Refinancing Student Debt: Good Idea?


To increase your competitiveness in today’s job market; and the job market of the future, you might be considering some time at University or College. This upgrading of your education is for most people viewed as an excellent use of time. The stumbling block for many is the financial cost of doing so; the real or imagined debt load upon graduation, with no certainty of employment and the possibility of some crippling debt for years to come.

Well, first, allow me to suggest you look at the cost of your education from a different perspective. Rather than debt, view this as an investment in yourself; a life-long investment which will pay returns for you many times over down the road. It’s true you know. Yes, you’ll find your education a benefit when applying for jobs where your degree or diploma are the difference between being qualified or not. Then too, you’ll find that promotions and advancing become possible more often when you’ve got some higher learning to qualify you in the view of the employers you seek to advance with. Let me also say the very real and best advantage of a higher education in my mind is the change in the way you think and go about interacting with people post graduation.

Now you might say reframing debt as an investment in yourself is all well and good, but debt is debt in the end.  Okay, it’s true that debt of any kind for many is a source of stress; and the degree to stress you feel often comes down to the size of the debt itself and your personal experience carrying loans. I know when my wife and I bought our very first house, that $75,000 purchase price was scary for both of us. Fast forward to the present and we don’t feel the same level of anxiety as we consider homes in the $600,000 range! We’ve had more experience carrying and repaying loans, and we’re obviously in a different point in life to do so too.

Instead of fearing the imagined, the first good thing to do is do some research and find out exactly how much the education you’re considering will really cost. Factors such as the length of the program, where you live, your personal living situation, current sources of income, and more will affect how much you pay. Financial Officers and Guidance Departments are good people and good places to start. Online estimating calculators can also give you some idea of what it might cost you after you enter in the required information. Don’t rely on someone else’s experiences – good or bad. Get the goods from the source.

Now suppose you’ve already done all this, and you’ve already gone to school, received the education and are feeling saddled with the debt. You want to get out from under this mountain, (be it big or small) and cut your stress and anxiety; axe the phone calls to repay your loans etc. Good! Wouldn’t it be nice to stop those calls and when the phone rings think it might be a potential employer instead of someone looking to collect?

Refinancing your loans might be an option if you want to reduce the monthly amount you owe, or you’ve got the desire to reduce the overall cost of the borrowing. Here’s an infographic which you might find helpful:

https://www.credible.com/blog/should-i-refinance-student-loans/

This came to my attention from Patrick who works at Credible.com Let me assure you I don’t endorse from personal experience, nor am I receiving any payment from this group in sharing the infographic. This organization comes out of San Francisco in the United States, and you can certainly look them up, investigate for yourself if their services are for you, and you can go on to look for other local options wherever you live on the planet.

Refinancing education loans does make sense in many situations. You can pay loans off faster in some cases or pay them out over a longer period but at a much more manageable rate each month if that’s your choice. Yes you would in that case pay more overall, but you’d be able to sleep better every night – and with no harassing repayment calls whatsoever.

Here in Ontario, our provincial government has made tuition costs significantly reduced starting in 2018. You could go for 2 years and have $4,000 to repay upon graduation, as is a specific case I recently heard of. With bursaries and grants, you might eliminate that cost in part or completely too; many students also request some forgiveness of their debts upon graduation which is also a big help. It really does depend on your personal circumstances.

At the risk of sounding cavalier about debt, because it is yours not mine of which we speak and I understand and appreciate that, my general advice would be to not let debt upon graduation stop you from getting a higher education. Learning sticks with you your whole life, much more than the debt of financing a car, a house or a trip somewhere exotic.

There is nothing in this world you can invest in that will provide a better return on your money than yourself.

What’s been your own experience with refinancing student loans? Patrick mentioned in an email that if only 1 person benefitted from this infographic it would be worth it. I tend to agree. I wonder if you might be that person?

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How Long To Wait To Job Search?


Okay, so you’ve found yourself out of work. After your previous job, you figure a break is in order; you know, that transition from what you were doing to what you’ll do in the next job. So how much time exactly is right before getting on with looking for a job?

Attitude is everything here; yes attitude will decide what you do and how long you give yourself to get into the job hunting mode. You may be the kind of person who figures that the best thing to do is get right back in the hunt immediately. You know yourself better than anyone, and you can’t afford to lie about and rest because the stress of being out of work will gnaw at you constantly, making your ‘break’ time an ongoing worry. You won’t treat yourself to rest and relaxation, won’t spend money on entertainment, a trip or personal indulgences because you’re concerned about exhausting your resources. It would be different of course if you knew definitively that your unemployment will last a specific time period, but you don’t have this information.

