Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
January 2016

Understanding Multiple Intelligences, Part 1

Most any employer can give countless examples of employees who are highly productive in the workplace but who would likely perform poorly on an IQ test. The average entrepreneur himself might be an example of how IQ scores are ineffective indicators of workplace performance and success. It is no wonder, then, that most workplaces pay little attention to “intelligence” as a factor in staff hiring. Virtually no employer asks for a person’s IQ score to determine if the person is qualified for a job. Perhaps that would be different, though, if what was considered intelligence in oneself and others was redefined to recognize that there are many different kinds of intelligence.

In 1983, Multiple Intelligence Theory was first proposed by Professor Howard Gardner in his ground breaking book, Frames of Mind. His work broadened the understanding of human intelligence. According to Gardner, the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, people possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways. He referred to these as the “intelligences” we possess in order to know the world. According to Gardner’s original list, there were seven intelligences including: language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Since then, an additional intelligence – naturalist – was added to the list. Gardner indicated that the strength of each intelligence and the ways in which intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains differs from person to person.

Given this, it stands to reason that cultivating a more intelligent workforce could increase an organization’s productivity, service, profitability and staff satisfaction. After all, if a person’s intelligences have such a profound impact in how the person remembers, performs and understands tasks, it stands to reason that people with certain intelligences would be more suited for occupations that require those intelligences. While almost every career uses a blend of several intelligences, some intelligences are more important than others depending on the job. The idea then would be to hire people whose key intelligences best fit the job. So what are the eight intelligences and what occupations best align with each? Continue reading

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Be a Better Writer in 2016 – Part 3

If you think bad writing is only a problem for recent immigrants (for whom English is a second language) and grade school children, think again. A parking lot sign read: “Customer Parking Only. All Others Will Be Toad.” (It should read Towed.) Another neon sign at a car dealership read: “We Bye Used Cars.” (Well, if business is good, perhaps do they say ‘bye’ to a lot of cars. But the sign probably should read: “Buy”.) And a Days Inn roadside sign advertised “Free Wife Available”. It should say “Wifi”. (Hopefully, they aren’t giving away free wives.) While amusing, consider that companies paid money to have these signs professionally printed. No one at the company or at the sign printer caught the mistakes. Many people surely read these signs and yet the signs weren’t removed or corrected, which suggests that perhaps no one caught these mistakes. These signs point to the trouble many people have writing well. Social media, newspapers, signage, advertisements, email solicitations and other written and published works are littered with examples of bad writing.

Why are such writing mistakes so common? One reason words or phrases are mixed up is because they sound eerily similar. Other times, the word is being mispronounced, misspelled or misused. Libary instead of Library. Granite instead of granted. Pacifically instead of specifically. Strickly instead of strictly. Supposably instead of supposedly. Some even quote expressions or common phrases incorrectly, such as “for all intensive purposes” instead of “for all intents and purposes.” Sometimes, it is not a case of mistaking one word for the other, but rather not knowing when to use each, such as in who versus whom. (More about that later.)

The real problem is that, when words are misused or mixed-up, it completely changes the meaning of what is being expressed. Communication depends on vocabulary. The larger a person’s vocabulary, the better that person is able to express a precise thought. It’s not enough to have heard a word. The word must be used in the correct context. Here are some of the most commonly misused, abused and confused words in English.
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Be a Better Writer in 2016 – Part 2

For most people, writing is not easy. Converting one’s thoughts to writing is hard, in part, because we don’t speak the way we are supposed to write and we’re not always entirely clear about what we want to say or the best way to say it. That is true in any language.
Writing the English language has even more challenges. For every rule there are always exceptions. Words often have multiple meanings, spellings and sounds. Nevertheless, writing is a skill used daily by most people in their personal and professional lives. While no one expects the average person to be a master writer, it’s important to at least be a proficient one.
Thankfully, technology can help, to some extent. Correct spelling is the easiest part to get right. Spell check on most computers and devices automatically eliminates the most common spelling errors, but it doesn’t catch mistakes that involve homophones, homonyms, homographs or heteronyms. Those are words in the English language have the same sounds, spelling or meanings. These are the cause of many of the mistakes people make in writing. To make it a bit easier, here’s a little “cheat sheet” to keep at your desk for future reference. This can help avoid some of the most common mistakes. Continue reading

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Be a Better Writer in 2016 – Part 1

Despite the recurring diatribes about the decline of the written word, in truth, people write more now than ever. While few pen long letters on scented stationary anymore, people were pouring emails into the digital abyss at an estimated eye-popping rate of about 200 Billion per day in 2015. We also send text messages, tweets, and instant messages and write blog posts and comments, and otherwise fire off words at one another in a near-constant flow of communication. Written communication is a required skill for most any job or profession today. Whether it is composing a memo, preparing a letter, drafting a report, taking notes in a meeting, crafting a business plan, or just pounding out a quick text message, written communication is part and parcel of practically every occupation on a regular basis. People write PowerPoint presentations, business requirement documents, speeches, mission statements, position papers, standard operating procedures, manuals, brochures, package copy, press releases, and dozens of other specialized types of documents. Even salespeople and accountants – occupations often thought to be sans writing — must write reports and sales agreements.
Not everyone, however, is a good writer. The English language has many rules and just as many exceptions to those rules. It is a beautiful but challenging language to master. Nevertheless, business people in English-speaking countries are expected to write clearly, cohesively and concisely. Despite the growing use of slang, abbreviations and urban words, most professionals are still expected to be able to write in complete sentences. Spelling, grammar and punctuation do matter. Using the right words with their correct meanings is also important. Although there is an abundant supply of resources available online – such as dictionaries, thesauri, writing guides, blogs for writers, and the like – writing mistakes persist. Although anyone can make an occasional mistake, common or abundant errors can taint how a person is perceived. Poor grammar or spelling can even call into question a person’s professional expertise. To maintain a reputation as a professional, it’s important to write well. Here are some tips to improve one’s ability to write well in English. Continue reading

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