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Improve your mental quickness

Subtle ways to prove your smarts

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in Workplace Communication

You want people to see you as bright, attentive and incredibly quick. But you secretly wonder if you’re really all that brilliant.

Don’t worry. By modifying your behavior a bit, you can process information faster and improve your mental agility. Here’s how:

Number your ideas. When someone asks you a tough question, don’t hem and haw. Come right out and answer it. Better yet, offer a numbered list of how you’ll address the issue.

Examples include “To find the answer requires four steps” or “Your question is best answered by examining three sets of facts.”

Once you alert others to how many points you’re about to make, you can proceed to the first item.

By training yourself to field questions in this manner, you can become a more organized, systematic thinker. And you’ll impress others as someone who responds quickly (yet thoughtfully) to their concerns.

Use one-word labels. If you’re listening to a fast talker or someone who reels off reams of data, it may take extra effort to keep up. Assigning one-word “tags” to what you hear can showcase your ability to absorb information at a rapid clip.

For example, if your boss lectures you about your unit’s sinking margins, high turnover among your staff and the firm’s new marketing campaign, you can mentally select the words “margin-turnover-marketing” to represent the major areas that were covered. When it’s your turn to respond, summarize what you just heard before you provide your snappy input.

Make connections. When listening to someone, recall the last few conversations you’ve had with that person (and others) about the same topic. This helps you draw linkages between what you’ve heard and what you’re learning today. Comments such as “That jibes with what Craig told me last week” or “That assumes what you said earlier is no longer true” can indicate your ability to place what you hear in a historical context.

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