Monthly Archives: January 2014

DISC: Communication Tips for Is – Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we talked about the importance of DISC and D’s profile characteristics. In this next discussion, we’ll cover the characteristics of Is and how to communicate with them.

When you think of famous influencers, some names come to mind almost instantly. Bill Clinton. Robin Williams. Will Smith. They all score highly in the ‘I’ metrics.

Quick reminder: ‘I’ measures how a person attempts to influence or persuade others.

communication tips 2

I(nfluence) style characteristics

People with high scores on ‘I’ have these characteristics:

  • Emotional
  • People-oriented
  • Greatest fear is rejection
  • Disorganised
  • Optimistic
  • Encouraging.

People with a higher ‘I’ value are more verbal and persuasive in trying to influence others to their way of thinking. Consequently, the lower the ‘I’ value of an individual, the more the person will use data and facts.

The ‘I’ factor also measures the emotion of optimism. Extremely high I’s are joyful and optimistic while extremely low I’s tend to be more pessimistic.

Enhance communication with I’s

Say that your boss is a real influencer but sometimes he can be really optimistic without weighing the pros and cons. You want to communicate your concerns in such a way that he is open to them. How should you do this?

Here are some tips to enhance communication with I’s:

Do:

  • Build a favourable environment
  • Let them talk about ideas, people, their institution
  • Share testimonials
  • Allow for social time
  • Write details, but do not dwell on them
  • Create incentives for following through.

Don’t:

  • Eliminate social time
  • Do all the talking
  • Ignore their ideas
  • Tell them what to do.

Fun fact: When in an antagonistic environment, the high ‘I’ responds actively and may try to negotiate an agreement or apologise quickly.

If you missed Part 1 and 2 of this series, you can read them here. The next posts will cover the characteristics of Ss and Cs.

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

DISC: Communication tips for Ds – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the importance of DISC. In this next discussion, we’ll cover the characteristics of Ds and how to communicate with them.

What do Margaret Thatcher, Bruce Lee, Donald Trump and Michael Jordan have in common? They all score highly in their D’s.

Quick reminder: D measures how a person solves problems and responds to challenges.

communication tips

D(rive) style characteristics

People with high scores on D have these characteristics:

  • High ego strength; seek  authority
  • Impatient
  • Greatest fear is to be taken advantage of
  • Desire change
  • Do many things at once
  • Respond to direct confrontation.

People with a higher D value are more active and intense in trying to overcome problems and obstacles. Consequently, the lower the D value of an individual, the greater the tendency for him to gather data prior to making a decision.

The D factor also measures the emotion of anger. Extremely high D’s are quick to anger while extremely low D’s are slow to anger.

Enhance communication with D’s

While reading D’s characteristics stated above, several co-workers’ names may  pop into your mind. Now that you know they are high D’s, how can you communicate more effectively with them?

Here are some tips to enhance communication with D’s:

Do:

  • Be brief, direct, to the point
  • Ask “what”, not “how”
  • Focus on business
  • Build trust by demonstrating competency and delivering results
  • Highlight logical benefits
  • Agree with facts and ideas, not with a person
  • Discuss problems in light of how they affect the outcome and  make sure you offer solutions.

Don’t:

  • Ramble
  • Repeat yourself
  • Focus on problems
  • Be too sociable
  • Generalise

Fun fact: When in an antagonistic environment, a high D responds aggressively and directly.

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can read it here. The next posts will cover the characteristics of Is, Ss, and Cs.

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

Communicating to Influence Using DISC – Part 1

This article, and the four that follow, will talk about improving communication in the workplace by knowing your DISC behavioural styles. In this discussion, we will explain what DISC is and its importance for influential communication.

In a perfect world, every co-worker, boss and staff member knows exactly how to communicate effectively to achieve the greatest result. However, in the real world everyone speaks a different language and sends ambiguous messages.

To improve communication efficiency in the workplace, many companies use DISC personality profiles. These profiles provide insights into an individual’s behavioural styles and how to best communicate with others of different styles.

communicating to influence

What is DISC?