Then too, you could be the type that figures life is short and therefore taking a break from work is what life is really all about. So you’ll indulge guilt-free; after all, Life owes you. Jobs will be there for the taking when you decide to get one, but in the meantime, it’s ‘me’ time; guilt-free and bring it on baby!

Or, has your experience been that the job you’ve most recently had ended so terribly that you need some down time to recover your dignity, self-worth; self-esteem? Maybe it ended with your termination, a shouting match, allegations made against you, you had a bad boss or a toxic work environment. Your break is really a mental health recovery period.

You see there are all kinds of different ways we justify the short, moderate or long periods of time that elapse between our former jobs and looking for the next one.

There are some things you need to be aware of however. Whether these things change your decision to get back immediately or further put off looking for work is entirely up to you – of course – but make sure you are at least aware of these factors:

  1. Your competition increases. New graduates emerge from Universities and Colleges with up-to-date practices and education, and they’re hungry. Your experience is your edge, so conventional wisdom says the longer you let your experience lag, the less your experience works in your favour.
  2. Employers prefer consistent work history. Gaps on a résumé raise questions for employers. If you’ve got gaps, expect to be asked why they exist and what you’ve done with your time. If you’ve improved yourself via courses and upgrading education that’s one thing; but if you’ve played video games and sat around staring at your belly button, that’s another.
  3. Mental Health healing. If you did have a really bad break from your last job, maybe – just maybe – getting a job outside your career would be best for your mental recovery. Seriously, work will keep you connected to people, your poor experiences of the past will be replaced by your present activity; you’ll fill in a gap on the résumé and you’ll get new references. When you do apply for work back in your field, “Why are you leaving your present job” will refer to the job you have in the short-term, not the job prior to that you’re fretting over now.
  4. Time erodes things. Your references, experience and accomplishments fade with time. That shiny letter of reference that’s two weeks old means a lot now but it won’t mean as much 7 months from now if you wait that long to get back in the job search mode. “What have you done lately?”
  5. Less baggage; fewer problems. While being out of work is a problem, you haven’t yet the stress and anxiety of having a prolonged job search, rejection from employers, depression etc. These negatives can and often do take seed in the lives of people who find it harder to get work than they previously imagined. Sometimes getting back at it can ward off social isolation, increasing fears associated with financial problems that come with no incoming resources.

Now, lest you think I’m really recommending you jump right back into the job search as a blanket statement for everyone, let me assure you I’m not. No, a period of time to process what’s happened to you is a good thing. You may need time to decompress if the job you left was one fraught with pressure and negativity.  How much time is the issue. What’s right for you might be different from what I’d do myself.

Even if you don’t actually apply, keeping up on the market and job openings is healthy and a good idea. You’d hate to learn that seldom-advertised opening came and went while you were almost ready but just taking a few more days to clean the garage.

Finally, it’s a good idea to stay connected to others. Call it networking okay, but really it’s about the interpersonal skills, the connectivity to others. Lately I’ve heard of many self-described ‘normal’ people who develop social anxieties, leading to serious isolation issues and a fear of even going out their door.

Take time…but not forever.

Job Search Stress? This Is Normal; To A Degree


Looking for a job and feeling stressed often go together. In fact, any time you work towards getting something you don’t have at the moment typically puts you in a state of stress; both body and mind.

Buying  a house, expecting a child, looking for a place for your aging parent(s) to move where they’ll get ongoing care; even buying your first car – these things can often bring with them varying degrees of stress and anxiety. You’ll note that each could be a positive thing I’ve listed; just like getting a job. Each requires some effort to first get and then adjust to.

Now looking for work requires effort as well; mental energy to start. Questions such as where to work, what kind of work to choose, the level of income required when looking, then self-assessing your current skills, education and experience compared to what the job ads say the employers are expecting. One main reason this process of looking for a job induces stress is because we are forced to engage in doing things we typically don’t put much thought into when we are already working somewhere.

While employed, we don’t think much about our résumé and writing cover letters. Nor do we worry about performing well in job interviews, making cold calls, applying for then being rejected again and again. For even when we have a job and go looking for another one to replace it, the stress can be quite different because we have a job at present. Hence we might not have the same level of stress wondering how we’ll pay bills, pay for transportation to job search or put food on the table. For the time being we’ve got income rolling in, so we can also job search for something better at a more relaxed pace.

