Handling Difficult People in the Workplace

Difficult Person

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

By: Dalila Thomas

When it comes to work, no matter what you do, there’s one common factor that everyone has – dealing with other people. It may not be one of the easiest things to, but it’s necessary to get the job done. So how do you get through the day – day after day – without having a dilemma with a colleague?

It’s simple.

Know what environment you’re walking in to, mentally prepare yourself, and deal with it head on. Here are the three types of co-workers you’ll most likely encounter.

The lost one. You know this person. The one that can’t quite grasp the concept of their day to day duties, for whatever reason, and come to you for help. Every day. While helping someone is kind, it can be time consuming. And unless you’re training someone, or you position requires guidance,  you can fall behind on your own duties. So create a rule: only help the person once for a specific subject. Also, suggest they write down the solution you gave them. If they ask about the same thing on another occasion, direct them to their notes. And if those are long gone, direct them to their supervisor.

The one who tells all, and then some. This is the person whose water cooler conversation runneth over. Whether it’s about relationship problems or someone venting about their car troubles, there’s a time and a place. Work isn’t it. Kindly interrupt that colleague and let them know you have work to do. Suggest to pick up the conversation during your lunch hour, or after work.

The one who’s in competition with you. They say competition brings out the best of you, but not in this colleague’s eyes. They’re out for your demise, in order to get on top. Luckily, these types of people self-destruct after time. My only suggestion is to avoid giving them any ammo. Be sure to do your duties to your full potential. Be prompt, be honest. Never feed into the drama. At the end of the day numbers/results don’t lie — let your work speak for you.

How do you handle difficult people in the workplace?  Please comment and share your tips!

3 Simple Keys to a Productive Workday

productivity

Photo Credit:  Image Above

By: Dalila Thomas

Start early.  No, seriously. Of course, you’re not a morning person, but have you ever regretted getting to work early, or having extra time for a morning workout, and actually having a proper meal.  I mean really, when is this last time you sat down for breakfast before your started your day?  Not only that, you’re not bothered during this time.  Your phone isn’t ringing. Your friends aren’t IM-ing you, and you mother isn’t texting you (or calling you to ask how to text).  It’s the perfect time to get things done.

Write it down. Whether you have ten things to do, or three; write it down.  Having a list of duties not only allows you to have a visible understanding of what and how much you need to accomplish, but it prevents that token phrase: “I forgot to do that!”

Take a mental break.  This means stop any and all things work related for at least five minutes to let your brain breathe.  The best option is to physically move away from your desk and stretch or even step outside.  Remember that place of mental relaxation?  It doesn’t only exist after 5pm.

What steps do you take so that you can have a productive workday?

3 Dating Principles to Apply to Your Job Search

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

By: Dalila Thomas

The phrase never mix business with pleasure has never been more wrong in my opinion; at least when it comes to getting your dream job. I believe the same principles that are used for dating, are those that can be applied when seeking new employment.

Don’t believe me?  Check out these three steps.

Seek. Much like a lion or lioness of love, you much first seek what you want. What position is it that you are trying to obtain?  More importantly, how do you go about getting noticed. Do you do the bare minimum, and simply fill out an application?  Or do you dig deeper and reach out to someone already in the company via email or Linkedin to let them know your interest isn’t a game.

Make the first move.  So you got an interview. It went great. Now what? Wait for them to call you back? How about not. Take initiative and make the first move. Regardless of whether or not your interviewer told you they’d contact you, send a follow-up email the next day. Let them know it was a pleasure and you look forward to hearing from them.  Depending on how quickly they are looking to fill the position may depend on how soon they respond. In the meantime, send a request via Linkedin in so they keep you in mind. Been a week or two and still no word? Send another email to ask if you’re still being considered as a candidate for the position.

Know your worth. This one thing that is so important in love and relationships, also holds precedent for your career. The worst thing you can do is get a job offer and take a sub-par salary. Granted, you have to consider several things like the level of the position you’re applying for and the how long you’ve been in your field. Above all, negotiate. Never take a first offer. Negotiating is one thing that a lot of people, especially women, don’t do enough of. At the end of the day, respect is key in any relationship.

What additional dating principles do you apply when searching for your next opportunity?

How to Remain Confident When Buying a Car

Car buying

Photo Credit: Image Above

About a month ago my parents during their visit communicated to me that I should probably look into buying a new car.  This was after I received a routine oil change in mid March and the shop owner let me know what the source of my oil leak was and repairs would total to $936.46.  Not to mention I need new spark plugs, two back tires and since November 2013 already spent close to one thousand dollars on repairs.  My vehicle of 5 years, “Black Thunder” was costing me a lot of money and I had already packed on a lot of miles.

To be honest I was not ready to buy a car at all.  I am in the process of rebuilding my savings account and paying off unsecured debt so I didn’t have much to put down for a down payment.  So, I tapped into my resources to prep for buying a new car and here are the steps I took so that I can remain confident in the purchasing process:

1)      Examine what your budget can handle.   I knew that my current car note was pretty low and would definitely increase.  In the event I combed through my budget to determine how much of an increase I could financially handle and also factored in that my car insurance payment may rise as well.

