Scientist, Educator & Speaker
You get on the elevator at work. The door starts to close. A well-shod foot blocks the door from closing completely. And in walks your Chair of Department or Dean or Boss. She says, “How’s it going?”
How do you respond?
If you simply say, “Good,” you’re missing an important opportunity, a chance to respond with a brief PAR statement relevant to the situation.
PAR stands for Problem – Action – Result.
You can start off with a short answer, in case she’s in a rush:
“Very good! I’ve been working on XXX that is yielding positive outcomes. If you’re interested in more information, I’ll follow up with you – briefly — by email or phone later today.”
If she has a couple of minutes, here is an example PAR statement from my life – you fill in your particulars:
Problem: “As you know, women face many obstacles advancing in their careers that men typically don’t have to deal with.”
Action: “So, I developed a series of workshops on problems that UCLA women faculty told me they were interested in discussing. The workshops were developed to be problem-solving activities using an evidence-based approach, and have been supported by the School of Medicine’s Associate Dean of Academic Diversity.”
Results: “I have given dozens of these workshops at UCLA and, more recently, at other universities. The feedback I receive from participants is uniformly very positive – including comments that the workshops stimulate women to take control of their situations, decrease feelings of isolation, and lead to career advancements. I would love for you to participate in the next UCLA workshop to help guide discussion – I’ll send you a special invitation.”
Now it’s YOUR turn. Construct your own PAR statement. Use a recent achievement.
Problem: What needed solving?
Action: What did you (and your collaborators) do to address or solve the problem?
Results: What was the outcome?
Write it out, be concise, and practice it out loud. Make sure YOU shine gracefully by starting the Action statement with “I”, while acknowledging the shared efforts of others (your research team, your collaborators, your colleagues, etc.)! You can have different PAR statements at the ready, depending on whom you run into in the elevator (or stairwell, the street, the parking garage, etc.).
This is just one tool you can use to promote yourself and your work. For more information on self-promotion and its importance in career advancement, check out my blog (with useful tips) on that topic at: http://wp.me/p4LWPX-2s
Mark Cooper and John Marx write about universities.
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