Why listening and watching are the best tools to lead, an advise from Sir Alex Ferguson

A lot of people are so eager to prove they are clever, that they speak more than they listen. This is where extraordinary leaders differ. Leaders listen and watch more than they speak.

Sir Alex Ferguson talks about in the earliest pages of his book, “Leading”. Who doesn’t know Sir Alex Ferguson – the man behind the numerous and continuous wins for the Manchester United team. This man has shown superior leadership, with extremely good results.

He and many other leaders can not emphasize more on the importance of listening and watching. These are two things all must learn and practice, in order to gain more information, connect and excel.

Listening

  • Pay attention. In conversations, words comprise only 7% of a message. The rest of the message is conveyed through the tone of voice (38%), while body language accounts a huge 55%. Learn to read body language. Don’t interrupt – when you speak, you stop listening.
  • Pause before responding. Let the other person completely finish. Give time to digest what he just said. Also, pausing indicates to the other person that you do consider what he just said.
  • Ask questions to clarify. Don’t make wrong assumptions, make sure what you heard was understood correctly. If something was misunderstood, questioning can correct it. Questioning also reassures the other person that you are listening.

Watching

  • Step away from the hustle, and look at things from a bigger, higher point of view. You may notice the root cause of a particular problem – something that could not be seen when you too focused to the problem in front of you.
  • Watching how people work. or communicate as a whole, can also give hints on how they are doing. There may be signs of a communication breakdown, or an unspoken issue, which can only be interpret through observations.
  • Again, learn at least the basics of body language – what calls for defensive, openness, honesty, angry, lying. Body language tells you a lot about what’s going on.

What is Imaginary Audience and what’s it got to do with your teenager and social media?

With the COVID19 pandemic and the continuation of online homeschooling (PdPR) this year, I have had to give access to gadgets more frequently to my children. In nature, I am one of the parents who do not approve screen time for children – I do not install games to my smartphone, they are not informed of my smartphone’s passcode, and I reduce my own screen time at night when I am at home with them (to set an example).

Now, the new norm is online schooling (which basically is handing out homework online, with hopes that the students understand attached videos – though the teachers are not to blame here, mind you, they are just as beaten as parents are, but I blame the system’s response to the circumstances). I find myself obligated to hand smartphones for them to complete their homework on a daily basis. And now that they have access, they suddenly have freedom to explore more – surfing, Youtube, games, chatting with friends. And since all their other friends are doing it, too, I fear my previous control efforts will be futile.

In an effort to embrace this new norm while protecting my children, I am trying to understand more on what’s out there, and what I can do to make the best of the current situation.

Along the way, I came upon a book “Raising A Screen Smart Kid – Embrace the good and Avoid the Bad in the Digital Age” by Julianna Miner. This book starts with the same concerns as mine, over the dangers of early screen time in childhood. Although it is a little away from what I had hoped (I was looking for something for younger children (my children are in early elementary school, while this book was more to effects of social media to adolescents), it was indeed insightful. It begins with explaining about natural teenager psychology and self-esteem, peer pressure, facts about the social media and the effects, and moves on by how to protect them from dangerous online relationships, depression and anxiety, online bullying, digital addition, and so on.

While this article is not going to be a book review, there is an old concept which drew my attention.

This was the first time I come across the Imaginary Audience concept, introduced by David Elkind in 1967. The Imaginary Audience is the condition where adolescents believe that others are always watching and scrutinizing them. For example, a high school girl feels that everyone in school notices her new pimple, and are talking about it furiously, when in actual, no one really notices it, and even if they do, not everyone really cares.

Another concept is the Personal Fable, where teenagers believe that they are special and unique, but nobody understands them, and everything is awful. As teenagers, they tend to believe they are The One, hence the many teenager flicks play around teenage rebellion, and becoming heroes, such as Harry Potter, or Katniss Everdeen. “You don’t understand me!” sounds familiar, right?

These two notions have been studied in textbooks on adolescent development widely, and is thought to be the reasons for adolescents’ self-consciousness and risk-taking (thinking they are invincible). 

Raising A Screen Smart Kid points out, social media makes the Imaginary Audience become real. Whatever activities you are doing in social media (commenting, sharing etc) is seen by so many people, even globally, and can even create permanent damages. 

