58: The Art of Dealing with Ambiguity

The world is changing faster and faster. What seemed clear yesterday may not be clear today and who knows what tomorrow will bring? Dealing with ambiguity is not just a soft skill but a necessity in today’s workplace. We will discuss dealing with ambiguity and even give some hints for how to handle it.

Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the following topics:
* Life isn’t predictable and it can get boring
* How clock speed affects our ability to succeed
* Dealing with not knowing
* Decisions have consequences and making bad decisions can be costly.

A few hints for how we can ensure that we can deal with ambiguity.

1. Accept that ambiguity is real. Easy choices don’t always exist.
2. Keep a compass. Know what you are trying to accomplish and keep true to it.
3. Call in the reinforcements. Find people and other sources of information and support that are solid no matter what else is happening.
4. Heed the signs. When things appear to be faltering, recognize it and react.

That’s it for this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast. Look for new episodes every Wednesday. And if you liked what you heard today or in another episode, then give us a great review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Share our podcast with someone you know. And by all means, go to TheSoftSkillsRevolution.com and join our revolution. We want to change the world’s view on soft skills and you can help us.

Next week

We will explore why we are leading The Soft Skills Revolution.

Natural curiosity or a willingness to learn is a powerful tool, building on the processes, software and techniques that you know are just the foundation for your success.

Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss are:

  • How changes in the workplace necessitate the need to be willing to learn
  • How do you tease out a willingness to learn in an application
  • Employers want to see a willingness to learn
  • Curiosity is key
  • Hints for learning new things to promote your professional benefit

Next Week

We will look at another soft skill, dealing with ambiguity. New episodes every Wednesday.

Join The Soft Skills Revolution at SoftSkillsRevolution.com

Being unable to accept criticism can hurt our ability to advance in our careers, relationships and in life. We will discuss this complicated soft skill and give hints for delivering and responding to it better.

Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about a number of important issues, including:

  • Why the soft skill of accepting criticism can be difficult to hear
  • How accepting criticism can benefit us and our development
  • What happens when we don’t accept criticism
  • Helping you versus hurting you with criticism
  • When to discount people’s criticism
  • Filtering out the good criticism and retaining ownership
  • Finding people to trust and value who give you constrictive feedback
  • How to give constructive criticism
  • When to table someone’s criticism
  • “The Sandwich Method” of criticism
  • When a cooling off period pays off for everyone   
  • Preventing criticism from paralyzing us
  • Why organizations need to integrate feedback and criticism into their operations to become better
  • Making a case for writing down suggestions, rather than speaking them

Next week

We will address another soft skill and its implications. New episodes come out every Wednesday

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Age, ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic, political, social and lifestyle diversity is a reality in today’s workplace. In this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast, we will discuss what being culturally aware means and how to avoid being culturally unaware.

Among the topics Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss in this episode:

  • Dealing with diversity in the workplace and how it affects performance, innovation and meeting customers’ needs
  • The example in computers and how they look differently for a 60 year old vs. a 20 year old
  • Why we need to try to see the world more broadly than only through our own eyes
  • How opportunities are lost when we go blindly or avoid situations
  • Awareness of where diversity issues arises is the first step
  • When we put people in a place of being an outsider and how it hurts us
  • Something as simple as food can raise issues or diffuse them
  • How Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence set the stage, but does not full cover cultural awareness
  • Individual and organizational responsibility for recognizing and leveraging people’s differences
  • How mentoring and one-on-one interactions, and even our peers, can help us become more adept
  • Finding similarities can overcome great challenges

Hints for Being More Culturally Aware

  1. Avoid doing anything that could marginalizing one or more individuals.
  2. Ensure your organization is setting a tone for inclusion
  3. Engage in self-reflection to become better (see Episode 14)

Next week

Serious Soft Skills will celebrate its first anniversary with a look at the last year, what’s coming up for us  in the new year and a celebration.

Our actions usually align with our ethics, and people with good ethics tend to be trusted and respected more than those whose ethical decision making is questionable. We are going to look at the ethical implications of decisions we make in this week’s episode of the Serious Soft Skills podcast.

Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss are:

  • A definition of ethics and how it applies to work
    The value of virtue
    How questionable ethics can erode trust of team members
    Questioning cripples progress
    The societal effect on our ethics
    Are ethics black and white?
    The Golden Rule
    Short-term versus long-term benefits and how they relate to ethics
    The personal nature of ethics
    How our ethics set a tone for an organization

Tips for Good Ethics at Work
1. Don’t be deceived by short-term benefits
2. Matching your ethics to your organization’s ethics

A good book on ethical decision-making, The Power of Ethical Management by Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale, with three guiding questions on ethics
1. Is it legal?
2. Is it balanced?
3. How will it make me feel about myself?  Unethical acts erode self-esteem.

Next week

We will talk to Mike Shelah, an expert at LinkedIn on how soft skills play into that social media platform, as well as networking in general. New episodes come out every Wednesday.

