Topics to Avoid at Work

Monday, May 18, 2015

I think we have all had awkward conversations at work with a coworker. Moments when you wish you could walk away but don't want to come off as rude. Here are topics you should always avoid when talking with coworkers.

1. Wages - Don't ask people how much they make or how much they pay for rent. It's always awkward and will make you and the other person feel uncomfortable. This could potentially backlash on you, it could create a toxic work environment knowing someone makes more than you.

2. Personal Life - Don't sh!t where you eat. Keep personal things at home. Might be hard at first but if you wouldn't call and tell them on a Saturday afternoon, don't tell them at work.

3. Don't speak ill of coworkers - Someone frustrating you? Vent to a friend or someone who is removed from your work life. Feel the need to say something at work, handle it diplomatically. Contact HR, has a superior how to handle a tough situation. Go looking for resolutions instead of getting that person in trouble.

4. BBBB - In my sorority days we had the 4 B's that we did not discuss, this stood for Bible, Barack/Bush, Booze and Boys. We highly discouraged speaking about religion, politics, alcohol and boys so we can get to know who the girl was without preconceived notions of their background. Keeping conversations clear of the 4 B's creates a fail safe conversation and makes everyone feel at ease. There will be times when someone brings up a topic that just infuriates you to the point wehre you think it requires a response. Do your best to keep your composure and just let it go. You don't need to be right or prove yourself to a co-worker. Let them dig their own grave, hold true to your values by not sinking down to their level.

What other topics do you think you should avoid at work?

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Tips to Pay off your Debt

While I am no financial expert, nor have I had to deal with extreme debt of loans. I have successfully managed to pay off a huge chunk of my student loans. I know the thought of graduation without a secure job seems scary; thankfully the 6 month grace period allows you to get settled before starting to chip away at the debt.

Here are some lessons I have learned while paying off my student loans.
 
1. Don't pay the minimum - I have increased my monthly student loan contributions by $50-100 depending on my current financial status. That is $25 more a week which equals out to roughly 5 trips to Starbucks, 1 dinner out with friend, 2 drinks at a bar (if you live in SF or LA). The first two months are a hard adjustment knowing you'll have to spend more, but if you calculate the long term interest on your full loans by increasing your minimum payment, you can probably save anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand.

2. Find Alternates - Look at companies like SoFi that can lower your interest rate.

3. Eat In - Eating in and cooking at home can save you up to $300 a month!

4. Post Your Goals - Decorate a dry erase board and write your current Loans / Debt amount. Keep your goal somewhere easily accessible, and update it constantly. Reminding yourself you're making progress, and celebrating that progress makes paying off loans so much more fun!

5. Don't deprive yourself - Paying off loans or debt shouldn't be a punishment or stop you from living your life. Find free and cheap events to preoccupy your time. Concert in the park, rent books from the library, take a hike, etc. These type of things have been taken for granted. No need to spend $80 on a concert, or $20 on a new book.

6. Get down to the necessities - Ditch the cable and settle for internet and Hulu/Netflix, be conscious about your energy/water bill, reuse/donate/sell any unwanted items.

How do you cut down costs to increase your loan payments? I'd love to know!

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Workplace Struggles: Part 2

You know that person at work who is just a downer? Who needs to one up you, or is just a grump? Do you notice how it effects your work, happiness and the culture of your workplace?

I know that person, and it makes work absolutely dreadful. Sundays are now sad days because you have to see that person tomorrow. I, personally, don't want to keep to myself at work. I want to establish a relationship with the people I see for 40+ hours a day. I want to care about them, laugh with them, and see them be successful because I want the same in return.

Then there is that person who you don't want anything to do with. That person who is gossipy, vindictive, kiss ass or downright mean. Those are the people you want to keep at arms length. Stay on their good side, and have as little as possible interaction with them. Talking smack about them only makes you just as bad and is not very attractive or ideal for a promotion. Wish them good morning/ to have a good weekend, but don't take an interest in their life outside of work. Not asking about what they did, or what they plan on doing keeps you away but by saying hello and making small talk will keep things professional but minimize the BS.

If the person is being vindictive, rude or puts you in an uncomfortable position its best to be tactful with problem solving. Don't stoop to their level, rise above, stay professional, and don't take anything personally. If someone needs to make you feel bad about yourself; smile, nod and just walk away. Keep topics regarding business and then vent to friends (not coworkers!). If you see someone being put down, try and find a positive spin on it or praise them for something they do right. Being that person who helps uplift people is not only good for the soul but good for company morale.

For that coworker that one ups you, or feels the need to. Simply just congratulate them. No need to fuss over them, even though that is probably what they want. It's hard not to get sucked into the BS but its just work. You know what you did was great and don't forget that. At least you're not so self absorbed that you need constant acknowledgement from others. Your self praise is the only daily reminder you need.

