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Join the Committme.

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Scottish Parliament Building, Committee Room 1

What do you do when you feel you’ve had enough?

Do I really need to publish the links again? Unless you’re on a remote desert island with no internet access or an agent who really doesn’t care much about your future, you know what links I’m talking about. Oh alright, one more time and then I swear I won’t like to them again (in this post). Issue #1 and Issue #2. So now that you’re up to speed (as if you weren’t) please allow me to continue.

All the commotion caused by these two issues over the last week or so has been amazing to me. I learned more about IDX, NAR, HUD, MLS, and OMG then I knew was possible. As I delved further into the issues and commented on posts and read other agents’ thoughts, I started to learn more and care more about what’s happening outside of my transactions. I have always taken an interest in these sorts of stories on AgentGenius, but something about this really got my attention. The more I talked about it to others, the more I found people asking me questions and caring about what was going on. Many were in the dark. I’d like to think I shed some light on the subject for them.

Did I just make a difference?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks I face as a newly crowned one year old Realtor® is the fact that I am new. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that I don’t mind the moniker, but I have to admit…sometimes it deters me. I’m surrounded by people with more knowledge and experience, but despite that fact, I am treated as a peer. It doesn’t mean that I’m oozing confidence every second of the day though. I do have my moments of doubts and fears, but when you see yourself taking a role and having people look to you for opinions and advice, you start to think that maybe you shouldn’t be having them.

I’m making a difference by being vocal and spreading the word. I’m proud of that. Fact is, it’s not enough. In six months I fear no one will be listening to me talk more about these issues – some of you will, but so many won’t. That’s discouraging, but unfortunately, it seems to be part of human nature.

It is time for me to take a step forward.

So today, I am announcing my new “Committme Campaign.” I am going to start working towards a goal of being on a committee on the national level. I looked through the requirements for them. Guess what? I’m not qualified. Most of the committees require some form of state or local experience. I did some research. Guess what? The Texas Association Of Realtors® is about to open up the committees. On May 28, 2009, I will be able to put forth my information to possibly join a state level committee. I have begun gathering information and asking questions of some local agents who serve to see if they have any advice for me and I want something from you, my AgentGenius friends. I want you to “committme.” Don’t let me back down, give excuses, hem or haw. Don’t let me dodge this, forget it, or sleep in late that day. I need you to help me do this.

If you have any advice, I’m all ears. I figure if I can make a move to join a committee or two, then I’m a few steps closer to helping build the National Association Of Realtors® that I want to see in the future. It’s a long road and it won’t happen overnight, but if I can make a tiny dent to repay all of you for what you’ve taught me, then I feel I’ve done my job. I don’t want it to be a lonely journey either, so I hope some of you will join me. I know I’ll get frustrated, but I hope you’ll keep me on track. I know I’ll curse myself for this commitment later, but I hope you’ll remind me of what got me here. I need your help to help me help all of us. I won’t save the world, but I’ll at least leave a mark.

photo courtesy of ILoveMyPiccolo

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Ken Brand

    May 21, 2009 at 6:55 am

    I wish you speed, patience and endurance, you already have brains and moxie. Go Get’em.

  2. Brad Nix

    May 21, 2009 at 7:32 am

    It is a commitment of time (oh the hours and hours), energy and money (not all expenses will be reimbursed and the lost business due to your time investment is worth noting). However, you will find good people trying to do what they think is right.

    Unfortunately, you will be classified as the ‘young techie’ and in their eyes that means you know how to use the internet well, mastered the pda, and generally have nothing else of value to add beyond answering tech support questions. Please fight thru this stereoype and prove your value by being forceful with your ideas for improvement. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  3. Vance Shutes

    May 21, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Matt,

    Having served in both committee and leadership positions at both my local and State Boards of Realtors, I salute your commitment to giving back to your profession! Thank you, and may your example serve as encouragement for many others to get involved in their local Boards. As your business grows, and the demands on your time grows accordingly, the service you provide at the local and State Boards will help you become more laser-focused on each transaction, client, and Board activity. Go Matt, Go!

