Is my rude behavior your fault?


Well of course it isn’t, I am responsible for my own behavior.  How you interpret my behavior is your business.   I had a friend who used to say

If there are two ways to interpret what I said, and one of them is going to get me in trouble, please assume I meant the other one.

Not a bad policy actually.  

You’ve probably noticed, that I’m on an empathy kick these days.  I’ve been attempting to closely monitor my reactions, doing everything in my power to subscribe the best intentions to others, especially when my first reaction is otherwise.   

This week, someone pointed out yet another annoying tendency I have, that does a great job illustrating a difference between my intent was from how it is perceived

I am inclined to use the word “my” in a description of people.  For example, I will frequently refer to Amy as My Strategist.  What I mean by this language, is that I greatly admire Amy and I am glad I am on her team.  I use this language to make clear that I would be devastated if any other team were to steal her away.  This is how I feel about great people that I work with.  When I say “my” I am not implying that I think these people report to me.

So, you can imagine how surprised I was, when I heard that others are perceiving me to be pushy and arrogant when I do this.  Wow.  This completely took me aback.  If (when) the roles are reversed I feel good when people use similar language about me.  It would never have occurred to me that someone might find this offensive.

What is great about this example, is that someone was kind enough to point it out to me.  Now, I can attempt to find a better way to express myself.  By clarifying how they interpreted my language, I am able to communicate in a way that is less likely to be offensive.  Instead of assuming I’m a jerk, they gave me the benefit of the doubt.

I think that everyone could benefit from the following habit.  When someone says (or does) something that you find annoying

First: Ask yourself if maybe there is another way to look at their actions that would do a better job giving that person the benefit of the doubt. 

Second: If, attempting to see it a different way doesn’t work and you still find yourself annoyed, then find a way to let them know what is bothering you.

I would respectfully suggest, if you don’t have  the courage to do these steps, then maybe your behavior is equally offensive.


PS for those of you who are married and/or related to me, who are very quick to tell me what I do wrong, and who know full well my intentions, all I can suggest is that you remember what cute children I brought into this world for you.

Managing your boss

mr_burnsHere at TalentedApps we have had a few discussions about bosses (both good and bad) but we after reading the WSJ article on How to manage your boss I thought it might be a good idea to spend a little more time on this topic.

First I can’t talk about this topic without a mention of our  legendary family story, where an unnamed person [I’m married to], once told his friend that he had to go “manage his boss“.   Of course, the meeting he was anticipating, informed him of massive layoffs in his industry (manufacturing) of which he was participating (doh!).  Being a supportive family unit, we are still bringing up this story several decades later.

Second I was struck by this  in the article

…According to the theory, we tend to assume that other people’s faults stem from internal, fundamental flaws. But we attribute our own faults to temporary environmental factors. For instance, when our boss manages poorly, we believe that he does it because he intends to and is inherently a bad leader. When we manage poorly, we’re simply making a mistake because of the pressure we’re under.

Essentially, most of us are quick to believe the worst in our boss and expect others to cut us some slack when we are at our worst.   I’ll give you a minute to take that one in as it relates to your own situation with your boss.  Do you empathize with his/her job?

Third I was thrilled to see Wally Bock suggest the following additional point

Your job is to help your boss succeed. If you can’t do that, it’s time to find someplace else to work. Without that commitment, all techniques become manipulation.

What an outstanding point.  How many of us define our role as helping our boss succeed?  Do you focus your energy to help make him (or her) look good?  Do you put your energy on aligning around a positive relationship built on a common goal?  I would submit, that if you are not, it’s not just your boss missing out.  Worth thinking about. 

To that end, I checked my quarterly goals to see if I’ve addressed this issue and here is what I found.

 Support my boss as best I can, making sure my teams don’t spend too much time on any wall of shame.

 Yup, looks like I’ve got skin in the game (in my own underachieving way).  What about you?

Job Seeker Mojo

mojoI’m sure I’m not alone in having close friends and family members with the unfortunate task of looking for a job.  Almost every day I’m see new information about job loss statistics with close to 1 in 10 being recently unemployed.

In the good news category, I’ve seen a lot of  great advice being offered to job seekers.  I’ve seen job openings being shared on twitter, I’ve seen recruiters coming together to help people find the scarce jobs.   There is a real sense of community going around.

There is a real emotional toll to all this.  I’m sad to be the one to say it, but the reality is that there are less job openings and more job seekers.    We economists call that a buyers market.  Being a good candidate is just not enough.  You need to have serious “job seeker Mojo“. 

After losing your job, you cannot afford to spend time wondering why this happened to you.  You have to dust yourself off and get your groove back.   Those who have job openings are not really going to be interested in hiring candidates who feel that life has conspired against them.  Hiring managers are drawn to Mojo.  If you aren’t careful, job seekers with Mojo will get your job.

It’s time to start looking on the bright side.  Specifically you need to

  • Get a plan for what you will do while you are looking for a job.  A long job search can be a red flag for a hiring manager.  Find something to fill your time that you can talk about during an interview.  Volunteer.  Give back.  Anything that will fill you with purpose and passion.  If I have a choice of hiring “Joe, the enthusiastic volunteer” vs. “Joe the mad at the world” who do you think I would choose?


