Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Art of Communication: Are You Conveying More than You Realise?

When we hear the word ‘communicate’ the thing that pops into our mind instantly is this: WORDS. Whether they are spoken or written, words are the universal language of communication. But is that all there is to it?

It may come as  a shock that words only account for 7% in a communication. Only 7%! What about the other 93%? It is made up of  your tone of voice (38%) and your body language when you say those words (55%).

These verbal and nonverbal cues need to be delivered in perfect harmony to convey the right message to your boss, client or even co-worker. Saying “I am really interested in doing business with you,” while rolling your eyes does  not really serve the purpose, right?

the art of communication

The three components of communication

1.      Words (7%)

Contrary to popular belief that content is king in communication, the reality is that it accounts for the lowest part (only 7%) of the total message. Why is this so? The words or the content of our communication can only truly be king if they are in unison with the two nonverbal cues, which are tonality and body language.

2.      Tonality (38%)

Tonality includes our tone of voice, timbre, tempo, and volume. Saying, “I am confident” to your boss in a low, husky voice does not convey confidence. The same thing goes when  saying, “I am excited to be here today,” with a flat intonation.

3.      Body language (55%)

At the same time, body language accounts for more than half of our communication. This means that your facial expressions, whether you’re  smiling, widening your eyes, stretched, or in pain are the best way of getting  your message across. Plus, your body movement and  posture also give signals that you may not even be aware of.

So the next time you’re going to meet your client, your boss or your co-workers, remember it’s not just your words they’re paying attention to!

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Business Communication Skills. For more information about the course, please visit our website.

Helping Hands: Battling the New South Wales Bushfires

This October, New South Wales faced the worst bushfires since the 1960s. blueVisions team members Pieter Coetzee and Sean Blunt volunteered with the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) to help battle the bushfires that were encircling Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

Over 60 fires had burned more than 116,000 hectares of land by Monday, October 21, officials said, with more than 200 homes damaged or destroyed.

Tragically, the fires have claimed two lives with one man suffering a heart attack while trying to save his house from the fire and another Rural Fire Service contract pilot dying when his plane crashed whilst laying fire retardant gel on one of the fires.

blueVisions staff members, Pieter Coetzee (Project Manager, Newcastle) and Sean Blunt (Manager Defence and ACT, Canberra) joined 3,000 other firefighters statewide to help battle the bushfires.

“Although it gets a bit hot, we are seldom in danger – that’s why I can take time for a ‘selfie’ such as the attached photo,” Coetzee said.

“The other photo is a typical back-burn photo with houses in the background. In this case, the main fire arrived about five minutes after we burned this area – result: happy homeowners.”

`caption id=”attachment_249″ align=”alignnone” width=”451″`Pieter Coetzee helps to battle the bushfires in NSW Pieter Coetzee helps to battle the bushfires in NSW`/caption`

`caption id=”attachment_247″ align=”alignnone” width=”450″`Pieter Coetzee doing back-burn method to stop the fire from spreading. Pieter Coetzee doing back-burn method to stop the fire from spreading.`/caption`

Sean Blunt also commented on the intensity of this year’s bushfires.

“In my 10 years fighting fires this is the busiest September/October I have experienced,” Blunt said.

“The lack of rain during winter has lead to the vast majority of the state being so dry that fires are taking off so quickly. In the last two weeks I have attended a number of fires at locations including: Winmalee, Bargo, Central Coast, Bilpin, Port Stephens and the Hawkesbury.”

`caption id=”attachment_250″ align=”alignnone” width=”960″`Sean Blunt (second from the right) with other volunteer firefighters Sean Blunt (second from the right) with other volunteer firefighters`/caption`

We are extremely proud of our members out there and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the fires.

How to Build Trust in the Workplace

It’s been weeks since the deadline of that final report.

You can feel the wrath of your boss nearby, either yelling your name or giving cynical remarks on another day gone by without you delivering the results.

When you finally submit your report, he asks, “So what took you so long?”

“The clients”, you say. It was the  system that was down last week or the  colleague who forget to follow up.

You try to wrap the story in such a way that takes  you off the hook.

The next thing you know is that your boss never entrusts you with the big clients anymore.

