Archive for December, 2009

The art of staying motivated

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

There are days when just reading about how to keep motivated seems too much trouble, let alone doing anything about it. So a good way to get motivated about getting motivated is to think about the knock-on effects if you don’t – missed assignment, failed degree, no job, no friends, miserable life, solitary death.

But avoid dwelling on failure. While you need to listen if your tutor says he has never read a worse essay, try to concentrate on the positives. Maybe you have been praised for your imaginative use of research material, or for your enthusiastic approach to the subject. Enthusiasm is a great motivator, so try to get excited about what you are doing. The more passion you feel for your work, the more likely you are to persevere with it if you meet setbacks, such as discovering you aren’t any good at it.

If you can’t summon up enough excitement about the subject of your degree to keep you going, think about all the other reasons there are for getting on with things. Consider how learned you will become once you get through the books on your reading list. Visualise yourself on graduation day, holding the cheque Granny promised if you ever managed to complete a course.

It is worth bribing yourself. Set clear goals, and promise yourself a sixth listen to last night’s romantic answerphone message or another look at that ice-skating dog on YouTube once you’ve achieved them. Until then, avoid distractions. Switch off your email alert until you’ve finished. Don’t text friends to see if they’ve been talking about you on Facebook. If they text you, ignore them.

Don’t ignore them if their texts are designed to be motivational. Friends can be a valuable source of support when you’re struggling to get going on your own, so it can be useful to identify someone you work well with and arrange to study together. This only works if neither person confuses the word “study” with “sleep”.

Your peers are even more useful as a source of competition. There is nothing more motivating than fearing that your thick neighbour is going to get a better mark than you, just by putting in more work. Revel in your competitiveness, and don’t let anyone else get ahead.

Do make sure you relax sometimes though, otherwise life will seem grim. And think up ways to make work more fun. Try studying in a different library, or using different coloured pens.

Catalogue all the things you have achieved so far, and remember the nice things people have said about you. If they haven’t, say them about yourself. Ultimately, the best way to keep yourself motivated is to discover what incentive works best for you – praise, rivalry, doughnuts – and build it into your work schedule. If all else fails, there’s always the option of leaving Post-it notes around your room telling you to “Just Do It”.

By Harrit Swain.

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E-book computers for Year Four pupils, too

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

KUALA TERENGGANU: The state government has approved RM50 million to provide digital notebooks or e-book to Years Four and Five pupils next year.

State Education, Higher Learning, Science, Technology and Human Resources committee chairman Ahmad Razif Abd Rahman said the allocation for the project was a significant increase from the RM25 million allocated for this year.

“Next year, 50,000 e-book digital notebooks will be distributed to Years Four and Five pupils, compared with only Year Five pupils this year,” he said after presenting awards to students who excelled in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah and Penilaian Menegah Rendah examinations at Seberang Takir, here yesterday.

Ahmad Razif said an increase in the allocation this year showed that the state government was committed to elevate the level of education in the country.

He added that the state government hoped to see at least 20 per cent of the students achieving all As in their subjects compared with 15.3 per cent this year.


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Chronic Lying.

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

The child who exaggerates, tells lies or distorts the truth does so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they feel that they are not liked (for reasons often unknown) and will tell lies to make the listener like him/her more. They have learned that some forms of distorting the truth get them some attention; this sometimes compensates for their feelings of inadequacies. Sometimes the child will lie to avoid being reprimanded or to avoid consequences that they believe will happen with a truth. Some children lie to get others into trouble, these children are often in trouble themselves. Children often lie to avoid tasks, a child will say that their homework is done in order to do something more pleasurable. Children don’t like to get caught when misbehaving and will often lie or stretch the truth.

We must remember though , chronic or habitual liars rarely feel good about themselves. Look for patterns in the child’s lying, does the lying only occur at specific times or in specific situations? Try and determine what the child’s need are that makes him/her want to lie.


  • Always model “telling the truth”, avoid “little white lies”;
  • Teach your child through role playing, the value of telling the truth. This will take time and some patience;
  • Role play the potential devastating consequences of lying;
  • Do not accept excuses for lying, lying is not acceptable;
  • Children should understand the hurtful consequences of lying and whenever possible, they should apologize for lying;
  • Logical consequences need to be in place for the child who lies;
  • No matter what, children need to know that lying is never acceptable and will not be tolerated;
  • Children often lie to keep their parents or teacher happy, they need to know that you value the truth much more than a small act of misbehaviour;
  • Children need to be part of the solution and or consequences. Ask them what they are prepared to give or do as a result of the lie.
  • Remind the child that you’re upset with what he/she did. Reinforce that it’s not the child but what he/she did that upset you and let him/her know that you are disappointed. You know the saying-bring them before you bring them down. For instance: “It is so unlike you to lie about your homework, you’re so good at getting things done and staying on top of things”;
  • Praise the truth! Catch them telling the truth at a time when you know they would like to sugar coat a situation;
  • Avoid lectures and quick irrational decisions. E.g.,” if you lie again, you’ll be grounded for a year!”

Never forget that ALL children need to know you care about them and that they can contribute in a positive way. It took the child a long time to become a master of distorting the truth, exaggerating, lying chronically, be consistent, patient and understand that change will take time.

By Sue Watson.

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Behaviour Contracts.

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

A behaviour contract is an agreement between the child and teacher and often includes the student’s parent(s).

The behaviour contract is a written agreement about how the individual will behave. It will indicate the appropriate consequence should the student neglect to behave according to the contract and it also states the reinforcer to be used for successful compliance. The behaviour contract provides the student with structure and self management. The behaviour contract is often an effective form of behaviour modification.

