Workplace Emotional IQ

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Every once in a while, someone rubs us the wrong way. Whether it is rubbishing the work you have done or just  throwing an insensitive answer at you.

Now it depends on who has offended you and their position. If it is your senior, you can chose to let go of it quickly because it affects your work. If the individual is your colleague or teammate, the justification of an apology can sometimes be greater.

Truth is, in this life, we are bound to encounter people who do not agree with us. Some get their validation from demeaning others. You may even notice a pattern with these people. Yet, we all need to focus on the goal of getting a project done. It might be a deeper personality problem that the individual needs to deal with.

When such a situation happens- notice use of when and not if- because it will happen eventually, you need to have emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.

  1. Separate the individual from the project- the show must go on despite a bruised ego. Things must move and the faster you realize this, the better for your peace of mind as an individual.
  2. Know the battles to pick- some things are better ignored, because they end up consuming so much of your time and energy.
  3. Let the person know that they have offended you (after composing yourself). It helps to maintain a respectful working relationship. Nothing personal, this is work.
  4. Know when to let a matter rest and move on. Sometimes if you let issues drag too long, it results to pettiness.

A few months ago, someone rubbed me the wrong way. I have highlighted the lessons from this experience. (I started writing  this post on the day I was offended, but held on to it. I have edited most of it. I am learning that not  everything is worth the public’s scrutiny, even as I press the publish button.)

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How fast a reader are you?


So today I bumped onto a speed test for readers on Dickson Otieno’s blog and thought I must share this.

First, I took the test and failed miserably. I did 72 words per minute. I am 71% slower than the average UK reader.  That means I would read the book- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling in 19 hours and 49 minutes. Or Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell in 20 hours and 35 minutes. Here is a book I have not yet completed, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, I would read in 39 hours 14 minutes. Ooh!

Here is the App, try and test your reading speed.

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

I think I might just resort to audio books at this rate. The thing is, no matter how slow, I’m in love with books. Yesterday my neighbour came to my house and on seeing my collection, she asked, “When do you get time to read all these books?” Yeah, I guess I’ll stick to my title- Bookaholic.

Photo credit

Alone in the midst of many

Just found this poem that described my state of mind back then. No, I am not depressed, so everyone, relax and enjoy the read. I am just a person who loves playing with words. This poem is part of my unpublished book.

Photo: Wilson Mrema

They laugh, some smile,
Talking, I smile back,
Though the language simple,
T’is yet complex.

They are laughing, some are smiling,
Talking a language, I smile back,
The one I seem to not understand,
Tears hidden in this broad smile,
The brave smile that always comes,
To keep tears at bay, lest anyone knows,
The secret is for me and mine,
Though deep inside, I scream aloud,
Telling is no option of mine,
Time alone will tell the secrets,
That cannot hide themselves.


Juliet Awuor © 2014

This week in perspective: A roller-coaster of emotions.

Black woman hugging her knees
Black woman hugging her knees Image credit:


This week has been a mixture of emotions to me. First, it started with losing a friend to cancer. Then as if that was not enough, I met a nephew to someone I cared for in hospital, who eventually died of cancer.

The nephew seemed to be ignoring me, so I acted like I did not know him. After all, it was working hours and I was on official business. I picked the document that I had been sent to pick and went ahead to a function to celebrate the International Women’s Day.

All through, I was wondering what hostility existed between us that this person was still ignoring me after all these years. I concluded for the moment to let it be as it is and move on. After all, when his uncle died, they never told me anything. I only discovered three weeks after his burial from a friend of his whom I met in hospital. This was through a phone call I made after being worried about the uncle.

Going home, the thought kept bugging me. I decided to text the nephew and reintroduce myself. You must have forgotten me… I am so and so.

To my surprise, the guy genuinely did not recognize me. His uncle tried to arrange a meeting between us when he was in hospital, but he was busy at work. The uncle even gave me the nephew’s number. That explains why I had the number. For someone who used to see me 15 years ago, before I had the disability, it would be understandable. “I am happy you looked good,” he said. “I hope you are keeping well,” he added.

The next day I met a friend whom I nearly married. I noticed he had a wedding band on his finger. I asked him why I was never invited to his wedding. “It happened too fast,” he said. I was happy he found the right one and was happy with her. Later that evening, he sent me a text apologizing for having disappointed me. “You have not disappointed me. It was just never meant to be,” I replied. “May God bless your marriage,” I added.

