Investing In The Relationship


The best relationships are the ones in which both partners not only make initial investments in each other, but do so on an ongoing basis. The initial investments come easily to most people; going out of your way to show through your actions that this person means a lot to you. In the early stages of a relationship, there’s a lot to discover about this other person you’re drawn to. You’re on the lookout for the things that please your partner, you put effort into the relationship and you do little things that pay off with a smile brought to their face.

Strong relationships stand the test of time when partners continue to invest in each other. It’s important to realize that as the relationship evolves, so too do the two individuals which make up this partnership. Sometimes couples come to realize that their individual priorities have changed, along with their interests and needs. While each individual person may very well be a good person at heart, this evolution of the individuals involved can divide a relationship to the point where each person moves on in separate directions apart from on another. There’s no issue of blame, no wronged partner; just a parting of the ways, each with a healthy view of the other.

The relationship which exists between employers and employees works much the same. In the beginning, an applicant does their best to get to know a potential employer by doing their research. Then the applicant makes an approach, does their best to capture the employer’s attention and present themselves as a good match. The employer is also doing their best to present themselves as a good partner; dangling benefits, wages, work environment, culture and future growth to woo the applicant.

Once the two come together in an agreement, both employer and employee begin in the honeymoon phase where each invest in the partnership; the employee grateful for the opportunity is on their best behaviour. Employers are doing their best to welcome the new hire into the fold, making introductions all round, providing training opportunities and protecting the new hire from a full workload in the first early days. Both employee and employer check in with each other to see how the relationship is progressing and both want this partnership to be productive and lasting.

Now there’s no specific timeframe for the transition to the post-honeymoon period. A sign of the transition however, is when the newness has rubbed off, the routine of daily tasks is known, the employee has settled in and the employer stops checking in to see how the newbie is doing as a regular thing. Protecting the new hire from a full workload is over and expectations of full performance begin. This doesn’t mean the relationship has soured, it just means the 2nd phase has begun.

Employers show their continued investment in their employees by providing ongoing training, making sure staff have opportunities to develop professionally and acknowledge achievements employees make which enhance the end-user experience. They provide feedback on how they see the relationship, talk about where they as an entity are headed and why, hoping by this transparency, to avoid surprising their staff by moving in any direction that would catch their employees off guard and unawares. In short, the best relationships between employers and employees is where employers demonstrate great care for the staff they employ.

Employees too have a responsibility in this relationship. For the the partnership to continue to be a good one, employees need to pull in the same direction; work with each of their colleagues in order to be collaborative and productive. This can mean learning new procedures, taking on additional training with enthusiasm and continuing to develop as individuals so their skills remain competitive.

Frequently, as employees and employers evolve, the time comes when one of the two realizes that things just aren’t working as well as they once did or could, and a parting of the ways is in each partners best interests. It does not mean that either partner is necessarily to blame or at fault, but rather that they have grown and evolved in different ways, have different needs and their futures will continue to evolve down different paths. In parting, each actually does the other a favour. Only poor employees or poor employers belittle and demean the other – sometimes done from a place of hurt or feeling wronged. Smart employers and employees part on the best of terms which leaves reconciliation a possibility and intersecting in the future in different roles something to look forward to, such as moving to another organization in the same field.

When either partner ceases to invest in the relationship, things stagnate and what can set in is complacency. Employees stop stretching themselves and developing their skills, employers expect to stay competitive in their industry but fail to invest in ongoing training of their greatest assets – the people they employ.

If you apply yourself and do your best, you increase the odds of finding a great partner to build a relationship with. It takes effort, investment in each other and understanding that if you take care of your partner’s needs, you often find they take of yours.

Whatever your role where you work, may you be in a great partnership and get as much as you give.

 

 

Communicating Effectively


It was back in 1980 on Erindale Campus of the University of Toronto that I was first told in a Sociology lecture that effective communication was sending a message from one person to another and having it received and understood in the way it was intended. If the person receiving the message interprets it in any way that differs from the intent of the sender, you have miscommunication.

With such a straightforward explanation of the communication process, why then is it so hard for people to communicate effectively? To answer this question, we have to look at some of the many things that accompany the message when it’s being transmitted to the person receiving the communication. Tone of voice, body language, physical proximity, the method of communication, past histories of the two individuals, context, and the list goes on. There’s a lot packed into how we communicate with others!

You might think that removing all the above would make communicating so much easier and increase clarity, but not so. How many times have you read an email for example and been unsure of the meaning behind the words you’ve just read?

In the workplace, communicating effectively is of great importance to employers. This is evidenced in the number of job postings which include, ‘strong written and verbal communication skills’ as part of the qualifications for the job. For whether it’s with customers, clients, co-workers, Managers or the general public, being able to communicate effectively is critical to increased productivity, company image and your own individual success.

