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How You Can Stop Passive Aggressive Behavior At Work For Good

“Are you a team player?”

It’s a question that is commonly asked during the interview process for almost every job on the planet. Hiring managers want to make sure that you’re not going to create conflict and reduce productivity. The only problem with this is that it has led to a lack of needed conflict on teams. We need to be able to openly air disagreements on ideas so the cream of the crop can rise to the surface. Conflict can actually foster better productivity.

When that conflict is not allowed, the result is team members stuffing their dissatisfaction internally. It begins to fester there, growing into a massive beast of hatred over time. Eventually these negative feelings must come out, which is when your team begins to see passive-aggressive behaviors. When you’ve reached the point of sarcastic comments and sabotage, then you’re in the danger zone of losing everything.

The good news is that it is never too late to solve the problem of passive-aggressiveness. Here’s how you can begin to stop it from rearing its ugly head starting today.

#1. Put a light on the elephant in the room. Acknowledge the feelings of dissatisfaction and hatred that people on the team are having. Take time out of your schedule, go to a neutral site, and then set ground rules about how to discuss dissension without being hurtful. Everyone on the team is valuable – otherwise they wouldn’t be there in the first place. You want all of their opinions. Make this fact known and be very clear about it.

#2. Make time for dissent in every conversation. Don’t allow dissatisfaction to be stuffed so it can fester. Ask team members in every conversation if there is some level of dissent about what is going on. You can do this by turning it into a devil’s advocate discussion. “How might someone want to criticize this idea?” or “What problems would someone potentially see if we implement this idea today?” This gives people a safe way to express their dissent without necessarily taking ownership of it, reliving the feelings of dissatisfaction.

#3. Give equal time to all opinions. Feedback is critical for a team to be consistently successful. Just because there is a dissenting opinion doesn’t mean that the dissent is incorrect. Explore that feedback and take whatever value you find out of it and use it to everyone’s advantage. You’ll always have people who want to disagree because that’s how they have fun at work, but even these folks have moments of inspiration that can be gleaned from their dissenting feedback. Take this seriously and your production levels will soar.

#4. Identify passive-aggressive behavior and confront it every time you see it. This is where many team members get into trouble. They have no problem calling out passive-aggressive behavior, but they’re not willing to offer solutions to fix the issue. When you confront this behavior, practice alternatives that are healthier for the team. Then give people a chance to express their dissent.

#5. Stop the back-channel sarcasm. This is where most efforts to reduce passive-aggressiveness tend to fail. Team members may gather for drinks after work, talk during a lunch break, or IM each other on Facebook over the weekend to feed their passive aggression. If you hear complaints outside of a team meeting, ask people to bring up their concerns there. Ask for new information. A team doesn’t have to 100% agree on everything, but they do need to be on the same page.

Passive-aggressiveness can be very costly. Not only does it cause a team to reduce their overall production, but it also creates high amounts of anxiety and stress for everyone involved. Be open, be honest, and most of all be direct about dissent and conflict when you see it and you’ll begin to reduce the passive-aggressive tendencies of your team over time.

How You Can Stop Your Bad Habits at Work Today?

 

We all have certain things that we do at work that kind of get us into trouble. It might be procrastination, or an aversion to checking voicemail, or the no-filter approach with the boss. These habits feel great in the present moment, yet seem to cause regret or even guilt when we reflect back upon them. Instead of dealing with this repetitive cycle of joy and regret, consider using these tricks to stop those bad habits that might be holding you back in your career.

#1. Use visual tactics as an advantage.

When things are closer to us, then they feel more important as a need that must be met. This is why we work harder when deadlines are close, but procrastinate when a due date is a week away. Use this trick to prioritize what needs to be done at work so distractions can be minimized. Put documents that must be read on your home page or bookmark items on a news feed so you mentally note their higher priority.

#2. Set firm boundaries with friendships.

It’s important to have a friend at work. If that friendship is getting in the way of a job that needs to get done, however, then there need to be some boundaries put into place. Your career shapes you just as much as your friends do. If they’re not willing to support these changes you feel are necessary, then some firm lines must be drawn that you will not cross.

#3. Create a schedule.

