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The Power of a Comma

By Diego Nascimento

Last week, as I walked the streets of the city, I was struck by a profound blow of disappointment: near the most traditional center of commerce was a poster promoting a particular product, but that was not the problem. The absence of a comma in the text showed an affront to the correct (and basic) use of the Portuguese language. Immediately I recalled a teacher I had while in elementary school, who was so zealous with grammar that she would have had to be taken to the hospital (ha, ha) after seeing this innocent propaganda.

What few people realize in professional, relational and academic everyday life is that spoken and written communication has a direct and indirect impact on everything that is done. I know of cases where a badly written note stuck on the refrigerator almost resulted in a divorce. All because of a great character: the comma. Friend of some, enemy of others, this punctuation mark carries out three basic missions when it appears: prevent the vice of language, separate or even emphasize sentences / phrases, and offer a meaningful reading when spoken aloud.

Renowned author of textbooks on grammar and composition, Professor Richard Nordquist* once told in one of his articles that the Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper in the August 6, 2006 edition brought a story that spoke of a mistake in the partnership agreement of a renowned Canadian company. A comma placed in the wrong place of the document opened the door to legal action that could result in a $2 million loss to the corporation. All because of a comma. Do you understand how serious this is?

To protect the integrity of the shop where I witnessed the fact, I will offer a fictitious example of how the comma owner can change everything. Look:

Carlos Antonio and his neighbors are talking about the city hall.
Carlos, Antonio and his neighbors are talking about the city hall.

In the first sentence, we have the idea that Carlos Antonio is just one person. In the second, punctuated correctly, we understand that Carlos is in the company of Antonio (they are actually two people).

The next example is classic on Messenger:

We do not want to pay.
No, we want to pay.

In the first alternative, the caller receives an affirmation that the payment will not be made. When we insert the comma in the right place, we realize that the intention is contrary, that is, to remove the debt.

These situations are recurrent in written communication (manual tickets, emails, typed texts, postings in social networks, etc.), bring a lot of confusion to relationships. It becomes dangerous. So, I want to invite you to keep your eyes open when you communicate. The world is already very troubled, and we need to make a difference in everything. The next time you send a text message, read and reread the content. You do not always write the same way you speak.

Speak the Right Way

By Diego Nascimento

My articles are read in Portuguese / English versions in more than thirty countries around the world (Google charts confirm this), and for this reason, I have the task of guiding my readers on various topics. Among them is the correct use of written and spoken language. The fact that I have friends from different nationalities has shown that the excessive and inappropriate use of slang has also made communication difficult in various corners of the planet.  It is a problem that has invaded the workplace, classrooms and, as a whole, it brings communication disorders into families.  From here I can see your expression of astonishment (ha, ha …).  I would just ask you to stay with me and understand the reasons.

In Brazil, for example, you just have to go out on the streets to hear words that sound strange to your ears, but which are common to new generations or older groups who still hold terminologies that belong to the past and that create barriers in today’s dialogues. The worst is when a person mistreats words by utterly wrong pronunciations, outside the verbal context and with zero understanding.  A real crime against the mother tongue that, if we analyze it, is a public patrimony.

I have participated in numerous job interviews (from a recruiter’s position) in which candidates had great goodwill and apparent strengths, but when they started to speak they threw out all the expectations presented by the resume.  It’s a sad reality.  What about writing? That is even worse. They offer a “free day” for final point, comma and other punctuation marks that give meaning to the text. How to entrust public service tasks (internal / external) or even a sales job to those who want to torture the correct use of the language?

I agree that there is a section of the population that presents limitations due to a school deficit (and that can be made up), but I know of groups that ignore good vocabulary because of laziness or fads and thereby lose great opportunities simply by choosing words and expressions strange and inelegant.  In any case, I want to be clear that I am not begging for the use of sophisticated language; I am just calling for common sense and practice.  Also please understand that there are certain communities that, because of cultural and longstanding issues, make use of a language system all their own, and that must be respected.  Under no circumstances is bullying justified.

I would like to conclude by saying that you may think that for certain functions the use of an inappropriate vocabulary full of slang words does not present problems.  That would be your mistake. We are human beings formed by habits, and this is the best time to change the course of your life.  What’s fun today can become a serious issue when it comes to finding work, attending a course or even completing school / academic assignments. How about rewriting your story?  Start talking the right way!

