Jewish World Review Jan. 5, 2004 /24 Teves 5765

Marty Nemko

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The pain of being ignored | I would have figured that by this stage in my career, I wouldn't be ignored so much. Yet, when I sent a proposal for my next book to a dozen publishers, most of them didn't even give me the courtesy of a rejection. When, a week ago, I left a voicemail asking my supervisor at the San Francisco Chronicle to call me, I'm still waiting. I emailed my daughter a week ago and even she hasn't responded!

Being ignored is dispiriting, even to someone who is successful. You feel like you don't count. Imagine what it must feel like for a job seeker who's been looking for a job for months, who works her butt off crafting a careful job application, and gets no response. Silence. As though she's not even worth a rejection letter.

And imagine any of the millions of low-level employees, doing an unglamorous, thankless job day after day, year after year. How often would you imagine he gets praised? How often would you guess someone notices when he comes in wearing a hangdog expression? Or a new shirt? Or when he's sighing, frustrated with a task?

Even big shots get ignored. Many of my clients are senior executives, college presidents, doctors, lawyers and the like. Guess what? They too feel bad when they got a nice haircut and no one notices. Or that their supervisees, clients, or customers rarely ask how they're doing. Not just a perfunctory, "How are you?" but asked in a way that shows real interest.

As we enter the holiday season, I can't think of a better time to promise yourself that you're going to be nice. Can I ask you to look for opportunities to pay attention to the human side of coworkers, customers, and bosses? Bosses need love too.

Hint: consciously look for changes in people. If a person seems more upbeat than usual, say something like, "You seem particularly up today. Anything special happen?" Or if they seem unusually blue, "Hi Joe. You look a little down. Anything going on that you feel like talking about?" If you notice an overweight person looking slimmer than the last time you bothered to notice, how about saying, "Hey, you're looking trim." Tip: If an overweight person looks fatter than usual, that's something you might refrain from mentioning.

Donate to JWR

The holiday office party offers particularly rich opportunities to pay attention to people. For example, walk up to a wallflower, say hi, and ask a question that invites a personal interaction such as, "Are you looking forward to the holidays?" At parties, I make a point of striking up a conversation with the least attractive person in the room who is alone and looking uncomfortable.

Yeah, I know that sending rejection letters to job applicants won't improve your bottom line, but at least during the holiday season, might you want to be nice, even if it doesn't pay in dollars and cents? And can I push you even further? Add a line or two of feedback in that form rejection letter, for example, "David, we were really impressed with your ability to think on your feet but we needed someone with a lot of industry connections."

And if you're one of those people who feel ignored, please take solace in knowing that unfortunately, in our ever-faster-paced society, humanity is often a casualty. There are plenty of unquestionably worthy people who too are being ignored. The best thing you can do is to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Get out of your head and keep your antennae out for opportunities to show a little kindness. You'll feel better, I promise. It's corny but true that it feels better to give than to receive. It may even help your career.

I'm all for efficiency and productivity, but it's a little sad when so many of us feel ignored, especially around the holidays. The answer is simple. It's embedded in the holiday spirit  —  make an extra effort to treat others as you'd want to be: with a little love.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

400+ of Dr. Nemko's published writings are on Comment by clicking here.


12/21/04: A Dozen career resolutions worth keeping
12/01/04: Straight talk about your career
11/09/04: Bush voters may not be so stupid
11/05/04: Career Lessons from the Bush Win
10/20/04: In Search of a candidate I can be passionate about
10/14/04: Better than a management book
09/29/04: ‘Deep Down, I Don't Wanna Work’
09/14/04: How to tell what career you should choose
08/23/04: Nemko's Rules: A contrarian approach to career and job finding
07/29/04: Are you lazy?
06/17/04: We already send too many students to college
06/11/04: The case against work/life balance
05/13/04: The Dumbing of America and how to make it (and you) smarter
04/26/04: Do you talk too much?
12/08/03: How Open-Minded Are You, Really?
11/05/03: Driven to an early grave
08/18/03: The Truth About Teaching
05/12/03: Today's #1 hirer
04/30/03: What Are You Good At, Really?
04/10/03: Career advice I'd give my child
03/04/03: Under the radar: The One-Week Job Search
02/11/03: The World's Shortest Course on Managing Diversity
02/03/03: The Good Employer
01/29/03: What do you want to be when you grow up?
01/15/03: Passion Finder
12/18/02: Curing procrastination
12/12/02: The World's Shortest Course on Self-Employment
12/05/02: Men as Beasts of Burden
11/21/02: Beware of going back to school

© 2003, Dr. Marty Nemko