Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tip Thursday - Memory

Research has determined that drawing pictures of words significantly improves memory. Thankfully the quality of the drawings themselves has little impact!

Additionally, memory was improved when only given 4 seconds to complete the drawings, which means they neither have to be particularly good or detailed. This has an impact on the way in which we take notes - we know that the use of colour and of mind-mapping techniques have a significant advantage over linear note-taking - this latest study may provide us with insight into why.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tip Thursday - Resilience

If you are pushing yourself to be more and do more... then you have to expect that there will be
setbacks.  Life doesn't more forward all of the time. There will be dips and bends, side tracks and dead ends.

Expect them and then deal with them. The successful person is the one that overcomes the obstacles, not one that is overcome by them. Your forward journey will be punctuated by falls and even failures.

Expect them, accept them, learn from them and carry on.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tip Thursday - Body Language

When people wear a white coat (such as doctors) more people are convinced by and believe them
than someone with the same title and experience speaking to them without one. The coat is just a prop but its underlying messaging has a significant impact upon the perceived credibility of the message. A simple tool to use to help your message be received favourably.

Obviously the white coat is a tool that is available only to those in the medical profession but... consider what an 'authority' in your industry and situation would wear... and wear that! It may be a subtle cue but anything you can do and use to help your message be heard and received favourably is one worth using to your advantage.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tip Thursday - Influence

It has been shown that people become more 'certain' they are right about a course of action they took IF they can't undo it. If they can't change their action in some way they will hold on firmer and longer to their sense of 'rightness'.

Therefore, if you are looking to change their minds you would do well to help them see some way that their initial action could be 'undone', taken back or overlooked. This isn't always possible of course but the more successful you are in helping them to find an 'out' for their initial behaviour the more successful you will be in getting them to modify their choices in the future.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tip Thursday - Body Language

We've all heard that a smile can be incredibly powerful.  However, research has also shown that it is a contributor to your overall success in business and love. Researchers have reviewed photos of couples and found that those who were not smiling in their early photos together were 5 times more likely to experience divorce.

Additionally, other researchers found that in reviewing the early sports photos of professional ball players that those smiling in their early rookie cards were significantly more likely to experience success in their professional careers.

The key to this is the link to optimists. Those who are more optimistic - and that's what smiles tend to show - find it easier to get along with people and to expect good things to happen to them, thereby contributing to their success in marriage and, at least, in professional baseball!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Tip Thursday - Influence

Researchers have found that using information and logic to persuade someone to engage in a specific
action is not as likely to influence their future choices as is getting them to 'imagine' certain actions.

For example, researchers that asked participants to read a report highlighting the benefits of purchasing a product were far less likely to sell that product to the group than they were with participants instructed to simply 'imagine' the benefits of using the product.

In fact, more than twice as many purchases were made by those imagining the benefits than by those reviewing factual reports. Consider then the use of this when selling your products and services to your customers. How might you shift your language and ad copy to strengthen your sales?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tip Thursday - Body Language

Think it's unnecessary for poker players to wear those dark glasses when playing cards? A study by the University of Melbourne found that our eye position betrays the numbers we are thinking about.

It seems that when we think of numbers we automatically code them in space with smaller numbers falling to the left and larger numbers to the right. (for those of us who read and write this way!) We unconsciously place numbers along a left to right oriented number line.

Paying attention to where someone's eyes go when they are thinking of a desired card will give you some insight into  what they are potentially holding. Yes, the movement may be small but if you've got thousands riding on it you learn to watch for small discriminating give-away movements such as this.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tip Thursday - Performance Improvement

Priming is the psychological term used to describe our increased sensitivity to a stimulus that happens NOW, due to an experience or stimulus that happened in the recent past. For example, students asked to unscramble words related to the elderly (such as... Florida, retire, wrinkle) tended to walk significantly slower when leaving the testing room than did control subjects.

This is all a non-conscious activity. We are all unconsciously primed by events and experiences around us all the time. Knowing this we can then work to deliberately prime our unconscious minds to increase our performance.

Surround yourself with pictures and memorabilia of high performers that you admire and respect to influence what you do. Really be clear though about who and what truly inspires you, not just what you 'want' to inspire you. It must be personalized specifically to you for it to work its subtle unconscious effects.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tip Thursday - Influence

When someone faces a choice between two options, they typically get caught up in listing the relative pros and cons of each. This can mean a delay in the decision-making process if not even stall it. If you want to influence the decision then introduce a third option, one that is less attractive than your desired choice but that shares some similarity to it.

The presence of the 3rd, less desirable, option will lead the individual to view the similar item as more favorable and create the assumption that it is the overall most favourable option, thereby directing their choice. Although there were still only two viable options, the presence of the third actually speeds up the decision-making process and will typically direct the person to choose the one item (from the original two) that was most similar but superior to the added third option.

