It’s Not About You

It’s Not About You
Recently, at a graduation ceremony, two speeches stood out. It wasn’t because they were funny or contained remarkable advice or insights. Instead, they stood out because they were boring at best, and perhaps even inappropriate. The first speech was from the class valedictorian. She began by describing her childhood and what had impressed her to go in a certain direction later on in life. A statement or two about that topic might have been interesting, but the rest of the speech ... Read more
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Try Surprising Yourself More Often

Try Surprising Yourself More Often
When was the last time you actually surprised yourself—when you did something “out of character?” Maybe you were spontaneous about an event or a trip. Perhaps you made a quick decision or purchase, foregoing your usual time for deliberation. Maybe you spoke up at work when you disagreed with someone. Was the action or outcome positive—perhaps even exhilarating—or were you upset with yourself for “throwing caution to the wind”? Take a few minutes to think about your ... Read more
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Does Being Bold Work at Work?

Does Being Bold Work at Work?
She likes bold colors. He has bold handwriting. That was a bold move. “Bold” has its place, but how well does bold fit in your workplace? What does “bold” actually mean anyway? Is it the same as being aggressive or outspoken or simply standing up for yourself and your work? Is it challenging the status quo or your boss? Is it being creative and doing things differently? Synonyms for the word “bold” include “fearless, courageous, brave or ... Read more
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When Work is Life

When Work is Life
How important is your job? Or, conversely, how important are you to your job? Oftentimes, both of these statements are oversold. When we are committed to our jobs, we assume others see and appreciate our dedication. They often do, and you may find yourself rewarded for your excellent work during an annual evaluation. That doesn’t, however, mean you are indispensable. If you find yourself thinking the place would collapse without you, it’s time to get real. Few places are solely ... Read more
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Baby Micro-Aggressions

Baby Micro-Aggressions
Dear Colleagues: In the last week at work, I have been told no less than three times that I should hurry to have kids. Two of those comments came from male coworkers, and one came from my female boss who has several children. What is wrong with people that they feel this is an appropriate work topic, much less any of their business? I understand that sometimes people make these comments from a “good” place or with “good” intent. For example, they waited too long and had ... Read more
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Listen to Yourself

Listen to Yourself
  Recently I attended a dinner function with a dozen colleagues. The venue was lovely, the company was engaging, and the food was delicious. Our server was attentive and efficient. She had only one fault. Every time someone ordered an item or asked her something, her response was “absolutely.” By the end of the three hours, her “absolutely” became absolutely annoying. The word “absolutely” also has caught on with tv and online reporters who now use it (in place ... Read more
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Self-Care Can’t be Retroactive

Self-Care Can’t be Retroactive
Recently, a very busy colleague told me that she knew she needed to do better with her self-care so she was scheduling two daily sessions of yoga for the next week to make up for it. That made us both laugh. While you do need to make time for self -care, and perhaps deliberately include it in your daily schedule, a week of self-care activities won’t make up for weeks or months of self abuse or sporadic focus. Nor can self-care be retroactive. It is like lost sleep—you can get enough ... Read more
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Putting Workplace Failures in Better Perspective

Putting Workplace Failures in Better Perspective
You are a final candidate for a job you really want. This is your third interview. You know you have done well in the previous interviews and are feeling comfortable and confident. Then the interviewer asks, “Tell me about your most recent personal failure.” You had been prepared to answer any question about failure with an example of a team project that missed a deadline a year or so ago, but that isn’t what she’s asking. Your mind whirls, trying to find a personal ... Read more
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I Hate Small Talk. How Important is it in the Workplace?

I Hate Small Talk. How Important is it in the Workplace?
A colleague recently mentioned that not only does he not like making small talk, he doesn’t even like hearing it. We all engage in it every day. How important is it in the workplace? Think about the person who comes into the office in the morning and greets everyone by name and asks how the weekend was. Do you consider that a nuisance or simple friendliness? Contrast that to the woman who walks in with her head down, not acknowledging anyone. Do people assume she is shy, unfriendly, ... Read more
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Your New Job May Have Policies That Surprise You

Your New Job May Have Policies That Surprise You
You’ve been searching for a new job for some time, so when that job offer finally comes through, you are quick to accept. The salary is satisfactory, and you have been told the basic benefits—health insurance, 401 K, three weeks vacation. What you may not be aware of are the organizational policies. You assume you can learn them once you actually start the job. How big a deal can policies be? Many new employees are surprised by vacation-related policies. For example, you may have ... Read more
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