We feel good when we’re able to check stuff off of our to-do lists every day. Instead of seeing what happens each day at work, try to plan it out the evening before. Set your task priorities, schedule time for that voicemail, and stay committed to what you’ve created. This will soon become the default program for your brain’s operating system.

#4. Stick to the new habit.

Most of the issues which occur at work tend to be because of our personal choices instead of an actual lack of skill. Without skills, we wouldn’t be employed in the first place, right? If you can be consistent with the choices you make, then instead of feeling like you don’t belong at work because you aren’t getting any opportunities, you’ll feel like you’ve empowered yourself to take on the next challenge.

#5. Eliminate the four letter words from your vocabulary.

It’s the word “can’t” which you must eliminate. When you believe you won’t be able to accomplish something, then you’re setting a course toward a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s not arrogant to believe that you will succeed, especially if you’re backing up your perspective with your values, experience, and goals. What do you want to get out of each project? Decide to make things happen and they will.

You can make good things happen for your career every day at work. All you’ve got to do is identify the bad habits that could be holding you back. 

How To Provide Feedback Instead of Criticism

You’ve just worked hard for a week on a project at work. It’s finally finished and you’ve turned it into your boss. You feel great because the work you did was awesome… except your boss thinks differently. Are you about to receive feedback that can improve your work?

Or are you just going to be criticized in some way?

Criticism is often viewed as the best way to hold people accountable, but what it really does in this instance is place the blame on someone specific. Accountability should be about delivering on a commitment or a promise instead of the foundation of a blamestorming session. It is a thoughtful process which looks to encourage people to step up their game instead of tearing them into shreds.

You can’t control how your boss will react to the project you’ve just submitted, but you can control how you provide feedback to others. Consider these options instead of getting angry the next time you feel like there was a lack of follow-through on something.

#1. Make sure there are clear expectations that have been communicated.

The most common reason why something doesn’t get done to a certain set of expectations is because no clear definitions have been set or communicated. People need to know what is expected of them to be able to achieve specific goals. If they have to guess at what needs to be done, the results will almost always be inconsistent.

#2. The right people need to be doing the job.

Would you give an employee who just started today a project that is critical to the survival of your company the moment they walk into the office? Of course not. Yet this is what happens all of the time to workers today. They are given assignments that don’t fit within their skill set, but are expected to deliver as if they have a PhD on the subject matter. Criticizing someone who did their best on a project they weren’t really capable of completing in the first place will only create resentment.

#3. Let people measure their own performance.

When clear expectations are set forth, there should also be clear measurements in place that let people track their own performance. We are always our own worst critic. We all take pride in our work. Most workers will hold themselves above the measurements that are put in place because they don’t want to think of themselves as failures. Providing advice on how to help each worker meet those expectations is the best feedback you could provide.

#4. There must be expected consequences.

Once a project has been completed, you have three options available to you: reward, repeat, or remove. If you feel like the expectations laid out weren’t clear because there was a general failure across the board, then repeat the project with a clarified set of expectations. If the job meets or exceeds your standards, then reward the workers in some way. If the work didn’t meet expectations and you were clear about what needed to be done and the assignment was given to the workers with the right skill set, then change the roles of those workers.

#5. Keep an open dialogue.

When there are open lines of communication available to people, they’re more likely to discuss the challenges they face during a project. Saying that you have an “open door policy” is a cop out. People don’t just generally approach someone if they think it might get them into trouble. You’ve got to engage people consistently to make sure an open dialogue can be achieved.

Feedback helps people to grow. Criticism tears people down. You might not know how your boss will react when you submit your work, but by using these options, you can make sure you’re giving people the feedback they need.

5 Ways to Unlock the Potential of Your Weekend

For the world’s most successful people, the weekend is more than an opportunity to kick back and relax. It’s the chance to invest into different priorities. Instead of going into the office, checking emails every few hours, or taking business calls, the weekend is a chance to spend time with family and friends. It’s a chance to recharge for a new week of productivity.

Why is this so important? Of course your family and friends appreciate your time. Studies have also shown that once an individual works 55 hours in a week, their productivity levels decline to virtually zero. Someone who works 70 hours per week is producing at the same levels as the person working 55 hours per week.

