3 Unique Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills at Work


I am severely hearing impaired and it was not detected until I was 12 years old.

So what do I know about communication and how can it help you get the most from your workday?

Finding ways to communicate well was a daily challenge.

I learned to read lips so well that I had deceived the education system, my teachers my parents and myself. I learned at an early age to it was important to get information and process it in order to get ahead and do well.

Once my disability was diagnosed it changed things for me. I then had to make others aware that I was hearing impaired and that they had to play a part in my getting the information I needed. In order to get the message across to others I had to relay to them what it was like to be hearing impaired. I had to show them different ways they could best help me in various situations.

I learned a lot about communication that I can share with you. Information needs to be handled carefully for everyone not just hearing impaired people. Its a very essential part of any experience and the more you know about it the more power you can wield and the more satisfaction you get from your job. Let me illustrate.

Do you want do work you truly care about? You have to start by building a resume that draws people to you.  Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

1. Present Ideas in More than One Way

One of the very important points to communication with a hearing impaired person is to say one sentence in different ways. Sometimes due to background noise or the acoustics of the area a word or words is not recognizable.

So speaking the idea in different ways can help to get the idea across very quickly. Let’s say you are a nurse…a good example would be to ask: “Did you take your medication today?

Another word for medication is pills “Did you take your pills today? or name the medication and ask the question. By asking the question in different ways a word will sound familiar and the subject matter can be identified. This also helps when addressing hearing people as well.

You can also present an idea in different ways that makes it easier to people to understand and remember what you said. An example would be to highlight the positive aspects of a business proposal. This is very effective as the point is taken and the receiver can address the issue with confidence.

2. Be Sensitive to Learning Styles

In the education system we present material in different ways to ensure all learning styles are covered. Some people receive material best when they can see it, some when they hear it, and some when they experience it.

You can write the information, verbalize it and summarize it in a Post-it note. This is effective because it covers all the possible learning styles to ensure proper transfer of the information. It also allows for clarification by asking questions. You can ensure all information has been received by double-checking at the end of the day.

In my job as a Dental Hygienist… It can sometimes be very noisy and busy. So to ensure referrals and other important client details have been addressed I will go back and look through my notes again to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

3. Listen with Intent

I love my career choice as a Dental Hygienist. The satisfaction comes from listening to my clients with a clear mind as they update me since their last visit.

Make people feel they are important to you by listening carefully to their updates. Let your co workers/clients know you heard them by addressing their concerns or questions. Rephrase what you have heard. This is a very powerful tactic in communication because people like being around people who are good listeners.

Being fully present as you listen to someone isn’t easy, but a worthwhile skill to improve your relationships at work and at home.

Let’s Review

I know you will get more from your workday with these easy communication ideas. Managers, leaders and coworkers will see you as trustworthy and competent as you put these ideas into practice.

Be thorough in your explanations taking into account various personalities and work styles. Be sensitive to how people process information and you will cover all the angles to ensure others understand you. Finally listen with intent and you too will learn from others thus creating more satisfaction from your workday.

How do you handle communication in your work setting so everything is clear and easy to understand? I would love to learn from you.

Author bio: Jeanie Bavis believes that when we get a glimpse of our power we should be compelled to share it with others. You can read and learn more over at Self-Improvement Design to explore her perspective. You can also find her on Facebook page and Twitter handle @lifeaidecoach.

What to Do When You Hate Your Job

Smiling at work

Hating your job isn’t particularly uncommon. In fact, a Gallup study found that around 70% of workers find themselves “disengaged” from their job. Doing the same things day after day, while feeling you’re hardly making a difference in the world, can certainly contribute to a feeling of disengagement in the workplace.

I was once that disengaged employee who hated my job. I dreaded getting up in the morning, and every minute spent at work felt like the clock was ticking by – way too slowly – until I could finally clock out and head home. Sometimes I’d hide in the bathroom for a few minutes, just to get away from my desk.

I was miserable. Lucky for me, I wasn’t trapped. That dreadful job was just for the summer, and I was lucky enough to go back to school at the end of the season.

Unfortunately, many of those who don’t enjoy their job can’t simply get up and leave. Many factors — from a steady paycheck to a feeling of security — make it nonsensical for workers to leave, at least in the present. So what can you do when you hate your job but can’t leave?

Do you want do work you truly care about? You have to start by building a resume that draws people to you.  Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

There are several options:

1. Pursue Passions on the Side

When I worked that sales job, it was becoming quickly apparent that it wasn’t the job for me. I had no clue what to do at the time, as I needed to pay rent. So I started doing something I enjoyed in my spare time: writing. I had always enjoyed writing and soon realized there were places online that paid for quality work. I began working for a copywriting business in my spare time. Eventually, when the time was right to leave my sales job, I had already built experience and connections within an industry that made me happier and more properly utilized my strengths — thanks to pursuing my passion on the side while working days.

