Why You Couldn’t, and Also Shouldn’t but Maybe Would

What I hear a lot from other people is that they feel they should have been a certain way or should have done something different. “I should have done better in that interview” or “I shouldn’t have texted my ex”. There is always this assumption of how something should have been different than it actually was. “I should work out more” or “I should drink less” – I wonder where all these restrictions of how someone should be come from.

Well fun fact – and let me blow your mind: If you could have done better in that interview, you would have. If you could have not texted your ex, you would have, but you clearly wanted to. If you want to work out more, you would. If you wanted to drink less, you would too.

Lets first deal with Should: First rule of thumb, in life,  stop using the useless word should. It is a word that has a lifeless tone of order to it. Some random rule that you cant justify or example, some secret law that you adhere to but don’t even know why. “I should floss more” ok well, we all should, but how much is more? When is it enough? Is there someone who flosses too much? The thing is should has a connotation that you are doing something wrong. Breaking a secret law per say. It is a very strict word and locks you in. Try moving towards words that define an action or wish.”I want to do better in the next interview” or “I would like to text my ex less”. Notice how much more accepting and softer that is. See how it is you taking the steering wheel or your actions?

Now we deal with Could: If you could, then you would. Learn to accept that. A lot of people live with this ideal version of themselves, thinking they could do something. Like “I could have done better in that interview” or “I could work out more”. Well look, if you really could, then you would and you won’t be saying it but doing it. And that’s ok. Maybe you did your best in that interview and you are just too hard on yourself. Maybe you are doing the best you can to work out, and your life or your energy level don’t live up to your own expectations.

Should is a word that feels like you have to adhere to some rule. Could is some ideal expectation that you have put on yourself. In both cases, they are only in your head. Laws are determined “Employees must wash hands before returning to work” not “You should not shoot a person”. Who you are is determined “I am 5ft 7 and love ice cream” not “I could be 6ft and could like ice cream”. None of those sentences need or have a use for “should” or “could”. So neither should you (small pun there, I hope you appreciate it:).

Nonconstructive Feedback is A Thing – How to Deal with It

Have you ever been told “You talk too loud” or “You smile too much”? Most likely at one point in your life – you have. Society has ways of putting up rules and expectations you were told to adhere to. Especially in group settings such as school or in sports. People like to keep you in line with the norm because if we all behaved the same, if we all were predictable, it would be easier. Just think, is a group of people who all behave the same way easier to manage or a large number of individuals who all have different needs and behaviors? A strive for standardization is logical. Yet, I find, the most beautiful thing about humans is our way that we can all be so different and at the same time, all know the same feelings. Being told that you are not adhering to the norm like “You are so quiet” or “Why are you so shy?” is hurtful to everyone. You’d think people would have learned through experience, not to do it. And yet instead, because its done to you, you do to others. Maybe out of hurt but also maybe, because you think its right.
Either way – you can probably guess where I am going with this. I don’t think it is. I would ask you rather to focus on accepting the other person and asking yourself, why do these things bother you about them specifically. In everything we do, its more about us than it is the other person.
But – what if it is a part of a performance review? These situations are meant for feedback. They are meant to evaluate how you are doing, and if conducted correctly, to help you grow. By providing feedback, you can adjust and do a better job. Sometimes though, the feedback can do the opposite and stop your growth. One of those things is know as nonconstructive feedback, which are comments like I mentioned above. “You smile too much” – is for example one women get a lot. Or “You are too direct”. Although these things might come from a good place, they do more harm than good. For one, feedback at work should always be about professionalism. It should be about your work as such, the quality of it. There are many many books about how feedback should be given and all say they should focus on the matter and not on the person. Because, a lot of things are hard to change because they are a part of who we are. And they can be a good strength. For example, you won’t be told you smile too much if you work in customer service. And if you work in a tough, fast paced environment, directness is often also appreciated, like in Law. Performance discussions should always be about the performance and not about what you don’t like about the person.
It is a normal tendency to feel like it should be a part of the feedback, but it is not. Just think, if its not about the work, then don’t accept it. Your personality is not up for discussion and not up for criticism. If they want your work, they should accept the entire package. Don’t change how much you smile, don’t force yourself to become an extrovert, who you are is not up for negotiation. It is not a thing that needs to be amended or provided feedback on. Exactly who you are is what got you to where you are and if you are not growing or not happy – then you change the environment and not yourself. Every plant grows, but it needs the right climate and circumstances (no palm tree can grow in Alaska – if you get my drift). Stand firm, stand tall, and only take that kind of feedback from people who you love, at a time when you feel you can accept it.
Other than that, shrug it off. Or better yet, smile it off. And turn the attention back to your work.

