Tag Archives: Understanding

Negotiation Skills: “Face Read” your OpponentNegotiation Skills: “Face Read” your Opponent

In previous centuries, it was considered that one could tell a lot about a person simply by the structure of their face. The logic was that certain character traits were often found with people who all share the same facial features. For example, people who have square-shaped faces were considered thoughtful, intelligent and somewhat unique. In modern times, this practice is met with a lot of scepticism, and derided by many as ‘pseudo-science‘. Nevertheless, there is absolutely truth to the idea that a person can tell a lot about another person simply by looking at him or her.

This ability is not rooted in the structure of the face but rather the muscles, the tissue, and the emotions behind the face. The human face is capable of millions of subtle facial gestures – not just the big ones such as smiling wide – and these expressions can express emotions with a great complexity.

While it is true that some people who have personality disorders, such as autism, are unable to read these subtle expressions with accuracy, most people are able to understand them without conscious thought. This ability is a major part of understanding others and is so instinctive that it can seem to defy analytical thought. However, the truth is these expressions can be studied, and to great effect. Understanding what a person is trying to convey on gut instinct is one thing, but being able to read into their expressions consciously can be extremely advantageous in certain situations.

One such situation is negotiation: this is a scenario where one must be able to present themselves as coming from a stance that may not be entirely accurate, in order to get an advantage. It is also a psychological game of tactics, and therefore is exactly the kind of situation where being able to read and understand the true meaning of the opponent by ignoring their words and focusing on their face is beneficial. This ability may come more naturally to some than others, but it is something that can be studied and used to positive effect by just about anybody.

The first thing that should be understood is what certain skin colours may indicate. The opponent in a negotiation may be projecting confidently with their words, but the colours of their face may be saying something entirely different. For example, if they have particularly red cheeks, this can indicate that they are feeling the pressure, are angry, or otherwise flustered about their inability to conduct themselves in a way that they think is productive. Just knowing that the opponent is feeling insecure can bring a great sense of confidence, which alone is enough to bring about a victory. Interestingly, a face that has hints of blue may indicate the opposite in terms of body temperatures, but it announces the same hidden emotion – fear.

It will come as no surprise that the most important part of reading a person’s face is noticing eye movement. Where the opponent looks, and how they look, is very important in understanding their level of confidence in their words. If they are making firm eye contact, one can be sure that they are secure in their stance and are unlikely to back down unless they are beaten on words and logic alone. If the person continues to focus downwards, this indicates anxiety and something that can be seen as real weakness. If your opponent does not feel confident in themselves, this allows you to take advantage.

Be aware that some opponents will be attempting to circumvent these signals, so for an important debate you may need to do your research. Someone who seems to be holding your gaze for too long may in fact be trying to appear confident and project that they are telling the truth by overcompensating. This is a very difficult thing to do successfully – not many people are good liars – so if you notice a strange change in how your opponent catches your gaze or not, then this will indicate something is up.

In a tough negotiation, it is going to be too much for most opponents to cover up all of their feelings that are projecting on their face, so look for the basic signals. If they raise their eyebrow, they are finding your words hard to believe. Pursing of the mouth signals they are not in agreement with what you are saying. Leaning towards you or nodding indicates you are pushing the right button, and they are coming around to your way of thinking.

The study of face reading may come naturally to some, but it is something that everybody must study deeply to fully understand what all of the complex features of the face are saying in various situations and contexts.

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Help Your Staff Offer a Better Service

Training staff takes time and commitment. It is necessary to train employees so that they perform the job well, have a good understanding of health and safety and to ensure they are able to provide the best possible customer service. One of the areas to focus on is offering excellent customer support to everyone and making them have a strong disability awareness that will benefit them to understand how to provide the best service to everyone that walks through the door.

Give Your Employees the Confidence They Need to Provide Excellent Service

When providing disability awareness training you should aim to make your staff comfortable when serving all disabled people. They must be able to provide help without being patronising in any way, and it is important that they don’t make assumptions about the customers. Employees need to be prepared to give extra assistance but never to impose their ‘helpfulness’ to those who don’t require it.  One of the most important things is to train your staff so they are fully aware of any adjustments that can be made if necessary.

