Jackie Kellso

Archive for the ‘breakdown in communication’ Category

Entitlement isn’t the Problem You are Having with Millennials

In ages in the workforce, baby boomers, breakdown in communication, business relationships, communication, communications between generations, entitlement, generation x, generations, generations at work, generations in the workforce, GenXers, improve communication, managing conflict, millennials, professional behavior, professionals over 50, respect by coworkers, Uncategorized on June 6, 2017 at 3:50 pm

You came into the workforce in the 1970s or 80s or 90s. Guess what? The Veteran population (born before 1946) thought you were little know-it-alls just waiting to take their jobs. And you did. There is nothing new about the inconveniences brought about by new generations entering the workforce.

Truly, can we blame Millennials for feeling entitled? Millennials have an entrepreneurial spirit and don’t tend to view corporate life as one big climb up the ladder in a vertical formula. This makes sense: their heroes are themselves Millennials! We didn’t have billionaire, entrepreneurial heroes. (Lee Iacocca wasn’t my hero when I entered the workforce as a secretary in 1982!)

Millennials had more opportunity to learn a wider range of things in college than we even had names for. Millennials do tend to get bored and want to jump ship if they don’t feel challenged. They feel freer to communicate with higher-ups and want to have a voice. They are a loud crowd!

GenXers rose up and flattened out hierarchy, feeling entitled to change reporting structures. This felt like anarchy to Baby Boomers who feel entitled to be respected for their experience and knowledge of how to successfully run a business.

See? Who doesn’t feel entitled to something? What’s wrong here is the fear and bias we are having with the differences in our ages and our cultures. You want to be a role-model for Millennials? Then start remembering what it means to shift your self-image from being a student to becoming a professional. Realize the hardships you had to face and the ways in which humility smacked the feeling of entitlement right out of you. And if this never happened to you, then ask yourself if people would describe you as arrogant and obstinate. Millennials just need time to grow-up; to run up against power threats and failures, and disappoint higher-ups, just like you had to. Meanwhile, stop blaming them for everything that’s making you uncomfortable with the changes that you don’t like.

I coach people of all ages on how to communicate and build interpersonal skills, and the most frequent complaint I hear is dealing with the other generations in the workplace. The answer is really simple. Use the discomfort to learn about your own unconscious biases, the need for confirmation bias (listening for those things you already believe vs. being open to new ideas) and your fears of not being in control. Then, apply TOLERANCE, the desire to UNDERSTAND, to INCLUDE, and to VALUE people who are not replicas of you.

After all, you’re entitled to be at peace.

Humbly yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Not Fighting Back is Exhausting and Rewarding

In anger management, avoiding arguments, breakdown in communication, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, business relationships, communicating, communicating by phone, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, David Rock, dealing with a difficult coworker, Detach and Breathe, diplomacy and tact, disagreements, fight or flight, Gurus, interpersonal skills, professional behavior, Uncategorized on April 26, 2017 at 11:00 am

A few years ago, I was challenged by a very difficult client in a fairly visible, corporate position. She would routinely drop the ball on important details and cause mayhem in accomplishing tasks. She bullied and blamed others for problems that she caused. When confronted with a problem (of her making) would say, “Do you know who I am?” (Oh yes, she did!) Anyway, I had to deal with a lot of stress just to ensure that my service to her company was successful, beyond, and in spite of her.

So there I was, someone who touts herself as being an expert in interpersonal effectiveness, and I was failing to build a bridge of trust and rapport with this person, despite all efforts. And after dealing with her for so long, I frankly disliked her so much that it felt too insincere to want to build rapport. Yet, I had to remain professional.

In the midst of all this, she sent me an urgent email to call her ASAP. Taking a deep breath, I called. She then reprimanded me for failing to read the details of one of her emails, berated me for writing back without having done so, and projected onto me her own feelings of being so out-of-control by claiming I was chaotic and acting like a wreck.  Rage boiled and I could feel the sizzle in my brain. I thought I was going to explode and tear her fragile sense of importance into little tiny shreds. (That would have been my old way of coping with someone like this.) But no, I decided to walk-the-walk and model what I teach others to do.

