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1-Minute Strategies: May ’11

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in Workplace Communication

Make any decision-making group more effective by limiting membership to seven. Once you have more than seven in the group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.

Turn an intention into an action with the power of “when,” Peter Bregman says on the Harvard Business Review blog. Next time someone promises he or she will do something for you—meet with you, help you with something, etc.—politely ask “When, so I can put it on my calendar?” If the person says “Tomorrow,” follow up with “When tomorrow?” Specificity is the secret to getting things done.

Find the volunteer gig that’s right for you. Giving back can lift your skills—and your sense of well-being. Check for local options on Hands on Network (www.handsonnetwork.org) and United Way (http://liveunited.org).

Did you just do someone a favor? When he or she thanks you, don’t just say, “You’re welcome.” Respond with “I know you would do the same for me,” advises Enchantment author Guy Kawasaki. By saying that, you’re telling the other person, “I think you’re an honorable person, so I know you’d do the same for me.” You’re also saying, “I hope you’ll support me when I need it.”

Feeling a little down on yourself? A quick look at Facebook could provide the perfect ego boost. A new study by researchers at Cornell University suggests that spending time with the online you—the one with hundreds of friends, the witty status updates and all the unflattering photos untagged—might help your self-esteem.

Being humble is the best way to get the job, according to a new study by Baylor University researchers. People possessing the combination of honesty and humility had better job performance. They even outperformed people with other positive traits, such as agreeableness and conscientiousness. Are you surprised?

Double your productivity with “if-then” planning, says Heidi Grant Halvorson in Fast Com­pany. For example, “If it is 4 p.m., then I will return any remaining phone calls for the day.” Or, “If I’m getting too distracted by colleagues, I’ll stick to a five-minute chat limit.”

Act like a swarm of bees: Ex­plore diverse solutions to a problem. When looking for the perfect housing solution, a few hundred scout bees will take off in different directions. That way, the group is more likely to uncover the best option. How does that translate to the workplace? Groups that allow for open competition and vigorous debate are likely to land on excellent solutions.

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