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Is Dressing for Success an Outdated Concept?

28 Apr

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With what I am observing in organizations today, it appears that employees are increasingly caring less and less about their appearance. To put it a little more bluntly, it seems like “dress down Friday” has become “dress down Monday thru Friday” in many organizations. This trend got me thinking about what would happen if John T Molloy’s top selling book in 1975, Dress for Success, were to hit the bookshelves today? Would it still be the bestseller that it was back in the late 70s? Would organizations actually change any of their dress codes? Most importantly, would the author’s message gain any traction and cause individuals to change the way they dress? Being pessimistic, I don’t think Molloy’s book as written in the 70s would even get considered a “must read” among today’s office workers! But why is this and why the pessimism? And what has changed in the past 20 or so years that made “dress own Friday” “dress down Everyday” in most workplace settings?

Well, for one thing the social notion of personal rights has been extended to how we dress in our workplaces. I have been told, as probably you may have, that dressing according to your own taste is your personal right. Furthermore, I think a kind of revolution erupting out of the 90s against the wearing of ties, suits, dress shirts, skirts and just about anything pressed in the workplace, has created a kind of “anti conformity” or redefined cool when it comes to dress. Ironically, nothing could be more conformist than today’s dress down climate! And, while most organizations seem to be okay with the notion of “casual dress”, few have been successful in defining where to draw the line between just plain ugly and casual.

But consider this, have you ever been overlooked for a promotion or have not been given opportunities to take on challenging and visible assignments within the organization? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then perhaps it’s time to look into the mirror.

Please don’t think I’m suggesting that dress is essential to being successful. However, try being successful without dressing well! Furthermore, I’m not suggesting that you dust off Molloy’s book either. Rather, what I am suggesting is your choice of how you dress signals an attitude that influences how others think about you. Why else do we dress up for a job interview?

No one has said anything to you about your dress? That’s not surprising.  In today’s politically correct atmosphere, where there is a heightened sensitivity to anything negative, bosses and colleagues are most likely not going to say anything for fear of hurting your feelings or infringing on your sacred “personal rights”. So, rather than take a risk, it’s easier for them to say nothing at all.

One thing is for sure; don’t think that poor dress is going unnoticed. Sounds a little over the top? Well, think about this: if you subscribe to the idea that a cluttered desk equates to a cluttered mind, then what’s the corollary to someone who dresses in a careless and sloppy way?

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

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“Personal Responsibleness”: The All-important Active Ingredient In Personal Responsibility

29 Feb

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Part Two: Personal Responsibleness vs. Personal Responsibility

If you have been watching the news at night, as I have, you may have heard from some reporters and politicians, alike, the argument that our citizenry needs to take more responsibility and rely less on handouts from the government. Similarly, a few of my clients have complained to me about how their employees need to take more initiative. While the sources are very different, what they have to say has a lot in common. When you combine the need for initiative with that of responsibility you come up with personal responsibleness. Perhaps, personal responsibleness, which is in the dictionary, hasn’t typically been in use because it’s quite a mouthful. However, after repeating it several times, it begins to roll off your tongue.

What is personal responsibleness and how does it differ from responsibility?

Personal responsibility is something that we take, or is given to us. In contrast, personal responsibleness is a state of being. It describes a characteristic that engenders an inherent competence and trustworthiness dedicated to the maximum fulfillment of responsibilities.

Perhaps a simple example will help to illustrate the difference. A manager asks an employee to send an e-mail to notify a client of a meeting cancellation and to offer some new dates. The manager after several days hears nothing. The manager asks the employee for an update and the employee responds, “I sent them the e-mail, as you requested.” That’s an example of taking on a responsibility. Someone with Personal Responsibleness would have kept track of the e-mail request. If the client hasn’t received any word, the employee would take it upon themself to call the client to make sure the e-mail was received. Perhaps it went into the Trash folder or was blocked. After all, what’s important is not sending the e-mail but making sure the client receives the information and that a new date is established. That’s making sure the end result is achieved and a valuable difference is realized.

