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Friday, July 26, 2019

The 101 people, ideas and things changing how we work today (From BBC Worklife)

👉 GO TO BBC WORKLIFE 101
The world of work is in transition. Are you ready?
In Japan, companies are encouraging employees to go for lunchtime sleep, or hirune. It could contribute to a better working environment. (From BBC / Image credit: Piero Zagami and Michela Nicchiotti.)
The world of work is being struck by waves of change. Some are vast and visible – leaps in machine learning and artificial intelligence or the rise of ‘do anything from anywhere’ technologies. Other ideas are just beginning to emerge – like monitoring content to ensure proper gender balance, or rethinking office design to promote air quality. Behind it all are the people whose ideas and attitudes have the potential to shape the next chapter of our lives.

[In this reading article] are the 101 indispensable things that you need to know about our work-life future:

We’re more likely than ever to live past a century. Whether this becomes a blessing or a curse for society and business depends on how much we can prepare for it.

2. 5G
Self-driving cars, robotics and smart cities, to name a few, will be supercharged through the 5G wireless network. It’s the next step in mobile internet connectivity – and it’s here. Almost.

In an ever-changing work environment, ‘AQ’, rather than IQ, might become an increasingly significant marker of success.

More machines than ever can recognise us, but they inadvertently discriminate on race, gender and more. People like Joy Buolamwini are trying to fix these built-in biases.

For better or worse, the internet is an attention-sapping platform. Perhaps an app that blocks, well, almost everything can help you focus.

We’re starting to trust AI systems to write our emails for us. Is this time-saving tool changing how we communicate?

AI can screen your job application – the question is whether it should also be allowed to scan your social media, analyse your facial expressions and even fire you.

Fasting, micro-dosing, supplements, some go to great lengths to boost productivity – even if the validity of such approaches is unproven.

Wearable tech that monitors physical performance is booming. Whether there is a place for it in recruitment and performance analysis is debatable.

Rethinking how buildings are designed, decorated and operated could help benefit our health and even our productivity at work.

11. Burnout
How the idea that we can work harder and be better at everything is creating an overwhelming sense of exhaustion and anxiety from not meeting these high expectations. (Continue reading)

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Active Listening: Hear What People Are Really Saying (From MindTools)


How well you listen has a major impact on the quality of your relationships with others. 

[…] Given all the listening that we do, you would think we'd be good at it! In fact, most of us are not, and research suggests that we only remember between 25 percent and 50 percent of what we hear, as described by Edgar Dale's Cone of Experience. That means that when you talk to your boss, colleagues, customers, or spouse for 10 minutes, they pay attention to less than half of the conversation.

Turn it around and it reveals that when you are receiving directions or being presented with information, you aren't hearing the whole message either. You hope the important parts are captured in your 25-50 percent, but what if they're not?

Clearly, listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. By becoming a better listener, you can improve your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. What's more, you'll avoid conflict and misunderstandings.

💡Tip: Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. Understanding your own personal style of communicating will go a long way toward helping you to create good and lasting impressions with others.

Becoming an Active Listener

It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break, and if your listening skills are as bad as many people's are, then you'll need to do a lot of work to break these bad habits.

There are (some) key techniques you can use to become a more effective listener:

1. Pay attention
  • Give the speaker your undivided attention and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also "speaks" loudly.
  • Look at the speaker directly.
  • Put aside distracting thoughts.
  • Don't mentally prepare a rebuttal […]
2. Show That You're Listening
  • Use your own body language and gestures to show that you are engaged. […]
  • Make sure that your posture is open and interested
  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and "uh huh."
3. Provide Feedback
  • Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect on what is being said and to ask questions.
  • Reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing. "What I'm hearing is... ," and "Sounds like you are saying... ," are great ways to reflect back.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. "What do you mean when you say... ." "Is this what you mean?"
  • Summarize the speaker's comments periodically.
💡Tip: If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so. And ask for more information: "I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is XXX. Is that what you meant?"

4. Defer Judgment
  • Interrupting is a waste of time It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.
  • Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
  • Don't interrupt with counter arguments.
5. Respond Appropriately
  • Active listening is designed to encourage respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by attacking the speaker or otherwise putting her down. […]
  • Assert your opinions respectfully.
  • Treat the other person in a way that you think she would want to be treated.
Start using active listening techniques today to become a better communicator, improve your workplace productivity, and develop better relationships.




