Monday, February 16, 2009

Are You Afraid to Just Say "No" at Work?


"Taylor, can you help me out with this report? I need some research done by tomorrow, or I'm really going to be in trouble."

"Sure."

"Taylor, we need someone to head up this new committee, and I think you'd be perfect. Can you put a team together by next Tuesday?"

"Sure."

"Taylor, we're really having trouble with this client and it would be so helpful if you could go there and sort of calm them down. It would be great if you could leave right away."

"Sure."

"Taylor, someone left a mess in the break room. On yourlunch hour, do you think you could use your great organizational skills and bring order to the chaos?"

"Sure."

Many of us hate to say "no." We say "sure" or "yes" to requests for many reasons, but few of them have to do with what is best for us and our careers. We don't say"no" because we don't want someone to be mad at us. We say "yes" because we feel guilty or we're afraid of what could happen if we don't agree to a request.

And, in this rotten job market, we are afraid to say "no" for fear it could cost us our job.

But I recently interviewed some psychologists for my Gannett News Service and USAToday.com column, and they made it crystal clear that not learning to say "no" may be terrible for your career -- and your life.

“When you’re scared about being the next one to be laid off, all kinds of dysfunctional things start to happen,” says Pat Pearson, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based clinical psychotherapist. “You start getting more paranoid, you do your work less well, and you start feeling as if you can’t say ‘no.’ So, you take on anything they throw at you.”

But the problem, Pearson says, is that such a move just makes a career “more and more dysfunctional.”

“You have to decide: Are you going to have a healthy work environment or not?”

Paula Bloom, an Atlanta-based clinical psychologist, says that every worker must realize they only have so much emotional capital to expend every day, and pushing the limits may cost them the very thing they’re hoping to protect.

“If there is too great an emotional cost, then you will become resentful and unpleasant, and not nice to be around. And people who are a pain in the butt are often the ones who are let go,” Bloom says.

Both Pearson and Bloom stress that the emotional and physical cost of never saying “no” – even in this stressful job market – can take a real toll on workers.

“If you don’t feel good about what you’re taking on, then you become negative and angry, and then you’re not only hurting yourself, you’re hurting the company because you’re not going to be as productive,” Pearson says. “If you are doing things you don’t want to do, then you’re going to pay a price with your health. You’re going to get sick more often, and have a high stress level."

But how do you say “no” without being considered a poor team player or labeled with some other negative moniker at work? Both Bloom and Pearson says it’s a matter of understanding your boundaries and then being prepared to make the “no” sound positive. They advise:


Be willing to ask for what you need. "Maybe you’ve been asked to work late, and you can agree to it, except for on Thursdays, when you need to get home on time because your kids have soccer,” Person says. “You have to decide how much you can live with, and what you can’t do without."

Taking a deep breath. “Don’t freak out when someone makes a request. Just say, ‘I would love to be able to help you out, but it won’t work today. If you could give me a few days notice next time, I might be able to do it.’” Adds Pearson: “Act thoughtful and say something like, ‘Let me see what I can do.’ It gives you time to think about it and then make a decision when you’re not under pressure.”

Living with integrity. “If you’re screwing around on the Internet for an hour every day, or faking your time card, then you’ll try to compensate for your guilt and say ‘yes’ to everything. If you live with integrity, you’ll be able to say ‘no’ and not feel guilty,” Bloom says.

Understanding the difference between “can’t” and “don’t want to.” Bloom says that even when the boss makes a request, you can say “no” if you’ve made an honest assessment of your workload. “You can always say, ‘I’d like to do that, but can you help me figure out the priority of these nine other things I have to do?’ Put the issue back on the boss.”

How are some other ways people can be smarter about saying "no"?