DISC was first established by psychologist Dr. William M. Marsten in the 1900s, and since then has undergone a maturation process by different experts. DISC itself is an acronym of four different major behavioural styles – Drive, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance, which are further explained below:

  • Drive – measures how a person solves problems and responds to challenges
  • Influence – measures how a person attempts to influence or persuade others
  • Steadiness – measures the pace at which a person responds to change
  • Compliance – measures how a person responds to the rules and regulations of others

Generally speaking,  DISC is a system used to explain behaviour and personality in a way that opens the door to effective communication. While DISC style identifies the interaction of four factors, this is by no means a way to label people, as human interaction is far more complex. That said, DISC measures the needs-driven motivation portion of our personality.

Further classification also divides DISC into active and passive styles and  whether they are task or people-oriented.

Active Styles: D and I

Passive Styles: S and C

Task oriented: D and C

People oriented: I and S

Thus, the D and S are ‘opposites’, while the C and I are ‘opposites’.

Knowing your DISC behavioural styles: Why is it important?

If a person communicates to you according to your behavioural preferences, you are more likely to be open and respond positively. This also shows that the other party understands and respects you.

The same goes for the other way round. If you communicate to others according to their behavioural preferences, their guard will be lowered and they will be more attentive and open to your criticism, advice or ideas.

While the extensive DISC test needs purchasing, there are some good free DISC tests on the web which will provide an overview of your behavioural style. We recommend doing the test from this site.

Over the next four posts, we will talk about the characteristics and tips for communicating with Ds, Is, Ss, and Cs.

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Communicating to Influence. For more information about the course, please visit our website and follow our Twitter.

Answering The Salary Interview Question – Part 3: Know What You’re Worth

In Part 1 of this series, we focused on defining a job interview and in Part 2 we talked about the importance of stating the right number. In this final part of the series, we will show you the rules of thumb for answering your own question “What is your expected salary?”

While we have shown that stating the right number is much more important, how we deliver the number, or not deliver it, is still a big question.

The short answer for this is: It depends.

salary question know you're worth

Frankly speaking, it’s always different for everyone, depending on their position, their experience, their values and personality, the company culture and the interviewer’s own preferences.

So to help you answer the question for your own specific circumstances, here are several rules of thumb to determine the best answer is:

1.    Research your position’s market value

Whether or not you have a strict policy of never being the one who states the number, coming prepared to an interview is never a disadvantage. That way, when your prospective employer states a range or requires you to give one, you are able to negotiate for a fair compensation.

2.    Know your own industry

That said, not all salary questions can be answered the same way across different industries.

Say for example, you are a computer programmer whose salary formula is based on years of experience and computer language skills. Based on this, you might not have the luxury of not stating your expected salary, as it’s pretty much black and white.

But if for instance, you are a writer/singer/painter/artist whose salary formula is much more subjective, you might be able to hold your card a little bit longer.

3.    What’s your position?

It is important to note that based on your experience and your position on the corporate ladder, you might actually have the privilege of holding your stance on not stating a number.

Look at it this way: A fresh graduate holding his stance on not revealing his expected salary might irritate the employer compared to a manager doing the exact same thing.

In short: Know what you’re worth

All three rules can be summarised into this: You need to know what you’re worth.

Ask yourself what your expected salary really is. Of course, everyone wants to improve on their career and everyone else understands this, including your future employers.

Knowing your worth is about getting a fair pay on the value you can bring to the company. Plus, knowing what you’re worth enables you to screen out the companies you don’t want to work for.

Remember: There’s no right or wrong answer in the salary question

When it comes to the salary question in an interview, there’s no such thing as black or white, or a right or wrong answer. Finding the right person for the job is about finding the right key as well as the right lock, so as an interviewee, you have an equal right to negotiation.

Whether you state the number or the employer gives you the range first, knowing your worth enables you to quickly decide whether or not the job is right for you. As much as you don’t want to be underpaid, the company doesn’t want to overpay you either.