I noticed several things happening as I was holding back my anger and thinking about what to do. First, I know that the act of thinking clearly during high-levels of negative emotions uses more stored glucose than the release of intense emotion. As a result, I found myself getting physically and mentally exhausted. The FIGHT response, my automatic protector, had a full tank of cortisol (stress hormone) at its disposal. My pre-frontal cortex (executive brain) was working really hard to find my way around these feelings and take charge of the conversation. And that was the good news. I had been working to build muscles to think when stressed, and had access to it. I simply used my mantras, “Detach and Breathe” (I wrote an article about the importance of using mantras to manage stress) and, “My feelings are none of her business.” They worked!

Once I got my emotions under control, I used a technique that David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute refers to as “Choose Your Focus.” The idea is to stay out of the DRAMA, PROBLEM and even DETAIL and move up the ladder to where constructive dialog can occur. The areas of focus are on the PLANNING and SOLUTION. So, here’s what the conversation sounded like:

CLIENT: “You need to calm down. If you had read my email you wouldn’t have had to write so many. This is absurd and it cannot continue this way.”

ME: “I think we’re talking about a breakdown in communication, and that’s fixable. So, if I understand correctly, we still need to determine the dates for the training.”

CLIENT: “Yes.”

Once she agreed, I held to the facts, and followed up the conversation with an email. It’s really that simple looking in; you just don’t go down there with the other person. But the effort to keep calm is zapping!  She will never know how much energy I spent keeping myself in a neutral and thinking place.

As challenging as this situation is, I see her as my Guru keeping my skills sharpened. It is so true that “Your Most Difficult Co-Worker is Your Greatest Teacher.”

Calmly yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Do Your Co-Workers Like You?

In arguments, avoiding arguments, being different at work, breakdown in communication, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, business relationships, career-related problems, communication skills, compassion, conflict resolution, feeling accepted, feeling safe at work, impress, Insults, keep negativity to yourself, Liked by coworkers, professional behavior, professional boundaries, Respect, respect by coworkers, self-worth, Uncategorized, work relationships, work-related problems, work-related stress on January 2, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Hey, who doesn’t want to be liked? The problem is we can’t be liked by everyone and that’s a hard concept to take in. In fact, some people get so stressed about how much they’re liked that they’ll go out of their way to be part of the group: hanging out after work even if they’d rather be alone; going along with someone else’s idea (even if they think it’s a bad one), and being ingratiating and over-complimentary (while being insincere). It’s all an attempt to feel accepted, included and made to feel a-okay. It’s so understandable.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “People cannot make you feel inferior without your permission.” Think about that. Are you giving away your power to someone else’s judgment of you? True that it’s demoralizing to be ostracized by a colleague with a strong personality or by a team of followers. But, any act that undermines one’s self-worth to fit in is not the route to being liked, anyway.

So, are you actually liked? In truth, people generally think mostly about themselves and gauge others on how safe they are around them. When I say ‘safe’ I mean that the brain is checking every 12 seconds or so to see if we are safe. If you, for whatever reason, are not safe in another person’s mind, you are probably not liked. It may have nothing to do with anything you’ve done to that person, it could be because you are confident and assertive, or are generating more revenue than your colleague, or you’re thinner, or you’re up for a promotion…whatever the trigger is for that person, decides how safe you are. However, if you are not a trigger (meaning, not perceived as a threat) you are probably liked. It’s such a subjective thing. While being liked might feel safe to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are respected, especially if you are going out of your way to be liked!

My advice to you: go for being respected. Respect goes a lot further in helping you, your team and the company. Here’s how to gain respect:

  1. Always be sincere and diplomatic in your honesty. So, instead of saying, “No, I don’t like your idea,” you say, “I like your courage to change the program and think that the idea itself needs more flushing out.”
  2. Don’t get pulled down into others’ fear, anger, or jealousy. Say someone’s trying to undermine you; is talking behind your back and condemning you. Don’t Energize. Rise! Don’t try to mollify or ingratiate yourself. Don’t try to retaliate. Don’t gossip about it. Look within. What about you might be causing this reaction to you? What can you do to improve? What about him/her would create such jealousy or fear? Let your insights help you become stronger. Focus on being the best you. Yes, it’s unfair! But remember that you are being shown how to separate yourself from negativity – you are learning to set boundaries and keep your emotions in check. (Now, this is very different from hearing that a co-worker is upset and doesn’t know how to address you. In this case, you gently work to improve communication and ask that person what you may have done. Sincerely look to patch things up. Be accountable and work to compromise. That action gains respect.)
  3. Avoid being argumentative. State your opinion only after you’ve made sure that others feel heard and validated. You can even agree to a point of their opinion without actually agreeing to something that goes against your beliefs. Instead of “I don’t think we should just hike our fees next year by 35%.” You say, “I can agree that we should initiate a new fee structure; it protects our company. If we do this incrementally, clients will be more apt to go along with it. I hope we can figure this out together.”
  4. See things through others’ eyes. Judgment is being placed upon you, yes. But, you can stay above the negativity by not judging others. People are where they are in their level of conscious understanding and awareness. You be the one with the high awareness and objectivity. When you can free yourself from judging others, you can climb to a place of compassion.