Yet the weekend can provide some traps that can kill your future productivity as well. Avoid these traps and you might just find success knocking at your door.

#1. Sleeping In

If you have a sleep debt which needs to be erased, then go to bed earlier on the weekend instead of sleeping in. Because you get up later than normal for 1 or 2 mornings, you’re actually resetting your biological clock. This will make it much more difficult to wake up when the alarm rings on Monday morning. Get up at the same time every day and your mind will be ready to get some work done after the weekend.

#2. A Full 2 Days

Weekends deserve some adventure. They deserve some family time. What often gets neglected is the personal time a person needs as well. Try to give yourself some personal time in the morning when your mind is the most awake. Consider adding some meditation to this time as well. Then think about scheduling a day trip or a partial day trip with family or friends instead of a weekend-long adventure for best results.

#3. No Fun

You’ve worked hard all week. You should be able to have some fun on the weekend. There will always be dishes to wash, laundry to do, and repairs around the house which need to get made. If that’s all you ever do on the weekend and you hate doing chores, then you’re not having any fun. Those chores can be set aside for awhile so you can do something relaxing or pursue something you’re passionate about. Painting, writing, composing, long walks by the beach – forget the excuses and just go do it.

#4. Staying Connected

If you’re still plugged into the rest of the world during the weekend, then there will always be the temptation to work. You might be able to fight it off for awhile, but eventually you’ll cave in. It happens to the best of us. To make the most out of your weekend, try disconnecting yourself from all of your electronic devices. Burnout quickly happens when you’re forcing yourself to be on-call 24/7.

#5. Zero Preparation

The weekend is also a great time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past week. This reflection time allows people to prepare themselves for the week ahead. You don’t need to spend a lot of time in preparation – just 30-60 minutes on a Sunday evening will do. If you can make this time happen, then you can make the coming week a little easier to navigate.

Unlocking the potential of the weekend ultimately means letting go of your professional responsibilities. Think of it as a “mini-retirement.” Sure – there will be interruptions and emergencies that happen and will need your attention. What is more important is your mindset. If you can bring all of this together and give yourself permission to let things go over the weekend, you may find your productivity levels can skyrocket.

You Really Can Say No At Work: Here’s How You Do It

Your boss comes over to your desk with another project that needs to get done. You’re already working on three other projects and your co-workers each only have one. “You’re the only person I trust to get this completed on time,” your boss might say. “Will you add this to your pile?”

Your boss expects you to say “Yes.” In reality, you really can say “No” and not have to worry about your job. Here’s how you can make that happen.

Make Your “No” Be Well-Reasoned

Instead of an emotional reaction to the request to do more work, think about it from a practical solution. Using the example from above, you’ve already got 3 projects on your desk. Discuss with your boss the fact that you already have a lot of work that already needs to be completed. Talk about which work needs to take a priority. You might be able to shift the other projects to take on this new one, so you end up saying both “Yes” and “No” at the same time.

By taking a well-reasoned approach, you can show your boss the scope and scale of the work you already have. There’s a good chance that they don’t realize how much is already on your plate. This new work was brought to you because you really are good at what you do. Therefore, when you communicate more about what you’ve got going on, your professional life often becomes a bit easier to manage.

Take the Emotions of Your Boss Into Account

When you tell your boss that you can’t take on a new project, the rejection is going to create negative emotions for them. If there is no empathy for this natural process, then there’s a good chance the response you get back to your “No” is, “Well… I’m your boss and I’m telling you to get this job done anyway.”

Take a moment to step into the shoes of your boss for a second. Understand the difficult position they are already in and now you’re just adding to it. By acknowledging what is happening, your boss still isn’t going to be very happy, but they can cope with the negative emotions you’re creating for them.

Offer Up a Favor or Two

Maybe you can’t take on the full project right now, but you could consult with others on it for awhile. Could you attend a planning meeting? Read the first draft once it’s completed and lend your advice? Listen to others as they brainstorm ideas for what needs to happen? If you can offer up a favor or two, then you’re still saying “No” to the massive demands of a project, but you still get to be involved in it.