When I train my new employees I focus on the following points when it comes to what they may be required to do:

  1. Role playing is a wonderful way of teaching staff to be able to confidently communicate with customers. We have a couple of customers who cannot understand speech very well and for them we provide written information. We have a pen and paper by the counter at all times for times like these.
  2. I like my employees to speak directly to the customer and not to their carer.
  3. Patience is always required for all customers and it’s also important to make sure customers understand everything being said to them.
  4. My staff know that they may be required to provide assistance such as offering an arm for support or for guidance around the store.
  5. Having a seat near to the counter is excellent. My employees are trained to provide seating to customers who may have to wait longer than usual, or who have many bags weighing them down.
  6. In some circumstances it is necessary to speak privately with customers, and you should keep their information confidential. If you have a busy shop or office make sure you have a place for your employees to take customers so that the conversation doesn’t have to be overheard.
  7. We use a portable ramp for our customers to use if they wish to reach our back room.  If you have any portable equipment such as ramps make sure your employees are able to set it up safely, know where it is kept and how to store it safely when not in use.

We have recently worked hard on our printed information to provide materials for all of our customers. In the past we had many leaflets on our counter and we would often pop them into the carrier bags of our customers, but it dawned on me that not everyone was able to read the information. I worked with a company that helped me to create leaflets with larger font.  We also changed the font so it looked a lot clearer and less flamboyant. We added some additional signs at our counter, and around the store that provided information for our customers. These signs are located at a low height so they can be read by everyone and are in large text.

Positive Service for the Entire Community

By training employees to be more aware of the needs of all of the customers we have been able to improve our business, our reputation and our revenue. Currently we are waiting to see if our planning permission for better access to the store has been accepted, and hopefully this will benefit our customers and our business further. Clear training, essential information and solutions available for multiple situations only helps to establish your organisation within your community.

One useful way to help your business provide a better service is an access audit. Highlight areas where improvement is needed and train your employees to provide brilliant customer service.


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Five Common Mistakes Made by the Self Employed

Being self-employed is a rewarding and challenging journey. Escaping the confines of working for an employer allows you to be master of your own destiny. Important business decisions are yours to make, you can set your own timetable and work schedules and you are in control of who you transact with. These are all exciting prospects but business success can be easily overshadowed if mistakes are made. Here are a number of mistakes that the self-employed often make.

Not Understanding your Market

Market research is a vital activity for setting up and running a successful business. Being newly self-employed is exciting and often you can fall into the trap of wanting to get started straight away. However, without careful planning and an understanding of the market you intend to trade in, you can find yourself making substantial losses. This will impact on your overall financial forecasts and result in wasted time, effort and money. To ensure this does not happen, analyse your market sector. Who do you want to target? Who are your potential customers? Who are your competitors and how do they operate within your market? It is also important that you have an appropriate pricing strategy. Setting your prices too high will price you out of the market and setting them too low may result in potential customers thinking your product or service is of low quality. Ultimately, the wrong pricing strategy will affect your income.

Keeping Poor Financial Records

Many people become self-employed because they have a passion for a particular industry or recognise a gap in the market. In their excitement to start trading, financial record keeping sometimes gets forgotten or is deliberately delayed. Not only is good record keeping a requirement of HM Revenue and Customs, it is also a key tool in business planning. People who are self-employed should consider hiring recommended accountants for contractors. This will ensure your book-keeping is accurate and up to date.

Under-Estimating Tax

Another benefit to hiring an accountant is properly calculated tax planning. Without good financial records, it is very easy to under-estimate how much tax you owe. This can result in a nasty shock at the end of the financial year. A good accountant may also be able to identify areas of your business where you can save money.

Ignoring Regulations

When setting up a business, you must ensure you meet all HM Revenue and Customs regulations. This includes the trading structure of your business. In other words, are you a sole trader, limited company, partnership or co-operative? Depending on the type of company you set up, you will also have certain legal obligations to adhere to. Many self-employed people do not take the time to fully understand what is required. This could cause problems in the future. If you employ staff, you will have a moral and legal obligation to ensure they are safe at work. Health-and-safety policies should be in place and the appropriate insurance policies taken out.

Funding your Business on Profit Forecasts

Another mistake often made by the newly self-employed is funding the business on projected figures. While sales and profit forecasts are important in your planning process, they should not be relied upon and used as a basis for borrowing money. Use profit forecasts in your business plan but do not consider them to be guaranteed to occur.

Francesca is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys writing about a variety of subjects from business and careers to health and fitness. This article was produced on behalf of Brookson.


