Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

How To Say NO To Abusers At Work

Summary – How to say NO to abusers

Very recently I have received an email asking a very interesting question. First of all, I would like to thank the sender, Pankaj, who had taken the time and sent me the email. It is always a pleasure getting to know my reader.

The following is the email Pankaj sent me. “I want to know how exactly to say NO to people. My work is almost always overloaded, but even so, when other people come to me asking for help with his work, I can never say no. I always try to help others but in this way I am always taken negative.

Well Pankaj, this is what you should do.

1) Identify why exactly that you cannot say NO

To tell you the truth, this is the most difficult steps of all but it is also the most important. Let me list a few reasons why a person cannot say NO.

  • He is a very polite person
  • He dislikes confrontation
  • He tries his very best to meet people expectation
  • He is afraid that people may not like him

Believe me there are hundreds more reason why some people cannot say NO. These four are in my opinion, the most popular reasons. Identify the reason why you cannot say NO. Close your eyes and go deep into your heart to find this out. Once you have identified the reason, everything else will be easy.

For example, let say that you dislike confrontation. You prefer to work harmoniously with everyone even to the extent that you have to do other’s work. Then you can draw your own plan on how to slowly learn the art of confrontation.

If you want to shoot an apple with an arrow, you must first know the direction to shoot. If not there are infinite numbers of direction to shoot and thus infinite numbers of failure.

2) Practice with smaller things

Still using the previous example, let say that you know that you cannot say NO because you dislike confrontation. You must then draft your own plan to be more comfortable with confrontation. Draft a small program like disagreeing with your friends about a trivia topic. An example is like why you hate the Harry Potter when everyone else adore him. That should keep the ball rolling.

Keep in mind that you are training yourself to disagree with people. The more trivia the issue the better you will be able to develop the confident to disagree. Do not start with a heavy issue like religion etc.

3) Not Important Tray

Buy a document tray and label it as “NOT Important”. Remember to capitalize the word “NOT”. Anytime a person ask you to do a job, and you still cannot say NO, just ask the person to put the work inside that tray. Make sure the person see the label and tell him that you will only help with his work once all your work is done. Even then you may not be able to help. Leave it to him to decide whether he still want your help or not.

4) Give yourself 10% allowance

If you have 60 minutes of work, always give yourself a mandatory rest of 6 minutes. That 6 minutes must not be spent in doing your work or others’. You must spend that 6 minutes to do your favorite things like replying emails to friends, chatting etc.

When you give yourself this allowance, you will subconsciously teach yourself the value of your free time. Exactly the opposite of what a lot of people believe, having allocated free time in the midst of your never-ending work will really help you appreciate the time. After a while, you will find it easier to just say NO to people since you have earned that free time with blood and sweat.

5) Create red tape

Red tape basically means the requirement and procedure that need to be followed to get things done. It is almost always a trivia task like submitting a cover letter, filling up forms, waiting for the form to be approved before you are given another form.

Why not do exactly the same to people asking you to do their job. Get them to fill up a form and submit the form to your superior. If your superior approve the form, then you will have to do the job. If not, you can just walk away. You can say that you are having a lot of trouble with your superior since you are not able to meet deadline. I sincerely believe they will not bother you anymore.

6) Give them a taste of their own medicine

If your colleague give you a work to do, you can take it but in about 5 minutes, walk to his desk and give him your work for him to do. It doesn’t need to be 5 minutes but the sooner the better since they will remember that they had just give you the work. If he can’t help you with your work, just return his work to him.

It’s basically another way to say NO

7) Teach him to fish

You know the saying. “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for the day, Teach the man how to fish and you will be feeding him for the rest of his life.”

Some people may ask you to help because you are so good at what you do. Maybe your English grammar is excellent, or you are very good with software etc. The best way to handle this kind of situation is to actually spend time coaching them on how to do their job. You may not get paid for this but there are so many other benefit that you can reap.

  • He will be so grateful to you and he will definitely return the favor one day
  • You will be seen as someone who like to help people grow
  • You can get them off your back forever


I must stress that helping out people is a very good thing. But in this article, I am assuming that the people asking for help are abusing this kindness. They are still asking others to help with their work when they should be able to do it just fine.

