Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Phil.2:14,15)
We are in the middle of a very busy season at work and, to keep it short, it can get frustrating at times. Recently, I found myself grumbling and complaining a few times. Mot of the time it was for little things. Other times it was simply because of the (compounding) workload and some new processes that we have recently implemented in the middle of a large new project.
And then, a shift.
I get an unexpected email from my manager.
In it, he sends one sentence letting me know that I'm eligible for a bonus and the amount. What!? I didn't even know what to say. I was thankful. Gratitude seemed to replace the grumbling. I knew there were talks about a possible bonus coming but nothing concrete. And what surprised me most was the amount.
You know one of the things that came to mind? How foolish I was for all the complaining and grumbling. It got me nowhere. I still had to finish the work. The day still went on. The week passed. Thankfully, I still work from home and none of my co-workers heard me! Daniela reminded me how good the Lord is with us even when we're not so good.
There's something out of place if you agree with absolutely everything your upper management says or does.
Then, why did they hire you? What value do you bring, if any? How does your voice and role make a difference?
Be leery of people in your company or organization who flatter just for the sake of appearing to be a team player. You can agree with someone, superficially, on the outside, but disagree with them internally. People might see your smile and hear your nice words, but they don't see you spewing on the inside.
When you agree quickly and mechanically with pretty much everything, people may be more willing to cross moral/ethical/vocational/personal boundaries with you or even take advantage of you because they know you won't complain. You'll say yes and be on with it.
As I get older, I have more respect for those co-workers and managers who are willing to give friendly push-back, with good reason. Questioning an action, policy or decision doesn't mean you're unprofessional or negative. It means you care.
Negative is relative.
A manager who gives you negative feedback is actually doing a very positive thing by giving you a chance to improve. Like a doctor who tells you about a small tumor, the very first time he sees it. Just because you receive it as something negative doesn't mean it is. These kind of managers show that they care. They could just as easily ignored the wrong, let you fail, and eventually fire you. The best companies have learned to build a culture where negative feedback is actually welcomed because everyone knows that it's a bridge to continuous improvement.
Here's what I've tried to put into practice and some of the tips I've picked up from current and former managers when sharing negative feedback; otherwise known as constructive criticism.
First, start with something positive. If they keep missing a step when downloading the monthly report, start by telling them you're glad that they show up every day with a positive attitude.
Second, be direct about the negative feedback. Be clear about what they're doing wrong. Tell them they forgot to include the pivot table. Don't be angry, condescending, or loud.
Finally, provide steps for improvement and paint a picture of a better future. Be specific about what needs to change and help them get there. Show them how to add the pivot table.
If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. - Prov. 15:31,32
You can't control what people say. Or, can you?
There are at least 3 kinds of ‘talkers’ at work:
If you’re a leader, you need to know how to control a conversation so that it doesn’t turn into a long, pointless exchange.
It’s an art.
It can’t really be learned but here are some steps you can take that will help guide most discussions:
1) Have the end in mind. Be the tour guide. See the finish line and...get there!
2) Ask: What’s the point? Why are these words coming out of his/her mouth? Keep it focused.
3) Wear a smile on your face. Somehow, someway, it just tends to help.
4) Nod. Use body language. Show that you’re really listening.
5) Change the subject stealthily.
6) If and when required, ignore what they say altogether. This takes some practice to get it down right, so they don’t think you’re being insulting. Use with discretion.
7) Keep walking (away) resolutely, as if you need to get somewhere; kind of ties in with #6 but doesn’t require as much explanation.
8) Ask leading questions.
Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. - Prov. 13:3
Next time you're in the middle of a tense meeting and there are co-workers talking loudly and/or aggressively, when your turn comes to speak, do the exact opposite. Talk calmly and gently.
Just watch how the atmosphere changes.
It's never just about what we say. It's how we say it. So think twice (or thrice) next time you want to make a point. Anyone in the room can be loud and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.
Only the wise ones will speak with purpose.
"A soft answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger." - Proverbs 15:1
Biblical, on-the-go, tips for thriving at work. Written by Danny Kovacs, from first-hand wins & losses. This is the digital space where I share free resources and learning moments throughout the week/month.