Stop Telling Women to Smile

The costs of emotional labor

Emotional labor: something we give daily, often without much consideration. And, it is also something we demand daily from others. Again, this expectation often stems without much thought or deep analysis as to why we expect others to give their emotional labor freely and what the ramifications and costs are for that individual.

Let’s back up for a moment: what is emotional labor? Here are a few examples and perspectives:

“In a work context, emotional labor refers to the expectation that a worker should¬†manipulate¬†either her actual feelings or the appearance of her feelings in order to satisfy the perceived requirements of her job. Emotional labor also covers the requirement that a worker should¬†modulate¬†her feelings in order to influence the positive experience of a client or a colleague.” – Rose Hackman,¬†The Guardian

“Emotional labor includes the management of negative emotions and the cultivation/performance of positive emotions as determined by the nursing role (Bolton, 2001). In addition to the specialized, technical labor required of today‚Äôs nurses, they are required to effectively manage their own and others‚Äô (e.g., patients, physicians, aides, coworkers) emotions, so patients and their families retain a sense that calm, confident, and effective care is being provided. As others have shown, however, the expectations surrounding the performance of such emotional labor‚ÄĒor the management of one‚Äôs observed emotional displays for pay (Hochschild, 1983)‚ÄĒare not equally distributed across all occupational sectors or incumbents (Fixsen & Ridge, 2012;¬†Wingfield, 2010a). Beginning with¬†Hochschild‚Äôs (1983)¬†original study, for example, the performance of emotional labor has been framed as a gendered experience linked to sociocultural stereotypes of women as more emotionally competent and community-oriented (Ridgeway, 2008).” – “I Can Never Be Too Comfortable: Race, Gender, and Emotion at the Hospital Bedside”, Marci D. Cottingham,¬†¬†Austin H. Johnson¬†and¬†Rebecca J. Erickson, National Institute of Health

“‚ÄúWhen they go low, we go high,‚ÄĚ said Michelle Obama during that epic,¬†make-you-want-to-cry speech¬†on the first night of this year‚Äôs Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. For the next 15 minutes, Mrs. Obama moved a nation from the needle of fear and hate sharpened so dangerously by Donald Trump. FLOTUS spoke to the hearts of a country, dealt with the hate of an opponent, invoked a bloody history, and re-imagined ‚ÄúMake America Great Again‚ÄĚ to ‚ÄúAmerica is the greatest country on earth.‚ÄĚ She lifted the DNC from confusion and controversy to optimism and committed engagement. Essentially, FLOTUS was doing the emotional labor so many Black women do in nation building, movement building and electoral politics. Black women‚Äôs emotional labor matters.” – Esther Armah,¬†Ebony Magazine

Bottom line: there are expectations built within our culture that women, especially women of color, have to take on certain tasks and perform in certain ways. Why? Somewhere in our DNA, we were born with a skill set that makes us the best:

  • caregivers
  • event planners
  • notetakers
  • listeners
  • secretaries
  • assistants
  • customer service representatives
  • nurses
  • wait staff
  • flight attendants
  • doormats

Whatever we can do to make your experience the most pleasant, we will. Or, at least that’s the social value underpinning the concept of emotional labor. And that value does not require or even suggest that women should receive greater financial compensation for that work; equal access to power or decision-making; or even outward¬†acknowledgement of their contributions.

Conversations around emotional labor are happening with greater frequency, which is great. Yet, how do we shift from deep discussions to real actions to address this social and economical inequity?

Reader! You can make an impact on this at your workplace, on boards you sit on, wherever you have the space to exercise privilege and power. And, you can most certainly take responsibility for shifting these norms within your own mind.

Don’t pigeonhole women to play key roles within a team/organization.

Y’all: I’m tired of the assumption that because of our “good handwriting”¬† or “innate skills” we will want to be the secretary/note-taker of the group. Those roles require the individual to divide their attention between participation and record-keeping, which means less opportunity to fully participate in the process. Women, especially women of color, have been shut out of these processes for eons. Step up and assume that role. Hold other men in the group accountable for doing the same.

