Monthly Archives: July 2013

Accent Acquisition for Workplace Success

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Throughout history, people have been drawn (and repelled) by certain accents.  The difficulty lies in how much your accent prevents others from understanding what you are trying to communicate. 

Customers may hang up in frustration and turn away from company representatives that cause clients to strain to understand.  Peers may practice some exclusionary behaviors based on the level of discomfort they feel from the perceived inability to hold a dialogue.  Supervisors may fear promoting, sponsoring, or placing an employee to be client-facing, if the employee’s accent sounds convoluted.

Yet, the marketplace is changing and must be accommodated in order to stay competitive.  US businesses require a vastly diverse workforce to represent all market segments of its demographics.  Call centers for USA-headquartered international organizations are springing up around the globe in places like India, Costa Rica, the Philippines, etc.  If Americans can’t understand you the first time, they may think that you are unable to get their job(s) done quickly &/or correctly.  Accent acquisition is critical for workplace success.

And, according to U.S. Labor Law, businesses have the right to dismiss employees if their accents get in the way of effectively performing their work. The U.S. EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) states, “Treating employees differently because they have a foreign accent is lawful only if accent materially interferes with being able to do the job.”

WHAT TO DO, MY FAIR LADY?

Insert Joel Kindrick, Accent Reduction Coach extraordinaire, who is the modern-day Pygmalion.  This phonetics expert has worked with clients in every populated continent of the world via Skype and in person.  Over several years of honing his craft fit for the King’s Speech, Mr. Kindrick developed his published material Pronunciation Supplements (BrooksideEducation.com) as a set of instructional tools on the different sound patterns that plague a variety of specific language groups.  His book instructs ESL (English as a Second Language) speakers, non-Standard American dialect speakers (such as the Aussies), and other instructors to use the same techniques he employs with business people and actors.

Decades-long reinforcement.  An Argentinean businessman who had been living in the United States for over 20 years expressed surprise at Mr. Kindrick’s instruction, “Really? That’s the way it’s said??  I’ve been saying it this way for 20 years!” Habits form neurological pathways in the brain and one’s ear becomes accustomed to the sound being “right.”  And, native language speech patterns are challenging to unlearn.  For example, placing the adjective after the noun (instead of before) can indicate that you either like to wax poetic or perhaps speak a Romance language as your Mother tongue.

Mr. Kindrick teaches his clients to learn the tools for new sounds which mimic the Standard American accent. Because of the Argentine’s determination, he significantly modified his accent.  Prior to his accent acquisition, most of his contacts were native Spanish-speaking clients; now, his roster of native English-speaking clientele is expanding rapidly.

toe-MAY-toe, toe-MAH-toe.

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.  CorporateLookingGlass.com.

Sources:

Eeoc.gov

Joel Kindrick, MMH, Pronunciation Supplements, (Brookside Education, 2010).

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10 Traits of a Positive Thinker: #9 CALMNESS

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The 10 traits of a positive thinker, according to positive psychology author Scott Ventrella, are as follows:  1. Optimism, 2. Enthusiasm, 3. Belief, 4. Integrity, 5. Courage, 6. Confidence, 7. Determination, 8. Patience, 9. Calmness, 10. Focus.

This blog addresses Calmness in Leadership.  If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you may be a leader who role models calmness…

  • Do I uphold a practice 1-2 times daily of re-centering myself?
  • Am I able to control my worries and resentments from impacting my work with others?
  • Do I learn from challenges and avoid getting bogged down by post-mortems?
  • Do I keep my fears away from setting and achieving my goals?
  • Am I willing to hold myself partly accountable when a team member does not meet expectations?

Poet Edwin Markham said, “At the heart of the cyclone tearing the sky is a place of central calm.” This means that power is derived from centrifugal forces, which is central calmness.  As humans, we, too, may derive an emanating power from a central calmness.

At the heart of every problem is the seed of its own solution.  Problems are life makers.  Without problems, you do not have life.  What does that mean, you may ask?  The only place that has hundreds, even thousands, of people who have no problems are those 6 feet under…meaning, in the cemetery.  I can assure you they are not worried.