How effectively you communicate begins the moment you come into contact with anyone who works in an organization you’re interested in joining. Whether it’s a phone call to gather information, a cover letter accompanying your resume, or the job interview itself, your communication skills are on display and you’ll be assessed at each one of these stages by company personnel as being a weak or strong fit based on how you send and receive information.

Everyone with something to communicate begins with an idea that they wish to share. People who communicate effectively then do many things simultaneously in just a few seconds. They think of their audience; the person or people who will receive the message. They consider their own relationship with these people and how best to pack the message so it not only gets delivered, but stands the best chance of being unpacked by those receiving the message in the way the sender intends. Should it be a text, an email, in person, over the phone, a group meeting, posted as an announcement on a bulletin board, etc.

But that’s just the method of communication. The words themselves have to be well thought out, to avoid any chance of being misunderstood. Even then, it’s not enough to guarantee success. The tone of voice we use is critical. For example if you shared some exciting news with a co-worker that you’ve just received a promotion, you might be confused if they say, “Gee that’s great”, while at the same time they yawn and roll their eyes. Even though they say the news is great, their tone and body language isn’t consistent with what you heard. In fact, you’re likely to believe the body language and tone over the actual words you hear and be left feeling disappointed they aren’t as excited as you.

Now imagine that same situation happening not just with a co-worker, but rather your boss. The boss tells you to have something done by 1:00 p.m. and you smile, wink an eye and say, “Yeah, I’ll get right on that!”, and chuckle. Your boss is probably left wondering if you are really going to get to it right away or you think they are kidding and have no intention of doing what they just asked. It’s likely they’ll say, “No, I’m serious; 1:00 p.m.” This second communication is also going to be delivered clearer, with little room for miscommunication. In fact, even if you got the message right the first time, your tone, facial expression and body language sent conflicting signals with the words you used. This inconsistency may actually be so confusing to an employer that it could limit your role in a company, causing you to be passed over for promotions because there’s a lack of faith in your communication skills.

Suppose you want to get to know the people you work with and figure having lunch with them one-on-one will give you both sufficient time to get to know one another. You say to someone, “I’d like to have lunch with you one day this week to get to know each other better.” They might be confused, especially if there is little history between you for them to understand the context for your request. Is this just lunch? Are you personally interested in them? Why them? So they might ask you for clarification by simply saying, “Why?” Although your motives are clear to you, what you have to understand is your motives aren’t clear yet to them.

Miscommunication can lead to awkwardness, jobs failing to get done, puzzlement, confusion and conflict just to name a few negative outcomes. Good advice is to consider your audience, how you’ll deliver your message, and checking for understanding once the message is received by asking for feedback.

 

 

 

The Impact Of A Smile


A smile is one of the most positive and powerful things you can do for yourself when you find yourself in the company of others. It’s free to use, and it sends a message to other people that you’re approachable, your mood is favourable and it can often transfer to other people you interact with, making your interaction with others likewise positive. Wow! All that from a smile!

The lack of a smile can produce the opposite too. Your lack of a smile can communicate that you’re all business; maybe even a little cold or impersonal. It can send the message that you’re not approachable, your mood is not good, and those you interact with may feel guarded when dealing with you.

Think for a moment of people you interact with often; perhaps your co-workers if you have them. If you’re not employed, think perhaps on someone you see fairly often. Now picture if you can whether they smile often or not, and then consider whether you general consider the interaction you have with them positive or not. My guess is that you generally associate smiling faces with more positive interactions, and the less frequent the smile, the cooler the interaction. Am I right?

Now picture yourself out shopping, at the bank or returning an item to a customer service area. You’re in line awaiting your turn and if you’re like me, you’ve probably looked ahead at the possible people you might interact with and hoped it’s a certain person over the others. I know when I’m standing in a line, I always do this instinctively, and I’ve noticed I usually hope for the man or woman sporting a smile. I just assume my experience is going to be more positive because they’ll make it so; theirs is a cheerful face to start with and hence our interaction will get off to a good start too.

Now employers know the power of a smile. Look at job postings; specifically in the introductions where they describe the role and not the hard-core qualifications. You might see phrases like, “If you’re a people-person”, or “If you’re passionate about providing guests and customers with outstanding service”.  These phrases are put in job postings to alert readers to jobs that will match the right person with what’s to follow. These employers are saying that they are really interested in finding people who will derive immense joy and satisfaction from the high level of interaction you’ll be exposed to. They want people who will come to work energized by that interaction and so find themselves in a good mood; your smile is your visual display of that good mood, positive energy and passion you feel.

We don’t all speak the same language, nor do we experience many things in the same way when we’re from different cultures with different values, etc., but the one thing that is universally understood is the power and effect of the smile.

Now of course, many people don’t smile by nature. It’s not that they are unhappy or cold, it’s just that their resting face tends to have the ends of their mouth droop downwards instead of up or horizontal. It takes these people considerable effort to remember to smile, and the effort is hard to sustain. Consequently, they seem less approachable or maybe overly serious. What’s more, these people are well aware of this themselves from the many people over the years who say, “You look so serious. Anything wrong?” or, “It wouldn’t hurt you to smile a little.” Believe me, you’re not telling them something they don’t already know. For them unfortunately, smiling is a lot of work.

