Office Happy Hour Do’s and Don’ts

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Here at Treehouse Partners, we like to sit back and enjoy a glass of California cabernet or sip on local craft beers at the end of the day from time to time. Casual office happy hours have become fairly standard in office culture. It’s a great way to unwind and reward yourself after a hard days’ work; employees get the chance to socialize in a laid-back setting, meet colleagues outside of their own department, and have time for longer conversations that can’t be squeezed into work time. Drinking can be a dangerous game, however, so it’s important to keep a level head at any official or unofficial work function where alcohol is involved. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind the next time your work pal drags you to Applebee’s for Dollaritas:

Do: Make an effort to get to know your coworkers

Forming relationships with coworkers takes time, and, at the office (especially if you work in a fast-paced job where there’s little time for socialization), it can be difficult to get a sense of who your colleagues really are. Is there someone you’d like to get to know better at work? Offer to buy him or her a beer, and start a conversation! Ask thoughtful questions–how long have they been with the company? Where did they go to school? Many adult friendships are formed in the workplace, and it’s easier to get to know someone when you’re not stressing about handing in a report on time or trying to schedule a meeting.

Do: Take advantage of introductions to employees outside your own department

In large offices, many people don’t get the chance to spend time with employees from other departments. Office social events are a great place to introduce yourself to people you haven’t had the chance to meet yet. This is particularly helpful if you’re considering making a move to another department down the line–being on a first-name basis with that department’s head will give you a leg up should you elect to switch gears later on.

Do: Feel free to share work-friendly information with your colleagues

You’ll probably get fired if you spend the entire work-day showing your coworkers photos of your six-year-old’s Batman pajama party–but it’s more than OK to share details about your personal life with your coworkers outside work! Talking about your pilates class, passion for cooking, or books you’re reading will help you to discover common interests pave the way for friendships with your team members.

Don’t: Over-share personal information that should be kept private or might endanger your job.

The flip side of sharing personal details is that you need to be cautious about which information you choose to share. A group setting with people from work is not the best place to ruminate on your divorce or discuss the best strip clubs in your area. Watch your language, too–dropping f bombs in every sentence won’t win you any points with the boss.

Don’t: Use the time to gossip or complain about your boss, coworkers, etc.

Similarly, work functions are not an appropriate setting for whining about the people you work with. Office gossip has a way of getting around, so even if you think you’re having a quiet laugh with your friend about Linda in accounting’s fashion choices, there’s a good chance someone could overhear. Refrain from making negative comments about others at any work event–not only do you run the risk of your statement coming back to bite you in the you-know-what, but people may start to wonder what you say about them when they’re not around.

Don’t: Get too drunk!!!

This should absolutely go without saying, but unfortunately, having one too many at an office happy hour is not uncommon. Keep your wits about you to avoid some of the “don’ts” we’ve outlined above. Don’t make a fool of yourself; the image of the Head of Marketing dancing on a table after seven shots of Patron is difficult to shake–not to mention the hangover that’s sure to follow. It’s a good idea to give yourself a drink limit and stick to it–and if you do happen to find yourself a bit more intoxicated than you’d planned, make sure to call an Uber or friend to come pick you up.    

Whether you’re cracking open a cold one at your desk or meeting up with your team at the Mexican restaurant around the corner, office happy hours are a fun way to relax and catch up with your teammates after work. Just make sure to keep your head straight and your mouth shut when it comes to certain topics–no one likes a whiner or a gossip. Take advantage of opportunities to socialize with your existing work friends, and branch out and get to know people outside of your department. Sit back, relax, loosen up, and have a good time! Cheers!

LinkedIn Profiles vs. Resumes – How to use both to your best advantage

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Since its launch in 2002, millions of people around the world have used LinkedIn as a  professional networking platform to grow their contacts, keep an active record of their work histories, and stay up to date with the latest news and business trends. A LinkedIn profile can be an effective way to flesh out information that won’t fit on a standard resume–but that’s not to say resumes have fallen by the wayside. Having a properly formatted, streamlined resume is still a necessity in today’s job market, as the majority of employers require candidates to submit a resume as part of the application package. So how does one decide which information to share on LinkedIn vs. on a resume, and which details should be included on both?