With this compassion, you awaken to the point that you don’t NEED them to like you. You will stop seeking acceptance from people who can only project who they think you are through a lens that is foggy, at best. Instead, you will be liked – and admired – by people who see who you truly are; those who are self-contained, aware and compassionate, and not threatened by your greatness or your differences. The best news is that the more you become the detached, respected professional, the more you will find yourself surrounded by people just like you!

Do your co-workers respect you? That’s the real question and the thing most worthy of your focus.

Respectfully,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Handle Opposing Political Views at Work

In anger management, anxiety, arguments, avoiding arguments, breakdown in communication, building rapport, bullies at work, business relationships, change, Change the Subject, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, keep negativity to yourself, political beliefs, politics, sharing political views at work, Uncategorized on December 8, 2016 at 6:21 pm

You are thrilled that Trump won. Or, you’re horrified. It doesn’t matter; trying to be right and fighting for your beliefs in this extremely divided climate isn’t good for healthy work relations.

Sure, you and a team of co-workers may be in agreement, and you feel relatively secure speaking your mind with them. But, not only is it likely that there’s the one or the few or the many within hearing range of your political conversations; those people may end up causing you and your friends some very undesirable consequences.

What I mean is that most people already don’t handle conflict well in the workplace. I’m talking about the kind of conflict that arises out of a need for power, control and to be right, which plays itself out with things like: how to handle a client, who should lead a project, etc. What’s erupting now is a type of conflict that arouses hate and vitriol, hence what’s happening on our streets. The stakes are extremely high and walls between folks are being fortified. So, the goal here is to not mix political views with business needs. Avoid creating a hostile environment that will make being at work unnecessarily impossible.

So, what do you do if you are hearing political views that you find despicable?

  1. Concentrate on the common ground you have with the person on the work-front. In what ways do you need to cooperate? Focus on the work.
  2. Remind yourself that everyone is coming from their unique experience and has the right to an opinion without being told, “You’re wrong.”
  3. Remember that no matter how factually correct you can prove yourself to be, the office is not the place to persuade people to change their political views.
  4. See yourself as tolerant. Behave with tolerance. This is what a great leader does.
  5. Remove yourself from political conversations that could disturb others. Tell your friends that you don’t want to inadvertently alienate anyone and want to stick with work-related topics.

Whether you’re anticipating that great things will unfold or are scared to death by what is happening, remember that we are truly all in this together and are all going through change. At the least, you can play your part in keeping your workplace a safe place.

Wishing us all the best,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Stop a Binge-Talker On the Spot

In anxiety, asking questions, assertiveness, avoiding arguments, Binge-Talkers, Binge-talking, body language, boring speaker, brain, breakdown in communication, building rapport, business relationships, Change the Subject, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, connecting with people, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, engagement, gossiping, human relations, improve communication, interpersonal skills, lack of relatedness, listening, manage stress at work, open-ended questions, People Who Talk Too Much, profesional boundaries, saying no, sharing information, stress and worry, work relationships on October 19, 2016 at 6:46 pm

How to Manage Your Personal Power with an Insecure Boss

In aggression, arguments, assertiveness, avoiding arguments, breakdown in communication, business relationships, career challenges, career path, career-related problems, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, Detach and Breathe, diplomacy and tact, disagreements, effective communicating, emotional balance, empowerment, gossiping, handling tough boss, insecure bosses, interpersonal skills, leadership, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, person to person dynamics, personal growth, personal power, professional behavior, professional boundaries, professional development, team-player, Uncategorized, women in the workplace, work-related problems, working with a younger boss on September 11, 2016 at 5:42 pm

I have been told many times that I am like a lightening rod; I tend to ignite a riot. Let me say this: I don’t mean to, my energy is like that. It creates reactions in others and it makes people like me difficult in a corporate environment. I think independently, I’m self-motivated and truly out-of-the box in the way I approach things. This can be very rattling for those who adhere closely to “the way things are done here.”

