How to bring taboo topics back into the open at work

Conquer the math of leadership to realize your vision | practice (split each time) | Why to say more than "no" to a job offer
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March 18, 2024
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Leading the Way
Conquer the math of leadership to realize your vision
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Mathematicians use calculus to study continuously changing values to see how small things integrate or how they change, something leaders should model as they seek to "harness divergent thinking styles to produce a coherent, aspirational vision alongside a roadmap for turning that vision into reality," writes Yonason Goldson, an author and podcast host. Goldson offers a few questions meant to bring those thinking styles together to examine products, services, customers and strategies.
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Put it into practice: Leaders are constantly juggling changing factors in their business, which requires them to "gauge what actions will advance their goals while weighing them against the cost in time, money, employee morale, and brand image," Goldson writes. "Calculate that equation well, and the pieces will naturally arrange themselves into a solid and flourishing enterprise."
Smarter Communication
Why to say more than "no" to a job offer
A polite "no" after being offered a job you've applied for is not sufficient and will risk burning a bridge that the recruiter, the company, and you have spent time building, says Eloquence career coach Eloise Eonnet. "It's critical for them to understand why you have made this decision," says Eonnet, who offers tips for handling the "no" along with sample emails.
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Put it into practice: Be specific about your reasons for saying no. Not doing so -- or pointing out a negative about the person or company -- makes you look dismissive, Eonnet says. Instead, be empathetic and consider picking up the phone instead of emailing to decline the position.
Taboo topics should make their way back into discussions at work, says Christina Wing, Harvard Business School senior lecturer and author of "Unspeakable," who recommends five rules for such conversations. Allowing and embarking on honest, constructive conversations about money, age, health, politics and family not only can improve company morale but boost company performance too, Wing says.
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Put it into practice: Help eradicate "fake harmony" in the workplace, Wing says, by letting go of conversation taboos. If things go awry, Wing advises these and other tips for successful conversations: Don't let problems fester; meet in person in a neutral space; keep the goal in mind; and outline the next steps.
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Boost your productivity by ditching multi-tasking in favor of the F.L.O.W. model, coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, that involves focusing, learning, taking ownership and understanding why your work is worthwhile, writes Deanna Ritchie. Make the most of the technique by scheduling creative time, setting up a designated workspace, declining work that doesn't align with your goal and rewarding yourself for small and large achievements, Ritchie recommends.
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When we use "baby talk" with small children or with dogs, we tend to use the same high-pitched tone that signals playfulness to both babies and canines, but we rarely use animated expressions, such as smiles, when talking to dogs, according to new research. Smiling, in the animal kingdom, can signal snarling or aggression, which can be dangerous, says Anna Gergely, a researcher at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Research Centre for Natural Sciences.
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About The Editor
Candace Chellew
Candace Chellew
We spend the better part of our lives with our co-workers (especially if we're back in the office with them), but we avoid talking about important topics with them. Often, these are topics that leaders should want to address around age (and whether it's costing you up-and-coming employees), health (and its effects on your workforce), as well as money, family and politics, which can all be positives to talk about when handled correctly.

Harvard University senior lecturer Christina Wing has some great advice on how to handle these topics and how leaders can model those techniques. Addressing these seemingly taboo but essential issues can improve employee morale, engagement and retention.

How do you handle sensitive conversations? Tell me!

If this newsletter helps you, please tell your colleagues, friends or anyone who can benefit. Forward them this email, or send this link.

What topics do you see in your daily work that I should know about? Do you have praise? Criticism? Drop me a note. And don't forget to send me photos of your pets, your office and where you spend your time off.
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