Respect at Work

Sadly, I often hear from people in distress from co-workers who undermine each other. It seems workplace rudeness and disrespect are on the rise.

Demonstrating personal and professional respect is a fundamental expectation for any workplace. Leaders need to e diligent and promoting workplace cultures of respect.

At the risk of this blog post sounding like “everything you learned in kindergarten” basics, it’s important we revisit the value of workplace courtesy and respect.

We are all human beings with feelings and are at risk for being hurt. There are also serious consequences for treating a co-worker with disrespect.

Bad behavior has derailed many careers, and in extreme cases has resulted in legal action-and worse.

A common reason good people leave good jobs is because of disrespectful co-workers or bosses.

Professional and respectful Do’s

  1. Follow the golden workplace rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  2. Be considerate of your co-workers’ personal space (never assume touching someone else is welcome) and time. Workplace cubicles make this ultra important. The lack of privacy is compounded when others treat your workspace like their own.
  3. Pay attention to your impact (i.e., how your loud booming voice or annoying cell phone ringtone carries into the next cubicle).
  4. Treat others with respect (remember that, culturally, respect means different things to different people). Use “please” and “thank you” regularly (again, what you learned in kindergarten!)
  5. Think before you speak. Ask yourself, could this possibly offend someone?
  6. Listen well. Give co-workers the benefit of the doubt, even if you prejudge them as off. Be curious about how they came to their conclusions (you might discover the idea is more on the mark than you previously judged). If you are always suspicious, overly judgmental and/or a micromanager, consider what you are communicating to others.
  7. Watch your language. Stressful situations can get worse with profanity, finger-pointing or loaded words such as “rude,” “unprofessional,” “untrustworthy,” “unethical” or “uncaring.” Instead, use neutral, descriptive words such as “loud” or “abrupt.”
  8. Tell co-workers when their behaviors negatively affect you. “I am offended when I hear you using that word. I would like you to stop using it with me.”
  9. Recognize that being passive aggressive or condescending to co-workers (including snide remarks or sneers) is simply bad form and unprofessional.


  1. Don’t confuse (or excuse) being informal or in a hurry with being rude. We all have busy schedules. It’s no excuse for impolite words or behaviors.
  2. Don’t stereotype or profile co-workers — instantly sizing them up and developing assumptions about them. Don’t give co-workers private nicknames. Differences exist. As human beings, we all create stories about what we believe is true about “others.” We are often wrong.
  3. Don’t gossip about or undermine co-workers. It was nasty behavior in junior high, and guess what — it still is. (It often says more about the person gossiping than the person being bad-mouthed.) When I hear people bad-mouthing someone else, I wonder what they say about me behind my back and I lose respect for them. Try responding with, “Oh, really?” then change the subject or get back to work. If you don’t respond, gossipers move on.
  4. Don’t be the company complainer. It can and will alienate your colleagues. The only good reason to bring up negative issues is to create a plan for resolving them.
  5. Don’t assume; instead, try expressing empathy vs. judgment. Notice when someone looks tired, unhappy or stressed. Express concern instead of judgments, such as, “What a slacker.”

Managers: Don’t tolerate bad behavior. Bring the behavior to the offender’s attention, document it and develop a plan for the employee to fix it. (Getting them professional help is often less expensive than attorney’s fees or headhunters.)

None of this is rocket science, but being aware of your behaviors and their effect on co-workers is important.


1. Being condescended to, 44 percent

2. Being reprimanded publicly, 37 percent

3. Micromanaging, 34 percent

4. Loud talkers, 32 percent

5. Cell phones ringing, 30 percent

Source: Fast Company

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email:

New Job? Dos and Don’ts

Congratulations — you got a new job! No doubt you are anxious to make a good first impression. You can bet your new co-workers and boss are anxious to see how you will fit in. Here are some tips to get you off on the right foot.