As a coach, having worked to become self-aware and accountable for my actions, I always try to use my lessons for the betterment of others. So, I only share this background about myself because work can be hell for a person like me who reports to an insecure manager. I was a victim and contributor of hell for many years during my twenty-plus-year career in advertising sales, until I made the decision to work with my authentic self in a constructive way. Until then I was clueless about managing this energy of mine.

Now, as a brain-based coach and trainer, and I hear stories like mine from the highest levels of corporate leadership to mid-level and even junior level professionals. If this is your plight, you must first acknowledge that you may be delivering a sting with your beam. Here are a few questions for you. See if you say yes to more than two.

  1. Do you make unilateral decisions when you know your boss should be included?
  2. Do you dismiss his/her ideas?
  3. Does your boss side with your co-workers instead of you?
  4. Is your boss inaccessible unless to criticize you?
  5. Does s/he steal your ideas without acknowledging you?
  6. Are you being blocked from a deserving raise or promotion?
  7. Are you overlooked for invitations to important meetings?

It’s time to stop blaming your boss for being bad, wrong, insecure, etc., and start looking at what you can do to create a positive connection.

Here are some critical dos and don’ts:

  1. Directly acknowledge what your boss does that impresses you – be sincere.
  2. Seek your boss’ opinions on real issues (don’t make things up just to ingratiate yourself) and apply what you receive to your work.
  3. Maintain your composure regardless of your boss’ mood swings.
  4. Show respect for his/her views.
  5. Do not gossip to anyone about your boss. It will come back to you with a vengeance.
  6. Do not attempt to become friends – keep your professional boundaries at all times.
  7. Demonstrate that you are a team-player. Share the glory!
  8. Be your confident self and be humble.

Your authenticity is not at stake when you are aware of how to use your brightness and get along with others. People perceive you by how you make them feel. Bosses are just as vulnerable as any of us – and if you’re a boss you know this to be true.

Lastly, corporate cultures can vary and it’s important to know when you don’t belong. On the other hand, use any tension and adversity you are experiencing to teach you about you. It’ll make your experience valuable beyond the years you spend in any particular job.

 

 

Brightly and happily yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Change the Subject without Being Insulting

In assertiveness, breakdown in communication, building rapport, Change the Subject, communication, communication skills, communications between generations, Connecting, connecting with people, connection, diplomacy and tact, empathic listening, Insults, non-verbal signals, professional boundaries, sharing information, speaking on December 13, 2015 at 11:24 pm

You’re listening to a boss or a colleague, client or friend, and losing patience. Perhaps, the subject is one that doesn’t interest you, or there is nothing more you can contribute. Maybe the topic is unimportant or irrelevant, or boring, or even worse – it’s gossip.

Most of us just don’t know how to end a conversation without being awkward.  We look at our watch.  We check our Smartphones for emails or texts.  We insist there’s an emergency for which we must run. We drop eye contact and start fidgeting. (Since 90% of the most important parts of communication are non-verbal, there’s a good chance we’re passive-aggressively sending a signal of disinterest.)  We might even hear: “Hey, you’re not interested in this?” or “What, you don’t have anything to add here?”  The possible outcome:  insulting or angering the other person.

Whatever the scenario, here is the way to change the subject.  It’s called, “The Re-Direct.”  Here are the steps:

1. Clarify the key point(s) about the current subject you want to change.

Subject A. “Okay, from this conversation, you want to re-train us all on how to communicate with our direct reports.”

Subject B. “You’re telling me a personal story about Gus.”

2. Agree on how to move forward.

Subject A. “You’re asking me to review the schedule to see when my team is free to take the training.  I will get back to you by COB Thursday.”

Subject B. “This is awkward for me. I ask that you please don’t include me in Gus’ personal business.”

3. Assert that there’s something you want to say, kindly, and insert a benefit to the other person for hearing you.

“While I have your attention, I’d like to discuss how we can improve our work with IT for the new client assignment. I think this will help us prepare for the 2016 renewal of the account if we can address this now.”

4. Speak Up

“My team does not have enough access to IT support to meet the client’s demands.  I was wondering if we can add more IT people to help cover the scope of this project?  I can site a few examples of our current issues.”

5. Show Appreciation

“Thank you for taking the time now to discuss this matter with me.”

