Q. I consider myself a patient and friendly guy, but the longer I'm in my job, the grumpier I get. I find it increasingly hard to hold my tongue when I don't like something or notice stupidity. How do I speak up without hurting my job?
A. You can speak up without hurting your job by understanding that there is an enormous difference between what we internally feel and think and what we externally say and do.
Most people have very little impulse control between their inner and outer world. Some people will say the first thing that flies into their head. Other people will pretend they are above their feelings while their tone of voice and body language drips with contempt.
The older we get, the more we notice our emotional reactions to coworkers, bosses, and customers. The older we get, the more tempted we are to blurt out our reaction. The older we get, the more critical it becomes to learn how to say what we feel so we don't damage our careers.
Let's take a situation where you privately think a coworker is stupid. If you tell your coworker he's an idiot, you will only make an enemy. If, instead, you tell your coworker you need him to make sure every number on that spreadsheet is accurate, you will get what you want.
The secret is to notice your negative reactions to others and then use your distress to identify what you want. Realize that noticing feelings and identifying results you want is an internal process.
Fortunately, very few people you work with our telepathic. Since coworkers can't read your mind, any thought or feeling you have remains private unless you blurt it out. The beauty of working with people who have no sixth sense is they will only know what you say and do.
When you have completed your internal process, you can skillfully focus on simply asking your coworkers for what you want. You can skip the part where you condemn their personality, point out their character flaws, and share all your feelings.
When I'm facilitating team seminars, I'm struck at how often people want to complain extensively about their coworkers before they ask for help. I gently point out to these people that by the time they finish venting few people will feel like helping them.
You can complain to people off the job and complain inside your head and heart all you want but when you open your mouth stick to making concrete requests.
The last word(s)
Q. I have a hobby I love but I can't figure out how to make money at it. Should I give it up so I can put all my energy into my job?
A. No, keep your hobby. Your life and your current job will benefit.
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(c) 2009 Daneen Skube