  • Have a positive attitude. Attitude speaks volumes about who and what you are.
  • Get clarity early with the boss about your role, priorities and expectations. Ask questions, listen well and take notes. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you are unclear about something, including where to go to when you get in trouble. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Request regular one-on-one meetings about how you are doing — and what you can do even better. Developing a “can learn” in addition to a “can do” reputation will help you develop a professional and positive rapport with your new boss.
  • Find a mentor — someone you respect, whose experience and opinion can help you grow in your career. Consider someone who has been there long enough to help you navigate the “political” environment. Find someone with whom you can speak freely with about workplace or career concerns (bosses don’t typically make the best mentors for this reason). Mentors can be critical relationships to your career growth. Most people are flattered and happy to help if you ask (particularly if you remind them of themselves). Remember: Having a mentor is a two-way street. Ask how you can help and contribute to their success as well.
  • Show up early (you don’t have to overdo this), and don’t sprint from your desk at 4:59 p.m. You don’t have to be the last to leave but don’t always be the first to leave. Demonstrate your willingness to stay longer to finish an important project on deadline. Believe me — others notice your work ethic. There is an old saying: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. In a challenging environment it may make the difference between your getting going or simply being “gone.”
  • Convince your boss that he/she made a good choice in hiring you. Most new hires are in an unofficial “probationary” period. This “honeymoon” period is when the little things, including attendance and punctuality, are noticed. If traffic is unpredictable, leave earlier. Getting there early beats getting there late any day of the week. Starting off being habitually late and/or demonstrating a lackadaisical attitude leaves bosses wondering how committed you really are and whether he or she made a mistake hiring you.
  • Do what you say you will do. This is tried and true advice. Don’t promise tasks you can’t deliver. Track and honor any commitments you make to your team and boss. Deliver results that exceed commitments and expectations — consistently. Want a promotion — fast? One way is to become a “go to get it done” resource early on with both your boss and co-workers.
  • Demonstrate you are a team player. Pitch in on things like lunchroom cleanup, making coffee or replenishing the printer paper. Work hard to get along with all your colleagues — from the janitorial staff to the receptionist. You might be surprised about who has leverage with the boss when they hear you are well-liked (or not!) by your co-workers.


  • Don’t use company time to surf the Internet, send personal e-mails or stay plugged into your iPod (at the very least until you become more familiar with the company’s culture and tolerance or boundaries around these kinds of activities). Take care of your personal needs on your time. Take the initiative during slow or down time to research and learn something new you can apply to your job — there is always something you can be working on to improve or helping someone else out with.
  • Don’t establish yourself as the newly designated “water cooler gossip.” Stay out of personal issues and office politics for as long as possible. (Yes, I know it is tempting and human nature.) Avoid getting sucked in and coerced by the naysayers and complainers. You will be judged by your discretion, including those people you choose to surround yourself with — choose intentionally and wisely.
  • Don’t bring your boss problems without also offering options for a solution. Don’t say, “Sorry, boss, the printer broke so those handouts you wanted won’t be done in time for the meeting.” Instead try, “The printer broke. I submitted the materials online to Kinkos and am leaving to pick them up so you will have them in time for your meeting.” Demonstrating you are resourceful and capable of resolving challenges will help put you on the fast track.

Lastly, don’t get defensive or upset when your boss offers constructive criticism or feedback. Instead, take feedback as a learning opportunity and thank your boss for helping you become more aware.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email:

Your Workplace Emotions Matter

Many workers are downright grumpy– companies have cut back on resources all while asking workers to “do more with less.” As a result, nerves get frayed and tempers can flare.

Tempers flare when the amygdala part of our brain gets triggered and sets off an alarm, firing powerful adrenaline stress hormones in response to perceived threats (like fear of losing your job). There are many ways we can perceive “danger” in our workplaces. For example, believing a co-worker is trying to make us look bad to the boss can be seen as a threat to our livelihood (and therefore our survival). Hearing a co-worker say something that we perceive is insulting or demeaning can be seen as a threat to our self-esteem. Scenarios where we perceive threats put us at risk for losing control of our emotions — otherwise known as an amygdala hijack.

Losing one’s temper or composure in the workplace puts jobs and careers at risk. Most companies won’t put up with it. Workers with anger management issues are seen as a serious risk.

Feeling angry isn’t the problem; the problem is inappropriate behavior. You may not be able to choose how you feel, but you can choose how you respond. Here are tips for responding appropriately:

  • If you feel out of control, take a timeout and remove yourself from the situation. Walk around the block or leave for the rest of the day (infinitely better than losing it in front of your boss or colleagues).
  • Calm down your body’s natural adrenaline response. Try deep breathing from the belly, visualizing your “happy place” or silently repeating a calming word. This will help decrease blood pressure and heart rate, which naturally increase with feeling angry.
  • Identify and acknowledge your emotion. Just naming it can be helpful. Take responsibility for your own feelings and share them directly to clear the air by using an “I” statement. (“I feel angry when …”) Unexpressed anger can result in passive-aggressive behavior (like getting back at someone indirectly with cynical or critical comments vs. confronting issues head on), which can harm relationships.
  • Identify what triggers your anger. Self-awareness is key to controlling how you respond. Working with a coach or therapist can help. A professional can help you connect the dots, increase your self-awareness and learn new behaviors — work you can do to hugely benefit your career.
  • Find a release for your emotions outside work: exercise, kickboxing, chopping wood, etc. Exercise is a powerful release for pent-up emotions.
  • Check your assumptions and perceptions. It’s our appraisal of the behaviors of others that often cause us to react with anger. Humans often jump to inaccurate conclusions. We often guess at the motives or intentions of our co-workers. Electronic communication is particularly fraught with danger for misinterpretation. Check in with the “offending” person to see if your perceptions are accurate. Ask clarifying questions. Be open to the idea that you might have it wrong.
  • Slow it down. Think before you speak. Saying the first thing that pops into your head is rarely a good thing when you’re upset. Rapid-fire responses are what get people escorted out of buildings. Before you speak or hit “send” on an e-mail, check in with yourself and ask: How could this be misunderstood? What is my intention here? Do I want to vent, blame or resolve this? When you speak, use “I” statements and avoid blaming; if you respond with “You …,” odds are you will trigger a defensive response from the other person.
  • Take time off over the holidays to rejuvenate and recharge your batteries. Spend time “disconnected” from the office (that means no compulsive checking of the BlackBerry or other work-connected devices!). Give yourself a break — you deserve it.

Inappropriate outbursts can define how you are viewed in the workplace. Many people are unaware of how poorly their behavior reflects on them (or affects co-workers). There is help available for those with challenges in this area of emotional intelligence.

Workplaces are filled with frustrations. You won’t succeed trying to eliminate feelings of anger. You are still human. What you can change is how you react and respond.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email:

Change is coming — you need to change with it

How do you react to change? Your answer may affect your career — more than you might believe.

“Resilient” individuals are recognized for their ability to absorb change more effectively than their less resilient counterparts; they adapt to change positively, keeping their composure, without the change negatively affecting their emotional, mental or physical well-being — or of those around them. Less resilient individuals tend to react with fight (emotional outbursts, passive/aggressive behavior or sabotaging the change effort) or flight (“I hit the job boards the day I heard the news.”).

Ambiguity is everywhere. The workplace today is full of changes, uncertainty and complexity from changing work flow, processes and overlapping roles to reporting structures and new information/technology systems. The rules of how to succeed in the workplace are changing. Companies place a high value on employees who can adapt to all this change successfully. The winners will be those who are identifiable for their adaptability and resiliency — those seen as effective, optimistic, supportive and proactively seeking solutions. The losers will be those seen as being overwhelmed, putting up roadblocks to success, paralyzed, “stuck” and resentful.

Dr. Spencer Johnson illustrates the importance of anticipating and adapting to change in his simplistic parable “Who Moved My Cheese?” The book is full of cheese (change) nuggets:

  • “If you do not change, you can become extinct.”
  • “Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old.”
  • “Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese.”

The cheese story reminds us to embrace change vs. becoming immobilized or traumatized by it. Simply put, change is coming — so get over and on with it!

Adaptability has become a workplace buzzword — and a key hiring standard. Staffing for all this change has become important. I counsel job candidates to prepare a story that demonstrates their “adaptability” for interviews. Employers equate the ability to deal with uncertain and unfamiliar situations as key to potential success in positions. Being seen as the one who “makes it work” may be the difference in getting the job or promotion.

While easier said than done, here are a few ways that employees and managers can increase the odds of adaptability and resiliency:

  • Self-awareness is essential. Be aware of your emotion to the change but “choose” your behavior in how you react to it. Extreme negative reactivity can — and will — hurt your career.
  • Communicate to management your desire to learn new coping and adaptability skills. Demonstrate you are willing to improve and change. Ask what training or coaching is available to you to become more valuable to the company.
  • Develop an open mind. Be curious — ask questions. Explore and consider vs. deciding quickly or rigidly planting your stake in the ground. Change often opens up better and new opportunities.
  • Be proactive. Take action given calculated risks and have a plan for problems. Remember — it’s not IF problems will come up — it’s how you deal with them that makes all the difference.
  • Remember Ben Franklin’s wisdom: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Be identified as one who challenges the status quo and provides solutions (you will stand out from those who hide behind, “It’s always been done that way.”).
  • Identify the positive opportunities and keep a big-picture perspective. Just because your company just got taken over doesn’t mean disaster — it may mean good riddance to processes that have been getting in your way of success.
  • Attitude is everything, and humor helps. Scream in your car (not your cubicle) and try viewing the change as another *#@*! growth opportunity!
  • Be compassionate. Empathy and understanding that change can be “scary” and uncomfortable can go a long way toward soothing ruffled employees. Back those willing to challenge the status quo (good leaders pave the way for their people to be successful).
  • Be “coachable” — professional coaches or supportive mentors can help.
  • Be a lifetime learner — stay current. Keep adding to your knowledge and skill base. Those that stagnate will not thrive in the new order of the workplace.
  • Accept it and embrace it. Change is coming — it’s inevitable.

