Tag Archives: men

Professionalism matters

I am surprised at how many people lack professional etiquette in the workforce. Too many unprofessional encounters have led me to believe it’s because people don’t quite understand what professionalism is. So, here goes:

1. Dress appropriately: There’s not much latitude when it comes to office attire in a regular cubicle environment. While niche offices (beauty salons, artist’s studio, etc.) might not have certain constraints, in most work-environments people are expected to dress professionally. So, no halter tops, no cleavage-showing, no micro mini skirts, no stockings with holes for women. No vests, no sweats, no clinging shirts, no bling for men. In short — you’re not there to party or express your personality. You’re there to work, so dress accordingly.

2. You are the organization: For an outsider you’re your organization’s ambassador. You’re the talking head. The representative. Keep that in mind when interacting with clients. What you say, do, or wear reflects on the organization you’re working for. If you don’t demonstrate pride in your work or respect for it, no one else will.

3. Accept critique: A lot of people take critique personally. Please don’t. If I were to cry every time  an editor told me I needed to write a second draft (Boo hoo! So, you’re saying the first draft wasn’t PERFECT!?!?!), I’d be drowning in a sea of my own tears. You’re there to learn, stretch your mind, expand upon your skills . Welcome critique with open arms. It’s only helping you grow — even if it isn’t helpful, it still teaches you patience! It doesn’t mean you suck; it’s just a way of telling you there is potential for something better. Embrace it.

4. Don’t socialize your day away: We spend more time at work than we do with our families any given weekday, so it’s natural to develop “friendships” in the workplace. But remember to keep social banter to a minimum. Your first priority is work and while everyone enjoys a bit of office gossip here and there, your water cooler conversations shouldn’t take over your day. Go for lunch or dinner with your office pals, grab a mug of beer or a cup of coffee outside office hours. Your office space wasn’t meant to be your personal living room. Also, remember that perception is reality — you may get all your deadlines met and be a top-notch worker, but if people know you for your rumor-milling or domestic-adventure stories more than your work ethic, there’s something wrong with that picture.

5. Beware of social media time sinks: Sure everyone’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Buzz and all those other time sinks, but if it isn’t part of your job profile, you really shouldn’t be using your work time to update your status or send tweets by the minute. I’ve had people make clients wait just so they could finish posting their latest photos to Facebook. Nothing tells a client that you’re not serious about your work as peering over your shoulder to see the Facebook logo staring back.

6. Don’t whine all the time: Nobody likes a whiner. Period. Everyone has loads of stuff to do. Everyone is spread thin. Everyone has zero budget. We get it. It’s ok to vent once in a while, but if you’re always complaining all you’re doing is bringing everyone’s morale down. It’s bad enough to begin with — no one needs it slapped in their faces all the time. Also, if you’re whining all the time, it won’t take long for people to mutter under their breaths: “If it’s so bad, why don’t you leave?”

7. Watch how you speak and how you write: Wassup?  See ya later dawg! Dude, hurry up! — not exactly office speak. You’re a white-collar worker in a professional work environment — act the part. Also, watch that slang in your professional communication. While emoticons and CUL8Rs may be alright when chatting with your buddies, office e-mail requires a certain amount of “seriousness.” Typing full words and coherent sentences makes a difference.

8. Don’t tie your emotions with your job: Some people take everything you tell them personally. Your job is not you. You are not your job. Stop getting your emotions in the mix. Don’t be detached, but don’t be so invested in your job that if roadblocks occur, you experience a nervous breakdown. Be civil even if you don’t get along with someone.

9. Respect other people’s time: Never leave people waiting. When you show up late you’re telling folks that you don’t really care. It’s insulting. It’s disrespectful. Just as you have a gazillion things to do, so do they. If you absolutely can’t make it on time, it’s professional courtesy to call ahead and let the other person know you’re running behind. When you say you’ll be there, mean it.

10. Don’t be cocky: Remember, everyone is dispensable. And you’re not above this rule. So, do your job well. But don’t forget that the machine will carry on just as well without you. You may be great at what you do, but you’re not the only one. Be proud of who you are and what you do, but don’t go rubbing it in people’s faces. With talent, comes humility.