So regardless of the topic you’d like to change, re-direct. Acknowledge what you’ve heard, then gently ease from the current subject (agreeing or stating how to move forward) and right to the benefit of the other person for listening to what you have to say.  Lastly, show gratitude for having the space to speak up.

Diplomatically yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Are You a Boring Speaker?

In audiences, body language, boring presenter, boring speaker, boring speakers, breakdown in communication, building rapport, comfort zone, communicating, communication, communication skills, congruence, connecting with people, Dale Carnegie, effective communicating, energy, engaging, enthusiasm, listening, non-verbal signals, people skills, pitching, presentation skills, presentations, presenting, public speaking, speaking, tone of voice, WIIFM on May 30, 2015 at 3:25 pm

You’re speaking and others are yawning, looking at their watches, texting, or have a plastered smile that hasn’t moved for so long, you know they are only pretending to listen. My heart is with you: it’s hard to keep people focused and interested!  This is challenging! So, here are some insights to help you see what may be causing people to stray while you’re presenting:

1. You are not considering your audience’s needs.  Think, WIIFM – what’s in it for me.  The only thing audiences care about is that there’s a benefit to them for listening to your message.  As Dale Carnegie said, “Speak in terms of the other person’s interests.”

What to do about this:  Make sure you know who’s in your audience. What is their knowledge of your subject? What are their expectations of you and your message?  What do they care about? Do reconnaissance beforehand.  And, if you don’t have the ability to learn more about your audience’s needs ahead of time, use the beginning of your presentation to ask them questions about their expectations.  Ask them what they want you to cover, ask them what topics are of concern.  Be sure to weave these points into your message so that they are actively listening for your acknowledgement of their needs.

2. You are not congruent when you speak.  This means that your body language, tone of voice, eye contact, vocal inflection, energy, enthusiasm, posture, arm gestures, etc…do not match the words that are coming out of your mouth.  90% of the most important parts of communication are non-verbal. So, as an example, if you say, “This is great news,” and you don’t increase your volume, raise your voice a bit higher, punch out your hand with excitement while saying the word “GREAT” then your meaning is lost.  You must demonstrate what you are saying so that your message is delivered in the way you had intended.  Your audience should hear, “This is G-R-E-A-T news!”, just like Tony the Tiger feels about Frosted Flakes.

3. You are not interested in your own material.  Many of us have to deliver messages that are heavily fact-based, complex or sometimes unpleasant; or sometimes we are handed a speech that someone else wrote. Under these circumstances we can become emotionally disconnected from the message. If we’re bored, our audience will be comatose!

When this happens, pour gobs of energy and excitement into your talk. This is critical! If your energy is say, at knee-level, your listeners’ energy will be at toe-level.  If your energy is at waist-level, your audience will be at the knee.  If your energy is at the neck, they’ll be at the navel.  You must think about raising your own energy up to the ceiling for your audience’s energy to be at eye level, where you will hold their attention.

Regardless of the nature of your material, pretend that you’ve had 80 cups of coffee, just won the lottery and are a cheerleader for your favorite sports team.  BRING IT!

4. You are thinking too much about yourself.  You forgot the order of things during your presentation and missed a step.  Your armpits are drenching your favorite dress or shirt.  You have a headache.  You lost your Metrocard in the subway and have no more cash to get home.  You are obsessed about your audience not liking you and worried they have stopped caring about what you’re saying.

Here’s a tip:  STOP THINKING ABOUT YOU. Since audiences are thinking about themselves anyway, you don’t have to worry about this. They didn’t wake up that morning wondering how well you slept, or if you’re getting along with your spouse.  They also don’t know when you’ve missed a step and are speaking out of order.  WIIFM is their only concern, and that should be your only concern when you’re presenting.

If they are showing signals of losing interest, use the opportunity to draw them back in by addressing them (not pointing at anyone specifically).  “Please let me know, have I answered this question?”  Have I addressed this concern?”  “Who has a question about X before I move ahead?  You’re important to me and I want to make sure I’m on track.”

5. You don’t care about your audience.  Not because you aren’t a lovely person, but you don’t like to present and you want this to be over already.  Here’s a trick (and I only share this with people I care about: my audiences).  Picture a group of people that you love with all of your heart.  Your kids, your pets, the people who volunteer to save elephants.  I mean this sincerely.  Look out of your eyes with love, kindness and compassion to the people sitting out there.  Put yourself in their shoes and reach out to feel the humanity in the room. This is a way of connecting with people rather than seeing a room filled with job functions.  When you do this it creates an electrical charge.  It will wake you up to them and them up to you.