Provide financial compensation for trainings, speaking engagements, and knowledge-sharing.

I work in the nonprofit sector, and I get it: we feel stretched when it comes to allocating funding for professional development and thought-leaders. Whether we’re planning a conference or hosting a forum, we request that experts donate their time and talent for our cause/purpose. Good for our bottom line = not equitable for said speaker.

We live in a world where we have access to vast amounts of information, and most of it comes without a price tag. At least, a visible one. But, we need to recognize that within that tweet (shout-out to Mon√©t Noelle Marshall who educated me on this frequent type of informational co-option sans compensation) or workshop,¬†someone is providing a service for you. They aren’t just “doing their job” but are actively participating in arming you with knowledge to make a difference, which will often result in a net positive for you/your organization.¬†Pay them. If you don’t have the means to cut them a check, find other ways to compensate them in the exchange: a meal, in-kind marketing and promotion, etc. While those other options are fine, I would still argue that actual payment in cash is the ultimate goal. We can do a better job to allocate those funds within our budgets from the start. (Yes, we’re talking about being¬†intentional.)

Let go of norms that people in certain jobs should act in a certain way.

There are certain jobs in our world that fall under the category of “performance”: dancers, musicians, actors, etc. The server at the restaurant is not one of those jobs. Neither is a receptionist. There are a myriad of examples where any gendered or non-gendered individual can hold a certain title, but we (consumers) expect different outputs depending on whether we perceive that person as female or not.

It behooves us to question our own emotions when we feel slighted in a service experience. Is our reaction based on our perception that the individual, because of their gender, should have acted in a certain way? What are the dangers of the assumption? Lost wages, lost jobs. The continuation of gendered norms that transfer to the next generation. The toll it takes on that individual (self-worth, self-acceptance).

As a white woman, I cannot and should not speak for women of color who are disproportionately burdened by emotional labor expectations. Here are voices speaking to this intersectional oppression and ways to dismantle such discriminatory norms:

A final takeaway from Adia Harvey Wingfield in a 2016 Atlantic piece on this fraught and frustrating topic:

“On the face of it, emotional labor can seem something normal and commonplace in an economy where service jobs are so ubiquitous. But as a lot of research shows, the pressure to produce and manufacture certain emotional states can be more draining for some employees than others. When thinking through various workplace inequalities, such as wage gaps and a lack of diversity in certain occupations, it‚Äôs just as critical to consider how important unseen labor is in shaping how work gets done, and who gets to do it.”

Featured image credit: Clyde Fitch Report: http://www.clydefitchreport.com/2016/02/black-women-misogynoir-communication/

Getting expectations out into the open

“What are your expectations for me?”

A fellow board member posed this question to me as we sat at the bar inside the new Harris Teeter [note: it’s not critical you know where this conversation occurred but I feel it would be a missed opportunity to not highlight THAT OUR GROCERY STORE HAS A BAR].

I appreciated this fellow leader’s straight-forward approach to a topic that we don’t spend enough time on within the nonprofit sector. In my opinion, we often confuse “expectations” with “deadlines” as if task completion was our key responsibility. Yes, we should get the projects done and programs executed that move our organizations closer to achieving our missions (and ideally best serving our constituents and the greater public good). But, establishing clear expectations between supervisors and employees; between colleagues; and even within ourselves requires honesty, transparency, and prioritization.

I have been accused of having “too high” of expectations for people I’ve worked with over the years (including unrealistic ones for myself). That’s true. My mother shares this similar challenge, and it can lead us both to feel disappointment and hurt. I don’t think the immediate answer is: “well, it’s time to temper those expectations!” A better initial step is to start having conversations with others around these expectations. Perhaps they are unfair or too lofty; but maybe they’re just right and the person on the other side simply needs to hear them.