A smile can often be hard to come up with too when you find yourself in a situation that you find stressful. A job interview comes to mind. You’re sitting in reception feeling nervous and trying to remember all you can about the company you’re applying to. You’ve done your homework but are nervous because first impressions mean so much. You’re mentally going through possible questions, what you want to be sure to mention, going over that one challenging thing you expect and then you’re interrupted when you hear your name called. Smiling at this moment means everything, but it might be hard to produce and sustain because the pressure or strain you might feel would seem to call for a serious expression.

Smiles are so important. They can light up a room, and in many cases, it’s the smile that has a ripple effect on the rest of your face. It can make your cheeks glow, your eyes shine a little brighter or twinkle, and completely captivate your audience.

Okay so consider this. When you’re in an interview – typically a stressful thing for many, consider smiling when you recall something pleasant. So if you’re giving an example of your customer service skills and recall interacting with someone whom you had a positive experience with, smile as you recall the moment. it will translate positively and communicate to the person listening that you are positively affected when you deal with others. This is the kind of thing that employers are looking for isn’t it? People who enjoy working for and with others.

So I urge you to smile today; think about it consciously as you go about your day and see if you can put a smile on others faces just by showing your own.

Teamwork As A Valued Trait


Looking at job postings these days, teamwork is one qualification that shows up fairly consistently; the ability to work cooperatively and productively with others. It’s a highly valued commodity; an essential quality that employer’s want more and more in the people they bring in from the outside to join their existing workforces.

It’s more though than simply getting along with others. When you work as a member of a team, you’ve got to understand and act differently than you would if you were working independently. A member of a team comes to rely on others and at the same time be relied upon by them to complete assigned work. Good teams trust each person to show up when scheduled, pull their own weight and go about their work in such a way that fits the other employees. When you’re the new hire, you’re being assessed by the employer and your new co-workers to see how you’ll fit in with the existing workforce; everyone is hoping you’ll contribute in such a way that doesn’t disrupt the way things are. This is true unless of course you’re part of an overhaul of how things have been done and the company wants to shift the culture from the way things have been to something different.

Long ago, many job applicants had similar skills and backgrounds. When an employer advertised an opening, they found that the people applying shared common work histories; people didn’t tend to move around much, and people were interchangeable without much need for teams to adapt to new people. These days, things have changed. Because it’s easier to move around the globe, often employees are showing up not just from different parts of the community, they’re coming from different countries altogether; sometimes from different continents, speaking different languages and having different ways of doing similar work. People aren’t as interchangeable as they once were, and now need much more orientation to local methods, specific procedures and company practices.

You find too that friction is inevitable for some when bringing in new people. Whereas in the past the new hire had to assimilate themselves into the culture of the teams they joined, now you find that many existing workers have to gain an awareness and sensitivity to the needs of the person hired as well. This is a good thing, but it requires effort on the part of the existing team in a way that long ago wasn’t such a priority. Employers too have learned to be culturally sensitive to the needs of their individual workforce members. They go out of their way now to train people on how to work better together – and by better, they ultimately mean be more productive.

Many workers are now cross-trained; they learn not just how to do the job they were initially hired for, but they also learn how to do the job of others. When a person is cross-trained, they become more adaptable, can work in two or three different roles if need be, they become more valuable to the employer. For the person, they are increasing their own skills and doing everything they can to stay hired.

Communication skills are essential when working together. It’s more than just being able to talk and write clearly though. It’s all the non-verbal interaction that’s going on too. Even when working side-by-side with someone, it’s anticipating what they’ll do next, knowing when they’ll need to interact with you and knowing when you’ll be interacting with the next person on your team. Doing your work and being counted on by your teammates to be reliable and dependable goes a long way to fitting in.

The thing about a team environment is that each member should understand and buy in to the same end goals. These can be quotas and targets to hit on a daily basis for example, or they can be how a product is delivered to the customers or end-users. Many teams take a lot of pride in what they do, and if someone – a new hire in this case, threatens that mood or feeling, it will need to be addressed.

Sometimes an organization will actually hire more employees than they plan on keeping. What they are doing in fact is having an internal competition to see who among the new employees will fit with the existing chemistry the best. Or said another way, they are determining who is the most disruptive, performing more independently than gelling with others, and who then to let go.

In a job interview, it’s not enough to say you’re a team player. Too many other people are making the same claims. What is absolutely critical is to give clear examples from your past or current work experiences where you’ve thrived working cooperatively with others and been highly productive. When you show or prove you’ve worked effectively as a valued team member, you make it easier for the interviewers to envision you performing similarly for them. This is where many applicants fail miserably; they make statements with nothing to back up their claims.