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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

7 Random (and Sorta Weird) Facts About Me


Right before the Thanksgiving holiday,Miriam Salpeter tagged me for this meme, but I was rushing out the door for time with family, so I'm just getting around to playing along. Here goes:

1. I know firsthand the pain of layoffs. When I was a college senior, my Dad was laid off from a job he'd had for more than 20 years. The refinery employing more than 900 people closed, devastating my small town. I managed to piece together some scholarship money to finish the last year of school. My Dad, 10 months from retirement, lost his entire pension. For the next several years, he ran a gas station to make ends meet.

2. I hate wooden spoons. And popsicle sticks. Just writing about them makes the hairs stand up on my arms.

3. I had a '72 Cutlass when I was in high school. I now kick myself for getting rid of it whenever I watch those muscle car auctions on television. Who knew that today some fool would pay $7 million for it?

4. I've never had writer's block. Go ahead, hate me.

5. I never get tired of interviewing people. Being paid to be snoopy? Heaven.

6. I once had a woman write me a letter about her miserable career, and say she wanted to kill herself. I immediately called the local authorities. I never did find out what happened, but I think of her often whenever I write workplace stories. I know that people often are truly in a lot of pain.

7. I love turtles. During the summer, when they seem to want to cross the road all the time, I'll pull my car over, get out, pick up a turtle and carry it to the other side of the road so it doesn't get run over. I can tell you I don't do the same for armadillos or possums. They're on their own.

Here are the people I'm tagging for this meme:

Marsha Keeffer

Robyn McMaster

Ian Tang

Virginia Backaitis

Dan McCarthy

Diane Danielson

Lindsay Olson

Here are the rules for my fellow bloggers:

• Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.

• Share seven facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird.

• Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.

• Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Have Your Ever Wondered If Ashton Kutcher is Hiding Around the Corner at Work?


Have you ever been at work, and you think you have perhaps fallen into another dimension? That maybe Ashton Kutcher is going to show up and explain that you've been punked -- that what you're going through isn't really, well... real?

Unfortunately, we're not celebrities, and the bizarre things we end up doing at work are not practical jokes. Let's look at some of the....

Things That Were Not in My Job Description:

1. Smelling the boss's breath to make sure it's not "too garlicky" before meeting with a client.
2. Looking at a co-worker's photos of him cutting his child's umbilical cord.
3. Entertaining a customer's 3-year-old who asks "why" every 25 seconds and wants to know what dirt it made of.
4. Cleaning out the microwave where some idiot left the remains of an exploded bean burrito.
5. Listening to a co-worker describe her wedding plan, complete with PowerPoint, flow chart and Excel spreadsheet.
6. Participating in the annual pep rally kickoff for a community campaign that involves cheers and wearing a really stupid hat.
7. Fixing a broken office chair with a paperclip and Dentyne.

What are some other things you've been asked to do at work that are not in your job description?

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Is Any Job Worth a Bad Boss?


When there are stressful times in the workplace, you can bet it's going to bring out the best in a lot of people -- and the worst.

Unfortunately, job seekers may not discover which category a boss falls into until it's too late.

For example, good bosses will understand that the continuing tough economic news means they need to rally the troops, to stick close to employees and make sure employees see they are calm in the face of bad economic news, determined to keep doing the best possible job. They make sure their door is always open to listen to worker concerns, and even spring for a pizza every once in a while just to help lighten the mood.

And then there are the bosses that crack under the strain. They hole up in their offices, the door tightly closed. When they do emerge, they are uncommunicative with workers, except to criticize or be short-tempered. They may be sarcastic, rude, insulting and thoughtless. Employees become tightly wired and depressed, alternately sniping with one another or lapsing into brooding silences.

Enter the hapless job seeker. With shiny shoes, a bright smile and firm handshake, the job candidate enters the door of a company, hopeful that in this crappy job market, he or she may land a job.

Many are desperate. They try not to let that show (a definite no-no in the job search world), but they know their current company is sinking fast, their industry on the rocks, their job security a thing of the past. They need another job, and they need it now.

So, they may be willing to overlook a few things they would not have in the past, when job seekers had the upper hand in a thriving economy. Now, with rising unemployment, they don't care about the long commute, the less-than-generous benefits, the lack of stock options. In other words, they are willing to overlook a lot of the frayed edges if it just means they can keep a paycheck coming in.

