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Chrysalis newsletter for personal and professional development
This is a monthly email newsletter covering a range of personal and professional development topics. The 2012 topics are included below.
2011 compilation. A compilation of the 2011 newsletters can be downloaded here.
Newsletter contributions. Articles on appropriate topics are welcome. If you would like to contribute an article, please make it approximately 300 words and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org You are welcome to include your email address and link to your website.
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Newsletter February 2013
20 TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR BRAIN ACTIVE
It's easy to keep doing the same things over and over and not introduce new elements into our lives.
To keep our brain active and healthy it's good to use it in different ways and start activating different parts. There are many ways to do this. Here are 20 suggestions for you:
1. Read about something you don't normally read about, such as a new type of book, a magazine article or blog entry on a new topic.
2. Do something that takes you out of your comfort zone. Can you offer to speak at the next staff meeting; make contact with a neighbour you haven't yet spoken to; touch a spider; learn to ride a bike?
3. Do an activity using your non-dominant hand such as brushing your teeth; the vacuuming; combing your hair.
4. Do some maths regularly! For example choose five numbers. Add them. Then multiply them. Move onto six numbers, seven numbers and so on. Choose exercises that suit your mathematical ability.
5. Enrol on a course, for example a night class or online course, to stimulate your brain. Have you thought about Japanese cooking; Feldenkrais; Belly dancing?
6. Get active - run, dance, play a sport for example. Something that will increase the levels of oxygen in your brain and body.
7. Change a routine so you don't go onto automatic pilot. Do you shower, get dressed, have breakfast? Could you shower, have breakfast, then get dressed? Do you come home and watch TV every Friday? Could you ask a friend round and cook a meal together; read a book; do some DIY?
8. Solve a problem for yourself or someone else by thinking outside the box. What issue do you - or someone you know - have? Think of a unique solution.
9. Take time to plan something you don't normally plan. For example the weekly meals; a quiet weekend at home; how to spruce up the garden.
10. Discover something new. Could you drive home a slightly different way; seek out different foods at the supermarket; go for a walk round a different park?
11. Spend a few minutes learning something new - type a topic you don't know anything about into a search engine and read up on it. Close your eyes and type random letters into a search engine and follow a link.
12. Take a trip down memory lane - look at old photos, old letters, even old documents you have stored on your computer. It keeps memories alive.
13. Do something creative. Make a greeting card; try a new recipe; take some artistic photos.
14. Learn the lyrics of a song.
15. Learn a list. For example the 10 tallest mountains in the world, the NATO phonetic alphabet, the winners of the Oscars.
16. Meditate and let your brain go to a different level. You could use a CD or find a guided meditation on You Tube.
17. Do something that involves hand eye coordination, for example throwing a ball into a container from a distance; learning a coin trick.
18. Once a week, spend a few minutes writing down an overview of how you dealt with the week - what you are proud of doing, and what you could work on for next time.
19. Do something completely different! For example plan a walking trip with a friend; organise a fundraising event; join an amateur dramatic group - something that will require your brain to work on something different for an extended period of time.
20. Play a brain training game or exercise. You can find games and puzzles on my blog: http://www.kimchamberlain.com/kims-kaizen-blog.html
Newsletter January 2013
MAKING TIME / FREE E-BOOK
My family and I will be moving back to live in New Zealand soon, and as a result friends and family want to see us before we leave. This is great, and it's wonderful to be able to catch up with people.
It's common to make time to see people before they move away, or when they are ill and are likely to pass away. It's not always common to make time to see or connect with people at other times, and we can put it to the back of our mind, thinking "I'll get round to that one day".
We came back to the UK knowing that we would be here for a couple of years, and have made an effort to spend time with our families and friends during this time. Looking back over the two years, I haven't at all regretted the time we have spent with them. If I were to look back and realise we hadn't made an effort to see people, I would definitely regret that.
When we lived in East Africa, some of the Ugandans would tell us how sorry they felt for people in the western world.
"Your people are ruled by the clock" they would say "you put tasks always before people. Why do you not see your loved ones? Why do you not stop and spend time with them? Why are you always so busy? Your loved ones are the most important thing in the world."
It was interesting seeing people in a third world country feeling sorry for people in first world countries, and it was certainly food for thought. Have we got it right? Are we making time for our loved ones?
Yesterday I spent the day with a friend I've known all my life. She had recently found some of the letters I'd sent her several years ago when I first emigrated to NZ, before the age of email, texts and social media. In fact even before the age of word processors, so my letters were hand written. I have always loved writing to people and connecting via the written word, but even I was surprised at how much time I must have spent handwriting pages and pages on a regular basis. And that was just to one friend. I will have written to other friends and to my family as well.
One of the benefits of the age that we live in now means that we can connect with others very easily and quickly via a range of technology options. A brief email or message via Facebook, for example, need not take long and can do so much for a relationship.
I know a woman whose aunt has discovered she has three months to live. This woman hasn't kept in touch with her aunt over the last few years and is now in a quandary, wondering whether she should make contact and go to see her or not. She feels guilty for not keeping in contact, and so feels uncomfy about contacting her now; but she also knows she will feel guilty if she doesn't make contact with her. "If only..." she says.
I leave you with a question: Are you happy with the amount of time you make to see or connect with your loved ones?
‘Unearthing your treasure 2013’ is an e-book written by coaches, authors & inspirational speakers who courageously share their personal stories, insights & strategies. Compiled by Marian Kerr, life coach, its aim is to guide you in your quest for personal growth & fulfilment.
