us that speed is most important goal with customers. Another manager might say that in-depth, high-quality service is the top priority. It's sometimes quite difficult to reconcile the two!

Whenever you set goals for your team members, make sure that those goals don't conflict with other goals set for that person, or set for other people.

And if your own goals are unclear or conflicting, speak with your boss and negotiate goals that work for everyone.

5. Conflicting Pressures

We often have to depend on our colleagues to get our work done. However, what happens when you need a report from your colleague by noon, and he's already preparing a different report for someone else by that same deadline?

Conflicting pressures are similar to conflicting goals; the only difference is that conflicting pressures usually involve urgent tasks, while conflicting goals typically involve projects with longer timelines.

If you suspect that people are experiencing conflict because of clashing short-term objectives, reschedule tasks and deadlines to relieve the pressure.

6. Conflicting Roles

Sometimes we have to perform a task that's outside our normal role or responsibilities. If this causes us to step into someone else's "territory," then conflict and power struggles can occur. The same can happen in reverse - sometimes we may feel that a particular task should be completed by someone else.

Conflicting roles are similar to conflicting perceptions. After all, one team member may view a task as his or her responsibility or territory. But when someone else comes in to take over that task, conflict occurs.

If you suspect that team members are experiencing conflict over their roles, explain why you've assigned tasks or projects to each person. Your explanation could go a long way toward remedying the pressure.

You can also use a Team Charter to crystallize people's roles and responsibilities, and to focus people on objectives.

7. Different Personal Values

Imagine that your boss has just asked you to perform a task that conflicts with your ethical standards. Do you do as your boss asks, or do you refuse? If you refuse, will you lose your boss's trust, or even your job?

When our work conflicts with our personal values like this, conflict can quickly arise.

To avoid this in your team, practice ethical leadership: try not to ask your team to do anything that clashes with their values, or with yours.

There may be times when you're asked to do things that clash with your personal ethics. Preserving your integrity will help you to make the right choices.

8. Unpredictable Policies

When rules and policies change at work and you don't communicate that change clearly to your team, confusion and conflict can occur.

In addition, if you fail to apply workplace policies consistently with members of your team, the disparity in treatment can also become a source of dissension.

When rules and policies change, make sure that you communicate exactly what will be done differently and, more importantly, why the policy is changing. When people understand why the rules are there, they're far more likely to accept the change.

Once the rules are in place, strive to enforce them fairly and consistently.


Although Bell and Hart's Eight Causes of Conflict provide a useful framework for identifying common causes of conflict in the workplace, they don't explore how to deal with conflict. So make sure that you know how to resolve conflict effectively, too.

Key Points

Psychologists Art Bell and Brett Hart identified eight causes of conflict in the early 2000s.

The eight causes are:
  • Conflicting resources.
  • Conflicting styles.
  • Conflicting perceptions.
  • Conflicting goals.
  • Conflicting pressures.
  • Conflicting roles.
  • Different personal values.
  • Unpredictable policies.
You can use these to recognize the root cause of conflict between people. In turn, this can help you devise effective conflict resolution strategies, and create a workplace that's not disrupted by tension and disharmony.

Thanks to : MINDTOOLS

Building Rapport ...... Establishing Strong Emotional Bonds

Whatever you do, it's important to get on well with the people around you.

You can go a long way towards doing this by building rapport with others

"Rapport is the ability to enter someone else's world, to make him feel that you understand him, that you have a strong common bond."
- Motivational speaker Tony Robbins

Have you ever known someone who has a knack for connecting with people?

No matter who this person meets, he or she manages to create a sense of trust and understanding within a matter of minutes.

We can intuitively believe that this is a natural gift - either you can build rapport like this, or you can't.

However, this isn't correct: developing rapport is a skill that anyone can learn and then use. And it doesn't matter what industry you're in or what position you hold - knowing how to build rapport can bring you countless opportunities. After all, when you have rapport with someone, that person wants to help you succeed!

So what is rapport? And how you can learn the skills needed to build it? We'll examine all of this, and more.

About Rapport

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines rapport as "relation characterized by harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity."

Put simply, you have rapport with someone when there is mutual liking and trust. Once you've established rapport with a person, he or she is far more likely to be open with you and share information, buy your product, recommend you to others, or support your ideas. And when someone has established rapport with you, you're likely to do the same.

