Do you want to go for a drink?

A simple sentence, which can be said at the end of a hard day’s work, when we reckon a little beer would be nice before heading home.


A while back, we were talking about it with a friend, who was telling me that her colleagues often went for a drink together after work – without inviting her. And she goes on to tell me: how do you invite a male colleague for a drink without it being ambiguous?

In fact, I have never asked myself that question. It’s probably due to the fact that, from the beginning of my career, the tradition of going for a drink after work was so anchored that it seemed natural to invite my male colleagues or to be invited. However I must say, as I was telling you in the previous article, I’ve always set the boundaries very early on.

Also, for expatriates, becoming friends with colleagues is very common. We arrive in an unknown country with a new culture, and often the first friends we make are the ones from work. On the first night even, we invite the newbie to the local pub to better welcome her and help her settle in.

I then asked myself, once the topic had been brought up, where this problem was coming from. Clearly, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of inviting a colleague from the opposite sex.

Google is my friend, and I looked up articles on the theme of « having a drink with a colleague »

“Best of” of answers:

« 10 signs that show that your colleague has a crush on you…

Inviting a colleague for a drink – Seduction forum

First meeting with my colleague… and after?

Accepting to go have a drink, does it mean agreeing implicitly to go further/

Flirting at work: 4 steps to flirt with a colleague without…

Note: if we go for a drink outside, it’s not to talk about work, huh. »

After an hour of research, using different key words, I give up.

This isn’t too reassuring! Was my friend right to avoid seeing her colleagues outside of work? Having a relationship outside of work, is it bound to become ambiguous?

In studies showing the difference in career advancement between the two sexes, women’s lacking network often comes at the top of the myriad of causes. But how are these infamous networks created? Often times, while going for a drink with colleagues after work.

But if going for a drink is, in popular beliefs, synonymous with seduction, changing the status quo will be difficult. How can you develop a friendly relationship with a colleague? After all, it’s quite nice to have someone to unwind with at the end of day, and thus be able to criticize the boss, the boss of the boss and all the other departments.

It’s 2018, it may be time to make a little effort to change current mindsets.

Yes, Magali, nice story, but you still haven’t answered the original question which was… how do we do it?

Several solutions exist. We can start by inviting someone that we’re comfortable enough with and that we talk to often. We have a few coffee breaks together so that the invitation to go out for a drink doesn’t come out of the blue.

But before that, we can establish a few things… if you’re in a relationship, mention the significant other (without repeating it 45 times a day). Same thing, if he often talks about his kids/spouse… etc. It’s great, there’s very little chance that things will become ambiguous. Also, we can invite several colleagues at the same time to make sure there’s no misinterpretation.

Finally, try to set up a routine, such as the Friday night drink to celebrate for the upcoming weekend… after the third week, it won’t be uncomfortable anymore.

And of course, if we notice that out male colleagues often go out for drinks… Well, we tag along. As they’re leaving, we simply say: « Hey, I’d love to have a drink, mind if I join you ? » Maybe they’re just afraid to make the first move. Do it for them.

Come on, good resolution of the week… Tomorrow, I’m inviting a colleague of the opposite sex to have a drink.

And if I’m afraid of misunderstandings, I subtly leave this article on his or her desk during the day.

Mother = Manager

What does a parent do?

A parent’s main mission is to help kids transition into responsible adults, with values that are going to make us proud.

A mother trusts her kids. She establishes rules clearly. She explains them, sometimes in a written form, but ensures that they’re both well understood and transparent. Kids know they have to follow the rules and that they’re not negotiable. They also know that if they decide to go against them, there will be consequences.

A mother will challenge her kids. She’ll be a bit stern at times, simply because she won’t accept mediocrity or semi-accomplishments. She’ll push them to give their best and won’t allow anything below excellence.

But she will encourage her children, and anytime they successfully accomplish what they’ve undertaken, she’ll always be there to praise them.

A mother will supervise her children’s grades, but will never do the homework for them.

A parent will set an example. We do not tell a kid to read when we don’t read ourselves. We do not tell a kid not to eat sweets to binge on them later. Knowledge goes through actions and precedents rather than words.

A mother doesn’t lie to her kids. She does what she says and says what she does… otherwise, refer to the previous paragraph.

A mother will admit when she’s wrong and do her mea culpa. She will accept that her kids may not agree with her and will be open to discussing and questioning her opinions, but she will always have the final say.

These are a few ground rules – we can obviously switch the word mother with the word father.  The topic of the article is not to discuss mother vs father roles, but skills developed when raising children.

Now, we play. We read the article again, but replace the word mother or parent by the word leader or manager. We replace the word kids by employees, and we see what happens.

The purpose of the exercise is not to say that employees are kids…but to show that being a parent entails the same qualities as those of a leader.

