Ways of stating the obvious

By Gordon Rugg

Stating the obvious is an activity unlikely to win you many friends, or to influence many people in a direction that you would like. However, sometimes you have to do it.

So, why do you sometimes have to state the obvious, and how can you turn this problem to advantage? That’s the topic of this post. I’ll use the worked example of risks, both obvious and less obvious. (Reassuring note: I don’t go into scary details…)

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Sending the right signals at interview

By Gordon Rugg

On the surface, a lot of the advice that you’ll see about sending the right signals at job interviews is either pretty obvious (e.g. “dress smartly”) or subjective (e.g. “dress smartly”) or social convention with no relation to what you’ll actually be doing in the job (e.g. “dress smartly”).

Below the surface, however, there are regularities that make a lot more sense of what’s going on. Once you know what those regularities are, you’re in a better position to send out the signals that you want, with the minimum of wasted effort and of misunderstanding on both sides.

So, what are those regularities, and where do they come from? The answer takes us into the reasons for Irish elk having huge antlers, and peacocks having huge tails, and monarchs having huge crowns.

Images from Wikipedia; credits at the end of this article

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Life at Uni: Some tips on exam technique

By Gordon Rugg

Standard disclaimer: This article is as usual written in my personal capacity, not in my Keele University capacity.

Sometimes, the acronyms that fit best are not the ones that produce the most encouraging words. That’s what happened when I tried to create an acronym to help with exam technique. It ended up as “FEAR FEAR”. This was not the most encouraging start. So, I’ll move swiftly on from the acronym itself to what it stands for, which is more encouraging, and should be more helpful.

A lot of people find exams mentally overwhelming. This often leads to answers that aren’t as good as they could be. When you’re in that situation, it’s useful to have a short, simple mental checklist that helps you focus on the key points that you want to get across. That’s where the acronym comes in.

F is for Facts, and F is for Frameworks

E is for Examples, and E is for Excellence

A is for Advanced, and A is for Application

R is for Reading, and R is for Relevance

In the rest of this article, I’ll work through each of the items, unpacking what they’re about, and how to handle them efficiently.

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Will the world end if I don’t get a job soon?

By Gordon Rugg

The short, reassuring answer is no, the world probably won’t end if you don’t get a job soon.

However, if you’re trying to find a job and haven’t found one yet, it can easily feel as if your personal world is closing in around you and about to collapse. This article is about some ways of handling that feeling and of handling the situation so that you get something good and positive out of it.

To set a good, positive mood as a starting point, here’s a picture of a hammock on a tropical beach.

798px-HammockonBeachImage source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HammockonBeach.jpg

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Discovering what you actually want in life

By Gordon Rugg

In a previous article, I looked at some ways of discovering what you want in life.

Those ways are a good start, but they often leave a lingering feeling that there’s something more that you actually want.

This article is about a quick, simple way of taking that next step.

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Sources for the original images are given at the end of this article.

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Life at uni: What do I do with the rest of my life?

By Gordon Rugg

It’s that time of year when final year students are uncomfortably aware that the rest of their lives will soon be starting, and that they don’t have a clue what they want to do with their lives, although everyone else seems to be reasonably sorted out and under control.

If you’re feeling like that, you’re not the only one. It’s an understandable feeling. This article is about non-threatening ways of moving towards finding out, and achieving, what you really want in life, particularly if you don’t even know what you actually want. It’s a story of hammocks and exotic sunny beaches and carnival masks. I’ll start with the masks.

bannerSources for original images are given at the end of this article.

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Making the most of bad bibliographic references

By Gordon Rugg

Sometimes, you have to make the best of what you have, even if it isn’t great.

In the case of cookery, there’s a legend that Chicken Marengo was created when Napoleon’s cook had to produce a meal out of whatever he had been able to scavenge in the aftermath of the battle of that name; the result is one of the few recipes that combines chicken with crayfish.

In the case of academic life, there’s an all-too-common reality where you are trying to write something, and all you have in the way of references for one section is a stub from Wikipedia, plus an article from a newspaper which claimed in the same issue that Elvis had been sighted piloting a UFO in Spokane.

So, what can you do when you’re faced with this situation? Is there any way of salvaging something from the debris?

The answer is that you can indeed salvage something, and even emerge in a position of strength, provided that you handle it the right way, and that you don’t push your luck.

How you do that is the topic of today’s article.

A dish fit for a future emperor (ingredients not to scale, and without the parsley…)bannerSources for original images are at the end of this article.

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