– I Wonder –
Do you have any other tricks to help Pankaj say NO to his colleague?

———- Personal Note ————
I once went to the immigration office with a colleague. My colleague were in front of me when We were queuing up to get the number. He got the number 100 and I who was immediately after him got the number 105. (Of course I can’t really remember the number but I know that there were gaps between my colleague’s number and mine.)

That is step number 4 and 5 mixed together.

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1 Sneaky Trick To Ace Any Interview

Summary – Don’t just give answers, give them the questions too

One of the biggest fear for anyone attending a job interview is the fear of not knowing the answer to a question. I’ve been there and I can safely say that nobody is exempted from it. If you think about it, it’s a perfectly normal thing. There is no way a person can know everything there is to know about a topic.

However, don’t you think you will have undergone a perfect interview session if you know the answer to every single question? Don’t you think that will make you memorable and in the end hired?

Now would you believe me if I tell you that there is actually a trick to accomplish exactly that?

The Trick

The trick to actually know the answer to every questions in an interview is to give your interviewer a list of questions to ask you (Not literally of course). Allow me to elaborate.

Let say you are an expert in gearbox maintenance and you are attending an interview for an engineering position. Be sure to drop some hint in your answers that you are directly involved in gearbox maintenance. The interview conversation below will show you how.

Interviewer : What are your past experience?

You : I have been working as a maintenance engineer for about 5 years and my job usually covers fabrication, servicing of machinery especially gearbox etc.

Interviewer : Hm so tell us how do you take care of a gearbox?

You : Bla Bla Bla

/end example

As you can see, by hinting that you are involved in gearbox maintenance, the interviewer will usually make use of the topic as their next question. Of course being an expert you will be able to answer the question effortlessly.

Once you know this, any interview will be a walk in the park. However, you may want to first read a few ground rules of using the trick.

Rule 1 : Be very subtle with the hinting

Do not end every answer with the word “Gearbox”. The interviewer will start noticing the effort and it will not end well. If your first 2 attempts fail, try other topics that you are good at.

Rule 2 : Never show off your expertise

A friend of mine had actually memorized one whole book about Machinery Act and he boasted about it in the interview. As a result, the interviewer asked him question from other books and he failed.

Rule 3 : Do not give all the details

If for example, the interviewer asked you about “Gearbox”, don’t explain to him from A to Z. Be smart with your explanation and leave out interesting topics hanging for him to ask. A person who can answer every question asked is more memorable than a person who can answer only one question in the interview.

Rule 4 : Prepare a few real life stories

Everyone loves a story and if you play your cards right, the interviewer will want to hear more from you. They will then start asking the related question about it. That’s an extra point for you.

Rule 5 : Ask questions

Try to shoot some questions to the interviewer related to your expertise. You may know the answer but still ask away. It will convert the whole process from an interview to a mini discussion. Believe me, it will help reduce the stress and more importantly you will be memorable to the interviewer.

The best topic to be discussed is the topic you know best.

– I wonder –
Any other tips to subtly highlight your strength in an interview?

———- Personal Note ————
I just came back from my first semester of Palm Oil Milling Diploma in MPOB. There are 23 lectures compressed in 7 days. To make things even more interesting, the examination for this first semester will be held on 11th May. Wish me luck! 🙂

Photo Credit – DIDEO

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How To Instantly Double Your Focus While Working

Summary – Cats Meow & Dogs Bark

The Problem

Have you ever had that day where you just don’t know what to do, despite the mountains of things you can do? It worsen when you actually know what you are supposed to do but you just don’t want to do it. Am I making any sense here?

For example, you know you have a blog entry to write, the ideas are pouring but when you switch on your laptop, you just end up spending your day browsing through millions of other blogs or socializing via twitter instead. At the end of the day, no entries were written. And there goes another day of your life.

This is NOT another case of procrastination. It’s more like doing everything else except for the one thing you need to do. It happens to me all the time and I’m sure it happens to you too. Can I ask? How do you overcome it?

Ths Solution

This is how I overcome the problem everytime I encounter it.

I am often overwhelmed with a thousand things to do, like researching, visitting others’ blogs, stumbling interesting articles etc, when all I really should do is write an article here in Lesson In Life. What I will then do is to rediscover what my immediate role at the time.

