Working Briefs

Working Briefs

June 22, 2005

In order to advance at work, befriend the office favorites

Employees often complain that the boss has favorites - and they're not among them. They say they fear their progress will be hampered by not being part of the inner circle. Now one expert has some advice on how to bridge the gap if you can't become one of the elite: Know the favorites in your organization and cultivate them.

In other words, suck up to the anointed persons in other departments.

Richard Templar, author of The Rules of Work: The unspoken truth about getting ahead in business (Pearson/Prentice Hall, $16.95), does not advise playing up to the boss. He eschews "fawning, obsequiousness, toadying, sliming or swarming" the boss.

Instead, he suggests "spotting the favorites in other departments. ... Once spotted, make friends of them. This way, you will know what is going on, be with the in crowd ... and have joined the elite."

But Templar adds this caution: "If, on the other hand, you really disapprove of favoritism, do none of this."

`Multitasking' now means `doing everything at once'

Eydie Eskridge, an office assistant in Seattle, says the definition of "multitasking," at least for support staff, has changed.

"Nowadays, employers expect you to do the tasks all at once - instead of `in a momentum of shifting from one to the other and back and forth,'" said Eskridge, who works for temporary agencies but is looking for a full-time job.

"Today, you need to do the tasks literally all at the same moment. Our jobs always have had more than one task in their job descriptions, but this is different: Doing everything at once." The assistant observes: "This is not an intelligent working style."

Stress in the workplace a psychiatric issue

Stress is so prevalent in the workplace, and so costly to employees and employers, that it has become not only a medical issue but a psychiatric one.

Evidence comes from 15 years of experience in the area of occupational and disability consultation by Dr. Leonard Kessler, a psychiatrist with offices in Highland Park, Ill.

"I have reviewed several hundred psychiatric disability claims and have found over 50 percent are related to work conflicts of many origins," he said.

Handwriting styles give window into personality

Take a look at your handwriting some time. Do you prefer print or cursive?

More than half of 1,500 people polled, 55 percent, selected cursive, according to a survey by Quill Corp., an Illinois-based office supply company. As part of the survey, Quill asked Ruth Holmes, a handwriting expert and forensic document examiner, for a few insights into what these writing styles says about us.

Cursive writing indicates the writer is comfortable reaching out to others, with the connected stroke between letters akin to a handshake. The cursive practitioner can relate to others, and displays traits of logic and organization. In general, cursive writing shows a release of feelings and connections.

Print writing - which is growing in popularity - is the mark of people who value clarity and control. Printers are typically facile with facts, figures and abstract concepts. They have a thinking style that is direct, analytical, occasionally critical and geared toward problem solving, Holmes said. Also, printing requires you to pull the pen toward you, suggesting the writers feel some sort of restriction in their lives.

The Chicago Tribune, Associated Press and Boston Globe contributed to this article. The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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