When Workplace Bullies Invade Your Business- Part 1

Jeff Cochran


Bullying has become a serious issue for children, but many people don’t know that adults get bullied, too – and it often occurs at work. Furthermore, most adults are ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone they’re being bullied. How do you spot bullying in the workplace? How should you handle it? 

Studies have shown that 37% of workers have been bullied at work. When witnesses are included in the survey, the number rises to 49%. Unless the abuse is severe, employees may not realize they are being bullied.

Around 45% of individuals who are bullied experience stress-related health problems, including cardiovascular ailments, a lower immune system, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Bullying is causing more problems than sexual harassment at work, causing more stress and higher turnover rates. The Workplace Bullying Institute has promoted legislation asking employers to address bullying with legal recourse.

Spotting the Signs 

People may not realize they are witnessing or receiving bullying unless they consider the following signs:

  • If you are physically ill at the start of every workday or workweek, ask yourself if it is due to anticipation anxiety. You may be nervous about meeting the bully. 
  • Complaining About Work. Complaining is a coping mechanism and your complaints may be related to the bully. If your family or friends complain about your ever-present complaining, consider bullying as a possible source. 
  • Blood Pressure. Due to bullying, anxiety may be increasing your blood pressure, putting you at risk for heart problems. Your doctor might tell you to switch jobs if the problem is persistent. 
  • A supervisor or fellow employee may bully through yelling at you in front of others. This is embarrassing and manipulative. 
  • Gossip and Critical Comments. Bullies often target one or two people to verbally pick on and spread slander about. Don’t encourage others to complain about your co-workers and take note of repeating offenses. 
  • Passive-aggressive bullies might simply ignore and avoid you. This can be a problem if they are vital to your work or get others to join in excluding you from mealtimes, meetings, or conversations. 
  • Not Forgiving. Forgiving is not forgetting. Forgiving is not holding past mistakes against someone. Bullying supervisors or coworkers may continually remind you of past mistakes. 

How Brain Games Increase Productivity

Jeff Cochran


Employers don’t want employees playing games at work, but playing a brain game or solving a teaser before or after work or on breaks can help increase work productivity. Studies have shown  that brain games have more impact on productivity than incentive programs, bigger paychecks, improved benefits, or more vacation time.

The Basic Principle 

The foundation of mental training is knowing that mental ability relies more on skill than genetics. As a skill, it is subject to the benefits of habit. Practice makes perfect for mental abilities. Instead of conceding defeat and lack of ability to memorize, observe, or process information, take charge of your abilities and improve them through mental exercises. As new habits form, your main asset, your mind, will become sharp and versatile.


The Benefits of Mental Exercise 

Stretching those mental muscles can increase your productivity in the following ways: 

  • Faster Thinking. Exercising your brain creates new mental pathways and habits that allow you to observe and make decisions quicker. Just as using your muscles makes them stronger, mental practice improves processing speed. 
  • Better Memory. Memory is more of a skill than a born ability. There are ways to train your memory to recall information more quickly and completely. 
  • Improved Creativity. To solve a problem, the mind must think outside the box. It must analyze and reorganize data into new relationships. Creativity is the ability to think in a new way more quickly. Practice helps creativity come more easily and quickly. 
  • Quicker Reactions. Mental exercises raise your alertness. You become more observant and aware of your surroundings. As you practice observing, your mind forms mental habits that are always on the lookout. 
  • Good Mood. Practicing our mental processing increases our information intake and recall. As we become more knowledgeable, we become more confident. Confidence saturates our productivity and we become happier, more efficient workers. 
  • Fighting Boredom. Employees can get bored at work. Providing a challenge to occupy their minds maintains an element of fun throughout the workday. If employees are overcome with boredom, their productivity will drag. Being occupied by some mind consuming thought helps work habits kick in, and productivity increases. 

Game Types

Try the following types of games to exercise your mind:

  • As coworkers tell each other riddles, they introduce a sensation of challenge into the workplace. This is especially useful when the work is rather tedious. Introducing an element of challenge distracts the mind from focusing on the unpleasantness of tedious work. 
  • Mobile Apps. On breaks, employees can play with apps like Lumosity, CogniFit, Personal Zen, Brain Trainer Special, Happify, Positive Activity Jackpot, Fit Brains Trainer, Eidetic, and ReliefLink. These games provide mind twisters and activities that boost problem-solving skills, memory, and observation. The convenience and variety of these apps make it easy for employees to find a game that suits them best. 
  • Camaraderie Games. Though not always mind twisters, games that build employee camaraderie help motivate productivity. Set up a treasure hunt with items hidden in the office. Assassin is a game in which each person is secretly assigned a different “target” person to take a facial picture of on their smartphone. When the shot is made, the victim passes their assigned target to the shooter. The last person standing is the winner.

Many other creative and challenging games can provide healthy mood lifting during the workday. Challenge your employees to a few rounds, and start seeing results.

