Do You Want To Be Right Or Do You Want The Help?

not listening








My father’s patience with me was a constant.  I believe he was so patient because he helped create the reason patience was needed.  The first piece of advice or words of wisdom that I remember my dad giving me was, “you can do anything a boy can do, except pee on a tree.”

That was my dad.

He instilled a sense of independence, curiosity, pride and exploration in me.  Before I took shop in high school, I was using his power tools in the basement or under the deck to build things. I loved to explore and try things and he let me, while keeping an eye on me.

There were times I wanted to do something and I was convinced I was right or knew the right way to do it. I refused his help and said I could do it myself.  He patiently watched me fail and then gently asked if I wanted to know the right way.

The pride he taught me was to have pride in what I did and not let it stand in the way of asking for help.  I learned to ask why or why not instead of challenging the right way when I thought I was right.

Asking for help is not an easy thing to do, yet it is worthless if you are not going to listen to the answer and counterproductive if you are going to argue that you are right.

In all the years I have been coaching and writing resumes, I can count on one hand the number of clients who preferred to be right rather than listen to the professional advice they had paid for.

That is the beauty of owning your own company; you can choose not to work with certain clients.  There are clients I have referred to others because it became obvious, very quickly, that they wanted to be right.  They would pay well to argue with me just to be right in their own mind.  I think that is a waste of time and money.

It becomes a detriment in the workplace.

I have a very good friend who is a director in the financial industry.  She is extraordinarily brilliant in the ways of compliance. Her opinion is highly valued and sought after.  But there are times…

There was a project that she was called on due to her expertise and asked to consult.  The gentleman that requested her help fought her at every turn.  She could back up every recommendation with rules, regulations, examples and case studies yet he refused to listen.  He had to be right.

It became obvious, very quickly, on his team that he was not willing to listen to any input that could propel the project.  His primary objective was instead to be right, no matter the cost to the company, project or his team.  His respect level from his peers, team members and leadership plummeted.

I have another good friend that owns a marketing company.  She is amazingly talented in the ways of marketing.  Her clients reap measurable and immeasurable benefits from the work she does for them.  But there are times….

She will get a client who comes to her and tells her they need a complete revamp of their company.  She and her team go to work diving in to get all the information to create exactly what the client needs based on what they want.  Then in presenting the information, the client will tell her that they don’t think they should do it that way, they think this other way is the best way.

In each case I just want to ask two questions:

If you know so much, why did you ask for help in the first place? 

What is the cost of being right?

In paying someone for assistance, you are wasting your time and money; in the workplace, you are destroying your reputation.

The two women mentioned below are very close friends and we have one thing in common – we are a bit forthright.  In other words, we do ask the above two questions to those that asked for help.  You might think that we get a nasty rebuttal; but instead we normally get surprise.

Those that are insistent on being right normally do not realize their behavior.  They may be nervous about the situation or so engrossed in doing a good job that they fail to realize they have become their own worst enemy.

When pointed out in a gentle but firm way the priorities realign and the process continues smoothly.  But there are times….

Sometimes people are just buttheads.  Let’s face it, they just are and you cannot change that.  However, it is best to know what you are dealing with – someone who is so badly wants things done right that they go a little self-centered nuts or a true self-centered jerk.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a management style.  Ask your team for help then ignore them to prove you are the leader.  If this behavior continues the team no longer gives it their A game and the manager is left as an island alone, wondering what happened.

If your team is not engaging as much as you would like, perhaps you have been behaving in a not so team-like way.   It takes a bit of clean up after being called out for wanting to be right rather than getting help, yet it can be done.

The best way to avoid this is twofold:


Ask why or why not rather than standing firm that you are right. 

You will get the expertise or assistance that you need and perhaps learn a thing or two.  You will also show your team that their input matters and you put the project before the individual.

That is called a win-win.



I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.


Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Eliminate the Big But for Career, Team Building and Business Success

One word can negate every single word spoken before it. 

One word can turn a productive coaching session into a demoralizing one way conversation. 

One word can turn a hot prospect ready to sign on the dotted line into a cold shoulder that will not return your calls.

That one little word with such a big impact is ‘but’.

