Fuel INjected IN-house: Hints On Hitting Mute

To be a lot happier at work, be a little deaf.

by Sam Harrison

At the recent Women’s Conference in California, Ruth Bader Ginsburg recalled a piece of advice she received on her wedding day.

“Sometimes in a marriage you need to be a little deaf,” Ginsburg’s mother-in-law told her.

Sage words. Because healthy relationships rely on acceptance and tolerance, including the ability to sometimes ignore curt, careless and confounding remarks.

This advice also applies to in-house situations. Most firms have a cacophony of negative, meaningless messages forever bouncing off walls. And if you absorb everything said, you’ll soon be gnawing on tires in the parking lot.

So be a little deaf at work.

Be a little deaf to gossip. Does your organization have a cast of finger-pointers, rubber-neckers and pity-partiers? If so, shield your ears when in their presence or creative energy will be sucked right out of you.

Be a little deaf to bureaucratic blather. Procedures. Rules. Regulations. Bureaucracy’s triple threat. As Gordon Mackenzie famously advised, in-house creatives need to orbit bureaucracy’s giant hairball. Use its resources, but don’t dare get trapped inside. Politely tune out all those color-inside-the-lines fanatics. Instead, hunt for people who calmly and efficiently work the system. Listen and learn from them.

Be a little deaf to criticism. Know who not to listen to when presenting your ideas. The devil advocates. The nit-pickers. The we-don’t-do-it-that-way-here crowd. Turn deaf ears to naysayers and turf-protectors. Tune in to words that can better your work.

Sam Harrison is a speaker, workshop leader and writer on creativity-related topics. His latest book, IdeaSelling: Successfully pitch your creative ideas to bosses, clients and other decision makers, was recently released by HOW Books. He is also the author of IdeaSpotting: How to find your next great idea, and Zing!: Five steps and 101 tips for creativity on command.  Reach him at www.zingzone.com