Understandable. You gotta do what you gotta do. But there is one area that may bear closer scrutiny: the boss.

As anyone who has had a bad boss knows, a rotten manager can affect you in ways you never dreamed. You can't sleep. You can't eat -- or overeat. You yell at your kids or partner when you get home, you develop bad headaches and stomach pains. You feel like you've aged 10 years overnight and secretly envision the boss getting hit by a bus. (Not killed of course, just in the hospital for the next five years.)

That's why it's still important that while you may be willing to settle on a lot of things when you go for a job these days, don't settle for a bad boss. And here's a bit of good news: The bad bosses are being exposed as never before. It's going to be easier to learn who is a lousy manager simply because he or she is cracking under the strain.

Here's some ways to find out a boss's true colors:

* Ask to speak to other employees. Sometimes you will not always be given this opportunity, and other times, the workers may not be truthful because they fear for their own jobs. Ask questions such as: "What has been your favorite assignment and why?" "What gives you the greatest satisfaction working here?" "What three words would you use to describe your boss?"
* Find the favorite watering hole. This may be a neighborhood pub, or a lunch spot where employees hang out. It may even be a nearby park. The idea is to strike up a conversation away from the eyes and ears of the boss so that you can get an employee to open up about the true management style of the boss.
* Be objective. Just because one employee trashes the manager doesn't mean the boss is terrible. It could be that this person doesn't get along with anyone. Try and talk to several employees so that you can get a real feel for what's going on.
* Don't think you're special. I'm always amazed by job candidates who take a position knowing the boss is an ass. They always think they can find a way to get along with the manager, that they somehow possess special powers to overcome a bully boss. Not so. If the boss is a jerk to the majority of workers, chances are you're going to experience the exact same thing.

What are some other ways to spot a bad manager?


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Is Your Job Flushing Your Self-Esteem Down the Toilet?


Most bosses have read at least a few articles or even some books that offer advice along the lines of "Employee Recognition in Five Seconds a Day" or "Meaningless Pats on the Back -- How It Can Work For You."

Let's face it: In today's fast-paced, high-stress working world, many bosses may start out with good intentions on recognizing and rewarding employees for good performance, but the truth is that it sort of slips away after a time. The weekly meetings to recognize employee contributions get put off until it's once a month...then once every few months...then, nothing.

Or, the recognition program becomes a joke: "Jane is employee of the month because she answered the phone! She now gets the top parking spot for a month!"

It's no wonder many workers go home at the end of the day completely demoralized. They see an endless road of 10-12 hour days, with little appreciation of what they do. They're just another body filling a spot at a company that gives them a paycheck, but does little for their self-esteem.

Believe me, I'm not belittling that employers offer a paycheck, especially in this tough economy. But I do think that more and more, workers are losing sight of what makes them feel good about themselves. Namely, a job well done.

Sure, we can give ourselves little pats on the back, but if the boss or someone else doesn't really recognize our contribution, what does that mean for us in the long run? I'm afraid it means a workforce that is always feeling like they can't keep up, as if they are chasing an endless list of tasks they can never hope to complete. They are never given a chance to stop and be recognized that what they do matters, that what they contribute should make them feel good about themselves.

So, what's the answer when your self-esteem takes a beating because of your job? The answer may be to find ways to recognize and reward yourself.

