Lora's Peer Connect Blogs

Relationships in the Workplace (Part 2)

Monday February 8th - Lora

Building relationships with coworkers is important, however different personalities may present a challenge in forming workplace relationships. It may bring you down or affect your work when you feel as though you aren’t getting along with someone. If you ever find yourself in this situation, it may help to read what I’ve learned from my experience.

1. Stay Positive and Productive

Never let your morale or productivity suffer because you are not compatible with a co-worker. Remember that you were hired to do work. Unfortunately, this sometimes means working with people you don’t get along with.


2. Evaluate the Situation

When you notice you are not getting along with a co-worker, ask yourself why. Maybe it’s a clash of personalities, or a certain topic of conversation that gets brought up. When conversing with your co-worker, learn what topics to avoid and elaborate on conversations that seem to lighten the mood between the two of you.


3. Exercise Patience and Empathy

Be calm and patient with all coworkers, especially those you find it challenging to work with. This will help you think before you speak, and help you understand what they are saying. Also, being empathetic and thinking about where he/she is coming from may help you understand them better.


4. Practice Self-Control

Avoid talking back if you get mad or frustrated. Doing so reflects poorly on you, and you never know how the other person will react. Remember to be professional in the workplace. Take a few deep breaths and remain calm. Learning to control your emotions is a valuable life skill.


5. Take Some Time For Yourself

Working with someone you don’t get along with is not only challenging, but also exhausting. At the end of the work day or week, be sure to take some time for yourself and relax. This may include going out with friends, going to the gym, doing yoga, or any of your hobbies that help you clear your mind.

Not every job, or every coworker, will be the best. However, challenging situations often help us learn about ourselves, and what we need in a workplace. Take it as a learning experience, stay positive, and try to show all your coworkers that you are a great addition to the team.

- Lora


Relationships in the Workplace

Monday January 25th - Lora


Getting a new job and meeting new people is an exciting experience. However, building relationships with co-workers can at times be challenging. Based on personal experience, the following are points about making and maintaining relationships in the workplace.


1. Be Open

Be open to meeting new people and learning from others. Each co-worker will have a different history and different experiences. Understand that even though two people come from different backgrounds, it is always possible to find common ground.



2. Proper Introductions are Important

Introduce yourself and ask the person their name. After the introduction, ask questions about them and get them talking. When meeting someone new, showing sincere interest in what they have to say demonstrates to them that you care.



3. Engage in Conversation

After meeting someone, acknowledge them the next time you see them. Say hello, wave, or ask about their day. The more you engage in conversation, the more comfortable they will be around you. The relationship grows when both parties are comfortable talking and sharing ideas.

4. Plan for the Future

Once you are comfortable and the workplace relationship is established, suggest activities outside of work. Maybe plan to have lunch together, commute together if you live close, or even suggest coffee after work. This brings the relationship outside of the workplace, and is also great for networking. This new connection could help both of you in the future.



5. Maintain the Connection

Be sure to add co-workers on LinkedIn, and maintain contact with them if you leave via email or the occasional lunch or coffee meeting. You never know who will become your friend or who will be a connection to a future job opportunity.


- Lora


Reducing Stress and Learning English for ESL and EAL Students

Monday November 16th - Lora


As a non-native English speaker I used to find myself stumbling over words during interviews, getting confused by questions and suffering from writer’s block when typing my resume or cover letter. Over time I have developed ways to emphasize my strengths and work on my weaknesses in English. I now get compliments on how well I have developed my verbal English skills. The following are techniques I have used over the past few years to improve my English. I hope they’ll help you too!


1. Listen

Listen to people who speak English and pick up common English and idioms. Listen to how English sentences are structured and see if you can figure out what the jargon/idiom means based on sentence structure. Additionally, listening helps you improve your vocabulary, and will allow you to recall past conversations that used the same words. Lastly, listen to the intonations and inflections of English speakers and try to incorporate those into your conversations. It will decrease the time needed for the other person to analyze your words.