The book proceeds to give several tips on how to address this issue, how to prepare adolescents before they begin social media activities, or making mistakes that may leave a permanent scar. And the best part is how to actually use the social media to the advantage of the adolescents. You’ll have to read the book to find out (no, this not a paid advertisement).

I love this book because it explains the dangers and the whys, and finally suggests practical advise on how parents and help their adolescents avoid making mistakes, and instead, take advantage of the digital age.

No matter what the book says, there are still several general rules for screen time that is suggested by many professionals, among are:

  • Consider children’s level of maturity before starting screen time, evaluating his ability to response to the exposures on the internet and social media
  • Set time limits – all gadgets in parents’ room at bedtime
  • Parents must have passwords to all accounts

Parenting can be as tough as managing engineers at work…

The truth about job burnout and how to spot it

We’ve all been through the Monday mornings,

“Ohhh it’s Monday already? I want to go back to sleep…”

The Monday blues – the feeling of not wanting to go to work after a weekend.

It’s a normal feeling for everyone, but when every morning is a suffer to get up to work, and the 20-minutes drive to work seems so heavy, and the 9 (or what, 14?) hours at work is dreadful, and then even after coming home from work you can’t function after feeling exhausted physically and emotionally – it’s a job burnout.

A job burnout is an overloaded (or sometimes under loaded) feeling at work, which causes fatigue, first physically, and ultimately emotionally. Left untreated, it can cause exhaustion and the sense of overwhelming, loss in productivity, create a toll in relationships, and finally demolish mental health.

A job burnout does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process, with the causes accumulating the stress, until one day one feels overwhelmed and that none of their efforts seem worthy.

It is important to detect the signs of burnout and take actions to steer away from it. In this post, I will share the signs and stages of burnout. See if you have any.

Continue reading “The truth about job burnout and how to spot it”

3 interesting reasons why storytelling is a valuable skill

Remember those days back in school where we had storytelling competitions?

You had to stand in front of everyone on the stage, and tell that “Hare and Tortoise” story with those props – a rabbit stuffed doll and a tortoise figure.

Oh how we hated the sickening butterflies fluttering in our stomach. No one said there was going to be so many people in the audience. How we practiced and rehearsed until Mommy too remembers the whole story.

Little did we know that that story telling competition is one of the most crucial skills we need to learn to be a grown up. Here are three reasons why.

Continue reading “3 interesting reasons why storytelling is a valuable skill”

How to persuade your ideas – revealing 3 tested secrets

A valuable employee is someone who owns ideas.

And not just own it, but to communicate it well enough to bring those ideas to life.

Persuading others of your notions can be tough.

A lot of people have ideas, but find difficulty to explain, and convincing others. Finally, what may be bright proposals, get ignored, and eventually dismissed. This is a waste of potential, and can dull motivation.

Let’s take a look at an old persuasion secret from the famous philosopher, Aristotle.

Aristotle said there are 3 tested and proven modes to persuade an idea.

Ethos 

This means credibility, trust.

In many occasions, people tend to trust something they already know the value of. Typical examples are the power of brand.

Just by the name of BMW, one can imagine the sheer driving pleasure. BMW is a brand well known for the ultimate driving experience. For a business person, driving a BMW may lend an impression of others that their business is good, which indicates investing with them, or purchasing something from them, may be secure. This is an example of persuasion with ethos.

To use ethos at work, we often see names of experts being quoted to strengthen the case. Here, people’s trust to the expert’s judgement is used to convince that our ideas are strong.

Or, the person himself, has a certain charisma, authority, or credibility that people look up to. Perhaps because of his past experience, or knowledge, or skills, or even integrity. With this advantage, whatever he says seem intelligent, and the audience is convinced easily. This is an example of ethos of oneself.

The next time you have a proposal to share, think how you can relate with something, or someone people trust. Or better, build your own credibility by strengthening your value, and one day, you’ll find anything you say is easily persuasive.

 

Logos

This is the persuasion mode using logic.

It means, to convince people, using facts, numbers, data.

Take below for an example.

You should take your medicine daily to avoid stroke.

compared with

If you skip your medicines, there is 80% likelihood that you will get a stroke and from there, 60% chances of losing your mobility.

This example shows how numbers can strengthen your argument and make your reasoning more persuasive.

At work, we use numbers you validate proposals, especially when it comes to money. No one wants to lose money, so the next time you have a proposal, convert the impact of your ideas into cash – you’ll have higher chances of getting people’s attention.

