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My story of recognizing + breaking the toxicity of unsolicited advice.

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Sensitive, Defensive, Difficult, Snobby. I heard it all.

When I joined the corporate world at age 23, I was nervous. I wanted to fit in and use my talents for good. Right away, I had several complaints filed about me. I felt like an outsider, I didn’t trust my team, and I questioned my worth.

So, what happened?

  • My clothing, in particular tights with knee-length dresses, made others uncomfortable. …

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My elementary school sat in front of a junkyard. For years, I gazed in wonder at the treasures that lay beyond the chain-linked fence. In fifth grade, I finally decided to explore it with two classmates. During the journey, we found a piece of metal stretched across a ditch. Like the ten-year-olds we were, we jumped on it to see if it bounced like a trampoline. Nope. I fell, and a scrap of metal gashed my leg, leaving behind a gnarly scar. …

The role language plays in shaping who we become and what we believe at work.

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I grew up sitting in the pew on Sunday mornings, listening to Southern Baptist sermons. My grandfather, an evangelist, can throw out a raised voice and the threat of hell with the best of them. I would furiously take notes to make sure I knew all the ways to Heaven. As time moved on, I felt exploited, played by their tone and word choice.

Preaching got into my head Sunday after Sunday. It was like someone wielded empathy as a tool for manipulation. I lived in religious, obsessive fear of doing something wrong. Was that the intent?

Feeling empathy is…

Why I praise my young daughter for critical thinking and disagreeing with us.

Our Little Family by Lauren Maria Photography

I watched The Man in the Moon with Reese Witherspoon as a child; it’s one of my favorite movies. There’s a scene on Sunday morning; the family is getting ready for church, except the father, who finds spirituality on a boat, fishing. At the time, I found it so strange for two people to be married and share different belief systems.

My parents were a united front with my sisters and me. The only disagreement I recall was my Dad’s affinity for Ross Perot in the 1990s. Otherwise, they took us to church on Sundays, avoided deep questions, and backed…

Survive The Great Resignation by tapping into the essence of what it’s like to work in your organization via exit interviews.

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I never thought HR would be for me; I don’t particularly like conflict or rule-keeping. But, as I navigated the corporate world in Finance, the concept of HR lured me over. It’s fascinating; an entire department devoted to people — their motivations, talents, quirks. My romantic view encouraged me to restart my career in the most junior HR role𑁋receptionist.

Now, I was in HR, not peering in from the outside. What amazed me was people came and went for…

Vaccine conversations at work extend far beyond info-sharing into the land of who’s a good person and who’s not.

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In junior year of high school, a classmate told me I would go to “H, E, double hockey sticks because I wasn’t Catholic.” Up until that point, I didn’t think religion mattered in our friendship. While we stayed acquaintances throughout college, the relationship halted that day. I couldn’t open up to her once I learned her thoughts on my mortal soul.

It’s an important distinction. You’ll be punished in the afterlife for not being Catholic hits different than I’m Catholic, and it’s an important part of my life.

This is what’s happening with vaccine chatter at work. I believe that…

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There’s a tiny memory in my head of my mom making my sister, Taylor, and I take turns standing on a chair. When on the chair, I had to pull her up with me. It wasn’t easy, but when she tried to pull me off the chair𑁋I tumbled right down. The lesson was it’s easier to pull someone down than up. And while it didn’t save me from the psychological torture that was middle school, it did leave an impression of the power of negativity.

We all crave belonging and acceptance to some extent. At work, it’s natural to adapt…

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Life weighs on us no matter where we are. Last year, the world as we knew it stopped. That betrayal is not easily set aside. No matter how hard I visualize taking feelings from my body and placing them on a shelf, they sneak their way back into my everyday. I’m okay with that.

But not everyone is. Bringing political and social issues into the workplace makes many uncomfortable. To the point, companies such as Coinbase and Basecamp launched policies to keep the unpleasantries of political chatter out of their workplace.

How do we bridge the gap between acknowledging that…

Square Root Lunch by Minkmade

After a decade of designing culture, nothing draws my ire like reading playbooks or utopian philosophies for company culture. Good culture is neither prescriptive nor unachievable. Culture is intentional, and it’s living.

Imagine an event, you create a holistic experience, but ultimately, success is based on how folks embrace, interact with and change the experience.

My inbox is an endless stream of — If you just had this tool, everything would be better. But culture isn’t one thing. Injecting an idea without care as to how it weaves in — builds a checklist, not an intentional being. Like a person…

It’s on all of us to harness the power of language and create belonging with our words.

Sixteen years ago, I spent two back-to-back semesters studying Shakespeare at A&M. Some of the plays were incomplete, a bit of fill-in-the-blank, due to time rubbing away certain words. For weeks, we read King Richard III one way and then another, all based on one word — busky. One word can change the meaning. In college, I found it fascinating; with one word, my entire intent could fall apart.

In the workplace, despite what the sticks and stones adage led us to believe, words harm us, dismiss us, exclude us. All of us are capable of this — excluding someone…

Courtney Branson

soulful thoughts on working and parenting

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