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Monday, October 31, 2016

A Proverbs 31 Businesswoman

Often read at weddings and on Mother’s Day at church lady groups, this last chapter in the book of Proverbs is underestimated if read only in the context of a good woman being described as the ideal wife.  It is more than that.

For, when you look at the actions that prove her virtues, you see that she is a hard working business woman who sees a field and buys it, keeps her hands busy making crafts and clothing to sell or for her family, and gets up early and works late into the night to make sure she has provided for her family.  In the story, her husband strolls through the town admired and respected by all for having such a hard working wife, but the reader doesn’t see the husband working. The wife is holding the family together by being a good provider. 

In many ways this description of the hard-working provider encapsulates many of the nuggets of business advice offered throughout the book of Proverbs that points readers to look at how ants and other animals and insects store up food for the winter and how sluggards who don’t work won’t eat eventually.  It is a lesson is a work ethic and is written by a King’s mother to her son, who says he has special responsibilities because he is a leader.  Because of his great responsibilities he is urged to avoid heavy drink so that his mind is clear to make good decisions and if he really wants to be a leader he needs someone who will work as hard as he needs to.  There you see the description of what is called a Proverbs 31 woman:  a hard working business person who puts in long hours but works smart.

Good Manners Make You a Better Writer

Good manners can make you a better writer because the stance of courtesy helps you to remember to put others first.  When you do, you write with someone else in mind.  Your agenda becomes what would help the other person.

Putting someone else first puts you in a position of vulnerability called being humble.  That is not a place America or many countries celebrate.  If people thought about the power of humility more, they would recognize that being in a "one down" position makes you stronger. The reason?  When you are in a more humble stance, others do not wear their defenses for long.  They trust you more easily. When people trust you they are more likely to work with you in the solving of problems or the selling of goods.

To build upon that position of trust actively express gratitude.  The simple exercise of good manners, like saying thank-you, greeting someone by name, offering to help, signing off with your own contact information on all  correspondence, make it easier for the other person to remember you and not have strange feelings of discomfort about you.

There you are in their memories:  offering to help, ready to say thank you, willing to say 'I am sorry' when you're wrong, able to listen to them and keep your opinion to yourself if it does no great good to offer it.

The more I think about other people and what they need the better able I am to understand how to write what will make sense to them and to provide information that anticipates their questions and concerns and respond appropriately.  All of these activities make a person a better writer and easier to work with in any environment--virtual or otherwise.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Worse than cussing in the workplace is the use of the word: "Whatever"

Emojis and other shorthand ways of communicating in the workplace have promoted the overuse of the dismissive word "Whatever" to suggestions and ideas sometimes tremulously suggested or thoughtfully constructed and offered with hope.

Meant to sound agreeable--perhaps even a compromise-- answering in response to a suggestion "Whatever" often creates the opposite effect of what people believe that they are achieving by using it.

"Whatever" said with a shrug signals to the speaker that the idea being mentioned isn't important enough to elicit a thoughtful response.

"Whatever" said while not looking up from the screen suggests that you are not really listening.

Look "whatever" up in a dictionary that captures popular culture words that have lost a precise meaning, and it could say:  "Anything goes and nobody cares."

If not having standards in the workplace and no passion for the job either are the ethics and attitudes you want to promote, then use the word. If not, don't say it.

Word to the whatever-wise:  Don't replace "whatever" with the word "Awesome."  

Awesome is not an awesome word.
Whatever isn't either.