Send it back

You cannot fix a communication problem by ignoring it.

The first time I experienced communication problems at work was at my afternoon job in high school. I had a boss who would tell me to do something, I would go do it, and then she would freak out asking me why I did what I did.

She actually made me feel crazy.

I talked with my careers teacher who had arranged for me to get this position (for school credit) and she recommended that I take notes during the conversation and either read them back to my boss afterwards as in “I understand you want me to do x, y, z” or email that statement back to her.

It felt really weird to do that at first, but what happened next was a game changer. My boss would correct where I heard something different from what she was trying to say or approve of my interpretation. It pretty much eliminated those weird melt downs after I completed tasks.

I don’t know why people communicate differently or why we hear what we want to hear, but I do know there are plenty of opportunities we can work on our communication together and get better.

I’m glad I had that experience early on to send back my notes for confirmation because it helped me prepare for future communication barriers.

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What is something you’ve done to build better communication and understanding with your team?

Sometimes, you’re just tired

As I’m sitting in front of the computer to crank out a blog post tonight I have to tell you, I’m tired.

I created a list of 33 topics for this exercise to get back into my writing and I’ve probably only done about half of those topics. I’ve had other things come up that I felt like addressing and I had evenings where I needed to write something much more brief than I had planned.

The 33 days of writing is to get back in the habit of writing. To get back in the habit of using my voice. The 33 days of writing wasn’t necessarily a challenge to write 33 great blog posts, but to just write.

Which brings me to tonight’s off-list topic: getting derailed doesn’t mean quitting. As I scrolled through the topics I have left on the list, I didn’t have the energy to write a post that does any of those topics justice. I almost went to bed without writing, but I’ve come this far and I thought just because you’re too tired to write about that doesn’t mean you don’t write tonight.

I think the same thing happens at work. We see that a project isn’t going exactly how we planned, our to-do list gets burned to ashes, or an initiative suddenly takes a different turn. We can’t always just throw in the towel at these road blocks we have to find a way around, through, under, over them to carry the torch forward.

In 2019 when you hit a wall take the time to take a break or phone a friend, don’t scrap the whole project.

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I don’t have WiFi, so F-U

Tonight I’m struggling to get my daily writing done because I have limited resources. I’m kicking it back to a blog post that I still stand by: the screw you fund.

I’ve learned that sometimes we need to be removed from a situation to realize that it was shady. Having an F-U fund will help you walk away from shady situations at work that don’t match your personal values. It’s okay to make that stand, it’s easier to make that stand when you have an F-U fund. So, I hope you’ll check out the original post and consider the option.

Peace, love, and F-U.

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Simple meeting etiquette

Whether you like it or not, meetings are a part of your work life. Even when you think that the meeting could’ve been an email, I’ve learned you should be on your best behavior.

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  • Don’t talk over people
  • Don’t interrupt people
  • Don’t storm out
  • When people talk over you, don’t roll your eyes
  • Patiently wait your turn
  • Write down your point if you’re afraid you’ll forget it (and again, don’t talk over people)
  • Don’t use slurs
  • Don’t use general labels (like Millennials this, millennials that<– also, GEN Zers are at work now, can you talk about GEN Z if you have to talk about a generation)
  • Don’t stay on your phone the whole time. The occasional google or search for a relevant email is probably okay, but don’t be surprised when other people judge your phone usage.
  • Take notes
  • Be present
  • Be on time. End on time. Respect other people’s calendars.

Check the tabs

I cannot tell you how many of my embarrassing work moments could’ve been avoided by just checking the tabs.

Most recently, here I am in a meeting with my peers, boss, and president of our company and here I am presenting my charts only to find I’m missing a huge chunk of data that no one else was missing.

<insert face palm here>

What am I doing? How did I miss the info I needed? HOW? I didn’t check the tabs…

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Fellow skimmers, this is your reminder to scroll all the way down, check the tabs, pay attention. It’ll save you some embarrassment later.

 

When I was trailer trash

I’m deviating from the plan for the blog today to share a story with you all that I can’t get out of my head for some reason. Maybe that reason is because I need to write it down? Ehh, who knows.

When I was growing up we lived in Kansas. My mom had joined the Army and she was stationed at Fort Riley. When we first relocated there wasn’t any housing on base available so we lived in Junction City. We lived in a trailer court, which wasn’t a big deal to me because we had lived in one before my mom joined the Army. We had also lived in a house at one point too. I guess I didn’t really understand the difference.

When I was in elementary school all of the kids in the two side by side trailer courts would play together. In the winter we would build forts and have snow ball fights and in the summer we would play with water guns and roller blade. Typical kid stuff I think.

At some point we eventually moved on base. I don’t really remember when that happened but maybe it was between moving from elementary to middle school. Anyway, on like the first day of middle school I saw this kid that used to live in the trailer right behind us. I hadn’t seen him in a while. I walked up to him to say hi and the first thing out of his mouth was “are you still trailer trash?”

UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

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This was a big deal y’all, because I HAD NO IDEA I WAS TRAILER TRASH. Do you hear me? I didn’t know. I was about to say hi to my FRIEND and he put me in my place real fast.

