Workplace Etiquette: Don’t be “that” person

istock-office-whispering-gossip-640x360Life is not a sitcom.

When we go to work, we are not checking in on the set of The Office, or Mad Men, or Parks and Recreation. If life were a sitcom, the inappropriate things some of us say and do at work would be OK. But this is reality. We don’t get to take our makeup off and step out of character. In real life, we have to come back to work, day after day, as ourselves, and face the coworkers who we may have offended or annoyed just the day before.

Sometimes work place etiquette is fuzzy. People are different, born into different cultures, subscribe to different values and have different personalities. This is diversity that should be welcomed and embraced in the workplace. I am not suggesting that everyone in the workplace behave the exact same way. I am suggesting that we all be more aware of our actions and how they may affect others. What impression are you making each day? What is your workplace brand? These tips below will help make sure that your reputation and relationship-building stay in tip-top shape.

  1. AVOID GOSSIP.

Sigh. This topic. Again.

In general, gossip is bad. But at work, it’s even worse. Successful, productive people don’t spend much time entertaining gossip because they are too busy making moves, and making an impact. Think about it – when you look around your office, who are the gossipers? Are they the ones doing good work, getting recognized and getting promoted? Sometimes yes, but usually, no.

When I started this list of workplace etiquette blunders, gossip was the first thing that came to mind. No surprise there. Survey after survey places gossip at the top of the list of peoples’ workplace pet peeves. With that many people against it, why is it so prevalent in the workplace? One reason may be because oftentimes there are one or two gossip ring leaders, and a whole group of people who go along with it just to go along and not make any waves. Don’t be the “go-alonger.” Make waves by not participating. Eventually people will notice that when the gossip begins, your participation ends, and they will stop coming to you with it. Do know that you may be less liked by some for your lack of participation in their gossip fest – but that is OK.

2.   RECOGNIZE WHEN PEOPLE WANT THEIR SPACE.

Recognize when people are not in the mood for talking. If they constantly glance away from you, back into their book or magazine, that’s a clear sign. If they are ON THE PHONE, that is a CLEAR sign.

3.  TALK LESS.

In meetings, be aware of who is talking the most, and who has yet to utter a word. If you notice that you’ve done all or most of the talking, take a step back and give others a chance to participate.

During one-on-one conversations, practice active listening to fully absorb what the other person is saying. You’ve probably heard that most of us “listen to respond” instead of “listening to understand.” This is true. Oftentimes we are so focused on saying the right thing or the smart thing that we’re twenty steps ahead trying to craft a response.

4.  DON’T OVERSHARE.

I once had a coworker casually reveal to me that she had an STD. Outside of that, I knew nothing else about her. We were on our very first lunch outing.

While you may be proud of your life (you should be), and you may believe that honesty is the best policy, there are some things you should keep to yourself or wait longer to reveal at work. As proud as you are, sharing personal details make many people feel uncomfortable, which in turn may cause them to avoid you.

Besides, you want to be known for your stellar work, not for your juicy stories

5.  DON’T BE EMOTIONALLY DISCONNECTED.

We get it. You’re busy. There’s so much going on, right? But you should never be too busy to exchange a “hello” or “good morning.” That stack of paper your head is always buried in won’t go anywhere if you look up to acknowledge your coworker or – God forbid – engage in a short conversation with them.

Or perhaps you are a private person who likes to keep work peers at an arm’s length. In this case you should select a couple of topics that you deem to be safe topics to discuss. Make it seem personal without it really being anything too deep.

The more disconnected you are from people, the more disconnected they will be toward you. You may prefer it that way most of the time, but one day you’ll look up and realize you have no one to swap a joke with or even run a workplace challenge by. This is not a good position to be in.

THE END.

When I started this list it quickly grew to 30+ items. In the interest of keeping it short I chose to share the first five on my list. I will share more in the future, but in the meantime, feel free to add your own workplace pet peeves or etiquette tips in the comment section.

Cheers! Let’s keep it classy.

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Kicking the hell out of Option B when Option A disappears: Insight into Sheryl Sandberg’s latest book – Option B

Eavesdroppoption bing.

We’ve all done it – either intentionally or because we were within earshot of a conversation and there was no avoiding it. This is how it felt reading Sheryl Sandberg’s latest book, Option B.