2. Attend workshops

There are plenty of workshops on how to write and speak in English. At the University of Guelph, Writing Services as well as Co-operative Education & Career Services host workshops that focus on developing your English to help you land that dream career.


3. Write down and remember jargon and idioms

Every time you come across words or phrases that you don’t understand, especially common jargon and idioms, write them down. When you have your list of words, jargon and idioms, use Google to determine their meaning. Be careful of false websites as they may not convey the right information. Check multiple website and see if they all provide roughly the same definition. This way you will remember what they mean next time you come across them.

Jargon: Jar-gon [jahr-gun] - the language, especially the vocabulary, particular to a trade, profession,  or group (example: “9-to-5” meaning a standard work day).

Idiom(cut): Id-i-om [id-ee-uh m] - a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (example: “jump the gun” meaning to do something early).


4. Ask questions

When you are talking to an English speaking peer/colleague/employer and find yourself confused by a question they ask you, tell them this. Ask what they mean, and if they can reword what they said or further explain their question. Take a pause to think about what they are asking, and how to answer.


5. Slow down speech

It is difficult to have a conversation in your second language, and to listen and understand when both parties have thick accents. If both speakers slow their speech down, this will give both parties time to process and analyze the words that are being communicated.


6. Read social media/books/articles

Social Media: The internet is littered with different kinds of English media . Social media is informal and therefore is a good reference for how to use English conversationally.

Books: Books are long and contain a variety of difficult words. The best thing about them is you can write down new words you encounter, and learn to search for and understand their meaning at your own pace.

Journal Articles: Articles are very formal and contain field-related words. I suggest reading one in a field you are most comfortable in.


7. Turn on English subtitles or watch English dubbed

When watching your favourite show that is not in English, turn on your English subtitles (if possible) or watch them in English dubbed. Although not specifically career related, I personally found that this was the fastest and most effective way to learn English and to apply it in a conversation. Depending on the type of movies or shows that you watch, you can also learn words associated with your profession. Furthermore, you will likely be able to get an idea of the different cultural expectations in a work/interview environment.

Doing well in an interview, and writing excellent cover letters and resumes, requires a certain comfort level with the English language. Hopefully these tips help with your confidence!


Good luck!

- Lora


5 Quick Tricks to Help Calm Interview Nerves

Monday September 28th - Lora

Most of us experience interview nerves. Some people feel cold, get clammy hands, suffer restless fidgeting or even smile uncontrollably. Anticipation can weigh you down like a bag of bricks. Those increasingly large pit stains and the sight of tough competition aren’t particularly calming, either.

There are some people who don’t let interviews phase them; they beam confidence and carry themselves gracefully like a ballerina on Broadway. How do they do it? Here are some tips to help calm those nerves before your interview so you can perform perfect pirouettes.


1. Make a playlist of your go-to happy songs.

I always keep an updated pop hits playlist on hand. Pick songs that make you feel like
tapping your feet or nodding your head. These can be great mood enhancers. My song
suggestions: try listening to Happy by Pharrell Williams and Its a Beautiful Day by
Michael Bublé.



2. Familiarize yourself with the company.

Reading up on the company you’ve applied to will make it easier to understand their
values and goals. Knowing beforehand what kind of employee they are looking for will
help put you at ease. Allowing yourself to align with their ideals will keep your interview
flowing nicely.



3. Add something personal to your interview outfit.

When dressing up for an interview I always add a piece of clothing or jewelry that has
some kind of sentimental value or personal importance; great examples are heirlooms.
Having something on hand will help you feel like you aren’t going it alone.



4. Plan for a small reward after your interview

Plan to treat yourself after your interview. Looking forward to something will help you stay
positive, and the treat will be that much sweeter when you know you deserve it. Here are
some things I like to reward myself with after an interview: my favourite frappuccino, an
episode of the show I’m currently addicted to, a small dessert or a movie night with friends.



5. Remember: interviewers are not vultures!

It is important to remember that interviewers are people too. They have their own lives
and personal stressors. Although it’s important to use professional language as you
answer questions, it’s entirely possible for natural conversation to flow if you and your
interviewer have similar interests.


Good luck!