Why Build Rapport?

Building honest rapport is a skill that you can use anywhere.

For instance, you can use rapport to:
  • Create a positive connection with new or existing team members.
  • Build good relationships with clients or suppliers.
  • Break the ice with new colleagues or with your boss when you start a new job.
  • Get support for your ideas and proposals.
In short, establishing rapport with people can open doors, create opportunities, and lead to excellent relationships.

Rapport is similar to trust, and you can often build trust and rapport simultaneously. However, building rapport focuses more on establishing a bond or connection.

Building Honest Rapport

Clearly, you can build rapport honestly, or you can use it cynically.

Good team working, for example, depends on good relationships. Honest rapport-building is great for developing these, and it benefits everyone.

However, if you're building rapport to sell someone something that they wouldn't otherwise want, or that will do them harm, then this is cynical and manipulative. Watch out for this type of rapport-building - you may encounter it often!

How to Build Rapport

We'll now look at strategies and techniques that you can use to build rapport with others.

1. Find Common Ground

Think of how comfortable you might feel if, while living thousands of miles from where you grew up, you met someone from your hometown. That sense of connectedness creates an instant rapport between two people!

When you meet someone new, do your best to find something you have in common. Use open-ended questions to discover some personal information about the person: perhaps you attended the same school or university, have the same favorite vacation spot, grew up in the same city, know the same people, or root for the same sports team.

Remember, any common ground can help establish rapport - it can even help to have an interest in someone's life or hobbies, or to share similar beliefs and values.

It's important to be sincere here; don't make up an interest in something just to create rapport. Not only can this seem desperate; it can dent your credibility!

2. Focus on Your Appearance

How you dress is a key component of making a great first impression and establishing rapport with someone. Your appearance should help you connect with people; not create a barrier.

For instance, imagine you're a sales rep calling on a plant supervisor. You're dressed in a well-tailored, expensive suit. Meanwhile, the supervisor has been working out on the floor all day; he's dressed in jeans, a worn flannel shirt, and work boots. The difference in your appearance is likely to make him feel uncomfortable and perhaps even slightly resentful.

A good rule of thumb is to dress just a little bit "better" than the people you're about to meet. Whenever possible, find out about this in advance. If you arrive and see that you're overdressed, you can quickly dress down by taking off your jacket or tie and by rolling up your shirtsleeves.

3. Be Empathic

Empathy is about understanding other people by seeing things from their perspective, and by recognizing their emotions. Once you achieve this, it's easier to get "on their level."

To be more empathic, develop your emotional intelligence so that you can understand others better. You can also use Perceptual Positions - a technique for seeing things from other people's perspectives.

4. Use Mirroring

Mirroring is when you adjust your own body language and spoken language so that you "reflect" that of the person you're talking to.

For example, law enforcement professionals apply the mirroring technique when interviewing witnesses, especially those who have just been through a traumatic experience. They might mirror the victim's body language, and adjust the volume and tone of their voice to match the victim's.

To use mirroring:
  • Carefully watch the person's body language, including gestures and posture. If the person is sitting down with both hands folded, then copy the person's posture. As the person grows more comfortable with you, he or she may relax and sit back: mirror this change in posture as well.
  • Mirror the other person's language. If he or she uses simple, direct words, then you should too. If the person speaks in technical language, then match that style if appropriate. When you respond, you can also reiterate key words or phrases that he or she used.
  • Copy the other person's speech patterns, such as vocal tone and volume. For instance, if he or she speaks softly and slowly, then lower the volume and tempo of your voice. (Research by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) suggests this is the most effective way to establish rapport. It's very subtle, but it makes the other person feel comfortable and, most importantly, it makes them feel that they're being understood.)
Tip 1:
While mirroring is useful in building rapport, don't match every word and gesture. Also, consider how far you should go with this - being too overt can be counter-productive.

Tip 2:
Clearly, mirroring can be a very difficult skill to master. Consider using role play to practice it.

5. Don't Forget About the Basics

In developing rapport with others, you should also use the tried-and-true basics of good communication:
  • Shaking hands firmly.
  • Looking people in the eye.
  • Smiling.
  • Holding your head up, and maintaining good posture.
  • Asking open-ended questions.
  • Being sincere.
  • Facing the other person instead of looking at your computer screen or mobile device.
These basic tenets form the foundation of great communication, and it's hard to establish good rapport without them.