With that being said, your “No” must be authentic. You might be busy with 3 projects on your plate, but what will the boss think if you’re constantly taking breaks to chat with co-workers, text on your phone, or check your Facebook status? The boss will think you’ve got extra time on your hands. If you say that you’re too busy to take on another project, make sure that the perception you give others matches up with the reality of your situation.

Saying “No” requires you to be kind, but it also requires you to be firm. Be sure of yourself. Try not to be defensive. Be honest about what you’ve got going on. Make it clear that you won’t change your

5 Top Ways to Reduce Stress

Around the first of the year, most of us begin turning our attention to ways we can improve our lives. That is why January is considered one of the most stressful months of the year. Just trying to set and keep our New Year’s resolutions can be quite stressful. However, stress can happen at any time. Maybe it’s the meeting you’ve got with your boss at work tomorrow. It might be the roast that you just burned that has you dealing with stress. Whatever the cause of your stress might be, these 5 methods are proven to help you reduce the amount of stress you have in your life on a daily basis.

#1. Follow Your Passion

When your career path follows something you’re passionate about, it is a lot easier to combat the stress which comes with any type of work we do for a living. The love you have for what you do makes you mentally more resilient than if you’re just working to earn a paycheck. It’s also important to include habits you’re passionate about outside of work as well so you don’t feel like you’re 100% on call for professional demands.

 #2. Avoid Toxic People

Toxic people are around you every day. Unfortunately we can’t always avoid these people because they might be our family or friends. What you can do, however, is take a vacation from that toxicity. Take a break and allow yourself to decompress. Don’t let them talk to you, comment on your Facebook posts, or interact with you in some other way. Once you’ve had a chance to get away from that negativity, you can make a better decision about how often you wish to interact with these folks in the future.

 #3. Simplify

Having clutter is a guarantee that stress will be lurking around the corner. Clutter comes in many forms. You might have far too many clothes in your closet to maintain. You might have dozens of emails that are cluttering up your account. There might be a handful of voicemails you’ve been putting off hearing. Simplify your life, take out the clutter, and there won’t be as many worries that can cause you stress in the future.

 #4. Embrace Your Creativity

We often judge our own efforts at creativity against those who are better than us. Maybe you won’t be the next James Patterson or the next Picasso, but your creative efforts are just as important as theirs are. The goal isn’t to stress yourself out over the fact that you’re not making millions of dollars from your creative endeavors. You should be having a creative outlet simply because it is an easy way to deal with difficult emotions that can be the foundation for stress to build upon.

 #5. Learn To Say No

It’s hard sometimes to tell people “No” when they need a favor, but you’ve got to think of yourself first and them second. You can’t really help someone if you aren’t at your best. You’ve got enough stress to handle without trying to bear the stressful burdens of others at the same time.

These methods are proven to help you remove stress from your life. It takes time to develop these habits, so get started today and you’ll begin building a wall of resiliency that helps you refuse to have more stress in your life from now on.

7 Habits of Highly Productive People

How do some people always seem to get stuff done on time and still have time to spare? It’s because they have adopted the 7 habits of highly productive people. There is no secret to unlock or some hidden wealth of energy that people can tap into to stay productive. It is simply a choice to include these habits into everything they do. That means these habits can also work for you.

#1. Eliminate everything but your needed tasks. Distractions limit your productivity. Even something as simple as an email notification is enough to take your focus away. To stay productive, it is important to eliminate everything you can that could distract your from your needed tasks.

#2. Use the best tools possible. You could write something on a typewriter. You could also write something on an Apple MacBook with word processing software in a complete office suite. Which will help you create something more quickly and with high quality? The best tools will help you create the best possible results every single time.

#3. Be ruthless. You’ve got to tell your co-worker to stop coming around at 8:30 with their coffee to discuss what was on TV. You need to tell your boss that your protected time means they need to leave you alone unless there’s an emergency. Put your foot down and lock your office door. Turn off your smartphone. Disconnect the internet if needed. This is a place where you compromise will only make you less productive.

