Workplace Wisdom

06 Sep 2016

When We Misread Cues and Get Things Wrong

We like to think we understand what’s going on. But sometimes we get things completely wrong. Take a look at this very short video about how, even with the best intentions, our attempts to understand, please, and get things right can fall short — resulting in confusion, disappointment, and maybe even a little shock. Note the boy’s facial expressions. We’ve all experienced the boy’s feeling of optimism suddenly turning to dread. Seeing this video reminded me of a troubling experience […]

23 Aug 2016

10 Unexpected Lessons: Launching My New Website

As a professional, get-things-done type, I pictured my rebranding and website relaunch project like this: plan the project, hire and supervise providers, deal with occasional setbacks, and be generally pleased with the result four to six months later. That’s not how it worked out. It took three copywriters, four photographers, and three different design groups — and over three years. I needed to get it wrong — repeatedly — to learn how to get it right. Yearnings and Learnings I […]

12 Jul 2016

“Diversity and Inclusion” Programs Are Failing. Now What?

Research from McKinsey confirms that diversity leads to better financial results, competitive advantage, employee satisfaction, and other success factors. But a Deloitte report shows that most organizations aren’t prepared to deliver on that promise. All too often, people with differences feel required to assimilate to be accepted. They adopt “covering” behaviors in the face of the dominant culture’s norms, suppressing their own natural actions and responses. Not assimilating can mean being judged as uncooperative or a poor fit, and possibly […]

14 Jun 2016

Getting Our Signals Crossed at Work

One day last week after lunch, while walking back to my office, I noticed a man parking in the last of four curbside spots in front of the Post Office. He maneuvered a bit and then stopped his car just as another car pulled up, right behind him where there was no official spot. The windows in the second car were open, so I could hear the driver exclaiming to her passenger: “What’s he doing?! Why doesn’t he move up!?” […]

10 May 2016

How to Connect the “Triple-A Way”

“I love your prints!” I said to the two brightly attired women who were exiting the lobby of my office building just ahead of me. “You look wonderful together!” They were startled — and delighted! I could hear them chattering to each other as I walked away: “Wasn’t that nice! Well, we do look good!” Although they hadn’t seemed to be feeling particularly positive when I first saw them, now they were smiling and nodding to each other, looking as […]

26 Apr 2016

Which Kind of Helper Would You Rather Be?

One day last week, in New York City for meetings, I was waiting in line at a subway MetroCard machine, and noticed that the woman behind me was practically vibrating with anger and frustration. Technically, she was just trying to help. Or at least that’s what she may have thought, in some part of her mind. But in the real world, she was waving her arms and shouting a stream of invective at the people at the head of the […]

19 Apr 2016

A Special Guide to Getting Your Message Out

Whether you’re a corporate exec, a midlevel manager, or an independent striver — and whether you want to start a success or grow one — you need to be able to meet the market. Figuring out how to interest and influence others, particularly when it requires or invites significant change, can be intimidating. When you’re walking a challenging path, it’s good to have a guide. A guide can be a person or a handbook, and you can get both from […]

29 Mar 2016

Failure: Is it a Winning or Losing Strategy?

Failure isn’t always preventable. Sometimes truly disastrous things happen. But failing isn’t always the end of the world. For some people, it’s the start of success. Traditionally, failure had a moral cast. If you failed, you were perceived as irresponsible, as if you should or could have known better. But according to The Art of Failing Upward, a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, “In the start-up world, failure is in,” particularly when certain entrepreneurs are treated as […]

09 Feb 2016

How Much Clutter Is Okay?

Earlier this month, I had a funny correspondence with a favorite client. He claimed to have returned from vacation “to a clean desk with a relatively clear mind.” I gave him full credit for his clear mind, but I teased him about the clean desk because he’s often in the middle of several projects at once, and his desk is usually piled with documents and publications. In reply, he sent me a photo of what really was a pretty bare […]

10 Nov 2015

When You’re New, Try a Little Humility

Most new hires at senior levels come in full of ideas, gumption, and, perhaps, a tacit assumption that things must not have been going perfectly before they were hired. They arrive believing they are going to make a significant difference for the business and bring it the success it hasn’t yet achieved. But even if all those assumptions were true, the new person doesn’t automatically get a halo upon arrival, and success rarely follows immediately. So if you’re the new […]

 

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