How to build trust in workplace

While you may think it is important to save yourself and  quickly escape from a problematic situation, it is more important to build  trust.

How to build trust

Say you’ve blown your chance to prove yourself to your boss and you’re keen to start over. Here are some ways to build or even rebuild trust in the workplace:

1.     Be true to your word

Actions speak louder than words, so when you’re late again for the tenth time to the Monday meeting, people will not believe  that you’ll come on time next time, despite you promising them so. And if you make mistakes, tell the truth.

2.    Under promise and over deliver

Don’t do what’s required of you, but do more. Don’t wait until your boss is chasing you for the task, deliver it to him first.

3.    Be vulnerable

Trust manifests by action, yet it is a deed of the heart. For someone to trust you, they need to know that you seek the best interests of the group and don’t just want  to save your own face.

Trust may take months or even years to  build. However, it is crucial for colleagues in the  workplace to trust each other as it leads to more effective work, more productive teamwork, and greater results.

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Motivating Employees. For more information about the course, please visit our website.

Do Your Team Members Lack Accountability?

The deadline of the project is at 2pm sharp, today.

You arrive at work early, eager to close the deal but suddenly you find your boss in extreme distress. “We need to talk,” he says.

It turns out the client has asked for a change in the design, and no one in the team follows up on that request. Now, you have four hours to make everything right.

Assembling your team members, you talk about the slip-up. Soon enough, everyone starts to blame the person next to them.

Sounds familiar?

not acknowledged at work

When working in a team, accountability is crucial in facing adversity or challenges. Mistakes happen but at times we often forget that it’s not what happens that matters, rather what we can do about it that is important.

Here are three ways to strengthen accountability and prevent the above scenario from happening:

1.    Shift your focus: From problems to solutions

When faced with adversity, don’t dwell on problems but focus on solutions instead. While one member can research for more information, another can start preparing the tools and three others can brainstorm for more ideas. Think creatively.

2.    Ask for help: Find resources to solve the problem

It’s true that the mind goes blank when clouded with problems. Faced with this situation, the team can ask senior colleagues for a fresh set of perspectives.

Remember, whatever problem your team has at the moment, it is very likely that someone else in the room has dealt with it before.

3.    Fostering trust: It’s not about you and I, it’s about us

Team members who truly trust each other will face problems as a team and not as an individual, making it less likely for them to blame each other. In order to build trust, you  need to know your own responsibilities and understand the mutual goals of the project.

One of the characteristics of high-performance teams is having strong accountability. Now imagine if your team members have each other’s backs, wouldn’t you want to be a part of it?

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Motivating Employees. For more information about the course, please visit our website.

Is Indonesia Ready for AEC 2015? Why Corporate English is Important

In less than two years, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015 will take place to unify the economy of 10 participating countries. This means investors can establish their businesses anywhere, and employees are able to search for job opportunities in neighbouring countries with less restrictions than before.

The catch is, all 10 countries: Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Cambodia, Brunei, and yes, Indonesia, agree to use English as the language for business.

Is Indonesia ready for AEC 2013

Are we AEC 2015 ready?

While Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that Indonesia is ready for this unification as it will improve our economy exponentially, some critics are not so sure.

Participating countries like Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei to name a few, have learnt English as a part of their school curriculum. But most Indonesians have not had  this privilege.

In 2012, international education company Education First (EF) released English Proficiency Index report which showed Indonesia ranking  27 out of 54 countries with “low proficiency”. In that same year, however, the Ministry of Education and Culture announced their solution of removing English learning from the elementary school curriculum altogether.

With the ever increasing competition, it is predicted that those with fewer English qualifications will be disadvantaged. Not only will we be competing with local Indonesians for jobs, we will also be competing with an international pool of highly capable employees.

“In Indonesia, English is deemed as a foreign language instead of a second language. However, as our local communities are becoming more global, coupled with our country’s booming economy, learning and mastering English has become a must.”

Hamid Muhammad, Director General for Secondary Education, Ministry of Education and Culture

Why corporate English is important more than ever

The good news is: there is still time to prepare.

