“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity.”
–Janet Louise Stephenson
In an Accountemps survey, CFOs said they spend six hours a week, on average, managing conflicting parties on their staff. Some of the executives (17 percent) say they spend a quarter to more than half of their precious time dealing with conflict in the workplace.
Sound familiar? Just think what you could do with that six hours a week if you didn’t have to manage all those disagreements that erode into discord. Follow these five ways to encourage your workers to get along with others in the office:
1. Promote the flow of communication
Putting your head in the sand really doesn’t help when there’s conflict in the workplace. Problems rarely resolve themselves on their own and can even become worse if they’re not addressed. So be proactive.
Encourage those on your team who are having difficulty with a coworker to get their disagreements out in the open while they’re still small. Here are some hints you can offer them:
- Ask your coworker with whom you’re not seeing eye to eye to name a time when it would be convenient for the two of you to meet, in a place where you won’t be interrupted.
- After laying out your point of view on the issue, listen carefully to what the other person has to say, show empathy, avoid interrupting, and ask questions to clarify what was said.
- Identify points of agreement and disagreement, and ask if your coworker agrees with your assessment.
- Express your desire to work out a solution and discuss ways to resolve your conflict and improve your relationship.
2. Practice what you preach
Managers, of course, need to lead the way with communication on the job. Here are some suggestions executives share to help you prevent conflicts while building rapport with your teams and colleagues:
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Take an interest without participating in office politics.
- Nip rumors in the bud by offering accurate and up-to-date clarifications.
- Project an image of professionalism and good etiquette.
- Respect unique points of view, and don’t criticize others publicly.
- Check in regularly, and show how you value other people’s input.
- Be honest, reliable and direct with your communication style.
- Build your relationships by inviting others to coffee or lunch outside of the office.
3. Let your team know you can help
A critical component of leadership is developing a sense of what’s important for you to do in times of stress.
First of all, tell your employees that if they find themselves in over their head, or if they’ve tried to resolve a conflict and the negative behavior continues to impede their work, they can use you as a resource. As a higher-up in your organization, you can provide recommendations and bring in another manager or someone from human resources for mediation.
Some suggestions for helping people work together:
- Work to use your best listening skills so you can readily identify their concerns and the root cause of the problem,
- Encourage the two sides to put aside their differences and find common ground — such as the desire to help the company to succeed.
- Make it clear that their cooperation is required, and then continue to monitor the situation so the issue doesn’t fester and become worse.
When people believe their voices will be heard, they are more likely to perform at their best. Communication goes both ways, so inspire a relationship where they give you timely status reports and feedback about difficulties or challenges.
4. View everything as a learning opportunity
Perhaps, conflict in the workplace could be seen in a positive light. For all the grief disagreements can cause, there’s an upside when your workers can learn from them. Differing opinions can stimulate innovation and give added impetus for team building.
Helping to resolve disputes can put those you manage in a better position to assume leadership roles in your company. You can tell a temporary worker who wants to move into a full-time role that tact and diplomacy in dealing with conflict in the workplace can make a good impression on management. Or let an employee know that effectively working well with others can help with career advancement.
5. Criticize gently and praise achievement
In a perfect world, everyone on your staff would be flawless at their jobs. But the reality is that they will make mistakes, get into arguments, experience personnel problems, miss deadlines. When you need to call attention to shortcomings, make it your goal to preserve each individual’s dignity. Meet in private and allow them to explain the problem and what might have led to it. Rather than assigning blame, reframe a mistake or failure as a lesson, and focus on what might be done differently in the future.
All professionals appreciate recognition, particularly when they’ve put in extra time or effort. So make a goal to celebrate resolution when your team achieves it. Even if they’ve made just small steps, congratulate them on the progress. They’re not robots, after all!
“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” — Thomas Edison
Excerpted article was written by Benjamin P. Hardy
10 minutes before going to sleep:
It’s common practice for many of the world’s most successful people to intentionally direct the workings of their subconscious mind while they’re sleeping.
Take a few moments before you go to bed to meditate on and write down the things you’re trying to accomplish.
Ask yourself loads of questions related to that thing. In Edison’s words, make some “requests.” Write those questions and thoughts down on paper. The more specific the questions, the clearer your answers will be.
While you’re sleeping, your subconscious mind will get to work on those things.
10 minutes after waking up:
Research confirms the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, is most active and readily creative immediately following sleep. Your subconscious mind has been loosely mind-wandering while you slept, making contextual and temporal connections. Creativity, after all, is making connections between different parts of the brain.
