The Fine Art of (Not) Making Coffee

CoffeeThere’s nothing better than arriving at work to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. That rich aroma acts as a beacon of hope, a signal that it just might be possible to make it through the day.

On the other hand, that empty pot can bring on feelings of gloom and despair, but making a pot just isn’t that interesting or fun. Surely that 45 seconds can be put to better use.

Is this deception born out of laziness? Yes.

Is this deception a sign of passive aggressive tendencies? Of course.

To get out of making coffee, your co-workers need to believe that at some point you actually brewed a pot. Ideally, associate your fiction with a memorable office event or when a co-worker confided some personal information about their life.

Scenario 1:

Co-Worker: I don’t know what I’m going to do, last Thursday my wife told me she wanted a divorce.

You: You mentioned that. I was making a pot of coffee at the time. She’s crazy to leave you! Care for a cup?

Scenario 2:

Co-Worker: Do you remember when Jenny lost it and hurled profanities around the office?

You: I sure do. I was making a pot of coffee at the time. I think the fresh coffee after the outburst helped everyone calm down.

Once you have planted the idea that you’ve actually brewed java on numerous occasions, you will be off the coffee ‘radar’, and your reputation as a team player will remain intact!

At times, you may need to implement other techniques depending on the situation.

Proper etiquette dictates that the person who takes the last cup must brew a fresh batch. Make sure to leave just enough to fill at least half a cup. This means approaching the pot with caution. Don’t start pouring unless you are certain there will be enough left to get you off the hook.

Boss: Any coffee left?

You: There sure is boss . . . there sure is!  A good solid half-cup or so . . .

Another trick is to approach the pot seconds after a co-worker has made motions to make a brew. Timing here is crucial. If you lunge too soon, you may get stuck with actually making coffee. And who wants that? Remember to act with contrition:

You: Oh sorry Amy, I didn’t realize you were about to make the coffee. I sure admire your gumption to do it with your arm in a sling. You’re an inspiration to us all. I’ll get out of your way.”

Amy: Well . . . Um . . . I . . . er . . . I could use a little help . . .

You: “Great . . . I’ll be back when it’s ready.”

Finally, this last technique takes minimal effort. Even though you didn’t lift a finger to make it, steal the glory by going up and down the office corridors shouting, “Fresh coffee ready to go!” Simple. Effective.

There you have it. A few simple ‘techniques’ in the fine art of not making coffee. Now go get yourself a nice fresh, guilt-free cup . . .

Ways Successful People Handle Toxic People

TRAVIS BRADBERRY

Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and President at TalentSmart

Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus—an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success—when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions—the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with toxic people—caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, toxic people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize toxic people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep toxic people at bay.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when dealing with toxic people, what follows are twelve of the best. To deal with toxic people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.

1. They Set Limits (Especially with Complainers)

Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral.

You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

2. They Don’t Die in the Fight

Successful people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

3. They Rise Above

Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes against reason. So why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix?

The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink, if you prefer the analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.

4. They Stay Aware of Their Emotions

Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.

Think of it this way—if a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street and tells you he’s John F. Kennedy, you’re unlikely to set him straight. When you find yourself with a coworker who is engaged in similarly derailed thinking, sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod. If you’re going to have to straighten them out, it’s better to give yourself some time to plan the best way to go about it.

5. They Establish Boundaries

This is the area where most people tend to sell themselves short. They feel like because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve found your way to Rise Above a person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when you don’t. For example, even if you work with someone closely on a project team, that doesn’t mean that you need to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with them that you have with other team members.

You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will.

6. They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take that away from them.

While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what toxic people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

7. They Don’t Focus on Problems—Only Solutions

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling your difficult person is, and focus instead on how you’re going to go about handling them. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with them.

8. They Don’t Forget

Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Successful people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

9. They Squash Negative Self-Talk

Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.

10. They Limit Their Caffeine Intake

Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight-or-flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re surprised in the hallway by an angry coworker.

11. They Get Some Sleep

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present.

A good night’s sleep makes you more positive, creative, and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.

12. They Use Their Support System

It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as explaining the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation.

