Posted by aostler on Mar 11, 2011 in Advice
Have you ever found yourself feeling like you aren’t in the loop at work? Maybe you have a hard time understanding what your duties are at your job, or perhaps you just have a hard time dealing with coworkers and seem to always run into conflicts at work.
If any of these problems happen to you, you may need to take a look at how effectively you are communicating in the workplace. Communication is vital to any job, and without good communication, a lot of bad things can happen. Dealing with conflicts is a part of any job, and keeping yourself in the loop and knowing what’s going on is essential to excelling in any job or career. How can you improve your communication skills you may ask? There are several ways, of which I’ll name a few:
Remember to listen to people instead of trying to talk over them, especially when it comes to your boss or manager. If you don’t listen, you may miss critical information about how you’re doing, what your assignment is, or other critical knowledge that will really hamper your work performance. Take notes if necessary when listening, but make sure to learn this very important skill if you want to succeed in your job.
When you face a conflict in the workplace, resolve it with humility and honesty. Remember that conflict, like communication, is a two-way street, and both sides usually have something that they can improve on. If you’ve done something wrong, own up to it, apologize once if necessary, and then move on, resolving to do better the next time. Avoid apologizing too much, as that just makes you look like you want pity or attention. Also remember that everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect, no matter what they might say. Be prepared and ready for conflict, so that when it happens, you’re not caught with your pants down.
Another thing to remember is that it’s not good to communicate too much or not enough, and there is a balance that needs to be met in your communication with your boss. If you don’t communicate enough with your boss, he or she won’t know what’s going on with you and may question what you’re doing, as well as if you really care about what you’re doing. On the flip side of that, if you communicate way too much, then your boss may become annoyed and want to flick you out of his or her face like an annoying fly. In general, it’s better to communicate with your boss whenever an important question comes up and you really need help with it, or if you are low on work and need another assignment to work on. Use your own best judgment though, as every situation is different. Go with your instincts, and you should be able to tell with body language and verbal responses from your boss if you’re communicating too much or not enough.
Of course there are many other aspects of communication in the workplace that I haven’t gone into here, but one of the most important things to remember is that effective communication is essential to every job out there, whether you’re working from home, a part time job, or are in your full time career. Stay positive in your job, listen, and make yourself heard where appropriate, and you will be off to the right start when it comes to effective communication in the workplace.
Posted by Erik Even on Aug 5, 2009 in Employment
, Job Search
When a potential employer calls your employment references, he or she knows the person at the end of the line can’t legally badmouth you. But sometimes its possible to read between the lines of a glowing recommendation.
From the ‘Tubes: The Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations (or LIAR):
A man like him is hard to find. He disappears frequently.
Most of us had good impressions of him. And there was this one guy who could mimic him perfectly.
He’s a man of many convictions. He’s got a record a mile long.
I am pleased to say that she is a former colleague of mine. I can’t tell you how happy I am that she left.
He’s a difficult man to replace. He’ll sue if you try to fire him.
He takes a lot of enjoyment out of work. And ruins it for others too.
She merits a closer look. Don’t let her out of your sight.
He is a man of great vision. He hallucinates.
He is definitely a man to watch. Don’t trust him at all.
She commands the respect of everyone with whom she works. But rarely gets it.
You will never catch him asleep on the job. He’s too crafty to get caught.
He’s the kind of employee you can swear by. He likes dirty jokes, too.
If I were you, I’d give him sweeping responsibilities. He can also handle a mop.
When I saw her last, her business was just picking up. Litter, mostly.
When he worked for us, he was given numerous citations. And had to appear in court for each one.
She gives every appearance of being a loyal, dedicated employee. But appearances are deceiving.
He doesn’t mind being disturbed. Which is why he doesn’t take his medication.
Got any more? Let us know in the comments!
Posted by Erik Even on Aug 4, 2009 in Advice
It’s unfortunate, but part of life — at some point, someone at your workplace will lose a loved one or close friend.
People never seem to know how to treat a bereaved person, or how to talk to them. Keeping in mind the office environment and professional relationships, here are some tips.
What Not to Say
God has a purpose / It’s God’s will. Very common, and totally inappropriate both at work or not. No one wants to hear that their loved one’s death was plotted by deities. And at work, it’s best to never bring up religion. Let your bereaved co-worker work out any religious issues, if any, with their clergy.
I know how you feel. Unless you suffered the exact same loss — a parent, a child, whatever — then do not say this, because you don’t know how they feel. And even if you have had a similar experience, you’re just a co-worker — an acquaintance. Unless you and the grieving person are close friends outside of work, don’t try to share your experience.
You’ll get over it. Absolutely true. And NO ONE wants to hear it when the pain is so fresh.
You have to get on with your life. Also true. But maybe the bereaved person could worry about that after the funeral?
