Is Your Mouth Cutting You Off From Your Network?

covering mouth

It fascinates me how it really is a small world. I really do think there is something to the theory of six degrees of separation.  It is fun discovering the connections with people that you meet.

These connections can help forge strong networks and connections.  People in your network remember you because of something shared.

Sometimes the connections are made by one party but not in a good way.

Years ago, I had a young man ask for time to conduct an informational interview.  He was very eager to enter in the financial industry, and to please whomever he was sitting in front of at the time. He had transferred from another state and had talked to someone in banking before speaking to me (I was in investments).

When discussing the differences between banking and investments he said he talked to a woman in the other state, but she didn’t know anything about the industry. I asked what bank and he told me and the woman’s first name and title.

As luck would have it, he talked to my best friend, which I casually tossed out there.  The interview ended shortly after, he was a bit at a loss for words having insulted my best friend – and not being honest because that woman knows more about the industry than anyone I know.

You never know who knows whom. People should really keep this in mind when networking.  You may think people from a certain town are back-water hicks, but for goodness sake, do not say that out loud!  Insulting other people is not a way to align yourself with someone else.

Neither is assuming they are idiots. I was at a networking event once and met a financial advisor. He liked to dictate conversations and let everyone know how important he is and so much smarter than his audience.

A friend and I were talking to him, well, listening to him talk about investment strategies. At one point, he paused and looked at me and said (in a voice you would use with a young child) “I can explain the difference between stocks and bonds to you later if you need.”

My friend about choked on his drink, he knew my background.  I smiled politely and told him that it would be very kind of him but I do have an idea of the difference between the two.  I tried.  I really tried to give him an out in a very polite manner.  But he was having nothing of it.  He persisted that investing could be very complicated for someone not in the industry so I really shouldn’t assume I know enough to make any decisions or know the difference.

That was it.  I said I should know the difference since I am a former manager and compliance offer having held my 7, 63, 65, 9, and 10 and I also know about insurance having held my 26, Life & Health and Property & Casualty.  (I was licensed as a stockbroker and manager in both investments and insurance).

The point is this – treat everyone in your network with respect. Our backgrounds make us unique, not put us at a disadvantage or beneath anyone else.  There is pride in our past. Being disrespectful of a person’s background or upbringing does not align you with ‘the right people’ it alienates you from people.

Celebrate differences and focus on what you have in common and how you can help others.  That will build strong bridges that lead to incredible opportunities.


As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button 


How 3 Men Determine What I Post & The Importance of Social Media Yardsticks

three generations of men

My dad gave me one of the greatest pieces of advice when I went to college: if you are ever unsure what to do or say, just imagine me standing next to you.

I found this to be invaluable, so much so, that I still hear this in my head and subscribe to it to this day.  My dad has been gone for over 20 years and yet I often imagine him standing right next to me.

My dad was one of my biggest supporters and grounders.  He kept me grounded instilling a foundation of treating others with respect, honesty, working hard, taking care of family and friends.  He supported me by never letting me settle for less than I deserve or want.

Imagining him next to me has helped me stand up for myself, go after bigger goals and maybe a time or two keeping me out of trouble.  Okay, lots of times.

I told my son this same advice.  He has yet to see the wisdom in it.  *sigh*

My son was an athlete.  There were many times I had to imagine my dad standing next to me at his games.  My son would sometimes comment that he was surprised at my restraint. I explained that as his mom, my behavior reflects on him.  This he listened to and understood my perspective on image.

There is one thing about my son – he is a very protective boy.  He grew up with a single mother who scared the crap out of his friends, yet he is still very protective.  He is also very proud of my company and very alert to anything that could look detrimental to my image, career or person.

The point of this little family reminiscing is this – I have two yardsticks to measure against before I put anything out there.  Not only do they always have my back – I also represent them.

I represent my company, my son, my parents and family.  How does what I say reflect on them?

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and any medium in which you can freely express your opinion or thoughts that are instantly accessible does not come with yardsticks.  How often have we read stories of someone who whipped out a tweet that they instantly regretted – yet haunted them and caused major destruction?