Somewhere along the lines we were conditioned to register “but” as a negative.  When hearing that word, an instinctual response is to cringe and brace ourselves for the other shoe to drop. 

It represents negativity in various forms of no.  No, I do not want to help.  No, you did not do a good job.  No, we will not provide service.

Think about dating, “but” was an ego killer. “You are such a great person, but I just want to be friends.” 

Did you believe that they really thought you were that great?  No, all you heard was “you are now stuck in friend zone, never to exit.” 

Poor little but has a lot of negative connotations, it is a dreaded or even hated word.

This is why it can be so dangerous even when used innocently.

Instead, use but’s twin – however.

It has the same meaning, but a softer effect without all the negative emotional baggage.  It will allow you to persuade and engage your team members, staff and leadership by allowing them to hear your ideas and suggestions.

When the but is directed to you, take a breathe and realize that the bristling that you are feeling is a conditioned effect, not the intent of the speaker.  Replace it in your mind with however to be able to listen to the message.  It puts you at an advantage in being able to interpret the meaning, not message, and respond quickly in a positive way.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


So You are a People Person, Great. I am a Dog Person.



I mean, c’mon, what does that really mean?


You love working with all people? Doubt it. 

You communicate well with all people? Doubt it.


When I say I am a dog person, it conveys that I love all dogs.  Not exactly true.  I’m not a fan of little yippy dogs.  I like big dogs, Great Pyrenees is my favorite breed.  Anything under 60 pounds is, in my eyes, a small dog. Two of my three dogs outweigh me. 


The third is a Puggle, who reigns supreme over the other two; and she does not yip.


Saying you are a people person is an empty statement, a space filler and meaningless.  It truly does not describe you but rather conveys that you are a generalist.


Stop making generalizations about yourself.  There is nothing that will tune an audience of 1 or 100 out quicker than making generalizations.


Why?  Because they apply to no one.  Therefore, if it is not important, why listen?


When you are job searching, advancing in your career, engaging new clients or networking the one thing you do not want to happen is people tuning you out.  Game over.


You are not a generality, you are not insignificant; you provide or add value. 


The key is you have to discover how.


There may be many ways in which you do this so start with asking yourself the following questions and writing down your answers:


What do I do?

How do I do it?

Whom do I work with?

What is the benefit they receive from working with me? 


Now, if you were to use all the information you just gathered from the above questions you would have quite the lengthy elevator pitch and end up sounding like a yippy dog after the first minute or two. 


You don’t want to be a yippy dog; so let’s not stop there.


Now is the time to cut it down for impact.  Let me give you a bit of insight about the people you are talking to: we have a short attention span.  Please do not force us to try to politely concentrate for three minutes when we got lost after the first 15 seconds. 


It is painful.


We need to the point, attention-getting statements that peak our interest.  Give me something to hold on to a hook, a morsel.  If you blurt out everything about yourself what motivation do I have to continue the conversation?




I already know everything about you.


And odds are I have misinterpreted something.


Boil it down to the most important value that you bring and how it relates to me.


That is how you get my attention and that is how you get me to ask you a question and engage in conversation.


Yippy dogs keep yipping; big dogs bark less frequency and with more power.  Big dogs get attention, yippy dogs get ignored.


Be your own big dog.  They are awesome.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Why It Is Critical To Write To Your Audience


I was fortunate to present a seminar on LinkedIn last week to an amazing group of people.  One of the greatest aspects of this experience was the understanding by the leadership of the opportunities and value with LinkedIn as a marketing tool for each individual while supporting the organization as a whole.


When discussing the composition of a profile I was speaking to the point of writing directly to your target market.  That is when a bit of fear came across a few faces.  The sentiment that was expressed was, in a nutshell, I don’t want to exclude anyone – I want to make sure I am open to anyone wanting to do business.


No you don’t.


One of the attendees joked in his introduction that he was a jack of all trades, master of none.  Writing in any form of business communication portrays you in this manner.  “I can help anyone at any time with any thing.”


In business that does not always come across in the appropriate way, unfortunately it can come across more often than not as one word: desperate.  I will take any business, just please give me business.