Option B is Sheryl’s account of becoming a widow, mourning the loss of her husband, and coming to terms with her new life as a single mother. She began writing the book less than a year after the sudden death of her husband, Dave. He collapsed on a treadmill while they vacationed at a Mexican resort.

Option B is no page turner, nor is it entertainment. At times I felt like I was prying – stepping into a part of someone’s life I had no business being in. It felt like I was witnessing a therapy session, a never-ending experiment with catharsis, a trail of painful tears. But after months of pushing through, I finished the book and walked away with lessons on resilience. She describes her latest work as an account of “the capacity of the human spirit to persevere.”

The premise of Option B is that our first option, Option A, may not always pan out, so it is up to us to make the best out of Option B. In Sheryl’s case, Option A was a life with her husband Dave as she’d known it. Unfortunately for her, life had other plans.

If you’ve experienced traumatic experiences you know how challenging it is to take the next steps. And if you know someone who’s experienced trauma, you know how hard and uncomfortable it can be to find the words and actions to comfort them. Sheryl takes her experiences and learnings and provides guidance for people in both categories.

For those who experience trauma, Sheryl shares research and ideas on what gets in the way of recovery. One of the concepts she shares was developed by psychologist Martin Seligman. Martin believes that the “three P’s can restrict recovery:

1)      Personalization: the belief that we are at fault

2)      Pervasiveness: the belief that an event will affect all areas of our lives

3)      Permanence: the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever

“Recognizing that negative events aren’t personal, pervasive or permanent makes people less likely to get depressed and better able to cope.” In addition to addressing resilience in our personal lives, she discusses the resiliency of teams and companies. The lessons in Option B apply to many scenarios – from grief, to illness, to job loss and beyond.

In the case of people trying to find ways to comfort loved ones, she recommends not avoiding the topic. Address the elephant in the room. Let people know it is OK to talk about their feelings. She also suggests being more active in our attempts to help; instead of saying “let me know if you need anything” just show up with a pot roast, or whatever else would make that person’s life a little easier in that moment.

What I enjoyed about the book?

It is raw and honest. She has so many thoughts on her mind and she does not care to organize them because this is her personal account and seemingly part of her healing process. I commend her for coming out with this story as soon as she did. In addition, I appreciate that it is research-based. There is a lot of emotion, but she backs her thoughts, ideas and experiences up with facts.

What I dislike about the book?

Parts of the book read like an apology. Sheryl made several attempts to apologize to the Lean In critics who felt that she was being insensitive to the average working woman (average as in “not rich” like Sheryl). Now that she’s a single mother facing adversity, she realizes that it’s not always as easy to Lean In as she once thought it was. This is growth on her part. Though an account of this realization has a place in Option B, there were too many attempts made to apologize. I’ve mentioned the disorganization and the cramming of so many ideas into one work, but given the circumstances, she gets a pass from me.

To end things on a positive note, realizing there is a need, Sheryl created an active, online community where people can find others who are going through or have gone through similar painful experiences. The site, optionb.org, allows people to see stories and testimonials, and join groups for grief & loss; health, illness & injury; discrimination, incarceration and more.

Check it out and share with others who may need it. And remember, there is healing in sharing – not only for yourself, but for others as well.

You can’t heal what you hide!

Q & A: What is your go-to dating activity?

friends-with-ex

Everyone has a preference when it comes to first date activities. The following responses to the question: “What is your go-to first date activity?” may give you a few new ideas.

QUESTION:

letsgojames One of my first dates a while back was brunch, followed by indoor rock climbing. It was fun. She wasn’t an active person. She enjoyed it because it was something different.

_.quiet.storm._ Dancing, live music, comedy. Anything fun.. I’m NOT going to your house. I’d LOVE an active date!!!!!!!

rachaelblulotus I like the idea of an active first date! But if it doesn’t allow for a chance to talk then that’s a no go. I avoid the movies on a first date…boring and no convo. But dancing, comedy, poetry lounge, rock climbing, paint & sip, hiking…I’m up for it 😊

Ed Kim Probably coffee or drinks to get to know the other person.

the_social_introvert Something fun and light!! Definitely not a movie!! I’d do something like a museum, bike ride in the park with picnic, a sporting event, a menu tasting, an art show, etc.!!

Brent Gaston Myself I’d like something simple like dinner and just talking. Doesn’t have to be fancy. When you try to do something like walks in the park women don’t respond well to stuff like that.

