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
Recently I have received requests to review resumes and cover
letters for people who have completed several post docs and
wonder what can they do to attract interview attention.
This post reports on a class given graduate students on
Listening Skills. It was inspired by Nichols and Stevens,
yet the concepts described by Brenda Bailey-Hughtes and
Tatiana Kolovou were built upon with practical exercises
which were specifically reviewed for teachable moments
and subliminally presented for different learning styles.
This topic may apply to working in teams, dealing with
customers and managing challenging situations. Three
useful concepts come out of Leonard Greenberger’s
soft cover book, “What to Say when things get tough“.
What counts is your audience’s perception of what is happening
and whether or not you are trustworthy and credible source of
See events through the eyes of others.
Facts do not equate to winning people over. When people are angry,
worried and suspicious, they absorb and sift through information
with the emotional areas of their brains.
Life is divided between things that make you feel and things that
make you think. This is hard for scientists and engineers to
fathom. Situations seek reassurance and empathy. Understand
how others feel, rather than offering facts.
To achieve success, remain positive. Words used can often
embody the feeling. But receivers may pay more attention to
Use third party resources to provide supporting feeling and input.
It helps that they have higher credibility. The closer to your target
audience is to your source the better.
C. CODE FOR DEVELOPING TRUST AND CREDIBILITY
Caring and empathy 50
Openness and honesty 10-15
Dedication and commitment 10-15
Expertise and competence 10-15
Angry, worried and suspicious people pay attention not only to
what you say but also to what you do with your eyes, hands,
posture, clothing and other nonverbal cues.
Caring and empathy accounts for about half of the trust and
credibility judgments that people will make of you.
Telling relateable stories can be key.
R.Nicholls and L. Stevens presented a case that listening
is an underappreciated and poorly instructed skill that
has many barriers.
Also, it is incumbent on our educational system to
engage students in regular exercises that will be an asset
in all endeavors.
Nicholls and Stevens write about a University of
Minnesota approach that improves outcomes. Notable
are four activities of the listener:
The authors provide some appropriate cases and
suggestions some of which may apply in your situation.
Then, Zenger and Folkman reveal what you and I
think what we should do and that those things are not
enough to be a great leader-listener. As the key
requirement for being a leader is listening to others —
Key among them:
ACADEMIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Two dozen grad students attended a class on learning about their
emotional make-up. They had been given assignments to complete
their MBTI profile and also asked to assess their values 2 3 and
behavior tendencies 2 3 .
Each one of these grad students is very smart and are
put into situations where they might wish to look smart
[leading a problem solving class, tutoring, giving seminars,
It reminded me of an article by Sue Shellenbarger of WSJ who
conveyed “the appearance of intelligence is [done] largely
with nonverbal cues… People get high marks when they talk in
simple, straightforward language with a lot of energy and
engagement. Make eye contact. Speak in a pleasant voice.
Articulate words clearly, pause between sentences. Listen
closely to others and be transparent about what you do and
do not know.”
Attempts to talk over people’s heads by using jargon, big words,
or complicated sentences will be quickly seen as a pose.
Observing how the class was widely divided in terms of
MBTI preferences [10 of 16 MBTI subcategories were
revealed and confirmed by descriptions found in two books*].
Their different preferences view the world and decisions they
made with different lenses and criteria. It was revealing and
several remarked that this puts a whole new view on working
* S. J. Scott and Rebecca Livermore, Confident you…2015
Isabel Briggs Myers, Introduction to Type, 6th edition, CPP
Let me share some insights gleaned from recent eBook by
Michael Nir, Silent Influencing, that offers meaningful
guides enhancing our communications and interpreting
others combination of verbal and nonverbal messages.
- Use a “cluster” of signals, gestures and “emblems” to
provide clearer messages. In other words avoid choosing
to interpret one nonverbal element in interpreting another’s
views, thinking or opinion.
[”steepling one’s fingers” is a ‘gesture,’ while “stroking one’s
chin,” as if thinking about something, is an ‘emblem’.]
