Category Archives: Personal Development

Do you want to upgrade your Microsoft Office Skills?

We are now offering Microsoft Office 2016 mini-courses… each course comes with a training manual.

Here is a brief summary of the courses being offered…

Excel 2016 Essentials

You will gain an advanced level of understanding for the Microsoft Excel environment, and the ability to guide others to the proper use of the program’s full features – critical skills for those in roles such as accountants, financial analysts, and commercial bankers.

You will create, manage, and distribute professional spreadsheets for a variety of specialized purposes and situations. They will customize their Excel 2016 environments to meet project needs and increase productivity. Expert workbook examples include custom business templates, multi-axis financial charts, amortization tables, and inventory schedules.

Mini-course Content:
• Create worksheets and workbooks
• Navigate in worksheets and workbooks
• Format worksheets and workbooks
• Change views and configurations
• Print and distribute worksheets and workbooks
• Manage data cells and ranges
• Create tables, charts and objects
• Perform operations with formulas and functions

Learn on Skillshare

Outlook 2016 Essentials

You will be able to use Outlook to enhance professional correspondence, create calendars, and schedule appointments.

You will create and edit professional-looking email messages, maintain calendars across time zones, and schedule tasks for a variety of purposes and situations including sending email for marketing campaigns, planning staff meetings, and assigning action items from those meetings.

Mini-course Content:
• Connect one or more email accounts
• Preview, read, reply to and forward messages
• Process, create, format and check messages
• Use advanced message options
• Organize messages
• Use signatures and stationary
• Automate replies and organization
• Clean up and archive messages
• Create, organize and manage calendars, appointments, meetings and events
• Create and manage notes and tasks
• Create and manage contacts and contact groups
• Customize the Outlook environment settings
• Print and save Information
• Perform search operations in Outlook

Powerpoint 2016 Essentials

You will learn to create, edit, and enhance slideshow presentations to create professional-looking sales presentations, employee training, instructional materials, and kiosk slideshows.

You will gain a fundamental understanding of the PowerPoint 2016 environment and the correct use of key features of this application.

Mini-course Content:
• Create Presentations from scratch or templates
• Insert and format slides, handouts and notes
• Change Presentation views and configurations
• Insert and work with text, pictures, audio and video
• Work with tables, charts, and SmartArt
• Use transitions and animations
• Prepare for a presentation, including the slide size, narration, and timing
• Manage multiple presentations

Word 2016 Essentials

You will gain a fundamental understanding of the Microsoft Word environment and the ability to complete tasks independently.
You will demonstrate the correct application of the principle features of Word 2016 by creating and editing documents for a variety of purposes and situations. Document examples include professional looking reports, multi-column newsletters, resumes, and business correspondence.

Mini-course Content
• Create and manage documents
• Format text, paragraphs, and sections
• Create tables and lists
• Create and manage references
• Insert and format graphic elements

How much for the Microsoft Office Bundle?

To take all 4 courses will only cost you $99.99CAD… Each mini-course comes with a comprehensive manual… this is yours to keep!

The first step for you is to join, and try out a FREE mini-course on Business Etiquette… and then if you want to purchase the Microsoft Office bundle, then go to Membership Upgrade… and enroll from there.

Happy eLearning!

Why Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication Skills are Important in Workplace Diversity?

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Verbal Communication Skills

Words are a powerful tool. Knowing how we use words to communicate is vital in understanding where it fits into diversity. Saying the right thing or even more important not saying the wrong thing will help you in your everyday life. Through this module we will touch on differences between listening and hearing, and asking the right questions and communicating with power.


Crowdselling Your Inventions

Listening and Hearing; They Aren’t the Same Thing

Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. Assuming an individual is not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. However listening is something that one consciously chooses to do. It requires concentration to allow the brain to process the meaning from words and sentences.

Listening leads to learning, but this is not always an easy task. Adults speak at a normal rate of 100-150 words per minute. The brain, however, can think at 400-500 words per minute, leaving extra time for daydreaming, or anticipating the speaker’s next words.

Listening Skills

Listening skills can be learned and refined. The art of active listening allows you to fully receive a message from another person.

