Sometimes, avoiding conflict in the workplace can be difficult. However, it's extremely doable. Related: How To Deal With Conflict In The Workplace Here's a personal example: While at work one day, I received an instant message from a colleague. It read, “Do you have a minute to chat?” “Of course,” I responded. Instantly, the phone rang. To be honest, I assumed this would be a routine call pertaining to a joint proposal this co-worker and I were collaborating on, and so I was a bit blindsided by what followed. “I came across a post you wrote recently about rolling your eyes in a meeting,” she said. “And I just wanted to ask if you were writing about me.” Awkward silence. The truth is, I did write a post about a meeting where I had behaved uber-immaturely and, yes, she was the voice on the phone. I explained the situation: I was rolling my eyes at the characteristically bureaucratic nature of corporate decision-making and the post was about my mistake and not her. She listened politely, seemed genuinely interested in the root cause of my ire, and we hung up the phone. But here’s the catch: rather than feel defensive or put on the spot, I felt fine. No drama. No hurt feelings. No lingering doubts or suspicions. Now, let’s contrast this to how she could have handled the situation, shall we? Upon reading my post, she could have...

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With so many potential employers in one spot, you definitely want to make a good impression, right? So, when thinking about your approach to an upcoming career fair, it may help to start by putting yourself in the shoes of the campus recruiter. In other words…

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Is your message getting lost in your presentation? I was in a meeting recently with a young woman who wasn’t getting her way. She was pushing for an idea she strongly believed in... but the others were less convinced. As the meeting wore on, she became increasingly aggressive. As she continued to state her case, her voice got higher and more hostile. When forced to listen to opposing views, she sunk low in her seat with her arms folded until, eventually, the meeting chairman tabled the issue altogether. As I witnessed the exchange, I couldn’t help but think if this woman were aware of how she was coming across to everyone else, she would be embarrassed. In fact, up until the point she allowed her raw passion take over, I had viewed her as smart, savvy… even poised. In the end, she never did get her way but, more than that, she alienated a few colleagues, causing rifts that have not entirely subsided many weeks later. This exchange underscores the 60/30/10 rule of communication. In other words... 60% of communication is body language. I’m sure this woman thought she was doing the “proper” thing in listening to others voice their concerns, but her crossed arms and eye rolling spoke volumes about how she really felt. 30% is how clearly you speak. In the meeting above, as everyone became more impassioned about their own points of view, the less those points actually made sense. Accordingly, because people eventually just started reacting to each other with no advance thought, nothing was accomplished. 10% is the message. To be honest, I can no longer remember what my colleague was originally so fired up about, but I do remember how she lost her cool in a professional environment. Assuming you’re reading this because you want to become a leader within your organization, it’s important for you to be highly aware of your own body language when communicating with others. Because when it comes to communicating effectively, how you say it is always as important as what you say. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

I was lucky. In my first job after college, I had a great mentor who took an active role in my career development. He pushed. I listened. Actually, make that 'hung on every word.' The fact that anyone would take time out of their schedule to coach a newbie like me was a gift… and I knew it. Example: When I asked for a raise, he made me “demonstrate I was worth it” by...

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Well guys, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but the job market is pretty crappy right now. But does that mean you're destined to be unemployed after school? Not exactly. Being unemployed isn't a requirement if you carefully plan your job search strategy. Now, some of you will read this and Google the nearest grad school, and some of you will polish your resume for fall – hunting season in the corporate world – and brace yourself for a double-wide. (Cubicle, that is.) And some of you will develop a side hustle. Side hustles used to sprout from an entrepreneurial passion. We’ve all heard stories of the widget-maker with a dream who hits it big. But more often these days, they come as a result of economic necessity. Regardless of your driver, it’s never been easier – or cheaper – to get started. All you need is a good idea, a good computer, and a good coffee shop that won’t kick you out after one latte in five hours. (If you really want to be successful, you’ll also need an unearthly amount of faith and blind ambition – but hey - at least you won’t have to sell your plasma anymore.) I know I’m making this sound simple. As an entrepreneur myself, I can tell you first-hand it’s not. Of course, being one of the 1 million+ unemployed graduates in the U.S. isn’t exactly Disney World either. Hey Gen Y, still feel “entitled?” “The ‘work hard, get good grades and go to college to get a job’ mantra is dead,” says twenty-something self-confessed hustler Scott Gerber, author of Never Get a “Real” Job: How To Dump Your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke. So, here’s the deal: You are on the cusp of a truly defining moment. That is, if the current trend holds, you will become the most unemployed generation in recent times – OR the most entrepreneurial ever. Do you see the patterns forming? If you are destined to become the most self-accountable cohort in human history – what better time to get started then right now? You don’t need to wait until you’re out in “the real world” to take full responsibility for your success. “The real world” is BS anyway. It’s a myth. You’re living in the real world now. A piece of cardstock with a seal on it really isn’t going to change that much. So, students – start hustln’. Photography, dance lessons, web design, editing, baking, baby sitting… whatever. Find something (legal) that will allow you to build a business and see where it goes. At best, you’ll earn enough to stay afloat for the long haul. At worst, your initiative will help you land a ‘traditional’ job post-graduation. Of course, by then the double-wide may not look so hot after all.

