No. 100 - Say “No” But Don’t Take “No”

Be able to say “no,” but don’t take “no” for the answer. First, understand that “no” is the standard answer or response from peers, bosses, and subordinates to test or challenge you, sometimes out of laziness, sometimes for reasons of budget and time.“No” is a complete sentence, but it isn’t a complete answer. Don’t take it as a matter of course if you believe that it could, or should, be otherwise.“No” doesn’t always mean “no,” nor do nada, nein, nyet, not now, not ever, no way, negative, never ever, not as long as I live, over my dead body, not even if hell freezes over, not only no but hell no. More often than not it means, “maybe” or “I’m not sure.” Unless you come back and fight for it, your opponents figured they were right.So take “no” and go on. If you ask for something and are told “no,” accept it; then ask for something different:“Can you donate $500 million to the new college of business building?”“No.”“Can you buy two tickets for the fundraiser next month?”“Well, sure.”The above example is not ‘apples and apples,’ I know. Still, taking “no” is acceptable for some people, but it doesn’t have to be for you. If you get “no,” figure the person you are speaking with just didn’t understand and you have to explain another way.My point is to keep trying, without being tedious, without just giving up. Ask 3 (or 13) times and in 3 (or 13) different ways before you even consider giving up. When people learn that you only redouble your efforts when you are told “no,” you will get them trained to just saying “yes” right away.~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 99 - What is a Work Game-Face?

You don’t need a wide smile, a snapshot pose, a big ‘ole rubber beam, or a wolfish grin. Rather, you need just a slightly open mouth with a friendly upturn of the lips—a small smile. The demeanor I’m promoting is an undaunted, comfortable-in-your-skin, shiny business game face. Consider the following: A shiny face from your attitude, not from perspiration, transmits well across cultures. Smiling isn’t about being happy (although I hope you are). It’s about confidence and taking responsibility for the energy you bring to the place. Your small smile makes you look awake, alert, alive, implacable, and approachable. You can have a determined jaw but still have a small smile— your expression will only enhance the keen intelligence in your eyes. If you smile, you can’t as easily chew gum, eat, or drink (which obviously needs to be nixed) because every saliva slap against your jaw is exaggerated in the person’s ear. Not smiling causes inaccurate responses to you. You’ll have an uphill battle without even realizing it.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 98 - A Little History of Communication Platforms

With the myriad audio, video, and digital communication platforms we have today to immediately disseminate more information than ever in history, it’s kind of interesting to look back on how man achieved the same desire to share information….During an excavation of a medieval road near the Kremlin in Moscow, Russian archaeologists recently unearthed a birchbark letter dating to the fourteenth century. They believe it was written by a servant to his master to describe unforeseen travel expenses on a debt collection journey.For many years I’ve collected religious artifacts. One of my most treasured items is the teachings of the Bible written in Sanskrit on banana tree leaves bound together by a cord so they can fan out and be read as a learning tool.Before the birchbark or banana leaves, the Incas in Peru encoded and recorded information with cryptic knotted strings known as khipu. Dr. Gary Urton, of Harvard, writes, “The knots appeared to be arranged in coded sequences analogous to the process of writing binary number (1/0) coded programing for computers.”And before that, there were petroglyphs etched into cave walls. Petroglyphs, then knotted strings, then birchbark and parchment were “technological” advancements in communication for their times.What will be interesting to see are the technological advances still waiting for us. An email in the future might seem as old fashioned as the birchbark.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 97 - The Similarities In Our Differences

Today’s workforce is made up of mixed generations from boomers to millenials and from a multitude of demographics. Despite the differences we are more similar than dissimilar.I’m an avid cook, and was wondering about a new use of a package of wonton wrappers that I had left over after making dim sum. In a Saturday morning of research I found recipes to use the same “Chinese” wrapper to make maultaschensuppe (a German dumpling), Russian Ramen, Tibetan Momos, Georgian Khinkali, Jewish Kreplach, Sichuan Chili wontons, Pierogi, Ukranian Manti, Slovenian dumplings, Italian Tortellini, and Montreal Peanut Butter Dumplings.Each recipe had the same “outside” but the insides changed a little with geography, history, culture, tastes, available items, etc. All recipes achieved the same goal of satisfying taste and providing nourishment: the same outside wrapper but different inside the wrapper techniques and ingredients.There is an analogy to today’s work force. We are humans who are made up of differences on the inside, but with the same outside goal of the pursuit of happiness – whether with food or a career.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 96 - How to Handle A Headhunter's Call

