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Hold Your Tongue

Marxists groups aside, sometimes it seems as if the U.S. is an authoritarian society.

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We’ve all witnessed the verbal fascism of groups such as Antifa, BLM, and the Left in general: Unless you employ terms and phrases which they approve, watch out. Yet, apart from these Marxists groups, sometimes it seems as if the U.S. is an authoritarian society. I learned early about three statements that you’d better not make, although each of these statements otherwise seems perfectly acceptable.

Don’t Discuss Job Offers

Only once in my life have I ever received unemployment compensation, in between my first and second job. When I was asked by an unemployment office agent if I had been looking for jobs in the last two weeks, I replied yes. In fact, I said, I even got an offer, but it was from a firm significantly far from my residence and for far less salary than I had been earning years ago. So, I had to turn it down.

Bzzzz! Wrong answer. With that, on cue, the agent became indignant. Was this the moment for which she lived? She told me definitively that I would receive no further unemployment compensation. I had violated the rules. The rules encompassed having to accept a job offer, apparently, even if the job paid far less than you are accustomed to be earning, represented a hardship in terms of distance, and was not quite in your field.

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I needed another eight weeks to finally land the right job for my needs, and I surely could have used the unemployment compensation during that time. I was 25 years old, with no savings, barely making my way in the career world. Lesson learned, I’ll never volunteer that kind of information again.

Don’t Ask About IRS Procedures

I brought coins to a coin show and was contemplating selling them to a particular dealer. In the back of my mind, I remembered that if you deposit too much cash in the bank on any given day, you might flag the IRS. Never mind that I was seeking to sell coins that I purchased with money which I had earned, and upon which I already paid taxes. Never mind that I was selling the coins at a slight loss.

I harmlessly (or so I thought) asked the coin dealer, “What is the amount that triggers IRS scrutiny?” With this question, the dealer clammed up and told me, “I can’t discuss that with you,” otherwise, I am potentially “colluding to violate IRS rules.” I said, “What? I’m simply asking if you know what the sum happens to be.” He clammed up even further. I could see this conversation was going nowhere, so I stopped on a dime.

Why, in contemporary America, can you not ask a simple question related to the laws of our nation? The Internal Revenue Service used to be called the Department of Taxation. Funny, I’m not sure where the ‘service’ aspect of their activities kick-in.

Don’t Mention Your Reasons

I’m at a local Red Cross chapter, donating blood, as I do every eight weeks. I’ve been donating blood for years. It is helpful to me and it is helpful for those in need. The need presumably is urgent: I continually receive messages from the Red Cross every few days, even after I’ve already donated, asking me to donate again. For health and safety, one is asked to wait at least eight weeks between donations.

During one encounter with the nurse on hand, I said that one of the reasons I donate blood is that I have a high iron count. Donating blood helps to keep it in check. At that point she bristled. Then she regained her composure, and told me I should not mention my reasons. Donating blood for purposes of lowering your iron count, which has some technical name, gets you thrown out of the system.

Well, excuse me.

During the same visit, because I have a blood type that is in demand, I was asked by someone else if I could come in more frequently to make other kinds of transfusion donations? So, you want me to visit more often to donate what you need. Yet, if I seek to make a donation that benefits both the Red Cross and myself, I am violating Red Cross regulations? Guess who’s going to seek another place to donate blood, other than at the local Red Cross?

Today’s Deadly Words

The above scenarios are tame and lame compared to the ridicule, employment termination, career destruction, physical attack, or death that might fall you if you have the temerity to state in public, or in a public forum, “All Lives Matter,” “All Black Lives Matter,” “White Lives Matter” “All Baby Lives Matter,” “All Victims Matter,” or, God forbid, “Blue Lives Matter.”

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

The People Who Size You up Instantly

Beware of people who conveniently assess what you need, while missing the boat about their own needs

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I went to a social gathering and, arriving early, few others had arrived. So I took out my notepad and pen, and leisurely started making notes. A lady who saw me, asked what I was writing, which, of course, could be either a friendly way to start a conversation, or intrusive, depending on your point of view. I took it as the former, and shared with her my predisposition to take notes outside of my office where I generate ideas that don’t readily emerge at my desk.

Apparently my explanation was not satisfactory for her. In rapid succession she told me, ‘You need to get a drink. (Actually, I don’t drink.) You should to stop making notes. You ought to relax. (Making notes is relaxing to me.) You need to get a life.’

Paradoxically, I am the author of the books, Breathing Space and Simpler Living, and the audiobook, Get a Life. I also own the registered trademarks for the programs, Relaxing at High Speed and Managing the Pace With Grace. I have delivered 1,060 lectures on these topics for three decades.

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Quick and Wrong

It’s beyond strange when someone at a social gathering, in such short order, will assess what I need to do, with one pronouncement after another. When told that I needed to relax, I said, “If I was any more relaxed, I’d fall asleep.”

I came away from that experience recognizing that people who will readily tell you what you need are the ones who need what they’re telling you. You might have noticed a somewhat similar phenomenon in the workplace.

Suppose you work in a company that is crowded, noisy, and busy almost all the time. However, in your own office or cubicle, whichever the case might be, you’re able to maintain order.

Perhaps you have installed some sound barriers, if that is appropriate, and have crafted a workspace where you can get things done. People who walk by notice that your office equipment, resources, and possessions are organized. Guess what? Some office mates won’t tell you this, but they are uncomfortable with your organizing skills.

If they could find a simple way to articulate it, they would tell you, “Loosen up.” You don’t need to be so neat and orderly.” Why are they itching to tell you this? Because your level of organization makes them feel inadequate.

Be Like Me, I’ll Feel Better

Much like the lady at the social gathering, who told me ‘what I needed,’ some people in your immediate environment, in observing your capacity for taking charge of your space, and perhaps noting your higher-than-average level of productivity, would rather that you acted and proceeded in a different way. You might not hear that from them, but that is some might be thinking.

Beware of those people who so conveniently assess what you need, while completely missing the boat about their own needs. They fail to realize that what they’re telling you, is probably what they need to address for themselves.

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Micro-tasking for Effective Performance

Professionals who can micro-task are in demand while those who multitask often do a disservice

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Much as been discussed about multitasking and fortunately, much of what has been written exposes the myth that multitasking represents. Instead of making us more productive and having a greater output, we tend to slow down on the very things that were trying to speed up on, and we end up making more errors.

Micro-tasking, by contrast, is the ability to compartmentalize and to focus in quick, short intervals on a variety of items that compete for attention. This is a vital skill for career professionals. While micro-tasking is effective for quick decisions, and for handling routine and short term tasks term nature, multitasking is the attempt to handle two or more important tasks at the same time. It is not to be confused with micro-tasking.

A Skill to Cultivate

Some workers have little choice in the short run but to work in a distracting, noisy environment. Some employees, in particular, were retained to be able to quickly shift their attention from one issue to another, focusing on each issue as needed.

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In an interruption-based environment, such as a hospital, police station, retail store, or airline ticket counter, the ability to micro-task is a valuable skill.

Throughout the course of a day, a manager in such settings might encounter a variety of people asking questions and voicing concerns. For sale managers micro-tasking can make all the difference in making quota or not.

Slow Down!

Tasks that require our sharp attention necessitate that we slow down, focus, keep interruptions at bay, and work as effectively as we can, toward completion. Handling two tasks simultaneously, each of which require sharp attention, is a prescription for poor results.

Professionals who can micro-task are in demand. Others, who engage in multitasking, often are doing themselves as well as their organizations, a disservice.

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