Developing the Contract:

The contract should be written with the student and teacher – collaboration. It would be wise to involve the parent under certain circumstances. The contract should include the following:

  • The goal. (Will not speak out, will keep hands to himself/herself, will remain on task, etc);
  • How will the student receive the reward? (Become the teacher’s monitor after competing 5 assignments on time, etc.);
  • What is the consequences should the child not adhere to the behaviour described in the contract?
  • Time should be clearly stated in the contract. You may choose a half day, a full day, a week, etc.;
  • Define who and how the behaviour will be monitored. (teacher initials, stickers, check mark system etc);
  • Set a date for reviewing the contract;

It is important to involve the student in the writing of the contract. Ask the student to make suggestions for reinforcement and consequence for failure to comply. Contracts should name specific behaviours to be changed. Focus on 1 or 2 behaviours at a time. Consequences and reinforcers need to be thought out clearly. You can include tangible reinforcers, social or activity based reinforcers, curtailment of an activity, tokens that can be cashed in for a specific activity, etc.

Behaviour contracts don’t often work right away, be patient and consistent, you should see results. Know when it’s time to review and revise. When the contract is not working well, be sure to include the student when making revisions.

Some Successful Reinforcers/Rewards:

  • Teacher Helper;
  • 5 – 10 Minute Free Choice Activity;
  • Happy Note to Mom;
  • Tell the Class a Joke or Read a Text Selection;
  • Free Library Period;
  • Read with a Buddy;
  • Listen to a taped story;
  • Provide Office Help;
  • Leading the Group;
  • Helping in Another Classroom.

Once again, a little patience goes a long way. It is critical for the student to know that you like them and that you’re only disappointed in their behaviour.  Be sure to let the student know that you share their goals, you both want what’s best for the student. Praise goes a long way.

By Sue Watson.

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Objectives For Behaviour Plans.

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Writing Positive Goals for Behaviour Plans.

A behaviour plan must be developed for any student who has been identified exceptional. Children who have been identified with an exceptionality in behaviour also require a plan specific to their behaviour needs. The plan must describe realistic and observable goals that are based on the child’s strengths and needs.

If you are writing a plan to ensure that your behaviour student will be successful, you will want to make sure that your goals are based on the student’s past performance and that they are stated positively. Behaviour goals must be relevant to the student’s needs. Start slowly, choosing only a couple of behaviours at a time to change. Be sure to provide some time of form to enable the student to track and or graph his/her successes.

Sample Statements:

  • __________ will be accountable for inappropriate actions;
  • __________ will complete tasks in the allotted time;
  • __________ will be on time for each class;
  • __________ will start tasks when asked;
  • __________ will make appropriate decisions during recess and at lunch hour;
  • __________ will complete and hand in assignments when asked;
  • __________ will raise his / her hand before speaking;
  • __________ will follow routines, instructions and directions promptly;
  • __________ will use acceptable problem solving skills;
  • __________ will interact with peers in a positive manner;
  • __________ will demonstrate respect for others and the property of others;
  • __________ will make positive contributions when called upon;
  • __________ will act in a cooperative manner;
  • __________ will follow routines ( List the specific routines and or rules);
  • __________ will exhibit anger management;
  • __________ will employ good decision making skills;
  • __________ will work independently during …..
  • __________ will work quietly without distracting others;
  • __________ will use self control when confronted with a variety of situations. (Be specific);
  • __________ will remain on task;
  • __________ will work legibly and produce quality assignments and tasks;
  • __________ will use the acceptable voice tones as instructed by the teacher;
  • __________ will use appropriate language at all times and will display self control.

Remember to write goals positively, avoid using terms like ______ will not ____. Write goals that can be measured, be specific as to the duration or the circumstance under which the goal will be implemented and use specific time slots when possible. Remember, once the behaviour plan is written, it is imperative that the student is taught the goals and fully understands what the expectations are. Provide him/her with tracking devices, students need to be accountable for their own behaviour changes.

By Sue Watson.

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The Attention Seeking Child.

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Attention Seeking Behaviour Description.

This child constantly does thins to get your attention and it can become quite annoying. They will blurt out and tell you what they did or that they’ve finished their work or that somebody is copying their work, etc. Their desire for attention is almost insatiable Much of what they do is done to get attention. It doesn’t seem to matter that you provide lots of attention as they continually seek more.


The attention seeking child is in need of more attention than most. They seem to have something to prove and don’t take as much pride intrinsically as they do extrinsically. This child may not have a sense of belonging. Try and understand the need, this child may have a low self-esteem and they need some confidence building. Sometimes the attention seekers is simply just immature. If this is the case, adhere to the interventions below and the child will outgrow the insatiable need for attention.


  • Sit down with this child and explain to them that you have a number of children to work with each day. Provide them with a time that is just for them. Even a two minute period before or after recess that is their time. Stick to it! Each time they look for the attention, remind them of their specific time. In time if you’re consistent, you will see that this strategy can work quite well;
  • Promote intrinsic motivation. Ask the child what they like about what they did;
  • Always commend the child on his/her improvement;
  • During the child’s special time, take time to boost their confidence;
  • Provide the child with responsibilities and a leadership role from time to time.

Never forget that ALL children need to know you care about them and that they can contribute in a positive way. It took the child a long time to become an extreme seeker of attention, be consistent, patient and understand that change will take time.

The Top Four:

  1. Students often don’t know what appropriate behaviour is – they need to be taught! Teach the appropriate interactions, responses, anger management – social skills. Use role play and drama;
  2. Expect/demand appropriate responses by ensuring the  bully apologizes directly to the victim;
  3. Have a zero tolerance classroom policy in place that is well understood;
  4. As much as possible, recognize and reward positive behaviour.

By Sue Watson.

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French and Raven’s Five Forms of Power

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Leadership and power are closely linked. People tend to follow those who are powerful. And because others follow, the person with power leads.

But leaders have power for different reasons. Some are powerful because they alone have the ability to give you a bonus or a raise. Others are powerful because they can fire you, or assign you tasks you don’t like. Yet, while leaders of this type have formal, official power, their teams are unlikely to be enthusiastic about their approach to leadership, if these are all they rely on.

On the more positive side, leaders may have power because they’re experts in their fields, or because their team members admire them. People with these types of power don’t necessarily have formal leadership roles, but they influence others effectively because of their skills and personal qualities. And when a leadership position opens up, they’ll probably be the first to be considered for promotion.

Do you recognize these types of power in those around you – or in yourself? and how does power influence the way you work and live your life?

