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Archive for April, 2016


How to Cool Down When Things Heat Up

You know what it feels like when there’s too much to do and not enough time to get it all done, or when you have six different people pulling you in six different directions. Sometimes, you have both happening at once!Stress

Pressure builds. You reach the boiling point…but boiling over at work is bad for your reputation, your career, and your workplace relationships. When you feel yourself pulled in every direction but the direction you need to go in, take a deep breath, step back, and try one of these tips.

  • Take a break. You need to get away from the ringing phone, the looming deadlines, and the demanding people. It’s time for a time out. Leave your cubicle or office and go outside for some fresh air. Take a few deep breaths, walk around slowly, and shake off the tension and stress. Even if you only take 15 minutes, you will come back clear-headed, cooler, and calmer.
  • Make a list. It can be helpful to create a list of everything that’s being demanded of you and by whom. When you finish your list, go back over it and cross out anything that is not a high priority. Take the highest priority items and focus on what you can reasonably accomplish.
  • Clear your desk. Clutter, even just a few stacks of paper, can add to feelings of pressure. Give yourself some time to get rid of anything on your desk or computer desktop that isn’t required for your top priorities. Just file it away or put it aside, so you don’t have to look at it. Set an intention to clear the clutter completely during the last 15 minutes of each day.

A certain amount of pressure can be motivating; too much can harm you mentally and physically. It can also make you less positively productive. If you need more tips for escaping the pressure cooker, check out my blog posts Supporting Multiple Managers and Stress Busters


Five Communication Mistakes to Avoid

Everyone has known the embarrassment of saying something and wishing they could take it back. When we speak without thinking, we can hurt someone’s feelings, damage our reputations, or sabotage our careers. Here are five communication pitfalls to avoid.Man in mirror yes no

  1. Shooting from the hip. It is easy to respond immediately, especially if you are upset or angry. Stop yourself and communicate more thoughtfully by asking for time to respond. Say something like, “That’s an interesting point. Give me a few minutes to think about it.” Then, think before you speak.
  2. Sending e-mail without proofreading. This is a common mistake. It happens because e-mail is quick, and we tend to move fast when handling it. It doesn’t take more than a minute or two to proofread e-mail before hitting send whereas it can take a long time to clarify what you really meant or to apologize for a negative tone. See my new workshop Writing and Managing E-mail for help.
  3. Being too brief. Most people want us to get to the point when we are writing, but that can create an extremely abrupt, offensive tone. If you use a lot of short sentences, you are punching the reader, so lengthen your sentence structure. Make sure you honor basic business etiquette by using please and thank you and by making requests rather than barking orders.
  4. Rambling. The opposite of being too brief is rambling. If you ramble when you are writing, people won’t read. Generally, if your writing is too long, you are providing too much background and context. Strip these out and put them in a section labeled “Background” at the end of the document for people who want to read it. If you ramble when you are speaking, you need to focus on the points you want to make and watch the listener’s body language. It will tell you if you are going on too long.
  5. Assuming you have been understood. Too often, we think we have communicated our meaning when, in fact, the listener has gone away with a different understanding. Encourage people to ask questions of you to ascertain their understanding. Don’t rely on them, however, also check for understanding by your asking questions that start with how, why, or what. See my blog post Shhh! Listen! for more information.


Take some time to make sure your communication is clear, concise, and correct, and you will be more positively productive.


Does Your Team Trust You to Lead?

As the leader, your employees look to you for guidance and direction, and most take their lead from you about how to respond to what’s happening in the workplace. You are always on stage, giving clues about how they should think, feel, and behave when it comes to your organization. They trust you to lead the

One important key to trust is your skill at demonstrating your expertise in both the technical aspects of the job and as a leader. Consistently share your expertise with them and help them be more effective and successful. Show your willingness to groom them for greater responsibility and promotions.

Strengthen trust by avoiding gossip, being careful in how and when you communicate, and showing high emotional intelligence at all times. This is especially important in times of change when employees feel uncertain. They will look to you to see how you are responding. If you show doubt or uncertainty about the change, they will reflect this. Your ability to communicate confidence and be trustworthy can help mitigate their concerns.

If you need help enhancing your leadership skills, check out my e-learning program Lead 4 Results.


Is Your Team Happy?

A happy team is a productive team, and team happiness depends on your ability to create a positive environment where your employees feel valued. This, in turn, leads to productivity. According to study by the economists at the University of Warwick, happy employees showed a 12 percent increase in productivity whereas unhappy employees were 10 percent less productive. So how can you keep your team happy?shutterstock_20301970

  • Make each team member feel valued.  Take time to get to know your team as individuals and relate to them on a personal level. Make sure they understand how much you value their contributions to the team’s success.
  • Find out what makes each team member happy. While some employees value money and promotions, many others are happier with time off for family and friends. Talk to your team members and personalize recognition.
  • Give team members a voice. Keep two-way communication open and vigorous. Encourage your team to make suggestions on how to improve their jobs and the processes they follow. Don’t just listen; act on their suggestions whenever possible.

Set aside time every day to interact with each team member either in person or virtually. Build a bond between them and you and with each other to create a happy atmosphere and help your team be more positively productive. For more information, see my blog post Does Positivity at Work Really Make a Difference?