5 Mistakes that Can Kill a Business Relationship Before It Begins

5 Mistakes that Can Kill a Business Relationship Before It Begins

There are many ways to make a good first impression. You can learn communication techniques, body language, and other skills that help you get off on the right foot with the people you meet. But there are also things you can say or do that will kill your first impression no matter how solid it is. Here are 5 deadly first impression killers that you need to avoid.

Bad Hygiene

You could be the most attractive and likable person on earth but if your breath smells or your hair is unwashed, you won’t make a good first impression. Make sure that you’re showered, clean and presentable before you go out and meet people. And don’t forget to brush your teeth too!

Controversial Conversation

The golden rule of small talk is simple – avoid any topic that might stir up controversy. Now is not the time to be provocative or challenge people’s opinions. Stay away from conversation topics like religion and politics that can easily put people off. Observe the old rule that if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.

Name Dropping and Bragging

No matter how badly you want to impress someone, resist the urge to brag. Don’t talk about your great achievements in a bragging way and don’t deliberately drop names of who you know. It doesn’t impress and it’s more likely to make you look like a snob. Try to let your good points and knowledge come out naturally.


You create a good first impression by asking questions and listening to the other person, not talking about yourself. Keep the conversation focused on the other person, their needs and how you could help them. If you talk too much about yourself, you seem self-obsessed and people will turn off.

Who Are You Again?

Do your research and know who it is you’re talking to. If you don’t know who they are, get to know them, starting with their name. Forgetting names is a common first impression blunder that makes you look like you don’t care.

Avoiding these first impression mistakes is just as important as getting the first impression routine down. People tend to remember things they didn’t like about you more readily than things they did!

You’re Not Too Old for a Gap Year

You’ve probably heard of teenagers taking a gap year, where they take a short break between high school and college to sort out their future plans. But now, a growing number of adults are taking a strategic break and putting their careers on hold for a gap year.

Many recent graduates are taking longer to land their first job. Older professionals who have been laid off are facing retirement earlier than they expected. For others, it’s an intentional search for new adventures.

Whatever your motivation, these suggestions can help guide you through your gap year from planning to reentry.

Planning a Gap Year

1. Finance your dreams. The biggest question for most people is how to afford a year off. Build up your savings or plan to work while you’re away. You may even be able raise funds through crowdsourcing and other methods if you’re doing something like nursing in an orphanage.

2. Get your family on board. Depending on your destination, you may want to take your family along. Changing schools is a big step for your children, but they may learn things they would’ve missed by staying home.

3. Talk with your boss. Figure out the odds for returning to your old job if that’s your plan. Depart on good terms with your employer, so you can at least count on a positive reference.

4. Learn from the experience of others. Reach out to those who’ve gone before you. Look for people who share your individual interests. If you’re traveling to a major city out of the country, ask for suggestions on how to get connected with the local expatriate community to help you find your way around.

Managing the Logistics

1. Set your own schedule. Your break can be shorter or longer than 12 months. Decide how much time makes sense for you.

2. Travel light. Pack only the bare essentials. You’ll get through airports more quickly.

3. Find accommodations. Explore all your options. You may be able to rent your condo out or find a house swapping arrangement. If you have a mortgage, remember to check with your lender to see if you meet the requirements or have to complete any necessary forms.

4. Protect your health. Talk with your doctor. You may need to get certain vaccinations or stock up on your prescription medications.

Enjoying the Experience

1. Do volunteer work. Browse through the many agencies that sponsor international volunteer services. Work on a farm or get involved with conservation work in the Amazon. These organizations may help you with living arrangements as well.

2. Pursue spiritual development. Retreats and pilgrimages are a major part of many faith traditions. Join a group trip or design your own itinerary.

3. Study abroad. Take drama classes in London or enroll in a Spanish architecture class in Madrid. Pick up new languages at every stop you make. Contact your alma mater or other universities about their foreign study programs.

Engineering Your Reentry

1. Make a permanent transition. You may enjoy your gap year so much that you want it to last for the rest of your life. You may be surprised to find how much you change.

2. Simplify everything. Whatever path you decide to take, prevent clutter and distractions from building up again. That way you’ll stay energized and ready to take off on your next adventure.

3. Ease back into old routines. Give yourself time to readjust. High speed traffic and crowded stores may feel overwhelming at first if you’ve been exploring the countryside all year.

It takes courage and a willingness to accept risk when leaving your life behind and traveling down a new path. If you believe a gap year is a good choice for you, go ahead and give it a try. It could turn out to be the start of a whole new life.

