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Reflections on Lifehack’s 11 things to avoid in 2011

I recently came across Lifehack’s post on 11 things to avoid in 2011.

Since one of my reverb 10 prompts was about 11 things to let go of in 2011, I was quite interesting in this article… and got some ideas as well while reading it.

What especially drew my attention were the following topics on the list:

4. Assuming that you always know the entire story

You don’t. Ask more questions. Listen. Ask more questions. Give yourself an out and don’t back others into corners when you give your final answer.

Too often I interrupt, and I have the horrible habit of interrupting when someone asks me a question. I hear a key word and I start answering, and I realized it really bothers. It gives a very bad impression too, when I do this at the end of a presentation during the Q&A.
With friends and loved ones, too, I often feel the need to relate to their story to tell a similar story of something which happened to me or which I heard before. Unfortunately, that makes me sound as if I don’t care and want to drag the attention towards myself.

6. Blaming anything on gender

For example: I was in an argument recently (imagine that!) and my partner in the argument forcefully uttered the remark, “typical male!” in response to something I said that was admittedly unkind (imagine that!). This created a predicament in which my subsequent apology would be not just for my comment but also for my gender. I can’t change my gender (really, not an option) so I’d be apologizing for being myself. Crazy, right? She doesn’t do that because she’s a woman. She does it because she’s an imperfect human. He doesn’t do that because he’s a man. He does it because he’s an imperfect human. Things are simpler when we approach conflict with as few stereotypes as possible.

Such an approach will change things. I promise you.

I wish gender wouldn’t be so much of an issue, but it’s tangibly there, all the time. I regularly feel uncomfortable just for being young and female. I shrink down when students look surprised at me, showing their disbelief that I am going to explain them something. It is as if everyone needs to have an opinion about me, before even looking at the work I actually do. It doesn’t help me that I am so aware of this. I’d like to ban the idea of “what are they now thinking of me” from my head and just trust in myself and the value of my work.

10. Not asking for help

You’d be stunned if you knew just how many people are ready and willing to help you if only you’d clearly define your need and directly ask for help. Don’t ask for help like the friend who begs people to help him move but has nothing put in boxes when they show up. Ask for help like the friend who has done everything in his power to achieve and needs only that final push from a buddy to reach success. We want to be a part of your success!

One of my challenges for 2011 is to gather my courage and ask for what I need, whether that is help, input of ideas or the permission to present somewhere. We have a saying, which, translated, would be something like “No you always have, yes you can get.” I’ll try to live by that a bit more, and let go of my fear to disturb or upset someone.

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