In general, I have¬†three consistent expectations¬†for people. These expectations aren’t exclusive to those I work or volunteer with; they extend to my friends and family as well. In no particular order:

Be honest. I recognize the time to be sensitive with information, where answers may be dusted in sugar before delivery. But, don’t lie. Ever. It’s pure poison to a relationship and erodes the foundation of trust immediately. We’re imperfect beings, and we need to extend to each other the grace that mistakes happen, things get forgotten, and sometimes you just don’t FEEL like it. Far be it for me to judge what is happening inside your head space and heart. All I’m asking is not to be strung along with responses that “sound good” but are pure fluff.

Comedian Kevin Hart holding microphone with his right hand extended out as it to make a "stop" motion. Text: "Let's Just Be Honest Let's Just be Real."

Ask for help when you need it.¬†Y’all: martyrdom was so 500 years ago. Let’s drop the charade that we can “do it all” and lean on each other when necessary.¬†Full disclosure: I struggle with this expectation. Asking for assistance feels like an imposition, and I certainly don’t want to add more to someone else’s likely overfilling plate. But, here’s the thing:¬†I’m making a whole slew of assumptions. And, I’m likely, as you are too, willing to be the helper when summoned. Break free from those self-imposed handcuffs and adopt a new four-letter word: help. This ties back to being honest: if you can’t do something, for whatever reason, using it as a moment to reach out to a trusted companion allows for something beautiful to happen. Is there something you need help with right now? Call me!**

Help

Do what you said you are going to do. Have you read Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements’? If not, I highly recommend picking up a copy at your nearest independent bookstore. One of the cornerstone agreements from Toltec culture is:¬†Be impeccable¬†with your word. What does this mean? Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. While this belief extends far beyond accomplishing specific goals or fulfilling responsibilities, it touches on how important it is for us to come through. Whether it is using our words or actions, people depend on us when we give them reason. If we need to let each other down, refer back to expectations one or two.

silverman

In certain spaces, the number and types of expectations may be more specific and may shift to adapt to the situations. But, for me, these three are the glue that binds our ability to connect and remain connected to each other. Be honest; ask for help; fulfill your commitments. Sprinkle it having fun, showing compassion and understanding; and remembering that we’re all in this together. This world is tough; it’s unjust and inequitable. But, it is full of people who want the world to look different: to be equitable and just; to be a place where we aren’t fighting for basic human rights because they’re woven into social and institutional fabrics.

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What do you expect from others? From yourself? Do you have expectations or do you let others create the expectations for you?

**unless it’s related¬†to anything electrical or plumbing. You may want to call a professional. It’s not my wheelhouse. But, I’m happy to hang out until an expert arrives!

Instituting a ‘no work’ day – and being okay with it

Work-life balance.

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A subject we like to talk about at great length; an action that many of us refuse to implement.

In our culture of 24/7 availability, it’s hard to resist refreshing your work Inbox at night while the latest Netflix show plays in the background. Checking your own personal social media accounts often leads to taking a sneak peek at what’s happening with your organization’s Twitter and Facebook engagement and then 30 minutes go by in a blink of an eye.

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Weekends — or the days that you are officially “off” from employment — are precious. Typically, we only receive two each week. Two. 104 of the 365 days available each calendar year. Yes, there are holidays, vacations, and personal leave sprinkled into the mix. But, those aren’t always guaranteed.

I struggle with not working over weekends, whether it’s checking email, engaging on social media, finishing up notes from a call earlier in the week, etc. Weekends offer uninterrupted time to wrap up all of the loose ends!

STOP THIS THINKING IMMEDIATELY

Y’all: we could work and work and work and work for the entire 48 hours of the weekend¬†and we would still never complete all of the projects and tasks on our plate. If we want to continue to lead in this critical work for social change and justice for the long haul, we MUST prioritize our own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. And that means¬†honoring a no-work day.