Tip 1:
Although there will be times when you will need to build rapport with someone quickly, it's best done as part of a longer-term relationship.

Tip 2:
It's important to use your best judgment when applying these techniques - as we've already mentioned, using these techniques incorrectly or dishonestly can actually stop you building rapport with people.

Reestablishing Rapport

Once rapport has been lost, rebuilding it takes time.

First, confront why you lost the rapport in the first place. Be humble and explain honestly and simply what happened. If you need to apologize, do so.

Next, focus on ways of repairing any broken trust. Make an extra effort to put in extra work if you need to, and keep your word. Transparency and showing a genuine concern for the other person's needs will go a long way in rebuilding trust and reestablishing rapport.

Key Points

You build rapport when you develop mutual trust, friendship, and affinity with someone.

Building rapport can be incredibly beneficial to your career - it opens doors and helps establish good relationships with clients, colleagues, and team members.

To build rapport, use the following approaches.
  • Find common ground.
  • Focus on your appearance.
  • Be empathic.
  • Mirror the other person.
  • Don't forget about the basics.
Building rapport is best done in the long-term. But you can use these strategies to build it quickly, if you need to.


Speed Reading

Speed Reading
Learning to Read More Efficiently
Think about how much you read every day.

Perhaps you read the newspaper to catch up with what's going on in the world. You browse countless emails from colleagues. And you then read the books, reports, proposals, periodicals, and letters that make up an average day.

When you look at it, reading could be the work-related skill that you use most often!
It's also a skill that most of us take for granted by the time we reach the age of 12. After all, it seems that if we can read and comprehend textbooks, then, surely, we must be good readers?

Maybe not. And, given the time that reading consumes in our daily lives, it may be a skill that we can, and should, improve.

But what does becoming a better reader involve?

It means reading more quickly and more efficiently, while still understanding what you're reading. In this article, we'll look at how you can do this, and how you can unlearn poor reading habits.

How We Read

Although you spend a good part of your day reading, have you ever thought about how you read?

How do your eyes make sense of the shapes of the letters, and then put those letters together to form a sentence that you can understand?

When you think about it, reading is quite a complex skill. Previously, scientists believed that when you read, both of your eyes focused on a particular letter in a word. Recent research shows this isn't the case.

Scientists now believe that each of your eyes locks on to a different letter at the same time, usually two characters apart. Your brain then fuses these images together to form a word. This happens almost instantaneously, as we zip through pages and pages of text!

Advantages of Speed Reading

Many people read at about 250 words per minute. This means that an average page in a book or document would take you 1-2 minutes to read.

However, imagine that you could double your rate to 500 words per minute. You could zip through all of this content in half the time. You could then spend the time saved on other tasks, or take a few extra minutes to relax and de-stress.

Another important advantage of speed reading is that you can better comprehend the overall structure of an argument. This leads to a "bigger picture" understanding, which can greatly benefit your work and career.

Speed reading is a useful and valuable skill. However, there might be times when using this technique isn't appropriate. For instance, it's often best to read important or challenging documents slowly, so that you can fully understand them in detail.

Breaking Poor Reading Habits

If you're like most people, then you probably have one or more reading habits that slow you down. Becoming a better reader means overcoming these bad habits, so that you can clear the way for new, more effective ways of reading.

Below, we cover some of the most common bad reading habits, and we discuss what you can do to overcome them.


Sub-vocalization is the habit of pronouncing each word in your head as you read it. Most people do this to some extent or another.

When you sub-vocalize, you "hear" the word being spoken in your mind. This takes much more time than is necessary, because you can understand a word more quickly than you can say it.

To turn the voice in your head off, you have to first acknowledge that it's there (how did you read the first part of this article?), and then you have to practice "not speaking." When you sit down to read, tell yourself that you will not sub-vocalize. You need to practice this until this bad habit is erased. Reading blocks of words also helps, as it's harder to vocalize a block of words.

Eliminating sub-vocalization alone can increase your reading speed by an astounding amount. Otherwise, you're limited to reading at the same pace as talking, which is about 250-350 words per minute. The only way to break through this barrier is to stop saying the words in your head as you read.

