Organisme Formateur agréé par Emploi-Québec - Agrément # 0057911

Le blogue de Solutions & Co.

Le blogue de Solutions & Co.

Tips & Co. #408 - Communication is by its nature a source of unintended ambiguities and distortions

How many times have we been certain of what we have said, yet so surprised when we realize how the receiver has understood or interpreted our words?Interferences hinder the communication process and are a source of distortion, misunderstandings and misinterpretations. These are barriers to effective communication. Several kinds of interference can occur at the various stages of the communication process. For example:
  • Differences in the frame of reference (language, age, culture, education, experience, social environment, habits, etc.)
  • When the message is too long or too dense, the information is difficult to retain
  • Physical interference (noisy environments, distractions, interruptions, etc.)
  • The receiver’s internal state (emotions, attitudes, values, etc.) or the presence of observers who can interfere. They produce "snags" or intellectual paralysis linked to stress
  • Mental distractions such as being preoccupied with other topics or preparing an answer instead of listening
An effective communicator anticipates possible failures in the communication and the many ways in which the message can be understood.
  226 lectures
226 lectures

Tattoos in the Work Place: is it Still a Taboo Topic?

Tattoos, once associated with rebellion, crimes, delinquency, gang membership, and machismo, has now become a modern phenomenon of self affirmation and expression. Incidentally, according to an Ipsos Reid survey, close to one in four Canadians is tattooed.

However, despite some democratization and hierarchies flattening, tattoos can still carry some derogatory overtones and can induce discriminations and prejudices in some work environments.

The rights of all individuals intertwined with one another

According to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, each individual has a right to a freedom of expression, which now includes tattoos, and your employer can not ask you to hide them, unless the object of the tattoo itself is considered hateful or offensive. Although, in some cases the organization could prevail over your rights. The employer can impose restrictions or prohibitions regarding the dress code or someone’s look if it causes any damages to the organization’s image and reputation (tattoos, piercings, etc.), or if it causes any work’s health and safety issues (beards, jewellery, etc.) by means of directives or a work contract. Such right must be exercised cautiously in order to draw up a clear, reasonable, and fair policy stating any restrictions the organization would see enforced without being discriminatory.

It is recommended to have yourself acquainted with any rule, policy, contract, or ethic guides mentioning this topic in your organization. Going against those rules becomes a breach of an employment condition.


First impressions

But beyond the law, there is the human factor… from a new encounter’s very first moments, the brain is processing a large quantity of signals, from what the person is saying (verbal communication) to the posture, the appearance, the gestures, the gait (non verbal communication) and to the volume, the pronunciation, the speed, and the tone (para verbal communication), and makes a general interpretation – a first impression.

A study group from Princeton University states that only one hundred milliseconds are required to form a firm and final judgment about someone. And only one tenth of a second to decide if a person is attractive, reliable, amicable, and even … qualified. A tattoo, just like a hairstyle, a makeup, or an outfit, is a non verbal clue contributing to the first impression.

 "We judge books by their covers, and we can't help but do it," says Nicholas Rule, researcher of the University of Toronto” This human behavior can be traced back to the beginning of times. To ensure its survival, the prehistoric man had to quickly decide if what was in front of him was a friend or an enemy; if he had to fight or flight. This reflex is buried in our reptilian brain and is ubiquitous in our instinctive reaction. It is an oblivious process, often conditioned by our memory or our upbringing. This first impression is natural, inevitable, and indelible!

Overlooking this process and not adapting to it only diminishes your credibility and your influence to their eyes. And if the impressions you give off is not in tune / harmony with the one they were expecting… even if you wear your tattoos with pride, interacting with employers will become more difficult, bumpier, full of distortions and misinterpretations which may cause misunderstandings … And unfortunately, you will be suffering the consequences.

To each culture its codes

Tattoos are not necessarily compatible with all professions and fields of work, and depending on the career or occupation you wish to have, tattoos will be more or less tolerated, accepted, appreciated perhaps even admired.

Some field of expertise are more open minded and value the creativity and the self expression, while some are more formal, and want to give off a more rigorous image of impartiality, confidence by means of a fitting and polished appearance. In those cases, a tattoo must be more … discreet – in order to respect the neutrality and formality required by the organization.