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Thursday, July 18, 2019

How Good Are Your Listening Skills? (From MindTools)

👉Understanding Someone's Entire Message

For many of us, listening is the communication skill we use the most. Yet, many people listen poorly, and they rarely think to improve this important skill.

They get distracted by their own thoughts or by what's going on around them, and they formulate their responses before the person who they're talking to has finished speaking. Because of this, they miss crucial information.

Good listeners, on the other hand, enjoy better relationships, because they fully understand what other people are saying. Their team members are also more productive, because they feel that they can discuss problems easily, and talk through solutions.

So, how good do you think your listening skills are? Test them HERE, and then find out how you can improve.


🔺NOTE: Evaluate each statement as you actually are, rather than as you think you should be. When you've finished, click "Calculate My Total" to add up your score, and use the table that follows to think about next steps.

💡 You may also be interested in the quizzes below:

Monday, July 15, 2019

How to escape the ‘hyperactive hivemind’ of modern work, by William Park (From BBC Worklife)

👉 By William Park
Should ‘deep focus’ become a central pillar of workplace culture?

The constant ping of messages that keep us plugged into work chatter might be doing more harm than good. We feel we must respond – it is about work, after all. But always being switched on means we never have the chance to think deeply. And that is a problem for companies that want to get the most out of their employees.
Copyright : Evgenii Naumov
The next great revolution in the office will need to correct this, according to one man who wants to reset the way we work. He believes that the value someone can bring to a company will be judged not by their skill, but by their ability to focus. But how do we find the time to shut off distractions and do our best work?

Our workplaces are set up for convenience, not to get the best out of our brains, says Cal Newport, bestselling author of books including Deep Work and Digital Minimalism, and a Georgetown University professor. In knowledge sector jobs, where products are created using human intelligence rather than machines, we must be switched on at all times and prepared to multitask. These are two things that are not compatible with deep, creative, insightful thinking.

[…] Psychologists thought that busy multitaskers possessed abnormal control over their attention. But evidence suggests that multitaskers do not have a particular gift for being able to juggle multiple projects. In fact, in many cognitive tasks, heavy multitaskers underperform. Our brains have a limited capacity for what they can work on at any given moment. And using tricks to cram as much into our working day as possible might be doing more harm than good.

Being switched on at all times and expected to pick things up immediately makes us miserable, says Newport. […]

Because it is so easy to dash off a quick reply on email, Slack or other messaging apps, we feel guilty for not doing so, and there is an expectation that we will do it. [… According to Newport:] “The average knowledge worker is responsible for more things than they were before email. This makes us frenetic […]”

Fighting for concentration

What might being wired for work at all times lead to? Inevitably, burnout. Newport describes this way of working as a “hyperactive hivemind”. Unstructured conversations on messaging apps and meetings dropped into diaries on the fly congest our day. His objective, to give people the space to do their best work without distraction, is the subject of his next book: The World Without Email.

[… T]he important thing is to encourage a culture where clear communication is the norm.

Newport is advocating for a more linear approach to workflows. People need to completely stop one task in order to fully transition their thought processes to the next one. However, this is hard when we are constantly seeing emails or being reminded about previous tasks. Some of our thoughts are still on the previous work – an effect called attention residue.

Annoyingly, the busier we are, the more we switch tasks. So, feeling busy is not conducive to deep concentration. Estimates of how long it takes us to refocus after a distraction vary. But at the top end, one study found on average it takes us 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain deep focus after an interruption.

The flipside is that it is very convenient to have everyone in an ongoing conversation, Newport says. But convenience is never the goal in business, it is value. The assembly line revolutionised car production, but it is not a convenient system – it is the system that produces the most cars quickly.