The key to being a successful coworker are quite simple. Keep a smile on your face, have a great attitude, take an interest in (most) of your coworkers lives, find common bonds with coworkers, always be willing to help, be a team player, and do what is best for the company.

There is a line between having a good work place relationship and being best friends. I am not looking for my co-workers to become my best friends. When I was straight out of college, I expected that work was the place to make friends. While that is possible, it really depends on the person and the workplace environment. You're there to work and be successful. When times are hard or mistakes are made whatever happens at work (lay-offs, reprimands etc) should not be taken personally. It makes it harder to make tough business decision when you care about that person.

I certainly have a hard time not taking work things personally. I believe this is because I don't have a family of my own, so my number one priority is my job. I put my whole heart into it and make it a reflection of me.


How do you deal with difficult coworkers? What is your best tactic? How do you keep a good attitude at work?


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Workplace Struggles: Part 1

Thursday, May 14, 2015


After reflecting on my new job, my level of happiness and the struggle I overcame at my last job I have decided to start writing about careers. I’ll post about a different topic each day or every other day. Today I wanted to start out writing about unhappiness at work and how to overcome it.

 
Maybe it’s my generation, but the feeling of having to be somewhere for 40+ hours a day when you absolutely hate it seems like a waste of talent and life. Now, there are temporary situations when work is tough, stressful, under resourced etc.  These are situations where you see the end in sight, where you are working toward a goal with an end result. Fully knowing the situation will change and for the better. If you know that you won't lose your sanity for that duration; I believe like it's best to stick with it and power through it. I feel this shows dedication, loyalty and a great worker.
 
Here are some ways in which I have found helpful to survive stressful work periods.
 
First, I evaluate the situation. See how long this stressful period might be, for those accountants out there that stressful period is usually January through May 15th. Five months of long nights, unreasonable requests from your superiors, lunches at your desk, not seeing the sun all day etc. I suggest you make a calendar and start planning out your Sundays for "me days". Start with easy Sunday activities and ramp up the "treats" as you get closer to your end date.
 
The most important key to surviving stressful times at work is exercising. You may feel at times that you don't need or have time to exercise but eventually it'll get to you. You'll become more stressed, more irritable, lack energy and focus. I highly suggest talking to your boss and letting her/him know that everyday between 12 and 12:30 you'll be on a walk. This will help you maintain focus and dedication at work. It will help break up the day and get your blood flowing. Convince a co-worker to tag along too, or download a book on Audible. Your work will still be there when you get back.
 
Don't make excuses that you don't have time, people will judge you etc. You and others will see the change in your productivity and will seriously help you keep your sanity. I also recommend working out in the am before work, or after work. Is it too late or too early to go to the gym? Youtube just became your best friend. Youtube has amazing workouts that you can do right from the comfort of your home. I personally love Tone It Up, Blogilates, and yoga videos.
 
The first two Sundays you spend your whole day doing outside activities. BYOB (Bring your own Brunch) to a park with friends, exploring a new hike, trying a new workout class (hello Classpass!), going on an Urban Hike with stops at random bars, reading outside etc. Get up and don't stay inside. While it is tempting to spend your Sunday being lazy on the couch, this will eventually make you feel like you're always inside. Plus the majority of your job is probably spent staring at a computer! This will help keep your sanity since some of you don't see daylight during the day.
 
Next, I would suggest booking a mini spa day for your next milestone. Get your nails done, get a massage (Massage Envy is inexpensive and worth the money, also Reflexology places are cheap and get the job done too), book a facial etc. 
 
Start planning and booking events that will give you things to look forward to.
Here are some ideas that have benefitted me, and activities I've loved.
  • Day trip to a new city
  • Dinner Party w/ friends (potluck style or takeout aka barely any cooking or clean up)
  • Wine Tasting (or create your own)
  • Be a tourist for the day
  • Run a 5k
  • Take a cooking class
  • Visit open houses
  • DIY Project (finally use that Pinterest board)
  • Plant and Garden
  • Go Kayaking or a new outdoor sport
  • Plan a weekend away (VBRO, AirBNB, HomeAway)
  • Go to a local book store and pick out a book (without recommendations)
  • Volunteer
  • Anything without your work phone!

What fun activities do you like to help you escape from work? How do you manage your work stress?

Next I'll talk about more ways to find happiness at work, how to create a positive workplace environment and when it's time to start looking for a new job.

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I'm Back!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hello!

This past month or so has been a wild one. I left my stressful job for a new one in the healthcare industry. I've been adjusting pretty well to the new environment but the first few weeks are always awkward trying to find some work friends.

Today the boyfriend and I ventured to Monterey Bay Aquarium but not before we stopped for breakfast at The Buttery in Santa Cruz. The Aquarium was awesome and surprisingly really fun! they had some great exhibits about Tentacles and we even got to see Cuttlefish!

We finished off our day at Carmel-by-the-Sea which was absolutely gorgeous!


I'll be posting more this next coming week, but I'm excited to get back in the swing of posting.


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