Practice these 5 tips until they become second nature.  If you feel uncomfortable while trying on these things and ‘out of the comfort zone’ you’re doing it right.  The more out of the zone you are, the greater you’re stretching.  The more you stretch and reach these new levels, the more likely it is that people will enjoy you and your presentations, and look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Presenting,
Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Benefits of Bad Work Experiences

In bad boss, breakdown in communication, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, bullying, business relationships, career challenges, career-related problems, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, disagreements, female discrimination, insecure bosses, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, negativity at work, ostracized, outcast, professional behavior, professional boundaries, quitting the job, sexual harassment, women in the workplace, work culture, work-related problems on May 8, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Most of us have worked for companies that were a mismatch with our personalities, our talents, our expectations, our beliefs.  Some worse than others. I wanted to write about the lessons of what appear to be unfair circumstances and point out the great, long-term benefits of them.

I’ll never forget when I took a job at a boutique ad agency, leaving the comfort zone of being a sales rep at a media company. It was my first foray into management as a vice-president.  It was the highest base salary I’d ever negotiated. But my first shock as the ‘VP of Business Development’, was the mentality around bringing in revenue, which does not include the word SALES.  For creative types, this conjures up pictures of used-car salesmen with suspenders and baggy pants that droop below their bellies, ready to sell a pregnant woman a piece of junk that will break her bank and break down at the first intersection.

This wasn’t the primary reason for it being the wrong fit.  I was the first and only woman in a male-dominated management team that had been in place for awhile. My prior sales successes had been based on hard-hitting negotiations with media buyers; hustling for the order, making deals happen and being managed by people just like me – hunters of ad revenue. So, my personality and approach was already in their minds — the used-car bully.  I didn’t presume this. I was told that I came across that way.

Well, here in the midst of all this creativity flowing around me (the agency does not exist anymore, BTW) I was told more than once, in front of my colleagues, that I should “go make curtains” instead of sit-in on strategy meetings.  When I wasn’t being outcast, my boss would discretely come to my office, shut the door and cry about how his boyfriend had dumped him, or whatever his personal battles were with others in the company.  He had crossed the line with me so much that when it came to including me as part of the team, he must have felt so vulnerable (as if I was going to blow his cover) that he had to shut me out, and reduce me back to the 1950s.

Then one evening, they called me into a team meeting.  I was so excited!  Finally, embraced by my co-workers!  But nooooo….it was an ambush.  Each person told me one-by-one, how useless, uninspired, uncreative I was and that I would never meet their standards.  They pummeled me with assertions about how I was mishandling their accounts. My boss had essentially given people their scripts and bullied them into this treatment of me – just in the way he made me feel threatened that if I didn’t listen endlessly to his dramas, my job would be on the line.  I tried to defend myself. Then, at one point, I got up and tried to leave the room.  My boss held his arm in front of the door to block my exit.  One of my colleagues, the finance guy, ex-attorney, told him I could sue them for entrapment.  He let his arm down.  I walked out.  I quit/was fired the morning after the ambush.  I almost sued them for harassment, but decided my well-being would suffer and I wanted to just put it all behind me.

We soon found out that my boss was a coke addict. And, despite all of this, I had brought in some revenue in that time in those four months.  Go figure!

First let me say that this experience in no way expresses my feelings or attitudes about ad agencies!  And, my time there is so rich with lessons that have helped me since grow, that I bless the coke addict and his pals for every act of inappropriate behavior towards me.  I also thank my 30-something self (this happened in the mid 90s) who had no previous experience with such things, for enduring and learning.

So, some tips for dealing with a toxic work situation:

1. Set boundaries with everyone, including bosses. You are not to play therapist or allow them to feed off of you like vampires.  You say, “I’m sorry you are going through this and I am not in a position to help. Can we focus on X piece of business – I would love to consult you on this matter.”

2. The minute you are harassed, do not defend yourself.  No point in trying to establish power. Say nothing.  Document the incident and file it with HR.  You will now be at risk of being fired, relocated or demoted.  It’s okay, your integrity is more important than living with the bullying. You will move on –  way beyond this particular employment.

3. Do not share your horror stories with anyone, except for documentation to HR. (I made the grave mistake of complaining about him to others, to try to find allies, and it backfired!)

