Elevator Etiquette 101

16 Oct

I know that everyone probably has an elevator story. How could you not? Riding in an elevator with strangers is an awkward thing. While I have certainly seen strange things and heard weird conversations in elevators, today the oddest thing happened to me. I walked into the lobby of my building, pressed the button for my floor and when the doors opened I stepped in. Behind me a middle-aged man stepped in. So far nothing too unusual. So as the elevator starts climbing I am in the middle of thinking about my breakfast, which I was going to eat immediately when I got to work, when the man looks at me and says, “You know, the man is always supposed to get into the elevator first.” Because I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly I cocked my head to the side and said, “What?” He looked me straight in the eye (serious as ever) and said, “The man is always supposed to get into the elevator first to make sure its working.” I looked at the guy and tried to force a smile on my face and nod. I guess the theory kind of makes sense, but isn’t it safe to assume that the elevator is working when the door opens? What could he possibly ensure by stepping in it before me? Needless to say, I thought the fact that he said this to me was really odd.

First of all, I have always been under the impression (especially living down in the South) that women are the first on the elevator and the men hold to the door for them. Women are also always the first off the elevator too. It’s just the way it works, at least where I am living. I always judge the manors of a man by whether or not he lets me on or off the elevator first. Second, why on earth did that man feel the need to tell me this? It wasn’t as if we knew each other or had even seen each other before. Was he upset that I got on the elevator first? Was he trying to teach me some sort of lesson? Or is just plain crazy and thinks that what he said was normal?

I may be overreacting, but having to stand there with this man who said that he should have been allowed on the elevator first made me feel a little uncomfortable.

Anyways, my experience today reminded me just how awkward elevator rides can be. So, for those of you who think men should be on the elevator first, here are some elevator etiquette tips (because you probably need them):

  • ALWAYS let women on and off the elevator first. While I say always, there are obviously situations in which this doesn’t necessarily apply. For example, when you were the first one there and a herd of women comes up behind you it is probably ok for you to enter first. But in my opinion, if I were a man, I would let the herd of women go before me. But that’s just me.
  • NEVER step onto a crowded elevator, wait for another one. I hate when that one person steps onto the elevator and makes everyone inch that much closer to one another. Why can’t they just wait? Are they really in that big of a hurry?
  • ALWAYS face the elevator doors. It is really strange when someone steps into the elevator and faces the people standing behind him/her. I am never quite sure why people do this. Why not just face front like everyone else? I don’t care if you know someone in the elevator, no one wants you staring at them the whole way down.
  • DON’T talk on your cell phone in the elevator. At most you will be on the elevator for a few minutes, I think the phone call can wait.
  • GREETINGS are ok if they are short and sweet. Don’t go into too much detail and ask everyone in the elevator what they did that weekend or for their political point of view.
  • DON’T take the elevator to go up just one floor. I cannot tell you how much I despise those people who get on the elevator just to go to the 2nd floor. I, on the other hand, have to go up to the 18th floor and get frustrated when people are too lazy to take the stairs. Maybe that’s why most of America is fat today – they are too busy riding elevators.
  • DON’T fart or burp or do anything else that will leave a lingering smell. No one wants to get trapped with your stink.

Have you ever encountered something strange on an elevator? Would you add any additional elevator etiquette rules to my list?

Never Apologize At Work

15 Oct

If you are a working woman and reading this then you have probably at some point in your career apologized to someone for something. You are sorry the copy machine stopped working or the network went down or  the coffee pot is leaking or  your boss can’t open an attachment you sent him. Am I right? I know that I have apologized for things. And while there are times and places to be sorry (like when you majorly screw something up) you should never be apologizing for the small things that you have no control over.

For example, the other day I was working out with my husband. We work out at Crossfit. That day was a partner WOD (where you have a partner and the two of you complete a long, hard workout together), and I was partners with a young girl who was stronger and faster than me. We did the workout at pretty much the same pace, but I kind of felt the whole time as if I were holding her back. I think it was just my insecurity in thinking that she was better than me, and I let that get to me. At the end of the workout we said good job to each other and then I blurted out an apology. I said, “Sorry if I was a little slow.” When she said no problem and walked away my husband scolded me. He said that I should never, ever apologize to anyone for working hard and doing the best I can. The moment he said this I knew he was right, and then I instantly felt stupid for second-guessing myself and automatically thinking she was better than me.

