Crina and Kirsten Get to Work
Difficult Conversations Don’t Need to Suck

Difficult Conversations Don’t Need to Suck

July 16, 2021

Advocating for yourself, confronting a coworker, asking for a raise...these courageous conversations are nerve wracking at best and in some cases, cause great anxiety. But avoiding difficult conversations is not an option if you want ease, meaning and joy at work. 

SHOW NOTES

As most of us know – things are bad out there.  We are fractured about politics, COVID, black lives and all sort of other things.  As we have become fractured and unable to engage in meaningful conversation about our positions, beliefs and opinions, we “other” each other.  

“Pew Research did a study of 10,000 American adults, and they found that at this moment, we are more polarized, we are more divided, than we ever have been in history. We're less likely to compromise, which means we're not listening to each other. And we make decisions about where to live, who to marry and even who our friends are going to be, based on what we already believe. Again, that means we're not listening to each other. A conversation requires a balance between talking and listening, and somewhere along the way, we lost that balance.” Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation.  When we do not know and understand each other, it is easier for us to dismiss, denigrate and discriminate against each other. 

It turns out not addressing difficult issues is also creating problems at work.  We spend almost three hours a week at work dealing with a workplace conflict caused by people who should have taken part in a difficult/courageous conversation.  About a third of these conflicts lead to personal injury or attacks, 22% of us are sick because of these conflicts and about a third of us leave our jobs because of one of these conflicts that could be solved with difficult conversations.  The Work Conversations We Dread the Most, According to Research

What makes a difficult conversation so hard? It turns out that it is fear and embarrassment.  Emotions are high – we are angry, upset, frustrated, disappointed.  We are afraid we will lose something we will care about or something will challenge our identity and sense of self.

Once you identify an issue that calls for a difficult or courageous conversation – get yourself ready.  BE CURIOUS.  ASSUME THE BEST INTENTIONS IN THE OTHER PERSON AND GET OUT OF FAULT AND BLAME.

Once we get into the right mindset, we can plan our conversation.

What is the purpose?

What are your assumptions?

What emotional buttons do you anticipate being “pushed” and how do you keep calm when that happens?

What is your attitude about the conversation?

What are your needs and fears?

We Have to Talk: A Step-By-Step Checklist for Difficult Conversations | Judy Ringer

Plan the first thing you will say in the conversation.  Getting off on the right foot is important?  What is your opening line?

During the conversation ask questions, acknowledge the other person’s feelings and position, advocate for your position without minimizing the other person and be solution oriented.13 Ways To Have Difficult Conversations With Clients

Let’s get out there and have that difficult conversation in the most courageous way – we can do it!

Attractive Women Make More Money

Attractive Women Make More Money

July 2, 2021

Every day before work, women shave, shampoo, condition, exfoliate, moisturize, cover-up, tone, powder, brush, style, spray, whiten, clip, paint, smooth, enhance, conceal, deodorize and pluck (did we miss anything?). In fact women spend an average of 27 minutes a day getting ready for work, use somewhere around 16 unique products on their bodies and spend thousands of dollars on clothes and shoes.

 

Why do we do this? Some women use clothes, hair and makeup as a form of self expression, which is great! But many of us spend time on appearances in order to protect ourselves, fit into the mold and be “acceptable.” Remember what the patriarchy told you: ladies need to look the part in order to be successful. 

 

The truth of the matter is that a woman’s appearance can impact her income, status, and how others perceive her at work. 

 

According to Leah D. Sheppard, an assistant professor at Washington State University who conducted a variety of experiments testing others' perception of attractive women, found that “beautiful women were perceived to be less truthful, less trustworthy as leaders, and more deserving of termination than their ordinary-looking female counterparts.”

 

On another note, a seminal study conducted by NYU sociologist Dalton Conley and NYU graduate student Rebecca Glauber found that women’s weight gain results in a decrease in both their income level and job prestige. By contrast, men experience no such negative effects.

 

According to a landmark study from Cornell University, white women who put on an additional 64 pounds, experienced a 9% drop in wages. And according to a 2007 paper from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a statistically significant "wage penalty" for overweight and obese white women. ("Previous studies have shown that white women are the only race-gender group for which weight has a statistically significant effect on wages," according to the paper.) The obese take a bigger hit, with a wage loss of 12%. 

 

And as if that isn’t enough, a more recent study by researchers at Harvard University, Boston University, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found makeup was found to increase people’s perceptions of a woman’s likeability and trustworthiness as well.