Are You Good Enough?

By Diego Nascimento

Believe me:  I have answered this question a few times and went far beyond “Yes” or “No”.  Arguing is part of my life, and although this title has a masculine noun, this questioning happens to both men and women. Before offering tips on what your position should be, I want to make it clear that I will talk about skills and not about kindness toward others (this is a topic for another time).

Nowadays it is said that you must always be number one:  be the best at your job, sports, in your studies, appearance, on the Internet … in everything.  Without a doubt, we need to offer our best in what we do. However, we have practically seven billion people living on the earth’s surface and putting them all on top of the podium is physically and even mathematically impossible. We have limitations (yes, all of us), and this shows us that we are human and we all have flaws and difficulties.  On the other hand, this scenario does not justify sloppiness, procrastination (we will leave that one for later) or any other lack of attitude that results in settling. There is a space ahead of you, and if you do not prepare, someone else will take your spot.

In my lectures I always say that success is not necessarily linked to your bank account, designer clothes or the “car of the year.”  Success is when you go to sleep after an intense day of activities knowing that you have fulfilled your obligations in the best way, having left words arrogance, pride, dishonesty and the expression “Brazilian way” behind you.  If your work results in financial gain and popularity, excellent.  Otherwise, anonymity does not make you inferior to anyone.

Are you good enough? Look for the sincere evidence for this answer, but if dedication is a constant thing in your life, your skills will be highlighted. Reading the Holy Scriptures we learn that doing our best is also a way to please God.  The Apostle Paul, writing a letter to a group of people in the city of Colossae (Greece), recorded the following:  “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as for the Lord, and not for men.  It is Christ, the Lord, whom you are serving. “ – Book of Colossians 3: 23 and 24.

Until the next article.

Why are You Here?

By Diego Nascimento

Once a shy little boy tried unsuccessfully to make friends at school. When he found the courage and approached colleagues just to talk, he was left alone in a matter of seconds. That boy knew the reason: “The group was already complete, and they did not need him in it.” Even in childhood, the young student of the school of life was a victim of rejection. Time passed and that little boy became the author of this article you are reading now. I overcame this stage with tranquility, and I have to say that my life was saved.  Keep reading to better understand the reasons.

Recently I was invited to give a lecture in the United States. The audience consisted of adolescents, youth and adults from various regions of the US as well as Canada. The talk addressed the following theme:  “We are not here by accident. We are here for a purpose.” What is apparently an obvious statement has become a dilemma for the world’s population.  Ask any psychology professional and you will be startled by the high numbers of people who are asking for help because they “do not know what to do.”  College professors, recruiters and consultants will also be able to offer similar reports that have been circulating in educational institutions, even in family circles. Our emotions present opportunities, however, if not managed in the right way, they can have drastic consequences in our lives.

What I have said in that international presentation, I will repeat to you; we are by no means the fruit of chance. Through understanding it is much easier to set goals and deadlines for your DREAMS. This temporal and imaginary rule containing what you crave for tomorrow, next year, or ten years brings benefits to the organization of the home, schoolwork, accounts payable, and even books on the shelf. It is sad to see those who “decides everything by his gut.” This is a term used in my land, the state of Minas Gerais, and is directed to those who have no desire to fly high.

You may be wondering, “Diego, why are you here?” My answer is: “to make a difference.” I affirm and reaffirm: success is not necessarily linked to your bank account or to your exposure as being famous on TV, the Internet , magazines or newspapers. Making a difference involves adding to the lives of others, contributing to yourself and others, even if it means sacrificing. Human individuality is slowly killing society. Respect is considered a virtue when it should be a basic attribute.

I will close by explaining how the apparent rejection of my classmates saved my life; it was because of this and other experiences that I began to observe more, to discover the benefits of listening and improving the techniques of learning and teaching Personal Marketing.  But even so, this is on a case by case basis.  The great book of Proverbs in chapter 3, verse 13 says, “Blessed is the man that finds wisdom, and the man that gets knowledge.” I have sought to follow this guideline in my daily life. Far from perfection I recognize my faults, but I am able to have an answer for the reason why I am here, right now, writing to you.

Next time you are asked the same question, choose the right one and make a difference!

