How to improve your body language

Ten tip on improving your body language

Watch any great and effective speaker; the body language plays a key role in our communication. Body language includes non-verbal communication such as body posture, gestures, facial expressions and eye movements.

Depending on the circumstances and who you talk to, the body language will differ. However, here are some important tips on how to improve your body language for effective communication:

1. Make eye contact, but don’t stare: Make eye contact while speaking or listening but not too much. Too much eye contact may look like staring and may distract the other person. You can find a happy medium with practice.

2. Relax your body, don’t fidget: Relax, don’t be nervous. Maintain a relaxed pose instead of all stiffened up. Avoid or minimize fidgety movement and nervous ticks. Do not shake your leg or tap your fingers against some surface.

3. Maintain some distance: In many cultures, people get too close or even all touchy feely. If other person starts to step back, you know that you are invading their space. You can lean forward to make a point or listen, but don’t be in other person’s face. Continue reading “How to improve your body language”

Commonsense tips on investing and investment ideas

Commonsense tips on investing while living home or abroad

“It is a wise man who lives with money in the bank, it is a fool who dies that way.” ~ French Proverb

No matter where you live, the financial planning and investment approach is not much different. By end of the day, the general goal is:

  • Spend less than you earn
  • Save for the rainy days
  • Maximize the return on investment without taking huge risks
  • Save for the future and retirement days
  • Enjoy life – money is a mean to live, not the ultimate goal

This article is based on the personal experiences in investing; no formal education in investing or financial planning here. DO NOT base your investment decisions solely on these tips. This is a simple advice from one investor to another. Your situation and circumstances may vary, so this may not apply to everyone.

These are some of the useful and commonsense tips on investing:

1. Save: Yes, the first principle to maximize your net capital or net portfolio is to save. The saving does not always mean being overly frugal or cutting down on the basic needs like food consumptions (while that may not be a bad idea in many cases). Consider eliminating the unnecessary spending and waste. ‘50 tips on saving’ (below) is good article if you are looking for ideas on how to save.

2. Emergency fund: Before investing, it is always a good idea to have emergency fund that you can draw on, in case of emergency – such as loss of employment. Many suggest that you should have enough money readily available so you and your family can live off it for at least six months. Many other suggest having enough emergency funds for a full one year. Based on personal situation, decide on the size of the emergency fund. This money can sit in the savings accounts or other low risk options like short term certificates of deposits or low risk money market funds etc. Continue reading “Commonsense tips on investing and investment ideas”

A summary of job search tips and new business ideas

A good job is hardest to find when you really need one! The psychological pressure of job hunt takes its own toll; the  emotional stress alone  is hard enough to deal with.

So, how do you go about looking for a job? Do you send out your resumes to every company within your areas of expertise and then sit back and hope for an interview call? Are you the kind of person who goes out and talk to the businesses, handing out your resumes, filling up application forms and calling back regularly for an update? Or you just apply online, and then check your email for the response every hour?

Everybody is different, everyone has his or her own way of doing things. same goes for the job search. Some try and try regardless, while others get discouraged more easily.Th knowledge is power. More you know about the ins-and-outs of job search, less nervous and less stressed you will be.

The intent of this article is to share some good resources on job search information and new business ideas, some additional tools that you may or may not have explored before.  Armed with the information, you can go about your job hunt, in your own way.

Who is hiring?: It is always good to know which businesses are hiring lately or which jobs are in high demand. These article below are a good place to start: Continue reading “A summary of job search tips and new business ideas”

10 simple ways to improve cross culture understanding in a new country

The social adaption varies from person to person, some people adapt faster than others. Regardless, it is very natural to have some ‘opinions’ or biases against a new culture or a new place.

Once we move to a new country or a new culture, the adaption starts; we subconsciously start to get used to the new norms as time goes. And, in many cases, we don’t even realize that we are adjusting to the new culture; it happens automatically. It is a natural social change – adapting to the new circumstances over time.