 

And finally, although there is no correlation between height and effectiveness or intelligence, a woman who is 5 feet 7 inches tall--well above the national female average of 5 feet, 3.5 inches--will make $5,250 more over the course of a year than a female co-worker standing 5 feet 2 inches.

 

So what to do about it?

 

  • Be aware of your bias
  • Create a “work uniform” so you don’t have to spend so much time and money on outfits
  • Stop commenting on women’s appearances. No more, “How are you feeling?” “You look tired!”
  • According to Tracy Spicer:
    • Take note of the number of minutes your personal grooming eats up over a day a week and month
    • Think about all the other things you could be doing
    • Decide what you can reduce or live without
  • Anonymous recruitment practices
  • Celebrate women of all shapes and sizes

 

And of course, the good reads:

For Women in Business, Beauty Is a Liability

Your looks and your job

Think Looks Don't Matter? Think Again

The double standards women face at work every day

The lady stripped bare | Tracey Spicer | TEDxSouthBankWomen

The Urgency Trap

The Urgency Trap

June 18, 2021

When every one of your tasks is urgent, you quickly lose control. In fact, when trapped by urgency, your stress increases, your judgement declines and your anger and anxiety become front-and-center. So how to get out of the urgency trap and start getting yourself some ease, meaning and joy at work? The answers might surprise you!

 

SHOW NOTES

 

In the episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work our hosts tackle one of the most significant negative impacts on your ease, meaning and joy in the workplace - URGENCY!  Yes, the topic is the hair-raising, spine-tingling, sweat producing, pulse racing and shallow breathing of urgency. 

 

When something big or just everything feels urgent, we experience:

 

  • A rise in stress hormones
  • Executive function decline
  • Memory, judgement, impulse control deteriorate
  • Anger and anxiety centers of the brain are activated

 

And once we experience those things, we experience:

  • Low energy
  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Poor concentration

 

Before you read on - just consider for a moment the bullet points above - a buzzkill on your ease, meaning and joy!

 

When every task is the most urgent, it limits our mind’s ability to think creatively. Problem solving is nearly impossible, and we resort to rushed, bad decisions that cause our team’s more time and effort in the long run to correct.

 

Urgency also gets in the way of the things our higher selves want to accomplish - diversity, equity and inclusion, which require us to consider our biases and question our assumptions and conclusions.  While we all experience urgency - white culture seems to embrace the nettle of urgency in an almost reverent manner.  Sometimes we white folks equate our self worth with the urgency of our attention to someone or some task.  WHITE SUPREMACY CULTURE: Characteristics

 

And while Crina and Kirsten like to give you good news, there is bad news here - our brains are hard wired to respond to urgency.  In fact, in order to get our urgency rush, we will give up bigger rewards over the long term.  See the reading below for the data and science behind “our brains on urgency.”

 

If we know urgency has negative effects on our physical, psychological and emotional capacity - and how effective we are at work, how do we minimize urgency - and note - our gals are realistic - urgency is our forever friend, but we have some boundaries with that frenemy urgency:

 

  • Set realistic work plans - and check you optimism (which in other areas Crina and Kirsten generally encourage, but optimism can really take us to a bad place if we are not realistic about work plans
  • Set aside time for planning
  • When we do planning - plan for urgency, what is your response
  • Think like an ER doctor - assess, prioritize and make a plan - An ER doctor on triaging your "crazy busy" life
  • Don't assume that "urgent" means "immediately"
  • Stop hurrying  - awareness
  • Push back against your inner urgency bias by:
    • Making lists
    • Challenge your own thinking - because we know we have an urgency bias

For those who want to dig in deeper - here are some great reads on the topic:

 

When every task is top priority

My Sense of Urgency Is Killing Me (Slowly)

When Everything Is Urgent, Nothing Really Is

When everything feels urgent, choose significant instead

How to manage your time better by fighting "urgency bias" — Quartz at Work (qz.com)

WHITE SUPREMACY CULTURE: Characteristics

The Psychology of Urgency: 9 Ways to Drive Conversions

Five Generations Walk Into an Office

Five Generations Walk Into an Office

June 4, 2021

For the first time in history, there are five generations in the workforce...yes, five! And while this might cause some struggles with communication (ahem...did someone say mute?), and possible differences of opinion, it turns out that we all want many of the same things. Yep, we’re talking about ease, meaning and joy.