Our workplaces should learn from production lines

According to Newport, the knowledge sectors that operate in the most focus-oriented way are areas like software engineering, where the goal is to produce a product. “Agile, scrum and sprint-based executions have been used in these sectors for a while,” says Newport. “They work on only one thing for three days and during that time the product is their whole focus. Software engineers never let things unfold in an ad hoc manner. This is more amenable to the way the brain operates.” (Continue reading)

Monday, April 22, 2019

RECOMMENDED Website + Blog: THE EMOTIONS LAB

🔺IMPORTANT: This is NOT an advert! This is just my honest (and free) opinion.

I've already recommended other interesting websites, tools and videos, and I'll keep on doing so in the future as long as I come across things worth recommending. ðŸ˜Š

Why do I recommend this website? Simply because I think it is interesting, useful and fun, and it contributes to our understanding of our own feelings and those of people around us.

💡Below is a brief website overview







The Emotions Lab uses the study of the past to help us understand our feelings in the present. 

It was launched in March 2019 and was created by Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London. You can visit our Centre’s website to find out more about who we are, and also check out our podcasts, follow us on Twitter, and read our blog, which has been publishing posts on all things emotional since 2011.”














You can get started by choosing an emotion to learn more about, or by listening to one of the ‘Emotional Shorts’ podcasts. You can also listen to AUDIO and watch VIDEOS.









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Tuesday, April 02, 2019

The emotion centre of the brain: why is mood so important? By Dr Genevieve Rayner (From Your Brain Health)

👉By Dr. Genevieve Rayner, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

“Somebody woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning.” You know that comment; the one that rarely makes you feel any more gracious towards the world (or the person saying it). At other times you might feel particularly gracious and sunny, for no reason at all.

Our mood is a transient frame of mind that influences how we think and view the world. It is influenced by events in our lives, the amount of sleep we get, hormones, even the weather. But what role does the brain play in shaping our mood?

The limbic system

Many regions fundamental to mood are buried deep in the most primordial parts of the brain; that is, they are thought to have been among the first to develop in the human species. This is probably because mood is evolutionarily important.

Being glum can be advantageous and has been shown to sharpen our eye for detail, for instance. But, overall, the brain seems geared towards maintaining a mildly positive frame of mind. Being in a good mood makes us more likely to seek new experiences, be creative, plan ahead, procreate and adapt to changing conditions.

The limbic system is the major primordial brain network underpinning mood. It’s a network of regions that work together to process and make sense of the world. (Continue reading)


From: Your Brain Health Blog
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Monday, March 25, 2019

Why we should learn to love awful corporate buzzwords, by Meredith Turits (From BBC Capital)

👉 By Meredith Turits
Why we all need to be a little more zen about grating corporate language.
Is vacuous corporate babble diminishing our capacity to think clearly at work? (Credit: Getty Images)
I just wanted to circle back on this. Have we digested the learnings from our fact-finding mission? I need to leverage these insights in the deliverables.

Perhaps you haven’t received this email verbatim, but if you glance back through jargon-littered emails from various jobs you’ll probably find something startlingly similar. Corporation, start-up, sole proprietorship or family company: bad business speak is endemic to many work environments – and, sometimes, infuriating.

In what can seem like universal condemnation, business jargon is considered bad form. There are dozens of overused words that some argue make smart people sound less intelligent. Movements have even sprung up to bin corporate speak.

Yet the backlash might not be worth the effort.

👉 GO TO FULL ARTICLE: In defense of corporate buzzwords

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

USAGE: "Compare With" Or "Compare To"? (From Oxford Lexico Usage)

In general terms, either preposition is correct, but the choice depends partly on meaning and partly on grammar. 

In addition, American English generally prefers to when there is a choice, whereas in British English the two different constructions are more evenly spread.

💡Let’s look first at the meaning of each phrase. To compare can be defined broadly as "to estimate the similarity or difference between things." For example:
  • Individual schools compared their facilities with those of others in the area.
  • It is difficult to compare our results to studies conducted in the United States.
In this meaning, either preposition can be used.

💡However, when compare is used to say that one thing resembles another, or to make an analogy between two different things, to is obligatory:
  • Her novel was compared to the work of Daniel Defoe.
  • He compared children to young trees, both still growing and able to be shaped.
A Shakespearean example ⇒ One of the most famous lines in English poetry, from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, uses compare to in this way:
  • Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Shakespeare is likening the addressee to a summer’s day, even though in the end he shows his beloved to be lovelier than such a day.

