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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Healthy Days Ahead

Originally uploaded by craigmdennis
Last Christmas, my husband had a really bad case of pneumonia. When I look back on it, I realize how close to death he came. On Christmas day this year, I was most grateful for his health. I didn't care about the gifts; his health was the best gift. That may sound corny, but as soon as someone in your immediate family deals with any sort of serious illness, you understand how much their health (and even yours) is something you should never take for granted.

If you have at least one person who loves you (and I'm sure you have more than that), you need to be healthy for them. Taking care of your health will not only make your life easier, it will make their lives easier too.

One easy way to take care of your health: get to bed earlier.

My husband says that everyone in my family loves to sleep...and he's right. My dad used to wake us up super early to either take care of farm animals or go to early-morning seminary. We were always functioning on less sleep than most kids. Since then, I've always craved sleep like a recovering alcoholic craves a good, stiff drink. When I get a good night's sleep, I feel like a new woman. Try going to bed even 30 minutes earlier than you normally do and see how you feel. Do it for your family.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Value of Restraint

Speak when you are angry - and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret."
- Dr. Laurence J. Peter 

I've thought a lot about this concept. I've been guilty of shooting off my mouth (or an email) when I'm angry. My last post written to Home Depot was done after the heat of anger had cooled. But, it still comes off as maybe a bit more harsh than it should have been. However, I still got the result I was looking for: awareness and a reaction from Home Depot themselves. 

Since I'm in a career that is largely in the public eye, I deal with a lot of complaints. Women are not shy about voicing their frustrations and disappointments. I can type in the word "disappointment" in my search window in my email client and find at least four or five emails from women who were disappointed in something I was a part of — an ad that ran in the magazine for which I run, a shirt that didn't fit or a detail that was omitted from a story that the reader felt was vital. In many cases, I had to make a judgment call and knew I'd make at least a few people frustrated.

When you're in the heat of anger, though, rattling off an email or calling to rant at the offender about how disappointed you are often comes back to bite you. 

The other day I received two nasty, angry emails. I calmly replied that I'd see what I could do to resolve the situation, then separately called both parties. In both cases, I was met with chagrin.

One person said, "I'm sorry. I probably should have waited to send that [email] to you. Now that I look at the situation, I realize it's no big deal."

I think we can all learn a lesson in restraint. When you're angry. Wait.

Wait some more.

Then, think as you write your letter or email to the person with which you're angry. Think about what you want to say to them before you say it. Then wait some more before sending it or saying it. Re-read what you write aloud and determine if it's worth sending. You'll save yourself a lot of regret and shame if you handle yourself with restraint. 

The old adage "an ounce of prevention" certainly applies in these cases. I certainly appreciate it when I'm on the receiving end of someones disappointment.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why I'll never buy another appliance from Home Depot

For those of you who know me, I'm not one to mince words. This is the letter I sent to the Home Depot social media person about my experience with purchasing my new LG washer/dryer from them. I sent it on December 10. I still have not heard back from anyone at Home Depot.

Hi Sarah,

I just got off the phone with LG. The purpose of their call was to tell me that the LG washer/dryer my husband and I purchased on Black Friday from Home Depot would not be delivered on December 15, when we were told it would be delivered. Then, the LG rep proceded to tell me they were not able to deliver it until after the first of the year. That's nearly six weeks from purchase!

I understand about products not being held at the store or a nearby warehouse (although that may be something Home Depot needs to do). What I don't understand is why a big company, like Home Depot, would make such a huge customer service gamble on predicting the delivery of such a vital home appliance. My current washing machine has been on the fritz for well over a month. By the time I get this washing machine and dryer from Home Depot, I'll be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Here's why:

I have four daughters ranging in age from one to 14. They change their clothes a lot. My baby poops through her clothes a lot. She also makes a lot of messes. I have a husband who likes to workout everyday. I also workout everyday. We sweat a lot. We have a lot of laundry which piles up and starts to smell. Quickly.

Recently, my first grader brought home lice. Do you know what you have to do when you have someone in your house with lice? Wash everything. And I mean everything. All clothes, bedding, backpacks, coats, hats, carpets, pillows, stuffed animals, and, of course every head in your house has to be scoured with lice shampoo and needs to be scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb.  All while I'm waiting for my new  washer and dryer to come from Home Depot.

We were all celebrating at my house last night that we have less than a week before the washer and dryer will be delivered. Then, I get this call today.

I have a lot of connections. I am more than willing to copy and paste this letter into my Facebook notes and my own blog. I would be happy to tell everyone out there - all the moms I know - to not purchase from Home Depot if they really need their purchase to save them from imminent household chaos.

If I don't hear from someone at Home Depot, I'll start my all-out campaign to spread the word about this experience.

By the way, I'm the editor of a woman's magazine with 165,00 women readers in Utah. They'll know about this, too.

Pamela Baumeister
The person who just spent over $1200 in your store.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Negotiate Like a Girl

My husband says girls can’t throw. We throw like sissies, he says. Adding insult to injury, most men are such naturals that the only way they can throw like a girl is to use the “wrong hand.” It looks awkward and is inefficient at delivering the ball with speed and accuracy.

He’s right. I admit I throw like a girl. First off, I am a girl, and sadly, no one taught me to throw until I was an adult. However, powerful negotiation is one of those skills you don’t have to learn in youth. Learn how to be an excellent negotiator and you’ll feel as exhilarated as a little leaguer pitching a no-hitter.

Begin to negotiate like a powerful girl and create win-win situations for everyone involved. Begin with the basics and you’ll become a successful negotiator.