Dog wearing a coat and tie position at a desk with a book open; text overlay reads: "How's my work-life balance? It's ruff."

I recognize that sequestrating yourself for a full day is not always an option — some careers require you to be on call or travel or be available to consult with people that you serve and support. Even if it can’t be a full day,¬†do you give yourself dedicated space to unplug?

Hide your phone. Power down computers and tablets. Carve out intentional time for those activities that fill your cup. Take a nap. Read a book. Binge watch “The Great British Baking Show.” Work in your garden. Stroll around the park. Lounge near the pool. Hop in the car, on a train or bus for a day trip. Shop. Play a board game. Call a family member or friend. Sit on the front porch with a sweltering glass of iced tea or lemonade (because all things swelter right now in North Carolina).¬†Find your restoration cure.

Today, I’m having a no-work day (confession: ok, I did set-up a couple of work tweets). But that’s it. No email. No reviewing the five Word documents sitting open right now. Tomorrow is another option. I know that if I don’t put my own oxygen mask on first, I will be in a world of hurt come Monday.

Need further inspiration? Three resources for finding that peace, even for a moment, in our chaotic world:

Leveraging your network for that next great opportunity

What a sales pitch for a title!

In all seriousness, building up a network of folks who you respect (and in return, respect you) is not only good for you personally but a must-have for your professional career. At YNPN Triangle NC (and across the broader YNPN movement), providing opportunities to network is a core aspect of our work.

It’s not always what you know – it’s who you know.

The question is: after you’ve met incredible people, collected their businesses cards, and found them on LinkedIn: what’s next? How are you nurturing and maintaining those relationships? And when an opportunity presents itself to active your network, how are you communicating with those folks to provide insight or even to drop a good word in for you?

I’m going to be upfront: right now, in our nonprofit sector, we are not doing as good as a job with our networks as we need to. Far too often,¬†the people in our networks look like us.¬†White folks make up the majority of the nonprofit space. One study¬†estimates that whites make up¬†80% of board members (90% as board chairs) and 89%¬†of executive leadership. There will be many more focused posts on equity in our sector coming up, but I felt it important to raise this point as we think about our personal and professional connections. Since we recognize that who we know matters, if we don’t open up our networks to leaders who¬†don’t look like us or have shared experiences, then it will be more difficult to transition leaders into nonprofits. [see chart below from Community Wealth Partners].

diversity_blog_cycle_chart1

But, returning to the questions at end for today’s post.

Number one: how are you nurturing your network? It would be a nearly impossible feat to stay on top of all connections, so the first step is to prioritize. I like to think about what skill or knowledge deficits still exist in me. Then, I look to my network to find those individuals who can help fill in those gaps.

For example, my current role requires me to engage in online fundraising, an activity that I had zero experience. So, I hopped on phone calls and had coffee with folks that were doing online fundraising to ask them about their processes, evaluation tools, challenges, and successes. Even after more than two years on the job,¬†I still do this. I know that I can always learn more from my peers or those a few years ahead of me in the professional trajectory. I sign up to receive communications from other nonprofits. If a particular appeal strikes me, I’ll reach out to ask:¬†how did this appeal do in terms of achieving your goal(s)?

14067508_1151662291542857_5219411369995159038_nI am guilty of overlooking the on-going maintenance of my network. Our networks get¬†larger and larger. Our work responsibilities pile on, and it can feel comprising to our to-do lists to make time for a meeting. But, it’s¬†so important. It gives us a dedicated space to interact with another human being (an obvious statement but think about how much your work day is spent¬†not interacting with an actual human being.) It provides us opportunity to learn about ourselves; to learn from someone else; and to also develop a better sense of what’s happening in our sector and/or community.¬†Reconnecting with your network helps to eradicate those silos. Those silos exist between sectors (nonprofit/for-profit/public) and within sectors themselves¬†(organization focus/geographical).