Whether you have an hour or several of free time after work, it’s recommend to keep your passions intact while working at a job you hate. It could be something artistic like writing or graphic design, or maybe it’s an idea — like starting your own PR company or inventing. Regardless, a dull job shouldn’t keep you from pursuing your passions and things you’re good at.

2. Use Your Job to Identify Weaknesses

Your job right now may be boring, but you can still use it to your advantage as a device to identify which things you wouldn’t possibly want to do at your next job. For example, I found the constant phone calls in sales to be annoying, which helped me narrow down my future options and resulted in deciding on something like writing — where phone calls aren’t nearly as non-stop.

While working at your current job, write down a list of things about it you don’t enjoy, along with things you do enjoy — if any. This will help you discover the best industry for you when the time is right to leave. Making a list with two columns — “too much” and “not enough” — should make your next career move a lot clearer when the time is right.

3. Identify Lifelong Goals

It’s natural for humans to live day-by-day. It’s difficult to brainstorm about where you want to be in 20 years when rent is due and you’re worrying about affording groceries. Still, when your job isn’t the right fit, it’s a great idea to keep in mind your lifelong goals so as to better associate yourself with businesses that share similar values.

I may not have worked my sales job for long, but it was long enough to know that I needed more to strive for. Now that I’ve had that experience, I can appreciate my current position all the more. Still, some days are harder to get through. That’s where goals come in. On the days you don’t feel like working, or you feel as though you have nothing to work for, having a goal can be like having a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s your out, your way to a better job, to happiness.

Take learning as a goal, for example. Since millennials are the most educated generation in history, many businesses are beginning to adopt lifelong learning values, such as opportunities for continued education and training. If this is important to you, keep it in mind as you plot your next move. Make it a lifelong goal to work for a company that shares that value.

The second part to that goal is to work towards it in the short run, too. If you lack the experience or training to make the move to a job you want, make it a goal to start learning anything and everything you can to get to where you want to be. I make it a goal to read at least two books a month that can help me grow – both as an individual and as a professional. You’ll develop the skills you need to make the move, and that dream company of yours – the one that values learning – will take this as a sign that you’re a good fit. Now you’re not stuck anymore.

Your current job is also useful in this sense, since you can look at your current employer’s general philosophy and workplace and identify areas you don’t enjoy, such as an over-emphasis on profits over community or a lack of communication from managers. Add these aspects to either the “too much” or “not enough” columns as well.

4. Consider Staying, but With Adjustments

If for whatever reason you absolutely cannot leave your job in the near future, it may be better to hunker down and try to maximize your situation there the best you can. For example, if your job leaves you feeling unstimulated, speak with your employer about handling greater responsibilities. Not only will it make time go by quicker, but the more substantial responsibilities are a good look that can result in a pay raise down the line. Also, ask about your current employer’s educational benefits or volunteer opportunities, as both provide a way to hone your talents while working at a job that does not properly use them.

This is also a good strategy when you love the company, but hate your job. Most bosses want to retain employees and are open to horizontal movements within the company. If you’re feeling unsatisfied but aren’t interesting in leaving behind the company (or the benefits), switching to a new position within the company can sometimes be the answer.

While being at a boring job is less than desirable, these tips can either help you tolerate your current situation or move onto a new one when the time is right. Whatever you do, remember that you’re never stuck.

Sarah Landrum, the author of this post, is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. Follow her for more inspiring tips at @SarahLandrum

6 Ways to Improve Your Focus at Work


I grew up with ADD. As a child, it was a constant struggle trying to manage my attention. In high school, I forced myself to work ahead on homework through math lessons so I wouldn’t get in trouble for fidgeting or talking to my neighbor. In college, I became a note-taker so I was forced to focus in lectures.

Now, as someone who struggles with adult ADD, I know all too well how hard it can be to hold your focus at work.

Whether I’m robotically hyper-focused on one thing or flitting around between tasks, trying to get things done can sometimes feel like listening to a radio that keeps changing channels.

As a result, I’ve picked up a few tricks for shepherding wayward attention. Hopefully they’ll be as helpful for you as they are for me.

Do you want do work you truly care about? You have to start by building a resume that draws people to you.  Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

1. Pick One Thing to Do

If you can multitask successfully, more power to you — though the argument could be made that you’re overestimating that ability. But if you’re like me, writing an article while fielding emails and answering texts is a great way to fail three things at once.

