Monday, November 4, 2013

The Best Ways to Apologize When You Screw Up At Work or At Home

After promising your boss you would complete an important assignment on time, you realize you're behind and it's going to be late. You unintentionally leave a colleague out of the loop on a joint project, causing him or her to feel frustrated and a bit betrayed. On the subway, you aren't paying attention and accidentally spill hot coffee all over a stranger's expensive suit. It's time for a mea culpa.

Apologies are tricky. Done right, they can resolve conflict, repair hurt feelings, foster forgiveness, and improve relationships. An apology can even keep you out of the courtroom. Despite the fact that lawyers often caution their clients to avoid apologies, fearing that they are tantamount to an admission of guilt, studies show that when potential plaintiffs receive an apology, they are more likely to settle out of court for less money.

However, as anyone can tell you, most apologies don't go so well. Ask John Galliano, for instance. Or John Edwards, or Todd Aiken, or Kanye West. (I could go on and on.) An apology is no guarantee that you'll find yourself out of hot water. This is usually either because the person or persons from whom you are seeking forgiveness really aren't interested in forgiving, or because the transgression itself is deemed unforgivable. But more often than not, your apology falls flat because you're apologizing the wrong way.

In a nutshell, the problem is that most people tend to make their apologies about themselves—about their intentions, thoughts, and feelings.

"I didn't mean to..."

"I was trying to..."

"I didn't realize..."

"I had a good reason..."

When you screw up, the victim of your screw up does not want to hear about you. Therefore, stop talking about you and put the focus of your apology where it belongs: on him or her. Specifically, concentrate on how the victim has been affected by your mistake, on how the person is feeling, and on what he or she needs from you in order to move forward. Thanks to recent research on effective apologies, you can fine-tune your approach even further according to your relationship with the recipient of the apology:

The guy in the coffee-stained suit wants an offer of compensation. Offers of compensation are attempts to restore balance through some redeeming action. Sometimes the compensation is tangible, like paying to repair or replace your neighbor's fence when you inadvertently back your car into it, or running out to get your girlfriend a new phone when you accidentally drop hers into the toilet (which happened to me, by the way. Not cool.) Offers of compensation can also be more emotional or socially-supportive. (as in,"I'm sorry I acted like a jerk, and I'll make it up to you by being extra thoughtful from now on.")

The colleague you accidentally left out of the loop doesn't want compensation. When you have a relationship with the injured party, you will instead need to take his or her perspective and express empathy. Expressions of empathy involve recognizing and expressing concern over the suffering you caused. (e.g., "I'm so sorry that I didn't appreciate all of your effort. You must have felt awful, and that's the last thing I want.") Through expressions of empathy, the victim feels understood and valued as a partner in the relationship, and trust is restored.

In the modern workplace, we often operate as teams. So when you fail to meet an important deadline, chances are it's not just your boss that's affected—it's your whole team, and possibly your whole organization. In team settings, people don't want compensation or empathy—they want an acknowledgement of violated rules and norms. Basically, you need to admit that you broke the code of behavior of your social group, your organization, or your society. (e.g., "I have a responsibility to my team/organization/family/community and I should have known better. I didn't just let myself down, I let others who count on me down.")

When you think about it, it's surprising that we're often so bad at apologizing. After all, we are frequently on the receiving end of apologies ourselves—so we should know what works and what doesn't. In reality, we often forget what it's like to be on the other side—whether we're trying to apologize, impress, persuade, help, or motivate.

So when crafting your apology, remember to ask yourself the following: Who am I talking to, and what is he or she looking for in my apology? The guy on the subway still dripping from your morning joe doesn't want to hear that you "feel his pain"—but when you forget your wife's birthday, she most definitely would like you to feel hers.

The Most Effective Ways to Make It Right When You Screw Up | Harvard Business Review

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Universal cellphone spidey-griper / car mount / stand

DSC09602.jpgI did this random hack about 9 months ago and have been living with it and using it constantly. I got to where I stopped noticing it and just used it. A friend reminded me to post it to instructables.

What is it? It's a thick vinyl strip secured to the cell phone that allows: Single handed, yet secure touch usage Quick car mount by sliding into an unused CD player slot Prevents it from sliding off surfaces like dashboards Makes it easy to fish out of pockets Muffles the vibrating sound when placed on hard surfaces Doubles as a night stand I experimented with different materials like leather for the flap, but heavy vinyl worked best. It's soft, grippy, holds it's shape and is the right amount of rigid.

The hack is fairly easy. Attach a small strip of thick vinyl to the back of a cell phone cover. There might be multiple ways to do this, but here's my approach.

Warning: You must be able to remove the back panel to do this hack. NEVER expose cellphone batteries to heat. They tend to explode fiery acid. If you cannot remove the back panel from your phone DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS modification.

DSC09618.JPG- Cellphone with a removable back panel

- Vinyl strip somewhere around 2.0 - 2.5mm thickness at least the size of the cell phone.
My source: TAP Plastics 

- Polycaprolactone (PCL) plastic like InstaMorph, ShapeLock or Amaco's Friendly Plastic which comes in colors
My source: Amazon  (black "Friendly Plastic")
Used as "glue" to attach the vinyl to the back of the phone.

