Best Advice: Politics [From the Hey Jane archives]

March 24, 2009 at 2:30 am | Posted in Hey Jane Column, Workplace Politics | Leave a comment

Hey Jane! is a monthly advice column on the SWS listserv that addresses issues of interest to feminist sociologists and sociologist-activists. The name honors Jane Addams, a feminist sociologist not always recognized enough. This Q&A is hosted by the Career Development Committee, who solicits anonymous questions and responses from multiple SWS members.

Column 23 (January 2008)

For this month’s Hey Jane! Column I asked you to send me your “best” piece of advice.

“Do not be defensive!”  It was advice given for my job talks, but it has served me well in every presentational setting — job talks, paper presentations at meetings and in the classroom.

After you finish a significant task or project big or small, PAUSE.  Take some time — whether 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days — to acknowledge your achievement before moving straight into the next item on your list of things to do.  There should ALWAYS be time to honor, even celebrate, your accomplishment, if only with a pause for a cup of tea.

Don’t let a bad situation make you become someone you’re not (i.e., petty, neurotic).

After you’ve faced a difficult situation, take a couple minutes and ask yourself, “If I had to do this over again, would I handle this differently, and if so, how?”  Then mentally file it in a folder marked ‘life experience’ and move on.

When you say “no,” sometimes it helps to think of it as “No. Period.”

Don’t say “I’m sorry” when you mean “excuse me.”

Something I’m fond of saying:  “There are two sayings that can be applied to any situation:  ‘Life is short’ and ‘Life is long.’  The challenge is knowing which one is called for in a given situation.”

One piece of sage advice I received from a professor/dean in graduate school was, politically speaking, to “pick and choose your battles” in the university environment.

“Stick to your knitting” meaning, don’t spend too much energy worrying about departmental politics.


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