The Secret Behind “People Say…”

We’ve all heard the quotes of these mysterious “people” that rule the earth and teach us so many things about our lives – “people say it takes three years to get promoted” or “people think you are loud”. Let me tell you something I just discovered the other week (29 years too late in my life like most things). When people say “people” – guess what, they don’t mean people. They usually mean themselves.
Reason for this choice of words is that most people are afraid of mentioning how they truly feel. This is a tactic to avoid one’s own feelings or confrontation with others. Hence – it can serve both means. By saying “people” – you can distance yourself from the statement emotionally and therefore find it easier to communicate. Just try it out. “I feel you are bossy” or “People feel you are bossy”. See how much easier that flows?
The problem I see with this is that when people use the term “people” to describe their own statements or feelings – it can be seen as a general consensus – like everyone feels the way but that might just not be the case. A lot of the time, perceptions are subjective. If we go back to the statement “People think you are loud” – each person has a different tolerance to sound. It can depend on their cultural background or just how big your household was growing up. Hence, everyone someone uses the term “people” change it to “you”. “You think that I am loud”. It helps understand where this feedback is coming from and also it helps you determine if you think this feedback is worth considering in your life – depending where it came from.
And one last thing to keep in mind – if you are a “people” person, meaning a person that uses the term “people” to describe your emotions, then please consider changing the phrase. Own up to your feelings and observations. Be a person of integrity who is true to your word. It might help you reflect on why you feel the need to hide behind “people”.

Why Multi-Tasking Should be Illegal

We are all offenders of multitasking. If you just think about how often you do it in a day, it might amaze you how talented you are: Texting while listening to music, breathing and walking. Trying on new shoes while talking in a store that is playing the radio. Eating while watching TV and nodding. I can go on and on. Most of it happens unconsciously and we do it so out of habit and with ease that multitasking just seems another part of life.

Yet at work – you might find you rather do it consciously. When you are on a call that goes on for hours, you may on the side be answering emails or working on a presentation. It might also seem like a good use of your time – you are being productive – right? But have you instead thought about the fact that you just might be half-a**ing both tasks?

If you dedicate your full attention to a task, you are more likely to

  1. a) be faster
  2. b) make less mistakes
  3. c) be more creative
  4. d) think about next steps or key challenges more clearly
  5. e) be more attentive

You may miss out on something vital a person says on a call or you may miss an opportunity to contribute and play to your strengths. There is no win-win situation when you multitask at work. Only a kind of- kind of. We all have long task list, and the sooner you get them done not only the sooner you can go home but also the better you look for getting your tasks done so fast. But if the task is not done to the great extent it could have been, you might regret missing out on a chance to show off your potential.

And there is another side-effect. Your energy. It will cost you at least three time amount the energy to finish two tasks at once than it did if you would do one at a time because you are mainly doing three things: You spend some of your energy focusing on one task, some on the other, and some on balancing between the two of them. Now that sounds like a draining day.

All in all, the benefits to not multitask outweigh the multitasking benefits. Do your best always. Give 100% percent. And that means, focusing on one task at hand and giving it your all. Now that, is what will benefit you the most.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of us are people pleasers. Even if we wish we weren’t or feel like we are not – its really hard to say you don’t want to do something to someone senior than you – like a boss or a mentor. Since the day you start at school, your first step out into the world, you are taught to be nice and to comply. To be quiet, to smile and be polite, to do what the teacher says and not object. We carry this forward with us to comply with society, be likeable and not to stand out in a negative way. Many of us therefore become, even if not actively or on purpose, people pleasers.