However, the social adaption happens much faster if we make a conscious effort to interact with the local culture. To improve the cross cultural understanding and learning more about the local way of life, here are a few simple but effective things that we can do:

1. Adapt to the local language: Don’t isolate yourself from the local language and the local way of speaking – the slang, the style, …. the whole nine yards. The article ‘Self-help guide to lose your accent’ goes into the details on this subject. Continue reading “10 simple ways to improve cross culture understanding in a new country”

21 Topics for Small Talk Conversation for all occasions

Small talk – a conversation or chit chat without any specific topic – is a necessity in any social or professional life. In fact, making small is a perfect replacement for an awkward and drawn out silence. But, what would you talk about, during small talk?

Well, be creative. Look around and comment on something. Or introduce yourself, or ask an ice-breaking question…. you got the idea.

Here are some of the most common topics to start a conversation, or keep it going:

1. Hello/Hi: A simple hello is good way to start any small talk; a basic greeting of mutual acknowledgement.

2. Introduction: If meeting for the first time, make sure to introduce yourself. It shows your interest in the meeting, and put a name to the face.

3. Situation and surroundings: Talk about the surroundings or the venue: ‘Nice place, huh!’ or ‘I like this cafe!’

4. Weather talk: This is all time classic, may be a bit too much used. However, a talk about weather always gets the conversation started.

5. How was your day? : If the meeting is in the late day or in the evening, talk about how your day was, there is always something to share: ‘how is your day going so far?’

6. So what are you up to today/tonight? : Ask about short term plans for the day, or the night or the next day. This is always good way to keep the chit-chat alive. Continue reading “21 Topics for Small Talk Conversation for all occasions”

20 Tips on personal safety and crime prevention abroad

Commonsense tips on how to be safe in a foreign country

Rape, assault and violence – the news are full of sickening tales everyday. Every country, every neighborhood, every place has its flaws. One way or another, any city – big or small – is a victim of deadly crimes. It is a part of life; we are all exposed to some sort of danger all the time – at home or abroad.

In a foreign country, safety and security have always been keys concern of travelers and immigrants alike. Be it the streets of New York, south-side of Chicago, the suburbs of London, the cities in Australia….. the safety is always in the forefronts of anyone’s mind – travelers and immigrants alike.

An immigrant (or a minority) often considers herself/himself to be more exposed to the danger of personal safety for many reasons:

  • The local criminals may find it easier or less risky to go after an outsider, or a minority group.
  • Many societies blame the immigrants for unemployment and job-loss issues; this social bias or grudge can contribute to the crimes against them.
  • Many fanatics may single out the minorities as a cause of their social agenda and target them.

While you cannot eliminate the racism or discrimination overnight, – even though it is a good wish, next to the cure of aging – there are certain things we can all do to be safer and more secure in a foreign land:

1. Select the residence location wisely: Pick a neighborhood with low crime rate that is safer to live. Do your research while selecting a residence. For example, many local newspapers publish information such as ‘Best places to raise a family’. A local real estate agent can also guide you to the safer areas. Avoid areas infested with crime.

2. Avoid bad company: It is simple as that, however, easier said than done. The company and the circle of friends you keep play a big role in day-to-day interactions with the society. Steer clear of the gang and crime infected social circles. Avoid areas with gang activities; stay away from unsavory characters.

3. Lock doors and windows: Once you have a residence selected in a good neighborhood, make it secure and burglar-proof. Install good quality dead-bolt locks on all the exterior doors. Also, Install quality locks on all the windows. Keeping your placed locked provides extra sense of security and deter burglars.

4. Trim over-grown shrubs and trees around the residence: Make sure to remove or trim shrubbery that hides doors and windows. That way, neighbors or passersby can see someone trying to break into your home. Limit the hiding spots for a burglar by keeping the bushes and trees tidy and well-trimmed.

5. Well-lit Place: Always have a light outside the front door and other areas of entrance. A well-lit area discourages the thieves and the bad guys. Continue reading “20 Tips on personal safety and crime prevention abroad”

Hinglish of India – Indian idioms and phrases

Hinglish: Indian English lost-in-translations abroad – Idioms and phrases from India

“What is your good name, sir?”
“It is nice knowing you, Steve Ji!”
“Hey Boss, are you enjoying the fair?”
“Simply! Enjoying to the maximum!”
“How was the movie?”

