Positivity Has Its Place

Being positive is a great attribute to have when it comes to discussing issues at the workplace. When a situation comes up, “looking on the bright side of things” is one of those catch phrases that is intended to encourage someone, but unfortunately for many, they say it to look good before others even when this advice doesn't always work or has little relevance to what is going on at the workplace.

One can be positive and be a fool too. A positive fool is that one who sees there is an ongoing fire at a friend's home. The poor friend is crying about losing everything, and before her tears are dried up, the optimist says something like, “Well, at least you and your family weren't there in the house when the fire started.  Don't worry, you will get your stuff back.” That isn't a very truthful or encouraging statement.  Family photos, keepsakes, and other valuables are lost forever--you can't get them back!There is a time and a place for everything. Being grateful for one's life is a good thing, but a statement like, “Here's a check to help you with your tragedy” sounds far better!
Sometimes positive statements are just used for selfish reasons at a workplace setting. Some employees use them to get out of speaking truth and to avoid adding details to a story or personal opinion. A positive phrase can be used as an escape out of a situation someone doesn't want to be in or is fearful of where the conversation might lead. For instance, you are asking someone a question about specific work events and he or she responds with, “All is well.” That doesn't say what anyone did, said, how much was only communicates “no problems.” But then later, one's positive comment becomes more than meets the eye, the worker says, “Oh, that's right I forgot to tell you about...and I didn't do...I got someone else to do that...well, yes there was that wasn't that bad.”  Really?!
Workers will hide behind their positive phrases when they are doing the following: running from a situation that might make them feel uncomfortable, lack confidence in what they are doing, or are worried that what they say might be repeated to others. When one is honest with no worries, confident that things are managed well, and has nothing to hide, why avoid details when asked open-ended questions or why use feel-good phrases just because one doesn't feel like talking about a situation? Maybe you can get a way with such a strategy at home, but at work, different story.
When a leader is looking for open communication with details as to why something has or hasn't occurred, he or she doesn't want a response like, “Well, some people did what was asked, and others didn't, but there were no problems. That's just how things are. But we got things done. We can look at the glass half full or half empty in this situation.” What!? The manager is going to want to know, “Why were some people working and others were not?” The following is another fictional example except this person didn't bother to ask any questions about a challenge before blurting out something about being positive, “Well, people do things we don't like. I mean I didn't hear everything about what happened. I don't even know her personally. But I would like to think she meant nothing by her action. Oh, just try to be positive.” Meanwhile, the person is ignorant of the person and the details, but advises one to be positive. Huh!? It isn't any wonder why some so-called optimists end up overlooked for promotions, job offers, can't keep good relations with staff, etc. They don't know how to express positivity in such a way that will help them and others.  One should avoid saying too much of anything, including advising, when you don't know the facts. Sometimes all a speaker wants is a listening ear. A wise person would listen for the lesson in the conversation that might be beneficial to her or him. In the example, the listener should have been telling his or herself while listening to the concern, “If I ever encounter this person that supposedly gave her a hard time, I will watch what I say” instead of assuming that one's intentions might be positive. If so, why were there issues in the first place?

Never assume anything about anyone's intentions especially when you haven't personally had an encounter with them or don't know them or details.  From parents to CEOs, people have their reasons for why they do or don't do. Better to be quiet than to carelessly say something without doing a thorough investigation on a matter.
Positivity has its place. As crazy as it seems, it can also be used as a weapon. If I refuse to say anything negative, even when there are those moments where I need to speak up and tell the truth about a situation, then I could be fueling a fire. Some employees will refuse to help managers because they are more concerned about friendships with co-workers, so when a workplace challenge comes up, they rather stick with a list of nice phrases for everyone involved while ignoring facts and how their actions or in-actions might have contributed negatively to a situation. For example, a nervous contractor responds to a manager's question about a certain worker's frequent tardiness that has been witnessed by others, “I wouldn't say that she is always late...I mean she does stay late too...she's a good worker.” The individual in question just so happens to be a very good friend of the contractor. In another fictional example, a supervisor talks to a worker about not being clear on a directive given to a group of employees and he responds with, “Well, I told them that, I mean I know what you told me to tell them, but I thought it would be better if... besides everything turned out good.” Meanwhile, little does the employee know that the supervisor's paperwork says otherwise and things aren't “good.”
We can all go too far with all our flattery, niceties, and optimistic outlook on this person, that issue or that thing. There is always the story that one tells you and the story that goes on behind closed doors. There is the face you see at one's workplace and the one that he or she has away from work and it isn't always “great, wonderful, friendly...”

