You Don’t Need a Cape to Be a Superhero.

What is the recipe for success in any job?  I stumbled upon this great article by Chris Guillebeau, How to Stand Out in Any Job.   While I think his ideas have some obstacle in some situations, the spirit of these ideas and the practical applications are fantastic.  I encourage you to read his article and wander around his site.  There are some real gems there.

I want to bounce off his 8 principles for becoming a superhero in any job over the course of the next couple of weeks here on CCS.

“Never Turn Down a Project by saying, ‘that’s not in my job description’.”

This is huge.  I like that he put it first.  There are three ways to be at work:  open, closed and somewhere in between when it comes to being flexible in the workplace.  Guess which group gets the raises and promotions?  Guess which group has a better chance of getting positive responses to their requests?

In my varied work experiences in retail and the library world, I have hands down been happier when I have been open to being flexible about my job duties, etc.  This does not mean I take on jobs and responsibilities without asking for compensation for added work.  It does mean that when asked to handle something or do another task or take on some responsibility, I have almost always said yes, even if there is not added compensation.  I’m also not saying to take on TOO much responsibility so you lack balance in your life.  There is nothing wrong with answering a request to do something with an honest reply about workload and inquiry into your institution’s priorities.  Something along the lines of:

“I would love to help you.  I’m in the middle of projects X, Y, and Z; but, if you don’t mind Y and Z getting put on hold a bit; I think I can handle this new task with no problems.”

I have almost always been rewarded for pitching in when needed.  Sometimes the reward is monetary (raises and/or promotion), sometimes it’s a pat on the back and sometimes it has been support from others for my own pet projects.  Almost every time, I have been rewarded with the satisfaction of helping a coworker.

Happiness researchers (yes, there really are researchers who research happiness) have found a higher rate of happiness in people who are altruistic.  I think the same sort of satisfaction that you would get doing volunteer work or shoveling an elderly neighbor’s snow is available to you at work by being keeping an open mind about what your role is and how you should be spending your time.

I have encountered people who’s knee jerk reaction to being asked to do work outside of their job description is “no.”  You’ll win no friends and allies with this attitude.  That attitude benefits no one.  Most of you have experienced workplaces where there are some people who barely hold up their end and there are others who are continuously asked to work on new projects.  Some people see this as unfair, especially in a union environment when you might be making the same amount of money as the person who does less and is unwilling to help out.  But, even in these situations you win by stepping up because come promotion time or when an interesting position opens up you will be in a better spot to succeed in getting it.  You will also just have more opportunities at work:  more opportunities to learn, more opportunities to build your resume with varying experiences, more opportunities to network with colleagues and more opportunities to be challenged with interesting and fulfilling projects.

“That’s not my job.”  Don’t be that guy.  The guy who says that dreads getting out of bed and going to work every day.  The guy who says that only dreams of retirement.  The guy who says that is just putting in his time.  Our lives are way too precious for that kind of thinking.

Take this moment to ponder a line from Mary Oliver:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?

Finding Your Place

I’m always a little surprised when I meet other educated folks who upon finding out I’m a librarian ask something along the lines of:  do you get to read all day?  Really?  People still think that?  If I actually had to read all day at work, I would hate my job.

I think one of the essential keys to having a fulfilling and happy career as a librarian is by finding your place.  Finding your place means understanding yourself.  It means that you can accurately answer some of the following questions:

How do you like to spend your day?  Do you need to move around or can you sit behind a desk for long periods of time?  How much human interaction do you need on a daily basis?  Do you like working alone or does working on teams charge you up?  How much time serving the public is too much time?  How much energy do you have for staying on top of trends in highly technical topics?  How much energy do you have for staying adept at new software, new operating systems, new technologies?  How much responsibility are you capable of handling?  How much do you want to take on?  Are you well suited for managing other people?  Are you well suited for leading projects?

In every job I’ve ever held, I’ve observed people who are miserable in their jobs for one reason or another.  Some folks will be unhappy no matter where they are; but, other people are unhappy because somewhere along the line, they made a wrong assumption and landed in a job that didn’t fit them well.

