An organization I work with recently brought in a consultant. At meetings he furiously types away at his keyboard.
What gives? I record the minutes for the group. I’m the writer, remember?
His summaries were for his own benefit. Still, we were both doing the same task.
Could I be flexible enough to hand over this job? Heck, yeah. It’d be one less thing for me to do.
So I approached our consultant about the overlap, and he was more than happy to take on the responsibility. Because I was flexible, I lost a bothersome chore.
The organization also benefitted. I’ll admit that the consultant’s notes are better than mine. (I’m a writer, not a note-taker, after all.)
Consider your skills in a new light, and see how it wins you points – or brings you relief – in the workplace.
Adaptability is essential in life and to live. If species hadn’t adapted, evolution wouldn’t have happened. We never would have made it out of the primordial soup.
Naturally you must be adaptable within your field of work, but what if you’re suddenly outside the box?
Several years ago, a college student accepted a summer job as construction coordinator for an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. One minor complication: He had no construction experience.
However, he was adaptable. He quickly learned everything he needed to get other people working hard building houses. By the end of the summer, several families had new homes and the college student found he could learn way, way outside his field.
It’s not too difficult to be assertive at work: speak up at meetings, take credit when it’s due and make recommendations when you see a solution. It’s about being on your toes all the time.
However, another – and less-used – aspect of assertiveness is saying no to unrealistic expectations, to unfair demands, even to unrealistic requests.
For instance, a career coach was asked at the last minute to provide a follow-up workshop to a lecture she was giving – at no extra compensation.
Heck, what’s the big deal? She knows all the info, and she’s already there.
However, this is her profession. You just can’t go around giving it away at the drop of the hat and still make a living. It’s O.K. to be assertive in order to keep the paychecks coming in. Saying no is another way to stand up for yourself.
At work it’s important for people to know they can count on you. If you’re consistent, your output is always on time and high quality. What happens if being steady at work makes it possible for you to do your job without having a meltdown?
Consider what it’s like to be a wedding photographer. Yes, you’re helping couples document one of the most important days of their lives. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s also often insane.
What if the reception is a disaster, tensions are running high, too many people are running around and you still have to produce lovely pictures? If you have a set routine, nothing is going to throw you off. You can take chaos as it comes. You have a plan, and you won’t deviate from it.
People in artistic fields naturally need design skills, but they also come in handy in many workplace settings. You can use your keen eye to make the environment better and more productive for everyone.
What if the office is being repainted? You make suggestions, knowing what you know. Green suggests tranquility, while red is intense. White opens up a space, and blue encourages productivity. What color fits best with your work culture?
Perhaps you’re ordering new furniture. What’s going to enhance your specific setting? Geometric shapes encourage organization and discipline. Softer, flowing pieces enhance creativity. Which does your office need?
When you’re empathetic, you can look at a situation from someone else’s point of view. At work, this can be enlightening for you, especially if you’re considering things from a client’s perspective.
However, what if you extend that empathy outside your office … far outside? A tech firm regularly sends employees to other parts of the world to simple help out. The causes range from preventing rhinoceros poaching to helping low-income families obtain needed baby equipment.
Sure, this wasn’t bad PR, but the intended and achieved goal is to encourage employees to think about larger issues and work together to have an effect. It’s not all about the bottom line.
Covered in the introduction. You did read it, didn’t you?
Being focused on your work helps you crank it out better and faster, but what if you could be more focused about your focus?
Some workers try batching: setting aside a significant chunk of time to accomplish a specific task. Interruptions are forbidden: no email, Facebook, coffee breaks or texting. All work, all the time.
It takes a lot of focus to be so focused, but setting up rules you’re determined to follow really cuts down distractions and interruptions. Productivity soars.
Of course it’s important to be a good listener at work. This encourages clear understanding among all stakeholders.
It can also help avoid conflict. A probate mediator was working on a longstanding dispute among family members. One, in particular, had been volatile and out of control.
Rather than jumping all over the man or trying to keep him under thumb, the mediator simply listened. The man had been yelling and cursing to try to get someone to understand the situation from his point of view.
When the mediator chose to listen rather than react, the formerly explosive man was calm and appreciative. So was the rest of the family.
Speaking of keeping the peace, it’s essential in the workplace. Someone’s got to negotiate disputes. If you use your peacekeeping skills early, you can prevent problems before they even start.
A manager who regularly checks in with employees just to see how things are going will help morale and encourage productivity. Workers have the opportunity to get things off their chests before problems escalate.
It’s kind of like formulating a truce before any real hostilities have erupted. Do it right – and often – and your office won’t feel like a middle school, full of resentment, animosity and grudges.
At work, believing in yourself and your abilities helps keep you on track and focused, even when things aren’t going your way. You’re sure that you’ll rise above the noise and distraction.
Self-confidence on the job can also help prevent some devastating potential consequences of insecurity: alcoholism and drug abuse. If you know that things will get better because you can make them better, you won’t lose hope and have to look outside yourself for solace.
That’s a powerful strength that can see you safely through some tough times.
This is valuable in many ways, but use it right now to think about what talents you regularly bring to the workplace. Don’t be modest – you’ve got skills. Probably a lot.
You’ve just read about 10 strengths. Do you see yourself there, or are there others? Creativity? Competitiveness? Time management? Teaching? Writing? Learning? Speak up and don’t be shy. Then, consider how you can use these abilities in other ways to make work better for yourself and others.
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