In closing, consider the following advice when it comes to being positive. 
  • For every statement that makes one feel uncomfortable or has a negative tone to it, one should refrain from shooting everything down with positivity so as to protect one's reputation.  Instead, speak truth, don't sugarcoat.  Avoid offering your opinion unless asked.
  • Before reaching an assumption that one, who is telling a story must “calm down, be nice, be good, look on the bright side...,” consider the speaker's point of view. 
  • Look beyond the scope of your personal experience.
  • Ask questions first, save commentary or advice when the person is willing to receive. 
  • You can't build a quality relationship with anyone whether at work or at home if you choose to defend someone or something while using an assortment of feel-good statements. We must all keep in mind an old piece of wisdom, “Think, before you speak.”
Nicholl McGuire maintains this blog and other blogs including one for apartment and home renters.  She is a former property manager, former supervisor, and has held other leadership positions in the past in a variety of industries.


Irritable Male Syndrome and Menopause at Work Who Knew?

If hormones fluctuate at home, you best believe they swing at work (probably moreso)!  Picture this, work leaders between the ages of 40 and 55, who rarely exercise or eat healthy, often complain about one issue or another, and have the patience of a spoiled child.  "I was expecting that to be done!  Who keeps taking my $%^* pen?  What idiot keeps you on hold for 10 minutes to check something that is already in a database?  Why is it so *&%$# hot in here?"  Men and women both have issues during mid-life.  From feeling like the world is great one minute to wanting to escape to an island the next, it isn't easy managing hormones at work.

People change as we all know.  What you use to be able to handle in your youth, you can't once those hormones start to take a shift from one day to the next.  Crowded areas use to be no problem, phone ringing all day you could handle it, and people's body odors, no big deal!  But now!?  For some, an empty stomach feels like you are going mad, ready to vomit over the slightest weird smell.  Sweat beads show up on one's forehead out of nowhere while people are talking about how comfortable the room is.  One is more sensitive to bad news and might even share a few too many tears over something.  Then there is the constant reminders, the mind just doesn't retain information as well as it once did.  Yes, the joys of midlife at work.

Sometimes there is a feeling of envy that comes over the individual who has worked at a company for years.  He or she notices that new workers coming in are younger, sharper, and faster.  There is either a desire to keep up with the pace, stay put, or go above and beyond while killing yourself in the process.  The family wants to know why the long hours.  The partner wants to know what's up with the sex life.  The relatives want to know why they never see you anymore.  Meanwhile, hormones say, "You will be in the mood later..."  But later seems so few and far in between.

If this describes you, do something to harness those mood swings and body changes especially when fellow employees are noticing a different you every hour.  Don't bother making excuses.  Avoid the temptation to blame others.  Take a good long look in the mirror during one of your breaks and do what you can to deal with your change of life.

Things you can do:

1.  Take an online quiz about Irritable Male Syndrome (Andropause) for men and PMDD, Perimenopause or menopause for women.

2.  Pay closer attention to how you react to your employees.

3.  Watch what you are eating and drinking during meal and snack times.  Too much of anything isn't good for you!

4.  Check into herbal supplements, vitamins, and precription medicines to help you deal with symptoms.

5.  Avoid blaming the weather, your partner, boss, co-workers, children, and whoever or whatever else because you are often annoyed, aren't functioning well in your personal or public relationships like you use to, and often have feelings of wanting to be left alone or being anywhere but on this planet.

6.  Communicate issues with your doctor, counselor or someone else who seems like they have their health issues under control.

7.  Do exercise, take up hobbies, and travel so that you aren't concentrating so much on how you feel, what others think about you, etc.

Resources worth checking out:

Male Menopause

Andropause Videos

Irritable Male Quiz

Women Menopause

Menopause Video

PMDD Video



Joking with the Wrong People on the Job Might Be an End All

You may have thought your comment, joke, smirk, or laugh was okay for the moment with a co-worker or fellow leader.  Some people will smile or laugh along, but others not so much.  It is hard to tell what a person really thinks about what you said or did until disapproving actions follow sooner or later. 

The word "nice" gets thrown around a lot at the workplace until a worker rubs another the wrong way.  "Oh she is so nice...I like him he's very nice."  But as the work relationship gets older, "He's okay...I guess she's alright."  In time, the offended worker might say of his co-worker when asked how he feels about working with him, "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all." 