What Not to Do
Pretend nothing happened. Even if you don’t know a work acquaintance very well, just say “I’m sorry.” Ignoring the issue doesn’t make it go away — it can actually increase the discomfort. Once the issue has been briefly touched upon, don’t mention it again. And treat the bereaved person as you normally would — don’t offer to take some of their work, for example. Leave that between the bereaved person and their immediate supervisor.
Compare their losses to your losses. You think it’s bad to lose a nephew? I lost a son! Wow, I feel bad for you. And you’re a monster — how dare you belittle someone’s suffering? It doesn’t matter if you lost ten children. STFU.
Offer your philosophy on death. Keep it to yourself. Let the bereaved’s family and clergy deal with that. No one cares what you learned on your junior year trip to Nepal.
Okay, if those are the things to not do or say, what should one do or say?
What to Say
I’m sorry. Expresses empathy and caring, without crossing any lines. They say “thank you,” and you can all get back to work.
What to Do
Offer help. It’s almost a cliche, and such help is rarely accepted. But “If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know” will be appreciated, even if it never comes up again. BUT — if the bereaved takes you up on your offer, then you really have to help.
Ask about, or offer memories about, the deceased. If you have never met the person who died, you can ask the bereaved person to talk about him or her. If they decline the offer, it’s still appreciated. If they talk about the loved one, then be attentive.
If you knew the deceased person, then feel free to mention a quick memory of that person, or say something nice. I met your husband at last year’s Christmas party, and we talked for a while. He was a fascinating person.
Let things get back to normal on the bereaved’s own schedule. Don’t avoid the person, or seek them out. Treat them respectfully, and professionally. One day soon, he or she will laugh at a joke, or thank you for your understanding, and any social discomfort will lift.
Do you have any advice for handling these touchy office situations? Let us know in the comments!
Posted by Erik Even on Feb 18, 2009 in Employment
Speaking of business jargon, here are some new words you might not be familiar with:
BLAMESTORMING: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.
ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.
CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.
PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on.
MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.
SITCOMS: Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.
STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.
XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one’s work place
PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again. (also called APE DYNAMICS)
ADMINISPHERE: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve
404: Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error message “404 Not Found,” meaning that the requested document could not be located.
OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG mistake
And just a couple of IT-related words:
ID10T ERROR: A technical-sounding term used when a computer problem was caused by the idiot using the computer.
PEBKAC: “Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair.” Same as ID10T Error.
Posted by Erik Even on Feb 9, 2009 in Employment
US News & World Report published today a story called “Why Your Job Could Be Making You Old.” The story cites the claim that stress contributes to health problems and rapid aging.
Physicians have long observed that people with stressful careers and lifestyles tend to develop health problems–especially when their jobs carry extreme consequences for mistakes. According to a theory advanced by Michael Roizen, chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and co-founder of RealAge.com, many American presidents have aged approximately two years for each calendar year in office.
The author, Emily Brandon, then discusses ways to to cut back on stress, and advises exercise and healthy living to to build up an immunity to stressors. She only briefly touches on employment stressors, so here are a few more valuable tips for avoiding stress at work.
Build a Firewall Between Your Work and Home Lives
Allowing your work problems to follow you home can have a devastating impact on your home life, your family and relationships. It’s not the easiest thing in the world just set aside your work issues, especially if your job requires a huge time investment, or if your career is central to who you are as a person. But it is possible.
Likewise, stress at home can adversely affect your work. They key here is to remain mindful of your emotions. If you’re stressed at work, ask yourself if what you’re really upset about isn’t an issue from your personal life.
Maintain Good Communications with Your Superiors and Co-Workers
Work stress often comes from being in a position of ignorance. Does my boss like my work? Will there be layoffs? Will I ever get that promotion? Yet workers often don’t try to find their own answers to these questions, out of fear — fear of their boss, or fear that they will get an answer they don’t like.
Instead of wallowing in stress, just talk to your boss and your co-workers about your issues. Be professional, of course, and don’t ask inappropriate questions or spread gossip. But if you’re worried about how your boss perceives you, then ask. You may be worrying about nothing. But if you do get negative feedback, that’s good too — you need to know these things if you want to keep your job. Don’t wait for a performance review to find out how you’re doing.
If you’re late for work a lot, or miss too many work days, then you’re creating your own stress. It’s not as hard as it seems to change your life and health habits so that personal issues don’t get in the way of your career.
However, there are issues — serious illness, family problems, etc. — that will affect your work, and you can’t do anything about. Or at least, solving the issues will take time. This is a common source of work stress, but it’s easily fixed. Talk to your HR manager. Your firm may have policies directly related to your situation, and might be willing to help you out with paid time off or extra money.
Even if your company won’t help you out, at least they’ll know your work is being affected by serious issues, and that you’re not merely irresponsible.
Got some advice of your own? Comment below!