“I will give you a ring over the week-end.”
“OK boss”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this conversation as long as both parties are on the same page. The exchange above is perfectly understandable between two Indians in certain Indian regions.

English in India is spoken very differently as compared to the same language overseas. Our Indian mother-language and the grammar has significant impact on English – taught as a second or third language throughout the country. Sometime, the Indian English – due to the influence of Hindi and other local languages – is also called Hinglish.

Just like the conversation above, ‘Hinglish’  is quite common within Indian communities, ( “Tired, kya?” = “Are you tired?”). There is no harm, no foul if both sides understand it.

However, we tend to include some ‘Hinglish’ even when talking to American or English audience abroad. That is where we run into trouble, some miscommunication to say the least.

Many English words, Idioms and Phrases have different meaning in India or are used only in India. When used overseas, they don’t feel right or mean something entirely different.

Here are some of the common idioms and phrases, and their closest (or alternatives) usage in proper English when outside India:

What is your good name?: A polite way of asking someone’s name; it comes from translation of Hindi phrase – Shubh naam (good name). Politeness still intact, ‘May I know your name’ or ‘You name please?’ is more appropriate in non-Indian settings.

Eve teasing: It refer to sexual harassment of females, or taunting them – as in schools or colleges or in bazaars etc.

Poor Joke (pj): ‘Poor joke’ is not a commonly used phrase, a more common way of conveying the same thing is ‘bad joke’!

Time-pass: Relates to doing something trivial or of little importance – something that does not matter. ‘Nothing important’ is one of the many alternative way of responding, instead of ‘time-pass’.

Time-waste: This is worse than ‘time-pass’, doing something you don’t even enjoy. ‘It is a waste of time’ is a similar expression often used in Western countries.

Himalayan blunder:Very big mistake, a mistake of the size of Himalaya mountain. Blunder generally means ‘big’ mistake..may not need too many adjectives that are not commonly used overseas. Continue reading “Hinglish of India – Indian idioms and phrases”

12 Self-help tips for Indians to improve English language command

Self-help suggestions and tips on improving Indian-English or Desi-English language abroad

“Are you enjoying the movie?”
Translated literally from Tamil, simply means absolutely.

There is nothing wrong with the above conversation if both sides know the intended meaning. Now, move that conversation to somewhere in USA or Canada or England, with someone who does not know the ‘Tamil-English’, the actual meaning is lost in the translations. 🙂

English language and English grammar is a bit tricky for those who are not used to it, for those with English as a second language. The basic mistakes we make are when we ‘think’ in our mother-tongue, and then translate in our head (Many of us say ‘translate in my mind 🙂 ), and then speak in ‘translated’ English. Here are some self-help tips on improving desi English overseas:

1. Knowing and Having – the problem of the progressive tense: many Indians often translate and speak with excessive and often inappropriate use of progressive verb form.

For example, consider this:
“I am having a fever.”
“I am having a small family”
“I am knowing that you are having a party without sending me invitation.”

Of course, the correct way of saying is:
“I have a fever”
“I have a small family”
“I know you are having a party without inviting me.”
Continue reading “12 Self-help tips for Indians to improve English language command”

50 Money Saving Tips in Everyday Life for Everybody

Simple money-saving ideas in daily life for everybody

Here are some useful tips on how to save money in our everyday life:
1. Drink water: It is good for you and saves on daily cost of soft drinks.
2. Cut down on junk food:  Not good for your pocket, not a healthy choice either.
3. Shopping List: Make a grocery/shopping list before going to the store, so that you buy only what you need. It saves time and money.
4. Walk short distances instead of driving: It saves on gas/fuel, it saves environment and keeps you active.
5. Cut down on excessive TV: Find better use for your time, something less wasteful 🙂
6. Minimize carry-out and eat-out food: Carry-out/eat-out is expensive and not good for healthy eating habits.
7. Don’t need most expensive gifts to please family: Buy something functional and useful instead.
8. Recycle: Recycling saves resources, money and it minimizes waste.
9. Use natural light: This helps with savings on electric bill and is better for eye-sight.
10. Cut down on Air-Conditioning and heating: Install programmable thermostats to save on gas bills.
11. Get your News online: Cut down daily newspaper delivery costs if you can get the news online
12. Avoid Loans: Don’t take a loan unless your life/marriage depends on it. 🙂 Continue reading “50 Money Saving Tips in Everyday Life for Everybody”