First, you want to check if they are retainer or contingency. You want to work with retainer only.Next, tell them you will call them back.Do call them back when you are at a comfortable place to talk to them. Let them tell you enough about the job so you can be sure it’s not for you BUT so you know enough to be able to refer a name or a source for a name. They like that a lot and they will remember you.Something like, “I receive these calls frequently, as you can imagine ….I will always listen to your opportunity to see where I can be of help….I’m very happy here, working on ____ and ___…. As you explained the job specification, I’d suggest you talk to Jill Jones as she could be a candidate or know someone who would be. I’ve already done that job. My next move inside or outside of an organization will be (next level up) so that is where I’m headed….for now, I’m being rewarded for my contributions and very happy where I am….”You always want to listen, be pleasant, be helpful. Then you remain in touch every six months of so with an update of new things you are doing and the offer to help by giving them other names in your network. (And that’s why you keep building your network or connections so that you do have people to suggest!)~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 95 - How to Keep Your Good People

Companies have long recognized the importance of smart employee recruiting. Now they are discovering that it’s just as important to spend their time on retention. This may involve financial factors, of course. AON Consulting studied 1,140 high-tech workers and found that 56 percent would stay at their current job longer if offered a similar job with slightly higher pay.But issues related to job satisfaction are at least as crucial as financial incentives. “You rehire your employees every single day,” says Gloree Parker-Roden, senior vice president of Enterprise Services at Pearson Technology Centre. “We had no problem with retention until a time period where we went into a maintenance program without a major initiative going. Things felt slow to people. We found that the same people who complained about long hours and overwork really didn’t want to underwork either.” In other words, high retention of valuable employees requires keeping them challenged and interested as well as rewarding them financially.In a research project, Watson Wyatt Worldwide found that the number-one driver of employee commitment is trust in senior management. If a manager fails to provide the necessary leadership, then people leave. Gloree Parker-Roden speaks for many when she says, “The important thing to me is being able to work with managers I respect and trust. If that was broken, then I would go.”The Watson Wyatt survey identified other factors that caused people to leave an employer. Here they are, starting with the most commonly cited: Higher salaries offered by other organizations Dissatisfaction with potential career grow Feeling unappreciated Rising acceptability of job-hopping Difficulty balancing work/life issues Burnout Benefits offered by other organizations Perceived lack of job security Conflicts with supervisor or co-workers Viability of the organization Conflicts with the organization’s mission or valuesSalary is clearly an important factor, but it’s far from the only one. Any manager who has a high turnover rate shouldn’t blamed the company pay scale alone; instead, the manager should examine his or her own practices in the work environment.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 94 - Job Termination Turnaround Success

