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Solutions for 7 Annoying Modern Day Problems

Solutions for 7 Annoying Modern Day Problems
Cellphone

    Modern life has been made easier with technology, but for every advancement there is a corresponding increase in complexity that seems to outweigh those benefits. When modern day problems occur, we usually don’t have the time or energy to figure out how to solve them. So here is a reference on how to handle some of these pesky problems.

    1) Change Cell Phone Contracts with No Penalty!

    Did you ever get mad because you wanted to ditch your cell phone company for a new one, but you couldn’t because of the huge termination fees? Well there are a few services now that connect people who want to swap contracts. According to The Week Magazine, most cell phone companies are willing to process a swap. Here are the companies who provide this swap brokering service. Fees range from $9.95- $14.95.

    2) Avoid the Rebate Runaround

    Rebates can be pretty sizable, and unfortunately retailers sometimes give customers the runaround when it comes to fulfilling these rebates. Here are the steps you can take to ensure you get your rebate:

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    1. Understand the terms of the rebate before purchasing.
    2. Make copies of all paperwork before mailing. Tip: use your digital camera for this.
    3. Fill in all field on the rebate form. Leaving any field blank can void the rebate. Write something even if it is something like “I don’t have a fax number.”
    4. Send in the rebate ASAP. Many rebates have short time frames today. Don’t be late or you’ll lose out.
    5. Handwrite your forms so mass-mailing rebate fraud is not suspected.
    6. Use certified mail and get your receipt.
    7. Buy at stores that can handle the rebates in-store or online such as: Staples, Cosco, and Cingular.
    8. If you have problems: Write directly to the manufacturer’s CEO and the retailer’s CEO. You can also call the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) 877-382-4357 or www.ftc.gov. Lastly, you can call your local Better Business Bureau or your state attorney general’s office.

    3) Don’t Pay for Technical Support

    Don’t you hate paying for technical support. Well here are a list of sites that offer free tech support online. These were reviewed by Tech Support Alert as either “Outstanding” or “Highly Recommended.” For other free tech support recommendations, visit their site.

    More:

    4) What to Do with Unused Airline Miles and Reward Points

    According to most airline miles programs, selling your miles will make them null and void. There are places that broker these miles for selling, but if you want to go by the rules you can head over to Points.com where you can “TRACK,BOOK HOTELS,SWAP,EARN,BUY,GIFT,SHARE,and REDEEM miles and points.”

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    5) Get a Live Person on the Phone

    Sick of listening to automated menus when you need to ask someone a question over the phone? Well here is the ultimate resource on how to reach a live person:
    Get Human
    or take a look at the tips in this article, 6 Tips to Reach a Human Operator.

    6)Spyware and Viruses

    I had a real problem over a year ago with a virus I couldn’t shake. I tried everything. What finally worked for me was SpySweeper by Webroot. This along with a Norton protection package has worked well for me.

    7) Identity Theft

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    This one can be a real bugaboo. The first thing to do if you discover this is to report it to the credit bureaus:

    EQUIFAX—www.equifax.com
    To order your credit report: Call: (800) 685-1111
    To report fraud: Call: (800) 525-6285

    EXPERIAN—www.experian.com
    To order your credit report: Call: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
    To report fraud: Call: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)

    TRANS UNION—www.tuc.com
    To order your credit report: Call: (800) 916-8800
    To report fraud: Call: (800) 680-7289

    For more information here is the United States Department of Justice’s official information on how to handle identity theft:

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    Additional websites that contain general information about identity theft as cited by the USDoJ website:

    These sites also have good guidelines for preventing identity fraud in the first place, so it is worth checking out even if you haven’t had this problem.

    8 ) Keeping Track of Online Passwords

    I didn’t see this as a problem until I read the following article. It points out the vulnerabilities of weak passwords and of not having a secure place to store them. The article lists links to 10 cool password generators and trackers that are all free: 10 Free Ways to Track All Your Passwords.