@ianreee I prefer the outdoors.. Such as walking, park, mountain climbing.. You’ll be more engaging, yet have more fun & share lots just in a day.

@CarltonHargro First date should always be coffee/tea/drink — something easy, inexpensive + made for conversation. Let me see where your head is 1st.

Adam 1. Usually eating, but not a full blown dinner.  2. That actually sounds like a lot of fun (an active date). But I know most people wouldn’t like that.

@LBrothersMedia 1. I don’t really have one go to plan. But it’ll probably include dinner.

@taut_7  those types of first dates are dope. you can learn a lot about a person doing stuff like that.

This Q&A was the most popular of them all. Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts and keep the ideas coming!

If you haven’t already, snag your tickets for “Gwinnett Gets Matched” single’s mixer.

Event Link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/get-matched-in-gwinnett-singles-mixer-tickets-35763189663

Event Description:

Enjoy cocktails, conversation, and real connections with eligible singles in a no-pressure setting. With The LONA Art Gallery as a backdrop, you’ll experience music, spoken word, a comedian stand up set, interactive activities to help break the ice and more.

Admission price: Includes one free drink ticket and hors d’oeuvres.

Dress code? There’s no strict dress code, but come dressed to make a good first impression.

 

Q & A: “Fellas – what makes you more likely to attend a social event?”

cigar bar

I’ve been picking the brains of my friends about various dating topics and compiled them for you to see. The more we talk, the more we’ll understand! 

Question: Fellas – What makes an event more appealing? What elements make you more likely to attend a social event?”

Answers:

Brent: …having an event at a cigar bar would be nice and I think that would draw a nice crowd. Free will always be a winner for these events because no one wants to pay to meet someone. I like the art galleries and things but I think you’ll get a better response at a cigar bar.”

Desmond: “I can’t speak for others, but I like going to cigar bars, sports bars to watch games, and go to museums and parks. These aren’t places where I’m actively looking for a mate, and I’d feel uncomfortable if my regular hit spots turned into meat markets.

Dennis: “You can never go wrong with having an old school house party with good food. No expectations except that everyone get along and have a good time. The club scene is played out.”

And there you have it folks. It sounds like the men just want a laid-back experience, and they prefer not to mix their dating life with their leisure life. 

If you haven’t already, snag your tickets for “Gwinnett Gets Matched” single’s mixer.

Event Link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/get-matched-in-gwinnett-singles-mixer-tickets-35763189663

Event Description:

Enjoy cocktails, conversation, and real connections with eligible singles in a no-pressure setting. With The LONA Art Gallery as a backdrop, you’ll experience music, spoken word, a comedian stand up set, interactive activities to help break the ice and more.

Admission price: Includes one free drink ticket and hors d’oeuvres.

Dress code? There’s no strict dress code, but come dressed to make a good first impression.

A book review: “i hate the internet”

i hate the internet cover

I hate the internet too, sometimes. With all its intrusiveness, and filtered-ness, and make-everyone-disconnected-ness – my feelings toward the internet have long been conflicted. That’s why, when I saw the book “i hate the internet” in an airport bookshop I bought it. I thought we would be kindred spirits. I imagined myself reading the booking and nodding into it like: “Yaaaaassssss…soooo true.” Wrong. Instead, I found myself squinting in disbelief as I read through the most farfetched storyline I’ve ever come across in my life. I wish I could tell you that Jarett Kobek’s “I hate the internet” was the best read ever – but it wasn’t.

The story begins with Adeline (she’s kind of famous), who’s received a threatening message on Twitter. The threat: “Dear slut, I hope you are gang-raped by syphilis infected illegal aliens.”  Crazy, right?

The story then backs up and takes us through the events that led to this scandalous Twitter threat.

Jarett weaves in historical facts so outlandish you will think they are made up – but they’re not. I stopped at least eight times to Google various facts and sure enough, there it was. Truth and Consequences is a city in New Mexico and what’s his face really was a Google exec who had an affair with one of the company’s managers. The scandals of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious men and women support his notion that the internet and those who help propel its current state of upmost importance in our lives are the problem with society.

His main characters go on rants about why the internet sucks, and why the people who helped build it and those who help keep it going suck more.

While I relate to the premise of this piece, the storyline and characters are so bizarre they become a distraction away from the main point.

In short, here’s the rundown:

Plot?  There is none.

Humor? There is some.

