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When relationships break up, we often hear that it was a culmination of the “little things” and, boom!, all of a sudden, just one more teensy weensy happening occurred, and it broke the camel’s back.

It’s the same thing at work – from how you chew gum, to how you drag your feet while walking or don’t tweeze your eyebrows.  It’s the little things that become monumental, and then boom! you’re stuck at the same desk for yet another year, wandering why your boss keeps casting dark glances your way.

Do you have these 3 nasty habits?

(PS – We’re serving you a dish we eat ourselves, seeing as we are all works in progress. We are working on these issues, too, so join us and let’s see what’s on the menu.)

Let’s get straight to it.


#1.  Texting

WDS bedroom phone

Scenario 1

It’s 5.30 AM and your phone vibrates to life.  It’s a text from your boss.  It reads “hey, Sally! are u ready for the mtg at 7 today???”

And you immediately text back, “hey, Boss. g’mng.  all’s good. see u at 7.”

Scenario 2

The same text goes out to your colleague, Sandra.  It reads “hey, Sandra! are u ready for the mtg at 7 today???”

And Sandra texts back, “Goodmorning, Charles. Thanks for the early text. The reports are all printed. The presentation is ready & the presenting team have all been briefed. Looking forward to the session. See you in the boardroom! Sandra.”

Question:  Later next month, who will your boss be recommending for promotion?

It’s so clear, isn’t it?

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Symptoms that you’ve caught the Texting Flu

  • You know you’ve caught the texting flu, if you’d rather text than speak.
  • I mean, you can’t stand it when someone takes a whole day, yes, 24 hours – can you believe it?!#$?! – to respond to your text. “Surely, they should have the decency to write back!” you silently admonish them. “I mean, are they breathing?!!”

WDS impatient lady

  • You just cannot fathom why on earth they couldn’t spare 3 seconds – nay, 1 second – to just text back, pronto! And you cringe your forehead into deep frowns, huffing in silent frustration.

Sound familiar?

  • You’ve forgotten how to write in full. OMG!
  • Mis-spelt words have become the norm, for example, have a look at this text Sally sent to Sandra to explain why she couldn’t serve the client immediately, “S, am in btw assgns, si u help me?”


  •  You have abandoned grammatical rules of sentence construction to the wind, and you’re grasping at a mix of acronyms, short forms & slang.  This melting pot is what becomes your text message – pecked out rapidly, and in the shortest length possible, to save 1 bob!

image of tablets meds

Cure for the Texting Flu

Life is about relationships.  Relationships are formed by our behaviours, simply because our behaviour communicates who we are and what we value.

Do this

  • When texting your workmates, especially, your boss – it’s time to brush up on your Business English and begin to, once again, write properly, meaningfully, and professionally.
  • If your text lands in front of the Chairman, he should be impressed with your clear, business communication.  Don’t slack off.  Don’t sell yourself short.


#2.  Emailing

image of mean looking boss

Symptoms that you’ve caught the Emailing Flu

  • You know you have contracted the Emailing Flu when your email has one line,”Handle the matter below.”

Let’s analyse this for a second.

Why bother greeting your colleague and asking them how they are? Simply, blurt out an email with your demands.

Our verdict: This is rude. It is brusque. You come across as egoistic and self-seeking. And quite frankly, you don’t even speak like this in real life, so why should you in your virtual life?

  • Your email simply starts from the air.

You have dispensed with the need to refer to an earlier email, a client’s letter or anything that could give the reader a clue of where you’re coming from.  After all, providing the context is not necessary, right?

Oh yes, and while we’re at it, on a good day, you tend to end your emails with some acronym, such as “KR” and sign off with your initial, say, “S”.

On a really, really, good day – you go one better. You throw in a smiley emoticon after your initial, before hurriedly pressing the “Send” button. At least they’ll know you’re smiling!

Our verdict:  The above scenario just will not do for workplace communication.

image of tablets meds

Cure for the Emailing Flu

Please hear this, if your organisation cannot confidently place you in a position to represent them in the best possible light – and that includes how you communicate in written form – then you just will not be given the chance to be the ambassador you know you already are.

