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Giving Grace

If there’s anything I have learned recently, it’s just how important it is to give grace to others in the workplace. How often does a coworker not respond within the timeframe they agreed to? How often are they short with you when speaking? I would bet this happens pretty often.

In the moment, it feels personal. It can make you feel angry. How could this person speak to me this way? Or, why is this person not following through as quickly as they promised? You may wonder what you did to be on the receiving end of this. You may wonder why they don’t respect you enough to do better.

The problem is that work isn’t just work. Every single person we work with has many things going on outside of work (and sometimes inside of work) that we cannot see. Our personal lives are made up of family, friends, children, pets, clubs and organizations, religious groups and more.

When things are normal, someone is able to show up as their best self to work. But, when things are out of whack in one area of a person’s life, it can create a larger impact. For example, if someone recently had a new baby, they may be struggling to learn how to balance both work and take care of the baby. Or, if another person suffered the loss of a family member, that person may have a hard time containing their grief during work hours.

When someone is going through these terrible personal things, they very often do not disclose them at work. They are simply trying to get through each day. They are trying to keep their family together or trying to help a loved one through a serious illness.

They try to keep issues from bleeding into work, but we are all human. And, it can happen to anyone and everyone.

Fortunately, change is not permanent. It’s what takes us from one destination to another. And, when things calm down again, people are able to return to their prior selves. They begin to be more present. They begin to deliver their assignments on time. They again become the former person you knew.

The universal truth is that we all go through change. We are not ever all perfect all the time. Giving someone grace or assuming positive intent is one of the kindest things that you can do for them.

And, some day in the future, you will need the same grace in return. It can be surprising how quickly life can change. You can be cruising along when suddenly, someone you love becomes ill. Or, there is some other problem that may feel giant in the moment.

It would be great if we could all compartmentalize. If we were productive robots between business hours, that would be wonderful. But, that’s not really how life works. What does work is giving grace to those around you.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


Running Away Money

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Margaret Heffernan. Margaret is incredibly impressive, with a career that includes running five companies in the United States and the United Kingdom, being a college professor, authoring five books, and giving multiple TED Talks. Originally from Texas, Margaret has lived all over, including in the U.K.

Margaret’s career is so impressive that it was hard to narrow down the questions to a list that would fit into one podcast episode. As you can imagine, the interview was wonderful. The insights Margaret shared haven’t left my mind since we spoke.

Margaret describes herself as someone that has always done work that she’s loved. At times, she was paid well, and other times she made very little. But, she was always happy in her work. I asked her how she was able to organize her career this way.

She made two important points that I want to share with you. When a job wasn’t the right fit, she didn’t hesitate to walk away – even if she had only been there for a short period of time. This reminds me of the way a company would quickly fire someone if they weren’t the right fit. But, as employees, we stick around out of some kind of artificial loyalty.

When Margaret worked in an environment where it was clear that succeeding would be an uphill battle, she looked for another job that was a better fit. This would happen in situations where perhaps the staff didn’t treat everyone fairly. Rather than take it personally, she moved on and looked for a better situation. This must have been a tough decision at times, given how important equality is. But, I think we can all agree that it’s easier to succeed in an environment that supports you and your talent.

The second tip Margaret he was gold, quite literally. She said she was always careful to keep enough, “running away money on hand.” I can’t tell you how happy this phrase makes me. Running away money is often referred to as an emergency fund. It is typically six to twelve months of salary (or living expenses) saved up. Most people place this money in a savings account for safe keeping.

Having a financial safety net gives you choices. It allows you to walk away if you really need to. It allows you to control your own destiny, not your company. Very often, when we upgrade our house, our cars, and our lifestyles, we are simply chaining ourselves to the very company we hate.

And as Margaret noted, just having the running away money doesn’t mean you actually need to run away. It often gives you a boost of confidence to be yourself at work. You know you’ll be okay, even if everything else falls apart. That added confidence alone makes things at work go better, and it keeps you from running away at all.

You can listen to my entire interview with Margaret Heffernan here.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

The Golden Rule

Have you ever gotten an email from someone that you just want to ignore? Perhaps it’s from a vendor you work with that wants to tell you about a new product they’re selling. The email provides no immediate value for you. There’s nothing you can do about it right now, and frankly, you’re busy. You’re so far up to your eyeballs in reports that you can barely breathe. We’ve all been there. I can definitely relate. The easiest thing to do is often to ignore the email.

Now, think back to how you landed your last job, or maybe the one before. Chances are good that you found it not by applying online, but through a professional contact. There’s a good chance that you previously worked with that person, either directly or indirectly.

It’s extremely common to be recruited by an outside company you do business with – either your customer, or your supplier. After working with you, a company has a chance to see you up close. They know just how professional you are, and how devoted you are to your craft.

But, this will only happen if you treat those around you with a certain level of respect. Taking a moment to let someone know you’ve received their email can mean the world, even if you’re not able to fulfill their request. I’m not suggesting that you say yes to everyone. And, I’m certainly not suggesting you respond to things that are clearly spam. You don’t have time for that.

But, do take the time to value those around you – even on the days when they’re asking for something rather than offering something. For example, if someone is asking for a meeting that you would normally be open to, but are just too busy to take, send an email letting them know you’ve received their message and would like to meet, but are swamped for the next few weeks. Most everyone understands the concept of being busy at work. Or, if a person is asking for your help with something that you really can’t do right now due to existing commitments, be honest and up front.

The most difficult scenario is when you don’t respond at all. When you ignore an email, it doesn’t just tell the person that you’re busy. It tells them that they’re not important. It says that you’ll only respond if you’re getting something out of the deal. And, it says that you may not be as professional as they thought.

When you’ve been with one company for a number of years, this can begin to seem normal. You want to be efficient and use your time in the best way. But, sometimes something unexpected can happen. Your company may lay off an entire division. If you’ve focused all of your attention on internal folks, while not nurturing outside relationships, you may struggle more to find something new.

It goes back to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.