If you are currently unhappy in your position, you need to think of the things that could change that.   And then you make a plan.  Talk to your supervisor and see what changes are possible.  If they are unwilling to work with you, you’ll need to keep your eyes open for a job that is a better fit.  I’ve had jobs where I was bored out of my mind and took steps to remedy it by asking for more and more responsibility.  I’ve made mistakes.  My first job out of library school was a cataloging position.  I love cataloging.  I love the challenge of it and the peaceful nature of it.  But, I can’t do it all day.  I’m way too social and fidgety.  I love reference; but, I can’t do that all the time either, especially when the reference desk is also the computer help desk.  I also don’t particularly like dealing with genealogy or advanced business questions.  I used to say that I liked being a worker bee not a manager; but, things changed and I found that I really like being a manager.  Right now I tend to say:  I’m a middle manager; I never want to be the one solely in charge.  But, maybe that will change too.  Who knows.

Maybe more responsibility will make you happy, or less.  Maybe more variety or longer deadlines or maybe you need to feel like you are being heard or valued.  Maybe there is a project you want to start.  It’s your job to figure it out and find a way to make it happen.

It’s important to constantly question.  I am curious about technology.  I like understanding how things work and don’t work.  But, I don’t want to learn code.  I don’t want to have to master a highly technical skill like programming.  I like variety.  I like to prioritize my own day.  I like bosses that check in but don’t hover.  I like being the team leader and sometimes I like being in the pack.  These are all answers to questions I’ve asked myself.

Here’s an exercise:

Think of one of your favorite jobs.  Now ask yourself why.  Make a list of all the things you loved about that job, even the weird or seemingly irrelevant ones.  I look back fondly on a job I held in a bookstore where the employees were always creating wacky contests like limericks that contained misquoted book titles.  This was not an organized thing.  It was just the result of a group of fun, creative people trying to liven things up.  From this, I understand I enjoy a certain kind of fun at work and I enjoy being around creative people.  I also understand that because I realize this about myself, I might have to be the one to  instigate this sort of activity.

Once you have a better understanding about the things that make you happy at work, it will be easier to see where you fit.  You will be able to find your place.  And you might be surprised.  Sometimes you have to let go of certain ideas you have created for yourself or the way others see you.  Sometimes it means letting go of a version of yourself that is not authentic or switching from a path that you created from a misguided notion of what you should be doing.

Inertia is a very powerful force.  Don’t let inertia make career decisions for you.  Find your place through purposeful introspection and investigation.

If you are job hunting and looking for a place where you can really learn about how libraries work and where you fit the best, try a small to medium sized library.  Smaller libraries give you the opportunity to try on a lot of different hats.  They are the perfect place to try out different jobs and take on responsibilities you might not have the opportunity to experience at bigger libraries.

Find your place.  You’ll be happier for taking the journey.


Update:  Not 3 minutes after publishing this post, I read this Malcolm Gladwell quote via the 3rd Ward Blog.

Those three things–autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward are–most people will agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.

It is a simple reminder about what truly brings us satisfaction.

Mass Transit Meditation

photo: AZY_NYC via Flickr CC

I’ve been living and working in NYC for 3 months now and I’m still not quite used to it.  It’s a place of amazing chaos and stimulation.  Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t work well with noise and frenzy andthe visual assaults of such a large, vibrant city.  I’ve been thinking about different things I can do to lower stress and find some calm in the urban storm.

The other day, tired and slightly grouchy, I stood on the subway car, swaying with the motion and closed my eyes.  I said Metta for myself.

May I be happy.
May I be Healthy.
May I be free from physical pain.
May I be free from mental pain.
May I live my life with ease.

And I began to realize that even when I have not said this prayer for weeks or months, as soon as I begin, I can feel my body relax into it.  I challenged myself to say it on each subway ride and to choose to include the most annoying of my fellow riders.  Last night, I was on the train coming home after a fun evening of The Moth.  I happened to catch the train in the Village with handfuls of Halloween revelers including a woman riding solo.  She was right next to me in a very crowded train.  She was drunk.  She began talking loudly in a confrontational way about the various people surrounding her.  Commenting on people’s perfumes, clothing and perceived promiscuity.  She was looking for a fight.  Everyone ignored her.  I began reciting Metta, silently.  I wished her peace and happiness.  I wished her a safe passage home.  I wished her ease and freedom from her irritations.  I wished her freedom from the fear of suffering.  Over and over for the 20 minute ride, I wished things for her.  It was very calming to me and  I have to believe that all that love I sent her did some good.


Sigh. You are bothering me.

Sigh.  The Sigh is the signal customer service  people give you to let you know how stupid, annoying, disruptive or outrageous your inquiry is.