  4. Benn Rosales

    May 21, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Question everything, and always put the needs of the membership above your own, and the day you can no longer be who you are is the day to step down.

    I’ve always known you were a cut above, you have my support, although I’m a lousy alarm clock.

  5. Louise Scoggins

    May 21, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Wow, Matt, I am impressed! I envy your committment to become involved. As a busy Realtor / mom / wife, I am always hesitant to get involved with committees b/c I am afraid it will detract from my business or family. I wish you the best of luck and will be following along with your progress! Kudos to you!!

  6. Lani at Agent Genius

    May 21, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Matt, I’m a great alarm clock and we support you!!! 🙂

  7. Mark Brian

    May 21, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Great news you are taking a step to get involved. I have been hesitating to do so myself because I never seem to have enough time to get eveything done. But maybe I need to finally break down and try to make a difference by getting involved.

  8. Matt Stigliano

    May 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Ken – You’re showing your age using words like “moxie.” Haha. Good thing my mom used to use that word or I’d be running to a dictionary right now. Thank you Ken, thank you.

    Brad – All things I’ve considered. My answer to the time/money issue is simple. If I don’t try to change and work within our various associations, my money and time won’t matter if I let them take it all away. You can help – keep doing what you’re doing. (I don’t want to admit this in public, but you’re one of my real estate idols.)

    Vance – That’s an interesting take on the time commitment. By using more time, you learn to focus more. It’s true, but I hadn’t thought of it that way.

    Benn – You said:

    Question everything, and always put the needs of the membership above your own, and the day you can no longer be who you are is the day to step down.

    I have never backed down from a question, even if it sounds naive or stupid. Part of this is about the needs of the membership (myself included). And as for stepping down – I left a great, fun, and lucrative job for that sort of reason. I loved being a rockstar, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be anymore. I felt as if I wasn’t serving the needs of my fellow band mates or the fans. For lack of a better phrase – I was half-assing it. I left.

    Louise – I don’t have enough time as it is, but the fact is, I can no longer use time as an excuse to watch everything from the sidelines. If I can’t be a part of it all, then I can’t complain near as much as I do.

    Lani – Thanks. You know, I still think the “Million Realtor Plus Lani March On TAR” is a great idea.

    Mark – I think you should. I’m scared to death of the time commitment, the unknown, the new…but if I don’t try, then I’m just another warm body doing my job. I want to see real estate move forward and although I’m a realist and don’t think I’m going to walk in there and change the world – if I can change one tiny little thing, I feel I’ve done what I came to do.

    I actually hated this post. I was frazzled yesterday. I mean what I said in it, I just wish it had been better written. In fact, most would call me insane for attempting this and I missed one amazing bit of word play – “Committme”/”Commit Me” (insane, get it?). From here on out, I will have Ken Brand ghost write all my word play.

  9. Craig Barrett

    May 21, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Get it! Keep the faith and focus past the inevitable distractions. I got your back 🙂

  10. Vicki Lloyd

    May 21, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Good for you Matt!

    My motto has always been to get involved or shut up and suffer the consequences.

    I’m on my local MLS committee, and the Pro-Standards committee at my Board of Realtors. Participating in the meetings and discussions is valuable education, and there’s even a chance of making a difference!

    Some of the old timers (who think “We’ve always done it this way”) can be educated and influenced when they get to know and respect you.

    Just be gentle, or you will scare them away!

    Good luck!

  11. Brad Nix

    May 21, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Matt, you’re gonna rock your local and state associations – just be yourself!

    I just can’t get past the fact that two of your supporters belong to the same local association here in Cherokee County, GA. Louise Scoggins, way to show up and support Matty Rockstar! Now if I could just get you to help me make some changes in our local association;) Start by sending me your ideas for improvement, you know how to contact me – or just say when and I’ll be the beers so we can talk in person.

