Category Archives: 3. News You Can Use

Listen Up: The Right-Ear Advantage Is A Thing

In a crowded room with multiple conversations competing for your attention, it’s often difficult to hear clearly. However, if the words you’re trying to decode filter to your right ear, you have a much better chance of understanding what’s been said. It’s called the right-ear advantage, and scientists have proven the phenomenon is verifiable.

The reason is the way information is processed by the brain. Sound received by the right ear is relayed to the left hemisphere of the brain where speech is interpreted. However, when the left ear hears speech, the sound must travel to the right hemisphere and then back to the left. That delay is responsible for the right-ear advantage.

Although this phenomenon affects young children in particular, scientists recently tested the impact on adults and found that the more difficult the listening situation, the more the right-ear advantage persisted.

The implications to those entering the workforce can be critical. Listening closely to new colleagues is especially important when learning unfamiliar concepts, tasks, and information. Likewise, observing—which of course involves listening—can be key to understanding the corporate culture of a workplace.

Awareness about how your brain takes in information can make the difference between being a quick study and valuable asset to an organization, or a confused, inattentive, and clueless new-hire. So next time you want to make sure you absorb what’s being said, you might want to lean to the right.

From The Wall Street Journal


  1. What are some reasons for developing good workplace listening skills?
  2. Why might interrupting a speaker lead to poor communication?
  3. What are some ways you can communicate that you are listening without interrupting?



Emojis Cause Workplace Confusion

A whopping 71 percent of Americans add digital images such as emojis or GIFs when using mobile messaging apps. While such use may not cause ☹️ when sent between friends, the practice is causing many a 😰 in HR departments across American businesses. Why? The cutesy icons have now become evidence in certain workplace lawsuits. 😩

The problem lies in emojis’ inherent subjectivity—what’s funny to you may be offensiveto me. Perhaps that is why 39 percent of senior managers surveyed by Robert Half said that using emojis was unprofessional. However, in the same survey, 61 percent stated that using the images in work communication was okay “in certain situations.”

Clearly, a lack of consensus about if and when to use digital images pervades the workplace, and researchers are investigating just how the ubiquitous icons can cause chaos. Some findings show that emoji use affects the sender’s workplace persona by conveying a lack of seriousness. In fact, researchers in Israel found that use of emojis increased the perception of a sender’s incompetence. However, the data also found those reactions tend to be influenced by the level of formality in the communication, once again leaving emoji use problematical.

Even more serious, however, is that emojis have exacerbated sexual harassment issues, says Kelly Hughes, an attorney at the national legal firm Ogletree Deakins. Employees sending messages rife with heart or kissy face emojis open themselves up to harassment charges by creating what could be interpreted as a hostile work environment. This is especially true if the emojis are used to convey inappropriate thoughts. These types of messages end up putting employers at risk because workplace communication can be used as evidence in lawsuits against organizations.

It’s no wonder employers are 😩.


  1. Describe an acceptable situation for sending a message with an emoji to your boss.
  2. List some emojis that could be misinterpreted.
  3. Should firms create policies controlling the use of emojis in business communication?

–From Workforce

The Zen of Interviewing

No matter how perfect your résumé is, you won’t land the job without also nailing an interview. Experts offer advice about how to answer some of the most common interview questions you’re likely to encounter.

Tell me about yourself. This interview favorite is open-ended by design to test the interviewee’s ability to communicate well. Career coach Donald Walsh cautions job candidates to avoid the typical answer, I am a hard worker, noting that no organization would want to hire a lazy worker. Nor should you interpret the open-ended question as an invitation to tell your life story or to rehash your résumé. Walsh advises going beyond buzzwords and clichéd answers to instead summarize talents and skills without delving too deeply into your personal life. He suggests using a “listicle” that melds skills related to the job with witty responses: I was the fourth of four children, so I learned early how solve problems.

What are your weaknesses? Experts call this tricky question a landmine. To say you have no weaknesses is ridiculous; to offer up deal-killers (I’m massively disorganized) is also unwise. Still, honesty is the best policy. For example, if you have trouble organizing yourself, talk about the ways you compensate for the issue (adhering to your Google calendar or the like.) However, if you are indeed massively disorganized and a key component of the position requires organizational skills, why are you wasting your time and the interviewer’s? Finally, know that you won’t fool a hiring manager if you take a strength and try to masquerade it as a weakness (I work too hard.)

Where do you see yourself in five years? Job search mavens suggest approaching this question by preparing well thought-out answers while offering up some responses to avoid. Think twice about the wisdom of telling a hiring manager that you want her job. Why would someone hire you to unseat her? In the same vein, no company wants new-hires who just want to learn on the company’s time before starting their own businesses. The best approach, experts suggest, is to use your past experiences to tie into your future with the company: My past jobs have allowed me to progress and grow, and I hope my next role will allow me to do that over the next five years.

Why this company? This one is easy. Discuss the company’s values (which you’ve researched ahead of time!) and how your skill set will add to the organization’s mission. Don’t talk about money, perks, prestige, or the ability to bring your dog to the workplace. Similarly, if you tell a hiring manager you’re unclear about your future want and this job because it caught your eye, you will have killed any chance you had with the firm.

Curveball questions. Sometimes, you’ll get an oddball question such as, Is it better to turn in a project that’s perfect and late, or one that’s good and on time? There’s no wrong answer, says Obed Louissant, the VP of HR for IBM Watson. An organization looking for a team member would need both types of people.


  1. Why do experts tell job seekers to not complain about past jobs or managers?
  2. How could you describe your accomplishments without appearing arrogant?
  3. What can inappropriate attire—either too casual or too formal—say about you to a hiring manager?