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7 Workplace Shortcuts You Need to Know

These seven secrets can help you navigate some common but difficult workplace challenges.
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This post contains seven techniques to help you navigate some common (but difficult) challenges of the business world.  These techniques are extracted from my soon-to-be-published, crowd-sourced book, Business Without the Bullsh*t.

1. To get more done, work fewer hours.

Conventional wisdom says that working long hours makes you more productive. That's not true. Multiple studies reveal that working, say, 60 hour rather than 40 hours a week makes you slightly more productive... but only for about three weeks.  After that, most people get burnt out, start making avoidable errors and end up getting less useful work done than if they worked a saner schedule.

2. How to thwart a workplace bully.

When somebody gets in your face, the natural response is to placate or escalate. If you placate, you're a doormat. If you escalate and yell back, you'll destroy the relationship.  Instead do this: Demand civil behavior in a firm, professional voice. If the bully does not back down immediately, say "I'll be happy to discuss the subject after you've recovered your temper." Then leave the room.

3. How to spot a bogus statistic.

Statistics are only as valid as the data behind them. If the organization gathering the data will receive some type of financial benefit if the data is skewed, the data will be skewed. For example, there has never been any market research project that was funded by a marketing group didn't identify some reasons that you should spend more money... on marketing.

4. How to identify a liar.

You know somebody is lying when they can't meet your gaze, right?  Well, not always.  Seasoned BSs are more likely to overcompensate by staring right at you. In that case, listen for a story that sounds rehearsed or that changes when retold. An almost certain sign you're hearing a lie: the speaker claims, multiple times, that he or she is being honest and that the story is the "real truth."

5. Your resume won't get you a job.

A "generalized" resume is like a sales brochure that's aimed at everybody and ends up convincing nobody.  The time you spend fussing with your resume is time that's better spent developing your lists of contacts. Only write a resume after you find out all you can about the job (and ideally talking to people inside the hiring firm). Customize the resume to match what you've discovered that they really what.

6. Write your emails backwards.

If you want an email to drive the recipient to make a decision, start your conclusion--the decision you want made--and then list out your supporting arguments in small digestible "chunks."  In the final line, ask for the next step or for the decision itself.  Finally, add a subject title containing a benefit that will result from the decision you want made.

7. What every boss wants.

Most bosses claim they value honesty, integrity, attention to details, and so forth. While those are important, there's one rule that trumps all the other: no matter what it says on your job description, no matter what your title, from your boss's perspective your real job is to make the boss successful.   There are no exceptions to this rule.

BTW, it is you--the loyal readers of this blog--who are the "crowd" that crowd-sourced my new book! I took the blog posts you loved the most (based upon pageviews and comments) and expanded them into an ultimate how-to guide for the workplace.

Like this post? If so, sign up for the free Sales Source newsletter.

 

Last updated: Jun 26, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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