Amber Little

Big Business Blog: a guide to work, life and happiness

The Secrets of Great Communication April 30, 2011

Filed under: Tips for a successful career — Amber Little @ 12:54 pm
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Do you ever find yourself having a hard time making conversation with new people?  If so, you are not alone. Communicating with strangers can be quite the daunting task, especially if you are a bit of an introvert and your self confidence is feeling a bit low.  While breaking out of our little shells will always require a bit of legwork on our part, the good news is that the more we practice the easier it will get.  Lucky for us, there are some very easy guidelines that we can follow to make conversing a little less scary:

Smile.  Smiling is such an easy way to improve your conversation.  It will put the other person at ease and let them know you are happy to be speaking with them.  It will also give your self confidence a boost.

Avoid too much detail.  Broad topics are great, but if you are speaking to a person that is not an expert on the subject, try to omit needless detail.  It will leave them bored senseless.

Avoid strong stances on political and religious views.  While it can be fun to engage in debates, it may be best to do so with people you already know quite well.  Doing so with strangers can be quite the conversation killer…remember to be sensitive to other people’s views.

If you’d like to criticize, do it by asking questions.  By asking questions, you are not directly criticizing the other person’s view, you are simply expressing doubt.  By doing this, you are able to criticize without offending.

Pay attention to your body language.  Be sensitive to the other person’s reactions, and remember to exude positive body language.

Give the person a chance to speak.  One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to dominate the conversation and always insist on getting in the last word.  Pay attention to this and make sure you are giving the person a chance to  join in the conversation.

Speak clearly and slowly.  It can be so very awkward to ask a person to repeat themselves over and over again…not only does it interrupt the conversation, it also will likely result in the person simply pretending like they heard you.  How many times is two many times to ask a person to repeat?  I say 3 and then I’m done asking…it’s just too awkward!

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Become a time management guru April 25, 2011

Filed under: Tips for a successful career — Amber Little @ 9:55 pm

Time management is one of those skills that nobody will teach you, yet just like listening, it is one of the most important skills you will need in order to be successful.  Demonstrating good time management will have wonderful and lasting benefits over the course of your career.  If you can master this skill you will be not only be able to differentiate yourself from the pack, you will also be able to greatly reduce your stress levels.  Here are a few ways you can manage your time more effectively and be as happy as a clam:

Make a to do list, or keep a personal planner.  This is a great way to avoid missing important deadlines like my two dino friends over there.

Stop multitasking.  This one is difficult, because often times we consider multitasking to be a good thing.  However, the truth is multitasking takes away focus.  Focus on one thing, get it done, and go onto the next.  You will be able to dedicate 100% of your attention to the task at hand and do a much better job.

Have an email schedule.  Dedicate a chunk of time in the morning as well as in the afternoon to check emails…and then ignore your inbox so you can focus.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that every email needs an immediate response.  More times than not you will wish you had put more thought into your response, thus dedicating set time to respond intelligently to your messages will do you a world of good.  Dare to be slow!

Get the most important thing out of the way.  It’s tempting to get the easy things done early in the day…it gives us a sense of accomplishment.  However, it doesn’t do us any good to have that task looming over our heads.  It will cause anxiety as time goes on.  Better to get it out of the way fast!

Know when your brain likes to focus.  Some people are morning people, some people are more effective mid-morning, some like afternoons, some are night owls.  The good news is that none of these are better than the others…the key is to identify when you focus best and take advantage.

Know when it’s time to quit.  Sometimes, we’ve been simply staring at something for too long, and perhaps we need to look at our project with a fresh set of eyes the next day.  So take it easy there killer, go home!

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Your Best Asset April 23, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living Tips — Amber Little @ 5:40 pm
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Your mind is the most powerful tool you will ever have, and will play a crucial role during your whole life…your mind’s health will determine your happiness, health, memory level, work performance, quality of life, number of healthy relationships and success.   Pretty big deal!  Just like our bodies, we need to keep our thinkers healthy to keep us in top notch.  Lucky for us, it’s much easier to exercise our brains than it is to stay on a  damn stair stepper for more than 10 minutes.  Try one of these tips to be the best you that you can be.

