Archives for March 2012

When Should Kids Be Allowed To Go Dating?

This topic is one that will elicit different answers depending on the background, educational levels and age of the parents.   Most opinions regarding whether or not, or when to date is largely influenced by the cultural backgrounds of the parents.  In the western world parents are usually more likely to be open to the idea of dating than the parents from the eastern world. My views are primarily influenced by my strict upbringing and my spiritual convictions.

I view dating as a precursor to marriage, this is how one gets to interact on a closer level with a potential mate.  If this is the intent, I think dating is a necessary part of socialization, a young man gets a chance to practice the things that they have learned about how to treat girls, and on the other hand girls have an opportunity to figure out what types of guys they would want to marry based on how they are treated their dates.   It seems however that dating and its definition have been changed today, and is not used for the purpose for which it was intended.  I spoke to my 13 year old son about who he would date and why, throughout the conversation he emphasized that young people these days don’t date with the intent to marry, they just date for fun, and not necessarily with marriage in sight.  I was disappointed to hear that; why would one date someone you would not think of marrying, that does not make sense to me.  I hope he was just telling that to me to see my reaction.

What age should you as a parent allow dating, and how far do you allow your kids to go, plus what qualifies as “dating”?  This is one of the toughest question for parents today, especially since kids are wanting to have experiences earlier and earlier.  I have seen kids in my neighborhood going to movies together as a couple at 13 years old.  Is this too young?  I think it is.  I think interaction between the sexes at this age should be done in a group, there is less opportunity for inappropriate behavior to occur in such setting.   The parents who allow their kids to go out together at this early age risk the possibility of their kids engaging in activities for which they are not emotionally and physically ready.  Maybe they have forgotten how as teenagers their harmones were raging.  In my opinion, 16 years old is the age that dating can be allowed, but still with lots of guidance and restrictions.   Even though they are allowed to date, late nights out and being alone for extended periods is dangerous and should be discouraged.  I am afraid of these years, I am definitely not looking forward to it, I have 3 years to prepare, and I hope I will be prepared enough to deal with all the issues that may arise.

Whatever the age you think is ok, make sure you communicate this, plus your values and expectations to your kids.  Don’t wait to address situations as they occur, then it is too late.  Keep the line of communications open always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Office Survival Guide

How do you keep your sanity, stay above the fray, and perform at a high level of expectations in the office? The workplace today is very diverse, with people of different ethnic backgrounds, educational levels and social upbringing.  If one is not aware of how to navigate the sometimes murky waters on the job, valuable time can be spent putting out fires instead of working and performing.  There are many situations in the office that can be distracting and should be avoided at all costs, two major ones to deal with are:

Gossiping In the Office

Gossiping in the office is a no no, there are disgruntled employees everywhere, who walks around the office and infect the workplace with venom.   Getting caught up in office gossip can not only ruin your career it can also damage your reputation and that of others.  If someone comes to you complaining about others, the first question to ask is if they have talked to the person about the situation.  If they have not, then advise them to.   Same approach should be when they complain to you about their bosses, ask if they have approached him or her.  If you do feel the need to give some advise, and possibly have a good grasp of the situation, find ways to give advise without bashing or contributing to any negative attitudes.  Remember that there are two sides to every workplace story, and you might not have the opportunity to hear the other.

If you are the person complaining, be careful who you complain to.  Remember, if you go to another manager you are not guaranteed any manager-employee confidentiality.   Managers sometimes have alliances, and your issue might be discussed even though you might not want it to be.  The rule of thumb should be if you can’t tell it to the person you have a grievance with, then you should not tell it to anyone else.

Unprofessional Behavior

There is never a good reason to curse or swear at anyone in the office.  Disagreements should be welcomed as often-times this is how great ideas are generated.  There can be no growth or innovation if there are no arguments and discussions around different ideas for problem solving.

Of course there will be others on the job who you might have like or get along with, and that’s ok.  We are not there to be buddies, but to get a job done.  If you find buddies in the workplace, then that’s a bonus, and a point to be appreciated.  Try and avoid the people you don’t get along with as much as possible, if you need work related information, you should be able to ask for this in a cordial manner, and hopefully the request will be received similarly.  There may be cases wherein you might need to talk to the human resources department if the relationship gets out of control.

Stress in the office is not a good reason to be unprofessional.  I have seen people yell and scream at others at work, then blame it on being stressed.  This is not a good reason.  Find ways to deal with the pressures on the job without taking it out on others, do thing such as taking a walk, listening to music or whatever it is you do that can relieve the stress of the job.   I usually tell people that after the milestone has been met, take a day off, so that you can refocus, regroup, and re-energize.

