Reflecting on the many triggers I’ve encountered in my professional career, the situation is always that the story the person was telling themselves was drastically different than the one I, their lead, was suddenly telling them. It’s never a complete surprise because they’ve been picking up on subtle clues about the story leading up to the conversation, but hearing me say it makes it real, and having it involve quantifiable status-based topics like a title, an office, and a raise makes it that much more real.
Michael Lopp writes about workplace “triggers” or things that can affect the reactions of coworkers that you may of missed. He gives the example of a coworker “Frank” who balks at a $5,000 raise. To the outsider any raise appears to be good news. But it’s usually not that simple.
How in the world is a $5k raise a reason for quitting? Here’s the cheat sheet. Do you remember when Frank was hired two years ago and you brought him in on the high side of the salary recommendations? You forgot that, right? Yeah, you also didn’t notice his subtle disappointment to the $5k raise last year. You didn’t expect him to talk to several members of the team regarding their raises, which were $10k. Of course, he didn’t ask about base salary, which is much lower than his. Frank’s trigger is based on over a year of build-up where he believed he’s being under-compensated, when the reality is that he’s the highest paid engineer on the team.
Its worth the read, if only to remember that everyone we encounter is living their own story. In both our personal life and with our creative work, we all could do a better job to remember.
We’re all about the face-to-face conversation, but with the rise of remote teams, communicating via IM becomes an increasingly important skill. Github’s Zach Holman shares why he actually prefers that workplace communication happen via instant messaging:
Text is explicit. By forcing communication through a textual medium, you’re forcing people to better formulate their ideas.
Real-time oral communication has drawbacks. In normal, conversational dialog, most of us know the direction we want to take our argument, but it’s difficult to think about what you’re going to say until a few moments before you say it. This leads to filler words (like um and uh), excess rambling, and lack of clarity in speech.
If you’ve ever wanted to scream at someone get to the damn point already, you know this pain.
Text is the opposite.
Read the rest of his case here.
Being selfish doesn’t always result in an obvious display of self-interest. More often, selfishness can come across in subtle ways that sabotage our relationships with others. Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits offers some examples:
- When someone doesn’t clean up after themselves, you get irritated because you think you’re entitled to everyone acting the way you want them to act (being clean and considerate).
- When someone else needs help, you think first about how it will affect you, rather than how it will affect the other person.
- When something unexpected happens at work or in your personal life, you think first about how it will affect you.
- When people are talking, you think about how what they’re saying relates to you, how you’ve had a similar experience, what they’re thinking of you.
Read the rest of his post here.
Ever feel totally out of your depth? Like you’re due to be discovered for the “fraud” that you are? This is “impostor syndrome” — where we constantly feel like everyone around us has their act together and we don’t. The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman:
Achieve promotions, or win accolades, and you’ll just have more cause to feel like a fake. Enhance your knowledge, and as you expand the perimeter of what you know, you’ll be exposed to more and more of what you don’t. Impostorism, as Pacific Standard magazine put it recently, “is, for many people, a natural symptom of gaining expertise”. Move up the ranks and if your field’s even vaguely meritocratic, you’ll encounter more talented people to compare yourself negatively against. It never stops. “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find [me] out now,’” as some low-profile underachiever named Maya Angelou once said.
The solution, says Burkeman, is that our higher-ups should talk about their insecurities more. Admittedly, that’s a hard ask, so in the mean time just remember that everyone feels like an impostor, it’s not just you.
Read the rest of his essay here.
It’s an old businessperson’s axiom: you have to spend money to make money. But what happens when you have no money? Many aspects of the world cruelly require the very thing we need more of. The more people you know, the easier it will be to make friends. If you have chickens you can get eggs. If you have eggs you can yield more chickens. Facebook’s Julie Zhuo on how to break this vicious cycle:
One great line from Gagan Biyani’s talk last week has stayed with me: faking the chicken. It means doing whatever it takes to get the chicken in place so that you can start reaping the benefit of eggs.
Or, if you’re lacking confidence, fake it until you make it. Act as if you have conviction in what you’re saying even if the entire neighborhood’s butterfly population has taken up residence in your stomach.
Or, if something seems out of your capabilities, surround yourself with people that have done it before. Take inspiration from those who make it look possible, and maybe even easy. Trick yourself into thinking you already have the chicken.
At the end of the day, that’s life—the constant wrestling with and pushing of the self. The cycle of striving for better and better cycles, so that we can achieve something of meaning in an unfair world.
Read her entire essay here.