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Improving by Being Part of the Whole

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 1, 2019
Updated: Monday, July 1, 2019

 “The whole is more than the sum of its parts” – Aristotle

I have been reading the Covey book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” which is roughly half devoted to how to work together with other people.  The other half (the first half) is how to best work alone.  The book states that the improvement of being part of the whole can lead to a 20 – 50 times increase in productivity.  I don’t know about you, but I’d love to have 20 – 50 times more of almost anything.  That’s part of why I’m reading the book.  It’s also a reason I joined SDA though I probably didn’t think about it that way at the time.  I’m fairly good at self-organizing and working independently but having resources available to me when I need support makes me realize that Aristotle was on to something.

This quote reminds us that what one can do, many can do better.  The idea is used heavily in synergy and gestalt.  It is also used by people like me looking for something somewhat cryptic to say to sound smart.  Regardless, in human terms, it is about being more by being part of something bigger.  One person can do a lot, but more people can devote themselves to different tasks—no one person has to do everything anymore. 

The value SDA membership has given me is the resources I needed to grow within my role.  Respectively, the value my membership has brought my firm has led to the development of best practice policies for the benefit of everyone I work with: implementation of a document retention policy; updated employee handbook policies; continuing education; and more.  Though I could have done it alone, I didn’t have to.

SDA provides a platform for each of us to share our knowledge, our skills and our experience with each other.  Whether you call it synergy, teamwork or something else, there is something special that happens when we work together towards a common goal.  That is the best application for the quote above.  Together, we are SDA.  We have a drive inside us to move forward.   We do great things together that benefit ourselves, each other and our industry.  Here are a few ways you can be part of something larger:

What will you commit to doing to help yourself and others be more than they are now? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.




Anne McNeely, CDFA is the Project Administration Manager at Fentress Architects in Denver, CO.
She currently serves as the SDA National Secretary for the 2019-2020 term.




Tags:  Effective People  SDA  Teamwork 

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Welcome to Our Newest SDA Members

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Updated: Thursday, June 13, 2019

Please join us in welcoming our newest SDA members:

First Name Last Name Firm Chapter
Nicole Chierchio Perkins Eastman Architects New York
Rebecca Henselen LSB Consulting Engineers Seattle
Patrick Hogan Runberg Architecture Group Seattle
Jackie Mette BRPH Orlando
Hoang Samuelson Interface Engineering Portlant
Sona Saroyan CMG Landscape Architecture Northern California
Elizabeth Shriver Elizabeth Shriver Consulting New York
Randi Winchester Gensler Denver


Be sure to connect with our newest members on SocialLink and encourage them to join in our many discussions!

Tags:  New Members  SDA 

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Using Your Internal Pause Button

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 3, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, June 4, 2019

I’m mad.

I can’t believe it.  Someone just did something so unimaginably awful and now I’m sitting in front of my computer shooting laser-eyes at the email I’m composing, pouring everything I have into it.  I press send and feel that euphoric high that comes with knowing I’ve had my say in the matter.  I sit back and relax, feeling better.

As my anger fades and my nerves settle, euphoria seeps into doubt.  Then reality takes a turn.  Did I say something I shouldn’t have? Did I overreact?  Why did I send that email?

Has this happened to you?  This scenario is common to many of us.  I’m ashamed to admit it’s happened to me more than once both sending and receiving such correspondence--growing thick skin is not the solution, nor is rolling with it.  I’ve learned some valuable tips to circumvent hurt feelings when it comes to ruffled feathers.   In any relationship you are eventually going to experience some level of anger. It might be a mild irritation, it might be pure rage and anything in between. It is natural. Different people see things differently. Mix in some human emotions and individuals clash—leading to some level of anger from one, or both, sides. It can happen at home or at work.

What can you do about it before it escalates to something you might regret later? 

Go ahead and write the email.   Start composing a new email and enter only the body.  Doing so is a way to work through any negative feelings.  To make sure you don’t send it, do not enter the “To” field.

After that, press your internal pause button.  Save the email.  Close the email and walk away.  Give yourself some time to cool down and see if you feel differently about the situation.   Let it settle overnight.  Chances are the you will see things more clearly and be able to reassess the situation better.

After a chance to ponder it, decide if sending the email you’ve written is a good idea. 

If you’ve changed your mind, print it out and delete it.  The print-out is to have a memory of how you felt in the heat of the moment which can be helpful later and can be used to learn from the situation.

If you have not changed your mind, keep that “pause” button pressed and do the following:

  • Do your homework – you might “think” you are absolutely right about how you saw the situation, but make sure you have the facts right.  There could be something to the situation that you might not be aware of.
  • Talk to someone – preferably, someone who knows both sides of the story. This will help give you a different perspective on the whole problem and might cause you to re-think your actions.
  • After doing the above, reread the email.
  • Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t say in person – Imagine you are in the same room with the other person when you write your email. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t put it in your email.
  • Stick to the facts.  Be objective.
  • Keep it short – the longer the email, the more personal it will sound.Avoid sarcasm.
  • Send a personal message – don’t copy any third parties, send an individual email. If you have a problem with more than one person, send each one of them a separate email, even if you are saying the same thing.
  • Think long term – it is more important to win the relationship, than win the argument.

After you’ve reviewed and revamped your email, reread it.  If necessary, have someone else read it.  If you still want to send it, press the “Send” button. 

What to do if you have already sent an email fueled by anger – OWN IT.  Acknowledge the mistake. Egos heal.  Mine did and I can tell you I felt much better in the long run. The worst thing you can do is avoid the person who received your email or pretend like it didn’t happen.

Apologize and mean it.  This will help alleviate the situation and it may even make the relationship between both sides much stronger.

In short, when overtaken by anger, it is always best to externalize your feelings by writing them down. Don’t send what you wrote before you’ve had some time to cool down and reassess the situation. Hit your internal pause button.  If you still think sending the email is the way to go, remove any tone of anger, make it objective, short and think long term about what this email can mean to the relationship before you send it.




Anne McNeely, CDFA is an Associate and Project Administration Manager
for Fentress Architects in Denver, Colorado.She currently serves as the
SDA National Secretary for the 2019-2020 term.

Tags:  SDA  Sending Email When Angry 

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SDA National President's Message - May 2019

Posted By Administration, Sunday, May 12, 2019
Updated: Monday, May 13, 2019


SDA National President, Susan Lankey, CDFA shares her final message of her 2018-2019 term.

Tags:  President's Message  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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Welcome to Our Newest SDA Members

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 2, 2019
Updated: Thursday, May 2, 2019

Please join us in welcoming our newest SDA members:

First Name Last Name Firm Chapter
Eunoh Lee Mackenzie Seattle
Jennifer Newman Studio KDA Northern California
Mary-Brett O'Bryan Ralph Appelbaum Associates New York
Tracy O'Such Clark Nexsen Atlanta
Danielle Salvador KFW Engineers San Antonio
Terri Simms KPG, P.S Seattle
Denise Skelton Valhalla Engineering Denver
Georgeanne Smith KPG, P.S Seattle

Be sure to connect with our newest members on SocialLink and encourage them to join in our many discussions!

Tags:  New Members  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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