My boyfriend is an officer in the military.  I now add him to the mix.  As his partner, I am a reflection of him, too.

Just a gentle reminder for the day and suggestion: before you hit submit – ask yourself this question: would you dad, mom, child or significant other be okay with what you are putting out there?

Would you be representing them well?

I am absolutely dedicated to my profession and clients; yet my family – that is a whole new level. I would be devastated if I were to do anything that would embarrass or disrespect them.  My brand is not just about me, my company or my profession.  It is about the person that I am and my core values. Staying true and respectful to those things translates to my company and profession.



As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button 

Tell Me I Am Old School One. More. Time.

tell me i am old school one more time

Caveat: This article has generalizations that could translate to assumptions about entire groups of people That is not the intent. It is written from my personal perspective and experiences.  If you are a young person who is going to be offended by me calling you a young person and making a generalization about young people and their behaviors – stop reading or suck it up, cupcake. This is how us old schoolers roll.

I recently read an article which suggested sending a letter.  An honest-to-goodness-snail-mail letter.  One of the comments after the article was, “Man, have you heard of email? Paper mail is wasteful and dated and SLOW.”

Translation: “you are so old school”

Translation: “you are old, outdated, not cool, unhip” or whatever other phrases young people are using now.

Damn straight I am old school. And yes, I feel even older using the phrase “young people” but guess what, I am going to keep using it. Because I am old school, outdated, back in the day, uncool and unhip.

I love hearing young people bemoan ‘old school’: “that is slow, that is a waste of time, whine, cry, too much effort, sniff, eye roll, takes too long….”

I am closing in on a half century and over this time I have seen amazing transformations. I remember being all excited seeing a digital clock for the first time.  I was a weird kid, whatever.  Now I have a computer in my hand.

There are better, faster, easier, more efficient ways to communicate or do things; that is true.  Yet here is the point that old schoolers get that youngsters do not:

The communication and actions are not about the words you use or things you do, but how it makes others feel.

It takes extra time and thought to write a hand written thank you note.  It would be easier to whip off a text or email. Wham bam thank you ma’am mark that off my list.  But if someone were to thank you via text or email, how would you feel as compared to a note card in your hand in their writing?


Someone took the time, their time, to put thought and effort into thanking you.

So tell me, you young whippersnapper, that I am old-school like it is a bad thing one more time.  You want to know old school? Here are some other old school things that me and my back in the day crowd do, some being gender specific:

  •  Hold doors for people.
  • Smile and have small talk in grocery lines.
  • Keep our phones in our pockets during coffee, dinner or any other meeting.
  • Listen and engage in eye contact.
  • Not photograph every moment but enjoy them instead.
  • Ask questions, be interested in the person we are talking to.
  • Stand when a lady approaches the table.
  • Hold the chair while she is sitting down.
  • Defer ordering first.
  • Offer to help when there is nothing in it for us.
  • Sew on our own buttons.
  • Use pots and pans not microwaves.
  • Slow down.
  • Take chances, we are less concerned about looking stupid in front of our friends – they have had years to know we are crazy.
  • Laugh at ourselves.
  • Talk to our friends when we get together.
  • Encourage each other instead of compete.
  • Cherish and show respect for our elders.  That means our parents and grandparents and other people’s parents and grandparents. To you young people – elders is old people.
  • Say ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’.
  • Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
  • Make plans – not five minutes in advance.
  • Respect other people’s time.
  • Don’t look for ways to get offended, look for ways to make it happen for us.

I am not saying all young people do not do these things or all us old people do; this is me and the old folks I know.

You know the benefit to me of being old school? I am happy.  I love what I do, love who I am, love the experiences I encounter and the people I interact with on a daily basis. I know who I am, what I am, what I want, and am limitless because of these things.

So, yes, I am old-school. You say that like it is a bad thing.  I see it as a recognition that I still hold true to the values that my parents and grandparents taught me.

