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30 Oct

Who’s the Fairest of them All?

I grew up with the nick names “Fatty Fiddle” from my brother and “Marshmallow” from my P.E. teacher. Two reasons that in second grade I decided that I would never wear shorts or show my legs in public again. Consequently, I rarely donned a swimsuit, skirt, or as promised, a pair of shorts. For years, I have heard all the skin cancer warnings and secretly thought I would escape because I had essentially hidden under the covers through time. Isn’t there a reward for years of declining swimming pool dates and skirt sales because your legs will solicit giggles and glares?
Nope. I’m treating a pre-cancer spot on my face right now with topical chemo because quid pro quo didn’t happen and it’s time to stop suspending disbelief. Just as I thought I might escape the skin cancer fate, I find that many of my clients in businesses and organizations describe similar denial about their customer service, professional presence, and emotional intelligence. These are not skills that we can escape from; they are skills that are critical to any businesses success and must be purposely practiced and valued throughout the organization. Studies show that 58% of our work is related to our level of emotional intelligence—we can’t afford to cover up and hope that our technical skills and IQ (only 42% of our success) will save us individually or save our team.

17 Oct

Clean Up in Aisle 6

I have been working outside the structured workplace for nearly 16 months now. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and I don’t have any regrets, but I honestly miss relationships with colleagues. It is not appropriate to tell a client about your skin biopsy or frustration with your spouse. I don’t ask my client’s opinion on a school driving permit for my 15 year- old or their thoughts on streaming Sunday’s church service.

When I worked with colleagues day in and day out, my grocery shopping was a chore. I couldn’t organize the list any better so that I was in and out in record time. If I saw a friend or colleague in Aisle 1, I would say a quick prayer that I wouldn’t see them again in Aisle 6. I just needed to get those groceries and get out. It has all changed now, though, and I’m pretty sure everybody is saying that prayer with my name on top of the list. I get my cart and scan the produce section for anybody I might know. I don’t care if I vaguely remember them from a committee I served on or if they sent me an email 10 years ago, I am ready to visit. I pick up on all their “ready to go” non-verbal’s, but I convince myself if I ask a few more questions, they will be less annoyed and hang out with me a bit longer. After we part ways, I begin looking for someone else to connect with before I look at my shopping list (It may be blank anyway). When I meet these folks again in Aisle 6, they pretend like they are in the wrong aisle, wave and run, or grab an employee’s assistance to distract me. I envy them and their relationship overload.

I have read just about everything on extroverts and managing your own business. You have to reach out to friends for coffee and lunch dates, stay involved with community activities and social functions, and run your day like you are still in the workplace. They don’t tell you what to do, though, when your own family starts avoiding you in Aisle 6.