Monday, March 23, 2015

Are you Feeling Under Appreciated?

It’s a common ailment that afflicts employees and self-employed business owners alike. You feel like your boss or your customers don’t appreciate your hard work and effort enough. It can cause one to become resentful, bitter, angry, stressed out. Don’t ignore it. Fix it.

Now if you’re making good money and you’re still feeling under appreciated, you’ve got a different issue. But for most, under appreciated means under compensated. The thing that makes you bitter, resentful, stressed out, is the idea of having to ask for more money, or a promotion, or having to explain that you raised your rates/prices to a regular customer. Those feelings are as normal as they are counter-productive.

“But they should see how hard I’m working. I shouldn’t have to ask.” Take it up with the Master of the Universe next time you see him/her. In the meantime, deal with reality. If you want more compensation, you’re going to have to ask for it. I know that’s much easier said than done, especially if you’re not accustomed to it. Don’t be afraid to practice on a friend or family member or even in front of a mirror.

It’s only really tough the first time. It get’s easier. After all, you’re only asking for what you believe is fair. That’s quite reasonable. Of course you’ll meet resistance. Nobody wants to pay more, but if you’re dealing with reasonable people, you can usually reach a reasonable solution. If you don’t,  start shopping around (caveat: don’t lay down ultimatums like “I’ll quit” unless you are thoroughly ready to do just that). I can’t guarantee that your boss will give you a raise when you ask for it, but I can guarantee they’ll start thinking about it as soon as you ask for it, and in most cases, if you don’t ask, they’re going to be very comfortable assuming you’re fine with what you’re getting.

As for the business owner, if you’re working all day, every day and still not making what you think you should, you’re probably under-priced. Think of the area where you feel most “under appreciated” and look at what you’re charging vs what it might cost elsewhere. Maybe you have room to raise your price/rates but you’re worried about losing customers. Well, think about who you might lose. You might lose the customers who expect you to knock yourself out at below market rates. So what? Good riddance. You’ll find that losing those kinds of customers frees up your time and attention for good customers that don’t expect you to work for free.

The important thing to note is that negative emotions like anger, bitterness, resentment, anxiety, stress, frustration, serve no useful long-term purpose. For the very short term, they can be red flags that something is out of whack in your environment. Tend to it. Wallowing in negative emotion is a productivity killer. Sitting around moping about being under appreciated can be a financial death spiral. Turn the negative into a positive. Write down all the reasons that you can justify better compensation, get excited about receiving it and go make it happen.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The “both sides” trap

How many times have you heard news organizations say they’re giving you “both sides” of a story? Or heard them introduce a second guest as “here to present the other side”? That’s good right? That’s fair and balanced. Wrong. It’s a trap.

It’s a trap because it leads you to believe that there are only two sides. There’s the side defined and forwarded by one major political party, and the side defined and promoted by the other major political party. That’s it. You are not to consider anything else, or if you do, it should at least be something between those two positions. Nothing outside is even worthy of entertaining.

This view serves the parties and their friends and financiers quite well. Everyone else…not so much. Not only are there just two sides to any given issue, according to most news outlets, the only issues worth discussing are those put forth by the two major parties. If you do bring up another issue, you should at least discuss it in the context of how it might affect each of the two parties. Nothing else matters.

It doesn’t really matter which party you choose. The defenders of the status quo are just as happy to have you love Party A and hate Party B as they are the reverse. As long as you conform to the two points of view system, the game still works.

How do you know if you’ve fallen into the trap? Do you discuss issues or parties?  When you argue politics are you talking about the proper role of government in a given situation, or are you talking about politicians? Are you able to have a discussion about politics and/or world events without invoking the words "liberal", "conservative" or referencing a political party or politician? When you post an idea or statement that you agree with does it tend to have a picture of a politician attached to it? Do you take headlines and hearsay as fact when they conform to the “our guys good, your guys bad” scenario or do you actually do objective research before repeating accusations and stereotypes?

If you find you have fallen into the trap, take heart. There is a cure. Think for yourself. It’s really that simple. Remember, nobody on this planet has any more an idea what the heck we’re all doing here than you do. The smartest, richest, most popular people on Earth are every bit as clueless as you are. Naturally they behave as if they're on a higher plane of enlightenment. That illusion keeps them fat and happy. You don’t need them to tell you how to be, who to be or what to think. Think and do for yourself, but not because I said so. You’ll have to get there on your own.