Author Archives: Karen Snyder

Appreciation - Self Reflection - Workplace

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

There is only one person in the world you can control. And you know who that person is!! Go look in the mirror! And while you’re there, give yourself a thumbs up.

It’s not easy to bring your best self to work everyday — but you do. OK… maybe not last Friday, but who’s counting? Do you take time to truly appreciate all you accomplish throughout the day? That’s why I’m a big proponent of the concept of self management:

Being your own boss even when your paycheck is cut by someone else.

But self management requires a shift in attitude, an acceptance that effective praise does not have to (even though it is nice when it does) come from outside sources. You know when you’ve put in your best work — and the effort it took to get it done.

So before you move on to your next task after filing that complex budget report, step back and acknowledge what you’ve achieved with a good old “Yay Me!” Maybe even take yourself out for a coffee. Not only will you notice a self-esteem boost, you might also see a surge in productivity, just like when you have a boss who is good at delivering positive feedback.

And do you appreciate yourself when a colleague says something snarky, and you choose to hold your tongue? Or when you see something really inappropriate, and you find just the right time and place to address it one-on-one? Or, for those of you who have trouble speaking up, do you silently applaud yourself when you pitch an idea at the meeting? We need to appreciate both our tangible work efforts AND the way we notice and manage our emotions and interactions.

While it’s true that you are the only one you can control, it’s also true that your opinion of you has a huge impact on your ability to succeed. So look within, and in 2018 be the best manager you’ve ever had!

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Communication - Parents - Workplace

Here’s the Rub

It was winter break, and my son Jeffrey was ten years old. I was curled up on the couch with my computer and I let him in on a little secret: I was buying his dad, Bill, a massage table for his birthday in February. It was something Bill had coveted since we had started taking massage courses together. Jeffrey looked a little uncomfortable with this news, but when I asked him what was wrong, he sloughed me off. Since he wasn’t forthcoming, I just went ahead and pressed “place order” and didn’t give it another thought.

Two days later, a huge package showed up at our door. Impressed with Amazon’s efficiency, I stashed it away.

One week later, my January birthday arrived, and Bill was distressed. “I am so sorry. I ordered you something, but it hasn’t come yet.”

But there were flowers and a card – so I thought I had already received my gift. I was happy.

Three days later, another enormous box arrived. It was addressed to me. That’s when I started to put two and two together. I lugged out the other box. It was addressed to Bill. I was guessing that we were now the owners of two massage tables! When Bill got home and we opened both boxes, there was a lot of laughter. We wondered how much return shipping would cost!

It became clear that Jeffrey had known all along. When I asked why he didn’t tell us, he said, “You both told me not to tell.”

I see this type of scenario play out in business all the time. It’s commonplace to come upon confidential and sensitive information in the workplace. And my experience tells me that we’re ill-equipped to handle it well. We don’t talk enough about who to tell, when to tell, what to tell, and how to tell.

If harassment, discrimination, or ethics are involved, it’s your responsibility to report it! Yup, if you see something, say something. But beyond that, the waters are murky. If you’ve been taken into someone’s confidence, your role should be to support and guide that person, and always encourage them to take the appropriate steps to address the situation. It’s not your job to fix the problem or to become the spokesperson. I encourage organizations to develop policies around sensitive information.

Ultimately, in Jeffrey’s situation, he did the right thing, even though we did have to pay for return postage. What conundrums with sensitive topics have you encountered faced about sensitive topics at work?

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Communication - Meaningful Conversations - Workplace

Want to be heard? Stop Talking.

You probably don’t believe that silence is one of my favorite tools. Certainly when I taught a presentation skills class to Johns Hopkins graduate students, they did not expect me to talk about silence! But I did. And at the end of the week, their final presentations showed how silence can be so effective.

When Mariah began her program, we all saw how powerful silence can be. She paused. She made eye contact with her audience. She waited. Only when a room full of curious eyes were focused on her did she begin to speak.

We saw it when Kristin began her meeting with a question — neither simplistic nor overly complex — designed to transform an audience into a group of participants. She asked. She waited. Sometimes she waited five to eight seconds, and five to eight seconds of silence is longer that you might think! It’s very hard to listen to silence.

We watched Tad use silence in a marketing brainstorming session. There was a blizzard of ideas, but when the flurries slowed and then stopped, he didn’t move on. He waited, in silence, for a full 60 seconds. The best ideas of the session followed that silence.

And I know that skillful negotiators, like my colleague Michael, use silence in their work every day. I’ve heard Michael say, “The person who speaks first, loses.” I think he’s right, and how-to books on negotiation concur.

I like to use silence in the appreciation segment of a teambuilding session (my favorite part of these workshops!) when colleagues tell one another what they genuinely like about working together. The inevitable lull comes, and everyone looks at me as if to say, “Well, we did it. Can we go home now?” I just smile and wait, knowing that my silence will give them time to appreciate one another in a deeper way.

How can you use silence in your work and life?

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