    What solutions have you found to modern life’s annoying problems? Please Share!

    K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are Ultimate Goal Setting Guide, 5 Big Secrets “They” Don’t Want You to Know About Investing, Maximum Energy in 10 Simple Steps, and Cool GTD Applications – The Ultimate Resource List.

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    K. Stone

    The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

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    Last Updated on June 12, 2019

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

    Humor and laughter provide so many rewards. Studies have shown 20 seconds of laughter yield the same benefits as 3 minutes of hard rowing. A Robert Half International study reported 84% of executives believe a worker with a good sense of humor does a better job. Incorporating humor more effectively in the workplace allows you to defuse difficult situations, reduce stress, create attention for new ideas, build rapport, and be a more approachable and memorable leader.

    With those benefits, it behooves you to hone your workplace comedic skills. So in the tradition of David Letterman, here are the top 10 ways to more effectively lead with humor!

    #10. Look for Joy in Life

    An important step is continually looking for joy throughout your life. This happens in a variety of ways:

    • Focus less on yourself and more on helping others. Need help? Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the classic by Dale Carnegie.
    • Laugh more – kids reportedly laugh 400 times per day vs. 15 times for adults. Aim for laughing 40 times daily to be at least 10% of your former self!
    • Regularly read humorous comic strips and look for quips and funny comments in your reading.
    • Even in challenging situations, hunt for something funny or humorous you can take away.

    #9. Learn What Makes You Laugh

    If you’re trying to laugh 40 times daily, it’s important to know what makes you laugh and have ready access to laugh-provokers. Figure out 107 things which make you laugh. Unrealistic? Hardly! Why 107? Because 107 is funnier than 100! Here’s a recipe for listing what makes you laugh by simply identifying:

    • 13 Movies
    • 11 TV Shows
    • 5 Words or Phrases
    • 19 Personal Stories
    • 5 Cartoons
    • 7 Audio or Video Pieces
    • 11 Comedians
    • 7 TV Personalities
    • 7 Funny Photos
    • 7 People You Know
    • 15 of Anything Else
    • TOTAL = 107 Funny Things

    Collect & save these humor starters in a “Smile File” when you quickly need a laugh or comedic inspiration.

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    #8. Use Your Own Comedic Material

    Personal experiences are the most genuine humor sources for effective leadership. Look for humor in situations from your own life:

    • Funny things you have said or others have said to you
    • Pratfalls, be they mental, interpersonal, & physical
    • Embarrassing moments or unexpected happenings
    • Times of change or learning
    • Difficult life events (yes, even these can be humor sources)

    When turning personal situations into comedic material, remember lessons learned from a childhood humor staple: Knock-Knock Jokes. These simple jokes work because the knock-knock structure highlights familiar situations, uses only essential words and phrases, and clearly signals a laughing opportunity. They also demonstrate how humor springs from surprise. The laughs come from not knowing who or what exactly is behind the door based on the initial response to “Who’s there?”

    #7. Adapt Somebody Else’s Material

    Beyond your own experiences, there’s a tradition of “borrowing & adapting” (I didn’t say stealing) funny stuff from others. That’s why old-time comedian Milton Berle was called the “Thief of Bad Gags.”

    Part of borrowing successfully is using easily accessible humor sources in ways many don’t consider. Beyond simply Googling “funny” in front of quotes, one-liners, definitions, pictures, or videos, here are two other common sources you can adapt:

    • Cartoons – You can use cartoons in various ways by showing one in a presentation, telling the cartoon’s story (potentially making yourself a character) without any images, or using its punch line as a starting point for new humor.
    • Comedians – Mainstream comedians’ jokes or catch phrases are another source to modify and adapt to your personality or work situation. Watch lots of comedians and learn how professionals do it so well.

    #6. Understand Your Audience

    Using humor in a leadership position requires understanding boundaries on its proper use. It all starts with really understanding your audience by:

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    • Paying attention to top management’s attitudes toward humor.
    • Knowing the audience’s composition – this directly affects which humor types are appropriate.
    • Loving your audience as much or more than you poke fun at them.
    • Inviting others into humor since you can’t assume they share your same humor sensibilities.