People don't forget what hurts their feelings.  I repeat, people don't forget what hurts their feelings.  Days, weeks or even years back the human brain recalls moments of "just joking" during a dispute.  Those thoughts that were never communicated out loud tend to come back around.  For example, in the heat of an argument, a worker says, "Oh yea, by the way, I didn't think what you said about...was nice."  The jester assumed his comment was taken lightly from 10 months ago!  "Are you really bringing that up?  I was joking.  If you weren't okay with what I said, why didn't you say something back then!?"  It is only a matter of time that these two will be talking about one another behind closed doors with a boss or supervisor about "how he/she makes me feel."  Wonder which one will still be considered for a promotion or maybe he will just find someone else for their positions depending on how long this drama plays out?

You may have a way of joking that is well-received on the home front, but take that same sense of humor and use it with a certain ethnicity, the opposite sex, a man or woman with an interesting lifestyle, or a person with a faith, and look out, you just might be strategically pushed out doors.  Witty, funny people who have tongues that oftentimes go out of control aren't loved by all especially if they make management work to put out their fires.  Consider the following fictional example of a boss who grew weary of Jim's fat jokes and insults about how he handles things at work.  Do you think Jokes Jim can see the signs that his boss is trying to get rid of him without firing him?  "Hey Jim, did you check out that open position in another department or what about an even better one in another city?  I think you are good for it.  Let me talk to my boss." Jim better take the offer if he gets it, because if he stays with his boss, his continued clowning might cost him and his family a lot of unnecessary stress in the future.  Wonder what his boss will come up with next, a layoff? 

Past insults, negative statements, and jokes come back to haunt you in more ways than one.  Jim's boss doesn't care that much about Jim's success as much as he wants him to go away.  People grow weary of backhanded insults, smart mouth quips followed by ugly grins that say, "I was just kidding."  Sure, right.

Nicholl McGuire


Don't Be the Leader that Overlooks these Workplace Issues

When a boss, supervisor or manager is working with the same people everyday, issuing out the same orders, and doing the typical things that many leaders do, he or she tends to overlook some workplace issues that might be growing behind the scenes with employees, operations, contractors, security, and more.  Who really has time to pay attention to so many departments?  Well, that is why companies pay bosses the big bucks, so that they will ensure business runs smoothly in all areas.  So what might you be overlooking at your workplace that might create a future headache if not one already?

One.  Watch how often workers are calling off and arriving late.

Put someone on detail to track what is really going on.  Is your department lax when it comes to tardiness and call offs?  Does your company make it too easy for people to take a day off by permitting them to just leave a voice mail?  Once you have complete your investigation, start making some changes.

Two.  Address repeated concerns brought to you by certain watchful (yet annoying) employees that are often ignored.

It is only a matter of time that the employee is going to escalate his or her concerns.  So what that you don't like him or her.  Who cares that this person is often in someone else's business?  At the end of the day, you will be the one called into the office by your boss if you don't deal with the issue.  And if you are the boss, the dissatisfied employee can go to outside sources such as: the media, BBB, Internet, etc. to get some mental resolve if nothing else.

Three.  Review monies being spent for things like restaurant outings, department celebrations, office supplies, travel, etc.

Do you really know what your staff is spending when it comes to things like: events, office supplies, travel, and more?  What kind of company spending are you doing?  You just might need to cut back on expenses before someone starts questioning you.  "What the...You spent how much for a pen?  You went where to eat?" says the angry boss.  "How about we take this dollar figure out of your next paycheck!?"

Four.  Talk with staff on how frequently things keep breaking down in the office and arrange to get those things fixed or replaced.

The more something breaks, the more you will have to keep fixing it while wasting valuable time and dollars.  Review the cost, find used goods or buy brand new so that the problem equipment will stop being everyone's headache!  Be sure that everyone knows how to use equipment so that items won't be broken so easily.

Five.  Observe how departments fail to communicate with one another about ongoing issues.

You told this department to tell that department about this matter and that one and no one listens!  So now what?  Reiterate your point on paper.  Set up a meeting and share the consequences with those who refuse to do what you ask.  But whatever you do, don't put major issues off because in time you just might have a group of individuals revolt against you and others.

Six.  Check how long you and others are socializing each day.

