Connie Michele Ward, Ph.D. a psychologist at A New Start Counseling Center, Inc. located in Fayetteville, GA was recently interviewed by Essence magazine regarding her clinical perspectives of how to successfully navigate in the workplace. The article was published in the Friday, January 22th on-line version of Essence Magazine. Dr. Ward has a long, distinguished career, which has involved career-related counseling as one of her specialties.
Dr. Ward was quoted as saying, “In this economy we have to be on our toes. We’re being asked to do more with less and we have to be perceived as though we’re a team player and that when we are at work we’re focused on work,” in order for employees to survive and thrive through these challenging times. She also cautioned about developing negative attitudes at work, which is understandable in light of the current climate, but stated, “people don’t want to work with others who have bad attitudes” and ultimately many advancements or careers have been negatively affected by them. Since many of the surviving employees are being asked to perform their tasks as well as the tasks of unfilled positions, it is easy to develop a grumbling, stressed out or feeling dumped on attitude. She believes this is the time to distinguish yourself from your peers by rising above the office gossip and anger by being a positive role for dealing with change and a calm presence.
Dr. Ward strongly advocates having a relaxation ritual prior to arriving at the workplace. Peaceful, soothing music in lieu of news or talk radio was mentioned as one alternative. One might also listen to inspirational books on tape or CD. She further suggests that potentially stressful phone calls be avoided prior to beginning the workday. If that call cannot be avoided, Dr. Ward suggests taking a few minutes prior to leaving your car to do some deep breathing exercises, meditation or prayer to center yourself and begin to focus on the work day ahead. By utilizing methods such as these, it allows us to enter the work environment with our best attitude and starts the day on a much more positive note.
When annoyed in the work setting she recommends closing our office door or going to a private place to afford an opportunity to re-group. If that is not possible, then by utilizing calming or self-soothing techniques, such as the calming rituals mentioned previously, the employee will be able to avoid inappropriate emotional expressions, which may ultimately be damaging to relationships and/or progress in the workplace. She strongly recommends that employees allow themselves an opportunity to calm down prior to approaching an upsetting situation to handle it from a factual standpoint verses an emotional one.
Regarding career advancement or promotions, Dr. Ward suggests that in this day and time employees wanting to advance, need to focus their energies on fully educating themselves in their respective fields. In fact, it is important for them to become somewhat of an expert in their field to insure career progression. This may mean tempering their expectations about how quickly they may progress in their careers. This also means avoiding comparing your progress to someone else, especially if you are not in the same position working for the same company.
Likewise, she extolled the merits of social connections and networking as a critically important method of advancing one’s career. She also indicated that mentoring relationships in the workplace are an invaluable method of continuing to grow and develop in our career fields as well. While she agrees that social networking can be very helpful to a career, Dr. Ward extols the merits of face to face networking and the benefit of being open to a mentoring relationship.
Dr. Ward serves as a staff psychologist at A New Start Counseling Center, Inc but is also a transitions life coach. She is co-editor of “Career Counseling for African Americans”, available through Amazon. For additional information about Dr. Ward or her services, please call 770-461-9944