Nina Spencer

15 strategies to fa la la la la, la la, la la

These 15 days at work, before Christmas, can be taxing or terrific, depending on the seasonal demands of your job and within your organization. For some, this is the slow season; for others, this is panic time. Regardless, it is December. Here's hoping that these 15 Festive Strategies, for the next 15 festive days, will help deliver you to a happy and peaceful Christmas Holiday!

There is often a psychological hurdle to "get this and that out of the way" before the 24th. Cut yourself some slack (to keep your sanity and some semblance of good cheer) by "under promising and over delivering", as much as possible. It's amazing how this approach elevates one's credibility and reputation.

As well, decide to give at least one person (or two, or three or more) a little extra help, wherever and whenever you can. Ask yourself, "What extra mile can I go for this person...this colleague or client/customer?", especially for the crabby or disagreeable ones. Maybe you can "kill 'em (or at least their crabby mood) with kindness".

2. Nurture a couple of special workplace friendships.

You spend more time at work than at home, so it seems. Isn't it nice to have at least one "safe" person at work with whom to speak...about the good, the bad and the down right ugly? One who really understands your workplace's ups and downs and all arounds? Who are your "safe" workplace colleagues? We all need at least one. Take a moment to stop by and say "thanks."

3. Reserve judgment of another (especially based on the office rumour mill).


Just because you "heard it through the grapevine" doesn't make it so. Check things out for yourself. Stick up for that absent person when the rumours start flying. Declare your ears a "no rumour/no gossip zone" for the remaining days of December (and, if this starts to feel good to you, perhaps you may choose to extend this declaration into the new year!). I once heard a story about a man who observed that most people's conversations were about others, rather than ideas, or what was to be done or accomplished. To experiment with this observation, the man decided that he would not talk about another for one full day, whether in praise, neutrally or unkindly, if that person was not present. His shocking and somewhat embarrassing result? He eliminated 90% of his conversations that day! Try this for yourself. I promise you, it is challenging to successfully do!

4. Share your thoughts of admiration with a person you admire.

Make a list of colleagues whose work and style you've always admired...and then tell them. And tell them why. Make these 15 days before Christmas your "mushy" excuse for sharing what's in your heart, and rarely said, during the other 11 months of the year.

5. Patch things up.


What office relationship, between you and another, is mildly or seriously fractured? After all this time, does it matter who was at fault? Use the execuse of this season to do what you can to mend your fences. "The Wood Stove" story illustrates this suggestion nicely: a man goes for a late afternoon walk in the winter woods. Without warning, a furious snowstorm sets in. The man has travelled too far in one direction, and couldn't possibly return home safely, that day. Luckily, he knew these woods well and found shelter in a nearby, abandoned cabin. Upon his arrival, he was thrilled to discover a tidy pile of freshly chopped wood next to an inviting pot bellied wood stove. What incredible good fortune! He scooped up a few logs, stood before the wood stove and asked, "Stove...if you give me heat, I'll give you wood". The stove scoffed, "Forget it! First you give me wood, then I'll give you heat!" And what happened to both of them for the rest of the night? They froze to death! If things are ever going to be patched up between you and another, someone needs to be the first to extend the olive branch. Let it be you.

6. Surrender to the magical turn around that six to nine months can bring.

Be kind to yourself if you are in a new position, however "high up" within the organization—or do the same for the "other guy". New professional opportunities and career moves usually include a steep learning curve, and some days and weeks where the "new kid on the block" feels as though they've duped the hiring team of recruiters. Give yourself (or the other guy) at least 6 months, if not 9, to turn yourself around. By 6 months you can usually see the promise of what you do, and can, bring to the table. Most of us were deficits to our teams before we became the jewels in the crown.

7. Tend the grass in your own backyard.


Too many people pine over what else they might be doing if it wasn't for "this job", or think that another's position or profession is more exciting and interesting, or makes more of a life changing and profound contribution, than theirs. See what good value there is in whatever job you perform, right now. The truth is...your contribution/your job is an important part of your organization's overall success, otherwise, in these budget conscious days, your job wouldn't exist at all!

