The Mistakes That are Killing Your First Impression

Originally posted 26 May 2017 By Lindsey Pollak

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

It’s one of the most clichéd pieces of advice. That’s because it’s true — especially if you are job hunting.

Research shows that recruiters typically only give your resume a six-second glance, and some people say the first seven seconds of meeting someone are the most important, so you don’t want to squander that initial chance to shine in person, on paper or online.

Here are some common ways job hunters undermine that crucial first impression — and how to avoid them:

Minimizing the Importance of Small Talk

“As you make your way to the interview space, the light conversation you exchange is a great opportunity to develop rapport. In an interview, there is no such thing as small talk. If the interviewer asks about upcoming weekend plans, talk about a hobby or personal interest of yours that you pursue in your free time. You might not have specific plans for those interests this weekend, but you don’t have to answer this question so literally. Don’t talk about errands to run, and certainly don’t say you have no plans! People want to work with people they like, and small talk is an opportunity to be sociable and therefore more likeable.” — Read more at Forbes.com.

Dissing the Receptionist

“The person at the front desk may not be the hiring manager—but that doesn’t mean his or her impression of you doesn’t matter. In fact, some companies specifically ask their front desk attendants to report back on the demeanor of interviewees who come through the door. And that likely plays a role in the ultimate hiring decision—so it’s important to treat that person as well as you’ll treat your interviewer.”  — Read more at The Muse.

Not Paying Attention to Your Non-Verbal Communication

“Rob Riker, the founder of the Social Winner blog, says confident body language does more than make you look good — it helps you make a great first impression. To do this, Riker suggests suggests having a firm handshake, standing up straight, and maintaining eye contact both while listening and speaking.” — Read more at Business Insider.

Forgetting That the “Eyes” Have it

“It’s imperative to making a strong connection — but how much is too much? Here are three ways to perfect your gaze. Hold it. Eye contact during a conversation increases brain stimulation and, as a result, recall of the conversation. … But not for too long. Research shows that holding eye contact longer than three seconds without taking a break can be interpreted as aggressive, causing listeners to feel defensive and resistant to what you’re saying. And take breaks. Eye contact and word generation share cognitive resources, according to a 2016 study. That means maintaining too much eye contact can sap your brain and impact your ability to verbally respond.” — Read more at Entrepreneur.com.

Missing the Big Picture

“If I ask, for example, about your university telefund job, don’t bore me with mundane details like your donation numbers. Show me how it trained you to be the problem-solver you are today. Maybe you found yourself discouraged by the percentage of alums who hung up on you after 10 seconds, so you volunteered to revise the standard call script. In just a week or two, donations started ticking upward. Every employer wants to know they’re hiring someone who can absorb information, understand the details that matter, and can make smart decisions on their own.” — Read more at Fast Company.com.

What are some first impression hits or misses you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments below.

 

More Career Advice Nobody Talks About: Everybody Bombs

Originally posted 9 May 2017 by Lindsey Pollak

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries – in March, it was  backup singers in 20 Feet from Stardom, and this month it’s stand-up comedians in Dying Laughing. (Please send me recommendations of what to stream next!) I love finding career advice in movies, and this doc did not disappoint.

The documentary features a who’s who of famous comics — Jamie Foxx, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Jerry Seinfeld, the late Garry Shandling, Sarah Silverman and many, many more – sharing raw tales of what it takes to succeed.

What I found most fascinating and impressive was that these entertainers who are at the very top of their field were so willing to talk openly about their failures. And while I certainly didn’t think it was easy, I had never fully appreciated the angst and pressure that goes into the career of a stand-up. Comedy is no laughing matter.

Here were some of my favorite career advice takeaways from the film.

Everyone pays their dues

Sure, everyone wants to be the unknown comic who dazzles their first audience and immediately ends up on SNL with no looking back, just as many young professionals yearn for a fast track to the CEO suite. But this rarely happens in any realm.

Garry Shandling tells a story in the film about a newbie comic approaching him to ask “the secret” to bypassing the years of telling mediocre jokes in crappy small town clubs. “I know there’s got to be one,” he says. Shandling shakes his head with a knowing smile and says simply, “There is no shortcut.”