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No one wants to be annoying at work. However, the problem is sometimes we don’t even know when we’re doing it. So, in the spirit of workplace harmony, I present a top-10 list of totally annoying workplace behaviors. If you recognize yourself in any of these, cease and desist immediately. 10. Speaking loudly on the phone. (Errr… guilty.) 9. Playing music. (Even if colleagues are too polite to say so, yes, your music is bothering them.) 8. Not answering the phone. ( i.e. If you work in a small business and share responsibility for this.) 7. Sneaking off with the last cup of coffee without making a new pot. 6. Eating food that isn’t yours. (Personally, I’m also mildly annoyed by Activia and the like in the company fridge. Seriously, that’s just way too much information that I really don’t care to know.) 5. Continuing to wax on about nothing while colleagues are giving you the “I’m busy” non-verbals. (e.g. Staring at their computer, checking the clock, typing, looking at their phone, etc.) 4. Gossiping about co-workers and/or spilling unnecessary drama about your own personal life. If you’re looking for a quick way to make colleagues uncomfortable, look no further. 3. Complaining all the time about how busy you are or, equally as bad, trying to “look” busy so no one will assign you more work. 2. Missing deadlines. When you miss a deadline, there’s usually a ripple effect that spreads through a project, endangering its overall success – and really annoying your colleagues. 1. Poor attitude. The best managers know to “hire for attitude and train for skill.” That’s because inherently positive people do more to improve and enhance a work environment than even those who are the most technically gifted. There you have it. This is my top ten list of annoying work behaviors. What’s at the top of your list? Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Forget retiring Baby Boomers. The real threat to keeping your best people is technology. I wrote about this briefly in my last post, but never before has it been easier to “evacuate the mothership” and go out on your own. Think your entrepreneurial employees can’t afford a CRM system? No worries. Salesforce.com has one for $60. No finance experience? Not a problem. Quickbooks and/or Freshbooks.com make accounting fairly painless. Can’t take credit cards? Wrong again. Squareup.com lets you swipe cards right on your phone. And the list goes on. This technology has enabled a new generation of entrepreneurs who will continue to seriously fragment the talent pool. As such, it’s increasingly important for employers to turn the mirror around and focus inward on key employee retention. Want to keep your CREW in place? Here’s what it takes: Communication – I’m always amazed when employees can’t articulate the strategic objectives of their company. If you trust someone enough to hire them, you should trust them enough to keep them informed. This not only includes your organization’s big-picture planning, but financial health (excluding salary) as well. Rewards – Want to drive short-term results? Give away an iPad. (I’m serious.) But if you’re looking for more long-term, sustained performance, focus on a higher-value reward, i.e. appreciation with a strong dose of that other “r” – respect. Engagement – This is Communication 2.0. More than just telling employees what’s going on, engagement is about listening to – and implementing – their feedback. Yes, surveys are helpful, but… when was the last time you popped into an employee’s office just to ask how things were going? Workplan – Everyone who works for you should have an individual career plan that outlines their performance benchmarks. This document is critical to keeping staff engaged and on-track with your company goals, yet many businesses leave employees alone to “figure it out” on their own. Sadly, the most talented people often “figure out” they’d rather work somewhere else! So while all of this new technology is certainly awesome for entrepreneurs, your job is to convince your staff they’ll never need it by giving them a great place to work. As author and leadership expert Tom Peters recently tweeted, “You take care of the people. The people take care of the service. The service takes care of the profit. Then re-invest. Bingo.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Emily Bennington, founding partner of Professional Studio 365, leads programs that help companies get the most out of their career newbies, while helping said newbies connect their efforts to the organization’s big-picture goals. Read more » articles by this approved career expert | Click here » if you’re a career expert Photo credit: Shutterstock

Vision and focus. They almost seem like two different things, right? When we hear the word “vision,” many of us think about long-term, strategic planning while “focus” requires us to get very narrow and specific. Last week I had the opportunity to do both – yes, simultaneously – with Good Morning America Workforce Correspondent Tory Johnson. Tory and her team hosted a “Spark & Hustle” conference for approximately 200 women entrepreneurs and – while it was a dynamite event for sure – almost half of the attendees were currently employed and looking to “break out” of corporate life and launch their own businesses. Do they know we’re on the heels of a very serious recession? Yes…and they don’t care. Empowered by the ability to use social media to market themselves and emboldened by technology (like Square) to become profitable, many of these women are just waiting for the right opportunity to “make the leap” and go out on their own. Sound familiar? The media is ringing the alarm with repeated stories of employee disengagement, but are companies really listening? If you’re not serious about keeping your best people emotionally engaged with your business, consider this:
  • 1/3 of new hires will leave their organization within two years. (Source: Monster.com)
  • When employees leave, the cost to replace them is at least 25% of their total annual compensation. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Successful retention of your top people will require both long-term vision and short-term focus. Are you worried about losing talented employees as the market improves? Please share your experiences with me below. Emily Bennington, founding partner of Professional Studio 365, leads programs that help companies get the most out of their career newbies, while helping said newbies connect their efforts to the organization’s big-picture goals. Read more » articles by this approved career expert | Click here » if you’re a career expert Photo credit: Shutterstock