14 Ways to Guarantee the Women in Your Life Are Happy

guarantee-women-happy

When this post first published it was Valentine’s Day, a day when men across the nation try to guarantee the women in their lives are happy. Extra happy.

You know who you are. You buy flowers and chocolates and make reservations at fancy restaurants, which is lovely.

But the truth is, for most women, small everyday actions are the way to their hearts. This goes for women in your personal life, as well as, in your professional life.

With that in mind, here are 14 ways to guarantee the women in your workplace are happy:

1. Be authentic in every interaction. Nothing creates awkwardness like a coworker who thinks you’re trying to be something you’re not.

2. Use the right phrase. If a woman in your workplace says she had a bad day, don’t try to fix it. Ask her if she wants to talk about it. (For more tips on the right things to say, check out my Love Deck which is a set of flash cards with scenarios and best and appropriate responses.)

3. Listen. Ask more questions in conversations, and comment to show you’re engaged and interested.

4. Don’t worry about how others perceive you. Focus on building relationships and learning from your coworkers to create the best possible results.

5. Praise coworkers on their professional abilities or share a technique that’s brought you success. Remember tip 3–listen more than talk.

6. Identify topics to talk about like world news, culture and industry trends rather than relying on typical small talk about work and sports. The family is always a safe area. Parents love to talk about their kids, and this can provide you with common ground to bond over.

7. Don’t view attractive female colleagues as something to be avoided (or pursued). Think of them as sisters or girls you grew up with and treat them like anyone else.

8. Don’t assume your new female contact is less accomplished or educated or needs your assistance. What you might view as “help” might be perceived as condescension. Get to know her background and treat her as a peer, not a subordinate.

9. Women prefer to discuss solutions as a team. Be prepared to brainstorm and gather ideas. The process is as important as the outcome.

10. Thoughtful gestures will go a long way. Remembering a birthday or grabbing your colleague a cup of coffee when you’re getting one for yourself will be greatly appreciated.

11. Be aware that women communicate differently than men do. They may suggest a solution when asking a question.

12. Women sometimes view competition as negative, especially with other women. You might want to instigate more of a win-win policy in the team.

13. Think before you make jokes or use humor that might be offensive. If you question saying it at all, it’s probably not a good idea.

14. When asking a female colleague to do a task for you, you might take a less authoritative approach and instead ask her for help. This will be perceived as more collaborative.

Remember, most of your coworkers want to minimize awkward moments, too. Authentic and positive work relationships benefit everyone. And, if you reach out to women in your workplace and industry in a thoughtful and respectful way, that’s exactly what you’ll build.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Image: Pexels by Bruce Mars 

 

 

5 Ways to be Happier at Work

happier-at-work

Who doesn’t want to be happier at work? Or in their personal life, for that matter. But, as most of us know, being happier at work is often easier said than done. Turns out though, that being happy isn’t just good for your personal well-being, it’s also excellent for your career–and for your organization, as a whole.

Positive people not only influence the environment around them, but they’re also more productive, goal-oriented and successful, according to the study Why Does Affect Matter in Organizations? The co-author, Sigal Barsade Ph.D., says, “If you’re in a negative mood, a fair amount of processing is going to that mood. When you’re in a positive mood, you’re more open to taking in information and handling it effectively.”

You can decide to be happy.

As crazy as that sounds, you can make a conscious choice to be happier at work and to do things every day that sustain that happiness. Simple but not necessarily easy. “Happiness at work comes from the inside out, says Annie McKee, author of How to Be Happy at Work: The Power of Purpose, Hope, and Friendship. “It’s something we create for ourselves, she adds.

According to McKee, many people will lose or leave a job and go somewhere else and find that they’re just as unhappy. McKee believes that people need to feel that work is meaningful, that they are doing something linked to their values, that they’re making a difference, and that they feel hopeful about their future. People need to see a clear link between the work they are doing now and the future that they want for themselves. “And additionally, we need friendships,” she states.

Here are five simple things you can do to be happier at work:

1. Meditate.

This doesn’t mean you have to get down on the ground and spend an hour in silence. Meditation just means taking some time to think quietly. Just a few deep breaths can quickly reduce stress. You can do this anytime–walking to meetings, going to the bathroom, waiting at the copy machine, or getting water. The key is to be aware of where your thoughts take you and to breathe. We often, in our stress and activities, forget to breathe.

2. Branch out.

As part of your decision to be happier at work, try expanding your social horizons. Network with colleagues with whom you haven’t spent much time. A best practice is to make a list of all the people you’d like to meet or who would be good for your career to know. Then systematically invite them for meetings or phone calls. You may find yourself being inspired and energized by their new perspectives, interests or skills. And you may find yourself having fun.