Conversely, the out-of-work person quite often has increasing stress levels. A prolonged job search can be extremely stressful as savings get depleted, hope fades, stamina drains, confidence drops, desperation sets in and thoughts of, ‘will I ever work again?” take up residence.

If you’ve felt – or more importantly I know – if you FEEL these things now – you’re experiencing a normal reaction to the situation in which you find yourself. While it might be normal however, it’s not a good idea to spend any more time than necessary in this state. Some people do though, and by choice; here’s why…

Imagine you’re on a roller coaster. You start with the exhilaration and expectations of what it will be. When you’re on it, the highs and lows come as you figured, but soon you feel trapped and can’t get off. Every so often you plateau out and momentarily feel more in control. Given the highs and lows, that momentary control feels preferable to more highs and lows. To feel less of the lows, you start avoiding the pleasurable highs, only because the lows are following those highs with predictable regularity. Eventually you might then be okay – not happy mind but definitely okay – with plateauing out lower than you thought you’d ever do when you first got on.

Job searching can be similar. You begin with high expectations and the possibilities are enticing; a better job, more income, something new to learn and experience. There’s the high of applications and interviews, and the lows of being ignored completely or passed over and rejected. You reapply yourself,  redouble your efforts only to find the expected results are materializing. The odd day comes when you do little to nothing job search wise. Then you recommit your energy and soon find you’ve applied to 30, 50 or more jobs all unsuccessfully. Confused, disillusioned, disappointed and frustrated, you pack it in and coast…

The thing about this analogy of the roller coaster is that in the real world the ride stops and you get off. You know when you get on the ride is only of a certain duration and then it’s over. When you take your seat on the Job Search Rollercoaster, you don’t know how long the ride will be nor do you know the cost of the ride financially and mentally, nor can you see ahead to view all the ups and downs, curves, loops and plateaus.

Let me remind you why you got on this ride in the first place; to have something better than what you had. If you find yourself screaming, “Please! I want to get off!” to some apparently absent amusement operator, let me point out the person with the ride controls is you. You can experience this journey alone or when it’s slowing down, you can ask others to hop onboard and help you gain some measure of control by explaining how the ride works.

It’s true! Whether you work with a government paid Job Coach, Employment Counsellor or pay for one privately, or even ask someone to mentor you, there’s helpful people all around you just for the asking. Riding the rails can be exciting for some, grow tiresome quickly for others, and cause pain and discomfort for many who’ve been on much too long. Like so many things in life, sharing the experience instead of going it alone can be helpful and in this case, cut the length of time you spend figuring things out for yourself.

So, while the stress of job searching is normal, be cautious of the length of time you spend searching alone; there’s a lot at stake.

A Glimpse Into The Social Assistance Experience


If you’ve never needed it, I doubt you’ve thought a great deal about what it would be like to be on the receiving end of the Social Assistance experience. Your knowledge and assumptions are probably based on what you hear in the news when an individuals’ story is profiled, from a candidate around election time or perhaps you’ve got a friend or family member who has shared a little of their own experience.

It has been my great honour and privilege to serve and support those receiving such benefits in two Municipalities; Toronto and Durham in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario for a total of 21 years and counting. In addition to this experience, my wife has 16 or so years of experience herself working in another municipality. While my experience is extensive, I’ve never been on the receiving end myself, and I hope the choices I’ve made and continue to make into the future don’t land me in such need.

That being said, if the time comes when I’m in need, I know now that I’d be thankful the support system was there to help get me through such times until once more I became financially self-sufficient.

It can be a very demeaning and embarrassing process to apply for welfare. In Ontario Canada it’s referred to now as Ontario Works, but to many in receipt, it is and will always be welfare.  It all starts with a phone call to apply in which someone in need talks to someone in what is akin to a call centre. The conversation while initiated by someone in need is pretty much led by the receiving employee asking preset questions. Full name, address, SIN and Health numbers, rent/mortgage information, family members, assets, banking information, investments, etc.; all of which will need to be verified at an in-person meeting to determine eligibility.

I get that it can strip one of their pride and self-worth. With every document you hand over to some stranger, with every disclosure of your personal circumstances such as whether you’ve been abused or the name of your child’s father or mother and where they might be, you give up a little dignity. While most in this field are very good at getting this information in a caring compassionate way, no amount of empathy can change that stuff you’d normally keep private and confidential must be fully disclosed.