The best skill I’ve learned to avoid multitasking is to simply take away the option: Pick one item off your to-do list and put the rest of the list out of your reach. I recommend a desk-drawer. At the bottom of the ocean.

Now take that one thing and follow the wisdom of Nike: Just do it. Don’t do anything else, and don’t stop until it’s done. And on that note:

2. Set a Deadline

Think back to college. Remember that time you had a paper due for a 8 a.m. class, and you were still working on it an hour beforehand? Remember how intensely focused you were?

You can tap into that focus any time you want. Set yourself an immediate deadline, such as “two hours from now.” This is an amazing way to lock onto a task, and you can do it over and over again throughout the day.

When you set deadlines right, your schedule is nothing but a list of tasks and time-limits, and you blast through the day in a white-knuckle haze, like an astronaut wrangling a ship through reentry. That feeling when you touch down on the other side of a finished day? Awesome.

3. Eliminate Potential Distractions

This one could easily make up a whole list of its own, so I’ll be as broad as possible: You need to identify anything that has even the slightest chance of interrupting you and then kill it.

Phone? Bury it in your bag. Stomach? Fill your desk with snacks. Email, Facebook, Twitter? Check them at predetermined points throughout the day and keep the browser closed for the rest of your distraction-free day.

More than that, though, you need to make sure your immediate work-environment is free of distractions as well. One way to do this is to get a stripped-down desk with no drawers to minimize clutter. Another way is to do your work from a log cabin in the Adirondacks. You do you.

4. Wear Headphones

I cannot stress enough what a powerful weapon a pair of headphones can be. If you work at a desk, then you’re Conan the Barbarian and a pair of headphones is your sword, shield, bow and wise-cracking companion all rolled into one.

First, a pair of headphones physically chains you to your computer. Second, they shut the world out and cut off all noise. Third, they pump in noises that induce focus.

Finally, there’s something to be said for the ritual of putting on headphones, keeping them on until you reach your deadline. Donning headphones to tackle a task is like going to war. Taking them off when you’re done is like sheathing a sword. Mission accomplished.

5. Work in Short Bursts and Take Frequent Breaks

A lot of jobs will give you a set amount of break-time and tell you they don’t care how you use it. If that’s true for you, I recommend you resist the easy temptation (taking it all at once, at lunch-time) and do what your smoking friends have been doing for years: Break up the day into bite-size chunks to make it easier to manage.

How often should you take breaks?

Most efficiency experts advocate a break you’re overestimating that ability, and the science backs up that number. However, a break does not mean minimizing the work-stuff you have in one tab to open Facebook or Twitter in another. It means getting away from your desk and, more importantly, getting on your feet. Prolonged periods of sitting will literally you’re overestimating that ability. Nothing yanks you out of the zone like a heart attack.

6. Pay Attention to Your Brain

The most important lesson to take away from all this is to listen when your brain is trying to tell you something. If you’re bored with what you’re doing or get stir-crazy at your desk, that’s your brain rattling the bars of its tiny skull-shaped cage.

If there’s anything the experience of ADD teaches, it’s this: You can’t ignore your brain, and you can’t fight it — after all, it knows what you’re thinking. But you can make peace with your brain, establish a professional working relationship and set clear boundaries: Take one task at a time, set clear deadlines, remove the temptation of distractions, break up the day with frequent breaks and buy yourself a good pair of headphones.

What system or tip would you add to this list that helps you focus at work?

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. Follow her for more inspiring tips at @SarahLandrum

Create Your Happiness Map

Choose happiness

It could happen like this.

One day you walk into work and you get that feeling in your gut. You know you have to quit. Just like that you are on a new path.

Now you might not quit right then, but you know you have to find something better.

You start to look at other options, but aren’t sure what your next step is. I suggest you start by working on your skills first (on the side and at work) then find work that you are more passionate about. It starts with planning your next project, something you are excited about and taking action on it. You have to improve your skills now so you can do work you love in the future.

Last week I brought on a new high profile coaching client and sold 7 copies of Unlock Your Career Happiness and shared my news with my family. They enjoyed hearing about my success and it spurred a conversation with my son and his clay tiger in art class.

If I would have chosen to complain about a difficult client, I would have started the conversation down a different path. A path that would never have led to my son talking about how proud he was of his clay tiger.

By choosing what we focus on we are choosing how happy we are.

Choose Passion

That’s why I would like you to create your own happiness map.

I’m not talking about a map that brings you to a secret island that serves lobster sandwiches, gives away gold coins, and has endless amounts of your favorite beer.

I’m talking about actions that you can do today to bring yourself more happiness. An internal map that allows you to connect to what makes you happy.