The word “worry” is an antonym to calmness.  It is a derivation from an Old English word, wyrgan, which means “to choke, strangle, or torment.”  In the past, when I worried, my husband would say to me, Why do you step on your neck?”  I never liked that phrase, and it would stop me dead cold to examine what he thought I was doing.  If we are victims of worry for long periods of time (e.g. longer than it takes for a storm to pass), then we are metaphorically choking and strangling ourselves.  That very action prevents us from optimizing our creative powers to emerge from a challenging situation.  Our emotions have effectively performed a “system override” thereby disabling us to put our noodle to good work!  Positive thinkers love life and carpe diem with something wonderful to celebrate it.

Remember, attitude is more important than fact.  You “give your power away” if you show anger because anger is a secondary emotion to pain.  Anger in the workplace has most probably been triggered by someone or something and you can increase your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) by recognizing (i.e. self-awareness) what those triggers are and acting to remove the dysfunctional response to the trigger.  Positive thinkers will attack problems with positive attitudes.

Positive attitudes include creativity, energy, compassion, inquiry, and trust.  Negative attitudes include worry, anger, anxiety, envy, and insecurities.  Once any of these negative attitudes take hold of you, they work steadily to produce negative results such as loss of energy, loss of creativity, loss of enthusiasm; and, ultimately, loss of health.

Prolonged worry has the physiological effect of lowering the white blood cell count, which weakens the immune system.  Consequently, you become more susceptible to viral infections, such as colds.  Stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways, so it is imperative that we arm ourselves with positive thinking in order to repel away the negative forces and maintain a healthy body.

A healthy body begins with a healthy mind.  Keep calm and carry on.

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator. CorporateLookingGlass.com.

Sources:

merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worry

Norman Vincent Peale, Why Some Positive Thinkers Get Powerful Results (New York, NY: Fawcett Columbine), 1986.

Scott Ventrella, The Power of Positive Thinking in Business (New York, NY: Fireside), 2001.

©Rossina Gil, 2013

10 Traits of a Positive Thinker: #8 PATIENCE

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Scott Ventrella wrote the book The Power of Positive Thinking in Business, which is a corporate take on  Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s work.  Ventrella lists the 10 traits of a positive thinker as the following:  1. Optimism, 2. Enthusiasm, 3. Belief, 4. Integrity, 5. Courage, 6. Confidence, 7. Determination, 8. Patience, 9. Calmness, 10. Focus.

This blog addresses Patience in Leadership.  There are several work-related situations that cause impatience, such as bias, lack of interest, ego, poor time management, pressure, personality (Type A: everything’s urgent and must be done now!)

If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you may be a leader who role models patience…

  • Do I allow people time to reach their own solutions?
  • Do I caution myself against the “let’s just be done with it” school of fast decisions?
  • Do I use techniques that help prevent anxiety from shaking my composure?
  • Do I make a conscious effort to consider multiple perspectives before jumping to conclusions?
  • Do I practice inquiry before making judgments?

Patience comes from the Latin pati meaning “to suffer.”  This is directly correlated with our perception of time and our level of control over our environment.  Do we feel like we’re being forced to wait?  Do we think there is nothing we can do about the situation?  Wikipedia describes patience as “the level of endurance one can take before negativity.”

When we are relaxed and calm, it is easier to organize our minds.  The result is a sense of power and control over ourselves.  How do you manage stress?  What is one thing that you do for yourself EVERY day?  Exercise?  Meditate?  Prayer?  Connect with loved ones?  Garden?  Journal?  All of these are proven methods to reduce stress…they are practices that produce eustress.  Ever hear that laughter is the best medicine?  That is a form of eustress.  The “eu” means “good” in Greek.

Eustress is healthy stress. 

Eustress is how we adapt cognitively, emotionally, and/or behaviorally to a stressor.  If there is an inevitable workplace-related stress situation, then the idea is to increase the eustress to compensate for the environment.  If the body cannot cope with a challenge, the body can go into a state of distress or anxiety.  However, if the situation enhances physical or mental function (e.g. strength training or championing a business meeting), then it is eustress.  Stress Management Intervention (SMI) techniques aim to replace negative and unhealthy reactions to stress with relaxation coaching and other coping strategies.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Be kind to yourself and towards others.  Plato: Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
  • Repeat positive affirmations first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed.  Judi Moreo is a fantastic motivational speaker who tickled my funny bone when she said, “I tell myself every day when I wake up: I’m beautiful, I smell good, and people want to talk to me.”  Negative ideas produce tension and internal stress.
  • Consider suspending or temporarily ignoring facts.  This allows us to remain open to new sets of facts.  Otherwise, the “facts” as we see them can serve as self-imposed barriers to our happiness and progress.
  • Ergo Sum.  Practice your healthy self-talk.  You are what you think…the mind and heart are our two most powerful organs.  Do what you can to fortify them.
  • Breathe.  Muscles get tight when oxygen doesn’t reach them well enough.  Shallow breathing is natural during stress, which is why deep breathing is encouraged in childbirth!

