May 162016
 

Since we’ve looked at reasons someone can be a bad IT manager, let’s look at reasons for good ones.

1. You ask staff opinions about technical concerns before trying to make a decision

This is relevant if you’re less technical/current than your staff.  It shows you respect them and are a team player. It’s also smart because it avoids exposing you to the risk of making decisions by yourself.  You might make a final decision, but if it’s with the help of trained, highly paid staff, then your chances of success are that much greater.  Your staff will respect you.

2. If a staff member is making mistakes, you ask if everything is okay or if they understand requirements

This really shows you look out for people and care about them and their careers.  Someone might be having personal trouble, or be under stress.  Maybe there’s something you don’t know about that’s affecting their job performance.  Or maybe they’ve made some honest mistakes.  Treating people like a real person goes a long way to acting like a decent human yourself.  You’re the kind of manager everyone loves.

3. You’re flexible about time off

Everyone likes a manager who lets them make up time for appointments or work extra hours for the same reason.  As long as your staff are getting their work done, being cool this way earns loyalty, but making sure they’re working covers your butt.  Being civil and helpful says you’re a cool manager

4. You give kudos to those who do a good job

When staff work overtime or just do a great job, a good manager thanks them and shows appreciation.  Most people want the approval of their manager, so give it to them when they deserve it!

5. You recognize that small issues are just that, minor

Not blowing things out of proportion is one sign of a good manager. As a case in point, I once left my laptop on my desk overnight against company policy, but it mostly wasn’t my fault, as I was forced offsite with little notice and thought I’d be back later, but ended up going home from the other location.  I was actually fired for this and a few other minor things blown out of proportion.  This sort of thing says terrible things about management and a company.

6. You try to find staff work they’ll enjoy

It’s a given that sometimes people have to do tasks they don’t want to.  Recognizing this out loud (“Hey this kind of stinks, but…”) shows that you’re aware of their skills and what they want to be doing and recognize this isn’t it.  If you can toss them a good project later to compensate, then “taking one for the team” is a little easier to take – and smarter for you to manage their upset about a lame task.

7. You try to find staff work that fits their skills

It’s an unfortunate reality that IT managers have tasks that need to get done that don’t fit with anyone’s skill sets.  Even so, it’s better to tell people they have some options, like one project or another.  If there’s only one, tell them you’d understand if they don’t want to do it but that it’s all you have.  Just forcing it on someone and acting like you’re unaware it sucks for them will make you look indifferent and callous.  Don’t act surprised when they quit, either.

8. Reward initiative

If someone steps up or otherwise volunteers, show appreciation for this.  If they offer to help, recognize their desire to be useful.  Your staff are your greatest – and likely only – resource besides yourself, and smart managers learn to make their people want to work for them.

9. If a new policy – or an old one – is suddenly enforced, your understanding of an adjustment being needed is good

No one likes change, so if it comes, being fair to staff earns respect and cooperation.  People must adjust.  Giving advance warning and feedback on whether people are doing the right thing is not only right, but just and fair.

10. Give fair performance reviews

This sort of goes back to recognition, but if the company allows, sit down with each staff member before a formal review and ask them for reminders of all the good things they’ve done in a year.  It will help you not forget and be fairer.

Another 10 Signs You’re a Bad Technical Recruiter

Last week we looked at ten signs you’re a “bad” IT recruiter, but there are another ten to go through, so here we go! 1. You give me an attitude about anything or make any negative, personal remarks. This is never okay, even if you feel it’s deserved.  You’re at work and can’t do this, especially […]

1 comment

Ten Signs You’re a Good IT Manager

Since we’ve looked at reasons someone can be a bad IT manager, let’s look at reasons for good ones. 1. You ask staff opinions about technical concerns before trying to make a decision This is relevant if you’re less technical/current than your staff.  It shows you respect them and are a team player. It’s also smart because […]