No one is immune from a bad day

The stories the comedians told about bombing were the most powerful, even tear jerking. They talked about bad performances and bad audiences. Material that sounded awesome in front of their mirrors and painfully unfunny when it came out of their mouths onstage. Even Jerry Seinfeld explained how easy it can be to fail: “When you first go on, you start from a dead quiet room full of unhappy people.”

Their tales reminded me that absolutely no one is perfect, and no one is always winning: One day we have an audience or a client who loves us, and the next day we are smacked down. I get it because my experiences as a speaker have also run the gamut. I’ve gotten criticism from some audiences and standing ovations from others. When you first walk into a room, you don’t always know which way the night will end.

The bombs are when you grow

The comedians in Dying Laughing reinforced that bombing has some upside. Every time it happens to you, you get a little better at figuring out what caused the bomb and how to avoid it — or better deal with it — in the future.

The career equivalents of bombing (getting reprimanded, demoted or fired, for example) can occur at any and every stage of your career; what changes over time is how you react and how you recover. “If you come back from the worst bomb of your life, you’ll make it,” notes Keenen Ivory Wayans.

You need your tribe

One of the the film’s most powerful moments comes when comedian Royale Watkins tearfully tells the story of the worst night of his career (the short version of the story is that he bombed in front of basketball star Michael Jordan), and how it all turned around when the late Bernie Mac supported him through it.

A bad day yields the tendency to hide in our shell and eat ice cream, but this film is a good reminder that you should do the exact opposite and reach out to someone who knows your pain. No matter what your career field, it’s critical to have mentors, friends and colleagues. You can benefit from a friend’s tale of a similar woe or even just a listening ear and reminder that you’re not alone — even if your career involves standing by yourself on a stage in front of thousands of people.

Hearing these luminaries share their bombs underscored another truth: Sharing stories of the tough times becomes a strength; it makes you more approachable and authentic. So next time I bomb at a speaking gig, I think I’ll give Jerry Seinfeld a call…

What have been some takeaways you’ve had about bombing? Remember what I said about the importance of sharing with others, and let us all know in the comments below!

How to Lower Stress at Work

Originally posted by Lindsey Pollack 24 March 2017

What stresses out your employees? Deadlines? A never-ending to-do list? An overflowing inbox?

While the concept of work-life integration is designed to reduce workplace stress, sometimes it can have the opposite effect, as schedules become blurry and we try to cope with being “always on.”

And of course, stress isn’t limited to our schedules. Work itself can be a pressure cooker – a 2017 survey by the American Institute of Stress (yep, there is such a thing!) found that 80% of workers reported feeling stress on the job. And while the Institute is often asked to put together lists of the most and least stressful occupations, they note that everyone has a different take on what makes a job stressful: Some people thrive on deadlines and challenges; others just want to feel successful in their day-to-day environment.

Whether your team is dealing with stress brought on by the work environment or their personal lives or both, managers can take steps to help people cope. I hope the tips below will help you create an environment that generates less stress.

Learn to Recognize Stress in Your Workplace

“[I]f you’re an employer or a manager, you might recognize the variety of clues that excessive stress is present in your work environment: Employee productivity is sliding downward despite long hours logged in. Absenteeism is rising; your employees are taking more sick days than they used to. Tolerance for each others’ shortcomings is thinner and tempers are flaring more easily; humor is hard to muster in meetings.” — Read more at Monster.

Reduce Stress at Work by Giving Your Team as Much Autonomy as Possible

“Though it is not one of the most cited issues, feeling like every tiny movement is controlled and monitored is a quick way for employees to become burned out from stress. As the millennial generation becomes the biggest demographic in today’s workforce, it is important to understand how their minds work. One of the most important factors millennials consider when in search of a job is the workplace environment. They want to have at least some control over what they do, and how they do it.” — Read more at Entrepreneur.

Help Your Employees See Perspective

“When you’re bogged down with stress-inducing projects and deadlines, it can be difficult to see beyond them. Even long-term assignments end eventually, so you just need to keep going and remember that the challenges you’re facing now will seem small and insignificant when you’ve finally overcome them. ‘We can all recollect instances that we thought at the time were real deal-killers, only to have them turn out to be a small anthill,’ [John] Koeberer, [author of
‘Green-Lighting Your Future: How to Manifest the Perfect Life’], said. ‘Adopt the thought that this, too, shall pass.’” — Read more at Business News Daily.

