[Today is the birthday of our founder, Lady Virginia. It is also the start
of Hurricane Season in the Atlantic. There is probably no relationship, but it does make for some amusing thoughts around
here.]The workplace presents a challenge to our identity because we allow it to. We allow others to define our identity
and forget that only we can control what is on the inside. That is a tough assignment, because chances are that you
will be working for someone else. By definition, that gives them authority to determine and measure your work.
When the boss is happy, we feel good about ourselves. By contrast when the boss is unhappy, we have reason to be unhappy.
Thus as thinking adults, we must assess why the boss is unhappy. Is it justified? Did we fail to follow instructions?
Did we fail to perform the task correctly? Can we do better next time? Often the discussion with ourselves is not so
simple. However, in order to protect our internal healthy self image, we must ask the questions honestly and draw valid
conclusions. Then, we must act on those conclusions. In the following days, we will explore some of the ways we can
control how people react to us.
What image do we present in the workplace? Do we dress in the latest style and look too
flighty and insincere? Try dressing in a classic understated style and see if you get a different reaction.
Do you feel that you aren't getting the respect you
deserve? What image do you portray. Does it reflect a healthy, confident self image or are people treating you
based on the message you are conveying.
Our Lady Virginia always advises her clients to dress one station above their current job.
In this way, people begin to think of you in the next level and when there is an opportunity, you will come to mind.
For example, if you are a secretary, dress like an office manager. If you are an office manager, dress like a department
manager. It is always wise to look managerial as you will convey confidence that you can handle decisions.
Now, if you are in outside sales, you may have to consider your customer's expectations.
If you are selling farm implements, you might be a bit over dressed in a suit and heels. Further, your comprehension might
be called into question. Here is where you identify "appropriate to the circumstances". Once again,
your credibility will be judged by how you relate to the customer.
This doesn't mean you have to look like a farmer. Remember the customer expects you to represent
your profession, not his or hers.
7 Let's talk about difficult situations at work.
For some reason things don't always go the way we would like . The first step has to be an honest assessment of the situation.
Is any of this your fault? Assuming you have concluded that it isn't, what to do next. Step two is to identify your
options. Is one of your options to find another job? If so, then you need to weigh the trade off. Would
you be better off somewhere else or would you just be trading one set of problems for another set of problems?
So, if finding a new job is not an option or it doesn't promise to make things better for you, what
do you do now? It can be useful to seek advice from someone else at work. Is there another woman you admire who seems
to be happy? Can you trust her? Perhaps she can give you benefit of her experience and then you can decide whether
you wish to follow her advice.
Although it is tempting to engage in
water fountain conversations, a lady does not fall into that trap. Certainly, keep your antenna up so you can pick up
the signals that might impact your situation, but it is important that you maintain the reputation of keeping your own counsel.
This can pay off as you won't have developed alliances that could be fatal to your career.
We at Lady Personified don't like to rely on fables but some of them are such good illustrations of
life that we can't resist. So, here is one that be applied here. An wise woman was observed sitting at
the road that leads to the town where she lived. As strangers would come down the road, she would greet them and they
would ask what is it like to live here. She would always respond with the question, "Did you like the town you
are leaving?" The first stranger responded with a barrage of details of how terrible the town was and he was glad
to be leaving. He then asked her if this town would be better. She said that this would be a terrible place for him
to stop as he wouldn't like it at all. She recommended that he go to the next town up the road as he might like it better.
The next stranger, however, responded to her question with great enthusiasm about the town he just left. He liked everything
about it and everyone was always so nice. Then he asked if she thought he would like this town too. She said that
this was a wonderful place to live and she was quite certain he would like it even more than his last home. She urged
him to go right on and make a new home for himself. Two people standing nearby had witnessed the exchange between the
woman and these two strangers and questioned her about her inconsistent response. She explained that her answers were
entirely consistent. People take their own happiness with them she said. So, the person who wasn't happy before
won't be happy here but the person who was happy will be happy in the future. Those are the kind of people
we want to have in our town.