  • Get support.  Find a group of people who care about you, that can listen and help you move past any rough spots.  If you don’t have someone who immediately comes to mind, consider someone in your church or a counselor.


  • Pace yourself.  Given the economic indicators, this is not going to blow over quickly.   Prepare yourself emotionally and financially, for a long cycle.


  • Master your elevator pitch.   There should be no doubt in your mind what your unique skills are and how any company would benefit from picking you to join their organization.  If you don’t believe it, why would anyone with a job consider you above the competition?

I know you can, time to show your depth of character and find your Mojo.  If you do, I’m confident you will look back to this time positively one day.

Becoming a better version of myself

obamicon1Thanks to Ken for inspiring me to challenge myself (by more than just his post),  I am ready to renew my commitment to change this year.

I’ve shared my trivia, my weaknesses, my passions already.  Today, on this day of change, I’m going to share one of my key personal goals.  The one that takes me outside my comfort zone the most.  It’s not really a new goal, it’s a continuation of a goal I set mid last year, but in 2009 I plan to put even more energy to mastering the art of personal networking

I’m not talking the easy stuff, like sending an invitation on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.  I’m great at that.  I’m talking the sticky stuff of [gasp] talking on the telephone or having coffee or even remembering your name.

It’s not that I’m a shy person, but I really am terrible at being in the moment with people.  I loathe breaking the  conversational ice with someone I don’t know.  I’m the person who will hide underneath a ball cap on a flight to avoid talking to you.  Don’t get me wrong, I probably want to talk to you (at least if you are someone interesting, if you are creepy please allow me to back away slowly) I just wont make the effort.  This is one part lack of confidence and two parts laziness and today, I resolve to do better.

I’m pulling out all the stops on this one people.  

  • I’m making a concentrated effort to initiate conversation with people I meet. 


  • I’m continually reminding myself to listen when you tell me your name (and to ask again when I’ve forgotten). 


  • I’m reading books that remind me that being in the moment is more important than the lists of things I’m going through in my head. 


  • I’m writing this goal down and sharing it with the world (at least the small subset of the world that reads this blog) to hold myself accountable.


  • I am allowing myself to “Act as if“, planning to fake this skill,  knowing that with deliberate practice someday it will become real.

This is a big step for me, I once quit a job that required personal networking.     I believe that mastering this skill is necessary to get me where I need to be (both personally and professionally) so I commit to you right now to become this better version of myself. 

Wish me luck!


Photo made with help of

Is your boss making you ill?

boss1 Was reading my AARP magazine (that I, of course, only read for the articles) and found an interesting article that suggested that a bad boss can give you heart attack.

This research was out of Sweden, published in the Journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.  

…responding to a scored series of statements such as “I have a clear picture of what my boss expects of me” and “I am praised by my boss if I have done something good.”

A lower score for the boss translated into a higher risk for the employee. And the longer the employee worked there, the more the risk rose.

Ick!  Sadly I really didn’t find this surprising.  I think that we all know what kind of stress a bad work situation can have, seems logical that, in the worst cases it could lead to physical manifestation. 

Job fit is not just about being in the right job for your skills, it is also about having the right match with your boss.  Figuring out how to manage your boss is something that requires investment .  Do you know the work style of your boss?  Do you know how S/he prefers to be status-ed?  Is S/he a high-touch or low-touch person?  Is there something you can do to make the work relationship more harmonious? 

Often, a bad boss situation can be fixed with better communication, clear goal definition and concentrated effort.   You owe it to yourself to make the effort. 

BUT if the fit is just not there you should be proactive about finding yourself a different manager.  

Since your career is your responsibility, you must resolve the situation.  Not just for your career advancement but also for your health!  As the study proved, these problems do not get better over time, they only get worse.

Some advice to my job searching friends

resumeI have noticed a few great pieces of advice lately on do’s and don’t for job searchers.  Now I  have one to add myself.

First a recap. 

Gretchen suggests practical things like don’t forget to make your contact information visible. 

Kris Dunn gives some pro tips for Extreme Job Hunting with a vote in favor of a solid and customized cover letter.

Jenn Barnes gives the useful tweet that your photo is not a good idea.

Here is my item to add to the pile. 

For the love of god, please keep your resume to two pages.  I saw one today for someone with nine years experience that took nineteen pages!   The idea that more is more is just not true with a resume.  Every page over two, is a page I realize you have no clue how to write a resume and you are wasting my time.

I’ve got [cough] sixteen years under my belt and my experiences are a very comfortable fit on two.  Maybe, when I hit the twenty year mark I’ll go to three, but I suspect I’ll do what all intelligent  some women do and start casually removing stuff to make myself feel younger.

I do not give this advice to make anyone uncomfortable, I am saying this to hopefully help.  It seems that building a solid resume is a skill that has been under-represented in many technical circles, as I come across novel length resumes a good 50% of the time.

For my good friends in technology who need jobs, I do hope you land in a great role and realize your potential.  I wish you all the best in your search.  I’m also happy to help with editing and review if you need someone to provide that service.   Send me your best two page draft and I’ll give you my honest feedback.

For my hiring friends, what other tips have we missed?