Some options:

* Do something every day that you enjoy. Work in your garden, tinker in your workshop or create a spectacular meal. The point is to create something that makes you feel good about yourself. Even if you can only devote 15 or 30 minutes a day, it's important to do something that bolsters positive feelings about yourself.
* Give yourself a gold star. It's a simple thing, but write down something every day that you feel good about at work. Maybe you helped a co-worker with a problem or dealt with a difficult customer that went away happy. Those are things to be proud of -- by the end of the week you'll be able to look back at your list and see what you accomplished.
* Have happy reminders around you. Most workers have photos of their kids or loved ones nearby, which are great reminders they have a lot to be proud of in their lives. But you can also have other tangible proof: a race medal; a note from the boss praising your efforts; an industry article mentioning your contributions. Change these items if you begin to not "see" them anymore. It's important they really make you think about the good things you've done.
* Stop the cycle of negative thoughts. If you're hanging around at work with other people who complain and whine a lot, they'll start to drag you down with them. Have lunch or coffee with those who seem to be upbeat, no matter what else is going on. If you can't find anyone, spend your lunch hour or coffee break reading upbeat or funny articles or books. Tell yourself that when you make a mistake, it's because there is a lesson to be learned.

What else can someone do to boost their self-esteem?





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Monday, September 22, 2008

Has Your Confidence Turned Into Arrogance?


As we can all witness after the latest debacle on Wall Street, there are plenty of big egos when it comes to big business.

A picture is emerging of decision-makers who have reaped millions of dollars in in compensation and benefits as their companies went down the toilet. Now, of course, Congress is getting involved, and those big egos are going to be aired -- and criticized -- in public.

Most of us will tut-tut their behavior ("Those greedy bastards," we'll grouse), and some of us will even learn a thing or two from their bad personal and professional judgment. Unfortunately, many of us will go back to behaving just as we always have -- as the same kind of arrogant beings intent on achieving our own ends through our own means.

Don't get me wrong. I know that confidence is needed in the working world. Without it, you'll get run over and be nothing but career roadkill. But there comes a point -- and I think this is it -- when we need to all take a hard look at how we go about getting what we want.

In other words, has your confidence turned into arrogance?

My dictionary defines arrogant as: "Overly convinced of one's own importance; overbearingly proud; haughty." Now, contrast that with the definition of confidence: "A feeling of assurance or certainty."

We all know those who are arrogant in the workplace. We don't really like them. We don't want to be on teams with them because they believe they are walking books of knowledge on just about any subject, and they rarely listen to anyone but themselves. They believe that just by showing up, success will follow.

But recognizing that arrogance in ourselves may be tougher. We believe we have earned the right to our views, and don't have time to suffer fools. We are impatient with others who don't seem to "get it" and wonder why they don't understand our talent is special and unique. We don't think we are arrogant, just confident.

I can't predict what the outcome of this Wall Street bailout will be, because I'm not an economist. But I can tell you that with the closer scrutiny of leadership behavior in the coming months, it's going to trickle down to all parts of the business sector. There is going to be less tolerance, I believe, of arrogance.

That's why today I'm hoping to save you some pain in the coming months. I challenge you to think about whether your confidence has turned into something more damaging. I urge you to think about not how you see yourself -- but how others see you. Do your actions really align with who you are and where you want to go?

Think about:

* Listening. Do you brush over others' opinions, or not ask for them at all? Even the most confident person values ideas from other people, but the arrogant worker believes he/she has all the answers.
* Admitting mistakes. Arrogance doesn't leave any room for acknowledging an error; pride prevents learning anything from a mistake. Those with enough confidence to own up to a mistake not only earn more respect from others, they gain useful insight on avoiding the problem in the future.
* Reaching back. When you have confidence, you're not afraid to help train or educate workers with less knowledge or skill. You see it as a chance to enhance the overall product or effort. If you're arrogant, you see it as a waste of time to work with those less skilled than you (which takes in almost everyone).
* You believe your own press. You're mentioned in company newsletters as a star performer, the boss recognizes you in meetings for your contributions and if you Google your name -- whoo boy! You start to rest on your laurels, believing your touch to be golden. While that is certainly a boost to your confidence, and should be enjoyed, you need to remember that your career success can often rest on a "what have you done for me lately" attitude. That's why it's important to make sure you interact often with people who disagree with you -- or don't even like you. They'll keep that ego from heading into arrogance.

What are some other signs of arrogance?