Whether it’s “your fault” or not, being let go is a traumatic experience. It invariably produces emotions ranging from disbelief and rage to guilt, shame, and depression. It generally creates financial stress, which can lead to serious anxiety and conflicts within families. And the sense of uncertainty and loss of control that goes with being fired can make it more difficult to manage a job search in an intelligent, energetic, creative fashion — if you let it!.There are entire books that focus on the trauma of job loss, along with career counselors and psychologists who specialize in helping layoff victims cope and regroup. Clearly, all the issues associated with job loss can’t be addressed in a few paragraphs. Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions.First, remember that in today’s job market, the stigma of being let go is much, much less significant than ever before. The continual waves of mergers, spin-offs, company launches and closings, downsizings, expansions, and re-engineerings that have marked world industry over the past three decades mean that a lot of people have been laid off at one time or another. And those who haven’t been fired are well aware that they’ve escaped the ax only by good fortune. As a result, no one really looks down on people with one or two layoffs in their past. Instead, layoffs are viewed as par for the course. Try mentioning being fired the next time you’re at lunch with half a dozen other working friends. Rather than glances of disapproval, you’re more likely to see nods of understanding and hear comments like, “I’ve been there.” Of course, this doesn’t apply if you’ve been fired repeatedly, or for a cause like lying, stealing, or punching your boss. But most people who are one-or two-time losers in the job wars have little difficulty moving on to their next opportunity if they don’t take it personally and understand it’s just business.Second, you can minimize the psychological and career damage of being laid off by handling the process intelligently. Here are some of the steps to take:Negotiate a fair severance package. Rather than simply accepting the company offer, request a couple of days to consider it. Then talk to peers and former bosses and colleagues. You may find you can get the company to increase your final pay package, extend your health and life insurance benefits, or provide you with services such as career counseling.Try to analyze objectively what you did right and wrong. Examine your history with the company. Could you have handled your job better so as to extend your tenure? Were there warning signs you ignored? Make a list of work and people skills you intend to improve in your future jobs.Start your next job search promptly. Don’t spend weeks binge watching NetFlix or feeling sorry for yourself, or spending your savings on a vacation or some other consolation prize, even if you can afford it. The loss of psychological momentum you’ll suffer can be harmful.Don’t be embarrassed about losing your job. Develop a simple, neutral, accurate, one-sentence explanation for why you lost your job. For example, you can say, “The company reorganized, and mine was one of several positions that were eliminated.” Using this or a similar sentence to spread the word among your friends and acquaintances will maximize your chances of hearing about a worthwhile opportunity.The great automobile entrepreneur Henry Ford (and many others over time with their own version) said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” His words apply to getting fired. Don’t waste time and energy bemoaning what you’ve lost; focus instead on the new horizons in your future.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 93 - Job Security or Job Insecurity?

Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to think that our careers are entirely in our hands, there are many factors over which we have no control. Keeping your current job may be one of them.Of course, there are things you can do to increase your job security. Working hard, continually learning, and taking responsibility are all critically important. So are people skills, such as getting along with colleagues above, below, and alongside you; being a positive, encouraging presence; and dealing with others honestly and tactfully. Also important is professional self-promotion – that is, making sure that your talents and accomplishments are recognized appropriately, without being boastful or pushy.But even when you do everything right, your job may still be in jeopardy. Cynics say, “Your job is only as secure as the emotions of your immediate supervisor,” and while this is an exaggeration, it’s true that bosses sometimes let employees go for reasons that are more related to their own managerial or psychological shortcomings than to the failures of the worker. Further, you may be doing superb work in a company or an industry that is floundering, or you may be caught in a numbers game where in order to meet Wall Street’s profit expectations, the company decides it has to cut costs by 10 percent across the board, which means that somebody has to walk the plank – it hardly matters who.So you can do everything right, and things can still go splat. As John Elway, two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, says, “Not only do you have to be good, but you have to be lucky.”~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 92 - Self-Reflection Helps Your Personal Brand

A business friend of mine – Garret – once played a mischievous trick on his employees. He pulled out their resumes from his file and made a few changes to them. He altered the employees’ names, the names of the companies they’d worked for, and other details that would identify each employee. At the next staff meeting, Garrett passed out copies of the resumes. “These are some folks were thinking of hiring,” he said, “What do you think?”The results were startling. The team members didn’t even recognize their own backgrounds. To make matters worse, they all agreed that they’d never hire any of these people!“Know thyself” is a traditional bit of philosophical wisdom. It may sound simple, but as Garrett’s story illustrates, it’s not so easy to do.Knowing yourself is especially important when you’re about to launch a new stage in your career. To help you know yourself and therefore explain the value you can add to a company, I recommend an exercise of taking inventory, of examining your past experiences in work, in school, and in life, as well as the interests, skills, knowledge, talents, dreams, goals, and preferences that these experiences reveal — every year. The objective is to see your own background as others do, and to objectively review yourself – as Garrett’s team did, without realizing it – to see if and why you’d hire yourself.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 91 - 4-Step Secret to Success from Top CEOs