In a recent interview with Tim Ferriss, Josh Waitzkin, former chess prodigy and tai chi world champion, explains his morning routine to tap into the subconscious breakthroughs and connections experienced while he was sleeping.
Unlike 80 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 44 who check their smartphones within 15 minutes of waking up, Waitzkin goes to a quiet place, does some meditation and grabs his journal.
In his journal, he thought-dumps for several minutes. Thus, rather than focusing on input like most people who check their notifications, Waitzkin’s focus is on output. This is how he taps into his higher realms of clarity, learning and creativity—what he calls, “crystallized intelligence.”
If you’re not an experienced journal writer, the idea of thought-dumping might be hard to implement. In my experience, it’s good to loosely direct your thought-dumping toward your goals.
Consider the requests you made of your subconscious just before going to bed. You asked yourself loads of questions. You thought about and wrote down the things you’re trying to accomplish.
Now first thing in the morning, when your creative brain is most attuned after its subconscious workout, start writing down whatever comes to mind about those things.
I often get ideas for articles I’m going to write while doing these thought-dumps. I get ideas about how I can be a better husband and father to my three foster children. I get clarity about the goals I believe I should be pursuing. I get insight about people I need to connect with, or how I can improve my current relationships.
To be sure, you’ll need to practice this skill. It might take several attempts before you become proficient. But with consistency, you can become fluent and automatic at achieving creative and intuitive bursts.
2. Journaling accelerates your ability to manifest your goals.
As part of your morning creative burst, use your journal to review and hone your daily to-do list. Review and hone your life vision and big-picture goals.
As you read and rewrite your goals daily, they’ll become forged into your subconscious mind. Eventually, your dreams and vision will consume your inner world and quickly become your physical reality.
3. Journaling creates a springboard for daily recovery.
People struggle drastically to detach from work. More now than ever, we fail to live presently. Our loved ones are lucky to experience a small percentage of our attention while they’re with us.
But utilizing your journal can curb this mismanagement. At the end of your workday, reopen your journal and review your to-do list from that day. If your morning journal session was excellent, you’ll have likely gotten everything done you intended to do. Private victories always precede public victories.
Journal sessions are your post-work reflection time. Account to yourself what you got done that day and what needs to be moved to tomorrow. Write the things you learned and experienced.
Lastly, direct your subconscious by writing about things you want to focus on tomorrow. As you put work behind you for the evening, your subconscious will be preparing a feast for you to consume during your next morning’s creative and planning session.
This end-of-day journal session doesn’t need to be as long as the morning session. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, recommends writing far less than you want to—only a few sentences or paragraphs at most. This will help you avoid burnout.
A primary objective of this session is to mentally turn off work mode. Just as in physical training, you need to rest and recover between workdays to get stronger.
Use this session to completely unplug and detach from work. This is your time to recover and be present with your loved ones—because there is more to life than work. The higher quality your recovery, the more potent and powerful your creative sessions will be.
4. Journaling generates clarity and congruence.
This keystone habit has so much power. By journaling in the morning and evening, you’ll quickly see what is incongruent in your life.
You’ll clearly see what needs to be removed and what should be included in your life. Journaling is a beautiful and powerful facilitator of self-discovery. My own journaling is how I’ve come to form my sense of identity and path in life.
Not only will you have more clarity about your path in life, but journaling improves your ability to make small and large decisions along the way.
On the pages of your journal will be the future world you are creating for yourself. You are the author of your life’s story. You deserve to be happy. You have the power to create whatever life you want. As the designer of your world, get as detailed as you desire.
5. Journaling clears your emotions.
- Reducing scatter in your life
- Increased focus
- Greater stability
- Deeper level of learning, order, action and release
- Holding thoughts still so they can be changed and integrated
- Releasing pent-up thoughts and emotions
- Bridging inner thinking with outer events
- Detaching and letting go of the past
- Allowing you to re-experience the past with today’s adult mind
When you are in an intensely emotional mood, journaling can help you more fully experience and understand those emotions.
After you’ve vented on the pages of your journal, you’ll quickly find a release. Objectivity will return and you’ll be able to move forward.
Without a journal, intense emotional experiences can be crippling for hours, days and even years. But an honest and inspired journal session can be the best form of therapy—quickly returning you better and smarter than you were before.
6. Journaling ingrains your learning.
Humans are bad at retaining information. We forget most of what we read and hear. However, when you write down the things you’ve learned, you retain them far better. Even if you never reread what you’ve written, the simple act of writing something down increases brain development and memory.