  12. Matt Stigliano

    May 21, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Vicki – That’s a good motto. We lived life the same way in the band. Stop your whining and start your working. We all broke the theory from time to time and complained or moaned, but it only made us work harder. Try touring England for two weeks (it doesn’t take much to tour through there) knowing full well that you haven’t sold a record. Guess what? Those tours of crappy clubs in the worst places made us into someone in the UK. Sometimes you have to suffer a bit to be where you need to be, but crying about it won’t get you anywhere. I’ll try to be gentle, but I will share my thoughts and work to learn more and explain what I already know.

    Brad – I learned from you early on to be myself. You were the first one to really drive that home to me with those early email conversations. Louise could be a great ally for you…you just need to convince her you won’t take all of her time.

    Louise – If anyone would be awesome to work with in the local associations, it would be Brad. Plus he’s offering to “be the beer” (I think a tried that once after reading a Zen book and having a couple of beers – I don’t remember the results).

  13. Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

    May 21, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I’m also involved on the local level- on my association’s board of directors – I’ll likely be pres-elect next year and recently became involved in my regions MLS committee. These issues do make me feel I need to get involved even more either at the state or national level – sometimes a fresh viewpoint is welcomed, especially if it is well reasoned and not argumentative. You can definitely make a difference locally – so I hope you get whatever committee assignments that you want. Actually, I did volunteer for my MLS committee a couple of years ago and was asked to be on the website committee instead – I paid my dues there (that’s how I was asked to be a director and then back again to MLS committe). So if you don’t get on the exact committees you would like right away, get involved with something – you will get there eventually.

  14. Matt Stigliano

    May 21, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Carolyn – Great advice and encouragement…thanks! I just sent an email to our last chairman of our local board to see if he could offer me any advice. I’ve been in contact with a few “big names” in our association (I figure they’ll at least know my name by the time I get there!) and just that experience is becoming fun and firing me up just a little more each time I get an email. I see your point about being open to other committees and I am, there’s a few I can’t imagine I would perform well on (right now), but I have a couple in mind so far.

  15. Paula Henry

    May 21, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Matt – I commend your dedication to enacting change and yes, it will be slow progress. Every little bit helps though. Every voice counts.

    I got your Commit Me, and insane, it may be. I sat with a few board members today and have to say, it’s painful to watch and try to educate those opposed to growth and progression in the industry. I don’t think my board is ready for me 🙂

    With people like you and many others here, who knows, one day we may take back R.com. A few baby steps at a time.

  16. Bill Lublin

    May 22, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Matt: A great big Man Hug AND a chest bump on top of that- Your taking steps to participate in the governance of the REALTOR movement is what is needed for NAR to move towards the future.
    When I first got involved in my local association, my broker (who was a former board president) said to me, “If you leave the association in a little better shape than when you found it, you’ve done a good job” I’ve tried to keep that advice in my mind since then, and its always served me well. Hope it does the same for you.
    Looks like you still rock dude!

  17. South City Lights

    May 22, 2009 at 6:01 am

    Join the Committme. | Real Estate Blog Magazine – Real Estate … https://tinyurl.com/pvs77m

  18. Louise Scoggins

    May 22, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Hey Matt, Yep I know I can learn soooo much from Brad, he is a local Real Estate icon (at least in my eyes). I am amazed at all he does and am glad you have found encouragement from his words. I again state I am envious of your “just do it” attitude. It’s definitely something I can learn from. I think it’s great that your passion for your industry and the change to come has caused you to step up to the plate…it has definitely made me think about some things.

  19. Matt Stigliano

    May 22, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Craig – How did I miss you in my replies? D’oh! Thanks for the back up. I think I’ll have a lot of good back up when I get stuck, frustrated, or feel a bit lost.

    Paula – As I’ve said, your post really got this rolling in me. Why sit back and wait for changes like that to come about when I can “head them off at the pass.” I owe you (and a lot of AgentGenius people in general) for helping craft me into who I am. I took my own self and applied the principles I started to learn here and now I feel I’m growing in many ways. I don’t think your board is ready for you…I think you’ve proved that.