I recently received The Sigh from a company my doctor had engaged to provide me with some medical equipment.  I have dealt with this company for a few years now and they frequently send the wrong thing or don’t call back when they say they are going to call.

A few weeks ago, I called them to activate an order that was originally placed as I was ending my job in New Jersey.  I had told them to hold the order until I started my new job just to make everything easier for everyone:  this way no one in the doctor’s office or the medical supply company had to run around rushing to get things completed under my old insurance.  By holding the order, they could just wait until my new insurance was active and do things in a sane way.

When I called, the gentleman who received my call was friendly.  He brought up my records and confirmed what I had told him.  He told me he was placing my order right then and that he would personally call me back and let me know what was happening and schedule an appointment for me to receive the new equipment.

About three weeks went by and I had not heard from them, so I called.  The person who answered listened to my explanation:  Hello, I placed an order a few weeks ago and haven’t heard anything back.  Sigh.  Big, long,  drawn out sigh.

This tells me something immediately.  She’s not on my side.  I’m irritating her with my questions.  She doesn’t want to help me.  She asked me who I talked with in the previous conversation.  I told her that I had not gotten his name.  Another big sigh.  I then had to explain further about the whole …holding the order while I switched insurers routine.  She was not happy.  She put me on hold for awhile and then finally came back, asked me a few questions and actually seemed in a better mood.  She assured me she’d get back to me; but, I won’t hold my breath.

I’ve done the sigh.  I mean how could I have not, after basically being in customer service for about 30 years, starting with my first retail job when I was 15.  In fact, I confess to doing quite a bit of sighing while working for a bookstore in my twenties.  I’ve been on both sides of The Sigh.

The Sigh is an obvious signal that the person doesn’t want to help you.  What are other the other more subtle signals?  Eye rolling, not exactly subtle is a sure sign they think you are annoying or stupid.

Customer service is not just what we say.  It is how we say it and it is our body language and the visual clues we reveal when helping or not helping someone.

It’s important, when cleaning up your service act, to review what your face is revealing.  Or maybe it is that you don’t rise out of your chair and just flick a finger in the direction the person needs to go to get what they need.

Smiling, eye contact, a tone in your voice that is inviting, eagerness to get up and help are all part of being an engaged service provider.  I looked up the word, engaged in the Merriam Webster’s dictionary.  Greatly interested.  Perfect.  As service providers, we should be greatly interested in the needs of our customers.  Are you?

I am the customer.

Photo: Craig Howarth via Flickr Creative Commons!


I am the customer again.  When you work in a public library, whether it’s in the town where you reside or not, you tend to be self serving.  Even when I did not live in the same town as the public library where I worked, I exclusively used my work library.  I’m embarrassed to admit, I’ve never even been to the Asbury Park library and I lived there for two years.

I work in an academic library now and let’s face it, most of the fun books are in public libraries.  So, once again I’m the patron of a public library system.  This time, it is the Brooklyn Public library’s job to meet my library needs.  I live closest to the Bedford branch of the BPL.  I’ve been there three times.  Let’s just say, I’m not impressed.

I’m a librarian, like many of you that read this blog, so, I’m mostly self sufficient in public libraries.  I rarely ask “stupid” questions or do annoying things like come 5 minutes before closing and want to apply for a library card.  I really just ask to be treated kindly, for the folks helping me to be informed or be willing to find out the answer if they don’t know it and for the systems to be semi-efficient.

Over the next year, I might be using Brooklyn Public Library to illustrate a point.  It’s not that I’m picking on them; they just happen to be the ones who are serving me under my particular microscope.

So.  Let’s start with the library card application process.

I was not greeted.  The clerk took my credentials (license and proof of address) without saying anything at all.  I suppose had I not set them on the counter she would have asked for them.  She made some sort of mistake on my card and the she flagged me down and had me come back to the counter to fix it.  People make mistakes, so no big deal.  I had to ask, “Am I done?”  because she gave me no indication that our interaction was over.  She didn’t tell me the circulation period.  She didn’t tell me anything about the library, nor give me any brochures that would tell me about basic policies, etc.  In fact, she barely said a word to me, though she did answer my questions.

If the Brooklyn Public Library had competitors, I would definitely try one after that initial experience.  You go to one coffee shop and are treated indifferently; you feel no loyalty and might try a different one.  Libraries don’t have that sort of competition; but, that doesn’t mean they get to forget that they are providing a service and should be trying to deliver it with some excellence.  In this crazy time for public libraries, they need all the vocal supporters they can get.