- When there is an apparent contradiction between nonverbal
signals and words of speech, many choose to find stronger
meaning in the nonverbal signals. Think of a person shaking
his head “no” and saying “yes” with arms folded and eyes looking
down to the ground.
- First impressions stick with us and our human tendency is
to confirm our initial impressions, rather than keeping an open
- It is possible to influence thinking, judgment and decisions
by changing simple things like seating arrangements. The
surrounding environment can sometimes make a difference.
- To overcome resistance or reluctance revealed by a silent
and closed and distant person, engagement by enlisting
support and handing them something to induce opening
up, coming closer and agreeing to participate
You realize that a larger fraction of your communication
are the nonverbal signals. They are noticed more than
the words we use and ideas we express.
1. Posture- stand tall lifting your solar plexus so that
breathing is fuller and easier and head straight with ears
over the shoulder. This demonstrates and aids your confidence.
2. Open stance- avoid closed stance, with head down or
your body shrinking in your space. However, respect
others’ personal space.
3. Nervous tics- Have a mentor help you by noticing your
nervous tics. Everyone has them. Then, replace them with
a subtle outlet. Hold a folder, hold a pen, pointer; avoid
hands in pockets and giggling coins.
4. Eye contact (especially in US, Canada and most of
Europe)- engage your eye brows to aid your expression.
5. Slow your movements down– hands, pointing, listening
In reading through items in my “in-box” I hit
upon some research on combining light to
induce dopamine release as a way to suppress
the taste for alcohol. It is an interesting use
of combining technologies– genetics,
chemistry, pharmacolology and lasers.
Ultra short pulsed lasers are moving to
microtechnology manufacturing and automotive
engines. This results from several advances
that allow processing without heating and
Finally, I was “invited” to view a webinar
by Steven Cohen about negotiation. My
goodness, he offered very meaning hints,
tips and trends that we use negotiation
in our every day life and it is a professional
skill that benefits from understanding the
basics. of human communications with
different cultural audiences. His recent book
link is shared.
OPTOGENETICS - C. BASS
SOURCE: Optogenetic Stimulation…
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 2013
Intrigued by a cartoon summary of research,
this article displays relevant research in the
interdisciplinary areas pertaining to substance
ULTRASHORT LASERS IN MANUFACTURING
SOURCE: Take the Heat out of..
Photonics showcase brief on new developments
in laser technology is being tested to drill
injector nozzles in engines and to scribe ITO
coatings of smartphone screens.
PRACTICAL NEGOTIATOR- STEVE COHEN
SOURCE: Negotiating Skills Company
Most important negotiation presence is
face-to-face, since it allows communication
of nonverbal signals with less confusion. Skyping,
telephone follow. Mail, Email, and texting
follow after, as visual elements are so important and
there can be inadvertent mishaps that slip through.
Language in the global arena, going after major
issues but keeping in focus BATNA (best alternative
to a negotiated agreement) and ZOPA (zone of
possible agreement) are compelling concepts
Performing detailed research, preparing meaningful stories
and developing engaging exercises are the focus of recent
efforts in organizing an article and preparing a future seminar.
These efforts offer an opportunity to study others’ amazing
work and see where important insights from one field can
be useful and merged into another field where there might
not be an immediate connection.
Enough set-up, let’s get to setting goals and maybe, equally
important, developing habits and learning about the concept of
SOURCE: S. J. Scott, “Habit Stacking: 97 Small life changes...”
The author has a website and has suggested an incredible number
of mini-routines that just make sense to ordering and improving
our lives. ‘Habit stacking‘ involves formulating a checklist of these
mini-routines in a logical order where you complete positive
habits, without even a second thought, like jotting down key things
you want to say before you speak and allowing yourself personal
self-control to have eye contact with your audience, breathe and
pace your message for maximum impact and employ demonstrative
nonverbals for professional effect.
There are habit stacks for internet marketing,
wellness, fitness, careers, strengthening willpower.
See SJ’s 203 good habits.
One of his first is writing down personal goals…
WORD CHOICE IN COMMUNICATION
SOURCE: James W. Pennebaker, “The Secret Life of Pronouns:
What our words say about us,” Bloomsbery Press, NY, 2011
I was stunned reading that certain words you and I use don’t
carry a lot of meaning but connect the content of what we say
and reveal much of our thinking, what we pay attention to
and our relationship to the reader or listener. These words
are “function words”–pronouns, articles, prepositions,
auxiliary verbs (ie, is), negation (ie, not), conjunctions (ie, but)
quantifiers (ie, few) and common adverbs (ie, really).
What generated this field of study, that may have wider application,
is the use of software LIWC (Logical Inquiry and Word Count;
“luke”) that “google-izes” emails and text of documents and
speeches to assess the words the authors use and infer thinking
- 2d, 3d person personal pronouns- attention to other people
- past tense verbs- attention to past events
- 1st person personal pronouns- reveals self reflecting
It is more the higher frequency of use, rather than a single occurrence.
complex vs. simple: Complex thinking uses larger words, longer
sentences and complicated sentences involving “language markers”
for categorization. except, but, until, without, unless…
dynamic vs. categorical: Dynamical can be more abstract and
ever-changing principles. Categorical uses concrete nouns to
describe objects, events and particular people.
EB has done a personal self assessment and would like
to work in metabolic chemical engineering. There are
many new routes of taking waste product streams or
natural raw materials to produce useful therapies, fuels
She has experienced several phone and onsite interviews,
based on networking and through online searches. She
is getting rejection after rejection, or at least no call
backs within the expected time. In fact in one interview
on the board in the small business interview room was
her initials listed with other initials and, believe it or not,
“back up” written next to it.
In another interview she met with team members where
it felt like they were looking for positions as well. She
would receive an offer if they obtained an acceptable
full time offer.
What am I doing wrong, she asked.
1. The rare fresh new hire circumstance is doing the same thing
that you did in your most previous role. Expect that your
assignment will be different and you will and know how to adapt
and interrogate new circumstances and view things from a fresh
2. The first reason a candidate is turned down is not having
the required technical skills. This is something that you can
plan to do something about by finding out at the interview if
you could specifically ask after the interview process what
they liked and if there were any specific background weaknesses
that could have influenced a negative decision.
So, don’t take it personal. Show a willingness to be proactive.
3. A second reason for not receiving an offer is style.
Style is revealed not only in words but also in nonverbal
communication. We reviewed EB’s interview question
responses and encouraged her to develop STAR or SARI
stories. But before this is the need to display authentic
enthusiasm for working there.
4. Before the interview do your homework. Often neglected
is the mental emotional preparation. Enthusiasm, presence
Be conscious of your mental state for the job interview.
Take a few moments to sit quietly, focus on your breathing
and avoid what you will or will not say.
Imagine that you work for the organization and immerse yourself
with the feeling of all the good things you will experience there.
Visualize it, feel it.
Then when you are at the site breath again and put yourself in the
same mental place. Now focus on staying there. Excitement,
enthusiasm and passion come from your heart.
It is challenging for people in technical fields
to consider the changes in the employment marketplace
today. So much can seem to be against our better natures
where we are taught that deep study and inspiration can
A. Big prize awards are offered for innovative ways of
solving human problems or for commercial innovation,
using crowd-sourcing approaches [See Chapter 5 of the
Second Machine Age, by E. Brynjolfsson and A. McAfee]
B. Digitized, specialized robotic equipment replace
people doing certain tasks. And strange concepts like
Maravec’s paradox: high level reasoning requires little
computation, but lower level sensorimotor skills
require enormous computational resources.
These and many other examples lead critics to dismiss
all of these as re-packaging things for the wifi-computerized
Recently, a faculty member asked me what I proposed to
do in a workshop. Before I could answer, he smiled while
dispelling his disbelief, you are not going to just talk about
“polishing the apple”.
The supply and demand picture of technically trained people
continues to shift and while your technical substance needs
to be strong, you need to recognize the need to stand out
from other equally qualified professionals. You can learn
to improve listening skills, demonstrate curiosity and
make a compelling case for yourself in voice, style and
nonverbal communications. You can do this without being
inauthentic or deceptive in your motives.
Specific evidence is in creating cover letters and resumes
that are specific, clear, easy to read and brief (error-free, too)
They do not have to be encyclopedic and cover all aspects.
Yet, they need to be targeted and show an understanding of
marketing to your audience/customer.
Specific evidence is also in knowing what apparel is expected when
you arrive for interviews, and how you connect with people
in informal and formal settings.
Again, you are marketing a product– yourself.
Thank you Dr. Patrick Gordon for sharing a helpful
marketing document describing crafting effective
“elevator speeches.” Elevator speeches (or pitches) are
useful tools in the job market as well as in the business
world involved with products and services, where it is
integrated into a strategy.
There were six startling take-aways that helped me
revise my marketing tool, specifically:
1. Target your audience’s needs and reveal the value you
provide. Practice and perfect the wording and timing of
2. Give a couple of specifics of the people you serve or
industries that can benefit.
3. Describe a problem and solution or share a benefit
4. Make it illustrative rather then encyclopedic,
conversational rather than jargon-loaded and memorable
rather than lumped with broad career fields, like organic
chemistry or medicinal chemistry.
5. Perhaps describe your customer’s feelings before
working with you or your product.
6. Perception is everything. I could picture the four
approaches commonly used and clearly see the strengths
of one of them “the attractor.” Less effective are:
“minimizer (I am an analytical chemist.)”,
“rambler (I am an analytical chemist with background in
Don’t overlook the nonverbal communications you use
when delivering your elevator speech. It can make all
It is also marketing of yourself.
It is helped by actively doing it and facing the nervousness
of being on the spot and not knowing exactly what will happen
and in what order. Yet you want to make a positive experience
while making a strong case for your candidacy.
As such, it helps to actively learn interviewing skills by
observing others. In so doing, you can place yourself in another’s
place and assess what you would do. You could note positive
behaviors and places where things could be done better. In this
process you can improve your interviewing skills and behaviors.
PRACTICING AND LEARNING SKILLS IN MOCK INTERVIEWS
This week we performed a Mock Interviewing workshop in
which many attendees agreed they gained great benefit from the
big picture continuum and the very professional feedback each
mock interviewee was offered by Marisha Godek, the experienced
We chose to perform six different interview scenarios taken
from the Interviewing continuum. Every single one had
excellent “teachable moments” that was followed by discussion
clarifying what happened,
shining light on nonverbal signals,
pinpointing things to avoid,
offering situations where improvisation was required,
positive small talk leading to either agenda
setting or elevator speeches, and
offering how to face challenges in problem solving and case study
As a NACE survey reveals your technical skills, accomplishments,
abilities and acumen help you get the interview and provide ~30-40%
of the input for a hiring decision. The remaining factors influencing the
decision include social acumen, self understanding, behavior and
interpersonal skills, working with data, computers, teams and
Here are some “red flags” for a professional interview and
some suggestions to be prepared for and counter.
Arriving late for an interview
Always plan more time than you think you will need to
arrive at your appointed time and find out where you are
Consider traveling to the location the day before, if
possible, to estimate the times and get traffic information.
Always good to get a telephone number to call if there
is any chance for delay. Also, you can call and let your
host know you have arrived the day before the interview.
Have a plan of what you will do when you arrive.
Meet people, learn or confirm things about the culture.
Display good etiquette with personal communication tools
Even turn off vibrate
Suggest not even using in rest room or “isolated areas”
Position job description, recent company information and
recent financial reports on the company
Not a bad idea to speak to your financial adviser about the
company. [after all it is a financial decision]
You will show something if you do a good literature review
about the company history, mergers, leaders, and products.
Match your skills experience, and qualifications to the needs
Knowing the job description, show that your skills are either
transferable or a good match to the “musts and wants”
Not knowing the job description, use your network input,
glassdoor.com, and web site information (annual report) to
begin the conversations about using stories to show your
skills and experience match their needs.