To download your copy, click here
Newsletter December 2012
TIME FOR REFLECTION AND GOAL SETTING / E-BOOKS ON AMAZON
Before the New Year, it is often a good time to take stock of where we are, and set a path for the coming year. The following activities may help.
Let's take a step back and have a look at how you feel about how life is panning out for you at the moment.
One way to do this is to draw a grid, similar to the one below and assess how you are doing in each of the life areas. You may like to use your own categories, or amend the ones here.
Give yourself a score out of 10 for how satisfied you are with each life area and colour it in.
For example, if we look at 'Work', you may give it a score of 5. In the notes, write what thoughts you have about the score you gave.
Do this for all the categories. This will give you a very simple, visual picture of where you are at and what you most need to work on.
Typically, the lower the score you give, the more likely you are to need to address that aspect.
If you give all of your life areas a low score, firstly work out if you are being realistic. Secondly, if you think you are, it's probably best not to aim to tackle them all. Instead choose a small number you feel you can most effectively work on, and focus on those.
Next draw up a simple, achievable plan for tackling the ones you would most like to work on, placing dates on the plan. Then write down what you will do to celebrate the achievement of each goal. Finally, write in review dates, to make sure you are on track.
You may like to consider seeing a life coach or similar to help you work through the plan.
If you can, in one year's time, genuinely say "I did the best I could and have no regrets about this year" you will be very happy with what you have achieved.
E-BOOKS ON AMAZON
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Successful Woman: A guide to achieving success in six life areas
5 Minutes! 199 Activities to put more life into your life
Better Speaking Better Thinking: General Edition
Better Speaking Better Thinking: Business and Management supplement
Newsletter November 2012
When we meet someone for the first time, we will have made - within less than a minute - judgements about their socioeconomic level, educational level, and general level of ‘success’. In the next few minutes we will have gained a generally ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ view of them based on how confident, trustworthy, friendly, reliable and intelligent they appear.
Note that people will take the same amount of time to make these judgments about you!
So what can we do to create a good first impression? Let’s look at three aspects:
1. What will people see? The visual aspect is important, as people believe what they see before they believe what they hear. Therefore be aware of:
Your appearance, your clothes, hair, shoes, and so on. Are they suitable for the occasion; are they well looked-after; what might your style say about you?
Your body posture. For example do you have a strong stance; are you slumped; is your head down?
Your ‘mise-en-scene’, that is what people see in your environment. For example how tidy is your office; does your work environment look professional?
2. What will people hear?
How do you sound? For example, confident; nervous; over-confident; warm and friendly.
Do you speak clearly; enunciate well; come across as knowledgeable and competent?
Do you speak with conviction as if you really believe in what you are saying? Do you enunciate clearly?
3. What will people feel?
People like to feel at ease with others and like to feel that the other person is interested in them.
Do you make people feel at ease?
Do you come across as interested and give them your undivided attention?
How is your eye contact and your facial expressions? Do you smile?
Have you arrived on time? Being late will make them feel ill-at-ease with you.
Do you come across as positive and enthusiastic or negative and apathetic?
First impressions are usually lasting impressions. They are based on emotion, not logic, and people often do judge a book by its cover. This means that the more we pay attention to what happens in those first few minutes and prepare ourselves accordingly, the better the first impression we give.
Newsletter October 2012
ASPECTS OF POWER AND INFLUENCE
It is said that when you have power you can influence. Let's first of all look at different bases for possessing power:
- Position power - this is also called legitimate power. It is given to you by your organisation by virtue of your position. For example, a policeman. This role can convey authority supported by an establishment. Uniforms often convey power.
- Physical power - i.e. the power of superior force, appearing bigger and stronger than others. This may be conveyed in many ways, for example by sitting in a big chair behind a big desk; power dressing; standing up in order to look intimating. Bullies, tyrants and dictators use this type of power.
- Resource power - i.e. having control over resources that others want. For example a car park attendant has control over space, a bank manager has control over money that you can borrow. It is also known as reward power - it can be used as simply as giving a sweet to a child for being good.
- Expert power - someone who has a higher level of knowledge than others. For example a car mechanic is expert and powerful at dealing with your car.
- Personal power - i.e. charisma and personality. people generally have it or they don't. For example Ghandi, evangelists, Hitler. People with position power may think they have charisma.
- Negative power - i.e. the power not to do things or to do things a person or organisation doesn't want you do to. It is used to stop things being done. For example going on strike; being late on purpose; not passing on information. This is a type of power often used by those who feel powerless, stressed, frustrated.
It is possible to possess several types of power at the same time.
Note that power can be used with respect and be a supportive influence, or it can be abused, and used in an obstructive manner.
Also note that power and influence may only be in the eye of the beholder. If, for example, your doctor tells you that your health condition is not treatable, you may choose to accept their expert power and look no further, or you may choose to think that there may be a solution if you look elsewhere.
I include this article as an awareness-raising exercise. Firstly, spend time observing people in different situations to see which type or types of power they use and how they use them.
Then consider the types of power you have in the different roles in your life, for example in work, as a spouse, parent, committee member, etc. and see if you are using your power and influence with respect ... or otherwise.
Newsletter September 2012
Can 'thinking small' be an effective way to make changes?
You have probably heard the expression 'The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step'.
When we take that single step - which could be in many aspects of life - note that it can be a step that can take us in a positive direction or a negative direction. We could make a phone call to find out details of the local gym, or we could decide to stay in and start watching a new TV soap instead.
Both are small steps, and both can lead us on 'a journey of a thousand miles'.
Let's look at the negative direction first. Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, talks about poor habits and says "Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don't fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day."