    Bill – Just got an email this morning from our past-chairman with some great advice and encouragement. He’s the kind of guy I thought wouldn’t take a minute for a young guy like me…he’s too important, I thought. I had the same thoughts about you when I first read your posts. Not because of the way you acted, but just a simple pre-conceived notion because you were a “big-wig.” You proved me wrong long ago and with that thought in mind, I took a shot and sent him an email. I got the response. I’m learning to not pre-judge other agents and people in roles of “authority” in real estate. One more step for me. I love the quote and will do my best to live by it.

    Louise – As my The Stigliano Chronicles is geared towards newer agents, I thought it was important to have this conversation about my “Committme Campaign” here. Perhaps I could inspire one or two of them to join in too. I definitely believe that if more of those of us join in and participate in the associations and boards, we can move real estate to new levels.

  20. Austin Smith - Goomzee.com

    May 22, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Do it to it, Matt! I applaud you for coming to this conclusion in light of last week’s controversy. How do you fix what’s broken? Become proactive, that’s how! Good luck with your goal, Matt…hopefully you’re duties won’t cut into you’re blogging time.

  21. Todd Tarson

    May 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Matt, I applaud your attitude and believe it is the right one to have if you indeed are passionate about this industry and more importantly, your clients.

    I decided to get involved with my local Association soon after becoming a Realtor Member. It hasn’t been all daisy’s and roses (but I’m not a flower kinda dude anyway). It took time and sacrifice but I’ve been blessed with more knowledge that has directly helped me become a better practitioner… and my clients thank me for it.

    The change you want will only come when you put your effort into it. Do not wait around for anyone else to change, you be the agent of change. It is needed now more than ever and the changes need to process through in a timely fashion. Our industry requires these changes.

    Bottom line… do it. I wish you good fortune and much success.

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Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

Why robots freak us out, and what it means for the future of AI

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Robots and humans have a long way to go before the social divide disappears, but research is giving us insight on how to cross the uncanny valley.

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Close of R2D2 toy, an example of robots that we root for, but why?

We hate robots. Ok, wait, back up. We at least think they are more evil than good. Try it yourself – “are robots” in Google nets you evil before good. Megatron has higher SEO than Optimus Prime, and it’s not just because he’s so much cooler. It cuz he evil, cuz. It do be like that.

It’s not even a compliment to call someone robotic; society connotes this to emotionless preprogrammed shells of hideous nothing, empty clankbags that walk and talk and not much else. So, me at a party. Or if you’re a nerd, you’re a robot. (Me at a party once again.)

Let’s start by assuming robots as human-like bipedal machines that are designed with some amount of artificial intelligence, generally designed to fulfill a job to free up humanity from drudgery. All sounds good so far. So why do they creep us out?

There’s a litany of reasons why, best summed up with the concept of the uncanny valley, first coined by roboticist Masahiro Mori (Wow he’s still alive! The robots have not yet won) in 1970. Essentially, we know what a human is and how it looks and behaves against the greater backdrop of life and physics. When this is translated to a synthetic being, we are ok with making a robot look and act like us to a point, where we then notice all the irregularities and differences.

Most of these are minor – unnaturally smooth or rigid movements, light not scattering properly on a surface, eyes that don’t sync up quite right when they blink, and several other tiny details. Lots of theories take over at this point about why this creeps us out. But a blanket way to think about it is that our expectation doesn’t match what we are seeing; the reality we’re presented with is off just enough and this makes us uncomfortable .

Ever stream a show and the audio is a half second off? Makes you really annoyed. Magnify that feeling by a thousand and you’re smack in the middle of the uncanny valley. It’s that unnerving. One possible term for this is abjection, which is what happens the moment before we begin to fear something. Our minds – sensing incompatibility with robots – know this is something else, something other , and faced with no way to categorize this, we crash.

This is why they make good villains in movies – something we don’t understand and given free will and autonomy, potentially imbued with the bias of a creator or capable of forming terrifying conclusions all on its own (humans are a virus). But they also make good heroes, especially if they are cute or funny. Who doesn’t love C3PO? That surprise that they are good delights us. Build in enough appeal to a robot, and we root for them and feel empathy when they are faced with hardships. Do robots dream of electric sheep? Do robots have binary souls? Bits and zeros and ones?

