1. 3 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Conflict When Giving Feedback

    feedback, leadership, fear of conflict

    Does the thought of giving negative feedback to an employee make you want to call in sick? If so, a fear of conflict may get in your way.

    But you’re not doing anyone a favor by avoiding conflict. When problems go unaddressed or are swept under the rug, everyone suffers—including you. Avoiding conflict doesn’t just keep you from fulfilling your responsibilities, it also erodes your self-esteem. No one likes being the office push-over and constantly questioning yourself can take a toll on your confidence levels (What if he explodes in rage? What if she says I’m a bad manager?).

    A lack of constructive feedback is also detrimental to your team, depriving them of mentorship and growth opportunities. Workplaces marked by poor communication and unclear expectations are also breeding grounds for imposter syndrome, low trust, and disengagement.

    Improving your ability to deliver feedback clearly and assertively does require practice. Learning to create a container for the strong emotions kicked up by difficult conversations can also take time. But the longer you wait, the higher the cost to both you and your team members.

    Here’s how to get started with conquering your fear of conflict so you can manage more effectively.

    Tackling Your Fear of Conflict

    Many people who avoid confrontation jump to worse-case-scenarios and carry around stories like, “No one likes a micromanager,” or “Bringing up this issue will ruin our working relationship.” While these beliefs may stem from past experiences with rejection and failure, they are a reflection of inaccurate, binary thinking.

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  2. 5 Ways to Keep Your Career on Track During a Life Crisis

    Personal Crisis, Work-Life Balance, Career Track

    You’ve made your career a top priority. You strive for excellence and may have even made sacrifices to advance in the workplace. When life throws you a curveball, it can be challenging — and somewhat disorienting — to stay on track. Major life crises, like a family member being diagnosed with cancer, financial troubles or other life events can (rightfully) consume a lot of your time and attention.

    If you find yourself in the midst of a difficult time, it may seem impossible to carry on as a top performer at work. At the same time, you know it’s important to keep your career on track, not to mention maintain a semblance of routine and normalcy through the rough patch.

    How do you balance a career and a personal crisis? Here are a few tips to navigate the workplace:

    1. Think before you share

    It’s important to find support when going through a tough time, but before divulging the details to those at work, think about the benefits and drawbacks of sharing. If you’re experiencing health issues, for example, may want to disclose some specifics about your situation to your boss and team, since you may require time out of the office for doctors’ appointments.

    Take your workplace culture into account. For example, if you have the kind of work environment where everyone’s personal life is an open book, it may feel natural to share more about what’s going on. If your office is uber professional, it may be more culturally appropriate to only disclose details through a formalized process that involves approaching your manager or the HR department.

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  3. How Scheduling Time to Worry Can Actually Benefit You

    Worry Less, Stress Relief

    Worrying all the time is a reality for many entrepreneurs. Long hours working alone, increased pressure to succeed and the rigorous demands of running a business often result in concerns that multiply and go unchecked.

    Whether it’s one or two big problems that nag at you consistently throughout the day or a host of little things that zip in and out of your head and break your concentration, there’s one simple way to manage them: take a worry break.

    The Benefits of Worrying on a Schedule

    A worry break is a scheduled time that you set aside on a regular basis to focus on the anxieties or problems that are preoccupying you.

    If that sounds like a recipe for more stress, consider this: spending 15 to 20 minutes a day on a worry deep-dive can ultimately reduce your worries and help you cope more effectively with the challenges thrown at you. When you focus intensely on your concerns at a designated time instead of letting them run wild and interfere with your day, you’re more equipped to create constructive solutions.

    If you’re ready to try a worry break, here’s how experts recommend you start:

    Schedule a time for your worry break.

    Pick a time when you are usually alone and are less likely to be interrupted. Ideally, you would take a worry break on a daily basis, making it part of your routine. This also makes you less prone to skipping it on hectic or stressful days (which is when you need it most).

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  4. 3 Assertive Communication Techniques to Earn the Respect You Deserve

    assertive communication, communication skills, communication techniques

    Aggressive people are hostile, adopting the “my way or the highway” stance. Passive people give up their power and are easily taken advantage of, which creates a surefire recipe for burnout and resentment. You want to be a happy medium—an assertive person and assertive communication.

    Assertive people seek out win-win scenarios and make their desires and beliefs known. Confident and assured, they approach situations with a healthy dose of objectivity, and as a result, are able to communicate clearly and directly in a low-drama, self-respecting way.

    Being Assertive is Effective

    One Stanford study found that women who used confidence and assertiveness skills, combined with relationship-oriented traits like empathy, were promoted more often than women who used only relationship-oriented skills. They also advanced more quickly than men.

    Unfortunately, women face barriers to projecting assertiveness at work. Messages from our families, schooling, and society urge women to be likable and agreeable, and this expectation helps create a double bind: If a woman speaks up, she risks being called ”bitchy” or mean. However, if she stays quiet, then she may be overlooked for opportunities or cast as the office pushover.

    Many women have stumbled upon tools like talking sticks or shine theory to get their voices heard. But what’s even more powerful than one-off tactics is developing communication skills to deal with common situations like advocating for your ideas in a meeting, asking for a raise, or managing up.

    Here are techniques for speaking up, pushing back, and getting your voice heard more often.

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  5. How to Quit Comparing Yourself to Others

    Stop the comparison trap

    Do you find you’re regularly comparing yourself to others? For example, you’re at the gym, in the middle of a great workout, feeling strong and accomplished. Just as you’re about to start your cool-down, someone gets on the treadmill next to you and cranks the speed up. Their toned legs that go on for miles make yours look, well, stumpy, and you can’t help but notice multiple people staring at her. She’s wearing the trendiest workout clothes, and you suddenly feel incredibly self-conscious in your fitness fashion choices. How on earth is she not even breaking a sweat, while you’re there make-up free and drenched?!

    Back at home, you start scrolling through Facebook. It’s filled with your friends’ happy photos and cheery status updates about the new house they just bought in a super desirable neighborhood. You’ve been coveting a home just like theirs for years now, saving little by little, but your dream is still years away from becoming a reality.

    You start to think, “what did they do right that I didn’t? I should have gotten that raise last year—that would really have helped me out. I guess I’m not putting in enough hours after all, but there is just so much to do between working a full-time job, raising two kids, and dealing with a spouse who travels for work all the time. I’ll never get there…”

    Have you ever found yourself a situation like this?

    This is the comparison trap in action, and it’s bringing you down.

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  6. Lukewarm Coffee and Major Mistakes: My Sensitive Striving Story

    One summer Saturday night, sitting at a half-empty Starbucks in NYC, I realized how much my addiction to achievement had taken from my life.

    That evening was rare in New York City—it was the perfect weather to walk in Central Park or have drinks on a rooftop with friends.

    Instead of having fun, I was sitting by myself nursing a lukewarm latte and realizing that I had made a terrible mistake.

    I had just bailed last minute on a close friend’s wedding weekend. My hotel was paid for, travel arrangements were made, and I was excited to see all of my friends from college in one place.

    But the anticipation was always accompanied by guilt. I couldn’t shake the constant reminders from my inner critic:

    “You have work to do. Who do you think you are taking an entire weekend off? What about your career? Everyone is going to think you’re lazy.”

    At the time I was working in a high-pressure job as a researcher. When I wasn’t running around frantically trying to accomplish everything on my never-ending to-do list, I was squished between Wall Street bankers on a bus heading into or out of New York City at rush hour, with a two-hour commute ahead. Every day, I’d wake up at dawn and go non-stop until I fell asleep with my computer on the bed. Then I’d do it all again the next day. 

    From the outside, it looked like I had it all.

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