Reading Word-by-Word

Not only is it slow to read word-by-word, but when you concentrate on separate words, you often miss the overall concept of what's being said. People who read each word as a distinct unit can understand less than those who read faster by "chunking" words together in blocks. (Think about how your eyes are moving as you read this article. Are you actually reading each word, or are you reading blocks of two, or three, or five words?)

Practice expanding the number of words that you read at a time. You may also find that you can increase the number of words you read in a single fixation by holding the text a little further from your eyes. The more words you can read in each block, the faster you'll read!

Inefficient Eye Motion

Slow readers tend to focus on each word, and work their way across each line. The eye can actually span about 1.5 inches at a time, which, for an average page, encompasses four or five words. Related to this is the fact that most readers don't use their peripheral vision to see words at the ends of each line.

To overcome this, "soften" your gaze when you read - by relaxing your face and expanding your gaze, you'll begin to see blocks of words instead of seeing each word as distinct unit. As you get good at this, your eyes will skip faster and faster across the page.

When you get close to the end of the line, let your peripheral vision take over to see the last set of words. This way, you can quickly scan across and down to the next line.


Regression is the unnecessary re-reading of material.

Sometimes people get into the habit of skipping back to words they have just read, while, other times, they may jump back a few sentences, just to make sure that they read something right. When you regress like this, you lose the flow and structure of the text, and your overall understanding of a subject can decrease.

Be very conscious of regression, and don't allow yourself to re-read material unless you absolutely have to.

To reduce the number of times your eyes skip back, run a pointer along the line as you read. This could be a finger, or a pen or pencil. Your eyes will follow the tip of your pointer, helping you avoid skipping back. The speed at which you read using this method will largely depend on the speed at which you move the pointer.

Poor Concentration

If you've tried to read while the TV is on, you'll know how hard it is to concentrate on one word, let alone on many sentences strung together. Reading has to be done in an environment where external distractions are kept to a minimum.

To improve your concentration as you read, stop multitasking while reading, and remove any distractions. This is particularly important, because when you use the techniques of chunking blocks of words together and ceasing to sub-vocalize, you may find that you read several pages before you realize you haven't understood something properly.

Pay attention to "internal distractions" as well. If you're rehashing a heated discussion, or if you're wondering what to make for dinner, this will also limit your ability to process information.

Sub-vocalization actually forces your brain to attend to what you're reading, and that's why people often say that they can read and watch TV at the same time. To become an efficient reader, you need to avoid this.

Approaching Reading Linearly

We're taught to read across and down, taking in every word, sentence, paragraph, and page in sequence.

When you do this, though, you pay the same attention to supplementary material as you do to core information. (Often, much more information is presented than you actually need to know.)

Overcome this by scanning the page for headings, and by looking for bullet points and things in bold. There is no rule saying that you have to read a document in the order that the author intended, so scan it quickly, and decide what is necessary and what isn't. Skim over the fluff, and only pay attention to the key material.

As you read, look for the little extras that authors add to make their writing interesting and engaging. If you get the point, there's no need to read the example or anecdote. Similarly, decide what you need to re-read as well. It's far better to read one critical paragraph twice than it is to read another eight paragraphs elaborating on that same concept.

Keys to Speed Reading Success

Knowing the "how" of speed reading is only the first step. You have to practice it to get good at it. Here are some tips that will help you break poor reading habits and master the speed reading skills discussed above.
  • Practice, practice, practice - you have to use your skills on a regular basis. It took you several years to learn to read, and it will take time to improve your reading skills.
  • Choose easy material to start with - when you begin speed reading, don't use a challenging textbook. Read something like a novel or travel-writing, which you can understand and enjoy with a quick once-over.
  • Speed read appropriately - not everything you read lends itself to speed reading.
    Legal documents, the draft annual report, or even the letter you receive from a loved one in the mail - these are better read in their entirety, sub-vocalization and all.
    If you need to understand the message completely, memorize the information, discuss it in detail, analyze it thoroughly, or simply enjoy the prose the way the author intended, then speed reading is the wrong approach to use. (Here, it helps to choose an appropriate reading strategy before you start.)
  • Use a pointer or other device to help push your reading speed - when you quickly draw a card down the page, or run your finger back and forth, you force your eyes and brain to keep pace.
  • Take a step back and use the material's structure - this includes skimming information to get a feel for the organization and layout of the text, looking for bolded words and headings, and looking for the ways in which the author transitions from one topic to the next.
  • When you start speed reading, it's wise to benchmark your current reading speed. This way you can tell whether your practice is paying off, and you can impress your friends and family when you tell them that you can now read faster. There are many speed reading assessments online.

