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Tag Archives: Margaret Smith Minneapolis career coach

Old hands and cell phone

Showing an ounce of compassion can make an enormous difference, especially during this unusual, unsettling time. I wanted to write this post as a reminder that your efforts to reach out and check in with others will not go unnoticed. Even if you are struggling lately, asking about others’ wellbeing is still a good idea. Helping and reconnecting with others will also give you an emotional boost. There’s something about solidarity that is inherently comforting.

If you want to check in in a meaningful way, go beyond asking, “How are things?” during a group Zoom chat. Most people will answer, “Fine,” and proceed with the meeting. Instead, communicate one-on-one, either through email, a phone/video call, or even a hand-written letter. Private communication shows that you care enough about that person to take the time for personalized interaction (no matter what form it takes).

When you’re connecting with others, open the door for meaningful conversation by giving context to your questions. Instead of saying, “How’s it going,” try something like this:

Hi Sam. I know many people are struggling to keep their concentration (and our sanity!) as we continue to work from home. How are you handling things? I’ve personally found it difficult to juggle childcare and work. I know you have two kids. How has that adjustment been?


By adding some context to your questions and opening up about your situation, you create a pathway for a meaningful conversation. Entrusting “Sam” with a little information about yourself also demonstrates vulnerability and encourages Sam to follow suit, if they so choose.

When you’re considering checking in with others, think about who might need to hear from you most. Perhaps one of your co-workers lives alone and may be dealing with feelings of isolation right now. Maybe someone else has a newborn child and is potentially struggling to juggle parenthood with work. Outside of a workplace context, it’s possible you have older people in your life who feel cut off from others.

Make a list of the people you’d like to prioritize and check in with them first. Then, move on to others (even if someone seems fine on the surface, they may not be).

If you do discover that someone genuinely needs support, it’s a good idea to regularly connect with them. However, it’s important to recognize when a person needs more support than you can offer (especially when it comes to mental health). Instead of trying to be a psychiatrist on the side, (gently) help that person find the assistance they need.

In this uncertain and often troubling time, I encourage you to keep connected with others and reach out whenever you can. You never know when someone could use a personal note, asking how they are doing.


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depressed man on couch

We all have an inner narrative. It’s the little voice that lives insides us, cheering us on…or telling us we’re not good enough. It’s the voice that says, “Your opinion matters. Speak up!” Or the voice that says, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Keep quiet.”

For many of us, it’s easy to tune into the negative messages—to believe that we’re not smart enough, talented enough, thin enough, strong enough, or capable enough. I call this negative voice your “saboteur.” It’s that weight that hangs around your shoulders, dragging you down and preventing you from rising to your potential. I have found that women, especially, have a constant self-saboteur—a persistent negative narrator that causes us to shrink into the shadows, rather than taking a risk, stepping forward, and speaking out.

Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul, talks about this tendency to talk down to ourselves. He describes the voice as your “negative roommate,” the naysayer that is constantly spouting pessimism. Singer advises us to “monitor the roommate” by externalizing it. Give your inner voice a body and start talking back to it!

For me, the idea of giving your inner voice “a body” is another way of saying, “be mindful of your thoughts.” Monitor them. Start keeping tabs on the narrative you’re telling yourself. This mindfulness is the first step in flipping your negativity around and freeing yourself from your saboteur.

When you catch yourself thinking pessimistically, pause. Refocus. Think of positive outcomes and possibilities instead of focusing on the negative. If your little voice is telling you, “You can’t do it. You will fail during your presentation at today’s meeting.” Tell it, “No, I won’t. I will succeed. I will speak eloquently and clearly; I will keep people engaged.”

Then, repeat. Continue to redirect your inner voice so you’re focusing on positive results. After a while, you’ll find that this redirection will become second-nature. You’ll begin to think of yourself and your abilities in a more positive light.

Grab a hold of your life’s narrative and tell it how to behave! That’s the surest way to boost your confidence, reduce stress, and reject toxic negativity. Start back-talking to the nagging saboteur in your head and discover what a difference it can make in your life and happiness.

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Adapting is part of being human, so why is it so difficult? For many of us, change is not an easy thing to wrap our heads around, especially when it’s for something as important as a job. COVID-19 has certainly altered how we work–combining our homes with our workplaces–so it’s necessary to adapt along with it. As a result, the changes made right now could be in place for longer than we expect as we await a vaccine. 

In the meantime, here are 5 ways to effectively adapt to change:

Ask questions.

Digital meetings are just one example of a new widespread workplace innovation. These meetings can be hectic and confusing. When confused, the best way to figure things out is to speak up and ask questions. Asking questions shows that you’re really paying attention and that you want to do your best work. If your technology skills aren’t quite up to date, set up a meeting with your IT department to make sure your digital meetings run smoothly. 


Your employers may not know how your time is spent when you’re working from home. Communicating often with your boss and/or associates may seem like overkill, but it demonstrates your responsibility and that you’re getting work done. Keep close track of the hours you work and what you’re doing during that time to ensure you’re being accountable. 

Have ideas? Share them!

There will be a lot of uncertainty as we move forward in the midst of the pandemic. Some managers will look to employees for proposals on how to social distance when transitioning back to the workplace. Research is a crucial step to fully forming an idea. Taking initiative to research can go a long way because it saves your boss’ time. Sharing and researching ideas demonstrates that you’re invested in the company’s future AND shows you’re a leader. 

Keep in contact with co-workers.

Co-workers with similar jobs are going through the same thing you are. A great way to cope with change is to ask co-workers if they’d like to discuss what they’re going through. Associates can offer new suggestions, help you problem-solve, and provide new perspectives. Developing workplace friendships can also benefit you in the future by giving you access to new opportunities!

Be open-minded and flexible.

With everything uncertain, we can’t expect things to go back to the way they were immediately. Old tasks might take longer than they used to and can be frustrating. If you’re open-minded you can challenge your belief restraints and you can grow personally. Being flexible to new ideas also shows that you’re in it for the long haul. 

Just remember: “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”  -Stephen Hawking


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