We always hear how important a positive attitude is, but why and how do we ensure we have a positive attitude. We’ll tackle how to maintain a positive attitude in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast.

Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore a variety of topics related to the soft skill of having positive attitude.

Among the topics they address are:

  • What if we bring a negative attitude to a situation
  • The negative effects of creating a hero among teams
  • “Faking it until you make it”
  • Pushing forward despite stumbles
  • Moving past problems
  • Confidence in myself and my team
  • Finding ways to overcome challenges
  • Being honest and open and how to leads to trust among team members
  • How sparks and cobbled together ideas can fuel better outcomes
  • Naysayers never get promoted
  • Not falling into the unrealistic and non-optimistic perspective

Tips for keeping or restoring your positive attitude

1. Set realistic goals and recognize when you achieve them
2. Don’t let setbacks dig into you
3. Be grateful – we all need others to succeed
4. Smile
5. Sleep well and eat well
6. Laugh at yourself
7. Populate your life with positive people
8. Don’t get stuck in the weeds

Next week

We will look at the complicated soft skills of understanding the ethical implications of our decisions.

We aren’t talking about writing the Great American Novel, but rather how to draw on the powerful aspects of storytelling to explain our work and our ideas so we connect emotionally with any audience.

Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore this important aspect of success, looking at it helps us at interviews, in meetings and when working with any other group. Storytelling can work in any situation where we talk about our work.

Among the topics they cover in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills podcast are:

  • Defining how storytelling fits into explaining ourselves
  • Making an idea “sticky”
  • How widely this approach can be used
  • The value of storytelling in a meeting as simple as a daily or weekly status meeting
  • The right preparation for storytelling to succeed
  • Understanding our audience’s needs
  • Why less is more in some cases and why more can be valuable at other times
  • Self-editing our stories to meet specific needs
  • Why writing the story out in advance or developing great themes and plot lines won’t work
  • Building the story from two or three key elements or takeaway you want the audience to learn from your story
  • Planting words to make things sticky
  • Sticky versus stinky
  • How to prepare for an interview to ensure you’re sticky
  • Making experiences become sticky through storytelling
  • Developing an emotional connection
  • Real examples of how storytelling can make us look better to employers and others
  • How anecdotes and stories about what you do in a job can help others understand the value you can bring to their organization
  • Going from a worker to a worker who did important work
  • Finding stories to explain how our skills can be transferrable

Organizations covet employees who are mature. But what is being mature and how to we identify it and look for it in people. Co-hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham take on another of the complicated soft skills in this episode.

Among the topics they will address:

  • Immaturity versus maturity
  • Experience versus maturity
  • How application is at the core of being mature
  • Admitting our own faults with maturity
  • How we develop maturity
  • Choosing when to fight for something
  • Teasing out maturity in job searches
  • How maturity leads to better outcomes over time
  • Developing maturity through asking questions of mentors

Next week

We will be looking into how and when to escalate an issue, what it means and how to be good at it, and more importantly, why it as a soft skill is important to an organization’s success.

Enthusiasm is not just a soft skills; it’s an attitude, a choice we make that is often heavily influenced by our workplace culture, but more importantly, success. We’ll discuss how and why enthusiasm is important in every workplace.

Co-hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the following:

  • The value of enthusiasm and why it’s a soft skill
  • The Fake It Till You Make It reality
  • Enthusiasm is a form of professionalism
  • How optimism fuels enthusiasm
  • Tips for how to look enthusiastic, even when you aren’t
  • Why enthusiasm is infectious and how the opposite is cancerous
  • How team members can help a person who lacks enthusiasm
  • Winston Churchill’s view of enthusiasm and its effect on success
  • Why managers and leaders have to bring the enthusiasm
  • Where journaling and daily reflection can help you retain the enthusiasm
  • Making sure failures don;’t pile up
  • Portraying things to encourage enthusiasm
  • Avoiding manufactured enthusiasm

Next week

We will answer more questions from our listeners on soft skills in their workplace.

To launch the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss their new book, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, its origins and how it will help every employee and leader be more effective this year.

Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham have released a new ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, that offers the first comprehensive look at the 55 soft skills they have uncovered through their research of academic research and business.

The hosts also offer a special code to make the $4.99 ebook purchase free. Listen to uncover the discount code.

Get our new ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, at http://serioussoftskills.com/resources/the-55-soft-skills-that-guide-employee-and-organizational-success/ Use the coupon code “sixweeks” to get the ebook for free.

In this episode, they also discuss:

  • Their Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, where they will share specific ways to use the 55 soft skills they have uncovered to improve your career and your organization’s success this year and beyond
  • Why they wrote The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success
  • Who can benefit from reading the ebook
  • How to obtain a free copy of the ebook
  • How to leverage the 55 soft skills contained in the ebook to improve your career
  • Where the 55 soft skills can help organizations grow and innovate

Next week

A discussion of how the 55 soft skills addressed in The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success can boost your success in a job search.