Coping with business hurdles: Speaker Barbara May provides insight in overcoming workplace obstacles during
Canadian Association of Professional Speakers
This piece originally appeared in the Daily-Herald Tribune, October 2013.
Speaker Barbara May provides some interesting insight in overcoming workplace obstacles during her presentation at the Elks Lodge on Tuesday, during the Women in Business Lunch, just one of the events held throughout Small Business Week. May focused her presentation on helping local business women come up with new ways of solving problems in the work place such as dealing and communicating with co-workers, and bouncing back from mistakes with confidence. By Jocelyn Turner
Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off when it comes to a work-related mistake or problem can seem almost impossible. Sometimes, it may seem easier to just lie there, licking your wounds. But it turns out those problems may not be as world ending as we all thought.
To try and help women who are active in the business community have a better grasp on dealing with hurdles in the work place, the Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce welcomed guest speaker Barbara May to the Women in Business lunch held at the Elks Lodge on Tuesday, Oct. 22, as part of Small Business Week festivities.
“This is a great opportunity for us to celebrate women’s involvement in business and… host an event that caters to their different needs and different information that they want to hear,” said Shawna Miller, chairwoman for the chamber. “Sometimes as women, we get stuck in the things that trip us up, our stumbling blocks, and this is a great opportunity to hear that somebody else has experienced those issues too.”
May said her presentation, ‘Stumbling Blocks’, was all about how to overcome them and learning how to get back up when you fall down.
“That happens often, we trip, we stumble and we fall down,” she said. “You have to recognize that it’s just part of life and be willing to get back up, I think that’s the key.”
May said sometimes, particularly in the work place, people feel that their mistakes are the ‘be all, end all’ of their careers. Instead of overcoming their mistakes, sometimes an employee will decide to move on to another career, which, for an employer, can become a real problem.
“We need them to stick around, develop the skills so if next time, something (similar) would happen, they could handle it differently,” she said.
Another issue that many employees face is learning to properly communicate with one another. Part of May’s presentation involved getting the guests to close their eyes and envision the scene she described; a warm beach with crashing waves and a cooler filled with your favourite drink. When guests opened their eyes, she asked a series of questions about each person’s scene, pointing out how not everyone saw, felt or even heard the same things.
“I think one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the workplace is people getting along with each other and some of that stems from communication but a big part of it is we’re not all the same and we don’t all think the same,” she explained. “If I have an issue, I need to be able and willing to go and talk to you about it. That doesn’t mean attacking you or avoiding (it), but sometimes, we need to go, ‘hey, this is my working style. I didn’t mean to upset you, I didn’t mean to offend you,’ so we can resolve the issue.”
A lot of people, May said, immediately react as opposed to thinking about how to handle their emotions and the situation constructively. Because many people in those kinds of situations have an instant ‘flight or fight’ response, they don’t always just take a minute to think about what they are going to say before saying it.
“Once you’ve processed your emotions…then you can deal with it and go and talk to the person,” she said. “Or you may chose not to. Maybe you’ll say I just reacted badly, I was having a bad day and in this case, I’ll move on.”
The key, she said, is understanding that everyone makes mistakes and learning to get passed it.
May is a former national level gymnast, coach and Guinness World Record holder for the longest stand-up comedy show in history. May has also facilitated over 400 employment and career workshops and even hosted Access Television’s ‘May We Talk?’.