Wednesday, March 28, 2012


It is a simple word that means "to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use... to rebuff or repel" according to Mirriam-Webster.

We reject things every day - offers of food, an extra expense, an idea, an offer of help.  We say "no" gently or abruptly, often, with and without thought. Accepting and rejecting are the gatekeepers of what can/cannot get into our pockets, our calendars and our lives.

We blithely say "no" many times a day to others and yet when our idea, application or self is not accepted, we take rejection personally. Rejection seems especially devastating in the dating arena - but is it really the worst?

The biggest moans come from being rejected in the job search.

Like an artist auditioning, you must have a thick skin. An artist may be absolutely the most talented person to walk into the room but if they're simply an inch too short or have some other quirk of nature, they can lose the role due to all the other factors that play in a decision beyond talent.

Sometimes, of course, those of us auditioning and interviewing have a quirky day and our ability to connect is faulty. Or the cover letter you and three friends read six times turns out to be missing one word that none of you catch until after you hit "send". (hanging my head this week on that one!) Or we have an off-day on the same day as the interview.

However, mostly, rejection in the job search arena is not personal. Our resume can be one of a hundred choices. The timing of our application may coincide with the receiver having an off-day. The job requirements may have changed. Maybe three resumes looked equally excellent but one came with the vice president's recommendation.

Tomorrow, when we are turned down in some fashion, keep in mind that if everyone said "yes" all the time then none of us would try that little bit harder to find an even better opportunity. And if you're giving a thumbs-down, give them a smile of encouragement for the effort. I won't say that rejection is fun ...but it's normal and needs to be weathered like mountains of laundry.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Down time means down

Down with the flu... 2 weeks of bed rest... finally coming back to having a coherent thought which became "If I get out of bed, I should do some laundry."

This was at odds with other folks assuming that my down time had allowed me to sift through plans and create big ideas.

Lately, as a society - especially in the workplace, we appear to undervalue the necessity of not-thinking-about-things-at-all: every second is money; every word is meaningful; every action should ripple far and large. We look ahead constantly, plotting like chess players, convinced to pause or leave the board will mean a forfeit or a broken chain of thought.

Sometimes the best influence is in being present today, listening to the day's minutiae and participating instead of watching and planning. Some days, at work, we could ask how the day is going and pitch in on the current task. In general, we should save space & time to be present for the team/friend/family member in the moment they ask for our attention. For ourselves, we could remember that as much as the world can revolve without our minute-by-minute vigilance - we can still succeed by ignoring the world's interruptions now and then.

Being sick, I focused on healing instead of planning what I'd do when I was better. I'm sure some projects need attention and some folks are waiting on direction. It is a shame it took a flu bug to remind me once again that both the mind and body need rest on a regular basis.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Guide for dressing at work

Let's cover the basics before getting into the contentious:
  • Don't wear clothing that you'd wear to the beach or for gardening, etc.
  • Don't be spilling out of either the top or bottom of your outfit (or middle)
  • Holes, strategic or designer, usually are a no-no (crochet/knit sweaters and eyelet tops the exceptions)
  • Start the day clean, unwrinkled and stain-free
Yes, that's all common sense but not everyone can find sense when they're tired or on a tight budget.
What isn't so easy are the rest of the "rules". When I googled "rules for women business dressing", the search turned up 259,000 opinions in less than 2 seconds. Suggestions ranged from wear subdued colours and low heels to keep hair short and tidy... Really???
There are 3 guidelines to consider:
1 - Know what's appropriate for the situation.
Usually that's set by the tone of the event, meeting or workplace. Often there are suggestions "Business Casual"... sometimes there are specific items listed "No clamdiggers"  (I'm not kidding). 
I once wrote an employee communication around dress code while weating an outfit that broke every rule in the note - and yet no one would have looked at my clothes and thought that. That's the trouble with getting specific about types of clothing and colours, it's like trying to list everything that someone should have in their fridge - including condiments - instead of just portion and fibre guidelines.
However, the rationale for these guidelines (or rules depending on your workplace) is not to limit your creativity or put everyone in a uniform. Think of it as the polite manners of the workplace, like adding "please", "thank you" and "may I call you by your first name?".  As folks get to know you, your expression of self within the guidelines will emerge.
When I work with not-for-profit administrators, I point out that when relationships first form we need to put folks at ease. Since we first connect on the visual, mirroring body language and dressing to loose business guidelines is a quick and easy way to say "I get where you're coming from" off the top. The differences will emerge soon enough.
2 - Know your personal style and don't give it up, just adapt it.
Ask yourself - what image do I want to project?
If you're not sure what your style is, stick closer to the suggestions the event/workplace offers around #1. Play it safe. If you are aware of your style - use it. Graphic print wrap dresses or beautiful necklaces keep me sane.
Those who tell women to dress in conservative colours and cuts are trying to downplay gender. No one tells guys not to wear yellow ties or cool two-tone wingtips. Stay away from huge "in your face!" choices and feel good in what you wear, including heels if you can actually walk in them (have a friend follow you to check).
3 - Ask someone you trust if you are not sure.
Don't just go to folks who dress like you and look for validation. Pick someone who has a style you admire and ask for their opinion.
If you don't feel happy in what you're wearing - shoes that pinch, pants that pull, an itchy sweater or feeling like you're wearing a disguise - you won't have as good a day. Our image inside and out should be confident, comfortable and in control and reflect how we wish to be seen.
As for the all those who feel that conservative is the only and best way to go... have at it if it makes you comfortable (see #2). I'm also avoiding the contentious issues of panty lines, dye roots and chipped nail polish but feel free to comment :-)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Be selfish today and always!

Be Selfish!”
It’s not advice that women often hear; I thought it was fitting for International Women's Day.

I should probably define "selfish"....

-         Selfish means doing something you enjoy. It’s easier to get though the hard times when you’re doing something you love.
-          Selfish means not being afraid to ask for the assignments or support or gifts you want. No one can read your mind.
-         Selfish means making sure your sponsors understand the contributions you have made to a project and not taking a back seat. Toot your own horn often and loudly.
-      Selfish means supporting women everywhere in having rights, safety and support so that the same continues to be available and to grow - never take this for granted.

Ok, it’s not really “selfish” but definitely women - and men - should do all the above more often. Today is a great day to start.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A banned song dedicated to women

This song was supposedly banned from radio and press in 2010 in France. It's against dressing women in the "austere burqa" and a plea to stop perpetuating the Middle Ages for women.

French with English subtitles (translation isn't perfect but it gets the ideas across):
In French only:
Interview and performance in French with Pierre Perret (singer) :

When the women are caged / Quand la femme est grillagée
All women are outraged / Tout les femmes ont outragées
Men have banished them into obscurity / Les hommes les ont rejetees dans l'obscurité