Bringing It All Together

Before you get this system to work brilliantly, you’re going to have to pass some tests. Most of the time, you will find yourself tested by touchy interactions with problem people. Thankfully, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors, even when you fail. Implementing these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

The 5 things you should never do at work are:

Mouth covered with tape

Excerpted article written by Kathy Caprino

1. Speak, behave or quit out of rage or revenge

Most people spend more hours at work than anywhere else, so it’s normal and expected that we will experience the full gamut of emotions while engaged in our work. I’m all for bringing our whole selves to work as well, and being as authentic, honest, and transparent as humanly possible at our jobs. That said, I’ve watched the inevitable destruction of losing control of your emotions and acting out rashly and impulsively from rage or despair.

For example, in my early 20’s, I screamed an obscenity at the top of my lungs to my boss who I felt was harassing me, and I did it in front of the entire office. He had no choice but to fire me. Thankfully, I had another job offer in the wings so the damage was not too serious. While it felt fantastic (for one split second) to swear at him, what has stayed with me over time is the shock and shame of how out of control I felt during that time. I vowed never to lose it like that and act out of rage or fury again. If you act impulsively and rashly at work, you will likely lose much more than your self-respect.

2. Backstab your colleagues

I’m astounded at how many people today feel completely comfortable ridiculing, disparaging or undermining their colleagues, co-workers and even their friends. I used to be that kind of person – talking behind someone’s back if I felt they were behaving poorly, meanly, or less than professionally. I learned later (in my therapy training) that this is called triangulation – telling a third party about something that makes you anxious or upset instead of dealing with it head on with the individual in question. Why do we do that? Because we lack the courage and fortitude to address the problem directly, or we feel it just won’t work out if we do. It relieves our anxiety to share the problem, but it does nothing to resolve it.

Other folks may call this “gossip” (gossip, by the way, is another “must not do” in the workplace). But backstabbing your colleagues is a special brand of negative behavior because it aims to hurt. And when you desire to hurt others, it will be you who suffers. In one job, I backstabbed a colleague because it seemed that she received all the accolades, promotions and perks because of her beauty and her obsequiousness to our bosses. All of that might have been true, but trying to take her down behind her back didn’t work. That behavior never will, in the long run. You’ll only embarrass and humiliate yourself and it will come back around to bite you eventually.

3. Lie

We tell lies most often when we think that the truth will hurt us somehow, or when we want to avoid facing the consequences of our truth. The problem with lying is two-fold: 1) When you tell yourself you’re not capable of facing reality or dealing with the consequences, you make yourself right – you’ll grow less powerful, capable, bold, respectable, and trustworthy over time, and 2) the lies you tell must be perpetuated, which is exhausting and drains you from vital energy you need to reach your fullest potential.

If you have told lies at work – about your skills and talents, experience and background, about the status of work you’re overseeing, or about who you are and what you are capable of, I’d highly recommend taking a long, hard look at what you’re afraid of, and instead of keeping up the front, get in the cage with those fears and begin working through them.

4. Proclaim that you’re miserable

Just the other day, I was talking to a former client who had marched into her boss’s office that week and shared that she was miserable at work and volunteered for a severance package. I’ve done that myself – been so unhappy at work that I put my hand up for a package. I didn’t get it, and neither did my client. After sharing that news and not receiving the package, you’re stuck in a deeply unsettling situation of the employer knowing you’re a terrible fit for your role. There are a few specific instances where this might be the right move, but in general, sharing that you hate your job is not the way to go.

But what if it’s the truth? My father used to say that there are 10 different ways to say anything, and I think he’s right. Phrases like “miserable,” “unhappy,” “fed up,” “ready to leave,” and “need to go” are not helpful when you’re talking to your colleagues, bosses, or HR staff.

What is the better way? Talk about what you’re great at and love to do, what you’ve accomplished, and what you’re ready for. Share your work highlights and new directions you’re excited and committed to take your career, and discuss your plans and desires for growth and change. Open the door for new opportunities at your current employer that will expand our skills, your resume and your talents. Try to find ways at your current job (where you’re already getting paid) to grow, stretch and build yourself. Explore every option available to you for becoming what you want to without walking out in anger and disgust. Your employer might very well be able to sponsor and support your growth and change, but it won’t happen if you stomp in and say “I’m miserable and it’s your fault.”

5. Burn bridges

Literally the biggest lesson I’ve learned in business is that success is all about relationships. It’s truly about who you know, and how they feel and think about you (and how you make them feel). I’m not saying that your amazing talent and skill aren’t important. Of course they are. I am saying that we don’t thrive and succeed alone. We need other people. And these people are not just our former bosses – they are people who reported to you, teamed with you, shared coffee and drinks with you, took training sessions with you, got yelled at alongside of you, and weathered tough times with you.