Model Good Behavior to Help Your Employees Reduce Stress at Work

“In 2016, Kronos adopted an open paid-time-off policy. And while some ‘unlimited’ time-off policies have gotten negative attention because employees tend to take less time off, [Joyce] Maroney, [director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos], says that’s not the case at Kronos, because senior leaders take time off and the human resources department provides managers with guidance on how to take time off. That kind of role modeling and prioritization makes a difference, she says. ‘Ultimately, employees look to their managers to set the example. If a manager is sending emails on a regular basis after hours, employees will feel pressured to do so, too. Conversely, if a manager treats a day off truly as a day off by unplugging and trusting their coworkers to step up in their absence, their employee will be much more likely to do so, too,’ she says.” — Read more at Fast Company.

Do you think your employees are overly stressed? I’d love to hear the changes you’ve made to help everyone reduce stress at work.

 

The Most Important Career Advice Nobody Talks About

Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 14 March 2017

Have you seen the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom? I recently watched it (a little late, I know), and I was struck by several insights applicable to success in any industry. (Pro tip: You can “rent” it from Amazon for just 99 cents!)

The movie won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and it explores the world of backup singers, the entertainers who sing and dance just out of the spotlight. They are arguably some of the most talented singers in the world, yet they haven’t broken out to become household names like Sting, Sheryl Crow and Stevie Wonder, also interviewed in the film.

Some of them may still break out, and some never will. The movie spends a lot of time pondering the question of what makes some people superstars and not others. Clearly, it’s not just talent.

On that topic, Sting shared an observation near the end of the film that has really stuck with me:

“There’s this idea that you go on American Idol and become a star, but that means you’ve bypassed the spiritual work that you have to do to get here. If you bypass that, then your success will be wafer thin.”

In his opinion, sometimes it’s not solely your innate talent, but also the internal, personal development work (what he calls the “spiritual work”) that makes you not just successful but able to handle that success. I don’t think we talk enough about this — working on yourself and not just working on your work.

IT’S NOT ABOUT “WAITING YOUR TURN”

It’s a common refrain from younger professionals, “I’m good at my job, so why can’t I get promoted?”

You may want to be promoted after a few months of work. Are you capable of doing some or most of the work that bigger job will require? Maybe you are. But I believe that time has value in and of itself.

As you wait and learn and gather new skills and understandings and confidence and resilience, big changes happen that you might not even realize. And many of those changes aren’t directly related to your job IQ. You’re acquiring maturity and self-knowledge, gravitas and a comfort level that will give you more career success in the long run. You are building a solid foundation that will support you for the rest of your career.

WHY THE TIME INVESTMENT WILL PAY OFF IN GREATER CAREER SUCCESS

There’s no question we live in an instant gratification society, and that certainly comes into play with the desire for an immediate promotion. But when I look at the people I most admire, I see they’ve amassed deep knowledge that only grows thanks to time and experience.

As a speaker, I’m often asked if I get nervous on stage. The truth is, I’m really not, and here’s why: I have studied my craft for almost two decades. I know my content deeply. I have been challenged on virtually all of my ideas and opinions. I have experienced a multitude of challenges, mistakes, criticisms, snafus and successes. And I can’t really point to one single moment or experience when I thought, “I’m not nervous!” It took a long time and evolved along with my business. For me, there has been no such thing as overnight success.

There’s a story I love in the book Art and Fear about quality vs. quantity. One group is given clay and told to make the best pot possible, while the second group is told to make as many pots as they can. In the end, the group that made the most pots ended up with the best ones as well.

I believe that a quantity of time working can matter just as much as the quality of your work.

THE LURE OF THE INSTANT SPOTLIGHT

So why do we all want to rocket straight to the top?

For the first 10 years of my career, no one was paying attention to my progression. They might have asked how it was going, and I’d give a pat answer, but I didn’t have the pressure of others checking my pace on LinkedIn and measuring my progress building clients and audiences. I’m sort of grateful I started my business before social media really took off.

These days, it’s harder to toil away and bide your time, because it seems like everyone’s watching.

Sure, there are those who become highly accomplished CEOs at age 28, and that’s great, but the vast majority of us don’t. And I believe, in retrospect, that those who spent the time developing themselves will agree that it was worth it.