0 comments

Ten Signs You’re a Bad IT Manager

Life in the corporate world is hugely affected by managers, so we’ll take a look at ten reasons managers can be terrible.  If you’re a manager, watch out for doing these things and earning a bad reputation. 1. You throw me under the bus Managers are supposed to look out for their staff, not screw them […]

0 comments

Ten Signs You’re a Bad Technical Recruiter

Recently I did the Ten Signs You’re a Good Technical Recruiter.  This time we look at ten mistakes technical recruiters can make so that programmers don’t respond favorably (or at all) to job postings and calls/emails.  And what recruiters can do to mitigate these issues. If you have comments, please add them at the end. 1. After receiving […]

0 comments

Ten Signs You’re a Good Technical Recruiter

As a professional programmer, I’ve interacted with technical recruiters for over fifteen years and have noticed that the good ones share certain traits.  Here are things I like in a recruiter, in no particular order: 1. You send me an email with the following info in the very first one: A job description A fairly specific location […]

0 comments
May 092016
 

Life in the corporate world is hugely affected by managers, so we’ll take a look at ten reasons managers can be terrible.  If you’re a manager, watch out for doing these things and earning a bad reputation.

1. You throw me under the bus

Managers are supposed to look out for their staff, not screw them over.  It’s always better to be fair to someone, talk to them with the benefit of the doubt, and give them a chance to improve.  Badmouthing to them to upper management and summarily firing them is a sign you’re a bad manager.  It makes both you and the company look bad, and the poor employee who has to explain to friends, family, the unemployment office, and possibly to FBI agents for the next 7-10 years when applying for a security clearance.

2. You try to take credit for my work

If your staff is doing such good work that you feel the need to steal credit, then you’re just alienating one of your best people. You can still get credit for getting such good work out of someone without being unethical.

3. You make something trivial into a big deal

Having perspective in life goes a long way.  Don’t pick fights with staff or make them feel bad about some petty thing that’s happened. It won’t gain you anything but disrespect.

4. You don’t get staff input on matters (when you should) before making important decisions

Managers are often not as technical as their staff, and when this is the case, it’s a mistake for a manager to make a decision about how things will go without getting input from those who know.  You’re supposed to be part of a team. Being the boss doesn’t mean bossing people around; it means bringing people together and getting the best performance out of them.

Once that bad decision has been made, and your staff tells you it’s impossible, blaming the situation on them only compounds the problem you’ve created.  I’ve seen this repeatedly and it never ends well, splintering teams apart and earning major disrespect.

5. You tell staff it’s their job to find themselves work to do when that’s actually your job

This shouldn’t need explaining, but companies have proposal writers and other staff (including senior executives) whose job it is to win federal contracts (we’re talking D.C. here) and it’s literally not my job to do this. IT managers assign work to staff. We don’t assign work to ourselves. Or invent projects no one needs.

6. You try to make people do inappropriate work

Those in IT have a specialized skill-set (i.e., software development in certain languages), so trying to make them exclusively do documentation (for years), for example, is not acceptable. Nor is turning someone into your assistant. Or throwing every junk project to the same person.  They’re just going to quit.

7. You become resentful about work/life balance requests

This includes not letting people work from home when they need to, or make up time for an appointment.  Or giving them grief about an emergency.  Or trying to refuse to let them go to a doctor appointment unless they want to get in trouble with you.  Since they’re not a child, don’t try to treat them like one.  It will only earn disrespect – and then they’ll be gone.

8. You change the details of the job for the worse just because you can

I once had a manager tell me on my first day as an employee (after six months as a contractor), that I now had to work 9 hour days instead of 8. We didn’t have a deadline to beat or anything like that. He just did it “because you’re my bitch now” as he put it, with a laugh. Our relationship deteriorated from there.  Don’t try to pull power trips on your staff unless you want their disrespect and resignation.  You may not be an adult, be we are. It won’t go unnoticed.  You are being watched whether you think so or not.