It is important to not only identify your target market but to speak directly to them for three critical reasons:



  1. 1.   It demonstrates your expertise
  2. 2.   It establishes your voice
  3. 3.   It engages your target audience



Demonstrating Your Expertise


Speaking in specifics demonstrates how you have set yourself apart from others in your field – and you are leading the pack.  In the insurance and human resource fields there is a title that is commonly used: Generalist. Within the industries these terms are understood in their role.


For insurance it is an agent that can represent several types of insurance rather than focusing only on one or more.  In HR it is an individual that performs several roles including recruitment, hiring, screening, assisting with policies/procedures and maintaining corporate/compliance filing.


They are defined roles.


The dictionary defines a generalist as: “A person competent in several different fields or activities.”


Now let’s take that definition from the perception of those outside the industries.  Competent.  If I am spending money I certainly want someone who is much more than competent.  I want an expert.


A generalist can be translated by a prospect as just that: general.  Not a specialist, not an expert, not fully competent, not experienced enough to handle the complexities of high net worth individuals or situations.


Even though using the term generalist in your profile will resonate with those in your industry, it may be eliminating your prospects because they do not understand what it is you do.  Internally you can be a great resource because of your broad based knowledge and that is communicated with the term Generalist; externally your message is not the same.


Establishing Your Voice


When you read a novel you form pictures in your mind of the characters based on the words presented.  It is the same when someone reads your LinkedIn profile, business biography or resume.  It is important to write your profile in manner that utilizes words that represent you while speaking from the client perspective.  When the profile sounds like you there is alignment when that prospect speaks to you either in person or over the phone.


Without this alignment the prospect is left wondering, “which one are they?”  Are you the profile or the person in front of them or on the other end of the phone?  If there is confusion it opens the door to doubt, which makes it much more difficult to establish a connection.


Writing to your market in your voice establishes the tone for all future communications.  They know what to expect.  When that is confirmed in person or by phone establishing trust and a relationship can begin.


Engaging Your Target Market


Speaking to your audience, expressing their concerns and how you provide solutions and insight is critical.  They need to see themselves in your message, they need to understand that you get them.  Address their needs, their expectations, their challenges.  Take it a step further demonstrating that you provide the appropriate, cost-effective, benefit driven solution.


This will engage them for two reasons: they can see themselves in your message, they feel understood.  Secondly, they can then be more open to understanding the benefits, value and costs meaning they are more willing to move forward confidently.


My personal LinkedIn profile is written for my resume/LinkedIn clients.  I included the two most popular phrases I hear the most from my clients.  This immediately resonates with prospects.  I speak in a clear, straightforward manner, which is consistent with my in-person communication.


I then go on to explain, in a simple formula, my philosophy and approach followed by a clear definition of the elements and why they are important.  I provide my voice, address their challenge and explain how I provide the solution in an easy to understand, engaging manner.


To view my profile click here:


When writing your LinkedIn profile, resume or business communication get out of your own head and get into the head of your market.  Talk to them in a manner they understand, identify with them, present yourself as the expert that you are and come from a voice that is true to you. That is how you create engagement.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

The Most Important – and Often Missing – Piece of Your Communication

finger pointingResumes, LinkedIn profiles, business biographies, “about us” website blurbs, networking elevator pitches – these are all important forms of communication when either looking for a job, looking for your next career move or building business.


As a writer and coach the one thing that I see more often than not that is missing in all of these consistently across all levels of industries, job types and personalities is the most important factor:




That’s right – I would be dollars to donuts that you are missing from your own resume, business bio, LinkedIn profile and networking speeches.


Now think about that for a moment – if these are the key pieces in building interest and engagement in being hired wouldn’t it make sense that you are predominately featured in each?


Yes, it would make sense, but it rarely happens.


You see, more people are focused on giving cliff-note version bullet points of their past rather than providing an accurate description of themselves including their value.


Giving me a brief summary of your past only tells me what you were hired to do – it does not tell me if you actually did it, did it well or how you did it.


Business is distinctly different from the stock market in the fact that past successes are an indicator of future successes.


But it is not just the success – it is how you did it.


Two people can be hired as a worker, manager or leader but that does not mean that they do things the same way, or get the same results.


What makes you different, who do you work with, how do you work with them, what is it that you do, how do you do it and what is the value that you bring in doing what you do?


