Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh Sandy

As everyone knows, New York has just been through a terrible storm that has brought the city to a stand-still. It didn't affect any of us the same way but it has certainly affected all of us. My Brooklyn neighborhood was practically untouched, as was the upper Manhattan neighborhood I holed up in just hours before the storm, but I know a lot of people who weren't as lucky. Power outages, flooded homes, trees knocked down everywhere; these are the things my friends and family have been reporting back when I check in on them. So even if you're one of the lucky ones, chances are that you're close to somebody who wasn't nearly as lucky.

It's incredible how the city changes during an emergency. There are the people complaining about inconveniences like the MTA shutting down; you have stores closing everywhere for days; and of course people are scrambling to get home or to figure out who they like enough to spend 48+ hours with. Everything is eerily calm and quiet. Once it's all over, you're happy to see your favorite bagel shop is open again, while the wine store across the street promises they'll be up and running by mid-afternoon. But then you find out that churches are calling people's homes to check in on all of them... and they aren't hearing from everyone.

As emergencies and disasters often do, this storm reminds us that we need to stick together in order to get through terrible circumstances. If there's any silver lining at all, it's learning that people will empathize and help whenever and however they can.

Friday, October 26, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: Spooky Sights

Halloween is coming up next Wednesday. Some people go all out celebrating, and some couldn't care less when it's October 31st. What is your life like on this unique holiday? Do you dress up in a costume? Do you decorate?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Careful Correspondence

I was recently involved in a confusing situation at work, which involved an email I sent to provide guidance being misunderstood and causing the recipient to take offense. While that was not my intention, I can see why the tone of my correspondence was misconstrued. My company stood behind me, while at the same time suggesting I be more aware of my tone in my emails. I agree that this is something that I must do (as do most of us), especially since most of our interpersonal interactions happen via email, text, and social media. I decided to analyze my actions further so I do not make the same mistakes in the future.

First, I think understanding where the other person/party is coming from before getting into specific details is important. I only had one conversation with my now former client and his wife, and noticed the latter was much more talkative. I also discovered that they had different goals in mind than those provided by their company. This particular point should have made me contact my supervisor directly to alert her of this discrepancy immediately. While I did report the issue, I did not emphasize its seriousness to my company. While I am glad not to have brought it up during my conversation with the couple, I should have paused to clear up the confusion immediately with my company before moving forward.

I also wish I contacted my supervisor about an email she sent me to forward to the client about a sensitive matter. Because I went ahead and sent the email without realizing how it may be interpreted, I put myself in an awkward situation. I believe I should not have been given the task, because it was an issue to be settled between my company's and my client’s companies’ managerial and human resources departments. I will remember this in the future should a similar situation arise.

I am glad the situation is over, but others always arise to present new challenges. How do you handle the challenges of maintaining careful correspondence?

Friday, October 19, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: Reading Material

All of us at CHICKS ROCK! enjoy reading--books, magazines, blogs, news--you name it, we devour it. We each have favorite things to read, and we have widely different preferences for what genres or type of reading material we enjoy. How about you? What do you like to read?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

CHICK OF THE WEEK: Candy Crowley

Where Jim Lehrer failed, Candy Crowley succeeded. Regardless of your feelings about the U.S. presidential election, the first two televised debates and their respective moderators, can we all agree that Ms. Crowley did a far better job standing up to the candidates when needed? They made it very difficult at times to move from topic to topic and question to question, but she really did stand her ground with both of them. Some have called her pushy (somehow, I do not think a male counterpart would be described in the same way) but she did her job, and did it well.

Do you agree?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Ups And Downs of Public Speaking

Watching the second presidential debate last night made me think about my own public speaking skills. Like many others, I have trouble expressing myself effectively in front of a crowd. I notice that President Obama, Mitt Romney and many other politicians running for public office do not answer the main thesis of certain questions when put on the spot during debates; this annoys me, but I think I may have been guilty of something similar in the past. I certainly hope I have improved my ability to get to the point and not drone on like some people do. The art of public speaking really is all about being concise and focused when giving a speech or answering questions.