LinkedIn gives its users fantastic opportunities to round themselves out in a way that a standard resume can’t. For starters, LinkedIn encourages its users to upload photos, so that connections, colleagues, and potential employers can get an initial feel for personality and style. If you’re actively job-hunting, including a profile picture gives you a slight edge over the competition: according to a study from LinkedIn itself, profiles with photographs receive up to twenty-one times more views than those without.  While including a headshot on a resume has become more common (and much easier to do as technology evolves), pictures on resumes are still not the standard, and you won’t earn bonus points by including one. If you feel compelled to include a photograph on your resume, make sure it’s professional!

Another useful feature on LinkedIn is the unlimited capacity to give context to your skills and experiences. LinkedIn allows as much free space as you desire to expound on your work history. Items that are not vital to a resume (such a participation in your office’s book club, or volunteer work) are easy to include on a LinkedIn profile–and can work to your advantage when giving your potential new boss a better feel for your unique qualifications. Your LinkedIn profile should still be concise and to the point, so try to add this extraneous information in a way that doesn’t deflect from the main points of interest. A resume, on the other hand, should reasonably hover around the one page mark–or no more than two if you have a diverse work history that can’t be squeezed onto a single page. Paring down your resume can be a challenge, especially if you’ve held multiple jobs over time, so if you’re running out of space, include only the most relevant information. If you’re job-hunting, an easy way to cut information is to first develop a long-form resume with all of your work experience, skills, and qualifications, then read over the job description for the position that you’re applying for, and remove details that don’t appear relevant to that specific position. Assuming your LinkedIn profile is up to date, it’s a good idea to include a link to your page with your contact information for easy access.

Testimonials are yet another huge advantage offered by LinkedIn. The testimonials portion allows former managers or colleagues to leave “reviews” of you as an employee. This is incredibly helpful for potential employers, as it demonstrates that you have references to back up any skills or qualifications mentioned in your work history. LinkedIn also offers the option to receive “endorsements” for various skills, such as customer service, Microsoft Excel, or fundraising. Here at Treehouse, we don’t pay much attention to endorsements, but we are always happy to come across a more personalized testimonial! Most people do not include testimonials or references on a resume, but it’s always good to maintain a rapport with former colleagues and supervisors who would be willing to vouch for you if a potential employer asks for a reference.

Both your LinkedIn profile and resume should be kept up-to-date and organized, especially if you’re actively seeking employment. LinkedIn offers the option to add a short headline that will appear beneath your name–this should be concise, ideally with your title and company (i.e. “John Smith, Sales Manager at Google”). The “bio” portion of LinkedIn is similar to the “objective” on a resume, where you can give a brief summary of your skills and experiences, and show what you bring to the table. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling should be checked over for clarity and concision–if you’re one of a hundred applicants vying for a job, using a word incorrectly or making a typo can be a fast track to the trash bin. We hate to be the bad guys, but we personally review hundreds of LinkedIn profiles and resumes each week, and many otherwise-viable candidates are passed over due to misspelling or grammar errors. Have a trusted friend or colleague review your language, because a fresh set of eyes might be able to suggest better phrasing or point out discrepancies you’ve missed. You probably don’t need to update your resume every year if you’re happily employed, but it’s a good idea to audit your LinkedIn site every six months or so. Make sure to include any promotions, new skills you’ve acquired, and educational or volunteer experience.

LinkedIn and resumes are similar in theory, but as we’ve outlined above, there are several features unique to each. LinkedIn profiles benefit strongly from including a profile picture and allow more space to ruminate on past experiences and qualifications, while resumes should be concise and only contain the information most pertinent to a specific position. Both platforms need to be streamlined, professional, and should give potential employers a glimpse of your individual personality. Resumes and LinkedIn pages are your chance to stand out from the crowd, so take advantage of this opportunity to shine!