This isn’t by any means a comprehensive list. Just the “top 10” compilation, if you will, from my personal experiences with those snooty, self-absorbed nincompoops….eh…no need to be uncivil — let’s just say “those unprofessional people.”

Have more tips? Do share.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall

Sitting in the waiting area of my dentist’s office, I reached for Time magazine with the cover image of an aeroplane and the title “Fear of Flying.”

Right beside it was Redbook with a smiling Julia-Louis Dreyfus looking “hotter at 49 than 29.” What caught my attention was this message shouting out in bold all-caps: “Is your face older than you are?”

Under routine circumstances, I would have glanced, smirked, shook my head, and carried on with reading an in-depth analysis of the missed signs of terrorism on flight 253, but this headline was distinctly odd.

It had, attached to it in a slightly smaller font, a page number!

I’ve scanned through covers of similar magazines while waiting for my turn at the grocery store register and don’t remember having seen page numbers associated with catchy headlines. I figured the publishers were trying to pull in readers and making them at least flip through the whole magazine before they got to the one piece that lured them in. But this was different. They were making it easy for their target audience to cut to the chase. Hmm.

Intrigued, I swapped magazines and immediately flipped to page 49. What I saw was a slew of product placements.

Let me correct that: a slew of very expensive products. Aah! That explained the bait.

Products that would boost your eyelashes, plump your cheeks and lips, give you voluminous hair, make your large pores go away … products that promised a feel-good makeover … products that reminded you of how old you really were.

As if that is a bad thing!

The ensuing conversation with my oral hygienist was rather enlightening. All I did was mention the feature in the magazine and say, “I find it rather odd the amount of time and money women are supposed to spend looking good …”

And this followed.

“I spend half an hour cleansing and moisturizing my skin, clipping and polishing nails, massaging oil into my scalp … making sure I take as complete care as I can of my body before going to bed every night. I fight the signs of aging … at least I try,” she shared. “My husband on the other hand, changes into his pajamas and plops right under the covers.”

I couldn’t speak much with her fiddling around in my mouth except utter a couple “umm hmms.”

As she dug into my gum line, she wondered aloud, “Why do women get old and men get dignified?”

I smiled faintly.

“Maybe I should just go to bed after brushing my teeth like my husband does,” she declared. “Maybe it shouldn’t matter to me that my hair’s turning gray and my skin is sagging.”

She was on a roll. She reminisced about her grandmother going “naturally white,” while her mom and her generation try to cover up the grays with streaks and highlights. She talked about the business of marketing to women’s vanities. “Men are vain, too, but not to this extent,” she opined.

Men usually don’t care as much about appearances — the ones who pluck their eyebrows, get facials, and expensive haircuts are mocked (or — as some right-wing generalists would call them — gay), but women, no matter which culture they come from, strive doggedly to be well-groomed.

As my dental hygienist said, “Men are supposed to be intelligent. Women should just stay pretty.”

We scoffed in unison.

What was left unsaid is probably what will stay with her. It certainly struck a chord with me.

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Confessions of the “non-feminine” kind

“But every woman loves going to the mall!!”

I cannot even begin to count how many times I’ve had the same surprised … nay …. jaw-dropping reaction to my disinterest in going to a 50,000 square-foot zoo of clothes, shoes, knickknacks, and fast food. I just find it a terrible waste of time.

It’s crowded. There’s always the temptation to buy junk food. You browse and browse and browse and after some time it all starts looking the same.

When I can buy almost everything stocked in a mall online, why would I go through the hassle of driving to a shopping center teeming with people, spend an average of 15 minutes looking for a parking spot, and tire my soles walking from one end to the other because the two stores I need stuff from are at opposite ends of the mall?

And why would I lug those bags when I can get the same items delivered (for free most of the time) to my doorstep?

Even on those rare occasions that I do end up going to the mall (and believe me, before taking that extreme step I try everything in my power to avoid it!) I’m in and out in half an hour.