Now the agenda of the person in need is pretty clear. Almost all the time, there’s a stated desperation present or looming; rent and food. Get approved and the rent gets paid and people eat. Get denied and a missed rental payment eviction and hunger, a visit from the child welfare authorities, homelessness, begging and worse, having to steal to survive.

If as my piece began you’ve not had to experience social assistance, maybe you’re completely unaware of the community resources you’ll have to tap into. Where would you find the kitchens, thrift stores, donation centers, etc.? If you needed your ID replaced to get many of these benefits, would you know where to go and remember it’s likely you’d have to walk or take public transportation; taking your child or children with you everywhere if you were a sole support parent without a trusted, reliable childcare provider.

Now meeting with us in Social Services for many is a good experience in the end. However, in those first few meetings, the anxiety and stress of anticipating what that experience will be like is often influenced by past meetings and stereotypes of government workers. Just as you’ve no doubt got frustrated with being put on hold, re-directed, not getting through to the person you need to talk to etc. when calling for help yourself, the experience can be like that for some. What increases the importance of getting through is the immense pressure and stress of failing to get the help asked for.

Look there are a lot of really good, compassionate and empathetic people in the business of providing social assistance recipients with support. While these are good qualities, what’s really needed in addition are people both knowledgeable and able to share that same knowledge of resources needed in any one person’s situation. Whether it’s a benefit we can issue ourselves or a benefit another service provider offers, connecting people with what they need is imperative.

On the receiving end, people want to be heard, respected, treated with dignity and foremost be a person; not a case, not a number and no, not a client. Most aren’t in receipt by choice. On top of their financial needs, many have multiple barriers to employment including gaps in work history, mental health challenges, anxiety, low self-esteem. You’d be surprised though to find highly educated professionals in receipt of help; people with their Masters and Degrees perhaps. Yes, really.

Hopefully, supporting people in need is done in the way we would wish to be treated were it us on the other side of the table or end of the phone. “Do onto others…” And while we may have our hopes and plans for people, it’s critical to listen and figure out where someone is at any given moment. I mean, are they ready to job search? Would job searching just set them up to fail at the moment? Do they need stable housing first, addiction intervention, counselling, or maybe to volunteer to rebuild a shattered confidence?

Just the briefest glimpse into this experience.

Staying When You’re No Longer In It


I can’t help but wonder how many readers of this piece are themselves stuck in a job they really don’t enjoy or worse, have come to truly hate; and hate my dear reader, is a very strong word. But that’s it isn’t it? I mean, knowing you don’t enjoy the work, the people who surround you, the company, the commute; and nonetheless hanging on and holding on, going in day after day, week after week, just living for the day when you retire. Oh what sweet release awaits you!

You might think this is an extreme comparison, but haven’t I rather described a prison sentence? Wow, that’s something to think on. Is it worse or only slightly better to realize that unlike my prison analogy, in this case you’re walking around with the means to your release in your possession. After all, you only need walk in and resign and you’re free.  At least in prison you get time off for good behaviour!

The reasons for staying may be well documented elsewhere, but for the record, it could be you’re feeling too old to be hired elsewhere, the vacation you’ve accumulated would be reset at two weeks if you moved; your benefits are just too good. Could be you’ve built up too much of a dependence on your current income to pay for a mortgage, cottage, vacations, kids education, your wardrobe etc.

Somewhat ironic that you might feel trapped in a job in part because of the benefits you’re receiving when you are no longer benefitting from the work you’re doing where you’re doing it day after day. What price are you paying with your mental health when you grudgingly drag yourself into your workplace 5 days a week and loathe both the trip there and clock gaze the entire day. This just has to be affecting your personality, your good-nature, your self-esteem and most importantly your self-worth.

Self-worth is ironic in and of itself. Look on the internet and you’ll find articles about how much some well-know figure is worth. That’s dollars and cents; a financial commodity. Were we to ask that same person, (presuming we could even get their attention to ask), how much value they put on the life they are leading, we might get a much lower evaluation.

Don’t you think it’s rather disappointing to know that you’ve only got this one life and you’re spending a great deal of your waking hours surrounded by a place and people you don’t really want to be with, doing work that you find no happiness in? Supposing it wasn’t you in this situation but rather your child or grandchild, wouldn’t you strongly suggest and hope that they’d chuck it in and find something that makes they truly happier? It would make you sad knowing the one you love and care for so much continues to do this.