Neurologically, when you listen to something, a different part of your brain is engaged than when you write it down. Memory recorded by listening does not discriminate important from unimportant information. Writing creates spatial regions between important and unimportant pieces of information, which allows your memory to target and engrain the important stuff you want to remember.
Furthermore, the act of writing allows your subconscious mind to work out problems in unique ways, intensifying the learning process. You’ll be able to work out problems and get insight while you ponder and write about the things you’re learning.
Even if you start a journal session in a bad mood, the insight writing brings has a subtle way of shifting your mind toward gratitude.
When you start writing what you’re grateful for, new chambers of thought open in the palace of your mind. You’ll often need to put your pen down and take a few breaths. You’ll be captivated not only by the amazing things in your life, but by the awe and brilliance of life in general.
As part of your morning and post-work journaling sessions, be sure to include some gratitude in your writing. It will change your life orientation from scarcity to abundance. The world will increasingly “become your oyster.”
Gratitude journaling is a scientifically proven way to overcome several psychological challenges. The benefits are seemingly endless. Here are just a few:
8. Journaling unfolds the writer in you.
I became a writer through journaling. While I was on a mission-trip, I wrote in my journal for one to two hours per day. I got lost in flow and fell in love with the writing process.
If you want to become a writer one day, start by journaling. Journaling can help you:
- Develop strong writing habits.
- Help you discover your voice.
- Clear your mind and crystalizes your ideas.
- Get closer to the 10,000 hours Malcom Gladwell says are required to become world-class at what you do.
- Produce gems you could use in your other writing.
9. Journaling records your life history.
I started journaling in 2008 after reading an article about the importance of journal writing. In the article, the author described how much journaling had changed her life. She said after all these years, she now has 38 recorded volumes of personal and family history.
After finishing that article, I have never stopped writing in my journal. In my family room on a bookshelf are 20-plus journals filled with my thoughts and experiences. I’m certain they will be cherished by my ancestors as I’ve cherished the writing of my loved ones who have passed on.
This post originally appeared on BenjaminHardy.com.
By Marilyn Lewis
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
When responsible first-time homebuyers need help buying a home, the family bank sometimes can lend a hand.
Younger homebuyers face a mountain of obstacles, including rising home prices and interest rates, too few homes for sale and unpaid college debt. Student debt is a major source of trouble. When the National Association of Realtors surveyed recent homebuyers who had problems saving up a down payment, 53 per cent of those in the youngest group (37 and younger) blamed student loan debt for their difficulty.
Families appear to be pitching in to help, according to the results of that survey in the 2018 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report. Among homebuyers who made a down payment, 23 per cent of those 37 and younger used a gift and 6 per cent a loan from family or friends the highest proportion for either type of assistance among all age groups.
Family assistance like this works best when the kids qualify for a mortgage on their own and parents make the purchase more affordable with, for example, a bigger down payment or a lower interest rate, says Jeremy Heckman, a certified financial planner with Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina, Minnesota.
FIRST, THE GROUND RULES
To create a businesslike distance for these transactions, Heckman suggests that parents:
_ Consider disclosing the assistance to all immediate family
_ Consider treating all siblings equally
_ Use contracts
_ Document gifts
Formal agreements offer important benefits, says San Francisco real estate attorney Andy Sirkin. They define obligations and minimize misunderstandings. And if parent lenders die or become incapacitated, all their heirs can view the transaction and its history.
WAYS TO HELP
Here are three ways parents can help make it more affordable for new homebuyers to purchase a home:
1. GIVE MONEY
A gift of money is often best, Heckman says. Parents can write a check for any amount they choose. That’s it _ no contract or ongoing commitments. Or they can pay all or part of an expense such as mortgage closing costs. Providing down-payment assistance can help new borrowers avoid paying for private mortgage insurance, which helps keep their monthly payment low.
HOW IT WORKS
Strict rules dictate how cash gifts are used in a home purchase, and they vary by mortgage type, lender and lender offer, says Mark Case, a senior vice-president at SunTrust Mortgage.
Lenders like to see money gifts _ easily traceable checks, bank transfers or wire transfers _ in a borrower’s bank account three or four months before applying for a mortgage, Case says. Givers and recipients may need to sign letters confirming that the money isn’t a loan.
When it comes to taxes, anyone can give any other person a gift up to $15,000 in value (money or, say, stocks) in 2018 without filing the gift-tax return IRS Form 709 . So a parent with two children can give each of them _ and even the children’s partners _ up to $15,000 this year without having to complete Form 709. A tax professional can confirm how the rules apply to individuals’ specific circumstances.