How to Interrupt Someone?

By Diego Nascimento

“Excuse me, may I interrupt for a moment?” This famous question has already been used by you at some point, and I imagine that the receptivity was not always positive. The experience becomes even more traumatic when this happens during an important presentation at school, college, work and even in churches. Faced with this, the question arises: how and in what way can I interrupt someone?

It would be great if this did not happen, but the interruptions will always come up in the most unexpected moments of your daily life. I am a communicator and have been interrupted during classes, lectures, meetings and conferences. Over time I learned that patience is a fundamental pillar for controlling emotions. However, there are limits that need to be respected.

I often say that the “thermometer” of an interruption is the timing. Only risky situations and emergencies where “five minutes may be too late” deserve priority in interruptions. Imagine if we added up all the breaks we give throughout the day because of unnecessary interruptions? The result would show that clock passing the minutes is more precious than we might have thought.  I have come up with some instruction and tips for how to think about this:
• Focus on your mission. There is a right time even for relaxation.
• Use notes to send short and emergency messages.

  • Learn to knock on the door: never turn the knob to invade a space without being necessary.
    • Raise one hand to receive permission to speak.
    • Set priorities: there are things you can expect.
    • Listen more and speak less.
    • Observe the facial communication of the person or group you want to interrupt; a brief look may signal the entry permit or a direct “come back”.

    Taming anxiety teaches us to think ten times before we manifest something. I know people who do not have the sense to wait and, in a matter of seconds, create interpersonal conflicts by making daily communication a monologue (long speech or discussion had by a single person). But stay calm: there is a solution.

In the next article we will learn what to do when we are interrupted. How to act? What to say? I am quite sure that your life will benefit from this next article.

Have you ever interrupted someone at an inappropriate time? Tell me your story, and I’ll keep it a secret!

It is so Costly, Very Costly

By Diego Nascimento

Have you ever stopped to think that communication failures are very costly for you, your neighbor, your family, your business, and all other sectors of society? We make mistakes when writing notes, small messages in WhatsApp, personal texts, work emails, recordings and even advertisements. A recent study has shown that, in the United States alone, an average of $ 5 billion dollars is wasted each year because of communication mistakes in organizations. That is a lot of money, right?

If you think that to write or speak well you have to study journalism, writing or explore an difficult path through grammar and public speaking. Good communication habits start at home when we leave a little message on the refrigerator with a comma in the right place. The habit of reading, an essential tool for building a good vocabulary, has its beginnings in our example. And we do not always pay attention to this responsibility.

Several times I witnessed misunderstandings because A did not correctly understand the message given by B. Since the result was not ideal, B gives the biggest lecture to A for having failed in the task. What people do not understand is that the one who must ensure that the recipient fully understands the message is the sender, that is, if my mother asks me to take the cake out of the oven at 4:15 pm, it is her job to ensure that, in fact, I understood the correct time and not a different time.  What passes for this is lack of commitment, skill or competence of those who received the task.

At the beginning of the article I gave the monetary example of how much it is costly for US companies to deal with communication failures. But think with me: how many things were bought mistakenly at the supermarket by a silly mistake in the transmission of the request / message? Even your pocket book suffers from this.  Now do you understand how serious this is?
What care should be taken to ensure effective communication?
• Whether writing, speaking or typing be absolutely sure that the words are correct.
• The comma and the end point are your friends and do no harm to anyone. Whenever necessary invite them to be part of your message.

  • If you receive some shared information, always try to find out if the content is true and worthy of being “passed on”.
    • Listen more and speak less.
    • Escape the gossip and the corridor whisperings.
    • Verify that the chosen communication channel is the best path for your message.
    • Ensure that the recipient understands your message.
    • Ask for help in proofreading text / speech (if necessary).
    • Never be ashamed to recognize language limitations and seek improvement.

Finally, before sending, I would listen to and read reports of communication failures that directly or indirectly hit you. Comment on the site www.diegonascimento.com.br or reply to the email, if you prefer. I have a duty to be realistic, practical and direct in the articles and, therefore, your participation is fundamental!

See you next time!

30 Hours Later

By Diego Nascimento

In my childhood I always watched the Unibanco 30 hours commercials and every time the videos were broadcast, I tried to do the math to understand how the company managed to work six hours longer than the count of a normal day. What was mysterious until I was eight years old became clear when I gained maturity and discovered that it was nothing more than an advertising strategy.

