Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: communication

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian IT Contractors relating to communication.

Closing the Communication Loop with Your Recruiter

Communication breakdowns are one of the most common causes of missed opportunities, hurt relationships, failed projects and pretty much anything that can go wrong in business. As an independent contractor, you are right to expect the best service from your recruiters, including excellent communication, but even the best recruiters will drop the ball sometimes. If you truly want the relationship to work out, then it is up to you to help set expectations and close the loop in communications.

This quick video we created provides examples of how your follow-ups to everyday conversations can go a long way in getting the information you need from your recruiter and ensuring you’re both on the same page. Check out the quick tips and think about these examples next time you meet with a recruitment professional.

Be More Successful by Knowing These Business Communication Styles

Solid communication skills are imperative for any professional to succeed and are required through the entire process of being an independent contractor — searching for jobs, sending emails, working with different people, explaining complex ideas — you get the idea. We need solid communication abilities if we want to succeed at anything.

Everybody gets their ideas across differently and interprets messages based on how they think. According to this infographic by Nextiva, there are four different communication styles — Analytical, Functional, Personal and Intuitive — and there are optimal ways to communicate with each. Take a few minutes to better understand your style, as well as those of the people you deal with on a regular basis, including clients, colleagues, recruiters and family.

Be More Successful by Knowing These Business Communication Styles

Stop Saying these 2 Words and Drastically Improve Your Communication

Great communication skills are essential for getting ahead as an independent contractor. While just one word, “communication” encases so much! At the highest level, it’s being a good speaker or writer, but you also need to understand your audience (their generation or knowledge on a subject) and yourself (tone and approach go a long way). Right down to the specific words you use and, more importantly, don’t use.

Have you ever been in a conversation or listened to a speech and was baffled by how many times the speaker said “Um” or “Like”? Now, have you ever paid attention to how much you’ve been guilty of the same? These two words come out of nearly everyone’s mouth, and it’s not limited to any education level or seniority. You rarely notice if they’re not said, but when they are, they stick out like a sore thumb and affect a listener’s perception of you.

Put an end to (or minimize) both of those words in your spoken vocabulary by looking through the two infographics below. We found the first one on 9gag.com and it provides 11 killer tips to stop saying “um”.  More recently, we found the following infographic from Quid Corner that gives advice of no longer using the word “like” in the wrong places.

Stop Saying Umm Forever

Stop Saying Like All the Time

Refresh Yourself on the Best Communication Tips in Under 3 Minutes

Nearly every workplace battle begins with, or is made worse by, a miscommunication. Getting the right message across sounds like a simple task yet we can all recall too many scenarios where something fell apart simply due to a misunderstanding of words.

Nobody’s perfect and we all fail at communication sometimes. The best we can hope for is to prevent misunderstanding as much as possible, and the prime way to do that is regularly remind ourselves on best practices. This video below runs through 10 of the most important points for solid communication, and in less than 3 minutes! If you want a quick break, hit the play button now and save yourself the stress of fixing a miscommunication later.

9 Tips Every IT Contractor and Job Seeker Must Read Before Sending Email from a Phone

9 Tips Every IT Contractor and Job Seeker Must Read Before Sending Email from a PhoneMany IT contractors always keep their smart phone attached to them because the plethora of apps mean they can always be connected to family, friends and work. Among the many apps that keep you connected to work, email is arguably the most important but can also have the greatest failures.

In many ways, email etiquette when sending from your phone is the exact same as when sending from a computer. For example, you will always need to review the tone, use Reply All sparingly or know when it’s better to pick up the phone. However, there are also some distinct differences. Here are a few tips for anyone — IT contractors, job seekers, managers –to consider before sending an email from your phone.