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Cultivating Compassion by Gil Fronsdal

Compassion is inextricably linked to the Buddhist practice of liberation. It can be the motivation for this practice as well as the result.  As one’s inner freedom grows, one’s capacity for compassion increases; as one’s compassion increases, so does the importance of freedom. Liberation supports compassion and compassion supports liberation. They both benefit when they go hand in hand.

Compassion is a form of empathy and care that wishes for the alleviation of someone’s suffering. Known as karuna in Buddhism, this compassion is sometimes referred to as the “jewel in the lotus.” The lotus symbolizes the heart or mind that, with practice, blossoms into freedom, and the jewel represents the compassion appearing in the center of this blossom. The feeling of unfettered compassion is one of the most beautiful feelings a person can experience, providing valuable meaning and purpose to any human life.  Its presence is sometimes celebrated in Buddhism as an inner wealth and source of happiness.

Given its importance, Buddhism doesn’t leave the manifestation of compassion to chance. We don’t have to passively accept how often and how strongly we happen to experience it. Instead, it’s possible to actively develop our feelings of compassion and remove the obstacles for our feeling compassionate.

Because people sometimes confuse compassion with feelings of distress, it is helpful to clearly distinguish these two. Compassion doesn’t make us victims of suffering, whereas feeling distress on another’s behalf often does.  Learning how to see the suffering in the world without taking it on personally is very important; when we take it personally it is easy to become depressed or burdened.  We can avoid taking it as a personal burden or obligation if we learn to feel empathy without it touching our own fears, attachments, and perhaps unresolved grief.

This means that to feel greater compassion for others we need to understand our own suffering. Mindfulness practice is a great help in this.  With mindfulness, we can better see our suffering, its roots within us and the way to freedom from suffering; we can begin to cultivate both equanimity toward our suffering and release from its causes.

In this regard, it’s helpful to appreciate the great value in staying present, open, and mindful of suffering, both our own and that of others. We often need to give ourselves time to process difficult events and experiences and to let difficult emotions move through us.  When immediate action is not required, staying mindful of suffering doesn’t necessarily require a lot of wisdom or special techniques. It mostly takes patience and perseverance.  Relaxed mindfulness of our own suffering increases our ability to feel empathy for others’ difficulty and pain. It gives time for understanding and letting go to occur.  By practicing to be free of habitual reactivity, we take the time to see and feel more deeply what is happening.  This allows empathy to operate and for deeper responses to arise from within.  In this way, compassion is evoked rather than intentionally created.

Some people are reluctant to actively cultivate compassion because they worry that it will be insincerely or artificially contrived. Others fear that it will make them sentimentally naive or prevent them from seeing others clearly or realistically—perhaps out of concern they will be taken advantage of if they are compassionate to others.  Because efforts to be compassionate can be misguided, these concerns are worth keeping in mind.  However, as there are healthy ways to increase our compassion, the concerns don’t have to inhibit our efforts to do so.

One effective way of developing compassion is creating conditions that make it more likely to occur. That is, rather than directly making ourselves more compassionate, we can engage in activities that make it more likely to appear naturally.

A condition for compassion is a sense of safety.  It is easier to feel compassionate if we feel safe and very difficult when we don’t.  Therefore, to develop a confident and compassionate life, it can be helpful to find appropriate ways to feel safe.  Locking ourselves in our home may feel secure, but it’s not conducive to caring more about others. Learning how to be safe while in the world is more useful.  So is using mindfulness practice to address some of the anxieties and self-preoccupations that make us more likely to feel threatened.

It is important not to feel obligated to be compassionate as this often leads to self-criticism and stress that interferes with the arising of a natural compassion. Buddhism doesn’t require us to feel empathy and care for others. It does say, however, that we have the capacity to be compassionate and that doing so is a wonderful asset to ourselves, to others, and to the practice of freedom. The focus can be on how compassion enriches us, not depletes us.

Some people are hesitant to cultivate compassion because they worry they will have to give up too much of themselves as they help others.  Or they fear they will have to spend time with people they feel uncomfortable with. By knowing we are not obligated to be compassionate it may be easier for us to use our best wisdom and common sense to understand when acting on compassion is appropriate and when it is not.

Having confidence in our skill to respond to others’ suffering can also make it easier to feel compassion.  If we feel helpless, too uncomfortable, or even threatened by the troubles others are facing, awareness of their suffering may add to a sense of personal threat.  Developing skill has a lot to do with slow and patient training in such things as mindfulness, concentration, and letting go.