Its hard not to. Your boss is the one that determines your performance, so how can you say no to him? Your co-workers are the ones that decide if you are in a healthy corporate environment or if going to work is uncomfortable and awkward. So – how do you push back when they give you tasks and still be liked?

The way to deal with it is always to be kind, but not to be nice. Nice is being compliant, kind is not being mean, but it doesn’t mean you have to be compliant or say yes. You just say it in a polite way. Imagine a co-worker asks for help on a project. Being nice means you say “Of course, happy to help” even though you don’t have the time or the bandwidth. You just want to be helpful and seen as a valuable co-worker. But, if you focus on being kind, you can say “I’d love to, but I’m just really swamped right now. Do you mind if I come back to you on that? And many thanks for asking”.

See the difference? Always, always, always be a good person. But also be kind to yourself first and how you are doing. Put your work first. Setting boundaries and saying no can actually help you in the long run. It makes people respect you more for being able to say no. It makes you seem like a person that understands how to manage yourself and your workload. And also – when you do have the time, and you do say yes, its more appreciated by your co-workers.

Bear in mind that whenever you say no – do it with a smile. Be a kind person, but don’t be a pushover. Don’t be nice. Remember to be kind to yourself first.

Figuring Out This Thing Called “Networking”

When you start out with your career, one of the first things people will say to you is that you need to network. Apparently there is this magical power networking has – its supposed to open more doors for you when it comes to promotions or hearing about company news, staying informed about strategic decisions or even as far as helping you to get new jobs . This magic is yet to be fully proven to me, but I have to say I have never seen networking hurt anyone. Unless its the only thing you do all day long, then you should definitely get back to work and be known for working not NETworking.

Yet – how do you begin with networking? Let me tell you something that would be more like nOt-working: Just walking up to a person, introducing yourself and asking them out for coffee. That’s just a little too intense. Its good to  be determined to do whats good for your career but there is a good way to do it and a not so suitable way. Anytime you worry about doing something – imagine someone else doing it to you and then think how you may react. Fun fact, most of the time humans react the same. Society has taught us what is acceptable and what not. Wearing a bikini to work – not. Wearing a bikini to the beach – is. There is no law or sign, no one had to tell you not to wear a bikini on your first day – just by being a part of society you pick up on these ques.

My key tip with networking: Give it time. Don’t focus on it in your first week or your second week. Heck if you are an introvert – give it a month or two. Show that you are there to do a job. Understand the office dynamics and your surroundings. Say hi to people. Get to know their names. Most importantly, remember their names. Networking can wait till you get the working part sorted out.

Once you have people’s names down – I would suggest starting with talking about what they do. Some people are private. Being private is ok – some people don’t want to talk about their private lives at work and that is fully ok. They are not trying to hide something from you or are trying to push you away. Respect their space. You will notice sooner or later who is more private than others. If they mention their weekend, or their family – they tend to be more open. And you can ask them the next time you bump into each other about their family or talk about yours. If they don’t – then don’t ask. That is invading their space. The best way to not make people feel uncomfortable is the first rule of networking: Start with work. Or a common interest you have. Not just – You seem nice, lets grab coffee. In times of #metoo, this can come off a little strong. Start with work.

What you can see from here is that a lot of listening is needed when networking. Remembering people’s names, pay attention to what they say and what they do. Following up with a question with all these three (that would be the jackpot – if just two elements, you are also good, ok even just one is fine). An example would be: “Say Jack, you mentioned last week you were working on project Blue – do you think we could grab a coffee? I would be interesting in hearing what else is going on in the company” or “Minnie! How are you? Where you able to submit that report on time? Finance is tough – wanna grab coffee and tell me how to handle them if I ever cross their path?”. These are easy openers, after 5-10min you will notice the real interesting people will get away from talking about their jobs. Those who don’t – please don’t meet them again. Life is too short to spend it with people who only talk about work.