My ups and downs with public speaking started when I was in elementary school. Each time I had to give a speech on a topic, my resolve to do well would crumble when the class bully would make faces and mutter snide comments to make me feel uncomfortable. When my ineffectual teachers would ask me questions in front of my classmates about the points made during my speech, I would give clumsy answers and prove that I wanted to be anywhere but in front of them. I retreated further into my shell, not wanting to raise my hand to answer a question in class when I knew the answer or have anyone take notice of me at all.

I began to break the cycle in college when I took a public speaking course that forced me to face my fears. My professor encouraged us to use our strengths to make us more comfortable with oral communication in our personal and professional lives. I think this class made it easier to speak to a group of overseas-bound ESL teachers about my experience in Indonesia, and later for my sister’s wedding. I am my own worst critic, but I think I did reasonably well in those two situations.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the art of public speaking!

Friday, October 12, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: Autumn Weather

By mid-October our school and work lives are typically back in full swing after summer vacation and time away. The return of those rhythms, plus the oncoming change of weather definitely symbolize fall. How's the autumn weather in your neck of the woods?

Friday, October 5, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: Street Treats

I don't know what it's like where you live, but in New York the fall is a prime time for street fairs. Stroll down one of these decked-out avenues and you'll find artists with wares on display, businesses offering discounts, live music playing, and vendors selling tasty, fatty snacks like hot dogs, popcorn, elephant ears, and cotton candy. Have you been to a street fair or carnival lately? What is your favorite street food?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Link Love for 10/4/2012

It's time for another great round-up of great links! Let's jump right into the mix, shall we?

Alexia Vernon shares to how she moves past fear and involuntary physical expressions that can get in the way of communicating effectively with others when it counts.  
Girl w/Pen discusses Half the Sky, the two-part PBS documentary inspired by the non-fiction book   written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, which focuses on gender-based violence in a pragmatic, "everywoman" way.

In Good Company shares how her sense of agency led to her achievements as the creator and owner of various businesses.  
One Writeous Chick explores the nuances of writer's block in her life, particularly how she makes herself write when her voice is the problem.

Savvy Ladies' tips to sticking to a healthy diet within a budget are invaluable, especially for those at risk for serious health problems.
What have you all been reading and writing online in the last few weeks? Be sure to leave links in the comments.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Renovations And Revelations

Since last month, I have been working with a contractor who is finishing renovations on an apartment in New York City that my family owns. It was something I did not expect to take the lead on, but I have enjoyed the process overall. There was some stress when it came to deadlines on choosing a bathroom vanity and light fixtures for the bathroom and kitchen by certain dates, but I have enjoyed imagining what the completed apartment will look like when everything is done. Before the renovations began, the apartment had a leaky faucet, dark walls that made the space feel smaller than it is, and an uncomfortably small kitchen. Now the plumbing has been completely re-done, the walls are a sunny yellow color, and the kitchen is part of an open floor plan that flows into the living room. It is a great space now, and I am glad to have contributed to making it that way.

While I am planning to live there, it will not be forever; every choice I made is in mind to increase the value of the apartment if it has to be sold in the near future, which is likely. I followed a budget, which was the hardest thing to do when prices of certain items were higher than I wanted them to be. Thankfully, the contractor I worked with guided me in the right direction by providing various options and price points on things like kitchen countertops, appliances, and refurbishing the bathtub instead of replacing it. I am grateful that he did his job so well AND educated me about what to pay attention to during the renovations.

The refrigerator has yet to be delivered, and there a few final details that need to be completed, but I can safely say the bulk of the work is done. I look forward to enjoying the apartment while I still have it, and will look forward to renovations’ projects that come my way in the future.

Do renovations’ projects put you off, or do you welcome the challenges they bring?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another Year, Another Apartment

I write this sick, exhausted, and having spent the weekend having a terrible moving experience. My new place is lovely but the gas isn't on, the tub doesn't drain or have hot water, the internet isn't set up yet, and I only just now got a real set of keys.

How's your October going so far?
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