Workplace Wisdom

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 […]

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 […]

26 Jun 2018

True Lessons in How to Make Presenting Less Painful

I have a love/hate relationship with public speaking. Or maybe it’s a terror/exhilaration relationship. Anyway, it’s a part of my job that runs the gamut from stressful and draining to highly rewarding. Last week, one of the voices in my head was reminding me of this responsibility as I was delivering what’s now called a “live, online presentation” — formerly known as a webinar — on how to lead from the middle for the World Business and Executive Coaches Summit. […]

06 Feb 2018

Do You Notice Every Relevant Thing You See?

When your expectations get in the way, you may not notice what’s right in front of you. There’s been enough research done about cognitive biases that by now we all know we have them, even if we don’t pay them much mind on a daily basis. In fact, the Cognitive Bias Codex — which is quite fascinating and worth taking a look at — details over 180 of these patterns. Lost in Translation I had my own funny experience of […]

16 Jan 2018

Here Are the 3 Unexpected Things I Learned from Surviving a TEDx Talk

When a dear colleague emailed me last July to ask if I’d consider speaking at TEDxBaylorSchool, I was terrified. Not of speaking, per se, but of the combination of requirements that characterize a TEDx: the big-enough idea; the delivery of a memorized talk while standing inside a red dot; and, maybe the scariest thing of all, the permanent capture on video. The Gifts of the Struggle The gist of the story is that I said yes, and I survived the […]

02 Jan 2018

When a Good Thing Triggers a Surprisingly Bad Response

This holiday season I gave a small gift to a local supplier as a token thank you. It was clear from her immediate reaction that she’s not used to receiving client gifts. She started out by protesting, “Oh you shouldn’t have done that!” Then she turned excessively grateful: “It was so wonderful of you to do this!” But suddenly she shifted into a negative mode about everything that was wrong with people and the way holidays are celebrated today: “No […]

19 Dec 2017

How to Choose an Inspiring Theme for 2018

Do you know anyone who can’t wait for this year to end? I certainly do, and who can blame them? So many people have had enough of 2017 and its disruptions, from family and work troubles to political turmoil and natural disasters. Some of them are looking forward by making New Year’s resolutions or following the growing trend of designating a single “word for the year” as a way to express a desire or set an intention. Resolutions can be […]

07 Nov 2017

How to Give Uncomfortable Personal Feedback, with Grace

Most people feel awkward raising personal issues with colleagues. That’s especially true when those issues concern the physical body, seem like an inherent expression of the person themselves, or are things we would feel mortified about if someone brought them up about us. Weird personal habits, physical issues, and behavioral quirks can be off-putting or disruptive to others, and create tricky, delicate situations that affect everything from teamwork to customer retention. Typically, the format for performance-based feedback relies on this […]

31 Oct 2017

How to Start Restoring Your Boss’s Faith, and Your Own

Most of us have made at least one big mistake at work, and had a hard time getting back on an even keel. But it doesn’t help to wallow in self-doubt. Luckily, there are usually ways we can pull ourselves out of the hole. A manager from a client company contacted me in distress last week: He had mishandled a personnel issue badly by conveying an inaccurate impression of a work situation to some subordinates. His boss had given him […]

10 Oct 2017

Please Don’t Do It That Way: How Not to Help

“This doesn’t make sense to me!” Halfway down the train car, a woman’s voice was rising. She was assisting one of her two daughters with homework, and her aggravated tone caught my attention. “This doesn’t make any sense!” the mother kept saying. “You’re not answering the question!” She probably believed she was helping, but I shuddered for the child’s sake at the frustration I could hear in her voice. “Not right now, honey,” she snapped at the younger sibling, who […]

 

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