August 10, 2018

The Roundup: Multitasking’s shocking effects, plus words you shouldn’t say at the office

In this week’s Roundup, the newfound effects of multitasking may be even worse than you thought. Plus, words to avoid if you want to remain credible, and how to unite a team of introverts and extroverts.

Multitasking could reduce your IQ

In today’s hyperactive work culture, multitasking is an all-too familiar reality for many. While reading this article, you likely have five other tabs open, and may also be checking your email or texts. Regardless of how many times we hear about how inefficient it is to perform more than one task at a time, multitasking can be awfully tempting.

However, new research shows that multitasking isn’t only detrimental to the tasks you’re trying to complete, it can also have huge long-term effects on your brain. A recent LinkedIn article outlines the disadvantages of multitasking. Read on for why it makes you a jack of all trades, master of none.

IQ: A University of London study shows that participants who were made to multitask during other tasks experienced severe IQ drops – “similar to what they'd expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night.” One man’s IQ level even dropped down to that of the average eight-year-old. So, while you might be able to listen to a conference call while writing a report, chances are the quality and intelligence of your work will take a hit.

Brain function: On top of temporarily lowering your IQ, making multitasking a habit can affect your brain function long-term. A study by the University of Sussex found a connection between people who use multiple devices at a time and brain density. More specifically, multitasking impacts the part of the brain where cognitive and emotional control occurs. As one neuroscientist puts it, we must beware that “the way we are interacting with the devices might be changing the way we think and these changes might be occurring at the level of brain structure.”

The next time you catch yourself checking email during a meeting, remember that what might seem like a bad little habit could go much deeper than that. Stop juggling your to-do list and begin improving your focus – your brain will thank you.

Bonus: check out this great podcast on multitasking.

Words you shouldn’t say at the office

In our world of LOLs and emojis, many people believe that it’s what you say that matters, not how you say it. And while your intended message is at the center of every conversation, the language used to convey that message is often equally important.

Using the right language is especially crucial in the workplace, where we are expected to maintain a degree of professionalism and authority. While some common language will fly, most professionals agree that certain words have no place in the office. And those words might surprise you.


We’ve all either heard it or used it ourselves – “I’m just the intern,” “that’s just my thought,” “I was just wondering...” While it seems like an innocent four-letter word, using “just” too much can ruin your credibility. In an office atmosphere, where it’s important to be authoritative and confident, “just” downplays your value as team member.

As a recent Fast Company article outlines, there are four common reasons people use “just”; when sharing an opinion, adding something to a discussion, defending yourself, and sounding humble. Adding “just” to an otherwise straightforward statement gives the appearance that you’re not certain of what you’re saying. Rather than standing by your opinion, argument, actions or position in a company, “just” makes people subconsciously not take you seriously.

“Um,” “uh,” “so,” “like”

A few other examples of words that diminish your dialogue are filler word or noises like “uh,” “ah,” or “hmm.” Though most people use these words occasionally, often without even noticing, excess use will ruin credibility as well.

A Harvard Business Journal Article states that while the ideal amount of filler, or crutch, words is one per minute, the average person uses one every 12 seconds. This overuse of filler words is problematic for a few reasons – they reduce audience engagement, remove authenticity from your message, and create a mistrust in your message. The HBR article suggests embracing gaps in speech rather than filling them with meaningless noise.

Though old habits are hard to break, being conscious of your use of unnecessary words can help reduce them. The closer you stay to your intended message without additional words, the easier it will be for your audience to understand and respect you as a leader.

How to bring introverted employees out of their shell

As a manager, a large part of your role is understanding each employee’s individual personality and needs. And perhaps the most misunderstood of personality types are introverts. While most think of introverts as simply shy or quiet people, they’re more complex than that.

While extroverts are energized by interacting with others, introverts are energized and driven by alone time. While everyone’s communication methods vary, it’s a manager’s job to encourage communication and connection between team members with different personalities. A recent Fast Company article outlines some tips for introverts at new jobs, so read on for how you can encourage connection between introverts and their coworkers.

Don’t rush: When it comes to managing introverted employees, there’s truth to the expression “slow but steady wins the race.” Do not rush their process of getting comfortable, especially when it comes to newly hired introverts. It’s crucial for your more reserved employees to observe office dynamics and listen to dialogue before they fully participate. Giving introverts plenty of safe opportunities to watch and listen without participating is crucial. For example, allowing new hires to sit in on conference calls, to observe before speaking themselves. 

Small talk: While introverts tend to be wary of formal social settings, there are more casual ways to build connection with coworkers. By creating opportunities for small daily interactions, introverts will begin to open-up. You can create water bottle filling stations, or snack bars around the office as opportunities for small talk. By creating an office space with room for both privacy and community, you’re sure to please all types of employees.

After work: The opportunity to connect after work is done is also important to employee harmony in the office. As a manager, you should create opportunities for connection based on personal interests. After-work clubs and activities are just as important to employee connection as watercooler chats. Clubs such as running groups or book clubs can be great ways to unite a team.


Kelsey McGillis

Kelsey McGillis is a writer at Ceridian's Toronto office. An avid reader and writer, she studies English and Communications at the University of Toronto.

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