It ultimately comes down to choice doesn’t it? Sure it does. It may not be what you want to hear, and you might stop reading right about here, but it is your conscious choice to stay where you are, just as it’s an option to walk away. Don’t say you’ve got no choice in this, that you have to stay, for that’s not true. What is true is that the reason you’ve stayed and not quit already is because it’s going to need some courage and a struggle of a different kind to actually walk away.

Quitting is going to mean job searching, curtailing your expenses until you find another source of income. It might mean you’ll get less time off each year for some time. Can you picture how the six weeks off a year vs. the two weeks off a year in a new job, might not be that big of a deal if you enjoy going to work 50 weeks a year instead of loathing the 46 weeks a year as you do now?

I mean if you’re popping painkillers or self-medicating just to get through your days, are you factoring these things into your decision-making when you look at how you’re doing? How much you make a year isn’t the only bottom line here; how much you’re paying each year to make that money is far more significant.

Come on, this isn’t the life you dreamed; this isn’t how they drew it up for you back in high school or the family home. And by chance if someone did envision this life for you, it is still within YOUR power and control to pack it in. The hardest part is just deciding you’re going. Then there is a release; freedom. You’ll likely get some package of sorts, and if you don’t, it’s still more valuable to know you’re rekindling your self-esteem than sacrificing it to stay.

If you do walk away from this kind of situation, give yourself time – perhaps a month – to decompress. This is a big change after all, and transitioning from that job to the rest of your life is a stage to refocus and indulge in some healing time.

Sorry if you decide to stay; really I am. I understand your decision though; even if I’d recommend leaving. I do hope you make it to retirement in relative good health – physically and mentally. For many though, the view of retirement and time to do what they want is actually dictated by the health with which they arrive at it.

Feel Like You’re Failing? Consider This


Failing and the fear of failing (two very different things) can keep you from eventually getting where you want to be, or having what you most want.

Now let’s be honest with each other here; failing at some things is much more significant and personal than with others. Failing to tie our shoes tight enough could mean for most of us that we simply look down and seeing they are yet again untied, we bend down and tie them again. Not a major issue, we just had to do it twice.

However, I acknowledge that failing at other things can be devastating and have severe consequences. In the very worst of scenarios, life or lives could be lost if a driver fails to stay on their side of the highway, we fail to wear a life jacket and our canoe overturns in open water or our parachute fails to open. These are just a few examples I say of the worst that could happen.

For job seekers, the issue of failing typically is described as putting in the time to apply and interview for a job and ultimately not being successful. The feeling is you’ve failed in the attempt to get hired. However, the feeling that you experience in such a situation is not shared in the same way by every person rejected as you might initially suspect.

No, some people will be devastated while others don’t seem negatively affected at all; and all the feelings in between the two extremes will be experienced by others. While the rejection itself is delivered the same to each applicant, the message received is experienced very differently. Why is this?

The answer in part is the importance each person assigns to the job opportunity in the first place. So the person who already has a job and is applying just to test the waters and see if they can advance might be only slightly affected. On the other hand, the unemployed person who’s pinned all their hopes on getting that job to stave off having their car or home repossessed by the Bank and their spouse give up on them could feel ruined.

Similarly, the stage at which you’re at in your job search has an impact. How many times have you applied and not been successfully offered the job? Are you just starting out and this is rejection number one or is this your 43rd in a row? Yikes!

Now there’s another reason that plays into how you feel and that’s what you’ve experienced beyond the job application process. Some people have the good fortune of having supportive people behind and around them. They see themselves as successful parents, worthy as an individual and their spouses, friends and family love them and encourage them in so many other ways, this failure is only one small blemish in one area of their life.

Most unfortunate however, is the person who has been told repeatedly that they will never amount to much, that their life is a series of failures in every regard. Victims of abusive relationships are often rebuked, put down, made to feel small and are often told they are nothing without the abuser. When they try and fail in their attempt to get a job, in their mind they really believe this is yet one more example of the truth they’ve been told; it is they who is a failure, not the job application.

I must tell you though that we all fail. Failing is a sign first that we’ve tried something; and trying is a good thing. Presumably it was trying to better ourselves, to get something we desired for whatever reason. Recognizing that we’ve tried is significant, so good for you.

Now, although unpleasant perhaps, it’s important to pause and think about why we were not ultimately successful. Yes this means thinking about an experience that didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped, but there’s a good reason for this; learning.

If we can learn some things about why we failed, we can then attempt to drop those same things in the future. So perhaps we need a stronger resume or add a cover letter. Maybe we need coaching or professional advice in terms of our interview skills. Why? Well, we might be saying something in an interview that seems okay to us but in fact is sending a different message entirely when heard by an interviewer.

