Author Archives: bizcombuzz

Set Goals to Improve Focus… Ask Questions, Be More Likable… Habits of Resilient People

Set Goals to Improve Focus 

Setting goals improves focus and productivity. Here’s why.

Goals spark action. Setting a clear objective generates action, plain and simple. But rather than targeting vague goals, (I want a car) experts say setting specific goals yields results (Save $2000 by December for down payment on used Jeep.)

Goals set focus. Once a goal has been set, behavior to attain that goal follows.

Goals create momentum. Seeing progress leads to future action, which nets more progress, which creates momentum to attain the goal.

Goals build belief in self. Achieving goals builds character, confidence, and self-efficacy.

Boss, J. (2017, January 19). 5 reasons why goal setting will improve your focus. Forbes. Retrieved from

Ask Questions, Be More Likable

Harvard researchers have found that people prefer conversation partners who ask them questions—at least three. It’s called the Three Questions Rule, and it works because asking questions and actively listening to responses signals caring. Not surprisingly, people prefer those who seem to care about them.

However, the researchers discovered it’s not enough to simply ask any question. The questioner needs to ask something that will require follow up. In other words, a breezy How’s your day? as you pass someone’s workspace won’t work unless several more specific questions follow: Were you able to obtain permission to use that image you liked? What do you think about the new marketing plan?

This back-and-forth shows interest and generates goodwill because asking genuine questions indicates respect for another person, which in turn helps create true relationships, the researchers conclude.

Haden, J. (2021, April 19). Harvard researchers say this mindset matters most: Follow the rule of 3 questions to be more likable. Inc. Retrieved from

Habits of Resilient People

Building resiliency—the ability to cope with a crisis and move on—can be learned. Below are some ways to cultivate resilience.

Expect setbacks and rejection.  Everyone suffers setbacks, but resilient people face the challenge and move on.

Give up comfort and accept growing pains. While taking the comfortable path sounds good at the moment when discomfort arises, facing growing pains actually helps to move past them.

Postpone instant gratification. Don’t expect prompt payoff. Instead, focus on the long term.

Remember failures. By recalling obstacles you’ve overcome, you realize you have the strength to bounce back.


Identify self-doubts. Face the petty doubts that cramp your work style. Rein them in rather than letting them run you.

Finally, be kind to yourself when you experience failure. You’ll bounce back faster.

Robinson, B. (2020, November 30). 10 habits of highly resilient people.  Psychology Today. Retrieved from



To Quote or Not to Quote

[Instructors: PDFs for the exercise and answer key are at the bottom of the post.]

In the business world, quotation marks are sometimes used haphazardly. Here is a quick review of the rules governing correct use of quotation marks.


Use quotation marks to enclose direct quotations.

“Honesty,” said the president, “is the best policy.”

Do not use quotation marks for paraphrased remarks. These remarks are often introduced by that.

The president said that honesty is always the best policy.

Use quotation marks to enclose short expressions such as slang, jargon, nicknames, words used in a special sense for humor or irony, and words following stamped or marked.

Josh was called a “pizza pirate” because he refused to chip in for the delivery. [Slang]

A great fear in business is having your business or service “commoditized.” [Jargon]

Frank Sinatra was also known as “Ol’ Blue Eyes.” [Nickname]

The former CEO could not find a job because she was “overqualified.” [Irony]

The box was stamped “Fragile.” [Words following “stamped”]

Use quotation marks or italics for words being defined or used as nouns.

The expression de facto means “in practice but not necessarily recognized.” [Italics for word being defined and quotation marks for definition]

One of the most frequently misspelled words is calendar. [Word being used as a noun within the sentence]

Do not use quotation marks haphazardly.

When you arrive, go to the Customer Service Department. [Do not use quotation marks around a destination or name of a unit within an organization.]

You are cordially invited to our exciting spring sale. [Do not put quotation marks around spring or any word to give it special emphasis.]

Try your skill by placing quotation marks or italics where you think they belong in the following sentences. Remove any quotation marks incorrectly used, and write “Correct” if the sentence is properly punctuated. You may use underscoring to indicate italics.

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, I have a dream.
  2. Albert Einstein said that the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
  3. Verbing is defined as the process of turning a noun into a verb.
  4. All of the mailing cases were marked Glass—Handle With Care.
  5. Our annual “Fall Extravaganza” is the biggest and best sale in the region!
  6. His presidential address was marred by many uhms and ahs.
  7. Businesspeople often use the term best practices to mean the most effective techniques in a field or an industry.
  8. Senior executives want anything brought to their attention to be “high level”; that is, they want it neatly summarized and free of technical terms.
  9. Rock star Sting got his nickname from wearing yellow-and-black jerseys that other musicians thought made him look like a wasp.
  10. Happiness, said comedian George Burns, is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.
  11. During the summer extensive changes will be made to the “Human Resources Department.”
  12. The word secretary has a long and honorable history, but many office professionals now use other titles.
  13. The expression cook the books is not what we want to hear when a government investigation begins.
  14. Did the manager say that she wanted me to merge documents with our database list?
  15. Our copyeditor Angela said that she would scream if she saw another report with the expression “at this point in time.”

To Quote or Not to Quote Exercise

To Quote or Not to Quote-Key

How Much Freedom of Speech Do Employees Have?

Workers who want to exercise their Constitutional right to free speech might want to think before they speak. Whether an employee leans right or left, wears red or blue, the bottom line is that employers have the final word on what can and cannot be said at work.

Attorney Jim Hendricks, an expert in employment and labor law, explains: “The First Amendment only prohibits the government from restricting free speech—not your employer,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

It is true that public employees are covered by state and federal statutes protecting freedom of speech. However, private companies have the right to decide what is acceptable for their employees to say when it comes to political speech.

For example, if an employee’s political opinions disrupt the business or its workers, the employer has the right to fire that individual. Similarly, when another employee interprets a co-worker’s comments as harassment or a personal insult, those comments could be deemed disruptive enough to merit termination. The upshot is that the business owner’s rights supersede those granted by the Constitution.

It’s not all arbitrary, however. Employers must be consistent in implementing free-speech policies. If they allow a MAGA cap, they must also allow a BLM pin. But since blatantly divisive opinions in the workplace can lead to tension that affects productivity, nearly 75 percent of workplaces prohibit any politically-inspired attire. 

Experts suggest that before spouting off, workers should check employee manuals and read up on state laws affecting political speech in the workplace.   


  1. What kinds of clashes may erupt when employees voice strong political opinions at work?
  2. Do the laws that govern free speech in the workplace unfairly suppress discourse? 
  3. What are the pros and cons of prohibiting politically-inspired attire? 


Source: Steele, A. (2020, October 25). Is political speech protected in the workplace? Here’s what you need to know. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from