Thursday, August 30, 2007

Getting a SLANT on Doing Better

A while back, the University of Kansas created a "Starter Strategy" to help students learn how to engage more thoroughly in their classes, called SLANT.
  • S - Sit in the front of the room
  • L - Lean forward
  • A - Ask questions
  • N - Nod your head
  • T - Talk about the material

As with SMART goals, there are several variations as to what the letters in the SLANT mnemonic actually stand for, and I've used the ones that resonate best for me. Regardless, the idea behind SLANT is that if you do the five things more consistently, you can't help but do consistently better in class.

But not only does practicing SLANT make the student a better learner, it also makes the teacher a better teacher! Why? Because when students sit toward the front of the room, lean forward, ask questions, nod their heads, and talk about the materials they're learning even after class has officially ended, well, how can a teacher not be jazzed be by that?!

Given such a receptive audience, who wouldn't want to prepare more thoroughly so they could ineract that much more engagingly and communicate that much more persuasively?!

Now, let's consider how this might apply in a business setting. Ever been in a really boring meeting?! No?! Oh, well then never mind!

The point is that you might just be able to help your boss, and coworkers, for that matter, become more engaging ... and compelling - and end up doing a better job with that yourself - by regularly practicing SLANT.

Try it for a week or so and see for yourself.

Labels:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Is That Me Really Me?

I don't remember the source, but I do remember that we each have three me's:
  1. The 'me' that we think we are
  2. The 'me' that others think we are
  3. The 'me' that we really are

And while we'd like to believe that all three me's are one in the same, they often times are definitely not. Take, for instance:

  • The boss who doesn't think we're nearly as competent or capable as we think we are
  • The coworkers don't think we're nearly as helpful or collaborative as we think we are
  • The friends who don't think we're nearly as available or giving as we think we are
  • The family members who don't think we're nearly as loving or supportive as we think we are

The thing is this: In each case, there's probably some truth in what they're saying, even though our 'me' may think otherwise.

So what does it all mean? It means we're human. But its implications can be far more reaching because if we don't allow for the possibility (probability?) that the 'me' we like to think we are ... isn't, then we're likely to find ourselves in the middle of some very uncomfortable conversations/situations, moving forward.

So for the boss who doesn't think we're nearly as competent or capable as we like to think we are, and for the coworkers who don't think we're nearly as helpful or collaborative as we like to think we are, and for any friends who don't think we're nearly as available or giving as we like to think we are, and for our family members who don't think we're nearly as loving or supportive as we like to think we are ... yes, certainly help them understand where your 'me' is coming from, but be sure to allow for the very real possibility (probability?) that their views of your 'me' are as accurate, if not more so, than your own.

The 'me' we are would expect us to do nothing less from us.

Labels:

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Check Email MORE Regularly

Time, again, to play the Contrarian.

Much talk these days about how email is a huge time-management saboteur. As such, many experts are recommending that we only check emails twice/day ... to minimize our interruptions. But I think that's a pretty bad idea. Here's why:
  1. Checking for emails only twice a day will likely result in an inability to keep our inbox current. The resultant Inbox Overload, which I believe is one of the main triggers of workplace overwhelm and procrastination, is a centerpiece of poor time management.
  2. Checking for emails only twice a day will likely result in us missing important, time-sensitive, communications that, quite possibly, could save us from a LOT of unnecessary make-work ... if we only knew that priorities had changed ... before we did all that work we just did.
  3. Checking for emails only twice a day signals to your coworkers that you don't really care much about what they have to say. Being so disrespectful (intentionally or not) is hardly a smart move for anyone who has to depend on collaboration, teamwork, and cooperation to get things done.
  4. Checking for emails only twice a day undermines our cogitation, that is our thoroughly thinking things through before reacting or responding to them. You have to know it's out there before you can even start to think about it.
  5. Checking for emails only twice a day makes you a bottleneck which means that an increasing amount of what you have to do will be under increasingly tighter time frames.
  6. Checking for emails only twice a day prevents us from productively using our in-between moments. Consider:
  • Time you loose while waiting for meetings to officially begin.
  • Time you loose while waiting for meetings to officially end.
  • Time you loose while waiting on conference calls for others to finish discussing what doesn't involve, or impact upon, you.
  • Time you loose while waiting for your boss to finish that umpteenth phone call interruption.
These in-between moments are absolutely ideal for quickly checking your email and getting a meaningful leg-up on reading through some of those FYIs you typically ignore, or replying to the easy-peasy requests you know are buried in there somewhere, or previewing (so you can start cogitatating on) the more complex ones that probably just arrived. Go for it I say.

Can checking email too frequently become a time management problem? Sure. But because of the reasons just stated, I think checking your email too INfrequently creates even more time management problems than it solves.

Labels: ,