30 Tips on planning and hosting a wedding

30 Commonsense ideas on planning and hosting a wedding

A weddings is a beautiful occasion. Be in India or overseas, Indian or non-Indian, a wedding brings festivities, celebrations, joy and love. However, along comes the responsibility of hosting – planning, decorating, arranging, rearranging….The Weddings and the wedding parties are fun, business and responsibilities – all combined in one.

These commonsense tips can be of great help for planning for a wedding, as well as in alleviating the pain of hosting one. Please note that this is not a complete wedding planning check list; you can find many of those online.

1. Season and weather: The summer is the main wedding season in America and many other Western countries. Consider a wedding during the months of moderate weather – spring or autumn. The off-season wedding is also lighter on the wallet.

2. Banquet Hall and venue: Decide on the ceremony and the reception venues ahead of time. Many good banquet halls need reservation many months (or even more than a year in some cases) in advance. As always, planning is the key to execution and the end results.

3. Things-to-do list :This step should also get covered in the planning and the check-list. Make a list of things to do and prioritize. There is a lot to be done. Get organized, you cannot afford the carefree approach of a single lifestyle anymore! 🙂

4. Guest list: Be realistic in making the list of the guests to invite. Take everything into consideration – the size of the party, the budget, the venue …. Continue reading “30 Tips on planning and hosting a wedding”

How to change a perception

How to change others’ perceptions about you!

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” ~ Warren Buffett

“My boss thinks I am lazy!”
“Well, you are always last to the office in the morning.”
“But, I am always last to leave in the evening.”
“Yeah, but she is already gone by then, she wouldn’t know that.”
“I seriously need to do something to change her perception about me!”

Perception is you mind’s eye:
A perception is how we ‘see’ something or someone in our own mind. The common beliefs or assumptions play a role in the existing perception. Based on many factors including social and environmental surroundings, this is the way our brain ‘perceives’ something or someone. True or false, a strong perception is no less than the real truth. This is how we see things in our ‘mind’s eye’.
Once established in our brain, a perception becomes a part of our thinking, a part of our life; it is hard to change.

How to change the perceptions:
So, how do you change others’ perception about you?
Some perceptions are easy to change. For example, in the conversation above, the boss has a perception about one of her employees of being lazy. That perception can be easily changed by being proactive, by showing up to the office before anybody else does EVERYDAY. Note that to change a perception, you have to be consistent -again and again.

The most effective way to change a perception is to prove it – the perception- wrong consistently. Show everybody that what they believe is very different from the reality. Here are a few common approaches for changing a perception

Create awareness: Let everyone around you know that what they perceive is not true. Share the facts; share the information to prove your side. Nobody denies the facts – unless you are dealing with someone whose mind is already made-up no matter what; in that case, it is not a perception but a deep rooted bias and prejudice. Continue reading “How to change a perception”

Life after Diwali

How to handle the after-Diwali blues! 🙁

“The past is behind, learn from it.
The future is ahead, prepare for it.
The present is here, live it.”
~ Thomas Monson

The Diwali celebrations are over. It is about time to clean-up the remains of the burnt candles, put away the party supplies, tidy up the kitchen and rest of the house….

The left-over sweets and treats are disappearing, at least the tastier ones. The festivities are over; back to reality!

For those of us who are lucky to get Diwali holidays or time off, the vacation is over. The kids have to focus back on the school and deal with the burden of homework once again. The grown-up are heading back to work; the boring and monotonous routine of 9 to 5 jobs resumes. It is a struggle every morning to get out of the bed and face the new day.

Welcome to the real world again, the daily grind!

With the winter knocking on the door, it is not uncommon to go through this depressing cycle and mood swings after Diwali celebrations.