Emotion vs. Logic
One essential to negotiating is putting emotions in check. Workplace consultant and creator Robert Bacal says as we become more emotional, we lose the ability to think clearly. The more we state facts and eliminate emotional judgments, the more we “maintain control,” counsels Bacal.
Let’s say you want a raise. To negotiate effectively, you have to prepare by knowing your subject and seeing things from all sides. Often, that means becoming a mini expert, learning more about it than your boss—a position of power. Here’s how you can.
  1. Assess out how much of a raise you want. Research what others with your job earn, how often they receive raises, whether they get bonuses, and how their benefits structured. You are now armed to defend, with more logic than emotion, your increased salary.
  2. Explain why you deserve a raise. Point out what you have done for the company, what you plan to do, and what your unique skills are. Quantify what you’ll give and what the raise is worth to the company. Reminded your boss he can’t live without you.
  3. State when you want that bump in salary, putting yourself in the shoes of your boss. Consider your timing. Observe ahead of time what is happening in the company and what kind of resistance you may experience. Request your raise when you’ve just received a favorable review, a ringing client endorsement, or another job offer.
Women’s Intuition
Now that you’ve done your homework, you’re on your way to successful negotiation. Yet, don’t expect negotiation nirvana. You’ll probably still be nervous. However, when the stakes are high and your heart starts pounding, that’s the time to listen to your instincts and go with your gut. Remember, you’ve got feminine intuition–use it! Here’s how:
  1. Play dress-up. You can usually better identify with your audience by dressing similarly. If you have a boss that is part of the “old boy’s club,” be a girl and wear your heels and a classy skirt or dress with a sport coat. Do not break out the cleavage card. It’s never professional.
  2. Wear your “big-girl panties.” Stick to what you want. You are your own best ally. If you waver, you show that you don’t care about getting what you’re requesting. Write down what you want to happen, rehearse it and be prepared with evidence to support. Be prepared for an unfavorable response, though. Whatever happens, determine to be strong.
  3. Use the perfect blend of sugar and spice. Friendliness and likeability will take you much further than you think. However, being sugary-sweet will turn most bosses or prospect off and appear fake. According to Tim Sanders, author of The Likeability Factor, “realness” will help you more than adopting false, unnatural traits.
  4. Say what you want, then, zip it. After you’ve presented your case, ask for what you want. Making firm eye contact, state your monetary request, and promptly shut up! Don’t justify or explain. The pressure is now on the boss. Let him squirm. The moment you open your mouth to explain, your credibility is gone. When the answer is given, you may have to concede a bit, but now’s not the time. Know how low you are willing to drop, but don’t go there right away.
In summary, trust yourself and your talents. You will become better at negotiating when you practice. Find opportunities to hone your skills. High-priced boutiques or farmers’ markets are fun places to practice. You’ll find yourself more confident and in tune with your instincts. Stay firm. And, maybe, throw underhand next time a guy is watching.
Note: This post is an article I wrote for Wasatch Woman magazine in March/April 2008

Monday, December 13, 2010

Funeral for a Friend

Today I attended a funeral for a man in my neighborhood. We went to church together and worked on several activities. I didn't know Bill very well, but I thought highly of him. He didn't tell many people that he was sick, nor did he ask for any attention once people knew about his quickly deteriorating condition. He thought more about others than he did about himself.

At his funeral several people spoke about all the kindness and service Bill was always doing while he was alive.  They spoke of his skills as a chef and gardener, how he loved to bring by little gifts and leave them without any recognition or fanfare. One neighbor recounted how he left a brand new barbecue grill on his front porch — as a gift. The widows and single women in his building knew he was their watchdog. Bill made them feel safe.

He didn't solve any major world problems, didn't leave behind a family, didn't know a lot of people either. He was quiet, simple, and humble. But, Bill left a lot of positive impression on those who knew him.

I thought about what was said about Bill at his funeral and started to think about what will be said at mine. In the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey the second habit states, "Begin with the end in mind." Covey encourages you to write down what you want people to say about you at your own funeral. He then goes on to point out that you should live your life in such a way as to be worthy to have those things said of you. I wrote things I wanted said at that point, several years ago, but attending this funeral today has me re-assessing what I would want said about me.

Here are a just a few:

From my kids:
  • She built us up, believed in us and made us a priority. We knew we were important to her.
  • She was loving, caring, fun and affectionate.
  • She was a great example of how to treat others.
From my spouse:
  • She was a great listener.
  • She loved me and showed that love frequently.
  • She was fun to be with and made us all laugh.
  • She kept us all together and focused on being close knit.
From my friends:
  • She had strong moral values, but never made you feel like she thought she was better than you.
  • She loved her family very much.
  • She had a positive attitude that was contagious. 
  • She was a problem-solver and helped me solve many of my own problems.

If you could write your own eulogy, what would it say? What would your family and friends say about you?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Missing my Equilibrium

Over the past week I've been battling an inner-ear virus of some sort. I have no pain, but I have no balance. The my head feels like it's spinning and the room is wavy at best and spinning at worst. Very frustrating.

This video shows what my eyes are doing as a result of this goofy virus. I only hope I can start to walk, run, drive and just generally function without feeling extremely dizzy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Flip Friday: What makes you twirl?

Photo courtesy of Jeff Kyle
Yes, I know it's technically not a video, but can't you just feel that breeze from this fast spin? The joy on my daughter's face says it all. Twirling is fun and makes you feel almost like you're flying. Dresses or skirts with lots of swing to them make any girl want to whirl around. When was the last time you felt that free?

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