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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Why resilience is a crucial workplace skill"

Mar. 28, 2016 "Why resilience - the cornerstone of 'psychological capital' is a crucial workplace skill": I cut out this article by Richard Blackwell in the Globe and Mail on Dec. 13, 2013.  It's about psychology which I like.  It's also motivational because people experience hardships and they will come out mentally and emotionally stronger:

It is pretty straightforward for companies to evaluate the skills and experience that a new employee will bring to his or her job. But it is much harder to assess that person's attitude and approach to work, and predict how they will react when they face challenges. These personal traits and attitudes - known as "psychological capital" - are key to employee performance, and help foster a happy and healthy workplace, says Jamie Gruman, an associate professor of organizational behaviour at the University of Guelph, who spoke recently at a health and wellness conference in Toronto.

What is the "psychological capital" that you suggest employees bring to their jobs?

People tend to be familiar with intellectual capital, which is what people know; and social capital, which is who they know. Psychological capital is who you are, or who you are becoming. It is made up of four personal resources: hope, optimism, confidence and resilience. Together they represent the character of an individual. There is a growing amount of research showing that employees who have psychological capital perform better and are more productive.

How can employees and employers beef up psychological capital?

There have been studies that show you can increase it. For example, one of the best things to do to build confidence is to practise something and get better at it. If you have newcomers in an organization, give them something you know they are going to do well, then something a little bit harder, and then something a little bit harder. Before you know it, they are doing something that three or four weeks ago they didn't think they could possibly do.

Employees can also take the initiative to try to become more confident. They can volunteer for something they don't know how to do, something relatively easy. Then, next time, volunteer to take on something a little more challenging.

Isn't it difficult for people to be optimistic when there are so many cutbacks and layoffs in the workplace?

You are right, but one of the components of psychological capital is resilience. In a crazy environment like the one we have currently, it is that much more important. If you have a resilient work force, and there is a downsizing or you get bought out, people have the personal resources that allow them to manage that change and to not crumble.

How do you train people to be more resilient?

It is the one element of psychological capital that develops out of the other three. If you focus on building people's confidence, optimism and hope, they become more resilient.

But there are ways to build resilience. It involves removing threats to people that are unnecessary. When people are starting a new job, don't force them to do things you know are going to cause them anxiety. Let them handle that later on. That removes some of the pressures that might cause them to want to leave.

Are positive employees always better workers?

Not always. We tend to think of optimism as desirable and pessimism as undesirable, but it depends on the employee.

Some people say, "I am not so sure how I am going to perform here. If I don't do well, here is what I am going to do." They think through the implications of what they are going to do if they don't perform well. This is called defensive pessimism, and research shows that people who are defensively pessimistic can perform just as well as people who are optimistic.

Certainly, there are lots of very pessimistic and cynical journalists, who are good at their jobs and very successful.

People who are in a good mood tend to be very creative, and think very broadly. But they are not as good at scrutinizing detail as people who are in a bad mood. People who are cynical or pessimistic are probably drawn to journalism for that reason - they are not satisfied with the status quo, and they are very good at seeing the little details that don't quite fit with the total story.

How important is stress in making people feel positive or negative about their work?

It depends on the kind of stress. Some stressors are motivating because you can handle them, while others are debilitating because you can't.

Not all stressors are negative. One of the things that we find is that people who suffer moderate amounts of stress early in their careers become more resilient later on. So it is not beneficial to avoid all stressors in your life, because you don't build yourself up that way. It is like not being exposed to germs when you are a kid, and then you have a weak immune system.

What is the best way to ensure you have a positive frame of mind at work?

The most important thing is to recognize that life is short and precious and fragile. You need to appreciate that you have a roof over your head and it hasn't just been hit by a typhoon. You need to appreciate what you have, while you have it, because most of it is going to disappear at some point.