 

SHOW NOTES

In this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work our hosts consider the impact of five generations of humans on the workforce - yes 5!! Workers from their early seventies until their late teens.  In their quest for ease, meaning and joy at work and at life, let’s dive into what this means for us!

The five generations in the workplace include:

  • Traditionalists – those in the early seventies or later.  These folks are shaped by the Great Depression, World War II, radio and movies.  They are motivated by respect, recognition, and providing long-term value to their employer.  Their communication style is personal.  Their worldview values obedience over individualism, age equals seniority and workers move up the ladder.  These people are respectful and loyal.
  • Baby Boomers are in the mid fifties to early seventies.  These folks are shaped by the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and Watergate.  They are motivated by company loyalty, teamwork and duty.  The communication style of these people is varied - face to face, person, phone - whatever works.  Their worldview is that achievement comes after paying one’s dues; and sacrifice equals success.
  • Generation X are folks in their early forties to mid fifties.  They were shaped by the AIDS epidemic, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dot.com boom.  They are motivated by diversity, work life balance and their own personal-professional interests rather than company interests.  Their worldview favors diversity, they are quick to move on if the employer fails to meet their needs, resistant to changes at work when it impacts their personal  interests.  Their communication style is also what is most efficient.
  • Millennials are folks who are twenty-one to forty.  They were shaped by Columbine, 9/11 and the internet.  They are motivated by responsibility, the quality of their manager and unique work experience.  Their world view is seeking challenge, growth, and development; a fun work life and work-life balance; likely to leave an organization if they don't like change.  Their communication style isIMs, texts, and email. 
  • Generation Z are folks twenty and younger.  They were shaped by the Great Recession technology from a young age.  They are motivated by diversity, personalization, individuality and creativity.  Their communication style is IMs, texts, social media.  They are self-identifying as digital device addicts; and value independence and individuality.

See [Infographic]Generational Differences in the Workplace [Infographic]

 

Lots has changed for some of these folks.  There are more women in the workplace, less religion, fewer veterans and less people who are married.  How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago

 

It turns out that we can make gross generalizations about each other - see above - :-)!  And it also turns out we make even more assumptions about how others think of us.

 

We all want the same four things:

 

Working for someone who care about employees well-being

Ethical leadership

Diverse and inclusion of all people

FInancial stability

 

Tune in and learn how our alikeness is more important than our differences and how our differences create more ease, meaning and joy at work.

 

And more good reads:

4 Things Gen Z and Millennials Expect From Their Workplace

Just How Different Are Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers at Work?

Generations in the Workplace

Managing People from 5 Generations

How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago

Ready, Set, Rest!

Ready, Set, Rest!

May 21, 2021

Rest is so much more than sleep. Our minds and bodies also need rest from things like mental stimulation, social encounters, creative endeavors and emotional outputs. Taking time to truly rest your mind, body and soul is the ultimate self care regiment and a direct line to ease, meaning and joy at work, and in life!

 

SHOW NOTES

 

On this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work, our hosts go deep on rest.  Of course, there is sleep, but oh so much more.  We expend different kinds of energy throughout the day - mental, creative, sensory, physical and social.  Consider one meeting in your day - you use mental and possibly creative energy, if you are on Zoom, you are taxing your senses by what you can (and what you cannot) discern from Zoom and you are probably using some of your social energy as well.  How is that we renew and restore?  No question rest is a big part of the ease, meaning and joy equation.

 

Why do We Working Women Need Rest?

 

According to Saundra Dalton-Smith in The 7 Types of Rest that Every Person Needs,  “[w]ithout attention to rest, we are creating a culture of high-achieving, high-producing, chronically tired and chronically burned-out individuals.”  According to psych central, 70 percent of visits to the doctor are due to stress-related health issues. “Rest is the only way to engage the part of our nervous system that allows for relaxation.” It is literally vital for our physical and mental health.”  The 7 types of rest that every person needs | (ted.com)

 

What Does the Data Say about the Effectiveness of Rest?

 

Researchers at Stanford did a series of experiments looking at the effects of walking on creativity, as measured by a test of divergent thinking—which asked people to come up with novel ways of using an everyday item, like a brick or a doorstop. The researchers compared participants’ performance under four conditions: while walking on a treadmill, while seated inside, while walking outside, or while being wheeled outside in a wheelchair. Their results showed that walking and being outside each separately led to better performance on the test. Moreover, in one experiment, the researchers showed that the benefits of walking on creativity did not fade immediately, but carried over into performance on future tests. ”https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_resting_more_can_boost_your_productivity

 

The company Basecamp added another day to the weekend and found productivity unchanged.  Workers got done in 4 days what had taken 5.  8 Minute Read Why Restorative Rest Makes You More Productive And How To Achieve It

 

How Do We Achieve the Restorative Rest 

 

Whether you schedule a walk with a friend (or by yourself), commit to get up from your desk once every hour to get a glass of water, meditate for 10 minutes before you start your day or book your solo vacation - get it on your schedule!  

