Posts tagged: professional

What toddlers can teach us about working with picky people


On the fourteenth round of edits, I sat befuddled when she asked if we could return to the original edit of her document. As a freelance writer, I tend to encounter a perfectionist every once in a while.

But there are perfectionists and there are picky people. This client, she was the latter.

 

The difference between perfectionists and picky people

Perfectionists have a standard, are usually decisive, and often can express to you exactly what they want. Once you have an understanding of that person’s needs, you simply just deliver their vision of perfection as best you can. But picky people don’t really know what they want. Therefore, they can take you on a long, frustrating, journey of guesswork until they do.

At about the four-month mark for a project that should have taken one month, I decided to switch tactics and hopefully put the project to bed. The constant return of minuscule requests
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Why ‘sorry’ may actually be one of the hardest words


 Elton John, Chicago, Adele, and Justin Bieber all agree that it can be hard to say you’re sorry. What everybody else agrees on is that it can be absolutely infuriating when someone doesn’t apologize when you think they clearly should. Or, instead, when someone delivers one of those patently half-hearted non-apologies.

But if you’ve been on the receiving end of a lackluster apology (or never received an apology at all) for an offense, there might have been more than just stubbornness or selfishness at play.

One reason that some of us resist admitting fault has to do with the fact that apologizing can be a scary thing to do. It forces us to be vulnerable and it gives another person the power to reject our efforts to make something right. “Fear-based thinking leads us to believe that apologies are a sign of weakness,” we
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How to negotiate a power struggle at work


Power struggles personify the worst kind of office politics. They sap energy. Distract from purpose. And hold the potential to derail success and happiness.

It’s the rare individual who actually enjoys a power struggle. Most of us want to do what we’re paid for, joke around with our colleagues, and feel like we’ve contributed.

That’s not so easy when emotions are running high. Empathy is replaced with an “us or them” mentality that can quickly escalate. Then we’re stuck either dodging bullets or picking sides. What other choice do we have?

The heart of the struggle

Power often evokes the image of a corner office where people in expensive suits lay down the law for the rest of us. But the reality is, power — and the fight for it — can come from anywhere.

To help us understand workplace struggles, and how to respond to them, we asked our colleague Sara Kalick
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If I have to spend one more minute with this person, I might scream!


annoying coworker

We all have “that” person at work, that annoying coworker with an uncanny ability to get under our skin — even make the environment feel toxic. Whether it’s the office know-it-all or a passive-aggressive button-pusher, every interaction makes our blood boil.

Unfortunately, dodging them in the hallways or fantasizing that they’ll get fired only works for so long. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to face them. (Sound of sad trombone.)

The good news is, it’s possible to feel better. The harder news is, doing so is up to you. It’s not enough to behave impeccably despite someone acting horribly; your reactions to them are making you unhappy. So it’s time to change your reactions.

Here are six things you can do to keep “that person” from ruining your day
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Bad ways to make a good impression


Every so often we find ourselves out of our element when we’re in a situation with other people and feeling unsure. Could be anything, really. Meeting with new business acquaintances. Attending someone else’s family picnic. Caught in a group share-a-thon.

Before panic takes over, we search for a way to fit in. Most likely, we summon lessons of yore, some steadfast this-is-how-you-act-so-people-will-think-well-of-you belief.

Then, finally, the incident is over. We got through it and that’s that. We ignore the smidge of discomfort that’s telling us we may not have made the best impression. Relief often overpowers the desire to reflect.

So let’s pause here for a moment.

Now that we’re feeling balanced again, we have an opportunity to revisit how we act in uncomfortable situations — especially if, deep down, we wish we had a better answer.

To get started on updating your response, here are nine go-to beliefs that can give the opposite impression
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What goes wrong when you’re always right


What goes wrong when you're always right

Stuck Moment: His strategy is wrong, I just know it. But when I explain it to him, he doesn’t seem to want to hear it  — no matter how much I insist. I don’t understand why people won’t listen for their own good. It’s not my fault if I’m right.

*   *   *

Seeing things that others don’t can put us in an awkward place. We want — or need — to prove our point, and yet somehow this makes us the bad guy. And that just doesn’t compute: Being right = good, not bad, right?

Not always.

Yes, contribute to the conversation, but be mindful of how. We humans, after all, can be a prickly lot. And one red-hot button is when someone regularly tells us we’re wrong. We start to feel devalued. Perhaps unworthy. Definitely annoyed.

The consequence of being that righty-pants, no matter how good your intention, is that
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How to take the fear out of feedback


Feedback

Eh, feedback. Like death and taxes, other people’s opinions of what we do are a fact of life. Whether on the job or in the thick of wedding planning, people who care for us will sometimes offer hard-to-hear truths about our behavior. And that can trigger a flood of fear and negative emotion that blots out the positive opportunities that the feedback offers. Consider that:

Feedback is a chance to gather perspective other than your own on how you’re doing.

Feedback is a chance to course-correct before it’s too late.

Feedback is a chance to plan to succeed.

It’s not something you want to miss out on, but many of us usually do in one of three
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25 ways to make networking less dreadful


Stuck moment: I know this so-called networking event tonight is important for my career, but I’m not going to get anything out of it. I never meet the right people. And it always seems like everyone knows people there already — what am I suppose to do, just barge into a conversation with strangers? I hate this.

*  *  *

There’s no shortage of people who detest networking, and no shortage of reasons why: It feels artificial. I have better things to do with my time. I never know what to say. It’s boring. It’s exhausting. There’s nothing in it for me.

All of these reasons are valid — and if we peek under the covers we’ll find the singular core: We’re afraid. Of being rejected, of failing, of not being up to snuff. Everyone feels it, even those super-smiley glad-handers we know we’ll never be. On top of that, research shows
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How to work like a human


Julie Felner

When I was 23 years old, I found myself in a job for which I was vastly under-qualified — associate managing editor of Ms. magazine. I’d walk around with a clipboard, creating and enforcing deadlines for the rest of the editorial staff, including the magazine’s beloved copy editor, Joan. She was a wise and patient woman, more than twice my age, who had been at Ms. for as long as anyone could remember. One night, in the frenzy of putting the latest issue to bed, the ever-meticulous Joan became a workflow bottleneck. So, I approached her, clipboard in hand, and impatiently explained that she needed to pick up the pace.

“I’m tired,” she said. “I’d really prefer to finish in the morning when I’m fresh.”

“I understand,” I said, not understanding in the least. “But we need to finish tonight. I’m sorry, but you’ll just have to keep going.”

Joan dutifully stayed late
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Office politics for people who hate politics


Stuck moment: Oh, man, I hate the politics in this office. People spend so much time plotting to get ahead, while making the rest of us — who actually do the work — look bad. It’s demoralizing. Why can’t the work speak for itself?

This is the common cry of the political-avoider, who probably lives in most of us. We don’t have a hidden agenda. We do have enough confidence to cheer others’ successes. And we possess little-to-no finesse when it comes to dealing with the dastardly.

Yes, the dastardly. They do exist. Usually not to the extent of Frank Underwood on House of Cards, but there are some fiercely insecure people in the workplace who think the best way to get ahead is at the expense of others.

Far less acknowledged is a third player in the office’s political arena. One who gives politics a positive spin. These workplace heroes navigate the
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