Other things that can lead to unprofessional behavior in the office are inappropriate around politics or religion.  These should be avoided as much as possible.  If you do engage, be aware of who you are talking with, the topic at hand, and where the discussion is taking place.  Even when you are having discussions with colleagues who you think are close to you and think the way you do, your words can come back to haunt you later if things go sour down the road.  If you don’t believe this, just ask any politician running for office. You know what is and is not appropriate, so use good judgement.

Emails and Voice Mails

Should you have some personal guide regarding office emails? You absolutely should!  My advice here is, if the topic is personnel related and sensitive in nature, don’t send email, talk to the person face to face.  Also, never send negative emails about another person, since emails like texts don’t go away, and can again come back to haunt you.  The same guide can be used for voice mail, never leave negative voice mails about someone in the office, if you need to have a discussion about something problematic, see the individual to be dealt with in person.  The electronic age is wreaking havoc on our ability to be discreet, and to trust that we are sending emails to just one person, the ability to blind copy, do email forwarding are just two of the ways our words can be blasted out to many more people that we intended.   Again, the rule is simple, if you can’t say it to the person’s face, then don’t send email.

Putting It All In Perspective

At the end of the day, your job should not be your life.  You should let your family, and life away from work be your focus.  So when things happen on the job or people get in your way, the thing to remember is that this is not your life, it should only be a small part of it.

I had a colleague once who used to say, “I work to live, not live to work.”  If you use this mantra, you will put yourself in a mental position where things at work will bother you at times, but not consume your person.  The office is a place to work and make money, keep it as professional as you can and try to get along with all regardless of race, religion or gender.

 

 

 

 

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Is Texting Stunting Our Kids’ Communication Skills?

One of my pet peeve is someone coming up to me and just saying “Hey” as a way of greeting.  I find it to be very annoying and almost offensive, why not just add my name to the end of that?  Yesterday, I was one Facebook, and a young niece jumped on and and the only word she typed was, “Hey”.  Needless to say, she received a scolding and a lesson on communication and how it can be done in a respectful manner and in a way that considers your audience’s age and stature.  Have you ever listened to kids greeting each other, it is just like that, “hey”.  I sometimes how could we have progressed this far, yet we are regressing by grunting at each other.

 

The art of communication

As humans, we communicate everyday, to do this effectively we must develop the proper skills.  In order for us to develop good communication skills, we must interact verbally with each other.  Relationships are made and are broken largely based on the effectiveness of the communication between the individuals involved.  We must convey our thoughts concisely and in a manner that the listener can understand and appreciate.  In order to do this, we must practice listening and speaking.   Our kids are not doing this are they mostly reading via text, thus they have no idea how to carry on a normal conversation when face to face.  In communicating via texting, they are missing out on the nuances and importance of tone, facial expressions and body language and how these can impact the message that they are sending when interacting directly with people.  If we want our kids to develop communication skills, we  find ways to encourage direct conversations, and if necessary put limits on their texting.

 

Why they Like Texting

Texting is easy for kids to do as they can hide behind the phone and be brave, they can say what they want, pretend to be who they are not without the reality of facing the person they are communicating with.  After reading some of my son’s not so pleasant texts, I have asked if he would have said the same thing had he been in front of the individual, or even on the phone talking, and the answer at all times was no.

 

Enabling Good Communications Skills

In order for kids to learn communication skills, we have to communicate with them.  In order to do so, we must start by modeling good behaviors ourselves.   Find ways to communicate outside of Facebook and Twitter yourself, let your children hear and see you having direct meaningful conversations with others.  There are lesson to be taught here, not to mention vocabulary building.

Talk to them early on when they are small, encourage open lines of communication, don’t just ask how was their day, and stop there after they say good.   Go deeper, and find out what actually went on in the classroom, hearing how he or she responded to different situations.

While driving in the car, take the opportunity at times to talk about current events.  Don’t allow everyone to be texting away while you chat on the phone yourself

Present your kids with opportunities to have conversations with adults.  This can be done by inviting friends over, having family gatherings, etc.  The kids typically go off, however, before they do get them to engage with the adults for some time.

Demand respectful and appropriate communication from your kids, don’t let them get away with the grunt of greeting you with “Hey” and what’s up! Encourage them to use words that strengthens their vocabulary, along with addressing the person based on who they are.  They should be taught that communication changes based on the audience.  They cannot expect to greet the president or their teacher the way they would a friend.

Have them call friends sometimes instead of text.

 

Final Thoughts

These strategies above are not difficult to implement, and they must be if we are not content to raise a nation of grunters.  Let’s teach proper communication skills, and not text ourselves back into the dark ages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tips For A Successful Job Interview

There are some obvious things to consider when going on a job interview, however there are also other subtle points that we might need to be reminded of from time to time. I will be discussing some of these here.