  1. Get to know your email app. There are several mobile email apps available. Whether you’re using the native one to your phone or you have another you prefer, get to know it and ensure the settings are configured. How does your name display when you send an email? Is your signature block set-up (and do you want that “Sent from my mobile device” line)? Do you know all of the tools and how to properly format with bullet points and numbering when sending an email? Failing to review these early will result in unprofessional-looking emails.
  2. Keep them short. Sending emails from a phone is more time consuming compared to sending from a computer where you have a full-size keyboard. There’s also a higher margin for error. To save yourself time and embarrassment, keep the emails on your phone short. If it needs to be longer, jot down a few points in a draft and complete the email when you’re back at a computer.
  3. Don’t Be Too Short. Yes, it’s best to keep mobile emails succinct, but that doesn’t mean you can be lazy. Continue to have a quality subject line and include proper greetings and sign-offs. As well, keep in mind that an email from your phone is NOT a text message. There is no place for emoticons and typical cell phone short-hand. Finally, use subject-only emails sparingly. The email with no body and just a subject that says “Please send Susan that process document” may be efficient for you, but can be perceived negatively by your recipients.
  4. Avoid Long Blocks of Text. Another common flaw that appears in phone-generated emails is the massive brick of text, clearly written by somebody too lazy to hit the enter button. As noted in Tip #1, get to know your app so you can use bullets and line spacing to organize your email in the same way you would from a computer.
  5. Double-Check More Than Usual. While checking spelling is a given because of the nature of writing on a small keyboard and the jokes autocorrect sometimes plays, it’s also prudent to take a second look at the recipient you selected and the email account from which you’re sending.
  6. Have a Plan for Attachments. Do you have a way to access all of the attachments you may need to include in an email? If you did manage to load the files onto your phone, uploading them to emails uses data. Instead, keep files on a cloud account (iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc) that you can access from your phone and only send a link to those files.
  7. Be Careful of Emotions. At this point in your career, you know not to send an email when you’re in an emotional state (ie. Angry) because it’s too easy to write something you’ll regret. Your phone being so readily available will make it even more tempting and easy to send that email… don’t fall into the trap!
  8. Check Your Surroundings. It goes without saying that you should never write an email while driving. It’s also wise and courteous not to start firing off emails while socializing or meeting with other people. Not only is it rude, but the distractions almost guarantee mistakes will happen.
  9. Decide if It’s Necessary. Consider both the urgency and length of your response. If it can wait a few hours or you need to write specific details with attachments not currently available, then wait until you’re back at your desk where you can do it properly. Worst case, send a quick reply confirming you received the email, provide a brief answer, and let the sender know you’ll respond in more detail later.

Certainly you’ve been on both the sending and receiving end of a mobile email. If you’re like many others, you have mixed emotions about them too. How often do you send emails from your phone? Do you have any stories of mobile emails gone wrong? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

How Does Language Shape the Way We Think?

It’s a fact that everybody thinks differently, approaches a problem differently, and overall interprets the world differently. It’s also a fact that remembering and understanding this will help you be a better team member and work more effectively with others.

We shared a video last year discussing how bilingual brains perceive time differently. This video from TED Talks explains further about why people think differently based on their language (the one they speak, not the code). With thousands of different languages around the world, it’s fascinating and eye-opening to realize why some cultures approach problems completely differently from others. If you have a 15 minute break, take some time to check out this video. It might change the way you interact with others on your team.

Baby Boomers v.s. Millennials: How to Communicate and Overcome the Generation Gap

Breigh Radford By Breigh Radford,
Director, Human Resources at Eagle

How many times have you heard that the key to a good relationship is communication? Probably forever! But how well do you communicate with the different generations. Recently, I was told by a Baby Boomer (ages 54-72) that Millennials (ages 22-37) only know how to communicate through text. Shortly after, I was told by a Millennial that Baby Boomers are demanding and unappreciative. That got me thinking – they both have so much in common, but they don’t listen and tend to interpret the message into their own words.

Now, I belong to Generation X (ages 38-53) and lately I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in the middle of these two large demographic groups. It is exhausting being their mediator, so here are some tips you may want to consider:

Tips for Baby Boomers

  • Appreciate and take advantage of the energy and curiosity of a Millennial. They can likely do a task quicker via an app or a Google search. Try and get sucked into their energy and world, it could be fun!
  • Engage them! Millennials are more than an employee or an annoying team member, they want to feel that there is meaning in their life and job and be heard (so listen!). Instead of “Yes, but…” try “Yes, and…” – it is a sure way to show you are open to their ideas.

Tips for Millennials

  • Take advantage of the wisdom and experience the Baby Boomers have. They were young once and may give you a different perspective to consider.
  • Consider communicating to the Baby Boomer in their preferred method, not yours. Improve your influence factor by learning how to present to a different demographic in a way they understand. Use the original Facetime perhaps? Do your homework and when making a ‘pitch’ be professional, present all sides of the argument, and talk facts, not feelings.

Tips for All

  • Respect goes both ways. Be sure to ask questions, learn and never assume.
  • Clarify and confirm what you have discussed. For example:
    • “Just to clarify, you want me to begin the research project today and get back to you with an estimated completion date by tomorrow at the end of day?” OR
    • “Regarding our last meeting and discussion, I have thought further about working from home and I understand the policy as it relates to my role. I want to confirm that you are aware that I won’t be working in the office two days a week. I’ll start this program next Tuesday.”

Good communication always starts with a conversation, whether it be in person, phone, email or text. Either demographic can start the dialogue, but let’s start it and leave the Gen Xers out of it for a while.

How to Control Your Anger at Work

It doesn’t matter how great your team is, how understanding your client is, or how simple your project is — there are going to be days when you get angry. Getting angry and frustrated is natural and acceptable, so long as you deal with it appropriately. Being great at this skill tends to go unnoticed; however, if you’re horrible at controlling your anger, your professional reputation will quickly go downhill.

