Tactfully Speaking

Tune up your tone

“Can I help you with that?” asks your colleague as you struggle to load an ink cartridge into the printer. If your co-worker says it in a sincere tone, you’re grateful for the offer. But that same question delivered in a sarcastic or exasperated manner leaves you feeling irritated. If you want clarity and connection, pay attention to the following four vocal components.

Change is possible

Research shows that young girls who are smarter-than-average tend to believe their abilities are innate and can’t be changed, whereas young boys are more likely to be­­lieve they can learn something by persevering and re-doubling their efforts. What challenge would you undertake if you em­­braced the truth that through your efforts you could find success?

How does your memory stack up?

Paying attention enhances our memory, but it’s not a simple feat. Fortunately, we can employ numerous tricks to make sure in­­for­­mation sticks.

What's your why?

We usually begin our careers with enthusiasm. We then either continue to show up energized and excited about our contributions, or we fall into patterns and work becomes simply work. If you’re in the latter category, it’s time to rediscover your why.

Being right isn't always right

If the need to be right drives you, it’s often because it was modeled growing up. I encourage you to take a different approach.

Quit being a weak link

Networking is a skill that supports you in the good times and is key to your survival in bad times. That’s why I strongly believe LinkedIn, which bills itself as the “world’s largest professional network,” is an invaluable tool for ad­­ministrative assistants.

Are you thinking big enough?

If you feel like you don’t have every skill set you need yet, don’t let that stop you. Too often, women feel they must have 110% proficiency before saying yes to the next opportunity, while research shows men only feel the need to be at 80%. You’re smart and can learn as you go.

Make your meetings meaningful

Follow these five steps to ensure that your meetings are efficient, as well as beneficial to the bottom line.

Are you playing defense?

It may not be easy to acknowledge that you are a defensive communicator. Understand that being de­­fensive makes it difficult for others to speak honestly with you, as they don’t want to upset you. Some common defense mechanisms in­­clude sarcasm, blaming, trivializing, overexplaining or withdrawing. Here are steps you can take to address it.

Silence buzz about Queen Bees

Popular culture has promoted the idea of the Queen Bee boss—a woman executive who actively blocks the career advancement of other women (think Meryl Streep’s role in “The Devil Wears Prada”). While it makes for a juicy character, it’s far from today’s workplace reality, according to a Cata­lyst report.