This experience can easily translate to the work environment. Let’s say you are working on something with a co-worker who is at your level, and maybe it takes you a little longer or maybe you have a harder time understanding the objective or the results. Either way you in some way feel as if you are making a mistake or not doing things good enough, when in reality you are working your hardest and doing the best you can do. In such an instance you should NEVER apologize for being you. Think about it – the only thing apologizing does it make the other person, your co-worker, the one who is supposed to have confidence in you, think you are insecure and incapable of handling the job.

How many times have you ever heard a male at work say they were sorry? Even when men make mistake, big mistakes, they never really apologize. Instead they will say, you were right – not I’m sorry for being wrong. I do think apologizing is somewhat of a woman characteristic. We always feel the need to please and help others, so when we feel as if we aren’t living up to our own expectations we should apologize. While I, as a woman, understand the need to apologize and make things right, doing this at work does nothing but hurt your career and progression.

Have you ever apologized at work and then regretted doing so? Have you ever apologized for someone else’s mistakes? I tend to think that women do this a lot, and if I could give you one piece of advice it would be never to apologize for being you and doing the best you can.

Dealing With Office Drama: The Office Friend Conundrum

9 Oct

If you work in an office with anyone other than yourself you are likely to experience some sort of office drama at one point or another. Maybe you told a co-worker that you trusted that you went on a date only to find out that she went and blabbed your news to everyone else or maybe you say something about one co-worker that somehow gets back to that co-worker and discover that they are upset with you. Whatever it is, we all know that drama isn’t fun, especially when it’s at the office – the very place that you spend more time than you do in your own house.

In my office I have two young women that I consider to be pretty good friends. We enjoy Friday lunches together, keep each other updated on one another’s lives, and sometimes plan out-of-office get-togethers where we sip on drinks and discuss things other than work. I would say that I feel pretty comfortable telling these women a lot of things, and sometimes I find that it is hard to determine where a line exists and if there even is one.

So I will give you an example of some recent drama that I dealt with at the office. One of my office friends (Office Friend A) had an upcoming wedding and me and the other office friend (Office Friend B) were planning on attending. About a week before the wedding, Office Friend B came up and told me that she was not able to attend the reception. A few days later I was talking to Office Friend A and simply asked if she was upset or disappointed that Office Friend B gave last-minute notice that she was not attending the reception (likely after the bill for her plate had already been paid). Office Friend A brushed it off and said no, she didn’t care. I told her I was glad she wasn’t bothered and relayed a story of when my husband and I got married and how disappointed I was when people cancelled at the last-minute. Fast forward an hour when Office Friend B comes into the office and breezes past my door at lightening speed (when she usually spends the time to come in and say hello). When I tried to say hi to Office Friend B later that day I could tell she was upset with me. She is one of those people who is always happy and chipper, so when she gave me a snarly look I knew she was upset.

It was instantaneously obvious to me that Office Friend A had said something to Office Friend B about my question. I became immediate anxious and uncomfortable, so I spoke to Office Friend A to ask if she was upset with me. Come to find out she was, and yes she had said something to Office Friend B. While I feel that I did nothing wrong (yes I offended them, but it wasn’t an intention offense), I hated being in the midst of office drama and having to be around these two women who were upset with me. While I could have held my head up high sure that I did nothing wrong, I decided to suck up my pride and send both of them apology emails. In the end the drama was resolved and everything was ok.

So, what did that little fiasco teach me? First it taught me that while these girls are my friends and while I confide in them with regard to personal matters, I can’t get too personal at work. It also taught me that no matter how close you think you are to someone, drama is always possible, especially at work.

If you find yourself in a similar situation or in a completely different situation involving drama and work, here are some tips:

  • If you think that you did something to offend someone, think about apologizing and taking the blame even if you feel that you did nothing wrong. Apologies go a long way and dealing with upset co-workers isn’t worth your pride.
  • If you feel that someone at your work is gossiping about you and saying bad things that could hurt your career or reputation with higher-ups, then say something to your boss. This may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it is important that your boss know what is going on so they are prepared when someone says something negative about you.
  • If you and another co-worker just can’t seem to get alone, avoid that co-worker, and when you can’t avoid them just simply ignore them. I know plenty of people who have co-workers they despise and they simply get through the day by being as professional as possible while ignoring them and removing themselves from situations involving that person.
  • If you have to work closely with someone who has caused drama in your office, tread lightly. Don’t engage in office gossip and NEVER say anything about anyone that you don’t want to get back to them. These people always seem so sincere and interested in your opinion, but they won’t think twice about throwing you under the bus to spread a little office gossip.

