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Putting Yourself First During Pregnancy

Putting Yourself First During Pregnancy

For a lot of us, working while pregnant can be a struggle. The nausea during the first trimester, the shortness of breath in the second, and the weight of your growing child in the third can be exhausting. Everyone’s experience seems to be a bit different.

Some women do just fine; others do their best to keep on pushing through. Add going back to college to this equation, like myself, and we have a recipe for stress and fatigue.

There are so many of us superwomen out there, though, and reminding ourselves that sometimes we are only human and that this time in our lives is not only beautiful, but it is about us, is important. It is okay to ask for help, to need an extra hand and not feel as though we are being a burden to anyone.

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Those who love you want only to help. Sometimes they just don’t know where to start, especially the loving but floundering man in your life. These tips will help you successfully achieve all that you need to while pregnant and to allow those who want to lend you and your growing infant a hand, the opportunity to do so.

Here are the top five things that I did for myself during one of the most exciting and exhausting times of my life.

Know Your Rights

This is huge. The most frequent thing I hear, and that I too was worried about (because of my high-risk pregnancy, which meant missing work more frequently for doctors appointments), was losing my job. In many workplaces there is a sort of stigma around pregnant woman and instead of being understanding of the condition that woman are in, many businesses become dismissive, resulting in being let go. This is not only not right — it is not legal.

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According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commision, if you are unable to perform your job duties to the degree that the company sees fit, you are to be treated as any other temporarily disabled employee. This means that whatever law applies in your state for the disabled and discrimination due to a disability now applies to you. Make sure you look up the laws in your state and that you are treated with the respect you deserve. You have the right to work. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Make a Wish List

This might seem silly to you but it was extremely helpful to my family and friends who saw the workload that I had taken on and wanted to help, but didn’t know where to start or what they could do. This list could very seriously have things on them like, “Make me snack bags for work,” or even during your third trimester: “Help me get my shoes on.”

Not being able to see your feet is funny until you can’t bend over far enough to get your shoes on. List little things (or big things) that make life easier and will put a smile on your face.

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Fatigue

Fatigue is probably the biggest and longest lasting hurdle during pregnancy. The most important thing to remember is that it is okay to be tired. Your body is exerting so much more energy than it usually would, and you are a busy woman. Sleeping early and taking naps are healthy for both you and baby. Don’t feel bad for missing dinner plans with friends or family; they will understand.

It’s Not an Excuse

I remember when I was pregnant and in college, I was so worried about people judging me and thinking I was “using being pregnant as an excuse” — an excuse to get out of class, assignments, or for anything really.

In reality I worked harder than ever to beat that stereotype, even when I had to run to the bathroom because “morning” sickness had gotten the best of me that day. The truth of it is that the same laws that apply in the workplace apply at school, so again, know your rights, and speak to your dean if you feel as though you are being mistreated due to your pregnancy.

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Another route that was my saving grace was online classes. This route made being able to stay home when I wasn’t feeling well an option and much more bearable. Don’t count online school or classes out; they are generally cheaper (here are 25 of the most affordable) and were a great option for my pregnancy.

Stop Worrying

There seems to be this focus on how the “condition” or pregnancy has an effect on those around us. Yes, that should be taken into consideration, but your health and well-being are what is most important right now. What I am saying is stop worrying so much about how your pregnancy is affecting your coworkers or anyone else who does not understand the depth of the fact that your body is creating a living, breathing, human being. That is going to take an incredible amount of energy and time. You are important, and a smart woman, and should be treated as such. Let go of worry and take care of what matters most: you and yours.

Featured photo credit: freestocks.org via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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