The Supremes – and their back-up singers – know that “You Can’t Hurry Love.” I don’t think you can hurry career success either.

SOURCE: The Most Important Career Advice Nobody Talks About

The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback at Work

Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 24 February 2017

Do you wonder if you’re giving your employees feedback that can help them excel at their jobs — and feel more included? Chances are, we could all improve at giving feedback at work. In fact, one survey found that 64 percent of employees wanted their supervisor to check in with them at least every two weeks.

This desire for frequent, steady feedback has even been tied to the demise of the annual review. Who wants to look in the rearview mirror at what they did months ago when they could be improving today?

The articles below address the reality that not everyone appreciates feedback (ahem: criticism!) but there are ways you can make feedback at work more palatable — whether you’re on the giving or receiving end.

Share Positive Feedback in a Group to Extend its Power

“It’s probably not breaking news to most people that “one-on-one” was overwhelmingly considered the most effective way to give feedback. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the best. It’s important to match the right kind of feedback to the situation. For example, if an employee does an exemplary job on a big project, it may be more effective to give them feedback publicly, in front of their peers. … A few encouraging words of recognition for a job well done in front of peers can go a long way toward ensuring your employees feel their work is valued, which helps keep them engaged.” — Read more at Refresh Leadership.

Forget The Positive/Negative/Positive Structure: Here’s Why

“It’s easier for our brains to process and remember specifics than to handle conceptual ideas. Research has found that we remember concrete words like ‘chair’ better than abstract words like ‘comfort.’ As a result, if we hear a generic positive statement (‘It’s great! You’re great!’) followed by a list of specific things we should change, our brains will quickly discount that quick splash of praise and focus entirely on the negatives.” — Read more at Fast Company.

Receiving Negative Feedback at Work? Take Ownership

“If your boss remarks that you’ve regularly missed deadlines and have disrupted the workflow of others as a result, that’s something you need to own up to. And you need to make efforts to turn it around. … You might say, ‘Thank you for pointing this out. I’m aware that I’ve been behind schedule turning some things in, and I know it’s something I need to work on. Starting ASAP, I’m going to take a look at my calendar and to-do list and find a way to prioritize needs so that I don’t miss another deadline. And, if for some reason, I find I’m going to be late with something, I’ll communicate that as early as possible.’” — Read more at The Muse.

Sort out the Helpful Feedback So You Can Act On It

“If others criticize your ideas or performance, focus on the more relevant comments to narrow the criticism down. This will make it easier to address, and the conversation moves from what you did wrong to what you can do right.” — Read more at Fortune.

Even As a Supervisor, Sometimes You’re On the Receiving End

“For managers who want to avoid these pitfalls and foster a speaking up culture, the research suggests several takeaways. One important one is to actively embrace constructive conflict. Rather than waiting for employees to speak up – thus risking their own professional reputations – start a debate. A structured debate can force multiple perspectives out into the open. Another is to regulate your emotions. Whenever you feel threatened by something an employee says, think about whether you want to escalate a potential conflict further before you react. Don’t shy away from stating — in a direct and constructive way – your own point of view. But don’t let negative emotions come pouring out.” — Read more at Harvard Business Review.

SOURCE: THE ART OF GIVING AND RECEIVING FEEDBACK AT WORK

The Importance of Saying ‘No’ at Work

Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 13 January 2017

Nope, this post isn’t about my “word of the year.” (If you haven’t read about the word I chose for 2017, get the scoop here!) Instead, it’s about another word I believe everyone should employ to be more productive – and quite likely more sane. That’s the word “no.”

You could barely turn on the radio this spring without hearing Meghan Trainor espouse the beauty of the word “no.” Her anthem might have been all about girl power, but this single word remains powerful for any situation, including your work life.

Of course there are times that “no” is not the judicious thing to say for career advancement: Part of the puzzle is knowing when to say “no” and when not to. The articles below have helpful tips for when and how to employ the power of no.

Make Sure it Aligns With Your Priorities

“Prioritization is critical in today’s 24/7 work environment. I keep a list of long-term and short-term priorities and if a task or project doesn’t fit in one of those buckets, 99% of the time I decline it. My best tip for saying no is to be straightforward and not dance around the subject. Explain that the task, project or activity doesn’t align with your current priorities and, if the situation changes, you will revisit the topic. Also, sometimes you can suggest an alternative solution.” — Read more at Forbes.

