Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 27th 2014 Contents Get creative the next time
Studies suggest that boredom can actually
help you get your work---at least your creative
work---done better. Boredom felt during passive
activities, liking reading reports or attending
tedious meetings, heightens the "daydreaming
effect" on creativity and motivates people to
approach new and rewarding activities. So the
next time you need to dream up new ideas,
start by spending some time on humdrum
activities, such as answering emails, making
copies or entering data.
Afterward, you may be better able to think
up more (and more creative) possibilities to
explore. Likewise, if you need to closely exam-
ine a problem and produce a solution, schedule
that task after a routine staff meeting. By
engaging in less interesting activities before
problem-solving ones, you may be able to
elicit the type of thinking needed to find cre-
(Adapted from "The Creative Benefits of
Boredom" by David Burkus.)
Inventory your team's
knowledge when starting
a new project
Team leaders often don t fully tap into the
knowledge team members bring with them.
This is, in large part, because the most con-
fident, outgoing people get the most airtime,
while the real experts take a back seat and
have limited impact. But a brief intervention
can change this dynamic.
When starting on a new project, encourage
team members to first discuss the relevant
knowledge they each bring to the table. By
opening the floor for reflection, you can lead
the group in assessing members knowledge
and discussing its relevance to the task at
hand. And your team will be less likely to defer
to those with the most confidence, and more
likely to combine their expertise to devise
strategies for solving the problems. The process
may sound simple, but it can help you bring
out the best in your team.
(Adapted from "Bring Out the Best in Your
Team" by Bryan L Bonner and Alexander R
Don't be afraid to cold
e-mail powerful people
We re often hesitant to reach out to senior
leaders who are only an e-mail away. But a
concise email to the right person can open up
new possibilities for learning and growth; it s
happened for many people. And besides, what s
the worst that could happen? So the next time
you want to cold-email someone powerful,
consider these tips:
• Expect a 50-90 per cent failure rate (ie,
no response) the first time you cold-email
• Emailing once every two days is politely
persistent, but you should probably give up
after three or four tries without a reply.
• Weekends are often the best time to send
busy executives a note, since they may have
more time to read something.
• Keeping your message short and to the
point increases the chance that it will actually
get read; and you may even get a response.
(Adapted from "Tips for Cold-Emailing
Intimidatingly Powerful People" by Peter Sims.)
Resolve a conflict
with your co-worker
Differences of opinion between co-workers
can be useful and even productive. But when
clashes turn ugly, conflict can hurt working
relationships. Here are three tips for handling
the next disagreement you have with a col-
• Identify common ground: Point out what
you both agree on at the conversation s outset.
This may be a shared goal or a set of operating
• Hear your co-worker out: Allow your col-
league to share---and explain---his opinion.
Don t disagree with individual points he makes;
listen to the whole story.
• Propose a solution: Use the information
you gathered in the conversation to offer a
resolution. This should incorporate your co-
worker s perspective and differ from your initial
(Adapted from "The Right Way to Fight" by
Ask for a reference letter,
the right way
Asking someone to devote the time and
energy to enumerate all the ways in which
you re great can feel like an inconvenience at
best and a true imposition at worst. Here are
three tips on easing the process and ensuring
that your mentor, boss or colleague writes a
• Highlight your reference s qualifications:
Articulate why you are asking this particular
colleague for a reference and explain what
uniquely qualifies her to speak on your behalf.
• Provide a draft: Even more difficult than
asking for a reference letter is writing one.
Make it easy on your mentor by providing a
draft. However, be sure that she knows that
she doesn t need to use it.
• Give her an out: Allow your colleague a
chance to gracefully say no; for any reason.
You aren t likely to get a glowing review from
someone who feels forced to write one.
(Adapted from "How to Ask for a Reference
Letter" by Jodi Glickman Brown.)
@2014 Harvard Business School Publishing
Corp. Distributed by the New York Times
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 2014 • WEEK FOUR
TIPS & TALKING POINTS
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