Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

The Top 3 Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making with People at Work

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

By Jennifer Albrecht

coworkersWith everything that we need to accomplish on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget how crucial it is to spend time each day strengthening relationships across our network. Like you, I didn’t get to pick everyone I work with, and like you, I often need things from people who don’t report to me.  When we put our time, attention and intention on developing stronger relationships at work, work, is much easier.

In her book Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott reminds us that relationships are built or damaged the same way trust is, one conversation at a time. Unfortunately, many of us miss these opportunities to cultivate trust, and build relationships because we make little mistakes that actually damage them.

Mistake #1: Hiding Behind the Computer

When we use email as a primary mode of communication our relationships can suffer. Consider using email as a reporting tool and express concerns in person, or over the phone.

Mistake #2: Kneejerk Negativity

When we regularly respond to requests with an immediate “no” or “can’t”, we set the tone that we are unwilling to help. Remember, when we say “can’t” people hear “won’t”. Replace kneejerk negativity with inquiry. Listen and ask questions to determine the other person’s needs, and then emphasize what you can do, and when you can meet their request.

Mistake #3: Finger pointing from the Past

When we dwell on what’s wrong now or what was wrong in the past, and blame others for our situation we give our power away and miss opportunities for innovation and collaboration. Resist the urge to focus on the past, and instead stay in the present and explore solutions.

Remember, relationship building is about being a positive factor in someone else’s life.  Each day presents us with nothing but opportunities to grow, learn, change and practice different behaviors, at work and at home. To learn more strategies to build strong relationships register for our 45 minute webinar on the topic; admission is free, and space is limited.


Jennifer Albrecht, Vice President of Professional Development, has been teaching and consulting with Learn iT! since 1997. Since joining Learn iT!, Jennifer has built and facilitated all of Learn iT!’s Professional Development classes including Communication, Leadership, Negotiating and Decision Making.

Jennifer strongly believes in Learn iT!’s 8 Step Model for Learning and applies it in all of the classes she builds and facilitates. Further information on the 8 Step Model can be found here.

4 Steps to Keep Calm and Address Frustrations with Coworkers

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

There’s something disheartening about working with people you don’t enjoy on a daily basis. How many coworkers did you handpick? Working with others can be difficult, especially if your personalities clash or you aren’t familiar with their work style.



Imagine this: You have been working at a job for several months. You accidently overhear a co-worker who is friendly towards you making negative comments about you to others. Later, the same co-worker makes it a point to pass by you and give you a big smile.

The following 4 steps can help you handle confusing interactions like this… Be warned: some steps encourage you to be the bigger person and take risks.


#1 Don’t React and Understand Your Emotions

Start with a deep breathing exercise; 3-5 slow, deep breaths might do the trick. Handling passive aggressive behavior from others is easier when practicing emotional intelligence (EI or EQ for emotional quotient).

EI will keep you calm, help you to understand your emotions, and allow you to act professionally during emotional situations.. To learn more, attend the class Spotlight on Success: Emotional Intelligence.

Once calm, decide if you want to address the situation or not. There are valid reasons for both. Would you rather ignore the problem and move on, or is the situation worth addressing? If it’s worth addressing, move to step 2.

#2 Address the Problem, Not the Person

When you’ve decided the problem is worth addressing, it’s time to figure out what exactly is going on.

Describe their actions objectively. Pretend you are watching their actions on a movie screen, without emotions or the personal affects.

Person A and person B were talking and I heard person A say, “actual words you heard them say about you.” Then Person A walked by me, we made eye contact, and they gave me a wave and smile.

Focus on the problem this interaction caused, not the person who is seemingly two-faced. Try not to take the situation personally and consider how you want future interactions to go. We take time to examine workplace conflicts like these in Clash of the Coworkers: Developing Constructive Conflict Strategies.

It’s not easy to step back and consider how to improve the situation. If you are interested in repairing the trust and respect you’ve lost in this person, it’s time to move to step 3.

