May 20th, 2015 Update: Good news! I found Mr. Featherstone! I feel much better!
November 10, 2014 Update: Many people have asked me, “Did Mr. Featherstone contact you again?” Sadly, no he did not.
The reminder still applies: Double and triple check what you put into those little fill-in-the-blank areas on Internet forms. Last week I realized I had written my name as “Tuba Rowe”. It can happen to all of us!
It is very frustrating to contact someone to ask for helpful material and not hear back about it. It is equally frustrating when the person receiving the request sends the material, but it is returned because of an inadvertent error in the provided email address. And I feel badly to think that a very gracious sounding man named Mr. Featherstone will feel that I’ve ignored him.
I have been trying to locate a person with the last name of Featherstone for the last three hours, to no avail. He wrote a very nice note and I want to send him the material, doggone it! LinkedIn, White Pages, search engines, Facebook, repeat and repeat again, but still nothing for the area where I am sure he lives. Finally, I decided to use this headline, in the hopes he wonders why I did not respond and decides to write again. Maybe he will see this and know I really did try!
Make sure you double check your email address any time you fill in a form. It is very easy to transpose letters, show a former email provider or make some other error, especially since website forms are often cramped and a bit confusing. Right now, I am going to try some variations on the email address I have been using, to see if I can figure it out.
You may be wondering what the photo in the article has to do with anything. Mostly I thought it was interesting to see the innovations of 1966. (Although why you would wear a sweater and white pants to watch TV in the sand, I don’t know.) Also, to remind us that technological advances usually are wonderful, but they can also cause a lot of frustration. If you are reading this, Mr. Featherstone, contact me again! Thanks!
Joe Tichio has created Greatest Inspirational Quotes: 365 Days to more Happiness, Success and Motivation. It would make a wonderful and very inexpensive ($2.99) gift for yourself and others who have a Kindle or a Kindle reader on their computers. I have free Kindle readers on my laptop and desk computers, so I can read electronically without buying another electronic item.
Here is the Amazon link: http://amzn.com/B00ARPYS6K. The author’s website is http://www.greatest-inspirational-quotes.com, and that is a wonderful resource as well. He seems to have insights, knowledge and skills in a wide range of things related to self-improvement, motivation and inspiration, and this collection is an outgrowth of that.
I have had a few calendars with daily quotes, which would give me 365 of them right on my desk. Unfortunately, I always forget to flip the pages on calendars and I don’t like to sit and read through each day all at once. So, at the end of the year, they’ve gone unread. Mr. Tichio took care of that, by giving them to me in an easy-to-read e-book, which I like and have read several times already, marking some good ones to use in my own writing and presenting at some time.
One of my favorites is #250, from the late, Stephen Covey, in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:
Until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise”.
Quote collectors like me tend to be very
hypercritical conscientious about correct attribution. Sadly, the use of the Internet has spread incorrectly attributed quotations like shredded cheese on top of an extra-large pizza. (That’s my Mickey Spillane impersonation.) It really is no wonder we’ve lost track of who said what, especially after someone more modern and famous has said it in an ever-so-slightly-different way or a zillion quotation sites have taken the easy way out and just attributed everything to Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison or Confucius.
You may remember, a few months ago I wrote about Mary Jean Irion’s famous lines, nearly always mistakenly attributed to Mary Jean Iron,who does not exist. If possible, I try to find the original text so I can read it in context, as I did with Ms. Irion’s book.
I’ve written to Mr. Tichio to tell him I liked the collection a lot—there are at least 300 unique ones, so this isn’t just a rehash, as many quotation books tend to be—and I told him I believe I could offer alternatives to a few attributions. (I’m open to counter-arguments!) After reading all of the quotations you will probably feel so positive, uplifted and inspired, you won’t want to be as picky as I notoriously am!
Greatest Inspirational Quotes: 365 Days to more Happiness, Success and Motivation, will be an excellent addition to any library and especially useful for pastors, teachers, leaders and all of us who have similar great thoughts but simply cannot put them into the best words. This book will give you the words.
Greatest Inspirational Quotes, by Joe Tichio: http://amzn.com/B00ARPYS6K.
One of the most fun aspects of being the author of A Preparation Guide For the Assessment Center Method is that I receive emails and phone calls from all over the country–and occasionally I’m thrilled to hear from other countries–the UK, South Africa, France, Australia and once from Russia!
That book, which I wrote in 2005 or so, has been very well received by thousands of officers of all ranks. I often meet people at conferences who tell me they have thought about contacting me to ask a question or to tell me they were promoted–or to share their frustrations over not being promoted. However, they didn’t do it because they didn’t think I’d care or want to be bothered. They obviously don’t know the level of interest I have in anyone who is involved in promotional testing! Of course I care and it’s never a bother.
