Author Archives: bizcombuzz

Dating Coworkers a Sticky Wicket… Commas Count, Court Rules, and Company Pays… Tricks to Stoke Memory

Dating Coworkers a Sticky Wicket 

Office romances have been around for, well, as long as there have been offices. Recent research indicates that around 40 percent of workers have dated a colleague. With the national conversation revolving around workplace harassment, companies and employees are trying to navigate the treacherous waters of what’s okay and what’s not when it comes to dating a coworker.

Some organizations are putting regulations on their books prohibiting relationships between managers and their direct reports. Others are codifying relationships with so-called “love contracts,” which require colleagues in a relationship to sign a statement in which both parties agree to behave professionally at work. At Facebook and Google, employees are allowed to ask a colleague out once. If the request is rejected, no more asking is allowed without HR stepping in.

However, micro-managing human relations can be a no-win situation for organizations—having too many rules surrounding adult relationships makes it difficult to attract and keep employees, say HR managers. Still, having some policies governing these interactions offers workers clarity and employers a way to protect themselves and their staff.

From the Wall Street Journal

Commas Count, Court Rules, and Company Pays

The omission of the much-debated Oxford comma in a Maine labor law resulted in a court ruling costing a local dairy $5 million.

The problematic punctuation—which is the comma placed after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items—was absent in a law governing overtime and caused confusion about how to interpret which activities were exempted from overtime pay.The problem began when the employer claimed its drivers were exempt from overtime pay, citing Maine’s labor law, which stated that overtime rules did not apply to:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

(1) Agricultural produce;

(2) Meat and fish products; and

(3) Perishable foods.

The drivers claimed that the phrase “packing for shipment or distribution” read as a single act, and that since they never did any packing, they argued they should not have been exempt from overtime. The judge reviewing the case agreed and wrote that if the list of exemptions “used a serial comma to mark off the last of the activities that it lists, then the exemption would clearly encompass an activity that the drivers perform.”

Subsequently, the company settled the case–and the Maine legislature added clarifying punctuation to its law.

From CNN.com

Tricks to Stoke Memory

A memory champion has advice for those of us who leave our keys in the car (running), forget to return an e-mail, or can’t remember why we’re in a room. Memory champ Nelson Dellis shares his tips.

  1. Make it memorable. Associate the detail to remember with something exciting or special to make it real instead of abstract. For example, if you need to remember to pick up a pizza, imagine sizzling hot cheese burning your mouth.
  2. Create a memory palace. A memory palace is a series of pictures you imagine superimposed onto a place you know well. If you need to remember items on a grocery list, imagine bread covering your office desk and make up a story for why it’s there. When you dredge up the image of the desk and see the bread all over it, the story will be there to help you recall the item on your grocery list.
  3. Fabricate fantasies. Connect tasks you need to do and create a whacky narrative out of them. For example, if you need to remember to call the IT manager and schedule a meeting, make up a story: The CEO stole all the company computers and you need to meet with the IT person to discuss how to handle things. The crazier the story, the more memorable it becomes.
  4. Pay attention. Turn on laser focus when you know you need to remember something. Say you need to remember someone’s name. Tell yourself “This person’s name is X, This person’s name is X.”
  5. Practice daily. Anything you want to excel at requires practice, and memorization is no exception. Avoid relying on lists and instead force your memory to do the work.

From Fast Company

 

Six Verbs to Avoid at Work

Instructors: Download the exercise and its key at the end of this post.


What you say and how you say it matters in the workplace. The verbs below can make a speaker sound tentative or weak and should therefore be avoided.

Think               Makes the speaker sound unsure

Need               Infers dependence

Want               Connotes emotion rather than rationality

Guess              Suggests tentativeness or lack of commitment

Hope               Indicates a lack of control over the outcome

Suppose          Shows indifference and a lack of engagement


Change the verbs in the sentences below to show a more confident attitude.

