May 2010 - Posts

Constructive Complaining
Thursday, May 06, 2010 9:19 AM

To complain is human.

But, with the downturn in the economy and upswing in everyday pressures on-the-job, complaining has taken on a life of its own in the typical workplace. As a recent Wall Street Journal article titled Misery Poker: It's One Game Worth Losing observes: "As times get tougher, complaining is starting to look more like a blood sport than a coping mechanism. Stressed to the max and desperate for everyone to know it, many of us are trying to trump each other with our carping."

This steady stream of grumbles is not good for business. In fact, according to a post from the Chief Happiness Officer, it can be quite toxic since it:

  • Becomes habitual
  • Colors perception
  • Makes people despondent
  • Kills innovation
  • Thwarts relationships
  • Creates office factions
  • Promotes pessimism

To prevent and offset this environmental hazard in the workplace, we need to learn and encourage constructive complaining. When we complain constructively, we complain about:

  • The right thing
  • At the right time
  • To someone who can do something about it

We also engage in some honest self-scrutiny to make sure that our complaint is firmly grounded in some objective reality as opposed to our own irrationality.

According to an article that asks Can You Go 21 Days Without Complaining?, we can avoid making unconstructive complaints if we:

  • Write down what is bothering us
  • Consider what we can do to change the situation
  • Channel the complaint into a more productive response
  • Identify something positive about the scenario

In addition to the above suggestions, I always appreciate it, if when someone complains to me they take the time to offer a suggestion on how to fix the issue. In my opinion, this can be the most constructive use of complaining, because it can be used not only to vent, but to solve problems!

If you want to be a more constructive complainer, you can start the process by taking this Constructive Complaining Quiz. Feel free to share your results and feedback with us and the Beyond Folders Community.

by Candie Harris


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It is Nice to Share: Making Room for Two in Your Home Office
Wednesday, May 05, 2010 8:12 AM

Millions of people in the U.S. work from home at least part time (check out some interesting work-at-home statistics here). Many making the in-home commute from one room to another do not make it alone. They are part of a growing population of home office co-workers.

Sharing Your Home Office Space

If you are thinking of creating a home office for two, you and your work-mate-to-be should consider the important questions posed in this article on home office life:


  • Do you have compatible working styles?
  • Are your internal clocks in sync?
  • Do you have the same tolerance for noise (or silence)?


Beyond addressing these basic questions, you have to be realistic about your physical space. A Helium article on sharing office space points up the importance of having separate desks that you can position "side by side, on opposite ends of the room or even back to back so you face your office partner over your computer." It also recommends that you maintain separate filing systems if you and your office mate are not in the same business or have distinct roles in a shared venture. Keeping your shared space clean and clutter-free is also a priority.


When you are ready to tackle your new set up, you can use these home office visualizing and planning tools. You can also gain some design inspiration from this HGTV article library and this take on 12 ways to pimp your office.


As important as it is to tend to your physical environment, according to this WebWorkerDaily post on A Home Office for Two, you also need to take care of your separate and joined psychic space by:

  • Being clear about your desires and expectations
  • Keeping the other informed if something is bugging you
  • Ensuring that you are both prepared to try new approaches and be flexible.

Do you share a home office? If so, we invite you to tell us about your experiences making room for two.

by Carly Fadako


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Problem Solving at Work (Part I)
Tuesday, May 04, 2010 9:45 AM

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them" - Albert Einstein

Whatever we do for a living, we usually encounter problems in the course of our workday. Large and small, they are all around us. Yet, despite their strong presence, most of us go about the everyday business of problem solving rather unconsciously. In a rush to move through or around it, we do not give a lot of thought to how and why a problem arose, how we react to it or how we resolve it. We are on problem-solving autopilot. In this mode, we usually miss opportunities to become truly effective problem solvers.

Since effective problem solving is a valuable professional and personal skill, we are going to raise some consciousness in this post and future ones so we can be better problem solvers at work and beyond.

As this article on problem solving instructs, the first step is to examine the anatomy of a problem. Some primary root causes of problems in workplace are:


  • Co-worker conflict
  • Customer upset
  • Process dysfunction
  • Mechanical failure


According to this article on workplace problem solving, when we perceive a problem, we tend to respond to it in one of three ways. We:


  • Get afraid and uncomfortable and wish it would go away
  • Look for someone (else) to blame
  • Feel that we have to come up with the right solution right away

This last response is the biggest hurdle to effective problem solving "because it tries to put the solution at the beginning of the process, when what we need is a solution at the end of the process."

It is important to emphasize the term process here. Problem solving is a process that takes patience and time. Nicely capturing this point is an article that states, "You will need to do a bit of research internally - have discussions with the involved parties to really understand the heart of the matter before a solution should be identified."

We will outline the problem solving process in Part II of this post on problem solving at work. In the meantime, we invite you to share your problem solving stories and tips here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers


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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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