Practical tips for you and your fellow employees

Russ Kratowicz has searched the Web so you don't have to and he's found numerous resources that'll help your fellow employees.

By Russ Kratowicz

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Techno-geeks and their cousins, suave and debonair engineers, tend to prefer a predictable, deterministic world in which action A always leads to response B, input C always turns into output D. That’s one of the benefits of having the skills needed to interpret and control Mother Nature. Yes, we might have intimate knowledge of how the hardware and software functions, but it’s equally important to understand the workings of that “wetware” residing just above everyone’s shoulders. Come along, join me for another dive into the morass we call the Web in search of practical, zero-cost, noncommercial, registration-free Web resources designed to help you turn your colleagues into better human beings. Remember, we search the Web so you don't have to.

All sorts of advice
Research for this column turned up a resource with plenty of relevant advice for use in the business arena courtesy of Doug Staneart from The Leaders Institute in Fort Worth, Texas. Staneart’s Web site,, has tips for successful presentations, meetings, solving problems and enhancing the creativity your subordinates should be exhibiting. The links to these resources are on the left side of the page.

Practical tips
The trouble with many Web sites that offer tips about improving people skills is what might normally be considered good advice is buried under a big load of incomprehensible psychobabble. Engineers don’t work that way. So, it was a pleasure to stumble upon “Build your people skills” by Garrett Coan, the director of the Centre for Creative Counseling in Tenafly, N.J., who came up with plain and simple tips you can use every day. His article lists six broad guidelines to help with people skills, but he doesn’t stop there. For each guideline, he details specific things to do when interacting with your colleagues and family. These simple measures are presented in short, jargon-free declarative sentences that even an editor can comprehend. Use your mouse skills to engage for something worth reading.

Eleven factors
When he worked at a previous job, Jack D. Deal, from Deal Consulting in Santa Cruz, Calif., noticed that social workers and counselors with innately good people skills were able to form a solid impression of someone’s personality after spending only a few minutes talking to them. Thinking this was an important ability that he should try to develop in himself, Deal started watching people more closely in his travels. His objective was to try to read a person without talking to him, basing his opinion strictly on mannerisms and other outward indicators. Not being one to hide his hard-won research, Deal posted “People Skills” at This article lists the 11 traits shared by people who are blessed with a lot of people skills.

Too explicit
Here we are at magazine central, trying to identify provocative Web material that contributes to the enhancement of your people skills. Then, we uncover an article that claims to tell you, dear reader, how to do that without having to expend any effort. It’s downright un-American, I tell you. But, I digress. If you point mousie due north to Montreal-based, as soon as it crosses the border, it’ll stumble upon “10 Ways to Improve Your People Skills” by Armando Gomez, an article on the Web site owned by Solutions Canada. Describing the piece for you would take all the fun out of it.

Shed the angries
Doo-doo happens -- things go wrong, people make mistakes and unexpected outcomes occur, sometimes with alarming regularity. The occurrence of such soul-trying events is when good people skills are most in need of being displayed. That assumes, of course, that you can get past the initial blast of anger that’s hardwired into your human nature. No doubt, you’ve seen some of the displays of anger that Joan Lloyd so graphically details through vignettes in her article, “Managers must manage stress and anger,” posted at If anyone you know shows reactions as scary as these, they should learn a bit about anger management. A good place to start is with the Public Affairs Office of the American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., which posts “Controlling Anger -- Before It Controls You” at

When confronted with angry outbursts, a rational person would do well to simply walk away and keep out-of-control people out of range. After all, who needs another headache, especially when it rightfully belongs to someone else? Such escape is more problematic if the angry person is a supervisor or coworker. In that case, the rational person heeds the advice about responding that is found in “Coping with Your Coworkers or Boss,” an article from The Anger Institute, posted at

The rationale
People with technical education and jobs to match tend to be highly adept at the hard skills of computation, analysis and exploiting the immutable laws that Mother Nature established to keep our world reasonably predictable, if not interesting. Dealing in the realm of objectivity in isolation every day, these people can produce some amazing insights and technical advances. But, that lone-wolf style of earning one’s daily bread is perhaps not the best way to operate these days. Peter Murphy, a motivational consultant in Malaga, Spain, argues this line in his article “12 Reasons Why You Should Never Neglect People Skills.” Murphy doesn’t offer the loner any corrective measures. He just makes the case that it’s in your best interest to follow up on your own after you howl in the general direction of

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