What are you really talking about each morning when you and others should be seated at your desks working?  Is it necessary to text, email, and communicate every concern?  Work needs to get done and chances are there are clients, customers, etc. who have been waiting for you to get back to them on one thing or another.  Put off the long chats about the weekend, the partner, the kids, what show you watched last night, and how you feel.  Encourage your workers to do more work and less chatting.  Besides, you might be the one having to set aside time to deal with gossip issues in the future.  Be a good example!

Seven.  Notice how slow it takes for phone calls to be returned, paperwork to be sent, needs of clients to be addressed, etc.

Whenever workplace management consistently finds that issues are not being handled in the way they should and the same problems keep coming across their desks, don't be surprised when the big boss calls you into the office asking you, "How come this wasn't taken care of a long time ago?  Why are people calling me about these issues?  Why does your department spend so much money on these things?  Why am I hearing..."  Get the picture?

Nicholl has worked at many businesses over the years from market research to health care.  She had her first supervisory position at the young age of 19.  A background in journalism and communications, to date, she writes on and offline books and articles about topics like: relationships, business, faith, and parenting.  Learn more about her at: 


No Accountability: Employees Who Love Getting Out of Things

Whether it is an unecessary argument or a major event that ends badly, there are just some workers who don't want to take responsibility for anything.  They will do any number of things to justify why they can't do something, won't do something, or why it is someone else's fault/job/issue, etc.  Some of you reading this probably are thinking of a few employees who should have been gone with the wind like yesterday.  So how do we expose, correct, and if need be, send these people on their "It's never my fault" ways?

1.  Track the lying.  Whether boss, supervisor, co-worker, or friend, note the lies and excuses made whenever you confront this person.  There are those lies that cover up the fact that one was aware of a situation, but didn't do anything about it.  Then there are those lies that have a little truth mixed in them.  Of course, we can list many more lies that are specifically created to do just one thing, cover one's you know what!  Keeping an  accurate record with date and times included of all the story-telling will help you build a case against the troubled worker in case you are ever called into a meeting about him or her.

2.  Provide proof.  When one doesn't want to face the truth, he or she is going to call your bluff.  Have the evidence to back up your claim.  For instance, the worker said that the project would be done on XYZ date and time.  Did you bother to get this person to document his or her promise?  The trouble-making employee keeps coming to you with what someone else is or isn't doing, can this person back up her statements?  You notice that a worker's job performance is going down hill steadily, what is the evidence that shows this?

3.  Record meetings, conference calls, etc.  From witnesses to recording devices, you will need anyone or anything to help you hold people accountable who historically wiggle their way out of things.  Be sure to have attendees (as well as those who couldn't make meetings) sign a sheet that confirms they read notes or was present when tasks were communicated.

4.  Enlist others to help hold others accountable.  Tardiness, blame games, and other things that workers do to disrupt work flow can be hard to keep up with.  So when you are in a power position, use your skills to stay one step ahead of the slackers by using a couple of your most loyal assistants to help.  Tell them what you are looking for and explain to them how the problematic worker is causing challenges for the whole team.  Reward those who aid you.  However, if your help seems to be siding with the trouble-makers, be sure to confront this person.

5.  Note excuses and rejections.  Whenever the employee is called upon to handle business affairs, but appears like he or she can't/won't  then advise this person why it is important for he or she to participate.  Be sure that the job description and what you are asking is not in conflict.  Also, keep note of the reasons as to why the employee has repeatedly rejected your work requests.  When the next review period comes along, bring up your findings and why he or she is ineligible for a promotion or some other incentive.

6.  Discuss and record errors.  One of the mistakes leadership makes when dealing with employees is to rarely address errors.  It isn't until major issues come up that one wants to threaten a worker with job dismissal.  Don't wait until problems repeatedly show up.  Instead, as soon as one brings an issue up with a worker, investigate.  Periodically use other employees to check over one's work.  See to it that everyone is on the same page, reading from the same manuals/memos/emails, and have a clear understanding as to what is expected when it comes to completing a task.  If no one is addressing issues, then a worker will take advantage of your oversight and start pointing the finger at everyone else while saying things like, "I didn't one never told me...I didn't know we were supposed to do it that way."

With so many unemployed workers in this world who desperately want to work, there is no reason why a boss/supervisor/manager should be stressing his or her self out over workers who don't want to be held accountable for their actions.  Start building cases against those who are trouble-makers.  From leadership to contractors, note what the issues are, supply proof, list solutions, and confront those who never want to be held accountable for anything.

Nicholl McGuire

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