Sick… Stay home or go to work?

My cold
I am so torn. I get sick, of course I want to crawl back in bed and rest up, but I also don’t want to let anyone down at the office. What if they need me? What if something comes up? But, what if I spread my germs? I have never been sure if it is better to go and try to work through your illness, or take a sick day and rest up.

This week I have been more sick than I ever remember as an adult. Coughing, super high fever, and no voice. Turns out I had bronchitis and laryngitis and a body full of infection. I was up, dressed and showered, trying to force myself through the pain, telling myself Tylenol would ease the fever. My husband looked at me and said “you need to go to the doctor.” Thank goodness he took me, and I got the antibiotics I needed or I’d be even worse off.

So I missed a day. And then I missed two. Today is my third day and the guilt is awful. But I’m not sure I’d be any good in the office. I’m slow, coughing, feverish, whiny and exhausted. I am lucky I have the option to stay home, and I am able to work from home if needed. If I went I feel like I would be costing the company more if I showed up for the sake of showing up. My presenteeism could spread my germs through our office, and I certainly wouldn’t be working as well as I would be healthy. Not only that but rather than resting up and feeling better sooner, pushing through might make me stay sick longer or even get worse.

I know that I’m lucky. I spent two full days in bed and today I was able to ease into work, by working from home. I’m still too sick to leave the house, but at least I can be available if I am needed.

Now though – I am going to heat up my chicken soup, make a mug of hot lemon water and go back to bed to snuggle my puppy while watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix.
Unbreakable

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Patience is a Virtue

Patience.  I have a confession. I am not the most patient person.  I try hard not to let it show, but I know that it does.  My impatience can affect my mood at home with my family and at work with my coworkers and it is something I need to commit to work on.

I know in the grand scheme of things most of the issues that might frustrate me are not a big deal.  What bothers me one day, might not the next.  Once I realized this, I realized I can be in control of my reactions, and need to work to be more patient.  Having patience will not only improve my mood, but reduce my stress and likely make the people around me a heck of a lot more patient,

I spent some time figuring out my triggers and I know that being interrupted when I am deep in thought or trying to work through something difficult was one of the most common things that made me feel short on patience.  Another is having to wait for something.  I am now trying not to react, both at home and at work when this happens.  Just being aware has helped some.

The first thing I try to do when I feel myself frustrated and I patient is to take a breath.  Sometimes one good, deep breath is all it takes to calm me.  The next step is to not respond too quickly.  Taking a moment to formulate my thoughts helps me not respond in a negative way.  Slow down.  Doing this helps me feel and appear calm, which with practice, will hopefully become easier everyday.  Because I still have my moments!

I want to do this for me, but also for the people around me each day.  I want to leave them feeling good, and as though I care, not as though I feel they aren’t worth my time, because they so are. So I will practice patience everyday until it becomes completely natural.  Wish me luck!

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Don’t Put it in Writing if You Are Not Prepared for it to go Viral

When Kelly Blazek received a LinkedIn request from Diana Mekota, she sent an extremely rude, dismissive  and short-sighted reply.  In the industry she is in, she should have know to slow down, step back and not fire off an unprofessional letter like the did.

In the position of authority and in the industry that Kelly was in,she should have known better than to shoot off such an inappropriate letter to a potential applicant.  Kelly could easily have made her point in a much more professional way if she was better at communicating bad new, and in the this case, a LinkedIn rejection.  Had she knew how to best communicate the rejection while maintaining a good relationship with Diana, she would not have faced the backlash she did from the internet.

Based on the reasoning Kelly had, she could have worded her letter better and got her point across without being so harsh.  She could have thanked Diana for reaching out to her, then give her a few reasons why LinkedIn wasn’t currently the appropriate way to connect, and wish her well with her future endeavours. This would have helped Diana have an understanding of the reasons for the refusal, softening the blow and all the while maintaining the option to have a good relationship in the future.

I have a rule I try to stick to, that you shouldn’t put in writing something you would not want the whole world to read.  Had Kelly Blazek understood that theory a bit better, maybe she would not have sent such a scathing letter to Diana, she would not have faced such backlash from the internet and her public image could have been saved.

Mental Health in the Business World – Is Training the Answer?

Last month was Bell’s “Let’s Talk” day, which was geared to bring light and give more attention to mental health issues, in an attempt to help end the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.  It really opened my eyes to the fact that so many are suffering from mental health issues, and the effect that it can have on businesses.  It also started a discussion that many may not have otherwise had.

We all have stress in our lives, but not everyone is able to cope.  Many employees don’t have someone to turn to.  Because of stigma, employees often don’t want to talk to their employers.  So often, managers want to help their employees, but do not know how.  They may have not had any training or prior knowledge of how to deal with stress and mental health issues in the workplace.  This is costing businesses nearly $6 Billion a year because of presenteeism and absenteeism due to mental health issues.

When management ignore the issue and sweep it under the rug, as many used to believe was the way to deal with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues that their employees may suffer from, it not only doesn’t fix the issue, it can cost the business time and money.

Management needs proper training and well defined policies in place, to know how best to approach employees they believe may be suffering from depression; training to know how to calm down an employee having an anxiety attack, and the know how to create a better work-life balance to improve the mental well-being of employees.  With this knowledge, they will not only save the business money in the long run, but they will create a happier, healthier work environment.

Offering training to management and supervisors, in how to deal with mental health issues will benefit all employees.  It will reduce costs, help reduce stress, reduce absenteeism, conflict and frustrations.  With just a bit of knowledge and a few small changes can improve productivity, performance work-life balance and morale, which will benefit the business as a whole.

There are a number of on-site and online training options available in Nova Scotia and across the country.  Two options are included below.