Adaptability also means being creative to find solutions that work. Most organizations can’t afford to carry those who fight them tooth and nail over changes to improve the business. If you aren’t moving forward, someone else is passing you by.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email:

Career Development Goals

Do you have clear goals written down?  If not, start by identifying key insights and lessons by looking backwards.   How can you build more opportunity for “flow” (aka your mojo workplace zone) in your work life?

If you are unsatisfied in your career, you likely need a new career plan. It happens. As we age and grow professionally, our ideal job criteria can change dramatically. The same position or industry that excited us 10 years ago may look very different today. Our needs change, as do the skills required to be successful in the marketplace.

It’s important to get clear about what’s important to you in a dream job — consider your own skills, strengths, interests and needs, as well as things such as company or team size, growth opportunities, geographic location, job function and lifestyle considerations.

Though it’s easy to imagine, many people get stuck taking their dream past this point, as it often requires sacrifice, discipline, work and commitment. Reality can be sobering, but identifying the gap between where you are today and where you want to be is vital for developing a successful plan.

A career self-assessment is important, and many people will want to invest in outside expertise for this important step. Consider your experience, strengths and challenges. How do these match with those required to be successful in your dream job?

Your plan to address any identified deficiencies is frequently the difference (and key) between a dream and true professional achievement.

This year create goals that can help you prioritize your time and efforts. Research shows that goal setting can lead to improved performance. (In a famous Ivy League study of students, the 3 percent of those with written goals earned 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of classmates put together!) Choose carefully. A long list of goals can overwhelm, and having 10 priorities is like having none.

The “SMART” acronym can be useful for effective goal setting. Though there are many variations of the SMART goal setting process, these cover the basics:

  • Specific — What does success look like with this goal?
  • Measurable — How will I track my performance?
  • Achievable — Is this goal reasonable and realistic vs. “pie in the sky”?
  • Relevant — Would achieving this goal make a true difference? The goal should matter to you.
  • Time bound — What is your “by when” or time in the future by which you want to accomplish this goal?

I would add a “C” to the end of the “SMART” acronym to provide motivation and leverage; it can be powerful to imagine what it will be like to achieve your goal (or not!).

  • Consequence — What does achieving (or not achieving) your goal look like? Is it building your dream home, sending your kids to college or using your creative talents to better others’ lives? Whatever yours are — you need to get clear about them.

Consider, for example, the difference between a goal of “to be successful” and one of, “I will be in a director role of our company by June 2009, which will increase my salary by 25 percent and allow me to build our retirement home on Orcas Island.” The second goal is much more powerful, compelling and focused.

The difference between “pie in the sky” and achievement of goals is coming up with the specific action plan. Your action plan is your personal road map to success. What are the daily or weekly steps you need to take this year to meet your goal? For some it will include new job tasks to gain experience. For others it may be taking the necessary steps to achieve an advanced degree or conducting informational interviews with professionals in the targeted field. Be honest with yourself about what you can realistically accomplish in the coming year. Identify the “must dos” vs. the “would like to do” to achieve your goal. Remember to anticipate obstacles to success and build in your plan how you will overcome them!

The hard part comes next — actually doing the action steps required and staying on your path. To help, write down your goals, share them with others and use visual triggers that represent attainment of your goals that you can see every day (some use vision boards or screen-saver reminders). Remember to celebrate small successes as you go along, and to use temporary setbacks as learning opportunities vs. reasons to give up.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper was quoted (while covering the aftermath of hurricane Katrina) saying, “Hope is not a plan.” Successful plans require considerable thought process, commitment and effort — as well as having champions, coaches and allies that will help keep you on path and accountable.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your career coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach professionals all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: