The Importance of Diversity in the Workplace

Jeff Cochran


The time-honored practice of comparing a business or an organization to a body is popular because it is so effective. Without all of the individual parts working in concert with one another, the body will not function properly. The same is true of a business; the best businesses are made up of unique parts, each bringing different talents to the workplace. Simply put, the most successful businesses are the most diverse.

Diversity in the workplace is far more than just a PR or HR statistic. It can drive widespread economic growth and financial success for individual companies. Drawing from a wider pool of applicants will give your company more widespread and varied expertise. This will allow for a greater diversity not only of race or cultural background, but of beliefs, training, and upbringing. The following are a few of the reasons diversity is so important:

Negotiations Training_Diversity In the Workplace

  • Better Marketing: By drawing upon the backgrounds of your various workers, you better understand the most effective marketing tools and techniques to reach the largest number and variety of people. Your workers can help you better understand a wider market, and thus greatly increase sales.
  • More Personal Customer Service: When you have a diverse workforce, you create the means of effectively communicating with a wider range of people. By having workers who can speak multiple languages and understand multiple cultures and customs, you can help widen your customer base. A company with great diversity will be more successful, as customers will be more satisfied with the service they get from workers who share their background and understand their first language.
  • Higher Worker Retention: Statistics have shown that “diverse employees are three times more likely to leave an organization than non-diverse workers” for a variety of reasons. One of the most important reasons is because diverse workers in a non-diverse company feel out of place. Like being last picked on a sports team because the team needed one extra player, being a worker who was hired only for his or her diverse background is not conducive to feeling appreciated.
  • Diversity Breeds Competitiveness: When employees are drawn from a wide pool of candidates, it makes the job opening much more competitive, and allows a company to hire only the most qualified candidates. Furthermore, having higher levels of ability among workers means employees will continue striving to improve, keeping themselves and their skills useful and relevant to the company.
  • More Innovative Workforce: If a company hires workers exclusively from a graduating class at one specific college, then that company will only have employees trained in the same manner. A company with workers from different backgrounds will be able to find more effective solutions to problems because its employees have such varied training and backgrounds. This improves the company’s productivity and competitiveness in the market.

Tips for Effective Communication and Putting Others at Ease

Jeff Cochran


When in a social interaction, business or otherwise, what one says only goes so far. The way it is said, however, can have great influence on how others feel about a person. One method of successfully communicating with others is to show them respect; not only through what is said, but through tone, attitude, and non-verbal cues. Below are several tips for becoming an effective communicator.

  • Listen: When engaging another person in conversation, the most important rule for success is to listen. Put another way, “listening is not the same as waiting your turn to talk.” By genuinely being interested in what your partner has to say, you can ask further questions and get to know that person on more than just a superficial level. Relationships are always stronger when the people involved spend their time truly getting to know one another, instead of planning what they are going to say next.
  • Maintain eye contact: By keeping eye contact while holding conversations, you are showing the other person you are interested in what they have to say. This does not mean trying to stare down the other person, or looking at them for so long your eyes become glassy. Simply hold their gaze when they look at you, and respond not just with your voice, but with your eyes as well.
  • Be empathetic: Empathy is a hard trait to learn, and an even harder one to put into practice. It involves not only listening to and responding to another person, but putting yourself in their shoes. By feeling what your partner feels, you build an emotional connection and establish much stronger lines of communication. The most difficult part of empathy is learning what your partner experienced and how their experiences have shaped their beliefs and reactions to the world around them. Successful doctors, social workers, and mental health specialists often have high levels of empathy.
  • Be open-minded: Like empathy, being open-minded requires an ability and willingness to see things from another person’s point of view. A person must suspend their belief and accept the possibility they are wrong, or at the very least that there might be multiple valid ways of thinking. This is another difficult skill, but very helpful in facilitating real and meaningful conversations.
  • Stay relaxed and open: Body language conveys far more to our listeners than we might consider. Keep your body language open and don’t tense up or draw inward, as these are signs of a closed off personality. If you look relaxed and friendly, people will be more willing to share with you and you will invite more involved conversation.

Good communications skills are important not only at the negotiating table, but in every facet of life. Being able to interact with people and make new friends and partners is dependent upon one’s ability to communicate with people. Follow the above tips, letting your partner know you are genuinely interested in what he or she has to say.

