Monthly Archives: October 2017

Effective and Easy-to-implement Communication

Not enough can be said about the importance of communication in any relationship, be it personal or professional. It is the foundation upon which relationships are built, strengthened and solidified. Now, communication is not only about talking; it also encompasses non-verbal communication that includes body language, and the ability to listen, understand, and relate information to others. It is often the lack of these aspects that results in miscommunication, and therefore, misunderstandings. So here are some effective communication exercises for people trying to improve their relationships to make them harmonious and beneficial.

Communication Exercises that Work

All the activities provided below can be utilized by professionals who wish to improve their communication skills and develop profitable relationships, and for kids, teenagers, and adults to learn how to improve their relationships with others, be it friends, family, or within a general social circle. We have only provided ideas here, from which inspiration may be drawn to improve the exercise or add to its details to make it as effective as possible. While these exercises are better performed on a one-to-one basis, it is also acceptable that they be performed in larger groups. The only reason for the former choice is that on a one-to-one level, comprehension of the concept is much simpler. It also helps the administrator of the exercise to understand whether or not both the individuals have grasped the concept by observing noticeable changes in performance. With the basics explained, let’s move on to getting a better idea of the activities and exercises provided below.

Put Yourself in My Shoes

This is an exercise that allows individuals to understand opposing points of view and then learn to respect them. By switching stances, they understand the opposite person’s thought process and opinion, and this provides them an open perspective regarding any situation. For this exercise, pair two individuals and allow them to choose a subject on which one person can speak for and the other can speak against. Let each present her/his case, after which they will change sides and speak on the same subject. This not only helps understand the subject, but makes them open to a point of view other than their own. By putting themselves in another’s shoes, they learn to view certain cases objectively.

You Have got to Listen

As mentioned earlier, communication also encompasses the art of listening and then reiterating that information in a precise manner so as to avoid misunderstandings. With this exercise, not only is this aspect dealt with, people also learn how to give clear instruction without any cues so that others can implement these instructions as aptly as possible. The task is to have one individual stand up and describe an activity or picture, and ask the remaining in the group to recreate the description or perform the activity as per the instruction given by that individual. Only the individual who is instructing is allowed to view the picture or see how the activity is performed. This is a great task that shows how well people comprehend verbal instruction over written instruction, and teaches them how to perform in situations where only verbal instruction is available.

An Explanation of Stealth Marketing

Marketing is a very important phase of business. The business cycle works like this―product planning, designing, development, testing, and then marketing. If the last phase is not implemented successfully, the entire development process will have gone in vain. Hence, companies come up with newer and more innovative strategies of advertising the product and circulating the same amidst the general public. Stealth marketing is one such advertising technique, developed more than a decade back. Unlike traditional methods, where one is at least aware that a product is being advertised (print media, like newspapers, magazines, billboards, etc., and tele-media, like radio and television), stealth marketing concentrates on secret advertising, i.e., no one would even know that the product is being advertised. The following paragraphs elaborate further on the practice of stealth marketing.

An Overview
Many consumers actually wonder if stealth marketing is real or just a myth. Well, to eliminate your doubts, yes, it is indeed real.
Also called undercover/buzz marketing, it is a tactic to let customers know about the product before it has been officially launched.
As mentioned in the beginning, Sony Ericsson was one of the first companies that used stealth marketing.
In order to launch their product labeled ‘T68i’, they had actors pose as regular tourists.
These ‘tourists’ went around the city, asking passers-by to take their pictures, using the phone camera of the brand new T68i. Mind you, the public had no idea of this product before.
As the public interest was aroused, the actors/tourists displayed the product like a trophy, explaining its features, attracting a wider audience and encouraging them to buy the product, which was the sole purpose of the campaign. The company intended to spread this news as far as possible so that everybody would know about the phone and its unique characteristics.
Some of the types of stealth marketing are given below:

Using Actors
The technique dates back to the one Sony Ericsson had used first―having actors pose as regular people for product promotion.
As of today, companies hire a bulk of actors and group them into twos and threes.
These groups travel around the city, attracting the general public towards the product in some way or the other.
They spread word about the product features, unique traits, etc., and remember, all this is done without the actors revealing their identity. This is one of the strong reasons why some consumers consider this practice as illegal.
This campaign may be carried out for a few days/a week, until the company finds out that the product has been sufficiently advertised.
Similar to this method, the company also hires actors and sends them to huge organizations, to indulge the people present there into a conversation regarding the product.
The conversation is scripted, and the people have no idea who these actors are, nor do they know what their purpose is.
Video Releases
Videos featuring the product are made to look like press releases, when in reality, the products are being advertised on television as well as online channels.
The people appearing in the videos may or may not be actual artists; however, the videos are released nevertheless.
It may be possible that one of the marketers has been posing as a broadcaster as well.