Understanding Power:

One of the most notable studies on power was conducted by social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven in 1959. They identified five bases of power:

  1. Legitimate – This comes from the belief that a person has the right to make demands, and expect compliance and obedience from others.
  2. Reward – This results from one person’s ability to compensate another for compliance.
  3. Expert – This is based on a person’s superior skill and knowledge.
  4. Referent – This is the result of a person’s perceived attractiveness, worthiness, and right to respect from others.
  5. Coercive – This comes from the belief that a person can punish others for noncompliance.

If you’re aware of these sources of power, you can.

  • Better understand why you’re influenced by someone, and decide whether you want to accept the base of power being used.
  • Recognize your own sources of power.
  • Build your leadership skills by using and developing your own sources of power, appropriately, and for best effect.

The Five Bases of Power:

Let’s explore French and Raven’s bases of power according to these sources.

Positional Power Sources

  • Legitimate Power: A president, prime minister, or monarch has power. So does a CEO, a minister, or a fire chief. People holding these formal, official positions – or job titles – typically have power. Social hierarchies, cultural norms, and organizational structure all provide the basis for legitimate power.This type of power, however, can be unpredictable and unstable. If you lose the title or position, legitimate power can instantly disappear – since others were influenced by the position, not by you. Also, your scope of power is limited to situations that others believe you have a right to control. If the fire chief tells people to stay away from a burning building, they’ll probably listen. But if he tries to make people stay away from a street fight, people may well ignore him.Therefore, relying on legitimate power as your only way to influence others isn’t enough. To be a leader, you need more than this – in fact, you may not need legitimate power at all.
  • Reward Power: People in power are often able to give out rewards. Raises, promotions, desirable assignments, training opportunities, and even simple compliments – these are all examples of rewards controlled by people “in power.” If others expect that you’ll reward them for doing what you want, there’s a high probability that they’ll do it.The problem with this basis of power is that you may not have as much control over rewards as you need. Supervisors probably don’t have complete control over salary increases, and managers often can’t control promotions all by themselves. And even a CEO needs permission from the board of directors for some actions.So when you use up available rewards, or the rewards don’t have enough perceived value to others, your power weakens. (One of the frustrations of using rewards is that they often need to be bigger each time if they’re to have the same motivational impact. Even then, if rewards are given frequently, people can become satiated by the reward, such that it loses its effectiveness.)
  • Coercive Power:  This source of power is also problematic, and can be subject to abuse. What’s more, it can cause unhealthy behavior and dissatisfaction in the workplace.Threats and punishment are common tools of coercion. Implying or threatening that someone will be fired, demoted, denied privileges, or given undesirable assignments – these are examples of using coercive power. While your position may give you the capability to coerce others, it doesn’t automatically mean that you have the will or the justification to do so. As a last resort, you may sometimes need to punish people. However, extensive use of coercive power is rarely appropriate in an organizational setting.

Clearly, relying on these forms of power alone will result in a very cold, technocratic, impoverished style of leadership. To be a true leader, you need a more robust source of power than can be supplied by a title, an ability to reward, or an ability to punish.

Personal Power Sources:

  • Expert Power: When you have knowledge and skills that enable you to understand a situation, suggest solutions, use solid judgment, and generally outperform others, people will probably listen to you. When you demonstrate expertise, people tend to trust you and respect what you say. As a subject matter expert, your ideas will have more value, and others will look to you for leadership in that area.What’s more, you can take your confidence, decisiveness, and reputation for rational thinking – and expand them to other subjects and issues. This is a good way to build and maintain expert power. It doesn’t require positional power, so you can use it to go beyond that. This is one of the best ways to improve your leadership skills.
  • Referent Power: This is sometimes thought of as charisma, charm, admiration, or appeal. Referent power comes from one person liking and respecting another, and strongly identifying with that person in some way. Celebrities have referent power, which is why they can influence everything from what people buy to whom they elect to office. In a workplace, a person with charm often makes everyone feel good, so he or she tends to have a lot of influence.Referent power can be a big responsibility, because you don’t necessarily have to do anything to earn it. Therefore, it can be abused quite easily. Someone who is likable, but lacks integrity and honesty, may rise to power – and use that power to hurt and alienate people as well as gain personal advantage.Relying on referent power alone is not a good strategy for a leader who wants longevity and respect. When combined with other sources of power, however, it can help you achieve great success.

Some Key Points:

Anyone is capable of holding power and influencing others: you don’t need to have an important job title or a big office. But if you recognize the different forms of power, you can avoid being influenced by those who use the less effective types of power – and you can focus on developing expert and referent power for yourself. This will help you become an influential and positive leader.

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Winning Expert Power

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

There are many different power that a leader can develop and use. These include problematic ones such as:

  • the power of position;
  • the power to give rewards;
  • the power to punish;
  • the power to control information.

These types of power, although do have some strength, but they put the person  being led in an unhealthy position of weakness, and can leave leaders using these power bases looking autocratic and out of touch.

However there  are three types of positive power that effective leaders use :

  • charismatic power;
  • expert power;
  • referent power.

Expert power:

Expert power is essential because as a leader, your team looks to you for direction and guidance. Team members need to believe in your ability to leading a worthwhile direction, give sound guidance, and co-ordinate a good result.

  • If team members respect your expertise, they ‘ll trust you to show them how to work effectively;
  • If team members respect your judgment, they’ll trust you to guide their efforts in such a way that you’ll make the most of their hard work;
  • If they can see your expertise, they’ll believe that you have the wisdom to direct their efforts towards a goal that is genuinely worthwhile .

Taken together, if your team sees you as an expert, you’ll find it much easier to motivate your people to perform at their best.

Gain expertise:

The first step is gain expertise. But just being an expert isn’t enough, it also necessary that your people recognize your expertise and see you as a credible source of information and advice.

Gary A. Yukl, in his book “Leadership in Organizations” details some steps to build expert power. These are :

1.  Promote an image of expertise: Since perceived expertise in many occupations is association with a person’s education and experience, a leader should (subtly):

  • make sure that subordinates, peers, and superiors are aware of his or her formal education, relevant work experience, and significant accomplishments;
  • to display diplomas, licenses, awards, and other evidence of expertise in a prominent location in your office;
  • to make subtle references to prior education or experience ( for example :”When I was Chief Executive at ……, we had a problem similar to this one….”