So, how do we apply the story to our
workplace? If the moral isn't obvious, the message is don't consult unhappy people. They probably can't
help you. You want to learn from happy, content people.
is true that someone else's situation may not be the same as yours. In other words, they may be perfectly happy
with their situation but you wouldn't be. Therefore, it is back to you again to analyze your options and follow
accordingly. Surprisingly, in so many situations, we are doing exactly what we want to do.
So, if you are not happy with your situation and you don't see any way out
of it, you have no alternative but to make the best of the situation.
What does it mean to make the best of the situation? It means at a minimum
you do the very best job that you can under the circumstances. You remind yourself regularly that no one can control
who you are on the inside but you. Similarly, you alone can control how you reveal your self image.
In today's world, we are defined by our jobs. Both men and women fall
victim to this outside control. How much more satisfying our lives can be if we see ourselves as more than our jobs.
So, if you know who you are and you work
in a restaurant. You have a family and you teach Sunday School and volunteer to deliver meals to the elderly. See how
much more richly you can define yourself than saying your are a waitress. Somehow, the definition ends there.
perhaps this doesn't apply to you because you are a highly paid professional who has achieved an impressive position in
your industry. Therefore, you define yourself as an engineer. Again, is this who you are? Is this all you
are? Is this really how you want to define yourself and have others define you? What happens if you are a victim of
the economy and you find yourself out of work? Or you take a few years off to care for your children or an aging parent.
Now, who are you? How do you define yourself under those circumstances?
It really is up to you. We are not advising you one way or the other because everyone is different.
You may want to define yourself as an engineer or a doctor or an accountant. Your professional accomplishments
are very meaningful and for a women may represent tremendous ability. But we are saying that a lady is so very much
more and can add valuable dimensions to your life. Many things in life are so very unpredictable and we need to strengthen
characteristics that help us transcend the various obstacles we will encounter. It goes beyond just survival as with
the right balance in our lives we can enjoy the trip.
You've decided to stay where you are. What can you do to improve your job performance? This may
seem like a strange question because it presumes that its your responsibility to improve your job performance! Right
on! It is not only your responsibility you are the best suited to know what is right for you.
Could you benefit from training. Examine the possibilities. Would
your employer pay for it? Often its just a matter of asking and or providing the justification for why it would be of
value to the employer.
If your employer pays the
bill, they have a right to evaluate your performance both in the class and following the class. You may prefer to pay
for this yourself so you can select the training and circumstances. If you don't want the scrutiny or oversight,
pay for it yourself and do it in private. Remember the training will benefit you and you take that value with you. Think
of it as an investment.
point you may realize that too much of your energy is being taken up with your work. You must maintain a balance among
your responsibilities...work, family and self. We often determine that we can't possibly squeeze anything more out
of our day and the self continues to suffer. Amazingly, energy and to some extent time, is used differently when we
are doing something we enjoy.
not suggesting that you can control time. However, stop to think how time seems to pass differently depending upon what
we are doing. The minutes don't tick by any faster or slower, but our perception of the time is measured by how
satisfying the task. The old saying "Time flies when you are having fun." is an example of what we mean.
Think too how differently time moves for you now than it did when you were younger. See what we mean? So, how do we
apply this understanding. Check in tomorrow for the answer.
the suspense been too much? Here we promised to tell you how to control time and left you hanging...The simple answer is use
every minute you have. Don't wait to have fun, enjoy this moment. Even if you are doing something you don't
enjoy smile to yourself while you are doing it. It is impossible to be miserable if you're smiling. Try moving
the smile from inside to the outside. That's it, turn up the corners of your mouth.
Even if you are doing something you don't like doing, take satisfaction in
doing it the very best you can and get it over with as quickly as possible.
One more word about this. The unpleasantness of distasteful tasks is magnified
over time. If you know it is looming, you are conscious of it and it makes the discomfort longer. It also detracts
from any joy you might have from something else.
So, get after it. You will be amazed at the satisfaction out of getting something done sooner rather
you put these tips into practice, you'll find that time flies because you are having fun. Further, your available
every-time an opportunity comes along. You choices are not limited by tasks that you have put off and run out of time.
you can't control time, you are in control of your time.
More importantly others can't control you when you are on top of your calendar and your time.
Oh yes, you will have to learn to say no at the appropriate time but this defines a lady.