All in all I have come to learn that while you can have good work friends, you can’t be as candid and open with them as you can your real friends.

Have you guys dealt with office drama? What did you do to make the situation better?

Have Some Respect For The Young Women

23 Aug

We all know that there are some professions out there that are completely male dominated, right? Like banking or working on Wall Street or being an attorney. Yes, there are wonderful women working in those professions, but if you work in one of those professions you often find yourself surrounded by men, and older men at that. Not only is it hard to speak to older men who are of the Good Old Boy Club, but it is hard to feel welcome.

The other day one of my Facebook friends (who shall remain anonymous) posted this:

“Dear Male Attys in their 50s: No, I am not the paralegal. Yes I am under 30 and female. Please do not call me sweetheart and do not say ‘just between the girls.’ As a warning, I do not respond well to bullying or manipulation. And, by the way, I’m not a -itch  if I object or question something you do that I believe  is inappropriate under the rules of civil procedure. I’m just doing my job. Thank you. Truly Yours, Esq.”

At first I read this and thought, wow, she must have had a bad day, but then the more I thought about it the more I thought, Good for you!! I have to give it to her – she spoke her mind and said what a lot of young women were thinking – that they arn’t respected just because they are young women in their profession.

How many of you out there have been in a situation in which someone assumes, just because you are young, that you are a secretary or an assistant or the lowly intern? How many of you have found that just because you are young your opinions are not respected? How many of you think that just because you are young your older colleagues try to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do? How many of you have been in a meeting and suggested something only to have the older men laugh and push it aside?

This has happened to me quite a few times in my short career, and I have to admit that when it does happen it is sort of embarrassing. It makes me feel like maybe I am not worthy of being in the profession I am in or that I am not worthy of having other people respect my work. And having to explain to people that you aren’t the intern and are actual an attorney or a broker or a counselor or a doctor is awkward. And then they look at you with a scrunched forehead and their head tilted to the side as if they can’t possible comprehend how you could possibly be in the position thar you’re in.

And when this happens all you want to do is scream at the top of your lungs, “Yes, I am a young woman, but I am a _________, so respect me!”

I know that everyone has to pay their dues and has to put in the time before respect is given, I get that, but people can’t just assume that because you have a young face or because you’re attractive or because you are female that you are the secretary. I think that sometimes, just sometimes, people should respect you and remember that they were once in your position.

Any of you have similar experiences in your professions?

Promoting Yourself At Your New Job

16 Aug

A lot of my readers seem to come to this site via Google searches relating to new jobs, so I figured, in honor of my readers and to help those of you out that seem to be starting new jobs (which seems to be a lot of you), I thought I would discuss how to promote yourself at your new job. By promote yourself I mean get noticed and be seen by those around you.

So here is the scene. You landed a new, exciting job, and you just started or are getting ready to start.

First things first, remember that this transition into your new position is a chance to make changes and to prove yourself to your new co-workers. The spotlight will be on you for the first few weeks, or even months, with everyone always wondering what you are working on and how you are doing. Are you making a lot of mistakes? Are you catching on quickly to the new systems and protocols? Are you making connections with your co-workers and helping them get to know you?

Second thing to remember: the first day, week, or even month may not be that exciting. While I am sure you are ready to jump in and start working on everything, know that training and moving work to you takes time. So be patient. If you are slow, wait it out. I’m sure it will get better.

Ok, now that we have all of that out of the way I can get down to the meat and potatoes of the new job business.

Most of you know, I hope, that what you do in the first few months at your new job will either make or break you. It is in these first few months that you need to show your boss and your co-workers why you are such an asset to the company and that they should continue to invest time and money in you.

Here are some tips for promoting yourself around the office and making everyone know your worth:

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

I know, I know, you might not be busy, and that’s ok. What I mean by “hit the ground running” is that you need to be ready and willing to get your feet wet and venture into various different tasks that you have never done before. If you find that you aren’t busy at first, go around the office and ask people for work or if they need help with ANYTHING. If you are busy, embrace it and do everything you can to keep up the pace. Your company is going to want to see that you can be productive and that you are benefitting them.

