Word-Of-the-Week #707: Manners

February 22, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Mannersthe socially correct way of acting; etiquette.

How would you rate your table manners? How often do you say “Please” and “Thank You?” How willing are you to admit making a mistake and say “I’m sorry?”

This week features the UT article by Phil Blair, “Having good manners always matters – in and out of the office.” He writes, “Ever wonder why key hires are made after the boss takes a top prospect out to lunch or dinner? 

It’s because sharing a table presents a prime opportunity to observe a candidate’s table manners in action, especially how they relate to the service staff. 

Demanding and arrogant? Or well-mannered and respectful? 

I happen to regard good manners as essential for civilized human interaction. Your manners serve as a tell-tale sign of whether I would recommend you for a job. Or not. 

Call me old-school, but I believe that recognizing good manners – the timeless art of knowing how to behave around others, especially co-workers, is still, and will always be, one of the hallmarks of smart, savvy and successful hiring. 

Simply stated, having good manners is essential, a “must-have” for the workplace – any place, really. 

What follows is a sampling of “do’s” and “don’ts” that you should and shouldn’t do. Believe me, there are plenty more. 

If you feel these don’t apply directly to you, fine. Maybe you always behave respectfully, with impeccable manners worthy of royalty. If that’s the case, congratulations: You’re more likely to be hired than that ill-mannered slacker who came before you. 

1) Do say “please” and “thank you”: Simple enough, right? 

2) Don’t hesitate to say “hello” and “goodbye”: Greet fellow co-workers with a smile and friendly greeting, when the day begins and again when you go home. As with “please” and “thank you,” say it like you mean it. 

3) Do say “please forgive me”: If you do happen to say something thoughtless or unkind or unnecessary, saying “forgive me” isn’t a sign of weakness. It shows strength of character. 

4) Don’t hesitate to say “I’m sorry”: There are plenty of times when good manners aren’t enough. It happens: You make a mistake. You say the wrong thing at the wrong time. You do something you shouldn’t. Admit it, first to yourself and then to whomever your mistake was directed or whose life/work balance you unintentionally put in a tizzy. And mean it. 

5) Do stop interrupting: Let people finish talking, even if you’re bursting inside. If you do happen to blurt out something that feels like you’re interrupting, say “Sorry.” And mean it. You wouldn’t want to be interrupted when you’re droning on and on. Besides, don’t drone on and on. 

This week’s focus is on your manners. How often do you say “hello” and “goodbye” to the people you worker with? How good are you at listening and not interrupting when others are sharing feedback? Have you ever said “please forgive me” because you might have said something thoughtless or unkind?

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Word-Of-the-Week #706: Rebuttal

February 15, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Rebuttalthe act of refuting by offering a contrary contention or argument. 

Last week’s WOW on Credit caused a bit of a stir at home, as the love of my life Chris, totally disagreed about taking credit. And so being an equal opportunity publisher I am sharing his perspective this week.

In a leadership context it is so important to be able deflect the credit for a successful outcome to others rather than take credit yourself. Think about it, if you are the “boss” you are ultimately accountable for the outcomes, good or bad. What is the point then of publicly taking credit for them?  

It is far more important to take responsibility for making others successful. There are no limits to how far a person can go or how much he/she can accomplish as long as we don’t mind who gets the credit.  

If you truly accept that each person contributes to the whole and you’ve let go of your large ego you’ll easily be able to share the wealth and give others the credit. The truth is the need to “take credit for something” just satisfies your ego. It’s like saying “I’m right and you’re wrong.”

As a leader, your most import job is building character and growing potential in others not in showing how important you are. Resisting the need to feed your ego is a very cathartic experience. In the long run it’s the right thing to do!” 

And just for the record I got a lot of positive feedback from readers who wrote, “Ok this one was written for me! I’m going to work on answering those questions. Thank you for your posts and support.” And “Great WOW Susan! It’s so easy to put the “but” behind our accomplishments. Thanks for the positive reminder!” 

Maybe taking credit is more of a gender issue? Do you think women tend to discredit their accomplishments or abilities more than men do? Or is it as Chris said, “It’s all about having confidence in yourself. You know it deep down and so it’s just more important to help others gain that same confidence by giving them credit.”

This week’s focus is on making a rebuttal. How comfortable are you in offering a contrary contention or argument? How accepting are you of receiving a rebuttal?

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Word-Of-the-Week #705: Credit

February 8, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Creditwhat you take when you have done something that deserves praise.

How good are you at accepting praise for a job well done? Do you have a tendency to deny or play down your achievements? Does it make you feel uncomfortable to get credit when you deserve it?

