Is Your Interaction Style Messing With Your Career Success?

Tweets  121 – 140 in my career advice book Success Tweets deal with the importance of relationship building.  You cannot create the life and career success you want and deserve if you don’t build strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in your life.

All too often however, your interaction style can have a negative impact on your career success.  JT O’Donnell is a friend of mine and founder of Career HMO.  You should check out her site – she has some great life and career success advice there.

Last week I received an email from JT called “10 Signs Your Interaction Style Is Messing With Your Career:”  She really nailed it with this one.  I asked her if I could post her thoughts here and she graciously agreed.  Check out JT’s 10 signs that your interaction style is messing with your career…

  1. You feel like nobody is paying attention to your requests at work.
  2. Colleagues have informal meetings without you and then tell you the results and how they directly impact your job.
  3. Your boss dismisses EVERY idea you present to her.
  4. Co-workers always agree with you when you voice your concerns, but then you hear they said something entirely different to your boss.
  5. You have no close friends at the office.
  6. You’ve been told you aren’t “management material” yet.
  7. People get really quiet and don’t have any answers or comments when you speak.
  8. You don’t get selected for any team projects or special assignments.
  9. People love to tease you about how “honest” and “funny” and “shameless” you are at the office.
  10. You’ve been fired.

JT provides some great guidance here.

If you want to build strong relationships at work, start with your existing relationships.  Tweet 123 in Success Tweets says, “Use every social interaction to build and strengthen relationships.  Strong relationships are your ticket to success.”

I have found that little things make for strong relationships.  In other words, sweat the small stuff because it’s the small stuff that will help you build and maintain strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the people who can help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.

A couple of years ago, I had an opportunity to preview a great DVD on relationship building called, Little Things Mean a Lot.  The DVD is based on the work of Brigid Moynahan, founder of The Next level Inc.  She is a well-known and highly recognized speaker and trainer.

Ms. Moynahan says that when it comes to relationships, it’s important to sweat the small stuff.  She says that we send micro-messages in all of our interactions with other people.  Micro-messages are the signals we send to one another through our behavior.  While micro-messages are often small, their impact can be enormous.

Micro-messages can help or hinder your relationship-building efforts.  Micro-affirmations help you build and maintain strong relationships.  Micro-inequities hinder your ability to build and maintain strong relationships.

These are important concepts that deserve a closer look.

Not surprisingly, micro-affirmations are micro-messages that we send to other people that cause them to feel valued, included, or encouraged.

Micro-inequities are micro-messages that we send to other people that cause them to feel devalued, slighted, discouraged or excluded.

Here’s some great career advice.  Consciously avoid micro-inequities and consciously send micro-affirmations.

Ms. Moynahan puts a diversity spin on her work.  While I agree that moving from an organizational culture based on micro-inequities to one based on micro-affirmations will build a more inclusive – and thereby productive and profitable – organization, I also believe there are life and career success lessons to be learned here.

Ask yourself, “When do I feel excluded, disrespected and devalued?”  In most of these cases, you have been the recipient of a micro-inequity.  The way you feel when you experience a micro-inequity is the way others are likely to feel when you engage in micro-inequity behavior.  That means you should refrain from using these behaviors in your interactions with others.

Then do just the opposite.  Ask yourself, “When do I feel included, respected and valued?”  In most of these cases, you will have been the recipient of a micro-affirmation.  Work hard to incorporate behaviors that are micro-affirmations into your daily interactions with others.

In short, when you focus on sending micro-affirmations and avoiding micro-inequities, you will be better able to build solid, lasting relationships with the people in your life.  And strong relationships are an important key to your personal and professional success.

The common sense career success point here is simple.  Successful build strong relationships with the important people in their work lives.  They adopt an interaction style that facilitates, rather than hinders their relationships.  They follow the career advice in Tweet 123 in Success Tweets.  “Use every social interaction to build and strengthen relationships.  Strong relationships are your ticket to success.”  Build and strengthen relationships by sweating the small stuff.  Focus sending positive micro messages – the small things that show another person that you value him or her.  Avoid “micro-inequities” – behaviors that demean people in small ways.  Instead, focus on “micro-affirmations” – behaviors that encourage others and build their self-esteem.

That’s the career advice I found in JT O’Donnell’s thought on how your interaction style can help or hinder your career success.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site last September.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about the membership site by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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  1. Bud, I found this one of your most helpful posts ever. I wonder if you could do a follow-up post with some specific examples of micro-affirmations and micro-inequites?

    One problem I’ve found as an expat is that sometimes things are interpreted differently in different cultures. Sometimes positive behavior in one culture is interpreted as negative behavior in another. Or neutral behavior in one culture is interpreted negatively in another.

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