Sleep on it.  Depriving yourself of sleep is a sure fire way to make your brain fuzzy.   Your ability to solve problems and think critically are severely compromised when you are sleepy.

Laugh your ass off.  We’ve all heard the old saying that laughter is the best medicine, and that goes for your brain too.  Certain emotional responses target only select areas of the brain, but laughter targets multiple areas.  So go on, laugh at yourself, laugh with others, and remember to surround yourself with positive nice people and things.

Load up on brain-boosting foods.  Just like we need to fuel our bodies, we also need to fuel our minds.  Colorful fruits and veggies are the way to go…they are packed with antioxidants that protect our precious brain cells.  Also, omega-3s are great brain boosters.  Some great superfoods are blueberries, spinach, broccoli, arugula, walnuts, almonds, watermelon, apricots, cantaloupe, mangoes and freshwater “fatty” fish (salmon, trout, tuna, halibut, mackerel, sardines and herring).

Avoid saturated fats.  While it’s very important to get the right foods, it’s just as important to steer clear of bad ones.  Saturated fats are the main culprits of dementia, decreased concentration abilities and memory loss.  The main sources of saturated fats are animal products: red meat, milk, cheese and ice cream.  DAMMIT.

Drink your wine.  Now I know, too much alcohol will kill brain cells.  And while that can be fun from time to time, moderation is key.  A glass of red wine everyday can improve blood flow to the brain and reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.  That’s the best news I’ve heard all day, yippee!!!!

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The importance of vacation for all us little worker bees April 22, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living Tips — Amber Little @ 1:48 pm
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Vacation time is just plain lovely…there’s no ifs ands or buts about it.  However, it can be quite hard to convince ourselves that it is okay to take some time off once in awhile, because let’s face it:  we have a full plate at work, perhaps schoolwork to deal with, and all of life’s other little tasks that make taking a few days off seem unrealistic.  But the truth is, taking some time for vacation can do wonders for your well being.  Vacations are like a gift that keep on giving…they relieve stress in meaningful and lasting ways.  Even the act of looking forward to a planned vacation can make our days happier.  Getting away from the daily grind is reason enough to get away, but you can also strengthen bonds with family and friends and build memories that will last a lifetime.  Vacations can also keep you healthy.  We all need time to recharge our batteries, and sometimes a two-day weekend just simply won’t do…you know it and I know it, Sundays don’t even count.  All we are really doing is thinking about how we have to go back to work the next day.  Ho, HUM.  Plus, workers that take regular vacations are far less likely to experience any kind of real burnout.  The psychological benefits of taking frequent vacations can dramatically improve the quality of life, which can lead to increased quality of work.  More and more companies are encouraging employees to take their vacations, rather than sell back their time…and they’ve got it right, because that’s what it is there for!

Bottom line is, vacations can dramatically improve our happiness, quality of life and quality of work.  Why not make some plans for a nice little get away? It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, perhaps just a nice long weekend with your four-legged soulmate and family.  Where are you going for your next vacation?


Boost your creativity April 17, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living Tips — Amber Little @ 7:51 pm

Do you ever find yourself dreadfully stuck in a rut…you just can’t seem to think of new ideas that could improve your work and home life?  It’s always rewarding and exciting to think of ways to improve yourself, so it can be pretty frustrating to merely go through the motions of your day, not keeping your eye on the big picture.  Just the thought of trying to think of positive changes leaves you wanting a nap.  Everyone goes through this from time to time, and we all need a little help recharging our thinking caps.  Next time you feel like the wheel is turnin but the hamster is dead, try one of these tips to get those creative juices flowing again:

Go for a walk.  Walks are a great way to get out of the stuffy office or home and clear your thoughts.  It feels good to get out and about, and walking will leave you feeling refreshed and with a more positive perspective on things.

Read!  Reading books and articles can jump start your noggin.  Read as much as you can about as many things possible.  You will be amazed how many ideas pop pop into your head when you constantly learn new things.