In my executive coaching of 30+ years I’ve worked with over a thousand chief executives from eighteen different countries and in every industry. Once a week someone asks my take on the secret to success in business. I can answer with four points:1. Smile2. Ask questions3. Make decisions4. Take blameSmile because you have to look and act confident. An open expression engaging your eyes and your attitude work universally. Lips turned upward make you look awake, alive, and approachable.Ask questions because everyone dislikes a know-it-all and know one does know it all. You empower people when you ask their opinion, experience, advice, etc. and when you empower them they respect and trust you.Make decisions before someone makes them for you, because they will. And they likely won’t be the decisions you want. It takes courage to put a stake in the ground and decide but again, someone’s going to do it and it might as well be you.Take blame early and often when things don’t go well. Do not have a whiff of blaming others even when it was their fault. Find out why they failed and help where you can so it doesn’t happen again. But if you blame them for mistakes you’ll never get their trust or respect.Successful people take the responsibility to look confident and comfortable so as to make others feel that way around them. Then they ask questions to fill in what they don’t know or confirm what they do so as to make better decisions, sooner. And when things go wrong they take responsibility; when things go well they always give credit to others.~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 90 - 18 Questions You Can Ask Prospective Employers to Determine if You Want the Job

Here are some questions to help you determine, “Is this the type of company I would want to work for?” This list of questions is in no particular order, but you can select the ones most appropriate for your conversation and situation:

1. What do you believe someone must know to do this job well?2. Could you describe the people I would be working with?3. How is the company organized? Would you draw me an organization chart?4. What makes you different from your competition?5. What are the biggest problems confronting your company, and the industry?6. In what ways do you expect the company to change?7. How do you market, and how do you sell your product or service?8. How are employees trained? Who trains them?9. Where does this job take me if I do an outstanding job?10. Where does your job take you?11. How do you recruit people? Within the company or outside the company?12. If one does an outstanding job, how are they rewarded?13. What do you expect from this person?14. Who are your biggest competitors?15. Do you personally make the final hiring decision? Do you consult with others? Who else do you consult with?16. What do you like or dislike about some of the people who have worked for you in the past?17. What is your management style?18. What kind of boss are you? Could you give me an example?

They evaluate you as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give. Weave these into the conversation while still answering theirs.You are a valuable commodity, and you have a right and obligation to interview them as they do you.~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 89 - How to Evaluate Your Job Offers Objectively, Not Emotionally

Before you start getting job offers, write a list of all the factors about a job that are important to you. List them down the left side of the page. Things like:

-title-money-commute-potential for advancement-number of people to manage-budget size-flexibility of schedule-outside learning opportunities-dress code-culture-global reach-foreign assignment potential-etc., etc.

Then rank each factor from 1-10 in terms of importance to you (with 10 being the most important) to create a template.Then you are in a position to compare each job offer against your list. For example one offer may have the best “9” money but a “3” in culture when culture is a “10’ in your original ranking.Before you get emotionally involved in accepting an offer, compare it against your template.~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 88 - Anything They Ask You, You Can Ask Them in a Job Interview

A good rule of thumb to remember in a job interview is that anything they ask you, you can ask them. Now you have to reword so as not to sound like a parrot nor should you avoid answering, but later in the conversation you can use their question to you as a question to them. For example :If they’ve asked, “Tell me about yourself,” later on in the conversation you can as, “I’ve read about your company, talked with people, know you have a great reputation…but you’re on the inside, tell me about the company from your experience?”If they’ve asked, “What are your strengths and weaknesses,” later on you can ask, “What are you proudest of in the organization now….and what are the biggest areas you want to see change in?”If they’ve asked, “What do you see yourself doing two-three years from now,” later on you can ask, “Where do you see the company (or this department, division) in two to three years?”The thing to remember is that whatever they asked you about they are interested in so you should be interested in the same about them to better understand what situation you are getting into.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 87 - Find Out About the Company's Culture Early