 

Through law and ritual, society can impose responsibilities on its citizens, but ultimately it’s those citizens who must discipline themselves and adopt personal responsibleness if laws are expected to be followed. Fulfilling responsibilities entails just doing specific things for others. With personal responsibleness, when individuals are given or assume a task, they look not only at how they can fulfill the responsibility but also, how they can use their energies and personal expertise to ensure the result and make a valuable difference.

Personal responibleness is a characteristic that defines one’s being. Hence, taking initiative, where one accepts the power or right to do something, falls right in line with the person who operates with personal responibleness. The reason is because the motto for those who operate with personal responsibleness is, “it’s up to me to make things happen … unless that is made impossible by circumstance beyond my control.”

If you are reading this blog while spell check is on, you may have noticed that spell check wants to delete the word “responsibleness” and regards it as non-existent. Well, as a manager or supervisor or someone with responsibilities, you must make it not only exist, you must make personal responsibleness a key part of your working vocabulary. So, in today’s times, in addition to giving people responsibilities, what’s needed if we want the best results is personal responsibleness. It’s time for this word to enter into our dialog because we want people to take initiative and we want people to look not only to themselves, but to family, community and place of work to strive to add value.

For a more in-depth look at Personal Responsibleness see Chapter Three of my book On the Edge and In Control.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

“Personal Responsibleness”: The All-important Active Ingredient In Personal Responsibility

22 Feb

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Part One: Introduction to Personal Responsibleness

Most of us realize that it takes a very special kind of person to get through Special Forces training or flight school in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force. These schools take the most qualified candidates they can find and each one that they choose must be a genuine team player who can be trusted by his comrades. But, early in their training, as much as they trust one another, deep down they learn to trust themselves the most when it comes to packing their parachutes on flight missions. For if that parachute is not packed and prepared perfectly, it’s failure to open will be the fault of no one but the one who packed it.

Now, while in your own job and in your own life you may never need to worry about the reliability of a parachute, there are always going to be times and situations where you will have to count on someone else to act on your behalf for something that is crucially important to you. So, take 15 seconds and think hard about this: Among all your friends, fellow workers and associates, which ones, if any, would you put your trust in when it comes to “packing your parachute” regarding a matter that is very important and where a failure would cost, maybe not your life, but, a lot of money, prestige or embarrassment.

Your 15 seconds are up!

After you pick this person, think about what the true traits are that they seem to have that all the others don’t when it comes to your trust in them. It’s likely that you’ll conclude that they have a value structure that seems to guide what they do most of the time. They are probably the kind of person who puts doing what is right before what is simply most beneficial to them. More often than not they take the initiative to move the ball forward for the benefit of all and stand ready to celebrate the success of the overall mission of the organization rather than their own contribution.

This type of person is described by most who come in contact with him or her as “having responsibility”. But wait just one minute! A lot of people have responsibility but what exactly do they do with it? Generally speaking, “having responsibility” refers to something that is just given to us. What we do with responsibility is where our character, self esteem, values, and degree of reliability come into play.

And that is what Personal Responsibleness is all about. It describes a characteristic that engenders an inherent competence and trustworthiness dedicated to the maximum fulfillment of responsibleness. In essence, it’s the acceptance of control!

More about Personal Responsibleness in my next blog.

 

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

10 Rules to Remember When the Reciever of Criticism

12 Jun

  1. Don’t be thrown by a giver’s manner of delivery—givers think they are right. Otherwise, why would they be approaching you? Remember, however, that they only “think” they’re right. It’s not necessarily true. 
  2. Keep an open mind. You can reject the criticism at any point. 
  3. The receiver colors what’s being said. 
  4. The ability to accept criticism varies, depending on who is delivering the criticism. 
  5. If the giver is attempting to deliver instructive or quality criticism, it is the receiver’s responsibility to make the giver feel comfortable. 
  6. The giver is just as uncomfortable in delivering the criticism as the receiver is in getting it. 
  7. Avoid personalizing criticism; instead, look at quality criticism as a resource for achieving your goals. 
  8. In most instances, reacting defensively or becoming argumentative is ineffective; this kind of behavior precludes any meaningful discussion. 
  9. Receiving criticism is uncomfortable because the giver is pointing out something negative or expressing some form of disapproval, and criticism implies that you will need to make a change. 
  10.  As the receiver, you need to look beyond the words to the intent of the criticism.

