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Kiss on the Lips

Photo Credit YoYoJ3d1, Flickr

Photo Credit YoYoJ3d1, Flickr

Thanks to revelations about smarmy workplace behaviour that have come to light during the recent U.S. political campaign, kissing in the workplace is fast becoming the greatest of all taboo south of the border.  For some, it is no less than sexual assault.

I’ve written about kissing in the workplace before, most recently focusing in on the double cheek variety.

I was not raised in a kissing in the workplace culture, and so in moving to Canada, where sometimes things are a little more European, I was surprised at first to see double cheek kiss greetings in the workplace.  But, in truth, especially with regards to double cheeking, I have to admit that I have no objection to it, among those who are comfortable in partaking at least.  I believe in hugs too.  Today’s focus on warm workplace culture supports some level of touch, even if interpretations of human rights and harassment policies clearly do not.  I believe that it will be increasingly more difficult to find middle ground on this subject.

Yet with all this talk about taking touch out of workplace behaviour, here is Gord Downie of Canada’s Tragically Hip, taking it one further.

Kissing on the lips that is.  In saying his greetings and goodbyes.  Same sex, opposite sex.  With his best buds and The National’s Anchor, Peter Mansbridge.  It is loving and innocent.  And very weird.

The first time I saw it I was shocked.  Here is a guy’s guy, who has penned the lyrics to Canada, and he’s all prepared to touch lips with those he meets.  Wow.

As someone with the ability to say speak his mind unencumbered before he dies, I feel like Gord is making a statement.

I distinctly remember the first time I watched The Godfather.  In my culture, men shook hands, never hugged (unless they had just won the Superbowl or something), and certainly never did the two cheek kiss.  And here were a bunch of thugs, with guns, getting in close.  It was the first time I understood the term, “When in Rome. . .”

So what will happen now?  Will this approach to greetings and goodbyes stick?  50 years from now will historians looking at changes in cultural norms in Canada look back and say that we all got a little more familiar in 2016 thanks to Gord Downie?  Only time will tell.






Say Something Positive

Photo Credit: Peter Blanchard, Flickr

Photo Credit: Peter Blanchard, Flickr

Over the past few weeks I’ve encountered my fair share of HR challenges.  Some challenges have been resolved well, some have not.

It is a beautiful thing when the stars line up in the HR sphere.  Hiring teams agree on candidates. People accept their employment offers with little drama. Problems are resolved before formal mechanisms need to be exercised. Employees do brilliant, effective things. Technology works. Crazy policies don’t need to be developed or implemented. Employees handle coaching well and as intended. Political games aren’t played. Planning occurs. Companies make money. Everything is bliss.

But the stars often don’t line up at all.  If they did there’d be no need for HR Professionals.

Or so I tell myself.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the mood of the HR folks I’ve been in touch with lately.  By and large, they come across as frustrated and tired.  They lack those fresh eyes of wonder that you see in people who have the opportunity to ponder the skies, to set goals and achieve them, to make it through a week without having some real bummer of a situation arise.

Unfortunately in a job like ours, you can’t really turn off that noise.  Speaking for myself, and potentially others, I need more positivity in my work week.  I know I won’t get enough of that from the work itself, and so I’m asking you, the reader of this blog, to say something positive.  Out loud.  Public. Tell us about a success you’ve had at work recently.  Or something great in your personal life.  Something that might inspire others.  Or thank someone.  Or give others hope. Me especially.

Do this for me.  Do this for others.  Most important, do this for you.

Shawn Anchor, a noted author and happiness advocate, talks frequently about the importance of rewiring your brain for happiness.  He suggests that to rewire your brain you need to train it by focusing on positive activities to build a habit.  One of the activities he advocates is to try stating three gratitudes a day for 21 days.  So, if you find just a little bit of stimulation by saying something positive, take it to the next level by trying to make it a habit.

Paying Dues

Photo Credit: Bonni Titgemeyer. Location: ACE 2016, Toronto.

Photo Credit: Bonni Titgemeyer. Location: ACE 2016, Toronto.

I had the opportunity to hear the legendary Joan Lunden–newscaster, mother of seven and cancer survivor speak at the 2016 Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference, held on August 14th at the Hilton Hotel in Toronto.

I’ve been following Joan Lunden for perhaps as long as 40 years.  Joan is iconic, the one who attempted to achieve everything (a coveted position on Good Morning, America, star power, motherdom, wife, femininity, financial independence) and was successful, at least for a time, in having it all at once.  Listening to her talk about her schedule back then made me tired.  I have to wonder when she slept.  But, Joan rose and Joan fell and did both relatively gracefully.  I admire that. I also admire that she can talk about the inequities she experienced in broadcasting in the face of being on the frontier, without coming off sounding overly bitter.

That seems to be a big challenge for women in important positions these days, this business of coming off without sounding overly bitter.  Well, she isn’t afraid to talk about the challenges, but positions them in the context of the door that opened when one closed.  I like that.

Joan is now in that place where she can give advice to the next generation, which she is doing so through presentations like the one at ACE, and through her new book Had I Known .  The focus of the book is her recent journey in her battle against breast cancer.  It is clear that lessons learned from the past have prepared her for this challenge.

In her presentation, Joan talked to qualities of great leaders that she learned from interviewing a diverse group of people.  And indeed, the list of people she interviewed over the years is long and includes U.S. Presidents, Olympic athletes and business executives.  The common themes that come out of the discussion of the road to success includes the following:

  • Believing in yourself far more than you should.
  • Take initiative.
  • Make yourself unique.

In broadcasting she got her big break as a weathergirl.  She didn’t really want to be the weathergirl, but she saw it as a means to an end; an opportunity; essentially a dues paying exercise.

What are your opportunities?  What are your dues?

If you listen to those in HR today at the most senior levels, they will probably tell you something similar about their road to success.  Perhaps their career started in something tangential to HR which gave them a broader skill set than purist HR.  Perhaps they had an opportunity to do a big non-HR project that gave them insight into business. Perhaps their familiarity with Excel gave them exposure to compensation.  Perhaps they had an opportunity to work with Senior Leadership on something small and gained credibility.

Getting into the good HR jobs requires some risk taking. HR folks are not known as great risk takers. Taking that bold step of just going for it can feel impossible.

Joan encouraged the audience to not overlook the real opportunities associated with entry-level jobs.

So in reading this post, where does it leave you?  What can you do next to get to where you want to go?

As for me, it was a great presentation and I’m glad I was able to attend.  My take away was a reminder to not give up when I feel I’ve lost the battle.