Don’t Be a Jerk at Work. (But Don’t Be Too Nice, Either.) | Kanebridge News
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,526,212 (+1.41%)       Melbourne $950,600 (-0.81%)       Brisbane $848,079 (+0.39%)       Adelaide $783,680 (+0.69%)       Perth $722,301 (+0.42%)       Hobart $727,777 (-0.40%)       Darwin $644,340 (-0.88%)       Canberra $873,193 (-2.75%)       National $960,316 (+0.31%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $711,149 (+0.79%)       Melbourne $480,050 (-0.07%)       Brisbane $471,869 (+1.52%)       Adelaide $395,455 (-0.79%)       Perth $396,215 (+0.44%)       Hobart $535,914 (-1.67%)       Darwin $365,715 (+0.11%)       Canberra $487,485 (+1.06%)       National $502,310 (+0.25%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,985 (+170)       Melbourne 11,869 (-124)       Brisbane 8,074 (+47)       Adelaide 2,298 (-22)       Perth 6,070 (+20)       Hobart 993 (+24)       Darwin 282 (-4)       Canberra 809 (+43)       National 39,380 (+154)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 7,927 (+125)       Melbourne 6,997 (+50)       Brisbane 1,822 (+3)       Adelaide 488 (+5)       Perth 1,915 (-1)       Hobart 151 (+3)       Darwin 391 (-9)       Canberra 680 (+5)       National 20,371 (+181)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750 (-$20)       Melbourne $580 ($0)       Brisbane $590 (+$10)       Adelaide $570 (-$5)       Perth $600 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 (+$5)       Canberra $670 (+$10)       National $633 (-$1)                    UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $700 (-$20)       Melbourne $558 (+$8)       Brisbane $590 ($0)       Adelaide $458 (-$3)       Perth $550 ($0)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $540 (-$10)       National $559 (-$4)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,224 (-134)       Melbourne 5,097 (+90)       Brisbane 3,713 (-84)       Adelaide 1,027 (-3)       Perth 1,568 (-46)       Hobart 471 (-3)       Darwin 127 (+13)       Canberra 658 (-32)       National 17,885 (-199)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,171 (-343)       Melbourne 5,447 (-170)       Brisbane 1,682 (-22)       Adelaide 329 (+3)       Perth 561 (-11)       Hobart 159 (-6)       Darwin 176 (+16)       Canberra 597 (-12)       National 17,122 (-545)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.56% (↓)       Melbourne 3.17% (↓)     Brisbane 3.62% (↑)        Adelaide 3.78% (↓)       Perth 4.32% (↓)     Hobart 3.93% (↑)      Darwin 5.65% (↑)      Canberra 3.99% (↑)        National 3.43% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.12% (↓)       Melbourne 6.04% (↓)       Brisbane 6.50% (↓)     Adelaide 6.02% (↑)        Perth 7.22% (↓)     Hobart 4.37% (↑)      Darwin 7.82% (↑)        Canberra 5.76% (↓)       National 5.79% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 1.0% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.8% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)        Perth 0.4% (↓)       Hobart 1.2% (↓)     Darwin 0.5% (↑)      Canberra 1.5% (↑)      National 0.8% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND         Sydney 1.3% (↓)     Melbourne 1.6% (↑)      Brisbane 0.9% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.7% (↑)      Hobart 2.2% 2.0% (↑)      Darwin 1.0% (↑)        Canberra 1.7% (↓)     National 1.3% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 27.0 (↑)        Melbourne 28.3 (↓)     Brisbane 32.3 (↑)      Adelaide 26.3 (↑)      Perth 34.9 (↑)        Hobart 33.4 (↓)     Darwin 48.7 (↑)        Canberra 27.6 (↓)     National 32.3 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 27.0 (↓)       Melbourne 29.0 (↓)     Brisbane 33.0 (↑)        Adelaide 27.5 (↓)     Perth 38.2 (↑)      Hobart 33.4 (↑)      Darwin 48.3 (↑)      Canberra 33.2 (↑)      National 33.7 (↑)            
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Don’t Be a Jerk at Work. (But Don’t Be Too Nice, Either.)

How devolving into people-pleasing can hold back your career

Tue, Aug 1, 2023 8:34amGrey Clock 4 min

How nice should you be at work?