There are many other strategies that you can use to improve your reading, as well as your comprehension.

Also, having the right information is just as important as knowing how to read it. Learn how to gather information more effectively in our article on Information Gathering.

As well as this, you may want to work through our Read Smarter! Bite-Sized Training session.

Key Points

Speed reading is a skill that can be learned. It mostly involves breaking poor habits that you may have developed since you learned to read. Simply becoming a faster reader isn't the point, either - you need to become a more efficient reader, and you need to remember what you have read.

There are some great techniques that you can use when practicing speed reading, including reading blocks of words, and breaking the habit of sub-vocalization.

Whichever techniques you apply, you must always be aware of the purpose of your reading and decide whether speed reading is the most appropriate approach.

When applied correctly and practiced diligently, speed reading can significantly improve your overall effectiveness, as it frees up precious time and allows you to work more efficiently in other areas.


BURNOUT.... Avoid it..

Avoiding Burnout
Maintaining a Healthy, Successful Career

Burnout can have a devastating effect on your career and your well-being, and it can creep up on you without you being aware of it.

It's the beginning of the week, and Mia is already longing for the weekend. For the past few months she's been feeling out of sorts at work, and she's not quite sure why.

For instance, she's always tired, she feels disengaged and unmotivated most days, and she's constantly checking how long it is until she can go home.

Mia is also snapping at her colleagues (something she never used to do), and she feels that there's never enough time to get everything done. This leaves her feeling perpetually overloaded and demoralized.

 Mia is showing classic signs of burnout. In this article, we'll look at what burnout is, what its consequences are, and how you can avoid burnout in your career.

What is Burnout?

Two important definitions of burnout are:
  • A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations." - Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson.
  • A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward." - Herbert J. Freudenberger.
Between them, these definitions embrace the essence of burnout, with the first stressing the part that exhaustion plays in it, and the second focusing on the sense of disillusionment that is at its core.

Anyone can become exhausted. What is so poignant about burnout is that it mainly strikes people who are highly committed to their work: You can only "burn out" if you have been "alight" in the first place. While exhaustion can be overcome with rest, a core part of burnout is a deep sense of disillusionment, and it is not experienced by people who can take a more cynical view of their work.

Specific symptoms of burnout include:
  • Having lost a previously strong and enthusiastic attitude to work.
  • Having a negative and critical attitude to it.
  • Having low energy, and little interest in what you do.
  • Having trouble sleeping.
  • Being absent from work a lot.
  • Having feelings of emptiness.
  • Experiencing physical complaints such as headaches, illness, or backache.
  • Being irritated easily by team members or clients.
  • Having thoughts that your work doesn't have meaning or make a difference.
  • Pulling away emotionally from your colleagues or clients.
  • Feeling that your work and contribution goes unrecognized.
  • Thinking of quitting work, or changing roles.
Stress and Burnout

So, what's the difference between stress and burnout? Although the two share some characteristics, there are distinct differences.

Stress is often relatively short-term, and it is often caused by a feeling that work is out of control. You might experience stress several days in a row, especially when you're working on a large project or are under a tight deadline.

However, once the situation changes, stress often lessens or disappears entirely. (Stress can affect you over the longer-term, however, if you're consistently experiencing these things.)

Burnout often takes place over a longer period. You might experience it if you lose belief in the meaning of your work; when there's a disconnect between what you're currently doing and what you truly want to be doing; or when things change for the worse - for example, when you lose a supportive boss, or when your workload increases beyond a sustainable point. You go through "the motions" instead of being truly engaged. Over time, this leads to cynicism, exhaustion, and, often, diminished performance.

Causes of Burnout

People experience burnout for a variety of reasons.

Lack of autonomy is a common cause, so you might experience burnout if you don't have much control over your work, or if you feel that you never have enough time to finish tasks and projects.

Another common cause is when your values don't align with the actions, behaviors, or values of your organization, or of your role.