2.  Maintain credibility: Once established:

  • you should carefully protect your image of expertise;
  • avoid making careless comments about subjects on which you are poorly informed;
  • avoid being associated with projects with a low likelihood of success.

3.  Act confidently and decisively in a crisis:  In a crisis or emergency:

  • subordinates prefer a “take charge” leader who appears to know how to direct the group in coping with the problem;
  • your people will associate confident, firm leadership with expert knowledge;
  • you will lose influence with members of your team if you appear confused.

4.  Keep informed: Expert power is exercised through rational persuasion and demonstrate of expertise. Rational persuasion depends on a firm grasp of up-to-date facts. It is therefore essential that you keep well-informed of developments:

  • within your team;
  • within your organization;
  • in the outside world.

5.  Recognize team member concerns: Use of rational persuasion should not be seen as a form of one-way communication from the leader to members of his or her team. Listen carefully  to the concerns and uncertainties of your team members, and make sure that you address these.

6.  Avoid threatening the self-esteem of subordinates: Expert power is based on a knowledge differential between the leader and team members.  Unfortunately, the very existence of this differential can cause problems if you’re not careful about the way in which you exercise expert power.

Team members can dislike unfavourable status comparisons where the gap is very large and obvious. And they are likely to be upset by a leader who acts in a superior way , and arrogantly flaunts his greater expertise.

In the process of arguing for what they want, some leaders lecture their team members in a condescending manner and convey the impression that the other team members are “ignorant”. Guard against this.

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Giving Presentation at Job Interviews

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Being asked to give a presentation at your interview is a great opportunity for you to shine and stand out from the crowd.

While giving interview presentations can understandably be daunting, a little preparation and thought will enable you to use the situation to great advantage. This is chiefly because giving a presentation offers you a much better platform than is normally available when simply answering an interviewer’s questions.

A presentation enables you to showcase your attributes and qualities – and often to research and prepare – way beyond the constraints normally encountered in reacting to conventional interview questions.

So if you are asked to give a presentation – regardless of the time available for preparation – welcome the challenge – be prepared, and make the most of the your chance to show what you can do.

Demonstrating an organizational or strategic interpretation and enthusiasm for the role – showing that you can add value beyond what the employer hopes for – is the key to standing out as a star candidate.

Research, preparation, and freedom to create and deliver a great presentation are the main the ingredients for anyone seeking to make an impact in any situation – and all of these are enabled when you are invited to give an interview presentation.

While the guidelines below are chiefly for interviewees they also help interviewers in creating instructions and a basis for reviewing and assessing presentations given by job candidates at interviews.

When you are asked to give a presentation at an interview you should use whatever time is available to consider the following questions in relation to the employer organization, their market place and how your filling the role can bring them what they need and more.

Here are some strategic questions to consider and resolve as far as possible prior to planning an interview presentation. The scenario is a job vacancy in training, but the principles transfer to any role.

  1. Understand the significance of any particular key words used in the presentation instructions – think about the words used by the recruiting organization in their letter or specification, for example “…give a technical presentation…” or “…give a professional presentation…” Think about what they mean exactly by a word like ‘technical’ or ‘professional’. Words like these are often especially significant clues to the sort of presentation style and content that the interviewers are seeking. Try to get into their shoes and understand exactly what they are looking for in the successful applicant.
  2. What are the essential competencies and attributes they need in the role? Cover the basics – the job description is usually a good indication, but sometimes you should look beyond this to more of an industry-standard approach, especially if the job description is a little flaky. Sometimes the employer will expect you to help re-define the role – employers don’t always know what they want, or the full extent of what the role. Showing that you understand the role is a good basis for demonstrating that you can actually perform in the role.
  3. What gaps/opportunities exist in their knowledge/use of alternative/advanced training design and delivery technology/methods (or other role-relevant issues as appropriate)? Recruiting new people offers employers the opportunity to introduce new ideas and keep up to date with modern approaches, technologies, methods, etc. You should demonstrate that you will be a good source of new ideas and methods when you join them. Addressing this in a presentation enables you to show how you will add value to the employer’s technology, innovation, methods, etc.
  4. What particular challenges or crises do they face that you can help them fix? Identifying and solving problems are usually big priorities for new people, if only because everyone else had tried and failed. New blood and fresh enthusiasm are often essential to break deadlocks and find solutions to long-standing problems. So try to discover their big challenges and difficulties, and consider how you’d approach them, without making unqualified assumptions, or running the risk of repeating things they’ve already tried. This sort of consideration of their challenges and approaches to solutions requires a balanced approach – not being too assumptive or presumptuous, but at the same time demonstrating a level of confidence and determination to tackle problems creatively with a fresh incisive view and impetus.
  5. What specifically can you bring to the situation which will improve their competitive position in relation to their own markets and customers? This element of a presentation demonstrates that you can add value to the organization in terms of sales, business, profit and ultimately financial performance, (an area of enormous importance for most employers) by your appreciation of how the performance of your role can bring competitive advantage and improvement to the organization. Consider what you can do that will enable the organization to retain and attract more customers and business. The ability to translate and express your job in terms of competitive advantage – or in the non-profit sector, in terms of quality of service – is an irresistible proposition for most employers.
  6. What crucial differences/innovations/improvements could you bring beyond even their ideal expectations? This is your personal Wow Factor. The employer will have a baseline expectation of the sort of candidate required to fill the vacancy. A number of candidates might meet this specification. So what can you offer that goes beyond the baseline expectation? What can you do that’s different and better than other candidates, in a way that the organization will regard it as making a significant additional contribution – perhaps in an area or areas which they have not yet even considered? Think about, prepare, and build into your presentation a really special advantage or capability you can offer that no-one else can, and translate this into what it could do for them.
  7. How can you help them better identify, measure and improve crucial performance in their overall learning and development (or other role-relevant functions), and beyond this into their operations? This adds value in the crucial and often neglected areas of measurement, control and implementation. Most employers do not actually measure and appreciate the critical priorities of their operations, and how these key performance areas are affected and enabled (or frustrated) by particular roles within the organization. As a job candidate when you demonstrate that you can perform the role up to and beyond the organization’s basic needs, and then additionally contribute much needed strategic interpretation and implementation support, you will be presenting a very powerful case indeed that you are the best candidate for the job.