 

If you want to restore your creative energy - get inspired by listening to music, getting outside in nature, watching the sunset or enjoying beautiful art. If you want to restore your physical energy, sleep - of course, but also just sitting.  If you find yourself irritable and unable to concentrate, you may have expended too much mental energy - which is classic Kirsten.  Schedule a time to take a breath.  Crina schedules lunch and commits to healthy, nutritious food and it is an anchor in her day and restorative in many ways. If you are on sensory overload - turn everything off and shut your eyes - just for 10 deep breaths - and avoid going home and turning the tv on - find some quiet. Emotional energy is complicated - are you holding others emotions or has life just sent you on an emotional roller-coaster?  Identify what you need - maybe you need to authentically express your emotions in a safe place or to wrap a metaphorical quilt around your tender soul?  Social rest is an obvious one for those of us who are introverts - we need time to ourselves, and so do those of us who are extroverts - we just tend to need less of it and sometimes not realize it.  Spiritual rest is the energy to find deep meaning, a sense of purpose and belonging and love.  When those things are missing from our lives, it may be time to up our spiritual energy quotient.  It could be faith or religion, but Dalton-Smith suggests that you can cultivate a sense of purpose with music, uplifting and inspiring videos, focusing on the magical - such as the bloom of a flower or dew on a leaf - and then going back to these moments when you feel disconnected.

 

Check out Dalton-Smith’s article above - it is a rich trove of ideas and the inspiration for this show.

Philosophy Can Change Your Work…Seriously!

Philosophy Can Change Your Work…Seriously!

May 7, 2021

Stoicism teaches us how to keep a calm and rational mind no matter what. This ancient philosophy lends insight into understanding and focusing on what you can control while letting go and accepting what you can't. 

 

SHOW NOTES

 

Today on Crina and Kirsten Get to Work our hosts do an archaeological dig into an ancient philosophy - Stoicism - to find the golden nuggets to create more ease, meaning and joy at work.  The idea for this episode comes from Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic podcast - 2-3 minute Stoic inspired daily meditations to help you live your best life.  Ryan is a New Your Times best selling author and his style and content are really relatable.  Okay - so now you know it, Kirsten got a little obsessed - and highly recommends the podcast.

 

Stoicism was created by a dude named Zeno in Athens in the third century BC.  Stoicism is a school of philosophy for people who want to get stuff done in the world - then and now.  As a side note, it was the philosophical inspiration for cognitive behavioral therapy - cool.  It has been a relatively male-dominated school of thought.  Crina and Kirsten make it the working woman’s philosophy.  

 

In addition to Zeno, three people took Zenp’s work and ran with it.  Marcus Aurelius, reputed to be the last good emperor of the Roman Empire and the most powerful man on earth, journalled his thoughts each day. This journal has been published as the book MeditationsEpictetus was born a slave and went on to found his own school and taught many of Rome’s greatest minds, one of which was Marcus Aurelius. Epictetus’ teachings were memorialized by another of his students, Arrian on Discourses and Enchiridion.   Senec was a tutor and adviser to Nero and Rome’s best playwright and super hero power broker – sometimes said to be what we think of as the modern modern day entrepreneur. His personal letters are another source of Stoic philosophy.

Stoicism teaches how to keep a calm and rational mind no matter what happens to you and it helps you understand and focus on what you can control and not worry about and accept what you can't control.  The goal of Stoicism is eudaimonia or supreme happiness or fulfilment attainable by human beings  - core purpose or the good life – a flourishing, lofty, and smoothly flowing life. The idea is that we can control our own behavior, but not the outcome of our behavior or others’ behaviors; and a calm and rational mind allows us to accept those outcomes.

 

There are five main elements according to our ametuer Stoics, Kirsten and Crina:

  • Nature: Nature is rational.  Live in agreement with nature
  • Law of Reason: The universe is governed by the law of reason. 
  • Virtue: Courage, justice and discipline  - and virtue is its own reward
  • Control: Focus on what you can control and accept what you cannot
  • Wisdom: Wisdom is the root virtue (see above).

