Does Success Come by Moving Forward, or Standing Still?

I have spent all of my adult life focused on moving forward. When I finished my bachelor’s degree I quickly went and found a job. This job led me to a career and then to another career and so forth. When I turned thirty I wanted to continue with moving forward and began an Executive MBA program. Now that I’m almost done with my degree you’d think that I would be focused on what’s next. Well, I’m starting to wonder if my constant focus on moving forward has stopped me from fully succeeding in what’s happening right now.

Looking back I wish I would have gone on that ceremonial graduation trip to Europe after my bachelors or taken that three month road trip around the US. At that time I had all the opportunities in the world for careless adventures but my constant need to move forward prevented me from taking advantage of them.

Dave and Roma McCoy

Dave and Roma McCoy

It’s interesting to think that perhaps letting go of the outcome for the future might allow you to fully succeed in the present. An interesting person as a comparison is the founder of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Dave McCoy. While I wasn’t around in the 50s when he founded the ski area, I am familiar with the stories and the facts. The fact is that he didn’t start the ski area until he was in his early 40s. 40 years old in the 50s is like 50 years old today – or even older. He was already done with more than half of his career time frame and he wound up having his biggest success. He wasn’t focused on future success but simply on doing what he loved (skiing) and assisting in providing those fun opportunities for others. Dave was famously known for thinking that every day is the best day ever. His joy was contagious and wound up attracting millions of people in the years to come.

So perhaps I should take the lesson of Dave McCoy and focus on today. The majority of us have amazing things happening all around us every day that we’re missing because we’re too focused on the next step. So here’s to living for today and temporarily forgetting about tomorrow!

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Emotions in the Workplace

We all spend a lot of time at work. In fact, the majority of working professionals spend more time at work than they do at home. When spending so much time and effort at work it’s natural to get wrapped up in your own emotions. However, the more time I spend in the workplace the more I realize that it’s important to manage your emotions – perhaps more than anything else.

Keep calm and carry onkeep-calm

When I was managing events I quickly learned that if I stayed calm the event went a lot smoother than if I get emotional – with events the usual emotion is panic. I would pay careful attention to breathe and give information in the most calm manner possible. At the end of the day the people understood what I needed more and me portraying to be calm (even if I was not on the inside) made things a lot more enjoyable and successful. Keeping calm at work is universal for all types of work situations.

Your emotions affect others

Whether you realize it or not, your emotions affect others. We can all think of a time when we were in a bland mood and an interaction with a happy and positive person lifted our spirits. Think of that experience next time you’re in a bad mood at work or are about to complain about something. According to Sheri Carter, Psy. D in “Emotions are Contagious – Choose Your Company Wisely“, “Just as second-hand smoke can have the same or worse effects on the health of nonsmokers, second-hand emotions (if they’re the negative kind just described) can have significant, long-lasting effects on the health and well being of those experiencing them. The negativity keeps pounding away at you and ultimately results in significant second-hand stress, which as you might expect, has the same effects on your mind and body as direct stress. The body experiences and interprets it as one in the same.”

Controlling your emotions can be tough, but with a little practice it becomes easier. Important things to keep in mind for portraying a more calm and happy demeanor are your tone, speech speed, body language, and facial expressions. Obvious signs of people being stressed out or irritated are tense/irritated tones, crossed arms, rapid speech, eye rolls, and raised voice. Next time you’re stressed out take a deep breathe and attempt to portray a calm demeanor. I promise you’ll be happier with the outcome. Putting a little effort in managing your emotions will make a huge difference for providing a calm and supportive environment that’s more ideal for success.

 

Building Relationships at Work Part 2

This blog post is a continuation of yesterday’s post on building relationships at work. If you haven’t read yesterday’s blog post, I would highly encourage reading it before you continue with this post. S0 far we’ve discussed the following parts of building strong relationships at work: asking people about themselves, staying positive, and being reliable. This blog post will go into the rest of the tips to keep in mind for building strong relationships at work. friends-at-work

1. Know that relationships take time: It’s important to keep this in mind when building relationships. A lot of people take time to open up and feel comfortable. Be patient with the process and don’t try to push your way in. You might strike out with people a couple times before you figure out the way to relate. Don’t worry. The majority of people are open to the process and going back and reengaging them in a conversation will prove to be beneficial.