Don’t get stuck in a box.  Always thinking inside the box leaves us doing things the same old way over and over.  Remind yourself that there are always multiple solutions to any problem.

Set some time aside each day to think.  Find a quite place,  and just let your mind wander.  (walks are great for this!)

Play!  Games that force us to think are a great way to keep our brain in shape.  Next time you get a chance, release that inner kid.  Some of my favorites are Mind Trap, Worst Cast Scenario, Trivial Pursuit and Sudoku.

Avoid all of those distractions.  And by distractions I mean TV and Facebook.  I swear, if you make a habbit of logging onto facebook everyday, you are making a habbit of losing hours of your life…it just leaves your brain drained.  Same with TV.   (Except for Modern Family, The Office, TLC and the Discovery Channel.  Those don’t apply of course).

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Build up that self confidence April 16, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living Tips — Amber Little @ 2:58 pm

Self confidence is a key ingredient of  happiness and success. A lot of people may think that self confidence comes naturally, and if you don’t have it, you just don’t have it.  Well, I’m here to tell you otherwise.  While there are always a few lucky ones that are just born with natural confidence brimming from their little souls, the rest of us need to work on it every now and then.  The good news is that building up your confidence does not require too much effort, and it’s definitely worth the work.  Here are a few easy ways to boost that confidence on days when you are feeling a little less than liony.

Try something different.  If you are feeling a little ho hum and not feeling great about yourself, try and mix it up.  Do something different one day…join the gym, join a book club, go to the beach.  It will definitely brighten your day and give you something to look forward to doing again.

Be yourself.  I always get down when I try and pretend that I’m something I’m not.  It sounds a little corny, but be yourself.  Be weird, be goofy, be klutzy…be whatever it is you are.  It will leave you feeling much better than trying to cover up the true awesome you.

Reach out and socialize.  Sometimes we simply need a friend to talk to.  We are social beings, and if we are feeling down and out, it rarely does us much good to stay in and try and deal with it ourselves.  Talk to a friend, sibling, significant other…and try and get out of the house.  You don’t have to spill your soul if you don’t want to, but just the act of socializing will make your day a little brighter and boost your confidence.

Look your best.  If you are having a tough time, I find an easy way to boost your confidence is to dress up.  Ladies, make yourselves pretty!  Boys, make yourselves pretty too.

Tell yourself you are AWESOME.  This could even involve wearing a shirt that states you are awesome.  Even though you are having a tough day, the truth is you ROCK.  So don’t forget to remind yourself.

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I’m late for a very important date! April 14, 2011

Filed under: Tips for a successful career — Amber Little @ 9:21 pm
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We are all guilty of it once in awhile…some mornings things just don’t like us.  The snooze button inexplicably turns the alarm off, the coffee throws itself on our white pants, someone stole our shoe, every traffic light senses we are late…ya know, basically every morning for me it seems.  However, being late to work is one of my least favorite things.  It’s not that I work for Cruella Deville and get the evil eye when I walk in a few minutes late…it’s the feeling of not being in control that I hate.  Starting out the day stressed out is no way to start any day.  The good news is, there are lots of ways that you can get a better handle on your mornings.

The first step is to admit you have a problem.  As with any ailment, you can’t fix a problem unless you admit that there is one and you need to work on it.

Wake up when you are supposed to wake up.  If you love hitting the snooze button (oh snooze button, what WOULD I do without you) set your alarm an hour earlier…you can fool yourself into thinking you are sleeping in.  And don’t bother setting your clocks a few minutes ahead, you’ll always know…

Always be aware of the time.  Try and put clocks in rooms that you frequent in the morning.  Some days it’s easy to assume you have plenty of time but not actually be aware of the time flying by.

Don’t be so optimistic.  I do this all the time…”Oh, I have PLENTY of time”.  And I never do.  Things always take longer than you’d expect, especially without caffeine flowing through your veins.

Think in terms of depart time rather than arrival time.  I always have a set time that I need to be out the door.  If I think in terms of when I need to get there, I’m toast.  “You say I have to be to work at 8 and it’s 7:50?  Pffffff, I can make it!”   Ha.  Sure thing there Amber.

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