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Friday, September 19, 2008

Reality Check: Time to Pay Attention to the Details

Sheesh. My inbox has gotten so depressing in the last week. I've been hit with dozens of queries from experts wanting to explain what has happened on Wall Street and what it means for the average worker.

E-mail subject lines are a laundry list of bad news: depression, recession, job loss, bailouts, financial collapse, panic, layoffs. It's like a bad rap song for someone named "Unemployment Line."

I'm going to go along with all the other experts and give a giant shrug when asked what tomorrow will bring. But I will say this: It never hurts to start honing your interviewing skills. Because if you're not looking for work at another company, then you need to stay sharp and make sure you're on top of your game at your current job.

That means you dress professionally. You don't surf the Internet looking at ESPN or People.com when you're supposed to be working. You focus on making good connections with others in your company so that they see you as a valuable asset, and not an expendable commodity.

That's why I thought I'd end your week with this video that will provide a humorous reminder on what you should be doing -- and not doing -- on the job. We all need the laugh.


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Friday, August 15, 2008

Why Accepting an Apology is Harder Than It Looks

When you make a mistake at work, do you apologize? Many of you will say “yes”. It’s easier, after all, to move on if you admit that you messed up and simply say, “I’m sorry” to whoever your actions may have impacted.

Now here’s a possibly tougher question: Do you always accept an apology?

Well, of course, you may say. That’s what happens when someone apologizes. You are adult about it and say something like “It’s OK” or “It’s fine.”

But is it really?

Because the truth is, when you get smacked around by life, you want someone to blame. You want to hold someone responsible for whatever happened, for whatever hurt was caused.

Let’s say a co-worker apologizes to you for forgetting to forward you important information, and that caused you to make an error in a report to your boss. The erroneous report made the boss pretty unhappy, and you caught the brunt of that displeasure. Now, the co-worker is saying she is sorry for causing you problems.

In most situations like this at work when someone apologizes, we say “It’s OK” or “I understand” or at least grunt some kind of acceptance. But the truth is that you’d like to lash out at the colleague who caused you such problems, to say that the ass-chewing delivered to you by the boss was all her fault, and her actions were hurtful.

Hurtful? You may think that’s too strong a word. After all, she didn’t “hurt” you in the same way as would a friend or loved one might, but still, you feel the sting of her actions.

So, while you may say you forgive her -- and give the appearance of moving on -- the truth is that you’re nursing a grudge. You think about her behavior. She’s unorganized. She’s unprofessional. She’s immature. She’s selfish. All attributes that led to your problems, right?

You start to feel a little better. Your self-righteousness starts to blossom. It was all her fault. You never would have made such a mistake. You would never have been so sloppy.

By the time you have lunch with several other co-workers, you’ve worked up a head of steam. You share your righteous indignation with others over the unfairness of it all, how you had to take the blame for someone else’s poor performance.

While it may feel good in the short run to play the blame game, you’re really losing in the long run. Why? Because you’ve never stopped to consider your own part in all of this mess and how it can be avoided in the future. In other words, you’re dooming your career to experience these setbacks again and again.

Let’s look at the way you should really accept an apology:

• Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You may discover that the person who made the mistake has been saddled with the work of two other people who were laid off. She has been struggling to keep up with the workload, and has little support from the manager. You come to understand that if you were in the same position, you might forget a thing or two.
• Fix the problem, not the blame. In evaluating what happened, you see that you could have double-checked the information and found the error before presenting the report to the boss. You decide that you need to build in some extra time to verify information, and give others a chance to weigh in to make sure no errors slip past you.
• See the outcome as good and bad. Yes, you got in trouble with the boss because of the error. That’s bad. On the other hand, you see that you need to be more diligent in double-checking information, that your process needs to be tweaked and improved. Such attention to quality will be a good work habit to develop and will positively impact your performance. That’s good.

The next time someone offers you an apology at work, stop for a minute and think about what’s really the best way to handle it. Instead of focusing on the “I’m right and you’re wrong” mentality, remember that no one is perfect. You have – and will – make mistakes in the future, and so will everyone else. It’s the ability to truly accept an apology and move on that will determine your future successes.

