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How to Break All the Rules

How to Break All the Rules

How to Break All the Rules

    Rules, they say, are meant to be broken. Not all the time, of course — we are, after all, trying to have a society here. But while rules help, most of the time, to create an orderly and well-regulated society, sometimes their lack of flexibility hinders our creativity, and thus our ability to solve the problems that confront us.

    Months ago, I wrote a post about improvisation advising readers to “Learn the rules, so you can break them.” Too often, people think that the breakability of rules means that they should be broken, early and often — and if that’s the case, it’s not worth bothering to learn them at all.

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    That’s not the case; in fact, it’s a pretty simple matter to tell the consistent rule-breaking of the ignorant and inexperienced from the proficient rule-breaking of the master. The master’s rule-breaking gains strength from her or his understanding of what the rules do, how they work, and why they are, most of the time, crucial.

    There are, one could say, rules for rule-breaking, and it is these rules (along with all the others) that the lasy rule-breaker doesn’t know or understand. Here’s an example:

    • Break the rules as a last resort. Whether you’re talking about writing and grammar, music composition, artistic composition, marketing, business management, or anything else, the rules that people usually follow exist for a good reason: most of the time, they work. Stepping outside the rules requires more energy, more forethought, more planning, and more creativity — in short, more work — and effective writers, composers, marketers, business people, and people from every other walk of life don’t lightly waste their efforts fixing what already works well. Rule-breaking is the step you turn to when the rules fail to work.
    • Rule-breaking gains its power from the strength of rules, not their weakness. The ability of the great rule-breakers to shock and amaze us — from Van Gogh to Philip Roth to Ron Paul to Steve jobs — relies on the expectations the rules create. Constant rule-breaking creates the expectation of constant rule-breaking, which pretty soon loses its appeal. Master rule-breakers walk a narrow line between genius and incoherence; inexpert rule-breakers are usually simply incoherent.
    • For every broken rule there are a dozen unbroken ones. Or a hundred, or a thousand. The ratio doesn’t matter, it’s the fact that the best rule-breakers follow almost all the rules. Consider the rules of grammar and style: almost all great writers know the value of simple sentences, a lack of unnecessary verbiage, and adherence to basic rules of grammar — and their writing is generally built around those principles, because to ignore them is to create a morass of incomprehensible gibberish. A word salad, if you will: throw everything in a bowl, toss it around a little, and slop it onto your plate.
    • For every broken rule, there is a reason. The inexperienced rule-breaker breaks the rules because s/he doesn’t know any better. The master rule-breaker breaks the rules because, after careful consideration, s/he has decided that the most effective and meaningful way to get something done was to break a rule. They have an explanation for every single step outside the accepted boundaries of the “right and proper”.
    • Accept the consequences. When called on the carpet to defend his or her choices, the ignorant rule-breaker is defensive and feels put upon. S/he tries to wriggle out of the consequences, seeing them as “The Man’s” effort to keep her or him down. The master, on the other hand, embraces the consequences, knowing that s/he was right to make the decisions s/he made — or that, if those decisions turned out to be wrong, that s/he made them in good faith and for the right reasons.

    There’s a scene in Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard that sums up perfectly this approach to the rules. Rabo Karabekian, an artist reknowned for his giant canvases covered with single colors of household latex paint applied with a roller, is talking with his friend Slazinger in his studio:

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    “Tell me, Rabo–” said Slazinger, “if I put on that same paint with the same roller, would the picture still be a Karabekian?”

    “Absolutely,” I said, “provided you have in reserve what Karabekian has in reserve.”

    “Like what?” he said.

    “Like this,” I said. There was dust in a pothole in the floor, and I picked up some of it on the balls of both my thumbs. Working both thumbs simultaneously, I sketched a caricature of Slazinger’s face on the canvas in thirty seconds.

    “Jesus!” he said. “I had no idea you could draw like that!”

    “You’re looking at a man who has options,” I said.

    For the “wild child” who just can’t be bothered to learn the rules, because they were meant to be broken anyway and because his or her creative spirit is too strong to be held down by rules, man, there are no options. There is only a string of broken rules and all the misunderstanding, chaos, and incoherence that goes along with them. The master, though, knows that the rules are not only options, but usually the best options. And when they aren’t, s/he knows. S/he has in reserve what Karabekian has in reserve: true mastery.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2019

    15 Smart Ways to Approach Interpersonal Relationships at Work

    15 Smart Ways to Approach Interpersonal Relationships at Work

    Once you have embarked on your professional life, whether it is after college or high school, you will be making a transition to the workplace. If possible, it is good to find an employer that is flexible. In other words, one that possesses a culture that is diverse and tailors to the needs of its employees as a bottom line.

    But, even if you don’t land your dream job right away, there are many ways to improve your experiences within the workplace as you climb the career ladder.

    In the subsequent sections will be looking over ways to engage your relationships at work, including 15 ways to effectively approach interpersonal relationships at the workplace.

    1. Open Up Cautiously

    Depending on if its a startup, a small business, enterprise or corporation it’s important to be aware of your surroundings.

    Be mindful of how much you open up about yourself, specifically regarding your personal life. You do not want to give the wrong impression, so be careful how much or what details you divulge about being in a relationship or having children.

    You have to reach a certain comfort level and rapport with the rest of the staff to be able to engage in transparent conversations. A good general guideline is to stick to small talk.

    2. Observe Your Surroundings

    There will be times when we are summoned to have a leadership role or to undertake a project to lead a team.