What To Do When You Hate Your Job

If you’re like many people, you may be unhappy or dissatisfied with your job. Eventually, you may find a job that you love, but what do you do in the mean time? How can you do your work and do it well if you’re lacking motivation and fulfillment?

You may often hear about people quitting a job they they’re unhappy with before they have another position. Sometimes this works, but it’s a risky move. In our current economy, this is especially perilous. So, in most cases, it’s best to tough it out until you can find something better.

Consider these strategies to make the best of your work situation:

1. Continue at your current job, but spend your free time learning the skills you’ll need to find work you love. Everyone finds a way to waste time. Therefore, we all have more free time than we realize. Think about what you could accomplish if you used most of your free time to work on changing your situation.

* Maybe you could go back to school and earn the credentials for a career that will bring you more enjoyment.

2. Find an activity you enjoy doing outside of work. Turn something besides work into the highlight of your day. Maybe there’s an activity that you’d love to do each day, so fit it into your schedule. It’s important to have something to look forward to.

3. Be creative in completing the work your job requires. Maybe you need to shake up your routine at work. Use your creativity to accomplish your job tasks differently.

4. Use your breaks at work wisely. During your breaks, try reading positive affirmations or meditating. Both of these activities can help make your day more productive and enjoyable. Listening to music can also be a great way to lift your spirits.

* The day might pass more quickly if you utilize your breaks in a way that benefits you.

5. Make a list of all the reasons you’re grateful to have your current position. Remind yourself about all the good aspects of your job.

6. Focus on being great at your job. Instead of dwelling on your unhappiness at work, try making a real effort to excel at your job. With such positive intentions, you just might start to enjoy it.

* With more effort, you could get promoted, make more money, or even end up getting promoted to a different position you do love.

7. Avoid negative self-talk. You’ll only make yourself more miserable by focusing on the undesirable aspects of your job. When you catch yourself focusing on the negative, quickly replace those thoughts with more positive ones.

8. Establish friendships at work. Your job will be more enjoyable if you work with people you like. Reach out socially and make new friends.

* Spending the day with friends makes the workday pass by more quickly.

9. Participate in work activities. Many jobs have different activities that you can join. It might be a softball team or a group that gets together to play cards. Find something enjoyable to do through your workplace.

At some point, you may have a job you’re unhappy with. Until you find your dream job, use these tips to cope to make the best of your current situation.

Weed Out Your Negative Habits and Let Your Life Blossom

We all do things that can be annoying or that others find troublesome. Sometimes, we even have a habit that’s irritating to us (even though we’re the ones doing it), but we find ourselves doing it over and over anyway.

Isn’t it time to take action to banish those annoying habits?

Put these steps into play to discard your negative habits:

1. Identify the issue. In order to get rid of a weed, first you have to notice it. Negative habits are the same. If you take a moment to recognize these undesirable ways, you’ve taken the first step toward doing something about them.

2. Increase self-awareness. Now that you’ve identified the weed, notice how it’s choking out the cucumbers and tomatoes you’re trying to grow. Negative habits result in negative consequences.

* For example, when you interrupt your partner (the bad habit), their feelings get hurt or they get angry (the negative consequence).

* When you eat donuts for breakfast (the bad habit), you’ll gain weight or end up with high cholesterol (the negative consequence).

3. Make a conscious decision. If you want to expel a negative habit, make the choice to stop. Rather than saying, “I’ll try to stop interrupting my partner,” say, “I won’t interrupt my partner.”

4. Build in a safety net. Come up with a plan to use when you slip back into your bad habit. This plan should help you get back on track. For example, say to yourself, “If I accidently interrupt my partner, I’ll stop talking and apologize for it immediately.”

* Since most of us find apologizing less than enjoyable, you’ll learn that your safety net is meant to help you curb the habit.

5. Use diversion. Some habits can be combatted by diverting our attention.

* For example, when your co-worker arrives with a box of donuts, you could go to your office, close the door, and begin checking your email. Or you could go to talk to your supervisor about a project you’re working on.

* Find a positive action to distract you while you’re avoiding the donuts. Not only will you avoid the donuts, but you’ll accomplish something positive as well!

6. Replace old habits with new ones. Plan in advance to do a specific action each time you find yourself doing the old habit. Replacement gives you the opportunity to implement a positive habit rather than the negative one you’re trying to avoid.

* For example, rather than interrupting your spouse, you could gaze into their eyes and listen to every word. Instead of eating a donut, you could eat a delicious yogurt with fresh fruit.