Staying in and watching TV instead of doing some exercise is not significant if you do it for a day. It's probably not too bad if you do it for a week or even a few weeks; but over time those small steps take you a long way down a path you probably don't want to be on.
Perhaps more damaging is the habit of doing nothing. If you really have to choose between taking small steps in the wrong direction or doing nothing, then take the small steps! There is a saying 'You can't steer a stationary car'. If you do nothing, it's hard for people to help you as there is no momentum to use. If you are taking steps in the wrong direction, then the energy you are expending can be used to turn you round so you are pointing in a better direction.
The good news is that to take a step in the right direction need not be difficult. Remember, it's only a small step you need to take.
The concept of Kaizen is, according to Dr. Maurer 'The art of making great and lasting change through small, steady increments'. Significant, life-changing transformations can occur if you take small, steady, regular steps.
Smile and say "hello" to someone working in your local shop. Say "hello, how are you?" the next time. Pay them a compliment the next time. Slowly start building a connection. Do it with someone else. Before long you could have some great connections in your local community.
I've seen it happen. My father does exactly this. Fundamentally a shy person, he has acquired the ability to make connections and friendships wherever he goes.
One time I was with him at the train station. The train was late. He went to the ticket office to find out what was happening - someone had been taken ill on the train at the previous stop and was waiting for the medics to arrive. He came back to the platform and went to share this information with people. After 45 minutes he had spoken to everyone on the platform and was having some great conversations and lots of laughter.
So let's start small. Think of just one area of your life you would like to make a change in. Is it getting more exercise? Being able to speak in public? Strengthening your marriage? Reducing stress? Eating more healthily?
Now choose one small step you could take. Could you do a 5 minute walk round the block? Order a book on public speaking? Book a date night with your partner? Watch a short meditation video on You Tube? Look in your food cupboard and throw away one unhealthy item?
Take this one small step. Today.
What next? Doing it regularly is where the changes take place. One small step will lead a number of people to the next small step and the next. Internal motivation. After a while it becomes a habit, or ingrained in you. Some people need external motivation. If this is you, build in a support mechanism, eg doing it with a friend, buying a book, finding a mentor, joining a 'structure' for example going on a course or joining a group.
For ideas for small steps you could take, my new e-book provides 199 suggested activities, all of which can be done in five minutes. Click here
Think small, start now and your journey of a thousand miles will begin.
Newsletter August 2012
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF A GIFTED BUT LAZY EMPLOYEE
Do you have someone working for you who seems to be lazy, not pulling their weight or underachieving?
It can be very frustrating when you see that a person has the potential to do well, yet they don’t seem to be motivated to do their job effectively.
It can also have knock-on effects on their co-workers, who feel irritated at their colleague for avoiding work tasks, and who feel they have to do the tasks he or she doesn’t do, and who may feel irritated at you for not tackling the problem.
So, what options are open to you to get the best out of the situation?
There are two main steps to take. Firstly ensure you understand what is really going on, and then when you do, tackle it.
1. Make sure you completely understand the situation
Laziness. Let’s look at the employee and check if they are actually lazy.
People have different working styles, and if you are the kind of person who rushes around at 100 miles per hour, cramming in as much as you possibly can, taking on additional tasks, never resting, and taking work home, then you may see people who do less than you as ‘lazy’. They may not be lazy at all, they may simply have a different or more efficient way of doing things, and may choose not take on additional tasks they do not need to.
Check if they are actually getting through the tasks allocated to them. Not all job tasks take up the total amount of hours the person is expected to be there. Perhaps the person completed all the tasks in less than the allotted time.
I once had a job where I could choose the hours I wanted to work- within reason - as the main focus was to get the work done, not just spend a specific amount of time in the office. If I finished all the work early, I went home.
Being gifted. What are they gifted at? Are they being allowed to use the gifts they have? Or are they being asked to do tasks which don’t call on their abilities? Perhaps they are feeling frustrated and de-motivated because of this.
Have you analysed the times when they shine, when they are motivated and working hard? What are they doing during these times? Can they do more of this?
Personality issues. Everyone has a different personality and sometimes personalities clash. Please ensure that you are focusing on genuine work issues and not just a personality type you find it difficult to get on with.
Emotional issues. Is the employee unhappy? Perhaps depressed? When people are not feeling happy with life or with a particular situation, it can affect their level of efficiency at work. If you find this to be the case you may need to direct them to someone who can help.
Being lazy and gifted. Note that this can actually be a good thing! Lazy people like to find easier, simpler, and less strenuous ways to do things. If they are also gifted, it’s likely that they will find them, and make them available to everyone else. Lazy and gifted employees will focus on the essentials and ignore anything that makes for unnecessary work, whether for themselves or others. They can be very useful people to have around!
2. Tackle it
Assuming that you decide they are not pulling their weight or are underachieving, there are two issues for you to deal with: What you can do as their manager or supervisor, and what you can expect them to do.
What can you do?
One of the basic philosophies of good management is to understand that each person is motivated by different things. To be a good manager means finding out what will motivate this person. You may need to try different approaches until you succeed. This may initially seem like hard work, but the rewards can be worth it both now, and for when you meet similar people throughout life.
Be aware of fundamental issues regarding motivation and management:
• Managing by intimidation does not work. Fear may motivate people - but only for a very short time. A person becomes motivated when he or she wants to do something, not when they are forced to. If an employee respects you and believes in your vision, they will do almost anything for you.
• Intimidation is different from giving people a ‘telling off’. Some people may simply need to be told formally, that their behaviour is not appropriate, and that if it carries on in this vein there will be serious consequences. That may be enough for some people to change their ways.