Teamwork is about recognizing the strengths of each person and putting everyone in a position to contribute towards the common end goal. If you don’t know what your teams purpose is, this is something you should immediately ask. And while you don’t need to be best friends with your team, show some interest in them.

For The Beast To Stay Alive It Has To Feed


Anger, bitterness, resentment; hatred.

You might have cause to feel these emotions from time-to-time, but I hope you come to realize that in choosing to feel these emotions on a regular, daily basis, you choose to allow whatever, or whoever, stirred those emotions in you initially, to win. The sooner you release those feelings, you purge yourself of their power over you, and you regain your control, take back the power and live a better life.

Now that’s it in a nutshell. If you stop reading now, you’ll have the point.

Here’s the thing about anger, bitterness, resentment and downright hatred; sometimes they come into our lives and change us without us being aware we’ve changed. Of course the people around us, especially the ones closest to us, see the change, know it’s not change for the better and are sometimes powerless to help us regain our former selves.

When you carry any of these four with you, the surprising thing is how they change our body language and facial expressions, alerting those with whom we interact that we’re in a bad mood. This often causes us to look unapproachable, best left alone and then it follows that this can build even more resentment as we fail to win employment competitions, find ourselves passed over for promotions or yes, find ourselves removed from employment altogether.

How we then experience the world changes, because of how we interact with the world. One of the healthiest things an angry, resentful, bitter person can do is let go of the hatred; releasing the negativity; healthy yes but hard for many. Change as you know is hard for some people, and change for the better is no different.

Now on the outside; from the objective point-of-view of another person, it might seem easy to let it go. “Stop being so negative!” It’s not that simple though, and does telling someone to stop being negative ever really have the effect of having that other person just say, “Oh alright. Thanks”, and then immediately change happens in a snap? No.

Change; real, lasting change in this case, only occurs when the person holding the anger, bitterness, resentment and hatred let’s it go. In order to let it go, there has to be some motivation to release it, something they realize they want more than they want the negativity. Again, it sounds obvious. Choose not to be so negative and you attract the positive to your everyday life. Yet, not easily done.

Much of the time there’s an element of forgiveness that immediately precedes the release of these four emotions above. The last thing however that an angry person who holds resentment and bitterness towards a hated individual wants to do is turn around and forgive them. No, often these are the very things that feed the feelings. It’s true you know; for the beast to stay alive it has to feed.

So you’ll find looking from the outside in that angry people carry that anger to new situations. They have short fuses and little tolerance for others who they have no reason not to like. At the same time they can want to have fresh beginnings and new starts in new environments yet bring all the anger, bitterness, resentment and hatred with them and when what they experience is the same as earlier poor situations, they mistakenly believe the world has changed for the worse. It hasn’t of course, it’s just how they interact with and experience it.

If this were an easy thing to change, these periods would be short-lived. However, as letting go through forgiveness can be so very hard for some, these four traits can rob a person of a life of happiness. Should that anger, resentment and bitterness spread to others and stir the hatred in them, it can become infectious and linger to become generational.

But for our purpose, let’s keep the mirror with only us in it. Look at a yourself in a mirror – not figuratively but literally – and what strikes you? Do you see defiance, anger, hostility and resentment? How easy or hard is it for you to bring a smile to the face you see and when you do, does that face smiling back at you hold a genuine smile or a sneer of disgust?

While change is hard – even change for the better – it’s possible; possible always. If it’s you holding the grudges and the anger, there’s got to be something occur that becomes the catalyst for change. It’s highly unlikely you just wake up one day and say, “Huh, I think I’ll embrace positivity from now on.” If you’re lucky, you might have others who see the good in you stick by you long enough to be around when you make the change. However, often the catalyst I referred to earlier that precedes real change in the direction of positivity only happens when you lose the ones that mean the most to us. They tire of the anger, frustration, bitterness, resentment, universal hatred and though it hurts them to do it, they move on.

Choosing what to feed – and it is a choice – determines how we shape ourselves and therefore how we experience the world in which we live. It’s therefore not so much what the world is doing to us but rather, what we bring to the world around us. Choose.

Could you call someone, ‘Fats’ in 2017?


When Antoine Domino was born in New Orleans back in 1928, it’s impossible to think that Mrs. and Mr. Domino looked down on their newly born son and said to each other, “let’s nickname him ‘Fats’. In fact on his birth certificate they gave him the nickname Anthony. Turns out he was initially called Fats by big band leader Billy Diamond in 1949 – then at age 21 because he reminded Billy of two other musicians; Fats Waller and Fats Pichon.  Also of note was that in 1949, he released an album self-titled, “The Fat Man” and it went on to sell a million copies; a hugely successful number for the times.