Especially during a conversation with someone who has a different accent or perhaps a speech impediment. Active listening allows you to be sensitive to the multiple dimensions of the communication that make up an entire message. These listening dimensions include:
• What is the reason the person is communicating with me now?
• What does the length of the message tell me about its importance?
• How is the message being made?
• What clues do the loudness and speed of speaking give me?
• How do pauses and hesitations enhance or detract from the message?
• What do eye contact, posture, or facial expressions tell me that perhaps words do not?

Barriers to Effective Listening

In order to listen effectively, one must overcome several barriers to receiving the message:
• The message content
• The appeal of the speaker
• Any external distractions
• Emotional interjections
• The level of clarity in the language
• Perceiving only parts of the message selectively
• The absence of or poor, inappropriate feedback

Communication at Meetings

People from some cultural groups prefer in-person meetings more than other groups. Face-to-Face meetings are more important to people from Africa, East, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East and Arabic countries. Virtual (electronic) meetings work for Latin Americans, and people from Europe, Australia, and North America.

Using an Interpreter

There may be times — especially if you work in an organization with locations around the world – which the use of an interpreter can help overcome language barriers as everyone listens. This reduces frustration with the communication process, and allows participants to stay focused on understanding the messages.

Asking Questions

Especially when communicating interpersonally in a diverse workplace environment, good question-asking skills are critical so that the message you are receiving is accurate and complete.

Active listeners use specific questioning techniques to elicit more information from speakers. Below are three types of questions to use when practicing active listening.

Open Questions

Using an open question stimulates thinking and discussion or responses, including opinions or feelings. Open questions pass control of the conversation to the respondent. Leading words in open questions include: Why, what, or how, as in the following examples:
• What are our benchmarks for improving our diversity training?
• How are we conducting diversity initiatives in our organization?

Clarifying Questions

Asking a clarifying question helps to remove ambiguity, elicits additional detail, and guides the answer to a question. Frame your question as someone trying to understand in more detail. Often asking for a specific example is useful. This also helps the speaker evaluate his or her own opinions and perspective. Below are some examples:
• I’m not sure I understood that correctly. How will we deliver the online training?
• I heard your proposed budget number, but what sort of diversity program training modules can we really afford?

Closed Questions

Closed questions usually require a one-word answer, and effectively shut off discussion. Closed questions provide facts, allow the questioner to maintain control of the conversation, and are easy to answer. Typical leading words are: Is, can, how many, when, or does. While closed questions are not the optimum choice for active listening, at times they are necessary, and may be helpful when you are interacting with someone who speaks in a different language or who has a speech impediment. Examples of closed questions are:
• Do we have a diversity program at our company?
• When will the new inclusivity training course be launched?

Communicating With Power

It’s been said that you have between thirty seconds and two minutes to capture your participants’ attention. In a diverse cultural work environment, this time frame is even more challenging.
In addition to voice characteristics, there are methods you can use to make communication with a non-English speaking person – or a hearing impaired person more efficient and message-effective.

Ten Tips for Communicating With a non- Native English Speaker
1. Make clear eye contact, right from the beginning.
2. Speak a bit more slowly than you normally do so the non-native speaker or hearing impaired person can keep pace with you.
3. Enhance your message with facial expressions that convey emotions such as joy, frustration, fright, or anger.
4. Try different words that accomplish the same purpose. Many people from different cultures have a passive knowledge of English gained through the media. Try saying a word slowly or with a different pronunciation.
5. Draw a concept if you realize that words alone are not conveying it. Repeat the word or phrase as you draw.
6. Confirm meanings by using an open-ended question or command such as “Please say back to me what we discussed”.
7. Enlist the assistance of a translator of necessary.
8. Be patient; the key to overcoming a language barrier is patience.
9. Use short words and short sentences. Keep your words very literal.
10. Avoid slang (technical person, instead of “geek”) and contractions (do not, instead of don’t).