Crina and Kirsten turn to modern female Stoics to explore the importance of emotion in Stoicism, and some core principles applied to women and work, such as The Way is Through, Don’t Make Things Harder than they Need to Be, Impossible Without Your Consent, Keep it Simple, Protect Your Peace of Mind and A Career is Not a Life Sentence.  

 

This episode is a great introduction to Stoicism and how it can bring more ease, meaning and joy to work and life.  And of course - the obvious - that men do not have the corner on Stoicism - or anything else.

Stoicism and Emotion: An Interview with Professor Margaret Graver (dailystoic.com)

Nutshell: Stoicism: a practical philosophy for life and work

A Universal Philosophy: Great Insights From Female Stoics (dailystoic.com)

Stoicism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Evaluations Don’t Need to Suck

Evaluations Don’t Need to Suck

April 23, 2021

Feedback is AWESOME, unless it’s not. The crazy thing is that the vast majority of evaluations/assessments/performance reviews are lame and unproductive, yet we are subjected to them time and time again. The good news is that employee reviews don’t need to suck!

 

SHOW NOTES

 

On this second in a series of episodes exploring what does not need to suck at work, Crina and Kirsten delve into workplace performance evaluations.

 

And yes, even in the midst of a year into the pandemic, evaluations of how we do at work continue.  Evaluations, reviews, appraisals . . . so many names for what can be stress inducing and a waste of time.  To understand how we got here with evaluations, let’s look at the history.

 

Evaluations can be traced back to WWI when the military wanted to identify poor performers.  By the 1960s, 90% of companies were using appraisals and ranking systems.  During this same time there was a shortage of managerial talent and companies started shifting away from evaluations that reflected performance by scores to using evaluations as a professional development tool. This new approach was based on a theory that employees wanted to perform well and would do so if supported properly, opposed to the previous theory which assumed you had to motivate people with material rewards and punishments.  And this is the part where evaluations do not have to suck - evaluations should motivate and inspire employees to do better.  Companies have moved back to ranking and scoring rather than motivating and inspiring and we see evaluation programs trying to do it all and not doing a lot of it well.  The Future of Performance Reviews (hbr.org)

 

All of this is to say that we are all still trying to figure out how to 

  1. Support employees
  2. Reward good performance
  3. Recruit and retain talent
  4. Eliminate poor performers who are “uncoachable”

 

Here’s some of what we know about performance reviews and employee engagement:

 

 

The Harvard Business Review summarizes workers experience, “[w]ith their heavy emphasis on financial rewards and punishments and their end-of-year structure, [annual reviews] hold people accountable for past behavior at the expense of improving current performance and grooming talent for the future, both of which are critical for organizations’ long-term survival.   In contrast, regular conversations about performance and development change the focus to building the workforce your organization needs to be competitive both today and years from now. Business researcher Josh Bersin estimates that about 70% of multinational companies are moving toward this model, even if they haven’t arrived quite yet.”  The Future of Performance Reviews (hbr.org) 

 

SO WHAT CAN WE DO INSTEAD?

  1. Engage more deeply with the work of your direct reports and team:

 

Regular check ins provide frequent and timely feedback and support.  And the data supports that frequency is important.  Studies show weekly check-ins increase performance by 13% where monthly check-ins decrease it by 5%.  9 Lies About Work, Buckingham and Goodall.

Companies who implement regular employee feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than for employees who receive no feedback. Employee Performance Program & Coaching | CoreAxis Corporate Training & eLearning.

 

Frequency is important because it allows real time considerations to occur, ongoing problem solving and direct application of learning. It allows employees and managers to make sense of real-time information together, focus on the next week, the problem to solve; build relationships and trust; and evaluates performance. It allows for listening, course-correcting, adjusting, coaching, pinpointing, advising, paying attention and providing real-time feedback.

 

This is in contrast to annual check ins where information is discussed when it is likely to be obsolete or irrelevant. 

 

  1. Provide meaningful, real time feedback

 

Whatever the feedback, the purpose should be to motivate employees to do better work, position them for success and further engage them.  Gallup research tells us that managers have a tough time with this and only about 15% of managers strongly agree that they are effective at giving feedback.  And this is in contrast to employees who tell us that meaningful feedback would inspire them to work harder.  Employee Performance Program & Coaching | CoreAxis Corporate Training & eLearning

 

  1. Reframe the annual review

The annual review process is better suited for a development opportunity.  Annual reviews should do a couple of big things:  set goals, align those individual goals with those of the company, include clear measurement towards the goals, including measuring progress.

