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Category Archives: Better Business

“Silence is usually seen as agreeing.” –Sonya Parker

You probably know it when you see it. Something feels off or problematic. Something feels unethical. We encounter these situations in our daily lives, as well as in the workplace—instances when our morals are put to the test. It’s easy to assume that if you “see something, you’ll say something,” but it can be difficult to take action when you’re put on the spot.

How, then, can you gather the courage to speak up? Start with these methods:

Understand Your Power

When a situation is unethical or potentially harmful, one strong voice of dissent can make a huge difference. Chances are, if you’re not okay with something, others are not okay with it either. If you take a stance, others will hopefully gain the courage to follow suit.

Develop Your Approach

It can be intimidating to face your peers or your supervisors and let them know what you think. You might worry about retaliation or not being taken seriously. To combat these fears, it pays to 1) Plan and 2) Talk to others

Your planning might involve laying out bullet points to argue your case. Pinpoint the problem you perceive and explain why you think it’s a problem. Then, prepare some potential alternatives or solutions.

Talking with others helps to build an alliance around your plan. You certainly don’t want to create an “Us vs. Them” mentality, but it is helpful to talk to one or two trusted colleagues to let them know your stance. They might help you refine your plan, offer alternative solutions, or simply provide support.

Determine Your “When”

When you speak out is nearly as important as what you say. If, for instance, you interrupt during a meeting and begin telling everyone about your view, that might not go over as well as, say, setting up a private meeting with the decision-maker or respectfully speaking out during a meeting.

Face Your Fears

It can be frightening to take a stand, but I would argue that it’s even worse to stay silent. If you neglect to say something, you’ll have to live with the unethical or problematic situation, day-in, day-out. It won’t magically go away, unless another brave individual takes a stand.

If your workplace retaliates against you for speaking up, is that really the kind of environment you want to work in? I know that switching jobs sounds daunting, especially in this uncertain economy, but it’s certainly not impossible. Talk with a career coach if you’re thinking about making a switch.

Your voice has power. If something is making you uncomfortable, take a step back, make a plan, and speak up. Tap into your reserves of courage, trust yourself, and take action. Doing so can make a big difference and it will likely help you build confidence in yourself.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Multi-colored people in front of a mosaic of faces
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

As the U.S. goes through the biggest social justice movement since the Civil Rights Movement, it’s important to acknowledge diversity in the workplace. Systemic racism is deeply rooted within our society. Working to undo it won’t happen overnight, but we must commit to leading each other to a more equal future. Today’s turmoil is bringing up issues that were previously ignored by many. Workplaces have been known to use diversity as nothing more than a box to check off.

In reality, diversity allows for a variety of perspectives and new skill sets. 

Getting rid of diversity quotas is a good first step to take. Quotas can lead to tokenization. It’s important to make sure that your employees aren’t all similar people when getting rid of quotas. Giving women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, disabled people, etc. a seat at the table where decisions are made can bring diversity to the rest of the company. 

It should be a no-brainer that employees with the same responsibilities deserve to be paid the same. Despite that, the gender pay gap still persists in our society. Addressing and fixing the pay gap at your company is an effective way to demonstrate that you value all your employees. It may not be an immediate fix, but it’ll provide long term and equitable changes.

Equal access is key to giving opportunities to everyone. Think about where you advertise your job openings. Does your advertisement feel targeted to a specific group of people? Is it posted on a website with a majority of white users? Also keep in mind your own biases when hiring. What does your selection committee look like? Recognize that not everyone can meet your job requirements. If a job requires a degree, integrate degree equivalency which includes equal work experience in lieu of a degree. 

You won’t know what problems your employees directly face unless you talk to them. Establishing a voluntary group to give feedback is a great way to hear about injustices within your workplace. Anonymous surveys can also be used to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. 

Continue the dialogue in your workplace. Inequality is not going to magically disappear. These conversations may be uncomfortable, but they are necessary if we want to undo the systemic racism and biases that exist in our country and our workplaces.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Coconut vendor

One of the first rules in sales is this: Focus on the clients you ALREADY HAVE. It’s difficult to pull in a new client or buyer. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pound the pavement and attempt to find new customers/clients, but it DOES mean that you should put a little extra effort into the clients that are already in your pocket.

But that, alone, won’t help you reach your sales goals. What you need to do is engage is the simple (but often nerve-racking) practice of upselling.

Upselling might sound like an ugly word (you might think of a car salesperson saying “But for only $40 more each month, we’ll throw in a…”), but there IS a way to do it tactfully and honestly. Upselling involves introducing an improvement or an upgrade. You might upgrade to a faster laptop, a more powerful fishing boat motor, or a more durable set of kitchen knives.

I certainly don’t advocate selling a customer something that they genuinely don’t need. When you upsell (or cross-sell, which involves introducing a relevant but different product), do it with the customer’s needs at the center of your mind.

Why upsell? For one, upselling works 20 times better than cross-selling. Once potential buyers are fixated on a product, they don’t really want to be distracted by something else.

Secondly, your customer might not be aware of the benefits of upgrading to a different model. They might not realize, for instance, that a kitchen pan that’s $10 more than the one they are currently considering is known to last three times as long and tends to cook food more evenly.

Third, if your customer is already interested in a product, it doesn’t hurt to introduce them to a better model (again, if you genuinely think they would benefit from it). You’re already making the sale, why not make a better sale?

So, how can you tactfully and honestly incorporate upselling in your sales game? Try these five tips:

1. Arm yourself with knowledge.

If a customer is interested in a certain type of camera, for instance, be prepared to tell them about their full range of options and why the next model up is better. Anticipate questions and be prepared with candid answers.

2. Listen.

Be sure to listen carefully to your customer’s needs before trying to upsell. It could be that a bigger, better product is not necessary for this particular person. If that’s the case, do NOT push the customer into something they don’t truly need.

3. Make it easy.

If you’re in a retail setting, make sure the best products are prominently visible on the sales floor and easy to access for a demonstration. Customers should be able to easily tell the difference between a base model and the souped-up version.

4. Honesty is key.

Don’t fudge the facts. Don’t push a sale that won’t benefit the customer. Your potential buyers are usually savvy enough to see through an act and, if they’re not, they will wise up quickly once they realize that the product you sold them doesn’t fit their needs at all. Do you think they’ll send any friends or family members to you after that?

5. Be confident.

Upsell with confidence. You should be proud of the products you sell and stand by their worth. Let that confidence shine! (And if you’re not confident about the products you’re selling, it may be time to start hunting for another sales position!)

Try incorporating upselling into your sales strategy and see where it will take you. It’s the easiest way to increase your sales and demonstrate the full range of product opportunities to your customers. What’s holding you back?

For more in-depth sales advice and career counseling, please get in touch with Margaret today.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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