Workplace Rights

Weekly (3/18/14)

Topic of the Week  Awake--Paying Attention to What's Going On Around You

· DO be present in the moment

· DO listen internally and externally.

· DO speak what is true to you.

· DON'T be attracted to particular outcomes.

We all face a ton of challenges each day at work and it's easy to get buried by them. Which reminds me of a friend's story from a recent job fair. He was standing on line preparing in his own head the answers he thought he'd be asked by the recruiter. And then suddenly he realized that if he just listened to the people ahead of him in line, he would know exactly what would be asked. Even better, he could watch the recruiter's face to learn what responses were working and what responses weren't working.

I know our mom's taught us to not listen to other people's conversations, but there are plenty of times when listening makes everything easier. That's why I've listed three Do's and one Don't for learning how to be a better listener. For more, check out, "Getting to Resolution" by Stewart Levine (Berrett Koehler, 2009).

DO be present in the moment. I'm as guilty as anyone of living in the future. My ability to visualize where I want to be can blind me to what's actually happening around me at any particular time. Many of us also spend a lot of time in the past, obsessing about strategies that clearly didn't work. Heck, many of us beat ourselves up about this stuff constantly. Recently I had an eye opening experience about my past failures. I'd tried four times to convince a business partner that a particular path was how we needed to go. Believe it or not, the fifth time was the charm. But only because I'd learned each time from my four failed attempts.

DO listen internally and externally. Ever notice how some people are really good at knowing what's going on inside the company? While others really stay on top of what's going on outside the company? Today we all need to get better at doing both, simultaneously. Most of us today can't afford not to be listening to everything.

DO speak what is true to you. Above I talked about the need to listen obsessively. But that doesn't mean that you should lose your voice to what is popular or what appears that it might work at the time. We all need to also maintain a set of core beliefs about who we are and how we'll function at work. This foundation will go a long way in helping us to maneuver through the ethical and moral challenges that seem to follow us around our jobs today.

DON'T be attracted to particular outcomes. The scientific world is rife with stories of major breakthroughs that happened because a particular scientist was open to learning something new from a particular experiment. For example, Viagra wasn't so hot as a heart medication, but there was this very interesting side effect that gave it an entirely new life as a male enhancement drug. Allow yourself to be surprised.

As my friend learned on his job fair line, the answers are often all around us. If only we're paying attention.

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"The only way to entertain some folks is to listen to them."

–Kin Hubbard

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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