9. The first sign people get that there’s a problem with them is “you’re fired.”

People deserve to be given chances to follow directions or fix mistakes, which could be innocent or have a reasonable explanation.  Not doing so reveals a desire to just fire someone without cause, which is the ultimate in being a bad manager.  This will make the company look bad when people leave bad reviews on sites like Glassdoor.com.

10. You suddenly decide a policy is without flexibility and must be enforced in draconian ways

People get used to doing things a certain way at jobs, even if it’s not according to rules, but that’s how it’s been done forever.  Suddenly cracking down might be okay, but not if you do things like fire people, for example, for doing things the old way for months.  Sudden enforcement must come with warnings or you’ll seem like an ogre.

Another 10 Signs You’re a Bad Technical Recruiter

Last week we looked at ten signs you’re a “bad” IT recruiter, but there are another ten to go through, so here we go! 1. You give me an attitude about anything or make any negative, personal remarks. This is never okay, even if you feel it’s deserved.  You’re at work and can’t do this, especially […]

1 comment

Ten Signs You’re a Good IT Manager

Since we’ve looked at reasons someone can be a bad IT manager, let’s look at reasons for good ones. 1. You ask staff opinions about technical concerns before trying to make a decision This is relevant if you’re less technical/current than your staff.  It shows you respect them and are a team player. It’s also smart because […]

0 comments

Ten Signs You’re a Bad IT Manager

Life in the corporate world is hugely affected by managers, so we’ll take a look at ten reasons managers can be terrible.  If you’re a manager, watch out for doing these things and earning a bad reputation. 1. You throw me under the bus Managers are supposed to look out for their staff, not screw them […]

0 comments

Ten Signs You’re a Bad Technical Recruiter

Recently I did the Ten Signs You’re a Good Technical Recruiter.  This time we look at ten mistakes technical recruiters can make so that programmers don’t respond favorably (or at all) to job postings and calls/emails.  And what recruiters can do to mitigate these issues. If you have comments, please add them at the end. 1. After receiving […]

0 comments

Ten Signs You’re a Good Technical Recruiter

As a professional programmer, I’ve interacted with technical recruiters for over fifteen years and have noticed that the good ones share certain traits.  Here are things I like in a recruiter, in no particular order: 1. You send me an email with the following info in the very first one: A job description A fairly specific location […]

0 comments
Aug 112015
 

There are two kinds of ignoring: passive and active.

Passive Ignoring

IgnoringPassive ignoring is the kind you’re familiar with.  This is when we pretend someone is not actually present.  If they speak, we don’t acknowledge this at all.  It’s as if they said nothing.  We don’t look at them, pretending the seat they’re in is empty, or where they stand has something else, like a pillar, there.

And yet we tacitly acknowledge their presence, never asking someone else where they are because we know perfectly well they’re right in front of us.  We walk around them.  We don’t attempt to put something in the chair they sit in.  But we otherwise pretend they don’t exist.

Active Ignoring

Active ignoring is when you’re looking right at someone, talking to them, even asking questions, and appearing to pay normal attention to them, but in reality you’re ignoring everything they say.  You hear them saying things they aren’t saying, meaning things they don’t mean, and being someone they aren’t (i.e., you assume they’re saying something rude when they wouldn’t do such a thing).  You don’t listen to their answers to your own questions.  You’re ignoring them and may have no idea you’re doing it.