• Money is not a motivator. Good pay may stop him or her losing motivation, but it won’t make them more motivated.
• Just because something motivates you, doesn’t mean it will motivate them. You need to find out their motivator.
• If you want a motivated employee, you need to be motivated. You can’t motivate someone when you have no passion for the job. Enthusiasm is contagious!
• Keeping staff motivated isn’t a one-off exercise. Maintaining staff motivation is an ongoing process.
• You get what you expect. If you expect your employee to be committed and keen, then you will be projecting this attitude - possibly subconsciously - towards them, and they will respond to it. If you expect them to be lazy and underperform, then you will be projecting this attitude towards them, and they will respond to that.
• Ensure the employee understands the level of performance you expect and also what you deem to be unacceptable behaviour. You need to have a reasonable set of rules and policies. If you are not clear in your expectations, he or she will not work efficiently or with respect.
• Do not get emotional when dealing with the staff member. Avoid being judgmental or ‘telling them off’. Instead deal with the situation calmly and in a business-like manner. If you feel angry at their unacceptable behaviour, ask them to go home, and arrange for them to see you the next day. This will allow you to calm down, work out what you are going to do, and will also give them time to reflect on the seriousness of the issue.
What can you expect of them?
Let’s assume that the employee wants to remain in the organisation. You will need to work with them to find a suitable strategy. Options include:
• Talk to them and ask them what the issue is. Their view of the situation may be very different to yours. They may not, for example, be aware that they are seen to be lazy; they may think they are performing adequately. Or they may be planning to leave and so are ‘winding down’. Or they may know exactly what is de-motivating them, and may even have a solution.
• Bring up the issue of their giftedness. Check if they feel they are being allowed to us their talents.
• You may like to document the behaviours you observe. You can also ask the employee to document their behaviours. Their view of what is happening may differ to yours. It will be useful to compare notes and discuss what you both come up with.
• Present the positive aspects you have observed in them. When giving feedback to people, it always helps to outline the positive before giving suggestions and recommendations.
• Establish their motivators. Write down a list of what you see as being a motivator to them. (It will be useful to do some research as to the types of aspects that are deemed to be motivators. There are many theories on this. Aspects include issues such as: ongoing learning and development; social interaction; flexibility within work; creativity; praise; recognition; problem solving; autonomy; leadership; teaching or mentoring others; promotion, etc). Then ask them to write down what they see as their motivators and compare your answers. Determine which are the most important and then work out an action plan for moving forward. Let them know you want to work with them on this, and that you are not ‘punishing’ them.
o Can you amend their tasks to make the role more fulfilling for them?
o Can you offer flexible working hours?
o Can they undertake on-the-job training?
o Can you give them responsibility for something they have an interest in?
o Can you build in a reward structure to better meet their needs - whilst also meeting the needs of the organisation?
• Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic, Time-bound). Ensure the goals make use of the ‘gifts’ the employee has.
• To maintain motivation, keep in regular contact with them; ensure you review the action plan and goals at appropriate intervals to make sure you are both on track.
• Reward behaviour, as soon as you see it. It reinforces the behaviour you prefer.
• Let them know how their work is making a difference; how they contribute to the overall goals of the organisation.
• Allow others to recognise the person’s contribution. For example say something at a staff meeting; or include something in the newsletter for staff and / or clients.
• Celebrate achievements. Ensure effort and hard work is appreciated, or you can lose the person’s motivation again. Everyone likes to celebrate!
There will be times, however, when the employee will not want to change and cannot be motivated. If you can’t come to an agreement regarding improved behaviour, it may be that the job is the wrong job for them, and they need to be allowed to leave and to use their skills elsewhere.
If you find yourself with a gifted and lazy employee, make sure you thoroughly understand the situation, and then tackle it in a positive way. In many cases, if you deal with this person in a way that works for them and for you, they may just turn out to be one of the best workers you have.
Newsletter July 2012
Following on from the previous newsletter where I mentioned personality types, a number of people expressed an interest in this.
Here is a simple personality test to take. It is useful to give you an understanding of yourself and of others.
I first did a similar personality test around 15 years ago, was fascinated by what it offered, and have found the information it provides to be very useful when dealing with others. I often include it in the range of communication skills training courses I offer, as it can be a significant aid to improving communication.
If you go into a personality test in depth, it can give an indication of many aspects or a person’s personality, which will lead to greater understanding. For example why they communicate as they do, how they make decisions, the types of clothes they wear, the type of car they drive, perhaps why they chose the partner they did …
Do it first yourself, then give it to colleagues, friends, family and your partner to try.
To download the test click here
Newsletter June 2012
HOW TO HANDLE A RUDE AND VINDICTIVE BOSS
Have you ever wondered how you came to be in a situation you didn’t want to be in?
You saw an advert for the job of your dreams; applied for it; were overjoyed when you were accepted; started with high hopes … but then somewhere along the line you found yourself with a rude and vindictive boss.
So what should you do?
Firstly, let’s look at some of the issues:
Issue 1. Not all rude and vindictive bosses are the same.
Issue 2. People are rude and vindictive because they are unhappy.
Issue 3. What you should do depends on your situation. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.
What are some of the options to consider if we find ourselves in this situation?
Aim to understand
Fundamentally, the average person would not choose to be rude and vindictive. If they are, it is a sign that things are not right in their life. There will be an underlying reason, and most of the time these reasons are left unsaid. Your boss could be, for example, having problems at home; feeling disillusioned with life because they have not achieved what they wanted to; dealing with an illness. Keep this in mind while dealing with a difficult person.