At all times keep this at the back of your mind that unless the vacancy is for a very specific and limited role, then the interview is actually mostly about the recruiting organization and the interviewer(s), not you.

What this means is that you must present yourself in terms that make sense to and match the needs of the organization. Everything you say about yourself must be couched in terms of what it will mean for the employer. There is no point in presenting a glowing picture of yourself and your knowledge, experience, capabilities, etc., in glorious isolation. Instead you must prepare and present everything about yourself so that you are irresistibly relevant to the needs and aims and challenges of the organization.

The interview presentation offers you a wonderful opportunity to do this – to demonstrate that you can enable relevant and effective improvement/achievement for their biggest problems and opportunities, better than any of the other candidates.

Research and understand their issues. Then prepare and and present your own personal added value in relation to their situation.

Finally some quick ideas for structure, especially when little preparation time is available:

The Rule of Three

  1. Introduction or aims.
  2. The points you want to make (three, subdivided if necessary).
  3. Summary – and ideally an impressive memorable finishing statement.

The Tell ‘Em Rule

  1. Tell ‘em what you are going to tell ‘em,
  2. Tell ‘em,
  3. Then tell ‘em what you told’ em.

(Again, essentially intro, key points, summary.)

Three Big Points

(Especially for surprise presentations when you only have a few minutes to prepare.)

Three big points must address the three biggest outcomes that the organization needs from the new appointment.

  1. Brainstorm (jot down as many relevant ideas for the three outcomes as you can).
  2. Decide (confirm if at all possible) and reduce these down to the three biggest outcomes that the interviewers are seeking from the person to be appointed into the role.
  3. Then hit them hard with how you will achieve each of the three big outcomes – and also how you (and they) will assess the effectiveness of the solutions. (Assessment is crucial to awareness, validation and control.)

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Body Language.

Monday, December 28th, 2009

(Read more @ )

Body Language – technically known as kinesics (pronounced ‘kineesicks’) – is a significant aspect of modern communications and relationships.

Body Language is therefore very relevant to management and leadership, and to all aspects of work and business where communications can be seen and physically observed among people.

Body language is also very relevant to relationships outside of work, for example in dating and mating, and in families and parenting.

Communication includes listening. In terms of observable body language, non-verbal (non-spoken) signals are being exchanged whether these signals are accompanied by spoken words or not.

Body language goes both ways:

  • Your own body language reveals your feelings and meanings to others.
  • Other people’s body language reveals their feelings and meanings to you.

The sending and receiving of body language signals happens on conscious and unconscious levels.

Body Language – basics and introduction:

Body language is a powerful concept which successful people tend to understand well.

So can you.

The study and theory of body language has become popular in recent years because psychologists have been able to understand what we ’say’ through our bodily gestures and facial expressions, so as to translate our body language, revealing its underlying feelings and attitudes.

Body Language is also referred to as ‘non-verbal communications’, and less commonly ‘non-vocal communications’.

The term ‘non-verbal communications’ tends to be used in a wider sense, and all these terms are somewhat vague.

For the purposes of this article, the terms ‘body language’ and ‘non-verbal communications’ are broadly interchangeable. This guide also takes the view that body language/non-verbal communications is the study of how people communicate face-to-face aside from the spoken words themselves, and in this respect the treatment of the subject here is broader than typical body language guides limited merely to body positions and gestures.

If you carry out any serious analysis or discussion you should clarify the terminology in your own way to suit your purposes.

For example:

Does body language include facial expression and eye movement? – Usually, yes.

What about breathing and perspiration? – This depends on your definition of body language.

And while tone and pitch of voice are part of verbal signals, are these part of body language too? – Not normally, but arguably so, especially as you could ignore them if considering only the spoken words and physical gestures/expressions.

There are no absolute right/wrong answers to these questions. It’s a matter of interpretation.

A good reason for broadening the scope of body language is to avoid missing important signals which might not be considered within a narrow definition of body language.

Nevertheless confusion easily arises if definitions and context are not properly established.

It is safe to say that body language represents a very significant proportion of meaning that is conveyed and interpreted between people. Many body language experts and sources seem to agree that that between 50-80% of all human communications are non-verbal. So while body language statistics vary according to situation, it is generally accepted that non-verbal communications are very important in how we understand each other (or fail to), especially in face-to-face and one-to-one communications, and most definitely when the communications involve an emotional or attitudinal element.

Body language is especially crucial when we meet someone for the first time.

We form our opinions of someone we meet for the first time in just a few seconds, and this initial instinctual assessment is based far more on what we see and feel about the other person than on the words they speak. On many occasions we form a strong view about a new person before they speak a single word.

Consequently body language is very influential in forming impressions on first meeting someone.

The effect happens both ways – to and from:

  • When we meet someone for the first time, their body language, on conscious and unconscious levels, largely determines our initial impression of them.
  • In turn when someone meets us for the first time, they form their initial impression of us largely from our body language and non-verbal signals.

And this two-way effect of body language continues throughout communications and relationships between people.

Body language is constantly being exchanged and interpreted between people, even though much of the time this is happening on an unconscious level.

Remember – while you are interpreting (consciously or unconsciously) the body language of other people, so other people are constantly interpreting yours.

The people with the most conscious awareness of, and capabilities to read, body language tend to have an advantage over those whose appreciation is limited largely to the unconscious.

You will shift your own awareness of body language from the unconscious into the conscious by learning about the subject, and then by practising your reading of non-verbal communications in your dealings with others.

Body Language is more than body positions and movements:

Body language is not just about how we hold and move our bodies.