Office Pets and their effects on workplace stress, concentration, and morale

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Nearly every afternoon here at the Treehouse Partners headquarters, we hear the clickety-clack of Kirby, our CEO’s beloved dog, making her way up the stairs to say hello. She makes her way around the office, accepting chin scratches or belly rubs before plopping herself down for a nap. The proliferation of emotional support animals has led more and more businesses to allow cats, dogs, and other furry friends in the workspace. Recent studies have shown that having a pet in the office reduces stress levels, allows for better concentration, and improves overall employee morale. Read on to learn how good boys/girls like Kirby can have a profound psychological effect on your workplace.

For years, therapy animals were essentially limited to those with physical disabilities and were primarily canines–think of the proverbial blind man crossing the street with his trusted golden retriever. These days, however, it’s not uncommon to see anxious passengers boarding their planes with their Yorkies, lonely college students adopting shelter cats, or even more exotic choices (check out this CBS article about a man who brings his pet alligator to cheer up residents at an assisted living facility: The definition of an emotional support animal (ESA) is “an animal that provides comfort just by being with a person,” and they differ from service animals in that they are not trained to perform a specific task. ESAs are becoming more and more common in the workplace as employers realize that pets can be an enormous boon to productivity. One of the major benefits of allowing cats, dogs, hamsters, etc. in a place of business is a reduction in overall stress levels. According to an NCBI study, when researchers compared subjects’ cardiovascular response to a stressful task performed either alone, with a spouse, and with an animal, “heart rate and blood pressure were significantly lower when a pet was present than when a spouse was present. Furthermore, performance of the mental-arithmetic task had the fewest errors in the condition with a pet present.” Physical contact with an animal has a calming effect on many people–a stressful meeting or difficult phone call might be easier to tackle with the promise of a wagging tail once you’ve finished.

Some might view animals as a distraction at work, but further studies indicate employees who are lucky enough to work with an office pet are actually more productive. Many pet owners–particularly those with dogs, who typically require more social interaction and exercise than lower-maintenance pets like fish or cats–fret about their fur-babies’ well-being while they’re at work. Bringing Fido to the office means the employee can monitor him at all times rather than worrying about him peeing on the carpet or chewing up the couch. Dog owners can take their pet for a walk on their break, which can help to clear the mind and renew energy levels throughout the day.

Finally, having an office pet has been shown to increase morale. Animals are unintentional comedians, and watching your office gerbil run on his wheel or seeing your coworker’s shih-tzu chase her tail is a great reminder to take it easy. Coworkers bond over moments with these special friends, leading to better relationships and collaboration. The popularity of Twitter and Instagram accounts like Dog Rates and Catspotting ( are a perfect example of how even looking at cute pictures of pets can make someone’s day–imagine how happy your crazy cat lady receptionist would be if she could have her prizewinning short-haired Himalayan at her desk!

Realistically, bringing pets to the job site won’t work for every business. Restaurant patrons will not be happy to learn that the sous chef is a border collie, and those poor souls who are allergic to cats might be driven out if their cubicle mate is a Maine Coon. If your place of work is considering adopting an office pet, or allowing employees to bring in their own furry friends, consider the mental health benefits outlined above. Decreased stress, improved concentration, and numerous psychological benefits for employees should be reason enough to consider making the change. Seeing Kirby pattering up the stairs to our office never fails to brighten our day!


Relocating for Work: Creating a Game Plan

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You’ve just accepted an offer for your dream job, and can’t wait to start–the only problem now is that the position is located in San Diego, and you’re based in Phoenix. Relocating for work, whether you’re only moving a few cities away, or you’re headed abroad, can be a stressful process. Time constraints, budgetary issues, and social anxiety can put a damper on what should be an exciting journey towards a new career. In this month’s blog post, we’ll outline a roadmap for making your move as smooth and comfortable as possible.