  1. Mental Health in the Workplace Training
  2. St. John Ambulance

Be well!

Life is too Short Not to Follow My Heart

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Much of my life has been spent worrying about what someone else thought. Doing what someone else wanted. Liking what someone else liked. So much so that I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up, or even how I wanted to spend my days.

My life didn’t work out like I had originally planned. I was going to university, would get my BA and then become a teacher. I would teach French and Canadian History. The end.

I got to university, and it wasn’t as easy as I had expected. I wasn’t happy and I didn’t do well. I failed French. I was there because I was supposed to be, it was what I thought everyone expected me to do. I wasn’t there because I wanted to be or because I was doing something that I loved. I was trying to keep everyone else happy and in the process I lost sight of what I wanted. What I was forgetting was to stop and find out what I loved, what was passionate about, what made me happy

I don’t ever regret going when I did and doing what I did. It was there that I met my amazing husband, and because of him that we have our daughter. If it weren’t for the choices I made then I wouldn’t be where I am now. When we had our daughter it forced us to stop and reevaluate our path. It meant him going back to school and me putting school in the side burner. It took me a little longer, 14 years to be honest. I switched to the BBA program and I was lucky to get an amazing job before I finished school. I refused to give up on my education, at first because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, but as time went on, because it was what I wanted.

It wasn’t until I decided I was finishing school for ME that I started doing well, that I started enjoying what I learned and absorbing it. Sure, some of the courses were required to graduate, but many were ones that I was interested in and that I wanted to take. I started to enjoy it when I stopped trying to be who I thought everyone else thought I should be and started making decisions based on what was best for me and my little family. I will finally finish this June. I am finally learning what I love about life and how I like to spend my days.

I listened to Steve Job’s Stanford address twice today. What he said that day was so important and I wish I could have listened to it fourteen years ago. The line that struck home the most for me was “don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” It is a reminder to listen to my heart, trust my intuition more and worry less about the opinions of everyone else. I might have stopped trying so hard to live the life I thought someone else thought I should be living and been my authentic self a lot sooner. Life is too short not to follow my heart.

Remember to Connect at the Human Level

As technology advances and more of our communication is taking place through email, texting, facebook, twitter and so on, it is easy to forget that we need to connect at a more human level.  While technology does allow us to be in constant communication with one another, and we have come to expect instant answers and fast replies, it sometimes stops us from having real conversations.  We forget to pickup the phone and call or chat over coffee as Adam Shapiro mentions in “Have Millenials Forgotten How to Speak?”  But Anthony Shop argues that technology is bringing us closer together and creating relationships that we may not have otherwise been able to have.

While I see the benefits of technology in business and in my day to day life, I am inclined to agree more with Adam Shapiro.  We need to remember to connect at the human level and stop being perpetually distracted.  It isn’t making us more productive.

We have become so accustomed to relying on technology for everything that yes, I believe some Millenials, may well be forgetting how to speak and interact without staring at their phones.  There is nothing I find more frustrating, or disrespectful, than seeing someone texting, emailing and fiddling with their phone during a meeting or while you try to carry on a conversation.  We really need to work to be more in the moment and more focused on what is being said.

I have worked in the IT world for nearly nine years, I email coworkers and customers daily.  While technology plays an important role, the majority of our clients relationships are built having real conversations – on the phone and face to face.  Becoming too dependent on technology can diminish these relationships. It is much easier to connect, build the relationship and  understand one another if you can hear each other or look each other in the eye. We need to put down the technology now and then and really listen.

I am supposed to be here

 

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I have spent so much of my life trying to make myself appear smaller.  I didn’t want to stand out in the crowd – at school, at work, in social situations.  I often had the right answer or had relevant information I could share in meetings, but kept it to myself for fear of saying the wrong thing and appearing as though I shouldn’t be there.  I often felt like I just shouldn’t be there.  But I was there and should have answered the question.  My opinions mattered!  I just lacked the self-confidence to speak up, to raise my hand up.

It was never the people around me who made me feel that way.  I work with a supportive group who appreciate the opinions of their coworkers – including mine.  I have an amazing family who believe in me and all that I can do.  I just need to find a way to convince myself I can do things; that it is OK to speak up.  I have slowly improved at speaking up in our weekly meetings, and with friends and family, but I am holding myself back from growing and advancing my career due to the confidence I lack.

This isn’t the “me” I want to be and isn’t the “me” I deserve to be.  Here I am trying to raise my daughter to be strong and confident, and I am standing here with my arms wrapped tightly around myself feeling like closing up and hiding away.  I do not want to be a fraud; I want to live life as a strong, confident and happy woman.

I had a great “Aha!” moment while watching Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on how “Your body language shapes who you are.” It isn’t the people around me who are holding me back, viewing me as incapable or weak.  In fact, quite the opposite, they see me as a valuable piece of the puzzle. It is only me who isn’t convinced I am worthy.  Amy’s theory is that if I could stand in a power pose for just two minutes before I have to speak, my body could convince my mind that I am assertive, self-assured and smart by using “non-verbal expressions of power and dominance.”  This was a theory I wanted to embrace and one I was willing to get behind and test.

What struck me the most was when she said “our bodies change our minds and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” I believe this and try to live this in everything else I do.  I already believe I can have a good day just by setting my intention to do so from the moment my feet hit the floor.  So starting today I am going to let my mind convince my body I am strong and let my body convince my mind just the same.  I am going to use her power pose every day.

If I can start my day believing I am strong, maybe I can carry that through the rest of my day as well.  I am going to take a moment to use her power pose in private before I have to give a presentation in class and before the next meeting at work. I won’t just fake it until I make it, I will fake it until I become it.  I am supposed to be here.