Sneaky... but it works!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tip Thursday - Productivity

Sometimes when we are struggling with remaining productive it is because we are feeling less than motivated. However, trying to become motivates when we're not feeling it can prove challenging.

Instead, focus on your commitment instead. When you are working on something that is important to you, or that you are committed to getting done, your motivation is not an issue. next time that you feel your motivation is a little lacklustre, try focusing on your commitment instead.

Not only will it help you move through the task but you just might find some of your missing motivation along the way!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tip Thursday - Delegation

One of the challenges in delegating to others is the need to get past the 'I'll do it myself' syndrome. Sure, sometimes it feels like it's just faster and easier to take care of it yourself, but it can quickly become a habit, resulting in a lot of your time being wasted engaging in tasks that others could do for you.

Spending the time up front showing someone how to take care of a task for you may cost you more time initially than if you just did it yourself, but it will save you in the long run, allowing you more time to focus on the activities where you cant ruly add value. If you are looking to advance your skills, value and position identifying which tasks you engage in repeatedly that could be delgated or automated is key. Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tip Thursday - Productivity

Often our biggest challenge in getting things done is finding the time. However, we often engage in
activities over and over using only our familiarity with the task to shorten the time it takes. Instead, think of everything you do as a potential 'process', one that can be documented, repeated and potentially outsourced.

By doing this you put yourself in the position of creating systems for completing your work that eliminate duplicative processes. Thinking of this potential before you engage in a new activity opens you to the streamlining process, allowing you to create the processes as you go. That way you only expense the full time a task takes the first time, freeing up all future expenditures.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tip Thursday - Body Language

There are few gestural cues that transcend countries and cultures, but there is a universal body language of triumph. Studies conducted with both blind and seeing athletes have found that all athletes make the same body language expression when they won their event - regardless of the sport.

Even blind athletes who had never seen anyone display the behaviour exhibited the same cues. The classic body language of a winner? Arms and hands raised above the head, mouth open and face pointed up toward the sky signalling their triumph.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Change your Habits, Change your Life

We know that change isn't easy but it is important to know that change is always possible. Ultimately, it's the possibility of change coupled with the desire for different that motivates us to try. However, our attempts to change are often flawed from the start because we don't take the time to understand that at the root of all change is the need to modify our habits.

The first time that we attempt a 'new' activity or task our brain is fully engaged. It is actively involved in processing all aspects of the activity in detail. However, as we come to repeat that activity in the future our brain begins to look for shortcuts, recalling patterns of behaviours and acting on them. In essence, our brains are continuously converting sequences of actions into automatic routines referred to as habits.

We rely daily on dozens of these habitual routines each day, which are nothing but ways in which our brain has worked to save itself some effort which allows us to devote more mental energy to higher thought processes and newer activities.

However, when we look to make 'changes' to the way that we do things we are typically going to have to modify many of these habits we hold. Unfortunately, we hold them largely unconsciously. As a result we are largely unaware when the brain fires up a given routine behaviour pattern and then question 'why' we seem to keep engaging in the 'old' behaviour when we 'know' we want to do something 'new'. The problem we face is that once a habit is formed our brain stops fully processing that habit. It activates automatically. So unless you deliberately fight a habit and establish new routines, the old patterns will emerge.

Our brain doesn't know the difference between good and bad habits. It has established our habitual loops of behaviour as shortcuts to keep it from being overwhelmed by every minute little daily decision. If we are truly interested in creating change into our lives we must focus on modifying our behaviour at the existing habitual level.

Our habits develop power over us because they create neurological cravings, most of which we are largely unaware of. Generally speaking our habits have three basic components...

  1. Cue...  our habits start with a particular cue or trigger, something that tells the brain which habit it is to engage
  2. Routine... which is the habit pattern of behaviour to engage
  3. Reward... the strength of the reward we experience once the behaviour loop is engaged is what lets the brain know whether that loop is worth remembering. The more positive the perceived reward, the more reinforced and automatic the loop becomes
You can disrupt this cycle by focusing on the middle part of that loop. You can never really extinguish bad habits so you want to 'modify' the cycle rather than trying to delete it. To start you must begin by identifying the cycle itself. What are the cues that trigger the habit loop to start? For smokers looking to quit they need to identify each of the cues that trigger them to reach for their cigarette pack, for people looking to lose weight the cues that trigger their 'snack' choices or timing. Although these cues are operating unconsciously, you can become aware of them by stopping each time that behaviour loop starts and reflecting on what precipitated it. Jot it down. You'll soon have a clear list of your identified triggers and cues.