Imagine someone, in a wheelchair, who after 20 years of not being able to walk, suddenly stands up. That would be glorious. Well, you know what? I can stand up now. That is a wonderful thing. That understanding is vital for living a good life.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

"The science behind persuading people": I cut out this article by Parminder Bahra in the Globe and Mail on Jan. 5, 2013.  He writes for the Wall Street Journal.  This is also about psychology:

One of the most crucial skills to improving your career in the new year may be the ability to persuade people to see things your way.

Social norms can play an important role in getting customers, colleagues and businesses to do the things you'd like them to do—such as making a particular purchase or agreeing to your position over a deal, says behavior expert Steve Martin, author of a book on the science of persuasion, "Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive."

"The advertising industry was crafting appeals on the basis of consumers' desire to fit in long before the 'Mad Men' era," Mr. Martin says. "But many businesses are only now beginning to experiment with social norms as a tool to drive profits."

Mr. Martin, who heads the U.K. office of the consultancy Influence at Work, has used a handful of simple persuasion strategies with large corporations and government agencies in the U.K. to influence the behavior of customers and citizens. The strategies make use of simple messages that can generate significant returns with changes that are virtually costless.

Among the strategies, tapping into a social norm to create consensus is a powerful tool that gets people to follow the behavior of others. Managers should try to identify what the consensus view is in a workplace and think about what messages will convince others to join the consensus.

An example of the power of consensus messaging is the use of information cards in hotel rooms. The number of customers who reused their towels increased by 26% when information cards in hotel rooms read "75% of customers who stay in this hotel reuse their towels," according to research conducted by Robert Cialdini, Mr. Martin's co-author and founder of Influence at Work in Tempe, Ariz. The reusage rate increased by 33% when the cards' message read: "75% of people who stayed in this room reused their towels."

Location and personalization are important because they draw an even closer association between the customer and those you want them to imitate. Mr. Martin adds that managers can use a "test and learn" approach to determine social norms. Start with small groups or locations, test messages and then assess whether there is a social norm to tap into.

Another strategy, which Mr. Martin calls "reciprocity," takes advantage of people's desire to respond when they feel they owe someone something. Research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that a diner is more likely to tip a waiter if the bill comes with a piece of candy, for example.

Framing a choice as leading to a potential loss rather than a gain—thereby creating a sense of stress—can also be a tool for managers. Mr. Martin describes a study in which a group of executives were presented with a proposal for an information-technology project. Twice as many in the group approved the proposal if the company was predicted to lose $500,000 if the proposal wasn't accepted, compared with a scenario that predicted the project would lead to a profit of $500,000. Managers should look at the message they are sending. Could a stronger argument be made by describing the opportunity costs rather than just the benefits?

Mr. Martin finds that favorable outcomes almost double when we identify common ground with the other party in a negotiation. Find similarities between you and your customer—such as the car you drive or the age of your kids—and express them before you start negotiating with them over a contract or a price, he advises.

"Influence isn't an art," says Mr. Martin, "there's over 60 years of research and evidence that shows how we can effectively move people. My advice would be to learn the science."

My week:

Mar. 30, 2017 Spring break: This week at work was really busy because it was spring break.

Jon Gosselin Confirms He’s Performing as a Stripper in Atlantic City, Calls It ‘a Blessing’: Here is some light and fun news.  I'm not really a fan of him or his reality TV show.  My sister watched it and I was on the computer and listening to it.  I don't find that reality show to be offensive or trashy.  Here's the news:

Jon Gosselin -- reality star, father of eight, DJ and… stripper?
It's true. After rumors began swirling that the former Jon & Kate Plus 8 star was going to perform as a male entertainer in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Gosselin, 39, confirmed the news to ET on Saturday.

"I work at Dusk Nightclub in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I'm a member of the Senate DJ group and I also help with Promotion," he explained. "I DJ at the club sometimes, but I find promotion is more rewarding both financially and emotionally. I like taking care of people and making others feel welcome."

Gosselin also revealed he's performing in the nightclub's Men Untamed Revue Show, exclusively telling ET his first night is April 1st.