People love talking about themselves. Therefore, don’t be scared to ask someone out for coffee. Give it time till you feel comfortable – don’t force it on yourself. And don’t feel hurt if someone says no. Remember, in a professional setting – the relationship is professional not personal. So don’t take it personal. And remember, you are worth networking with. You have a value as a human being – hence you are just worthwhile networking with. Don’t feel guilty for taking up anyone’s time. We all have something to offer – who knows someday you might be in a senior position and people would be happy to know you. Embrace asking people out for coffee. Go on. I dare you to do it tomorrow.

Sometimes It’s Just Hard to Get Over A Hump

You can’t be motivated all the time. Sure- if you are unhappy, don’t feel challenged and its hard to get up every morning for longer then two weeks – you are not getting over a hump you are in a rut and you really need to change something. Fast. But, if sometimes you just wonder what you are doing with your life, if you job has enough purpose or if you actually love what you are doing or you are just doing it for the money – well my friend you are stuck trying to get over a hump.

Just like in your life, not every day in the office can be perfect. And sometimes there are longer periods were that is the case. Sometimes you are stuck on a project you don’t see going anywhere or you went on a great vacation and right now you just don’t feel it. These times can go on for a while. It might go longer than a Wednesday. It might be more than a “I got up on the wrong side of the bed” kind of month. And that is totally ok. Sometimes you don’t feel it. That is more than fine. You don’t need to question it or feel like you have to justify it. Like everything in life, it has its ups and downs. In this privileged society (you cant say you are not privileged if you don’t need to fear hunger and extortion) – we tend to feel like we should be excluded from pain and suffering. If something bad happens we ask, why us? Why me? Why now?

Well – why not? The only constant in life is that it is a beautiful mess with its ups and downs. No one’s life is a constant up. There is no family in the world that has not been impacted by disease and death (this by the way is a concept from the Dalai Lama – I’m just channeling my inner Dalai). So yes, sometimes things go to shit and nothing feels right. And sometimes these phases are long. And sometimes no Sarah you do not feel like doing another power point presentation and yes Thomas you actually DO mind doing completing the spreadsheet. And that is all a part of life.

So going through a tough phase is just a part of life. And a part of the working life and you just need to accept it.

Thing is, these days there are so many companies, so many teams in a corporation and so many middle managers. Sometimes we can’t help but feel that if we changed any one of those aspects, things would be better.

But let me tell you something. Unless you are being bullied, you don’t feel challenged or you are being held back (because if you are – change your job NOW), you will find it always sucks at least once in every place. Office politics are everywhere. People with little egos and personalities that just suck are also everywhere. Projects that go no where or get stuck by senior management – are everywhere. In fact – little really changes when you move. It’s just a different shade of grass – greener doesn’t mean better.

Its that somehow we have this notion that we are in charge of our careers. To a certain extent yes. But a lot of it is out of our control, like being happy in the workplace or been assigned a specific task. Or having a talent for something you actually might not enjoy. Somehow we are taught by society that in the workplace we have a say over our tasks, our pay and our efforts – I really don’t know where this comes from. You apply to a job. The job as expectations. You take them on. A lot is controlled for you – your pay, your promotion, your desk, the heating, the working hours etc. But somehow we feel we are in the power to make it our own and to make ourselves thrive (to some extent yes but to a lot, you are not). You can – but only in the limits to which your job allows it.

What I am trying to say is, let go of the feeling that you are in charge of loving your job and that you are in control. Just go with the flow. Sometimes you are motivated, sometimes you are not. And that is fine. Mix your daily work schedule with things you love. Here are some options:

  1. Even if you are stressed – set aside 10min in the morning to scroll through you favourite website. Oh we know you have one. Be it 9Gag, Buzzfeed, People.com, Eurosport – just spend 10min not thinking about work. If you cant do it at your desk – go to the bathroom and read it on your phone
  2. Try to grab coffee each afternoon with someone you like. No toxic people! Someone you feel you can talk to about anything and everything to remind you that there is more to life than work
  3. If you can, listen to your favourite music (Spotify for the win) while completing a task. I am most efficient when tapping my feet to some amazing 80s hits.
  4. Buy yourself your favourite snack and bring it to work. At 3pm, take it out of the bag. You earned it. Now you’ve earned the joy it brings you. Ah pretzels.
  5. Before starting with your day and turning on your monitor, take a moment to prepare the desk the way you like it. Get yourself that cup of tea, or tell yourself what tasks you want to achieve today and just do those. Give yourself a moment to brace yourself for whatever may come next.
  6. Don’t be hard on yourself. This is just a large wave that came upon you on your surfboard. Just ride it out. You can’t stop the wave from coming. You can’t do anything else but go with it.