Here are some of the reasons why learning English as a second language is beneficial in the long term:

1.    It increases job opportunities

Regardless of whether  you’re a manager, an accountant, a technician, an engineer, or an administrator, learning English opens new opportunities for career growth, which leads to greater income. A managerial position now lists  “proficient in English” as one of the qualifications. A directorial position may now require “fluent/native proficiency in English”.

If you want to get ahead  in your career, being able to communicate or write a report in English serves you as a great asset.

2.    It reduces competition

Don’t take this literally as competition will  always be there, but knowing how to communicate effectively in English puts you at a great advantage compared to others who don’t.

You might be the one who represents the company in meeting an international client as your English is the best among the team. And who knows what other opportunities await?

3.    It opens more doors to the global world

By learning English, you can apply for jobs not only locally, but also internationally. AEC 2015 makes it possible to work overseas with limited or low restrictions.

Bonus point: It looks good on your CV.

Are you ready for AEC 2015? Our training division, the Institute of Management, provides practical English language courses to prepare you for the workplace. Check out our website for further information.

First Time Meeting a Prospective Client? Here are Some Things You Should Know

Researchers from New York University found that it takes a stranger seven seconds to make that first impression.

For business people out there, that means your client might have decided whether they want to do business with you when you first enter the meeting room and give a handshake.

While your presentation, your products, your proposal, and a whole lot of other factors may influence the deal, most agree that the feeling of first impressions goes a long way.

First time meeting a prospective client

Considering this important cue, here are some tips to make sure you give the best first impression:

1.    Dress appropriately

It’s undeniable that the first thing someone notices is the way you dress. And it’s better to overdress (shirt, tie, etc) rather than underdress (jeans and casual t-shirt) only to find the other party in full corporate attire.

2.    Be on time

Too many people do not realise the power of being on time. Showing up on time, or even before the promised time shows that you are committed and that you respect the other party’s valuable time to meet you.

3.    Focus on how awesome they are – not on how awesome you are

Don’t dominate the talk  with details about your company and your products. Instead, get to know their company, their needs, and the things they want to address.

4.    Listen attentively, respond accordingly

Listen to what they have to say and respond based on their requests, not on your scripted business speech. Take notes, literally with a pen and paper, about what they are saying.

5.    Research, research, research!

Get to know your client’s company beforehand. Stalk their website, read their blog, scroll through their social media. It shows that you are prepared and ready.

6.    Exchange business cards after the meeting, not before

At the end of the meeting, give your card to the client as a hint. They will almost instinctively exchange theirs.

Do you have more tips to make the best first impressions? Share in the comment section below.

blueVisions Helped the Victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan.bluevisions

Philippines was recently hit with one of the biggest natural disasters of all time, with over 10,000 people feared dead and 200,000 others left homeless.

To help relieve the Typhoon Haiyan victims,  blueVisions team gathered and donated AUD $5,754. We would like to thank our members for their generous support in making this possible.

Feeling Unappreciated? Tips to Build Healthy Workplace

Human eyes are drawn to mistakes.

Whether it is as simple as not washing your own dishes in the office or as complicated as ruining a whole project operation.

However, when someone does a good or even an extraordinary job, we often forget to acknowledge their work.

While insincere compliments can become a double-edged sword in a business setting, under-acknowledgement can bring disastrous impacts as well, such as low employee satisfaction, low productivity, and unhealthy tension between co-workers.

excluded at work

As leaders, colleagues and staff members, we all need a morale booster once in a while to know that we have done our work right. Here are some simple tips to practice acknowledgement in the workplace:

1.    Show you’ve paid attention

No one likes being ignored. A simple comment like, “I understand how you feel,” to a colleague who has been mistreated shows that you listen and respect him.

2.    Change ‘you’ and ‘I’ to ‘we

Instead of saying, “So what will you do about the situation?” try offering some help by asking, “Is there anything we can do to improve this?”

3.    Offer positive feedback generously

Telling your staff, “Thank you”, “Good job”, “Great idea”, and “Nice one” can boost their working mood exponentially.

4.    Use body language when giving acknowledgement

Saying “Good job” to someone while typing frantically on your laptop does not help. The other party needs to see that you really mean what you say. When offering a compliment, look into their eyes, clap, give a firm handshake or smile.

