Keeping Negativity Out of Conversations

“What I heard you say was…”

I have been doing a lot of inward searching lately and I have decided that I no longer want to hear nor be a part of a negative conversation. When people say things to you that are not necessarily friendly, we tend to go inward and wish they said something else. No one likes confrontation but I think there is something magical about what I want you to try.

Example: You are working from home and your kids are home from school. Your spouse/partner is supposed to be watching them and you have an important call coming up. You hear a loud bang. Your call is in minutes. You rush out to see what happened. The kids tell you that they were just making a large banging noise so you tell them they don’t need to be so loud and you ask them if they are all right. All of a sudden your spouse shows up in the room and says, “They’re fine.”

Well, now I am really irritated because my spouse is supposed to be watching them and there is no reason they can’t play a little more quietly. I want to scream. Instead, I stop and think because I have a call in mere minutes and I don’t want my emotions to get the best of me. So what I say is, “What I heard you say was, thank you for coming out of your office to see if the kids were not hurt. We’ll try to keep it down for you.”

I am not yelling, yet I have conveyed my feelings and shown my children the alternatives to arguing with my spouse in front of them. I have also shown my spouse/partner how I feel about what is going on in the house while I am trying to work. Yes, kids are noisy however, they can be taught to be respectful and given alternative activities during the day.

So, how do we translate this to business?

There are times when conversations get heated and it is important for us to keep our cool and maintain our emotions. If your boss is upset with you for something you didn’t do, or if a co-worker says something snarky to you for no reason. You can try this statement and paraphrase their thoughts into something positive, or let them know what is actually going on.

Example: I was told about a team lead that had just finished an extremely hard customer service call in a fast-paced environment. Normally these calls are about 10 minutes maximum, but this one lasted around 30 minutes. The team lead followed all the protocols but the customer started swearing at them and the rule was that they were allowed to ask them to stop or they will end the call. Of course in this instance, the customer kept going and the team lead ended the call.

The customer left a bad review and the team lead’s manager came over to speak with them. Needless to say, the manager did not take the time to find out what really happened and blasted the team lead for being too long on the phone and hanging up on the client.

The team lead was visibly upset but as a trained customer service representative, had the tools to respond to the manager and say;

“What I heard you say was that this must have been a difficult call for you. You were on the phone for a long time trying to diffuse the situation but since the client was unwilling to listen, you ultimately had to end the call. You followed all of our protocols. Let’s discuss what was said on the call and see how we could have handled things differently, if possible.”

You haven’t been disrespectful to your manager, but you have set some boundaries about how you will be spoken to. When this type of linguistics is used more frequently, patterns will change over time. It is a very powerful tool.

Most of us go home and stew about what was said to us and we try to come up with a snappy come-back. Or we just start to resent our boss and end up quitting to get away from them.

If you feel this is too harsh of a way to respond, then I challenge you to really listen to your inner voice the next time someone says something that is upsetting for no reason because, “What I heard you say is this might be difficult for me to try at first, but I am willing to give it a shot because I am worthy of being spoken to in a professional manner.”

Interviewing Stress

Why do you hate to interview? Some people are so terrified at the thought of going to an interview, it literally makes them freeze with fear. Others forget the answers to their questions and the rare ones are calm as cucumbers. How do we prepare for the face-to-face meeting and make it fun?

First off, wear your most comfortable professional outfit. If you are comfortable, you won’t be fidgeting in your seat. Please make sure it is clean for goodness sake!

2nd, no extra jewelry, crazy colored nail polish, or wild eye shadows. Simple and professional. This speaks to all genders.

3rd, practice answering interviewing questions with a friend. Take it seriously. Try not to say “like” or “um”. When you get to the interview and you are answering the question, if you need more time, simply say something like, “that’s a great question, let me think of answer that will be relevant for you”.

Before you go to the interview, be sure to thoroughly check out the company’s website and social media presence. There you will be able to formulate questions when the interviewer asks you if you have any. It is always good to have one or two.

At the end, stand up and thank them. If protocol allows for a handshake, give a firm one. You can ask for a business card from them at this time if they have not provided one to you so you can send a thank you email.

Sending a thank you email. I like to remember a part of the interview that was funny or personal or meant something, and use that in my greeting such as, “I really like the way you spoke about how this role works hands on with the marketing team, I had some experience at my last position in marketing. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain that to me today. I look forward to our next meeting.” This makes the greeting more personal and shows you were engaged in the interview.

I hope these tips helped! Make it a great day!

What Does “Being a Team Player” Really Mean?

To some, it could be as simple as showing up for work when scheduled, on-time, and with little to no mistakes.

For others, it means taking extra shifts, always being that extra pair of hands, and staying late.

How do our expectations as employers differ from our staff when it comes to this? Are we expecting too much? After all, we are paying them to show up every day, on-time, and do a good job for us.

Should we expect more? If we do expect more, are we being fair? Is that expectation causing overall stress to the team, and will that added stress end up hurting the morale and decrease productivity?

I believe there is a balance to find when evaluating who a team player is. If everyone is present and completing their tasks in an efficient manner without extra supervision and mistakes, then we have a solid team. A “working machine”, if you will. For most companies, this is the ideal model. It is when we begin to get greedy with our staff and start adding duties without adding compensation or additional team members, that we see a disruption in that working machine we had earlier.

We tell our people to suck it up and “be a team player”, when really that’s what they were doing in the first place.

We are so used to fixing things that we don’t stop to take a good look when things are running smoothly.

My challenge to you is to:

  • Thank your team members now rather than apologizing to them when you have to ask them to cover for staff you have lost
  • Re-evaluate your criteria for what a “team player” means to you and your organization
  • Give out verbal accolades to the team and individuals. Be fair, consistent, and inclusive to all
  • Re-train any outliers, so they learn what your new criteria is for the team to succeed

Enjoy it when you have that moment to breathe and not worry. It does happen, you just have to see it.