Friday, June 23, 2006

S.O.S. - Office Relationship in Trouble

Yes, I know. The office is usually a great place to form friendships. But sometimes things simply don’t work out, be it due to personality differences or miscommunication. And sometimes they even escalate out of proportion altogether, into something you wouldn’t believe unless you experienced it yourself.

What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you at the office? Did you and the boss have a heated argument that turned into something ugly? Did you have to share an office with a “wet blanket”: somebody who’s always negative about everything from the weather to the latest project? Did you find yourself a new addition to an already well-established team?

Please share your war stories with us (use the comment facility below). The writer of the best one will win a free Working Style Analysis (WSA) for themselves... or for their difficult colleague. The WSA on is a great place to start when you want to understand somebody’s behaviour at work. If you think John looks sleepy in the morning because he’s not committed to his work, or Jane is deliberately trying to be disruptive the way she always paces the room, you might be surprised at what you find out. You may even find an excuse for having a messy desk yourself!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Three “Rs”

I’ve read a frightening article recently: 20 percent of New Zealand students are failing within the school system. And I believe the overseas figures are no better.

What makes our situation unique is that New Zealand doesn't have national standards for judging if primary students can read, write, or do maths (Reading, Riting, Rithmetic). If such standards were to be introduced, the experts argue, teachers would know what to aim for and parents would know what to expect of their children.

While I agree that a benchmark is needed, I’m concerned that it might, by establishing the lowest allowable level, somehow create the misimpression that the level is a “good enough” achievement. Our country can be so good at cutting down Tall Poppies! (For our overseas readers, Tall Poppies are high achievers who are sometimes encouraged by their peers to step down and settle for mediocrity.)

I’m further concerned that such a measure would add even more strain and stress and paperwork to our already overloaded teachers. Let’s face it: bureaucracy creates results that usually look good on paper but are often not practically beneficial, and it always but always creates more work and stress for the people involved.

Incidentally, if you’re a teacher who’s currently under stress due to work pressures, burnout or discipline issues, why not check out our Teaching Style Analysis (TSA) on It might - just might - make your year easier!

Style Analysis and YOU

(By Sharon D'Penha)

Because we see and meet so many people, it’s now become very important to make Learning Styles a part of our lives. Whether you are a parent, teacher or student, you will be amazed to understand how your style affects your work or study pattern.

You put your best into your daily work at office, but working hard is sometimes not enough. It’s all about working SMART. That’s why it’s so important to know what you are best at and what your style is in order to build your career.

What would happen if you enter the office one day and realise that it’s just another day, that your work pattern is the same dull and tedious one, that it simply gets no better and that you’re going nowhere? Would you just sit there? Or would you want to take yourself through to the test of discovering your true style, vision and goal of performance?

Find out what makes your work situation truly “work” for you. Perhaps you like the music on, or maybe you need to take power breaks while working. What’s the best time of day for you to hold an important meeting? Will to-do lists really help you in organising your daily tasks?

It’s all about making the best decision for yourself. It’s never too late. is the best place to discover your style. It will open up new opportunities for you and help you discover a whole new “YOU” out there in a competitive world.

Style Analysis is becoming a diverse concept in today’s world. The results and motivation are simply phenomenal and of course a step towards success.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

To your health: Prevent Stress and Burnout

You arrive at the office way earlier than you would have liked. It’s winter, so the place is brightly lit with fluorescent tubes, some of them flickering like a disco machine. The place is unnervingly silent as everybody is going over the papers they need in the upcoming monthly strategy meeting. You still have five minutes to spare, so you put the coffee on, you check your email while dialling in to hear the voicemail messages. Then you spot the memo that the boss put on your desk (why didn’t she email it, you wonder). Just as you begin to read it, the coffee machine beeps, your mobile phone starts to ring and your computer announces brightly that you have new mail.

If, at this point, you feel like giving up and crawling back to bed, don’t feel embarrassed. The latest research shows that multitasking - the very quality so sought after by most employers - can often lead to stress and burnout. This can be exacerbated by working in an environment that clashes with your natural working style in terms of lighting, noise levels, time of day and social interaction.

Working in an environment that’s comfortable and compatible with your own can prevent stress and burnout. What’s more, it can motivate you, energise you and increase your productivity.

Do you know your optimal Working Style? If not, please complete the Working Style Analysis (WSA) on It’ll be good for your health.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Teaching your child to read and write using Learning Styles

I attended a seminar on reading and writing recently, and, I must admit, I was a bit taken aback to discover how children in New Zealand are taught to write. Spelling, for example, is something that is no longer important for the first couple of years. The idea is not to learn that “mummy” is spelled M-U-M-another M-Y - the idea is to sound it out: “what does it sound like, mmmm-mummy? Does it sound like something that begins with the same letter as mmmm-mouse?”

Consequently, children learn to spell “cat” as “k” or “kt” if they’re lucky enough to hear the “t” at the end. Their writing books are full of sentences like “i l m k” (I like my cat” and “trtlsl” (turtles are slow). The idea is to liberate the children from the restrictions of having to know how to spell a word and just to let them write what and how they like it, and then to "correct" it further down the line. The trouble is, some children (typically those who love rules and doing things "right") might struggle with the concept that "kt" is now supposed to be spelled "cat" and that what they were originally taught was "wrong".

I’m sure it’s a valid approach, this sounding. But what about children who are not auditory? “Not a problem,” said the presenter. “We use a combination of phonics (sounding) and whole-word learning”. “Whole-word learning is when you show the child a whole word as a picture and tell them the word is “and”. Which is fine for children who are visual. As usual, tactile and kinesthetic students are left behind in this mode of teaching.

So, if you suspect your child may be tactile or kinesthetic (you can assess their Learning Style on, do find out how they are being taught “the three Rs” at school. You may discover that the Montessori approach of drawing letters in sand and tracing them in sandpaper cut-outs works better for your youngster.

Another innovation (since my day, anyway) is teaching to write and read small letters only (they are the ones that are more common in reading books) and in groups of “letters that look similar”, e.g.,: r, n, m all look similar, so do l and t, etc. Again, for children who are not good with visual detail, teaching “similar-looking letters” together may lead to confusion.

Do you know how your child is taught the basics at the local school? How were you yourself taught? Every country is bound to be different, of course, and I’d be fascinated to learn about the various approaches taken worldwide, particularly in non-English speaking countries. Please email me on or leave a comment on this blog.