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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

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 January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

Reference

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