Your promotion will take eons to come your way. It will be as elusive as trying to catch the wind. It is strategic to use proper communication – a bit like spreading out your sails to let the wind take you to new places.  Most definitely, it will be a smoother and more pleasurable ride.

Improving your written & spoken communication skills should, therefore, form a core part of your this year’s agenda. Not just for your career, but also for your life, in general.

Do this

When it comes to emails, the rules of proper business writing still hold.

  • Start your office or client emails with a greeting.
  • Place your context e.g. “As discussed yesterday …” or “Following the meeting held earlier this morning …” or “In response to the client’s letter dated x (copy attached, for ease of reference) …”
  • Proceed to the action points you want taken.
  • By when would you like feedback? Let them know, “Grateful if I could follow up on this by x date.” or “Kindly update me on the position by close of business today.”
  • Then close properly, in full e.g. “Kind regards” or “Sincerely”.
  • And should your email not have an automatic signature with all your official details (full name, title, email, mobile and so on), do sign off with at least 2 names and your title e.g. “Sally Mambo, Client Service” or “Sandra Baraka, Technical Support”.

“How do I re-invent myself in 2015?”

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#3.  Music

image of puppy headphones


Do you listen to music while working? What’s your flavour – earphones plugged into your ear (singular), ears (plural) or a radio (your phone) on your desk?

It’s quite nouveau to have earphones plugged in or a beat box pair of headphones sitting atop your head “beating” the music in.  After all, you must have some soothing music in your brain as you work, right?

The jury’s still out on this is one, given that organisational cultures vary from company to company.  However, it’s best to err on the conservative side.


Symptoms that you’ve caught the Music Flu

You know you have this ailment when

  • You go to the company cafeteria with your earphones both plugged in, and you proceed to your table with your meal, and you settle down at a table, by yourself, with your music in your ears and a book or newspaper in front of you (This is the ultimate KEEP OFF lunch-time strategy.)
  • You refuse to make eye contact with anyone in the cafeteria, just in case they mistakenly believe you want their company
  • You keep your earphones plugged in, even though the music is off – just so that people do not disturb you
  • When anyone dares to stop by your table, you take only one earplug off and hold it 1 cm from your ear lobe, so that your visitor knows they should make it quick and, then, leave you alone
  • In the office, your ears are fully occupied with electronics to ward off your boss.  You see, when you’re not plugged in, it’s like you’re inviting more work – yikes! – so you end up keeping your earphones on, permanently!

And there are many more examples.

The conservative take: Earphones – especially the ones with wires popping out everywhere – are a no-no, particularly in traditional career lines. If you are aiming for a promotion this year, this habit should make it to the top of your “To STOP” list for 2015.  Don’t even do it in the loo on your break time.

Why stop? The unspoken message you’re yelling out is, “Leave me alone! Am in my own world.”

image of tablets meds

Cure for the Music Flu

Do this

  • Keep your ears free of obstruction, including your hands-free receiver.
  • If you must listen to something, do take BOTH earplugs off when someone approaches and invite them into your world with a hint of a smile and direct eye contact.

image of black guy with coffee

As much as you want to be left alone, if you are really successful in this strategy, you will become depressed. This is such a paradox, given that you wanted to be left alone, in the first place, so that you could feel better – not worse! So begin to learn again, how to connect with 1 person, then 2, then 3, then more.

The targeted outcome: You want to appear approachable.  After all, someone could just have wandered by to tell you about that promotion coming up later next month, if it were not for your “keep off” strategy.



In the world of professional recruitment, it’s best to stand out, and do so for the right reasons. Don’t stand apart with odd, tech-inundated isolation, believing those to be the habits of 21st century workers.

  • Have you read Outliers? Even Bill Gates had to communicate, negotiate, talk …

STAND OUT with proper use of your tech tools this year.

STAND UP and be counted.

  • It’s easy to blend into the obscurity of slang-speak at work.
  • Don’t be tempted.
  • Ten years from today, your communication should still make sense.



image of happy 3 people

Now that you’ve read this article, 3 questions:

  1. What behaviour do you want to stop?
  2. Write it down.
  3. Do it.


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