I expect that you already know the obvious, such as dressing appropriately, arriving on time, and having copies of your resume available, so I will not discuss these here, except to say don’t forget…..these are key prerequisites.

 

One of the very key things when going on a job interview is to “know your resume”:

It is very embarrassing when people come into interviews and have phrases on their resume such as, “expert in……” Unless you are truly an expert, please leave that out of the resume.  It’s ok to use phrases such as knowledgeable in, experienced with or even familiar with.  Don’t feel obligated to call yourself an expert just because you have been in the field for a while.  That is fodder for the interviewer to give you the 3rd degree.  You might come across an interviewer who “wrote the book” so to speak, and then you will be called upon  to really show your true expertise.  So again, unless you are really an expert, leave that word out.

Be able to talk about your experiences, if you don’t recall what you did on a particular job, then go back to their website and review their product or technology, re-acquaint yourself with their process.  If that fails, call and ask someone in your previous department what some specifics were.  If you can’t get forgotten information about a past job, or don’t have it, take it out of the resume.

 

Be aware of your body language, attitude and facial expressions:

This is one of those points that people sometimes make the most mistakes with.  An interviewer might oftentimes ask you a question that you consider to be stupid, answer it with the same expression and seriousness that you would the sensible ones.  The interviewer might be looking to see how you respond in different situations, or maybe not.  In any event, you expression will be key in how your are perceived.  Sometimes, you might find that you are smarter than the interviewer, don’t be condescending, if this person is interviewing you, it means they might have the power to turn down a possible offer to you.

Another body language to be aware of is the slump.  Sometimes you might be asked the same question over and over again by an interview panel, instead of being bored and letting your body slump, use this as a positive, take points learned from one interviewer to the next.

Never walk into the interview and assume that the person interviewing you will be a walk over, you never know, this might be the toughest interview.  I have had people leave the office after an interview cycle, and said, “I thought so and so would be a softie, but boy was he the toughest of the lot.”  Be careful with this, as you might be flippant and overly cocky with someone, thus costing yourself the position.

 

How familiar should you be?

I have read some articles that state you should call the interviewers by first name, as this shows that you are interested and have learned their names.  I totally disagree!  With the workplace being as multicultural and diverse as it is, this can be a mistake.  Many people don’t like familiarity this soon.  To be on the safe side, it’s best to call people by their last names, Ms. Jones or Mr Jones.  Let them ask you to call them by first name.

If there is someone you knew from another life, you can show recognition, but don’t launch into a conversation about your past association unless it is mentioned by the interviewer, and when it is, let he or she lead the conversation.

Another point is mutual colleagues, if you have mutual acquaintances in the past or present, again let the interviewer broach that subject and take the lead.  Be careful not to be lead into a negative conversation.

If the interviewers joke about a particular topic or make any comment that you deem inappropriate, don’t feel obligated to laugh or comment, just wait for the next question.

 

Off Limit Topics

It is always best not to discuss your private life unless the job responsibilities might conflict with family interests. If you think there is any possibility of this happening, talk to the HR person on the interview, not the hiring manager.

Never discuss politics, race, or religion, or give your personal views on any subject outside of the interview topics.

Lastly when asked why you are looking for a new position, don’t bad mouth your old company or manager.  Simply state that you are looking for new opportunities; that will always be true.

 

Interviewing skill is truly that, “a skill”, the more you do, the better you will become, however, no one wants to just be an expert interviewer, so improve this skill by reading, and doing mock interviews with friends as well.  Before you go to the interview, find out about the position you are interviewing for so that most of all you can be prepared.

 

 

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Get the Salary You Want Upon Hire

As a manager at a large company, I have seen many people complain that they are not making enough money, and are asking for huge increases to make up for the deficient salary request they made coming into the position.  What are the guidelines you should use when being hired and requesting a salary?

 

Be aware of all factors influencing salary

  1. Research the general salary range of the position for which you are applying, make sure you know how much you are worth.  Factors are typically years of experience and educational level.
  2. If you know someone on the inside ask what the salaries are to get an idea of what to ask for
  3. Know the typical salary for the region of the country in which you are living or moving to?
  4. Is the position with a private organization or with a government agency? Generally the government agencies salaries are a fraction less than the private companies
  5. Is the position an entry level one or one that requires years of experience?

Know Your Salary Bottom Line

  1. What are your financial obligations?
  2. What do you think you are worth given all the above factors?
  3. Don’t ask for the bottom of the range from the research above, this will give some room for negotiations
  4. What is your current salary?  know if you can survive with a lateral salary move, or if you need to have an increase
  5. Will it be worth your while leaving your current position if you were not offered an increase?

