Picture this: You're chatting with a colleague when, suddenly, they throw out a phrase or an acronym that you've never heard before. You smile and nod, hoping the speaker doesn't notice you're no longer following at all and are, in fact, entirely confused.
We've all been there. To help you avoid this situation, we put together a list of popular buzzwords that have stumped us throughout our careers (and how to use them).
Definition: The belief that your abilities can be developed over time by learning to embrace failures, facing difficult situations with resilience and seeking help along the way.
How to use it: "To build a growth mindset, remind yourself that your failure is not a sign of incompetence. Rather, it's an opportunity to learn what not to do."
In action: In "The One Skill that Helped Me Grow in My Career," Tapan Singhel explains that your success at work isn't just a function of how well you do your job. It also depends on how willing you are to keep an open mind, develop new skills and approach difficult tasks.
How do you do this? By developing a growth mindset. You don't have to be born with it; you can build, learn and develop this ability over time. Try practicing these three things:
• Don't blame circumstances for your mistakes.
• When faced with an unfamiliar situation, don't run or hide.
• Don't hesitate to ask for help.
Definition: Personalising your current job in a way that feels energising and helps you stay relevant.
How to use it: "I've been job crafting by taking on a more creative branding project in addition to just crunching data as an analyst."
In action: According to "Turn Your Boring Job Into a Job You'll Love," by Dan Cable, job crafting is a mindset — and a skill — that allows you to shape, mould and redefine the work you are paid to do. It works best when you personalise your work around the distinctive strengths and interests that make you exceptional.
Focus on these three questions:
How do I use my strengths to bring more of myself into my work?
How can I improve my relationships at work so they are more inspiring?
What story do I tell myself about why I do my work, and can I make that narrative more inspiring?
Definition: A method of cogitation that allows us to consider various solutions to a problem and discover new points of view.
How to use it: "I was able to do some divergent thinking after journaling this morning. I came up with five new ideas!"
In action: Mark Carter, in his article, "Tap Into Your Creative Genius," explains that divergent thinking is often triggered when we participate in open-ended activities, such as journaling, free writing, or improvisation games. These activities allow our thoughts to shoot off in several different directions at once. Some of those paths lead to original ideas and others don't. But in the end, we are still able to come up with multiple solutions to a problem, as opposed to just one solution that is driven by our (inevitably) biased assumptions.
Definition: The tendency to seek out information that affirms your beliefs and ignore information that opposes your beliefs.
How to use it: "It's been so hard to try and change his mind about this project. I think confirmation bias is really having an impact his decision-making."
In action: In "A Matchmaker's Advice on How to Make a Great First Impression at Work," Rachel Greenwald explains how to use confirmation bias to your advantage.
Think about it this way: How often do you search Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram before meeting someone new? All the time, right? Spoiler alert: Everyone is checking you out online, too. The "first" impression of you isn't when you actually make contact, it's when someone pulls up your profiles and makes snap judgments based on what they see. From there, once you actually do meet, they'll likely be looking for signs to confirm the assumptions they've made about you. The same thing happens in your career, especially with regards to your LinkedIn profile.
This is known as confirmation bias: People see what they expect to see, and often ignore information that opposes those expectations. For example, if your LinkedIn photo looks confident and warm, and your professional experiences listed are succinct and without typos, someone will probably expect you to be likable and competent. When you finally meet face-to-face, they will look for things to confirm their initial screening. Your online presence primes someone to see you through a positive or negative lens.
Definition: The ability to inspire confidence in others to believe in and follow you.
How to use it: "To build executive presence, become aware of your communication style, actively seek feedback, make small changes in your behavior that feel authentic, and be mentally present during conversations."
In action: In her article, "If You Want To Lead, Master This Skill," Dina Smith explains that all professionals are judged not only on their performance, but also on their presence. And people form impressions within seconds of meeting you.
This isn't an inherent characteristic reserved for a fortunate few. It's an acquirable skill that you can develop and improve with time. And you can start now.
• Tune into how you communicate: Everything you say and do sends a message. Beyond the words you choose, pay attention to your nonverbal behaviours and what they convey to others. Do you make good eye contact, project your voice and stand up straight? Are you dressed in a way that matches who you are and what you want to convey?
• Rely on feedback: Actively solicit feedback on your presence from your manager, direct reports, colleagues and mentors. Ask them what their general perception of you is, and what you can do to communicate with more impact.
• Experiment with new behaviours: Based on the feedback you receive, choose just one or two presence-building behaviours to practice. If a peer tells you that you often appear flustered in meetings, take pauses while speaking or take deep breaths if you feel on edge. Make sure you adopt behaviours that feel authentic to you.
• Be present: Multi-tasking, mind-wandering or thinking about work that's piling up as you attend a meeting or interact with others will detract from your presence.
Written by: Kelsey Alpaio and Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar
© 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Licensing Group