August 2012  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“You can't think yourself out of a writing block, you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.”

—John Rogers

Word Pair of the Month: coarse, course

Once more, a single letter can make the difference in a word’s meaning. In this case, it’s the middle letter, either “a” or “u.”

Coarse, with an “a,” is an adjective that refers to something “rough or crude.”

Start the refinishing project by using coarse sandpaper.
I was offended at his coarse language.

Course, with a “u,” is often a noun that means “a direction or a class.”

We had been diverted from our ship’s plotted course.
I’m taking a course on macroeconomics.

Course, with a “u,” can also be a verb that means “to move swiftly.”

We watched the rain-swollen river course over the embankment.

August Writers’ Forum Question

This month we have a question for all the managers out there. What is your favorite tip for someone just starting out in management? We’re looking for advice that can help the person ease into the position.

Laura Curvin, a manager of training content and implementation in the Seattle area, writes:

Listening is a vital leadership behavior that you already know how to do. Connect with those who report directly to you. Get to know them on a personal and professional level. Learn about their communication styles. Discuss their favorite and least favorite work experiences. Ask about their expectations of you.

Besides listening, trust your gut instincts and natural leadership skills without overestimating them or relying on them exclusively. Dedicate time each week to developing your skill portfolio. If you can’t take formal training, read (or listen) to books by trusted experts; subscribe to professional blogs; seek out a mentor. Be relentlessly curious and a fearless questioner. Keep your ears and mind open at all times.

Marcy Pulchinski of Milwaukee writes along the same lines:

Build a good relationship with all your workers, and don’t neglect younger employees just because they are less experienced. They are probably most in tune with technological changes and could present you with innovative ideas.

Benjamin Goldberg of New York encourages managers to become “one of the group”:

Yes, you are the boss, but that doesn’t mean you have to be boss-like. Get in with the workers. If your company has a softball team, join it. Plan weekly social brown-bag or potluck lunches where everyone talks about anything except business, and once a month, let the company pay for the food, even if it’s from a fast-food place. Make your workplace a safe environment for putting out ideas, and let your workers see that you believe in a common goal.

“Gator” DuBois, an office manager in New Orleans, also writes on the subject of friendship, but in a different vein:

Don’t hire friends. In most cases, you’ll end up compromising the friendship as well as the business. Of course, there might be an instance where this works, but unless your friend is absolutely the most qualified for the job, it’s best to keep him or her out. Find a hobby to do together instead—maybe fishing.

Yasmin Said of Atlanta says that managers should manage:

If you’ve been promoted to manager, move your mindset up with it. Don’t try to do your old job. You’re past that. Set your sights forward, focus on where you are going, and move straight ahead.

Doris Chin of Sacramento has this to say:

Don’t ask your workers to do anything you wouldn’t do. If you ask them to work overtime, then you work overtime, too. Lead by example.

Also, don’t expect your workers to accomplish something as quickly or as easily as you might. Managers are usually more focused and driven than their employees are. Managers already know the direction they want a project to take, while employees have to learn it as the project develops.

Finally, we share with you a thought that came to us from Lucia, a reader in Italy:

Manage yourself first. Define exactly what the verb "to manage" means to you, and experiment to find your personal methods. Once you have managed yourself, you'll see how all the rest automatically falls into line.

A Final Thought

According to the World Bank, the average life expectancy is now 78.2 years, although most people are still retiring in their 60’s. This leaves them a long stretch of idle years.

Retirement may be the end of your current work situation, but it can also be the beginning of a new pursuit. Sitting on the porch or fishing every day sounds really nice, but if you’ve led a busy business life, you may get bored in short order.

Consider expanding your horizons by exploring a field far different from what you’ve always done. If you’ve always worked in an office, take a look at a craft, such as woodworking or stained glass. If you’ve worked a hands-on trade, consider taking a class in art, music, or drama. Find something different that piques your interest. This is the time to stretch yourself.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot, either. Local libraries are a great source for free classes and lectures, and many colleges offer special rates for senior citizens. Don’t neglect your physical health, either. Stay active, whether it’s a Zumba class at the senior center or running in the park with your dog. If you plan it right, retirement can be a new beginning.

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