How’s Your Desk-Side Manner?


I like my job.  I really do.  But occasionally I see situations which could have been handled differently and people who could act…  Better.

Would you like to make your work-day more enjoyable for you and your colleagues/boss/employees?  Think about some of these…

1.  Positive, Negative, Positive:  As a college student at one of the top art colleges in the country, I had to participate regularly in critiques.  One of the most valuable lessons I learned in critiques was how to critique a classmate in a way that wouldn’t offend him/her.  Simply put, always start with a positive.  Nobody wants to hear somebody slam something they’ve done right off the bat.  If you proceed your criticism with a positive, and immediately follow the criticism with another positive, the blow will be much easier to hear and digest.  The listener won’t be so eager to defend him/herself and their work, but will be more willing to listen.

Think about this technique at home and during extra-curricular activities as well.  Did your significant other or child do something you don’t like?  Let him/her know, but use the positive, negative, positive technique and I can guarantee your chances of an all-out brawl will greatly decrease.

We’ve also used this technique at Junior Baseball practice.  Our 6-9 year old players LOVE to hear they’ve done a great job, so rather than jump on them for not catching the pop-fly, we say, “Name!  That was a great job hustling to catch the ball!  The next time a batter is up to the plate, let’s see what happens if you’re watching instead of playing in the dirt!  I bet you can get to the ball on time if you’re not making dirt angels!” 

2.  Listen First, Talk Second:  It’s difficult to hear what somebody’s trying to say if you’re interrupting them, or even if you’re thinking of what to say next while they are talking.  We all have co-workers who LOVE to listen to themselves talk, however try listening first and speaking second and you will gain tremendous respect from them, and you may actually learn something while you’re at it.

3.  Smile as You Pass:  I am constantly amazed at how many of my co-workers will pass me in the corridor and pretend I’m not there.  They will look the other way, rather than have to make eye contact, or heaven-forbid, say “hello.”  Are you one of these people?  I can pretty much guarantee you that your co-workers won’t turn into monsters and bite you if you look them in the eyes.  And who knows?!  Maybe that smile and little bit of small talk will turn an ordinary passing into a bigger opportunity for you within the company.  I don’t directly work for any manager in my building besides my own, but through the simple gesture of a smile and a “Good morning, Name!”, all the other managers (including my boss’s boss) know my name and pay the same respect toward me.  Come time for me to go out for a promotion in a different department, I’d like to think this little bit of recognition will help!

4.  Tell the Truth:  We’ve all heard of Pinnochio, and we all know what happened when he told lies.  What we didn’t know as children, however, is that our nose doesn’t grow if we lie, our reputation shrinks.  One lie turns into another when you need to cover up your tracks.  Then you lie when your lies are discovered.  All those lies catch up with a person at some point.  I won’t deny that I went through a period in my life where my life was lies.  I used lying as a coping mechanism.  I was wrong.  Since leaving that (part of my) life, I’ve been honest.  I’m honest with myself, I’m honest with my loved ones, and I’m honest at work.  I make mistakes and I’ll admit them.  I’d rather admit my mistakes up front than have to admit a string of lies later on down the road!  And you know what?  I’m a happier person, even when I have to admit I am wrong.

5.  Don’t Gossip:  It’s simple really…  The latest buzz that you heard from Nancy who heard from Bob who heard from Sally who heard from Susan who heard from Roger is probably wrong.  And changes are, if it is true, the person at the root would probably appreciate you not spreading THEIR life story with another dozen people.  Just think of all the time you could be dedicating to work if you weren’t gossiping?!

6.  Leave Your Personal Life at Home:  We all work with one person who does it…  He/she brings a bad attitude to work at least once a week, and it has nothing to do with you or any of your co-workers.  You say good morning to the person, just to hear, “What’s so good about it?”  Yea, it sucks.  So don’t be that person.

Are you having a bad day?  Then pop in your favorite CD or turn on your favorite playlist on your MP3 player and get it out of your system.  Splurge on your favorite (non-alcoholic) drink on the way to work, even if it means you’ll be ten minutes late.  Nobody deserves to put up with the verbal diarrhea coming out of your mouth, so make sure it’s been taken care of by the time you clock-in.  Or if you can’t control your bad mood, do everybody a favor and take a sick day.  It’s not that we don’t care  about our co-workers, but bad moods are contagious!  My husband doesn’t want me bringing somebody else’s bad mood home with me, and I’m sure your significant other/child/pet doesn’t want you bringing home mine!

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