Keeping a level head at work does not come naturally to everyone and is even more challenging when you’re under pressure. If this is an area where you have room to improve, here’s a summary from an article on the topic that Forbes published back in May:

  1. Deal with your body/mind equilibrium by taking a deep breath, drinking a glass of water or changing the physical scene.
  2. Contrary to current trends, sometimes you do need to repress your feelings, especially when planning your actions.
  3. Think long and hard before confronting a person with whom you’re angry.
  4. Is the situation making you angry or are there external factors enhancing the anger? (ex. something at home, reminder of a past situation)
  5. Take responsibility and consider where you went wrong and what you could have done differently to prevent this current situation.
  6. Wait 24 hours before writing an email about the situation.
  7. Avoid complaining to others at the client site.
  8. Reflect on the entire situation, going as far back in time as possible, and then imaging how it plays out into the future.
  9. Do some other work, absolutely anything, to get your mind off of the situation and bring yourself back to a positive headspace.
  10. When warranted, get even with the best scenario – to right to wrong – but remember the words of George Herbert, “Living well is the best revenge.”

The way you communicate in situations of anger are equally as important or you risk making things much worse. Inc compiled 31 pieces of advice from managers for communicating with their team, and many can be applied to situations of anger. Here are some of our favourites:

  • I use email or WhatsApp for simple topics, but phone or face to face for dealing with more complicated issues.
  • I always ask if I can improve on how I communicate.
  • I always prefer a face-to-face meeting or a call, followed by an email that answers, “This is what I think we discussed; did I get this right?”
  • It’s important to understand the other person’s emotional state and how he/she responds.
  • A mentor taught me about managing the “monkeys on your back”. The idea is that everyone is trying to shift tasks (monkeys) to someone else. As a manager, your job is to delegate a monkey, but your team member may try to hand it back. My mentor suggested replying with “How do you think X should be handled?” If the team member doesn’t have an answer, he/she gets sent back out to find a few solutions. Now my team members know that they should come up with a solution before bringing me the problem.

Have you ever been an office when a co-worker (or yourself) lost control of their anger and had an embarrassing outburst? How did it turn out for them? Probably not well. The slightest slip up in these scenarios can have devastating results on your career with lasting effects.

Looking for Jobs? Have You Prepared Your Elevator Pitch?

Looking for Jobs? Have You Prepared Your Elevator Pitch?Grabbing somebody’s attention and easily explaining a product to them is the first step in any successful sales pitch. As such, sales professionals develop and polish an Elevator Pitch, a speech they can quickly blurt out to any potential client.  Not only does this makes the buyer know exactly what the product is, but also leaves them eager to learn more. As an IT contractor, you’re also always trying to sell your product (you) to your next client, so do you have an elevator speech prepared?

A few years ago we shared an infographic containing 5 simple steps to create your elevator pitch when searching for jobs. As helpful as it is, the design of infographics constrains the fine details so here is some additional information about elevator pitches, how independent contractors can create them for their technology consulting business, and best practices when delivering it.

What Is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a 15-30 second summary or commercial about yourself, the premise being that 15-30 seconds is the time you have to get your point across in an average elevator ride. The ultimate goal is to explain to a recruiter, client, or colleague who you are, why you’re unique and what you can provide. Your elevator pitch comes in handy in multiple situations — job interviews, career fairs, voicemails, resume summaries and networking events.

How Job Seekers Can Create an Elevator Pitch

To achieve the best elevator pitch, you must plan it and improve it over time. Failure to do so can result in disaster. Especially when you’re nervous, an unprepared person can blurt out words out that they never imagined and will later regret. It’s not enough just to think about your elevator pitch, you also have to write it down… and practice it!

The first thing to remember while creating your elevator pitch is to keep it simple. Tell your story and paint a picture that perfectly describes you, but you don’t confuse or distract your listener with too many details. In it’s simplest form, your elevator speech should include your name, your field and what you provide. Depending on the situation, you can also include what you’re seeking, your goals, why they should care, and a request for action.

That’s right! Different situations mean you’ll need to prepare multiple elevator speeches. For example, when at a networking event and meeting somebody for the first time, it would be tacky to immediately jump into a sales pitch that tells your listener why they should hire you and where you’d like to go in your career. On the other hand, when an interviewer asks point blank “Why should we hire you?” they would welcome such a detailed response.

Giving Your Job Search Elevator Pitch

When the time comes to finally introduce yourself and deliver the work of art you’ve prepared, don’t blow it. The delivery is just as important as the preparation. Remember to smile, be confident and have energy. At the same time, though, relax and avoid talking too fast or rambling. Finally, have a business card prepared to hand out afterwards.

A solid elevator pitch is a crucial sales tool for every professional so if you don’t have one, we highly recommend you get started. If you have already created a successful speech, then we’d love to learn more about your process in creating it and what you do to shine above the others. Please share your tips in the comments below!

If You’re Going to Complain, Do It Right

There’s always going to be something to complain about in your life. But the question is, how do you do complain effectively to get the outcome you want? One of the main rules to follow is to keep calm and make a plan.

Nowadays it’s even easier to complain with social media platforms or online review sites like Yelp. With those complaints being more public, there’s a chance for a response. Take a look at this infographic from NetCredit to see a step by step guide on how to take your complaining game to the next level.


Courtesy of: NetCredit