While Pier Forni leads the way, I believe, in helping us
see civil behavior in organizations and different
situations, the updated Emily Post book adds some
useful suggestions for what your digital profile includes
and pointing out problem areas.
* complete and update Linkedin profile, with
* have a well maintained blog and website
* have links to published content in your name
* list membership on boards, charitable/ educational
groups and organizations
* include awards and achievements
* cite positive press
Just having a solid digital profile is not enough. Be
aware of potential trouble areas, like:
* privacy protections on Facebook
* uncensored, overly personal
or controversial history
* less than flattering photos tagged to your name
* old media that does not reflect who you are now
* unflattering press
Search your name and some name alternatives
Social Networking Tips
1. Online privacy is an illusion. Just about everything has
a digital fingerprint.
2. Think twice about offering negative criticism online.
Can be easily misinterpreted, especially in the absence
of facial expression, tone of voice
or nonverbal cues…
3. Opinions will be formed on everything you post and
much can be taken out of context.
4. You bear responsibility for online image
The option, honestly, the requirement, of submitting “diversity
statements’ was recently brought to my attention in an
application under consideration.
The option appears in application documents submitted for
areas like: teaching positions, graduate schools in liberal
arts and sciences, and in law schools. 2 International
organizations recognized cultural diversity as part of the
globalization trend more than a decade ago.
A number of global businesses have incorporated diversity
into their mission statement, as can be found in annual
reports and webpages. In these, it is often you can observe
“a business case” supporting diversity.
Much of the advice offered for ideas to include seem to
shine more light on Pier Forni’s work on civility.
It should be recognized that the concept is morphing and
the examples and values expressed in statements should
be consistent with the organization for which the one-page
diversity statement is formulated. [see also. ]
Some ideas might include:
active open-mindedness with a shared purpose
outcomes in our lives change positively resulting from experiences
broadness and depth of input and perspective can often be more
significant than ability, as it can be tuned to specific instances
We added one item of several to a detailed list of examples
of rude behavior we may face. This was a (1)hand-out in a
recent seminar that gave examples, (2)elicited how people
commonly respond, then reviewed habit stacks that might
help deal appropriately with situations.
The one added item is cell phone misuse in public spaces
Most of the time people indicated their reactions would depend
on the situation. Most would consider rude behaviors they
face as minor and not worth commenting or considering. These
behaviors do make a difference. It is estimated to cost $36B in
workplace situations and $160B in driving situations!
What triggers rude behavior? It is a form of incivility which
has been a subject here citing the work of P. Forni. Our
seminar covered (3) causes of rude behavior (4) the spectrum
of incivility, (5) suggestion for what to do, a habit stack.
There has been quite a bit of interest in following discussions.
- MUD CARDS, see the Habit stack at the end for dealing with
rude behavior situations
- Cite a book by Mark Goulston “Just Listening” and add
his insights on particular Rude behavior “actors”
- restate three Forni video vingnettes
This seminar was therapeutic for many, they indicated. In addition
practicing the habit stack builds resilient confidence and might
be useful in constructing responses to interview questions
which ask for stories in how you deal with situations.
Pier Forni has written about dealing with rude behavior.
Saying please, excuse me and thank you are leading items.
There are many good reasons for writing than you notes.
One of them was shared by Richard Desmond that I just
need to share:
“I saw the email about a seminar on writing a cover letter
and something that happened at lunch today made me think
to reach out to you. …I landed an Assistant Professor
position…[in part due to a thoughtful thank you letter.]
We were at lunch today and one of my colleagues mentioned
he was cleaning his desk and found my “thank you” note
from last spring. He appreciated it and was impressed that I
included a detail from our interaction that day. Another colleague
(chair of the search committee) then added it was an easy
decision, as I was the only candidate to send a “thank you.”
[While there were a number of qualified candidates,] but
it did help me make an impression and set myself apart from
The features of a thank you note are that it is a (1) prompt
expression of (2) interest in you, (3) it reveals excellent business
sense, and includes (4) civil follow-up on discussions, tours,
observations and questions.
For interviews: mention your interest in working at the place
where you are being considered.
Make sure that you write it authoritatively showing that you
were there. It is ineffective if it sounds like anyone could have
Three topics that may help you respond to interview
behavioral questions, know when to send emails,
and understand significant questions to ask when
first starting a new job are highlighted. Have you
ever gone into an interview and been asked:
“Describe a situation where you had a conflict with
someone, or your boss. What did you do?” Or:
“What do you dislike or wish could be changed at
your current or previous position or situation?”
Did you ever think through the best times and days
we should send emails, if we wish a response?”
What are essential questions to ask when you first
start at a new position?
SOURCE: R. Feintseig, WSJ 8-28-13, p. B6
“When co-workers don’t play nice.”