I’m there to get a library card!  A new user!  This is the BPL’s opportunity to welcome me, explain a few policies like fines, hours, circulation periods.  Offer me help if I need it.  It is the opportunity to set the tone for our relationship and for them to win some new rabidly loyal customers.  They kind of blew it.  Not that I won’t be an advocate for my local library, I will; but, it’s kind of….despite my personal experience, I see your value.

I, obviously, will be going back to my little branch again and again to pick up holds or browse their collection and I’ll head out to the Central branch too.  Perhaps becoming a regular will warm things up over there.  I’ll keep you posted.

I see this as an opportunity to remind myself of the customer perspective.  It’s a great exercise and the first lesson is greet all customers, old and new, warmly and make sure they feel welcome.

Everyone is Welcome.

I’m fascinated by the level of security at NYC academic libraries.  Notice I didn’t say disturbed by.  I understand the reasoning on many levels.  Here at Pace, most of the downtown school is housed in the same building.  This includes dorms.  So, you  have to get past two security guards to get to the library or anywhere in our building.  I get this.  There are multiple floors of dorm rooms above us and if I were a parent with a kid here, I’d want the campus to be very careful with my child’s safety.

NYU’s Bobst Library is notoriously tough to get into unless you are a student, staff or faculty member.  I say tough; but, really it is almost impossible.  I have heard Columbia and the various other schools here all have similar policies.

My first job out of library school was at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD.  Anyone could wander in there and use the resources, get help from the reference desk and generally hang out.  I suppose that still holds true today.  My only rebellious thoughts on the prevalent policies of NYC libraries is that I sense that it sets the library staff up to be suspicious, questioning and stingy with their resources.  I haven’t witnessed that attitude but I have heard some stories, even prior to working in NYC myself.

Even in public libraries that deal with the safety issues that come with urban libraries we must find ways to balance caution with a willingness to help openly.  I think this is most difficult in libraries where there is an expectation of safety and orderliness.  I worked in one urban public library where we all just had a slightly heightened awareness of what was happening at all times.  In an odd way, this allowed us to serve everyone equally.

This open door policy is something about the public library world that I will miss.  While at Middletown,  a man complained to me about another patron because he claimed she was hogging all the newspapers.  I offered to retrieve any issue he wanted and he kept saying, “That’s not the point.”  What  bothered him was that there was a regular patron, who had an appearance and some behaviors that were outside the norm of what he expected in our community and she liked to sit with a pile of papers and read them.  I suspected he felt uncomfortable approaching her for the paper which is why I offered to retrieve it.  He thought she should be banned from the library for paper hogging.  But, he just didn’t want her in the library because she made him uncomfortable.  I was able to gently tell him, “This is a public library.  Everyone is welcome here.”  I’m going to miss that.

New Beginnings

A lot of change is coming my way.  I have resigned my position at Middletown Township Public Library and accepted a position at Pace University in NYC.  I will be leaving my sanctuary in Asbury Park to move to Brooklyn and live with my partner.  I will no longer be an official civil servant; but, I will still be deeply committed to providing the best possible service and finding ways to improve my ability to lead in ways that inspire and encourage.

I have many mixed feelings about leaving Middletown which provided such a welcoming and soft place for me to land after being out of work for a couple of years while i recovered from my accident (detailed in other posts).  Moving into the city feels like such a new chapter in my life and one I’m very excited to begin.

I look forward to continuing this blog in the same manner I’ve been doing since the beginning and bringing new stories and thoughts on customer service.  On that note, I’ll share one quick story.  I stopped in a coffee shop about 3 or 4 blocks from my new apartment.  The barista asked me if I was having a lazy Sunday and I told her, “yes, though I am going to sign a lease right now.”  She asked if it was in the neighborhood and I said, “Yes, just a few blocks from here.”  She got a huge smile, welcomed me to the neighborhood and a young man stepped out from the back room to also welcome me to the neighborhood and assure me that I would “love it” here.  It was such a sweet moment and one I will not forget.  Clearly, these folks will be my coffee shop of choice and it doesn’t hurt that they make an extraordinary Americano.

Liar, Liar

What do you do when the customer is clearly lying?  We recently had a book returned with dog chew marks all over the spine.  The book was withdrawn from the collection.  The customer insisted that she had borrowed the book in that condition.  A lot of times when we have empowered staff on the front desk, we are asking them to use their judgement.  And a good portion of that judgement is based on whether we believe the customer or not.