One of the biggest issues presented by relocation is time constraints. If you move for pleasure rather than business, you generally have time to evaluate all of the options: where to live, how to transport possessions from point A to point B, and so on. Relocating for a job tends to set the wheels in motion much faster, creating even more stress for a new employee. Lists and spreadsheets can be a godsend in these situations. Keep track of services that you’ll need to transfer or cancel when you transfer cities, such as cable, Internet, and electricity. If you’re planning to venture out to your new location right away and make a second trip in the future to load up your non-essentials, make a list of items that need to be included in the immediate move so that you’re not stranded without your tablet or Keurig. Create a gameplan as soon as your offer letter is signed so that you can add to and adjust your list as you prepare to make the move–check out this handy (and printable!) moving checklist from as a starting point:

Finances can be another major stressor when relocating for your career. Depending on the distance, the cost of putting a security deposit on an apartment, renting a U-Haul or paying for air freight can be daunting. Some companies generously offer relocation support, but others either don’t openly advertise assistance or don’t offer it at all. Before asking, create a budget of all of the costs associated with moving, down to the nitty gritty details–will you be using a rental truck? Paying for gas? Is your furniture being shipped overseas via ocean carrier? Is the cost of living significantly higher in the city you’re moving to? Think of every single cost that will be incurred over the course of your journey so that you have a realistic number to give to your new employer when you inquire about relocation support.

An oft-overlooked aspect of relocating for work is social interaction. James Mollere, a friend of one of our Recruiting Coordinators who just relocated from New Orleans to Los Angeles for a career in the hospitality industry, stated that “the most stressful for me has definitely  been that I’ve never realized how much your basic knowledge of a place or geographical location helps you connect with people. I never know where my coworkers & clients are referring to. I’m also not used to timing of transportation and have had a few hiccups there since moving here. Unfortunately, I think the only thing that will help on this front is time.” If you’re fortunate enough to have friends or family in your new destination, they can be a major asset–ask them which neighborhoods are close to your new job, what are the best local bars and coffee shops, or where you should send your children to school–they may even be willing to help with unloading boxes or organizing your new home. Work can also be a great place to meet friends–tag along with your new team to Friday happy hour, or join the company charity committee or book club to seek out coworkers with common interests.

It’s important to do a thorough evaluation of the pros and cons of relocation before committing to moving for a job, but thousands of people do it every year. If you’ve decided you’re ready to make the move, make the transition as smooth as possible: stay organized, stick to your budget, and mentally prepare yourself to make new friends, or reach out to old ones. Stay focused on all of the positive aspects of moving–the thrill of getting to know a new location, meeting new people, and of course, your exciting new job! Have you ever relocated for work, and if so, what were some things you’d do differently next time?

Starting Your New Year’s Resolutions Early

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While the first few weeks of December are the busiest time of the year in many industries, lots of employees enjoy the benefits of a few days of well-deserved rest between the Christmas holidays and the new year. Before diving into the eggnog, why not get an early start on planning out your New Year’s resolutions? Having a plan in place before waking up with a champagne hangover on January 1st will make you all the more likely to stick with your resolutions from day one of 2019.

PLAN AHEAD: Planning ahead means that you’ll have extra time to contemplate your resolutions and set realistic goals. One of the primary reasons we fudge on our New Year’s resolutions by mid-February (or earlier!) is setting the bar unrealistically high for ourselves. Saying, “I’m going to go to the gym six days a week!” is admirable, but let’s face it, that’s not doable for everyone. If your sights are set on hitting the fitness center, but you haven’t actually made it there since June, shoot for four days a week to start. Equally important is not trying to change too much at once, especially with more major goals–you might be able to juggle calling Grandma once a week along with doing more thrift store shopping, but trying to quit smoking, start working out, and beginning the Keto diet may leave you feeling overwhelmed. Planning out realistic steps by the end of December will give you more time to evaluate your own personality and schedule, and to map out the necessary actions for achievement.