Oh and take the case of Ernest Evans. Who’s he you ask? Ernest was born in 1941 in South Carolina, and it was while he was working in a Produce Store that he was bestowed a nickname by his boss that he would go on to use and be better known by. After doing an impression of Fats Domino, Dick Clarks wife asked him what his name was and he said, “My friends call me Chubby; the name his boss had first gave him.” She replied, “As in Checker?” referring to a game piece like a domino. So it stuck; and there you have the icon Chubby Checker.

So how would such a nickname go over these days in 2017? Not sure? Maybe you should try one of the two out on a co-worker and let me know. What’s that? You wouldn’t dare because the repercussions could mean you’ll be sent for sensitivity training? Fair enough. So why were these people comfortable back then saying such things? By all accounts they never meant disrespect, and the people themselves, Fats and Chubby, used them in reference to themselves professionally and personally. Oh and the group of musicians that backed up Chubby? Yep, the were called The Fat Boys. Chubby Checker and The Fat Boys.

These names didn’t just refer to musicians either. There was a great billiards player Rudolph Walderone Jr. (doesn’t that just roll off the tongue?) who actually gave himself the nickname Minnesota Fats; claiming the character of the same name from the movie, ‘The Hustler’ was based on him. Fats went on to promote the game of Pool and Billiards like no other and it wasn’t the championships he won that really drew attention but his name and his artistry.

I wonder though what would have happened to those three boys if it was their parents that had given them those names at birth. Would they even have been allowed to do so? What would have happened to their self-esteem? My goodness, they might have spent years with a psychiatrist or mental health counsellor trying to repair fragile and damaged self-egos!

Some nicknames are more flattering. Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens was nicknamed the Rocket, and another Canadiens player, Yvon Cournoyer was nicknamed the Roadrunner for his bursts of acceleration. He played along, ‘The Flower’ Guy Lafleur. But all three of these hockey players never lost their real names; they were still known as Maurice, Yvon and Guy. The nicknames though were definitely associated with the men themselves.

But again, do you think you could honestly call someone at work, “Chubby”, “Fats” or, “The Flower” and pull it off as a term of endearment? Wouldn’t you at least have to say, “Gee, do you mind if I call you _____? I somehow doubt you’d be successful and it’s even less likely that your nickname would be picked up and used openly by your co-workers. Somehow, “Hey Fats, when can you have that shipment ready?” “How’s 3 p.m. sound Chubby?” just sounds so ridiculous. Any customer overhearing that exchange might be shocked, and more than one person would tell the two guys to stand up for themselves, grow some backbone, have some self-respect and stop allowing others to label them with these self-deprecating nicknames.

The entertainment business has a long tradition of changing a person’s name early on in their budding career. You’d probably not recognize the names Archibald Alexander Leach as Cary Grant, Joyce Frankenberg as Jane Seymour or Krishna Banji as Ben Kingsley. Sure these are names of famous people largely from the past, but the practice continues today. But the average guy working in a blue or white-collar workplace? Well you’d find a William going by Bill, Robert going by Bob, or a co-worker whose friends shorten the name; like Trev for Trevor.

When applying for jobs these days, names can and do influence people’s perception so much that there are some organizations that remove names from applications before passing them on to the Hiring Managers. This is to prevent bias from ruling out a Mohammad or Myubai and choosing a Michael or a Jessica. Some actually put nicknames on resumes; “Yes my name is Ahmed but people call me Anthony”. Really? Hmm…or is this a strategy to get into the hands of the people who make decisions on who to interview?

Whether to land a job or get along with co-workers, names name who we are, how we see ourselves, maybe as manifestations of endearment. Still you might not get on well if you call your co-worker, “baby, hun, dear, sweetie, gramps” etc. If you’re proud of your name, you may correct people who mispronounce, lengthen or shorten it. You decide who you let call you what.

Names say a lot about how you see yourself and others.

Growth Starts With An Open Mind


Your future is likely to replicate your past and present unless an element of change is introduced. In other words, do what you’ve always done and you shouldn’t be shocked to find that things stay relatively the same. This is wonderful if you generally like things the way they are. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something different, hopefully better than what you’ve got, change is more than just desirable; change is critical.

Most people are quite open to change actually, as long as the change required isn’t uncomfortable or involve too much effort on their part. These kind of people have a guiding philosophy that goes, “I’m open to change as long as things stay relatively the same; or if the change is occurring in people around me and not in me directly.” Uh, that’s not going to work.

This article however has the word, ‘growth’ in the title, so why the focus on change in the opening couple of paragraphs? Growth occurs simply put when change occurs and one learns from the process. Just because things change however doesn’t guarantee that growth occurs. A person can move from one city to another hoping for a fresh start with that change of address. While the intention might be good, without behaving and acting differently, it is likely that the person will find themselves living the same kind of experience and being treated by others the same way they were in the past because change only occurred in the address not the person. Their behaviour remained the same and thus the world around them continues to interact with them in a similar way, and they continue to experience their reality in much the same way.