  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  • You catch more flies with honey than vinegar
  • How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you
  • The only time you should look down on a person is when you are helping them get up
  • Respect all people regardless of their situation, position, status or title

These are things that no technology or time-saving efficiencies can ever replace, nor the way they make others feel when we do them.


As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button 

Know You Deserve It and You Will Receive It; Try To Demand It and You Can Forget About It

people shaking handsThere are two lucky things about today’s blog:


  1. My son      never reads them
  2. No one      my son knows reads them


This is lucky because I am going to use him and a friend as an example today – and no, not in a mean mommy kind of way.


I guess some things I have said over the years actually took root in him as was demonstrated recently.


When he was growing up I rarely used the phrase, “Because I said so.”  Good or bad I have always been a pretty transparent person.  Ask me why and I will give you a reason.


A good example would be when he was younger and wanted to attend some event during a school night.  He would ask me “Why can’t I go?”


To which I was honest and told him, “Because you have school tomorrow, you aren’t a morning person anyway and I don’t want to deal with you getting even less sleep and being an even bigger butthead in the morning.”


Neither my son or I are morning people.  Ever.  Period.  This is something he could immediately understand, identify with and acknowledge as true.  I wasn’t being mean; I was explaining it to him in a way that he understood.


Of course I would pull out the “Because I am your mother and I said so” card.  It never went well.  He is a born arguer (I don’t know where he gets it) and the result of that discussion would normally end with me saying something to the effect of, “You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to like me or even respect me; however, as long as you are in my home you will respect the fact that I am your mother, my house, my rules and believe it or not what I allow and not allow are all centered on what I feel is best for you as your mother.”


I think I might have thrown in a “suck it up” or “get over it” in there now and then, I can’t quite remember, but I am pretty sure I did.


Needless to say, during his young years he did not respect me and I’m pretty such not like me much of the time.  But he did respect that I was his mom.  He understood that sometimes you must respect a person’s position, even if you do not like the person.


I also taught him that he has to earn respect just like everyone else in the world.  If he were going to respect me as an individual then it will be because I earned it in his eyes.


He does respect me now; even during the times that we are gasoline and fire.


The point of all this is the matter of respect – it is not a given, and you don’t get it because you demand it.


I know he learned this lesson because of what he told me the other day.


He was seeing a young lady (is that an old fashion term?  Whatever, I’m from “back in the day” as he would say) and they seemed to be getting along nicely.  Here is the thing about my son; if he is interested in someone he treats them well.  Respectful, communicative, polite and like a gentleman.


They had been communicating regularly (meaning texting all the dang time, spending time together) and one night she text him late in the evening/early morning telling him her phone had died that is why she hadn’t text back.  He replied something like Ok, no problem.  So a few hours later she text him again and told him that it wasn’t going to work because he wasn’t texting her back.


Oh, the joys of young dating.  I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that crap at my age!


He simply replied, again, Ok.


That was that.


You see, when she behaved in a manner of respect for herself and knowing she deserved respect he was happy to oblige.  However, the moment she moved over to the demanding side of respect, well, he was done.


Now, while I use my 20 year old as an example, the funny thing is I see this all too often in the business world.


“You must respect me because I demand it.”


Yeah, not so much.


I find those that demand respect actually have very little for themselves, or anyone else.  They also tend to be insecure about who they are, what they can do and what they want and why.  It is easy to spot and easier still to lose respect for them.


People respect you because you respect yourself and you behave in a respectful manner to yourself and others.  Very simple formula.


You respect yourself because you deserve it.  You know who you are, what is important to you, you like yourself and you give to others in a non-expectant way.


Holding this mind frame brings you confidence and not in a cocky sort of way.  It draws people to you, allows opportunities to arise for you and brings you happiness, joy and satisfaction.


It is the same attitude that you should adopt when interviewing for a job.


Not once have I ever interviewed a person and given them an opportunity because they demanded it of me.  The ones that do get the opportunities are the ones that want it, can demonstrate their ability and are looking for the opportunity to prove themselves.


Walk in with the attitude that you are the best thing since sliced bread and they owe it to you to give you the job and you can forget about being offered the position.


