When I learn something, or when I witness someone else learning something, I sometimes wish I had learned it long ago. If it could have saved me trouble, or led me somewhere I find appealing, I write it down. Here's another installment from my growing collection.
- Just as hope is not a strategy, attempting the impossible is not gambling. With gambling, there's a chance of success.
- Estimates are projected results calculated from data gathered from previous efforts. An "estimate" without calculations from past data is merely an opinion.
- Someone asking you to do something doesn't make it your job. Before you take on a task, decide whether it's your job to do it.
- I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. The ones I regret most are the reruns.
- When I feel offended by what someone said to me, I often forget that what offended me might not have been what was said. What offended me was how I interpreted what was said.
- Not all help is advice; not all advice is help. Advice is more likely to help when it's sought.
- When different pieces of the knowledge required for recognizing the need for change are dispersed in the minds of people who don't communicate much with each other, the organization will be very slow to see the value of making the change. Instead of forcing that change, try first to introduce people to one another.
- What we call stupidity rarely is that. It might instead be ignorance, compulsion, coercion, narrow-mindedness, habit, fear, or shame. Just for examples.
- Making something change in the timeframe you prefer can be far more difficult than waiting for it to change at a time when it's ready to change. Waiting might be the better option. Consider it carefully.
- If you're interested in changing how a social construct operates, knowing how it came to be the way it is can be much less useful than knowing what keeps it the way it is.
- It is said that the path to greatness passes through humility. Even so, seeking the path to greatness is one sure way to never get there. Greatness is an unintended consequence of intentionally achieving something else that's really important.
- Comebacks to abusive comments are ineffective when they dawn on you the next day in the shower. Find ways to make the dawn come early enough for the light to provide useful illumination.
- It's often said that there's no such thing as a stupid question. There's also no such thing as a question you can't be ridiculed for asking. You can wait for someone else to risk asking that question, but sometimes a little ridicule is the price of knowledge.Not all help is advice; not all
advice is help. Advice is more
likely to help when it's sought.
- Be very careful to avoid starting sentences with "never."
- Many Human Resources people are genuinely concerned with targets of bullies, and they do want to help. Still, their primary function is protecting the organization. Bullies' targets who want real help had best look elsewhere.
- There is no overlap between bullying and "tough management." If it feels like bullying, it almost certainly is bullying, and nothing more.
- "Done" is a fine goal. But "done for now" can be a more fitting goal when the only paths to "done" that are visible right now are high risk and irrevocable.
- Non-verbal retorts can be powerful. Even when they aren't quite powerful enough, they do have a redeeming quality: they can't be misquoted.
- If you're the first in your personal network to use a particular Internet adage, and you aren't its originator, you're spending too much time on line.
- A challenge to your use of terms or language can be a proxy for a challenge to the substance of your position. The choice to mask the real challenge could indicate that the challenger feels that the challenge is inherently weak.
- Although we're all unique, some of us are different from most in ways that are immediately evident to everyone. Every moment of every day can be risky for them. Appreciate and admire their courage.
- Credit others for their contributions. And know that when proposing an alternative to someone else's idea, it's risky to personalize the idea by speaking of "your approach." Personalizing creates equivalence between accepting your alternative and rejecting the other person as a being. Speak instead of "Option A" or "Option 1."
You probably have a collection like this, but maybe it isn't written down. Something magical happens for me when I write them down. I tend to remember them when I need them. If you haven't written down your collection, try it. First in this series Top Next Issue
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More articles on Ethics at Work:
- When You Aren't Supposed to Say: I
- Most of us have information that's "company confidential," or possibly even more sensitive
than that. When we encounter individuals who try to extract that information, we're better able to protect
it if we know their techniques.
- Extrasensory Deception: I
- Negotiation skills are increasingly essential in problem-solving workplaces. When incentives are strong,
or pressure is high, deception is tempting. Here are some of the deceptions popular among negotiators.
- Telephonic Deceptions: I
- People have been deceiving each other at work since the invention of work. Nowadays, with telephones
ever-present, telephonic deceptions are becoming more creative. Here's Part I of a handy guide for telephonic
- Availability and Self-Assessments
- In many organizations, employees develop self-assessments as a part of the performance review process.
Because of a little-known effect related to the Availability Heuristic, these self-assessments can be
biased against the employee.
- Red Flags: III
- Early signs of troubles in collaborations include toxic conflict, elevated turnover, and anti-patterns
in communication. But among the very earliest red flags are abuses of power. They're more significant
than other red flags because abuses of power can convert any collaboration into a morass of destructive
See also Ethics at Work and Effective Communication at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 7: Toxic Disrupters: Tactics
- Some people tend to disrupt meetings. Their motives vary, but they use techniques drawn from a limited collection. Examples: they violate norms, demand attention, mess with the agenda, and sow distrust. Response begins with recognizing their tactics. Available here and by RSS on June 7.
- And on June 14: Pseudo-Collaborations
- Most workplace collaborations produce results of value. But some collaborations — pseudo-collaborations — are inherently incapable of producing value, due to performance management systems, or lack of authority, or lack of access to information. Available here and by RSS on June 14.
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