Seven Suggestions for Communicating with a Person who is Hearing Impaired
1. Attract the listener’s attention
2. Speak clearly and naturally
3. Move closer
4. Face the listener
5. Take the surroundings into account
6. Understand that using hearing instruments can be tiring
7. Restate your message


38% of a particular message received by a listener is governed by the tone and quality of your voice. The pitch, volume, and control of your voice all make a difference in how your message is perceived by your audience.



Non-Verbal Communication Skills

We all communicate nonverbally. The image that we project from our nonverbal communication affects the way that our spoken communication is received. While interpreting body language is important, it is equally important to understand what your nonverbal communication is telling others. It takes more than words to persuade others.

Body language is a form of non-verbal communication involving the use of stylized gestures, postures, and physiologic signs that act as cues to other people. Humans unconsciously send and receive non-verbal signals through body language all the time.

One study at UCLA found that up to 93 percent of American communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues.

Another study indicated that the impact of a performance was determined 7 percent by the words used, 38 percent by voice quality, and 55 percent by non-verbal communication. Your body language must match the words you use. If a conflict arises between your words and your body language, your body language governs.

Below are examples of positive and negative body language in American culture.

Body Language

Just as with spoken language, each country in the world has its own forms of acceptable and unacceptable body language based on local cultural norms.

The Signals You Send to Others

Signals are movements used to communicate needs, desires, and feelings to others. They are a form of expressive communication. More than 75% of the signals you send to others are non-verbal.
People who are strong, culturally aware communicators display sensitivity to the power of the emotions and thoughts communicated non-verbally through signals.

Any nonverbal signals you send to others should match your words. Otherwise, people will tend to pay less attention to what you said, and focus instead on your nonverbal signals.

Eye Contact
• For Americans, direct eye contact indicates that a person is confident and favorable
• Africans typically look down when they are listening, and look up when they are speaking
• In China, a lack of eye contact may indicate a show of respect
• For a Navajo Indian, a lack of eye contact may mean avoiding a loss of soul, or avoiding a theft.
• Slouching is considered rude in northern Europe
• Bowing shows respect in Asia
• Sitting with one’s legs crossed is offensive in Turkey and Ghana.


A gesture is a motion of the limbs or body made to express or help express a thought or to emphasize speech. Without gestures, our speech would not be very exciting or expressive. However just as with language, the social acceptability of gestures varies greatly according to cultural norms.

In the U. S., we point with our index finger. In Germany, the little finger is used, and Japanese point with the entire hand.

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

In workplace communication, it is important that your voice sounds upbeat, warm, under control, and clear. This is especially true when you are interacting with someone from a different culture, or who is speaking with you in a different language. Below are some tips to help you begin the process.
1. Breathe from your diaphragm
2. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated; avoid caffeine because of its diuretic effects
3. Posture affects breathing, and also tone of voice, so be sure to stand up straight
4. To warm up the tone of your voice, smile
5. If you have a voice that is particularly high or low, exercise its by practicing speaking on a sliding scale. You can also sing to expand the range of your voice
6. Record your voice and listen to the playback
7. Deeper voices are more credible than higher pitched voices. Try speaking in a slightly lower octave. It will take some practice, but with a payoff, just as radio personalities have learned
8. Enlist a colleague or family member to get feedback about the tone of your voice.

How to Use Initiative To Take Advantage of Opportunities

Initiative is something we can all use in our careers. It is what sets us apart from others and our competition. Many people are afraid to take the initiative, but if you can, you will stand out. Initiative is deep down inside all of us, but the successful ones are the ones who use it.



It is important to know what initiative is to properly utilize it. Initiative is defined as the ability to assess and initiate things independently. In other words, it is taking advantage of the opportunities in front of you. It is stepping up, and going beyond your typical duties. Take charge of situations before others do. You may not want to step out of your comfort zone, but usually you will be rewarded for doing so. It is thinking outside the box, preparing for success, capitalizing on opportunities. It is making changes to take a step forward and being persistent.