However, walk in with the confidence that you are right for the job, are willing to prove yourself and earn their respect and it will open the doors to that opportunity.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Respect the Requirements

thumbing your noseA friend was telling me the other day about the difficulty their organization was having in filling a specific position.


It wasn’t a lack of qualified candidates.


It wasn’t even a shortage of qualified candidates.


It was a lack of respect.


The job description was complete including two words: “Relocation Required.”


The number of candidates who applied and went through the interview only to announce at some point through the process that they were unwilling to relocate was astounding.  They called it incredible.


I call it disrespectful.


The candidate was either disrespectful in not preparing for the interview by clearly not reading the entire posting – or they were basically telling the interviewer, “I know this is a requirement but since the world revolves around me I know you will change whatever you need to in order to fit my wants.”


I don’t think so.


You are not that cute cupcake.


I looked up requirements on and this is what I found:


režquirežment [ri-kwahyuh  r-muh nt]  noun

1. that which is required; a thing demanded or obligatory: One of the requirements of the job is accuracy.


Isn’t it something that the example used is job – hmm, maybe this should tell us something.


There is a reason that certain items are listed as requirements and not as desirable, preferred or negotiable.  They are a necessity, obligation, need, prerequisite – whatever you want to call it; it is a must.


Thumbing your nose at a requirement is pretty much ensuring that you will be remembered not as the candidate that “was a great fit” but rather that “was a jackass who did not seem to know what was required or did not care.”


How would you like to be remembered?



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


You Don’t Get A Cookie For Peeing On The Floor

It is ironic to me that we can see the clarity and prudence of bits of wisdom for some aspects of our life but not for others. By “we” I am including myself in this one – not throwing stones.

Not rewarding bad behavior is one of these sage little tidbits that is often selectively applied.

I apply it with my dogs. Having five there is a continual training process going on in my house. My dogs all go out first thing in the morning and do their business – both kinds of business, all five, every morning. It is their schedule. Sometimes I have to remind them when they come to the door to “go potty” at which point they look at me with dopey dog eyes saying, “oh yeah, I forgot” and they promptly go back in the yard and poop. Yes, my brilliant dogs sometimes forget to poop. Anyway, when all five have conducted business as a whole then they all five get a treat.

When I leave the house I remind them all to be good and upon my return if they have then they all get a treat. If one has decided to destroy a roll of paper towels, de-stuffed a cushion or peed on the floor then none of them get a treat. They do not get rewarded for bad behavior. One of my dogs will even put himself in the corner if he misbehaves, he knows no reward for bad behavior.

When I arrive home if any try to jump up on me they promptly get a reminder not to do so; however if they back off and sit when told then they get lots of affection and praise. No reward for bad behavior.

I applied the same philosophy to my son when he was growing up. When he was little he would attempt to go through a whining phase every once in a while. If he started whining I would ignore him. When he would realize that his theatrics were had attention he would say something to me about if I was listening or some other ridiculous remark, to which I responded in a very matter of fact voice, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you, all I hear was this horrible, irritating whiney noise. When you talk to me in an appropriate manner then I can hear you and will listen to you.” And I would walk away. No reward for bad behavior. I have given my son so much material for a therapist down the road…

Often times I find people allow bad behavior from the object of their affection or co-workers. What is worse is the excuses that they come up with for this person’s behavior. If you are interested in someone and things are going great but all of a sudden they start ignoring you how often is the phrase, “Oh, I know they are really busy” come in to play? So you make an excuse for them not returning a call that they said they would, or breaking plans etc. Then you assume ownership of this and try to “help” this person but making the call again, re-planning etc. You are rewarding bad behavior. Knock it off.

On the surface it appears that you are merely making excuses for them but really you are providing and validating a reason for them to treat you poorly. You deserve better than that! People are busy, yes, however; does it really take that long to make a quick call or text? Nope. Face it, if someone wants to reach you they will, if they do not reach out let it go and do not establish a pattern that you deserve less than respectful treatment.

