Context is King (and Queen) of the Workplace

We have a lot to do at work. We attend meetings (and often those meetings run too long…), answer e-mail and deliver finished projects to co-workers. Often, it can feel like we are asked to do the impossible at work.

Is there ONE word that can make work easier? I think so.

That word is CONTEXT. (Interested in the definition of context? Merriam-Webster offers several definitions of context, including  “the situation in which something happens : the group of conditions that exist where and when something happens”.

I believe that by offering context or explanation we make work easier or simpler. Content is indeed the king and queen of the workplace.

Great Reads in Favor of Context

What does context mean to me in the workplace? When chatting with co-workers or clients, explain yourself! Tell people what you are working on and, if applicable, why you might need extra time to complete a project. Figure out who your audience is. What are their concerns? What are their hobbies?


Which Sayings Guide Your Work?

I need to share one of the items that appeared recently on my LinkedIn(TM) feed. I don’t agree with all of the statements below, but I agree 100% with ‘Love your job but don’t love your company, because you may not know when company stops loving you’.

Which sayings guide your work?


Love your work Linkedin

Are We Observant Enough?

Inspired by a July WordPress photo challenge, a post about being observant!


In the July 16th photo challenge, WordPress staffer Nancy Thanki writes that “Going about our day, we often don’t pay attention to what’s directly above us. We’re more likely to focus on what’s in front of us rather than what’s overhead.”

I believe this – we don’t often look up. (We aren’t observant; we avoid tripping or we look inward and/or immediately in front to our troubles or responsibilities… but that could be for another post.)

Here’s what I saw in July and August on my way home from work…

  • Dearborn Station (used from 1920 to 1971 for intercity and commuter rail travel)
  • a freight train near Ashland Avenue.
  • graffiti  (that I actually admired …the words “We are better.” spoke to me)

I think we can all be better by looking up (and out) toward the future.

Thank you WordPress for the idea to look up!

What’s New for 123communications?

At the end of June, I started making less obvious changes to 123communications. That is, I haven’t been writing long entries for you to read!

There’s what I’ve been up to…

  1. I refined my mission statement (AKA the “About” section) to one idea — that communication and life should be simple, almost like we are following a set of numbered instructions. (Hence the name, 123communications.)
  2. I started adding categories to my blog. I think it may be helpful to file all of my non-communication strategy musings by topic under certain headings. You’ll find some categories already in place…however, this is a work-in- progress task and the categories may change in the near future. (I want categories that make the most sense for me and this blog.)
  3. I finished a post about communication (and it also nods to one of my other favorite things … reading magazines).

Questions for the crowd! Do you think blog articles should be categorized by topic? Are you a fan of more communication in life and in the workplace?

Can Communicators Learn from A Pop Star?

Admittedly, I am a Taylor Swift fan. (The song Shake It Off is one of my favorite things.) But, I don’t know everything about her. What I do know is that she can teach us about communication.

Stay with me.

I am most interested in how Taylor Swift maintains popularity and success. Because, as a communicator, I want my audience to pay attention to my cause, program, product or business process. I want my cause, program, product or business process to be popular and to succeed.

In the May issue of Vogue, Swift speaks about how to dispel rumors  — in addition to other topics. Swift is quoted like this …

“There are a lot of ways to dispel rumors… if they say you have fake friendships, all you have to do is continue to be there for each other.”

I would like to un-pack this statement a bit more. Now, communicators dispel rumors all the time. If we are successful, our audience actively avoids the rumors saying that we are less than our competition. The audience chooses our cause, program, product or business process.

In the example above, Swift dispels rumors using the following tactics…

  1. She researches – or notices what is being said or written about her.
  2. She decides what image she wants to project.
  3. She acts accordingly.

Kudos to Vogue for unearthing a communications tactic that is very powerful. Let me add this — it makes communication and business sense to research the competition and get a sense of how we are perceived. It is in our power to speak to our audience and gain their attention.

Speech! (and time and perfectionism)

On Saturday, I went to a Toastmasters International meeting. (Toastmasters International is known worldwide for its public speaking and leadership curriculum.) Members give speeches at each meeting – and all speakers want to adhere to certain guidelines, like keeping within a time limit and avoiding any filler words like ‘uh’, ‘um’ and such.