The Two Kinds of Ignoring

There are two kinds of ignoring: passive and active. Passive Ignoring Passive ignoring is the kind you’re familiar with.  This is when we pretend someone is not actually present.  If they speak, we don’t acknowledge this at all.  It’s as if they said nothing.  We don’t look at them, pretending the seat they’re in is […]

0 comments

The Two Kinds of Interruption

There are two kinds of conversational interruption: benign and malignant. Benign Interruption Benign interruption is the kind you’re familiar with.  It happens once in a while.  The person doing it often means to help you along or say something related to what you’re saying.  They mean no harm.  Since it’s technically rude, they will often […]

0 comments

Why I Blog About Psychology

My life of introspection has been a well-kept secret despite it dominating my life and outlook. I spent much of the 1990s pacing around after midnight, in turmoil, and in the dark (literally and figuratively), upset about something awful that family, “friends,” or strangers had just done to me. We all have ideas and expectations […]

0 comments
Aug 052015
 

tendonitisIf you have tendonitis, there are a number of remedies to try. You should consult your doctor before doing anything.

1. Rest

Sadly, your best remedy is rest.  Avoid using your arms any more than needed and be careful how you use them when you do. Behavior modification is crucial to recovery.  If you keep doing what you were before the injury, it will only get worse.

2. Physical Therapy

A physical therapist (PT) is one of your best options, but you need to find one who understands how to treat tendonitis, as not all of them do.  Try to avoid being assigned to a PT assistant, as they are unlikely to have the specialized skills you need.

3. Stretching

A PT can also give you appropriate stretching exercises to improve the lost range of motion that often comes with the injury.  You have to be careful to do them right or they’ll be counterproductive.

4. Heat

Heat via a heating pad can increase the blood flow and therefore oxygen to your damaged muscles, helping them heal.  Talk with a doctor or therapist to learn the proper placement for the heat.

5. Ultrasound

Just like what is done for pregnant women, an ultrasound treatment can spread warmth deep into affected muscles. This is typically administered by a physical therapist.

6. E-stim

A physical therapist can do electric stimulation to the affected muscles by placing the pads that emit current at two different point on your arms.  This feels weird at first but you get used to it.

7. Ice

Ice will lessen the inflammation of the tendons. Consult your doctor or physical therapist to learn where to place the ice and for how long.

8. Arm bands

If your tendonitis is in your arms, there are various arm bands you can wear. Some will restrict your wrist motion.  Other will compress your muscles to reduce pain and injury while using your arms.  I used very thick ones while sleeping to keep me from lying on my arms overnight, since that compressed my tendons and inflamed my arms.

9. Anti-inflammatories

Over the counter anti-inflammatories can help the tendon recover, but you have to be careful not to overdo this or you’ll risk damage to your organs.  A doctor can prescribe stronger ones for short duration, especially at the outset of your injury.

10. Topical Gel

There are topical gels that reduce the pain you feel but which might not help you recover.  Ask your PT or doctor to recommend one.  Some of these stink quite a bit, so be prepared for friends and family to ask you not to put it on right before sitting down with them!

Aug 032015
 

If you’ve ever thought, “If I kill myself, they’ll be sorry,” you’re not alone.  Teenagers are especially prone to this sort of thinking.  It doesn’t mean that you’re really suicidal.  So then why think it?

It has a mollifying effect, meaning it makes us feel better.  Maybe we’re feeling uncared for, so we tell ourselves others care but just can’t (or won’t) show it for some reason.  Maybe they’ve put up a wall of “normalcy” that we can’t pierce.  Maybe we haven’t really tried, afraid of the reaction to our problems and despair.

despairWhatever the reason, this might be called a “gateway” thought to suicide, as we allow ourselves to imagine our death, their grief, and their realization of how we’ve felt and that they missed it all.  Maybe we’re mad, too, and want them to feel agony that they were blind to our pain and were supposed to be able to save us but failed.

There’s some revenge in the thought.  “You made me feel bad, particularly by not paying attention, and now I’ve made you feel bad, too, and you’ll have to live with that forever.”

As satisfying as such dark thoughts are, they aren’t something to lightly allow yourself.  The more you imagine yourself dead, the closer you come to finding the idea acceptable, then preferable, and then maybe one day do it.  It’s not so simple as that, of course, and there can be any number of reasons people finally attempt it.  But you deserve better than this fantasy.