Have you ever had difficulty accepting – and moving on – after someone offered an apology? What’s the best way to get past your hurt or anger?


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is Your Manager Setting You Up to Fail?

Recently I ran into a friend of mine who told me he's quitting his job and going back to school to become a registered nurse. I was a bit surprised: Quit a job in this economy? Take on more student loan debt?

When I asked him why he was leaving a job that he seemed to love the last time I spoke to him about a year ago, he told me that he was simply exhausted, both emotionally and mentally. The position that he had fought so hard to get had become an anvil around his neck.

Over cold drinks at a nearby cafe, he told me that the job he was leaving in no way, shape or form resembled the position he had accepted two years ago.

"We had two people leave, so I took on a lot of their stuff. Then, a third was laid off," he said. "I was given those duties in addition to what I was already doing."

While he said the boss often assured him that he would get some help, it never materialized. When he would remind the boss that he was being spread too thin and he worried about the quality of the product, the boss told him that better time management -- and better use of technology -- would solve the problem.

That's why a recent story about companies combining mid-level and lower-level jobs -- and then hiring someone at the junior level for a lower salary -- really struck a chord.

I have been hearing similar stories for a while: Companies laying off workers, then rehiring one person with what I call a "kitchen sink" job description to do the work of many.

Let me give you another example: A woman I have known professionally for years works for a company that has been bought and sold so many times she jokes that she's not even sure who she works for anymore. But under that humor is a lot of stress: In the last three years, at least five people have been laid off in her department, and each time she has been given their duties.

I asked her whether she's received additional compensation for her additional duties. She told me no. Instead, she's been continually reprimanded for missing deadlines and not meeting goals. I have to wonder why the company doesn't fire her for her "poor performance," but I suspect it's because they can pile on the work -- and keep those notes critical of her performance in her personnel file to drag out when she wants to discuss more money.

(You may think this woman should have bailed on this job a long time ago, but because of her personal circumstances, she needed to stay in the position and try and make it work.)

I just don't get it. Why would companies set employees up to fail? If they hire lower-level workers, pile on the work until they break, then what's the point? They may have saved some money in the beginning, but it takes time and money to recruit and train a new body, so it seems that's pretty short-sighted.

At the same time, how can you ever make a good hire if you're using job descriptions that are laundry lists of so many disparate duties that no one human being can meet it?

I know that many employees rise to the challenge. But what I'm hearing goes beyond that. If we've got workers limping for the exits, where does that leave us in terms of training the next generation of managers? If we think that only time management and technology is the answer to overworked staff, then how can current managers create a team that's capable of competing in a global economy?

Please, someone clue me in. I just don't get it.


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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What Cats Can Teach You About Living a Better Life

A while ago I wrote about what I learned about life and work from my dog. Since then, I've been trying to figure out what my two cats, Spike and Ace, have to teach me.

So far, I'm stumped.

But the more I think about it, maybe that is what they have to teach me. They don't really care if I don't get them. They don't care what I think. They plan their days around naps, eating, the litter box and maybe a little playtime with one another.

They have little regard for someone else's angst, unlike my dog who seems to sense bad moods and do her best to set things right with tongue lickings and a wagging tail. Like most cats, their persona is one of ultimate cool. Two sleek black cats that are mirror images of one another. They've got the cool part down pat.

If I'm having a bad day, it's not their concern. Their priority is a morning bath in the sunshine, maybe a little Purina and then a nap. And, if they should they need a scratch behind the ears or a tummy rub, they complain in incessant meows beside my desk until I comply.

Then, once again, they go on their own way, seemingly satisfied that they've take care of their needs.