4. Step back and understand that no title or amount of income can outweigh such toxicity.  Check your ego on this.  Let this job go.  It’s safer to go back to a lower title and less income in the right environment than hang on because it looks good on your resume.  Your self-esteem means everything, your ego means nothing. (I went right back to ad sales from there and enjoyed the comfort and success of working with like-minded co-workers.)

5. Laugh about the craziness of it all!  It’s really an amazing journey to deal with such dysfunctional people. Think about the story you’ll be able to share with others about how you grew as a result of such pain, and the many benefits you were able to accumulate.

Honorably,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Good News about Being a Square Peg in a Round Hole

In anger management, arguments, assertiveness, being different at work, breakdown in communication, bullies in the workplace, business relationships, career challenges, career-related problems, Catalyst, communication skills, communications between generations, coping with pressure at work, corporate life, David Rock, diplomacy and tact, empowerment, entrepreneurs, get out of your own way, gossiping, Gurus, human relations, interpersonal skills, lack of relatedness, leadership, life skills, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, negativity at work, NeuroLeadership Group, office politics, ostracized, outcast, person to person dynamics, personal development, personal growth, personal power, personality, professional behavior, professional boundaries, professional development, Professional Reputation, Reputation, self-esteem, self-help, self-image, spiritual awakening, spiritual growth, Square Peg Round Hole, team-player, transformation, women in the workplace, work-related problems, working with a younger boss on March 6, 2015 at 4:55 pm

You’re 25, 35, 45, 55, 65.  Your work is excellent regardless of your position. You are skilled, qualified, effective.  You’re making positive impact towards the bottom line for your employer.  You’re not perfect, but you’re fundamentally a nice, kind, quality human being.  Yet, somehow people judge you, misunderstand your intentions, or simply don’t like or trust you:  there’s a look in their eyes as if you have two heads and your skin is blue.  They blame you for the way you say or do things.  They are intolerant of your being different from them.

You feel like the oddball and cannot blend in with the group.  This is a known stress-inducing thing, in fact, David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute calls this a ‘lack of relatedness’ that professionals feel.  It causes a threat reaction in the brain, which can fuel the problem and lead to behaviors that further separate us from the group mentality (i.e., withdrawing, arguing, appeasing others, etc…).

I am a square peg.  My entire career, no matter what employer, I am plagued with being so different as to stir the pot, having experienced a host of things from being bullied, to being ostracized, being fired, being gossiped about, you name it.  However, I am so efficient and good at my job that this is never the issue that surfaces.  No one ever blamed me for being incompetent.  I’m just not like the others.

I’ve come to take responsibility for this and see myself as a catalyst.  I am a lightening rod.  I ignite a riot.  I have a strong, assertive energy that makes some people very uncomfortable.  I am honest and direct.  I am confident.  I have a way of working that gets results but is not the norm.  It rattles people who follow the rules and blend in. Now, none of this disqualifies me from having to practice all of my beloved techniques in human relations, communication, leadership and holding myself accountable when I do wrong, but it is a quality that I cannot change because it’s so fundamental to my presence and my spirit.  And I endure because there are people who see my value and embrace my differences.

Does this sound like you, dear friend?  If so, start thinking of yourself as a catalyst that wakes people up.  From a much higher perspective, you and your big energy are mirrors for others to have their own limits kicked-up, and when they are mature enough to take accountability for that, they get to change for the better. (And sometimes they pursue professional development coaches when they do! :)) And if they don’t they don’t – it’s a conscious choice to wake-up or not.  Just know they will always play the role as your Guru, reminding you to be okay with being different. Until then, sadly, you get to be blamed for their discomfort.  Know that some of the time you possess qualities that make them want to push you away, only because they cannot be like you.  How about them apples!

In fact, entrepreneurs are frequently people who are so tired of not being a fit, they leap off to be their own bosses, create their own gigs and work in more autonomous scenarios.  I am one of these, yet always mindful that clients can draw the square peg out of me and I have to be mindful that I am hired to be of service and to get along.

Do not fret, square one.  Round holes are good for your soul.  They help to refine and develop you in a way that allows you to get on with your life; get along in the world even when it’s awkward.  It becomes a life-long workout of blending in to make your life work.  It gives you the objectivity to choose how to behave so that you are being your best.  Good news is that round holes can never demand you to fundamentally change.  You are like the horse that is given water but cannot be made to drink it. Enjoy your power.

Squarely yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.