The article states that uncivil behavior is a
significant factor in unhappiness at work, low productivity,
and people moving on. Pier Forni has been cited
several times in this blog for his pointing out the critical
nature of civility in human interactions and how we might
behave toward others. This article adds at least one new
practical rule of thumb:
the 10/5 rule: Within 10 feet acknowledge a person;
5 feet, say hello.
Other thoughts that may help with responding to the
conflict resolution interview questions are suggested
in this article.
EMAIL SENDING TIMING
SOURCE: J. Cummings, CareerHub, 10-1-13
Based on “click to open” data, she suggests better
times to send Job Search emails are: 6am-10, noon
-2pm, and 7pm-10 on Thursday and early Monday.
Avoid overnight, lunch and dinner time hours.
Who would have guessed?
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN NEW TO A POSITION
SOURCE: A. Sklover, SkloverWorkingWisdom, 10-1-13
Al Sklover provides something few can match. This time
he provides professionals sage advice on what to ask for
when you begin a job, including:
- copies of all documents you signed,
- employee handbook and rules, regulations and contacts
- policies and procedures for payroll, expense reporting,
- written plans for employee assistance, severance, bonus,
401K, and even non-compete agreements if requested to
One of the most important “MUSTS” we advise members
whether looking for a job, delivering a workshop or
working with a team is sending thank you notes.
A recent WSJ article reinforces its importance.
In this week’s class, one card asked:
Do you have any books that you recommend
that have helped you?
Books I like are
Pier Forni, The Thinking Life, How to thrive
in the age of distraction, St. Martins’ Press, NY, 2011
T. Harford, Adapt: Why success always starts
with failure, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New
Roy F. Burmeister and John Tierney Willpower:
rediscovering the greatest human strength,
Penguin Press NY 2011
Steven Greenblatt, The Swerve- how the world
became modern, Norton and company ny, 2011
Michio Kaku, Physics of the Future: How
science will shape human destiny and our daily
lives by the year 2100, Doubleday, 2011
P. Forni, Choosing Civility 2010
Mary C. Gentile, Giving Voice to Values: How
to speak your mind when you know what’s right,
Yale University Press, New Haven, 2010
Sheena Iyengar, The Art of Choosing, Twelve,
New York, 2010
John C Maxwell, Everyone communicates,
few connect: what the most effective people
do differently, Thomas Nelson, Nashville 2010.
Douglas Merrill and James Martin, Getting
organized in the google Era, How to get stuff
out of your head, find it when you need it, and
get it done right, Broadway Books, NY, 2010
Barabasi Albert-Laszlo , Bursts: The hidden
pattern behind everything we do, Dutton 2010
Steven Johnson, Where good ideas come
from: The natural history of innovation,
Riverhead Books, NY 2010
John C. Maxwell, How successful people
think, center street NY 2009
John Freeman, The Tyranny of Email,
Scribner, New York 2009
Jeff Jarvis, What would Google do? WWGD
HarperCollins 2009, New York
Jonah Lehrer, How we decide, Houghton
Mifflin, Harcourt, Boston, 2009.
Pier Forni, The civility Solution: What to
do when people are rude
Malcolm Galdwell, Blink
G Smart and R Street, Who: The A method for hiring ,
Ballantine Books New York, 2008 ghSMART
Ori Bromfman and Rom Bramfman, Sway :
The irresistible pull of irrational behavior,
Doubleday NY, 2008
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers Little Brown
and Co., NY, 2008
Margaret Visser, The gift of thanks: the
roots and rituals of gratitude; Houghton
Mifflin, Boston, 2008
Peggy Klaus, The hard truth about soft skills:
workplace lessons smart people wish they’d
learned sooner, Collins, 2007
Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Made to Stick,
Random House New York, 2007
H Gardiner, Five Minds for the Future,
Harvard Business School , Boston, 2007
Gary Hamel and Bill Breen, The Future of
Management Harvard Business School
Press, Boston 2007
Chris Anderson, The Long Tail: Why is the
future of business the selling more of less,
Hyperion New York, 2006
Peter Senge, The Fifth discipline: The art and
practice of the learning organization,
Currency Doubleday, New York, 2006
Jacqueline Whitmore, Business Class
etiquette essentials for success at work,
St. Martin’s press, New York, 2005
T H Davenport, Thinking for a Living:
How to get better performance and results
from knowledge worker, Harvard Business
School, Boston, 2005.