Buddha: In the end, only three things matter…

  1. How much you loved,
  2. How gently you lived, and
  3. How gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

What are you holding on to that’s holding you back from being the best leader you can be?

Breathe, and be grateful that you can.

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.  CorporateLookingGlass.com. 

Sources:

Scott Ventrella, The Power of Positive Thinking in Business (New York, NY: Fireside), 2001. (pp. 69-71, 128-129, 158, 164)

 

©Rossina Gil, 2013

10 Traits of a Positive Thinker: #7 DETERMINATION

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This blog addresses Determination in Leadership.  It is the 7th trait in the 10 traits of a positive thinker. They are the following:  1. Optimism, 2. Enthusiasm, 3. Belief, 4. Integrity, 5. Courage, 6. Confidence, 7. Determination, 8. Patience, 9. Calmness, 10. Focus.  These 10 traits were determined by positive psychology author Scott Ventrella.

If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you may be a leader who shows determination…

  • Do I have the quality of being able to stick to plans and projects?
  • Do I rise to the occasion when goals seem out of reach?
  • Do I summon up the energy needed to see a job through?
  • Do I create a mental plan to get a task done?
  • Do I stick to the task so that I don’t have to over-rely on others finishing my job for me?

Determination comes from the Latin determinare, which means “to settle conclusively.”  What have you settled conclusively upon?  Has it been to recover your physical health or shape?  (See war veteran Arthur’s transformation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9FSZJu448)  Has it been to have peace of mind? (Check out Mindful-Based Stress Reduction expert Elmo Shade: http://www.mindfulfoundations.com/resources.html)  Has it been to become the professional you imagine yourself to be?  (See blog: Ergo Sum: Practicing Healthy Self-Talk, http://wp.me/p3kjLI-M).

MOTIVATORS

Sometimes the motivators for determining a task/goal to its finish are internal (where you alone are the primary definer of your satisfaction, success, and achievement) and sometimes the motivators are external (where other people and external stimuli are the primary motivators of your satisfaction, success, and achievement).  Either way, they are rooted to your EMOTIONS, THOUGHTS, and BEHAVIORS that together compile your learning experience.

Here are some Internal Motivators:

  1. Enjoyment/Passion.
  2. Knowledge/Skills.
  3. Fit/Acceptance.

Here are some External Motivators:

  1. Money/Rewards.
  2. Colleagues/Friends.
  3. Recognition/Title.

Whatever your driver(s) may be, Determination is about not giving up.  Thomas Edison said: Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

Allow yourself to sweat.  Glisten, listen, and learn.

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.  CorporateLookingGlass.com.

Sources:

Scott Ventrella, The Power of Positive Thinking in Business (New York, NY: Fireside), 2001. (pp. 69-71, 128-129)

©Rossina Gil, 2013

10 Traits of a Positive Thinker: #6 CONFIDENCE

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Confidence is one of ten traits exhibited by positive thinkers, as listed by positive psychology author Scott Ventrella, and the 6th one in our 10-part seriesThe others are the following:  1. Optimism, 2. Enthusiasm, 3. Belief, 4. Integrity, 5. Courage, 6. Confidence, 7. Determination, 8. Patience, 9. Calmness, 10. Focus.

This blog addresses Confidence in Leadership.  If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you may be a leader who demonstrates confidence in the workplace…

  • Do I “look inside my own memory” and retrieve evidence that will only encourage me to move forward with my action planning?
  • Am I aware of the difference between confidence and arrogance/hubris?
  • Are the goals I pursue in alignment with my values?
  • Do I ensure that fear &/or feelings of inferiority don’t drive my actions?
  • Am I comfortable with my decisions, knowing that there are those who oppose my judgment?