2)      Nail down what vehicle you want.  I was going to pay off Black Thunder and ride it out so that I can purchase an Audit Q5, but things didn’t pan out as I had initially hoped.  I went for the Nissan Altima instead because I knew it was durable, affordable and great on gas.

3)      Find out the value and selling price of the vehicle.   My colleague introduced me to a great site called Edmunds.com.  From there I was able to obtain the MSRP for the specific Nissan Altima I wanted and what other individuals were paying at nearby dealerships.  This site was very helpful and allowed me to feel more confident when I walked into the dealership.

4)      Figure out what the trade in value will be.   A friend of mine told me to go to CarMax where they would appraise my vehicle at no charge.  I made an appointment and was able to get the appraisal taken care of in under an hour.  Even though I didn’t purchase my vehicle from CarMax I took the appraisal to the dealership and they honored the value it was appraised at.

5)      Look into getting upfront funding.  I currently have a credit card with Capital One and caught wind of their Blank Check program.  I applied and was approved for a comfortable amount and received the blank check to take to the dealership that they had a partnership with.

I ended up not taking the Capital One funding and went with Nissan funding in order to take advantage of additional discounts and ensure the process would be a lot smoother.  I also was coming in with negative equity (trade in value was less than what was owed) and I didn’t want to go over the Loan to Value amount.   Loan to Value limit represents your maximum loan amount including tax, titling fees, and any extended warranties as a percentage of the vehicle value.  Here’s an example: if your vehicle value is $30,000 and LTV limit is 110%, the maximum amount you could write your Blank Check for is $33,000.  I am happy with my purchase and plan to refinance for a lower rate in 6 months.

Do you have any tips prior to you purchasing a vehicle?  Share your thoughts!

How to Conduct An Informational Interview

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Apparently, I have been doing informational interviews throughout my progression in my career and just didn’t know what the correct term was for it.  As mentioned in my post 4 Reasons I’m Grateful to Enter my 30’s I am working on peeling back additional layers to my passion for teaching and how I can leverage that within my current organization.  I have conducted three informational interviews over the past 6 months to explore if a certain role was a good fit for me.  The beginning of February before I applied for a training position I reached out to the hiring manager and asked if he would be willing to participate in a short informational interview and he accepted.  Keep in mind you don’t have to go straight for the hiring manager.  I have conducted informational interviews with employees that are in the role or similar role for the position I am looking to apply for.  I listed below some of the questions that I ask in my informational interviews:

  1. How long have you been in this role and/or department?
  2.  What are some the daily activities that are performed and do you have a peak season?
  3. What type of qualities should one have to be successful in this role?
  4. What areas of the business do you collaborate with and support?

Come Recommended provided an excellent piece about “25 Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview.”  The post covers questions to ask the person you are interviewing about his/ her career, hiring process to get into their company, how you can sharpen your skills and how to wrap up the interview.  Please check out the post here.

What benefits did you receive from conducting informational interviews?  Please share and also any additional tips.

Photo Credit: Image One

Cover Letters and Thank You Notes

Webster University

Photo Credit:  Webster University

A cover letter can be utilized for several reasons listed below:

1) It can serve as another tool to market your skills and how they will be useful to the position you are applying for.

2) If you are applying for a position that is outside of your area this can give you an opportunity to explain your intentions in a professional manner.  For instance, in my case I relocated to Dallas because I wanted to be closer to my parents and immediate family.  When applying for positions before I left St. Louis I disclosed in my cover letter why I was relocating and when I planned to be in the area.  I was able to secure a position that was a progression in my career two months after arriving here in Dallas.

3) A cover letter can also allow you to explain any gaps in employment and how you continued to keep your skills sharpened.

I prefer to think of a thank you note as the icing on the cake.  It gives you the opportunity to reaffirm your interest in the organization and to further convey your qualifications for the role.

The Career Services Center at Webster University where I received one of my degrees from provided a great resource for cover letters and thank you notes.  It mentions writing guidelines, provides outlines and samples.  Please make sure you visit the link here.

If I have any readers that are currently in school or just graduated please make sure you utilize the services provided at your school’s career service center.  A friend directed me to the Career Services Center at Webster University right after I graduated and I was able to get assistance to revamp my resume to appear more results-oriented.  Here is a snippet of my resume below to show what I mean by making it more results-oriented:

  • Successfully implement 10 clients for a go live date of 1/1/2013 and serve as a Subject Matter Expert and point of contact for all Medicare Part D enrollment activities
  • Perform full file comparison audits for identified clients housing 10,000 to 15,000 members to identify any new enrollments, disenrollments or changes
  • Retrieve enrollment records for 5-10 required members from produced client reports in response to fulfilling samples needed for weekly departmental audits

I didn’t just list tasks that I do in my position.  I incorporated numbers and results that have been accomplished in my role.

Do you have any go to sites or resources for cover letters and thank you notes?  Please share them in the comments section.