💡Intransitive uses

British English prefers with when compare is used intransitively, because similarities are being evaluated:
  • His achievements do not compare with those of A. J. Ayer.
  • No other English painter can compare with Sutherland in the subtlety of his vision.
In American English, however, compare to is possible and slightly more frequent:
  • None of those birds compare to L.A. pigeons.
  • No, today’s calamities don't compare to the Great Depression or even to the agricultural troubles of the 1980s.
💡Compared to...

When the past participle compared introduces a phrase, the preposition is either to or with, although here usage is moving in favour of to:
  • This was a modest sum compared to what other people spent.
  • Compared to physics and astronomy, cosmology is a young science.
  • However, compared with the USA and Japan, Europe contains a group of separate nation states.
💡Comparable, comparison

Comparable is used with to or with in line with the previous discussion, with a marked preference in current usage for to:
  • We find ourselves in a situation comparable to mediaeval times.
  • Social mobility is, in fact, comparable with most countries in Europe.
Comparison as the noun equivalent of compare can be followed by either with or to:
  • Poussin’s approach bears closest comparison to Michelangelo’s.
  • Prices for real estate in Tbilisi cannot stand comparison with Western capitals or indeed Moscow.
The phrase in comparison to is more often used than in comparison with, but by comparison with is more frequent than by comparison to:
  • The film is utterly benign in comparison to some of the more violent movies of today.
  • The standard is pitiable in comparison with other countries.
  • By comparison with North Sea oil production, it is a drop in the ocean.
Essentially, both with and to are correct prepositions to use after compare, comparable, or comparison, although it may be worth checking the regional and grammatical context of the sentence when making your choice.

👉GO TO OXFORD: "Compare With" Or "Compare To"?

💡GO TO OXFORD LEXICO and See more from Usage

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Friday, March 01, 2019

USAGE: "Enquire" Or "Inquire"? (From Oxford Lexico Usage)


The traditional distinction between the verbs enquire and inquire is that enquire is to be used for general senses of ‘ask’, while inquire is reserved for uses meaning ‘make a formal investigation’.

In practice, however, enquire, and the associated noun enquiry, are more common in British English while inquire (and the noun inquiry) are more common in American English, but otherwise there is little discernible distinction in the way the words are used.

Some style guides require that only inquire or only enquire be used.
  • Could I enquire about your mother's health?
  • She inquired about the library's rare books collection.
  • Every enquiry is very welcome.
  • Adam helped the police with their inquiries.
'Enquire' or 'inquire'? (1:45 minutes)
Both words derive from the Old French enquerre, from a variant of the Latin inquirere, based on quaerere 'seek'. The same root word can be seen in various modern English words, including acquire, require, conquer, quest, request, inquest, and question.
👉GO TO OXFORD: "Enquire" Or "Inquire"?
💡GO TO OXFORD LEXICO and See more from Usage

enquire or inquire (2:00 minutes)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

WEEKLY PICKS - 28 - READ and LISTEN SPECIAL

This is a weekly selection of free online self-study materials and resources for you to further improve your English language skills and have fun ENJOY!

👓+ 🎧THIS WEEK ⇒ READ + LISTEN SPECIAL
These are not typical reading and listening comprehension exercises. On these websites, you will find a list of podcasts or recordings that you can listen to while reading transcripts. Reading and listening is an easy and effective way of developing your listening skills, improving your pronunciation and building up on your vocabulary at the same time.

📌AMERICAN CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS
👉GO TO FULL LIST (128 short listening + reading articles)

📌BUSINESS ENGLISH POD ⇨ SKILLS 360
👉All Business English Skills 360 Lessons (Learn business English skills for communicating effectively at work. All Skills 360 lessons are listed on this webpage by the date published, with the more recent lessons at the top.)

📌 VIDEOS
925 English Lesson 9 - How to Talk about your Ideas in English | Business English Conversation (9:57 minutes)

925 English Lesson 10 - How to Agree with Ideas in English | Business English Conversation (9:27 minutes)

925 English Lesson 11 - How to Disagree with Ideas in English | Business English Conversation (10:00 minutes)

MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

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