Be a Marvelous Motivator: How to Motivate Your Employees

Jeff Cochran


Every employer wants to get the best work possible from his or her employees. This means making workers feel their jobs are useful, time is well-spent, and they are making a difference. Yet, it’s tricky to motivate adult employees because slight missteps can leave them feeling patronized. Here are some positive ways to motivate and retain your employees.

Treat Others as You Want to be Treated 

This golden rule is the most important motivator. Bryan Shinn (CEO of US Silica) says, “I try to treat folks as I want to be treated and I think that’s one of the most motivating things to an organization. No matter where you are in the leadership hierarchy, if you’re engaged and empathetic and just real with people I think it goes a long way.” 

Address the Problem Now 

Don’t wait to talk to underperforming employees; ignoring is condoning. Most employee productivity issues are not dealt with directly. Employee work standards will naturally decay if they are not reminded that you care about certain policies, and ignoring the issue helps them feel they can “get away with it.”

Listen and Respect Them 

“Might makes right” is not true. Start by listening and showing your employees respect. If you go in accusing, the employee will get defensive and insulted. The employee might have a legitimate concern or new idea. Have a conversation instead of a lecture. Don Bailey (CEO of Questcor) says, “Listen to them, have sincere respect for what they do, and understand that they have families as well. Communicate with them as often as possible.”

Even if employees don’t have legitimate concerns, listening sends a clear message that you are paying attention to their needs and their productivity. If an employee is a bad fit for the job or lacks needed skills, that’s your problem, not the employee’s. Provide sufficient training to ensure your employees are familiar with your expectations.

Communicate Expectations Clearly 

Beating around the bush leaves employees confused. Speak articulately, ask questions, and ask them to ask questions. Make sure that the management team is on the same page. Inconsistent communication from different supervisors leaves employees in disagreement about expectations.

Provide Encouraging Coaching and a Team Plan 

Present the problem as a team problem, and try not to put all the responsibility on the employee. “Let’s work on this together,” tells employees you will help them improve. Provide that help with encouraging coaching and a clear plan for improving. 

Appeal to Their Motives

Productivity is best when employees are self-motivated instead of motivated by fear, so provide employees internal motivations. Avoid threatening and don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Listening to their natural motives may help you appeal to those motives, so pay close attention to what excites your employees as you talk with them. Turn their words into keywords you mention as motive reminders later.

Make Them Feel Importance

Employees want to know why their tasks are important. They procrastinate because they think a delay won’t cause any problems for anybody else. Explain the chain of events linking their task to everyone else’s responsibilities.

Reward Changes 

“You’re doing a lot better!” is encouraging. Besides encouragement, reward them however you can. This helps provide self-motivation instead of fear-motivation.

Bryan Shinn (CEO of US Silica) says, “I also put a lot of effort into recognizing the small things. You don’t have to wait until someone has a major accomplishment. . . . Don’t be afraid to challenge the rules or do something unconventional around reward and recognition. Just calling somebody up to say thank you or finding a way to find out what they like to do in their spare time and reward them with it.”

What TED Talks Teaches Us About Public Speaking

Jeff Cochran


If it wasn’t for that fact that the statistics haven’t really changed, it would be something of a cliché to point out that when polled, most people list public speaking as their worst fear, even worse than death. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as 74 percent of people feel that way. Basically, that means three out of four people, including so-called “extroverts,” would rather die than speak publicly. And yet, in the world we now live in, with the internet, smartphones, social media conference calls, and Skype, there has never been a time when developing skills in public communication could be more useful in our day-to-day lives.

Sure certain professions may enable people to hide from this fear indefinitely, but who really aspires that idea? Anybody who works in any kind of corporate environment understands that glossophobia is a fear the passes rather quickly. The office environment simply imposes public communication, at least in minor degrees on pretty much every employee. However, that doesn’t mean that everybody in those types of environments grows to master the art of public speaking, or business communication for the same reason that not everyone who learns the alphabet goes on to become great writers.

The fact is that business communication, and public speaking are art forms. Like other art forms, there may be some people with more aptitude than others, but anybody can cultivate and refine the skillset with a bit of effort. whether you are preparing a speech, making a budget request, interviewing for a job, selling something but holding your price, ending a relationship — business or romantic — or actually professionally interested in negotiation training or influence training, success lies in training, research, and focused effort. Mastering the art of public speaking is a process that must be undertaken deliberately.

One last statistic: About 10 percent of people love every second they spend in the limelight They feel exhilarated by public speaking, and after completing a speaking engagement, look forward to their next chance to do it again. Imagine the potential for rewards that come with being in that group. Whether you aspire to that mindset, or you just want to achieve improvements in your professional or personal life, the process starts with gathering information, so we’ve compiled some examples of a few advanced methods and techniques taken from some of the best public presentations ever produced by TED Talks. Enjoy.