The Latest

What Science Says About Stress, Cognition, and Clarity

What Science Says About Stress, Cognition, and Clarity

Dear Crucial Skills, GTD teaches that “your mind is for having ideas, not for holding them.” What does the science say? Does it support this statement? Sincerely,Curious GTD Student _____________________ Dear Curious, Your head is a terrible office. Your mind evolved to do...


How to Say No at Work Without Ruining Your Reputation

How to Say No at Work Without Ruining Your Reputation

Dear Crucial Skills, What’s the best way to say no? On a recent webcast, you mentioned the importance of declining requests and renegotiating commitments. So, I tried it. A coworker came to me with an emergency and I declined to help. I didn’t have the time and I said, “No, I’m sorry. I can’t...


How to Harness Technology So it Doesn’t Harness You

How to Harness Technology So it Doesn’t Harness You

Dear Crucial Skills, Do you ever feel that technology gets in the way of productivity? That tools slow things down? I agree that some communication and project- and time-management tools are invaluable. But often they get in the way of getting things done. For example, the number of apps and...


How to Approach a Coworker Who Goes Over Your Head

How to Approach a Coworker Who Goes Over Your Head

Dear Crucial Skills, What should I do when my coworker complains about my performance to my superiors before or without addressing the concern with me? I wish I had the opportunity to talk with her, but she always goes over my head. Signed, No Opportunity to Address...


What To Do When You Think a Coworker Resents Your Promotion

What To Do When You Think a Coworker Resents Your Promotion

Dear Crucial Skills, I have recently been promoted and am now responsible for a group of program managers and their projects. I have been with the company about two years and am the newest member of the team. One of the program managers has taken significant issue with my promotion. He has...


How to Respond to Public Criticism from a Coworker

How to Respond to Public Criticism from a Coworker

Dear Crucial Skills, I have a challenge with a relatively new coworker who consistently tells me how “he would do my job if he were me.” He says this in front of my staff members. I respect his knowledge and leadership, but the frequent digs are starting to get to me. I have taken him aside...


How to Solicit and Receive Feedback You Might Not Want to Hear

How to Solicit and Receive Feedback You Might Not Want to Hear

Dear Crucial Skills, My church says they need the members to help with various responsibilities, so I volunteer often. But when I do, I’m told to focus on my family. Or people tell me they’re worried I’ll get burned out. They’ve also suggested my excitement is “a little over the top.” Other...


One Simple Strategy to Improve Workplace Productivity

One Simple Strategy to Improve Workplace Productivity

Dear Crucial Skills, I am the Operations Manager for a small startup that produces caramels. I also wear many other hats, which include doing office administration, HR, and finance work. The business owner is very hands-on but is not clear about goals or priorities. Many projects are started...


How to Mend a Relationship That’s Been Broken for Years

How to Mend a Relationship That’s Been Broken for Years

Dear Crucial Skills, My husband and I have not talked to my brother-in-law and his wife for five years. The reasons are insignificant. They live on the first floor, and we live on the ground floor of the same house. I once took a step forward to mend the relationship, but they declined my...


How to Tell Your Employees of a Coming Pay Reduction

How to Tell Your Employees of a Coming Pay Reduction

Dear Crucial Skills, If I needed to inform employees of a medium-large company that a small reduction in pay is forthcoming due to declining revenues, how could I do this in an email that would be supportive and factual? Signed,Bearer of Bad News _____________________ Dear Bearer of...


A Valentine’s Lesson for All of Us

A Valentine’s Lesson for All of Us

“Take a look at this!” my mother shouted. “You won’t believe it.” Not knowing what Mom was talking about, I put down the psychology text my neighbor Gary and I were studying (we had a midterm the next day) and the two of us got up from the kitchen table and headed straight to the family...


Tips For Managing the Nebulous Flow of Life and Work

Tips For Managing the Nebulous Flow of Life and Work

Dear Crucial Skills, I get overwhelmed by the huge lists of things to do because I’m not sure which items to work on next. Any suggestions for that? Sincerely, Challenged Prioritizer _____________________ Dear Challenged Prioritizer, Yours is a universally common question, and one I...