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It’s the little things that count most

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

To stand out in a competitive work­­­­place, you have to do the work­a­day equivalent of juggling with fire, say, swooping in to save a crucial project just in the nick of time, while streamlining a dozen different processes and keeping your boss on schedule. Right?

Actually, little things may make a disproportionately big impact.

Example: Tom Peters is one of the most influential business authors of the past century. People wait in long lines to speak with him after he’s given a speech. Yet one of the more memorable encounters he had at a speaking engagement was with the A/V staffer.

Everything was going wrong with the event, and Peters was in a bad mood until an enthusiastic A/V staffer appeared, determined to cheer him up and fix the problems.

A quick fix saved the speech and ­Peters’ neck, he says, making the A/V guy more memorable to Peters than the guy with the MBA who’d read Peters’ book and who came ready to wow Peters with his insights.

Bottom line: Use those lessons your grandmother taught you to help others get through the day.

Little ways admins can stand out in an extraordinary way:

√  Ask about people’s children and make an effort to inquire about them in conversation.

√   Channel Emily Post during daily exchanges. Saying “thank you” generates positive feelings. Be generous with your verbal accolades, and do it in a specific way—“Thanks for being so thoughtful and returning this to me quickly” vs. “Thanks!”

√   Connect in person. Send a handwritten note or talk to someone in person is one simple way to be memorable.

√   Take pride in whatever you’re doing today. Going the extra inch—not necessarily the extra mile—shows pride in your work. For ex­­­­ample, volunteer to handle a little task no one else steps up for.

— Adapted from “Get Ahead a Little Bit Each Day,” Alexandra Levit’s Water Cooler Wisdom.

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