PROMOTE YOUR SKILLS

You can do this through the various assignments you have, at meetings, or in discussions with your co-workers or your boss. It is my advice to try to promote your skills – the skills that set you apart – at every chance you get. If you are a nurse and you are great with patients, make sure others notice this. If you are an attorney and are a great brief writer, volunteer to take a stab at writing a brief. If you are in sales and you are good at cold calls, make sure your boss recognizes this. While I don’t want you to go and tell someone every time you do something great – don’t be afraid to brag a little bit. For example, if you land a big client your first month on the job don’t be afraid to admit this in meeting when discussing the new account. If you don’t mention it, no one will.

GET INVOLVED

If your co-workers invite you to lunch, happy hours, conferences, etc., make sure that you go. They are inviting you because they want to get to know you and they want you to get involved. I know that going to social events with people you don’t know can be strange and awkward, but it is a part of establishing a career and expanding your network. Getting involved can even be as simple as joining the company softball team. The point is that you want to start building a connection to your co-workers right away.

UNDERSTAND THE COMPANY CULTURE

Every company has a very different culture. By culture I  mean anything from actual culture (my last company was primarily Indian dominated and so they celebrated many Indian holidays), office hours, where people eat lunch, how long they eat lunch, how people dress, whether people schmooze in the hallways, whether they go out for a drink after work, etc. Understanding all of the nuances of your new company will allow you to ensure that you are doing things in accordance with what everyone else has become accustomed to. You don’t want to be the Chatty Cathy if talking in the hallways is unacceptable.

If you are finding it hard to figure some of this stuff out, ask someone you feel comfortable talking with.

NEVER SAY NO

Even if you are slammed and have been asked if you can help out, DON’T SAY NO. Even if you have plans after work and have been asked to attend a speaking event or a happy hour or some other business-related event, DON’T SAY NO. While you don’t have to say Yes to everything the entire time you work at this new company, you need to say Yes the first few months you work there. Not only will saying yes show your dedication to the company, but it will probably give you a chance to build some relationships with your co-workers.

Hold On: One Day You Will Be Doing What You Love

9 Aug

How many of you know someone who is unhappy with their job? I know a lot of people who feel this way, and because of the economy I am sure you do too. When you ask these people why they don’t like their jobs, what do they tell you? If you are asking someone from Gen Y they are probably going to tell you that they don’t like their job because they aren’t doing something they LOVE. Am I right?

Well, for those of you out there who feel that you are stuck at a boring job doing something you hate and fear that this will be your life, I am here to tell you that if you hold on, get the experience you need, and move up the career ladder you will be closer to the job of your dreams than you think.

Here is one of my favorite stories about how the job you hate doesn’t have to be your last job.

Take Emily Giffin, my favorite author (yes, I LOVE chick-lit books). Emily went to law school because she felt like she needed to get a “real” job before taking a stab at becoming a fiction writer. Does she regret going to law school? No. But she didn’t like the practice of law one bit. In fact, here is what Emily has to say: “I loathed the actual practice of law—at least the big firm culture. And I discovered that misery can be quite motivating. So very early on, I devised a plan to pay off my law school loans and then write full-time. Meanwhile, I began writing a young adult novel in my free time (and sometimes while at work!). Four years later, my loans were paid off and my book was completed. I was able to land an agent, but over the next several months, I received a dozen rejection letters from publishers. I seriously contemplated giving up and keeping my nose to the legal grindstone, but instead, I quit my job, moved to London and decided to try again. It was then and there that I began writing Something Borrowed.” Now, years later, Emily has 6 New York Times Bestselling novels, many loyal Facebook followers, and never has to step foot in a courtroom.

So, if you are stuck working at a job that you loathe, what can you do to make your time there worth while and make sure you don’t drive yourself crazy?

BUILD PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS

If you build relationships with the people in your office you won’t feel so alone. Now, I would be very careful discussing your feelings about your job with these people, because you would never want these feelings to get back to your boss. But there is no harm in being friends with your co-workers and going to lunch with them. Heck, these relationships could eventually lead to a job that you will LOVE. As my mom always told me – its not what you know, its who you know.

GET INVOLVED

Remember, if you are one of those people trying to move up and on to something better, getting involved in tasks beyond your skill level will help you build your resume and enhance your skills. This could be something that you work on with someone else, or it could purely be a project to help the company as a whole run more smoothly, operate more efficiently, or strive to solve some of the problems that co-workers have been complaining about. The more you get involved in than just those tasks that make up your job description the more you will grow professionally – and that never hurts.