In terms of tattoos, corporate image must be a key element to consider. One should show some caution, all depending on the kind of employment and the context. It is essential to understand the organization’s culture (its implied rules), its philosophy (its values), the nature of the job… And above of all whom will you be in contact with!

It’s a matter of interpretation

Your appearance is an indicator of your judgement and inspires (or not) confidence in your abilities and your role. Those interpretations are neither correct nor incorrect, there is no for or against, bad or good, legal or illegal, fair or unfair, but only a congruity or incongruity with the message that you want to deliver to whom you are offering products or services to.

Our clients come from various environments and their perceptions, reasoning, values and style vary depending their interpretations. Tattoos, being a medium of really personal messages, can still, for some, have a negative ring and be interpreted as an indicator of a lack of professionalism and conscientiousness, or as non-conformism, hence projecting a differing image from the one you want to convey.

It is entirely legal and fine to have tattoos. You are free to express yourself however you want. But you cannot expect it to be accepted the same way by everyone.

  530 lectures
530 lectures

Tips & Co. #352 - What is ‘Paraphrasing’?

Paraphrasing involves making sure that you understand the other person's words by using different words. This is not rephrasing, because the idea is to focus on the content of the message.

  • This helps verify that we understood properly and helps avoid misunderstandings.
  • This gives importance to what the other person is saying.
  • It is positive reinforcement. It lets the other person know that we are attentive.

It is impossible to paraphrase without actively listening. For this reason, paraphrasing is an important part of active listening.

Effects of Paraphrasing

When people's words are paraphrased, they immediately feel understood. They are reassured; the person that they are talking to is listening and is interested in what is being said. In return, this encourages them to talk more. In fact, paraphrasing is widely used by counselors and psychologists as a technique to encourage people to express themselves.

Even inaccurate paraphrasing has positive effects because it encourages the speaker to clarify their ideas.

Therefore, paraphrasing is useful for someone who is being paraphrased, since this person will feel understood and encouraged to speak. At the same time, the person who is doing the paraphrasing also benefits because this will help him concentrate on the speaker and will make sure that he understands the message.

  603 lectures
603 lectures

Tips & Co. #316 - Verbal nods

When we want to show a customer that we are listening actively, we usually lean forward, smile, give eye contact, nod our head, move our eye brows, match expressions… those are all non-verbal cues that help us show someone that we are engaged, interested and listening.

But what happens when the customer is on the phone? Most of us still unconsciously continue giving non-verbal cues (like nodding our head) … and since body language can’t be seen it often ends up with the customer asking “Are you still there?”, that question tells you that the customer was doubting whether you were still listening.

Instead, try to replace your non-verbal language by verbal nods. Verbal nods are those utterances that show the customer you're still there, still engaged. An occasional "I see", "Uh uh", “Ah”, “Right”, “Ok” or “Is that so". A few simple words will help the customer feel you’re listening and listening well.

But don't overdo it - Don't use interjections as meaningless conversation fillers or say the same word over and over. That’s known as a "verbal tic".

  1182 lectures
1182 lectures

Tips & Co. #296 - The phone is not dead

Email seems to be the chosen professional tool of communication for most of us.

It gives us time to think. It’s quick and concise. And most importantly, there is written proof.

But even if it seems that phones are on the path to extinction, there are moments where they are still essential - especially if the issue is complex or the subject is uncomfortable.

When we communicate over the phone, we improve our chances of understanding each other (in comparison to email). Choose this communication channel if there are possibilities of misunderstanding or confusion.

If you need a written agreement (because writing remains), you can always send a recap email following the call. It will act as a second validation.

  1021 lectures
1021 lectures

Les participants le disent…

« Vraiment une formation extraordinaire, et habituellement, je suis très critique! Tout le personnel devrait suivre cette formation, il y aurait un gain d’efficacité! »

Ville de Québec

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…et nos clients aussi!

« C’est avec un grand professionnalisme que l’entreprise a offert une formation attrayante et de qualité à nos employés. Nous sommes particulièrement satisfaits des résultats obtenus grâce à cette intervention et il nous fera plaisir de retravailler avec Solutions & Co. dans l’avenir. »

Xavier Aymé, Chef des opérations | Mercator Canada Inc.

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