By keeping these insights in mind, you will be able to more effectively keep your emotions in check, stay focused on sorting out the intent behind the criticism, and keep the criticism in the proper perspective. Doing all of this positions you to benefit from what is being communicated when on the receiving end of criticism!

Please visit: www.drbright.com

Three Steps for Dealing with Self Criticism

22 Feb

Empowering yourself with self-criticism where you learn to be your own best friend is a skill set. Here are three helpful steps for developing that skill set:

  1. Do not fight your negative thoughts:
    Since we cannot always control negative thoughts, do not work yourself up, or feel bad when they enter your mind.
  2. Rapidly inspect your thoughts:
    You must train yourself to listen objectively to your thoughts instead of accepting negatives and truths. Learn to judge your thoughts rather than be led by them. This helps you understand whether your criticisms are enhancing or interfering with your performance.
  3. Validate your thoughts:
    Once you have learned to objectively listen to your criticism, you can determine whether they are true. You can do this by answering these questions:

    •       Have I heard this criticism before?
    •       How old is it?
    •       Who gave me this criticism and is this person credible and someone I can trust?

You can’t always control what sparks a self-criticism exchange, but what you can control is what you do with those messages. If you walk away from a self-criticism exchange feeling confident and desirous of taking action, then you have mastered the skill of working with yourself. It’s an empowering feeling!

Sure Fire Tips for Handling Pressure: Symptom #3

8 Jan

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Symptom #3 – You are experiencing difficulty concentrating and getting to work on the task at hand because your mind is racing at the speed of light as it scans all the things that you have yet to get done.

Cause and Cure:  What’s happening is that you have momentarily lost your focus.  It’s quite a common occurrence today.  So it’s relieving to know you are not alone.  To regain your focus and to handle the pressured feelings, try practicing Bright’s 2M Simultaneous Focus Quick Charge.  The first “M” stands for the macro picture and the second “M” represents the micro picture.  By imagining a camera lens, you can adjust your focus so you see both the Macro and the Micro perspective simultaneously.

When you are able to see the macro picture you may realize that you are not dealing with life and death issues, or consider reminding yourself that five years from now this deadline will not significantly affect your life.  With this realization in mind, the intense pressured feelings you are experiencing will suddenly lessen and you will be able to better direct your energies and move into action.

Likewise, if you are operating in the macro picture and feeling overwhelmed by viewing everything that needs to be done, you can move yourself into action by focusing your camera lens on the micro picture.  Do this by asking yourself, “What is one thing I can start working on right now that will ultimately result in making a valuable difference?”  For instance, imagine having lots to do and only three hours left in your day.   Adjust your lens to view the micro picture, and choose one task you can work on in the next three hours that will make a valuable difference.  Using the 2M Zoom is a catalyst for moving into action.

Please visit us at www.drbright.com

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Sure Fire Tips for Effectively Handling Pressure: Symptom #2

7 Jan

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Symptom #2 – When engaging in conversations with others about work, you experience tightening in the chest, dizziness, panicked feelings and overall body sweat.

Cause and Cure:  When you talk to others, the words you use can have a direct effect on the amount of pressure you feel.  After all, have you ever felt more relaxed after saying to a friend, “Oh, I have so much to do right now”?  Other pressure-producing words to avoid using include, “have to,” “must,” and “should.”  These words, when used repeatedly for one task, may rev you up, but when there is a pile of things to get done, these words may create additional pressure that pushes you over the edge.  By paying attention to the words you use with yourself and others, such as, “want to,” “need to,” and “like to,” you can better modulate pressured feelings.

Stay tuned for Symptom #3!

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