Social media star exposes truth behind lingerie shoots: You can really see the difference between good and bad here:

Megan Crabbe, 24, wants to uncover the dramatic difference between a “polished and unpolished” photoshoot. The kicker? Her side-by-side snapshots are both stunning in their own respect.

The body positive blogger and model, who wears a size 14 (or XL), took to Instagram sharing a series of before-and-after boudoir-style photos. Her posts succeed in revealing just how staged professional shoots can be — and also remind us to credit ourselves in our natural state.

MCS 3 hours ago               
I think people put too much importance on their appearance... always looking for affirmation from strangers and others around them. Honestly give it up!!!! Can't you just be you without having to be patted on the head? fat, skinny who cares. just be good people and focus on important things... instead of dying your hair a weird colour and taking selfies every second of the day to prove to the world that you exist. it's getting old and pathetic! I'd love for these social media stars to take a challenge.... stay off the internet for 1 week!

Nancy Cartwright shocks teen with Bart Simpson impression: It was about The Simpsons, and I love that show, so of course I had to watch it:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer reunion: I loved that show when I was a teenager.  I started watching it at 14 in season 4.

I'm so incredibly proud of what we all created," Sarah Michelle Gellar said. "Sometimes you need distance to really understand the gravitas of that. I appreciate everything about that job. As an actor, all you ever want to do is leave your mark — you want to do something that affects people."

Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on March 10, 1997. To mark the 20-year reunion, several of the cast members took to social media and used the hashtag "#BuffySlays20."

Gellar posted a lengthy note about her time preventing the apocalypse on a weekly basis.
"That first season, we liked to think of ourselves as the little show that could. While we knew the potential, I don't think any of us saw the lasting impact our show would have. As an actor, you wish for that one role where you can leave your mark and forever be remembered, with Buffy I got so much more. She's a feminist challenge to gender hierarchy. Buffy may have been the Chosen One, but I was the lucky one," she wrote.

'Very grateful:' Driver returns birthday cash to woman who left purse on train: This was by Lauren Krugel on the Edmonton Journal on Mar. 29, 2017:

CALGARY — A woman who left behind a purse with $1,300 in birthday cash on a light-rail transit train says she can barely believe someone was honest enough to return it.
Li Feng Yang had just received the money for her 75th birthday and was planning to deposit it in the bank. She was taking the train to see her doctor last week when she dropped the bag on the seat beside her.

Yang realized she'd forgotten it immediately after she got off the train in downtown Calgary and the doors closed.
"A rush of burning anxiety immediately came in," she said in a statement translated by her grandson, Kai Huang.

Yang, who does not speak English, met a Chinese-speaking man by the train station. He helped her call Calgary Transit and took her to the lost property office.
Train operator Mesfin Tadese found the bag during a walk-through when the train was at the end of the line and called the office to say he'd found the bag. He handed it off to the next driver to take to the lost and found.

The next morning, Yang received word that her bag, which also contained her cellphone and bank card, had been found. She went with her son to retrieve it.
She said she was surprised and "very happy, very grateful."

"It was hard to believe what I see. Is there really honest people that would return my lost bag with cash in it?" she said through Huang.
"Well, the undeniable truth is in front of me."

Yang thanked Tadese in person on Tuesday. She brought him two bouquets of flowers and embraced him at a downtown train station.
Tadese said he was just doing his job.

"I'm happy to see the original owner and give back the purse. I never thought it's a big deal like this."

Calgary Transit says 50 to 100 lost items are turned in every day.
In addition to wallets and cellphones, Calgary Transit has seen some odd items such as musical instruments and false teeth crop up.

Mar. 31, 2017 Man swallowed whole by a python: I found this in the National Post in the Edmonton Journal.  It didn't' say if he died or not, and he did.

A 25-year-old Indonesian man has been swallowed whole by a python on the island of Sulawesi, villagers and news reports said."

Job search: I followed up on 2 interviews I did.  I emailed them.  One office job says there are still interviews. 

The other one said they won't be hiring after all.  That's fine, maybe they will have my resume on file and in the future they will hire me.


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