Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Magic Words for Sticky Situations

When asked to, "Say the magic word," many children will answer, "Please!" Or, if they're faced with someone (like me) who uses the broadly applicable "What do you say?" they know the situation most likely warrants "please," "thank you," or "I'm sorry."

As a professional, "please" and "thank you" are still important (as is "I'm sorry," which Lily Herman explains beautifully here). However, they aren't the only words that can help you navigate through a tricky professional situation. I learned the following phrases from a previous boss, and have been using them ever since.

"In the interest of..."

Here's something you learn when leading seven back-to-back interviews a day: People like to talk. Interviewers, co-interviewers, interviewees--everyone wants to demonstrate what distinguishes them from the competition.

So, when you're responsible for running an interview, you need a diplomatic way to cut people off. "It's time to move on..." or "That's all the time we have..." feel a bit harsh, like you've decided the other person is no longer worth listening to and are readying the orchestra to play him or her off of the stage.

When dealing with a long-winded person, my former boss suggested that I use the phrase "in the interest of time." For example: "In the interest of time, we'll need to move to the next question." It's a short, yet mighty phrase. You no longer appear to be arbitrarily deciding that another person is boring or that his turn is finished. You're reminding everyone involved that interviews only last so long; and thus, to cover the requisite ground, moving on would be advisable.

Rather than feeling cut off, the other person feels like a valued participant--one you're letting in on the parameters of the interview, so that he or she can play a part in the exchange running smoothly. (Bonus: This phrase also works for meetings and the Q & A portion of presentations.)

Check out the rest of this article (including another valuable phrase) on LinkedIn.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why I Don't Hate Small Talk (and You Don't Have to, Either)

Raise your hand if you hate small talk.

For many, it’s up there with interviewing and public speaking and other highly feared (translation: detested) career tasks. But at least with interviewing or public speaking, you can see the trophy at the end of the race—i.e., if you do well, you could land a job or generate a ton of publicity for your brand. Moreover, you know that hiring managers and audiences prefer authenticity to canned, robotic performances, so you get to bring some of yourself to the task.

Small talk seems to have missed the authenticity memo. Thankfully, the word is out that conversation starters don’t have to be about the weather. But small talk is still—quite literally—defined as bland and unobjectionable. You’re supposed to get in, avoid offending anyone, and get out. Even the examples of small talk on the Merriam-Webster website are an absolute snoozefest: “They made small talk while waiting for the meeting to start. [A]t the corporate get-together we made the obligatory small talk with some people from the home office.” The only fun part of small talk’s entire entry is the “rhymes with” section (which is actually pretty fabulous).

The good news is: Small talk doesn’t have to suck. I know, because I actually enjoy it. How? I throw the rulebook out the window and try to make these quick exchanges sincere and meaningful. All it takes is three simple steps.

To read more click here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Managing an Employee With a Different Communication Style

I looked over and noticed my intern updating the spreadsheet that was meant to be a back-burner project — on an afternoon when we were pushing up against two major deadlines. When I asked if she’d completed her work on the other assignments, she looked at me with bewilderment.

That’s when I learned that if Jane didn’t receive an assignment in writing, to her, it didn’t exist.

It was my first experience supervising interns, and it was a crash-course in managing people with different communication styles. In an article in Social Science Insights, Zuleyka Zevallos explains the difference between extraverts and introverts: There are people who work through a scenario by thinking out loud, and people who like to process the situation for themselves before giving their take. Within this context, I find it easier to understand how an employee could say he understands a project during an initial meeting — but later, evidence through his work that he missed significant parts of the assignment. Or, how an employee who responds “Got it!” to your email can then spend the next hour walking up to your desk with questions.

Read the rest of my latest Mashable article here.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

How to Change Your Reputation at the Office

In the March 2015 issue of Elle, Katy Perry described celebrities as “characters.” “…Taylor’s the sweetheart. Kanye’s the villain. That’s the narrative.”

Even if no one in your office has Grammy awards on his or her bookshelf odds are, you (and your co-workers) are also pigeonholed into certain roles. You can always count on Karen to find the humor in something. Mike isn’t that friendly, but he’s whip-smart. Claire is really talkative.

Of course, we’re all more complex than the first attribute that jumps to mind. For example, you’re great at your job, but somehow, that goes without saying. And it could be that Karen is also an incredible writer, Mike holds a ton of institutional memory, and Claire is really creative. But somehow their personality brand, so to speak, overshadows the other aspects of their “work self.”

Certainly, there’s advice for Karen and Mike and Claire’s colleagues (um, “be less judgmental”). But, what happens when you’re the person stuck with a reputation you’d like to shake? Maybe you’re over your reputations as a talker, because you feel like it overshadows your listening skills. Or maybe you want to be taken more seriously.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to change your office reputation.

To read more click here.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Managing up 101: How and When to Take Initiative at Work

Your supervisor keeps pushing off your latest check-in, but you could really use his or her feedback on a few projects.

You’ve identified some areas for innovation and would like to run them by your manager before you put your new ideas in motion.

You think shifting your schedule around and reordering your projects is the best course of action.

Hopefully, in any of these situations, you realize that you need to do two things — get on your boss’ calendar and then lead a discussion about the realities (and potentialities) of your workload. In other words, you need to “manage up.”

For the definition of managing up and how it can help your career, keep reading my latest article for Mashable.