Free Assessment Center Preparation Material
Free Law Enforcement Promotional Testing Material.
I also have other material that I use in my assessment center preparation seminars and some that will go in the second edition of the book, coming out this year. I’ll be happy to send helpful material, without charge, to anyone who requests it.
If you’d like some free material, contact me on the contact form. I’d like to know the department, the rank involved, and anything else you want to share about your efforts. I won’t bother you again and everything I receive is confidential. I just like to be a resource–but I do like to know a bit about who I’m sending things to.
I do the same thing with church safety and security material and have sent many thousands of free documents to church leaders and police officers who have requested that information. (If you’d like that at the same time, let me know.)
If you would like FREE training material on how to be more successful in your law enforcement promotional testing, contact me and let me know how I can help.
Two pages of instructions for
this new concept.
I found this article and some similar ones, in a 1934 issue of Ladies Home Companion. (Enlarge the page to read the text if you can’t do so. It’s interesting!) Thermostats on gas and electric ranges were still relatively new and many cooks resisted using them.
When my mother moved to Georgia in the 1930s, her mother-in-law (my grandmother, who I don’t remember but who, by all accounts, I would not have liked) had a two-burner propane gas range with a small oven. It was used for storing pans because she was convinced it wasn’t good for cooking, certainly not baking. Not when she could much more easily adjust the amount of coal in the tray under the coal oven.
What technology at work still requires you to call for help every few minutes?
For many people there is a tendency to resist learning anything that requires very much mental effort (I’m that way!) And, there is often resistance to trying to learn a process that is taught in a manner that is more confusing and demeaning than it is helpful. But, if there is equipment, technology or processes at work that all employees are expected to use regularly, commit to learning to do that part of your job effectively and efficiently.
It makes anyone sound ignorant, old, lazy and/or ridiculous, to hear them say, “I can barely turn on a computer, so I don’t check my email very often.” “Liiiiiiiisssssaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Can you load the paper in the copier?” Or, “Could you help me right away??? I have to open a file in email and I’m afraid I’ll delete everything if I start messing with buttons or keys or whatever you call them.”
It’s 2011 and we’ve all gotten used to adjusting the thermostat on ovens (even the ones I consider to be completely counter-intuitive.) We no longer stand and stare with wonder as the microwave heats a cup of water. Most of us can use at least 50% of the capabilities of our phones. We’ve acquired a lot of technological saavy. We should be past expecting someone to bail us out every time we need to unjam a piece of paper, save a photo, use email, or any other routine aspect of our work. (This advice does not necessarily extend to setting the clock on your electronic equipment at home.)
The Empty Hard Drive
You’ve probably heard about the Blue Screen of Death and the Black Screen of Death, but until you’ve experienced the Empty Hard Drive of Death which produces the Blank Screen of Misery, you won’t fully understand the gut-wrenching experience it can be.
Think about this catastrophe: Everything you’ve typed, scanned, saved, produced, edited, recorded, downloaded, viewed and worked on, all gone. It’s enough to make even an optimistic and hopeful person feel PTSD coming on!
You can avoid the worst of those feelings by having an external drive with your data automatically backed up often. Or, you can have an external drive you manually back up often. The key phrase is, back up often.
You can also use a web-based synchronizing and/or back up program or just a very large portable USB device on which you save important files regularly.
This concept is like, “Which teeth do you have to floss?” “Only the ones you want to keep.”
“Which files do you need to back up?” Answer: The ones you use, the ones you want, the ones you created, the ones you will want again sometime. Which is to say, “All of them!!”
Right now, are you confident of never having to worry about losing the music, video, photographs and documents on your computer? What is the program, plan or device that is guarding them for you? Make sure it’s working, backing-up often and easy for you to access.
If you don’t have that confidence, don’t let another day go by without doing what it takes to protect your work, memories and–if you’re like many who live on a computer–your life!
Another potential barrier to clear, complete, courteous communications.
There’s been a huge increase in the use of smart phones (mobile phones that offer advanced technology not available on standard phones) or semi-smart phones (not quite so advanced but still capable of sending and receiving emails, communicating on social networks and a few basic applications.) Email was problematic enough–now we have a whole new set of challenges!
Here are a few reminders, although not an all-inclusive list. If you have some additional ideas, let me know.
1. If you will be at your computer within a few hours but want to contact the sender immmediately, send a preset response message (develop several to fit a variety of situations.) “I received your message on my phone. Will reply fully later.” You can go to the front of that preset message and insert the name. “Bill, I received your message….”
