Monthly Archives: February 2015

Sony E-mail Hack Lessons…Open Office Dings Productivity…Public Speaking Jitters

Lessons from the Sony E-mail HackMarch_shutterstock_225275668

The debacle of the Sony e-mail hack offers valuable lessons to just about anyone sending e-mail in the workplace. First is that privacy is as extinct as the dodo. We should all operate under the assumption that everything we write may be seen by the entire world. Second, professionalism should always be paramount. Even if you write a message to a long-time friend, keep it classy.

Open Office Damages Productivity

Can it be that the open office model is destroying the workplace? The benefits of the new floor plans are clear; they maximize space, minimize costs, and allow bosses to keep an eye on employees. However, a recent study found that the open-floor plan is causing productivity to suffer. Workers complain about distractions and a lack of sound and visual privacy. The benefits of building camaraderie by breaking down walls actually ends up damaging workers’ attention spans, productivity, creativity, and well-being.

Overcome Public Speaking Jitters

Even the pros get a case of nerves when giving a presentation or delivering a speech. To help overcome the jitters, take advice from some experts.

  1. Imagine yourself in a comfortable spot. Your den? A cozy coffee bar? Put yourself there in your mind when you speak.
  1. Practice! Repeat the talk enough so that you can deliver it naturally, without hemming and hawing.
  1. Keep it short. Take Winston Churchill’s advice: “A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”

If that doesn’t work, remember what Mark Twain said. “There are only two types of speakers in the world: 1. The nervous. 2. Liars.”

Tell us what you think about the fallout from the Sony e-mail hack. Post your comments on BizComBuzz!

It’s the Principle (or is that Principal?)

Confusing Words Exercise

Employers complain about employees who can’t spell or who confuse common words. Help your students be better prepared for workplace expectations with this 15-sentence exercise on confusing words. An answer key follows.

  1. In business reports writers must (site, cite, sight) their sources of information.
  1. It is (to, too, two) soon to know whether either of the (to, too, two) plans will work.
  1. My manager checks sales (everyday, every day) as part of his (everyday, every day) routine.
  1. After the restructuring, the company (then, than) offered higher salaries (then, than) anyone expected.
  1. (Their, There, They’re) going to put (their, there, they’re) backpacks over (their, there, they’re).
  1. News of the merger immediately (effected, affected) the stock market.
  1. Elena was surprised and (greatful, grateful) when she received the award.
  1. His (principal, principle) reason for taking the job was its location.
  1. The hotel (formally, formerly) known as the Sands (formally, formerly) reopened as the Oasis.
  1. If there are no (farther, further) objections, we will (precede, proceed) with the agenda items.
  1. We should not (infer, imply) agreement with an Asian’s head nod; it may merely mean I hear what you are saying.
  1. The CEO had a (stationery, stationary) bicycle in his office.
  1. She was so frightened that her eyes (wavered, waivered) from side to side.
  1. When flames began to (envelop, envelope) the building, firefighters knew they were losing the battle.
  1. Rick was certain he could finish the 16-week (coarse, course).


Confusing Words Key

  1. In business reports writers must cite their sources of information.

cite: to quote; to summon

site: location

sight: a view; to see

  1. It is too soon to know whether either of the two plans will work.

to: a preposition; the sign of the infinitive

too: an adverb meaning “also” or “to an excessive extent”

two: a number

  1. My manager checks sales every day as part of his everyday routine.

every day: each single day

everyday: ordinary

  1. After the restructuring, the company then offered higher salaries than anyone expected.

then: adverb meaning “at that time”

than: conjunction showing comparison

  1. They’re going to put their backpacks over there.

they’re: a contraction of “they are”

their: possessive form of they

there: at that place or point

  1. News of the merger immediately affected the stock market.

affect: to influence

effect: (n) outcome, result; (v) to bring about, to create

  1. Elena was surprised and grateful when she received the award.

grateful: appreciative

greatful: misspelled word

  1. His principal reason for taking the job was its location.

principle: rule of action

principal: (n) capital sum; school official; (adj) chief

  1. The hotel formerly known as the Sands formally reopened as the Oasis.

formerly: in the past

formally: in a formal manner

  1. If there are no further objections, we will proceed with the agenda items.

further: additional                                    precede: to go before

farther: a greater distance                     proceed: to continue

  1. We should not imply agreement with an Asian’s head nod; it may merely mean I hear what  you are saying.

imply: to suggest indirectly

infer: to reach a conclusion

  1. The CEO had a stationary bicycle in his office.

stationery: writing material

stationary: immovable

  1. She was so frightened that her eyes wavered from side to side.

waiver: abandonment of a claim

waver: to shake or fluctuate

  1. When flames began to envelop the building, fire fighters knew they were losing

the battle.

envelop: (v) to wrap, surround, or conceal

envelope: (n) a container for a written message

  1. Rick was certain he could finish the 16-week course.

coarse: rough texture

course: a route; a part of

College Students Addicted to Cell Phones

shutterstock_182518145bAny college teacher knows that students are attached to their cell phones. A new study measures just how attached they are.

“The Invisible Addiction: Cell Phone Activities and Addiction Among Male and Female College Students,” published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, found that college women spend an average of ten hours daily on their cell phones; college men spend nearly eight. Students’ attachments to their phones was so great, in fact, that both male and female students admitted to feeling “agitated” when their devices were not within sight.

Technical addictions have been explained as a type of behavioral addiction—a compulsion to continue a behavior in spite of its negative impact on the user’s well-being. Addiction to cell phones occurs over time, the researchers explain, usually beginning with benign use that eventually causes negative consequences and increases dependence. For example, a phone originally purchased primarily for safety reasons becomes used entirely to send text messages and check social media sites. The cell phone user eventually reaches a tipping point where use of the device becomes uncontrollable—being unable to stop texting while driving, for example—and causing negative consequences.

Interestingly, the ways in which students rely on their phones are somewhat counterintuitive. Traditionally addictive activities—such as gaming—were not the causes of cell phone reliance. Rather, students spent the greatest majority of time texting (94.6 minutes daily), followed by e-mailing (48.5 minutes), checking Facebook (38.6 minutes), surfing the Internet (34.4 minutes), and listening to their iPods (26.9 minutes).

The study’s authors surmised that female students spent more time on their cell phones to build relationships or have conversations by texting and e-mailing. The men, while sending the same number of e-mails, spent less time on each message, suggesting their messages were more utilitarian in nature. Men also spent time checking Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter primarily to follow sports or news or simply to kill time.

Excessive or addictive cell phone use by students carries negative implications. The devices cause students to lose focus in the classroom and in some cases provide opportunities to cheat. Compulsive cell phone use can also cause conflict in and out of the classroom, the study found. Cell phones, when used to dodge uncomfortable situations, can also lead to negative outcomes.

The study’s authors conclude by suggesting that researchers continue to look for the “tipping point” as to when cell phone use becomes cell phone addiction.


  1. The researchers call cell phone use a “paradox of technology” because it can be both freeing and enslaving. How are cell phones “freeing and enslaving”?
  1. How might excessive cell phone use create negative consequences in the workplace?
  1. Addictions are often caused when an individual wants to escape painful or negative feelings. How does cell phone addiction fit this explanation?