 

Pathos

The last but surely not least mode of persuasion is, emotion.

Most of the time, playing people’s emotions can give them a strong reason to care, and is the stronger mode of persuasion.

Children are natural at persuading with emotions. They cry and make you feel guilty for not buying them that toy the other kids have. They smile ever-so-sweetly when they want that ice cream they love.

At work, sometimes, when ethos and logos don’t seem to work, it is advisable to take out that pathos secret weapon. Hit that person at their most endearing spot, their concerns. If the Production department would not allow downtime for Engineering to perform a certain recipe change, point out the risk of not doing it, towards major machine breakdown and emphasize that it is their own decision and risk to bear by not approving the activity.

Yes, it sounds like blackmail, but it works.

Emotion can be many – happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, pity, respect.

Find a way to use maneuver these emotions of the audience in order to make your mark.

A word of caution – too frequent use of ethos may indicate that you are unprofessional, and have no other strengths, so only use it when necessary.

 

 

Commercials are easy practice to distinguish which of the three modes are being used to convince the audience. Some times you may even see all three modes in one advertisement. Watch how persuasion is being carried out in advertisements and practice it in real life. You’ll see how much more persuasive you can be.

This video is a well known example of all three modes being applied. Look for when is ethos, logos and pathos come in, and prepare to be mesmerized. Enjoy!

4 secrets to consider to get in sync with The Boss and be in the spotlight

There are many reasons employees quit their jobs, but none more than due to disappointment with The Boss. If an employee is not satisfied with the pay, or the job scope, there’s higher chances that he would find a way to solve it or get by, than if he is not in good terms with The Boss – he’ll find a way to move out, even if the pay is good, or the job scope satisfies him.

Unless you’re the company’s founder, or the management, you’re bound to be working for someone – The Boss. Understanding him is crucial for both parties to cooperate in order to achieve a common goal, if not to at least make your 9 hours spent at work less painstaking. To accomplish this, one must find a way to click with his Boss, to find that certain chemistry.

Today, let’s take a look at what you should ponder over in order to create that rapport with The Boss. Continue reading “4 secrets to consider to get in sync with The Boss and be in the spotlight”

Why casual conversations are a sure fire way to bring you higher

The value of chit chat, casual conversations with people surrounding us is sometimes belittled by some people, especially in this era of social media, and heads always over handphones.

People tend to avoid small talk, claiming it is meaningless, sometimes tresspasing others’ privacy.

 

Why is small talk important?

If we look at successful people surrounding us, we may notice that they are smooth conversationalists, friendly, able to talk to anyone, even almost seeming like everyone knows them! Continue reading “Why casual conversations are a sure fire way to bring you higher”

How to get hired in an interview – revealing 2 secrets today

Tis the season of hirings and interviews…

Or at least to fill my department’s vacancy.

After years of interviewing engineers and technicians, I’ve come to see some patterns in candidates’ resumes, and their interviewing skills. And after hiring, I can see the how the candidates work, so I guess, I’ll be talking about the whole cycle.

Today, I want to share two secrets in hiring. Continue reading “How to get hired in an interview – revealing 2 secrets today”

4 contents you need to feedback the Boss impressively

As a manager, I deal with many issues with many departments throughout the day. I also need to follow up with what my staff are supposed to do, make sure everything is on schedule, and to help if any help is needed.

I’ve seen many ways employees update their bosses. Some explain things straight to the point, not wasting precious time, while some tend to take more time to explain something, adding the spices and in the worst, finally not making any decisions at all.

Today, let’s talk about how to update The Boss. Continue reading “4 contents you need to feedback the Boss impressively”

Drive results through your passion (RIP Dolores)

So news arrived about the passing of one of legendary voices in the 90’s, Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries. Rest in peace.

The radios play tunes from Cranberries in memories of her strong, determined voice. Coming from Ireland, her songs bear messages of humanity, rebelling against sociopolitical issues.

Listening to the alternative rock on radio last night brought back memories. In those days, music is an art of good melodies (from ballads to punk), combined with lyrics that brought emotional messages (from love to anger to humanity). Call it preference, but today’s music seems like repetition of mere sounds, with trashy lyrics that made no sense.

Enough ranting. Back to The Cranberries. Continue reading “Drive results through your passion (RIP Dolores)”

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