#3 Focus on the Future

After objectively observing the situation, do you want to escalate the issue? Consider the future by asking yourself these questions:

  • How much do I need to work with this person?
  • How influential are they in the workplace?
  • Do I need them to achieve my goals and/or the company’s goals?
  • Going forward, can I work with this person in a professional manner?

Do you need this person? If not, ignore this incident and when you do interact with them be professional. If you do need to respect and trust this person to perform your duties, then it’s time to create a script and move to step 4.

#4 Practice Direct Communication as Opposed to Indirect Communication

It might feel better to talk with another coworker, to find empathy or vent. Doing this could create gossip or a bigger HR issue. This is indirect communication.

Since you’ve decided trusting this person is important to your work, speak directly to the other party. Use “I” statements and be clear about points of agreement, about purpose, or about needs. Words alone do not convey this information, be aware of your body language and tone of voice.

Before you approach this person create a script and practice what you want to say to improve your working relationship or to set a boundary. Practice your script with a friend or someone outside of work, so it feels comfortable. Actually, it probably won’t feel comfortable, but it’s better than winging it!

For more practice on scripting or dealing with conflicts and disagreements at work, sign up for our live online classes like Set the Direction: Leadership Skills for New Managers or Manage in All Directions.

When it comes to uncomfortable work situations it takes effort and bravery to deal with problems in a professional and effective way. By developing the skills to keep calm, describe situations objectively, stay focused on the big picture and address tough confrontations, you can be a leader from your seat in the company and handle conflict confidently and tactfully.


Angella Bernal pic

Angella Bernal is a Professional Development instructor at Learn iT!. She believes that students learn best through the practical application of technology applied to real-life situations. She achieves this by allowing student questions to guide the class to areas relevant to their environment, thus allowing for the quickest and easiest adaptation of new technology and skills

Crush Work Chaos by Making Small Changes

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

By Angella Bernal

Does your work life feel out of control? When you get to work, are you hit with feelings of uncertainty, stress and/or anxiety, hindering any proactive or innovative energy you may have felt transitioning into the New Year? It’s daunting enough to make a New Year’s resolution like pledging to be healthier, when chaos at work seems to drain you before you have a chance to get to the gym. (92% of Americans fail to keep New Year’s resolutions according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology.)

Whether you want to crush the chaos at work or be part of the 8% who succeed at fulfilling their New Year’s resolutions, with the right tools at your disposal, you can meet these seemingly overwhelming challenges.

Keep Reminders

Before the cycle of chaos continues to get you down, you need to remind yourself of the things that make you feel good about your day, your work, and/or yourself. Just as you would help a friend or coworker look on the bright side of a tough day, you want to establish reminders that stabilize you and help you to focus on the positive.

  • Values - Post a list of your personal/professional values on your wall or in a notebook as a reminder of what’s important to you. The article: What Are Your Values, or the Learn iT! Conquer Chaos class can help you discover your values to keep you grounded during chaos.
  • Mantras – Creating a personalized mantra to repeat can be very effective. For example, if you tend to multitask instead of focusing, have a mantra handy for when you get off-task like, “I am going to focus and work on one thing at a time, so I am going to work on this one task.”

Values lists and mantras are no-nonsense tools to keep you motivated. You can lean on these tools to keep you on track when you feel unsteady or chaos is depleting your energy.

Set at Least One Attainable Goal Each Day

Decide on one task you want to complete; one goal to set for yourself each day that you are able to complete so that you feel successful and productive.

There are two ways to think about goals.

  1. Long Term (ongoing) Goal – This is a routine or consistent goal that you complete daily, like five minutes of planning your to-do list at the beginning of the day, or going for a walk every morning before breakfast. Setting this type of routine helps to build positive habits into your daily life.
  2. Short Term Goal – This can be a daily or hourly goal. “By the end of the day I’m going to do X (something I’m happy to get off my plate),” or “In the next 10 minutes, I’m going to finish Y.” Setting short term goals will help keep you focused and productive.

Two Learn iT! webinar classes that focus on best practices of goal setting are Conquer Chaos and Make a Plan and Stick to It.