Know yourself, know how your style can appear to your
interviewers, learn attentively the styles of your
interviewers and pay attention to nonverbal feedback
to your performance
You are always being judged by all the people you meet.
Remember, three things happen: being lucky, using your
skill or applying your intuition. The skillful are both
lucky and develop intuition.
Regulate and adapt to your environment.
Focus on your goal, not on yourself.
Let the reality of the situation be your guide.
We all have faults and weaknesses. Know yours and what
you are doing to offset or reduce them.
Practice giving your responses.
Review typical questions and prepare stories for responses.
Check your response times, “come up for air.”
Aim to make it a two-way, enjoyable conversation.
Does controversy prevent you from putting your ideas in the
public domain? As we know, when we introduce a new or a
counter-intuitive notion, many will criticize or disbelieve.
The key thing is to listen. Then, think seriously to
devise experiments to test thoughtful hypotheses. It is
time to fully observe and interrogate from several perspectives.
NEW TREND: video conferencing growth
More and more virtual video conferencing is a method of
choice for people to get together, just like “drive through”
windows for transactions. Rachel Nielsen describes business
results, companies involved, and relating it to CERN’s high
level of virtual meetings .
OBSERVATIONS: The bigger trend than having meetings is
collaboration at a distance using iPads, handhelds, sharing
data and workscreens on projects. This leads to a flurry of
hardware and software solutions to develop needed collaborative
meeting room functionality.
IMPLICATIONS: Video conferencing is evolving as an
important co-curricular skill for many fields.
1. “I” reveals your relational status- Pennebaker
E. Bernstein authored a report summarizing Pennebaker’s
work on conversational use of pronouns. Controversy
surrounds some of the article’s assertions relating to
use of “I” and the “status of the person”. She offers
that a person who uses “I” less frequently is the higher
status person and can be associated with “hiding the
truth.” While she does indicate that “mirroring” the
conversation partner is helpful, use the “use of I” in
your self expression while observing verbal and
nonverbal signals in your listeners.
TAKE AWAY: Different signals are assessed with the use
of “I” in communication. It is wise to test with a mentor
to see what fits best in different situations and audiences.
2. Computer models to predict job success using skills,
behaviors and values- Google, Conagra, Avon Products
Rachel King wrote a piece that revealed that a number of
firms have developed algorithms to infer who would be
good hires, who would want to leave a firm and who should
be Fast Tracked for higher positions.
TAKE AWAY: In the world of “big data” many computational
studies may be hypothesized and conclusions inferred. They
are correlational and significant ones that affect people,
future possibilities and long term issues should be specifically
tested and confirmed. See a series of commentaries.
Through more than a half dozen years, nonverbal communications
has been a topic several times in different situations.–
Confidence posing (Amy Cuddy)
The latest update in Wikipedia offers an in depth discussion of
nonverbal communication. A shorter, more readable version
lists how nonverbal reveals
revealing a person’s emotional state and response
displaying the connection or relationship between people
supplying feedback from one or a group to another
signalling communication interaction
At three recent seminars, I noticed several intentional signals
that underscored the connection between people..
- after providing a solution to a job seeker’s dilemma of working
for companies that failed, he “fist-bumped” me. It was both
inter-generational and at an unexpected event. But I “got it.”
- at a student event where each person introduced themselves and
offered “factoids” about themselves and where they are from, one
“veiled” lady taught her classmates how she greets new people.
Introducing oneself at meetings, women are expected to offer
their hand for a handshake. In some cultures, women do not touch
another man and should show arms cross, hands open bow to signal
that this is their cultural tradition.
SPEAKING AS AN AUDIENCE MEMBER
- soft-spoken members need to tailor their expression to the
situation. They should start their comments louder at first,
gaining attention and favorable intention as an audience member,
enunciate consonants clearly and settling to their normal
volume so that people can hear.
- additionally, face as much of the audience as is practical
and while addressing one person create eye contact with others
in the audience. Involving them.