Howard Gardner, Changing Minds: the
art and science of changing our own and
other people’s minds, Harvard
business school press, Boston, MA, 2004
Leil Lowndes, How to Talk to Anyone
92 tips, McGraw Hill New York, 2003
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Confidence How winning
streaks and losing streaks begin and end, Crown
Business NY, 2004,
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Linked: The new
science of networks Perseus Publishing
Cambridge, MA 2002
Stephen R. Covey, The 8th Habit,: From Effectiveness
Malcolm Gladwell, Tipping Point
Robert Leamnson, Thinking about teaching
and learning, Stylus, Sterling VA, 1999
John C. Maxwell, Talent is not enough
B. Joseph Pine and James E. Gilmore, The
Experience Economy: Work is Theatre &
Every Business a Stage by Harvard
Business School Press, Boston MA, 1999
Ken Blanchard and Terry Waghorn, Mission
Possible: Becoming a world-class organization
while there’s still time, McGraw-Hill New
Hal Urban, Life’s greatest lessons—20 things that
really matter, Hal Urban, Fireside Books 1993.
It is sad but true, some people find their professional
situations as making them feel like they are in a
downward, “death spiral” with no way out. They are:
- mid-career people who have worked hard for a
firm and been let go, a victim of numbers in a
merger, or downsizing, or off-shoring.
- emerging chemists and engineers who are in
their 4th, 5th, 6th or more year of graduate work
without an endpoint in sight.
- people with a couple of decades of experience
and accomplishment who have been denied promotions
and given staff positions with little or no responsibility
little or no growth opportunity.
First of all, my friends, you are not alone. Second,
there is help out there for you. Many of us have
faced their personal dilemma and found out that
there are strategies and tactics to break out of the
Rosabeth Moss Kanter and Pier Forni are two authors
who have reflected on these kinds of situations and
have something positive to offer.
Kanter nicely suggests re-start your confidence engine
by breaking tasks up into smaller accomplishable elements
with shorter time horizons. Make progress despite
So, attend a meeting, deliver a paper or poster get energized
by the discussion and new insights that sharing offers.
Be open to others ideas and suggestions.
[Have business cards, exchange Linkedin.com addresses
share papers, expand your network, explore others’
approaches to dealing with their situations.]
Don’t shy away from offering to partner with
people in similar situations. The comraderie
and positive reinforcement and sharing of
successes will lead to personal success.
At a recent meeting, I met with several members
who had ‘lost positions.’ All were despondent and
seeking help to overcome personal barriers. I
accompanied one shy, extremely capable man into
an exhibition area to observe and manage his
unwillingness to confront his personal reality with
people he knew, and ask for help. Network where
networking is sought and expected….
Don’t be shy.
Forni builds on the role of civility as an elegant
way to pay attention to others. A colleague mentioned
that he wants to speak with someone but is unable to
get much time with full attention. A suggestion was to
offer a cup of coffee and light refreshment to accompany
the conversation. He responded soon after his critical
meeting that he was very surprised how such a little,
almost trivial kind act, made the whole transaction
positive and successful, even delightful.
[Know that taking the personal initiative to be civil
in spite of challenges reflects a professional inner
core of beliefs. The holding of a door for someone,
sharing a small treat are forms of “paying attention to
By all means seek out mentors who can provide
non-critical sounding board and experienced
reflection. Forni cites a saying that a
smart man learns by his
a wise man learns by the mistakes of others.
Above all, Pasteur is quoted as saying ‘chance favors
the prepared mind.’ Do things intentionally for the
right reasons and you will be positively surprised.
This seventh post on thinking about thinking takes
inspiration from Pier Forni’s book “The Thinking
Life: How to thrive in the age of distraction.”
Thinking is essential to humans and our survival.
In our Internet age various devices keep us
wirelessly and asynchronously connected to
everyone and many we did not choose to be
connected to. Forni outlines the urgency to
develop and place good thinking habits as
a priority. Good thinking makes having thought,
having thought leads to a wider range of viable
choices; Good choices offer the chance for good
decisions that lead to a good life that lead to
Our use of various devices and games distracts
us from focus is based on our human tendency to
enjoy the easier entertainment forms that
information for understanding
content for skill
acquiring knowledge for retention of knowledge
internet search for thinking, an activity of who we are.
Historically this is not the first time such human
behaviors were criticized when former habits
became diluted by innovations.
1-Plato and Socrates railed against writing which
2-The movable type was attacked as the printed
word of many items transformed mental into
3-The Internet and proliferation of visual information
in digital media. This is because we must have
the tool ready when we need it.
Thinking is hard work and takes energy and
seems counter cultural. In fact, a better balance
and judgement of use is called for. Forni offers
we should think a lot, be aware of the needs of
others and care for others. In this sense, there
is personal civility component as we give full
attention to people.
Burmeister and Tierney’s book Willpower offers
suggestions on how to make personal progress
on the exercise of thinking. See more in the comments.
One of the leading questions job seekers want to
know is: what do potential employers look for
when they are trying to fill positions?
Well, for sure they will want to confirm and
see evidence of technical abilities (matching their
needs] by the accomplishments made and the
problems overcome. So, that is how well educated
and advanced trained people “get their tickets
punched.” These can lead to invitations for
interviews. But then, how do they distinguish
equally talented people and select who gets job
offers? It is the soft skills that are exhibited.