8. Set two new professional development goals for 2003.

Decide now, on at least two professional development goals for the new year. Seriously contemplate your career path; if you want professional growth, start looking within your own organization. What secondments can you pursue in your own branch or division? another branch or division? To what special projects can you volunteer or contribute? What newly created position can you propose for yourself?

9. Act as if you have the best job in the whole world, and love coming to work each and every day.

Make sure that it "shows", to colleagues and clients, alike. If you really do feel this way, this suggestion is easy for you! If not, adopt the old, "fake it 'til you make it" philosophy. Over time, perhaps you will deliver yourself to this self-fulfilling prophecy. The Zen philosophy espouses, "What you think about expands". Maybe this will work for increasing your salary, as well as your demonstrated love of work!

10. Do your part ot increase peace on your team, and with your clients and customers.


Decide to have your brain three seconds ahead of your mouth. Bite your tongue over petty disagreements. Before you "go there" with a nasty retort or sarcastic comment, ask yourself, "Is this a preference or a value". Fight for your values. Let go of at least some of your preferences. This strategy will save much of your daily energy for things that really matter to you, and increase team harmony, too!

11. Accept a little more.

Don't judge colleagues, today, by what you used to know about them "back then". People do sometimes change and evolve, don't they? You have...over the years, haven't you? Think back to the way you were in the workplace ten or twelve years ago. Have you developed greater wisdom from your intervening years of experience? Does that wisdom show up in how you now deal with day-to-day relationships and challenges? Probably.

12. Talk slowly, think quickly.

Along with practicing the skill of the brain being three seconds ahead of your mouth, learn the skill of thinking creatively and quickly. Take a creative thinking, or thinking on your feet, workshop, or read some books on this topic. Edward Dubono's books on creative and lateral thinking are always a terrific place to start. In fact, you can have some fun practicing lateral thinking right here and now:

Words, and the ideas and images that go along with them, can change,
eg. depending on whether the word is a prefix or suffix, and also because the English language is full of "tricks"...remember homonyms (words that sound the same but are spelled differently)?

Try this brief lateral thinking challenge: eg. trunk, family, house, tree

1. place, book, week, ____________

2. fracture, leave, management, ____________

3. gossip, party, hours, ____________

See answers at the end of this article

13. Take a Chance.

What's one thing that you dream of doing, either professionally or personally, but are afraid to pursue, not out of physical danger, but out of fear of embarrassment or failure? Try getting out there on some of those "skinny branches" by taking a preliminary, and do-able" step in the direction of your dream, before Christmas, or at least during the month of January.

14. Consciously smile when picking up the phone.


Warm things up with your smiling verbal greetings, for the whole month of December. Perhaps even change your live and recorded telephone greeting words/script for the balance of this month. Callers will hear the smile in your voice, and it will get each and every one of your connections off to a warmer start. If you're doing it right, there will be a responsive difference...a big one! :)

15. Spend some time alone.

Indulge in at least three special lunchtimes this month. One with your team or a number of colleagues that work well together; one with an extra special work colleague, in a one-on-one opportunity to "break festive bread", and one all to yourself. Pick a pleasant winter day, and go outside for a lovely walk. Get out there! In December we all could use a little fresh air and all the sunshine we can find! Author Julia Cameron champions this idea in her book, "The Artist's Way", where she suggests that we regularly take ourselves on a date...I'm suggesting you take yourself on a workday festive luncheon date!

Whether at this time of year you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan or merely the Winter Solstice, choose to deck your workplace halls with light and jolly, fa la la la la, la la, la la!

With my warmest wishes to you, through this festive season and into 2003!

As a "bonus", please have fun with the following Christmas Songs and Sayings Brainteasersat one of your workplace events! Enjoy and laugh!

Answers to Festive Strategy 12:

1. "work",

2. "stress",

3. "office"

 

About Nina Spencer

Choosing the "right" speaker for your business meeting or conference can mean the difference
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Topics include, Skills for every professional's future; Getting
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