CREATE A REWARDS SYSTEM: Implementing a rewards system for yourself, such as treating yourself to a scoop of ice cream once you’ve hit the gym for two weeks straight, is another highly effective method for motivation. Remember those gold stars we got for good behavior in kindergarten? The same principle holds sway into adulthood. If you’re a planner, create a calendar or checklist to track your progress, and figure out when and how you’ll indulge. Knowing that there’s a massage waiting for you after you keep the kitchen clean for a month will make you all the more eager to get started–maybe even today!

KICK THEM OFF EARLY: Setting your resolutions early so that you have defined and realistic goals in place by January 1st is a good first step–however, actually putting your plan into action before the new year is even better! Those few extra vacation days during the holidays can serve as a perfect time to begin your plan to read one book per week; or limit your TV time to an hour each night. While financial and health goals might be a little more difficult to begin during the holiday season, with last-minute shopping and Aunt Cindy refilling your wine glass every time you turn your back, making even a small step towards your resolution (putting aside $20 in an envelope, taking a walk around the neighborhood with the kids) is still better than nothing.

Whatever you want to achieve in 2019, bear in mind the old adage: “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Take a step back during the busy holiday season and think about what you want to accomplish in the next year. Share your plans with your friends or family as you dig into the Christmas ham, and ask them to hold you accountable, even when you feel like quitting–your loves ones might even offer strategies that never crossed your mind, or offer to join you in volunteering or beginning that new diet.  Taking an hour before January 1st to really contemplate your goals, and your plan to achieve them, will increase the chances you’ll actually implement and stick with your New Year’s resolutions.

Happy Holidays from the Treehouse Partners team! What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2019, and how do you plan on sticking with them?

Gratitude in the Workplace – The Domino Effect of Acknowledgement and Thankfulness

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The Thanksgiving holiday season is generally a time of reflection and thankfulness. It’s a time to take inventory of our lives and count our blessings, from friends and family, to material possessions, to having a roof over our heads–particularly here in California, where so many have lost so much this fall. However, gratitude is often overlooked in the workplace, where tensions can run high and stress levels are elevated. Numerous recent mental health studies have posited that taking the time to consciously express thanks, both at home and in the workplace, can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on one’s psyche, physical well-being, and the surrounding environment.

Consider this excerpt from a WebMD article that highlighted the findings of Professor Robert Emmons (University of California): “Grateful people — those who perceive gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind — have an edge on the not-so-grateful when it comes to health, according to Emmons’ research on gratitude. ‘Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations.’” This translates directly to reduced stress levels, fewer sick days, and a more positively-charged physical space. Optimism has a tremendous impact on both physical and psychological well-being, and gratitude is a quality often found in these exemplary positive thinkers.

In the workplace, an action as simple as sending a thank-you email to a colleague who helped out with a project can help to foster a collaborative work environment–one in which employees actively seek out ways to assist one another, acknowledge and appreciate the aid they receive, and congratulate each other on a job well done. If a coworker goes out of his or her way to explain a difficult concept, or demonstrate how to use a new software, we are more likely to happily return the favor when that colleague is in need of assistance. Those in a supervisory or managerial role can help inspire their employees and increase efficiency by recognizing the individual achievements of their subordinates. Positive reinforcement serves to create a workplace where employees are fully engaged and excited to come to work.

The winter holiday season is prime time for stress-related incidents at work across many industries, as budgets are stretched thin, coworkers scramble to use up their remaining vacation days, and end-of-the-year deadlines approach. This year, let’s strive to keep those endorphins flowing by going out of our way to appreciate the little things that our colleagues do to make our lives easier. Many of us owe more to our jobs than just a paycheck–work is also about creating and maintaining interpersonal relationships. By consciously making the effort to be patient, optimistic, and grateful towards our coworkers, we can transform our surroundings into a more gracious, understanding, and overall positive environment.  

Our founder, Kate Pletcher, writes thank-you notes and emails each and every day–additionally, she writes down 1-2 things she’s grateful for each night before she goes to bed. Making gratitude part of a daily routine–not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year–is an integral step along the path of positive thinking and kindness to others. What techniques do you use to recognize the things you’re grateful for?



