Author Archives: Karen Snyder


Holiday Party Scruples-Tips Not Found in the Employee Handbook

15833409_sThis morning I attended a breakfast with like-minded professionals. The conversation drifted to holiday office parties and career gaffes we’ve seen through the years. So here is my gift to you . . . a few norms that may not be in the employee handbook.

Keep in mind, the annual office party is a business event. It’s just held in a social setting.

Seeking a position of more responsibility? Sensible drinking can be synonymous with personal reliability. Highballs can lead to pitfalls.

In a relaxed setting, making unprofessional comments or telling risqué jokes is easy to do yet hard to overcome on Monday morning.

Fair or not, your date for the evening represents you. Whatever he or she discusses can be a reflection on you.

Concerning fashion, a little panache never hurts. But when your physique becomes the topic of conversation, you may have revealed too much.

Feel free to “re-gift” these words to colleagues. If they help prevent a career blunder, you will have indeed passed along a present. May your weeks ahead be filled with kindred professionals to share in food, love and laughter!

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Feedback and Recognition

Understanding Your Group: The Power of Observation

Good Observation Skills Can Give Us Valuable Information beyond What Is Being Said

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We spend much of our lives in various kinds of groups, but many of us seldom take the time to observe, discuss, and try to understand what is happening within them.

The ability to evaluate group behavior will help us become more effective group members and facilitators.

When we observe what the group is talking about (topic), we are focusing on the content, or on the task at hand.  Most discussions in groups emphasize content. “Is that topic covered in the report?” “Who is supposed to introduce that topic?” “When will we need those materials?”

Choosing meeting topics, analyzing information, and creating project schedules are all examples of content or task issues.

When we observe how a group is working together (interactions), we are focusing on the group process, or maintenance. One of the easiest aspects to observe is the pattern of communication.

Who talks? For how long? How often? Whom do people look at when they talk? Who talks to whom? Who interrupts whom?

…Other kinds of group process observations may include: How are decisions made? How are leaders chosen? How are group members interacting with one another?

The kinds of observations we make give us clues to other important things that may be going on in a meeting, such as who leads whom or who influences whom.

What interesting interactions and patterns have you noticed when you’ve observed in this way?  


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Feeling Grateful with Family and Friends

Last year at Thanksgiving, I wanted the focus of the meal to be around gratitude. Remembering an exercise I learned in graduate school, I modified it to fit my family and it was a huge success.  I am sharing it with you and your family as my gift to you this Thanksgiving.

Part I

Think of what most people in your group are likely to say they are thankful for.  For this example, we can say, “Faith, health, family and friends.”

Part II

Prior to the meal, by phone, text email, or carrier pigeon, or even as they arrive, take each person aside for a moment and ask them, “In addition to your faith, health, family and friends, what two specific things are you grateful for?”  Write the answer down, without their name, on a small slip of paper in a bowl.

Part III

During the meal, pass the bowl and have everyone take two slips.  Alternate going around the table, with one person reading the slip and everyone guessing who wrote it.  In addition to the immediate things most of my family was grateful for, my son said blueberries and my brother said strawberries!  Interesting coincidence, especially when neither are in season in Maryland.  Other fascinating similarities were indoor plumbing and air conditioning, again submitted by two different family members. What about pet iguanas or colleagues who make us feel great or fuzzy bathrobes?

Both the gratitude and the guessing were a fun way to spend time together.  May your holiday be filled with warmth and gratitude.

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