Imagine the alternative.  What if you leave suicide as unacceptable?  Off the table?  Maybe you have thoughts more productive and helpful.  Imagine other solutions.  For suicide is not a problem.  It’s a perceived solution, one that is rarely in anyone’s best interests despite what we tell ourselves.  Don’t self-pity yourself into a death-welcoming mindset.

You deserve better fantasies.  And a better life, too.  A longer one.

A Public Shaming Leads To Suicide?

In May of 2015, public shaming led a girl to kill herself.  Or so it seems. To sum this up, the 13-year-old girl’s father cut her beautiful long hair off as punishment and videotaped her tearful reaction. Someone else got the video and uploaded it to YouTube.  Izabel Laxamana then killed herself by jumping from […]

2 comments

Do the World a Favor By Killing Myself

In the spring of 2014, a 16 year old girl named Maddie Yates committed suicide after posting a YouTube video in which she stated that she’d be doing the world a favor by killing herself.  I can’t disagree more. I don’t know the first thing about Maddie, but I know this dark thought.  I used […]

0 comments

If I kill myself, they’ll be sorry

If you’ve ever thought, “If I kill myself, they’ll be sorry,” you’re not alone.  Teenagers are especially prone to this sort of thinking.  It doesn’t mean that you’re really suicidal.  So then why think it? It has a mollifying effect, meaning it makes us feel better.  Maybe we’re feeling uncared for, so we tell ourselves […]

0 comments

Protect Yourself From Suicide

If you’re prone to suicidal thoughts, you’ve probably noticed that they come and go, often with depression.  During one of those times when you’re feeling better, do yourself a favor – remove easy means of killing yourself from the places where you live or otherwise spend time.  That way, when the darkness comes upon you […]

0 comments

Suicide Is Not Forever, Unless You Do It

If you’re having suicidal thoughts, it will not last forever.  You didn’t always feel this way, and while you might feel this way all the time now, this too shall pass.  It’s important to remember this. When I became suicidal, it followed a mental breakdown, and I felt that I had once been one way […]

0 comments

Why I Write About Suicide

Due to speech problems, I was isolated and often depressed as a teen, but my suicidal ideation turned serious at 18, when someone betrayed me to play a joke at my expense in front of others who’d gathered to watch me be humiliated.  This caused a mental breakdown (or nervous breakdown), made me believe in God […]

0 comments
Jul 292015
 

tendonitis2As someone who’s dealt with tendonitis in both arms for almost two decades, I can assure you this injury isn’t something you want.  If you’re not convinced, here are ten reasons you may not have considered.

1. It can ruin your sex life

Your hands can stimulate your partner (or yourself) to great effect – until you can’t do that anymore. Or maybe you can’t do it long enough, having to keep resting, which can kill the arousal buildup your hands were causing.  This means your partner is affected, too.  There are also positions you can no longer do, like missionary (if you’re the guy, on top), because you can’t support your weight like that.

2. You can lose your job

Most jobs need your arms and if you have to stop using them, you might lose your job and everything that goes with it, like insurance and 401k contributions. If you’re covered under someone else’s policy, you have some luck there.

3. It can end your career

If the injury is severe enough, you might never be able to return to your profession after losing your job. This is devastating, particularly if there isn’t another career available to you at first (i.e., you aren’t qualified).  Another career might not be nearly as lucrative, too.

4. It eliminates exercises and might ruin your physique

If you do any sort of weight training, those days may be over. I was a very toned, somewhat muscled young man. I now have only loose muscle on my chest (remnants of a past life).  My shoulders have no muscle at all, my biceps are average, and my triceps are nearly so.  The lack of tone is something I’m used to ignoring in the mirror, but I cover up at the beach, the days of having pride my physique (and the ability to do something about it) long gone.

5. Cavities

Did you know tendonitis can cause cavities? Flossing was too hard for me, causing too much pain, so I stopped for several years.  I developed a multitude of cavities between my teeth.