So, I guess I have learned a thing or two from Spike and Ace:

1. No need to rush. Food, water, a patch of sun and a clean litter box, and life is good. Why fret about deadlines or toss and turn at night when right here, right now, things are just fine? Hurrying to and fro is not only a waste of energy, it makes you look uncool.
2.Walk away from the noise and chaos. When the dog is barking, the kids are yelling, the phones are ringing and someone is at the door, the cats head for the quietest spot they can find, usually to resume their naps. No way are they sticking around where they can get their tails stepped on or get caught up in the frenzy. They don't let themselves get drug into issues that don't concern them, or ones that would add any kind of stress to their day. They don't make a lot of excuses -- they just make it clear that they've made a choice and they're cool with it.
3. Know you're awesome. The sight of two solid black, green-eyed cats striding down the hallway is enough to make you look twice. They are a throwback to their jungle counterparts, and project it in every step. They know who they are, what they want out of life, and make no excuses. Take them or leave them. They're cool with it.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How to Spot a Liar

Can you tell when someone is lying to you?

Most parents can tell in a heartbeat when their kids are lying. Maybe it's because we know them so well, or it's written into our DNA, but when they say, "I didn't do it," our radar goes off.

At work, it can be tougher. These are people we may not know that well, although we spend lots of time with them. And yet, it's critical that we be able to spot someone telling an untruth, because their lies and deception could end up impacting not only us, but an entire company.

I once interviewed negotiation expert Harry Mills, and here are some tips that he offered to help spot someone who may be fibbing. While they may not always hold true in every situation, it's worth paying attention to these clues:

* Voice pitch rises, there are increasing pauses or hesitations and speech slows.

* Hand and arm movements don't seem to match up; doesn't use gestures to make a point. May touch nose, chin and mouth more.

* Person avoids eye contact and has a smile that seems forced or insincere.

* Answers more abrubtly or avoids direct answers. May begin to mumble or keep head down more.

* If numbers are mentioned, they are "almost" or "nearly" and are similar: "$30,000" or "30 companies" or multiples of that number.

* Avoids saying "I" or "we". May use phrases such as "to be perfectly honest" or "to tell you the truth."

* Is prone to verbal outburts that leak information.

* Has more "um's", "uh's" and and takes longer to answer questions.

Should you confront someone at work who is lying to you? Why or why not?


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Monday, May 12, 2008

Four Steps to Finding What You Were Meant to Do

Would you like to be the next Tiger Woods? It's possible.

Woods is a competitor. He doesn't let anything get in the way of sinking that little white ball into the hole every chance he gets. He wants to do it more times than anyone else on the golf course that day. He's passionate about what he does.

While you may not be able to play golf like Woods, there is no reason that you cannot feel that same passion for what you do.

So, maybe you love to play golf or tennis or won't walk away from a game of Monopoly until you've won. The point is that such a competitive spirit, which is a natural passion, can be turned into finding a career that you love.

The key is looking at what makes you feel excited, whether it's helping other people, bringing order to chaos or pitting your talents and skills against others in the marketplace. But how can you discover what you were meant to do?


Begin by:

1. Giving yourself permission to find your passion. Talk to family and friends about what they believe the source of your energy to be. Look for common themes. For example, maybe you love the thrill of competition and could use that passion to launch a new company or head up a new project at work. The key is looking for themes that get your blood pumping.

2. Embracing the bumps in the road: Marriage, death and divorce are all life-changing events that can help you re-discover where you really want to be in life. Think back to how you felt during those times, and what seemed really important to you. Brian Clark wrote a great post about this on Copyblogger about a snowboarding accident.

3. Trying something new. Get out of your comfort zone. Take some risks. Try something out that you've been intrigued by but perhaps afraid to try. During this process, evaluate how you feel. Do you lose lose track of time? Does it just feel right? These are all signs that you are on the road to finding your passion.

4. Evaluating: As you investigate these new avenues, you can feel overwhelmed. Set goals for yourself along the way so that you can take a pause and see where you’re going. This will help the situation not feel so out of control, but rather a natural progression toward something exciting.

Are you living your passion? Do you feel you're doing what you were meant to do?


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