Benefits, Personal and Professional

In life, taking initiative offers many benefits. It is a positive step that anyone can take for themselves. Only you can take the initiative for yourself, so ensure you do it. Taking the initiative provides individuals with a sense of self-control both in their personal and professional lives. No one is going to offer you opportunities if you do not deserve them, so stepping up will make all the difference in your life.  In your personal life, it may benefit you by helping you feel more confident with yourself. In your professional life, it may help you get that coveted promotion. In either aspect of your life, it will promote better things.

Taking initiative promotes:

·        Control

·        Achievement

·        Confidence

·        Proactivity

·        Inspiration

·        Self-Awareness

·        Creativity

·        Fear-busting


Why People Do Not Take Initiative

Not everyone is comfortable with taking the initiative, or even knows how to do so. It is something that is developed mentally and takes strength to do. Some individuals have a bounded rationality. These individuals are unable to see past what they currently know. They cannot see the benefits of stepping up. Typically, the individual has never thought about it. Also, individuals do not take the initiative due to a lack of capability. Outside their general knowledge, some individuals do not possess the expertise to take the initiative for a more difficult task. Execution over innovation is also another popular reason that individuals do not take initiative. These individuals only focus on their own work, and do not have concern for any new tasks.  Finally, some individuals are too busy to take the initiative. There is already too much on their plate, and they physically and mentally cannot process anymore work.

Reasons for not taking the initiative:

·        Bounded rationality

·        Lack of capability

·        Execution over Innovation

·        Task overload


Make Initiative a Priority

It is our duty to make initiative a priority in both our professional and personal lives.  To make initiative a priority, we must first understand what it is and what its benefits are. Once we understand this, we can take the leap forward. To make taking initiative a priority, we must watch for opportunities. We must be aware of our surroundings, and what can potentially be a fantastic opportunity to do so.  In your professional career, if you see that your boss needs help with something, offer it! Show that you are a go-getter.  Take the extra step when you can! People will take notice of your initiative, and you will be rewarded positively.

Take a Chance

Life is about chances. Even if you are not ready to take a chance, just do it. It may change your personal and professional life in a positive way. Taking chances is what life is all about, and to get ahead you need to take that risk. Step outside of your box, and take that chance.






Be Open Minded

One of the most important tools you have for taking the initiative is being open- minded. A closed mind limits your productivity, but an open mind gives you limitless opportunities. To grow successfully, you should always be open to learning. Learning new things can never harm you, it will only benefit you. Once you are able to let go, and be open-minded, you will be able to change your life for the better.

There are many benefits of having an open mind in the workplace. They include:

·        Being able to let go of control

·        Being able to experience changes in a positive manner

·        Strengthening yourself

·        Gaining confidence


Be Adaptable

When taking initiative, it is important to be adaptable to any situation you may come across. When you can adapt to various situations, you can accomplish more.  Adaptability is the ability to change to the given circumstance.  All people have the basic capability to be able to adapt. It is part of human nature.


Examples of being adaptable at work:

·        Able to follow new policies and procedures.

·        Being able to adjust workload based on new, high priority assignments

Benefits of being adaptable at work:

·        More valuable to your employer

·        Makes you a better leader

·        Better equipped to handle career transitions

·        Bounce back quicker from adversity


Making Decisions

All jobs typically involve making decisions. It is your duty to determine if it is a good decision or bad decision. Making good and successful decisions not only will help your workplace, but it will also make you look good. Supervisors appreciate employees who take the initiative and make good decisions.

Bad decisions do not make you look good to your superiors. Making bad decisions can limit upward mobility in your career.  To help avoid making bad decisions, it is important to think about your decisions before you make them. Think about the possible outcomes and determine the best route from there. 

When making decisions in the workplace:

·        Get perspective on how important the decision is

·        Consider a variety of options

·        Ensure you have all the facts

·        Include the right people in the decision making process


Take Responsibility

When you take initiative, you must take the responsibility for your actions. For the most part, taking initiative brings positive outcomes.  Remember that you cannot make excuses for your actions. If you make a decision, take responsibility for it. You need to eliminate blame in your actions, and eliminate excuses. If you do not do this, it means you are shifting responsibility for your decisions to others.  Taking responsibility can be difficult, but in the long run it will be beneficial to you and others in the workplace.

River Street Consultant