At Work, is it Bitchiness or Assertiveness?

I took a quiz the other day that told me how bitchy I was.  I think the quiz itself was flawed, since half of the questions asked for what you ‘bitch’ about and then the other half asked you about your personality.  I thought the whole definition of ‘bitchy’ was personality-based, and then, my all-time favourite Australian expression of ‘whinging’ (complaining), was more along the lines of bitching about something.

tumblr_n10n3wfcrl1st5lhmo1_1280Anyway, I digress.  I took a quiz the other day that told me I was 60% bitchy – they called my type of person a Balanced Bitch.

I am OK with this.  As someone whom people rarely find bitchy (at least no one tells me to my face) I like to think I’m assertive but also self-aware, making sure I don’t go out of my way to make other people’s lives a living hell but not get walked all over like a dishcloth.  (Although, I must say, the amount of bitchiness that goes on in my head when, let’s say, a car almost runs me over, is something Regina George would approve of.)

So when someone (more junior than me) backed out of an obligation last minute and left me hanging, I replied in what I considered to be the bitchiest way possible: “Thanks for letting me know, It’s usually up to the person who’s on that week to find a replacement, but this week I can cover as it’s a bit late…”  I hit send with a twinge of regret in my stomach – was I too forceful?  Go ahead and chuckle.  I thought so.

I’ve learned that rubbing salt in the wound has no place anywhere, really.  What’s done is done and the goal is to just move on and do what you have to do to get the real job done.  Still, I confided in another friend that this had happened and she instantly told me to reprimand her.  Demand that it’s too late to back out and that commitments are commitments.  I agreed, but had already sent my 60% bitchy reply.  Was I too soft?

Now, I could go into the usual tandem about how women in the workplace are seen as bitchy and not ‘assertive’ and this is all part of our poor perception and the glass ceiling is ever-present… and all that jazz.  But I think it’s more than that.  It’s a personality thing.  Some people are just more assertive than others.  And, if it hadn’t been for that bitchy test that gave me some confidence, I probably wouldn’t have even replied like that at all.

I felt like I should have taken my other co-worker’s advice and come down harder on the bailer, but that’s not me.  I didn’t fully let her get away with it but I also moved on (or will move on after finishing this blog post).

If we’re going to stand up for ourselves, or for what we are doing, we have to do it, whether it’s at work or in line to get coffee.  If something rubs you the wrong way, act on it the way you feel comfortable doing.

And remember what kind of bitchy you are.

What is Your Best Before Date?

best beforeYesterday, at the grocery store, I picked up a small container of sour cream for our chicken tacos we were making and glanced at the best before date on it: August 19.  It didn’t take more than a second for me to chuckle at it.  I turn 30 on August 20, so to see a best before date on the day before my age shifts to the BIG 3-0 was more than a little fitting.

I often notice dates on or around my birthday.  Not that I’m birthday obsessed (I’m happiest with a delicious dinner, wine and a few friends to celebrate with) but the date is obviously important to me.  As a kid I’d think, when I saw a carton of milk that expires later in August, ‘Hey, I’ll be 13 when this expires’, knowing that I’d have to cross a milestone to get to when the milk goes sour.  Yes, a little odd that I’ve always projected this notion onto dairy products.

Back then I wasn’t worried about turning a year older.  Not that I can say I am ‘worried’ now.  But the thought of it is a bit paralyzing – like a realization is going to hit me or I’ll feel different any day now.

And I have felt different.  From putting my back out after leaning over the bathtub to grab my shampoo to feeling the effects of a bum ankle thanks to a moderate running habit, I’ve noticed some physical changes (much different from those coming of age ones) popping up.  This time it’s another kind of ‘coming-of-age’ and I’m realizing it’s going to take time for me to accept it.

So, instead of feeling like I’ve reached my best before date, it’s time to realize that August 20 is my ‘production date’.  It’s a start, not an end, but my sour cream probably won’t feel the same way.

Check These Four Things off your List Before You Email Anyone

tumblr_myebwtELvb1st5lhmo1_1280I work with some people who get emails constantly.  They get so many emails that they need to spend their after-hours (their pre-9am and post-5pm) doing real work.  I can’t imagine how hard it would be to focus if that was me!

There are a lot out of articles there that suggest people should only respond to emails at only significant times in the day, and turn it off otherwise etc. but I think the problem needs to be nipped in the bud at the source: the sender.

So, before you send that email, think about a few things to maximize your time and to help minimize others’ efforts.

 

How long is the email?
Paragraph after paragraph might feel great to you (like a diary, you’re putting it all out there and getting it off your chest) but it’s an inefficient way to communicate.  Summarize the background in one sentence and then propose what you need the recipient to do for you in another.  Use bullets (see point #3) and clearly communicate what you’re needing people to do.  Lengthy emails are a pain #longread and do not have any place in the modern, busy world.

Do I need to CC this person?
Putting someone on a CC might sound like a good idea (an especially good idea if they’ve asked to be cc’ed) but needlessly copying people is a surefire way to annoy.  If it’s really important, they can ask you about it later.  Did you email the caterer? Yes.  But I didn’t cc you because I just got it done.  Bravo.  Your supervisor(s) do not need to know everything you’re emailing about unless that information is critical to them. Think before you cc.

Visually communicate your message
Have an important deadline to communicate? Put it in bold!  You’ll look organized vs overbearing by highlighting the important elements in your email vs burying them.  I have received emails full of instructions that are completely scattered, I feel like Indiana Jones trying to hunt them all down.  An email should be read once and them comprehended. Bold, change font colour, highlight – anything you can do to succinctly tell your recipient what is needed and what’s priority.

Wait five minutes before you send
If you’re like me, you read, re-read, re-re-read emails before they’re sent. And, of course, add a few more re-reads in there if the email is going to a stakeholder.  Typos, grammatical errors, gaping errors like incorrect files, links or names are enough for the recipient to gawk at and often require multiple back and forths to remedy.  Make sure that before you send your email you’ve gone over the essentials.

Try these tips the next time you’re about to send the bible to your colleagues.  Make sure it’s more like the 10 commandments.

Orange is the NEW Black – Fire Warden Style 101

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I unintentionally wore my new ‘miami beach orange’ dress to work today, forgetting I was a fire warden and that my hat would match my outfit. Needless to say, I’d never caught the 100s of building co-workers noticing my brightness moreso than today. Luckily, there was no fire. And, even more lucky, everyone was kind enough to inform me of my choice and ask if it was deliberate. Let’s just say it was.

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