Competency Has Its Critics

Competency Has Its Critics
On Tuesday night, the first Democratic Presidential debate took place. Fifteen million viewers tuned in. Normally after such an event, there is a winner, and, for a short time anyhow, the winner takes a victory lap. Not this time. Most media reports indicated that Hillary Clinton did the best job. Various pundits described her as a “skilled debater.” Others noted that she had “command of the issues,” she “threaded the needle,” and she “did what she ... Read more
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Emoticons, Emoji, Women, and Work

Emoticons, Emoji, Women, and Work
I have always disliked “smiley faces.” They seem rather silly to me. The emoticon for a smiley face (colon, hyphen, parenthesis) has been around since 1982, and a huge industry using pictographic symbols (generally referred to as emoji) for electronic communication has grown tremendously since the late 90s.  Currently, you can’t watch tv without seeing McDonald’s ads using “emoji” to highlight their change in menu. In the ads, everyone, men as well as ... Read more
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Looking Assertive vs. Being Assertive

Looking Assertive vs. Being Assertive
Recently I came across a statement  that claimed it is easier to look like an assertive woman than to be one. So how do you know if you actually are an assertive woman?  If you’re not one, how do you become one? Being assertive is not just how you dress, or how you speak, or the risks you take—even though all of these can be important. Being assertive is dependent on feeling self-confident, especially feeling confident about your own power. There may be external manifestations, but ... Read more
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Turn Down the Volume

Turn Down the Volume
Yesterday Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump referred to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as “shrill.” That got me thinking about words that are used to describe powerful women. I looked up definitions of “shrill” and some of them made me smile. One described it as a sound that is high pitched and sharp, “like the squeak of a mouse in your cupboard.” Another source said shrill is a loud and high sound that “is unpleasant or painful ... Read more
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Leadership, Honesty, and Integrity

Leadership, Honesty, and Integrity
America is abuzz with “Pope mania.” People everywhere are talking about Pope Francis’ visit. The television coverage is nonstop, yet it doesn’t seem particularly bothersome. Perhaps it is because, for weeks, we have been inundated with 24 hours of negativity related to next year’s Presidential campaign. Watching the Pope is a welcome diversion. From the politicians, we have heard bragging, and aggrandizement, lecturing and shouting. We have listened to insults, ... Read more
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Your Accent is Showing

Your Accent is Showing
Most people don’t grow up thinking they have an accent, and we don’t always know how local phrases can identify our place of origin or give personal clues about us. For example, I spent most of my formative years in Pennsylvania Dutch country and didn’t move away until college. After graduation, I was excited to have my first real job, and equally excited to have professional colleagues. I was invited to go to lunch with some co-workers and replied I would join them as ... Read more
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What Was I Saying? The Power of Self-Talk

What Was I Saying? The Power of Self-Talk
As so often happens, I find myself sitting at an airport waiting for a cross country flight. Since I am flying east to west coast today, I needed to get up in the middle of the night and arrive at the airport before sunrise. Sitting in my hotel room, trying to get motivated, a phrase from a Beckett novel that I had read somewhere went through my mind. “I can’t go on. I must go on. I’ll go on,” and, of course, I did. The phrase made me think of self-talk—that internal ... Read more
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Route Recalculation

Route Recalculation
On a recent trip to an unfamiliar place, I programmed my car’s GPS for my destination. Somewhere along the way, I decided to make an unscheduled stop to see a particular site. When I did so, the voice for my GPS came on and said “route recalculation.” For some reason, that phrase, and the tone of the automated voice, always sounds like a reprimand. It seems to subliminally indicate that I had a goal, and that I shouldn’t have deviated from it. For just a moment, I ... Read more
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Beware Self-Proclaimed Experts

Beware Self-Proclaimed Experts
Perhaps you have tried it a time or two—passing yourself off as an expert and then rushing to become one. Maybe you padded your resume or job application by slightly overstating your technical expertise or your presentation skills.  When your boss asked you to fix a problem or fill in for a speaking engagement, you had to work fast to become as proficient as you had led her to believe you were. In the worst case scenario, you had no choice to but to admit your limitations and face the ... Read more
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Better to Give Than to Receive? Not Necessarily

Better to Give Than to Receive? Not Necessarily
We all approach advice in a personal way. Sometimes we solicit it. Sometimes we resent it, even if we asked for it. We may choose to use it or to discard it. We have power over advice received. What about advice given? We should have great control over that side of the advice equation, yet how often do you find yourself giving “unsolicited advice” to friends and family? Advice in the workplace is even trickier. If it’s your boss giving you “a little friendly ... Read more
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