Monthly Archives: April 2013

Understanding the Language of Training

questionmarkI know what your thinking…

article written by Tim Dingle MBA
Chief Development Officer  AVPTGLOBAL

Training is about to undergo a revolution and the understanding of body language will be crucial for those undertaking training. Speaking at a conference in Birmingham last year, a leading HR director observed that there was nothing as important as understanding the language of business.  That must mean the non-verbal as much as the verbal expressed language.  Non-verbal communication is commonly known as body language and I spent a lot of time studying the basis of this and its importance in training and interviews. So the question is can it be read and used by individuals, managers and directors- or indeed in their wider professional or social lives?

Body language is a broad term for forms of communication using dress, body movements or gestures instead of, or in addition to, sounds, verbal language, or other forms of communication.  It is part of the category of paralanguage, which describes all forms of human communication that are not verbal language.  This includes the most subtle of movements that many people are not aware of, including, for example, a discreet smile or a slight movement of the eyebrows. Such messages can be communicated instantly and silently through gesture; body movement or posture, facial expression and eye gaze.

Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle would not have recognised it, but just watching an accomplished politician, actor, or shopping channel salesperson can give you some insight into the power of gestures or facial inferenceSuch gestures can add to the stagecraft, amplify the message and can provide surprisingly magnetic assurance about what you are being told.   Have a look at the courses we offer at The Academy of Vocational and Professional Training.

Can the use of these non-verbal signatures be imported into the business, training and HR arena?  It can be a risky strategy to attempt to read and rely upon body language signatures without some training and practice. Should individuals be aware of the power of non-verbal communication and seek to harness this aspect in negotiation? If our desire, as individuals in business, training or HR, is to produce our optimum performance then we should employ all of the communication and interpersonal skills with which we individually have been gifted.

We may well consider investing our time to improve our oral questioning and language skills, but very few individuals seem to give much thought to developing the skill of both reading and transmitting non-verbal clues. We can help! Developing those reading skills would be much easier if all our clients were between three and nine years of age – this is rare of course, even if sometimes a negotiation has something of a playground quality about them.  Children wear their emotions on their sleeves and are, except perhaps to other children or their doting grandparents, pretty easy to read.

Mobile Learning, Mobile Earning

Mobile Learning, Mobile Earning

Tightly crossed arms, a screwed-up face and a stamped foot quickly clues you into the internal voice of the child, even if their response to the question, “Are you OK” is “Yes”. A parent’s sixth sense is often nothing more than a demonstration of the superior body language reading skills that child carer’s, of necessity, have learned to develop.  The older we grow the more we learn how to mask our true feelings, which unconsciously includes the toning-down of our body language as well.  Whilst we can try and make our non-verbal communication less obvious, very few people can completely mask it.

HR directors, business people and individuals, might want to learn to look for those more subtle, but tell-tale, signs of stress, hope, agreement, confidence, resistance, and fear in the body language of the clients, and indeed their own clients.  Picking up on these signs could allow us to make progress in a situation of stale-mate and could save a negotiation that is about to crash.  These skills can allow us to zero-in our questioning, to know when a private meeting or a break is essential, and to see the evident bridges and agreements, even when the other side have yet to verbalise them.  How too are we at listening to clients, staff and business partners when they speak to us?  Are we fully engaged with them, having turned our chair, and thus our whole body towards the speaker, leaning forward and maintaining good eye contact?  If you want to be heard in your turn, you need to be seen to be listening.

People will usually only tell us what is really on their mind if they believe that we are really listening.  Do we really listen?  Taking notes whilst staring at out iPad or mobile phone as the person tells their story, does nothing to build confidence in us or the process.  Active listening skills such as reflecting back a summary of what has just been said by the speaker may just persuade, non verbally, a client to listen to you and thereby facilitate success. HR directors, managers and individuals should be encouraged, therefore, think about using their body language positively to enhance the oral skills that they already have, allowing them to maximise their potential as conflict resolution practitioners.

I know what you are thinking. You need to start training, now.   

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Keep Taking the Tablets

Keep taking the tablets

Keep taking the tablets

-More Than 1 Billion Smart Devices Sold Last Year Changes Everything

article by: Tim T Dingle BSc (Hons) MIBiol PGCE MBA  CDO at AVPTGLOBAL

I can remember clearly (it was after all, only 3 years ago on April 3rd 2010) when Steve Jobs unveiled a unique consumer tablet with an unusual name. It had been one of his obsessions for years, even before the iPhone. Many people thought Apple would be better served by coming out with a netbook: you remember netbooks, don’t you?