In the workplace it is very easy to become the dumping ground for co-workers or bosses. I have a friend that is the ultimate worker, a boss’s dream. He is hard working, comes in early, doesn’t complain, takes pride in his job, goes above and beyond without being asked and truly gives 110% every day. He had a boss that would frequently ask him to complete some menial tasks for other workers because 1. They needed to be done and 2. The other workers refused to do them.

This is a management issue, an example of poor management on so many levels – but I won’t get into that side of it. My friend was being used because he was a good employee and the boss was rewarding the bad ones by having my friend complete their tasks. The light bulb finally came on and he realized the reward for bad behavior.

The next time his boss asked him to complete other’s tasks he calmly explained what was on his agenda for the day, all the tasks that he was responsible for that needed to be completed, and asked his boss which was a higher priority because in his mind his tasks were of high priority but if his boss would rather he not complete his job for the day in order that the menial tasks get done then that would be his call. His boss became a bit flustered and my friend told him that he would like to help him but it was important to him that he give his full time and attention to his job as that is what the company was depending on him to complete so he unfortunately would not be able to do the other tasks.

It is ok to say no. This should be done in a professional and non-confrontational manner; however it is important to reclaim your respect within your world. Your time, talents and attention are just as valuable as anyone else’s so why allow someone else to de-value you?

In networking I had a young lady that routinely would set an appointment with me then cancel at the last minute. We are in a networking group together so I gave her a bit more leeway than I normally would, but after the third time I was done. When she reached out once again I politely declined the offer. She apologized profusely about the prior cancellations and I thanked her for her apology; however my time is very valuable and therefore I can only schedule appointments with others who value time as much as I do and suggested that perhaps down the road when she has more control over her schedule we might find the opportunity to sit down.

No one will value you unless you value yourself first. If you are going to blindly assume that my world revolves around you then please do not waste my time. There will be another project, another networking opportunity, another potential prospect – but I will not give you another opportunity to disrespect or de-value me. I have refused to work with clients because of their disrespect, their attitude that because they are paying for a service this somehow gives them a right to be disrespectful to me or anyone I am connected with. Wrong, move on.

The last two statements may come across to some as self-serving or bold; perhaps. They may even give the impression that I am demanding; I am. Demanding of myself because here is the thing – I value myself. I give 150% to my clients, my family, my friends, my networking and business partners; anyone that I choose to have in my life in any way. I value them and therefore I openly and willingly give all that I can to them.

I do not expect anything of others that I would not expect of myself. I treat others with respect, dignity and honesty. I respect the individual and therefore believe that they believe to be treated in this manner; and it is an easy thing to behave in this manner because I respect myself.

If you find that you are giving cookies for other’s peeing on your floor take a step back and see how you are encouraging this behavior. It might just come down to a matter of treating yourself with more respect in order that others will do the same.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

Manners Used To Be The Rule Now It Seems They Are The Exception

I really hated typing that title. Maybe it is just me, maybe I am the only one who mourns the loss of manners. Perhaps it isn’t a loss of manners it is instead the absence of manners. Either way for me it seems like a personal loss. In the last two days I have had two conversations and it just reiterated the absence/loss of manners.

Yesterday I was talking to James Ryan Owner and Chief Development Officer at Lotus Development. James is a business coach – check out his website at Our discussion was primarily regarding the lack of follow through from job seekers. This is a blog all on its own, but at one point he had stated that of six people that responded to a tweet he sent out only one followed up. I mentioned something about manners and he said that he hadn’t thought of it that way, but it would have been nice.

Late yesterday I received a call while I was on a conference call. I emailed the caller and told her that I was on the other line and would call her back. Once I hung up from my conference call I got another call which triggered several other events and by the time I sat down it was 9:00pm. The next thing I knew I woke up this morning on the couch with four dogs. The oldest doesn’t cuddle and she was glaring at me from the chair across the room.

I emailed her this morning and explained the situation. She responded that she knew I was busy and it was okay. I emailed her back and told her busy or not it was rude and I apologize. Her response surprised me. She literally said “Wow…Thanks! I’ve never had someone apologize or say it was rude.” Now, I emailed her because she is working and I do not want to interrupt her day otherwise I would have called.