Plus, if the ‘to die for’ company thinks that you’re the right piece of the puzzle, they will be up for negotiation.

If you missed them, check out Part 1 and Part 2 for more insights into answering the interview question “What is your expected salary?” Join the conversation and tell us your interview stories in the comments section!

Answering The Salary Interview Question – Part 2: Stating The Right Number

In Part 1 of this series, we focused on defining what a job interview really is. In this next discussion, we’ll cover why the salary question is a vital part of an interview.

Chances are you are at the very least a little bit uncomfortable when getting to the interview question “What is your expected salary?” But most often, this is the stage when you make or break the decision to hire you.

salary number in interview

The salary question

If you have reached this phase of an interview, it can mean: a) the employer wants to screen out the people who are under you and way out of their league; or b) the employer likes you and before he offers you the job, he wants to know if you are both on the same page.

So how should you answer the salary question?

While some experts suggest that to win the salary game (that is, not stating a number and if you must, not being the first to say a figure), others prefer you to honestly state your expectations (with smart ways of voicing this, of course). Before you get to that decision, here are several things that you need to remember:

1.    You are not there to “buy a house”.

The common perception of the interviewer/interviewee relationship is eerily similar to someone buying a house.

The buyer (i.e. the employer) wants to get it as cheap as possible and the seller (i.e. the interviewee) wants to get it for as much as possible. Walking in with this attitude is detrimental for both parties, as unlike a house sale, both sides need to live with each other for a long time after the negotiation is finished.

2.    “Whoever states the number first loses.” Not.

Negotiating your salary isn’t a poker game and it shouldn’t be one. That would suggest it is a win-lose situation and if you go into an interview with that mindset, it is possible that you are not eager to add real value to the employer either.

In some cases, it is not wise to state your number while in others, you can’t move forward with your offer without this being spoken. Thus, both parties will ideally approach salary negotiations as a win-win situation, and still maintain respect if the number is just not right for them.

What matters most in answering the salary question is not whether we state the number first, but if we actually state the right number.

And yes, stating the right number is an even trickier business.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here. In the third and final part of this series, we will give you the rules of thumb for how to state the right number.

How to Answer The Interview Question: “What Is Your Expected Salary?” – Part 1

This article, and the two that follow, talk about how to approach the interview question “What is your expected salary?” In this first discussion, we’ll cover what a job interview really is.

According to 2012 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement by SHRM, compensation or pay is the third most important aspect in job satisfaction (60%), right after job opportunities (63%) and job security (61%).

This report shows that being overworked and yet underpaid leads directly to job dissatisfaction. The catch is, unfortunately, this fixed amount of money you receive was usually set up when you sat in that first interview.

How should we approach this sensitive matter? During an interview, is it okay to state a number first, or should we persist in forcing the employer to give a range?

salary interview question

But first, the basics

What is a job interview? Basically, an employer has a vacant seat and he wants to find the right piece of the puzzle. The candidate brings their piece of the puzzle to the interview to see if it fits.

But most often, as soon as we walk into that strange room with strange people, we feel like a gazelle hunted by the lions on the savannah. Almost instinctively, we try to impress and please them as much as we can.

Here’s something your prospective employers never tell you: they are already impressed with you. Out of the piles of resumes, they specifically handpicked you for an interview. Now their job is to make sure that you are the right piece of the puzzle they’ve been waiting for.

And your job is to figure out if you want to be the right piece of the puzzle to complete the set.

The job interview paradox

In approaching job interviews, some describe them as a game, while others think of them as a talent show.

Such descriptions portray nailing that job interview as a plain win-lose situation, with our job being to mould ourselves to an employer’s liking and interest to win the prize called contract offer.

They show the job interview as a one-way street where the employer controls everything.

But that’s not true. On the contrary, a job interview is more like dating.

You have an interest in the employer already (if not, you wouldn’t apply for the job), and the employer has an interest in you (if not, they wouldn’t ask you for an interview). Meeting face-to-face is a way for them to see if you will fit their company culture, and if their company values are adjacent to yours.