Time passed and I graduated, and after graduation I gradually expanded my experience in the national and international labor market. New responsibilities were coming, and it seemed that 24 hours were not enough to fulfill all my obligations. The result of this? Anxiety! This emotion or feeling (interpret this however you would like) has become a real nuisance in the lives of students and professionals from many different areas. A study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017 * points out that Brazil is the most anxious country on the planet (with about 9.3% of the population with some disorder related to this inconvenient companion that insists on prowling about our plans).

We are educated for immediacy. Proof of this is our agitation when we reboot a cell phone, a laptop, or any other computer system. The seconds of waiting to open a software or read a message in WhatsApp become an eternity that brings suffering, anguish and lack of control (there are people who even swear while being forced to wait). And the more that the “ease of technology” offers convenience, we end up making new commitments that are often unnecessary.

I know what I’m talking about. I had the bad habit of staying hours and more hours CONNECTED when, in fact, I was DISCONNECTED from reality. Working is great, studying is excellent, but there is the right time for everything. The balanced management of personal, student and professional activities is linked to common sense. I like the one who has ambition (wants to grow in life) and knows that the world will not end in five minutes and makes proper use of every turn of the clock.

Thanks to the sovereign God I was shaped to share with others how I found the harmony with reality and, through lectures and articles, I will fulfill this mission until the end of my days. And continuing my story … today I practice sports (daily running), work, study, write articles, minister lectures, visit the sick, help in church, watch good movies, listen to good music, travel and still have time to have coffee with a biscuit. How about assessing your schedule and making changes? Have courage and take heart!

* WHO study available at http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/254610/WHO-MSD-MER-2017.2-eng.pdf;jsessionid=5930D9F35F002DC50EA6BE24B41FFDF7?sequence=1

Is It True?

By Diego Nascimento

Yes! It is the plain truth that the intrigues still inhabit corridors and rooms around the world. My friends and mentors always share the issues that companies (and it does not matter if they are public, private, or third sector) face to “root out” the quarrels among peers, malicious comments in the sectors and jealousy aroused by the promotion of A or B. And if you are a student, note that this happens often in basic education (yes, even with children) and in universities. But where does all this begin?

Inside us. It is that simple. In my country, the habit of encouraging misunderstandings is known as “adding wood to the fire” and believe it; there are people who are experts at this and who show great talent for evil. I saw this first-hand in high school, in undergraduate, graduate and at work carried out. It is not by chance that the selection process for openings in the workplace are becoming more rigorous and, even so, there are those that only last a short time at work because of the low use of the emotional intelligence.

What I am going to tell you now is sad and based on real facts; character X always boasted of his knowledge and made pride a faithful companion. Often character X, perhaps frustrated by the monotony of his days, would pick up the cell phone and make a call to character Y, inventing that character Z had told intimate secrets about him/her. As soon as he hung up, X went the other way, calling Z and accusing Y of doing the same thing. Angered by this revelation, Y and Z began a real war in order to get even, to protect their families, and in the meantime X watched everything and fed the bad habit of creating intrigue.

I am a strong supporter of the idea that conversation solves a lot of issues. Any hint of the beginning of disagreement must be analyzed, corrected, and dealt with. I know leaders who turn a blind eye and let the bomb explode. Time passes and disagreements become common in that environment, influencing the daily life of the individual, the industry, the company … it’s like a small spark falling on a pile of straw. And if even while trying to solve the issue the person eagerly continues to harm others?  Fire him/her. Some weeds are too tough and need to be taken out.

Did you misunderstand? Let me clarify. Were you sad when you heard the gossip?  Be at peace, but do not hold a grudge.  Did you witness an intrigue? Stay on the team of peacemakers. The Holy Bible itself warns us about the subject in Proverbs 15:18.  “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.

See you in the next article!

Shot in the dark

By Diego Nascimento

Who has not had the sensation of running after something and, in the end, getting nowhere? How many companies and individuals invested heavily in projects and had the sensation of ‘dying on the beach’ or having kilos and kilos of unused material? Promising a million opportunities and delivering double on disappointments? The list is broad, and we need to be honest in recognizing that for some time we were part of this plot or we risk being characters on a journey of failure. But this scenario can be altered or avoided if we clearly set goals for our dreams. That’s right: goals.