One of the most important jobs of management is to make the organization a decent, enjoyable, productive, and creative place to work – in other words, to foster and nurture a positive corporate culture.If your most important work values aren’t shared by a company you’re considering, think twice before signing on. This issue is so important that you shouldn’t rely on the accuracy of what you’re told by the hiring executive or recruiter. You need to speak to your own business contacts, present and past employees, and company vendors and customers.Try to find out:· How do the company’s leaders describe the company’s culture (in recruiting materials or the annual report, for example)? How does this compare with the way rank-and-file employees, former employees, competitors, customers, and suppliers describe the culture? (A major difference here may forecast trouble.)· Are employees treated like partners, with respect for their individuality, creativity, and personal needs? Or are they treated like interchangeable parts, “troublemakers,” or wayward children?· What is the working environment like? What kinds of working spaces do most employees occupy? How great a gap is there between the accommodations of the top executives and those of lower-level employees? How well are shared spaces (meeting rooms, lounges, cafeteria) maintained and supplied?· What is the mood of the offices like? Does a visitor notice joking, laughing, music, conversation? Or is the atmosphere tense and hostile?· How do the employees dress? How do they decorate their offices, desks, cubicles, and other working areas? Is there an atmosphere of personal expression or one of regimentation and corporate control?· How does the company help employees develop professionally? What investments are made in training and education? How are mistakes viewed?· How do employees at various levels describe their work and the company’s mission? Do most employees regard their work as “just a job?” Do they view themselves as “changing the world?” Or is the prevailing attitude something in between or altogether different?Compare the company’s self-image with its outside reputation. (The latter is often more accurate.) Both you and the company benefit if the cultural fit works and your values are aligned.~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 86 - When to Ask for a Raise?

People often want to know how to get a raise. My first response is to 1) deserve it, and 2) find a good time. A potentially good time is:

· When you’ve just received great public kudos for your work.

· Headhunters are pursuing you with job offers.

· The company is doing well financially and getting a lot of positive press.

· The labor market in your specialty is tight, and your department is understaffed.

· Your boss is in a good mood because of recent success.

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No. 85 - When the Closed Door Meeting is About YOU

Here’s a sampling of some devastating comments I’ve heard in headhunters’ meetings – comments that broke the chances of particular candidates.· “Alan’s not an A player.”· “The reference said Ellie is an operator but has no vision.”· “The company Jose is with doesn’t have a reputation for being well managed.”· “Keith’s a good guy, but there’s no technology background in his career.”· “We’re looking for someone with more pull than Meg.”· “John is too slick; you never know what he’s thinking.”· “We want someone with broader industry experience.”· “Looks good, smells bad.”· “If you asked Jerry for a reference, you’d get twenty bad ones.”· “I’m a little hesitant about Todd. He’s heir apparent [at his current company], and he’s only had experience at one company. I’m afraid he won’t scale.”· “Ben’s wife is a decorator who was doing work for a board member. She told him he should hire her husband, and that’s how he got the job.”· “She’s not a leader.”· “She’s not a consensus builder.”· “He has trouble networking.”· “He was at the battle, but he sat behind the lines.”· “She’s a loose cannon; they call her Wacky Jacky.”· “He’s got one real flat spot on the wheel.”· “He’s solid, but not world class.”· “Lacks discipline”· “Can’t execute and pulls things together”· “A real plodder”· “Constantly churns from company to company”· “Treats people as if they are expendable”· “Shamelessly greedy”· “Spends more time worrying about who gets credit than getting the job done”· “An incessant complainer”· “Uses company time for private projects”· “Bad-mouths other people”· “Calls in sick every other Monday”Needless to say, you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of any of these or similar comments. On the other hand, comments like the following can push you to the head of the pack.· “We think he’s a good guy.”· “Makes the best presentation I’ve ever seen.”· “Runs a crisp organization.”· “Mark manages problems in a nondisruptive way.”· “Tim wants this job; he’s looking to hit one out of the park.”· “If you could get Karen on your board, that would be very smart.”· “You might as well forget Phil – you’ll never get him.”· “He’ll take the hill and hold it.”· “He’s totally jazzed and motivated, with no ego.”· “Janice builds trust.”· “He’s a go-getter and a real team player with a great personality.”· “Paula’s a water-walker.”· “Pete is world class.”It’s sobering to realize how one comment from the right person can change your life. One search consultant told me, “We’re right about 75 percent of the time.”~DebraP.S.    If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 84 - Sleep On the Offer — Not The Job!