The content of evaluations should not be a surprise, but rather a chance to sit down and review what you’ve been discussing all year.  

 

HOW TO JUMP START THIS PROCESS FOR YOURSELF, AS THE EMPLOYEE ON THE RECEIVING END?

 

The first thing we can do is to ask for regular feedback.  Start small - or not - always interesting to go big!  When we ask for feedback, we need to be open to feedback and open to the process and we need to pay close attention.  

 

Another helpful strategy is to ask about the review process your manager uses.  What is it meant to accomplish, what does she want to measure?  Understanding the process can be helpful in determining what is important about your performance and allows you to better use the information you get.

 

There are things managers and employees can do to make the evaluation and review process better.  We can take it further from its military WWII roots and rather than use it as a way to punish, use it as a way to inspire and motivate to bring more ease, meaning and joy to the workplace.

 

And another great read:

17 Mind-blowing Statistics on Performance Reviews and Employee Engagement

You Need to Laugh at Work

You Need to Laugh at Work

April 9, 2021

You need to laugh at work...or at least chuckle! According to the research, humor can dissolve tension, reduce stress and  make you more productive and committed to your workplace. 

 

SHOW NOTES

 

On this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work, our hosts focus on humor in the workplace.  Who does not love to laugh?!!  Whether at home or at work or frankly anywhere!!  The “humor” our duo discusses is not just the belly laugh, but also the amusing, the cheerful, the light and the genial ways we can interact with each other at work.  Humor is for more than the comedians among us!

 

This episode was inspired by Kirsten’s cousin, Dr. Rufus Browning - Professor of Humor at University of Maryland.  Cousin Rufus was one of the founders of International Humor Conference -fancy!.  He explained to Kirsten that humor is the juxtaposition of the absurd (putting things next to each other that do not make sense), which causes our brains to freak out a little bit and we laugh because it releases good chemicals and allows us to better manage the absurdity.  

 

When we laugh, our brains produce less cortisol (inducing calm and reducing stress) and release more endorphins (which give us something like a runner’s high) and oxytocin (often called the “love” hormone). It’s like meditating, exercising, and having sex at the same time. 

 

Sophie Scott, a professor from the University College London, is a humor expert and researcher.  She says that laughter is one of the first things you learn as a baby. It is a tool for socialization.  She talks about all kinds of laughter, polite laughter, agreeable laughter and the humorous or comedic laughter.  She says, “laughter is not just about ‘funny.’ it’s about being human.”  We signal our trust in each other when we laugh.  Laughter: The Best Medicine | Hidden Brain

 

Even rats laugh and it contributes to their socialization as well.  When researchers cut the vocal cords of rats (sad!), the rats could no longer laugh.  When introduced with other rats who still had their vocal cords and could laugh, the laughless rats were more likely to get bitten.  It appears when rats laughed during play, they were signaling something to each other that reduced aggression, and those rats who could not laugh were not able to send those signals and got bitten more.  

 

WHAT ARE THE REWARDS OF HUMOR?

“Research shows that leaders with any sense of humor are seen as 27% more motivating and admired than those who don’t joke around. Their employees are 15% more engaged, and their teams are more than twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge — all of which can translate into improved performance. Studies even show that something as simple as adding a lighthearted line at the end of a sales pitch — like “My final offer is X and I’ll throw in my pet frog” — can increase customers’ willingness to pay by 18%.  A bad dad joke can literally help you get paid.” How to Be Funny at Work.

 

Humor can make employees more productive and engaged.  It can improve decision-making and creativity, it can make new information, problems easier to solve and ideas easier to absorb. Humor also improves your communication in that people are more likely to listen to you and remember what you said.  And of course it increases our connection to others.  And it clearly is the magic elixir because it also improves your health.  16 thoughts on “30 Benefits of Humor at Work”

 

HOW TO BE HUMOROUS AT WORK

And, of course, our hosts are down with some practical tips to get more of that goodness at work.

Warning - maintain PC and PG at work - it is tempting to engage in a little racy frivolity, but save that for non-work spaces.  