Other causes include:
  • Having unclear goals or job expectations.
  • Working in a dysfunctional team or organization.
  • Experiencing an excessive workload.
  • Having little or no support from your boss or organization.
  • Lacking recognition for your work.
  • Having monotonous or low-stimulation work.
Consequences of Burnout

Clearly, the consequences of burnout can be severe. Your productivity can drop dramatically; and this not only impacts your career, but it negatively impacts your team and organization as well. Your creativity will also be affected, so you're less likely to spot opportunities (and you don't have the interest or desire to act on them), and you may find excuses to miss work or take days off sick.

Career burnout can also spill over into your personal life, negatively impacting your well-being and your relationships with friends and family.

Burnout can cause a variety of health problems including sleeplessness, physical ailments and sicknesses, depression, and even substance abuse. If you're experiencing health issues, speak with an appropriate health professional.

How to Avoid Burnout

When feelings of burnout start to occur, many people focus on short-term solutions such as taking a vacation. While this can certainly help, the relief is often only temporary: you also need to focus on strategies that will have a deeper impact, and create lasting change.

Let's look at specific strategies that you can use to avoid burnout:

1. Work with Purpose

Do you feel that your career has a deeper purpose, other than just earning a paycheck? Most of the time, rediscovering your purpose can go a long way towards helping you avoid burnout and keep stress at bay.

Look at the deeper impact of what you do every day; how does your work make life better for other people? How could you add more meaning to what you do every day?

These are important questions, so spend time thinking deeply on them.

If you think that you're in the wrong role or career, develop a career strategy to help you plan for a career that's better for you. Or, use job crafting to shape your role, so that it fits you better.

2. Perform a Job Analysis

When you experience work overload day in and day out, you can start to feel as if you're on a treadmill and that you'll never catch up. This is demoralizing, stressful, and often leads to burnout.

Perform a job analysis so you can clarify what's expected of you, and what isn't. This analysis will help you identify what's truly important in your role, so that you can cut out or delegate tasks that aren't as essential.

If you feel that your boss is assigning more work than you can handle, then schedule a private meeting to discuss the issue. Let him or her know that your excessive workload is leading to burnout. Come prepared with some options that could be considered for stopping doing certain tasks, or for shifting them to someone else.

You can also make life easier by learning how to manage conflicting priorities and deal with unreasonable demands.

3. "Give" to Others

One quick and easy way to add meaning to your career is to give to others, or to help them in small ways.

When you do this, it makes you feel good. Even the smallest act of kindness can re-energize you and help you find meaning in your work.

4. Take Control

You can avoid or overcome burnout by finding ways to bring more autonomy to your role. Try talking with your boss to see if he or she is willing to let you have more control over your tasks, projects, or deadlines.

You'll also feel more in control of your work if you manage your time effectively. Learn prioritization techniques, and make use of To-Do Lists or an Action Program to take control of your day. Then tie these in with daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly personal goals.

5. Exercise Regularly

Exercise can help alleviate stress and create a sense of well-being. You will also experience increased energy and productivity when you exercise regularly. What's more, regular exercise will help you get a good night's sleep.

Get more exercise by getting up earlier, or even by exercising at lunchtime. You might also be more motivated to exercise by teaming up with colleagues, or by setting up an office fitness challenge.

6. Learn to Manage Stress

When not managed well, short-term stress can contribute to burnout. This is why you should learn how to manage stress effectively.

There are several strategies that you can use to cope with stress. For instance, you could keep a stress diary to document what routinely causes you stress. Practicing deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can help you calm down when you're experiencing stress.

You can also manage the way you think - this can contribute to stress. By monitoring your thoughts and practicing positive thinking, you can change unhelpful reactions and manage your emotions through a stressful situation.

Key Points

Burnout is a mixture of exhaustion, and disillusionment with other people, the organization, or the career, over the long term.

Symptoms of burnout include low energy, a loss of interest in your work, and irritability with colleagues or team members. As such, it can cause low productivity, high absenteeism, low creativity, and even health problems.

To avoid burnout, follow these tips:
  • Work with purpose.
  • Perform a job analysis, and eliminate or delegate unnecessary work.
  • Give to others.
  • Take control, and actively manage your time.
  • Get more exercise.
  • Learn how to manage stress.
Remember, if stress and burnout are causing you to worry about your health, seek the advice of an appropriate health professional.

Thanks to MIND TOOLS