Effectiveness Habits for the 21st Century

Jeff Cochran


The world has been changing rapidly since Steven Covey published his highly successful book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, in 1989. While those skills still hold some relevance, to be truly effective in the 21st century business world requires a new set of tools and competencies. By updating some of Covey’s original habits and recognizing some newer skill sets prominent among the business elite, you can enhance your effectiveness in today’s business place and take up the role of the exemplary leader and team member.

 Working Towards Collective Action 

Collective action is the 21st century version of Steven Covey’s “synergize” habit. As a business leader, your goal should be to provide effective leadership that allows individuals to not only complete their own tasks effectively, but also unite those tasks into a larger project with a more nuanced mission. This means engaging such basic skills as keeping team members from repeating each other’s work, to more advanced aims of coordinating across departments. Working towards collective action also means being a leader without being overbearing, but rather allowing team members to brainstorm and solve problems independently within larger guidelines.

Look Out for Serendipitous Connections 

For Covey, keeping the end in mind from the very beginning was the way to be most effective in life and business. Today, however, being too focused on end goals can lead to missing out on valuable and surprising serendipitous connections. Be open to new ideas that may change your path or cause you to revise your goals. In the modern business world, what may once have appeared to be strong focus and goal-orientation is today viewed as inflexibility and a lack of creative thinking. Let new connections and opportunities surprise you and learn how to choose the best ideas and integrate them into projects already in progress.

Prioritize Ethical Business Practices

With communication and media everywhere, there isn’t anywhere to hide in today’s business world. This means that to succeed, prioritizing ethical business practices is absolutely vital. Individuals and companies want to know that they are working with businesses that share their values and concerns. Treating others fairly and being transparent about business practices can make your firm a magnet for positive and exponential growth.

Communicate Verbally and Visually 

To be heard over the sheer volume of information today, both spoken and digital, it is important to reinforce your messages in multiple ways. Additionally, communicating verbally and visually allows you to take into account the learning and engagement styles of a larger swath of your company. Help your messages to come through loud and clear by speaking them and also providing written communication. The more clearly you are heard and understood, the more effective you can be in today’s competitive business environment.

Tips for Becoming a Successful Speaker

Jeff Cochran


For some people, public speaking is easy, a simple task that can be done at any time. For others, however, the very idea of public speaking is enough to bring on a bout of nervousness and anxiety. Below are a few tips on how to be an effective speaker from people whose skill at speaking publicly has been proven.

  1. Connect with your audience: Many speakers try to add humor to their talks to make their audience laugh and create a good first impression. This does not mean telling a joke, necessarily, as that often comes across as trying too hard. Instead, make funny observations, asides, or use humorous descriptions. Sir Ken Robinson, a British educator who gave the most watched TED talk of all time, was very funny and relatable simply by making asides or parenthetical comments.

Another way to connect with your audience is to find common ground and show your audience how similar you are to them. This could be achieved by being self deprecating, acting casual and relaxed, or by practicing your tone. Ronald Reagan had a calming and comforting tone that allowed him to connect with and better communicate with voters and the American public.

  1. Practice: Know your speech inside and out, and not just by rote memorization. Know your material so completely that nothing will be able to disrupt your flow. Be so familiar with your material that even if you forget a word you can remain calm and unflustered. Practice the words, the delivery, even the pauses between important points. Another of the more successful TED presenters, Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, rehearsed her presentation over 200 times before speaking in front of a live audience.
  1. Give new information: Audiences generally don’t enjoy talks they’ve heard before, or hearing speakers rehash already worn out topics. To keep your audience’s attention and make them glad they came to your presentation, give them something new. Learning about new information, discoveries, and technological advances are among the most common reasons people listen to presentations.
  1. Put your presentation in context: When Winston Churchill gave speeches during World War II, he was able to impress upon his listeners the importance of his words by drawing attention to the state of the world. Martin Luther King Jr. often made use of historical context, couching his new ideas in old words and referencing the past. By instilling in their listeners a sense of importance and gravitas, these two famous orators were able to speak words that have echoed long after their deaths.

If you find yourself giving a speech or a presentation, remember the examples of these famous orators. Speak with passion and confidence and use humor, context, and new information to make your speech unforgettable.