Because at the end of the day, what makes you happy is rooted in your passions, focus, and strengths. If you can use all three in your life then you’ll have a sense of purpose.

Purpose is the foundation to happiness.

The reason for choosing to spend time with your family over playing video games is because of purpose. Now you might not know your career purpose yet, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You are not here for just accomplish a few small things. You are here to do great things.

“Happiness is the joy that we feel on the way to living our potential.” – Shawn Achor

Good thing for you that purpose comes in many forms. From your family to caring about the work, to spending time with good friends, to religious beliefs – it all matters.

The actions you take to live your purpose is where the true lobster sandwiches lie. It’s these actions that make up 99% of your happiness, not the treasure when you hit your destination.

If you feel excited by your work because of the people you get to help then your purpose is clear. That’s why teachers stick through the tough times. They love their students.

Happiness is Tricky

This is why happiness is tricky. People don’t focus on the positive feelings as much as they should because it can feel elusive. When you try to go after happiness you become unhappy. Your expectations get out of whack and you end up depressed.

Now when you are surprised by a co-worker buying you lunch happiness comes easy

It feels elusive because your feelings change. A student calls you an asshole and storms out of class, it’s hard to be happy. Instead of focusing back on the other 20 kids you focus on the one difficult one. You focus on the “not so good” results, which sometimes can feel empty. The tedious work that seems pointless.

You have to bring your actions back in line with what makes you happy. Focus on what you can control. You do that by having clear actions that you can take when one part of your career/life isn’t going as well as you hoped.

You can fly by the seat of your pants, which can work for a lot of people. It doesn’t work well for me. I get off track.

I use my Happiness Map to get myself back on track.

Here is my current Happiness Map:

Career Happiness Map

As you can see from my 5th grader handwriting and child like drawings that I’m not an artist. The idea is not to make this perfect, but to just make it.

I’ve done many of these actions in each box, but not all of them. I’ve never done a keynote at a conference. I would like to, but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s not about doing every single one, it’s about looking at your life as a whole and seeing how much good work you have done. It’s about focusing on work that you enjoy and continuing to do more of it in the future.

Create Your Own Happiness Map

  1. Make a list of top 5 feelings you want to feel while you work. Write them down the left side of the paper.
  2. Across the top number from 1 – 4. You can do more, but the idea is to keep your focus on the most important work.
  3. Make a grid so you have a little box below the numbers and across from these feelings.
  4. Write actions that bring these feelings into your work day.

The idea is to help put your actions into focus. If you notice that my second box next to the feeling joyful is writing. I truly love to write. That’s what I’m doing right now and I feel very lucky to be doing it.

Sometimes I get away from writing and my Happiness Map reminds me to get back on track. Put my focus back on what makes happy.

I started this Happiness Map because of Danielle Laporte. She is the inspiration that helped me figure out how to put this all onto one piece of paper. Thank you, Danielle!

The next most important part is putting your Happiness Map in a place so that you’ll see it every single day. It could go in your bedroom, cubicle, office, bathroom, etc. The idea is to keep your focus on what is important to you.

Where will you put your Happiness Map?

Take 11 Deep Breaths Before Work


Every day my anxiety would start early. It wouldn’t start until I began to get ready for work. Usually when I brushed my teeth. I could feel the muscles between my shoulder blades tighten just a bit.

Then on the commute to work I would try to tune out my thoughts with NPR, sports radio, or light hearted pop music. Anything to stay a little more relaxed. When I would pull into my parking space my anxiety would go up a notch. I really didn’t want to go in. It’s the reason I started to meditated at the end of my last corporate job. I needed to be able to relax before I dealt with my boss and co-workers.

Your breath is the most important part of your day. 

When you take shallow breaths you are signaling to yourself to be in a state of worry.

“Fear is just excitement without taking a breath.” – Danielle LaPorte

I was so worried about what others thought and I couldn’t let go of these tense emotions.

So I instituted the 11 breaths before work routine and it worked beautifully. It allowed me to stop letting my mind go into a frenzy and helped me remember to breathe at work. I added a 11 breaths bathroom break in the early afternoon to help me reconnect with my relaxed state.

So let’s look at the basics of creating your own 11 Breaths breathing routine, so you can bring more calmness to your work day.


Stop whatever you are doing and just take 11 deep breaths and let go of everything else going on in your life.

Focus on:

Your breath.


You feel like you are about to freak out. The last person you talked with treated you badly. When you leave work and you need to let all your stress wash away.

What I like:

The simple act of breathing and letting go it the single best habit to cultivate within oneself. Doing this every single day for 30 days changed my life around. I felt less depressed and enjoyed the end of each day.