A “No” Now Is Better Than a “No” Later

“Instead of saying ‘yes’ now and disappointing the person later when you fail to fulfill the request, say ‘no’ now. Do not say ‘maybe or ‘probably.’ It comes across as unclear. Most people appreciate a solid ‘no’ more than a ‘maybe.’ It’s indecision that can drain energy from all parties involved.” — Read more at Entrepreneur.

Or, Soften The No, As Needed

“Release the guilt: ‘I really do appreciate the offer and I wish I could help.’ That opening does a lot to counter the ‘But….no’ that’s the answer at the end of the reply.” — Read more at Bizwomen.

Say No Confidently

“Don’t:

  • Use a harsh or hesitant tone, and don’t be overly polite either. Instead, strive for a steady and clear no.
  • Hold back the real reason you’re saying no. To limit frustration, give reasons with good weight up front.
  • Distort your message or act tentatively because you’re trying to keep your colleague happy. Be honest and make sure your no is understood.”

Read more at Harvard Business Review.

SOURCE: THE IMPORTANCE OF SAYING ‘NO’ AT WORK

Millennials Manage Differently, and That’s a Good Thing

Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 17 January 2017

I’ve shared before that I think it’s time to stop shaming millennials. One of the reasons: They’re no longer all young 20-somethings just starting their careers. More millennials are stepping into management and leadership roles every day. In fact, The Hartford’s 2015 Millennial Leadership Survey found that 80 percent of millennials currently define themselves as leaders.

And, in my opinion, their ascent is going to be highly beneficial to the workplace — today and in the future. They bring different experiences, skills and mindsets to the workplace that are well suited to current business challenges and opportunities. Here are four ways that millennials differ as leaders, and my take on how millennial leadership will shape workplace dynamics for the better.

More feedback

Buh-bye, annual review…and good riddance. Millennials are embracing the need to provide ongoing, constant feedback to employees of all generations. As leaders they provide more feedback because it’s what they’ve said they want as employees — one survey found that almost half of millennials crave weekly feedback.

Expect to see more on-the-spot coaching, especially in the form of apps that provide instant feedback. By moving the focus from backward-looking reviews to up-to-the-minute improvements, millennial managers will help their teams make micro-adjustments to enhance performance and results.

More movement

Much has been made of the Deloitte survey that revealed two-thirds of millennials expect to leave their current job by 2020, but it is has significant implications for millennials as leaders. Accustomed to change, they are likely to be more adaptable to shifting team members, and will find it easier to manage employees who work remotely or those who join the team to perform one specific strategic task on a contract basis and then move on.

Millennial leaders are likely to move too, contributing to the concept of a professional trajectory as a lattice rather than a ladder. As they move from one company or department to another, they will bring with them their best practices and fresh ideas, shaking up the status quo that can occasionally plague companies with long-tenured employees.

More work/life integration

In a 2015 EY study, 35 percent of millennial leaders said that managing work-life balance is more challenging in their current role. But that doesn’t mean that they’re shrugging their shoulders and giving in — they’re doing something about it, and that is contributing to the rise of better work/life blend for all.

Since technology infuses nearly everything millennials do, tech is a driving force in their hunt for better work/life integration. They book reservations online at work and answer work email from the comfort of their couch at night. I expect that millennial managers will increasingly jettison the concept of “face time” to focus exclusively on output. This will benefit all generations of workers.

More focus on mission

People and profits will continue as a critical theme in how millennials manage. A whopping 90 percent of millennials say they want to use their skills for good, and 77 percent say culture is as important as salary or benefits, according to a survey by Virgin Pulse.

Fortunately, a culture of purpose and one of profits are not mutually exclusive. A Deloitte survey found that 91 percent of respondents who said their company had a strong sense of purpose had a history of strong financial performance as well.

Millennials will be focused not only on doing good work, but doing good, period, and that will impact the company’s overall culture and goals, while still driving performance.

The best news about these shifts? In my opinion, millennials are taking action on outdated workplace issues that have begged to be addressed for decades. They are starting the ball rolling — and all generations will score.