- Soldering Iron
My Source: Radio Shack Digital Soldering Station (variable temperature)

- Heat gun
My source: amazon, Milwaukee 8988-20 Variable Temperature Heat Gun is awesome

- Duct tape or the superior Gaffer tape (for prototyping before destroying your phone)

- Straight piece of thick wire. Like a snipped hanger (for finding center of cellphone)

- Razor or box knife (for scoring plastic)

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How to Crochet a Hemp Bracelet or Anklet

hemp_bracelet.jpgI love hemp jewelry, but I've never made any of my own. Mostly, because the hemp knotting looked fairly complicated. Fortunately, hemp is pretty versatile, so I'm able to crochet with it! Using super basic stitches like the chain stitch and the single crochet stitch, we can whip up a hemp bracelet or anklet in not time flat!

This tutorial will actually yield two different bracelets or anklets (or one of each). There will be a stopping point at which time you can close up shop and be done with a more "simplified" version of this (no button, thinner, but with seed beads), or you can continue on with the last few steps and get one more like what's pictured here. The choice is yours!

All you need for this project are: scissors, about 30' hemp cord, seed beads, very cool button, "I" crochet hook, yarn needle, glue, and 2 optional beads (for the ties).

by Rachel at TLC Inspirations

IMG_3710.jpgFold your 30' piece of hemp cord in half, then take one of the cut ends and put a very thin layer of glue on, using your fingers. We're talking about a drop here, folks! Use a twisting motion going with the direction of the hemp fibers, when applying, so that it creates a point. We're doing this to make it easier to slide on your beads, otherwise the hemp fibers will fray apart, making it impossible to strand anything on there.

Just use regular white glue or something similar. It should dry fairly quickly.

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Laser Cut MDF Cosplay Pistols

DMC01.jpgSeveral years ago, I was commissioned by a cosplayer to build replicas of Dante's twin pistols, Ebony and Ivory, from the Devil May Cry video game series. I was still new to prop-building so I cut the body of each gun out of 3/4" MDF and glued on bits of plastic to make them look like their game counterparts.

They turned out pretty good and the client was happy, but they were never perfect enough for my tastes. It's difficult to get the machined look with hand tools and almost impossible to engrave graphics which is a distinctive feature of these guns.

DMC02.jpgFor the new version, I refined the detail in Adobe Illustrator and planned out the parts so they could be built using layers of laser-cut MDF. This would allow for maximum accuracy as well as the engraving on the barrels.

The body of each gun was cut from 3 pieces of 1/4" MDF, with a gap in the middle section for a trigger and hammer, which were also cut from 1/4" MDF. I also left a gap in the middle section for a faux barrel. Raised areas like the side of the slides were cut from 1/8" MDF.

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Pick a Bundle Offers 10 Mac Apps of Your Choice for $50

Pick a Bundle Offers 10 Mac Apps of Your Choice for $50

OS X: Software bundles provide a great way to get discounts on a bunch of apps you want (and probably a few you don't know about), but rarely do you get to pick the apps that come in your bundle. Pick your bundle allows you to choose 10 out of 30 options and pay only $50 for all of them.

The bundle includes a few apps we really like. For example, TotalFinder adds tabs and other features to the standard Finder (if you want that before OS X Mavericks arrives). Typinator is a former favorite text expansion app. MailTags adds tags to Apple Mail, and MailActOn creates complex rules to make your emails more actionable. TotalSpaces brings back the Spaces grid and fixes a number of annoying problems introduced in OS X 10.7 Lion. You'll also find a few other apps that'll help boost productivity and organization: MacBreakz, TidyUp, DEVONsphere, DEVONnote, MacHider, Keycard, PopChar, A Better Finder Attributes, and more. The bundle offers tons of options so check it out and see if you can build a bundle that's worth your $50.

Pick a Bundle ($50)

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Make a Scooter from Scratch

Before I do any real modeling, first I do rough sketches for most of my projects, this one included. I use these to figure out the basic dimensions I need. Once I had an idea of what I was actually going to be making, I went around my college campus with a notebook and tape-measure and took measurements off of all the scooter styles I liked. I ended up choosing the Razor A5-Lux to base my scooter on. I also decided early on that I wanted to make this out of aluminum, with a laser-cut acrylic deck, and possibly LEDs for night cruising. 

After 20 minutes of taking measurements off of someone's A5-Lux, I had all the dimensions I needed to do another round of sketches. Then I moved to Google SketchUp and made a full 3D model. Even though the nitty-gritty construction details were not 100% accurate in the SketchUp model, I used the model to figure out the different stock aluminum I needed, and specific cut lengths for some pieces. 

Later on in the build (about 5 months later) I learned SolidWorks in an engineering class. By this time in the build, I had most of the pieces made, so making an accurate model was much easier this time around. I used this model to figure out the exact length and placement of the "folding support bar", but I'll get into that later. However, I'll open each step from now on with a picture of the part from the Solid Works model. 

Once I had my SketchUp model, I made a materials list and ordered all of the aluminum from Online Metals. I also took time to figure out generic screw sizes, and ordered these from I used mostly 8-32 socket-head and 8-32 button-head, with several 5-40 button-head screws for the little things. 

I was originally going to purchase the replacement 8 inch A5-Lux wheels from the Razor store, however, I decided against it after I found out they were back ordered and 60 dollars. After much online research, I found that large wheel-chair casters are cheap, durable, and pretty available. I got two 8 inch wheels from some guy on eBay for less then 20 dollars. 

Early on I decided I wanted the deck to be clear acrylic, so I also ordered a piece of 1/4 clear-green acrylic from E-Street Plastics. I'll use my school's laser cutter to cut out the deck. Laser cutting acrylic is great because it likes to crack and chip when you machine / cut it with regular saws, and the laser cutting also 'flame polishes' the edge when it cuts it, so it's just an all-around great way to cut acrylic!

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