Monday, August 16, 2010

Do you have an Escape Hatch at Work?

Everyone’s buzzing about Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who took flight down an emergency hatch, beer in hand, as he presumably quit his job.

I say presumably, since now that cooler heads prevail, he seems to want his job back.  Not that you can believe everything you read!
If the internet buzz and office cooler conversations are any indication, Slater seems to have become the hero of working people everywhere, who, on the down low secretly wish they could jump out of their jobs the way Slater apparently jumped out of his.

For a little while, I imagine, employees everywhere dared to dream of the exhilaration and sense of freedom that must come from being able to get on an intercom system and vent about your company, your boss, your co-workers and / or your customers…before making a grand exit.

Many are thinking.."Wow! How empowering that must be."

That is, until you wake up the next day and like the characters in the movie The Hangover, you try to retrace your steps and figure out what really happened. Yes, of course the world might on your side during your 15 seconds of fame, and that may make you feel really good.  Then slowly it might set in... I don’t have a job AND there is a 9.5% employment rate AND I now have a not-so-nice reputation in my own industry … making it hard for me to go back to the work I claim I love.

So I thought that while we continue to live vicariously through Slater all of us should have our own escape hatches at work, with much with less drama, of course.

Here are some possibilities for when workplace stress is getting the best of you:

1. Leave the office and go get an ice cream cone or yogurt or something “not-so-good-for-you”. Sometimes all we need is a taste of childhood to feel adult again.
2. Have a buddy at work, on whom you can rely to talk you down off the ledge. A quickie phone call or hallway meeting may be all you need.
3. Keep a copy of your child’s college tuition bill taped inside your top drawer. An orthodontics or summer camp bill could work as well as a mortgage statement or a photo of the new car in your future. Whatever your motivation, now is the time to remember it.
4. Take a few minutes, and go outside if you can.  Go sit in your car. Listen to your favorite station - Music, sports or talk radio. Whatever floats your boat!
5. Finally, as my mother would say, and this has worked for me in the past, pull down your glass curtain and squeeze your toes in your shoes…and release. Aaahh! No one but you will know that you just took a mental vacation. 

You might find any little activity like these may be all you need to do to gain some perspective.

The goal of course is to find out what works for you in those tiny moments when bad judgment, if unchecked, could get the best of you.

I caution you, of course, that this is not a long term solution and unchecked workplace stress can cause irreparable damage. Steven Slater knows that first hand. Then again, you never know, this might be just the time he needed to work on his bestseller – A Beer and an Escape Hatch; How to Keep your Career on Cloud 9!

Read more about Workplace Stress!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Secret Weapon to Manage Job Interview Body Language

Some experts believe that body language communicates in three specific ways:

1. Acts as a replacement for words
2. Acts as a reinforcement of our words when we gesture to emphasize speech
3. Acts as a mirror of inner emotions and attitudes

Here are some of the more common body language messages recruiters might be getting from job seekers in the job interviews: (Of course recruiters are human too and could definitely be misinterpreting what they are seeing)

- Fear and insecurity – You aren’t making eye contact
- Bias – You are staring at only one interviewer and ignoring the others
- No confidence – You have a weak handshake
- Disinterest – You are slouching or hanging over the arm of the chair
- Arrogance – You are leaning back in the chair
- Nervousness – You are gesticulating wildly and relying on your hands to do all the talking
- Discomfort – You are fidgeting with tight or ill fitting clothing

It's hard to recognize when body language might be failing you in the interview.  It's harder yet to modify behavior and movements on the fly, while you are in the interview.  The best time to fix body language concerns is before the real interview, by doing a mock interview.

Doing a mock interview, or practice interview is a great way to check on what your body is saying.

Ask a friend to help and set up a video camera and I guarantee that you will see yourself in a whole new way. Ask for feedback and take notes.  A mock interview is a great way to invest an hour and get immediate feedback to help bring your body in line on your next job interview.