Do you feel like you’re wasting your time writing your cover letter? You’re probably doing it wrong. You’re not alone in your struggle, though. A while back, I had a client who was really struggling writing her cover letter for a company. No matter what she tried, she just couldn’t get something out on paper (sound familiar?). The funny thing is, both of us are writers, so you’d think it would be an easy thing to create. However, it was like pulling teeth trying to get this thing written. She was racking her brain for what to write, but she was completely uninspired. Related: Top 3 Ways To Waste Time On Your Job Search After about a half hour of back and forth, I had an idea. I think I figured out what was wrong. “Okay, let’s forget about this company for a second,” I told her. “If you could work for ANY company, whether it was hiring or not, which one would it be?” Literally three seconds later, she lit up and started raving about this one publishing company that she absolutely adored. She told me what it did, why it was a great fit for her, and why she would excel there. “You realize you just told me what your cover letter is going to say, right?” I said to her. After that, she was able to bust out a rockin’ cover letter. But the problem she had with her first cover letter was clear: she was trying to write about a company she didn’t love.
Disagreeing with other people, without taking a body count or courting disaster, is something most people try to avoid. Nevertheless, we recognize we can't always agree with everything that comes our way—even if it comes from the boss.
Many of us think disagreeing with the boss is one of those career-limiting moves to be avoided at all costs. Think again. Most managers want to think they've hired brilliant people who can think and act well on the company's behalf. That includes not letting them (or anyone else) drive off a metaphorical cliff. This means you are being paid to use your brain AND mouth.
The diversity that takes place in the workplace isn't just about race or religion; it's about ideas, perspectives, and insight. If you are truly engaging in what is taking place at work, it's not possible to agree with your boss 100% of the time.
You can disagree with your boss and make that disagreement a win-win for both of you. You can win because you can use it for career enhancement. The boss can win because they will come off as an engaging manager and get a much better end result.
Here are eight tips to turn disagreement into a great thing for your career.
1. Disagree, But Don't Be Disagreeable
When something strikes you as wrong or out of line, keep your emotions in check. No one, especially the boss, will appreciate an emotionally charged rebuttal. People tend to mirror each other's energy level, and if you turn red and flap your arms, it will be met with equal intensity.
2. Don't Make It Personal
The conversation will go much better if you are addressing the issue or topic and not making your disagreement about the person, your boss.
3. Be Clear About What You Don't Agree With
If you can't articulate what is troubling you about something, wait until you can be clear. If you can't be clear, you will not have a conversation that will make any sense to the other person. A confusing conversation will not leave a great impression.
4. Offer Alternatives
Nothing falls flatter than squashing an idea only to have nothing to replace it with. If you can't think up a better idea, then what good is the disagreement? Sure, you might not like the idea, but if you can't come up with something else, then go with what you have. You have to solve problems to be an asset.
5. Make Things Private
Depending on the setting and issue, you may need to take your disagreement to a private setting with your boss. This allows you to cover whatever you need to, have a discussion, and keep both of you looking good to the rest of the office.
You never want to embarrass your boss; if you do, they will remember it for much too long. They will appreciate your sensitivity and professionalism when you have the insight to know when it's time to have a private discussion.
6. Seek To Understand
Many conflicts and disagreements are rooted in a failure to communicate and understand the other person. When something does arise that doesn't hit you right, ask questions and gain clarity. You may discover that you do agree after all. Doing this will also help you avoid discomfort.
7. Don't Be A "Yes" Person
This is more than simply sucking up to the boss. This is agreeing with the boss at the cost of your character, values, and career. You might think it will enhance your career, but it will backfire against you as the higher-ups see that your contributions are limited.
8. Disagree And Commit
The biggest issue that managers have when employees disagree is their becoming insubordinate and undermining efforts. If you have followed all of these steps and you still have a disagreement, then it's time for you to disagree and commit yourself to whatever is being proposed. After all, the idea or direction might really work out well. Your manager will think you are truly a professional if you can work through your disagreement, offer solutions, and be able to "get on board."
Certainly, out there in the universe are managers with fragile egos who can't tolerate anyone disagreeing with their mandates or directions. They too will only get just so far in their career. Anytime you limit the free flow of thought and contribution, you limit the possibilities.
You need to screen for these people in your job search. If you wound up with a boss like that, you should consider a different team or job. But most managers enjoy discussion and debate as a means of developing great ideas and direction. They understand that disagreement is part of the process.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.
Brand storytelling is an integral part of a brand’s identity and the way to communicate its personality. It is the ability to tell stories about your brand that build trust, loyalty, and advocacy with your customers.
Sound Like YouPhoto by Hussein Abdullah on Unsplash
Authenticity always comes through. Make sure you're telling stories that make sense for your brand and its culture. It does you a disservice to sound like someone else or worse—multiple people. It can be confusing to customers when they get mixed personalities for one brand. Brands that don't use their brand voice sound the same as everyone else and get lost in a sea of sameness. Use every opportunity you can to infuse your content with more you. Need help figuring that out, let me know—I can help.
Share Sneak Peeks And Behind-The-ScenesPhoto by Brands&People on Unsplash
Share a sneak peek about how something is made, or behind-the-scenes content with the people on your team just being people. Let your audience see your company culture doing its thing. Shining a spotlight on the humans who keep your brand running not only lets customers see more of your story, it makes employees feel valued and respected, and that they are part of a true team. You already have product experts on your team—tap them to help you create content that they know customers are looking for. They are solving your customers' pain points daily and can probably provide more content ideas than you imagine.
Use All Of Your Real EstatePhoto by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
Every touchpoint is an opportunity to tell a little more of your brand story. Your website, your packaging, and even something mundane as a confirmation message or a 404 error is an opportunity to say something in your brand voice. USE IT! Every touchpoint with your customer should be consistent. If you are funny on the website, be funny on the 404 too, why not?
It's A Two-Way StreetPhoto by Pablo García Saldaña on Unsplash
Sharing your brand story and message is important, but having an actual conversation with your customers can be a game-changer. Sometimes, it can be as simple as asking a question. Why spend hours trying to figure out what your audience wants to see when you can ask them, and incorporate them into the process? It is a win-win for everyone. Your audience gets relevant, personalized content, and your brand gets an engaged audience and original content for practically nothing. Using customer-generated content shows you value their opinions and experience and helps connect them to your brand.
Turn Spreadsheets Into StoriesPhoto by Stephen Dawson on Unsplash
Check the data—a powerful tool you may have not even thought to use but can tell a compelling story is data. What? How do I turn spreadsheets into stories? Start by looking for patterns. Look for what is missing. Look for relationships. Data can come from internal sources like customer surveys, sales data, or even website analytics. For example, seeing what people respond to online or knowing the most searched FAQ data can help you see what your customers are looking for from you. If you cant use internal sources try to find reliable external sources like Pew Research or do a search for topic-specific sources.
There are lots of other ways to tell your brand story. Whatever you do, make sure your messaging is consistent with your brand and its culture, and use your voice to stand out and be authentically you.