6 Things You Should Never Say at Work

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A thoughtless response or wrong word can ruin your reputation for an indefinite amount of time, especially at work. It’s today’s norm that we often spend more time at work than anywhere else. Perhaps that’s why so many get a little too casual and let their guards down. Therefore, to avoid any major pit falls, take my advice and don’t say any of these six phrases…

“I may be wrong but…” Always speak with certainty and conviction! Stop discounting your credibility and value infront of others.

“That’s not my job”  Even if it isn’t, saying this suggests you either don’t care or flat out aren’t willing to help. It’s okay if you have a full workload, hence you cannot take on anything else, but always explain that and be careful how you relay that information to those around you—it may be you asking for a favor next week.

“Let’s be honest” this always makes someones heart sink, as it suggests that you know you’re about to be rude, but you don’t care.

“You look tired” trust me- unless you are very well acquainted with a person, this phrase should not be tossed around lightly. Perhaps they are under a lot of stress, didn’t put make up on today, they miscarried last night, they are sick… The list goes on. It’s likely that if all you have to tell someone is that they “look tired“, you don’t know what’s going on in their life to give them the haggard look, and should definitely keep that comment to yourself.

“I don’t mean to offend you but” Another heart breaker. Typically if you say this to a colleague it means ‘wow what a ridiculous/obviously stupid decision and my next comment is about to really embarrass you‘. If this phrase parts your lips often, try something softer like “great attempt, I appreciate your time, however could I please suggest something to you?”

“Did you hear about what so and so did last night?” Keep the party stories to yourself. Don’t be a gossip, nor risk looking like someone who is neither trustworthy or kind.

If your lips should keep from slips,
Five things observe with care:
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.

Any other tips of what not to say at work? Comment below!

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No Excuses: Being Accountable for Your Career’s Success

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“There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.”– Mary Kay Ash, American Businesswoman

Due to some recent changes in the office, I have found myself faced with an increased workload and a seemingly insurmountable task list. The last few weeks have been a real eye opener to the ever growing need for organizations to remain efficient in challenging environments. “The show must go on” as they say, even when resources are lower than they have ever been. The results of the global market crash in 2008-2009 can be summed up in the following phrase “we’re doing more with less”. This once new reality continues, as corporations still downsize and scrutinize expenditures, simultaneously fighting to maintain their profitable and competitive edge. Interestingly, in December 2011, the Workforce Magazine published the following statement as a result of the madness:

In a survey of 600 U.S. workers that Workforce Management conducted with Workplace Options, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based provider of employee assistance program services, 55 percent of respondents said that their job responsibilities had increased as a result of the troubled economy. More than a quarter of workers (27 percent) said that their duties had doubled. Among those with extra work on their plate, 51 percent said the added duties have had a negative effect on their well-being.

Although published in 2011, similar statistics are being broadcast by industries today. Think about your own company, it’s likely that you or someone you work with is getting tired, feeling overworked and underappreciated. The results of which are increases in: stress related illness, larger turnover and more dissatisfied employees. All of these symptoms can be underpinned by one sweeping statement: Individuals in the workplace want to see success and feel valued- and seem to be willing to do almost anything to get it.

While there is a wealth of advice available to organizations and leaders, on how to deal with our new reality, there is very little focused on the employee, still fighting to become a big fish in the sea of career uncertainty.

Therefore, I thought I should give you my top 5 tips and tricks as to how you can feel successful and see an increase in productivity as an average employee within your organization.

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1. Be Accountable to Yourself and then Your Employer. Unlike granting authority, empowerment and accountability come from within. Unfortunately, people typically only worry about accountability when something goes wrong, resulting in the “run for cover” mentality. By always being brave enough to own your responsibilities or projects 100%- good or bad- accountability for results becomes something that everyone embraces as a helpful step in making things happen. It also earns you a lot of respect.

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2. Take the initiative. Do you usually make things happen for yourself and your team? Or, do you wait for someone else to tell you what to do? When you show initiative, you do things without being told; you find out how to tackle things in the most efficient manner; you keep going when things get tough; and you see and take advantage of the opportunities that others pass by. This is highly valued trait in the workplace. If you try make this part of your nature or skill set, automatically you will become more valuable to your employer.

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3. Unclutter your work space. Does this look familiar? First, focus on the top of your desk. You can sort through the drawers another time. Make a quick assessment — what do you have there? Papers? Post-it notes?  A computer, phone, stapler, coffee cup, food, water bottle? Photos, trinkets? Dust? What else? Now make a very short mental list: what on your desk is absolutely essential? Pick 5 items, perhaps. Put the rest on the ground and file it or throw it away. Get a wipe and clean your desktop now it’s empty. Doesn’t that feel amazing?

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4. Communicate: Seek Help. If you are struggling or discouraged with your performance, seek help immediately. Better to invest in and educate yourself now, rather than being found out and fired for your lack of value later.

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5. Take a Break. If you want to be healthy and happy, take relaxing breaks where you can switch off and rejuvinate. Unplug from work, social media etc, and have some good old fashioned quality time with those you love.

All the best with implementing these tips and tricks. Let me know how you’re doing! I’d love to hear from you.

