Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Well, I Assumed..."

This has been a life lesson for me – or should I say, a lifelong lesson? It may sound funny, but I sometimes truly struggle with the concept that everyone does NOT think like I do! I am being facetious, but seriously,  I have found myself in the occasional sticky situation because I assumed the other party would surely think along the same lines as I did, (which of course were so very logical, at least to my way of thinking). DANGER! DANGER! Whenever I think I have the best most logical approach, I am probably wrong. Other people also possess critical thinking skills, possibly surpassing my own and may also have expertise and experience I do not.
What can I do to avoid assuming?
  • When carrying out a task or making a decision, ask, “What am I possibly overlooking in this scenario?”
  • When working with others, ask questions, questions and more questions at the risk of annoying the other person. Information solves the problem of assuming. I go from assuming to knowing what that person wants and how they plan on carrying out a goal.
  • Don’t be speedy. It’s the nature of the beast in business to get the job done expediently and quickly. But speeding through a process lends itself to assuming. In the rush to get things done to move the project along and thereby please the client, it is easy to fall into the trap of assuming.
  • I do not know best. This mindset is a basic trait of human nature and we all do it. I can make myself believe if it is done my way it will come out best. Not so. This mindset is a partner to assumption.
  • Say "No" to missing communication. If the other party does not respond to my questions or communications, I won't let that be the reason I assume. I have been on both ends of this dilemma. I cannot beat the drum hard enough for Communication. I like the acronym, TAP
    • Thoroughly communicate your ideas, concerns and questions.
    • Attentively  and actively read or listen.
    • Provide accurate and timely responses.
    Documentation or a recap of a verbal communication when needed is also a good idea especially for visual people.
In addition, it also helps me to step back and even consult with others to veer away from the DANGER of assuming and make high quality decisions in business and life.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Day at the Beach

What is more relaxing and rejuvenating than a warm sunny day under an umbrella with your feet propped up gazing out at a beautiful beachscape? Well, it’s possible the beach is not your cup of tea, but fill in beach with poolside, cruise, or whatever “floats your boat”.

Bring the Beach Moments Home:
  • Remember the moments. Take time to think about those times when you feel most relaxed and serene. Sometimes just a thought can create a sense of peace in one of the more chaotic or stressful times of life.
  • Incorporate the moments.  Refuse to let stress and busyness consume you.  Infuse your day with a few beach freeze-frames. It truly is possible. It needs to be made a priority and then it will work FOR you and not take FROM your time.
  • Find ways to make difficult tasks easier and improve transactions and communication.
  • Use humor. Gail Zack Anderson, speaker and founder of Applause, Inc., claims humor in a business presentation can:
    • relax the audience
    • build bridges
    • make us stand out from the crowd
    • create and maintain interest
    • make us better speakers1
    When it comes to business letters and emails, though, a dose of caution is advised as the reader cannot detect the writer’s tone or may even completely misread the humor intended.
  • Chat. Make your communications a little more personable. This can be done tactfully and in a professional manner if you “write for the person who will be reading it”, says Lindsey Pollak, career and workplace expert, e-mail etiquette consultant, and author of Getting From College to Career.2 She continues:  “ if they tend to be very polite and formal, write in that language.  The same goes for a receiver who tends to be more informal and relaxed.”
  • Shine through. Be yourself. Let me rephrase:  be your relaxed beach self in your communications. This too can be done professionally.
  • Take advantage of casual. Business casual has become the norm, so run with it, when you can.  “Offices are becoming more accepting of different styles of business wear. From business formal, smart casual, to casual Fridays, we have witnessed that “professional” has many, diverse faces”, says Canadian designer Sin-Young Kim.3
Business as usual?  Or beach-infused business days. Why not challenge yourself to add some beach therapy to your work life?
1“Humor has it: Why use Humor in Business Presentations”. Management Library. 8/29/2011
2“25 Tips for Perfecting Your E-mail Etiquette” 6/14/2010
3“What is Business Casual?” Forbes. 5/9/2012

Monday, April 6, 2015

Day Makers

What makes your day, specifically your workday?

News you have been waiting for?  A compliment from a customer or colleague?  A major project finally over the midpoint and flowing smoothly?