2. FINANCE THE MORTGAGE
Parents with cash to invest can become the mortgage lender, offering extra-easy terms, like no closing costs or no down payment. Heckman says they can charge a higher rate of interest on their money than it earns in a savings or money market account and still offer kids a lower-than-market mortgage rate.
“I said, ‘This could be a win-win for both of us,”’ says Jay Weil, an attorney in Wayne, New Jersey. He and his wife, Judy, have financed two mortgages for their son Matt and Matt’s wife, Allison.
HOW IT WORKS
Jay and Judy fully funded the younger couple’s first home, a Columbia, Maryland, townhouse. They decided to use a service that facilitates family loans. They worked with National Family Mortgage, which charges one-time setup fees of $725 to $2,100, depending on the loan size; provides all necessary forms and documents to meet state, local and IRS requirements; guides families through the settlement and filing process; and connects borrowers with loan servicers.
Then in 2017, the Weils lent the kids money again, for a $579,900 house in Laurel, Maryland. Matt and Allison got two loans. One was a primary mortgage from SunTrust Mortgage for $259,900, at 3.875 per cent. His parents provided a second mortgage for $260,000 at 1.98 per cent. They used money earned from the sale of their first home to make a down payment.
Family lenders must charge at least the Applicable Federal Rate , the minimum interest rate required to keep the assistance from being considered a gift.
Although riskier for parents, co-borrowing is another option. Mortgages with co-borrowers were nearly a quarter of all new-purchase mortgages in the third quarter of 2017, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data company.
Co-borrowing helps borrowers overcome a limited credit history or a too-high debt-to-income ratio, says Case, of SunTrust Mortgage.
HOW IT WORKS
Parents apply for the mortgage, too. They must meet the lender’s credit requirements and sign loan papers with their kids at closing.
Aside from the mortgage itself, a separate family contract can define expectations and details such as who gets how much equity when the home sells and what happens in case problems arise, says Sirkin, the real estate attorney.
For parents interested in being co-borrowers, there are some things to keep in mind:
_ Not all loans allow co-borrowers, so it’s good to confirm the option when shopping for mortgages
_ Some lenders may call this step co-signing, which may have different parameters, but the outcome is the same: Parents and children are equally responsible for the loan and any missed mortgage payments
_ Parents’ credit could be affected, making it hard to finance another big purchase later, even if children make payments on time
With all the headwinds facing first-time homebuyers, family help sometimes makes all the difference.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Marilyn Lewis is a writer at NerdWallet.
By David Koenig
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Packages intended to be placed on a truck, like the bomb that exploded Tuesday at a FedEx facility in Texas, are not screened as carefully as items carried by passenger planes.
Largely that is because of the high cost of screening every parcel intended for domestic delivery.
Delivery companies such as FedEx and UPS rely on a risk-based strategy. They hope to detect illegal or dangerous shipments by spotting something unusual about the package or the shipper. Some security experts give the companies good marks while pointing out the limitations of their approach.
FedEx and UPS say only that they have security measures in place and co-operate with law enforcement. They declined to discuss specifics, saying that would compromise security.
Here are some questions and answers about security of parcels:
ARE ALL PACKAGES SCREENED?
Cargo on passenger planes must be screened, usually by computed-tomography scanners although explosive-trace detection and dogs are also used, said Jeffrey Price, an aviation-security expert at Metropolitan State University in Denver.
If a package is going to be placed on a truck for delivery within the United States, as with the device that exploded on a conveyer belt at a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas, “there is much less likelihood that it’s going to be physically screened with X-ray or even a person examining the package,” said John Cohen, a former counterterrorism co-ordinator at the Department of Homeland Security.
HOW ARE SHIPMENTS CHECKED?
For truck shipments, cargo carriers train employees to look for suspicious behaviour, including anything that looks odd about the package, or a shipper who buys too much insurance for what he says is in the box, Cohen said. Those procedures developed in the 1980s to detect shipments of drugs or guns and evolved to be used to find explosives.
An employee at a FedEx centre in Austin, Bryan Jaimes, 19, told reporters he never received new guidance from managers about handling packages as Austin authorities look for what they’ve called a “serial bomber.” He said his job is to load the trucks and that he assumes other workers earlier in the shipping chain give packages a once-over before they get to him.
