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NaBloPoMo Day 8: Workplace LOLs

passive aggressive

Passive aggressive notes in MY workplace send me into fits of blind rage.  I’m fortunate to work with people who are not too bad of offenders when it comes to this nonsense, but every once in a while there is a doozy.  Passive aggressive notes make me nuts because they either (1) deal with some task that there already IS someone responsible for handling, they’re just not doing it, and oh by the way, the person who wrote the note usually IS the person responsible for whatever task it is, they’re just trying to shove it off onto the general office populace, or (2) deal with some issue of common courtesy, and if the target of the note doesn’t get it to begin with, the note isn’t going to get through to them anyway.

On the contrary, I LOVE passive aggressive notes from other peoples workplaces.  Especially ones harping on some trivial matter and are misspelled. Boy do I love the misspelled ones.  So my guilty pleasure that I share with you today is PassiveAggressiveNotes.com  Love it love it love it. And I hope not to see my office on there anytime soon.

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NaBloPoMo Day 7: Chillin out Maxin’ Relaxin all Cool

What is the best way to relax after a hard day?

lolcatbaddayI’m easy to please.  All I ask for relaxing is to just do something (or nothing) that is not work.  Usually this takes the form of ordering a pizza for dinner and hanging out on the couch with my family and the TV on.  Or maybe it means coffee and magazines.  But it usually is just some form of me sitting around.  On really bad days, I’m sitting around with a glass of wine.

In an ideal world, I’d say that after a hard day, I relax by going for a run or some other athletic activity, but in all honesty after most days I’m too beat to do much else than just sit there.  Since getting a Kindle, I have been reading every single night before bed.  This means both that I have read nearly 40 “fun” books this year alone, but also that I manage to slow my mind down enough that I can sleep through the night.

Hanging out with my family does make me feel a million percent better when I’ve had a bad day.  I spend my days doing work that is hard.  Law is complex and uncertain and confusing.  Sometimes (often) the practice of law feels like I’m picking my way through landmines.  And the stress is even more exacerbated because you are responsible for solving someone else’s problems.  So if you set off one of those landmines, you’ve blown it for both you and them.  (If it’s not already painfully obvious, this hasn’t been a great week.)

You know what’s not hard? Parenting.  People say parenting is hard, but it’s not.  It is very frustrating and very exhausting and full of unwinnable battles, but it is not hard.  And hanging out with my kid after a hard day makes me feel a little better, because it’s pretty darn hard to truly screw up this parenting thing.

Also, ice cream.

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NaBloPoMo Day 6: Working hard or hardly working?

How hard do you think you work?

wurkkitteh

Although I can rattle off the number of my billable hours completed this year with precision, I find it hard to judge whether I create an impression of diligence or laziness.  My work ethic is the most important career-related value to me.  The biggest compliment I could receive is to be thanked for working hard.  One of my biggest fears at work is that I am afraid of being perceived as lazy or not holding up my share of the work.
My attention (bordering at times of paranoia) on this quality has apparently kept me focused and working hard enough that in my annual review, my highest marks were in the “work ethic” category.  But high marks does not mean I can rest easy.  Only because I’ve been so determined to be, and to be known as, hardworking have I established that reputation for myself.

I probably work harder than lots of people, but there are also lots of people who work harder than me.  Sometimes I think that I can only consider myself hardworking if I work harder than everyone else, like that I can’t think of myself as hardworking at all when there are other people who have it tougher, and are piecing together back-to-back blue collar shifts, 7 days a week, and barely making ends meet.  Or that I can’t consider myself hardworking because I have managed to fit that hard work to my life, for example by leaving work at a reasonable hour but doing work once the baby is in bed, instead of staying in the office until late late at night.

But being “hardworking” isn’t a contest.  There is no limit on the number of people who can be “hardworking.”  And just because someone’s workload is comparatively harder than someone else’s, does not mean that the person with the lesser workload is not “hardworking.”  Comparing gets me nowhere.  I just have to keep at it, keep my hours up, get my work done, and hope that people recognize my efforts.

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NaBloPoMo Day 5: Teacher or Student

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Do you enjoy teaching others? Talk about a time you taught someone how to do something.

I learn things best when I have to explain them to someone else.  Theoretically, the knowledge comes before the teaching.  For me, however, teaching means I have to really think a topic through, question it, examine it through all angles, and rehash it in a concise and understandable way.

I tutored other students when I was in Jr High and High School, but it has been a long time since I was in a traditional “teaching” setting.  There is plenty of teaching and learning going on in my day to day work.  Plenty of time is spent bouncing ideas off of other people, thinking through strategy, and exploring different arguments and approaches.

The experience that sticks out most to me as a teaching experience was when I volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club when I was in High School.  I was there to tutor the kids and basically hang out with them and supervise them.  We got a big shipment of arts supplies in, and so I would lead them in arts & crafts activities.  It wasn’t typical teaching, I wish I were crafty but I just don’t have the talent.  But I hauled out the pipe cleaners and googly eyes and glue, and the kids LOVED it.  There was one little girl who would follow me around nonstop every time I was there, and she would draw little pictures for me.  I was just shocked at how excited these kids got about arts and crafts, and how excited they got when they saw me walking in the door.

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NaBloPoMo Day 4: Lead? Follow? Or Collaborate

Do you feel most comfortable being a leader, a follower, or a collaborator?

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For me, it is completely dependent on the circumstances.  If the task at hand is one that I’m familiar with, I’d prefer to lead, because I know what needs to be done and how to do it.  If it is a task I am not so familiar with, or if I’m working with a group of people who like to schedule lots of meetings to talk about the things that need to be done (instead of actually doing those things), then I suppose I fall in the “follower” category, except I’d prefer to call it the “legwork” category.  I am not interested in holding meetings to talk.  If something is actually going to be accomplished in a meeting, that is fine, but meetings for their own sake are not my style.  I’d rather everyone else sit and chat and get out of the way, while I get the work done.

Admittedly, I’m not very good at being a “collaborator.”  I can work fine in a team, but prefer that responsibilities are clearly deliniated, and responsibility is very clearly allocated.  When I had group or team projects at school, I frequently chose to work with the kids that I knew would not contribute at all.  I got a talking-to by the teachers a couple of times, because I’d do all the work and others would coast based on my efforts.  To me, I so dreaded the uncertainty of unclear division of labor and having to wonder whether the others would actually do what they said they’d do, that I would rather pick a group where I had to do all the work myself because at least the division of labor would be certain.  That is neither the most effective nor the most mature way to work on a “team,” but I think it serves well to illustrate how important clear deliniation of responsibilities are to me.

I love that at my work, the structure of most assignments is 1 partner/1 associate.  While we work together on developing ideas and strategy, the tasks themselves are fairly clearly distributed.  I don’t think the leader/follower/collaborator paradigm works well to describe the dynamic.  I suppose technically the partner is the “leader” and the associate the “follower,” but associates are encouraged to speak up, share their thoughts, and challenge things they find problematic, so it’s not a true leader/follower dynamic.  It’s also not quite a “collaborator” paradigm, because each person has specific tasks that they complete independently.  The structure of this working format fits my personality well.  I love that I know what my tasks are and what is expected of me.  I especially love that, at times when I have uncertainty about the parameters of what I’m supposed to be doing, I work with people who are completely open to me being frank and saying “I need more guidance, I’m not sure what you are asking me to do.”