All Hail the Comedians!

What kind of people do you most admire?

For me, it’s comedians. Maybe this is because I’m not naturally much of one myself, or maybe it’s because, deep down, I want to be one. Whatever the reason, I love watching them at work and going to live stand-up when I can.

Last month – March 14th – I got a chance to test myself out a little. I delivered a course at Queen’s on the psychology and practice of humour. Apart from being a blast, I think I got to give the class a new perspective of the comic side of life.

For instance, I showed the relation between joke-telling and problem-solving. According to Edward de Bono, they both require the same set of skills – the reconstructing of existing patterns of thought. Also, I talked about the place of playfulness and humour as one of the 24 ‘signature strengths’ of positive psychologist Martin Seligman. Finally, my main man Dan Pink got a mention, as the ‘sense of play’ – explained in terms of games, humour and joyfulness – is one of his six senses of out new, right-brain world. Continue reading “All Hail the Comedians!”

Assertiveness & Workplace Confidence


This two day workshop will take place on Wednesday – Thursday, 17-18 February 10, 09:30-16:30. Speaker: Dawn Baird.

The realities of modern work life – flat structures, tough workloads and the need to exert influence across traditional boundaries – ensure that assertiveness skills are not an optional extra. Aggression is unacceptable; passivity is ineffective. Continue reading “Assertiveness & Workplace Confidence”

Men From Mars Waste Their Hours

Why do men show so little interest in Lifelong Learning or self improvement. Even – or especially – when it comes to learning about themelves?

I ‘ve taught lots of courses at Queen ‘s University Belfast in the field of Personal Development. These workshops have ranged from Memory Improvement to Body Language, from Emotional Intelligence to Influencing Skills. They were all very well attended. But at a highly conservative estimate, the ratio of females to males in each class was about 5:2. Continue reading “Men From Mars Waste Their Hours”

Confident Conversations Workshop 2.0


I like designing new workshops and working on new ideas as much as possible. So far, I’ve only repeated one course within the Queen’s University Open Learning Programme. That was my 1-day workshop called Body to Body: How To Communicate Without Words. Read about it here. Now, I intend to add to this repeated course hall of fame. On Saturday, 31 May 2008 I delivered a workshop called Confident Conversations: How to Talk in Any Situation. Or, as I called it my my post-workshop report blog, The Art of Talking Without Talking.

Continue reading “Confident Conversations Workshop 2.0”

Emotional Intelligence is Sexy!

Recent research has shown that women with higher levels of emotional intelligence tend to enjoy better sex. I’m only bringing this to your attention because I teach Emotional Intelligence. And I must admit I thought it would make a grabbing title!

While you’re here, it seems an opportune moment to remind you of my 2-day EI workshop on 27-28 May, Emotional Intelligence Goes to Work. I’m running it as part of the Queen’s Univerity CPD programme.

“Workshop description: Emotional Intelligence (EI) is more than a sign of the times or the latest management movement – although it is both. Work has changed to become more personal and pressurised than ever before. There is a recognition that raw brain-power is not enough and never has been. Studies prove that the difference between average and outstanding performers at work lies in the ability to blend IQ with EI. Are you aware of your emotional strengths and how you are perceived by others? Can you handle situations of stress and conflict? Do you possess the ‘master aptitudes ‘ of motivation and resilience? Can you empathise with staff or customers? How is your social adeptness in networking scenarios? Is your leadership an inspiration or an impediment? These learnable skills – covered in this workshop – are vital and valued in the new world of work.” Continue reading “Emotional Intelligence is Sexy!”

The Making of Meaning

Last Saturday – 4th April – I delivered a course much anticipated… by me anyway. It was the first time I’ve got to use my philosophy background explicitly in a course, except for some work I’ve done in the area of business ethics.

The course was on the meaning of life, and how to find it for yourself. It’s interesting to me that this sort of topic is becoming more in demand not only for personal development but also in organizational growth. A framework of meaning connecting individual and corporate purpose provides the ultimate in occupational motivation!

I’ve already mentioned the direction of the course in the enigmatically-named blog called 42. Instead, what I want to do here is share a few insights that I’ve gleaned during the course of my research and the delivery of my course. Continue reading “The Making of Meaning”

Queen’s Talks Sense(i)

Dr Tess Maginess, Senior Teaching Fellow from the Open Learning Programme at Queen’s University Belfast no less, has made a mention of Allen in her Welcome message introducing the new Open Learning Programme 2008-2009. She said:

Communication – or the lack of it – is a big issue too and Allen Baird is on hand to give you an exciting and challenging perspective on a whole range of issues including non-verbal communication and the power (and, some of us would say, the necessity) of humour. So he offers us, The Power of Humour: How to be Funny and Body to Body: How to Communicate Without Words, while Helen Torr and Rob Mark complement Allen’s insights in their courses on Public Speaking.

Great to get a mention by the big guns.