Recently, I had lunch with a colleague who works in providing grants and financing opportunities to help stimulate growth in rural economies, particularly for agriculture. I knew zero about this topic, but after our meal, I can better speak on what the NC Rural Center does if the opportunity arises to share it with others. I can now be a liaison between someone interested in pursuing farming to an actual resource.  Win-win!

13055092_1070433859665701_8618031969423345895_oNurturing your network doesn’t have to be anything formal. I do think it is important to ensure you are meeting face-to-face when possible in order to have a deeper level of engagement. A quick email now and then is fine; but we all know that our conversations will stick with us after those in-person meetings much more so than another item in our Inbox.

Second question: how are you communicating with folks from your network to provide insight or even to drop a good word in for you? Over the last year, I have provided more than a dozen references and/or recommendations for folks from my networks. Some have approached their requests to me in more helpful ways than others. From my experience, here are some suggestions I have for taking this type of initiative:

  • If possible, ask your connections¬†before applying for that position. If you find a job at an organization where you have a connection or know someone who does, reach out as soon as possible to ask your questions. It’s ok if you have already applied to the position. But, doing your homework on the front end may save you time if you learn that you may not be a good for the organization or there’s something concerning about the culture that you don’t want to be a part of.
  • Ask your references if they are comfortable being your reference. It is awkward to receive a phone call from an organization and/or recruiter about a candidate that listed you that you wouldn’t actually recommend. Don’t assume your references want to be your references. It’s important to know if they have any concerns about recommending you. If they do, find out what those concerns are [yes, we are not all perfect. It’s ok.]
  • Provide references with context for specific positions. Once you have shored up your references, give them an overview of the position and its responsibilities. Are there particular experiences or skills you would like them to highlight about you? Were there specific projects you worked on that could be cited as examples? Don’t also assume your references remember every great thing you have done. Spend a few minutes talking through some particulars with them.
  • Even if you are asking someone to put a good word in for you more informally, still follow the steps above. When I send a note on someone’s behalf vouching for their awesomeness, I am putting my reputation on the line. So, I want to make sure that I believe the candidate¬†is a good fit, not only for that organization but for that particular position. It’s also easier when you give me advanced notice. giving advanced notice (i.e.¬†I know that Katie Todd is going to be applying for this position, and here are five reasons why she deserves an interview) versus (I believe Katie Todd applied for those position a week ago and I hope you haven’t already cast her application aside). We want to¬†plant those nuggets¬†into the minds of others.
  • Say thank you.¬†As with anything in life, please take the time to drop a note, make a call, send a text, and share appreciation with the person who provided a reference and/or recommendation for you. Personally, I’m all about the hand-written thank you note. Yes, it’s old school but it’s power cannot – cannot – be underscored. Receiving a handwritten thank you note can be. I’m more likely to want to go for bat for those who did follow-up with me to say thanks than those that didn’t.

In the coming week, I challenge you to schedule¬†at least one in-person meeting with someone from your network that you would like to learn from, whether it’s about a potential career shift or acquiring insight into a skill. My final advice for today is this:¬†remember that when you are networking, approach the opportunity not from the frame of¬†what can they provide me but from the space of¬†what can I bring to them. Listen without worrying about what you are going to say next. The number of doors that will fly open when you approach networking in this manner will astound you.

 

 

 

Living off the to-do lists of others

I think about writing in my blog often. Sparks of ideas, commentary, thoughts I feel the need to share publicly crop up throughout my days. But, I cave to that unrelenting, never-ending to-do list, most often spurred on by the emails on others.

Over the weekend, I read a tip on how to achieve greater productivity at work. It cited that clearing out one’s Inbox was not actually a demonstration of productivity. Emails have become the evidence that we are busy! Look at this Inbox full of messages awaiting my response. I must address them immediately!

This is so far from the truth. Emails are noise – distracting us from being fully engaged in the present, from being able to concentrate, to be creative, and to give ourselves over to projects fully.