Every single one of your relationships is vitally important to you and your future, so craft them with care. Avoid people you don’t trust or like, but don’t burn bridges. After 30 years in business I’ve seen that there are hundreds of people we interact with daily who eventually could become our strongest allies, advocates and fans, if we protect and nurture our relationships as the key, enriching asset they are.

What is the worst mistake you’ve made at work, and how did you recover?

by Kathy Caprino

Career Success Coach, Speaker, Leadership Trainer & Writer helping women build successful, rewarding careers

 

10 Things Exceptional People Say Every Single Day

  1. “Here’s what I’m thinking.”

You’re in charge but that doesn’t mean you’re smarter, savvier, or more insightful than everyone else. Back up your statements and decisions. Give reasons. Justify with logic, not with position or authority.

Though taking the time to explain your decisions opens those decisions up to discussion or criticism, it also opens up your decisions to improvement.

Authority can make you “right,” but collaboration makes everyone right — and makes everyone pull together.

Good Job

  1. “I was wrong.”

I once came up with what I thought was an awesome plan to improve overall productivity by moving a crew to a different shift on an open production line. The inconvenience to the crew was considerable, but the payoff seemed worth it. On paper, it was perfect.

In practice, it wasn’t.

So, a few weeks later, I met with the crew and said, “I know you didn’t think this would work, and you were right. I was wrong. Let’s move you back to your original shift.”

I felt terrible. I felt stupid. I was sure I’d lost any respect they had for me.

It turns out I was wrong about that, too. Later one employee said, “I didn’t really know you, but the fact you were willing to admit you were wrong told me everything I needed to know.”

When you’re wrong — and if you’re trying hard, you’ll be wrong a lot — say you’re wrong. You won’t lose respect — you’ll gain respect.

  1. “That was awesome.”

No one gets enough praise. No one. Pick someone — pick anyone — who does or did something well and say, “Wow, that was great how you…”
And feel free to go back in time. Saying “Earlier, I was thinking about how you handled that employee issue last month…” can make just as positive an impact today as it would have then. (It could even make a bigger impact, because it shows you still remember what happened last month.)

Praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient. Start praising. The people around you will love you for it — and you’ll like yourself a little better, too.

  1. “You’re welcome.”

Think about a time you gave a gift and the recipient seemed uncomfortable or awkward. Their reaction took away a little of the fun for you, right?

The same thing can happen when you are thanked or complimented or praised. Don’t spoil the moment or the fun for the other person. The spotlight may make you feel uneasy or insecure, but all you have to do is make eye contact and say, “Thank you.” Or make eye contact and say, “You’re welcome. I was glad to do it.”

Don’t let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Always make praise about the other person.

  1. “Can you help me?”

When you need help, regardless of the type of help you need or the person you need it from, just say, sincerely and humbly, “Can you help me?”

I promise you’ll get help. And in the process you’ll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen — which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader.

And are all qualities of a great friend.

  1. “I’m sorry.”

We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, show support…

Say you’re sorry.

But never follow an apology with a disclaimer like, “But I was really mad, because…” or “But I did think you were…” or any statement that in any way places even the smallest amount of blame back on the other person.

Say you’re sorry, say why you’re sorry, and take all the blame. No less. No more.

Then you both get to make the freshest of fresh starts.

  1. “Can you show me?”

Advice is temporary; knowledge is forever. Knowing what to do helps, but knowing how or why to do it means everything.

When you ask to be taught or shown, several things happen: You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice; you show you trust his or her experience, skill, and insight; and you get to better assess the value of the advice.

Don’t just ask for input. Ask to be taught or trained or shown.

Then you both win.

  1. “Let me give you a hand.”

Many people see asking for help as a sign of weakness. So, many people hesitate to ask for help.

But everyone needs help.

Don’t just say, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Most people will give you a version of the reflexive “No, I’m just looking” reply to sales clerks and say, “No, I’m all right.”

Be specific. Find something you can help with. Say “I’ve got a few minutes. Can I help you finish that?” Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous. Model the behavior you want your employees to display.

Then actually roll up your sleeves and help.

  1. “I love you.”

