Say you don't know

Say "I Don't Know" More Often

Too many people act as if they can solve every problem. No one wants to look like an ignoramus, but it’s hard to learn anything if you pretend you already know the answer, says economist and Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner. Once you know what you don’t know, you can start experimenting. “Real randomized experimentation is one of the most basic, useful tools in figuring out how to solve a problem,” he told Forbes.

PRODUCTIVITYGuilt is Good

Guilt doesn’t get much good press but business author Mark Forster urges you to see it as a signal, as it tends to attach itself to stuff that really matters. Attack your most guilt-inducing tasks, and you may find that you’ve attacked the most important ones too, he suggests in Do it Tomorrow And Other Secrets of Time Management. 

Social mediaLike Vs. Share

Want to drive engagement on your Facebook page? Try a Like vs. Share poll, which asks followers to vote for Option A (say Ray-Ban) by clicking on Like or for Option B (say Oakley) by clicking Share. “The Like and Share counters on the post act as a vote count to see which wins,” notes the tech blog wishpond.com. “It also pushes others to join in as well.” For how-to instructions, visit: invmag.us/041703

customer serviceAdd a Laugh Track

Nowhere is it written practices must be somber, joyless places. But many are. Johnny Carson was a big fan of rubber chickens, saying they always get a laugh. EyeStyles Optical and Boutique, Oakdale, MN, has a ‘bearded lady’ doll to teach adjusting — and lighten the mood. “It’s a source of endless entertainment,” says owner Nikki Griffin.

Customer servicePraise Right

Compliments are great for getting on someone’s good side but can be taken the wrong way if they highlight something that makes them feel different (“What an unusual name”). Networking consultant Robbie Samuels suggests saying something nice about their accessories or eyewear. “You start things off on good terms, and avoid acknowledging something out of their control (like their appearance or name),” he told Inc.

MOTIVATIONAsk This Question

Much of what passes as modern management advice was shared by Peter Drucker half a century ago — batch similar tasks, don’t multi-task, stop-doing lists — and this one: According to him, the one question that triggers more improvement in staff than any other: What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness? “Ask it without coyness,” he urged.

MOTIVATIONBreak Down Silos

In the Economist, Harvard Business School’s Clay Christenson, lamented the traditional “siloed” structure of academia, which stymies innovation. “Great new ideas don’t emerge from a single person or function, but at the intersection of functions or people that have never met before,” he said. What’s that mean for you? Broaden your experience and your chance of having serendipitous encounters.

SECURITYShoplifting Red Alert

A customer who asks to see or tries on numerous frames and then folds them as he puts them back on a counter top should be viewed with suspicion, a security agent told a reporter from the New Yorker. “You don’t do that when you’re trying on glasses,” he pointed out as the two watched video of a shoplifter in action in a New York store. “You don’t fold down the arms.”

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