Personal growth occurs when new challenges are initiated, new experiences are undertaken and one is open and receptive to receiving. An open mind; seeing things perhaps that have always been there before us but looking at them through a new perspective. Sometimes this comes about through instruction from a mentor, an expert or an instructor. Sometimes things become revealed to us equally through the eyes of a child, by accidental discovery or through pause and reflection.

We can of course open our minds to a problem every by simply by introducing a different stimulus. If you’re having a problem with something, you’ll often find that taking a break, going for a walk or any diversion really can help you return with a new perspective and often a solution you hadn’t considered before. What’s occurred is the break in the thinking process; you’ve returned without the linear thought lines you had, and see things anew.

I have found that for me personally, there are many moments when I’m working with other people which places me in a position to learn. Formally speaking, I might be the facilitator in a workshop, the expert helping give employment advice or being the listener as someone shares their troubles. While I might be seen as the one imparting the advice or sharing my knowledge, these are moments of growth for me personally if I recognize them as such and open my mind to the moment.

So for example, when I’m passing on some information, I may find that the person I’m attempting to instruct is having a challenge grasping what I’m saying. If I keep repeating the message over and over hoping to drive the point home eventually I may succeed, but it’s unlikely. Why? Because the way I’m delivering the message isn’t being received in a meaningful way by the other person. By opening my mind to other ways of delivering that same message, I will invariably find I meet with success. How? I opened myself to the moment, reassessed the situation and arrived at a new way to make a successful connection, having my message not only be sent but most importantly be received in the way I intended at the start. True communication has occurred as a result and we both learned something in the process; each of us growing as a result.

You’ll find that many employers are wary of the seasoned veteran; the know-it-all who comes to them with decades of experience. It appears to the applicant that they’ve got this sizable advantage over the relatively inexperienced competition who they don’t legitimately give much thought to. However, often times an employer will favour and select an individual with less experience simply because they are open to change, receptive to new ideas; in short they will grow in the position. They fear the person with decades of experience will be – despite their assurances to the contrary – close-minded to learning new procedures, methods and practices. This is the classic, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” mantra.

There is a fallacy in white-washing an entire population or group with the same brush however. Some older workers make excellent employees because they marry their experiences both work-related and life-wise with an open mind. They continue to grow and learn and are genuine in their excitement about continuous learning. The challenge they face is expressing this and being believed.

Wisdom would seem than to be going about with an open mind, being on the lookout for learning opportunities which are around us daily. Seeing things from multiple perspectives, being receptive to new ideas, and pausing to reflect when hearing views different from those we hold ourselves. May you continue to grow.

 

 

Simple Ways To Get Ahead At Work


Trying to figure out how to get ahead at work? Angling for some big future promotion perhaps? There are simple things you can do – and do now – positioning yourself positively to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

  1. Be punctual. This means being where you’re expected on time. Get a good reputation for showing up when you should.
  2. Be reliable. Be one of the employees with the solid attendance record.
  3. Use your manners. Make the words, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ part of your every day language as well as, ‘excuse me’ and ‘may I?’
  4. Take responsibility. Be accountable for yourself; both your achievements and your shortcomings.
  5. Avoid gossip. Gossip is the Devil’s radio. Avoid being in conversations that put others down, refuse to spread potentially damaging remarks about others.
  6. Bring enthusiasm. Go about your work with a genuine excitement and love for what you do.
  7. Know the purpose of your work. Always strive to know how what you do on a daily basis contributes to the overall organization and the impact of your work on the end results, products or services.
  8. Show respect. Give people their due; for their time, experience, skills and abilities.
  9. Appreciate differences. Acknowledge and seek to understand varying views, opinions and outlooks.
  10. Stay relevant. Ensure your practices are best practices.
  11. Network. Connecting with people and having conversations with them brings you to mind with familiarity and avoiding being seen as only an opportunist.
  12. Work with integrity. Apply yourself, working to establish your good reputation built on honesty and sound moral standards.
  13. Have fun. Bring out the humour when appropriate. Flash a smile, share a laugh.
  14. Pitch In. Roll up your sleeves when help is needed, get involved and get noticed.
  15. Be courteous. Whether needing supplies from a Clerk or calling for a Caretaker to unplug a toilet, courtesy always gets you off to a good start.
  16. Dress appropriately. If you have to ask yourself if you can get away with wearing something, you probably shouldn’t. Know the dress code.
  17. Be positive. Like attracts like; be positive and you’ll attract others who in turn will energize you and make your workplace a better place to be.
  18. Laugh. Physically and emotionally you’ll feel better as will those around you.
  19. Do the work. Whether paid or volunteer, do what’s expected of you instead of being perceived as smoke and mirrors.
  20. Show your pride. Your accomplishments are your legacy.
  21. Celebrate others. Recognize and show appreciation for the accomplishments of others around you. They’ll appreciate it.
  22. Think. Pause before you speak and organize your thoughts.
  23. Listen. Open yourself to receiving others’ ideas, needs and wants.
  24. Improve. Learn, take courses, train, reduce errors, get better, emulate the best.
  25. Contribute. Do your part, sharing something that improves things.
  26. Encourage. You may never know how much a supportive word means to someone who needs to hear it; say it anyhow.
  27. Be kind. Open a door, ask if you can help, share a load. Kind people are always in demand.
  28. Be patient. Go easy on yourself; with others do likewise.
  29. Check it out. Bypass guesswork and get the facts. It saves time and money.
  30. Be accountable. If you’re to work on Monday, don’t party so hard on weekends you take every second Monday off to recover. Think nobody sees this trend? They do.
  31. Be approachable. Whether it’s an open-door policy or being non-judgemental, be receptive and welcoming to those around you.
  32. Lead. Show some initiative, show your vision and your ability to work with others to meet common goals.
  33. Share credit. When others deserve it, make sure they get their due.
  34. Prepare. Get postings for career moves now and take steps to get the skills, courses and expertise for the jobs you’ll eventually apply to down the road.
  35. Be healthy. Get out for a walk, eat healthier, stretch often, park further from the workplace, cycle in and back.
  36. Update the résumé. Get and keep it up-to-date with courses, dates, titles all known so you’re ready for openings with short application deadlines.
  37. Build references. Forge relationships with the people you’d like to count on later to speak well of your skills, abilities and performance.
  38. Get known. Take on new things that bring you into contact with others you otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to.
  39. Watch the hygiene. Brush your hair and teeth, use deodorant and mouthwash.
  40. Take an interest. Ask how others are doing, inquire about their hobbies, what makes them happy. Show awareness, acknowledge their ‘thing’.
  41. Get organized. If you had an unexpected absence, would others be able to quickly find documents, know your schedule and complete your work? Make it easy for others to do so, especially where you mutually collaborate.
  42. Mind your time. Adhere to the designated length of your breaks and meal breaks. Abusing these by over-extending your leave will work against you.
  43. Flush! Sounds trite and trivial, but if you routinely leave the shared washroom a mess, you may be discovered and you don’t need the reputation that follows.
  44. Be considerate. Leave the odd note of thanks for the people who clean your office; the ones you never see.
  45. Praise effort. Results are highly desirable but results don’t happen without effort; initiative therefore is to be commended.