Virtual Reality – The Future of Recruiting?

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Virtual Reality (VR) is an up-and-coming tool in the recruiting industry. But what exactly is it and why is it so revolutionary? Well, according to Reality Technologies, VR makes it possible for an individual “to experience anything, anywhere, anytime. It is the most immersive type of reality technology and can convince the human brain that it is somewhere it is really not.”

Although this technology is typically used in the entertainment sector, it is slowly starting to expand into new territories, including human resources. In fact, employers invested $7.17 billion dollars last year on VR, and that number is expected to increase to 75 billion by 2021! Large, multi-billion-dollar companies, such as Jaguar and Deutsche Bahn are utilizing VR to identify and attract top talent, demonstrate their company culture, and reduce job training costs. Furthermore, thousands of hiring managers expect virtual reality will regularly be used in the interview process in the near future.

Jaguar Land Rover, a British multinational automotive company, is already using the Gorillaz mixed reality app to incorporate the VR experience into their recruiting system. The app contains an augmented reality code-breaking test that assesses an individual’s engineering skills. Candidates who beat this game demonstrate their abilities and are therefore expedited through the firm’s recruitment process. Hundreds of thousands of people from 35 countries have already participated in the challenge and 555 have successfully completed the game. Alex Heslop, head engineer at Jaguar, believes this traction would not be possible without this VR experience, as it’s attracting more innovative, challenge-seeking individuals, who would never have considered a career in the automotive industry. Besides the advantage of attracting a wider variety of people, VR also allows hiring managers to illustrate what a specific role entails and assess whether or not a candidate can be successful in that job.

Deutsche Bahn, a logistics provider in Berlin, has a small library of augmented reality videos to show candidates the perspective of working in various roles.  For example, a potential employee who is interested in a substation distribution electrician role with Deutsche can wear their VR headset and follow an electrician through their daily routine. The hiring manager of the firm, Kerstin Wagner, believes that using these videos not only allows recruiters to better assess whether or not a candidate has the skills needed for a job, but also allows the candidate to determine if the particular role would be a good fit for them. Employing a VR process is also expected to increase efficiency, retain top talent, and decrease costs associated with training new employees.

Although virtual reality has yet to be utilized by a majority of firms, experts believe that is simply a matter of time before this technology is adopted. Here at Treehouse Partners, we like to stay informed on all trends and how they may affect recruiting in the future. We hope you learned a little bit more about virtual reality and how it can be employed in a number of ways. And if you’re not still convinced that VR is the way to go, be sure to go out there and check it out for yourself!




Listening to your Gut

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This blog is from our guest blogger & Recruiting Associate here at Treehouse Partners, Zach Loeb. Zach also runs an intuitive career coaching company offering career coaching sessions, psychic readings and mediumship readings. Find out more here.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my gut?” 

Neither have I, nor has anyone to whom I’ve posed that question. Yet we all have plenty of examples of instances where our gut gets to the point where it needs to practically scream at us to make a decision one way or another — and we’ve ignored it.

And after experiencing some kind of entirely avoidable consequence, we pledge, “next time I’m going to listen.”

Then there are public figures such as Richard Branson, Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein, who despite their work in different arenas, all speak openly about the value of listening to their gut instincts.

We all have this voice inside us. And it seems to be not only be looking out for our best interests, but has a very high rate of accuracy. Might that be something worth exploring?

Your gut instinct, also known as intuition, is the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.

Society places a heavy value on fact-based, rationale decision making, which may make us feel sheepish acknowledging that intuition plays a role in guiding our decisions — especially decisions related to something as important as our careers.

Much of how we’re taught to make career decisions is based on rational processes: Creating a checklist based on what’s important, gathering information online and through informational interviews, examining industry trends, etc. What does the job pay? Does it match your skills? What’s the growth potential?