Several times a week we have customers that insist on things:  they returned the movie/book on time, they paid that fine already, the item was in that condition when they borrowed it.

I could write a book on the number of times the insistent customer was proven to be wrong.  In general we have already given in to these customers.  This is especially true if they don’t have a track record of losing/damaging items or having fines written off.

It’s a balancing act.  Customer tells us something.  We have to determine if we believe the story or not and then we determine whether to write off the fines/damaged item.   I’m always a little fascinated by the liars because they are assuming that extreme denial will get them off the hook for paying when chances are if the item is relatively inexpensive and we have other copies and the person has come to us and just honestly told us what happened, we’re going to write it off.  But lying puts us off.  Most times we might have a sense of lying but we can’t know for sure if they returned something or borrowed it in damaged condition.  But, there are times when there is NO doubt a person is lying.

In the case of the dog chewed book, what the customer didn’t know is that she was the only person to borrow that book.  We had about 25 brand new copies in my office being used to fill book club requests.  The copy she borrowed was from that pile on my office floor.  She was trying to create doubt by raising the idea that another customer had damaged the book  and she just happened to borrow it in that condition.  But, there was no other customer before her.  She was lying.

This bothers me.  It removes the opportunity to give the person the benefit of doubt.   In the end, we wrote off the damaged book because we had so many copies; but, it really bothered me that she lied so freely to us.    It is hard not to knee jerk punish her by leaving the fines on her record.  I don’t really want to be that person and I don’t want us to run our department that way.  If we had left the fines on her record it would have been to punish her for lying because in the bigger picture it was an item that was easy to write off and one we would routinely write off in different circumstances.

Each instance where a customer perspective differs with ours brings the opportunity to negotiate; but, when faced with undeniable proof, for some reason, we automatically lean towards feeling that there is no need for negotiation.  I beg to differ.  At our library we reached 1 million circulation last year.  Even if we remove renewals from the equation and had a check-in error rate of just 1% (which seems impossibly low to me), we would have 6,000 human errors.  And customers make mistakes too, they damage things; they think they returned things when in all actuality the item is in their kid’s backpack or under a car seat or stuffed behind a couch cushion.

I consider all of this part of doing business and honestly the more errors on our part and lost items on the customer’s part means that we are doing a lot business.    Any business factors loss into the budget.  At another public library, where I worked as the Fiction Librarian, we would purchase the full collection of Donald Goines paperbacks twice a year because they were stolen so frequently.  A lot of libraries would stop purchasing them; but, we felt that the cost associated with this practice was low enough and the demand for the books high enough that it was worth the loss.

We are going to encounter customers who lie; but, I believe it is in the best interest of the institution to resist automatically punishing this person and to make your decisions based on all the factors that you would ordinarily use to negotiate the outcome.

The Used Car Lot

via Flickr Commons

I can already hear the groans.  I know very few people who enjoy going to a dealership or a used car lot to buy a car.  It seems so much more civilized to purchase from a private party.  But, if you need financing or want to test drive multiple cars at once or just appreciate how a car sales place will guide you through the insurance and registration part, you will have to deal with one of the most notoriously tainted negotiation processes you are likely to encounter in your life.  Even buying a house is more civilized than the gauntlet many car salespeople will put you through.

My car was past its prime.  I didn’t have the time or patience to drive all over the place looking at cars being sold by people; so, off to the dealerships I went.

I contacted them in two different ways:  either I stopped by after viewing inventory online or I used a virtual method (chat/email/form) after viewing online inventory.  Let me preface this by giving you some background: I used my librarian skills to do research on the various vehicles that fit my needs and narrowed it to looking at small, used, economical hatchbacks and then narrowed it further by excluding some manufacturers based on reliability reports.  Also, I’m a car person raised in a car loving family.  I spent my childhood in garages handing my father wrenches and getting lectures on the proper way to adjust a carburetor.  I’m familiar with the lingo, the sales tactics and generally feel at home in any kind of vehicle related place.

I went in wondering if I could learn anything about customer service that could be applied to the library world and wondering if anything had changed since I last bought a car from a dealership.