7. Expect relapses, but cease the old behavior swiftly. Especially at the beginning, you’ll tend to backslide into your negative habit. Stop the behavior the moment you notice it and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can rid yourself of that habit.

Weed out those negative habits and live in a “garden” that’s positive, healthy, and happy. Your life is filled with plenty of positive actions. Avoid letting those few negative ones take your life in an unfavorable direction.

Top 10 Ways to Remove Anger and Gain Peace

Do you become angry when you get your feelings hurt? What about when you’re unhappy or feeling frustrated? Criticism is another common trigger for angry feelings. However, anger isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something you do to yourself.

Anger isn’t a useful emotion. It drains your energy and damages your health. It can ruin relationships and hold you back from new opportunities.

While it’s challenging to control external circumstances, you can learn to control your angry reactions and attitudes. Think about how powerful you’d feel if you had this kind of control.

Do you ever find yourself becoming angry over irrelevant issues? Your life could be much more joyful if you eliminate such anger. Make today be the day you start to move toward peace.

Gain more peace in your life with these suggestions:

1. Spend time each day reminding yourself how great life would be without anger. Create a positive image in your mind and keep moving toward that more peaceful existence.

2. Avoid taking everything so seriously. Remind yourself that life is short. Does the issue that’s causing your anger matter in the grand scheme of things?

3. Try counting to ten. Your mom probably told you to stop and count to ten at some point in your life, and moms give great advice. This strategy is distracting and gives you the mental space to come up with a better alternative.

4. Take a drink of water. Again, this will distract you from your anger and give you a few minutes to regain your composure. To some extent, many of us are chronically dehydrated. A little water will likely make you feel better.

5. Focus on your breathing. By focusing on your breathing, you’re taking the focus off whatever is making you angry. A few slow, deep breaths can have a calming effect.

6. Realize that everyone has an opinion. It’s pointless to get angry just because someone doesn’t agree with you. How would you feel if others became furious every time you didn’t agree with them?

7. Decide to react calmly, regardless of the situation. Having good intentions can make all the difference.

8. Think about something funny. It’s much more difficult to be angry while you’re laughing. There’s something funny in nearly any situation. If you’re unable to find something at that moment, remember another time that was humorous.

9. Focus on being patient. Try slowing everything down and calming your anger. Your emotions are much less likely to get out of control if you react more peacefully. Those who are patient have more freedom and options.

10. Think positive thoughts. Anger is based on your interpretation of the situation. Avoid assuming the worst. Positive thoughts result in positive emotions and a happier life.

Anger is a sign of poor self-control and it’s an emotion that rarely leads to a positive outcome. When you’re angry, you’re likely to make unfavorable choices. Poor decisions make life and relationships more challenging than they need to be.

Work on controlling your anger daily. Consider getting professional help if anger is prominent in your life. With a little practice, nearly anyone can learn to control their anger.

Top 10 Ways to Beat Laziness

Laziness is the desire to be idle and do nothing. On occasion, it’s enjoyable to have a lazy day, especially after a hard day at work. But when laziness starts to take over your life, it will benefit you to address this trend.

A grand life requires a considerable amount of effort. It doesn’t just happen by accident. It’s like expecting a sand castle to rise on the shore of the beach just because you kicked a little sand around.

A great life is the result of a vision that you put into action, and there’s usually only a little room for laziness in that plan.

Following these tips can help to minimize the laziness in your life:

1. Try sleeping and exercising more. Maybe you lack the energy to get much done. You might require more rest. Exercise can be energizing, as well. Establish a routine that allows for both.

2. Set some goals that excite you. Sometimes boredom is just a symptom of having goals that don’t motivate you. Think about what you want your life to be like and focus on how happy you’ll feel when you’re successful.

3. Consider the consequences. Think about the effects if you continue being lazy on a regular basis. Do you want to live with those negative consequences?

4. Ponder all the benefits you’ll discover when you stop being lazy. Imagine all the things you could get done and how that would positively affect your life. Many of your worries would probably be eliminated.

5. Focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking isn’t effective and it can be stressful. Try doing one thing, finishing it, and then moving on to the next task.

6. Break down bigger tasks into smaller ones. Writing an entire book seems intimidating. But you could handle writing one chapter. Smaller tasks are less intimidating and more likely to get done when you take a step-by-step approach.

7. Repeat positive affirmations. Affirmations keep your mind focused on positive thoughts and help you avoid negativity. It’s like killing two birds with one stone. Sometimes simply repeating, “Get up. Get up. You can do it.” can get you moving.