I don’t think that I am in any way better than anyone else because I have this fixation with manners. Personally, I grew up with wonderful examples in my life and that helped form my behavior and thinking. Some are not so lucky, some people were never taught manners unfortunately and others, well I think some people just don’t give a damn.

My grandmother was the essence of a lady. She was intelligent, head strong, independent, loving, worldly, classy, nurturing, tough and had a shoe collection to die for! She was beautiful and carried herself with class and dignity. She could walk in a room and her presence drew admiring looks and positive attention from all. She set the bar for me in representing a real woman. I miss her to no end.

At her funeral a friend of hers who had known my grandmother for decades told me that one thing that struck her about my grandmother is she never heard her utter a negative word about another human being ever. My grandmother had a sharp wit and keen sense of humor, she had it in her; but she chose not to utilize it.

My grandmother had impeccable manners and as I wanted to be like her I emulated her to the best of my ability. My parents were wonderful examples. From my mom and dad I learned the value and appreciation of employing manners to your partner, family and friends. They were best friends and partners in crime. They treated each other with the utmost respect and never failed to use manners in their interactions. I remember growing up hearing lots of “please” and “thank you” and appreciation. We may not have had a lot but I was rich in learning the value of how to treat ones you love.

Doesn’t it make you feel better or just make your moment when someone uses manners? When someone holds the door open, when they send a follow up thank you, when they take that small extra step – doesn’t it make you smile just for a moment? I know it does for me and it’s not something that I immediately say, “Oh, they used manners”.

So if it does help make your day, why wouldn’t you do the same for someone else? It really does not take but a moment to do; however we get so lost in the business of our day that it is the one area that suffers. If you are going to carve out a few minutes today to do something, try taking a few seconds to use your manners. The results will be positive – I will bet dollars to donuts.

Apparently it is time to pay attention to one of the puppies as he just brought me a toy. Actually he dumped it in my lap and then plopped his head right next to it. And of course, I thanked him for giving me his toy.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Coach & Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

There are No Stupid Questions

I had to get a new pair of earbuds the other day, I listen to my Ipod constantly and am very hard on my earphones. This morning as I was putting them in I looked down and noticed there was a little “R” and “L” letting me know which one should go in which ear. Really? Does this make a difference? Is it going to affect the sound quality if I put the R in the L ear? Nope, it didn’t, I just tried.

Of course this little exercise of futility got me thinking about instructions and why they are needed. Oh we have all heard the jokes about the hair dryer that says not to use it in the bathtub and how we have never been in that big of a hurry to get ready. Or the Preparation H and not to use that product orally. I’m not touching that one.

We can all have a good laugh; however, I also realize that sometimes the “simple” instructions are needed because others have not had the fortune of our own experience. Let go of the Preparation H joke now, follow me.

When I teach a class often times I get a question which to me might seem like a no-brainer; however I have to remember that writing a resume is not taught to us as children or adults and it is a scary process. I encourage all and any questions because I realize people just really do not know and they are more afraid of doing something wrong than taking a chance of doing something right. You may think that asking if you should put your name on the second page would seem silly, but not knowing the “rules” can intimidate someone into inaction. Fear makes us second-guess everything.

Think about it, the only way you know some of these rules are because you were taught in one way or another. Either by a parent, teacher, boss, co-worker, or perhaps picked it up overhearing a conversation. We were not born with a set of rules automatically programed into us.

The next time your child, co-worker or even a stranger asks you a question which you think should be common sense, take a second to remember that not everyone knows what you do. If you mock or shame this person for asking you could really be doing some major damage. What if your child feels so badly for asking what they were just told was a “silly” question and that makes them so embarrassed that they stop asking questions in class?

There is nothing wrong in not knowing the answer to something. What may be common sense to you isn’t to me and visa versa. I used to be embarrassed to ask questions, I did not want to look “stupid” or uneducated. I got over it. I realize that I just don’t know everything and the only way I am going to know the information I want to know is to ask. So I ask, and I ask a lot of questions. Not only did I get over this fear I totally conquered and destroyed it to the point that I ask A LOT of questions because I want to understand things completely.