This is what I found:

Even after being very open and specific about my needs and exactly what I was looking for in my next vehicle, every single person except for the salesmen I eventually bought from tried to steer me to a sedan because even if they had a hatchback it didn’t satisfy other requirements like price or mileage.  I spent 5 minutes explaining to one salesman why I was unwilling to purchase a higher mile car.  He still didn’t get it and just continued to argue my reasoning.  I found myself actually arguing with salespeople over the reasons I wanted a hatch.  What I learned:  Listen, listen, listen.  What we offer our customers is free so we naturally tend to offer them alternatives to what they asked for but perhaps we should preface this with a statement like the following:  I understand you are looking for a specific book on subject X which we don’t have ;but, perhaps while you are waiting for your ILL to arrive you’d be interested in these other books which might include coverage of your topic.

They lie.  I’m sure they wouldn’t call it that; but, they really do lie.  They tell you one thing knowing another thing is true.  Or they tell you a song and dance about their manager which is really just part of the dance.  Learned:  We like to think we don’t lie to our customers; but, I can think of some specific times we evade the truth about policies or procedures.  There is a discomfort with telling a customer we discard books or we do something for our own convenience rather than theirs (a whole other post!).  Question:  If we have policies or procedures that embarrass staff or otherwise put them in the position of feeling like they have to evade answering, are we providing good customer service with these policies and procedures and are we setting our staff up to fail?

They tend to treat you like you don’t know anything.  Learned:  ask the right questions so you don’t have to assume what the customer knows or doesn’t know.

I was surprised that little had changed.  I got the run around.  I was made to wait.  Two places held my car keys hostage under the guise they were going to assess it for its trade in value.  I told the one guy, “Please don’t assume I haven’t noticed you still have my keys.”  His face turned red and he replied, “Let me go get them for you.”  At which time, the manager came out to talk to me.  I had to ask for my keys.   This sort of behavior is infuriating.  Are we infuriating our customers?  At my current library, we tend to avoid this result of a customer interaction.  I have worked at libraries that had fury inducing policies.

Finally, I landed in the hands of Al who answered my questions and was generally a pleasant guy to spend a couple of hours with while we test drove cars and filled out paperwork.  He returned my keys as soon as the mechanic was done assessing it.  He listened to me and worked within my constraints (I too can be a pain in the butt.).  I was honest with him and I felt that he was honest with me.  The only car salesmany thing he did was to open the windows of the first car which had a distinct mold smell. 

So, lets recap.  Lessons learned on the used car lot.

  1. Listen. Listen. Listen.  Let the customer know they have been heard.  This not only helps the customer get the resources they need; but, it’s also effective in defusing the angry customer.
  2. Avoid policies and procedures that put your staff in the position of feeling they can’t be honest.
  3. Ask the right questions before assuming what your customer does or doesn’t know whether its about resources, library policies and practices or anything else.
  4. Do you have policies that you know are irritating when they don’t have to be?  Do you have policies that could be changed but are in place for staff convenience at the detriment of customer service?  Change them.

Have You Read?

I’m about to go on vacation and I thought, “geez, I haven’t posted to CCS in awhile.  I better write a post before I go.”

Well, I’m not going to write a full post! I’m going to share something!   I frequently get asked what I read on a regular basis to be inspired or to learn more about the topics I talk about on Civil Civil Servant.

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Chief Happiness Officer.

This is the blog of a company that is all about having a happy workforce.

Some of my favorite posts:

How to Handle Chronic Complainers

Get Lucky At Work:  Be Positive

Top 5 Reasons to Celebrate Mistakes at Work

How to Deal with Anger at Work

I think it’s important to read about these issues on a weekly basis.  Otherwise, weeks, sometimes months can go by and slowly your attitude can erode.  By keeping these ideas fresh in your mind and experimenting at work and home, you can find the strategies that work for you to reduce anger, stress and  miscommunication and increase satisfaction and happiness.

It requires practice.  I tend to read about 3-5 articles a week about customer service, workplace relationships, or conduct of life type articles.  They help me keep on track and thinking about the issues that are important to me.

Are you interested in establishing a regular reading habit?  Start with Chief Happiness Officer, check out the blogs he reads and go from there.  I try to keep it diverse:  I read a couple of blogs on work issues, a couple on customer service and a couple of Buddhist blogs and a general kind of spirituality blog.  I frequently find new reading sources through my main stable of blogs.  They are great at finding articles and pointing me toward them.

By using a feed reader like Google’s Reader (the one I use), you can subscribe to your favorite blogs and they come to you instead of you trying to remember to go to them.

Well, I’m off on vacation: a road trip to Memphis!