So there you go; 45 suggestions to help you get ahead at work: and not one costs a penny.

Co-Workers; How You Make It Work


Whether you work at a small, medium or large-scale business, there’s likely going to be some co-worker(s) that you prefer working with over others. If we’re honest, we might even go so far as to say there are some that are positively annoying; possibly some that are…well…just the kind that subtract rather than add to your day.

It’s kind of interesting when you compare how people go about dating and finding that one perfect partner in life vs. how we end up working with one person 35, 40 or more hours in close proximity with. I mean when it comes to dating, we might go about it differently, but typically we’re drawn to someone, feel excited when they are around, take great pains to look and act in ways we hope they’ll find desirable. We look forward with anticipation to seeing them and our imaginations play out how our time together might go. We don’t in short just choose anybody; we see them, we learn about them and share with them who we are, what makes us the person we are and we make all kinds of compromises putting their needs ahead of our own because we really do want their happiness as much as our own.

Our work colleagues on the other hand; the ones we will spend years with day in, day out? It’s not us at all that does the match-making. The Manager doing the hiring decides. As much as they are looking for skills, experience, personality, attitude, education etc., they are also thinking about the chemistry that will occur if you’re added to the team. They know the personalities currently in the workplace; they muse over where they’ll sit you or who they’ll shuffle around in order to get you working next to whoever they are thinking of.

Can you imagine just for a moment being hired and then told you were going to meet various employees over the course of the coming week and at the end of that week you were to tell the employer who you’d prefer to share your work area with? Of course it would go both ways; everyone you meet will be sizing you up too and deciding whether you’ll be a good work partner for them.

Sounds odd doesn’t it? Or what if the employer said you work next to someone for a year and at the end of the year everybody in the organization moves and works next to someone else. Imagine if that happened in our personal lives; we changed partners at the end of December every year. Yeah if that was a great idea it would have caught on with broad appeal by now and it hasn’t. Stop thinking this would solve your current situation!

Being honest with yourself – and no one can hear your private thoughts – there’s bound to be some people where you work that you are naturally more drawn to than others. Even if you are the kind of person who gets along with everybody and tries your best to see everyone equally, I’m betting that given a choice, you’d work best with some folks and maybe go so far as to replace a few with others. If not, good for you, you’re working with your personal dream team!

Do you like sitting next to the employee who has 39 small stuffed animals in their cubicle? Do you sit next to the heavy breather, the person who sneezes and buildings across the street shake with the noise? What about the person who makes more personal calls than work calls? Or maybe it’s you with the stuffed animals and you think the person next to you should lighten up a little and be less stuffy themselves? There’s irony for you!