This same week I received a call from Elza, mama Earnest. I was so happy to have finally connected to her. I have been looking for her like crazy. It just so happens that she has also been looking for me. We are yet to meet, but I know we have a lot to catch up on.

What I learnt this week is you have to take initiative to reach out. Never make your own conclusions. And what is meant to be, will be.

With love from,


Talking hair- I am not my hair

Let’s talk hair. Lately I’ve been feeling so free and comfortable in my own hair, it actually scares me sometimes.

Few months ago I wouldn’t be caught dead walking in my natural hair (not blow dried or relaxed straight). It just didn’t feel tidy enough. Come to think of it, that thought must have come from a desire I had as a school girl- to have lovely hair. I even used to dream of myself in flawless weaves. (Experiments which I have tried out and looked good.)

You see, going to school, we had no choice of plaiting our hair. It was either books, or hair. Full stop. (Not a rule in our school, rather a rule at home.)  My father was a disciplinarian who did not like it when we spent a lot of time on our hair rather than concentrating on school.

Up to form four, I rocked a short Afro, which was easy to handle. Just comb-and-get-on-with-your-day kind of hair. Which explains my ID photo, the one they refused to let me change even after three replacements. I wanted them to change it to something better, like the awesome braids I usually rock. Plus I looked like a child on that photo, 18, and in school uniform.

(Back to talking hair). January this year, I had an overwhelming desire to cut my hair. I was just tired of going to the salon every month and constantly worrying about my unkempt hair. Now this had nothing to do with the “My unkempt hair debate“. I told a friend in the office of my plan and she quoted Coco Chanel:

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”- Coco Chanel. I don’t know the change I’m about to make, but I’m flirting with the possibility that the scissors might bring. Should I or should I not?

Posted by Juliet Hephzibah on Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I did not cut my hair. Instead, I decided to walk with washed combed, oiled hair. Just not straightened. (Maybe my mom could have cut part of it because she helped me cut my braids before undoing them.)

I seem to like what I see on the mirror, and I wonder what happened to this girl. Perhaps it’s just freeing to try out something out of your own will. True beauty comes from within I must say. Though enhancements have their place, they cannot change your identity. What do you think?

This may be just a phase. I might go back to the salon anytime. For now, let’s just enjoy the freedom.

Book Review: We Need New Names- Noviolet Bulawayo

We need need new names

Paradise is a shanty where men’s eyes never lift from their draughts, under the jacaranda trees and women are busy with hair and talk, children on the other hand have no choice but to go steal guavas in Budapest due to their hunger.

People in Paradise once had real houses that were demolished by bulldozers, forcing them to come to shanties. The 10 year old Darling narrates how the demolishers even killed a baby in the debris.

Every chapter in Bulawayo’s book can stand as a short story, because she talks of different things related to  the desperate situation in their country- Zimbabwe.  I think the writer uses the voice of a child so as to lighten the issues she addresses.

Hunger and poverty

They live in tin houses and share the same room. Darling narrates how a strange man comes at night, sleeps with her mother and leaves while it’s still dark.

She describes the hunger they feel. It’s as if someone scooped the insides of their stomachs. They steal guavas because of the hunger, even though it makes them constipated.

Mother of Bones, Darling’s grandmother wears mismatched shoes, like a mad woman, yet she is not mad.  She has worthless money in her suitcase that she counts everyday and wonders why she cannot use it.

Children are no longer in school because the teachers left the country.

Dead foreign aid

The Chinese are building a big mall for them, yet they cannot afford to feed themselves.

The NGO people come with their lorries to give them rations of food, clothes and toys. The children as well as parents actually look forward to these moments. They pose for photos all the time, something they have rehearsed only too well.

Mass migration

People are fleeing the country to other countries where there are better prospects. They do not want to remain in  the “kaka” country.

Most men leave their wives and children behind to go work in the mines and forget them. They only come back home when they are sick and dying.

Some are fleeing from the government because they fear being killed. Governments are against democracy. It’s a form of Neocolonialism where the people of the land have turned into oppressors.


This is refereed to as ‘the sickness’, and is something that is spoken of in whispers, showing the shame associated with it. Darling’s father returns home with the sickness and interrupts her life because she cannot play with her mates. She has to look after him and keep it a secret from everyone.

There’s a connection between Mother of bones and her referring to her ‘father’s bones’.

Religious fanaticism

Those who have sought refuge in religion are fanatics. Prophet Revelations Bitchington Mborro, is the religious authority who exorcises demons and extorts money from the already impoverished folk in exchange for prayers.

