Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"Get inside the heads of those on your team"/ "My male bank colleagues are being paid more"

Nov. 11, 2015 "Get inside the heads of those on your team": I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Oct. 12, 2015:

The calls for collaboration these days seem to intensify continually and most of us assume that to succeed we must build better emotional and social bonds with our colleagues. So it might come as a surprise that two consultants, who have just written a book titled Collaborative Intelligence, focus instead on the mind – thinking along with people who think differently from you.

“Collaborative intelligence is the ability to think with other people in such a way that you evoke the best in them,” Dawna Markova said in an interview. She’s based in Hawaii, collaborating with daughter-in-law and co-author Angie McArthur, who lives in Utah but grew up in Canada and went to McGill University in Montreal.

Ms. Markova recalls working with one company where the CEO had a team of 12 people, 10 of whom were very much like him. They perceived information in the same way, and stood up and talked loudly when making their points. The two remaining team members, who would quietly ask questions and process the information they received, were considered weak (the man) and fluffy (the woman) by the CEO.

“The leadership team was a disaster. Imagine a room filled with Donald Trumps. They had no ability to collaborate. They knew how to fight, flight or freeze. They figured that was natural if you were strong,” she recalled.

A barrier for us is that we don’t notice our thinking, only our thoughts. That leads us to make assumptions, often negative, about other people who think differently than we do. He’s bored. She dawdles. He can’t get to the point. She’s indecisive. But it may simply be a different thinking style, one we could profit from collaborating with. “Many of the barriers keeping us apart are actually optional, present only in our minds,” they write in the book.

We need to recognize how our own mind works, and by extension what is happening to those around us as they think. It starts with the three types of attention: focused, sorting and open.

In focused attention, a conscious state of mind, your brain is producing more beta waves. Your thoughts become certain and form more solid beliefs. This might happen as you are concentrating on a computer screen or the direction the hammer in your hand needs to take. It’s best suited for concentrating on tasks, decision-making and attending to details and time lines.

Sorting attention is subconscious, the brain producing more alpha waves. Your thoughts wander back and forth, sorting through information, comparing things. You are digesting information, trying to understand, or weighing multiple options.

Open attention is also an unconscious state of mind, in which your brain is producing more theta waves. It’s as if in a daydream, thoughts wide but internal. You are imagining possibilities, exploring different options and associating with past experiences and people.

Our minds continually shift among these three forms of attention. But when others do the same, we don’t necessarily value the state they are in. We might ask something and they don’t respond directly because they are sorting or imagining. Most of us have been taught that only the focused state of attention matters – the others are wasteful.

The two consultants layer onto the states of attention three kinds of perception: auditory, kinesthetic and visual. Auditory thinking is listening, telling and discussing. Kinesthetic thinking is doing, moving, feeling and making things. Visual thinking is looking, watching, reading, writing and showing.

We all use them in our thinking, but each can stimulate us differently. For one person, visual information might trigger focused thinking, as she sees details in her “mind’s eye” and absorbs complex visual information in a sequential way. But a second person might react quite differently, the same visual information triggering an open state of attention. And again, that could work against collaboration if they don’t understand what is happening – if colleagues fight the differences instead of taking advantage of them.

“It sounds complex. But it happens in a millisecond,” she said.
The consultants distinguish six different mind patterns, depending on how our states of attention and ways of perception intermingle, and help to demystify their system by highlighting the approach of various famous people. Oprah Winfrey, for example, starts with the visual for focused thinking, then auditory information triggers her sorting and a kinesthetic state of mind induces her imagination. She makes extended, direct eye contact with her guests and sits very still through interviews. Her face expresses whatever she’s feeling. U.S. President Barack Obama has the same style.

Soccer star Mia Hamm focuses her mind while on the move, she sorts information visually and demonstrates an open state of mind when listening. “On the field, she would lead by example rather than vocally. Her physical presence is solid and steady. In interviews, she ponders the questions before answering; her replies are usually slow, thoughtful, and very deep and sincere,” they write in a handout.

It can seem confusing initially. But they say as people catch on, it unlocks their collaborative intelligence. “We want to do things in a way that makes sense for ourselves. But we need to know how others are different,” Ms. McArthur concludes.

My opinion: This is an insightful article.

"My male bank colleagues are being paid more": I also cut out this article from the Globe and Mail on Oct. 12, 2015:

I am a visible-minority woman working in middle management at a major Canadian bank.

Recently, I have come to know about significant pay inequity between myself and my male peers, despite similar experience, the same role and level of expertise. I also have a higher degree of education.

In our midyear review, I raised the issue with my boss, who said he would look into it. Fast-forward two months. After not hearing anything, I followed up, and he cited budget issues and so on.

One more month passed and nothing happened. Should I talk to human resources about this issue?

I feel cheated. I didn't negotiate at the time of joining, or at the time of promotion. I relied on them to be fair.


Eileen Dooley Vice-president of Gilker McRae, Calgary

You don't get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate. That said, if you have the exact same job as someone else at the company, and notice a significant pay difference, then absolutely you should be speaking with your manager and human resources.

Be sure, however, that your role is classified exactly the same as your higher-paid counterparts.

In many organizations, especially large ones, each role is slotted into a salary band, which is a range of what that role will be paid. Typically, where employees start out within that salary band is determined on their industry experience, professional experience and education. The more you have, the higher up the band you will go.

Find out from your manager or human resources partner what your salary band is, and where you and your counterparts sit within it. Ask why there is such a discrepancy and what can be done to level the playing field.

Document your efforts, complete with date and the nature of conversations. If you seem to be getting nowhere, by all means contact your local human-rights commission.

In the future, never assume any employer will be fair when it comes to compensation. Look after yourself first, always. Upon joining an organization, if you feel you should receive more pay, ask for it. Because if you don't ask, you don't get.


Colleen Clarke Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

Banks are probably among the most fair pay-equity employers in industry. It may be true that your colleagues are being paid differently than you, but it is not because you are a woman or a visible minority. You are a number in a bank; there is no discrimination. Job evaluation departments within human resources set salary band ranges and put each position on a level relevant to the job requirements.

Within each band, there is discretion based on performance.

You have a right to know how pay equity works at your bank.

The budget your boss referred to has nothing to do with pay equity. If your pay is different than others, there is a reason.

There are three pay ranges - minimum, mid and exceptional.

It could be that you were hired at a lower pay range than your colleagues. Or that others possess a specialized skill, or they worked hard to acquire new skills or they started with higher pay so their salary reflects that.

Set up an appointment with your boss. Explain that you would like to understand the pay equity system. Say that you don't feel mistreated, and you would like a referral so they can explain how it works. If the human resources department finds a discretion that is unjust, they will adjust the pay accordingly.


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