We’ve supposedly moved on from the era of the militaristic chief executive who barks orders and threats. Most of us agree: We don’t like jerks. Be kind, we implore our kids.

Then we get to the office. We’ve got direct reports to rally, colleagues in other departments to convince and bosses who claim they want honest feedback. Speak with hesitation and you’re ignored. Handle your team with kid gloves and you’re a pushover, not a force to be reckoned with.

“I, personally, think you’re too nice a person to be in the job that you’re in.” That’s what Rep. Greg Murphy (R., N.C.) told Katherine Tai, the lead trade negotiator for the U.S., this spring during a hearing. His comments summed up feedback so many of us, especially women, have heard. We’re too bubbly or kind. We deploy too many apologies or exclamation marks. Yet when we do too little of all that, we’re overly aggressive.

“I want to be a nice person,” Sarah Kleinberg, the director of operations at a healthcare consulting firm, told me. She has realised, though, that being nice often makes others feel good, without actually moving a project forward or prompting a team member to improve.

“You have to have the level of confidence to be beyond people-pleasing,” she says.

‘Customer-service voice’

Many people, desperate not to offend, resort to what speaking coach Samara Bay calls “customer-service voice.” It’s that high-pitched, upspeak-y tone meant to inform the barista, I think you might be out of oat milk?

What are we saying when we use that tone? “I’m not powerful, don’t worry,” Bay says.

Making yourself non intimidating and as small as possible might work earlier in careers, she adds, making the people in charge feel secure. But as we ascend, or try to, the wavering voices can confuse others. Do it enough and people might question whether you’re leadership material, Bay says.

She recommends a vocal exercise for speaking more confidently. Pretend that you’re introducing yourself—“Hi, my name is Rachel”—while throwing a pretend ball against the wall. Match your vocal pitch to the ball’s trajectory. When you throw the ball down to the ground, you’ll hear your voice droop in energy along with the ball. Then throw the ball up, and notice the way your words sound as if you’re half taking them back. Last, throw the ball straight and allow your words to follow through, too.

“It’s the weirdest feeling to say something and mean it all the way to the end,” Bay says. “It feels brave.”

No hedging allowed

When pitching an idea, don’t undercut yourself with hedging language, says Bob Bordone, a negotiations coach. He cringes at questions like: “Would you be willing to consider letting me work remotely on Fridays?”

“It makes me just want to say no because it’s such a weak thing,” he says.

Instead, he says, start with a statement: “I wanted to talk to you about working out a new schedule.” Assure that any agreement you come to would be good for your manager and the company.

When someone tells you no, Bordone suggests trying: “How can we tackle this, even though we see it differently?” You sound strong and assertive, but not nasty, he says.

Good news for the nice guys among us: You don’t have to give up your personality to be taken seriously.

“I’m, 99.9% of the time, a jovial, happy-go-lucky guy,” says Colton Schweitzer, a user-experience designer and educator in Vancouver, Wash. When he doesn’t like the direction a project is going, he pushes back by asking questions and inserting the occasional joke.

“I’m smiling,” he says, “Even when I’m saying, ‘Are you sure about that?’”

Because he’s so pleasant, his serious moments carry weight. At one job, he cheerfully took on more work when colleagues asked—until his manager asked him to pick up the slack for an underperforming employee. He gave a resolute no. His manager dropped the issue, and seemed surprised and impressed by his response, he says.

“It’s like a currency,” he says of invoking a more stern style. “When I use it, it’s really valuable.”

Less yelling, more intensity

To be tough but not jerky, set clear expectations, says Harry Kraemer, a professor of leadership at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Before teaching, Kraemer rose to be chief executive of Baxter International, the healthcare company where he worked for 25 years. As a new manager, he would try to be everyone’s breezy friend, shrugging it off when his team turned in a project hours past deadline. The second time it happened, he devolved into yelling, only to realise he hadn’t made the stakes clear from the start.

“If I focus on being liked, the chance of being respected is very low,” he says.

He adopted a new leadership style of, “I’m not going to surprise you.” He says the yelling just made him look out of control, but following through with consequences worked. When his team missed sales targets, he gathered them for a two-hour debrief—no smiling, his voice intense.

“I don’t need a sorry,” he would tell them. “Hit the number. Do what you told me you were going to do.”

Dinah Davis, a Realtor in Highlands, N.C., still remembers advice an old friend gave her years ago on the golf course. The friend was a skilled neurosurgeon known for being direct, not touchy-feely.