I’m an email hawk. So is my partner. So is my boss. It creates this firestorm of rapid response, driving up non-necessary tasks to top of mind, crowding out space in the brain where truly more important work should be holding prime real estate.

Similarly, I have seen this unfold within my mind as I attempt to meditate. There are days when I find it immensely difficult to concentrate solely on my breath. To acknowledge when thoughts seep in but gently push them to the side. The constant barrage of pinging leaves me anxious, on edge. I don’t want to feel like that – live like that. I want to be in a space of calm. I want to be in an environment where I allow myself the time to immerse myself into a project, a problem, an opportunity without interruption.

First things first: I need to keep that Inbox tab closed.

Let’s see how today goes. As with most things in this life, it’s about developing healthy habits. 30 days feels like a long time.

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to co-present with my friend and fellow YNPN’er Ivan Canada ¬†on the topic of board developing. We named our workshop “Building a Strong Team” and laid out nine different areas for consideration when establishing a nonprofit or community organization’s leadership hub. One area that we pressed collectively centered around the importance of board culture. As Ivan so brilliantly stated during our presentation: “Whether you know what it is or not, your board has a culture.”

What’s the culture of your organization? As the chair of a nonprofit Board of Directors and as a junior staff in an established organization, i think about culture daily. Partly because creating a welcoming, inclusive, team-orientated environment is important to me. That’s the type of culture I¬†want. Navigating how and when to take action to shape the culture is more challenging.

As a young leader, I think that my fellow Millennials have not only the willpower but the voice to redefine the culture of the nonprofit space. We talk a lot about this on our YNPN Triangle NC board. Even as an organization driven by young leaders, we still stumble in establishing the right procedures and mechanisms to foster the culture we seek. Fortunately, we don’t merely shrug off our missteps or hide them under the rug. We have open, honest, and transparent conversations into¬†how we can do better. This is rare in the nonprofit space. It’s so much easier and less painful to simply say “let’s continue with how things are because that has worked.”

Rocking the boat can make folks a little sea sick or stumble around on their unsure footing. But you know what: that’s a good thing. We’ve become far too comfortable in maintaining the status quo. At YNPN Triangle NC’s #NonprofitSTRONG summit earlier this year, Atrayus Goode, the keynote and executive director of Movement of Youth, asked the 200 nonprofit professionals in the room: what social ills have our sector actually solved? He cited the billions of dollars raised and re-invested in communities to address issues ranging from food insecurity to public education to health care.

What have we solved?

What happens if we don’t solve these issues?

What will our communities look like in 50 years?

Will there be blog posts asking these same questions?

My hope, for the final question, is no.

How to get better with stress

Three weeks ago, I knew that sickness was descending upon me. It always begins in the center of my throat, radiating out like a germ-filled sun. Did that stop me from attending Bootcamp at the YMCA?

Of course not because¬†I am stubborn.¬†And, I like to develop theories that I could simply “sweat it out.” This theory became quickly disproven as things worsened, forcing me into bed starting the evening of July 4th until the morning of July 9th – also the morning we departed for our northeastern adventures.

A friend asked me last night: “how do you get an upper respiratory virus in summer?” I didn’t have a great response besides “my doctor said something was going around.” Regardless of what microorganisms are swimming by right now, threatening to cast a dark shadow on upcoming plans and life routines, I had put myself in a vulnerable position by allowing stress and negative energy to consume me.

I recognize that I have never been “great” at managing stress. Unfortunately, it often manifests in me lashing out at people I love in subtle (or not so subtle) ways. I have worked to combat this reaction. While making positive gains into curbing that behavior, I have begun to internalize the stress rather than process it, allowing it to fester and likely eradicate my internal defense systems.