Reminder - this is more about levity and lightness than it is comedy. Allow for the lightness

Ideas:

  • Set a goal - laugh 20 times days
  • Be silly 
  • Add lightness to your presentations - some pictures of puppies and kittens are a fine choice
  • Add fun to introductions - i.e. what should your job title really be, what StarWars character are you?
  • If there are outings - choose fun over stiff - i.e. bowling
  • Zoom backgrounds offer an opportunity for levity
  • Email sign off -- yours heavily caffeinated, yours unvaccinated

 

If this is not something you are already comfortable with, dip your toe in - it feels great and if you are comfortable with humor and lightness - bring it on at work because it will give everyone more ease meaning and joy.

And another great read:

Why Humor in the Workplace is a Key to Success

Your Love/Hate Relationship with Apologies

Your Love/Hate Relationship with Apologies

March 26, 2021

Saying, “sorry” is great, except when it’s not. An apology says you value the relationship, you have learned something and the offense will not happen again (or at least making efforts to do so). So why do sooooo many apologies end up feeling all wrong?

SHOW NOTES

On this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work our hosts delve into apologizing.  You may love an apology or you may hate an apology, but unless you are perfect (and if you think you are, you can stop reading right now - :-)), an apology is an important part of any relationship, including workplace relationships.

Crina hates hearing the words, “I am sorry.”  She hates over apologizing, shitty apologies, particularly those apologies used like a get out of jail free card.  Kirsten loves the opportunity an apology offers and how a real apology opens the door to further conversation.

Apologies at work build trust, build team and show humility. An apology says you value the relationship, you have learned something and the offense will not happen again (or at least making efforts to do so)

Gender Difference in Apologizing

Like many things, there are differences when it comes to apologies between men and women,  Women Really Do Apologize More Than Men. Here's Why (and It Has Nothing to Do With Men Refusing to Admit Wrongdoing) | Inc.com.  

A series of studies found that women apologize more than men because they report committing more offenses than men.  The studies suggest that men apologize less frequently than women because they have a higher threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior. “It takes a more serious offense for men to think of an apology as deserved,” Dr. Karina Schumann, one of the study’s researchers, said in an email. In another study, Dr. Schumann and her colleagues gave men and women various hypothetical offenses to commit. Men rated the offenses as less severe and less deserving of an apology than women. “These findings supported our suspicion that men apologize less often because they are less likely to think they’ve offended anyone,” Dr. Schumann said.  Why women apologize more than men: gender differences in thresholds for perceiving offensive behavior.  In other words, women are more willing to see an offense and apologize more often.

The question of women’s apologies is a hot topic.  Some people feel that women should stop apologizing, while others think we should stop pathologizing apologies.  Deborah Tannen, communications author, says, maybe we should stop stigmatizing apologies.

No, You Don’t Have to Stop Apologizing (Published 2019)

Telling women to apologize less isn’t about empowerment. It’s about shame. - The Washington Post  Crina and Kirsten are in the camp that you should apologize if you want to - it is up to you - and no pathologized, demonizing or stigmatizing - and apology to add to your power rather than take away from it.

The Gift of Apologies

Apologies offer a gift to the person making the apology, a gift to the person to whom the apology is made and a gift to the relationship.  Apologies can create better relationships in the workplace.

Elements of an Apology

  1. According to ​The 6 elements of an effective apology, according to science, the elements of apology are as follows:
  2. Expression of regret
  3. Explanation of what went wrong
  4. Acknowledgment of responsibility
  5. Declaration of repentance
  6. Offer of repair
  7. Request for forgiveness

What Makes a Good Apology According to Harriet Lerner

  1. No buts, a “but” undercuts your apology.
  2. Focus on your acts not the other person’s feelings - what did you do and what was your part
  3. Make amends, whether you can return or replace something or make best efforts so that you will not do what you did again
  4. Don’t overdo an apology - to Crina’s point at the beginning
    • Don’t take too much responsibility
    • Don’t make it about you
    • Stay on point
  5. No blame to the other person
  6. No repeat performance - change behavior (see amends)
  7. Your apology should not silence the other party - an apology is a great time to listen
  8. Don’t make an apology for your own benefit - if someone does not want to hear from you, stop.
  9. A true apology does not ask the other person for anything

What an Apology Does for Us

  1. The best thing about an apology is what it does for us.  We grow in ourselves.
  2. We maintain our integrity about how we live in the world.  We build self-esteem and self respect by living our values.
  3. And here is the Podcast from Brene Brown and Harriet Lerner that inspired this episode.

Harriet Lerner and Brené - I'm Sorry: How To Apologize & Why It Matters

Why we've been saying 'sorry' all wrong - BBC Worklife

Meetings Don’t Need to Suck

Meetings Don’t Need to Suck

March 12, 2021

Yes, you spend a ton of time in meetings and yes, most of them are miserable! You are not alone! In fact a recent poll revealed that people just like you rank over 50% of their meetings as poor.