8. Get started. Procrastination is a form of laziness. Learn to jump up and get started before you have the chance to talk yourself out of it.

9. Hang out with successful people. Most successful people have figured out how to avoid becoming lazy. Seeing how others handle their lives can be educational and inspiring. You’ll also be amazed at how much they get done.

10. Use visualization. You can utilize your imagination to affect your behavior and future. Imagine performing all the tasks that you need to get done. Envision yourself completing them quickly, easily, and joyfully.

People that are chronically lazy tend to get themselves into challenging situations. Attack this issue from every possible angle. Overcoming laziness requires a multi-pronged approach. Try these tips and you’ll start to see progress. Have a plan for your life that inspires you to take consistent action.

Read This Before Applying for a Job Online

Applying for a job online can be frustrating. Millions of job seekers send in their resumes without ever getting a response. So, how can you get noticed? You need strategies to make your resume stand out from the others.

Employers tend to receive more applications than they can handle. Fortune 500 companies have been using specialized software to conduct initial screenings for the past several years. Now, smaller companies are following suit.

If you want to get noticed, it’s important to know how to operate in this new environment. Study these tips and revise your approach.

The Importance of Keywords

1. Understand applicant tracking software. These software packages go through resumes to select candidates who use desired words, such as new media or MBA. In addition to your skills, they may consider what colleges you attended and how long you held your last position.

2. Research each company. Look at corporate websites, press releases, and job descriptions, and use some of their exact language in your application and resume. Consider including references to corporate culture, such as environmentally friendly or quality driven.

3. Know your industry. Stay up to date in your field. Attend association events. Read the leading publications.

4. Consult a recruiter. Ask a head hunter for advice. Recruiters will have useful insights into the latest human resources practices and priorities.

5. Edit your materials. Add essential keywords related to your field to your resume and cover letter. Try to use them in the first sentence of each document, so your resume stands out from the rest.

6. Avoid excessive repetition. To avoid overstuffing, use a keyword once for every hundred words. Remember to vary the way you state them. Use popular acronyms, if appropriate.

7. Stick to a simple format. Reduce the risk of having your resume mangled by an automatic program. Put information on separate lines when giving your employer’s name, your job title, and the number of years you worked at your previous company.

8. Keep humans in mind. Remember that a real person will probably review your materials if you make the first cut. Read your application out loud to ensure it makes sense. Check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation because if your resume is full of errors, it’s unlikely that you’ll be considered.

The Value of Personal Referrals

1. Ask around. Your odds are much better if you can find someone who already works at the company to recommend you or give you inside information. Connect with others through social media or call others in your network.

2. Join a job club. Job clubs are a great source for gathering personal referrals as well as moral support. Your local library may offer a program. Otherwise, consider starting your own.

3. Help others. Nurture and expand your network by doing favors for others.

Additional Suggestions

1. Be selective. Applying for a job can be as easy as clicking a single button. Be candid with yourself about whether you have the special qualities and experience to distinguish yourself from the rest of a crowded field. Focus your efforts on your best chances.

2. Use a variety of techniques. The most successful job hunters tend to use multiple tactics. Experiment with everything from posting your resume online, to answering job ads, to doing volunteer work.

3. Develop patience. Your career plays a big role in your life. Finding meaningful work that’s fitting for you may take a while. Focus on your long-term goals and congratulate yourself for every step you take. Positive thoughts will make you happier and more attractive to your future employer.

It’s easy for your resume to fall into a black hole when you’re dealing with online job listings. Mastering keywords and deploying personal referrals will help you get more interviews and job offers. By applying these strategies, you’re more likely to get noticed and secure your dream job.

Managing Your Time to Achieve Success

Living in the 21st century can be overwhelming. Your job is busier than ever, your kids are involved in several after-school activities, and you’re busy keeping up with everything else around the house. Yet, you long to do other things that require a time commitment. Will you ever be able to juggle everything and still do the things you enjoy?

Institute these changes today so you can achieve the success you crave:

1. Obtain a calendar and use it. If you’re trying to juggle too many things, it’s imperative that you have a calendar. A calendar will help you schedule events, keep track of where you need to be, and figure out how much time is left over.

* Buy a pocket calendar at your local office supply store and keep it in your purse or briefcase.

* Alternatively, use the scheduling program in your smartphone.

* Use your calendar as a way to keep track of all the important events in your life.