Just do what is expected of you. Not more not less. A smile and a good mood needs to be earned – it is not a part of the job description.

How To: Be a Loud Person in a Quiet Office Setting

Some people are just loud. Their voice is louder, their presence is louder, their movements are heavier. Although this is usually welcome in settings with a large amount of people – say the high school hall wall, the stock exchange or a football field – an office is not a place that is welcoming to people of grand stature. Reason for that is, in an office, which is usually open floor these days, people of various personalities, work habits and cultural tendencies are put together in a room and told to be productive. Everyone is productive in their own way.

Offices are kind of like class rooms without a teacher. They are wide spaces, that should house various personalities to perform similar tasks. Yet – unlike a class room, in an office people are there to do different things. Some people have more calls while others do more analysis on their own. Others are set up in teams that need to collaborate and others are individual contributors with repetitive tasks. So – you get a mix of everything. While introverts go under – loud people stand out even more.

This can be an advantage – don’t get me wrong. You get attention, you stand out and people know your name.  You seem approachable and in a large company – that is a huge plus while many people go unrecognized. Yet – you may have noticed where I am going with this, you may be annoying your co-workers. We all have tasks to do, and we are all trying to do them the best way possible. Having to hear you across the hall talking about your project not only makes you seem insensitive (even though you may not be) but it also makes you seem self-interested – as if what you had to say was more important than what other people had to say. Your presence may take up a lot of space, even though you may be physically far far away from the person who is uncomfortable by your loudness.

So what can you do? Perhaps you are not aware of the effect you have on people. Yet:

  • If you are a loud person – trust me you know it. I am not loud but I laugh loud, the way people look at me when I laugh shows me I have committed a crime for being loud. Reason why you feel like you might be loud but no one has said anything – trust me they have and you haven’t noticed. Which brings me to my next point:
  • Acknowledge it. Embrace your noise. This is who you are and in some settings it is you true advantage. For example, loudness does well in networking settings or in sales. This is you – these are the tools you are given to get through life, learn to use them and when to use them.
  • Try to have meetings in conference rooms. Even if its just a dial in. In this space you can be your unfiltered self, tap into all your potential and not have to worry about bothering others
  • Learn to take a step back in meetings. Recognize you may dominate the conversation, so remind yourself once in a while to ask people for their opinion and their voice. And listen. Don’t interrupt them. Give them just as much time to talk as you took. Or – try at least.

Learn to accept that everyone is different. Sometimes that can be a cause of tension. And you don’t want to be associated with that feeling. Embrace yourself, know how you effect others and how you can be yourself around a quiet group of people. Who knows what you may find in the quiet.