If you are a manager are you a strictly by the numbers manager or a mentoring, team oriented yet encourage individual growth manager?  How would I know this if you don’t tell me?


I may be looking for a manager but I want one that fits my culture, therefore it is important for me to know just what kind of manager you are, not just what you can get done.


Talk to your audience.  Let them know who you are not just what your title is because frankly, titles mean nothing.


I own my own company so I could give myself the title of Queen, Supreme Ruler of Resumes, Career and Business Coach Extraordinaire – but does that tell you anything about what I do?  No.  You may have an idea, but coaches/writers each have their own style and that is the difference between whom you hire.


On my LinkedIn profile and website I go into a bit more detail of how I do what I do which allows visitors to get a sense of me, not just my skill set.


People will hire you for you.  You can be trained on certain widget skill sets, but the bottom line is the value that you offer is the gateway to engagement.  Once that door has been open you can then engage the right audiences.


Put you back in your communication to start opening those doors!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW



Asking Questions is a Good Thing

QuestionsI’ve never been a “just because” kind of girl.

When I worked in corporate America and would hear, “this is the way we have always done it” or “we do it this way just because” it never satisfied me.  I would keep asking questions.

I ask a lot of questions.

I like to know the whys.  It helps me see the bigger picture and fine tune the details.  I can then properly assess situations, see possible challenges, adapt for possible changes and afford the opportunity to improve my performance to provide better service to others.  It also helps me understand the entire situation so I can then properly explain or train others.

It can be annoying – but it is me.  It is how my mind works.  If you think it frustrates or annoys others imagine being inside my head having to know the why and not understanding why people don’t see the importance of it.

But as I aged I realized that not everyone thinks or communicates like I do.  They should…just kidding…kinda.

The transition from annoying to empowering came when I learned how to communicate to others how I communicate.

For example when my ex-husband was diagnosed with cancer and the oncologist came in to explain the course of treatment.  He initially introduced himself then quickly ran through the experimental treatment including the three doses of chemotherapy that would be used and the timing of each one.

It was a lot of words I had never heard before and to say it was overwhelming was an understatement.  When he did the “Okay we will begin in the morning,” attempt to leave I stopped him.  I told him that I was scared and didn’t understand what was going on and to help me support my ex better I have to understand the process going into it or I’m going to be a basket case and bug him and nurses endlessly with questions throughout the process.

It took him back for a moment but when he saw me with pen and paper in hand I think he knew I was serious.

This lovely man utilized the whiteboard in the room and detailed the entire process patiently answering each of my questions along the way.  The next day when I brought our son in to visit his dad we could both explain the process to him in a way that he understood.  He picked it up so well he began to tell the nurses when certain medicines were getting low in the IV and that his dad would be needing the next step soon.

I made it clear that I was not challenging him or expecting miracles, I just needed to know what to expect in order to continue to encourage and support.

In a professional world it can be difficult asking questions because you do not want it to be seen as possibly challenging your boss or co-workers.

I learned to preface my questions with, “I am not challenging you, I am trying to wrap my mind around this and sometimes my mind work the way I want so I have to ask questions until it clicks.  I want to make sure that I support you fully in this process.”

This way I took full ownership of the questions and made sure that it was coming from a positive position of support and understanding.  Of course there were times that my bosses might ask if there are any questions and when I raised my hand they did an eye roll.  I would just smile and tell them I didn’t want to screw this up.

Actually, people I worked with got used to my process and started to incorporate it when talking to me.

It wasn’t that they knew I was the one that asked all the questions – it was that I listened, learned and applied the answers.  I didn’t waste time with meaningless questions.  I had a point, a purpose or reason.  The bottom line was to understand in order to improve.  What boss or client is going to disagree with that bottom line?

I also took a lot of notes and keeping them on hand so that way I was not asking the same questions over and over again.  If a similar situation came up I had a great resource and better understanding moving forward.

It is one thing to ask for help, it is another to not utilize it going forward.  This is where you have to make sure that you listen and apply the answers to your questions.  If you do not then you are just wasting their time over and over again.  This is not only unproductive, it is disrespectful of them.