This week we follow up on the Bryan Falchuk, Inc. “Don’t let negative self-talk hold you back.”  He writes, “How can you possibly be successful if you see yourself as mediocre or worse? The answer is obviously that you can’t. However, you can change the situation. 

 Here is the exercise I give people I work with. I call it… 

Stop the “But”

Say something good about yourself or something you did. As soon as you feel the word “but” forming in your mind, stop yourself. Just say the good part without moving onto anything to downplay it, take away from it, or negate it. Just allow the good. 

Here are a few examples from people I work with. 

The first is from working with a woman who was so caught in her not being smart enough for the job she wanted, she thought they made a mistake or there was something wrong with the company when they offered her the job. 

So I asked her about how she did in college. She said, “I got good grades, but…” 

I jumped in there and cut her off by saying, “Stop. You got good grades. Leave it there.” 

But she could not do it, and responded with, “No, that does not matter. It was so long ago. And what I studied is not relevant to what I want to do. So who cares?” 

The point is just to allow the good thing about you to sit unchallenged. Of course that good thing may not be relevant in every situation, so why bother naming specific reasons for it to be invalid in any one context? Good grades are also not relevant to whether she is good at basketball, can fly a plane, or any number of other unrelated things. So choosing one to focus on to discredit the good is no more rational than just letting the good be as it.

Another person was having trouble getting along with his boss, and was broadening that out to a general issue with people, and then catastrophizing that he was unemployable, and his career was doomed. 

So I asked him, “Do you have friends?”  He said, “Of course I do. But–“ 

I cut him off right there. “You have friends. People who were not born into knowing you actively choose to be connected to you. Are they close friends or just acquaintances?” 

“Good friends. In my circle of friends, I am kind of the go-to person when people are really struggling with problems in their job. They all turn to me.” 

I said, “Ah ha! So people are specifically turning to you for advice about career issues. People have made a decision based on the kind of person you are to do this. And they want your advice about what you think you are afraid you are not good at. Doesn’t that seem disconnected?” 

Through this exercise (which we repeated a few times) he stopped seeing himself as doomed because of his inability to be a relatable person, but rather realized there are people he does get along with well and others that may take more work. And then we focused on doing that work so he could improve, which he has. 

This is something I have people do daily to start to counter-act the years of negative self-talk they have been engaging in throughout their lives, let alone their careers.

If you want to be successful, you have to allow for the possibility that you are actually good at things and capable of success. You cannot discredit every little attempt to credit you with a win and expect to have hope that you can achieve what you aspire to in your career.

This week’s focus is on taking credit. What are your three top attributes at work? How many things are you good at doing in your personal life? Now, how would it feel to say “Thank you. I appreciate that.” when someone gives you credit for a job well done?

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Word-Of-the-Week #704: Self-Talk

February 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Self-Talkthe positive and negative thoughts you feed yourself daily.

Have you ever thought about what percentage of your “self-talk” is positive? Do you tend to deny your accomplishments or brush them aside? How can you possibly be successful if you see yourself as mediocre or worse?

This week features Bryan Falchuk, Inc. “Don’t let negative self-talk hold you back.”  He writes, “I spent one third of my career as a management consultant. It was a great experience filled with a lot of learning and a lot of tough moments, too. 

That means I was paid to find what is wrong, root it out, and figure out a better path forward. It made me a great problem-solver, but it had a downside–I (and others in similar jobs) was being conditioned to point out the negative in everything I saw. 

The thing is, we all do this, especially with ourselves. Listen to how people talk about their workload or the hours they work. It almost becomes a competition for who is the most beaten down. 

You often hear things around the office like, “I was at the office until 10 last night. I’m so tired!” Then a coworker will often respond, full of pride, with something like, “10? Wow, you have it easy. I was here until midnight, and then did another three hours once I got home.” 

Let me ask, which one of them is the winner in this debate? 

Or when you try to commend someone on doing a good job, they often point out where they went wrong rather than just taking the praise. I remember giving a big presentation to a client early in my career, and a peer told me I did a great job afterward. My immediate response was, “No, I totally messed up that section about their growth strategy. Luckily they forgot about that once we showed them the savings involved.” I could not even start by saying, “Thanks,” before pointing out my failure.

And it is not just in work situations. Next time someone has you over for dinner, compliment them on the food, and watch what happens. You are likely to hear something like, “Thanks, but I overcooked the meat.” Or, “Maybe, but the vegetables needed more salt.” 

This has become a major focus of my coaching work–helping people to get comfortable with being good at things. We are so entrenched in self-deprecation or denying our achievements that we end up framing ourselves with mediocrity at best or incompetence at worst. 