Your job then is to replace the routine that follows. Instead of allowing your existing habit loop to run insert your desired new one. Make it as consistent as possible each time to help the brain to recognise the pattern. Reinforce the associated reward. Make a big deal of it. Celebrate the change in your choices. You want your brain to acknowledge the choice as a desired one. If you eat carrots instead of chips but bemoan the choice your brain is not going to go out of its way to anchor that habit in place. Instead, think about how proud you are of the choice, how good you feel, how much more energy you have. Even if it's not true - these are the messages you want cemented to that action.

The only other magical ingredient needed to make the new habits stick is the Belief that it will work. You need to believe that change is possible, that you can make that change, that things can get better. It seems that for all the effort and attempts people make to change, the reason they keep boomeranging back to the original habit is that they lack the belief the new behaviours will stick.

Whether it's belief in yourself, belief in the science or belief in the disruption formula above, permanent change requires the addition of belief. So don't beat yourself up about all of your failed attempts in the past. This time things will be different... if you truly believe they will.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Tip Thursday - Branding

Today we're not just talking about branding but, in particular, YOUR brand. The first thing that our brains do, when coming across something new, is to classify it along with something else, something familiar. This means that we stereotype - everything.

Therefore, knowing how people are most likely to stereotype you allows you to determine what works for your brand... and what doesn't. This allows you to develop strategies for playing into and building upon this impression or to break that pattern of thinking immediately so they are forced to re-classify you!

Although it may not be politically correct in today's world to speak about stereotypes it doesn't mean they don't exist. Spending time to understand how you are most likely to be stereotyped allows you to find ways to capitalize on or to shift those impressions - ensuring always that they help to sell your desired branded message.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tip Thursday - Body Language

When listening to an opponent speak pay attention to your body language. Studies have found that when a nonspeaking debater expressed continuous disagreement or disbelief in what their opponent was saying, by frowning, head shaking, mouthing rebuttals... the audience tended to view them as deceptive and the speaker as truthful. Some times speakers will use negative body language in an attempt to sway the audience to their point of view.

Studies like the one above indicate that if you are unaware of your body language you may be inadvertently influencing the perception of your audience - in a less than desirable direction. When listening to others pay close attention to what you may be inadvertently communicating - ensuring that your body language is delivering messages of your choosing!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tip Thursday - The Brain Game

When it comes to the way that we tend to think, there are a number of biases and fallacies we
regularly fall into that have a highly influential effect upon our actions. One such bias is the Optimism Bias, which is a cognitive bias leading us to believe we are less at risk of experiencing a negative event than is someone else.

Smokes believe they are less at risk of cancer than are other smokers, drivers believe they are less likely to be in a car accident than others, traders believe they are less likely to lose money than their peers. The optimism bias influences many of the choices we make over the course of our lives, if not our days. However, overly positive assumptions can lead to miscalculations and poor choices like a failure to save for retirement, neglecting health issues or making a bad investment.

However, the optimism bias can also serve to motivate us and give us hope. As with all things, there is balance. Learning to recognise when our optimistic biases are leading us to make choices that don't serve us in the long term allows us to choose differently - ideally better. Conversely, there will be times when our optimistic tendencies will serve us well and should be allowed to instill us with the hope we need to persevere.

The challenge is in learning to differentiate the two.

Monday, March 20, 2017

What's the State of Your Skills?

You've been in your current role, and with your current employer, for a fair number of years now. Though the work may not always have been challenging the years have been busy, your coworkers enjoyable to be around and the pay has been more than fair. You are both comfortable and happy.

Things seem like they are going well. Until... your company gets bought out, you and your coworkers are let go and you are now looking for work. Although you have done well and been praised for the work you have done over the years, you are finding that new employers are looking for skills beyond those that you have. The industry shifted and moved. You did not.

It can become easy and comfortable to get so caught up in the day-to-day activities of work that we fail to notice the gentle and slow erosion of our skills until, suddenly, we find we are woefully out-of-date and sadly viewed as lacking. Remaining current and competitive takes work and focus, requiring us to ensure that we remain consciously competent in what we are doing, not operating at the unconscious or habitual level.

When we operate through habit we do what we have always done. We rely upon the skills we have. They got us to where we are and may be more than enough to meet the day-to-day needs of the role we have, but they are not going to be sufficient to meet the demands of the future - or of a future employer.

Sometimes working for one employer can be deceptive. If they, as an organization, are not committed to development, we may find ourselves feeling like we are growing, because our title advances, without ever recognising that our skills are not keeping pace. Their policy to hire from within, their comfort with the known, their reliance on the tried and true may mislead you into believing that it's enough, until one day when it isn't.

You owe it to yourself (and perhaps to your mortgage) to ensure that you remain competitive, that your skills will allow you to compete in the job marketplace should you unexpectedly find yourself there. Regardless of whether your current employer requires your skills to be updated, you do and should. The following are some of my top suggestions to help you sand off some of the rust that may be developing on your existing skills and to maybe add in a couple of bright shiny new ones.

