Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Body Language, Tone & Words

Have you ever ended a conversation and walked away feeling like it was just a little off somehow?  As though everyone walked away a bit confused or unsure of what was said or might be expected. You felt alright while speaking, but afterwards, you're pretty certain you did not correctly communicate what you were trying to say. Or maybe you didn't say what you were trying to communicate? In either case, your listener walks away without a clear understanding of the conversation.

When talking with others, always be aware of your body language, tone and words. Body language and tone will often resonate clearer than the words you use. For example, if you say you are really looking forward to an event and you use all the right words, but your posture is poor or you don't look the other person in the eye, do you think they're going to believe you?
What if you were telling someone about winning the state tournament and they said they were excited for you, but looked passed you at other friends or fidgeted with their phone. Would you believe them? I doubt it. Having good posture, looking someone in the eye and gesturing with enthusiasm gives a positive, interested feeling. But, if you are looking at the ground, your shoulders are low or you're playing with some personal gadget, you will give the impression that you are bored or uninterested in the conversation.

Body language and tone make up almost 90% of your communication skills. That means you better be paying attention, regardless of whether you are the speaker or listener. Let's say you have been interning at a company. You know they will be hiring in a few weeks and you would really like to be offered a position. When someone from management asks how your internship is going, you might say, "I've really enjoyed working here this summer." But, if you don't look them in the eye and your tone is flat or emotionless, they will find your words hard to believe. Say those same words again, "I've really enjoyed working here this summer." However, in this instance, stand tall, look them in the eye and have an enthusiastic tone. Who do you think they would be more interested in hiring?

And, be aware of your word choice. While not as effective as body language and tone, words can help or hurt a conversation. Try to avoid words like "thing" or "stuff". When possible, use the correct terms for what you are trying to say. You will not only make yourself clearer, but you will also sound smarter. Of course, if you are just hanging out with friends, word choice will be much different than when you are at school, work or an important event.

Whether you are working on a project for school, completing an assigned task for your boss or simply planning a trip to the movies with friends, your communication skills will affect the outcome. Always be sure your body language, tone and words are in sync. Good communication skills will ensure success in every situation.

Friday, June 3, 2011

We Are Teachers

Recently, Linx Educational became a business partner with the popular website We Are Teachers. If you are not familiar with this online community of educators, I highly recommend checking them out. WeAreTeachers.com is a well organized site where teachers and administrators share their opinions, ideas, tips and best practices.

Once a business partner, one unique option with We Are Teachers is for your company to offer a grant. As schools continue to face budget cuts, Linx Educational made the decision to participate. It was one of the easier decisions here at our workplace. The grants are a fantastic opportunity for everyone. Not only did five winners receive a $200 cash grant and a Flip Video Camera, but there are now 209 responses to our grant question, "How do you use media like videos, podcasts and blogs to enhance student learning?"

The responses made me so proud of our teachers. And, I have to say, the creativity happening in our schools today is amazing. Every day teachers across the country walk into their classrooms faced with obstacles such as overpopulated classrooms, a shortage of supplies, children with limited attention spans and constant reminders of more budget cuts on the way. Every day they show up and do their best because they know education is the key. The key to a child having a better life, the community having better citizens, the world being a better place. To realize their challenges, it was inspiring to see their responses. Our teachers are so talented and creative. Their ideas are fun, motivating and inspiring. And technology has provided an incredible medium for learning. I was excited to see how our educators are using the tools they have to create a classroom where learning is fun.

When you have time, visit WeAreTeachers.com. I feel pretty confident you will be impressed and motivated by what you find. There are thousands of ideas. You'll find everything from how to set up a classroom to how to keep your kids reading and learning through the summer months. It is a great place to see and feel some positive energy from our educators.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Teaching Your Students About Money Management In a Tough Economy

... and win a $200 cash Grant and Flip Video Camera

The economy is brutal right now—which means it's more important than ever to teach our students about money management. And you don't have to be an economics teacher to do it—social studies teachers can integrate discussions of money management into many of their lessons, Math teachers can teach finance while teaching math basics and English teachers can have students write or journal about money-related topics.  By working together, we can raise a generation that's ready to take on the economy and manage their money wisely.  Here are a few ways that you can get started:

1. Use Blogs.  Blogs are a great resource for real-life topics like money management because they give real-life advice. Have your students find and print a series of blog articles on a variety of money management topics and then compile them into a reference folder or book so they have something to reference when they have money management questions.  (Need a place to start?  Here are two great money management articles:  One on using credit cards wisely and the other on being a smart consumer.)

2. Use RSS Feeds.  While researching blog articles on money management, your students are sure to find some great money management blogs.  Subscribe to a few of your favorites and then spend a few minutes at the beginning of class reading through their latest posts.http://linxcareerlifeskillsblog.blogspot.com

3. Use DVDs and Videos.  If you didn't major in accounting or economics, you might not know everything there is to know about money management.  But that's okay!  Pick up a few informative and grade-appropriate DVDs on Money Management and use them to supplement your classroom discussions.  http://www.linxedu.com/Money_Management_s/165.htm

4. Use Your Own Stories.  Did you learn the hard way about the dangers of credit cards when you were in college?  Or did you find a way to create a budget that has worked really well?  Tell your students what you do to manage your money so that they can learn from you.

5. Use Games.   Kids love playing games.  So, challenge your class to the "Smart Consumer Challenge" where they'll learn budgeting, get money-saving tips and learn how to be a smart shopping in a fast-paced and fun game!  http://www.linxedu.com/SMART_CONSUMER_CHALLENGE_GAME_p/54-ac07.htm

Your turn:  Have a great idea on how to teach money management to kids?  Tell us about it and you could win $200 and a Flip Video Camera or the Smart Money DVD series for your classroom!  Apply now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Communication Skills

How would you rate your communication skills?
Do you often walk away from a conversation unsure of what someone was trying to tell you? Do you ever feel like others did not understand what you were trying to tell them? Or maybe you felt like the person to whom you were speaking was bored or disinterested in what you were saying.

Good communication skills will not only help with personal relationships and friendships, but will also help with school and career success. While good communication skills may seem like common sense, its amazing how many people are terrible at this. The simplest skill includes looking people in the eye when communicating. How difficult could that be? You would be amazed. Especially with all the distractions we have these days. Have you ever been talking to someone while they checked messages on their phone or were looking in another direction or even worse... texting someone else in the middle of your conversation? How did that make you feel? Most likely, you felt as though they did not care to hear what you were saying.

A good basic rule of communication is respect. When having a conversation, look others in the eye. Give them your full attention. Ask questions. If you need to, restate what someone is saying to make sure you understand important tasks like instructions. And, always watch your tone. Remember, your tone communicates more effectively than your words. Maybe your friend is celebrating a big accomplishment. There can be a noticeable difference in tone when you say, "congratulations." Did you sound excited when you said that word? Or did you say that word with a tone that felt envious, jealous or unimpressed? Your tone will express much more about how you feel than the word itself.

So, next time you are having a conversation, pay attention to your body language and your tone. Are you present and engaged in the conversation? Is the other person? Always show others respect by being both a good speaker and listener. That is your key to great communication.