Darling thinks the god to whom they pray is a sadist who ignores their pleas. So the adults are just wasting their time. Only  when she gets to America, does she reach into the dustbin of her heart and retrieve God, because she has more than enough food.

Incest and abortion

Chipo is only 11, yet she is pregnant. Her grandfather raped her when her grandmother went to the market.

The girls plan to remove Chipo’s stomach, yet they are clueless. Only one of them, Forgiveness seems to have an idea. She is busy straightening a rusty clothes hunger for the task. This scene raises the hairs on my head because I am thinking what would happen if they succeed. Chipo could die because doctors are not in hospitals. They have all gone for ‘greener pastures’.

Identity crisis

Everyone wishes to go to America, yet after they stay there, they cannot return to their land due to lack of papers. Even when their parents die, they can not return to bury them and mourn behind closed doors, fearing to attract undue attention.

In America, they cannot raise their children the way they were raised because instilling discipline is considered child abuse.

Reliance on kin abroad

People back in the country rely too much on handouts from those ‘lucky enough’ to go to America. Those in America struggle to put up a show that they are prospering, working multiple jobs to send money back home. “Our parents have stopped being our providers, we are now their parents”.

The kin abroad have bought fancy houses for their folk back home, while they live in houses made of planks.

Get your copy and enjoy the humor, while you see the reality in some of our African countries.


I have suddenly become fixated on babies, as if they feel a growing desire in me to have another one of my own. We all know that that time is no yet. (By we, I mean me, myself and I). Well, I must concentrate on making my life a little better before considering the thought of bringing another life to this world. The first time it was disastrous… but that’s not the story for now.

So in June 2012, I met this mother who had been rescued from the streets by a kind member of our church. She was not really a street mother; she was actually standing in the rain outside the gate to their court at Kariobangi South Estate. She had a baby, without an umbrella and was looking for a kibarua- casual job of laundering clothes. This woman- the church member, was overtaken by compassion and invited her for a cup of tea at her house.

The rest are details. Long story short, I found her living in the lady’s house. Her baby was sickly and from how he was breathing, I could tell that he needed urgent medical attention. The mother did not look any better. She was also coughing and her dark skin looked pale. Now I know this is wrong, but I seized the opportunity to share that the baby was breathing abnormally, just like mine before he died. I talked to the mother and she opened up to me. She had been tested and found to be HIV positive during her ante-natal clinic. I suggested that we take the baby to Blue House Clinic the next day. Blue House was a Comprehensive Care Centre run by Medecines Sans Frontiers- France.

We went to the hospital the next morning and after a myriad of tests, baby Earnest, 9months, was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. No wonder he looked like a three month old or even younger. I couldn’t stand it just seeing the doctors pocking through his skeletal hands and feet looking for veins to draw blood from so as to get his blood work underway. He cried till he lost his voice in the process. The things mothers do to innocent babies in the name of denial of their HIV status. But this was not the time to point accusing fingers. What had been done could never be reversed. Our priority was saving baby Earnest. After that long day, I left the three (Earnest, his mother and their hostess) to go back home with a cocktail of drugs, while I went to school for my evening class.


Two days later, the hostess asked me if I could take over hosting her guests because her husband was not comfortable having her around their children. They had five children, two of whom were equally young and they feared chancing infection with TB. So in the midst of mixed feelings of anger toward her hostess because of the sudden subtle stigma, and compassion for the young baby, I took in the two.

My heart may have overtaken my mind, because I was bringing them to a single crammed room, which was already bursting with my books everywhere. To make matters worse, I didn’t have a job. I comforted myself by the thought that where there’s a baby, lack is a rare visitor. God would provide. He sure did provide.

After two months of living with them. Baby Earnest had started looking like a baby, not scrawny as I first saw him. He together with his mother had been started on ARVs and were adapting well to the drugs. His mother was even back to looking for the vibaruas- odd jobs of washing clothes. Luck was on her side, because she always came home having gotten at least two hundred shillings. I advised her to start buying things and we started hunting for a house for her.

The responsibility of providing for a mother and her baby while I didn’t have a job, was weighing me down. One day, I just told her to go back to her former hostess because I could not manage hosting them. I gave them two hundred shillings (I wish I had more, because I could have given it), prayed for them, then sent them away, with my younger brother Clinton escorting them- they had luggage to carry, so my brother came in handy.

They were not received by the former hostess. She went to Korogocho slum, and found a cheap room, at 800shillings. The land lady was kind enough and accepted half of the money, as she looked for the balance.

To be continued…..