Body language potentially (although not always, depending on the definition you choose to apply) encompasses:

  • how we position our bodies
  • our closeness to and the space between us and other people (proxemics), and how this changes
  • our facial expressions
  • our eyes especially and how our eyes move and focus, etc
  • how we touch ourselves and others
  • how our bodies connect with other non-bodily things, for instance, pens, cigarettes, spectacles and clothing
  • our breathing, and other less noticeable physical effects, for example our heartbeat and perspiration

Body language tends not to include:

  • the pace, pitch, and intonation, volume, variation, pauses, etc., of our voice.

Arguably this last point should be encompassed by body language, because a lot happens here which can easily be missed if we consider merely the spoken word and the traditional narrow definition of body language or non-verbal communications.

Voice type and other audible signals are typically not included in body language because they are audible ‘verbal’ signals rather than physical visual ones, nevertheless the way the voice is used is a very significant (usually unconscious) aspect of communication, aside from the bare words themselves.

Consequently, voice type is always important to consider alongside the usual body language factors.

Similarly breathing and heartbeat, etc., are typically excluded from many general descriptions of body language, but are certainly part of the range of non-verbal bodily actions and signals which contribute to body language in its fullest sense.

More obviously, our eyes are a vital aspect of our body language.

Our reactions to other people’s eyes – movement, focus, expression, etc – and their reactions to our eyes – contribute greatly to mutual assessment and understanding, consciously and unconsciously.

With no words at all, massive feeling can be conveyed in a single glance. The metaphor which describes the eyes of two lovers meeting across a crowded room is not only found in old romantic movies. It’s based on scientific fact – the strong powers of non-verbal communications.

These effects – and similar powerful examples – have existed in real human experience and behaviour for thousands of years.

The human body and our instinctive reactions have evolved to an amazingly clever degree, which many of us ignore or take for granted, and which we can all learn how to recognize more clearly if we try.

Our interpretation of body language, notably eyes and facial expressions, is instinctive, and with a little thought and knowledge we can significantly increase our conscious awareness of these signals: both the signals we transmit, and the signals in others that we observe.

Doing so gives us a significant advantage in life – professionally and personally – in our dealings with others.

Body language is not just reading the signals in other people.

Importantly, understanding body language enables better self-awareness and self-control too.

We understand more about other people’s feelings and meanings, and we also understand more about these things in ourselves.

When we understand body language we become better able to refine and improve what our body says about us, which generates a positive improvement in the way we feel, the way we perform, and what we achieve.

Body Language Definition:

Body language is the unconscious and conscious transmission and interpretation of feelings, attitudes, and moods, through:

  • body posture, movement, physical state, position and relationship to other bodies, objects and surroundings,
  • facial expression and eye movement,

(and this transmission and interpretation can be quite different to the spoken words).”

Words alone – especially emotional words (or words used in emotional situations) – rarely reflect full or true meaning and motive.

We find clues to additional or true meaning in body language.

Being able to ‘read’ body language therefore helps us greatly:

  • to know how people feel and what they mean, and
  • to understand better how people might be perceiving our own non-verbal signals, and (often overlooked)
  • to understand ourselves better, deeper than the words we hear ourselves saying.

The Six Universal Facial Expressions – recognized around the World:

It is now generally accepted that certain basic facial expressions of human emotion are recognized around the world – and that the use and recognition of these expressions is genetically inherited rather than socially conditioned or learned.

While there have been found to be minor variations and differences among obscurely isolated tribes-people, the following basic human emotions are generally used, recognized, and part of humankind’s genetic character:

These emotional face expressions are:

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Disgust
  • Surprise
  • Anger

Charles Darwin was first to make these claims in his book The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published in 1872. This book incidentally initially far outsold The Origin of Species, such was its wide (and controversial) appeal at the time.

Body Language Analysis:

Body language is instinctively interpreted by us all to a limited degree, but the subject is potentially immensely complex. Perhaps infinitely so, given that the human body is said to be capable of producing 700,000 different movements (Hartland and Tosh).

Body language also depends on context: body language in a certain situation might not mean the same in another.

Some ‘body language’ isn’t what it seems at all, for example:

  • Someone rubbing their eye might have an irritation, rather than being tired – or disbelieving, or upset.
  • Someone with crossed arms might be keeping warm, rather than being defensive.
  • Someone scratching their nose might actually have an itch, rather than concealing a lie.

A single body language signal isn’t as reliable as several signals:

As with any system of evidence, ‘clusters’ of body language signals provide much more reliable indication of meaning than one or two signals in isolation.

Avoid interpreting only single signals. Look for combinations of signals which support an overall conclusion, especially for signals which can mean two or more quite different things.


Certain body language is the same in all people, for example smiling and frowning but some body language is specific to a culture or ethnic group.

Awareness of possible cultural body language differences is especially important in today’s increasingly mixed societies.

Management and customer service staff are particularly prone to misreading or reacting inappropriately to body language signals from people of different ethnic backgrounds, a situation made worse because this sort of misunderstanding tends to peak when emotions are high.

Personal space preferences (distances inside which a person is uncomfortable when someone encroaches) can vary between people of different ethnicity.

Body Language is relative to age and gender:

Many body language signals are relative.

A gesture by one person in a certain situation can carry far more, or very little meaning, compared to the same gesture used by a different person in a different situation.

Young men for example often display a lot of pronounced gestures because they are naturally energetic, uninhibited and supple. Older women, relatively, are less energetic, adopt more modest postures, and are prevented by clothing and upbringing from exhibiting very pronounced gestures.

So when assessing body language – especially the strength of signals and meanings – it’s important to do so in relative terms, considering the type of person and situation involved.


Some people artificially control their outward body language to give the impression they seek to create at the time.

A confident firm handshake, or direct eye contact, are examples of signals which can be quite easily be ‘faked’ – usually temporarily, but sometimes more consistently.

However while a degree of faking is possible, it is not possible for someone to control or suppress all outgoing signals.

This is an additional reason to avoid superficial analysis based on isolated signals, and to seek as many indicators as possible, especially subtle clues when suspecting things might not be what they seem. Politicians and manipulative salespeople come to mind for some reason.

Looking for ‘micro gestures’ (pupils contract, an eyebrow lifts, corner of the mouth twitch) can help identify the true meaning and motive behind one or two strong and potentially false signals.