A way of strengthening compassion is to understand and then release what prevents it from arising.  For example, tension and stress limit compassion. When we’re stressed, we’re usually too preoccupied for empathy to operate. However, when we’re relaxed, our capacity for empathy increases. People who cultivate deep states of calm often find it naturally opens their hearts to great capacities of compassion and love.

Selfishness and self-preoccupation also obstruct compassion by blocking the attention and sensitivity that is needed for compassion to arise.  One benefit of letting go of selfishness is that compassion arises more easily.

We can also increase the amount of compassion we feel in our lives by setting the intention to do so. This can be quite specific, such as intending to be compassionate in a particular situation or toward a particular person—or it can be more general, as intending to be compassionate for this day or this week. When we consciously set this intention, we’re more likely to be reminded of and to think in terms of compassion. We will also notice compassionate thoughts and impulses that occur but which may otherwise be overshadowed by different desires and concerns.

Valuing compassion when it does appear can also strengthen it and make it more apt to arise in the future. We might consider and appreciate the benefits it can bring others as well as ourselves. Knowing the benefits can bring a sense happiness that in turn can make compassion more appealing.  Compassion can be more appealing when we have seen how it can be a source of happiness and how it can be intimately connected with our inner freedom.  Compassion for others can be a relief when we have spent too long pre-occupied with ourselves.

Another supportive condition is to deliberately reflect on compassion, perhaps stimulated by regularly reading and talking to others about it.  Whatever we think about regularly can become an inclination.  If we repeatedly think about love, kindness and caring for others, thoughts related to compassion are likely to appear more often.

Spending time with people who are compassionate can also help us.  The people we see frequently often have an influence on us. Seeing compassion in others can inspire it in ourselves.

Finally, understanding how compassion is a form of love helps us recognize what a jewel it truly is. When it arises from inner freedom it is then connected to other beautiful capacities of our hearts. It can appear together with well-being, calm, clarity, and peace.

There is, in fact, a great deal we can do to make compassion a more central part of our lives. As compassion grows, our self-centeredness and clinging decrease, and liberation becomes easier. As we become freer, compassion becomes more readily available.  To let compassion and liberation support each other is one of the most beautiful ways of training in the Buddhist path.  It can be our gift to the world.

—Gil Fronsdal


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Five Essential Skills for a Technology Career

A Career in technology can be interesting, challenging, and lucrative. If you are looking at a career in technology, whether information technology (IT) or something more “blue collar” like industrial engineering, these five essential skills will help you succeed.


Technology careers draw heavily on math. Students should have a good grasp of the various branches of mathematics such as algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and calculus. Whether you will actually use these specific skills every day is unimportant. Understanding math helps you understand essential technology concepts. A computer may do the math for you, but you need to understand it, especially if you are programming the computer to do that math.

Advanced knowledge of mathematics can also help advance your future career. If you want to go from being an IT professional working on the customer side of things to getting involved in the design end, it will be easier if you can speak intelligently about mathematics.

Basic Physics

Most technology fields require at least a cursory knowledge of physics. Your need for deep understanding will depend on the career you choose. Researchers are running advanced simulations to try to understand how the universe was formed. If you don’t understand physics, you’ll have a hard time breaking into this exciting field of study.

Problem Solving

Problems solving is at the heart of information technology. IT workers solve problems every day, all day. They find solutions through hands-on help, guidance, programming new software, inventing new technologies and more.

Learning to approach problems effectively is vital to success in this area. If you can analyze what needs to be done, use creative techniques to find a solution and figure out how to implement it, you have a great head start in a technology career.

Systems Analysis

An analytical mind can look at a problem and logically trace it back to its roots. This skill is especially important for programmers and debuggers. Systems must be broken down into their component parts and dealt with in a specific yet integrated way. Dealing with systems and integrating your insights on the problem can be very helpful in solving technological problems of all sorts.

Communication Skills

Finally, good communication skills are a necessity in this field. Luckily, even poor communicators can improve, especially since most messages will go via email. Students must be able to explain problems and solutions clearly, communicate effectively and make themselves understood while maintaining pleasant and constructive exchanges of information. These skills are not technical ones per se, but they should not be overlooked as part of a technology professional’s core skill set. They are vital to information exchange that is effective, efficient, and cooperative.

Jessica Bosari writes about technology careers for Students can find information about many technology jobs, such as computer forensics careers.


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