I really don’t expect that you’ll smile and feel great when you’ve failed at getting a job in the future. No, you’re perfectly right to feel whatever you feel, be it sad, disappointment, short-term anger etc. Your feelings are valid because – well – they are YOUR feelings. Don’t apologize for how you feel.

After you’ve gone through what happened, look for some feedback and be genuine in your request, not defensive or argumentative as you listen to someone give you this feedback. You are after all attempting to learn so you increase your future chance of success.

Some of the most successful people you’ll meet have failed in the past and continue to fail as they learn new things. Remember you only need to succeed once – to get that job offer you want – and all those failures will diminish in comparison.

You my friend; yes you reading this, you are not defined by your failures.

How Your Seating Sets Up Says A Lot


Have a peek at the office furniture where you work and pause to think about how you feel if you’re not the primary occupant of that space, but rather a visitor. Does the layout have you seated across whoever works in that space, separated by a desk? If so, do you think that’s because it’s the only layout that will work in that space or has it been set up like that on purpose and if so, why?

Typically, people who want to convey a sense of power and control often sit behind a desk, with visitors sitting directly across from them with a desk between. On their side they’ve got the computer monitors, keyboard, access to drawers, filing cabinets and if anything is needed during a meeting, it’s totally accessible from their side. On the side of the visitor, there’s the chair to be occupied and that’s it. Comfortable?

Now, there are alternatives. If the space is large enough, some people will have space for a second desk; this one might be off to the side and have a couple of chairs at it and the user of the office will routinely move to sit in one of these seats with open space between themselves and another. The message here is that both people have something to write on, put a drink down on, etc., but the open space sends the message, we are equals. This you can see, may be precisely why some would like it and others would refuse the very idea. Yes, for some, it is about communicating authority, power, control – any way and every way they can.

When space doesn’t permit a second desk or seating area, intelligent people can still move themselves into positions which communicate openness. You might find that upon entering an office for a meeting, the owner of that space will physically move their chair into a place off to the side of their desk, so they are removed from sitting directly across from you with the desk between. Sitting to the side changes the dynamic of the meeting, without ever having to say a word. It’s like the person is sending the message, “I have power and control, but I don’t need to use it here, so let’s get comfortable.”

This is an example of non-verbal communication and doesn’t happen by accident. Office arrangements are either dictated by the organization and standard designs to consistently send the same message to all employees and customers/clients, or where office furniture and layouts vary, it’s a clearer sign of the preference of the occupant.

Ever notice how some meetings are held in different spaces, even when the meeting may be just between two people? Every heard the phrases, “Come to my office”, or, “Can I see you in my office? There’s something I want to talk with you about.” The choice of seeing you in their space and advising you of that preference can – all by itself – get you anxious.

Sometimes of course that’s the point. There are some who love to wield with that sense of being the big boss, the enforcer. Sometimes people aspire to get their own office because it is for them a recognition of passage. They’ve gone from the office cubicle to their own space with a door. It’s their office, their desk, they’ve got walls to put up their certificates and achievements for all to see and perhaps shelves to personalize. They’ve arrived!

Now of course not all people are enforcers or love to wield the power and control just because they have a desk separating them from visitors. How the person sits and the posture they assume says a lot, as does the tone of their voice, the smile or lack of it. All these and more go into making a trip to that office a welcoming, comforting experience or one to be cautious of.

Oh and what about that door? Is it routinely left open or deliberately closed by the office occupant after you’ve entered? Maybe it’s only closed for certain types of conversations and left open for others? Having a door closed could be for your own privacy and benefit by a caring and thoughtful Supervisor. On the other hand, it could be yet another form of intimidation believe it or not; you’re physically cut-off from everyone else; it’s just you and them, one-on-one. That door doesn’t open again until the person who called you in chooses to open it and release you.

Now as an employee, we don’t often get to choose our furniture; its standard issue. Our seating arrangements are fixed, right down to the chair we sit on, the chair we offer visitors, the workspace we use and the table or desk we sit at.

You might not like the set up you’ve been assigned and the message it conveys to your own visitors. There might be something you could change for the asking but it’s probable there are financial considerations and limitations which will prevent change. If so, how you use the space you have and the atmosphere or mood you choose to create will need some thought and effort on your part.

Could be that you meet the public in specific areas beyond your personal desk. You and the others who may share that space may want to think about the tone that space sets.