Many people are confused about what term is appropriate to use when referring to different others. I provided examples of this in Part 1 of this series on bridging cultural differences. This topic is a hornet’s nest because a term that is appropriate in one context may be inappropriate in another.  Choosing the right word can be a daunting task for who wish to avoid offending others and are horrified at thought of being judged.

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In my workshops and classes on bridging cultural differences, eventually someone asks, “What should we call a person with such-and-such background or characteristic?” Here are true examples of how this question has been asked:

  • “Is it better to say Hispanic or Latino?  Asian or Oriental? disabled or handicapped?”
  • “Should I use the term ‘Black’ or ‘African American’? After all, Whites from South Africa who are naturalized in this country are African Americans, aren’t they?”
  • “Why is it okay to say ‘people of color,’ but not okay to say ‘colored person’”?
  • “Why can’t I refer to people with AIDS as AIDS victims? They are victims, aren’t they?”
  • “I don’t see why some of the women in my class object to being called ‘girls’. My wife and her friends all refer to themselves as girls”.
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With Liberty and Justice for all: DADT and Civil Rights

With Liberty and Justice for All

I have been eagerly devouring the news bulletins on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — delighted beyond description that the repeal finally passed with bipartisan support and is now signed into law.

The similarities between this repeal and the march toward civil rights in the 50s and 60s are uncanny to me. I remember sitting on my uncle’s knee as a child, listening to him talk about serving in a segregated unit during World War II. I was too young to fully understand what he was saying, but he, my parents, and their friends all talked about what an injustice it was.  He and other brave Negro (as we referred to ourselves at the time) soldiers were willing to die for their country, yet their country denied them equal rights under the law. They had separate units, inferior equipment, inferior assignments, and were routinely insulted and harassed.

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Anxiety Self Help

Experiencing Fear and Performing Anyway:  Emotional Clearing Technique #4

One day in class last year, a student asked me, “Do you have any tips on how not to be afraid when speaking in front of people?”  I responded that fear is an evolutionary gift, designed to protect us from harm.  However, in modern times, it may show up in situations in which we need to be bold in order to grow personally or professionally.  In those cases, I added, “I try not to give fear that kind of power over me.”

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Workplace Undercover: Suffer in silence or speak up?

Preface:  Workplace Undercover will be a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant.  The scenario below was written by Eillen Bui, our research associate.  Mary Harlan of Harlan Consulting is guest consultant for this scenario.

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The scenario: Carina was recently promoted from Operator Technician to Engineer after working at TLC Co. for 15 years. To Carina, this promotion was bittersweet. She knew that she deserved this position, but felt it should have happened long ago. She was already doing everything the Engineer’s job description entailed years ago and was very experienced. The only thing was that she never earned a degree in engineering; everything she knew, she learned from working at the company.

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Seeking Words of Encouragement in the Workplace

Seeking love and supportive feedback in all the wrong places

The young woman’s eyes filled with tears.  “Neither of my parents really cares about what I do or think.  I’m not even sure they love me.  Maybe they didn’t even want me.  It hurts me in my stomach to think about it.”

The conversation above is nearly true. (I changed a few details to protect my friend’s privacy.)

Not feeling cared for or recognized in the way we expect can hurt for sure. I know. For a good part of my childhood and young adulthood, I was convinced my parents didn’t love me.

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Discover Your Personal Organizational Style

Preface: I was delighted to discover this summary of one of my all-time favorite books on organization and time management. It was written by Natalie Houston and is reprinted here with permission of ProfHacker.  In the article below, Natalie tells of her experiences with the book.  In a future blog post, I will tell you how I use this information. 

Jean

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. This scenario was written by Carole Marmell. Jennifer Joyce, cofounder of LeadershipSmarts responds. This is the third of a three-part segment.

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Part III – Support for Bank’s Feedback System

In Part I of this Workplace UnderCover scenario, Molly, a bank employee, received harsh criticism instead of the supportive feedback she had expected during her yearly performance appraisal.   In Part II, Jennifer Joyce, a leadership development coach and consultant, described three steps that Molly might take.  In this segment, Jennifer discusses the bank’s role in supporting Molly and her supervisor in giving and receiving more effective feedback.

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. This scenario was written by Carole Marmell. Jennifer Joyce, cofounder of LeadershipSmarts, responds. This is the second of a three-part segment.

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In the previous post, Molly, a young bank employee, had expected supportive feedback from her manager during her yearly performance appraisal. Instead her manager strongly criticized her and accused her of acting arrogant and believing she is smarter than everyone else. What can Molly do?

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. The scenario below was written by Carole Marmell. Jennifer Joyce, cofounder of LeadershipSmarts responds. This is the first of a three-part segment.

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Molly is a 30-year-old bank employee. The bank has a very structured environment, with formal performance appraisals after every project as well as every year. The appraisals go both ways, for supervisors as well as line staff. All appraisals are done by committees consisting of supervisors and line staff. In addition, the supervisors have procedures for providing coaching and feedback to all line staff to help them advance step by step.

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From Mindless Behavior to Leading Consciously

In the last few months, I have gotten into friendly debates with others about whether it is appropriate for local school boards to ban candy and soda from their public schools in light of the alarming increase in childhood obesity.

A recent Rasmussen Reports public poll shows how controversial an issue this is.  Results indicated that 52% of the public favors the ban and 40% oppose it.  This is a case in leading consciously.

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How to Get the Most Out of Coaching

Jennifer Joyce, co-founder of LeadershipSmarts, is this week’s guest blogger.

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Coaching is often a pivotal step in a person’s career. It represents a large investment of time, money, and personal work.  So how does one get the most out of such an important venture?

During my 15 years as a coach, I have found three keys to creating a successful engagement:

  • A clearly articulated coaching goal
  • Specific examples or stories from work, and
  • A willingness to look at self.

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What happens when we are really upset about something? Our minds become a swirling tempest and it’s hard to focus on what we are intending to do. We might also get into trouble — saying things that shouldn’t come out of our mouths or taking rash actions that could crash our careers. Because being able to handle our negative emotions is so important, Jean Ramsey and I devoted most of Chapter 3 to it in Reframing Change.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011 was National Lemonade Day, an event designed to teach entrepreneurial skills to children.  A few weeks before, Morgan, age 6, wrote us as her grandparents to ask us to invest $12.00 in her lemonade business.  With the aid of her father, she was going to set up a lemonade stand and sell lemonade on that date.

Her grandfather sent the check immediately.

A couple of weeks before the big day, we drove to her home and Morgan showed us the colored step-by-step workbook that the local entrepreneurial association had put together to guide participants through the business of selling lemonade.  It was impressive:  it included a week by week plan, a resource list, and a budget outline with places for the kids to fill in their own information — and, of course, color the illustrations.

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Assumptions in interpersonal communication

Preface:  In Jean Ramsey’s and my book, Reframing Change, we explain how to test your assumptions at the interpersonal level.  Bill Brenneman, today’s guest blogger, specializes in helping work teams identify and test assumptions that may cause severe, even life-threatening, situations.  In this post, Bill provides an introduction to his rigorous field of work.

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As Jean and Jean point out in Reframing Change, Chapter 2, assumptions can lead us astray without our knowing it is happening. This is a problem–and an opportunity–that come up every time my colleagues and I try to find the cause(s) of complex problems or failures in industrial or organizational settings. This is why:

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