Compensation negotiations are expected and are your responsibility. In a poll of a thousand human resource professionals, the Society for Human Resources Managers found the following:

· Ninety-two percent said salaries are generally negotiable.

· Eighty-two percent admitted that the first salary offer they make is just a starting point.

· Seventy percent of HR people said they are comfortable negotiating salary.

· Only twenty-one percent of job candidates are equally comfortable negotiating salary.

Whenever you receive a compensation offer, slow down, take a deep breath, and ask for time to think about it. Sleeping on the offer before you accept, decline, or reopen negotiations will benefit you in several ways; it gives you the opportunity to think about the deal and consider each aspect of the package in relation to the whole; it gives you a chance to think of new and creative ways of bridging whatever gap may exist between you and your prospective employer; and it permits you to discuss the offer with your spouse, partner, best friend, or career mentor.In addition, acting a little hard to get rather than overly eager has a way of increasing your value in the company’s eyes, thereby enhancing whatever leverage you already enjoy. Don’t let anyone pressure you to decide immediately, but set a reasonable deadline for responding. Twenty-four hours is minimal; forty-eight hours to seventy-two hours is fairly common.~DebraP.S.   If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 83 - Self-saboteurs

Even if you’re a hard worker, you could be sabotaging your own career growth by the way you talk or present yourself.Employees should try to avoid four common types of self-defeating behavior:-Talking too fast, which makes what you say seem unimportant.-Talking too much — giving more detail than anyone needs or wants.-Being too critical or passing judgments on others.-Being too self-critical or too revealing about your own inadequacies.Most people don’t need to develop themselves, they just need to get out of their own way.~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 82 - Lavish Praise on Your People

Praise, or recognition, is a debt you owe to people who are making an effort and performing effectively. If you reinforce the actions that you want to see, you will likely get more of the same. If you don’t acknowledge them, people won’t know your degree of satisfaction.Naturally you praise what you admire the most, adding your reason for it. On occasion, give your people a little more praise than is their due. Mark Twain wrote, "I can live for two months on a good compliment.”More than one CEO admitted that he or she wasn’t skilled at giving recognition. “I personally don’t need it, so I’m not very good at giving it,” they profess. That’s no reason not to give positive feedback to those who deserve it.The following steps will help you to appreciate and praise people.1. Be honest and be specific.2. Be brief.3. “Note it” to others.4. Do it in a timely manner.5. Give kudos in a variety of ways.6. Back it up.A pay raise is one way a boss frequently thinks of as a way of providing recognition. But people need to be appreciated in different ways. One female executive told me, “I was ready to quit because I wasn’t receiving recognition. They just keep throwing more money at me. But that’s not what I work for alone.”~ DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 81 - How to Give Constructive Feedback

Just as you owe it to people praise them, you owe it to them to provide critique. Face it. People will disappoint you. Regardless of your great example, careful delegation, and optimistic blind hope, people will disappoint.The first rule is to not shoot the messenger when you learn about a problem. You shouldn’t punish the deliverer of bad news. He or she will clam up next time or sugarcoat information, and you’ll end up not hearing about a problem at a time when you could possibly do something about it.Before you find fault, double-check yourself: Are you responding to cronyism or favoritism? Are you looking at all sides? Do you have as many of the facts as possible? Are you being fair?The following steps will help you give constructive criticism in a way that will help the recipient hear and process it..1. Don’t attack.2. Give it in private.3. Avoid being repetitious or nagging.4. Be specific and be brief.5. Explain the consequences of their action.The goal is to present the idea that constructive criticism and feedback is the “breakfast of champions.” In reality it is, but in the heat of the moment, it can look like a personal attack if it’s not handled well.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.