BALANCING THE NEED TO TAKE NOTES AND LISTEN
WHILE PROVIDING NONVERBAL FEEDBACK
- in many meetings, there are presenters, listeners and one
or two notetakers. In one meeting, our conversation was
warm and genuine and we reached areas of substance where
I noted that she frequently reverted to the notetaker role.
Do you do this often at meetings, I asked? Yes, in fact, she
is often asked to send out her notes for the meeting. At
certain points in careers we need to realize the secretarial
role is presumed to be lacking leadership skills, whether
true or not.
- occasional notes seem fine. “thought-hooks” It is more
mature if one seeks leadership responsibility to understand
that nonverbal signals send underlying and nonstated
messages. True, they should be “tested” and verified. Too often,
the notetaker while getting all the words, misses out on the
GIVING A PRESENTATION
- in a seminar a presenter had to manage the A/V, maintain the
attention, and engage an unknown audience. She smoothly
navigated a path to manage the program by walking the stage
smiling and asking feedback and input from different
areas of the room.
It is not enough that you know the material. You have to be
an actress as well and have a “stage presence.”
It is very common for scientists and engineers to be
asked to deliver a presentation as part of her (or his)
interview. We have mentioned overcoming nervousness,
audience analysis and dealing with unexpected situations.
This post offers some suggestions and rules of
thumb to “improve your game”–
1. how much time will be allotted, who will attend?
2. can you set up your files, projector in advance with
3. ask to visit the rest room to comfort yourself and
check yourself out in the mirror.
4. have some water to drink to ease “dry mouth”
5. Practice your material with simulated situation
Know what you will say
introduce yourself clearly and confidently, thank
the host for the invitation, describe your background
and importance/relevance of your topic
Consider telling a story.
Rules of Thumb
- Focus on one medium of visuals. A second, static
one can be helpful for take home messages or questions.
- Readability of visuals. Think about this in advance.
Size and legibility. Use the 1-7-7-rule
1 topic per slide
7 words per line, max
7 lines per page, max
- Animations can be powerful, if done well.
English speakers use Left to right, top to bottom.
Other directions lead to confusion and possible miss-
reading. Avoid making the audience search a busy slide.
- Focus on the audience, first. Engage the audience as
informed professionals with different perspectives that
want to hear you and you wish to have capture what you
offer. Much of this is done nonverbally. Confidence,
respect and reciprocity are expected.
- Invite questions
- Thank the audience for their attention.
- Acknowledge funding sources, co-contributors.
Had an interesting conversation recently with a very strong
technology graduate where in essence he asked two questions.
1. What else should I do for this company that I have
The company is an established technical consulting
firm looking to add two new technical experts in areas of
her strengths. Thank you notes and decision timelines are
sent and set.
–> don’t stop interviewing and the job search.
What counts is that you really like the opportunity, know how
to respond to a positive offer and follow through in a business-like
–> do your due diligence on the consulting firm. Find out how
satisfied previous clients are. Who are the firms major competitors
in its industry? what are they doing — are they hiring? Get annual
Treat the potential employer as a possible future investment and learn
how well they are doing in the marketplace.
–> know your next steps when an offer comes.
(1)call to tell you have received the offer, thank them and indicate it is
generous and attractive and you are considering it seriously.
(2)further write to confirm all the details
(3)Simultaneously, consult with family and mentors on the offer, salary,
benefits, responsibilities, risks and compare to comparable offers
(4)does it meet your standards that you should invest your time there,
your family’s growth and your career management plan
(5)determine if items need to be negotiated (remember only after
receiving a written offer) and practice with a career consultant
(6)negotiate in a win-win strategy; confirm in writing when final
(7)write acceptance letter with starting date and plan for your first day
2. Why am I not getting offers in earlier interviews?
She described getting several screening interviews. We spoke in our
teleconference about Amy Cuddy’s “confidence posing“, the
importance of nonverbals, initial impressions (smiling, handshake,
eye to eye contact) in interviews and story-telling providing her
candidacy with a “spark” displaying confidence and a can-do attitude.