I served as a guest timekeeper. (I say guest because I will be a member soon, I think.) I used the stopwatch function on my phone to record the length of each speech and then reminded each speaker how much time they had left to speak.

Everyone at the Toastmasters meeting was friendly & helpful and I received much-needed instructions on how to complete my timekeeper role. Nonetheless, by the end of the meeting, I knew that the timekeeper role stressed me out!

Now, the first time I do anything, I want perfection. This is probably why I was nervous keeping time and why I found the role stressful.

I absolutely can be a perfectionist — and this is NOT a trait I want to carry around. Hoping to rid myself of perfectionist tendencies, I did a little reading. I’ll leave you with three interesting thoughts, one from the Houston Chronicle, another from FORTUNE Magazine and the last from Psychology Today. (SPOILER alert: after reading these articles, I still want to rid my world of perfectionism.)

1. The Houston Chronicle tells us that the desire to be perfect can cause stress, procrastination and strained relationships in the workplace.
2. The authors at FORTUNE Magazine say that the desire to be perfect  lowers confidence. (Sometimes, I wonder if our desire to be perfect ruins our confidence.)
3. The desire to be perfect can be controlled according to Psychology Today, which compares the trait to a bike pedal. (Their idea, I think, is that we can increase or decrease the trait much like a bike rider who applies a bike pedal to go faster or slower depending on their need.)

What do you think about perfectionism? Is it always a bad trait that lowers confidence? Can it be controlled?

The Importance of Being Specific

How on earth am I going to post blog entries regularly?

In order to post regularly, it is very important I set specific goals detailing when I am going to post and what I’ll be posting about.

My goals (so far) for this blog…

**WHEN I will post — I am going to post once or twice a week, usually on a weeknight or on the weekend.

**WHAT I’ll be posting about — I’ll be posting about communication (best practices in workplace communication, content development, change management and training) and about my other main interest … to be continuously learning. (I always learn SOMETHING through yoga, travel, my reading and TV favorites and the occasional cooking/baking adventure.)

You’ll see many of the following tags (and some categories as I progress) …

  • communication
  • media use
  • continuous learning
  • yoga
  • travel
  • ______

Are you setting specific and SMART goals*? It is something we should all aim for.


More About the Delay…

Since Fall 2014, I’ve had the great fortune of working — I love being able to pay bills! – editing an annual report for a non-profit and building communications/marketing/operations for a start-up. And I relocated to Chicago. I have been busy!

Now, my “busy” is certainly not someone else’s. I know people with multiple jobs (and with no job), with small children and with businesses of their own… people whose lives are defined by juggling.

Here is what I strive for …I will not be comparing myself to anyone else. The only thing I will be doing is learning.

The desire to compare is real. Take the first steps to overcome comparison. Try these tactics from Psychology Today.*


About the Delay…

Apologies for the long delay! I’m back … with a few modifications. Namely, I am going to strive for discipline this time around…and actually post once or twice a week.

Here is what you can expect from me…

  • I’ll be commenting on communication & media — noting best practices (and bad endings) in communication, content development, change management and training.
  • I’ll be writing about my own interests in continuous learning, communication (see above) and keeping a work life balance through yoga practice, through traveling around Chicago and through reading – especially magazines (my love of magazines should become fairly clear!).

Are You Person A?

I have been thinking a lot about emotions lately. What makes a person succeed or reach his/her goals? How does a person fulfill most of their wishes in life? (Heavy and demanding topics, I know.)

But, truly, take person A and person B. How is it that person A defines him or herself as fulfilled and person B does not define that way?

Can we all be person A? Can we all succeed?

With those questions in mind, I have just started reading “The Winner’s Brain: Eight Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success. ” I am only on page 48, a few hours in. The “Winner’s Brain…” authors believe that successful/fulfilled people have the following traits:

1. They are self-aware.
2. They are motivated.
3. They are emotionally balanced.
4. They have an ability to commit items to memory.
5. They adapt to their situation.
6. They care for their brain.

Can I become more self-aware, etc? Can everyone?