Most of the time, their behaviour has nothing to do with you, so aim not to take it personally.
Evidence shows that workplace bullies are bullies at home too. Rude and vindictive people can be anywhere on the continuum from those who are feeling unhappy, though to those who have dysfunctional personalities. Some can be reasoned with and some can’t.
Spend time studying your boss and notice the signals he or she gives out. Pick up on body language and spoken language. Can you work out your boss's agenda? If you can read your boss better and understand what he or she is telling you, you can determine your best course of action.
Having a basic understanding of personality types will be of help, as people behave and communicate differently based on their personality. What may seem an unusual way of speaking or an irritating way of behaving to you may seem perfectly normal to someone else.
Most personality systems split people into four different types, and have various names for the four different categories. If we look briefly at one of the systems which splits people into ‘colour’ types we see that:
* Yellow personality types are outgoing, loud, talkative, fun-loving. They like to have people around them, they like to tell stories and they like to laugh. They tend to be disorganised, forgetful, and often go off at tangents.
* Red personality types are strong, determined people, who like to achieve. They are goal driven, good at making decisions, they think fast, speak fast, and tend not to use social niceties, preferring a more direct way of speaking. They are good organisers, though they have a tendency to be bossy and a belief that their way is the right way.
* Green personality types are pleasant, easy going people, who like to minimise conflict and have harmony around them. They are interested in others, are good friends, good listeners and will always have time for you. However they are not goal driven and may often be late and may not make deadlines or achieve the end result.
* Blue personality types are logical, methodical and ordered. They like perfection, and enjoy working with numbers, charts and graphs. They will work diligently, and do the job to a high standard. However, they tend not to be very sociable, can be rather serious, and expect perfection from others.
If you have a look at your personality type and that of your boss, you may see that you are quite different in some aspects. Perhaps your way of communicating, behaving and thinking is very different to theirs, which may cause some conflict. Perhaps the words they use are OK and it may simply be their way of saying them which comes across as rude to you. If this is the case, spend some time learning about personality types and how we can modify our own behaviour in certain circumstances to bring out the best in others.
Can you change the situation?
Is there something you can do?
If you have a fundamentally decent relationship with your boss, and if they are ‘mildly’ or perhaps temporarily rude, you may consider having a talk with them. They may not be aware of how their behaviour comes across. When people have issues they are dealing with in their lives, they may be so focused on them that they may not truly understand how they are behaving until it is pointed out to them and they are given examples of the way they act. Simply taking them aside, inviting them to explain their behaviour, speaking with them on a one-to-one basis, may make the situation better.
If you start off by telling them the positive characteristics they have, they are more likely to take on board the suggestions you give them.
Could you speak to his or her superiors about it? No doubt they will be aware of it, though it is often human nature to take the path of least resistance. So if staff members are not saying anything about the behaviour, the superiors may choose not to tackle the issue.
Your boss may have no awareness that they are being disrespectful. Or they may lack communication skills, never having been trained in this area. Or they may be making a choice to treat others with disrespect.
If more senior people in the organisation are aware of this, they could arrange for training or counselling as a way of taking corrective action
Can you change yourself?
Instead of trying to change the situation, you could find ways to cope. This is generally more of a short term than a long term solution as working in a negative atmosphere on a daily basis where the person in charge is exhibiting poor behaviour is not healthy. This will not solve the problem, but will give you some breathing space while you work out what to do next, or wait to see if the situation changes.
For example, could you change your working hours slightly so you spend less time around them; could you change how you do your tasks so you spend time off-site or in a different work area; could you move to a different work area, so you see less of them? If you are fortunate, there may be some circumstances where you could ask Human Resources for a change of office or department so you are working with different people.
Can you change your behaviour towards them?
There are some people who just lash out by nature, and there is little that we can do about it. However, we can control how we react to it. If your natural reaction is to retaliate, you could work at keeping your composure and remaining calm. Personal development skills – learning to have composure and acting in a mature manner - are crucial to dealing with the situation effectively. If you respond in a positive, non-angry way, people will often mirror your way of speaking. It’s harder for people to remain angry with you if you remain calm and composed. Learning this skill will stand you in good stead when similar situations arise in the future.
Position yourself as a supporter, not an adversary. If they ask you to do something, be as amenable as you can. If you were in your boss's position, wouldn’t you prefer someone letting you know that they that are ready to help?
If the situation is particularly serious, you may feel it warrants taking serious steps. Some bosses can be very vindictive and may use tactics such as manipulation, gossip, lies and rumours to discredit a person or to pursue a vendetta against them. Those who are well connected with the ‘right people’ could do damage to both your self-confidence and your career. Keep a log of the issues and document your and their actions. Go to management and formally discuss your grievance.
Many proactive and responsible employers have faced this challenge by developing comprehensive anti-harassment policies, designed to prevent this kind of conduct. In some countries courts have shown that they are prepared to sanction employers who tolerate abusive bosses and will not uphold treatment which violates a fundamental term of any employment relationship – the right to be treated with civility, decency, respect and dignity. If the situation has gone this far then a lawsuit may be the best approach. In this case, it is advisable to find a good Employment Law lawyer.
This depends on your situation. It can be a difficult and disruptive decision, while on the other hand it may lead you to a much better working – and life - situation.
You will need to assess the situation. For example: how much can you tolerate; is it easy to find other work; is it worth holding on and seeing if the situation changes; is the situation so bad that you may be asked to leave; would a change be good for you; did you want to leave anyway and this was the deciding factor?