When my boys were growing up they knew that my house was one were you were not judged and could ask any question. Before they went off to college and the service some of them stopped by to have one of our talks and they all said they appreciated the fact that I never made them feel stupid. That no matter how silly the question was I would always answer and treated them with respect, they felt safe here and respected. What greater gift can you give a child than by a creating these two feelings just by not mocking them but rather simply answering a question?

Occasionally I am still mocked for asking questions that others assume should be common knowledge and I just laugh it off. I have also learned to laugh at myself. I can deal with a little mockery and teasing. The way I see it, I would rather have a moment of embarrassment than a lifetime of ignorance.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Transition Strategist
Career Polish, Inc.

Choosing Your Family

Sitting in my office this morning I looked out the window and watched two young sisters ride their bicycles in a reoccurring pattern. Without being able to hear a word I could tell there was some sort of competition going on there. When the younger one got stuck on a turn the older one jumped off her bike and immediately ran to help her. She gently coaxed her younger sister around the bend then resumed the competition.

My brother was six years older than I and we were worlds away. He was an incredible intellect with razor sharp wit and a wicked sense of humor. I like to think that I have a bit of his humor and wit, but growing up I could not compare. It wasn’t until I went to college that my brother and I actually talked. Before then, honestly, we had nothing in common.

I went to school in Illinois for two years then back home to take care of my grandmother; he had gone to IU to get his Masters then moved to Chicago. We would see each other occasionally on his trips home or holidays. He died at the age of 28, I was 22 and living with my ex-husband starting our life, and soon our family.

The devastation of loosing my brother really did not hit until I got much older and realized how much I regretting not getting to know my own brother better, not spending more time with him. I think of him often and when my best friend and I are in a particularly sarcastic mood I often think how much my brother and best friend would have liked each other – they are so similar.

Before I get too mushy, I’ll be honest and state that there are family members that I choose not to spend time with, yes I know they are family, but what if you really just don’t like each other? I’m not going to name names because that is just rude. And by the way, any of my family that is reading this – it is not you! That’s where I realize that sometimes your family are those that you choose, not born into the bloodline.

Jackie has been my best friend, confidant and sister for – good night, I don’t even know how long! She is my family. My son’s dad, Jeff, is my family. We divorced over a decade ago and have developed a friendship that is unbreakable. It is based on our shared love for our son but a mutual respect has grown that makes us close friends. We are better today than we could have ever been married. These two are my family that I choose. These are two that I would lay down my life for and do anything needed to secure their happiness or safety.

When my ex was going through chemotherapy I remember our son asking why I was doing so much for him as we were divorced. I told him because he is family and that is what you do. But that statement is not completely accurate. Because it is okay to say no to family, it is not an unwritten rule that you must sacrifice everything for everyone.

That last statement seems a bit unclear, let me put it a little more bluntly: just because your slacker relative asks you to do something for them do not feel as though you are obligated to do it. You must regain respect for yourself and be able to say no. Here’s the thing, there are people, family or not, that will ask you to do everything for them but are unwilling to do for themselves. If they were not blood would you still feel the obligation to do something for them? Probably not. When you think about the people that you would do anything for at any time without any question then you have found the family that you choose to be a part of your life

Just because you are family does not give that person the right to disrespect you and expect to take advantage of you then lay the guilt “family” card on you. That’s wrong. It is okay to say no to family, I give you permission. Laugh if you will, but if you have never given yourself permission to say no maybe you need someone’s permission to do so – so you have mine.

Is a family member is job searching and they keep demanding of you to make introductions, calls or even get them a job where you work? What if you do make those introductions and they don’t follow up? What if you continually try to help but they are not putting any effort into their job search? Those are all demanding and disrespectful acts committed against you and honestly, you have the right to say stop. You have the right to not help them get on at your company especially if they have a bad attitude or solid streak of getting fired. Why have that poor reflection on you? Let go of the guilt.

