'Working Wounded': Come on, Get Happy

DEAR WOUNDED: Recently you had a column about how to be happy at work. The interview was interesting, but I want specific tips for how to make this happen for me.

ANSWER: It remains the worst date of my life. We were at a restaurant and I pulled out a half-price dinner card. I said to the waiter, "We have a half-price card, so please bring us smaller portions." The waiter laughed. My date said, "So is that the deal, you're going to be making jokes all night." She then regaled me with stories of why she preferred to be cremated and about the wonderful new wallpaper in her home.

This taught me a very important lesson; some people don't want to have a good time. But for the rest of us it's more a question of attitude and positioning. Below I've outlined some steps to help make you happier at work. For more, check out "Be Happy at Work" by Joanne Gordon (Ballantine, 2005).

Do you have friends who can offer support? Ms. Gordon interviewed 100 women, from actresses to factory workers. So her ideas are all based in real people. Ninety percent of the happy women checked in regularly with friends for advice and counsel. If you don't have friends who can help you, go out and make some.

Do you ask for what you want? Of the 100 women interviewed, 91 percent who asked for a raise got one. 91 percent. If you wait for people to connect the dots, you could be waiting for a long time. On the other hand, if you ask for it chances will increase dramatically that what you want just might happen.

Do you look for chances to reinvent the rules? Ms. Gordon tells a great story of a cook who was dissatisfied doing the regular restaurant gig. She got hired to set up a kitchen for researchers at the South Pole. Don't settle for doing what everyone else is doing; create your own unique place in the working world.

Do you seek support? Many people believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. It can be. But if you ask for help with a level of confidence it can also be a sign of wisdom and strength.

Do you explore instinct and coincidence? As a close friend of mine is fond of saying, there is no such thing as a coincidence. And I believe him. You should not make your decisions exclusively on instinct and coincidence, but at the same hand it's dangerous to totally dismiss them also.

Do you exude confidence? Think about it, when you get on a plane do you want to see your pilot shaking like a leaf? Or if you were the boss would you want to hand over an important assignment to someone who acts nervous and overwhelmed? The best part, confidence can be contagious.

Follow these tips and you might not be laughing all the way to the bank, but your job should become more tolerable.

We'd like to hear your strategy for being happier at work. I'll give an autographed copy of "Working Wounded: Advice that adds insight to injury" (Warner, 2000) to the best submission. Send your entry, name & address via: http://workingwounded.com or via e-mail: bob@workingwounded.com. Entries must be received by Wednesday (June 22).

Online Ballot and Contest

Here are the results from a recent workingwounded.com/ABCnews.com online ballot:
What is the most important thing to do in a positive performance review?

       A positive performance review, that could never happen, 22.2 percent
       Ask for a promotion, 37.7 percent
       Ask for a raise, 40 percent

Winning Strategy

Our winning strategy for handling a positive performance review comes from L.R. in Philadelphia:

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