I’m working on the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit. A personal version, team building version, team games version will eventually be a part of it. This is one from the personal version. Would you like more ideas like this one help you work happier?

Why You Should Take Longer Vacations

Beautiful Forest and Quote

I stand on the porch and look out into the woods. I feel my shoulders release their tension just a little bit more.

It’s the 5th day of our vacation and I’m still feeling my muscles release stress.

Four months earlier I was at a conference and while I was there I was trying to be everywhere at once. I wore myself out.

After the conference was over I took a long morning to myself before I headed to the airport. I told myself that this was “ME” time. I was fooling myself. I was just too exhausted to do anything, but get a cup of coffee and stare into space.

I Was A Fraud

After trying to do a little work on the plane. I closed my laptop. Closed my eyes. I was a fraud.

How could I tell other people not to push too hard without taking the time to reflect and recharge?

I forgot how important it was to take a vacation.

You need short breaks throughout the day and long breaks throughout the year.

Too much work stifles your creativity.

I go to 4-5 conferences a year to speak and network. It’s an adventure, but it doesn’t leave much time for reflection. I also take long weekends with my family. I like to think of these as vacations, but they really aren’t. These are good to do, but don’t help me recharge my internal battery. It’s more of a quick charge.

It’s why I stopped trying to work on Sundays. I use this time for reflection and recharging my mind and body.

I had been working very hard for the past 12 months. I hadn’t thought about a vacation. We had one planned for the summer, but I really intended to work through a lot of it.

Right now I’m on vacation. Yes, I’m writing this on vacation because writing is very important to me capturing and improving on my ideas.

It’s the grind of billing, invoicing, setting up calls, marketing, social media, and everything it takes to grow my businesses that is draining. It all adds up throughout the year. Each thing is like a small little weight that sits on my shoulders.

So now as I’m writing these thoughts to help you, I realize how important it is for you to understand the importance of a long vacation. A long vacation to let these little weights fall off your shoulders.

At First It’s Painful

I felt anxious that I wasn’t responded back to clients within a few hours.

I kept reaching for my phone to check it out of habit.

I felt the need to stay busy.

Then I made a conscious decision to be smart about this vacation. I watched how when I grabbed my phone it was to avoid feeling anxious. So instead I just became a watcher of these thoughts and feelings.

I stopped getting angry at myself for wanting to do great work. I also stopped allowing email to ease my anxiety. Late July to mid August is a slow time of year for me. It’s ok for me not to respond back within a few hours. I told all my clients that this would be my vacation. No one asked me to be available. They all said. Have a great vacation. They knew what I forgot. The importance of taking a long vacation.

Two days ago I went to the beach without a laptop and I checked my email once and didn’t respond to anything. Five days ago I went to the Castle playground in Doylestown, PA with my father and 5-year-old, then got a burger, library, a nature hike, then a glass of beer and a nice meal with the family.

Starting to Unwind

It’s took all five days for me to start relaxing and unwind.

Of course daily Yoga helps too.

This morning I took a hike with my 5-year-old son and picked raspberries. These thoughts started to bubble and I wrote a note into my phone to take a couple hours to write this post.

Your brain needs to play. Adventure gives you the freedom to play with your thoughts and take them in all different kinds of directions. This can only happen with extended play. You won’t unwind with a long weekend. It takes awhile to let go of the work, stress, anxiety to allow you to see clearly.

From an unofficial pole from my coaching clients it seems like day 5 is when the tension really starts to unwind.

What can you do to extend your next vacation. If you were going to take a long weekend, try taking 5-6 days. If you were going to take a week try taking 10 days. I understand if you can’t extend the next one, but start planning a long vacation now. It will make you happier and after it’s over you will have an extra bounce in your step when you get back.

The important part is not to ignore the thoughts that bubble up on vacation. Get them out and get them down.

You don’t need to start up a new project or dive into work. Just write down what thoughts and feelings bubble up and come to mind so you don’t forget them. You’ll probably come up with a few new ideas that you’ll be excited to use when you get back to work.

Now go and plan your next long vacation and let yourself truly relax and watch what happens. Then come back here and share it with me.

Why American Leaders Don’t Care about Happiness at Work

emotions matter

My son just starred as the credits rolled. It wasn’t the reaction that I was hoping for. I wiped away a tear and whispered in his ear.

What did you think?

Nothing. He just sat there, staring straight ahead.

He’s five and got up on my lap in the beginning of the movie. He barely twitched for an hour and forty minutes.

The movie definitely interested him, but he just wasn’t sure what to make of it.

We watched Inside Out. A movie about a young girls emotions as she dealt with moving from Minnesota to San Fransisco.