I know exactly what I want, which shop I’m headed to, and how much I’m willing to pay. If I don’t find what I’m looking for in that one store, I head out in 10 minutes. If I do, I try it on … if it fits, I pay for it and am on my way. I can’t look at one thing in one store, then head to another to compare the style, the price, the what-have-you … I just don’t have the patience.

Same applies to manis, pedis, facials — too much time investment. When all you really need is a daily cleaning-moisturizing regimen. The only time I’ve experienced these extravagances is right before my wedding. To make mom happy.

Makeup? My “kit” includes a foundation, a mini eyeshadow box (a gift), and lip balm.

Jewelry? I’m not into diamonds, let’s just say that. Or gold. Or silver. I go for the $2 earrings, have worn the same modest ring for the last nine years without any urge to “upgrade” and even though I got my nose pierced last week, I know the stud’s only going to be replaced (if at all) with other $2 equivalents. The more expensive the jewelry, the more a waste of money it seems. $800 for a tiny piece of rock that catches the sun? That could be my trip to Kauai!

Handbags? Most days you’ll see me with a cloth sling bag just big enough to hold my wallet, phone, and keys. It’s practical.

It’s not just women who think I’m weird when I express my disinterest in these supposedly “feminine” things. It’s also men.

“You’d rather stay back and play Monopoly with us instead of going to the mall with our wives? Are you sure?” ask my male friends.

When we visit our friend in San Francisco, he always insists we go to the Bloomingdale’s across his house.

I always ask for other options.

“You’d rather hike when you’re sitting in the middle of this shopping mecca?” he asks eyes widened, mouth open, voice shrill.

I think heels are impractical, pantyhose is useless, and perfumes are for those who smell bad enough for others to notice. And don’t even get me started on lacy lingerie — such a scam!

It’s not that I’m not “girly” — whatever that’s supposed to mean — but these are just some things other women enjoy and I don’t. It’s just that simple.

Some female friends have commented that I enjoy defying stereotypes, but I really don’t have an agenda.

All I ask is why restrict yourself with labels? Why not do something you truly enjoy doing instead of being stuck with society’s notion of what you should and shouldn’t do? There’s a whole world of opportunities out there for me to discover — why shouldn’t I experiment?

Men like this, women like that — oh  baloney!

Unearth the joys of discovering yourself. And go do what you like!

Side note: try doing a Google image search with the keyword “shopping.” No surprises 🙂

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The battle of the sexes

As I watched Modern Family last night (which, by the way, is the best new comedy on the airwaves these days) I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when one of the characters woke her daughter in the middle of the night and beseeched her teenager to teach her how to use the remote. The daughter sleepily, and irritatedly, asked, “Now? Why can’t daddy teach you?” and the mom ever so matter-of-factly responded, “Because we’re married.”

It was so succinctly put. Although I laughed, the veiled sadness of the situation wasn’t lost on me.

Marriage somehow tends to bring out all the stereotypes of both genders to the fore. Women and their emotional dramas. Men and their forgetfulness. The silent grouch. The overly-communicative diva. The one who won’t ask for directions. The one who loves the shopping channel. The mall-fashionista. The gadgety nerd. The nurturer. The provider. Unknowingly we find ourselves stuck in a socially-constructed maze of expectations. Almost unfailingly, we can “predict” what the general gender-specific reaction will be to something we say. We are so entangled in the politics of marriage, that we forget the reasons we entered this lifelong pact.

Besides the whole “love” part of it, wasn’t it about sharing a life together … accepting each others’ failures (and failings) … not being on the defense all the time … leaving our egos out the door … not judging … being a team instead of competing against each other?

And yet, we empathize with complete strangers of the same sex, but not with our spouse. How do we end up taking sides with those “against” our better half? How do we bond with colleagues( from different nationalities and different ethos) around spousal jokes? How are we able to label our significant other (who is so unique that we believe he/she was “made just for us”) into a general “this is what all men/women do” category? And we do it with so much reckless abandon all the time that it becomes second nature to the concept of marriage.

I guess it is just the way it is, given what a social construct marriage is to begin with. And since no one seems to mind it, who am I to question this age-old mechanism that continues to fuel the power struggle between men and women?

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