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Month: March 2008

Good looking pleasing personality test

@ PersonalDNA

Refreshing interface, immediate report, advice, trait ratings and logo/description to put on your site.

AND ARE YOU GOOD LOOKING?

The original post was about a personality test but a lot of people arrive here trying to find out the meaning of being good looking.  So I’ve edited the page and added the key psychological points of being good looking.

It seems to me that most people know if they are good looking or not.  We also know that some people are born with great attributes: they have symmetrical faces and are tall and well proportioned.

For the rest of us, this is what we can DO about being great looking:

  1. Smile.  Smile when you speak to someone, smile when you go down the street, smile when you sing in church, smile when you talk on the phone, smile when you are alone.  Smiling tells people that you like them, or that at least you are willing to give them a chance.  And they like you for giving them a break even if they are a teacher, a traffic cop or just the utility man trying to do his job.
  2. Listen.  Look at the person and follow what they are saying. Watch their body language and fall into step with them. Dance with them.  Repeat what you think they said before you add your own story.  Walk in their shoes!  Most people are never ‘heard’ and the relief people feel when you listen is palpable.  Watch for it.  Just remember to smile when you start speaking yourself.
  3. Spruce up.  People like to interact with someone who takes care.  There is no set way of dressing.   Just take care. Wash, iron, end, brush.  Fold your clothes at night.  Clean your shoes.   If you feel good, people catch your mood and feel good too.
  4. Exercise.  Look after your bod.  If you hate sport, dance.  A good bod is a good bod.  If you are working two jobs.  Take the stairs.  Do neck exercises in the shower.  Do Pilates quietly on the bus!
  5. Gratitude.  The last thing you should do every night is think about the people who gave you a break: the canteen lady who dished your food, the professor whose lesson made sense, the bus driver who took your money.   If you forgot to thank them in person, well do it next time.  But every night, go to sleep on the memory of people who did well what they could have done badly.  You will sleep better and look forward to tomorrow, smile more readily, listen more easily, iron your shirt with more humor and bound up the stairs with more energy.

And it will show.  People will notice you and want to talk to you.  Which will make you smile!

Enjoy!  Five steps.  Smile. Listen.  Spruce up.  Exercise. Gratitude.

And let me know if this list helped.  Thanks for coming by here.  Evey page hit brightens my day.

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Gen Y leadership style

The historical influences shaping Gen Y

There is an excellent article on Gen Y from The Office NewB on Brazen Careerist today. And who says Gen Y can’t write! It sums up the influences on Gen Y and shows the potential of their generation.

1. Getting along in an equal world.

2. Taking personal responsibility for the economic viability & sustainability of our work and lifestyle.

3. Re-centering our lives on our families and community life.

4. Fully exploring new technologies.

5. Extending self-determination to our relationships in the workplace.

I recently had an assignment in which I worked intensively with a large Gen Y client-base for three years. As a Gen X’er, I had a steep learning curve, and it is one that I glad I made.

I’ve found Gen Y refreshing. It is true that they want information to be personally meaningful. But who doesn’t? Gen Y simply live at a time when technology has allowed democracy to step forward. They are showing us the way.

Are Gen Y prepared for leadership?

I’ve also recently had some bad experiences with Gen Y as leaders and I asked around the blogosphere for their thoughts. This is important. Many Gen Yers are already in positions of responsibility and I have particularly disliked they way they are unable to relate to people with experience. I don’t mean kow-tow; I mean to relate; to acknowledge the existence of others; to inquire and to learn from others. These failures challenged my understanding that Gen Y are good at working in teams.

In drafting my comment to The Office NewB’s post, I may have found the answer and I would be interested in your opinion.

Gen Y are good at dealing with distributed decision making, not teams per se. In distributed decision making, the final conclusion is found by repeated iterations. Consensus is marked by a majority vote in some cases and supported in others by the absence of another compelling argument.

Distributed decision making does not require a leader to encourage involvement. The distributed system has been set up by a games designer, or puppet master, whom players acknowledge, implicitly but do not communicate with directly. Leadership in these systems moves around depending on who is contributing the most interesting solution. The games designers and puppet masters also respond to the players as the game unfolds.

In a conventional workplace, leadership does not move around. It is vested predominantly in one person and that person has an obligation to find the information relevant to the problem. The system assumes the leader has the cognitive and behavioral framework to detect and to collate all the information.

It is not and never has been a feature of command and control to ignore subordinates. That would be so silly.

If the system is malfunctioning and the ‘boss’ is not sufficiently capable to recognize and organize all the relevant information, or if the people put in those positions don’t expect to play that role, or if they problems we are addressing are too complex for any one person to function in that way, then we may need to overhaul either our processes or our structures.

I wonder if anyone else has a view one this?

UPDATE: Update of my views on managing in the age of Gen Y

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Aloha coaching: 3 points for conversations

I have just rediscovered Aloha Coaching and found their post on conversations:

Bronze is earned from listening to our own voice.