Outshining Your Boss

Most bosses want a team of superstars. A team that everyone talks about as being the leaders in the company. They want to be known as the boss of the superstars, “Who does Superstar Jen work for? – Well Jim”. It reflects on the bosses choices, it reflects on his capabilities to pick the best people and also for him being able to retain them. If superstars want to work for this person, then he must be a great boss.
If you have someone working on your team that is not a superstar on the other hand, people question his ability to make smart choices and in some instances even lose some respect for the manager. People look at leaders and expect them to be able to manage an organization with great knowledge, ability and integrity. And its not just how the team reflects on the boss and his image. A manager is only as good as his people. You can only do the best with the best people. Hence its important not only for a mangers reputation, but also pays greatly for him to have a team of superstars.
Yet what some managers differ in, is the extent that they let their superstars be superstars. Unfortunately, some people have issues with being outshined. They want you to be known as the person that works for them and not as a individual on your own. This is not necessary intended evil. Each person is a puzzle of needs and insecurities. And even the best of us *cough-Michelle-Obama-cough* fight with inner doubts. Few people face these fears, not because they don’t have the time but because it is really hard to admit your own vulnerabilities to yourself. Just try writing down what you don’t like most about yourself. Then try to figure out why you don’t like this or why you act like this. This task, you will find will not be easy. One of my friends once told me, being honest with yourself and forgiving yourself will be the hardest things to do in your life. It takes great strength and most of us spend our strength on life itself. It takes a whole other energy pallet to build an understanding that not all things have to do with oneself.
We tend to always think most things in our lives have to do with us. If someone doesn’t say hello to us as they walk by, we feel somewhat confused or hurt & wonder what we did wrong. If a cashier doesn’t smile when serving us, we get offended instead of shrugging it off and having compassion that she must have had a long, hard day or perhaps got dumped by her boyfriend in the morning. As we go through life in our own eyes and observe it in our own minds, we expect everything to have to do with us. It’s not that we are self-centered – its just the easiest way to explain the world to yourself.
So – a lot of bosses tend to not notice if they don’t let you shine. Perhaps they are afraid of losing you and don’t know how else to show it. Yet in this case, the only way you would stay working for this manager is if he does support to in your shining. Otherwise, you will not grow and your shine will die out.
Other managers are jealous. They don’t feel like they are the leader of the team but that now you lead the team. Ergo here as well, they wont let you shine.
Now full disclosure. You can not. Never. Tell your boss he is not letting you shine. Why you may ask? Because you are walking into that vulnerable territory I mentioned earlier. Vulnerability triggers defensiveness. You will not get what you want out of your boss if he is in defense. Just ask yourself how you react in defense, for example someone falsely accuses you of eating the last piece of cake in the office or stealing their stapler. Does that make you want to invest in their well being?
The only way you can attack this is: Always make your boss feel like he is the boss. Make them feel like you appreciated their support thus far, and mention that you would like to grow with them. They may not be able to help you grow in the way you need to and that is fine. If a boss doesn’t want you to shine for whatever reason, or can’t handle your shine – you have outgrown them and it is time to leave. But don’t burn bridges and don’t hold it against them. They – just like you – have their inner doubts.

How To: Survive the Office World an Introvert

The world is set up so it works for extroverts. Speaking confidently, saying your opinion, being able to promote yourself – all qualities that are valued in this highly competitive society. We seem to be in such a winning society – at a young age kids start winning awards in school, performing or being called out in front of the whole class room. Somehow someone seems to think that being yourself loudly is a good quality. And I believed that for a long time.

I am a major introvert. I find comfort in watching other people succeed, in spending time on my own. I used to spend lunch all alone as a child and I still do. I kept asking myself what was wrong with me, why I didn’t like spending time with other people. It seemed so easy for other people to be in groups and for me it was so hard. I just thought with time I would learn to change. Only as a teenager did I learn what an introvert was and I was surprised to find that my being had a name. So other people must feel that way too.

Another great comfort was reading Susan Cain’s novel: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. For the first time I read about other people in the workforce being introverts too. And being able to own it. You cannot be the best version of yourself if you do not own every bit of your being. I have learned that being an introvert has many positive qualities:

  • Unlike other people, you are sensitive in social settings. You can pick up on ques, like understand when other people are not happy with a situation. In meetings you can therefore adjust – you know when to backtrack an idea or notice when to lighten the mood. Being sensitive was always known as a weakness, instead, like a superhero – it can be your biggest strength.
  • You can take a step back and let other people shine. In a society where extroversion is fostered, extroverts will love having the spotlight. You will not seem threatening to a boss, or many people around you thus people will be willing to work with you more.
  • You care about what makes people an individuals. You remember finer details about them, and are able to foster stronger bonds and relationships. Power doesn’t make people do good things, but a personal connection does.

Play to your strengths. If you are an introvert, embrace it and cherish it. And also – don’t forget to cultivate it.