Professor Jaime Banks (Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication) spends a lot of time thinking about how we perceive robots. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic that covers anthropomorphism, artificial intelligence, robot roles within society, trust, inherently measuring virtue versus evil, preconceived notions from entertainment, and numerous topics that cover human-robot interactions.

The world is approaching a future where robots may become commonplace; there are already robot bears in Japan working in the healthcare field. Dressing them up with cute faces and smiles may help, but one jerky movement later and we’ve dropped all suspension.

At some point, we have to make peace with the idea that they will be all over the place. Skynet, GLaDOS in Portal, the trope of your evil twin being a robot that your significant will have to shoot in the middle of your fight, that episode of Futurama where everything was a robot and they rose up against their human masters with wargod washing machines and killer greeting cards, the other Futurama episode where they go to a planet full of human hating murderous robots… We’ve all got some good reasons to fear robots and their coded minds.

But as technology advances, it makes sense to have robots take over menial tasks, perform duties for the needy and sick, and otherwise benefit humanity at large. And so the question we face is how to build that relationship now to help us in the future.

There’s a fine line between making them too humanlike versus too mechanical. Pixar solved the issue of unnerving humanoids in their movies by designing them stylistically – we know they are human and accept that the figure would look odd in real life. We can do the same with robots – enough familiarity to develop an appeal, but not enough to erase the divide between humanity and robot. It may just be a question of time and new generations growing up with robots becoming fixtures of everyday life. I’m down for cyborgs too.

Fearing them might not even be bad, as Banks points out: “…a certain amount of fear can be a useful thing. Fear can make us think critically and carefully and be thoughtful about our interactions, and that would likely help us productively engage a world where robots are key players.”

Also, check out Robot Carnival if you get the chance – specifically the Presence episode of the anthology.

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Opinion Editorials

4 simple tips to ease friction with your boss while working remotely

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Find it challenging to get along with your boss while working from home? Here are a few things you can try to ease the tension.

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Woman stressed over laptop in remote work.

Most people probably feel like their relationship with their boss is fine. If you’re encountering friction with your boss for any reason, though, remote work will often exacerbate it—this is one instance where distance doesn’t necessarily make the heart grow fonder. Here are a few ways to remove some of that friction without adding to your boss’ overflowing plate.

According to CNN, determining the problem that exists between you and your boss should be your first step. There’s one caveat to consider, however: Your boss’ boundaries. Problem-solving on your own time is fine, but demanding more of your boss’ time—especially when you’re supposed to be working—may compound the issue.

An easy way around this is a low-impact communique—e.g., an email—sent at the beginning or end of the workday. Since that’s a more passive communication style that takes only a minute or two out of your day, it’s less likely to frustrate your boss further.

If ironing out the issue isn’t your prerogative for now, examining your boss’ parameters for success is another place to start. Does your boss prefer to receive multiple updates throughout the day, or do they want one summative report each morning? Do you respect your boss’ preferred communication styles? These are important questions to ask during remote work. If you find yourself reaching out more than necessary, for example, it may be time to cut back.

It can also be difficult to satiate your boss if you don’t know their expectations. If you’re able to speak to them about the expectations regarding a project or task, do it; clarifying the parameters around your work will always help both of you. It is worth noting that some supervisors may expect that you know your way around some types of responsibilities, though, so err on the side of complementing that knowledge rather than asking for comprehensive instructions.

Finally, keep in mind that some bosses simply don’t communicate the same way you do. I’ve personally been blessed with a bevy of nurturing, enthusiastic supervisors, but we’ve all had superiors who refuse to acknowledge our successes and instead focus on our failures. That can be a really tough mentality to work with during remote periods, but knowing that they have a specific communication style that hampers their sociability can help dampen the effects.

As always, communication is key—even if that means doing it a little bit less than you’d like.

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