 

In the end, after doing the research and analyzing your situation, ask for the salary be want, but also be willing to negotiate within predetermined limits.  If you decide to take a salary decrease, be willing to live for some time knowing that it will take a while to get back to where you want to be, and know that your manager cannot be held responsible for the decision.  I have seen many individuals come into a position asking for less than they really want in order to secure the position, then within the first year or less, they bemoan the salary, make themselves and everyone around them miserable.  This is not the position to be in.

Know your worth, know what you want and ask for it!

 

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Don’t Eat Leftover Food From The Kids’ Plates!

Yesterday while cleaning up after dinner, I realized that I was cleaning all my kids plates; eating the left overs.  I was thinking that I cannot left such good meal be wasted, then I caught myself in the middle of another mouthful, and thought, If it does not get wasted, what’s the alternative…..throw it in the garbage can…..which is what???? MY STOMACH!!!

I had to reassess my position on saving food, and the world.  As much as I would like to send all the leftover food to starving kids, they won’t let me because of  fear of contamination, and of course lawsuits.  So bottom line, I can’t save leftovers for the world, and my stomach cannot be the garbage can, so I threw the rest out, into the “real” garbage can.

That whole point reminds me of an incident on one of my vacations. We were staying at a hotel, and about 9:30 pm food was brought out to the tables, and lots of it.  About 10:30pm, a gentleman came, pulled the tablecloths with all the food on it into the garbage.  I was flabbergasted…..we are talking about a lot of food in a poor country.  I asked the waitress why all the food was not collected and given to the homeless and she explained that they can’t due to the policy  of the hotel. Workers were not even allowed to take it home to their hungry kids, talk about waste!  Anyway, back to me and us.  Guys try not to over cook, so that you are not tempted to save the leftovers with your stomach.

Do yourself and your family a favor, for health and well being, don’t eat the left overs. When your kids are finished, you should be too.

PS:  Please save the good leftovers for another day’s meal.  I mean don’t eat the left overs from the plates 🙂

 

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The Real Issues of Working Women and Mothers

Last week, I was really disappointed, it was Women’s day on March 12th, and most of the week was spent on debating contraceptives.  Did we really address the issues that concern us? and why did we not? [Read more…]

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Outsmarting Kids On The SmartPhone

So you have bought your kid a smartphone and it’s driving you crazy…even though you have some protective services on when the use WIFI, you totally lose control.  How do you regain some sanity and make sure they are protected?  Here are a few things you can do. [Read more…]

Homework Help Is Here

When you are working, the kids might come home from school before you do, what do you do for homework help?
There are many website that offer help with homework, but most of them are not free, and this can be a huge burden for parents who are already strapped for cash.
I have found some useful sites that my kids have been using to get assistance and practice when I am not around or when I am. [Read more…]

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Android Smartphone – Blessing Or Curse?

I finally moved into the 21st century and got an android phone last year.  I had always thought being so connected is just too intrusive, however with the phenomenon of texting, and that being the primary means of communicating by teenagers and younger people, I decided I had to change my point of view.  Can’t beat them, join them! [Read more…]

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Going To the Doctor, Clear Your Calendar!

Why is it we are asked to go to the doctor’s office at least 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork, etc, and they expect us to be on time. Yet, even after we respect their schedule and show up, we still have to wait, and wait and wait to see the doctor? [Read more…]

Being A Woman In The Workplace Today

Do you worry that you have to give up your femininity in order to fit into the technical workplace and be respected? Should you be one of the guys? If you do, will you get or lose respect?  OR should you be the lady of the group, all feminine and motherly?  My opinion is, you can be both feminine and assertive in your role without losing yourself. [Read more…]

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Should My Kids Want My Job or Career?

My friends kids and mine all have this in common, they don’t want our careers. Without exception, they all say no. It never fails, regardless of the standard of living we have made for them to be comfortable.  When asked what they want to be, they choose something at the other end of the spectrum.  Is it cultural, or is it that we make our lives and careers seem too formidable and restrictive for ours kids?  I will address a bit of both.  These kids are indeed different from us culturally as they are growing up in a different age, and also we have to be careful how we portray or jobs and workplace. [Read more…]

When Bad Kids Happen To Good Parents

I have said in previous posts not to feel guilty because have made the choice to work.  In doing so, you don’t always get to be home when the kids get off the bus, so of course you worry about what they are getting into when you are not at home.  In the end, many working women blame themselves when the kids get into trouble, not only do we blame ourselves, we are also blamed by the media.  So should you beat yourself up if this happens? [Read more…]