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1-Minute Strategies: Feb. ’12

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in Career Management,Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Stop monopolizing a conversation. Every time someone asks you a question, ask one in return. If you notice that you’re getting a lot of one-word answers, ask more open-ended questions. For example, instead of asking, “How old are your children?” try “What sorts of hobbies are your kids into these days?”

Resist the urge to do several things at once. In one study, Dr. David Meyer of the Uni­­ver­­sity of Michigan found that the time costs of shifting can be “anywhere from 25% to 50% time increment to complete a task compared to what would be involved if you were to only concentrate on that task,” according to CNN.

Avoid sending an email to the wrong person, with this tip from Patricia Robb, author of the “Laughing All the Way to Work” blog: Turn off the automatic email memory function. Since you’ll have to enter each person’s complete email address, it “will make it more difficult to make that mistake,” she says.

Start a new job, or the new year, by penning a job manual. Write down your responsibilities as you go through your day, along with the information you need to do those tasks. The benefits? A better way to track your accomplishments and an easy training guide.

Know when to slow down. In Great by Choice, Jim Collins dispels the belief that it’s always best to make fast decisions and take fast action. In his research, he found that slow/medium decision-making worked well in most cases, assuming events were moving slowly. The best approach? “Fast when you must, slow when you can.”

Is your young executive new to the idea of having an assistant? Many new bosses are used to doing everything themselves. Proactively help where you can and gently suggest ways for her to delegate. Building trust can take time; have patience.

Sucking up to the boss doesn’t usually work, but being politically savvy in the office sure does. Recent research in the Journal of Management Studies shows that it takes political skill to really ingratiate yourself. One of the researchers describes “sucking up with skill”: Sound genuine when you speak. Show real interest in other people. Pay close attention to people’s facial expressions.

Here’s help for that New Year’s resolution to get healthier: Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate in order to eat less, recommends executive coach Peter Bregman. The idea is to create an environment to support your desired behavior. The same trick can apply to work. To make a receptionist seem friendlier, for example, one office removed the glass that separated her from walk-in guests.

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