There is only one rule to this technique – There should only be one role to play at any time.

If I am a blogger, I should be blogging.. Period. Something is definitely wrong if I declare myself a blogger when I’m not even blogging. Realizing this immediately gives me more focus and clarity to write. Try it, you will be amazed that something so simple can do wonders.

The same goes to your career. Something is definitely wrong if you are a fireman but you like to show off how brave you are by creating fire.

Or if you are an assistant manager but the manager has more work on his table than you.

Conclusion – if you are a blogger, you blog. Everything else should take second place. Apply this to everything in your life, and your life will be so much simpler.

– I wonder –
If you can pick any one role to accomplish something today, what will you be? A blogger? A kitchen slave? A student? or others?

——— Personal Note ———–
What I usually do when I am supposed to be writing

  • Stumble new interesting entries (Befriend me)
  • Check out what’s top stories on Digg (Befriend me)
  • Explore Facebook (Befriend me)
  • Reading Twitter (Follow me)
  • Replying emails (Shoot me an email)
  • Read forums
  • Visit others’ blogs
  • Analyzing the blog’s statistic
  • Reading my RSS Feed
  • Tweaking the blog

Photo Credit – Striatic

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3 Tips To Stop Work From Following You Home

Summary – 3 tips on how to keep work at your workplace

One of the biggest problem for working people is that they always bring back work home. I used to think that this is nonsense. Who would want to bring work back home? But when I started working, the habit comes naturally and without even realizing it, I’m already doing it.

The worst case scenario would be when you bring back your problem from your workplace. The problem is in your head, and it will haunt you the rest of your day at home. If you bring back only paperwork, you will be able to finish it and you’re done. But if you bring back your problem which is in your head, it will always be there. And this will have more negative effect on your life.

  • You will have no mood to have fun.
  • You may accidentally channel your anger and frustration to your family.
  • You will suffer stress and your work is becoming more of a burden to you.
  • In short.. nothing good can come with bringing work back home.

How to leave work at work

If you are suffering from the above symptoms, and you know it is because you are bringing work back home, you may want to try these tips :

1) Create parting ritual
Create a parting ritual everytime you finish your work at your office. I personally clear up everything on my table and put it in one tray. I imagine that that is my black hole tray, where no work will be able to break free until 8am tomorrow morning.

You can create your own ritual like consciously locking the door of your office and saying goodbye to your work. This may sound silly but it has a great impact on your subconcious mind. You are making a closure.

2) Put up the sign – Do Not Disturb
Even when we successfully leave the work at work, the work sometimes manage to find you. Your colleague may call you during your off day to help him with something. What you should do, is to formally inform everyone that you are not to be disturbed unless it is a matter of life and death. A bit harsh, I know, but works like a charm.

I however am working as a maintenance engineer. And I almost always will be called to work if there’s any major breakdown. In my case, I can’t really turn down any call for help even when it is 3 in the morning.

If you are in other line of work, you should put up the sign. It’ll help.

3) Remind yourself in black and white
Take a piece of paper, and write these sentence on it. Whenever you are returning from work, read them out loud.

  • My family is the most important thing to me.
  • The time with my family is precious. I don’t want to miss a single thing.
  • My family deserve the best from me, the best attention, the best conversation, the best treatment.

After a week or two reading them, you will memorize the sentence and it will be permanently written in your subconcious mind.

I’m sure there are many other methods we can do to keep work from following us home, but these three are the best way to do it. Try it.. You’ll see.

– I wonder –
How do you leave work at work?

——– Personal Note ———-
In two more days Muslims around the world will celebrate Aidilfitri (It is pronounced Eye – Deal – Fit – Ree). Just a brief explanation of the day, it is to celebrate the victory of successfully completing the one month of fasting. It is a joyous holiday here in Malaysia, where everyone will take this opportunity to be with family.

I will be returning home to Kedah (about 500km journey) on Tuesday. I’m going to take this opportunity to wish all of my muslims friends reading enjoy your Aidilfitri. Do not celebrate your Aidilfitri with work on your mind kay 🙂

“Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin”

Photo Credit – JCardinal18

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