But what about this other, less definable, intuitive area? How can we use that to help us in making the best possible choices when it comes to our career?

For starters, by not ignoring it. Think back to your last few big decisions;those where you followed your intuition and those where you didn’t. Which decisions turned out best? If you find your best decisions were ones in which you listened to your gut, it can be helpful to look closely at how your intuition speaks to you.

It might speak to you through feelings in your body or emotions; for example, through excitement (clairsentience). Perhaps it speaks to you in the form of a knowing — you don’t know why, but you just know one option will work out best, even if you don’t have any logical reason for believing so (claircognizance). Other ways our intuition can speak to us: through images that pop into our head, seemingly out of nowhere, or arrive through dreams (clairvoyance). Or it might be something that comes to you through your hearing (clairaudience). As every person is different, every person can have their own way of receiving intuitive guidance.

Here’s a technique for actively tapping into your intuition and getting clarity on a yes/no question. Close your eyes, think about something you love, immerse yourself with that feeling. You may notice a slight expansion inside your belly, or a lightening, or possibly a lifting up. This feeling will be your ‘yes.’ Now do the opposite. Think about something you don’t like and fill yourself up with that negative feeling. It may feel like a contraction, a darkening, or a heaviness. This feeling will be your ‘no.’ When you have a decision to make (like “should I pursue this job?), close your eyes, get still, ask yourself the question and see what it feels like inside – like your yes or your no.

There are a multitude of ways to tap into your intuition. It is a form of communication that is particular to each one of us, and is designed to assist us. We can go about our career path in intellectual ways, but there’s help available. So why not tune into it and take the inspired action being offered?

Do Mistakes Matter? (guest blog by elizabeth danzinger – founder of worktalk)

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A bank branch manager recently told about one of her premier bankers. His emails were full of misplaced capitalization, typos, and other glaring errors. When she tried to correct him, he said, “Look, I know my clients. They’re my friends. It doesn’t matter if there are mistakes; they know what I mean.” He had generated a lot of business, but his numbers were falling. Then the manager received a private email from one of the banker’s biggest clients. He wrote, “Please take Mark off my account. If he can’t spell, I don’t believe he can handle our finances.” This was a $5 million account. The client email became part of the banker’s personnel file. He was dismissed soon after.

Yes, readers may be able to figure out what the banker meant. But they will also figure out that he doesn’t care about details, and perhaps that he is ill-educated or ignorant. All these conclusions are bad for his credibility and for his employer’s reputation.

This “It doesn’t matter if there are mistakes” attitude is creeping into the world of business writing and leading to an erosion of quality. We are looking at a societal erosion of respect for standards, and business writing is just one domain where fighting the good fight is becoming harder than ever.

Here are four common reactions when managers point out writing errors, along with ideas to rebut them.

– “It’s my personal style”
When shown their errors in syntax, some folks say, “Those are stylistic changes, not substantive ones. You’re ruining my personal style.” But you can have a distinctive personal style that doesn’t involve outright errors. You can have a personal style of clothing at work that includes a wide array of options, but most people cannot wear dirty, saggy torn-up clothing to a business meeting.  Similarly, there’s nothing stylish about mismatching singular and plural, dangling modifiers, using an incorrect word, or allowing typos to stand.

– “Just get it done, even if there are errors”
In a fast-paced environment, the pressure is relentless to “get it done”. Sometimes “get it done” takes precedence over “get it done right”. But if you don’t get it done right, there are prices to pay. The reader may misunderstand and turn into a pesky pen pal asking for clarification. Or maybe the message will slide through, but the reader will come away thinking that the company which sourced the message is run in a hasty, slapdash manner. Is that what you want?

– “You’re just being picky.”
Yes, you are being picky. You are picking the correct over the incorrect. Is that so bad?

– “What difference does it make? They’ll understand me.”

In many cases, readers do figure out what that brilliant subject matter expert was trying to say. So is he right to proclaim that it makes no difference that the reader had to rub many neurons together to infer his meaning from the hodgepodge of words he had flung together? I say he is wrong.