6. There’s a shortage of knowledgeable medical professionals adept at treating this

The treatment of repetitive stress injuries is in its infancy and finding someone qualified to treat your injury might be a challenge.  Where you live might impact this, too. There’s less information available on what your treatment options are, too. You will have a hard time getting educated.

7. Many hobbies will vanish

Do you play golf, softball, guitar?  Not anymore.

8. Disrespect instead of respect

Despite the injury’s ability to completely destroy your life, tendonitis gets no respect as a serious problem, which means you won’t get any respect either. You can be told to stop being a baby, or stop being lazy, or other obnoxious comments that make it clear people think you’re less of a person now. That includes people you want to date.

9. You can’t pick up lots of things, including your kids

Heavy things are out of the question, but some items leave you little choice, like trash bags, groceries, and wet laundry.  And your kids if you’ve got them and they’re young enough to need a lift.

10. You could be dealing with this the rest of your life

The impact on you will likely lessen in time, but tendonitis can be forever. Some things you’ll never do again, and others might have to wait many years and be altered for the worse, but either way, you’ll be re-considering how to (and if you can) do many things for many years to come.

Jul 282015
 

LD 2One problem with the term “learning disabled” is that it can give the impression that you not only can’t learn but that you’ll never accomplish much.  Both LD people and those unaware of what being LD means can assume this.

To combat that, and to give hope to any LD people suffering the same low self-esteem issues I once faced, here’s a list of a few things I’ve achieved after being diagnosed as learning disabled and given (during middle school) effective coping strategies.

  • I graduated college with a music degree (an intellectually challenging field), with a GPA of 3.89
  • As a programmer
    • I run my own consulting company
    • I’m a professional, highly certified software engineer (a field where constant learning is mandatory)
    • I’ve worked for the U.S. State Department, IRS, Army, Navy, Marines, DHS, TSA, and other government agencies
  • As a musician
    • I run a music publishing company/record label, coordinating the recording, packaging, release, and promotion of albums
    • I own a recording studio and am the producer and recording engineer for all guitars (and other instruments) on my albums
    • I’ve released five CDs, writing and performing all guitar parts and sometimes all other instruments
    • Many consider me a virtuoso guitarist.  I also play drums, bass, piano, and percussion
    • I’ve earned endorsements from three major audio companies for my guitar playing
    • I’ve built three electric guitars
  • As an author
    • I run my own publishing company, coordinating the editing, packaging, release, and promotion of books
    • I’ve written six novels and a memoir
    • I’ve published three novels (under a pseudonym), two of them reaching the Top 20 of their category on Amazon

Click the mp3 player below to hear a song on which I wrote, played, and engineered every performance.

What “Learning Disabled” Means For Me

The phrase “learning disabled” can mean different things.  To quote the Learning Disabilities Association of America’s website, “Learning disabilities are neurologically-based processing problems. These processing problems can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing and/or math.  They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or […]

0 comments

What I’ve Accomplished Despite Being Learning Disabled

One problem with the term “learning disabled” is that it can give the impression that you not only can’t learn but that you’ll never accomplish much.  Both LD people and those unaware of what being LD means can assume this. To combat that, and to give hope to any LD people suffering the same low self-esteem […]

0 comments

Why I Blog About Attention Deficit Disorder

Like everyone who has it, I was born with ADD, and it’s permanent.  Technically, the name has changed to ADHD, but that’s misleading for me because I don’t have the “H” – hyperactivity. I’ll be blogging about this because it’s part of my overall story in ways more profound than you’d expect.  I hope to shed […]

2 comments

Why I Write About Being Learning Disabled

I’m learning disabled and have been all my life, as it isn’t curable.  It’s just something you deal with and hopefully learn to overcome – every day.  I’ve decided to start sharing my story to give hope to those dealing with it, either because they’re learning disabled or someone they know, like their child, is.  I’ve […]

0 comments
Jul 272015
 

There are two kinds of conversational interruption: benign and malignant.