Being in a situation with a rude and vindictive boss is something none of us want to experience. However there are times when this happens and you need to do something about it, no matter how small. The least effective way to deal with it is to do nothing. The most effective way is to look at the situation as objectively as you can, look at all the action steps available to you, and choose the best way to approach it given the circumstances you are in.
QUICK TIP FOR DE-CLUTTERING
Do you find yourself unable to get rid of clutter? Here is a simple three step tip for keeping on top of it.
Step 1. Decide you want to live in a de-cluttered state. If your thinking is along the lines of ‘It’s too much hassle’ ‘I’ll get round to it one day’ or similar, then you won’t live in a de-cluttered state. However if you decide you want to – and will – live in a de-cluttered state, then you will.
Step 2. Decide on a strategy. For example, if you have a habit of coming home and dumping your bags on the floor, deciding to put your stuff away ‘at some point’, then choose a different strategy. You may, for example, decide to spend two minutes as soon as you get home, putting your stuff away.
Step 3 Make it a habit. Like brushing your teeth, once you get into the swing of it, you do it without thinking.
Newsletter May 2012
USING THE PASSIVE VOICE
There are times when using the passive voice can aid communication and strengthen relationships.
Example of active vs. passive voice:
She ate the sandwich (active voice)
The sandwich was eaten (passive voice).
The benefits of using the passive voice can be to avoid an accusatory tone directed against a person or to reduce the harshness of a message.
For example, instead of saying ‘You didn’t order the stationary in time’ (active), you might say ‘The stationary wasn’t ordered in time’ (passive).
This is more likely to stop the other person going into defensive mode and keep communication on a better level.
Compare ‘Your organisation didn’t tell me about it’ (active) with ‘I wasn’t told about it’ (passive).
Or ‘Your son broke my window last night’ (active) vs. ‘My window was broken last night’ (passive).
Please note that as with most things, there may be positive and negative aspects. Be aware that the passive voice can foster an avoidance of responsibility, e.g. ‘I made a mistake’ vs. ‘Mistakes were made’.
The passive voice, when used appropriately, can be an invaluable aid to satisfactory communication.
Taken from the book ‘Dance First. Think later. 618 rules to live by’ by Kathryn & Ross Petras.
- If you don’t get what you want it’s a sign either that you did not seriously want it, or that you tried to bargain over the price. Rudyard Kipling
- Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying the grudge, the other guy’s out dancing. Buddy Hackett
- Don’t expect to be popular. The better you do the job, the more likely you are to go against conventional wisdom, and people don’t like bad news. So you are not going to be popular. Daivd Halberstam.
- If anyone laughs at your ideas, view it as a sign of potential success. Jim Rogers
- If you don’t fail at least 90% of the time you’re not aiming high enough. Alan Curtis Kay
- Be yourself, everyone else is already taken. Oscar Wilde
- Be warned against all ‘good’ advice because ‘good’ advice is necessarily ‘safe’ advice, and though it will undoubtedly follow a sane pattern it will very likely lead one into total sterility – one of the crushing problems of our time. Jules Feiffer
- Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of becoming. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- If you want to play a game, go to where it’s played and find a way to get in. Things happen when you get in the game. Chris Matthews
- Be willing to make decisions … Don’t fall victim to what I call the “ready-aim-aim-aim-aim-aim” syndrome. T. Boone Pickens
Newsletter April 2012
One of my most popular conference speeches is on the topic of ‘Using failure as a stepping stone to success’.
I was fascinated by the concept of failure and how it relates to success, and decided to study it over a period of two years. Through doing this, I came to understand that failure isn’t something to be feared, that it’s something which is integral to life, and that if understood and used wisely, can bring us tremendous benefits in our life.
Recently I won a writing competition with an article on this topic. I have included a shortened version for you here.
Failure. Something we dread, yet something we will all encounter in life.
Life is not a success-only journey, we can’t hide from failure, but we can learn how to learn from it. Experiencing failure, mistakes or setbacks is probably an essential part of being successful.
The most successful people have failed, and most likely failed many times. One of the differences between a successful and a non-successful person is that the successful person understands failure and knows how to use it to its best advantage.
What is failure?
- When you aim to achieve something, and achieve something you perceive as ‘less’, then you will label it as failure.
- For you to feel failure there has to be a sense of loss, for example loss of face, time, money, partner.
- Failure is like a tool. A hammer, for example, is neutral. How we choose to use it, determines the outcome. We could use it to create a something beautiful, or to destroy. Similarly with failure.
- Sometimes it is just part of the package. “You always pass failure on the way to success.” Mickey Rooney
- Failure is an opportunity. You are simply being given a message that you need to learn, grow or develop.
Why do we fail?
1) We have a lack of knowledge or understanding
- …of how life works. If we aim for success, experiencing failure will be part of the process. Successful people understand this, and see failure as a temporary not permanent situation.
- When the basic premise you are working from is wrong for you.
- We forget we have choices and don’t see that there is another way to do things.
- We develop habits that lead us down the wrong path. “You don’t fail overnight. Failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated daily.” Jim Rohn
Successful people acquire the knowledge and understanding for dealing with failure. They don’t fear it, and their main driver isn’t failure-avoidance.
Successful people avoid the following:
- Inaction. If you do nothing, no one can help you and you will never achieve success.
- Hanging on. Have the courage to stop what you are doing and move on when you know it’s the wrong path.
- Unwillingness to pay the price. There is a price to pay for everything.
- Limiting beliefs. If you believe you can, you are likely to succeed.
- Playing the victim role and finding things to blame. While external factors may be present, it’s attitude we are looking at.
- Lack of resilience. Failure happens. The trick is not to give up but to lick your wounds and bounce back.