MAKE SURE THAT THE JOB YOU WANT IS REALLY WHAT YOU THINK IT IS

It is one thing to think that being something sounds cool, but it is another thing to actually experience it. Take Emily for example. She went to law school, loved it, and then ended up hating the practice of law. She never would have known that had she not ventured into legal practice out of law school. So, for those of you who think that you want to venture into a certain type of job, make sure that the job really is what you think it is. How do you do this? Get a mentor that works in the field and ask them if you can follow them for a day, two days, or a week. Being able to see what they do on a daily basis will give you some insight into whether or not you will really enjoy that job.

HOLD ON – THE END IS NEAR

In the end, we all can’t be doing what we love right away. Getting to the top and getting where we want takes time and patience. So, while you are building relationships, building your skills, and making sure that your dream job is the right job for you – hold on. Eventually you will end up where you are supposed to.

What To Do On A Slow Day In The Office

27 Jul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know about you guys, but this past month has been REALLY slow for me. I went from being so busy that I could barely breathe to wishing I had a million things to do and couldn’t breathe again. My husband always tells me that I am never happy – that when I am slammed at work I complain and when I am slow I complain – and maybe that’s true. While I hate having to come into work on the weekends while my husband soaks up the sun with our friends, I would rather do that than have absolutely nothing to do. How about you guys?

So, what have I been doing at work this past month? I have been trying to read through certain code sections to at least know what they discuss (yes, I know, fun stuff). But now I am at the point where reading another code section is going to maybe, possibly, make me scream at the top of my lungs.

Summer is one of those times where people just seem to be slower at the office. Maybe this is because the weather is nice and people are enjoying their time outside rather than generating business, or maybe its just a coincidence. Whatever it is, there is no denying that being slow at work is miserable.

If you are in my situation and your work has dwindled during the summer months, what are some things you can do to stay busy and keep progressing as a professional? Obviously Facebooking, online shopping, or chatting with friends on G- chat is not the best way to spend your time (although I know a LOT of people do it anyways). Here are some POSITIVE things you could be doing with that extra time you have on your hands.

READ ABOUT THE CHANGES IN YOUR INDUSTRY

If you are in a particular field where changes in the laws, regulations, etc., affect you, then spending time on those slow days making sure that you haven’t missed any of those changes is probably a good idea. If there are such changes create a Word document making note of those changes and make sure that you thoroughly understand them. What I mean is don’t just read that the government is dropping funding for the program you are working for – find out how this is going to affect you, where the additional funding will come from, and why they are dropping the funding. In my line of work (legal) it is always important to read up on the changes in the laws and make sure that an opinion that was issued the previous day doesn’t somehow change something that you are working on today.

ORGANIZE YOUR EMAILS

If you are anything like me then your inbox contains thousands and thousands of emails that you have not yet taken the time to organize into folders. I don’t do this because it is VERY time-consuming to go through all of your emails and organize them, and because I like being able to search through my inbox for something that I need. But, even I have to admit that it is nice to have your emails organized into appropriate folders, so if you have the time to do it – then do it.

READ A GOOD PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT BOOK

The slow times in the office provide a great time for you to help develop your professional skills. Try reading a professional development book. Here are some of my favs:

If you aren’t in the mood for reading an entire book then read professional development articles by typing “Professional Development” into Google and reading the various things that come up.

WRITE A MANIFESTO

If you don’t have a how-to document that would tell someone how to do your job if you died tomorrow, i.e. where everything is, who to call, what to do in certain circumstances, then making one is a great idea. Not only will this help someone if you decide to leave your job in the future, but it can be used as your go-to guide if you ever draw a blank on what to do next.

TAKE A CLIENT TO LUNCH

If you have the time to connect with a client on a particular day then call a client and asks them to lunch. Not only will this phone call give you a chance to chat with your client, but the lunch may lead to work (which, if you are reading this, you are in desperate need of).

ASK SOMEONE IF THEY NEED HELP

Just because you aren’t busy doesn’t mean that the people around you aren’t. So, if you are in the mood to get busy and keep your mind occupied, ask someone around you if you can help them out. Being a good neighbor is always important, and maybe they will offer to help you one day.

Have you guys been slow this summer? If so, what do you do to occupy your time?