Or, you can add a personalized sentence or two. “I want to give this a full response, Jan, so I’ll be sure to email you today.” “Thanks for the contact, Bill. I’ll email within the hour.”
2. If you must respond more fully right away, have a preset message to explain your status. “I’m using my mobile phone for this response, please forgive any formatting errors.” That may help to explain misspellings, missed punctuation or anything else caused by the method of communicating. You may want to add that you’ll follow up when you’re at your computer.
3. If you are sending an email message you know will go to someone’s mobile device, keep it brief to limit the amount of scrolling and screen advancing the other person has to do. Using an executive summary paragraph (all the significant details, kept very brief) is very helpful. Consider letting the receiver know there is more. “John wants everyone to meet. Contact me when we can discuss in detail.”
4. If you have a very, very smart phone, remember that others may not. Some mobile devices are much more user-friendly than others. Don’t judge too harshly if you and someone else are communicating for business and it appears you’re being answered in a curt way or that there are noticeable spacing and formatting problems.
When you are sending messages from your mobile device, remember that some one word or one sentence messages are no more appropriate in writing than they would be in person.
5. Follow up with regular email or phone messages in which you can use more courtesy phrases and sound less curt. You can accomplish a lot in short messages, but you can’t build relationships, credibility and trust that way alone.
Quick messages by text or email are needed on many occasions, but they can’t take the place of full conversations. On the other hand, they may help you develop good habits about your messages. If you know someone is having to purposely go to six screens to read your excessively long email messages, you might edit it a bit better.
6. Use standard spelling if you are writing for business. Ur instead of your or you’re is never acceptable for a business message. Proof quickly to make sure you used capital letters and punctuation correctly.
7. Send a test email and a test text message to someone who has a phone that is less or more sophisticated than yours, so you can see the differences. Consider what adjustments might be helpful on any mobile device.
Any other ideas?
Leading up to Administrative Professional’s Week, the last full week in April, I thought this would be a good reminder of how technology–and a changed society– has improved many aspects of the way we work. This article is from a circa 1945 magazine, touting the advantages of magnetic wire recorders. The recorder cost almost $400. The divorce was probably more expensive.
The image of the secretary sitting on the boss’s lap was part of cartoons and office anecdotes, but I doubt it was as prevalent as those stories make it sound. For one thing, not every secretary was young, lightweight and willing. On the other hand, one woman who was an executive secretary in the late 1940s told me she massaged her boss’s scalp every day at 3 p.m., so maybe sitting on his lap was part of the work too! (I think the secretary in the photo looks unimpressed though, don’t you? )
In this same era, the International Association of Administrative Professionals was formed as the National Secretaries Association. It’s a non-profit, networking and educational association with 40,000 members, world-wide. In addition to providing a variety of training and certification programs, the association has a website with helpful information that can be adapted to any work setting and any job. Check it out for yourself and provide it as a resource to others.
You may also want to check on some of the sites that offer improved office seating.
To Improve Your Credibility, Cite Your References
•Most serious conversations are peppered with opinions, ideas and general thoughts, but rarely with verbal footnotes.
•Most casual conversations are about interests and activities but rarely include even a hint about how the participants learn anything new–if they do.
•At work, we are often quick to say how things should be done or done differently, but we don’t cite anything to support our suggestions.
•We start on a new project or are given a new assignment and anyone hearing us talk about it would assume we are learning by doing, not by studying or researching.
•We’re interviewed for a job, promotion or in-house assignment change and we answer questions without referring to the training, reading, researching or self-initiated experience we used as a basis for our responses. So, for all the interviewers know, we just pulled the answers out of our hats–or elsewhere.
Let Others Know How You Know What You Know
All of those situations are reasons why we should keep ourselves informed, aware and knowledgeable–and let others know about our efforts when it’s appropriate to do so. You don’t have to drop book titles and college classes in every conversation, but you certainly can let people know, now and then, that you keep yourself informed. Let them know you are continually expanding your perspectives. At the very least, introduce some new topics into your conversations.
“I just started (or finished or are reading) a really interesting book about ____ .”
“I’ve talked to four or five other supervisors to help me figure out the best way to deal with this.”
“I wanted to refresh my thinking on this subject and I saw they were going to do a show about it on TV, so I watched it.”
“I had been hearing about _______and I did some Internet research on it. It was a lot of new information for me.”
“We were taught that technique in training a few months ago so I tried it and it worked!”
“I know that ________suggests handling this in a different way, but I’ve given it a lot of thought and read as much as I could on it, and I think we should ____.”
“Over the years I’ve watched how supervisors like ___, ____ and____ have handled conflicts. I’ve developed responses that I think combines the best of all them.”