It was a look at the emotions inside this girl’s head and the struggles that all eleven year olds go through. The main character (emotion) inside her, Joy, struggle with letting sadness be a part of her emotional spectrum.

It was a cool visualization of how many of us deal with our emotions.

We’re afraid of them.

Their messy.

Especially at work.

This was very true as I talked with my Aunt who is a small business owner. She took me out to lunch and asked me about my businesses.

I explained how my UX (User Experience) company, Domino Connection, was growing very fast for only being me. I told her how I branched out into A/B testing website, so I could help my clients create base markers to measure from so they could increase leads and sales. She was fascinated.

I then shared how I used a lot of the stuff from Work Happy Now to help my clients like helping them create feedback loops, developing core values to use in the workplace, and measuring people’s happiness (satisfaction) at work.

I started to lose her.

I tried to bring her back, but I felt the push back about measuring happiness.

I’ve seen this again and again from American leaders at work.

Don’t get me wrong. My aunt has a lot of happiness ideas in place for her employees. She tries very hard to make employees feel listened to and appreciated. She buys them lunch when they work weekends. She pays 100% for their healthcare.

There are a lot of perks, but she also makes a lot of mistakes. Which she’ll also admit. There are no perfect leaders.

As I tried to bring her back to the idea of measuring happiness and improving her feedback loop she explained how she already did a lot of this and didn’t really need to improve it.

I paused and thought about a conversation that I had with a potential client around creating happiness measurement markers in their company.

You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

I created the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload. Leaders, like my aunt, can bring a more positive experiences into the workplace and improve engagement if they have help.

It was the same conversation all over again.

Americans don’t like dealing with emotions in the workplace. We don’t want to deal with sadness, anger, and even happiness.

We have a hard enough time accepting our own thoughts and emotions, dealing with other people’s emotions just gets harder.

Does it mean we should ignore emotions in the workplace because it’s hard?


Let me ask you:

How often do you celebrate at work?

Not just closing a big client or someone’s birthday. Which of course is good to do, but celebrating a team’s hard work.

Just sharing a proud moment even if it didn’t work out. Taking a moment to celebrate someone’s hard work shows them that you are listening. That you notice how hard they are working. It’s this appreciation that can make an employee’s week.

It’s not just Americans that struggle with emotions in the workplace. Germans, Brits, and Japanese people struggle with emotions too.

We are afraid to admit we are tired, stressed, frustrated. We push these emotions down and take it out on our families, which isn’t fair.

That’s why measuring people’s emotional states is important. We can see patterns in the joy and the struggle. We can use these patterns to help make better choices for the company to retain people who are thinking about leaving the company or improve how people view their experience at work.

Is it perfect? Nope. Science isn’t perfect. It gets even messier with trying to measure feelings. It’s about doing our best to improve upon our experiences so we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed out, and cause more damage to ourselves or other people. It’s also about being happier because if we aren’t happy at work we don’t have good results.

The point of life is happiness. – The Dalai Lama

Asking for feedback from employees on a regular basis is just one listening tool that you can use to help increase happiness.

This is where it gets tough for many leaders…They first have to admit that they aren’t perfect and they need help. That they don’t always listen as well as they should or believe that they are.

Are American leaders afraid of the answers that they will get if they ask how happy their employees are at work? Maybe they’re afraid of getting too much feedback or not enough.

So I ask you…

Why do you think Americans so afraid of emotions at work? Do you see it similar to me or from a different perspective?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section in the article.

If you need help retaining your best employees and improving your listening tools, so they feel heard. Just let me know and we’ll set up a consultation.

5 Ways Great Leaders Help Their Employees Process Stress

stress at work

I have a friend who works for a tech company and she is constantly on edge. They push her and her team very hard.

She told me that her hands sweat every time her boss approaches her. He might just walk up and ask how her day was going, but because of past issues she freaks out every time they talk.

This response causes her to be constantly be on alert instead of relaxed.

When you are relaxed you are:

  • More creative.
  • More productive.
  • Happier

It’s not how much stress you have at work that matters, but how you process your stress. The more tools you have to build strong stress processing habits the healthier and happier you will be.

If you want to get the most our of yourself and your team you must understand how to process your stress. Stress is not bad. Too much sustained stress is what is bad for you. Stress can gel a group together if there are systems in place to help them.

People are 30% more likely to die from stressful experience like death in family or financial struggles each year. The people who have no increase in dying from stress focus on helping others instead of dwelling on their situation. – Kelly McGonigal

So let’s look at how you can help your employees process stress and help them be more productive and of course happier.

Special notice: Does your business need more effective and loyal employees? Then signup for the first 6 modules of the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload. It will explain the importance of creating a great culture and how to encourage more engagement as a leader at work.