These micro gestures are very small, difficult to spot and are subconscious, but we cannot control them, hence their usefulness.

Boredom. Nervousness and Insecurity Signals:

Many body language signals indicate negative feelings such as boredom, disinterest, anxiousness, insecurity, etc.

The temptation on seeing such signals is to imagine a weakness on the part of the person exhibiting them.

This can be so, however proper interpretation of body language should look beyond the person and the signal – and consider the situation, especially if you are using body language within personal development or management. Ask yourself:

What is causing the negative feelings giving rise to the negative signals?

It is often the situation, not the person – for example, here are examples of circumstances which can produce negative feelings and signals in people, often even if they are strong and confident:

  • dominance of a boss or a teacher or other person perceived to be in authority
  • overloading a person with new knowledge or learning
  • tiredness
  • stress caused by anything
  • cold weather or cold conditions
  • lack of food and drink
  • illness or disability
  • alcohol or drugs
  • being in a minority or feeling excluded
  • unfamiliarity – newness – change

Ask yourself, when analysing body language:

Are there external factors affecting the mood and condition of the individual concerned?

Do not jump to conclusions – especially negative ones – using body language analysis alone.

Body Language – Translation of Gesture – Quick Reference Guide:

When translating body language signals into feelings and meanings remember that one signal does not reliably indicate a meaning.

Clusters of signals more reliably indicate meaning.

This is a general guide. Body language should not be used alone for making serious decisions about people.

Body language is one of several indicators of mood, meaning and motive.

This is a guide, not an absolutely reliable indicator, and this applies especially until you’ve developed good capabilities of reading body language signs.

Some of these signs have obvious meanings; others not so.

Eyes – Body Language:

Our eyes are a very significant aspect of the non-verbal signals we send to others.

To a lesser or greater extent we all ‘read’ people’s eyes without knowing how or why, and this ability seems to be inborn.

Eyes – and especially our highly developed awareness of what we see in other people’s eyes – are incredible.

Eyes tend to look right when the brain is imagining or creating, and left when the brain is recalling or remembering. This relates to right and left sides of the brain – in this context broadly the parts of the brain handling creativity/feelings (right) and facts/memory (left). This is analysed in greater detail below.  Under certain circumstances ‘creating’ can mean fabrication or lying, especially (but not always – beware), when the person is supposed to be recalling facts. Looking right when stating facts does not necessarily mean lying – it could for example mean that the person does not know the answer, and is talking hypothetically or speculating or guessing.

signal part of body possible
detailed explanation
Left and right are for the person giving the signals and making the movements.
looking right (generally) eyes creating, fabricating, guessing, lying, storytelling Creating here is basically making things up and saying them. Depending on context this can indicate lying, but in other circumstances, for example, storytelling to a child, this would be perfectly normal. Looking right and down indicates accessing feelings, which again can be a perfectly genuine response or not, depending on the context, and to an extent the person.
looking left (generally) eyes recalling, remembering, retrieving ‘facts’ Recalling and and then stating ‘facts’ from memory in appropriate context often equates to telling the truth. Whether the ‘facts’ (memories) are correct is another matter. Left downward looking indicates silent self-conversation or self-talk, typically in trying to arrive at a view or decision.
looking right and up eyes visual imagining, fabrication, lying Related to imagination and creative (right-side) parts of the brain, this upwards right eye-movement can be a warning sign of fabrication if a person is supposed to be recalling and stating facts.
looking right sideways eyes imagining sounds Sideways eye movements are believed to indicate imagining (right) or recalling (left) sounds, which can include for example a person imagining or fabricating what another person has said or could say.
looking right and down eyes accessing feelings This is a creative signal but not a fabrication – it can signal that the person is self-questioning their feelings about something. Context particularly- and other signals – are important for interpreting more specific meaning about this signal.
looking left and up eyes recalling images truthfulness Related to accessing memory in the brain, rather than creating or imagining. A reassuring sign if signalled when the person is recalling and stating facts.
looking left sideways eyes recalling or remembering sounds Looking sideways suggests sounds; looking left suggests recalling or remembering – not fabricating or imagining. This therefore could indicate recalling what has been said by another person.
looking left down eyes self-talking, rationalizing Thinking things through by self-talk – concerning an outward view, rather than the inward feelings view indicated by downward right looking.
direct eye contact (when speaking) eyes honesty – or faked honesty Direct eye contact is generally regarded as a sign of truthfulness, however practised liars know this and will fake the signal.
direct eye contact (when listening) eyes attentiveness, interest, attraction Eyes which stay focused on the speakers eyes, tend to indicate focused interested attention too, which is normally a sign of attraction to the person and/or the subject.
widening eyes eyes interest, appeal, invitation Widening the eyes generally signals interest in something or someone, and often invites positive response. Widened eyes with raised eyebrows can otherwise be due to shock, but aside from this, widening eyes represents an opening and welcoming expression. In women especially widened eyes tend to increase attractiveness, which is believed by some body language experts to relate to the eye/face proportions of babies, and the associated signals of attraction and prompting urges to protect and offer love and care, etc.
rubbing eye or eyes eyes disbelief, upset, or tiredness Rubbing eyes or one eye can indicate disbelief, as if checking the vision, or upset, in which the action relates to crying, or tiredness, which can be due boredom, not necessarily a need for sleep. If the signal is accompanied by a long pronounced blink, this tends to support the tiredness interpretation.
eye shrug eyes frustration An upward roll of the eyes signals frustration or exasperation, as if looking to the heavens for help.
pupils dilated (enlarged) eyes attraction, desire The pupil is the black centre of the eye which opens or closes to let in more or less light. Darkness causes pupils to dilate. So too, for some reason does seeing something appealing or attractive. The cause of the attraction depends on the situation. In the case of sexual attraction the effect can be mutual – dilated pupils tend to be more appealing sexually that contracted ones, perhaps because of an instinctive association with darkness, night-time, bedtime, etc., although the origins of this effect are unproven. Resist the temptation to imagine that everyone you see with dilated pupils is sexually attracted to you.
blinking frequently eyes excitement, pressure Normal human blink rate is considered to be between six and twenty times a minute, depending on the expert. Significantly more than this is a sign of excitement or pressure. Blink rate can increase to up to a hundred times a minute. Blink rate is not a reliable sign of lying.
blinking infrequently eyes various Infrequent blink rate can mean different things and so offers no single clue unless combined with other signals. An infrequent blink rate is probably due to boredom if the eyes are not focused, or can be the opposite – concentration – if accompanied with a strongly focused gaze. Infrequent blink rate can also be accompanied by signals of hostility or negativity, and is therefore not the most revealing of body language signals.
eyebrow raising (eyebrow ‘flash’) eyes greeting, recognition, acknowledgement Quickly raising and lowering the eyebrows is called an ‘eyebrow flash’. It is a common signal of greeting and acknowledgement, and is perhaps genetically influenced since it is prevalent in monkeys (body language study does not sit entirely happily alongside creationism). Fear and surprise are also signalled by the eyebrow flash, in which case the eyebrows normally remain raised for longer, until the initial shock subsides.
winking eyes friendly acknowledgement, complicity (e.g., sharing a secret or joke) Much fuss was made in May 2007 when George W Bush winked at the Queen. The fuss was made because a wink is quite an intimate signal, directed exclusively from one person to another, and is associated with male flirting. It is strange that a non-contact wink can carry more personal implications than a physical handshake, and in many situations more than a kiss on the cheek. A wink is given additional spice if accompanied by a click of the tongue. Not many people can carry it off. Additionally – and this was partly the sense in which Bush used it – a wink can signal a shared joke or secret.