Benign Interruption

Benign interruption is the kind you’re familiar with.  It happens once in a while.  The person doing it often means to help you along or say something related to what you’re saying.  They mean no harm.  Since it’s technically rude, they will often show some awareness of this, whether overtly apologizing, making an apologetic gesture, or just going quiet and not doing it again any time soon.

As a result, you’re able to continue and conclude your comments.  Any negative feelings (like rejection) are quickly overcome.  You get “satisfaction” after the affront.  The pain is quickly forgotten and you move on.  No lasting damage is done.  Within minutes, you’ve probably forgotten all about it.

Malignant Interruption

yellingMalignant interruption is very different.  It happens each time you start a sentence, being relentless.  The person doing it is blatantly interfering with your attempt to say something, jumping to conclusions about your intentions and trying to finish sentences for you while getting it wrong, partly because they aren’t listening at all, or they’re hearing what they want to hear.  In some cases, they are believing the worst and aggressively blasting you for intending to say something offensive, even though you weren’t going to.   They’ll never know.

Not only do they show no sign of awareness that what they’re doing is wrong, but they seem to think that what they’re doing is right, especially if they’re punishing you for an imagined slight.  Due to this, they will do it again, and again, and again, raining hammer blows of interruption down on you.

As a result, you not only don’t finish saying what you’d intended to, but they’ve heard you “say” one thing after another that you weren’t actually saying.  They are putting words in your mouth, ideas in your head, and character flaws in your heart.  The pain of being treated so rudely compounds with each repetition.  They are repeatedly stoking negative feelings in you.

You cannot move on because there’s no satisfaction, no resolution, and no end to the barrage.  You remember this long after the incident finally ends.  Lasting damage is done to your relationship and you’ll remember it for months if not years.

And it might not end with that incident, because the next time you talk to them, they might just do it again.  And again.

Finally

I’m aware of the distinction between these (they are my terms) because my family did malignant interruption to me repeatedly, causing me to develop a variety of speech problems that literally ruined my life for decades.  And yet they seemed to think they were doing nothing wrong, chastising me that “everyone gets interrupted” and to “stop being such a baby” about it.

My hope is to improve the dialogue about this by naming these two distinct types of interruption so that we can understand when we’re doing which one, why it’s bad, and stop it.  And those on the receiving end of this treatment have an effective name to call it by.  The first step to destroying something is often naming it.

The Two Kinds of Ignoring

There are two kinds of ignoring: passive and active. Passive Ignoring Passive ignoring is the kind you’re familiar with.  This is when we pretend someone is not actually present.  If they speak, we don’t acknowledge this at all.  It’s as if they said nothing.  We don’t look at them, pretending the seat they’re in is […]

0 comments

The Two Kinds of Interruption

There are two kinds of conversational interruption: benign and malignant. Benign Interruption Benign interruption is the kind you’re familiar with.  It happens once in a while.  The person doing it often means to help you along or say something related to what you’re saying.  They mean no harm.  Since it’s technically rude, they will often […]

0 comments

Why I Blog About Psychology

My life of introspection has been a well-kept secret despite it dominating my life and outlook. I spent much of the 1990s pacing around after midnight, in turmoil, and in the dark (literally and figuratively), upset about something awful that family, “friends,” or strangers had just done to me. We all have ideas and expectations […]

0 comments
Jul 232015
 

As someone who mumbled from the time I was in 3rd grade until I was almost 30 years old, I can tell you that my inability to speak clearly met with all sorts of rude responses that only made me more likely to mumble in the future, assuming I dared to try speaking again at all.  Here’s a list, in no particular order, of ten things you should never say or do to someone mumbling.