Two things happened that day, I realized I had to get real selective on who I called my friend and I realized that other people may think something of me that I had never thought of myself.

I am still shocked when I think about that day. I know I went through a hundred questions in my mind. Some of the recurring ones were “does that mean he thinks my parents are trailer trash?” and “but he lived in a trailer too, so was he trailer trash?” WHAT. IS. LIFE.!?

Here’s what I can appreciate, he finally said it to my face. It was super rude, but I prefer to know what you think of me to my face. I can also appreciate that it was an opportunity for me to think about how I may have labeled someone incorrectly.

This interaction didn’t change my life, but it’s always served as a reminder to me that you never know someones full story. As quick as I can be to judge (and it is very quick) that time I was trailer trash almost always humbles me so I can admit I don’t know the person’s whole story.

Is anyone really on time?

I am fortunate enough to have a job where my boss doesn’t watch what time I roll into the office every day. She is very much of the mindset that you get your job done and that’s what is most important. I think she also knows that when I come in late I typically stay late, or make up for it over the weekends, but the point is I don’t clock in and out.

I am not a morning person. Yes, I will get up at 4:20 am and go to boot camp, no I am not nice to people at 4:20 in the morning.

I’m not pleasant in the mornings. I’m focused (usually on my coffee) and I need to be left alone. If I see something that needs to get done, I’ll have to do it before I leave the house or I’ll be thinking about it all day while I’m at work. What can I say, I guess something is wrong with me like that.

When I’m driving to work and I’m going to be more than 30 minutes “late” I always think about my first day on my first job where I wasn’t there at 12:01 (my shift started at 12) and the person training me called my house to see if I was coming in. I walked in the door a minute later and she never said anything to me about calling my house.

When I got home my dad asked me why I was late to work. I was convinced I wasn’t late to work and he took the opportunity to make sure my 16-year-old brain understood that 1 minute late, is late.

Here’s what I’ve learned: he wasn’t wrong. Late is late, and even though I have flexibility in my job now I’m still embarrassed when I’m more than a few minutes late. I also know that one day I may have to have a job where I have a boss that cares what time I get there, or I may even have to actually clock in and clock out.

I get it. I manage teams of employees who have to get to work at a certain time, some of them have to actually clock in. My husband has a strict schedule at his job and he needs to be there at a certain time (or so he says). What we do and who we support typically dictates how important a set schedule is.

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Even in flexible environments strolling in whenever ‘you get there’ can become a problem. Be sure and know your audience. It doesn’t hurt to be aware of big projects going on that require more of you and your co-workers time and trying to get in earlier during those tasks. And, for what it’s worth, if you’re the newest member to the team, or you are working on getting a promotion, or you have a new boss – get to work on time.

Also, take the time to let people know where you are or what your usual hours are. Whether it’s a group calendar, verbal conversation, or a sticky note on your door. The easier you are to find, the less frustrated people will be with you.

 

My favorite woman

There’s no better person I could write about on #InternationalWomensDay than my Grandma! I love this woman so much and she loves me just as much. Grandma has been the strongest female role model throughout my life and such an influence on me. I felt it appropriate to share some wisdom this woman has passed on to me through the years today.

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Grandma (shes the beautiful one in the middle)

I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was the first person to teach me couponing. After Minyard and I started couponing hardcore and building grocery lists around deals in the store I had a flashback to helping my grandma cut coupons and watching her make grocery lists. It sounds like a silly thing to share, but I love that I can be doing something as an adult and tie it to a childhood memory with my grandma!

I think she is responsible for how little I wash my hair. She would tell me stories about how when she was a little girl they could only wash their hair like once a month. I thought that was SO GROSS when I was a kid. I would say “Grandma, how yuck! I bet your hair was stinky!” Now, I feel ya Grandma, I feel ya…I’m just glad I have dry shampoo to have my back the 5-8 days I go without shampooing my hair.

She taught me I could be my own boss. She was a Tupperware lady and the woman had a huge team. I don’t care what your thoughts are on MLM or Direct Sales, that woman set her own schedule and did what she wanted and I think that is bad ass.

She taught me that I could be a homemaker. She never made me feel like it was “just being a homemaker” or that there was any negativity to it. She appreciated her contribution to the home and when she wanted to work she did. Again, she does what she wants. Also, side-note but relevant, Papa was an excellent cook so that was my first glimpse of breaking apart “gender roles.”

She taught me to wear dresses to church:

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I have a feeling that she didn’t think the lesson had anything to do with hiding a tramp stamp, please don’t tell her.

She taught me how to handle conflict. I’ll never forget the time I called her so mad because my stupid cousin said something rude about her on Facebook. She said she didn’t mind and if he called her she would just say “I’m sorry you feel that way.” I think that’s boss.

She taught me that you can be completely effective in your communication without cussing (don’t mind the previous cuss word in the post). Seriously, the worst word I ever heard her say was CRAP and she apologized to me for saying that-she was just really frustrated.