How have you noticed millennials managing differently? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!

SOURCE: Millennials Manage Differently, and That’s a Good Thing

My Word of the Year for 2017: Essential

Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 11 January 2017

In 2016 my life became a lot less hectic as I employed my word of the year: Simplify.

I added more breathing room in my schedule – and my closet – and adopted a general mantra that “less is more.” My year of simplifying was so fulfilling and freeing that I knew I wanted to build on the concept in 2017.

My 2017 word of the year came to me as I was doing yoga (cliche I know…). While standing in tree pose, I was thinking about my core, which led me to ruminating on core values, which led me to: What is essential? And that’s when it dawned on me. 2017 will be “The Year of Essentials.”

Every time I need to make a decision this year, I will ask, “Is it essential?” That goes for how I spend my money, how I spend my time and how I spend my energy.

The Fruits of a Simpler Life

When I look back on 2016, I feel peace and satisfaction that I was able to spend time doing more of what I wanted because I simplified. I could focus on spending more time with family and close friends and giving more of my time to fewer clients and to my daughter’s school.

When people think of simplifying, they often confuse it with “giving something up,” but it’s actually the opposite. Instead you’re concentrating your time and energy on fewer, more important things.

Financially, as a business owner, my quest to simplify included making sure I am working with the right vendors for me, and carefully tracking my finances on business development and other activities.

Deciding What’s Essential

And that is what leads me into my 2017 theme. And I wanted to share it with you because it is universal, but also very personal. What is essential to me may not be essential to you. For example…

  • Practicing yoga? Essential to me, but maybe not interesting to you.
  • Having a pet? Not essential to me. But for many of my friends, a pet is an essential source of joy.
  • Continually learning and reading? Essential to me.
  • Attending big networking events? Not essential to me. For someone newly starting their career, that might be at the top of their list. Right now I’m finding more value in small group events and one-on-one meetings.
  • Mentoring young people? Essential to me. My recent TEDx Talk clarified to me that we need more people championing millennials, and that is an essential part of my mission.

What will I do when I’m uncertain? I will remember the words of Greg McKeown, whose book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, made a huge impression on me (clearly) and is an — ahem — essential read if you haven’t already checked it out. McKeown wrote:

“If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”

The whole purpose of my Year of Essentials will be drilling down to what is most essential — to me and me only. One essential that will not waver? The dialogue I continue to have with my readers. So, for that, I thank you for being part of my 2017 journey. I know it’s going to be a great year!

SOURCE: My Word of the Year for 2017: Essential

Beyond the Humblebrag: How to Own Your Success Without Feeling Braggy

Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 15 November

“I have no place to put my new award! I’m running out of wall space in my office!”

“So don’t love my new haircut, but three people told me it makes me look younger. Are they lying?!”

We’ve all rolled our eyes at similar “humblebrags,” whether they’re comments made in meetings or posted on social media.

And yet, there is a genuine reason that professionals must promote themselves and their personal brands. It’s highly strategic to own your successes and to convey your value confidently — whether it’s in an email introduction, interview, keynote speech, cover letter, client pitch or performance review.

But many attendees of my speeches about personal branding ask me how to self-promote without sounding too braggy. (Or, as Peggy Klaus asks in one of my favorite book subtitles, how do you “toot your own horn without blowing it?”) If you feel like you’re bragging when you share your accomplishments, consider these off-putting phrases and learn how to correct them.

Instead of saying “I’m a creative, intelligent leader,” provide examples of your work.

When you’re touting your best traits, it’s best to use the “show, don’t tell” theory. In other words, instead of saying what a great communicator or strategic planner you are, show people how you used your creativity or organizational skills by telling a story that bolsters the claim.

Try using the proven formula of “problem, action, result.” For example, if you want to communicate that you can motivate a team, first describe the lack of morale you inherited in your department. Then share how you implemented team-building events and better communication to help create buy-in, and therefore retention improved under your watch.

Instead of saying “I accomplished this, and it was amazing,” include other people in your stories.

Speaking of stories, you’ll find that there’s more than one character in most stories. That’s why you should acknowledge those who helped you with your achievement (without unduly giving away too much of the credit). Talk about how you led a team and were really proud of the work they did: “We had to fix this problem ASAP so I worked with my team to find a solution that would allow us to stay within budget.”

