How A Bad Reference Can Harm You

Whether you’re looking for work or looking for new clients, people want to make sure that you are who you say you are and you’ll do what you say you’ll do. One way to assure those considering you or your services is to provide a list of references – satisfied customers or employers that can vouch for your character and skills. But even though this seems like a no-brainer, many people lose out because they choose the wrong people for references.

The wrong reference can make you look unprofessional, unethical and unprepared – and all of this can be done unintentionally from someone who is trying to help you. Yes, this has happened and I’ve seen it. Remember that these days most employers are doing their homework and checking references – ditto on the consumer side when working with a small business. So there’s a good chance the people you list will get called so you’ll want to make sure that these people will represent you well. So let’s start with how to choose the right people as references. Here are some tips:

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Avoiding The Angry Response

It’s easy to snap at someone. They may say or do something that bothers you or they may just look a certain way. In this high stress world that many of us live in, people walk around like ticking time bombs, just waiting to explode. But it’s during these moments that we immediately respond with anger that we may say or do something that we regret. And they can hurt, and even irreparably damage, a relationship.

One piece of advice that I share with my speaking classes is that speaking to groups makes you a better communicator during one on one situations. This is because you learn good habits such as thinking before you speak. The communication that typically gets us in trouble happens in these moments where we speak without thinking. So here are three ways to avoid the angry response.

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The Trouble with Being Alone

Author Harvey Mackay once wrote that the only time you’re truly alone is when you’re about to die and when you’re about to give a speech. While there’s definitely some truth (and humor) in that statement, there’s also a lot more to being alone than we sometimes realize. And by “alone” I mean not having another person in the same room or general area as you – not the lack of a significant other.

While many people do appreciate their alone time, and some even prefer it, it can be a tricky time for the some of us. I appreciate alone time every now and then to read, work and gather my thoughts, but I love being around people. When I was in graduate school, I found myself with a lot more alone time than I was used to because most of friends were working or off campus for the weekend. At first it didn’t bother me so much, but after a while it started getting to me. I just found myself unhappy and couldn’t understand why. Eventually things changed and I had plenty of company whenever I wanted it. But I still find it interesting how being alone can have some odd effects on people.

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How to Deal with Rude Audience Members

It’s unfortunate, but not all audience members treat speakers the way we’d like to be treated. People have a very short attention span and it shows. Instead of listening to the speaker like we were taught to in school, people are having side conversations or playing with their BlackBerrys in the middle of your talk.

This topic came up in my public speaking class last night and we had an interesting discussion about it. While many speakers think that this is caused because they are boring the audience, the truth of the matter is that some people are just rude and/or inconsiderate. I’ve seen this happen in a variety of situations and here are just a few examples:

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Five Tips For College Seniors

It’s unfortunate that this year’s group of college graduates are facing one of the most challenging job markets since the great depression. I’ve had a number of college seniors contact me in recent weeks for career advice regarding this unique situation. Here is the advice I’ve passed on to them.

Enjoy the time you have left:

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Don’t Let BlackBerry Addiction Ruin Your Presentation

Many people own a BlackBerry, iPhone or other mobile device that allows them to check email, surf the web, check email and update their status on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter from virtually anywhere. Of course that anywhere could be the car, the airport or even while sitting in the audience when you’re giving a speech.


Using these devices all the time is a new, yet increasing, trend – I remember sitting next to a woman at an awards dinner that ignored everyone else at the dinner because she couldn’t put her BlackBerry down. It’s no wonder that these devices are referred to as “CrackBerries” because some folks simply can’t resist checking them every couple minutes.

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20 Revealing Interview Questions

A few weeks back, I listed out 25 Questions that are illegal to ask during a job interview. This generated a lot of buzz and I had several readers contact me regarding legal ways to get the information they’re seeking. While I don’t condone discrimination during an interview, I do believe that a company has the right to know if someone they’re about to hire will be able to perform the necessary job duties. So here are 20 questions that you can ask to find out if the candidate is a good fit for the job.
Note: these questions are legal assuming they are related to the job.

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