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Op/Ed

“Imma let you finish but–” How to deal with interrupting coworkers

(EDITORIAL) Interrupting co-workers may as well come as a part of the job description, use these tips to handle them without incurring a meeting with HR.

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Not a conversation

We all have that coworker–let’s call him Chet–who insists on turning every presentation into a discussion. A discussion dominated by Chet’s own questions and comments. Instead of listening attentively to your carefully planned slides, the rest of the room is rolling their eyes and tapping their fingers in impatience.

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How are you supposed to handle the Chets of the world constructively?

Cultural differences

Harvard Business Review explains that first you need to understand why and when people are inclined to interrupting others.

Individualistic cultures, like those of the US, Germany and Australia, stress assertiveness and independence.

Meanwhile, collectivistic cultures such as China, Korea and Japan emphasize working as a group and putting community before the individual. How does this affect their conversation styles?

There’s a difference between chiming in to a conversation and throwing off the rhythm with an off-tempo comment.

Typically when someone from an individualistic culture interjects, it’s an intrusive interruption, focused on making a point and asserting a stance. In a collectivistic culture, interruptions are more cooperative, and used to exhibit loyalty–more of a “Yeah, you got it!” than a “Well actually, in my personal opinion…”.

Status levels

In general, high-status people tend to express their opinions more often and dominate the conversation.

When some C-level exec stops you mid-sentence with “Excuse me, go back a slide”, you’re damn sure to go back a slide.

Whether you’re CEO of a large company or the team leader of a high school group project, it’s easier to speak up when you’re confident no one will dispute you.

So what can you do about it?

Acknowledge the person interrupting. You see Chet there, chomping at the bit waiting to throw in his opinions. Instead of waiting for him to interject and asking him to let you finish your statement, begin your story or presentation with an outline of what you’re going to say, and assure everyone that there will be plenty of time for questions afterwards. This may soothe Chet’s urge to blurt out whatever’s on his mind.

Address the interrupter privately. This shouldn’t be a harsh scolding, but more of a constructive discussion. Chet might not even be aware he’s interrupting. Maybe he considers his contributions cooperative rather than intrusive. Maybe no one’s ever said anything to him about it before.

Calmly tell Chet about the tendencies you’ve noticed and explain how it’s been a recurring issue that affects you and possibly others in the workplace.

Confronting him straight on will most likely get the message across and inspire Chet to change his ways.

Get the whole group in on it. If you think a direct confrontation might embarrass Chet, you can frame the issue in a general manner by addressing the whole group and not name-dropping anyone specific.

You could try asking the group to share what they consider effective communication, and what they could do themselves to achieve this.

This way, everyone acknowledges the issues within the group and they can all, including Chet, become more aware of their individual behaviors. It’s also a less stressful way to deal with interrupters of higher status than you.

Set the bar

If interrupting coworkers are a problem in your workplace, it’s best to nip them in the bud to set the bar for all future group discussions.

One day when Chet is the one presenting and he gets interrupted, he’ll know exactly how to handle it.

#ShutUpChet

Helen Irias is a Staff Writer at The Real Daily with a degree in English Literature from University of California, Santa Barbara. She works in marketing in Silicon Valley and hopes to one day publish a comically self-deprecating memoir that people bring up at dinner parties to make themselves sound interesting.

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Op/Ed

Why “The Complete Guide to Not Giving a F**k” is Bulls**t

(EDITORIAL) Having thick skin is great, but a famous blog, “The Complete Guide to Not Giving a F***” misses the point that for most, it’s a carefully choreographed marketing tactic, and a luxury.

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Warning: cuss words ahead…

One of my favorite pieces ever penned on the web is called The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck by Julien Smith, first published on his personal blog and recently republished on Medium. The piece is well written and argues a point that is so rarely argued effectively – constant worrying about what others think is a prison and you should regain your self-respect by putting less emphasis on every single person in the world’s opinion.

The theory is well founded and is totally true, but the Guide has been shared for years on the web as an excuse to be an asshole, so I’m calling bullshit on the entire Guide. Not on Smith’s words (they’re right and I have emailed them to over 50 people over the years), but on how non-readers are taking it. People skim the story, share it, tag me because I like cuss words and have thick skin, and move on, thinking that Smith meant to tell everyone that they should never care what others think.

First of all, if you’re here, you’re most likely a business professional, right? If so, you typically can’t just puff your chest in this world and act like a dick. Sure, there are people that have made lucrative careers out of being hated, but they work very hard to appeal to other haters and attract like minds, which isn’t exactly not giving a fuck about what others think – that’s the dirty secret of today’s villains, particularly online.

Smith’s point was that developing a thick skin is freeing. And he’s right. But, it’s a process that takes time, and must be carefully choreographed. Constantly lobbing grenades because you’re now a badass who doesn’t care what others think is self-destructive and misses the point.

There is a substantial difference between “not giving a fuck” and letting irrelevant commentary and judgment roll off of your back. Guess what? Not all commentary is irrelevant. Your boss tells you that you suck at something? Better not give her the middle finger or you’re unemployed. A client calls and you’re hostile with them because you don’t have to take their shit? Bye bye, customer.

A now unemployed former Sprint kiosk sales guy comments on your blog that you’re wrong and stupid? Sure, let that roll off of your back. But not the rest. Don’t “not give a fuck” for the sake of not giving a fuck. Don’t be a moron.