Now, how can you boost your spirits again? What can we do to minimize the Diwali nostalgia?

Well, to help deal with this post Diwali syndromes, there are a few adjustments we can make in our thinking and the attitude. To help with the after Diwali blues, here are some of the changes you may want to focus on:

1. Thank God it is quiet again: Think about it. Now that it is all over, you can finally take a break from all the running around. No more chaos; no more decorations to worry about; no more cooking the special feasts. The deafening sound of loud music and fireworks is a past history. Continue reading “Life after Diwali”

How to overcome the Culture Shock abroad

10 tips on how to overcome the overseas culture shock

The overseas culture shock is common for anyone traveling or migrating abroad. Some of us are quick to adapt, willing to accept the change. Others hate it and don’t like customs or traditions of living a life different that what they are used to growing up.
The fact is that it is not a matter of one or two days; if you plan to live abroad, you should be willing to adapt to what comes with it – the new culture, a different society and an entirely different everyday life.

Adaptation is not a quick or overnight thing; getting used to the new place can take a long time. However, here are 10 tips on how to overcome or minimize the culture shock abroad:

1. Accept the change: Change is part of life; it is a part of the journey. Don’t resist something just because it is different. Give it a try. Millions and millions before you have gone through the same experience abroad. You may actually like the ‘new you’ if you try.

2. Learn the local language: This step is very important, actually the most important. If you really want to adapt to the new place, learn the local language, the local way of communicating. This includes getting used to the new accent and losing the old accent; the local way of pronunciation and the local slang – the whole nine yards. And, don’t forget to learn the art of small talk in a new society.

3. Venture out and try first hand: Don’t isolate yourself from the local culture. Expose yourself to the local common places where social life breathes. The shopping mall, the hair salon, the barber shop, the community center, the local parks….. – go be a part of the day-to-day outdoor life. The best way to adapt is by trying it firsthand. Continue reading “How to overcome the Culture Shock abroad”

15 Tips on how to make a lasting first impression

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances” ~Oscar Wilde

The first impression is what others perceive or think of you as soon as they first see you. The first impression matters; it is part of human nature to judge a book by its cover.
So, what can you do to leave a good and lasting first impression? Here are a few tips:
1. Be punctual: Be on time, always. Let the other person or other party know if you will be running late. Making others wait is considered rude, and it leaves a bad first impression!
2. Appearance and Dress code: Dress the way you want to present yourself for a given occasion. Your appearance – head to toe – matters. It includes the dress, the hair, the body-language…
3. Introduce yourself: Introduce yourself first, shake hand warmly. A hug is okay if you are sure that the other person won’t mind, or if it is a part of the culture or tradition.
4. Be confident, but calm: Don’t be nervous. Stay calm and collected, but carry yourself with confidence. The idea is not to come across as over-confident or trying too hard. Continue reading “15 Tips on how to make a lasting first impression”

10 Simple but useful life lessons from Gandhi

Simple but very useful tips from Gandhi’s life

It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi

Today is Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday. On this day, here are a few simple lessons that we can learn from his journey and his life:

1. Believe in the power of simple logic: Want to succeed in something? – Then work hard for it. Want to get something done? -Just do it! We complicate our lives for no reason. Keep it simple!

2. Let go of the ego: Our ego is our worst enemy sometimes, well, most of the times. We are not so special all the time 🙂 ! What we think of ourselves is not always what others think of us. We should always try to stay grounded and be humble.

3. Discipline in diet to control/lose weight: Looking for a way to maintain healthy weight? According to most of the studies done, the body weight is most dependent on our eating and dietary habits. Have a will-power to say no to the food, especially the yummy ones! Find a cause and fast for it, like Gandhi did! May be not to the same extremes, but you got the idea, right? 🙂

4. Be kind and caring: Don’t bully anybody; be kind to one and all. Don’t harm others – humans or animals; don’t hurt anyone’s feelings…. All this is also good for our own peace of mind. It keeps everybody around us happy, and makes us more conscious as a human being. Continue reading “10 Simple but useful life lessons from Gandhi”