1. Create vision and core values for your team.

Creating core values is where I start with every client who wants a happier and more productive team. People want a better understanding of why they do what they do and how the team’s values fit that vision.

If their core values don’t fit with the team’s there will be a disconnect that causes a lot of stress. Many times this can be fixed by making the vision and core values more clear.

It’s important that your team incorporates the vision and core values into the routine of work. If you create them and don’t talk about them and live them then they become forgotten. It’s why I suggest creating monthly themes to help engage and share ideas that help employees live the team’s core values.

2. Improve your coaching skills.

Good coaching skills in a boss and/or manager are one of the most sought after attributes of a manager by young employees. They want to work for someone that encourages them to be their best instead of just telling them what to do.

One of the best skills to use with people who are stressed out is the Reframing Technique. It helps people put a situation into a more positive perspective. If you notice an employee who is stressed out then pull them aside and talk with them. Help them see the positive in the situation.

It could be a really good question like:

Are you feeling a little stressed right now?

The question is a tad leading, but if the signs are there you want them to know that you notice that they are feeling overwhelmed. If they say yes than ask them why?

Let’s say they are worried about what the CEO will think of the finished project. Let them know that you would like them to meet the deadline, but their health and happiness is important. You could try a quick reframe by asking them:

What is the worse case scenario?

They might say that they’ll be fired. Then ask them if they’ll still wake up in their warm bed tomorrow? Will they still eat a delicious breakfast? Will they be able to hug their kids when they get home? It’s a good way to make them smile. They should say yes, which is what you want. It allows them to put the situation into perspective. You want them to let go of the stress and anxiety so they can do calm and focused work. Work that won’t get them fired.

The main idea is help them reframe the situation so they can let go of the stress and get back to being relaxed and productive.

3. Make them laugh.

Humor is one of the greatest stress relievers ever known. If your team is stressed out and arguing with each other. It’s time to step in and encourage them to do something fun that will hopefully get them to laugh.

You can order pizza and get people to hang out with each other. If you think your team could use a distraction you can play charades or Cranium (board game) that gets people talking and sharing.

Every team is different, but encouraging conversations usually helps build a bond and laughter naturally flows.

4. Know when to be a friend.

There are always difficult choices when you are a manager. Sometimes you have to be tough, create expectations and if they don’t meet those expectations then there are consequences.

Other times you have to be a friend. A friend who is compassionate and can be there to listen to someone who is having a stressful time at work.

Being a friend who is there to listen and offer advice can go a long way to building trust. The hard part is knowing when to be a friend and when to be a boss. Everyone is different and you’ll have to go with your gut.

Just try to put yourself in their shoes and see the situation from their perspective. This will give you a good idea of when you just need to be a friend and empathetic to how they are feeling.

5. Jump in and help.

“How can I help?”

Is one of my favorite questions from my boss. It meant he was willing to dig in and help make things better.

Too often managers ask.

Can I help?

This is a bad question. It shows people that you don’t really want to help because you are subtly telling them to say they don’t need your help.

Sometimes you can see where an employee is struggling and where you can help then just jump in and start helping. A boss that isn’t afraid to ask how she can help is one leader that I’ll gladly work hard for any day of the week.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. – Havelock Ellis

Now it’s your turn?

How can you apply one of these ideas to your leadership skills?

What attribute have you seen from a manager that helped you deal with your stress at work?

11 Ways to have More Productive Mornings

city sunrise happiness quote

I was perfectly happy – and productive – staying up late into the night to study and sleeping in until nine or ten in the morning. Then my first full time job came along. It was a tough adjustment.

Not only did I have to learn to wake up early, but I had to learn how to be productive during those early morning hours. After a lot of a trial-and-error I found ways to make the most of my mornings. I came up with 11 techniques that will work for almost anyone.

I may not be a morning person, but I am proud to say that I can hang with the earliest of the early worms. So, if you’re anything like me and are looking to break unhealthy habits and start eating your frog in the early hours of the day, try out some of these tips for kick-starting your morning routine.

1. Get Up Early

Probably not what you want to hear, but getting up earlier has multiple benefits. Time is precious, and in the early hours you’re much less likely to be bothered by others wanting your attention.

For those who work around their families, waking up before they do guarantees you time to focus on work before your family needs you. Many famous CEOs wake up well before 6am, so it’s a habit worth emulating.

2. Make a Schedule and Stick To It

When we’re busy, it’s easy to become stressed and overwhelmed by what we have to do. To combat this, create a schedule in the morning for your day, built around when you feel it’s easier to do certain tasks. For example, you might find it easier to do creative tasks earlier in the morning, so you can schedule them before noon. Plan your time, and stick to that plan.

