On the other hand, disagreements about practice and policy, decisions and projections and similar kinds of work-based stuff are trickier to handle, whether they involve your colleagues or your boss. Here are some tips on how to handle contentious matters.
How’s the resolution going, the one about getting a good work-life balance? Thought so. But you’re not alone. It happens to most of us.
We start out with the firm intention of keeping work demands in check so we can have a personal life that is worth the name, but before we know it, we are overwhelmed with the relentless claims of the workplace.
It seems rather sad that such a lovely expression of pleasure as a smile should be put under scrutiny and become a subject for guidance and rules.
But smiling, like all other aspects of non-verbal communication, can add to or detract from the impact you make at work. It’s that Goldilocks effect again — too few smiles and you appear to be cold and standoffish, too many and you seem over-eager to please and to be liked. Get it just right, though, like the porridge that is neither too hot nor too cold, and you hit the right note of positive communication.
In the course of a day we make dozens of decisions, most of which happen so automatically that we don’t realise we are exercising choice. The easy fluidity of this process is hampered when we are required to make a choice in an unusual or unexpected situation.
That’s when we feel confused, stumped, overwhelmed, unable to move — and it doesn’t seem to matter if the decision is about a trivial matter or a life-changing one. Here are some strategies you can use to make choices that you feel happy about.
Anyone who has ever tried to have a significant, or even insignificant, conversation in a noisy bar or restaurant or party will know how impossible it is to hear and be heard when you have to strain to catch every word.
When you want to concentrate on and understand what someone is saying, and when you want to raise a tricky subject, give some thought to the environment in which the conversation will take place.
‘Think Like A Rock Star’ doesn’t sound like sound advice on how to approach situations in our comparatively mundane, non-rock star lives. True, there was a moment in the 1980s when girls made decisions based on ‘what would Madonna do’, but I imagine most of us abandoned this guiding principle along with perms and padded shoulders.
But we might learn a thing or two from rock band Van Halen. No, hold the air guitar, this isn’t about their music. The reference is to the story about the band’s rider, or list of requirements, for all their concert venues. One of the stipulations was for a bowl of M&M sweets — but definitely NO BROWN ONES. When the band arrived at a gig, the first thing they would do is check the candy bowl.
Doing things quickly can make us feel productive and in control.
We admire the aura of the authority and confidence shown by making an instant decision, the efficiency shown by whipping through messages and firing off replies, the mental sharpness shown by coming up with an instant response.
However, an immediate reaction is not always the best one. It doesn’t sound quite so finger-snappingly on the ball, but pausing before you respond may be the smartest thing to do. It’s the difference between reacting and responding.
It’s good to have goals for our lives and careers. Having targets to aim for gives us purpose and direction.
Well-formed, attainable goals enable us to realize our dreams and ambitions. They provide a marker for our success — or failure.
Aah yes, the f word. There’s nothing like not achieving a goal to make you feel like one of life’s losers.
Power comes in different forms. We tend to automatically associate it with position and job title but we have all known bosses and team leaders who just don’t cut it and we have all known less elevated work colleagues who carry a lot of clout.
Relying on only one source of influence is risky — if it goes, you have nothing to fall back on. A better idea is to identify a number of areas in which you can acquire and develop the attributes which are associated with power.
Identifying our feelings and naming them as accurately as we can is a way of gaining self-knowledge and a means of controlling and managing our emotional life.
Being able to understand and express feelings is one of the markers of emotional intelligence, a quality that is becoming in increasing demand in the workplace. But there can be a mismatch between our feelings and how we express them. Here’s how to build up your emotional literacy.
You don’t know what went wrong. You were talking to a friend or someone in your family or an acquaintance or someone at work, and you thought you were listening to what they were saying and making appropriate responses.
Well, you were listening. You could repeat what they were saying word for word, practically. And you showed you were listening by saying things that were relevant and to the point. But it just didn’t gel. The conversation died out, although you felt there was much more to be explored. It just seemed as if they didn’t want to explore the topic any further with you. What happened and what can you do about it?
The South Downs National Park Authority is running a campaign to encourage people walking, sauntering, running, picnicking or generally enjoying this lovely area of the countryside in the South of England to treat each other courteously and they suggest that we say hello when we pass by someone, say thank you when someone makes way for us or opens a gate or whatever, that we say excuse me when we…well, you get the picture.
Apparently, this is part of a general campaign to encourage people to explore the landscapes and to encourage friendly and responsible behaviour. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just a shame that we need reminders to be civilised.