The parent-kid relationship isn’t that different from the leader-team one.

So why is it so difficult to go back to the work environment after a “raising kids” break? Why do women think that being a parent and a manager is incompatible? But also, why doesn’t our society acknowledge the experience acquired by being a parent?

Why do we believe that a woman needs to act as a man to become a manager? She already has all the required skills and has tested them on her own kids.

I myself have always considered that being a parent and manager is the same thing and I have always applied the recipes at home and at work.

I’ll end this article with an example of the parallel between work and home, specifically how I handled a conflict between two people from my team. A disagreement arose, email exchanges were getting heated, and each person was accusing the other of “treason” – and forwarding the emails to direct and functional hierarchy. Both had their rights and wrongs – as it’s often the case.

I called them both into my office and said: “My daughters are 10 and 12 years old. When they fight, I send them to their room to solve the issue on their own and tell them not to come back until they’ve reached an agreement. And they always do. Now, tell me if you’re capable of doing what kids do. I don’t want to see another email, other than the one signed by both of you, where you tell me that the you’ve solved the conflict and let me know what conclusion you’ve reached.”

A few days later, they came back to my office telling me “Boss, we’re happy to announce that we are back in the adult world” – end of the story.

So mothers, go update your CVs, put forward all the qualities you’ve acquired during your maternity leave, and get back in the game.

What You Say Vs. What They Hear

Read below to discover a new word = Nastygram

I remember, some years ago, someone gave me that advise. “Always assume that a message was written to you with a good intend”. There is no tune of voice with an email, and we tend to assume always for the worst. The article below explains it well.

I thought a lot about this statement, and since try to apply it. It also made me think of my own messages – do I really convey the tune that they were written with? So many misunderstanding could be avoided by using these very simple steps…

See article here:

What You Say Vs. What They Hear

Are you sending nastygrams to your work colleagues?

I’d never heard that word before, but it is a perfect term for an insensitive email message. A colleague told me about a mid-size retail company where such messages are causing problems. Ryan, a team leader at the company, sent Andy a nastygram criticizing him for something outside of Ryan’s expertise. Andy exploded when he received it and told his officemate, Janet. She wasn’t surprised – Andy wasn’t the only one Ryan had upset. Ryan had worked there for just a month and he’d already made a lot of enemies.

Negativity Bias and Online Communication

Does Ryan realize he’s sending “nastygrams”? He might think his critiques are appropriate and assumes they will be heard that way. If so, he doesn’t understand “negativity bias” and how it plays out in email and other text-based digital communication.

Most of us live far removed from the physical threats faced by our human ancestors, but our brains don’t know that. The amygdala is the “fight-or-flight” part of the brain that continually scans for things that could harm us. It pays more attention to negative information than to positive input. When we talk with someone in person, our facial expressions and tone of voice convey the feelings that go with our words. When someone sends an email message, they unconsciously assume their unspoken emotional cues accompany the message. Receivers don’t get the nonverbal part of the message and think that positive email was more neutral. When the sender thinks it’s neutral, receivers tend to think it’s more negative.

Our Social Brain and Online Communication

The negativity bias may not be all that’s at play in Ryan’s messages. In face-to-face interactions, when we get an impulse to say or do something, our social brain might say, “Hold on, that’s not going to work.” When you’re face-to-screen, there isn’t the feedback loop to encourage restraint. The result can be flaming – when someone is upset, with their amygdala in firm control, and furiously types out a message and hits send before thinking about it. That emotional hijack hits the other person in their inbox. Flaming stems in part from online disinhibition where the disconnect between the social brain and the screen releases the amygdala from the usual management by the more reasonable prefrontal areas.

Even a phone call gives these circuits ample emotional cues from tone of voice to understand the emotional nuance of what you say. But text-only communication lacks all these inputs.

Connection: A Cure for Negativity Bias

Another aspect of Ryan’s “nastygrams” may be that the people receiving his messages don’t know him well. New at his job, he probably hasn’t made a connection with Andy and other team members. Clay Shirky, who studies social networks and the web at New York University, told me about a global bank security team that operates 24 hours a day. He said they use what he calls a banyan tree model, where key members of each group got together and met key members of every other group. Then, in an emergency, they can contact each other and get a clear sense of how to evaluate the message each group was sending. If someone in the receiving group knows that person well, or has a contact there whom he can ask about the person who sent the message, then the receiving group can better gauge how much to rely on it

Like the bank security team, many of us work across distances with people we rarely, if ever, see. In those situations, it can help to use videoconferencing, at least in early interactions. It helps to take the time to get to know each other, what you enjoy about your jobs, possibly something about your backgrounds or life outside of work. Such conversations will help you make a connection. Then, when you’re using text-based communication, you’ll be better able to envision the person who will receive your message.