  • How can you possibly be successful if you see yourself as mediocre or worse? The answer is obviously that you can’t.” 

However you can change the situation and next week will feature how to do just that.

This week’s focus is on your “self talk.” What thoughts are you reinforcing? When someone compliments you do you accept the praise or try to downplay it? How would it feel to get comfortable with being good at things?

I LOVE feedback! Join my Facebook community on my FUN-damentals Fan Page.

Word-Of-the-Week #703: Validation

January 25, 2018 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #703: Validation 

Validationhaving your thoughts, feelings, and actions recognized and accepted by others.

Have you conditioned yourself to find validation from digital sources? Do you know that most everything you do on a screen is correlated with unhappiness? When was the last time you turned off your smartphone for any length of time?

This article by UT reporter Jennifer Van Grove, “The smartphone trap (or why it’s time to put your phone down)” just seemed to be a perfect follow up to last week. She writes, “Are we raising digital monsters? Absolutely. And everyone from parents to Facebook and society as a whole is to blame. 

So instead of playing the blame game, I think the most constructive way forward is to take every opportunity we — not just parents — have to put the phone down. In the bedroom. While driving. During meals and conversations. And, perhaps most importantly, when kids are watching. 

“My kids have said something about (me being on my phone),” said Catherine Wood Larsen, a local parent of two teens who I initially interviewed last week for my story on kids and devices. “I’m just like everybody else. I will sit at a red light and look at my phone. But when there are other people’s kids in the car, my phone is totally put away.” 

Like most of us, she’s passively aware of the smartphone behavior she’s modeling to her kids. Still, it takes an outside social pressure — or stigma, in this case — to actively do something about it. Aside from modeling to younger generations a kind of life that isn’t dictated by devices, the simplest reason to go device-less is this: We are happier when we’re disconnected. 

There is research that demonstrates that most everything you do on a screen is correlated with unhappiness, Jean Twenge told me when I first asked her whether we’re raising digital monsters. Twenge, a San Diego State professor of psychology and the author of “iGen,” also noted the exact opposite to be true. Most everything you do off of a screen is correlated with happiness. 

Think about that the next time you default to your phone to kill time. You may not feel compelled to change your behavior just yet, but just being aware of these kind of tendencies can affect gradual change. 

I speak from personal experience. A technophile for as long as I can remember, I’ve been a proud early adopter of new technologies, gadgets, social networks and everything in between. Marry that with a need to be in the know for my job and you get a sometimes shallow existence often defined by being first to spot the next big thing, and a pressure to get digital approval in the form of followers, likes and retweets. 

It’s a mentally exhausting way to live. That’s why I’ve made a conscious effort in the past couple of years to pull back, particularly from social media. It hasn’t been easy, not when I’ve conditioned myself to find validation from digital sources. And not when everyone else has decided to play by the same social validation rules. 

Can you blame us? 

Apparently, much of the activities we engage in online — but social media in particular — incorporate the same biological reward pathways as the best activities that offline life has to offer, Twenge told me, citing the book, “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” by Adam Alter. Think sex or food. Our brains, when tuned into social media, can make us feel just good. 

So I’ve backed away from the social media rat race. But I still need to sort out how and when it’s appropriate to introduce my 7-year-old stepson to these services. Facebook, showing its hand a little too obviously, would say now. The company’s recently released Messenger Kids app targets the under 13 crowd. We will be avoiding it. Yet the stepson already wants an Instagram account and can’t seem to get enough of playing with Snapchat’s face filters when allowed. 

That’s where things get extra tricky. “I just finished a massive research study on how social media is affecting our youth’s interpretation of beauty and self-esteem,” said Brian Solis, a principal analyst with technology research firm Altimeter Group. “It’s forcing young children to understand their place in the world (relative to their peers) and their net worth.” 

Talk about setting them up for a life of disappointment. 

Plus, if I’m being honest, the phone habit has been harder to kick than the social media one. I’m as a guilty as anyone who has ever pulled out her phone to avoid awkward elevator exchanges or to fill dead time. 

Look, I’m not advocating for a complete smartphone or social media blackout. No one, not even Twenge, is. At this point, there is no going back. 

I’d just like us to agree to be cognizant and recognize detrimental impulses when they strike. Maybe then we can actually retrain ourselves, and our kids, to put our phones down when it matters and see life beyond the screen.”

This week’s focus is on validation. How much time do you spend on social media each day? If most everything you do off of a screen is correlated with happiness why not make it a goal to spend more “Face Time” with others? Be honest, how much real validation are you getting from the social media rat race?

I LOVE feedback! Join my Facebook community on my FUN-damentals Fan Page.

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