Important Ethical and Unethical Business Practices

“I have always recognized that the object of business is to make money in an honorable manner. I have endeavored to remember that the object of life is to do good.” – Peter Cooper, American Inventor, Manufacturer and Philanthropist

Business ethics are moral values and principles that determine our conduct in the business world. It refers to commercial activities, either with other business houses or with a single customer. They can be applied to all aspects of business; from generation of an idea to its sale. Businesses use the society for its resources and functioning, thereby obligating it to the welfare of the society. While the objective of any business is to make profits, it should contribute to the interest of the society by ensuring fair practices. However, greed has led the present business scenario towards unethical business practices, legal complications and general mistrust.

Code of Ethics
Many organizations now implement the code of ethics in their company polices, which they implement during induction and regular training. A Code of Ethics “is generally a more blanket statement of values and beliefs that defines the organization or group” (Brandl and Maguire). It is primarily for the following areas:

– Company’s assets, funds and records
– Conflict of interest
– Management and employee practices
– Information on competition
Ethical Business Practices
Following are a few ethical business practices that should be followed to build an honest reputation and ensure smooth running of the organization.
Employee offering gold coins to investor
Investors: Ensuring safety of their money and timely payment of interest.

Boss talking to a service professional/vendor
Employees: Provision of fair opportunities in promotions and training, good working conditions, and timely payment of salaries.
Advertising loud and clear
Customer: Complete information of the service and product should be made available. Personal information of the customers should not be used for personal gain.

Businessman on cycle going ahead of other standing businessmen
Competition: Unscrupulous tactics and methods should be avoided while handling competitors.
Businessman denying dollar/bribe
Government: Rules and regulations regarding taxes, duties, restrictive and monopolistic trade practices, and unlawful activities like corruption and bribing should be adhered to.
Clipboard calculator spreadsheets compliance forms
Environment: Polluting industries should ensure compliance with the government norms regarding air, water and noise pollution.
Unethical Business Practices
The financial sector is abuzz with acts of violation of norms to amass wealth in an unethical manner. Following are some of the activities that come under the ambit of unethical practice.
Troubling a small businessman, trickery, deception
– Resorting to dishonesty, trickery or deception.
– Distortion of facts to mislead or confuse.
– Manipulating people emotionally by exploiting their vulnerabilities.
Two people making a deal hiding knife in hand behind back
– Greed to amass excessive profit.
– Creation of false documents to show increased profits.
– Avoiding penalty or compensation for unlawful act.
– Lack of transparency and resistance to investigation.
– Harming the environment by exceeding the government prescribed norms for pollution.
– Invasion of privacy used as leverage, for obtaining personal or professional gains.
– Sexual discrimination

A Guide to Cottage Industry Laws

So you knit an awesome afghan/bake a great cake/whittle a beautiful headboard. Wanna start a business? Sure! Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day again in your life, right? But starting a business requires money. Which you don’t have. Or you wouldn’t need to start a business.

There exists, in the good ol’ U.S. of A., a business type called a ‘cottage industry’. It’s basically a sole-proprietorship that you run out of your home. Sounds perfect, right? Let’s roll! I’ll start today!

Not so fast. Business in this country is regulated, heavily in some cases. There is a set of laws involving cottage industries, and pleading ignorance will not keep you from being heavily fined or shut down if you’re found in violation. Laws vary from place to place, so check your state, county and city websites for the particulars. But the most common issues concern what you make and where you make it.

Your Home
As mentioned, cottage industries are run from the home. But that’s not all there is to it. First, you have to check with the city to make sure your home is zoned for cottage industry (which is entirely separate from being zoned for business or residential use). Then, you have to check with your neighborhood association to make sure they’ll allow signage, the expected traffic, and everything else that comes along with business.

Will customers come to your home? Better have ample parking. Many places require that no more than 25 percent of your home’s square footage may be used for business purposes. Plan on selling food? Your kitchen usually has to be separated from the rest of the house and kept in Health Department-approved cleanliness.

Licensing
Depending upon where you live, you may have to get a business license for your cottage industry. At the very least, you’ll have to register a fictitious name, unless you are doing business under your full, legal name. Even if local laws don’t require a business license, some other sales outlets do – many trade shows, fairs and green markets require your business to be fully registered before you can purchase a booth.
Your Process
If you are producing food, you need to run your home kitchen like a professional kitchen. That means that Fluffy and Fido are no longer allowed in, and anyone who even stands near a prep area must wear a hair covering. In some places, you may even need to install special equipment (like the triple sink) that is used ONLY for your business, not family-related cooking.