Those kind of attributions and acknowledgements may not present you as the genius who thought of everything yourself, but they let people know you are aware of the need to keep learning and to apply what you’ve learned. That’s even better!
Think of how many voice messages you have received in the last year. Consider that every time you get a voice message, someone has listened to your recorded greeting. Start your new year with a fresh greeting message and keep it fresh.
Correct mumbles and misspeaks. When some of the same people call you repeatedly, they hear you repeatedly fumble your name, clear your throat or speak to someone in the background as you hang up. Record a new greeting that lets them hear you at your best.
Update your greeting and keep it current. Some people record a new greeting every day. I did that for a time (and received compliments on it) but found it to be more trouble than I wanted to deal with. However, it’s oten necessary to change your messages for specific situations.
“Hello, this is Mark Sanderson. It’s Tuesday, January 4th, and I’m traveling today. I’ll be returning calls tomorrow, Wednesday, so please leave your message. Thanks!”
“Hi, this is Jan Rossoni. I’ll be out of the office and won’t be getting messages until February 10th. Paul Nabors will be happy to help you before then and he can be reached at 316-222-0570. Otherwise, leave a message and I’ll call you back when I return in February. Thank you!”
If you do that kind of updating, call yourself and leave a reminder to change the message before business starts the day you return.
Give callers a fresh mental image of you. When your greeting sounds the same for months or years, frequent callers just wait to get to the spot where they can leave a message. When you occasionally have a fresh sound, even frequent callers tend to listen to it as though they are listening to you speak. Let them hear you as a dynamic person who is engaged in work, not a dull, recorded echo of you from two years ago.
- It sounds pretentious for anyone but the President or Donald Trump to have a secretary record the greeting.
- Don’t pause after, “Hello.” People feel silly when they start talking, then realize it’s a recording. Well, I sure feel silly when I do that, anyway!
- Say your greeting as though you’re really talking to someone, not as though you’re reading a script.
- Catch phrases are usually unnecessary and a bit much. (“Have a GREAT day!” “Go Broncos!” ) Get some input from a colleague about them.
- Put a slight smile in your voice instead of sounding excessively stern.
- Call yourself to hear what others hear. For example, there is no point in saying something that an automated message repeats after your personal message.
The bottom line: Your voice message is you to those who call. Let them hear the best, current you.
In the book, Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive And Others Die, authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath talk about the curse of knowledge. They explain it as being the condition in which we know something so well we can’t remember what it was like to lack the knowledge. As a result, the better we know something the less able we are to communicate about it effectively.
That tendency creates problems enough for us, but we make it much worse when we add two of our human traits: Arrogance and Impatience. Those two traits added to our knowledge, skills and understanding can easily build barriers between us and those we want to influence, persuade or teach or with whom we simply want to communicate effectively.
*Have you been in a situation at work, home or somewhere else, where you felt someone was not concerned with whether you learned or even if you understood their viewpoint, but mostly wanted to demonstrate how knowledgeable or skillful he or she was?
*Have you ever felt someone was using his or her knowledge as a weapon against you, to make you feel lacking compared to them?
*Have you been in a situation where you felt you were bothering or irritating someone when you didn’t understand something right away, had to ask a question or weren’t sure of what to do next?
When we display arrogance or impatience, people with whom we’re communicating turn us off consciously or subconsciously. At the very least they develop a negative attitude about us–and often about the things we want to teach or share. There’s an adage, attributed to at least a dozen people, which is true no matter who said it: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Share your blessings with others.
Occasionally stop and think about how different your life would be if you lacked the knowledge and skills you now possess–whether or not you use them every day. Consider basic as well as high level abilities: reading labels or instructions, writing or typing your name, having an advanced vocabulary, being able to drive, understanding a book, newspaper or magazine and being able to explain it to someone, being able to cook or use tools and knowing how to perform any of thousands of routine and special tasks. Be extremely grateful for all of that and for the impact on your life and work.
The next time someone–a friend, coworker, employee, client or customer, family member, trainee or class member–asks you a question, remember what it was like when you had questions, too. The next time you need or want to share your understanding, knowledge, skills or abilities, make it a positive experience for others. Think of it as a privilege to be able to transfer something from your mind and heart to theirs. If they don’t immediately understand the information or agree with your opinion, rather than letting arrogance or impatience put a hex on what you’re trying to do, stop for second and remember what it was like to not know. Start where they are and with good cheer and a caring attitude move to the next step, then the next, pausing to make sure those you are leading are following.
Count your blessings–and remember when you hadn’t received them yet!
Dawson Chatagnier: First day toward a Ph.D.!