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You Should Never Say These 7 Things If You Want To Be Successful At Work

You Should Never Say These 7 Things If You Want To Be Successful At Work
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Effective communication is a key instrument to leading a successful career. Communicating well has two parts: how you say it and what you say. In today’s article, you will discover some of the mistakes that can hurt your career advancement prospects. Do you see yourself in some of these comments? There’s no need to worry. We have all made mistakes and usually manage to work another day. The very fact that you’re reading this article means you are dedicated to improving and becoming more effective. That’s a fantastic trait! Here are 7 things you should never say at work if you want to be successful:

1. “That’s Not My Job”

Job descriptions are written for a purpose. However, they are not weapons to be used against your manager! Saying this phrase or a variation of it suggests you are not interested in growing your skills and that you are not interested in going the extra mile to help the organization. When you say “that’s not in my job description,” you suggest that you are rigid and unwilling to adapt to the changing needs of the organization. Solution: Look for ways to accept new responsibilities. If you feel completely overwhelmed at work, learn how to say no professionally. For the best results, suggest an alternative when you say no (e.g. “No, I cannot create that report for you. However, Jane is outstanding at creating reports and I know that she is interested in learning more about financial reporting.”)

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2. “I Work Every Weekend”

Professional success takes time. That’s one of the truths that Malcolm Gladwell explained in his best selling book Outliers. However, working longer hours yields less results after a certain point. After a certain point in the day, your ability to make good decisions and use your abilities declines. Solution: Setting limits on your working hours forces you to become productive and set priorities on your work. As author Laura Vanderkam explains in her book What the Most Successful People Do On the Weekend, successful professionals use the weekend for gaining perspective on their work, getting much needed rest and preparing for the week ahead. If you ever felt like you needed permission to relax on the weekend, you have it!

3. “I Can’t” (Frequently)

What happens when you tell yourself “I can’t?” You prevent yourself from trying and looking for solutions. You start doubting your abilities. Even worse, saying this phrase over and over again, you will become discouraged. When unsuccessful people say, “I can’t improve my Excel skills,” they present themselves from attempting to learn. Solution: Instead of saying “I can’t” ask yourself: “How would I do this?” What if somebody offered me $10 million to find a way to do this? Would you learn a new skill? Would you call someone to ask for advice? Would you try one hundred ways and look for ways to improve each time? If you’re afraid of criticism from your boss, you can say, “I have never done that before and I will start now.” That’s how a humble attitude improves your work effectiveness.

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4. “I Never Read Books”

Each year, we come across new statistics that show fewer people are reading. According to the Pew Research Center, 24% of Americans read no books in 2013 (the typical American adult reads just five books). In a world of increasing complexity and knowledge, unsuccessful people suffer two problems when they talk about their lack of reading. First, they are actually falling behind everyone else – especially those who read in their fields. Second, they are suggesting they have no need for further knowledge about the world. Solution: Develop a reading habit and program to improve your knowledge. To get started, pick up one book this week and set a goal to read for at least 15 minutes per day. If you are working on getting ahead in your career, look for books that relate to your career goals (e.g. improve your productivity and organization with Getting Things Done by David Allen). To relax at night before you go to sleep, read a novel for fifteen to sixty minutes to relax – reading is an excellent addition to a successful bedtime routine. Restart Your Reading Habit With These Book Suggestions:

5. “Let’s Wait Until Our Competitors Do That”

The reactive habit of unsuccessful people is a recurring problem that comes up again and again. Adopting the “wait and see” approach has merit in some cases. Excessive reliance on this concept means being dependent on others to come up with new ideas and products. When we think about the most admired people and companies in business – Apple, Google and others – they set themselves apart by leading their industries and bringing new products to the market. Solution: You look for new ideas and ways to become more innovative at your organization. There are several ways you can develop an innovative mindset. Explore the following resources to improve your capacity for innovation.

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6. “I Don’t Need Your Input”

Saying this to a manager or coworker is a career limiting move for two reasons. First, this statement harms relationships. When people say they have no need of input, unsuccessful people signal they do not value other people. Second, this statement suggests a complete knowledge of the world – an unfortunate type of arrogance.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard, leadership and management author

Solution: Instead, you can always find a way to seek and use input at work. You can obtain feedback in two ways to improve your results. You can directly ask people for their insight, ideas and opinions. You can also employ observation, reflection and active listening.

7. “Let’s Get Together Sometime”

They say “sometime” over and over again when it comes to their goals. They say “sometime” when their boss asks them to get work done. Over and over again, they take a vague approach to the opportunities they encounter at work. Their professional network becomes weaker each day because they keep saying “I’ll have lunch with that old client sometime” or “I’ll send that email to my college friend sometime.” Solution: Make specific plans to get work done. Plan the next step in your work. Constantly practice the two minute rule for your work on your agenda – if the action will take less than two minutes to complete, then simply get it done now.

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Featured photo credit: The Despair/Pabak Sarkar via flickr.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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