Silver is earned from incomplete conversations.

Gold is earned from voices that are struggling to be heard.

And how do we do this?

In addition to aiming for gold: to hear the voice struggling to be heard,

2.  Be patient with silence.

1.  Still our own inner voice

Have you seen Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED lecture on her “stroke of insight”?

Jill is a brain scientist who had a stroke quite young.  She describes what it felt like to lose the left side of her brain which governs our serial processing – our inner voice.  She cries when describes what it was like to be fully aware of the world via the right parallel processing side of her brain.  I think they were tears of wonder (though I am sure it was pretty scary too).

I think implicitly she was advocating the idea that we put far too much emphasis on our left brain, serial processing, “I”, “to do” list brain, and not enough attention to what is happening almost imperceptibly around us.

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho advocates similar idea.  I have found the idea of looking towards the horizon quite useful and particularly of listening to sounds as far as I can hear.

Galba Bright of TuneupyourEQ has been talking about reflection.

In my experience, some people who are very in tune with the world don’t reflect much.  I think that those of us who are have strong serial processors need to make time to relax, reflect and recreate.  In the hurly-burly of the world, we can become increasingly inefficient otherwise.

Does stilling our inner voice reduce our own motivation?

I don’t think so.  Indeed the opposite.  It allows us to hear ourselves too.

Our serial ‘doing’ brain is important.  It is what we use during “flow”, I think.  Maybe a neuro-scientist could comment on that.  When we are in the flow of action, we aren’t listening to anything outside that activity

We need both – action and stillness.

The big dilemma is when we get caught in one or the other!

I am just finishing a sabbatical and have the most awful resistance to getting going again.  I know from experience that the adrenaline high of action will take me away from the peace of reflection, and when I am in that place, I will resist coming down.

Have you experienced anything like that?

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Consider your career shift this weekend!

Sleepwalking to work, through work, at work?

David Bolchover, who wrote The Living Dead: Switched Off Zone Out – The Shocking Truth About Office Life and guest posted for the Timesonline, wrote on his book blurb that he left corporate life to do something with his life!

I also got an email for an organization that specializes in Career Shifts – you know those awkward career changes when you are going to do something different. They quote Howard Thurman whom I am sure David would like too.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.”

British poet David Whyte says similarly:

“There is only one life you can call your own, and a thousand others you can call by any name you want.”

If you can’t bunk out to the nearest bookstore to look for one of his books of prose or poetry, spend part of Easter listing all the times at work and play that you have felt truly alive.

It would be great to hear which of those you could sneak into your work life . . .

UPDATE:

To sneak good stuff into your job, look for Dr Rao speaking to Googletalk (on YouTube). There is no reason to be in job that is deadening.  But it might be way we “hold the conversation” that needs to change.

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HR is Everywhere! Five positive principles of designing those systems we love to hate

Adam Greenfield, author of Everywhere and new Head of Design at Nokia, brought the recent Royal Society meeting on Ubiquitous Computing to a crescendo on Tuesday with a clean, TED style, run through on the pervasive nature of contemporary computers and five principles of design. These are taken from my notes (apologies Adam). As Adam spoke I was trying to relate them to soft systems as well, say HR systems.

Once I got back home, I tried to phrase them positively.

1. At the end of the day, will my client, or my employee regard themselves as better off? And am I willing to be accountable for my impact on them?

2. Am I willing to discuss fully with my client or my employee or a knowledgeable person they select, what we are going to do and what might be the consequences?

3. Does my suggestion honor my client or my employee and bring them esteem and status in the minds of people important to them?

4. Am I aware of the time constraints and rhythms important to my clients and employees and have I entered the rhythm of their activity in a way that is pleasing to them?

5. Is my client and employee in effective control of the process and do they feel that? Are they able to terminate at any time freely and without collateral damage?

Why do we find this so hard to do? I have been following a discussion that the Chief Happiness Officer started on customer service. Why do customer service people hate their customers so much? Quite likely because they have not benefited from these design principles and feel disrespected themselves. Until we, the people who design HR and management systems convey genuine respect towards them, they are not likely to feel well and happy themselves

So while customer service people protest their innocence on CHO, what is our best defence?  Have you designed systems which violated these principles?  Have you had success stories which surprised even you?

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Simple rules of communication in organizations

Simplicity is a world-beater

There is a wonderful cartoon about computer interfaces doing the rounds contrasting the simplicity of Apple and Google with the interfaces most of us construct.

Simple rules of communication

That reminded me of a place I worked at for many years, which had inherited three simple rules of communication.

FIRST. Write down what you want on ONE side of a piece of paper – no more. And the top third of the side will be used for routing instructions – you don’t get more paper for that.

SECOND. Send it to me in time for me to read it before we meet.

THIRD. When we meet, explain what you want fom me verbally or through your emissary.

