Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feelings, Nothing More Then Feelings!

I went on a job interview yesterday and was amazed at the parting words of the interviewer, she said something like this: “I do not care about anyone’s feelings, I will not take you out for a glass of wine, so, if you start working here don’t come to work with any feelings.” Wow, where have I heard that before? Let me take you back a number of years before my Communication Skills Class for Women. I worked for a General Contractor with the title Office Manager/Contract Administrator in a little office in southeastern Colorado. Sure I had worked all my life but not until that moment had I been put in a position of authority that would allow my inner “bitch” to go romping about. Let me just say this “I do not believe there is any position, job, or duty that can truly be successful by being a “bitch”, so, don’t be one.”

Let me get back to the Office Manager position for a minute. You may ask “how was I a bitch?” Well, here is the breakdown:

1) I didn’t care about your feelings; I told it like it was. If your feelings got hurt that was your problem.
2) I didn’t care that you were human and had problems. You should be perfect and have no problems whatsoever.
3) I kept my office door closed, head down, and blinds pulled.
4) I didn’t have time for questions or small chit-chat.
5) What I’m doing is way more important than anything you have to say or ask.

As Office Manager it was also my duty to assist the Vice President of this particular office and he became a dear friend to me. He told me that he knew I was a type A personality but that I really needed to work on how I managed and communicated with others. Ok, I said, let me check into that. I used to get seminar brochures all the time and found one that peaked my interest about “Communication Skills for Women”. I showed it to my boss and he approved me taking the seminar. Let me tell you, I learned a number of useful tips, tricks, rules, and phrases that would stick with me right up until this moment.

The course I took taught me influence and persuasion techniques that I could use to build productive and rewarding relationships with those I work with and in my personal life. It’s no secret that I did not have these much needed skills, however, after I learned them and applied them I could accomplish so much more.

Probably the most important thing I learned was how to control my emotions while staying composed so that I could totally be effective while under pressure. This was definitely the most difficult thing I learned in the seminar I took. Why? Well, since women think with more of their brain than do men, it only stands to reason that we are also much more “sensitive” then they are. That was me, throwing fits, crying over spilt milk or any milk really, and not understanding how everyone else didn’t think that what I said or thought was important to listen to and there were rules that needed to be obeyed and procedures that needed to be followed. That last one is still hard for me; Don’t you know that if you follow the policies and procedures your life will be much easier?

Anyways, I still don’t like voicing my thoughts or offering my opinions. Yes, you can go the total opposite. I’ve had to overcome the “if my thoughts and opinions don’t matter; why should I say anything at all?” That’s not the point, the point is that you do it in a way that is incognito. I’m sure everyone’s grandmother told the something to the affect of “If you let a man think it is his idea, he doesn’t get mad, and you are the better person for doing so, even though it was your idea.” Men definitely need their egos stroked but I’m still not sure why we care as women. Ok, I’m getting side tracked, back to the topic at hand.

I don’t mind public speaking now and I actually enjoy talking with others. I love to go to a park and watch people and I’ll even sit down next to someone to see how they are doing or just to start a conversation. The “old” me would have never taken the time to care or to listen. Everything was about me! I had a job to do, I didn’t have time to talk or play around, I would spend an ungodly number of hours working to get something done because someone else said they needed it right away, and I couldn’t let others see me as weak.

I went back to the office with the tools I needed to be successful with others. I opened my door and blind, hung a wall quilt that my mom made on my office wall, put out a bowl of candy and started doing what I had learned. It worked and I felt better about myself.

I’m still not perfect, but I make much more of an effort on a job then I used to of being the nice person. I remind myself constantly that I am only human, no employer is worth killing myself over, and there are 168 hours in a week 56 to 80 of those are sleeping and only 40 to 50 of those could be spent at a job. With those numbers I also realize if I take the number of hours I sleep out it leaves me 112 hours a week. This is approximately 16 hours a day to either work or stay at home and take care of business here. If I work 8 to 10 hours a day that leaves me approximately 6 to 8 hours to do “at home” stuff. I’m not sure about you, but I am not happy with the liberated woman and the fact that those of us who wouldn’t mind staying at home now have to figure out our days like this.

What does all this mean? It means that instead of taking care of business at home, I know have to go work for someone else that has no communication skills, can’t handle high-stake situations because they don’t know how to, or makes mistakes and crises without confidence. My job interview yesterday was maybe 5 minutes and I could have answered her “confident” statement with “I hope that goes both ways or I used to be a bitch like you”, but I’ve learned not to say things like that and walked away giggling that there are others like that and I have chosen not to be that way.

You may ask, “So, what did you learn?” There were five key points that I needed to learn, which were recognizing words, gestures, and speech patterns I was using that were not allowing me to have any power in any situation and eliminating these, essential communication techniques that allowed me to be able to have positive responses from others that were predictable, which wouldn’t upset me because I knew what to expect, getting others to like, respect, and support me, being able to perform confidently in tough situations including negotiating, conflicts, important meetings, and crises that could come up from time to time. The most important of these was learning to LISTENI as those of us Type A personalities know, we do not do this very well at all. If there is anything I learned about communicating it is this or maybe that, I get confused. Is it my job to understand what you are saying or is it your job to make what you are saying clear? This is where, in my personal opinion, we get stuck thus leading to being a not-so-nice person. We are intelligent and hard workers that just want to be heard and understood.

My advice is this: “You are the important one; no employer is worth being emotionless, and that the old saying about attracting more flies with honey has obviously been proven so you should consider it!”

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