Being First and Not the Last

The November 2020 issue of Harper’s Bazaar has a feature article on The Paradox of Being First: “You’re creating space for people to dream.”

I wanted to touch on this topic before the year ends. In 1988 when it was unheard of to think this I believed that a person could recover from schizophrenia. In 1990 I had a full-time job and my own rental apartment at a time when this was not common.

In 2002 shortly after I began my library job I started my pro bono career as a Mental Health Advocate.

Precisely because I was told my early goals were not possible I wanted to help other peers coming through the door after me.

Not everyone has the wherewithal to pull themselves up solely by their own bootstraps.

In the early 2000s a so-called international expert was still claiming that no one could recover. When I Googled her name I couldn’t find her website. Nor had she published any articles in peer-reviewed journals.

In the early days of advocating for peers I got a lot of flak for claiming people could recover.

Only I believed in my vision that recovery was possible from whatever a person was in recovery from.

I believed that you could recover from a microaggression, a mental or physical illness, trauma or any kind of setback or obstacle.

I wasn’t going to go along on my merry way, acting like the world was my oyster and nobody else’s.

In Harper’s Bazaar Toni Morrison was quoted from a 2003 interview. She told her students:

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

It’s 2020. The door is open. Come on through.

Executive Slack(s)

I wanted to write about a new popular form of workplace communication: Slack. It’s like Facebook for employees of a company.

I’m not a fan of Facebook at all. I’m a member of 2 Facebook groups devoted to fashion and image consulting. They’re the only ones I go on every week.

At your job you will be forced to sign up to your company’s Slack account. It’s either you do that or you’re kept out of the loop.

A person on a team or committee or working group that you’re a member of can create a Slack channel for this project without telling you about it.

Whether this is intentional or an accidental oversight you won’t know about it. Until you’re told this Slack channel exists and you should be on it. The person might not tell you at all that they’ve created this channel.

Not only that a lot of staff members send notices about meetings and other information only via Slack channels. Email has become to Slack what voicemail has become for texting–no one uses it to communicate anymore.

I would prefer to receive dates and times of meetings the old fashioned way–via email. Only it’s more convenient and reaches every team member at once when a person posts the meeting details to the project’s Slack channel.

Oh I know–you could create an email Distribution List and send the notice to everyone at once via the group email. That isn’t going to happen anymore either the way modern communication takes place at your job.

One thing is certain: you might be the only one sending comments to team members via your designated Slack channel. That is you might expect a reply to your Slack channel comment within a half hour.

When no one responds to you within a half hour you’ll need to keep checking your team’s Slack feed regularly to see exactly when and if someone has commented on what you said.

This leads me to want to write a blog entry here about the perils of online Zoom meetings. I’m going to write in detail about acing your video impression on Zoom. I’ll do this at the start of the New Year.

For now I’m giving you pointers about Slack because like other forms of social media Slack appears to be here to stay as a relationship-building tool.

How often should you check your Slack channel? As often as you check email? This can be a time-waster when it’s checked at inopportune times of the day.

Only the fact remains that there’s one more Feed to feed regularly to keep on top of your work projects.

I will be checking Slack at my job every 2 hours. Not any sooner and not spaced out longer than 2 hours.

You can keep Slack open on your internet browser and pop into the channel quickly.

Using Your Preferred Pronoun

There’s been a trend to use your preferred pronoun in email signatures like as:

Joe Jones (he/him)

Zadie Zorn (she/her)

Leslie Madison (they/them)

I might have written about this before in here. I’m going to cover it again for new followers.

I’ve read that when a cisgender person lists their preferred pronoun it helps Trans and other individuals feel safe to do the same.

Is it possible though that when you identify as they/them in an email and the person receiving it hasn’t met you in person they will attribute traits to you based on your perceived identity?

Only none of us should fear expressing our gender identity. Feel free to fire up they/them after your name in an email.

Having gender pride is a healthy form of self-expression.

I’ve decided that in 2021 I’m going to go the she/her route in my work email signature.

This is one of the few areas where the fact that “everybody’s doing it” makes sense for a person to follow along.

Of course the choice is yours. You have the right to list only your full name and job title in a work email.

It gets dicey further when composing the content of an email message.

I’ll talk about this in the coming blog entry.

Your Work Email Signature

I’ve decided to feature a blog entries carnival about sending and receiving emails at work.

You don’t want to be That Person. The one who thinks they’re being clever. Yet is only serving to antagonize their coworkers with a snarky message.

Case in point: using a pointed quote in your email signature like the following:

Kayla King, Senior Office Aide

Working smarter not hard

I ask you: is your email signature the best avenue for promoting yourself? I think not.

Last week I cracked open this fortune cookie:

Working efficiently is doing the job right. Working effectively is doing the right job.

Making an excuse for your behavior if you ask me will come across as trying to justify doing the bare minimum.

Your work ethic should speak for itself.

This email signature tactic might help someone else. I doubt you and I will benefit from attaching a gimmicky quote after our names.

In the coming blog entry: what you can and should list after your name.