- Living in the past. Don’t focus on the past and on what went wrong, focus on the future and the next success.
The benefits of failing
- You now have the opportunity to learn, develop and succeed.
- You learn that you can survive, emerge stronger, achieve a better outcome, and be less fearful next time
- Through learning from your failures, you can help those following the same life path as you.
What to do if you fail
- Understand that you may go through the following stages: Shock - Fear - Anger / Blame - Shame – Despair. They are useful, healing stages to go through … if they are temporary.
- ‘Be still and let the mist clear’. When in a state of shock do not make any major changes or decisions as they are likely to be wrong.
- Avoid labelling the experience as negative. You will probably see it differently later on.
- Compartmentalise the issues, focusing on the one at hand. There is a temptation after a major setback to feel that your whole life is wrong.
- Spend time sorting out the issues that arose from the ‘failure’. At the same time focus on something greater than these issues to give you something to work towards.
- Get help. Your thinking processes and actions caused the issue to happen. Get a different viewpoint and advice from someone else.
Life is not a success-only journey. You will experience failures, mistakes and setbacks. You can, however, learn how to learn from them.
We can take heart from the words of Henry Ford who said “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
USING AFFORMATIONS TO GET THE LIFE YOU WANT, by guest writer Rachael Nixon
How to make friends with the little voice in our head...
How many of us have set ourselves a goal or a target in our lives and have every intention of working towards it and achieving it until the ‘little voice in our head’ says ‘You can’t do that, what if...’
The little voice in our head is called ‘The subconscious mind’ and it will hold you back in all areas of your life and business!
Many people will say that by setting an ‘Affirmation’ this will empower you to succeed.
Let me explain why ‘AFFIRMATIONS’ may not work.
Affirmation is a statement that an individual would say to empower them perhaps if they don’t feel confident.
Affirmation, i.e. I am feeling confident right now...
However the subconscious mind (little voice in our head) will always question this statement: Really? Are you sure? What makes you think that?
The outcome is you don’t believe it, hence possibly disempowering you.
We need to work with the subconscious mind at all times as this is your driver in life and in your business.
This is why we now set ‘Afformations’ instead as they empower you not disempower you.
The subconscious mind cannot get around the word ‘WHY’, it can only throw back at you the reason why that is so.
i.e. ‘WHY am I feeling so confident right now?’
Answer: - Because...
The little voice in your head (subconscious mind) then gives you all the reasons why you feel confident right now.
Try setting yourself some ‘Afformations’ and see how well they empower you!
This is a very powerful technique which I use with my clients on a regular basis to empower them to take action and not be paralysed by the subconscious mind.
If you would like to learn more about the techniques I use to empower individuals, I do offer a one hour FREE consultation. Also please take a look at our Facebook page for more articles that will empower you:- facebook/excelcoaching or visit our website: - www.excelperformancecoaching.co.uk
Newsletter March 2012
DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT?
When I was at University I did a degree in Linguistics (the study of language) which is a very interesting, though non-vocational degree. As I got to my final year I started to think about what kind of career I’d like to have, and over a period of time made a list of all the characteristics I wanted in an occupation. I wanted a type of work that was altruistic; involved working with and helping people in a non-medical way; required a professional qualification; had variety; and so on.
I had a very comprehensive list of characteristics, but I didn’t know what type of work this actually equated to, once I’d joined them all together!
One day I went into the library and saw a fellow student. She had a bright yellow piece of paper next to her. I asked what it was and she told me it was a flyer about a course she was thinking of applying for but had changed her mind. I read the flyer and instantly knew that this was the career for me. It contained every one of the characteristics on my list. I applied for the course, was accepted, became qualified, and started my career as a Careers Advisor. I did it for 12 years and it suited me completely.
The more specific you are about what you want the greater the chance you will achieve it.
You may be familiar with this passage from Alice in Wonderland:
Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."
Sometimes, however, it does matter. In these situations, it pays to spend the time thinking through exactly what you want and being clear about what you want to achieve. Making a list can really help you focus. When you know what you want and share your vision, you will start sending out ‘messages’ to the universe and the universe will respond.
The more specific you are about what you want the greater the chance you will achieve it.
Let me finish with a quote from Abraham: “There are no happier people on this planet than those who decide that they want something, define what they want, get hold of the feeling of it even before its manifestation and then joyously watch the unfolding as, piece by piece by piece, it begins to unfold.”
What is something you would like to achieve? Start now! Either decide on a time you are going to begin working on your list, or get a piece of paper and start writing it.
One of my other interests is producing brain training exercises, games and puzzles. MORI research shows that nearly three-quarters of the UK population do some sort of puzzle each week, in magazines and newspapers. If you identify with this, I've produced a number of brain training and puzzle e-books. You can find them here
Newsletter February 2012
What can you do in 5 minutes? Quite a lot actually, and perhaps something that could be life-changing. A phone call that could make or break a relationship; an impassioned speech that could further a cause you are passionate about; a decision that could alter the course of your life.
There are many ways to use 5 minutes and today I’m going to take a brief look at suggestions for ways you can deliberately use 5 minutes to enhance your life.
Some may be one-offs. For example a decision you need to make. Have you been putting off a decision? One way to deal with this is to specifically set aside 5 minutes (with someone else if they are central to the decision making process), ensure there are no distractions, and completely devote the time to the decision you have to make.
Sometimes 5 minutes of deliberate thinking may be enough to make your decision.
If you find it isn’t, spend the last part of the time planning what you need to do next and setting a time to do it.