    Try not to be too bold or overcompensate at every turn when there is a meeting or an interaction among other staff or employees. The last thing you want to do is to be the person who wants to monopolize every conversation and every interaction.

    Be a passive observer at first, and more often than not, you will learn a lot by letting others talk a lot about themselves.

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    3. Listen Actively

    It may seem redundant, but it is essential to practice the art of really listening to the other person.

    Developing interpersonal skills and connections with others at work comes down to listening. It is not just paraphrasing what your superiors or colleagues are trying to communicate; it is about understanding what is at the core and reading between the lines.

    Phrases like “I can see what you are saying” or “I can acknowledge your insight” are just some examples. Learn to empathize and relate with people with whom you have a genuine connection.

    4. Consolidate All Feedback

    When you learn to listen to others and to allow them to finish their thoughts you are on your way to be being a great communicator.

    One of the toughest tasks to accomplish is to include everyone’s voice. Don’t rely on shout-outs or trying to come up with the best answer. Including everyone’s voice is about listening to all suggestions and putting together an entire picture. When everyone feels part of the process there is great cohesion.

    5. Never Make Sweeping Judgements

    As person and a human being with compassion never make any assumptions about anyone.

    Just because they have a certain skin color, clothes or physical features, never make stereotypical or generalizations about anyone.

    6. Keep Emotions in Check

    Work-related stress is something we all have to deal with at some point or another. Whether you work in the public or private sector you will encounter stressors or stressful co-workers. In this case, it is good to keep open the lines of communications.

    Always ask to clarify how a person feels and where they are coming from. It is better to entertain these conversations before they make a person lash out or have a negative reaction. Ask to speak privately and get feedback. When you do this it really shows you care about what your role is and that you are a true professional.

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    7. Give Help to Others

    Having compassion and empathy for others is a noble attitude to practice.

    Though, do be careful about how much you want to get involved with colleagues at the office; it could jeopardize the nature of your work relationship and the roles you both have.

    It’s best to separate the personal from the professional and lend a hand by using your best judgement.

    8. Broaden Your Horizons

    Once you have worked in a company or an organization, things can get repetitive and dull. Sometimes we need to remember that we are human and need to fulfill certain responsibilities.

    Often we want to try to change things by introducing our best abilities or perhaps our inventions, but we need to be realistic. Change does not happen overnight, rather it is a long process.

    Step back and take a look at the big picture, and, put all your cards on the table to get perspective. Sometimes we approach situations in life from the wrong point-of-view.

    9. Be Optimistic

    This is probably one you have heard time and time again.

    When we suggest to have a positive attitude it does not mean to fake it until you make it, nor to conceal your feelings. This is not the case in this situation. Overall, you want to try to be authentic in how you are feeling, because life will throw curve balls that are beyond our control.

    10. Be Sensitive to Cultural Norms

    Whenever you are around other people within a professional workspace, do not make assumptions in trying to figure people out in an instant.

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    Some cultures discourage physical contact, while others may be inviting. Always be courteous, respectful and ask questions. It will not only make you more aware of others’ needs, but show that you are considerate of the differences.

    You do not want to get off on the wrong foot by being too friendly or too touchy. Just observe how people respond to your approach and let them lead the way of what is a safe practice to meet and greet the first time around.

    11. Show Professionalism

    How you interact and carry yourself around others will be the difference between a job promotion or losing your job. No matter what, always respectful and professional towards others.

    You will have an opportunities in life and at work, so showcase an outpouring of great and positive energy in the face of adversity.

    12. Get Involved with Activities

    When you are part of a company, there are often opportunities for organized activities outside of the office space.

    Sometimes it is worth exploring uncharted terrain and to get to know people in a different environment. Plus, you will have an opportunity to be seeing in a different light.

    Even though you are off the clock, keep your professional tenure and set boundaries. You want to be vulnerable, but not put yourself in a comprising position. Use your intuition and common sense to evaluate these situations.

    13. Get to Know Your Company

    With your smartphone or your laptop, you have at your fingertips a mine of information online. Just as you would do before a job interview, conduct ample research to get familiarized with what your company does and how its branding is perceived via the media or social networks.

    Rather than just focusing on doing your job and fulfilling the duties, see what the business is up to. It is fundamental to really know what organization you belong to. Get educated on what other ventures they are involved with as well as the ones that you are directly in the know about.

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    14. Learn to Problem Solve

    Problem solving is going to be a skill you will acquire with experience and by making mistakes. Furthermore, not only will you make mistakes but you will likely also sometimes fail. This is okay and is part of the natural swing of things!

    Learn to take responsibility for your actions and decisions. At the same time, do not blame others for coming up short. When you come forward with the truth and responsibility, your supervisors or superiors will take notice of your authenticity.

    One of the greatest gifts in life is fail and once you experience you start to get a different perspective on how to move forward at the job.

    15. Do Some Prospecting

    If you have coding, computer, language or other beneficial skills, be sure to pitch these at the right time.

    When you start out new at a company it is best not to show all your cards. It is like poker: don’t let others see if you believe you have the upper hand. Take time to get familiarized with your company and organization before promoting your outside skillset.

    You will know when to put forward your amazing talents, so proceed with caution.

    Conclusion

    Learning to refine your interpersonal skills is a lifelong process. In time, you will also became more effective and skillful after accumulating work-related experiences.

    Exert humility, understanding, compassion, and mindfulness and the rewards will come!

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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