Here’s the part where I disagree…

So far, I’ve agreed with Smith, but over the years, and particularly since his editorial was republished, I’ve put a lot of personal thought into why the piece rubs me the wrong way, and I’ve finally figured it out.

I have thick skin. For the most part, people like me. I don’t know why, but people like me – I’m told often that I’m likeable. That’s cool.

I am also well respected in my industry and by my peers. Also cool.

Therefore, my not giving a fuck is a luxury. I’ve already built a personal brand and helped build extremely large communities online and off, so I get to have thick skin because I somehow magically earned it. If some kid signs up for a Twitter account and starts throwing grenades, they’re blown off as a punk turd. If I take to my own airwaves to attack an idea, people listen because I’ve earned an audience. Do you see the difference?

“I get asked a lot how I developed such a thick skin, and the truth is that it took many years and a natural maturation process to realize that not everyone will adore me, and that I can be wrong. A lot.”

I was able to develop a thick skin because I had collected a huge army of supporters over time should I need it, and so I am not often attacked (but when I am, guess what happens??). Let’s be honest, I also have the advantage of being a younger woman, so I get to be a little more brash than my counterparts, and people like that – but that isn’t me not giving a fuck, that’s me being silly for the most part.

I disagree with Smith on his guide, because some people don’t have the luxury of not giving a fuck. It is freeing and something everyone should try, but it does not apply to all situations at all times, and the bizarre truth is that it has to be earned in most situations.

This editorial originally appeared on The American Genius.

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Op/Ed

The rest of the world has caught up to the Realtor way of working constantly

(EDITORIAL) How do you respond to people that complain they’re working at all hours? Just welcome them to the Realtor way of life!

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Until you practice real estate, you have no idea how many hours per week that entails, how insanely late or early clients will call with urgent needs, how much you live in your car, and how novel the memories of a 9-5 are.

From the outside, it looks like you can do anything you want when you want, and yes, you have flexibility, but successful agents are seriously devoted to working their tails off. Many sacrifices are made, meals missed, and the idea of a non-working vacation is not usually a reality for practitioners (even when there is an assistant and/or team at play, there’s always something only you can answer).

You’ve changed a shower head in your client’s listing to appease a picky buyer and get the dang closing done, you’ve kept your promise to attend every closing (even on your wedding day (true story, my husband did that secretly)).

The internet has only changed the process, not the number of hours worked.

Technology has made Realtors more efficient, but as a population, you’ve just added more to your plate and worked even harder.

With the advent of smartphones and wifi, other industries have now adopted the same always on pace and mentality, and it occurred to me recently that the entire workforce has now adopted the Realtor method of working all day and figuratively all night.

“So to the rest of the world, I say, welcome to the club!”

Veteran Realtors can tell you that the pace can be grueling, but that the concept of work/life balance isn’t some new wave buzzword-filled theory, no, it’s been the Realtor way for decades upon decades.

So when people complain on Facebook about their boss calling them for some arbitrary reason at 10pm, or complain on Twitter that a customer expected an instant response at 1am, just tell them gently, “Welcome to the Realtor way of life!” because you’ve been adapted since the day your license number was issued!

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Op/Ed

Less sleep, less life. Science says so

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Sleep can be a great thing. In fact, a new study has proven that the more you get the longer your life will be — that’s pretty neat!

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Entrepreneurs, business owners, and freelancers, listen up: sleep is important and you need more of it.

We all know how important sleep is, but we try to ignore it anyway. New research from neurologist Matthew Walker states quite plainly that if you get less than seven hours at night you put yourself at higher risk for Alzheimer’s, dementia, heart attacks, strokes, and several different kinds of cancers. If seven hours feels indulgent, read on.

Walker, a sleep scientist at the University of California, has just written a new book entitled Why We Sleep in which he discusses the biological mechanisms of the processes that allow you to drift off.

Walker also discusses all of the things that our constantly busy and interconnected lives do to disrupt that process.

“First, we electrified the night,” Walker said in a quote to The Guardian. “Light is a profound degrader of our sleep. Second, there is the issue of work: not only the porous borders between when you start and finish, but longer commute times, too. No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead.”

Another thing killing our restfulness at night? Our attitudes towards catching z’s.

Walker said that there is a strange increasing stigma around sleep, and that many consider it “lazy and shameful.”

Considering that so many problems arise from lack of sleep such as impaired functioning, amplified risk of diseases, weight gain, and mental health issues, a more appropriate attitude toward this necessity needs to be taken.

Entrepreneurs and business owners may have a hard time cutting themselves slack whenever choosing their bedtime, but in order to continue to operate at peak efficiency, bedtime must be a priority.

Here are some easy tips from sleep scientists to incorporate in your bedtime routine. First: no all nighters. They totally wreck your ability to function, and make you as cognitively impaired a drunk person.

Secondly, try to set a bedtime alarm every night so you can train your body to have an appropriate slumber pattern, which will help your ease of sleeping in the long run. Another easy tip being super strict about the “no screens” rule before bed, as the light emitted from our devices blocks melatonin (the sleep hormone) from secreting in the brain.

It may be hard to leave that email to another day, but your brain will thank you for it as you drift off to dreamland.

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