 

In this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work, our dynamic duo brings their laser focus to meetings - with the hope that we can defy the data that 50% of meetings are not satisfying - and great more joy, meaning and ease.

 

Check out the data . . .

 

Dr Joseph Allen, professor of industrial and organizational psychology at University of Utah, has been studying meetings for 15 years.  He found that pre- Pandemic a manager spent 75% of her time in meeting activities (prep, meetings and follow-up).  This is 30 hours!!. During lock down that time increased by 48.5 minutes average per work day.  A manager now spends 85-90% of her time in meetings!  And remember during all of these meetings, we are “performing” of “surface acting.” You know the smiling, engaged, professional, energetic self.  And this is draining.

 

And here is the bad news, over 50% of participants rate the meetings as poor.  Why:

No agenda

No clear purpose

Attendees do not stay on the topic

Attendees are not equally participating

Lack of information needed for the meeting

 

And like everything in the workplace, race and gender bias play a significant role in meetings.  Women and people of color are given less time to talk, perceived as less capable and talked over more.  According to Adam Grant: “Political scientists find that when groups of five make democratic decisions, if only one member is a woman, she speaks 40 percent less than each of the men. Even if the group has a majority of three women, they each speak 36 percent less than each of the two men. Only in groups with four women do they each finally take up as much airtime as the one man.”  The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, and Institutions eBook: Karpowitz, Christopher F., Mendelberg, Tali: Kindle StoreOne study by the Yale psychologist Victoria Bresoll found that when male executives spoke more often, they were perceived to be more competent, but when female executives spoke more often, they were given lower competence ratings. Who Takes the Floor and Why: Gender, Power, and Volubility in Organizations - Victoria L. Brescoll, 2011

 

Personality type is important to understanding meeting dynamics. In The Four Personality Types in Your Meetings - HR Daily Advisor, Cameron Herold divides us into 4 personality types and being mindful of their needs and how they contribute:

  1. Dominant Personalities: extroverts, assertive, verbose, forceful, strong, type-A, and driven personalities. They will say what they mean, argue for it, and act forcefully. 
  2. Expressive Personalities extroverts, plus they are animated, talk with their hands, and think out loud. They tend to get excitable and emotional, and they eagerly jump in to speak.
  3. Analytical Personalities will literally think through their answers before speaking and tend to be introverts. Typically, they think through their answers for so long that Dominant and Expressive people feel they’re too slow
  4. Amiable Personalities avoid conflict and tend to get along in a passive manner. Amiables will say things like, “Well, whatever,” or “Whatever you’d like,” or “That’s fine,” or “I’m okay too.” Truthfully, they mean it most of the time.

Tips for meetings that do not make you want to put a needle in your eye:

 

Here are some ideas for better meetings - and if you are a participant, it is fair to ask questions when you have questions about the meeting.

 

  • Define the purpose or goal of the meeting
  • Consider whether you really need a meeting - will an email accomplish the goal?
  • Is discussed or collaboration essential
  • Is there complex or sensitive information
  • Make sure everyone who needs to be at the meeting is at the meeting
  • Create and share an agenda with any information needed - make everyone at the meeting knows why they are there
  • Start the meeting in some mindful way - check in, intention setting etc. . . .
  • Infuses mindful practices into meetings
  • effective meeting structure
  • Focused attention
  • Deeper connection
  • Thoughtful responses

- Think about how you will deal with the over-talkers AHEAD OF TIME

- During the meeting

  • Use Procedural Communication ...we’re here for this purpose...can we get back to it?
  • For big decisions, consider presenting the issue or question and having folks write down their answers - allows folks who are analyzers to take some time, requires the talkers to be quiet and everyone gets to answer

- Run an inclusive meeting!

  • Call on folks for partition

- And don’t forget after the meeting

  • Send highlights/action items
  • Gather feedback and contributions
  • Evaluate and improve
  • Recover - a minimum of five minutes is needed to recover from good meetings and bad meetings much longer 

 

And here are some more good reads:

How to Deal with Difficult People in Meetings

Simple Tips for Happier, More Productive Meetings

Mindful Meetings Checklist

Perspective | Who won’t shut up in meetings? Men say it’s women. It’s not.

It’s Not Just You: In Online Meetings, Many Women Can’t Get a Word In

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