What helps you feel valued and successful? Do you have any tips to increase productivity and success at work?

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Why You Haven’t Found Success

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If I were to ask you, “how do you feel about success?” How would you answer? Many would say: I deserve it, I want more of it, I am working towards it. But if this is the case why do so many people not feel successful in their lives now?

Well, when most think of succeeding in life, they think of material benefits like big cars and fancy trips. They think of a fulfilled family and personal life. And lastly, they think of awards or recognition. Certainly, being successful can include all of these things and more.

My personal thoughts are that humanity, as a species, is a very jealous one. We often compare our looks, careers and talents to those around us. We also compare our levels of success. By doing this we can wallow in self pity, trick ourselves into thinking we aren’t worthy of our dreams, or don’t think outside the box to actually achieve them.

Below I’ve listed my top 6 reasons as to why you may not feel successful right now in your life and what you can do about it:

1. You have dreams rather than goals- Dreams are oft pushed aside as flight and fancy. Whereas, goals are realistic and tangible possibilities.

2. You don’t want to upset anyone- You will never be able to please everyone. Learn to stand up for yourself and expect others to respect you as an individual. If you aren’t looking out for yourself, who is?

3. You make excuses- Giving excuses as a reason to postpone your business or familial goals simply postpones happiness. And the suffering as a result of your excuses means you are either afraid, or you don’t want it badly enough. Take responsibility for yourself.

4. You don’t think they are smart/witty/good enough- if you have low self esteem this can be a very powerful inhibitor. Remember, there’s a difference between realistic goals versus down right crazy aspirations. Try some positive affirmations to build your confidence. Or perhaps get a trusted individual to list your talents and strengths.

my experience is that we are often far more capable than we think.

5. You are afraid- Take chances. Fight the fear and make the leap of faith. You’ll never know what could have happened if you continue to play it safe.

6. You don’t recognise how far you’ve already come- take solace in physically listing how far you have come already. Perhaps you aren’t as shy as when you first started out, or you’re no longer a gossip. Maybe you are learning to control your temper. Perhaps you’ve been promoted recently or enjoy a wonderful marriage or relationship. All of these are facets of or steps to further success. Take time to enjoy and recognise these triumphs.

In the end, it all comes down to whether you have a rich or poor state of mind. A poverty mindset always sees the cup as half-empty, and therefore has nothing to do with how much money we currently make or could have. It is a disposition that we cultivate as we wallow in our weaknesses, and compare ourselves to others. thankfully this mindset can be reversed if we really work at it. The reason, I believe, we typically see the cup as half-empty is because we’re not reaching our full capacity or potential.

The other reason we see the cup as half empty is due to how you yourself define success. The Webster’s definition, which is, “The achievement of something desired, planned, attempted, or a man who makes everyone jealous because he has the best cellular phone on the market and the best cable and Internet package money can buy.”

In order to combat any jealousy, inferiority or fear you may currently have. There’s a definition of Success I would like to suggest to you. And that is that success is nothing to do with money. Success should be a deep inner joy, of having contributed to the world in some way. Large or small, but on a daily basis. Success shouldn’t be a coveted lifestyle or having fancy things. Success should be a constant state of growth, knowing that you tried your hardest and continue to do so. Success should be knowing that you found your wings and decided to fly.

Six Ted Talks every careers professional should view and why.

thomasgdaviescareersuccess:

Great post with fantastic resources thanks @careerschap!

Originally posted on Careerschap | The musings of a careers professional in the higher education sector.:

Six I hear you say!  Why not 4 or 5 or 10? It all seems rather arbitrary.  Well you would be right, it is.  Or is it?  I really should have compiled a “Ten Ted Talks every careers professional should view” as according to various articles I’ve seen on the web like this one all lists tend to be zero dominated.  i.e people naturally round up numbers.  According to Google, it so happens that numbers ending in five are the next most prevalent.  So I’m consciously going against the grain and human psychology with the number six.

I don’t profess to have seen all or even most Ted talks (there are over 1700 of them).  In fact, I’ve only seen a very small proportion against the overall total.  But here are six talks I have seen that I believe relate to my work and why they were thought provoking.  So in no particular…

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Negotiation 101: Getting Where You Want To Be

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In the business world, You’ll never get what you deserve, you’ll get what you negotiate. As Newsweek once said:

“Negotiation is the game of life.”

We all negotiate. We negotiate in our personal relationships. We negotiate with our bosses. We negotiate with clients. And especially ourselves. This paper by Russell Korobkin, a professor of law at UCLA, basically says that when deciding whether to accept or reject something, a negotiator performs two cognitive tasks. Firstly, there must be an evaluation of the available options for their apparent fairness, a task we can call judgement. Second, there must be a determination which option is preferred, a task we can label choice.

In addition to this knowledge, in order to be a successful negotiator,  and get what you want, one must understand and implement the following 5 concepts:

What you really want.

What your opponent really wants.

What can you leverage.

Uncover needs/desires.

Benefit Ratio- aka  will it be a win-win, win-lose, lose-lose scenario.

