Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Respect at Work

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Issue No. 3122 - $1.00 Home Archives Contact Us Privacy Policy
Wednesday November 3, 2010

"If you have time to whine and complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it."

Anthony J. D'Angelo in The College Blue Book

Respect at Work: If You Want It... Be Prepared to Give It!
By Peter Fogel

Remember the Tom Cruise movie Jerry McGuire? One of the great taglines in that film -- besides "You had me at hello" -- was when one of Jerry's clients kept saying, "Show me the money!"

But what did he do for that money?

He complained. That's right! All he did was bitch and moan about his teammates, his leaky roof, and other personal and financial problems.

Meanwhile, his coach thought he was too small for a wide receiver, and no one could stand his egotistical attitude when he was out on the field, blaming others for his poor performance during games.

He was excellent at the "blame game." If he missed the ball, it was because another player threw it wrong or because his fellow players and fans weren't giving him "love." So let me be so blunt as to ask:

Are You a Prima Donna?

Does this sound like anyone you know? Most every industry and company has its prima donnas. Don't take this the wrong way, but are you that person for your company?

Do you constantly gripe about your duties? Your hours? Your low pay?

"Why don't I move to India? On what they are paying me here, I could live like a king there."

Do you turn red in the face when someone else gets a promotion?

"Frank? FRANK GOT MORE MONEY for doing what?! I was hired two days before he was, for crying out loud!"

Be honest. All of us at, one time or another, have come unglued when things didn't go our way at the office. (It is, in fact, a good thing to vent on occasion.)

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In my former life, before I reinvented myself, I LIVED to complain.

But you know what? In the long run, it never made me happier -- and it certainly NEVER got me what I wanted (more opportunities to advance, more money, etc.). It all boils down to this:

If you want to reinvent yourself in the workplace, you have to have respect for your company, your boss, your co-workers, and your job.

Never let on that you do NOT like what you are doing or that performing certain tasks are beneath you.

Common sense dictates that you should always be a team player.

That being said, people still shoot themselves in the foot when their bosses make requests of them.

According to Karen Burn, author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, there are seven things you should never say at work:

1. "This is easy! Anyone could do it!" A statement like this could be taken the wrong way. Perhaps your boss had the responsibility to do the exact same task before he was promoted. See where I am going with this? If it's easy, just say, "Hey, no problem. I'll get on it right now!"

2. "That's not my job." That might have gotten a big laugh for Freddie Prinze on the old "Chico and the Man" show. But it won't cut in today's workplace. If you don't understand why you've been asked to do a certain task, do a little investigating to find out why your boss wants you to do it. Chances are, he has a good reason.

3. "It's not my fault." If there's a problem, fix it -- no matter whose fault it is. If you did, in fact, screw up... own up to it and then come up with a solution as quickly as you can.

4. "It's not my problem." If a crisis is brewing, pitch in and help. If you don't have anything constructive to say, silence is golden at a time like this.

5. "I can only do one thing at a time." Yes, sometimes we all get overwhelmed at work -- so learn to multi-task. Snapping that you "can't handle the pressure" says to all within earshot that you can't handle your job.

6. "It can't be done." I worked for a company where the IT guy was like Scotty in Star Trek, always lamenting, "It just can't be done." Maybe what he was asked to do really couldn't be done... or maybe this guy just didn't want to be bothered. But one thing's for sure: He hardly ever came up with a solution to a problem.

Even if what you're asked to do seems impossible, search for ways to make it happen... and then boldly go where no man has gone before. (No more Star Trek references, I promise!)

7. "I am way overqualified for this job." Hey, maybe you are. Good for you. But the fact is, this is the job you have. You agreed to take it on. And while you may now regret that decision, it's still your job. Complaining that you're too good for it only makes you look bad. And guess what? You're not going to make your boss think, "Oh, this is a superior person. I need to promote him." Nope. He'll think, "What a jerk!"

It's easy to come up with excuses for why you are not moving up the food chain at your job.

But no one is going to promote you to get you to do what you are supposed to be doing in the first place. It makes no sense to think you should wait until you get a raise... and then become a top performer.

In other words, if want to be a superstar, start acting like one!

[Ed. Note: Peter "The Reinvention Guy" Fogel delivers presentations on humor, reinvention, copywriting, and marketing to corporations and associations across America. He helps entreprenuers reinvent themselves and unleash their "inner public speaker" for higher visibility and bigger profits. To sign up for his 4-in-1 Total Success Reinvention Package, visit And to sign up for his FREE 7 Days to More Effective Public Speaking e-course, please go to]

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Today's Words That Work: Esurient

Esurient  (ih-SOOR-ee-unt) -- from the Latin for "to eat" -- means hungry/greedy/voracious.

Example (as used by Gordon Marino in a New York Times review of The Silent Season of a Hero: The Sports Writing of Gay Talese, edited by Michael Rosenwald ): "[Talese's] esurient eye for detail can, on rare occasions, cloud the larger picture. In his justly famous and rather sunny portrait of a retired Joe Louis, Talese seems dull to the fact that the timbers of Louis's life are cracking."

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