No, not at work, but everywhere you mean it — and every time you feel it.

  1. Nothing.

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. If you’re upset, frustrated, or angry, stay quiet. You may think venting will make you feel better but it never does.

That’s especially true where your employees are concerned. Results come and go, but feelings are forever. Criticize an employee in a group setting and it will seem like he eventually got over it, but inside, he never will.

Before you speak, spend more time considering how employees will think and feel than you do evaluating whether the decision makes objective sense. You can easily recover from a mistake made because of faulty data or inaccurate projections.

You’ll never recover from the damage you inflict on an employee’s self-esteem.

Be quiet until you know exactly what to say — and exactly what affect your words will have.

Excerpted article written by Jeff Haden, Entrepreneur

 

7 Ways To Lose Friends And Not Influence People At Work

7 Ways To Lose Friends And Not Influence People At Work

Source: INC.com

My dad worked in sales his entire life. He started as a manufacturer’s rep and ended up working as a car salesman in his twilight years. Growing up, I remember how he would talk about Dale Carnegie, the book author and sales guru who died in 1955.

Carnegie became famous because his books changed how successful people lead companies and sell products. Instead of just pushing their own agenda, those with the most friends and the most success have learned how to show empathy to others.

So, what about those who are not successful? They don’t show empathy. They are so selfish and focused on their own goals that they don’t ever gain allies in business, they push people out of projects, and no one bothers to seek their advice. They fail to empathize and demonstrate several other traits that can ruin projects–and even destroy companies.

1. They purposefully misunderstand feedback

The most unsuccessful people always seem to have this trait: they hear what they want to hear instead of the truth. Recently, I had a misunderstanding with someone who is not that interested in my own point of view. I’ve explained my opinion a few times, but have come to the realization that this person doesn’t really want to understand me. My friend is not interested in growth or changing his leadership style; he’s only interested in being right. The result? I am not so sure our friendship will even last.

2. They communicate as poorly as possible

Set down the tablet, close your e-mail program–put your smartphone on silent. Those are all great tactics for pushing friends away. People who lack influence and close colleague relationships are always poor communicators. They live in a bubble of seclusion, quietly trying to work out their own success. It’s a strange way to operate, but it makes sense to selfish people who only care about their own advancement.

3. They keep their ideas confidential

People who lack any influence in the workplace are usually mousy, secretive, and lack confidence. I’ve written before about how the most liked people at work are usually those that talk and share their ideas. Those who lack influence are the exact opposite: they don’t ever talk, so no one in the office bothers to ask their opinion. They don’t have any friends at work because they won’t share the credit with anyone–or even share an idea.

4. They start every conversation being critical

Finger pointing–there’s a great tactic to win friends! Instead of admitting weaknesses and starting an investor meeting with a little humility, friendless people always start with a complaint about a project, a person, or a proposal. “Oh, that’s not going to work, and here’s why…” they always say, and it’s a sure way to make people defensive.

5. They only see things only from their perspective

One of the most brilliant insights Carnegie ever had was to start seeing things from the perspective of other people. This actually works, because you adjust your behavior to “win” them over in an honest way. You give them the gift of empathy and they respond. Unsuccessful people never do this. They look at projects and companies in light of how they will benefit personally, the recognition they will receive, and the paycheck they’ll get in the end. The are not just myopic; they are blind to an anyone else’s perspective.

6. They always expect others to comply

Failed leaders always have a “my way or the highway” approach. They stomp-stomp-stomp around the office and raise their voice in meetings, using aggressive tactics to get what they want. Everyone else has to adjust to their approach. And they have no friends. Their lack of empathy plays out in the workplace in a tangible way because no one ever wants to work with them or fall under their dictum; in the end, they know it will be the bad golden rule (she who has the most gold rules) and not the good one.

7. They go it alone

When you look at the most unsuccessful people at work, they all share the same trait: they are loners. They don’t understand the power of teamwork, or how to adjust personal goals for the sake of the company, or even how to set aside a task list for once and help someone else on a project. One single person is never, ever successful. Successful leaders in business always have a team who helps them push a company forward; they share the glory.

Source: INC.com

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To succeed in business today, industry leaders say employees need to better communications skills in order to articulate their message to customers, co-workers and employers. To meet this growing need among professionals in all industries, ILScorp has launched a new online course: “Secrets for Exceptional Speaking.”

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