Beyond the Workplace Happy Hour

Beyond the Workplace Happy Hour

Many of us have experienced a workplace happy hour. Maybe it’s a weekly thing: HR plans the outing, picks the bar, and you and your colleagues leave a few minutes early each Friday to grab drinks together. It’s a wonderful way to shrug off the workday worries and share laughs with colleagues outside the context of work. But how much do you bond with people at happy hour? Do you get to know the colleagues who work in a different department or on the opposite side of the building – or do you talk to the people you already know?

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Should We Make Friends at Work?

Should We Make Friends at Work?

When was the last time you made a great friend?

Way back when, the structure of the school day provided the perfect conditions for new friendship. We attended the same classes, we learned from the same teachers, and we experienced many of the same growing pains. It’s no wonder we bonded with each other.

So why doesn’t the same happen at work?

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That Can Be Me: How a Genuine Literature Discussion Can Lead to Self-Discovery

That Can Be Me: How a Genuine Literature Discussion Can Lead to Self-Discovery

In a recent post, I explored the subject of listening as understanding, and ever since I have had a heightened awareness of talking and listening in the public space – and, more importantly, in my own social interactions. The current public discourse displays a flood of talking and a drought of listening, but I have been surprised at how much private discourse (including my own) suffers from the same conversational excesses. We seem to listen so poorly, in fact, that we no longer notice how little genuine dialogue is happening. If listening does lead to the “miracle of understanding” described in my earlier post, how do Books@Work discussions make that miracle happen?

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The Social Contract: Building Human Workplace Cultures

The Social Contract: Building Human Workplace Cultures

It’s hard to pick up a business journal without reading something on the importance of workplace culture, whether linked to productivity, employee contribution, creativity and innovation, or even physical workspaces. But how to create a strong, inclusive culture remains elusive, and the “right” starting point – more mysterious still! Should it be top down? We know that leaders are important models of desired behaviors. Or should it be bottom up? If we want every employee to consider his/her role in the culture of the organization, owning the challenge becomes critical. How should we organize our workplaces?

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The Iceberg Effect: The Revelatory Power of Reading at Work

The Iceberg Effect: The Revelatory Power of Reading at Work

Creative writers who are just starting out often hear the same piece of advice. They must hone their ability “to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar,” in the wise words of Toni Morrison.

The concept is called “defamiliarization.” Coined in 1917 by Russian literary theorist Viktor Shklovsky, it’s the notion that by presenting something familiar in a strange way (or vice versa), we come to understand it more deeply. But when you really think about it, don’t we encounter defamiliarization every day – in real life, not just in the books we read?

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Listening: A Miracle of Understanding

Listening: A Miracle of Understanding

On some level, everyone thinks they know what it means to listen. You pay attention (at least a little). You allow other people to speak. You don’t interrupt. When they finish, you know what they said. Most of us acknowledge that it is important to listen – if only to be polite. But listening can be much more than that when it goes beyond just allowing others to speak and moves toward what the philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer called the “miracle of understanding.” What happens to our own ideas and ways of thinking when we listen for understanding?

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Safe Spaces: Books@Work on the Shop Floor

Safe Spaces: Books@Work on the Shop Floor

Imagine yourself on an operating table. It’s a routine procedure, but you have to get it done. You choose the best doctor and the best hospital and you trust the system to deliver perfect care. It’s the last procedure of the day and the – very human – doctor is tired. But you’re comforted by the nurses and other healthcare professionals in the room: the system will protect you.

Or will it?

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The Social Side of Workplace Wellness

The Social Side of Workplace Wellness

Wellness initiatives are on the rise in the American workplace: according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), 72 percent of U.S. employers from 2010 to 2015 purchased services to address employees’ health risks and promote healthy lifestyle choices. It’s more and more common for companies to offer gym membership reimbursements or standing work desks – anything to keep employees healthy, well and ready to work.

And yet the many programs that encourage employees to quit smoking, to lose weight, or to get their flu shot all share a pretty glaring blind spot.

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It’s About Time: Speeding Up By Slowing Down

It’s About Time: Speeding Up By Slowing Down

Every day at work, at home, at leisure, hardly an hour goes by without a comment or two about time: “I don’t have time to get everything done” or “I’d love to do that but I am busy then” – or less frequently, “I was so absorbed that time just flew by.” Time has become the ultimate scarce resource; and we use financial words to describe it. We budget time, invest time, allocate time and waste time. And like money, we always seem to wish we had more of it.

So what happens when we take time out of the work day to slow down, read and share ideas with colleagues?

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Mirrors and Windows: Experience, Memory and Literature

Mirrors and Windows: Experience, Memory and Literature

Reflecting on the purpose of her writing, the Poet Laureate for Young People, Jacqueline Woodson, asserts an evocative mission: “to write stories that have been historically absent in this country’s body of literature, to create mirrors for the people who so rarely see themselves inside contemporary fiction, and windows for those who think we are no more than the stereotypes they’re so afraid of.”

In January, Woodson came to Cleveland, sponsored by Facing History and Ourselves, with the support of Hawken School, Laurel School and the Beachwood City Schools. In an auditorium of teachers, staff, parents, and students, I first heard her metaphor and I can’t stop thinking about it.

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