It is nice to know what others are thinking. Insight into their approach to matters in the course of a normal encounter can help you in your interaction with them, whether they be a colleague, boss, subordinate, customer or supplier.
A few months ago, I wrote a Nip Impressions column titled "Push your Chair In." That was one clue as to where people are coming from.
Let's talk about a couple more. One is the person who interrupts your conversation with a third person, be it in the hall, in your workplace, or some other location. When they did this, you just learned how important they think they are as compared to everything else going on around them.
Another is the person who calls on the phone. Back in the old days, when all phone calls were to land lines, it was pretty simple. If someone answered the phone, either at work or at home, you knew they were available, because they had had to make at least a slight bit of effort to get to the phone. Today with everyone having cell phones, you have no clue as to where they are or what they are doing. These days, after they identify themselves, they should be asking you, "Is this a good time to talk?"
And since this is the "Year of Housekeeping" I love to look in people's automobiles. If it is messy or not, you have already learned a great deal about them. However, further, if it is messy, you can get all kinds of clues about their lifestyle, and hence, their work style by looking at the debris. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this out.
Advertisement: This is the season to subscribe to the Thompson Private Letter. Still only $49 per year. You can subscribe here.
Listen to Pulp and Paper Radio International's "Nips" each Monday at 22:00 US EDT (02:00 UTC 22 May 12) or download later. Make a habit of tuning in or downloading later. Go to www.tinyurl.com/pandpri.
Of course, there are other clues, too, more obvious than the ones I just mentioned. How one dresses tells much. The point is to dress appropriately for the task or location. Bankers in Italian suits touring a mill reveals as much cluelessness as showing up for a meeting at headquarters in jeans. And have you looked at the pictures people post as their profile picture on LinkedIn? Forget cultural differences, folks, this is not Facebook and you are not fifteen years old.
Then there is the whole world of correspondence. In the old days, when administrative assistants were ubiquitous, a memo was important and was usually written with a great deal of care. Words were spelled correctly, even without spell-check, and grammar was decent. The tone of the message was important. Today's emails reveal much about the cognitive ability of the writer. And this seems to be going further downhill, as we see a generation of texting zombies come into the workplace that think it is illegal to spell a word with more than three letters.
Advertisement: Check out our new store!
Of course, if you want to really become absorbed in reading clues from others, one needs to brush up on the "science" of body language. There are experts all over the place that do this for a living, but you, too, can become an amateur with a little training. You can find an example here.
Today, it is important to realize that communications have become sophisticated. Whether you are participating as an observer (optional) or as a subject of study (not optional), the clues can make or break the achievement of your objectives.
Do you have any favorite clues you wish to share? Our quiz is open ended and you can participate here.
For safety this week, your safety training should include sessions on responding to the injured that cannot talk. Employees should be taught simple gestures they can use if they can't speak and first responders should be trained to look for clues.
Be safe and we will talk next week.
Greenpeace put a banner on the KFC headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday claiming KFC is using packaging that contains rainforest fiber. They were able to mobilize 28,000 to send emails to KFC within about 5 hours. Perhaps you would like to sign our petition below.