She taught me to stay in touch with friends and encourage other women. I remember her friend Martha Shaw moved to Florida and they would still (pre internet) talk on the phone probably once a week. Papa would make fun of them because they could talk for hours! He would make jokes about how much Martha talked, but I could tell that her friend was important to her. She had a lot of good friends in her life and she kept up with all of them and anytime they did something, she encouraged and supported them!

She taught me to pray for others. One of her most treasured task was compiling the weekly prayer list for church. When she had to give that task to someone else (she doesn’t hear as well anymore and she doesn’t spend as much time in front of the computer anymore) she was really sad about it, but she hasn’t stopped praying for others (even my rude cousin mentioned above).

She exposed me to good TV. Some of my fondest memories include our TV time together when I would spend my summers at her house. We would watch wheel of fortune together and try to solve the puzzles before the contestants. We would watch Mama’s Family & Golden Girls every night while we ate s’mores. Of course years later she told me she didn’t realize all of the “innuendos” on Golden Girls at the time and we probably shouldn’t have watched it, but too late!!

She encouraged me to read. Those summers I would stay with her we would always read for a while before going to sleep. She bought just about every single “cat who” book for me to read. Because she read them too we were able to talk about Q and his cats KoKo and Yum Yum like we knew them personally.

She taught me cheese covers a lot of sin in the kitchen. My dad was completely bewildered when I told him she taught me that. He kept squinting and then saying “my mom? My mom said that?” Its a nice reminder that I know her differently than her kids do! 🙂

She taught me about other places in the world. She and Papa had lived in a lot of places, Japan and Alaska were my favorite places to hear about. She had visited lots of places and had stories about each move they made. I also loved to hear stories about how her and Papa got together. She would tell me she was so mad when her dad made her write letters to Papa while he was in the Army and my little 7 year old brain couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to write my Papa letters, because he was obviously the greatest man in the world.

She taught me its okay to fuss with your husband. My Papa loved to make jokes and irritate the stew out of Grandma. They would fuss and fuss, but not in a “I can’t stand you” way more like in an “I love you, but you’re being very annoying right now” way. He would tell me (censored) stories about World War II and I can still very vividly hear her screaming “TANK!” (that was Papas name, Tanksley no middle name Hutto). She would say “that’s not appropriate,” probably because I was so young, but I promise they were very censored stories.

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When they were young! Annie Bell and Tank (Don’t even think about calling her Annie Bell, she goes by Ann)

 

She taught me that thinking something bad is just as wrong as committing that thought. That your thoughts are a reflection of who you are, or vice versa. She taught me to accept people for who they are. She taught me to help people when I can. She taught me to listen.

She showed me I could be whatever I wanted. I could be married AND the right amount of independent, I could be strong and lady like, stern and loving. She showed me I didn’t have to be anything I didn’t want to be and that no one else got to define my self worth. Some of  my best and worst traits came from lessons she taught me and I like to think I’m as strong as I am because of her.

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Why you need a smile file

how rudeI had a really crappy day. A real bummer of a day. A terrible, no-good day. Someone said some really mean things to me and had me second guessing what kind of employee/recruiter/hr professional/person I am. Lucky me I have some wonderful co-workers and friends who had encouraging words for me. A few friends reminded me that those words were just one persons opinion and they don’t define me. I appreciate the support, but I still let this person get in my head and as I was responding to emails later in the evening one came across that deserved to be moved into the “smile file.” As I moved this email into the smile file I decided to read through all of my other smile file emails and by the time I was done I was laughing so hard I was crying, I had the biggest smile on my face, and I was reminded that many people have taken the time to let me know they appreciate my work.

I actually have two smile files: one in my email and a folder in my desk. The one in my email is obviously for emails I receive and the one in my desk is for thank you notes or other random things that make it my way. There’s a fun paper airplane in there, a button that made someone think of me,  and of course handwritten thank you notes from candidates, employees, other NASHRM volunteers, as well as current and former co-workers. I needed these today. I needed to be reminded that I’m loved and appreciated and that I’m a hard worker and an excellent recruiter. I’m a tough girl, but today was rough and I needed these.

You need a smile file for days like these. Days where someone says something that you let crawl into your head and dwell. Days where you forget why you do what you love. You need a smile file for days where someone thinks its okay to make you feel like less than them.

Everyone should have a smile file! If you don’t have one I’m challenging you to make one today! Send me your email and I’ll send you something for your smile file!!

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Why me and not you?

One conversation that had me second guessing what I thought I already knew.

Other recruiter: “Why do you think they call me instead of you?”

Me: I don’t know?

Other recruiter: “Really, why do you think?”

Me: You’ve worked with them longer? You know their work better than I do?

Other recruiter: “What’s the difference between you and me?”

Me: ummmmm You’ve been here longer? You’re a better recruiter?

Other recruiter: “No.What else”

Me: blank stare

Other recruiter: “You don’t think it’s because I’m a male and you’re a female?”

Me: No. I don’t.

Until that conversation that thought didn’t cross my mind. Is that why? Nah, couldn’t be. Maybe it’s because they don’t know me as well as they know him. He has more experience than I do. Before that seed was planted, I never thought that was why. Now I second guess every interaction I have and pay close attention to how I’m treated/included/acknowledged when I’m the only female in the room.

That can’t be why, can it?

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