Do you care who you work alongside at all or are people interchangeable and your own work performance isn’t impacted one way or the other? I believe we are affected by those we work closest to and we of course have an impact on how they work too.

I’ve now worked for 9 years sharing an office with the same person. We know each others’ styles, respect each others space, give each other the courtesy of privacy or at least ask if they wish privacy from time to time. Some days I spend more hours together with my colleague than I do with my wife. Now sure at any time I suppose either one of us could go in and say to our boss that we wanted a shift in scenery if possible. I’ve heard co-workers in the past say they absolutely could not work with a person they were assigned to and stopped just short of demanding a move; then were delighted to change their location as soon as they could. Not always possible however to do so.

The thing is we have to get along and that means making the effort to be someone others can get along with too. This is how good partnerships and relationships go; thinking about others needs in addition to our own. It’s up to you and them to put in enough effort to make things work for both of you. Problems generally arise when someone is making an effort and someone isn’t; not caring to invest in the relationship.

Then again, if you choose not to invest in work relationships, you could consider a home-based business!

Tolerance On The Job


If you were to say you are a tolerant person, would you be casting yourself in a positive light or unintentionally exposing a character flaw?

I don’t often come across this word on too many resumes, nor hear when I listen to most people describe themselves in interviews; particularly with the, “Tell me about yourself” question. However, I have come across this word several times in the last week when reading some LinkedIn profiles, and in correspondence I’ve received from job seekers. Each time I read the word, I became aware that I was conflicted reacting to the word. I knew the writers using it intended to be speaking positively about themselves, so why then was I unsettled with the choice of the word?

Tolerate: Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of things one does not necessarily like or agree with, such as opinions or behaviour, without interference.

So I started to imagine myself in my workplace; I imagined all sorts of people in their workplaces too. I conceived of situations we all might have where other people held opinions that we didn’t like or agree with, where people were behaving in ways we didn’t like or agree with. Finally I imagined myself allowing the existence and practice of those same behaviours and opinions.

Somehow, I find myself accepting of others opinions that I don’t necessarily agree with much easier to accept than I do behaviours. I’ve no right to impose my opinion on someone else with the expectation they change theirs to mirror my own, any more than that person has a right to expect me to change mine to match theirs. I have no qualms with this part of what it means to be tolerant. In fact, it is in differing opinions that I – that we – learn. When exposed to the differing views of others, we are afforded a chance to perceive something from a differing view, and with that new information re-evaluate our opinions or behaviours.

When we outright dismiss another person’s point of view, we run a risk of dismissing the person who holds it, and every experience in their past which has led them to hold the view they now have. Opinions we hold are after all, the summation of all our experiences to date. We shape our opinions based on what we’ve seen, read, heard, felt, tasted and experienced. With everything we experience we either solidify our opinions or we adjust them. So it stands to reason when someone or some group holds a differing opinion, we have a chance to hear why, learn and then choose to maintain our view or modify it.

Allowing the occurrence of behaviour I don’t necessarily like or agree with however, is something I find harder in some situations. Here I believe I’ve hit upon what rubs me the wrong way when I read others describe themselves as tolerant.

In most organizations, there is a person or group at the top that hold a common belief system. They refer to this as their values. It is their expressed objective to bring people on board who share or develop similar beliefs in order for those beliefs and values to be consistently experienced by end-users. When consumers experience the same behaviours with each interaction no matter the representative of the company, that consistency brands the company and reinforces the view the consumer has. They come to expect – be it positive or negative in their mind – to be treated a certain way, to experience service a certain way, and come to know therefore the company in the same consistent way. This is branding.

When an employee holds an opinion that varies from those of the larger company; they may choose or not to make that opinion known. However, behaviours and actions are observable, and when those behaviours appear to fly in the face of the values the company purports to uphold and believe, the consumer is conflicted, the brand weakened. This is one of the biggest fears organizations have. Too many people acting and behaving in ways that differ from the organizations expectations, and the brand loses its strength and becomes muddied.

When you observe a co-worker behaving or acting with a client or customer in a way you know contradicts the beliefs or values of your organization, tolerating such behaviour may not be best advised. Tolerance here may become a flaw. The real challenge is to correctly identify which differing behaviours and opinions to respect and leave unchallenged, and which behaviours and opinions to openly address and how.

Not all of us are comfortable addressing the opinions and behaviours of others any more than we are comfortable having our own opinions and behaviours discussed.

In the workplace, sound advice is to identify the behaviour (not the people themselves), that is at the crux of any discomfort you experience, and assess if it flies in the face of your own opinions and behaviours and/or those of the organization. It’s a fine line allowing individual expression; thought and behaviour while at the same time having everyone pull in the same direction.

Tolerating behaviour and opinions sometimes is the thing to do. Other times, those opinions and behaviours need to be challenged and discouraged; especially when those opinions and behaviours depart from the organization expectations, or when the people stating them demand your conversion to their views. Knowing which is the real test of good judgement.