2. Write everything down. You can be more realistic about what you can accomplish when you write down everything you have to do. This will help keep you focused and on-task.

* You deserve to have a restful mind. Avoid having chaos in your head by keeping a written record.

3. Be realistic about the timelines you establish. Can you really get ready for the neighborhood yard sale in 3 days? Gauge how much time you’ll need to be fully prepared and create a reasonable timeline for big projects.

4. Learn to say “no.” It’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to attend every event at your kids’ school. And there are only so many hours you can devote to your volunteer work.

* You’re only one person and sometimes you’ll have to say “no.”

5. Recognize the trouble spots during the week. Maybe Thursdays after school are tough because your son has to go to football practice and your daughter has gymnastics at the same time. Plus, that’s the day you and your mom get together for dinner. So, if Thursdays are your trouble spot, look at your schedule and think about what you can move.

* Maybe you and your mom can do dinner on Tuesdays instead. Perhaps your husband can take care of football and you can focus on gymnastics.

6. Be flexible when you can. Some things aren’t etched in stone and there will be times when more important things come up unexpectedly. You’re likely to feel calmer if you can be flexible and switch things around in your schedule.

7. Be clear about your priorities. Your family will most likely be your first priority. But if the occasional work project has to temporarily come first, that might work for you too. When you clearly acknowledge your priorities, decisions about managing your time become easier.

8. Limit the time you spend in meetings. Many meetings lack productivity and take too much time. If you have the power to excuse yourself from meetings, do it.

* If you happen to be responsible for holding and leading meetings, ensure they’re short, to-the-point, and productive.

* Some time management experts have even suggested meetings be limited to 30 minutes and that everyone stands up during the meeting. By doing this, everyone will be brief and the necessary topics will be covered quickly.

9. Schedule fun activities and “me” time. If you fail to place time in your schedule to have fun, then it likely won’t happen.

* During those scheduled times you can choose what to do. Carve out the free time you deserve.

Manage your time in a way that works for you. To achieve your life goals, set priorities, make a schedule, establish realistic timelines, and keep a written record. If you can implement these suggestions, you’ll be on the path to success. Become an expert at managing time and your life!

Keys to Success: If You Could Just Get Started, Where Would You End Up?

The most difficult part of developing a new habit, like exercising, playing the piano, or writing each day is getting started. Playing the piano for 30 minutes each day isn’t difficult, once you actually sit down on the piano bench. Getting started is the tough part.

The habit we all really need to develop is the habit of getting started!

Maybe this is the year you’re determined to get that beach body, yet you’re struggling to get yourself to the gym on a regular basis. Why don’t you feel like going for a jog or picking up your guitar every day?

It’s too challenging to get started. You might already be comfortable sitting on the couch. It might be a hassle to go out for a run in the rain. Maybe you have to take your guitar out of the case, tune it, and then clear off a place to sit down and play.

If you think about it, both of those reasons are actually different viewpoints of the same issue.

The answer is to make getting started easier:

1. Choose an activity that you enjoy. Try to find an activity that will fit your requirements that you also enjoy. If you love basketball, but dislike running, choose basketball for getting into better shape.

* If you love it, you’ll be more likely to get started.

2. Attempt to come up with an activity you can do at home. If you have to get in the car before you actually start the activity, it’s going to be more challenging to start. This is one of the biggest barriers to doing anything.

3. Start easy. If you want to start yoga, begin with a class for beginners. The advanced class is probably a mistake. Another idea is to limit the amount of time you spend. Practice the guitar for 10 minutes each day this week. You can add time slowly.

* It’s easier to get started if you know it’s only going to take a few minutes.

4. Focus on just the first step. Whether it’s putting on your running shoes or writing one sentence in your word processor. Do the first step before you can talk yourself out of it.

* Once you’ve tackled that first step, momentum can get you through.

5. Plan ahead and so no preparation is needed. If your plan is to go running after dinner, have all your running clothes laid out in the morning. Have your guitar tuned, in its stand, and ready to go. The lower the barrier to getting started when the time comes, the easier it will be to get started.

* What can you do to make getting started as easy as possible?

6. Include someone else. If you have plans with another person, you’ll be far less likely to back out. Most of us find it painful to let someone else down. This is especially helpful if you have to do the activity at another location. It can really help you to get out the door.

So, the trick is to making starting as easy as possible. Tell yourself that getting started is all that matters. You’ll frequently find that it’s easy to continue, if you can simply get started. Try the above tips and see if you can get 30 days under your belt.

Start small, but get started!

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