Things have been stressful at work: the CRM we migrated to is an absolute bust, throwing up road blocks every day, which leaves me beyond frustrated that I simply cannot do my job; the NC General Assembly’s ignorance/hate/intolerance/call-it-what-you-like boils my blood; and growing to-do lists and commitments created a¬†fruitless search for more time that simply doesn’t exist.

The truth is: I can control how this stress impacts or doesn’t impact me. It is so easy to remember this now. The hard part is¬†remembering this is the moment when I would rather scream/cry/yell.

In order to get better at this, I am working on becoming a more mindful person, creating space for positive energy to be shared from me and to receive it from the broader universe. Yeah yeah, I know: hippy-dippy stuff, right? I recognize that if I don’t mind this effort, I will allow the cycle to repeat. And no one wants to spend another week in one of two positions: propped up in bed or propped up on a couch, especially while hacking up a lung or two.

As I ease back into this week coming off of vacation, I am especially conscious of initiating new, beneficial habits today. I have added five minutes of mediation to my mornings. When I arrived at the office yesterday, I spent 20 minutes cleaning my desk. Clutter creates chaos, even on the subconscious level. Despite another incident¬†our database provider¬†again (welcome back Katie!), I remained calm, took a few deep breaths, and then worked with my team to sketch out a plan. It would have been much easier (and more fun, let’s be real) to complain and use expletives. But that’s not going to ensure those duplicate transactions get refunded. That’s not going to move us closer into finding a solution. I would only be sharing negative vibes with the world.

And as you clearly know: our nation, our world, needs all the positive energy imaginable.

How else to remain rooted in positivity? Reflecting on the incredible adventure I had the privilege to take with Aaron last week.

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On the water in Portland, Maine

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A look back at Portsmouth, NH, from the bridge

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It’s clear how Vermont earned its nickname

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Vegan ice cream at 10am? Thanks Ben & Jerry’s!

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How did I get so lucky?

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Where do we get one of those?

 

My intention today is to listen with my ears, my eyes, and my heart and be mindful that the loudest parts of my conversations may be unspoken.

Cheers & love.

Meeting-speak

Meetings.

Love ’em or hate ’em, we can all agree: there are too many of them. The higher you “climb” within your organization, the more meetings you have. Which simply means you have less time to actually make a meaningful contribution to the greater good. Your focus is to take copious notes and then promptly stress out as additional responsibilities are doled out, new task forces are formed, and everyone replies: “I’m busy. How about meeting at 9:30am on Saturday, March 15, 2018?”

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How to talk in meetings: we have sector-specific acronyms that we like to throw around like hot potatoes. The environmental community is notorious for speaking into three to four letter codes where, as a newcomer, you are left with notes that look something like this:

Talked with BOEM re OCS EIP

Coalition meeting around CPP to include CEIP, NCDEQ, SELC, EDF…

KJDFKDJF KDSJF KSDJF LKSDJF KJ

[Last one might be a slight exaggeration]

As Aaron has been preparing for an upcoming conference presentation, he has been collecting popular words and phrases that often make appearances in meetings as well. Less acronyms, more trite, overused colloquialisms that are in full dialect default mode.

Here are some that we’ve cobbled together (and, I admit that I used several of these during actual conversations while working from home last Friday):

  • Unpack
  • Moving pieces
  • Environmental scan
  • Putting another leg under the table
  • Piggyback
  • Ground-truthing
  • 30,000 foot view
  • Well, the literature says…
  • Crosswalk
  • Synergy
  • Bandwidth
  • Agency
  • Circle back
  • Low-hanging fruit
  • Touch points
  • Take it offline
  • Ducks in a row
  • Move the needle
  • Drill down
  • Hard stop
  • Punt
  • It is what it is
  • Break down the silos
  • At the end of the day
  • On the bleeding edge
  • Peel back the layers of the onion
  • Slippery slope
  • Robust
  • Sea change
  • Let’s take a deep dive
  • Wheelhouse

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How many of these have you used? What is missing from this list?