What I will do

If I cannot understand what you want in one minute, with a further one minute for questions, I ask you very courteously whether “you would like to withdraw your paper”.

It is possible to keep things simple!

PS The accountants had another simple rule. On no account, ever, will we approve expenditure retrospectively. Decisions occur before actions.

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The limits of positive psychology? Stopping the past leak into your heart.

Can we really be positive in bad situations?

I have never been totally happy, no pun intended, with positive psychology’s approach to objectively bad situations.  I am totally persuaded by our ability to make the best of good situation.  I am persuaded by our contribution to sort-of-bad situations.  I am persuaded that in a terminal situation, we may as well be happy.  I can also  point you towards little experiments that cost you nothing but your time and that you can try on your own.

Where positive psychology might have little to offer

But there are three situations where I am not persuaded positive psychology can help us much, though in truth, nothing much helps in these situations.

First, when you are in a bad situation alone, and I mean socially alone.  I haven’t looked closely at being physically alone.

Second, when other people will harm you, unless you harm them first.

Third, when you have experienced sustained social abuse and your fight/flight mechanism is on a hair trigger.

Thinking about tragedy with movies

I watched a Scottish movie over the weekend, 16 Years of Alcohol, that illustrated a combination of these three situations.  The protagonist grew up with an alcoholic father and joined a gang.  While he was generally terrorizing the neighborhood, he met a girl and was motivated to change his life.  The story is about his intelligent and thoughtful attempts and ultimately his death on the streets.

We can compare this story to Goodbye Mr Chips, which I watched last weekend, and the well known movie about hope, Shawshank Redemption.  In Shawshank, we have a protagonist who out-thinks and outwits people and is able to leave the situation by tunneling out of the jail.  In Goodbye Mr Chips, the protagonist has a mentor who is slightly above the situation and he is able to grow himself and ultimately change the environment around him.   Put this starkly, I think you already see the shape of my point.

In 16 Years of Alcohol, the agent of change, a young woman, was a resource but not sufficient to change the situation for the protagonist.  And  importantly, he did not exit the situation.  I’m afraid he should have left town!

Where is hope in a hopeless place?

The protagonist asks himself at one point: where is hope in a hopeless place?  There was an excellent line though where the young lady suggests to the protagonist that the past does not come looking for him – that he went looking for the past.  And he talks about stopping the past leaking into your heart.  These are good points – with slightly more resources and slightly less stress, he might have made it.

Extreme hardship and an abiding memory of struggle and courage

This is a realistic account of dealing with extreme hardship.  If you are interested in using positive psychology to move on from bad places, you should have a look.  Though a tragedy and not a feel good movie, you are left with an abiding memory of struggle and courage.  It is a respectful account of people brought up in the hardest places in our society.

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Making molehills out of mountains

Oh! I do like this expression. How do we solve large problems or answer large questions? Break the question into as many small questions as we can.

And if we are group or a family, do the same thing. Brainstorm the question and ask everyone to contribute, “two or three (neither more or less) specific things” about how they will be affected by the big question.

Bang on time – this will be useful this weekend!

UPDATE:  Bang on time again.  This is an important hack to add to a manager’s quiver.  2 or 3 specific things (neither more or less) about how they will be affected by the big question!!

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Being attractive to large groups, crowds and communities

Eeee . . ., why do I have empty seats? Where are my students!!!

Much of my life, I’ve taught in Universities. As we all know well, our ability to lecture varies enormously. Some people pack the rooms, and students from other courses are sneaking in the back. Some people empty the rooms, and are never quite sure how they do it!

Most of us are somewhere in between. Delighted when we delight the students and a little curmudgeonly when students are missing because we would just love to know how the stars pack them in.

Oh . . . that’s where my students are!

I was privileged to work alongside someone with theater training, who taught marketing, and who had worked in broadcasting. This was great! She could hold a room AND explain how she did it.

She asked questions about her performance differently. Instead of seeing everything as function of what she did or didn’t do (and also entering a negative emotional spiral when an hour wasn’t too sparkling), she thought about what the class was doing.

She thought about people entering, and taking their seats. What were they feeling and what were they doing? How they changed as she entered? How they reacted when she flicked the microphone switch to green: go. How they listened to her first sentence. How what they felt changed? etc.

She understands classes well enough to choreograph their reactions.  Whatever she did was aimed at producing a wonderful collective experience.

Now I have found someone else who can explain charisma!

I am a member of Xing, which is the European equivalent of LinkedIn. It’s worth looking at because it runs on slightly different lines.

Erica Nelson posted this brilliant article in Xing’s group for Global Business Women group. It is about how to write an attractive blog.

It’s also sage advice for thinking about presentations, lectures, meetings, and for that matter, going to a party! Erica also writes here.

Thanks Erica!

OOPS!  Link seems to have broken.  I’ve written to Erica (2 November 2009)

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