Character development? For this to be a shorter book (a little over 200 pages) with many characters, Kobek did a great job developing his characters. Readers get to know them and their peculiarities.

Lessons?  This book will help you get a few extra questions correct on jeopardy.

Grit? Yes. Criticisms aside, the author offers social criticism with no filter.

While I didn’t enjoy “I hate the internet” from an entertainment standpoint, the book does make accurate observations about race, gender, feminism, and morality.

I walked away questioning and revising my own actions. When the time came for me to blast a celebrity for one ignorant action or another, I thought twice. Kobek makes you think twice about doing anything that will advance the pockets of already rich strangers as you gain nothing in return.

Before I blasted the rapper, the president-elect (he was just the president-elect when I first began drafting this post), the reality show star, etc. – I thought about the effect my typed words would have. I asked myself if I was OK being used as an advertising tool by posting this content. Ninety percent of the time I was not OK with that and either refrained from posting or revised my words accordingly.

So no, the book was not a thriller, but it did open and re-open my mind to a few social constructs. As President Barack Obama said: “Not everything’s supposed to be inspiring.” If some sliver of insight is gained, I’ll take it!

Goals: No matter where you are, the rules don’t change.

 

This IMG_4636is nothing compared to life.

That’s what I told myself at mile 13 – when my energy dropped, and stomach growled. I was on a 16-mile training run in preparation for the Dallas Marathon.

Things got uncomfortable, but one thought kept me going: “I’ve survived life thus far. Sixteen miles on the trail – I can do.”

The rules that get me through my runs and training are the same rules that get me through work, and life in general.

When it starts to burn, push harder. Does running feel great all the time? Nah. Do I want to stop when discomfort starts? Yup. But discomfort doesn’t mean it’s time to stop. It’s a sign that I’m outside my comfort zone – which is where I want to be. I tell myself that after this push up the hill, things will get better. Discomfort is okay. After all, what’s life without a little tension? So on the trail and in life, I never back away from the burn.

Discipline pays off. Running as a sport takes discipline. Between the diet, workout regime, and scheduling as you adjust life to fit into your runs – there are many times when you have to do things you don’t want to do, and refrain from things you actually want to do – like that second glass of wine or happy hour with the girls. But discipline keeps you on track. In the words of Michael Jordan: “If you do the work, you get rewarded. There are no shortcuts in life.”

Quitting is not an option. When I get tired, I remind myself that I wouldn’t quit in the office, so why quit on my run. And when work is wearing me out, I think of my grit on the trail and act accordingly. The same rules apply no matter where you are. I have eight 5ks, three 10ks, and one half marathon under my belt.* I’m not the fastest, most graceful, or most fit person out there, but none of that matters to me. What matters is that I start and finish.

Goals – gotta have them. I set goals that stretch me. I set the big goal first, then establish a series of smaller goals to get me there. I signed up for the marathon, then stuck to an organized training regime, then signed up for various runs (including my first half marathon) in preparation for the big fish. In pursuit of the new big goal, I did a few things I’d never done before.

Smile. You never know where it may lead.  Much happiness exists wherever runners are. We nod, smile and wave at each other. Sometimes it’s a yell of encouragement – a “looking good” or “you can do it!” Every now and then there’s a hi-five or thumbs up. I remind myself to make eye contact and smile, because even brief positive interactions create good energy. This is no different than being at work. I remind myself to smile there too, and to slow down and enjoy the interactions. Do you ever find yourself fixing your coffee or heating your lunch in a hurry, trying to get done before someone comes in because small talk is not your thing? I do. But if I can hi-five a stranger in the park, I can make small talk with colleagues I spend 40+ hours a week with.

Patience is a virtue.  I told a friend I was headed out on my longest run ever. Sixteen miles. She asked how long that would take. I told her it would take about three hours. Her response: “That’s why I don’t run. Three whole hours running? That demands a lot of patience.” Before that conversation, I had never thought about the amount of patience running required. There is the patience needed to train, and the patience needed on that long, grueling run.

And lastly, give credit (to yourself) where credit is due. It wasn’t until recently that I felt comfortable calling myself a “runner.”  In my mind, runners broke records, earned medals, and made crowds cheer. “I do none of that,” I thought. But I do. I break my own records. My new-found comfort with calling myself a runner – a word that before seemed too grand an adjective for my level of athleticism – is only one of the ways I have evolved as a runner. I am okay being one of the world’s most “Okayest” runners.