Some may take several sessions. Do you need to, for example, tidy up a spare room but view it as too daunting a task? Several bursts of totally focused periods of 5 minutes could get you through it.
5 minutes is an easily achievable amount of time to find, and a totally focused 5 minutes can sometimes achieve more than a half-hearted 30 minutes.
Some may be regular occurrences. A 5 minute activity on a regular basis – daily, every few days, weekly or whenever is appropriate – could make a huge positive impact on your life. For example jogging on the spot daily; writing a regular journal; calling your mum once a week; sitting down and doing NOTHING; practising your public speaking skills; sitting with your family round the dinner table and letting them know what you appreciate about them… the list is endless.
To Do. Think of an area of your life you would like to enhance, such as health, relationships, de-stressing, speaking skills, de-cluttering, a hobby. Spend time NOW working out how you can deliberately use 5 minutes (as a one off; a series of sessions; and particularly on a regular basis) to bring about improvements in this area. Decide when you are going to do it. Write it down. Do it!
Newsletter January 2012
Finding your passion
Some people know exactly what their passion is and live it. However, not everybody does. If you are not sure what yours is, how do you find it? Depending on your personal situation, this may be something you can deal with yourself, or you may benefit from professional help.
If you would like to work on it yourself, there are a range of options you could use. Don’t necessarily expect to discover your passion instantly, good things take time.
Options you can use include:
1. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of the page. On the left hand side write down all the things you love. Anything at all, no matter how big or small. Especially those things that you do when you don’t have to. What do you read about? Dream about? What do you get immersed in? What are you drawn to? You can take a few minutes to do this, or you can work on this over a period of time – days, weeks, even longer. If you spend a decent amount of time doing it, it will bring other thoughts and ideas to the fore. You can brainstorm ideas; talk to people who know you, in order to get their thoughts; do some research; really think it through.
On the right hand side of your paper write down things you don’t like or things you find difficult. The items you put here are in your life to challenge you and build strength of character.
Whatever is on your right hand side will be on someone else’s left side, and vice versa. We have all been endowed with different interests and abilities.
The items you have written on the left hand side will be what you are here to do. Perhaps as a job, career or vocation, perhaps as a hobby or interest. You have been endowed with these interests and abilities for a reason, how are you going to use them?
2. This exercise is called '21 to 3' and takes a week to complete. On the first day write down a list of 21 things you would most like to Do, Be or Have by the time you die. Spend as much time as you can on Day One to ensure you get the most benefit from the exercise.
On Day 2 narrow this list down to the most important 18 aspects. Don’t simply cross off three items. Instead, spend time thinking about the list and then write down the top 18 aspects. You may find you amend or combine items.
On Day 3 narrow it down to the most important 15, and so on until by Day 7 you have the top three issues you can now work towards achieving.
3. Read books or websites that will help
There are, of course, a myriad of books and sites that can be of help. A couple I have used that helped me were ‘What color is your parachute?’ by Richard N. Bolles; and ‘I could do anything if I only knew what it was’ by Barbara Sher. I would highly recommend that you use these kinds of books as ‘work books’ and not simply as ‘reading’ books. Do the suggested exercises as that is where you will gain the most benefit. When I used ‘What color is your parachute’ in 1999, it took me around four months to work through it until I got to the stage where I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
The benefits of video on the web - by guest writer, Helen Nurse
When I think about what I spend most time doing online, it is engaging with people – through social networking, Linked In, email conversations, You tube videos. Other than shopping, most of my activity is connecting and interaction.
So if we are in a business or organisation that is ‘selling’, should we try to connect on a more personal level too?
Our DNA is programmed to recognize people and faces more than anything else. So in our virtual world we need to be even more personable than ever before. There is so much 'noise' on the internet, the competition for us to grab people’s attention span has never been greater and so we need to cut through this and engage people in who we are again.
In my opinion no amount of sophisticated technology will take the place of a live person, where you can see their energy, make real eye contact, read their body language, shake their hand. So when you are online and wanting to engage with someone, one of the best ways to do it is with a video - you can look into camera and still connect and make contact with that person.
Video is fast becoming the crown jewel of content marketing because people can both see and hear your message and they can be moved and called to action in ways rarely possible with other forms of content. Essentially video is all the other forms of content rolled into one and is a way to engage people faster.
How does video help you improve your visibility on the web and people’s ability to find you in the first place?
One of the ways that Google and other search engines rank your site is how rich your content is. Video ranks highly as it is considered a very 'rich content' medium. If you have video on your site you will have more chance of being on the first page of the search than a text based site.
A recent survey published on www.reelseo.com revealed that videos in universal search results have a 41% higher click through rate than their plain text counterparts. Yikes.
Video online is no longer being dismissed by businesses as something for personal entertainment on You Tube. Nor is it confined to a 'stuffy 'corporate' video, which is only pulled out and played once a year for an event, presentation or meeting. Improvements in technology as well as audience participation and familiarity have made it a true platform for business which easily integrates with websites and blogs and across major social networkings.
Even something as simple as a 60 second pitch about how you help people can be an effective way of taking advantage of the benefits that video can give. It also gives you a way of engaging personally through a virtual platform. Imagine if, when looking at your website, Facebook page or Linked In profile, people could see a short video clip of you talking to them about how you can help. You are conveying your personality, your skills, your experience and most importantly your credibility.
Ultimately it is about connecting and engaging with people. People don't buy from a company logo, they buy from a person.
Discover Magazine has said that 90% of all global internet traffic will be video by 2014. Online video could be a powerful tool for your business or organisation.
Helen is co-founder of Capture 1 Video, video producer and director