3. Do Easy Tasks Early

If you find it difficult to get started in the mornings, plan to tackle one or two simpler, easy tasks when you start work. Doing so will help you feel as if you’ve achieved something, and then you’ll have more motivation to move on to more complex tasks.

4. Tackle That One Difficult Task First (AKA Eat a Frog)

Alternatively, it may be better to deal with that one nagging item on your to do list that you’ve been putting off. Mark Twain said, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, that will probably be the worst thing you do all day,” and he wasn’t wrong. Deal with the event you’re dreading first, and the rest of the day will be much easier.

5. Turn Your Phone Off

Smartphones are wonderful devices, but they’re also ultimate distraction machines. It’s hard to concentrate on work when you’re busy checking social media or fiddling around with games on the side. Switch it off and put it away; you can always come back to it later.

6. Read the News – But Only Once

For similar reasons, it’s worth reading the news in the morning and then leaving it alone. Reading the news in the morning is a good way of kick-starting your brain and finding out what’s going on in the world. However, it’s very tempting to keep checking back for updates on events, especially in an age of 24-hour reporting, but resist. Instead, stick to one popular news source for all of your information and get it all in the AM.

7. Reward Yourself

If you finish a task by lunch, don’t forget to reward yourself. Even if it’s just a walk to the corner and back to get a cup of coffee, make sure you make time for yourself once you’ve achieved a goal.

8. Have a Positive Attitude

If you go into your work day stressed out, thinking you’ll never get anything done, it’ll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you go in with a positive attitude, achieving your goals will be much simpler. Similarly, avoid people in the workplace who complain about their workloads without attempting to solve their problems. Their attitude will only weigh you down.

9. Use the Time to Network

Workday lunches can be an interruption to your schedule, and evening drinks can veer very much off topic after a couple of cocktails. If you meet up with colleagues in the morning for a coffee, you can get much more accomplished.

10. Check Your Email

Check your inbox early on and deal with emails as you open them. Resist the urge to hit “Mark as Unread” and vow to deal with it later; if it can be answered, take the time to do it and clear it out of your inbox. Once they’re done, you can leave your inbox while you work, without the thought of what’s waiting in it hanging over you.

11. Stop Multitasking

Finally, try to only do one thing at once. Research has shown multitasking can slow you down by as much as 40%, since you’re really only switching from one to the other and preventing yourself from getting into a good workflow.

Mornings truly are the golden period for productivity, as you’re fresh and ready for the day before all the distractions and requests for your attention come piling in. Make the alarm clock your friend and squeeze the most out of your working day.

Which idea do you think you would share with a team member? Why would you share it?

Focus is important to a great team. What could you add to the list that would help you and your team have more productive mornings?

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. Follow her for more inspiring tips at @SarahLandrum

What Makes You Feel Good About Your Work?

Legos at the office

Have you ever been pulled from a project?


Have you ever had a project end abruptly? Leaving you feeling empty inside.

It’s a terrible feeling. I was pulled from a big project I spent months of my time working on. The CEO wanted to put me in a different department. Just like that my work felt like it went up in smoke. I didn’t even try to argue to let me stay on. I felt defeated. I gave up on my job, my career, and it took me awhile to get back my passion.

The key for me was to get back to basics.

Dan Ariely did a study that was focused on understanding why people enjoyed or didn’t enjoy their work. He did a study where he asked people to build a Lego character. He would pay them $3 to assemble the first one. He would take the Lego Character and put it under the table then ask them if they wanted to build another character, but this time for $2.70.

Then he created another test that was set up the same way, plus payment, except for one condition. The Lego character was destroyed right before their eyes and they were asked to build it again with a reduced price of 30 cents.

He called it the Sisyphus condition (AKA meaningful condition) from the Greek myth where he was punished for chronic deceitfulness and forced to spend an eternity to push a boulder up a hill only to have it fall back down right before he reached the top.

What ended up happening was that people in the first experiment would build 11 figures when they took the figure and placed it behind the desk vs only 7 in the 2nd test where they saw their hard work destroyed right before them.

Both groups of people knew that their character would eventually be destroyed, but the first group stuck it out because they found more meaning in their work.

Your feelings matter. The importance of feeling that your hard work is for a larger purpose makes a huge difference in your happiness. The more trivial your work feels the more you disconnect from the results.

Have you ever struggled to stay motivated or motivate your team?

Here at Work Happy Now we want to help you and your team. You can get the first 6 modules for free right here. It gives you ideas of how to create more positive experiences for you and your team, so you feel more connected to your co-workers and your work.