P is for Polite

Too often in our day, people on the “inside” at the office (boss, co-worker, manager) will think that what is most important to them is equally pressing to you.  With vendors, strategic partners, media, clients, and prospects also vying for your attention from the outside, it is pretty easy to get caught up in who to answer first and which people you would like to give a piece of your mind…

It may be surprising to them to know that they aren’t at the top of the food chain in your world nor is their item of much personal concern to you.  The important thing for you to keep in mind, however, is that some of these things are vital to making your firm look good.

Just like in a job interview, you only get one chance to make a first impression.  As sad as that may be, it often does not take much from you to ensure that the impression is a good one.  Listen carefully, make notes, and follow up when you say you will.

A good friend encouraged me to listen twice as often as I talk.  If you know me, you’ll realize that was a difficult challenge to undertake…  I have to say that active listening was a goal for the last year and I have found it to be incredibly informative. 

When you focus on listening, you gain insight on what to do to keep your bosses happy, and often also learn what not to do if there is a crisis.  Then when a problem arises you can use the tools you learned to lay out the issue clearly and simply in the manner that they will understand – as well as get you closer to a solution and further from the brunt of someone’s wrath.

No one wants to be polite all of the time, but being prepared is something we can all manage.  By listening carefully to what people are telling us we can have a better experience working with them. I encourage you to open your ears and give active listening a try!  I assure you it won’t hurt or cost anything other than time, but you will most assuredly have a better experience at the office!

B is for Balance

Balance is tough enough to achieve when you stand on one foot…  When you have multiple bosses, as I am so blessed, it becomes a near impossible feat!

Not only do they each have a separate agenda and priority list for me, neither of those lists takes into account my priorities or the things that I can see would benefit our clients.  (Oh before I forget to do so, I should let you know that I work in customer service for clients around the globe.)

Our firm is the beneficiary of nearly 30 years of success in a narrow field of business.  Though we do have competitors, no one is a 1:1 match for our offerings.  You may also have read my earlier post about Anger Management (the “A” in my ABCs of Workplace posts, and the first in this series).  If not, I would encourage you to take a look if you are interested.  Therein lies much more background about how our firm is set up.

With over 250 clients to report to, help out, or simply rally on behalf of, it is a tall order that one person can make each of them happy.  That said, however, I do try hard at it.  I love working with the clients and understand that I am often the only one in their corner in our workplace.  That is an honor, but it also comes with it some serious weight…

For a number of years now, I have been trying to play nice with all of the bosses and accomplish much on their aggressive “wish” lists for things they want me to tackle.  This often leaves me tapped emotionally and physically, not to mention it drags down my optimistic outlook.

I am slowly coming around to a new approach that someone recently shared with me, “Do your best, but don’t lose yourself at the expense of having a job…”

This was a hard adage for me to adjust to.  I always think that I have to handle projects or issues on my own or it just won’t get done.  Though there is some truth (and probably some stats) to back me up that some things will remain undone unless I finish them, the firm is still not going to be wasting any time replacing me when I go…  They are simply going to go to the well and reel in another fish that they hope will be competent.  (I think they will be quite surprised how much they miss me when my feet cross that threshold one last time, but I digress…)

No, it is up to me to stand up for myself and make the workplace adjust to me for a change.  I need to recenter and make my priorities the ones that count.  My opinions carry no less weight than those of co-workers or bosses, and my ideas have clout.  Empowerment is going to be the new rule of thumb!

It pleases me to report that I am now happier and getting more accomplished than ever since I gave myself the option to speak my mind and not just be trampled over.  There will always be many people with something to say or a plan to influence you to bend to their will, but you just have to find that inner peace, take a breath, and be confident that you can balance your tasks and in return you will find the calm you need.