The real problem is that the reader might think he understands but he might not really understand the scope and nuance of the writer’s meaning. Only a subject matter expert who takes the time to craft his message will be rewarded with the full comprehension that clear writing creates.

So, to answer the question posed above, mistakes do matter. Writing mistakes:

– Damage meaning,

– Hurt credibility

– Undermine branding

– Cause business problems when misunderstandings, wrong work, and mistakes result from slipshod communication

– Show disregard for standards and disrespect for the time the reader is taking to read the message.

The next time your employee says, “They’ll understand me anyway,” or “What’s the difference?” tell him that in your organization, standards matter too. And you are standing up for them.

©2018 Elizabeth Danziger

What does Worktalk do?

When communication is clear, business flows. When it is murky, the whole organization suffers. Worktalk enables businesses to harness the power of communication. Our training and coaching programs support you in creating better business results through better writing. Visit for more information.


If you would like to relieve the communication pains your organization might be feeling, you are welcome to a complimentary 30-minute consultation with Worktalk’s trainers. We will recommend concrete steps you can take right away to reduce the number of mistakes in your corporate communication. Contact or 310.396.8303 to schedule a call.

Is Your Organization Having a Heart Attack? (Guest Blog by Elizabeth Danzinger – Founder of Worktalk)

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“Referred Pain” of Problem Communication
When a person is having a heart attack, her left arm may hurt. The illness is in her heart, but another part of her body is sending pain signals. When pain is felt in a part of the body other than its actual source, doctors call it “referred pain.” Referred pain occurs because of subtle nerve connections between the actual source of the pain and location where it is experienced. In other words, the locations seem unrelated, but they are connected.

Communication is the Heart

Communication is at the heart of every organization. Do people understand each other? Do they know what is expected of them? Do they feel good about the people they work with?  To a great extent, the answers to these questions depend on how successfully managers and staff communicate with each other. Just as a physical heart might signal its distress by triggering pain in far-flung parts of the body, communication breakdowns often manifest themselves in a wide variety of organizational dysfunctions.

For example:

– Productivity declines when hundreds of murky messages and cc’d emails consume so much of an employee’s day that he cannot get his job done.

– Productivity also suffers when employees frequently have to ask each other to explain what they meant in emails and other documents.

– Budget overruns can occur when cloudy emails and instructions lead to misunderstandings that require repetitions and re-work.

– An operations bottleneck can result from employees not understanding directions for production.

– Workplace accidents may increase when safety policies and procedures are conveyed in roundabout, difficult to understand language.

– A morale crisis may ensue when employees interpret managers’ tone as disrespectful or angry.

Each of these issues appears as a separate problem, but at their root, they are problems of communication. Tinkering with the symptom will not alleviate the cause.

Is your organization experiencing referred pain?
Communication is ubiquitous but invisible; it underlies every work process, yet often escapes our notice. When confronted with an organizational problem, it makes sense to look for immediate causes. However, it also makes sense to delve into root causes. By searching for root causes, we can keep the problem from worsening or happening again.

I urge you to consider communication as a factor when you are looking at organizational difficulties. Doing so will keep you from wasting time treating pain in the arm when the problem is in the heart.

Does your organization – or do your clients’ organizations – suffer from referred pain? Could the root cause be a breakdown in communication? If so, contact Worktalk. We give employees the skills and insights they need to communicate clearly, succinctly, and respectfully.

©2017 Elizabeth Danziger All rights reserved

What does Worktalk do?

When communication is clear, business flows. When it is murky, the whole organization suffers. Worktalk enables businesses to harness the power of communication. Our training and coaching programs support you in creating better business results through better writing. Visit for more information.


If you would like to relieve the communication pains your organization might be feeling, you are welcome to a complimentary 30-minute consultation with Worktalk’s trainers. We will recommend concrete steps you can take right away to get rid of the “referred pain” of ineffective communication. Contact or 310.396.8303 to schedule a call.