Showing posts from March, 2014

Three Tips for Responding to Angry Emails

One of the most common sources of workplace stress is dealing with angry emails from customers, colleagues or even managers. These messages can be extremely annoying but there are some tricks for dealing with them effectively and painlessly. Sometimes you can even turn the situation around 180 degrees, turning an infuriated adversary into an ally. There are many proven methods you could use, but here are the three most important.

1. WAIT TILL YOU CALM DOWN. It's a natural human instinct to get steamed up when you receive a provocative message. If you reply immediately you are likely to send an equally angry response that is unproductive and escalates the situation. Wait a few hours and your perspective will change. Wait a day and the anger will often be gone completely. By this time your neo-cortex will be able to assert it's authority over the amygdala regions of the brain that are useful in an emergency when time is short, but sometimes provoke emotional responses that are i…

How to Find More Ideas for Company Blog Posts

2 When you are given the task of writing a company blog there will probably be times when you run out of ideas to write about. You can draw inspiration from the company's news releases or scheduled events, but there are bound to be days when there are neither. What do you do in these cases?

Luckily there are dozens of ways to find ideas for interesting and original posts that will be relevant to your customers and other stakeholders. Here are just five to get you started:

BUILD ON CUSTOMER QUESTIONS. Go through all the questions people ask the company by mail, phone or social media. For every person that asks a question there are a thousand others who have the same problem so pre-empt these questions with answers on the blog. That will give you content that both appeals to customers and at the same time maybe reduces the number of mails and calls you get.
SEE WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT YOU. Search also through social media for posts made by users about your products or products like…

Why Banning GoogleGlass Won’t Work and Why We Need a Better Idea

Even before Google’s “GoogleGlass” smartglasses are available to the general public people already talk of banning them in bars, hotels, workplaces and schools. The problem is that they include a camera and it is not always obvious when the wearer is taking pictures or recording video.
People have been able to take pictures for more than a century, but until about ten years ago most of these pictures ended up in shoeboxes, ignored and forgotten. Today pictures can be shared instantly through social media to a global audience so people have become more sensitive about unwanted photography.
When someone takes out a camera or a smartphone to take a picture everyone can see that they are doing it and take action if needed. Wearables like GoogleGlass are different because you can be wearing the device all the time and it is not obvious exactly when you are using the camera.
GoogleGlass isn’t the only eyeglass-style wearable device. Rivals have different features but one thing they have in…

Why More Color Contrast Means Less Clarity

People sometimes send me spreadsheets and tables where cells have been highlighted in different colors. I can see the logic behind this and I am sure that the colors are intended to increase the clarity by drawing attention to certain areas, but quite often this has the opposite effect, making the table virtually unreadable.

This problem can be avoided very simply by avoiding very strong color contrast between adjacent regions. You might think that a greater color contrast would increase clarity when it actually has the opposite effect. There are two reasons for this. First of all, most people leave the default black ink for writing so when they choose a saturated background color for a cell this makes the writing harder to read. This would happen even if all the cells were the same color. Secondly, when two adjacent cells have different saturated colors your eye is distracted from the content and instead struggles to focus on both at the same time.

This effect was noted by Edward Tu…