#4. Keep the negative away. Focusing on the negative will only sap you of the energy you need to stay productive. That means staying focused on the positive things of life can help you stay more productive. Keep people who are negative or toxic at an arm’s length. When you are positive, you can see up to 50% more results than if you’re neutral or negative.

#5. Be proactive about your investments. If you spent an extra 30 minutes now to save 3 hours of work a week from now, would you do it? Taking time to find ways to delegate tasks, automate responsibilities, or discover a faster way to get something done is a time investment which is worth making. Sure – it costs more now, but it also means you’ll make up that time over the long run so you can be more productive.

#6. Make it simple. Often people are busy because they are choosing to be busy. This means you can also choose to simplify your tasks. Remove the clutter that keeps your mind active, but your productivity levels low, and you’ll find that simplicity can tremendously enhance your overall productivity.

#7. Keep an open mind. It’s nice to think that we know everything, but that’s simply not the case. Someone might have a better idea. By keeping an open mind instead of being insistent that things happen a specific way, you can always make sure your productivity levels remain consistently high.

These 7 habits of highly productivity are easy to incorporate into your own routines. To make them work, however, there must be at least some willingness to change. You must decide that you want to be more productive. If you’ve made that choice, then these habits are going to open up a brand new world for you to enjoy.

How To Turn Around Any Bad Day

Bad days are going to happen. It’s just a fact of life. What happens when the bad day strikes, however, is up to each of us. We have a choice to make: we can settle for the negative energy the bad day wants to give us… or we can choose to be happy. That’s right – happiness is a choice we can make even on our worst days.

How can you turn around any bad day to make it better? Here are some easy ways to make it happen.

1. Find the Source

Something has to be causing your bad day. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night for some reason. The morning commute might have caused a tension headache. There’s a deadline looming and you need to fit 8 hours of work into a 4 hour window and you don’t know how you’ll do it. When you can find the source of what is causing your bad day, you’ll be able to start working on turning things around.

2. Find Gratefulness

The problem we all tend to have with genuine gratefulness is that it requires a certain level of humbleness. There must be a willingness to acknowledge that there are other people in this world that are having days worse than the one you’ve got going on. If you’re getting 3 square meals per day, have a warm home at night, a loving family, money in the bank, a job you love, or the chance to watch your favorite movie tonight with your favorite ice cream – well, you’ve got something that others don’t have.  Choose to be content and a bad day will have less power over you.

3. Create a Plan

Once you’ve made the choice to not let the negative energy of a bad day get to you, then it is time to take action. Create a plan that will take you through the steps you’ll need to follow to overcome that energy. Choose a healthy snack over a candy bar. Take a different route home. Ask for an extra hour at lunch to take a walk through a local park. When you can embrace positive energy, the negative energy doesn’t stand a chance.

4. Find Solutions

Now that you’ve got a plan in place, it is time to take control. Find solutions that will help you continue to overcome the negative energy from the bad day. Place yourself into situations where you know a positive outcome will occur. Take time to focus on your breathing. Instant message a friend and talk about the good memories the two of you have shared. Remember: the bad day only stays in control because you allow it to be in control.

5. Be Realistic

A bad day gets worse if you try to choose happiness and fail in your efforts. Be realistic about what you can do. Your boss probably isn’t going to let you take a 3-week trip to Tahiti with a moment’s notice. You probably won’t be winning millions of dollars in the lottery today. What you can do is pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and take a successful step forward toward happiness in a way that works for you.

The most important thing we can do is learn from the experiences our bad days provide us. This knowledge can help us to prevent future bad days from getting their negative claws into us. Choose happiness, make it happen, and you’ll be able to turn around any bad day.

7 Ways To Know If You’ve Got an Amazing Boss

There are good leaders. There are great leaders. Then there are an amazing few who are the best bosses in the world. These elite few have specific traits they have developed and refined over the years and this helps them and their team accomplish great things. Here’s how to tell if your boss is amazing.

#1. They lead people instead of managing teams. Managers are essentially just workplace firefighters. They get told what to do and then they make sure their team gets the job done. The focus is always in the present moment. Amazing bosses make their teams great by being a leader at the individual level. They adapt to each personal need.