These are behaviors and courtesies we have
talked about (civility) that are not displayed
on tv or in movies and not part of our curricula in
grad school. They, however, do distinguish
otherwise qualified candidates and often result
in job offers. Besides Pier Forni 1 , please consider
looking at Peggy Klaus for helpful insights.
Peggy has written and spoken about these
skills as her blog items reveal. Digging deeper
into the “long tail” on her, uncovered gems of
wisdom on suggestion of how to deal with the
plight of information overload– “wise skills.
[my words for her ‘practical wisdom’]”
In tight job markets, where people
who get hired into positions of responsibility
they will also be expected to give extra of
themselves– time away from home, bringing
work home, business meeting at inconvenient
times (weekends, evenings, early mornings).
She discusses timely concepts to deal with
the 7/24 frenetic pace and also the ways different
generations can be of value to each other.
- disconnect and recharge, develop schedules
- be allies for each other
- understand the high value and importance of
Whether we are in a class, or serving customers in
a profit-oriented company, or teaching a technical
course or walking down a hall way with strangers,
or sitting at a restaurant table, we observe various
forms of rudeness.
Over the past couple of years P. Forni and
civility project have been mentioned in various
situations in this blog, including:
- subtle, perceptive ways of paying attention
- significance of recognizing presence of others
- “active” listening skills
- causes and responses to speaking ill of others
- respect for others’ time and space
- thoughts on asserting yourself without over-
- how to deal thoughtfully with personal questions
Recently, I read his 2008 book on what to do when
you face a situation where you are rudely treated.
1. What to do when you face rudeness video
Focused and un-focused rudeness
Causes of each
2. Rudeness prevention video 2
Argue vs. discussion; zero sum, win-win outcomes
3. Personally dealing with rudeness video 3
Going with the flow
Thoughtful next steps- assertion in open forward-seeking
4. Facing rudeness video 4
Preparation for possible reaction
SIR sequence: state - inform - request
Focus on actions, not berating imposing person
In a conversation, a member asked–
“when I attend a meeting, I want to be
sociable and engage in conversation. I
just don’t know what to say. Can you offer
There are four tactics to consider: People’s
names, introductions, small talk and
elevator speeches. Remember with all
of them we communicate a lot with our
- remembering names
hone the skill of remembering people and their
names. [View the link.]
- introductions: consider–
“Hi My name is Theodore Roosevelt. But
you can call me “TR.” No one ever recalls
Theodore as it is not very common these
days. This morning when I was coming in
my car battery died on me. I had to call
around to let my colleagues know and see
if other arrangements could be made. I
was flying from Hartford, as I am finishing
up my graduate degree at UCONN in
materials science with Professor Zhao.
As you can see AAA saved the day and
I made the flight.” A little story with key
items makes a big difference. Make it
easy on your audience to remember you…
- small talk 2 3 4 5
Each day assemble three topics you can speak
to nearly anyone extemporaneously.
- “elevator speeches“ 7
Observe marketing experts and adapt to
yourself. Consider bringing a sample of
something that helps you tell a story about
creativity or problem solving.
Both N. Meanwell and S. Sobolov
had pertinent comments about
preferred ways of presenting
yourself at the NERM Career
Workshops in Hartford last week.
In cover letters, Nick spoke about
addressing the letter to specific people.
Even emailed public relations
documents should contain cover
In interviewing and networking
introductions, Susan could not forget
the importance of a good, practiced
handshake. In fact, she commented
that one decision-maker she observed
commented that he would not hire a
person, based solely on the first
impression and the handshake.
These and other similar helpful hints
were contained in a book recommended
by P. Forni [mentioned in a previous
blog], “Business Class” by J
Whitmore. Particular tips on making a
positive first impression, handshaking,
small talk, phone calls, and dining
Another topical resource is L Lowndes book,
How to talk to anyone which I came away
- conversation progression - cliches,
facts, feelings, personal statements, “we
- upping my small talk skills
- giving my body language a positive
Recall: Technical tools are helpful, yet
people hire people.
This week I listened to Dave Iverson’s
Forum podcast on Bad Manners and was
introduced to P. M. Forni who has
championed a helpful Johns Hopkins
This led me to correspond with the author
and read some of his writings. One book,
Choosing Civility, offers 25 rules of
considerate conduct. Half of them seem
to apply directly to interviewing
situations. Briefly, they relate to:
- subtle, perceptive ways of paying attention
- significance of recognizing presence of others
- “active” listening skills
- causes and responses to speaking ill of
- good grooming reminders
- elements of sound and noise levels and need
for managing them
- respect for others’ time and space
- thoughts on asserting yourself without over-
- how to deal thoughtfully with personal
- being a good guest and advice on idle
It is an interesting read.