According to the International Data Corporation[1], worldwide shipments of smart connected devices grew an amazing 29.1% year over year in 2012, crossing 1 billion units sold with a value of $576.9 billion. The market expansion was largely driven by 78.4% year-over-year growth in tablet shipments, which surpassed 128 million in 2012. Quite astonishing and I hope everyone had a great Christmas opening the tablets!

We all know that smart devices can deliver amazing functionality; from constant Internet and social media connection to brilliantly helpful apps. They are genuinely changing the way we operate as a society. The change is happening so rapidly and almost seamlessly that most of us probably don’t realise how much we use and rely on our smartphones and tablets.  How did the business world even operate without employees having constant access to their phones, email and the Internet? How did busy parents keep track of their schedules without a calendar that never leaves their side and actually reminds them of events?

apps galore!

apps galore!

If we pause to consider that now we can use apps to find the best meal when on the road, the nearest petrol station or to locate possible holdups on route. We don’t even have to watch TV or connect to an online news site to get instant national and local news. We can scan rail and plane tickets with our smart phones and check in with no paper for international flights. While smart devices are making everyday activities easier for consumers, some businesses are facing challenges to compete effectively. The challenge is being met by forward thinking companies like AVPT Global[2] who seek to use tablets and smart phone technology to be at the heart of online learning and push forward the rise of mLearning.

The iPad and other smart devices (including my brilliant Samsung Note 10.1) have had huge initial impact on access to information, business sales and social interaction. In fact the pioneering of this new category has in some ways been even more significant than the iPod and even the iPhone, because it has disrupted so many different device manufacturers. It has created a market opportunity for smart device manufacturers and created a challenge to other PC makers and even potentially influencing how we may watch television in the future. It has also extended digital content opportunities to make books and video on-the-go a more practical experience, ending the back breaking march of the child with books to school perhaps?

The iPad was the first device to successfully bridge the gap between the PC and smartphone for consumers. Since it landed in the first consumer’s hands more than 55 million iPads have been sold worldwide, used for watching (and streaming) movies, reading books, magazines and newspapers, Web surfing and playing games. Tablets are becoming familiar common coffee-table fixtures in households around the country. They’re also being stowed in the briefcases and bags of travellers, whether they’re going by car or by plane. And they’re increasingly carried by teachers, doctors, lawyers, real estate agents — a wide range of professionals who find they can do much of their work with a tablet. Put simply, the tablet has become the go-to PC substitute for a variety of activities.

A smarter way to study with www.avptglobal.com

A smarter way to study with http://www.avptglobal.com

People now leave their laptops behind more often, taking advantage of the tablet’s lighter weight, ubiquitous wifi (and 3G /4G) connectivity, its longer battery life and catalogue of useful applications. We are seeing some of the tasks traditionally performed on PCs and laptops, now being performed on the tablet. In fact, all five of the top activities (email, Web surfing, game-playing, social networking and online shopping) shifted towards the tablet in late 2011.

Many of these are activities we do on our smart phones, of course, but doing them on the tablet is not only more pleasurable visually, it leads to entirely new behaviours. Watching video (be it movies, TV or YouTube) is definitely one of the preferred uses of tablet owners who also have smartphones, as is Web surfing and email, according to new research from Nielsen. In a great piece of research called, “Tablets are for meals. Smartphones are for snacks,” Nielsen[3] shows how 10 per cent or less of smartphone owners opt to do those activities on their phones. Social networking (both Facebook and Twitter) is also better done on a tablet than smartphone, as is writing emails. Aside from making phone calls, the only activity right now where the smartphone beats the tablet is instant messaging. But even 18 per cent said they’re doing that on their tablets. It appears that mobile phones tend to be the gateway drug in emerging markets where consumers typically move on to a tablet.

The IDC report that grabbed the headlines last week (1.2 billion smart devices), goes on to say that it expects global smart connected device unit shipments to surpass 2.2 billion units by 2017. Consumers and business buyers are now starting to see smartphones, tablets, and PCs as a single continuum of connected devices separated primarily by screen size. Each of these devices is primarily used for data applications and different individuals choose different sets of screen sizes in order to fit their unique needs. These kinds of developments are creating exciting new opportunities that will continue to drive the smart connected devices market forward in a positive way. The first step on the long road to mLearning is just beginning and the potential for individuals and companies to grasp the opportunity is seen by only a few.

Taking the Tablets has never been so exciting.

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[2] The Academy of Vocational and Professional Training www.avptglobal.com

[3] Dan Lee, Director of Product, Digital Nielsen July 18th 2012