The choices you make reflect the respect that you have for yourself. If you are allowing a family member to manipulate you then your self-respect is at a low. If a family member asks me to help I will to the best of my ability; however, if I feel uncomfortable in doing so or the tasks are taking advantage of me I respect myself enough to say no. I lost the guilt. If they want to use that as a Hatfield and McCoy type grudge, well so be it. Resect yourself which in turn will allow others to respect you.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Transition Strategist
Career Polish, Inc.

Don’t Play That Game…or Let It Be Played on You

This is a continuation of the trophy-for-trying generation irk that started yesterday. Not only does it seem that a pat on the back is expected for thinking about doing something, but also these little bundles of joy want us to do it for them.

Here’s a tip kids: I’ve been married to one man, a decade later I lived with another and I’ve raised an 18 year old son – playing stupid to get me to do something for you does not work, trust me, the best have tried. You know the trick of looking helpless, asking the dumbest questions in hopes of annoying someone into exasperation and finally proclaiming, “Here, let me do it for you.” I don’t play that game. Asking me those incessant incredibly dumb questions earns you one response from me: “I’m sure you can figure it out – how about you try.” And then I walk away.

I saw a son trying this on a mother once in the library before one of my classes. “Mom, how do you do this, where do I go from here, what should I put…” blah, blah, blah. She got that look, that desperate to shut her own kid up look and just about said those dreaded words when I intervened. I looked at her and said, in the mom voice, “Don’t you dare.” I startled her long enough to have this conversation with her kid:

Me: “Do you have a cell phone?”
Flawed-trickery child: “Yes”
Me: “Do you have media on your phone?”
Flawed-trickery child: “Yes”
Me: “Do you have a Facebook account?
Flawed-trickery child: “Yes”
Me: “Then you know enough about computers and how to create a profile that I bet you can figure this out all by yourself.”

At this point the Flawed-trickery child gave me the evil-parent look because he knew that he was busted. The mom thanked me and I told her no problem, they are sneaky little bastards and we have to stick together!

I had a friend of Jake’s try to pull that on me, stupid kid. He got the typical response and then he sighed – SIGHED! Seriously? Okay, here’s another rule in my house, if you are a friend of my son’s and adopt me as a secondary mom I have all mom rights and I exercise them. Ask any of my adopted boys – every one of them had earned a smack upside the back of their head. This one got it too. Do NOT sigh at me because your weak attempt at trickery failed. Admit you are in the presence of one much smarter than you and with a quicker upswing and do it your damn self.

It is time we put an end to this ridiculous game! It is played in homes, libraries and work-sites all around the country, probably all around the world. I do not suggest smacking a co-worker or boss upside the back of the head, although I know there are times that they truly deserve it. The best response for these foolish soon-to-be-failed-tricksters is simply saying, “You know, the best way to learn it is to do it yourself. I know it can be frustrating, it was for me, but that is how I mastered it. Try working through it and you’ll be amazed at how well you pick it up, I bet I’ll be asking you for tips! I need to go finish this project now!” and leave.

Now, I did have a boss that tried this game with a computer program and I finally looked at him and said, “You have no intention of ever doing this yourself, do you?” He was honest and answered no, so I told him to at least respect me enough to just ask me to do it rather than treat me like I’m an idiot and not only play this game but think I have time for it. The requests became fewer and we had a new level of appreciation of each other’s time.

And for you parents out there – KNOCK IT OFF. Good lord you want your little bundles of joy to survive in the real world don’t you? Keep this crap up and you are looking at them turning into the whiny bastards that are complaining that there are no snacks in the pantry when they are 30 because they STILL LIVE WITH YOU!

Don’t be afraid to say no to helping. It does not make you a mean or evil person. Have enough respect for your own time to not waste it on someone that is going to play a game with you. Don’t get me wrong, I like games: baseball, football, card games and some board games – but I don’t like people games. Anyone that plays a people game with you is showing you disrespect. Respect yourself and stand firm. If they get upset because they actually have to do it themselves, well, tough cookies, life is hard isn’t it? Don’t be a doormat. You must respect yourself before anyone else will.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Polish, Inc.