When I was in elementary school one of my chores was to pull weeds in the yard. I didn’t really like that chore much. Day after day I would pull up dandelions out of the yard only to find two or three times as many the next day. If you don’t get to them quick enough they spread their seeds all over the yard.
Finally I learned to use a spoon to dig up the root. The spoon helped me to make sure I got the whole problem so it would stop spreading. Had I thought that through from the beginning, I would’ve really cut down my chore time (and effort) but I’m one of those kids who has to learn things the hard way.
When we have a problem at work, we have to dig out the root to solve it. The most common avoidance tactic we take in response to a problem is “I’m too busy” to x, y, or z.
But are you really? Because if you would take the time to stop what you’re doing and get to the root of the problem, you may free up some time on the back-end. Accepting “I’m too busy” as an excuse makes the problem build and spread.
It’s real simple. Take the time to find the root and dig it out. If you don’t the problem is going to eventually spread and then it may be out of your hands to solve altogether.
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.
What is something you’ve done to build better communication and understanding with your team?
It’s no secret that I’m a supporter of having a smile file. I can’t take credit for the idea of a smile file, but I can share the idea with you.
We all have bad days, some probably more than others. A resource I use to redirect on those bad days is my “smile file.” I actually have two! A smile file on my computer and a box in my office.
The box in my office is full of handwritten thank you notes or cards from folks. Little reminders from people who took the time to let me know how my work impacted them. The one on my computer is mostly emails from people thanking me for some sort of contribution to a project or an answer to their question.
No matter what field you are in, you could use some appreciation for your work. Here are a few screen grabs of the kind of things I keep, but there are no rules to a smile file-other than whatever it is should make you smile! You want to file away things that will bring you back from a bad day, or motivate you when you aren’t feeling any motivation.
Every day cannot be perfect so do something to help you get back on track on hard days; start a smile file.
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.
It’s important that us HR professionals maintain our knowledge when we are fulfilling our volunteer roles.
In my 10 years of volunteering with groups related to my professional day job I have seen a lot of issues that could have been avoided if we applied our strategic HR thinking to our volunteer problems.
It baffles me that we get in a group with a bunch of HR professionals and then forget that we have critical skills to defuse communication problems and apply strategic business thinking to road blocks.
The most baffling is when we slip up and say things out of line that would get our organizations in trouble if someone at work tried to do the same. For instance, thinking that someone has to be a certain age to do a job:
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.
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.
- 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.