3. Join a cause.

Many companies have corporate social responsibility initiatives. Jump on board. Doing things for others can add meaning to your life and help you keep perspective. You may find yourself forgetting your own problems (at least for a little while), and you may enjoy feeling as if you’re contributing something meaningful (which can fill the void if we think we aren’t doing so professionally).

According to John Rampton, writing for Inc., “…research from Harvard professor Teresa Amabile has discovered that no matter the size of a goal–whether curing cancer or helping a colleague–having a sense of meaning can contribute to happiness in the workplace. People stay in their jobs if they feel like they’re contributing something worthwhile.”

4. Give praise.

A sincere compliment can go a long way in the workplace. Some benefits include a more positive mood, greater engagement, improved performance, and enhanced job satisfaction. What’s more, showing gratitude is a great way to improve your mood, too. You can do it in public or leave a note or email.

Try to get in the habit of verbalizing what you’re thinking, rather than keeping it to yourself. If you’re thinking something positive about someone (whether it be that you like the color of their sweater or you appreciated the points of their presentation), say it!

5. Embrace those silver linings.

Sometimes you make mistakes. Sometimes things go wrong. While failure can feel awful in the moment, it can also be a valuable learning experience. Embrace the silver linings in those situations if you can. When dealing with mistakes and disappointments, try to find the lesson in the situation and shift your focus from feeling unhappy to improving the work tasks at hand.

No one is asking you to blast “Don’t worry – be happy” over the company intercom to help your team members embrace optimism. But you can decide to be happier at work. You can also lead by example, and adopt the five tactics I have just described. As you encourage a sunnier outlook, you just might be surprised at the boost in your performance and your team’s, as well.

Need help with your career? Contact me.

A version of this post was first published on Inc. 

Image: JamesOladujoye/Pixabay

Five Friday Highlights: Mindfulness and Happiness

Gender Parity

I just returned from a great trip to Buenos Aires, working with women at SAP on advancement strategies. The group was energetic, positive, and receptive to learning. We enjoyed each other’s company and I feel positive these women will apply what they learned!

This week, I’m stepping back from the cultural observation to focus on selections that are more universal in nature. We are always wise to be continuous learners, about work and life in general.

Who doesn’t want to be happy and successful? In Want to Be Happy and Successful? Brene Brown Says Do This, I loved the seven recommendations shared by Dr. Brown. I was especially struck by “It is so important to feel who we are without needing material goods or hobbies to validate ourselves.” So true!

Sometimes, when I read articles like the one referenced above, I am grateful to have had enough life experience to know why advice like “it is important to feel who we are” is so applicable. Although I don’t think it makes sense to assume millennials “don’t get it” regarding many pieces of life advice, I do agree there are some lessons you can only  learn by living them. Maybe 8 Habits That Make Millennials Stressed, Anxious and Unproductive can at least help a millennial or two bypass the worst of it. One of the best pieces of advice is to avoid “hanging out with anxious people.” It has certainly been true for  me. We absorb the vibes we surround ourselves with.

We absorb the vibes we surround ourselves with. {TWEET THIS}

When I read Workplace Stress:  Do You Know Where it Comes From?, I was intrigued by a few of the suggestions. I especially keep turning this proposed strategy for managing workplace stress over in my mind: “Look for opportunities to learn skills or take on more responsibility.” While it seems counterintuitive to take on MORE when you’re already feeling stressed, perhaps for some people, additional responsibility that is more aligned with their skill set may actually reduce stress.

Speaking of taking on responsibility, none of the entrepreneurs featured in 20 Successful Entrepreneurs Share the Most Important Lesson They Learned in Their 20s avoided taking on massive amounts of it. Each of them learned valuable lessons along the way. This one is still kicking around in my mind: “You can never fire anyone too soon.” While the reference is to being decisive, I suspect part of that lesson is “you have to hire the right people in the first place.”

No matter what your generation or geography, I am a strong believer in the power of mindfulness. In Musts for Being Mindfully Present, Scott Mautz reminds readers that mindfulness “reduces aggression because the ego doesn’t come into play as you’re focusing on what’s in front of you, not what it says.” We could all do with less aggression in the world, right?


On a closing note, I am thrilled to announce that I have been accepted by Inc. as a regular contributor! I will be writing on topics related to cultural awareness and global business. It’s all extremely exciting and I’ll be looking forward to sharing my articles with you!

inc logo melissa