    In case you’re contemplating using ad lib humor, completely knowing your audience is even more vital. Ad-libs have the potential for going horribly wrong because audience sensibilities have been misjudged. It’s very beneficial to actually plan and rehearse ad libs. It may sound odd, but identify common work situations you encounter and think through what usually goes wrong or provides a source for potential humor. Work out some “safe” funny comebacks to use as “planned” ad libs.

    #5. Know the Rules and Boundaries

    There are blatant humor no-no’s in the workplace which are quite acceptable for an onstage comedian. At work, avoid harmful practical jokes or pranks, heavily sarcastic comments, and humor rooted in religious, sexual, ethnic, or racial themes. Think you know your work setting well enough to tread on this dangerous ground? Here’s some advice: DON’T. The way questionable humor will be perceived by a workplace audience is too much of an unknown to take big risks when your career is at stake.

    Use this checkpoint to actually see if your intended workplace humor is SAFE. To pass the SAFE test, all of these statements need to be true regarding your joke, comment, or image:

    • I can Say/Show this to my mother.
    • It wouldn’t Anger me if I were the butt of the joke.
    • This wouldn’t trigger an FCC violation
    • Everyone in the audience will be able to get it.

    With even a hint of one false answer, dramatically modify your idea or better yet, abandon it and start over.

    #4. Get over Yourself

    Effective leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable laughing at themselves and letting others be funny as well. Leaders should become adept at appropriately using self-deprecating humor, i.e., self-directed humor downplaying your own talents, stature, or accomplishments

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    You don’t want to use self-deprecating humor on simply any topic, however. It’s most effectively & appropriately used in:

    • Situations where you’re comfortable & self-confident
    • Areas where your credibility & competence are clearly established
    • Ways that fit your known personality & sensibilities

    Remember – when trying to borrow someone else’s self-deprecating humor, you need to share that person’s perspective & situation. If not, it’s simply deprecating! I once heard a decidedly non-technical Marketing VP call out “data geeks” in the audience. While that’s what they called themselves, she wasn’t a part of their group, and her comment, intended to build affiliation, fell completely flat.

    #3. Need Humor Ideas? Just Look Around

    The workplace is filled with situations lending themselves to comedy. Humor springs from exaggeration, wordplay, misunderstandings, ambiguity, contradictions, paradoxes, pain, and inconsistencies. If you work in any type of business or organizational setting, there are plenty of these situations to go around!

    As a leader, it’s your role to use the proper opptunities to encourage and employ humor successfully by ensuring that:

    • Your humor makes others feel good about themselves.
    • Hurtful fun isn’t made of those less tenured than you in the organization.
    • You don’t use humor when agitated since it can lead to apparent meanness.

    #2. Surround Yourself with Joy

    If you’re looking for more joy and levity in leadership, surround yourself with joyful people. These are people who are funny, easily spur laughter, and routinely cheer people up through their presence.

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    Cultivate relationships with these types of people. Spend time with them, learn from their successful uses of humor, and emulate elements of their approaches that work for you.

    Beyond basking in the joy these people create, select 3 or 4 of them to be an informal comedy team. As your comedy team, solicit their opinions to help you generate and refine humor ideas. They can also provide perspectives on potentially questionable humor material that makes it through the SAFE test, but still feels like it might not be right for a workplace audience.

    #1. Dive into the Fun

    Ultimately, the most important part of successfully using humor as a leader is actually sharing it in the workplace. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

    • Practice your humor in appropriate, low-risk settings to find out what works before trying it out with a bigger audience.
    • Signal a laughing opportunity through your words, actions, and tone. It’s also a good practice to give people “permission” to laugh in the workplace.
    • Finally, be earnest in using humor; don’t focus on laughs so much as lightening and adding fun into work settings.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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