#2. They always look for the purpose. There are two ways to judge an action: 1) by making assumptions about why someone would do something a certain way; or 2) by asking questions to see why someone would do something a certain way. Amazing bosses don’t make assumptions. They ask questions.

#3. They value feedback. No one can get better at what they do unless they receive feedback. Amazing bosses realize that positive and negative feedback given to them from their team helps them become even more awesome. They also know that they must give consistent feedback to each individual on their team if growth is going to happen.

#4. They practice active listening. Nothing is more frustrating than having someone interrupt you constantly while you’re having a conversation with them. Amazing bosses know that more information can be gleaned when they are listening instead of talking over their team. This gives everyone the opportunity to offer new ideas, feel safe in leaving feedback, and fosters communication throughout the entire chain of command.

#5. They are consistent. The best leaders are able to separate their personal emotions and issues from their professional responsibilities. That doesn’t mean their feelings or their home life is unimportant. It just means they are able to set priorities for their day and stay consistent with them. A team should always know what to expect from their boss. If that isn’t present, then more time is spent making sure the boss isn’t offended by something and that means less overall productivity.

#6. They really have an open door policy. Being a leader means being there for your team. There will always be times when a boss needs to close their office door to have a private meeting. The best bosses, however, make sure that door stays open when there isn’t a need for privacy so that any concerns a team member may have can be addressed immediately.

#7. They create future leaders. There are many bosses who are afraid that they might lose their job one day to someone who directly reports to them. Or worse – maybe a team member will get a promotion that the boss feels is personally deserved. An amazing boss knows that part of their responsibility is to foster leadership qualities in others. They’ll encourage taking supplemental education credits, training seminars/webinars, and others specific tools for each team member to use so that everyone can maximize their potential.

Far too many people wake up every day and dread going to work because they don’t like their boss. Life is too short for that kind of daily stress. Use these traits to find the most amazing bosses in your industry [or become an amazing boss yourself] and work can become an exciting place to be once again.

Your First 10 Minutes Could Change Your Life

When everything is in its proper place, anything becomes easier to do. You’ll find this concept practiced in kitchens, large offices, and even at home when you’re trying to figure out what to wear in the morning. It’s kind of hard to wear a scarf when you can’t remember where you put it, right? And what happened to those keys that you’d swore were placed on the table?

We lose a lot of time every day trying to find things that are out of place. We also lose a lot of time jumping right into a project without creating a plan of action to accomplish the chores that need to get done. This is where the first 10 minutes you spend in the morning could become 10 minutes that change your life.

It’s Better To Plan Instead of Immediately Do

What’s the first thing you do when you first wake up in the morning? Or the first thing you do when you get to work? Many of us have developed the habit of getting to work immediately on our routines. A routine is our comfort zone. Having them is a good thing. Getting into them without a plan, however, may not be such a good thing.

When we have a plan that prioritizes everything that needs to get done during the day, we give ourselves the opportunity to be able to accomplish more. This is because we have willpower early on in the day thanks to our high levels of energy. When that energy level starts to decline, so does the desire to get work done.

And no – caffeine is not a good substitute to boost lacking energy levels. With up to a 12 hour half-life, you could wind up robbing yourself of sleep if you have an afternoon pick-me-up. Plan for your toughest tasks to get done right away. Put the easiest tasks at the end of the day. That way you’ll find your routines can make you more productive simply because you’ve got a plan to follow based on your natural energy levels every day.

It Is Important To Have Specific Goals

Just setting a task goal to complete isn’t good enough to maximize productivity. There must also be some specificity to the work that needs to get done. Instead of saying you’ll get through your emails by the end of the day, for example, you could say that you’ll read through all emergency emails at the start of the day before doing anything else.

Including specific tasks to complete is also important. You may need to collect sales figures for a presentation. There might be accounting numbers that need to be submitted for the monthly budget. Create as much specificity as possible and it will become much easier to follow the plans that are developed within the first 10 minutes of your day.

We all are tempted to hit the snooze button when the responsibilities of the day beckon. If we can resist that temptation and instead use that time to plan out what we need to get done for the day, each task will seem easier to complete… and that could lead to a lot fewer bad days on the horizon.

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