By sharing the love, you prove that you’re confident enough to compliment others and authentic enough to realize that no one goes it alone.

Instead of saying “This sounds braggy, but…”, just share your good news.

You don’t have to apologize; just be genuine and share the great thing that happened. You could say “I’m proud to let you know I got a promotion,” or “I’m humbled and honored that my team nominated me for this award.” You could even say, “This is something I’ve really wanted and I am so happy I have done it.” People will respect you when you share good news with authenticity.

Don’t say “I did this. And that. And, come to think of it, this, too!”

Ultimately the level of your perceived bragginess will depend on your track record and how you typically position things. First cultivate the habit of paying it forward. If you’re never commenting or congratulating others on their news or “liking” and sharing their posts, they may be less eager to be supportive of you, especially if your “good news” seems to happen all.the.time.

Also, consider context. It’s one thing to post a picture with your medal when everyone knows you’ve been working hard to get healthy and tackle a marathon, and another when you’re already a fitness queen and you crow about losing a pound.

When you choose your moments and share news that is truly meaningful, other people will be happy for you. (P.S. If you’re a parent, these go for your kid posts, too. Just sayin’…)

How about you? I’d love to hear your strategies for sharing good news without being braggy. Please share in the comments!

Need a Break? Ideas for a Digital Detox

Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 4 November 2016

Feel like you’re sending even more email these days? You’re not just imagining it: Recent research from Adobe found that people report spending 17% more time checking email this year compared with last year.

In our “always-on” culture, we respond to emails after work, on weekends and on vacation. It’s not all bad — consider that you might be responding after hours because you dipped out to a lunchtime yoga class as part of the increased demand for work/life blend — but sometimes everyone can use a break. We all need uninterrupted time to read, relax or hang out with family and friends.

If you’re looking for new ways to establish boundaries at work, the following tips should help.

A Healthy Email Culture Has to Start at the Top

“The world has arrived at a place where instantaneous information and response is the norm, but is that the culture you want to embed in your workplace and team? How can managers continue to handle their administrative tasks at times that are convenient for them, and at the same time allow team members to unplug? One way is by writing emails when they provide you the work-life balance you want, then save them as a draft to be sent during work hours. Communicate with your team about your work style – and be equally clear of your expectations from the team. Reward a culture of balance, discuss time off activities, praise employees for being ‘unplugged,’ and respect the boundaries that you and your team set for an effective balance.” — Read more at SHRM.

Try an Email Break

“People are so plugged in that they are now taking frequent ‘email detoxes.’ Almost 45 percent reported attempting a self-imposed break from checking email. Tech workers were the most likely to report taking a detox: 66 percent versus 39 percent of non-tech industry respondents. The average email detox reportedly lasted 5.3 days, with the majority of people claiming a positive impact from the disconnect.” — Read more at The Business Journals.

Save Non-Urgent Messages for Later

“In terms of late-day emails, consider leaving them for the next day. Phone calls can go to voicemail, which you can check just to make sure that there’s nothing urgent. In those cases, you will respond accordingly. If the message is not urgent, resolve to take care of it the following day.” — Read more at SmartBrief.

Practice Spending Part of Your Day Tech-Free

“London-based life coach Carole Ann Rice believes that digital detoxes are something one needs to ease into. ‘In order to completely sever your dependency, it would be a good idea to first simply set small limits for each day. Be this during exercise time, your lunch break, or when out shopping, if you slowly eliminate technology from various parts of your day, your detox will be easier to stick at. Habitual rituals help us achieve our targets, but only if they are achievable themselves.’” — Read more at The Telegraph.

Set Your Own Boundaries, or No One Else Will

“Early on, [Tom Tierney, cofounder of Bridgespan, former CEO of the powerhouse global consulting firm Bain & Company, and author of the philanthropy guide Give Smart] understood that while he wanted to achieve financial and career success, his family came first. Based on this overarching value, and even while rising through the ranks at Bain to become its CEO, he did not work on weekends. Instead, he spent considerable time with his sons, coaching them both to the level of Eagle Scout. Eschewing work on the weekends…required discipline and an uncompromising ability to focus on what mattered most to him.” — Read more at Harvard Business Review.