Even now when giving a workshop if I get a question from a participant I will ask clarifying questions of them prefaced with a positive statement.  It might be, “I just want to make sure I get a full understanding of your situation” or “I want to be clear on your question to make sure that I answer it for you.”

My communication style has not changed over my career path no matter what the position or industry.  What has changed is my ability to own that style and let the other party know the why in order that we have a more comfortable and fruitful exchange.

Be sure to engage those you are asking and thank them for assisting you.  Asking questions is a great way to open the doors for better understanding, improved skill set, greater knowledge and the ability to serve as a resource.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


What Do You Want and Why Should I Give It To You?

I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to the Avon Chapter of Busniess & Professional Exchange this morning.  What started out with elevator pitches moved on to resumes.  Although it was an interesting journey there was a common thread that lead from one topic to the other: engagement.

Let’s face it – the driving force behind most communication is engagement.  Oh sure, there are times that communication is strictly one way – i.e. speaking to our children.  Trust me, when my son was in his teenage hey-day the last thing I wanted in talking to him was engagement.  No, it was more a “just listen and do”; unfortunately, this is my kid we are talking about so there was a lot more engagement that I ever bargained for – gee, wonder where he got that….

Ok, fine, he got it from me.  I’ll admit it.  Having recognized that I can take a mere statement and build an engagement on it I have had to realize that it is not always the desired response.  Ask any of my former bosses.

I study communication at all levels and all forms; I love it and it is fascinating.  Normally because of the amount of research and analysis I can bring to light certain points that people normally overlook.  Just like making the statement that normally the purpose of communication is engagement.  You want the other person to be drawn into a conversation with you.

The most difficult mode of communication to build engagement is the written word.  When you are speaking to someone in person or even over the phone you have clues that you can utilize to adjust your speaking patterns or chosen words to encourage engagement.  However, with the written word you are far removed from that person.  For this reason sometimes it feels like a shot in the dark.

So how do you even begin to craft a message that will build engagement?  The first thing you should do is ask yourself, “What is my desired outcome?”  Even thought this sounds simple enough you would be surprised how many people really do not know what they want when they send off a message.

Oh sure, when you send a resume you want them to call you –right?  But what then?  What do you want them to ask you about, what do you want to focus on during the conversation – have you thought about these before you craft your message?

Sometimes we make things too darned difficult for our own good.  Start small, start simple.  First figure out what kind of response you want from the other person.  This will help drive your message.

Sometimes the recipient is looking within your message to determine how they should respond.  That might sound confusing so let me give an example.  I received a text yesterday – nothing new, I get a lot of texts (I’m really big on texting).  Anyway, this one was a very simple message: it was the name of a place I worked at when I was a teenager, but that was the extent of the message, oh, and some exclamation points.

I looked at it and thought, “Ok”.  I am not sure what the meaning was, I mean it wasn’t an invitation to join them, maybe it wasn’t even meant for me – who knows.  I certainly didn’t and since I was clueless, I didn’t respond.  I wasn’t trying to be rude; but not having spoken to this person in a while I just assumed it was sent to me by mistake.

Long story short – know what it is you are saying and why so you do not leave the recipient clueless.  Because if you do want a response and you do not allow them the opportunity to respond you have no one to blame but yourself if you don’t get it.

Now, if you are sending a more lengthy communication, i.e. resume or email, again start with what is your desired result.  Then you need to think about your audience.  Realize that their time is important, no matter how little they are giving to you, it is important.  You need to make your message count – and this means it should matter to them.

Your resume should answer the question, “What can you do for me?” If you are asking for an informational interview you should enlighten them as to who you are, how you got connected to them, what type of information you are seeking and why – oh, and thank them.  Don’t forget your manners.

Let me be blunt – for some reason we all find that we have less hours in the day so we have become very selective with the amount of time we share with others and even more selective on those others that we choose to spend time.  Within your written communication you need to build the case for why they want to give you their time.  In other words why would it benefit them to speak to you?

Let me take blunt a step further: until you can answer the questions of “What do you want and why should I give it to you” do not send that communication.  Only after you can answer these two questions then you can begin to craft your message in a way that will not only speak to these to points but significantly increase your chances of accomplishing your desired result.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

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