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The Real Rules of Engagement

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The Real Rules of Engagement

On a recent late night I found myself needing to wind down before sleep, I flipped on the TV and happened to catch the tail end of Rules of Engagement. The military action drama seemed so completely out of context for me, for without ever having seen the movie when it came out for the first time in 2000, the phrase “Rules of Engagement” had quickly caught on in our workplace a bit more literally.

For us, the phrase meant that work was not a spectator sport; it was one you participated in fully, going for the score every time. Further, we couldn’t afford to carry bench-warmers: When you came to work, everyone expected you to “suit up” and be fully engaged. Period.

That was the primary rule of engagement; that you did just that — engage and participate from the moment you clocked in. However there were some others that we felt were our ground rules of professionalism, and the fact that we all understood and agreed to them afforded us some basic efficiencies. Moreover, they kept unnecessary annoyances and many small petty squabbles out of our workplace, opening the door wider for aloha and only aloha.

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Rules of Engagement

    1. Engage. Participate. Be fully present. No auto-pilot.

    2. Meetings and multiple appointments are a fact of work-life; the least we can do is be on time so they can start on time and our peers are not kept waiting.

    3. Respect the attention of your peers. Come prepared means come prepared.

    4. Always have a pen and paper for note-taking. First, you respect others who are giving you information by acknowledging it, and secondly you’re expected to capture it, and follow-up; forgetting is not an option.

    5. Whatever your role is, you’re expected to be the expert in that role. Own it, and don’t be shy about it. Stake your claim proudly. (This was part of the no bench-warmers philosophy.)

    6. When you say you’ll follow-up on something, do. If it’s not going to happen, say so. People trip when you sweep stuff under the rug.

    7. Own up to your mistakes and be okay with them. Making mistakes is perfectly fine for we all make them. However huffing and puffing about them with excuses and justifications is not fine. Get over it (we already did) and just correct it.

    8. Communicate. We have found that relying on mind-reading doesn’t work that well for us.

    9. Trust and be trust-worthy. Much easier when Rules 1 – 8 are honored and we all keep it real.

They may seem obvious, however having Rules of Engagement can save heaps of time and wasted energy, and they can stem frustration. We purposely kept ours to less than 10 in a Q&D brainstorm one day that happened when someone had asked, “What are your pet peeves? What would make things so much pleasant here if those pet peeves went away forever?” and we committed to each other to do just that — make them go away forever.

Rules of Engagement. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Gather your folks together, and brainstorm your own, be they at work, at home, in your club or association, and on your sports or community team. Just imagine the bliss if everyone were to fully engage, participate, and be present.

Thank you for reading, I’ll be back next Thursday. On every other day, you can visit me on Talking Story, or on www.ManagingWithAloha.com. Aloha!

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Rosa Say, author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business

Previous Thursday Column: Get the Most Out of Travel.
Article Reference: Workhack: the Attitude of Question & Dialogue.

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Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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