Workplace Wisdom

13 Nov 2018

Why You Need to Stop Referring to Women at Work as “Lovely”

Thanks to the #MeToo movement, we all know not to tell colleagues that they look “hot.” But language that isn’t overtly sexual can also cause problems. Even a seemingly innocuous word like “lovely” can be used in a gendered way that has surprisingly bad outcomes for productivity and effectiveness. Here’s a real-life illustration of why avoiding “lovely” matters, and some suggestions for what to say instead. The Lowdown on “Loveliness” At a leadership conference I attended recently, I bristled a […]

06 Nov 2018

How to Raise a Problem and Not Hurt Work Relationships

Maybe you’ve heard this saying: “The world is divided into people who know they are right.” That’s the entire saying — and you can see why! Whether it’s a kneejerk reaction, or a data-gathering process that’s heavily subject to confirmation bias, most of us have a hard time questioning our belief that what we assume happened must be what actually happened. So when something goes wrong in the workplace, how can you avoid confronting the other person as if it’s […]

23 Oct 2018

The Problem with Using “I Statements” at Work

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. It has become common advice for businesspeople to use “I statements” — such as, “I feel frustrated that you missed the budget deadline twice” — as a way to raise challenging conversations without causing colleagues to feel blamed or under attack. Indeed, I statements may be helpful during situations in which you have a close personal relationship to a colleague who cares about your well-being, or when you want to show that a particular […]

09 Oct 2018

If Your Way Isn’t Working, You Need to Stop Insisting on It

Many successful people assume that the way they behave is a substantial part of what helped them get to where they are. Whether or not that’s true, as leaders, we may neglect to take into account the peculiar needs and coincidences of the organizational environment, the market conditions, and a host of other factors that might have helped us — like knowing the right person or being at the right place at the right time. Worse, we may not own […]

04 Sep 2018

How to Support Employees When They Need Help

“Am I feeling too much empathy for my staff’s problems?” a client asked me the other day. Coincidentally, another client had asked a similar question just a day earlier. Both clients worried that they were letting their feelings about team members’ personal concerns eclipse their managerial responsibility to require accountability and performance. In one case, the supervisor recognized that an employee’s caring for an aging parent was both necessary and important even though it was creating scheduling conflicts and distractions; […]

28 Aug 2018

How to Use Body Language to Be Effective in a Tough Work Situation

I picked up the phone the other morning and as soon as I heard my client speak, I realized that although she was calling at her regular time, she wasn’t using her “regular” voice. “How are you?” I asked her, with both curiosity and concern. “You won’t believe it!” she started off, but she sounded so distressed that I broke in to ask where she was, whether she was sitting or standing, and where in her body she was most […]

14 Aug 2018

How to Handle Colleagues Who Respond to the Leader and Ignore You

Have you ever worked with someone who seemed like a heat-seeking missile when it came to power, authority, and status? Whether they’re frontline service reps or senior vice presidents, these individuals turn toward their bosses the way flowers turn toward the sun — cultivating that relationship over all others, always trying to derive some tangible benefit from their personal connection with the leader. Leaders can get attached to these employees because they’re usually very reliable within their particular sphere of […]

15 May 2018

What to Do If Your Boss Is Getting Forgetful

Leaders always have a lot on their minds, so perhaps they can be forgiven if they occasionally mistake a date or time, or don’t remember asking you to stop or start something. But a pattern of repeated or even periodic forgetting can have a negative impact on your work — and on you. For example, it’s disruptive if you and your boss have agreed to a particular sequence of events or a set of priorities, and you’re tootling along, getting […]

24 Apr 2018

How to Deal with a Colleague Who Threatens You

“I won’t oppose you now, but if anything goes wrong, I’ll go toe-to-toe with you.” My colleague was already standing practically toe-to-toe with me — and besides being much taller and stronger than I, he was leaning forward and speaking in a threatening tone. He disagreed strongly with a decision I was making, but had neither the authority nor the group support to counter it. If he wasn’t actually going to take a swing at me (and of course he […]

10 Apr 2018

How to Manage an Employee Who Cries Easily

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. Most managers feel uncomfortable when employees cry during business conversations. Many of us may recall a time we’ve cried at work, but for some people it’s not a rare occurrence. Some individuals seem to react excessively to disappointment or challenge, with repeated bouts of apparent sadness or fear accompanied by tears, shaking, or reddening. If you manage someone who tears up easily, you may find yourself leaving important topics or issues unaddressed to avoid […]

 

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