2. Respect people’s communication style: This one’s true more for the workplace  than any other part of life. Different people like different styles. Some people really like to communicate through email, others IM (if you have it at work), and some like a good old fashioned phone call. I happen to be the phone call type, but I’ve also learned not to push my style onto others. When entering a new work relationship ask the person how they’d prefer to communicate. Respecting their style will make a surprisingly huge difference in paving the way to a lasting relationship.

 3. Spread the positive: People always love to hear the good things others think of them. If you hear someone say something positive about someone else, spread it to that person in your next conversation. Don’t reach out to that person specifically to spread what you heard, but the next time you communicate, make sure to let them know.

These are the tactics I’ve learned in building relationships at work. The initial effort put into building relationships has always been worth it in the end. Some of my best friends have come from people I’ve worked with. Many spend more time at work than they do at home so you might as well make it enjoyable!

Leave a comment with tactics you’ve learned for building relationships at work.

Building Relationships at Work Part 1

Building relationships at work is one of the most important elements of succeeding at a workplace. I’m not talking about building relationships where you have drinking buddies. I’m talking about building cooperative relationships where both people have a mutual respect for one another and support each other in times of need. There are many benefits to having strong relationships at work. One of the biggest benefits is you no longer will have to watch what you say. If there’s a relationship built on mutual trust and respect, then there’s no worry about saying the wrong thing because the other person will understand where you’re coming from. The other benefit is you can support each other in getting the work done or if you’re in different departments, serve as resources.Effects-Of-Missing-Teeth-On-Work-Relationships-Comm

Luckily, I was able to have a lot of practice in building relationships while working as a professional fundraiser. Fundraising is all about your ability to interact with others and your ability to be likeable. In this blog post and the next, I will outline the things I’ve learned for building strong relationships.

1. Ask people about themselves: Everyone likes to talk about themselves. I know I love to talk about myself. In all seriousness, people enjoy telling others what’s going on in their lives. Ask people about their day or what they’re doing in the upcoming weekend. Pay attention if they’ve got something big going on and afterwards ask them how the event went. I once had a boss that was really good at this. Every time after we’d get done with a tough discussion related to work, he’d always ask me about something light that was going on in  my life. For example, “What are you and your husband doing this weekend?” Or “What are Baxter’s (my dog’s) plans for the weekend?” It was interesting how my mood would instantly change to calm and happy when I’d be explaining what my dog was doing that weekend.

2. Always have a positive demeanor: Even though sometimes you might not be feeling that positive, it’s always a good idea to put on a smile and move on with your day. Nobody likes to be around a grump, so smile, greet people, and generally have a positive attitude when you’re relating with others. Being consistent with your mood is important. People like interacting with people they can predict. If you’re in a different mood every day people will find you to be unapproachable.  Especially at work.

3. Be reliable: Being reliable at work is one of the most important things you can do. Being reliable means that you always get your work done on time, be consistent about your arrival and departure times, and always do what you say you will. It can be something as simple as saying you’re going to clean your desk the next day and following through on the task. Most people don’t like surprises and like to know what to expect. Being a person of your word is key in building quality relationships at work.

The next blog post will provide additional information in building relationships. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment on tactics you’ve learned for developing relationships at work.

B=f(P/E)

What is algebra doing in the headline? It’s there to signify an important equation that was provided to me in an Organizational Behavior class taught by the very knowledgable Dr. Bret Simmons. It signifies that behavior (B) is a function (f) of a person’s personality (P) and environment (E). It’s an interesting concept to keep in mind when you’re thinking about work environments. The idea can be visualized pretty easily. A person’s behavior at work is a function of their personality and the work environment. It is not a function of either/or.

I once heard a story of an employee who threw a chair at his supervisor. This surprised me because I knew the employee and thought he was mediatation-hostile-work-environmentsmart and even tempered. I also had heard many stories about the manager and knew he had a bad reputation of pushing people to their limits in terms of hours and demands. It wasn’t until I took the organizational behavior class that the situation started to make sense. At the end of the day, a person’s behavior is a product of their personality and environment. Who knows, maybe if I was in that work environment I would have thrown a chair as well (but hopefully not).