Negotiation is a critical skill in order to be successful. During the last few weeks I applied for a new role within my company, in a different division. This role could have meant a fast track to management and the autonomy to manage a business: neither of which I felt  I was getting from my current role. I fulfilled the HR requirements for my tenure in my current department and I would work for someone who I really enjoyed working for in the past. However, the application was not supported by my current management team. I was being pulled by both sides, which at first appeared as a compliment, but as things developed I started to realize that this decision could have had huge consequences on my future in the organization. I needed to tactically navigate the situation to satisfy my desires and the needs of the business.

Hence, I negotiated. I was very honest upfront, I explained how this opportunity could not only fast track my career, but be great for the division, for my career goals and also benefit my family due to a potential increase in salary.

I set out my career goals and objectives and left the door open for them to see how they could be fulfilled in my current role.

As simple as this sounds, it was anything but. Emotions were high and thankfully, God helped me stay calm and diplomatic the entire time. After hearing what senior management had to say, I realized that they wanted to keep me so badly that I had some leverage. Yes, the division had paid  to relocate us from the UK to the USA, but it was more than that. It became apparent they really need and want my skill set. So much so, that I was able to negotiate my current role and job title. A beneficial change for both the business and myself. Unfortunately, I gave up a potentially amazing position. But, I feel like I was able to prove my worth to my employers and get my career better aligned with my future goals.

What did I learn? That negotiation is not only a key life skill, but a tactical and interpersonal activity that requires an understanding of the human psyche. Also, that negotiation is vital to your career’s success.

After all, if you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs. What do you think? Do you have any examples of successful negotiations in your life? I’d love to hear from you.

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Should I quit my terrible job?

thomasgdaviescareersuccess:

Interesting blogpost! I would be interested on your thoughts.

Originally posted on No Hope For Help:

Dear Aunty Em,

I hate my job. I’ve been employed there for just over a year and I can’t stand it. I do the same thing every day, I don’t get on well with my boss and I have little in common with my coworkers.

I’ve been job hunting for a while but haven’t found anything else yet. I hate it so much I just want to quit now but how bad an idea is it to quit my job without having something else already lined up yet? I know it’s not ideal but I feel like I can’t stand it any longer here!

Darren

Dear Darren,

Don’t quit your job because you hate it! If you quit then it means they WIN. Besides, it’s a known fact that everyone hates their job anyway so you’d never find a job you like anyway.

No, instead of quitting what you should…

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How Do You Deal with Frustration?

“The problem is that frustration is a gateway to both productive and destructive action. If channelled correctly, frustration can help you overcome obstacles and initiate positive change. If channelled incorrectly, it can spur recklessness and resentment.” Isaiah Hankel PH.D.

Once upon a time, the game ‘Frustration!’ invited feelings of excitement and fun. I looked forward to racing around the board and getting all my pieces  to the dice in the middle.  Unlike this favourite childhood board game of mine, today I treat real frustration very differently.

Lately I’ve found myself annoyed, angry or disappointed with some things at work.  Although negative, it seems that I can be somewhat addicted to this cycle of emotions. Some call it a love for drama, or company politics, either way I seem to be drawn to it, or it to me (especially during my recent turmoil of applying for a new position within the company).

In time, as I have become more aware of this tendency, I have realized that the consequences are destructive. There have been moments that I am unable to focus on important tasks because I have allowed myself to wallow in frustration, anger or pity. My productivity diminishes, which leads to increased frustration interwoven with a twinge of revenge; all of which escalates until I mentally and/or emotionally take charge of my psyche to break the cycle.

“Revenge is never a straight line. It’s a forest, And like a forest it’s easy to lose your way… To get lost… To forget where you came in.”  Hattori Hanzo (Played by Shin’ichi Chiba in Kill Bill: Vol. 1)

So What Do We Do About It?

Get better, not bitterFrustration can really be a catalyst for 
productive action if channelled in the right way. I’ve learned that transforming frustration into problem solving motivation not only builds happiness, but improves leadership qualities.

Maybe there are some lessons we can learn from my other favourite childhood games to help deal with frustration.

Connect 4

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Great Connect 4 players have a pattern or a well thought out strategy to win. This usually involves understanding your opponents strategy and making the first move. With this in place the worst outcome is a tie. So, how can this help us deal with frustration? Understand both opponents, especially yourself. Know what triggers your frustration, and come prepared to win. Make a plan of how you will block some of these early cues that will start the frustration spiral and block them with more positive things. Doing so will create a habit of avoiding frustration in the first place. Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit describes the technical definition of a habit as:

“…the choices that all of us deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day.”

Commit in this moment to align your words with your actions and apply positive change to your life. It will be hard and take time, but luckily you know yourself better than anyone! You know your triggers and are therefore qualified to succeed- and you will.

Operation

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Like many games of this nature it is frustrating when you cannot see what you did to set off the buzzer and flashing red nose. Carefully navigating and understnding any situation always improves patience and control. As Marcus Aurelius said

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

The power is within us to change how we allow our frustrations to wear us down. We need to channel our emotions correctly so that the negativity spurs us to get better (not bitter!). Or in the words of Napoleon Hill:

“If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.”

How do you deal with frustration? Any thoughts or advice?

 

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