Try This

If Ryan had followed these simple steps before he sends email messages, he might not fall into the nastygram pit:

Save the message as a draft.
Take three deep breaths (even better, wait longer).
Open the message.
Imagine you’re the recipient of the message, including what you know about who they are.
Would they read this message as having a positive or negative tone?
Revise the message to reflect your intended tone.
Taking a few moments on your intention and message can save you hours, days, or even weeks of trouble.

The Work Conversations We Dread the Most, According to Research

When we need to have a difficult conversation, we tend to postpone it.. Letting the situation worsen.. Why?

Having been on both sides of the barrier, I can tell that a dreaded conversation is difficult for both sides. For example, you might find difficult to ask for a pay rise, but in general, it is also difficult for the manager to answer such request.

The best scenario is when both come out of the discussion happy. Winning and make the other lost is never a victory. The battle is won, but the chances of winning the war are now fading dangerously.

As the article says it very well, in fact, most people strive for this win-win.

Article here (with graphs):

The next time you head into a conversation you’re dreading, rest assured that the other party is probably equally uncomfortable. Better yet, your counterpart may even go out of his or her way to make you feel at ease.

These findings come from a recent survey conducted by Fractl in which we asked nearly 1,100 people about difficult conversations at work.

Approaching tough conversations with a combative mentality, where one person wins and one loses, is a common mistake that often results in neither party feeling satisfied. Yet our study found that most people actually plan on being agreeable and considerate when walking into a difficult conversation — nearly 66% of respondents told us that they’re likely to go out of their way to make the other person feel comfortable. The same number said that they’re likely to concede that they played a role in creating an uncomfortable situation, while 81% will acknowledge that there are multiple perspectives. More than 75% of respondents said that they’re likely to be direct and concise. That’s all good news for someone who’s about to have a difficult conversation; you can rest assured that most people are starting from a collaborative mindset.

As you can see, taking a combative approach and assuming the other person is “out to get you” is probably misguided.

What’s more, your counterpart is probably just as nervous as you are. Which conversations really make people squirm? Negotiating a raise was the most distressing: 58% of respondents feel uncomfortable having this discussion. We found people feel most comfortable apologizing for a mistake or discussing a lack of clear direction.

Women reported more discomfort around negotiating a raise than men did, with more than 66% of female respondents feeling very or somewhat uncomfortable. Just over half of men shared that sentiment.

Managers should take particular note of the data showing that even if you walk out of a challenging discussion feeling good about the outcome, your employee may not share your outlook. Our respondents were significantly more likely to feel satisfied with the outcome of a difficult conversation when they were the higher-ranking employee. More than 75% felt satisfied with the outcome of a conversation with a direct report, compared to 46% feeling somewhat or completely satisfied with the results of a discussion with a supervisor.

So how can you have more productive conversations that end with both parties feeling satisfied?

A majority of people (85%) told us they are likely to prepare for a tough conversation. This is a step in the right direction, but how you prepare is important. Be sure to:

Determine what you want to get out the conversation, but “don’t go in planning to ‘win’ the conversation,” says employee relations consultant Fran Sepler. “If you want a raise, for instance, you may need to start with other goals, such as having your work fully appreciated, having input into your compensation, and making sure you’re being paid equitably.”

Do your homework on your worth. Knowing how valuable and marketable you are will give you more confidence to ask for a raise and alleviate fears around negotiations. Make a strong case for your pay increase by coming to the table armed with a list of your contributions to the company and salary survey data on comparable roles.
Treat the conversation as two people working together to solve a problem. Executive coach Kristi Daniels recommends using this simple framework, from the book Powerful Conversations, which gives both sides ownership over the conversation and outcome:

What’s Up: Tell your side of the situation and ask the other person how they see it.
What’s So: Get to the facts, and remove any emotional charge from the conversation. Discuss the impact on each of you, the team, and the larger organization. Ask the other person what they think.
What’s Possible: Discuss possible solutions or alternatives, and ask the other person for the same.
Let’s Go: Commit on both sides to taking action with accountability included.
Notice how each step of this framework includes input from the other person, which will ensure that both parties feel heard and understood. This applies to your pre-conversation preparation too, when you should look beyond your own perspective and think about how the other person views the issue. You’ll have greater success by showing that you’ve considered several perspectives.

During the conversation, pause your own agenda to really listen to the other person’s side. Karen Hough, CEO of ImprovEdge, says, “When we’re nervous or scared, we rush to tell, fix, or manage.” Aim to diffuse the emotional charge, hear the other person, and come out with a solution. According to Hough, “It’s amazing how often a quick reset on the approach totally changes the way a person deals with their boss and creates incredible outcomes — raises, promotions, and strong relationships.”

Kerry Jones is the Inbound Marketing Manager at Fractl, where she specializes in content marketing featuring their proprietary research.