Those moments are the ones we savor and look forward to.  What can we do to multiply them or at least their effect?

Take time for creativity.  A creative interlude breaks up your day and makes all the moments-the "Yeah!" and the "Oh no" ones-come into perspective.

Here are my favorite ideas for incorporating creativity into your day.

Read or watch something funny.  I do not even need to mention the medical and psychological benefits.

Fresh Air
I am guilty of this. I stay inside working at my computer and periodically glance out the window, and there is the beautiful Day.  I have to force myself to get out and get a 3-D experience of the day - and when I do, I say, "Why don't I do this more often??"

Cherish Creativity
What gets your creative juices flowing?  Again, I am guilty of neglecting the few things that revitalize me and give me the boost I need, my favorite craft projects. I have excuses and they are pretty flimsy. Well I, and maybe many of us, need to work toward changing that because it is true that creativity breeds creativity, according to Shelley Carson, Ph.D, a Harvard researcher and author of Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life. An article in PsychCentral noted that she "suggests filling your days with concerts, literary classics or other books, good food and art museums."*

Check out the article for lots of other good tips as well, and may you have many Day-Makers!

*Creativity Crushers and 8 Creativity-Harnessing Activities That Work. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Monday, March 9, 2015

BEE Professional

What does is take to be professional?
You need:

  • a fine reputation
  • integrity
  • knowledge
  • wisdom
  • savvy
  • great image and branding

If you have all these and more, what is the trump card that can make or break professionalism? What one element can push your goals through the roof or, if neglected, cause unlimited delays and problems?

The trump card is Communication. 

Without excellent Communication, you are on shaky ground. What is the foundation for good communication?  Listening (or reading for writtten communication). Excellent listening rules include:

  • Do not interrupt.
  • Repeat what the person said to clarify.
  • Clarify, clarify, clarify.
  • Keep a group project on track with a project manager and LOTS of communication.
  • Read the email/letter/document of any sort to the END.
  • REPLY to all communications to let the other party know you received them. Besides adding clarity to your communication, this is a basic rule of courtesy.

Stand back and BEE amazed at the results of your efforts!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Delve Into the New

When it comes to information technology, ignorance is never bliss. Here are some situations that need only a minor adjustment to see big results.

On the job, it may be tempting to let IT handle every problem, or you may be in a job where the IT department insists you let them handle every problem.  If you are under the watchful eye of a control-happy IT department, don't let them stop you. I'm not suggesting violating company rules, becoming a junior hacker or sabotage, of course. Learning is the answer.  They can do the fix, but watch, if you can. Ask questions definitely. Google!

Want to trim time off of a project? Educate yourself and your team. Make sure all the participants are knowledgeable about the aspects of the technology involved. If everyone is "on the same page", understanding the features of the spreadsheet, design, document, web page, (fill-in-the-blank), less time will be spent communicating back and forth unraveling the mystery of how it all works.

Whether at home or at work, do not let those walls of that comfort zone contain you. You may feel like it's safe or easy but you are limiting yourself and more importantly, your productivity.

Here are the steps to turn this around:

Decide to Learn
Decide to make the change. Change always starts with a decision. Procrastination is the opposite of decision.

Schedule Time to Learn
If you want a really tasty home-cooked meal, time must be set aside. You could hire a personal chef to cook all your meals at home because it doesn't take from your time. It would be easier but quite costly. If you schedule time to learn, it will be an investment that will save you time and money.

Have a Learning Goal
Choose one piece of the puzzle of your workday/project/business; one function of your computer, phone, software. Do some research and learn one new thing a week about that one puzzle piece. Or several puzzle pieces.

Here are some good websites to get you started on your journey. Approach your information technology with eyes wide open and make the first move.
  • iTunesU for iPhone, iPad and iPodTouch - This amazing app offers free courses from leading universities and other schools.  Just type "computers" in the catalog search  and voila!
  • Code Tuts Plus "10 Tips for Learning a New Technology"- an article full of useful ways to kick-start and follow through on learning something new in IT or any type or learning, really.
  • YouTube - I prefer reading, but lots of us like to watch a video on that problem that stumps us. Enter your search term and be amazed!
You will never regret learning something new.

"Learning never exhausts the mind."  -Leonardo da Vinci