FedEx and UPS officials declined to say whether they screen ground-shipping packages at drop-off points or distribution centres. On Tuesday, investigators closed off an Austin-area FedEx store where they suspect that the bomb was dropped off.
The most stringent screening rules apply to packages that will be carried on passenger airplanes.
FedEx and UPS each have their own fleet of planes, and the rules are not as strict. Price said the companies aren’t required to use X-ray, explosive-trace detection or canine screening but can at their option. He said they are required to physically inspect all packages.
HAVE TERRORISTS TRIED TO HIDE BOMBS IN CARGO?
Yes. The threat posed by bombs given to delivery companies was highlighted in a 2010 plot aimed at blowing up planes flying to the United States.
Bombs hidden in printer cartridges were shipped from Yemen but intercepted in Dubai and the United Kingdom and were defused. The bombs were pulled off U.S.-bound planes after officials got a tip from authorities in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. then banned large toner and ink cartridges from passenger planes and ordered new inspections of high-risk shipments on cargo planes coming into the country.
The Best Way to Structure Your Day
A study recently conducted by the Draugiem Group used a computer application to track employees’ work habits. Specifically, the application measured how much time people spent on various tasks and compared this to their productivity levels.
In the process of measuring people’s activity, they stumbled upon a fascinating finding: the length of the workday didn’t matter much; what mattered was how people structured their day. In particular, people who were religious about taking short breaks were far more productive than those who worked longer hours.
The ideal work-to-break ratio was 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest. People who maintained this schedule had a unique level of focus in their work. For roughly an hour at a time, they were 100% dedicated to the task they needed to accomplish. They didn’t check Facebook “real quick” or get distracted by e-mails. When they felt fatigue (again, after about an hour), they took short breaks, during which they completely separated themselves from their work. This helped them to dive back in refreshed for another productive hour of work.
Your Brain Wants an Hour On, 15 Minutes Off
People who have discovered this magic productivity ratio crush their competition because they tap into a fundamental need of the human mind: the brain naturally functions in spurts of high energy (roughly an hour) followed by spurts of low energy (15-20 minutes).
For most of us, this natural ebb and flow of energy leaves us wavering between focused periods of high energy followed by far less productive periods, when we tire and succumb to distractions.
The best way to beat exhaustion and frustrating distractions is to get intentional about your workday. Instead of working for an hour or more and then trying to battle through distractions and fatigue, when your productivity begins to dip, take this as a sign that it’s time for a break.
Real breaks are easier to take when you know they’re going to make your day more productive. We often let fatigue win because we continue working through it (long after we’ve lost energy and focus), and the breaks we take aren’t real breaks (checking your e-mail and watching YouTube doesn’t recharge you the same way as taking a walk does).
Take Charge of Your Workday
The 8-hour workday can work for you if you break your time into strategic intervals. Once you align your natural energy with your effort, things begin to run much more smoothly. Here are four tips that will get you into that perfect rhythm.
Break your day into hourly intervals. We naturally plan what we need to accomplish by the end of the day, the week, or the month, but we’re far more effective when we focus on what we can accomplish right now. Beyond getting you into the right rhythm, planning your day around hour-long intervals simplifies daunting tasks by breaking them into manageable pieces. If you want to be a literalist, you can plan your day around 52-minute intervals if you like, but an hour works just as well.
Respect your hour. The interval strategy only works because we use our peak energy levels to reach an extremely high level of focus for a relatively short amount of time. When you disrespect your hour by texting, checking e-mails, or doing a quick Facebook check, you defeat the entire purpose of the approach.
Take real rest. In the study at Draugiem, they found that employees who took more frequent rests than the hourly optimum were more productive than those who didn’t rest at all. Likewise, those who took deliberately relaxing breaks were better off than those who, when “resting,” had trouble separating themselves from their work. Getting away from your computer, your phone, and your to-do list is essential to boosting your productivity. Breaks such as walking, reading, and chatting are the most effective forms of recharging because they take you away from your work. On a busy day, it might be tempting to think of dealing with e-mails or making phone calls as breaks, but they aren’t, so don’t give in to this line of thought.
Don’t wait until your body tells you to take a break. If you wait until you feel tired to take a break, it’s too late—you’ve already missed the window of peak productivity. Keeping to your schedule ensures that you work when you’re the most productive and that you rest during times that would otherwise be unproductive. Remember, it’s far more productive to rest for short periods than it is to keep on working when you’re tired and distracted.
Bringing It All Together
Breaking your day down into chunks of work and rest that match your natural energy levels feels good, makes your workday go faster, and boosts your productivity.