I write about bringing life to work and bringing work to life. Full bio
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com
The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Saying “Okay, Fine” When You Could Ask a Question Instead
There’s a lot going on at work and the same is true on a job search. When somebody says something that doesn’t sound right to you, you don’t have to choose between staying silent or causing an argument. You can ask a question, instead.
Your Boss: So anyway, I need you to make extra copies of everything in this binder, just in case I need extras for the meeting.
You (looking at three to four hours standing in front of the copier): Could those copies be sent to the participants electronically ahead of time? That way I won’t have to make physical copies — this looks like about four hours of copying time — and I can get the room set up for the meeting. Will that work?
Your Boss: Okay, that’s a great idea.
Here’s another example:
Your Boss: So, I need you to call Joe Smith over at Acme Explosives and tell him the shipment will be held up because his check hasn’t cleared.
You: Can I ask you a question about that?
Your Boss: What is it?
You: Joey is sure to be upset and say that it’s not his fault our bank is slow processing his check. How about if I tell him we’re preparing his order for shipment, which we can do right now, and that the minute the check clears it’ll be on a truck?
Your Boss: Okay, that sounds good.
Censoring Your Speech In Order to Make Other People Happy
If you hesitate before you speak up at work or in your job hunt, it might be because the processor in your brain is running through scenarios. What will s/he think if I say this? How about if I say that? Practice speaking in the moment, from your gut, and see what happens.
You can’t spend your life calculating how other people are likely to react to the things you say. When you spend your mojo evaluating the most likely reactions to your statements, your power seeps out of you and into the floorboards. Who cares what they think? Maybe what you have to say is exactly what your boss or your possible next manager needs to hear.
When you censor yourself, you make other people more powerful than you are. When you speak up, you make yourself more powerful. When your muscles grow, you can find another job if your current boss doesn’t like your brand of jazz. Why give people around you power over you that they don’t deserve?
Saying “I Pick My Battles” Without Picking Any Battles
“I pick my battles” is code for “I don’t have the mojo right now to take on that issue.” If you hear yourself saying “I pick my battles” or advising other people to pick their battles, then you owe it to yourself to also ask “What do I really care about? What would I fight for?”
If you don’t know, can you really say that you pick your battles? Maybe what you’re doing is avoiding battles altogether.
Telling Your Friends or Your Cat What Bothers You, Instead of Your Boss
Your dog, your cat, your hamster and your friends are great mojo-boosters unless they let you whine and complain about your situation without taking any steps to change it. You are only here on earth for a few decades. What will you do with that time?
You can change your life and career situation any time you want. It only takes a split-second decision to start moving the energy in the direction you want it to flow. You can snap your fingers and make that decision now. What’s in your way?