I will be practical in this approach: I have developed a private project and decided to ask the opinion of an international network of marketing professionals. There are five people who, although they have the same academic background, are located in different countries, with diverse cultures and with a vast curriculum of “stories to tell.” Not even the time zone is an obstacle to our conversations intermediated by the universal language, English. By Skype or WhatsApp we are able to add and exchange unbelievable experiences that not even the best scientific articles could offer. In this context, all members of the group, without exception, were direct in asking, “Diego, what do you want with this? What are the objectives of the project?” A simple question, but with answers that can open doors or avoid terrible headaches.

I confess that I spent good moments reflecting on mistakes and corrections and what is (or are) my goals in each life choice for the next five years. Personal marketing goes far beyond speaking properly, taking care of appearance and maintaining impeccable hygiene; it covers our ability to organize and predict our dreams. It happens a lot in job interviews: it is easy to see when the candidate is in the stratosphere of exaggeration or if his feet are firmly on the ground.

In his book Goals and Goal Setting, writer Larrie Rouillard points out four easy-to-use elements for outlining our goals. They are: 1) Choose an action verb, 2) Choose a way to measure the result, 3) Set deadlines, and 4) Set limits (safety zone). There is no mystery at all. Professor Larrie, in fact, reinforces the need to put every step, every penny, effort at the tip of the pencil and evaluate the pros, cons and, if necessary, consult someone you trust.

In light of all this, I want you to understand that our humanity makes us imperfect and brings us the responsibility of watching at all times. “Shots in the dark” can hurt anyone who has no connection to events and shows no readiness, fear, or resistance to hearing because of the pure and simple explosion of ego. In times of so much instability in Brazil and worldwide, I recommend prudence and the immediate definition of goals. Ten minutes thinking today will avoid days or years in search of a solution that may never come.

Please Do Not Shout

By Diego Nascimento

I confess that I have serious difficulty in dealing with people who scream. My repudiation is linked to the exaggerated exercise of vocal chords in situations of work and interpersonal relationships. Observations I have made over time show that the next step after inappropriate use of voice is physical aggression. To illustrate the seriousness of this theme I will tell you about something I experienced a few days ago.

Wednesday afternoon, Lavras, Minas Gerais state, Brazil. I went to a medical clinic and calmly waited to be called by the front desk. I heard the most diverse “causes” of those who exercised there waiting with me. What should have been just routine became one of the gloomiest experiences for a corporate consultant and communicator. I noticed a certain movement in the next corridor: it was time for the famous coffee break. If education and common sense were part of the training of those involved who this would not have been a problem, but motivated by some particular situation of the weekend, they polluted the environment with laughter, inappropriate vocabulary and shouts and more screams. It seemed as if we were at the door of an ill-frequented pub, full of disrespectful and rude drunks. The scene was so alarming that one of the doctors interrupted an appointment and in fury cried out for order and silence, which was promptly accomplished.

I wish it were fiction, but it’s reality. And without doing any kind of polling I can say that screams are more than common in offices, shops, squares … and at home. I often use family relationships as a great laboratory of action / reaction in the everyday life of any human being. The theory of these attitudes has been recorded in an article* published by The British Psychological Society which states that “self-control depends on many processes and that changes in life can offer different impacts depending on the limitation of the source of energy.”  In short, it is easy to understand that self-control remains the secret to success in relationships.

Above any theory we find the Holy Bible. In it, the apostle Paul quotes in Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22, self-control as a characteristic of the fruit that comes from the Spirit. Absence of a relationship with God leaves us more confident in ourselves and hopeless, resulting in trouble and a total lack of control. That is why I invite you, reader to share the importance of calm whatever the moment and the challenge. May His voice be conducive to refreshing rather than synonymous with aggression and mediocrity, like the staff at the medical clinic where I was treated.

We live in terrible times and absolutely you have had the same experiences in which people “tried to win the argument by shouting.” In my case, even if they are family, people who shout lose credit with me. Confidence is called into question, after all, how can I delegate responsibility to those who, at the first challenge, get off the track?

I conclude with a simple request, but able to interfere deeply in our relationship:  never yell at me.