  1. I think we should meet to discuss the allocation of duties to complete this detailed project.
  2. Although I’m working on this project alone, I need your input so I can complete the sales numbers.
  3. I want you to assess the potential benefits of this technology in a written report to me before we think about implementing the technology.
  4. I guess I could complete my portion by next Tuesday.
  5. I sure hope your team will be able to adjust the scale model.
  6. I suppose we could go to the site and check it one more time before we break ground.
  7. I think I could improve the website’s interface to make it more seamless and user friendly.
  8. I need to understand the analytic-driven solutions that will affect hiring.
  9. I want you to rewrite the social media strategy before employees have questions about connecting with customers on Twitter and Facebook.
  10. I guess we could put together a short workshop that helps employees understand the new benefits package.
  11. We hope to make employee referrals part of formal recruitment.
  12. Do you suppose you could complete that online training session by the end of the week?

Answer Key

  1. Let’s meet to discuss the allocation of duties to complete this detailed project.
  2. Although I’m working on this project alone, your input will help me complete the sales numbers.
  3. Please assess the potential benefits of this technology in a written report to me before we think about implementing it.
  4. Of course I can complete my portion by next Tuesday.
  5. It’s crucial to the success of this project for your team to adjust the scale model.
  6. We’ll go to the site and check it one more time before we break ground.
  7. I could improve the website’s interface to make it more seamless and user friendly.
  8. Your knowledge will help me understand the analytic-driven solutions that will affect hiring.
  9. Please rewrite the social media strategy before employees have questions about connecting with customers on Twitter and Facebook.
  10. We could put together a short workshop that helps employees understand the new benefits package.
  11. We will make employee referrals part of formal recruitment.
  12. Online training sessions must be completed by the end of the week.

Six Verbs to Avoid–Exercise

Six Verbs to Avoid at Work-Answer Key

Enjoy Your Summer—Science Says It’s Okay

By the end of the academic year, most of us are counting the days until we can get a little R and R—and it’s no wonder, considering the intellectual, emotional, and physical demands of teaching. Between class prep, administrative duties, needy students, and relentless grading, summer can—and should—be a time to rest, relax, and recover, so that we can recommit to our jobs come fall.

Too often, however, we end up using our summers to catch up on research or writing. We meet with colleagues to compare notes and occasionally grouse when we should actually take vacation time much more seriously.

Science backs this up, and it all has to do with stress. Stress builds up over the course of the year and can be so toxic that it impedes the body’s ability to resist infection. It can even lead to poor digestion, anxiety, depression, and irritability. Sound familiar?

Multiple studies show that vacations ease stress by removing us from the people and environments that cause that stress. Getting away from it all breaks your usual pattern and allows you to rejuvenate yourself. Research indicates that vacationers come home with fewer headaches and backaches. Taking time off even appears to prevent heart disease, heart attacks, and death from a cardiac-related event. Better sleep is yet another result of vacations—because vacations change up our habits, they reset our sleeping patterns, so we sleep better when we return home.

Aside from physical reasons to stop and smell the roses, research shows that taking time off actually improves productivity back at work. Constant working at peak capacity (or close to it) ironically hinders us from doing our best work. The Boston Consulting group found that employees who vacationed were happier as well as more efficient workers than their counterparts who stayed home. Frequent vacationers tend to remain at their jobs longer, too, the researchers found.

One of the problems with vacations, however, is that they often become another source of stress. The following pointers can help your vacation do what it’s supposed to.

  1. Plan ahead. Research your destination so you can choose activities and reserve tickets.
  2. Know laws and regulations. Be aware of other countries’ laws and regulations. Learn your rights about airline-related issues, too.
  3. Enjoy yourself. Let go of guilt about leaving home and those who aren’t with you.
  4. Check e-mail…if you must. Many people feel stress about the pile-up of unanswered mail when they return home. If you’re one of them, check your e-mail when you’re away. It’s better than worrying about it.
  5. Try new activities. Challenges that take you out of your comfort zone will help you feel replenished.
  6. Plan for contingencies. Bring medications, sunscreen, extra glasses, and whatever you need to feel comfortable while away.

As teachers, we don’t work traditional hours. We can be responding to student e-mails at midnight on a Sunday or preparing a lesson at 6 a.m. for a 10 a.m. class. Summer is the time for us to take advantage of time away from the academy, so that we can return fresh and ready for the next batch of students.

So, happy summer!