Mouth – Body Language:

The mouth is associated with very many body language signals, which is not surprising given its functions – obviously speech, but also those connected with infant feeding, which connects psychologically through later life with feelings of security, love and sex.

The mouth can be touched or obscured by a person’s own hands or fingers, and is a tremendously flexible and expressive part of the body too, performing a central role in facial expressions.

The mouth also has more visible moving parts than other sensory organs, so there’s a lot more potential for variety of signalling.

Unlike the nose and ears, which are generally only brought into body language action by the hands or fingers, the mouth acts quite independently, another reason for it deserving separate detailed consideration.

Smiling is a big part of facial body language. As a general rule real smiles are symmetrical and produce creases around the eyes and mouth, whereas fake smiles, for whatever reason, tend to be mouth-only gestures.

signal part of body possible
detailed explanation
pasted smile mouth faked smile A pasted smile is one which appears quickly, is fixed for longer than a natural smile, and seems not to extend to the eyes. This typically indicates suppressed displeasure or forced agreement of some sort.
tight-lipped smile mouth secrecy or withheld feelings Stretched across face in a straight line, teeth concealed. The smiler has a secret they are not going to share, possibly due to dislike or distrust. Can also be a rejection signal.
twisted smile mouth mixed feelings or sarcasm Shows opposite emotions on each side of the face.
dropped-jaw smile mouth faked smile More of a practised fake smile than an instinctive one. The jaw is dropped lower than in a natural smile, the act of which creates a smile.
smile – head tilted, looking up mouth playfulness, teasing, coy Head tilted sideways and downwards so as to part hide the face, from which the smile is directed via the eyes at the intended target.
bottom lip jutting out mouth upset Like rubbing eyes can be an adult version of crying, so jutting or pushing the bottom lip forward is a part of the crying face and impulse. Bear in mind that people cry for reasons of genuine upset, or to avert attack and seek sympathy or kind treatment.
laughter mouth relaxation Laughter deserves a section in its own right because its such an interesting area. In terms of body language genuine laughter is a sign of relaxation and feeling at ease. Natural laughter can extend to all the upper body or whole body. The physiology of laughter is significant. Endorphins are released. Pain and stress reduces. Also vulnerabilities show and can become more visible because people’s guard drops when laughing.
forced laughter mouth nervousness, cooperation Unnatural laughter is often a signal of nervousness or stress, as an effort to dispel tension or change the atmosphere. Artificial laughter is a signal of cooperation and a wish to maintain empathy.
biting lip mouth tension One of many signals suggesting tension or stress, which can be due to high concentration, but more likely to be anxiousness.
teeth grinding mouth tension, suppression Inwardly-directed ‘displacement’  sign, due to suppression of natural reaction due to fear or other suppressant.
chewing gum mouth tension, suppression As above – an inwardly-directed ‘displacement’ sign, due to suppression of natural reaction. Otherwise however can simply be to freshen breath, or as a smoking replacement.
smoking mouth self-comforting Smoking obviously becomes habitual and addictive, but aside from this people put things into their mouths because it’s comforting like thumb-sucking is to a child, in turn rooted in baby experiences of feeding and especially breastfeeding.
chewing pen or pencil mouth self-comforting Like smoking and infant thumbsucking. The pen is the teat. Remember that next time you chew the end of your pen…
pursing lips mouth thoughtfulness, or upset As if holding the words in the mouth until they are ready to be released. Can also indicate anxiousness or impatience at not being able to speak. Or quite differently can indicate upset, as if suppressing crying.
tongue poke mouth / tongue disapproval, rejection The tongue extends briefly and slightly at the centre of the mouth as if tasting something nasty. The gesture may be extremely subtle. An extreme version may be accompanied by a wrinkling of the nose, and a squint of the eyes.
hand clamped over mouth mouth / hands suppression, holding back, shock Often an unconscious gesture of self-regulation – stopping speech for reasons of shock, embarrassment, or for more tactical reasons. The gesture is reminiscent of the ’speak no evil’ wise monkey. The action can be observed very clearly in young children when they witness something ‘unspeakably’ naughty or shocking. Extreme versions of the same effect would involve both hands.
nail biting mouth / hands frustration, suppression Nail-biting is an inwardly-redirected aggression borne of fear, or some other suppression of behaviour. Later nail-biting becomes reinforced as a comforting habit, again typically prompted by frustration or fear. Stress in this context is an outcome. Stress doesn’t cause nail-biting; nail-biting is the outward demonstration of stress. The cause of the stress can be various things (stressors). See the stress article for more detail about stress.