The reason I wrote this post is because it’s important to know what type of environment you thrive in. It’s also important to think of the environment you’d like to provide if you’re managing people. Do you want an environment where people feel free to speak up and thrive to do better? Or do you want an environment where people are scared to make a mistake or say anything contradictory. At the end of the day whether it’s an environment you manage or one that’s managing you, it’s valuable to understand that it does affect you and the other people in that environment.

Managing Your Brand via Social Media

Millennials are very involved in social media. The majority of Millennials have Facebook pages, Instagram, Pinterest, an outdated Myspace page and much more. Millennials are known for their skills with social media, and some have even made this skill a career, a good career at that! While it’s definitely a necessary skill to know how to navigate your way through social media, it’s also important to know some basic rules when it comes to managing your brand (that’s you!) via social media.

1. Don’t oversharePicture-2

We all have lives and embarrassing/funny/odd things that happen to us. Please think twice before sharing what just happened on social media. At the end of the day nothing is private once you share it on social media. Think about how you want to be perceived and only post things that you wouldn’t mind sharing with your grandmother’s friend – in that exact language. While you might be thinking you don’t care what other people think of you, at the end of the day you will when you’re looking for your next job or any other kind of partnership.

2. Social media is about other people, not you

This was an interesting point that I recently learned in a Personal Branding class. People “like” or “follow” pages and posts based on how they see themselves or would like to be viewed. For example, if you post a beautiful nature image, the people who like that post are people that associate themselves with loving the outdoors. It has nothing to do with you being at that spot. Unless those people want to be associated with being your friend. This is an interesting point to consider when thinking about what you’d like to post and what kind of people you’d like to be associated with.

3. Know that everything online stays online

While there’s definitely a way to delete posts, if it’s posted that means somebody had a chance to see it and form an impression. Again, I am stressing that nothing is private online. Your friends have friends who see what you post. Posting online is not like having an evening with your friends. People might forget or overlook what you say when you’re in person but not what you write. Every time you post, think about how you want to be perceived. I know this seems like a lot of work but social media is not personal, it’s VERY public. More public then speaking to a room full of people.

A final word a bit outside of social media. I spent a little bit of time working in an HR office and saw some excellently bad email addresses come through. Email is free. Please do your future a favor and change your stoner420@gmail.com email address to something a bit more appropriate.

Dynamics of Power

Everyone has power. Power is defined as the ability to influence another person.  Power can be the ability to influence a coworker, family member, friend or all of the above. There are many dynamics of how a person has and uses power and I’ll outline the way that it pertains to the workplace.

Many might think that the only person who has power in the workplace is the boss, but that’s not true. There are many instances where employees might have more power than the boss. For example, picture a manager who knows how to manage people but is new to the company. The employees that know there job and the company well actually have knowledge power over the supervisor. The supervisor would be completely lost if the employees quit. Power does not only come from authority and below I’ll outline the different types of power so you can understand the dynamic.

  • Reward Power is when a person has the ability to control rewards for individuals. Examples of this are how senior managers can control the amount of benefits you receive. This can also be applied to a situation where you and a coworker need to work cooperatively to coordinate your days off.
  • Coercive Power is when a person has the ability to cause an upleasant experience for someone if they don’t do what the coercer wants. An example is a coworker that can hold knowledge of something you did or said that not many people know about.
  • Legitimate Power is power based on position. This is the supervisor/employee type of power.
  • Referent Power is when a person wants to be like or liked by someone so the person held in high standards has power over the other. This type of power is usually knowledge-is-powerattributed to very charming people/personalities.
  • Expert Power is based on knowledge. A person has expert power when they have more expertise in a subject area than others.

It’s important to understand the different types of power because it’s important to know when you have power. Being aware of your power dynamic in situations can be valuable when knowing the right time to ask for a raise, voice concerns, or provide feedback. Everyone has power so make sure to use yours wisely.