Almost everything on this list is hurtful, makes me less likely to speak to you again (or if I do, makes it more likely I’ll again speak poorly), makes you look bad, and makes me disrespect you.  Is that what you really want?

1. Mock or imitate me

I’m already overly sensitive to my speech problems and this only humiliates me and makes me more sensitive, compounding the problem.

2. Snap “Would you stop mumbling?”

Telling me that my speech irritates you just makes me less likely to speak again and also makes you come across as a self-important jerk.

3. Snap “Speak up!”

Showing anger punishes me for trying to communicate with you, like most things on this list.

4. Scornfully say, “I can’t understand you!”

I’m well aware that I’m hard to understand. This scorn humiliates and demeans me.

5. Yell, “Where did you learn how to talk?”

Probably the same place you learned manners.

6. Don’t pretend you heard me and understood when you didn’t

If I say something and you act like you heard me, it will often be apparent when your response has nothing to do with what I just said. You might fool yourself, but you’re not fooling me.  I’ll resent that.

7. Don’t pretend I didn’t say anything or otherwise tune me out

This is even worse than #6.  You may be taking it for granted that I’m never going to say anything you’ll understand, but you should still be trying instead of just writing me off.

8. Tell me, “Nobody cares what you have to say anyway.”

Being fairly certain of this is one of the reasons I’m mumbling to begin with so you’re part of the problem by actually telling me that.

9. Don’t interrupt me

This only makes things worse and this sort of intimidation is why I’m mumbling in the first place. When you destroy my confidence that I’ll be heard, it makes things worse.

10. Snap, “Would you mumble that again?”

Your expectation that I’ll just mumble it instead of repeat it clearly is probably well founded, but that doesn’t mean you should make it clear you’ve lost all hope for me.  I likely have, too, and don’t need your added vote of no confidence.

Jul 222015
 

tendonitisIn August 1996, a severe tendonitis injury (lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow”) suddenly appeared in both of my arms. It had been building for up to three years before finally making its presence known. I’ve been dealing with it ever since, along with a second tendonitis injury (this time medial epicondylitis or “golfer’s elbow”), once again to both arms, two years later in September 1998.

The injuries literally destroyed my life.  The list of activities that vanished would’ve covered both wounded arms. It’s easier to say what I still could do: watch TV, read a book, or pace.  And even those caused pain.  That’s why my life had been reduced to, not for days or weeks, but almost a year, and it took years more to get my life back.  I was temporarily crippled.

At some point, I looked up “crippled” to see if that’s what I had become. It’s defined as a permanent, severe disability.  Well, I permanently have tendonitis.  At the time, it was severe.  The question was whether or not it would be permanently severe.  The answer proved to be no, due to extreme rest, physical therapy, and alternative means of living, as I slowly got on with my life (or rather, a very different life), so that’s why I say I was temporarily crippled.

The injury isn’t taken seriously by most people.  I hope to change and help people understand the risk they face if developing it.  The impact can be devastating, as was my case.  Future blogs will delve more into my story and what you can learn from me.

Ten Reasons to Not Get Tendonitis

As someone who’s dealt with tendonitis in both arms for almost two decades, I can assure you this injury isn’t something you want.  If you’re not convinced, here are ten reasons you may not have considered. 1. It can ruin your sex life Your hands can stimulate your partner (or yourself) to great effect – until […]

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Ten Remedies for Tendonitis

If you have tendonitis, there are a number of remedies to try. You should consult your doctor before doing anything. 1. Rest Sadly, your best remedy is rest.  Avoid using your arms any more than needed and be careful how you use them when you do. Behavior modification is crucial to recovery.  If you keep doing what […]

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Why I Blog About Tendonitis

In August 1996, a severe tendonitis injury (lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow”) suddenly appeared in both of my arms. It had been building for up to three years before finally making its presence known. I’ve been dealing with it ever since, along with a second tendonitis injury (this time medial epicondylitis or “golfer’s elbow”), once again to both […]

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