Confidence comes from the Latin fidere, meaning “with trust.”  Self-confident people inspire trust and influence others in the process of exuding confidence, this is the core of any business transaction and solid relationship.   Low self-confidence is self-destructive and usually manifests itself as negativity.  People with high self-confidence are usually positive thinkers.  And, those who project confidence and hold a negative perspective are most probably overcompensating for an inferiority complex that exhibits signs of superiority; or vice versa, a superiority complex that exhibits signs of inferiority from time to time.  This is where Belief (positive trait #3) overlaps with Confidence…Wikipedia: “Belief in one’s abilities to perform an activity comes through successful experience and may add to, or consolidate, a general sense of self-confidence.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, includes self-confidence as one of the three hallmarks of self-awareness – along with a realistic self-assessment, and a self-deprecating sense of humor.

Here are some other ways to recognize whether you &/or your peers have been demonstrating signs of self-confidence, or the lack thereof:

Self-Confident

Low Self-Confidence

Adhering to your values/beliefs, despite possible criticism(s).  E.g. “This strategy requires further exploration, because it sounds more like self-promotion than a strategy.” Governing your behavior based on what other people think.  This is sheep-mentality.  E.g. “This strategy came from the CEO, so we are good to go by following it!”
Takes risks, and knows when to not be so accommodating. Stays in comfort zone, fears failure, and so avoids taking risks and taking charge of situations where s/he needs to assume control.
Admits mistakes, and learns from them.  E.g. “Yes, I have grown in my position and realize that I have to overcome personality conflicts and have learned to respond as an adult professional.” Denies mistakes, and/or attempts to fix them before anyone notices.  E.g. “I do not know what you’re talking about!  I did not say that!  I don’t know anything about that former employee asking for his job back!”
Demonstrates self-assertiveness by sharing feelings/thoughts. E.g. “I am concerned that your presentation is half an hour over the time limit, which will prevent us from discussing all topics.” Holds resentment and anger against others for days/weeks or longer while practicing victim-speak.  E.g. “You made me angry, because you were so rude to interrupt my presentation last week before I had a chance to finish!”
Accepts compliments graciously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that program/project.  I’m pleased you recognize my efforts.” Dismisses compliments offhandedly. “Oh, that was nothing.  YOU are the one who can teach me what I need to know!”
Realizes that others are entitled to their opinions.  They appreciate the diversity of thought, and recognize that it can stand alone, even if it vastly differs from their own.  Seeks out relevance to work-related issues.  E.g. “You thought it was great; I didn’t.” Feels threatened by others’ opinions and takes them personally, even if they are not work-related, &/or criticizes behavior irrelevant to work.  E.g. “When you mentioned the chicken was not ‘authentically Mexican’ at our off-site lunch last week, I took it as a sign of arrogance that you are well-traveled.”
Good is good enough…for now.  There is a constant strive for excellence, yet recognizing we all have to start somewhere!  E.g. “You did exceedingly well, and for these reasons (x, y, z)…now here’s where we can go with it (a, b, c)!” Hyper-stresses perfectionism, as opposed to high quality, as the only option.  Even though all indicators show success, there is extreme dissatisfaction.  E.g. “You can’t just start down here (lowered hand), you need to start up here (raised hand).” (disgruntled body language)

Power Posing

While positive psychology theologian Norman Vincent Peale referred to the “as-if” psychology as one way to increase our confidence, social psychologist and Harvard professor Amy Cuddy agrees that we can “fake it ’til we make it.” She calls the ability to increase self-confidence through body language “power posing.”  She claims that if we hold the “V” posture (arms raised upwards) for as little as two minutes, we can perform better in job interviews, cope better in other stressful situations, and take more risks confidently.

This research isn’t new since we already have established as scientific fact the discovery of the Duchenne smile, named after 19th century French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne (de Boulogne) – who found that there are different facial muscles which can produce a genuine smile versus the muscles that offer a fake smile.  However, Duchenne found that either smile (genuine or fake) can lead to an improvement in morale.  Likewise, Cuddy found that “power posing” can adjust testosterone and cortisol levels and trick the brain into producing healthier FEELINGS and behaviors (ACTIONS).

Trust in others; start with yourself.  Strike a pose.

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.  CorporateLookingGlass.com. 

Sources:

Amy Cuddy, Ph.D. Ted.com/Talks

Daniel Goleman, Ph.D. Emotional Intelligence (New York, NY: Bantam), 1995.

Mindtools.com

Norman Vincent Peale, D.D. Why Some Positive Thinkers Get Powerful Results, 1986.

Scott Ventrella, The Power of Positive Thinking in Business (New York, NY: Fireside), 2001.

©Rossina Gil, 2013