Celebrate Along the Way

After setting a goal, the fun part is finishing and/or celebrating when the goal is attained. Just like you would celebrate a friend’s success, you want to reward and cheer for your own successes. Celebrate when a long-term goal is reached or choose to celebrate at points along the way. You may not find it necessary to celebrate after every 10 minute goal is achieved, but allowing yourself a break to refill your coffee cup or take a breather after a job well done makes sense. Last year, I had a goal of walking 500 miles in the year, and I celebrated after 40 miles, 250 miles and all the 100’s. This helped to motivate me to get to 500 by Dec 30th.

If you succeed in getting a “monkey” off your back or are happy about a success, rewards and celebrations can encourage you to keep setting and attaining goals. What’s the easiest way to reward yourself? In the Learn iT! webinar Conquer Chaos, we cover a prioritization method for tasks that have a built in reward system.

Keep What Works

Last, but certainly not least, you want to keep what works for you in your daily life. If anything becomes burdensome, complicated or contrived, you won’t keep doing it. For example, I enjoyed walking my 500 miles, but by December, it felt like a chore. So this year, I will walk the trail near my home as a reward, instead of choosing to make walking a goal.

If you try setting 10-minute goals and they work for you, great! If not, next time try a 5-minute goal or 30-minute goal. Find what works for you and you will be more likely to keep using this tool.

Use these strategies to help crush the chaos at work and start taking control of your day. Think of it as a New Year’s Evolution. How will you evolve out of the chaos?


Angella Bernal pic

Angella Bernal is a Professional Development instructor at Learn iT!. She believes that students learn best through the practical application of technology applied to real-life situations. She achieves this by allowing student questions to guide the class to areas relevant to their environment, thus allowing for the quickest and easiest adaptation of new technology and skills

Free Learn iT! Webinar – “Control your Day: Shift from Reactive to Proactive” – 2/9/15

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Learn iT! is offering a new webinar from Professional Development pro Angella Bernal. In this 45-minute free webinar, we will identify one of the barriers to prioritization and two ways to overcome the reactive approach to work. Join us to get closer to your ideal day!

Control your Day: Shift from Reactive to Proactive
Monday, February 9, 2015
12:00 PM PST – 12:45 PM PST
> Register for Free <



How to be a PowerPoint Rock Star Part II: Keyboard Shortcuts

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Elizabeth Robierockstar

Okay, you’ve made the slide deck. Now it’s time for the presentation! If you want to be the Mick Jagger of PowerPoint, then read on…

Start the Show

To start the show, press the F5 function key. Shift + F5 will begin the presentation at the current slide.

Reign in Your Audience

Remember: you’re the rock star! Use the blackout (B) or whiteout (W) keystrokes to temporarily hide a slide and put the spotlight on you and only you. Be sure to use the latter option if in a dark auditorium (or else panic may ensue!).

Any key will bring back your presentation.

Steal the Show

For a memorable performance, use PowerPoint’s various annotation tools to highlight key facts and figures.

Right-click and hover over “Pointer Options” for a full pen, highlighter, and ink color menu (see below).


To go stealth mode, use ctrl + p (pen) and ctrl + e (eraser) for quick, slick annotation. Hitting the e key will erase all marks while ctrl + m enables you to show/hide annotations.

Reorder the Set List

Reordering the set list and looking to improvise? To jump between nonconsecutive slides in slide show mode, press the target slide’s order number and then ‘Enter’. In 2010, right-clicking the slide will generate a menu of slide numbers and titles for navigation purposes. (See below.)



In 2013, select “See All Slides” to show a visual map:


The Backstage Pass

There’s more! To access a complete list of presentation short cuts, hit the F1 key in slide show mode.

Encore: “The Show Must Go On…”

Hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and tricks! Stay tuned for more on How to be a PowerPoint Rock Star. Up next: Part III: Easy Animation Tricks.


Lissy RobieA former college track star (boasting a sub 5 minute mile) and high school science teacher, Elizabeth Robie is passionate about education and technology. In her spare time, she enjoys running, playing with her dog Seamus, and watching Duke basketball religiously. At Learn iT! Elizabeth teaches the entire MS Office Suite.