So the next time you are preparing for a job interview, remember that it’s a two-way street, and the employer’s not the only one who holds the key to your next pay cheque – you do too!

Watch for Parts 2 and 3 of this series, where we will further discuss how to best approach the salary interview question and whether you should be the first to state a number.

Testimonial Video – BRI goes on Singapore Adventure 2013 with blueVisions Indonesia

From 27-29 November 2013, Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) entrusted blueVisions Indonesia to organise a Singapore Adventure event for their 32 employees who received a 2013 Best Service Excellence Award. The three-day event included an Amazing Race program, a trip to Universal Studios Singapore, and a benchmarking visit to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) Singapore.

Here is the testimonial video from the  participants of the successful event.

4 Practical Ways to Improve Your English Skills

For many non-English background speakers, communicating in English (whether in the form of listening, reading, writing, or speaking) can be quite a challenge. And yet, in this growing global era, English has become the universal language that you need to  master in order  to move to the next level.

Managerial positions now require the applicants to be fluent  in both their native language and the English language. Even fresh graduate entry roles require sufficient English skills to apply!

4 practical ways to improve English

So here are some practical ways to hone your English language skills, no matter what level you are at now:

1.    Watch your favourite Hollywood movies without subtitles

Try watching your favourite Hollywood movies again, but this time, without the subtitles. It takes practice to make our ears accustomed to listening to English conversations, but the more you  are exposed to them,   the quicker your listening muscles will be developed.

2.    Forget translated books, start reading in English

Pick a book that is suitable for your own reading pace. If you feel that  taking a Harry Potter novel is too daunting, grab another one. Start reading online news, articles, or blogs in English.

3.    Write 300 words daily

Noted, writing is not everyone’s forte but in order to survive the emails and reports, writing in English has become a major requirement.

The quickest way to master the art of writing in English is to write every day, consistently. Note that the keyword here is to be consistent in your writing, which means don’t write 10,000 words in one day and take a break for a week and start writing again.

4.    Speak English often. Still self-conscious? Speak even more!

Approach those native English speakers and communicate with them. Make a pact with your friend to have ‘English-only’ time. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and most importantly, don’t be self-conscious in your learning.

Practice makes perfect

You’ve done everything, so now what? Clichéd as it sounds, practice does make perfect. The more you practice in listening, reading, writing, and speaking in English, the quicker you will master the language.

Starting 2014 The Right Way

It’s been days since the New Year and the initial hype of celebration has died down. Christmas decorations have disappeared and work certainly replaces our holiday mood early, demanding attention once more.

Before you are drawn into a series of deadlines, however, it’s best to first write down your New Year’s resolutions, or the goals you have for your career in the next year or two. This time, however, instead noting down, “Get a raise,” or “Break my bonus record,” let’s try things differently.

Let’s start by defining your ideal outcomes.

Begin with the ideal end

The best leaders always have this one thing: vision. People with vision create opportunities, and to create this vision, the first thing we need to do is to begin with the ideal end in mind.

Ideally, what results would you create for your organisation? Are there specific outcomes you want for your customers and your business? What would make you feel incredibly successful and fulfilled in your career?

Let’s begin by filling in table below:

Stakeholder Desired Results
Your customers My customers come back again to use our services.My customers tell their friends and families about their experience using our products.
Your organisation My organisation achieves $X profit.
Your manager A good relationship with my manager, being able to trust each other and create bigger goals together.
Your staff My staff exceed my expectations and empower them to improve each time.
Your colleagues We achieve a great number of sales and projects together.
You Get a raise.Improve my skills not only in sales but also in management.

Table 1. Example of your ideal outcomes

Now fast forward to the end of 2014 and imagine you have ticked all the boxes for these results to happen. How would you feel? Would you feel happy? Inspired? Excited?

Remember those feelings, and now with your desired results in place, write the specific steps you need to achieve each of them. For example, in order to have your customers come back to use your products and services again, you must exceed their expectations. This means going the extra mile and delivering outcomes before the deadline.

Let’s start 2014 with a smile on our face and inspiration in our head!