“I have a great bedside manner,” she told Davis. “I just don’t have time for it.”

The advice was freeing for Davis, a former lawyer more comfortable with staunch negotiations than chirpy small talk.

“Do you want your pilot to be nice?” Davis asks. “Or do you want your pilot to get the plane on the ground?”


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First, the good news for office landlords: A post-Labor Day bump nudged return-to-office rates in mid-September to their highest level since the onset of the pandemic.

Now the bad: Office attendance in big cities is still barely half of what it was in 2019, and company get-tough measures are proving largely ineffective at boosting that rate much higher.

Indeed, a number of forces—from the prospect of more Covid-19 cases in the fall to a weakening economy—could push the return rate into reverse, property owners and city officials say.

More than before, chief executives at blue-chip companies are stepping up efforts to fill their workspace. Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase are among the companies that have recently vowed to get tougher on employees who don’t show upIn August, Meta told employees they could face disciplinary action if they regularly violate new workplace rules.

But these actions haven’t yet moved the national return rate needle much, and a majority of companies remain content to allow employees to work at least part-time remotely despite the tough talk.

Most employees go into offices during the middle of the week, but floors are sparsely populated on Mondays and Fridays. In Chicago, some September days had a return rate of over 66%. But it was below 30% on Fridays. In New York, it ranges from about 25% to 65%, according to Kastle Systems, which tracks security-card swipes.

Overall, the average return rate in the 10 U.S. cities tracked by Kastle Systems matched the recent high of 50.4% of 2019 levels for the week ended Sept. 20, though it slid a little below half the following week.

The disappointing return rates are another blow to office owners who are struggling with vacancy rates near record highs. The national office average vacancy rose to 19.2% last quarter, just below the historical peak of 19.3% in 1991, according to Moody’s Analytics preliminary third-quarter data.

Business leaders in New York, Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and Houston interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said they have seen only slight improvements in sidewalk activity and attendance in office buildings since Labor Day.

“It feels a little fuller but at the margins,” said Sandy Baruah, chief executive of the Detroit Regional Chamber, a business group.

Lax enforcement of return-to-office rules is one reason employees feel they can still work from home. At a roundtable business discussion in Houston last week, only one of the 12 companies that attended said it would enforce a return-to-office policy in performance reviews.

“It was clearly a minority opinion that the others shook their heads at,” said Kris Larson, chief executive of Central Houston Inc., a group that promotes business in the city and sponsored the meeting.

Making matters worse, business leaders and city officials say they see more forces at work that could slow the return to office than those that could accelerate it.

Covid-19 cases are up and will likely increase further in the fall and winter months. “If we have to go back to distancing and mask protocols, that really breaks the office culture,” said Kathryn Wylde, head of the business group Partnership for New York City.

Many cities are contending with an increase in homelessness and crime. San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which are struggling with these problems, are among the lowest return-to-office cities in the Kastle System index.

About 90% of members surveyed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce said that the city couldn’t recover until homelessness and public safety problems were addressed, said Rachel Smith, chief executive. That is taken into account as companies make decisions about returning to the office and how much space they need, she added.

Cuts in government services and transportation are also taking a toll. Wait times for buses run by Houston’s Park & Ride system, one of the most widely used commuter services, have increased partly because of labor shortages, according to Larson of Central Houston.

The commute “is the remaining most significant barrier” to improving return to office, Larson said.

Some landlords say that businesses will have more leverage in enforcing return-to-office mandates if the economy weakens. There are already signs of such a shift in cities that depend heavily on the technology sector, which has been seeing slowing growth and layoffs.

But a full-fledged recession could hurt office returns if it results in widespread layoffs. “Maybe you get some relief in more employees coming back,” said Dylan Burzinski, an analyst with real-estate analytics firm Green Street. “But if there are fewer of those employees, it’s still a net negative for office.”

The sluggish return-to-office rate is leading many city and business leaders to ask the federal government for help. A group from the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition recently met with elected officials in Washington, D.C., lobbying for incentives for businesses that make commitments to U.S. downtowns.

Baruah, from the Detroit chamber, was among the group. He said the chances of such legislation being passed were low. “We might have to reach crisis proportions first,” he said. “But we’re trying to lay the groundwork now.”


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