5.    Celebrate every success

No matter how small it is, from getting a foot in the client’s door to signing a not-so-important contract, they are still achievements in their own ways.

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Motivating Employees. For more information about the course, please visit our website.

More Actions But No Results? Perhaps You’re Doing It All Wrong

Are you frustrated of always doing things at work and yet getting no results? We all have been there – the late nights to finish our deadlines only to find out that it is going down the rubbish bin the next day.

Have you ever thought of doing things differently?

In our previous article, we talked about the importance of focusing on the end results. Today, we are going to share with you the secret on how to actually achieve them.

Hint: it’s all in the mind.

doing it wrong

All businesses are made to succeed. We want our projects to actually accomplish something – whether it is a new client, profit, expansion, promotion, or positive branding.

It’s no secret that to actually achieve real results, we need to have the right mindset in approaching our work. But let’s break down the meaning of this statement.

Why the right mindset determines the results

Let’s start from the desired end product: real results.

To actually have results, we need to do real things and get our hands dirty. The proposals will not be made if you just stare blankly at Microsoft Word. The contracts will not get signed if you do not visit your client’s office and explain your services.

To have results, you need to have  actions.

And everyone will vouch that our feelings determine our actions.

Consider waking up on  the wrong side of the bed this morning. With less than four hours  sleep, you order coffee from your local Starbucks and it turns out the lid is not secured  properly and it spills. Will you be excited about  a meeting twenty minutes away with an obnoxious client who asks for discounts and yet changes his request every other day?

For every action that we take, emotions play a big role.

And guess what controls emotions? Thoughts.

Let’s say you wake up on  the wrong side of the bed this morning but you are eager to start the day anyway, knowing that you have a breakthrough meeting to attend. You spill your coffee but you crack a joke and somehow it makes other people laugh. The barista might even offer to make you another one. Going to the meeting, you feel that there’s a real opportunity to help this client, although all your colleagues have given up on him.

Our emotions are driven by our mindset.

We might face the same situation. However, different thinking yields a  different emotional state and hence a different action. It is natural that different results will follow.

And that’s how to do things differently, as having the right mindset matters in achieving real results.

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Ensure Team Effectiveness. For more information about the course, please visit our website.

What Differentiates the Best from the Rest?

It was the final of 2004-05 UEFA Champions league. Liverpool was up against A.C. Milan, and they had lost 0-3 during the first half.

People assumed  that A.C. Milan had secured the golden trophy. There was no way Liverpool could turn back the scores and win the championship.

But Liverpool did. They cornered A.C. Milan to 3-3 during the second half, and later won the league by penalty kicks.

What  was  deemed as impossible turned into a legendary win. The question is: how did Liverpool do it?

Here’s one of their secrets: it’s about focusing on the end goal.

best team

In our businesses, we want to achieve success every time. We want to deliver outcomes, secure the deal, make a profit and expand our network.

However, along the way to success, we encounter brick walls, just like those Liverpool players during the first half of the game..

But what sets them apart is that they didn’t  dwell on having lost three goals to none. Instead, they had  the mindset, “If we win this thing, we’ll become legends.”

Here’s why focusing on the end goal is crucial in building high-performance teams.

1.    They become solutions-oriented, not problems-oriented

While it is natural for us to dwell on  disappointment, focusing on the end result shifts our mindset from thinking, “Why is this problem happening to us?” to “What is the next step needed to win this business proposal?”

2.    They learn from mistakes

Focusing on the end goal makes team members  learn from past mistakes. They ask questions like, “What can we learn from this? Is there anyone we can ask for advice?” which brings them one step closer to achieving results.

3.    They don’t blame other members in the team

This is what usually happens when a project goes wrong – we find the person who is accountable and try to wash our hands of  the problem.

High-performance teams know that they are in the  situation together and blaming others will not get them anywhere. Instead, they start to think positively about  possible solutions.

With fierce competition in the market, businesses need to differentiate themselves as the leaders by having high-performance teams. And it all starts by focusing on the end goal.

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Teaming effectively for high performance outcomes. For more information about the course, please visit our website.