Have lunch on your own. One of my colleagues, a major introvert – lets call him Bob – told me he blocks 1h for lunch, goes to a restaurant with his headphones and just eats listening to a podcast. It is the only way he can balance all the loud noise at work. I was once given the advise “Never have lunch on your own” as a networking tip. I tried it for a month. It was the worst thing in the world. It cost me so much energy to be with people, the lunches just killed me. (Another life lesson here: Not all advise is solid!).

Go for a 10min walk on your own. Get yourself a cup of tea or a coffee. Just make sure to be on your own even for just a minute. Soak in your own company.

In meetings – its ok to take a step back. Its ok to just spend a minute checking in on how you are doing (lets be honest – no one is present the whole time). In doodling or thinking about how excited you are to spend the weekend with Netflix. Whatever helps you touch base with your inner self.

Plan your weekends with enough time to recuperate from people. Office culture can be so loud and overwhelming. Its full of egos, goals to meet and targets, sounds and pressure. Its ok to take a step back, work from home for one day (if you have the luxury) or just spend a whole weekend not meeting people. Whatever you have to do to energize – do it. Spend hours in bed not doing a thing. Scroll on your phone reading articles you are not sure you are even interested in. Whatever it may possibly look like, embrace it. It’s what got you to survive in this crazy world so far.

Last but not least – don’t forget that it is ok to be you. Do not judge yourself just because someone told you to be different (I bet it was an extrovert;). The world wont work if we are all loud and shouting. Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Gates, Abe Lincoln, Warren Buffet – all well known introverts that found ways to get by. Remember that you add something unique to this world and you don’t even have to be aware of it.

When You are Awkward – And have to Find a Way to Live With It

Everyone of us has awkward moments in the office. The moments where someone tells you “Have a good day” and you answer with “Fine thank you how are you?”. Or you ask a question at a town hall and no one understands what you said. Or you ask about your co-workers baby and they say they have no children.

Awkward moments are the worst because it is something so little it feels like it could have been avoided if we would have just known better or if we could have done better. It is so easy to be hard on ourselves and so hard to be forgiving. Someone once told me “the hardest thing in life is to forgive yourself” and I would agree. In a work setting, its almost harder because it feels like your career – thus also your ability to provide for yourself – depends on it. You worry that perhaps someone will not want to work with you again. Or if it is a senior manager, you worry how this might effect your promotion. Sometimes you don’t have that many interactions with senior managers (especially if you are in a junior position) and all the exposure you have to senior manager is conversations in the elevator. It makes these minor interacts magnified. You have 3 minutes with someone that could determine the next 3 years of your life. And this fact makes these awkward situations so much worse.

Everyone makes mistakes. And we are the hardest to ourselves because we feel ashamed of who we were in these moments. The thing is shame is hard to deal with. Shame is something that arises from this expectation that we should be some kind of ideal of perfect but we are not. This disconnect makes us feel sad about who we are because we are not the person we want to be. And when we do not fit that ideal, we feel ashamed. Yet – where does this ideal come from? No one is born with the feeling of not being good enough. Society, parents, teachers, these are the ones that put some expectation on us, which we then internalize. And rarely do we make the time to review these expectations and see if we are still in line with them. Perhaps if we did, we would see that saying the wrong thing at the wrong time is really more something to laugh about rather than to be ashamed about.

So remember in these situations – that it is ok to just be yourself. And it is ok to be awkward and to say something silly. If someone hadn’t forced their ideals on you, you would not be feeling ashamed. It is as simple as that. Remember that shame isn’t something you were born feeling, it is an emotion taught to you. Another great saying I learned is: “If you could have done better, you would have”. We often forget we are doing our best with the tools we are given at that moment. And we should feel like we should be dealing with things any better. Just focus on getting to know yourself and the feeling of shame. And when you do notice you feel ashamed, ask yourself whose ideals are you living up to. Because I can tell you for sure it is not your own and those are the only ones that count.

My Journey

Learning to be my Authentic Self

Dr. Eric Perry, PhD

Psychology to Motivate | Inspire | Uplift

The Yoga Path • Omaha, NE

{ Practicing Physical, Mental & Spiritual Health }