  • Start by taking a skills inventory. Yes you can begin by listing all of the skills you have, but I urge you to spend some time reviewing the online Job Boards, reading the search requirements for those in your current role. If you found yourself looking for work today, what skills are they are asking for that you have? Which ones are you missing?  These are the gaps you should actively work on filling now. They are skills that will not only help you be competitive in a search, should you find yourself needing to be, but they will enhance the work you are currently engaged in, adding more value to the work you do.
  • Network with an eye to gaining insights into how others are approaching challenges within their organizations. What are they doing, how are they doing it, what skills are required to do that? Learn from the approaches of others, about best practices, about skills they are using that you could hone up on, about new systems, ideas, and processes.
  • Consider a reverse mentoring opportunity. We often look to mentor young people entering our organization, helping them to learn from our experiences. Consider instead what you can learn from them. Their approaches are often vastly different but may be more indicative of the 'new' ways work will get done. Use them to help you get and stay current. What do you need to know about new technology, social media, online networking and chatting? They have a wealth of information that you need - consider your mentoring a two-way exchange.
  • Google search the top challenges you face. Look for the 'newest' ways other companies are now dealing with those challenges. Keep abreast of the newest research and developments in your field. You may not ever want to implement the ideas but you should always know about them. It should always be a conscious choice not an unconscious one due to a lack of knowledge.
There is no down-side to making the polishing and refinement of your skills an ongoing habit. It serves to make you more valuable today and more competitive tomorrow. As for anything the best time to prepare is before you need it. Get started now bumping out the dings, sanding off the rust and maybe even slapping on a few new coats of paint. It's a strategic positioning that may not just serve you well in the long term, but may have a positive impact in your short term as well.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tip Thursday - Time Management

When everything on our To-Do list is important and we are facing too many priorities we often have to regain focus to avoid a feeling of overwhelm.

It is interesting to note that the word 'priority' was first introduced into the English language in the 1400's as a singular. It meant 'the very first thing'.  It remained singular for the next 500 years and only became pluralized in the 1900's, where we determined that we had multiple priorities.

When everything on your desk seems important and you are unable to define clearly what your true priority may be, try implementing a restricted time frame. Ask yourself... 'If I only had 2 hours left in my work day, what would need to get done?' When time is short we often are much better at cutting through to what really matters. If you're not under a time crunch (yet) then arbitrarily create one to help you establish the clarity you need.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Need Something? Ask!

I started this year out by taking on a new challenge. I took on the role of teaching an Entrepreneurship course at a local college. My biggest hope is that they are learning as much from me as I am from them.

One of my biggest insights thus far is the importance of 'the ask'. I offered to connect through social media with students and got hit immediately with requests. I offered to review their resumes and cover letters before they applied for internships and got requests for help. I always make myself available at least an hour before class to address any questions they may have, whether about the course material or anything else I can help with. Some seek me out. During class some ask questions about what they don't understand. However, not everyone connected, asked for help or asked questions.

What's interesting to me though is how this willingness to ask for what you need and want translates out into grades. For the most part all of my 'askers' are doing well.  The non-askers? There is some variability.  I have a couple I've never heard from who are doing well. For the most part though, those that aren't asking anything of me also tend to be those that are struggling.

Why wait for your paper to be graded to discover you didn't understand?
Why struggle on your own if you have someone willing to provide you with support?

This isn't limited to my classroom. The 'Askers' in life tend to do better. They certainly seem to get more. They get the flight upgrades when travelling, they get the discounts, the deals, the opportunities, the extra attention. Often we resent them for it but the plain hard truth is that all those things were also available to us - if only we'd asked.

I have people new to starting their own business that seek me out for my insights on how to get started. They ask me questions so that they can get up and running faster and easier, avoiding the pitfalls I experienced. They want to learn through my mistakes, avoiding having to make them themselves. Smart. I, however, started my business making all of those mistakes because I was reluctant to ask. For me it was a combination of being afraid to approach anyone with my questions lest I be rejected and a reluctance to admit I didn't know. This combination cost me time and effort that I could have used to become `successful` faster.

Some of my students though? They get this. They want the help and the shortcuts. They don't think it makes them look foolish to ask but, rather, that they would feel foolish by not asking. They aren't looking for me to do everything for them but they are looking to tap into the experience I have and to use it while it's available to them. Their mantra?
It can't hurt to ask.
Simple. Yet so difficult for some of us to implement. We worry we'd seem pushy or presumptuous. We worry we'll appear ignorant. We're afraid that asking for something makes us vulnerable, or that it is a sign of weakness. In short, we are poor advocates for ourselves.

What's wrong with asking for help or asking for something we want? What's wrong with asking for clarification or to connect or for the sale? People are far too busy today to second-guess our needs, they are struggling to identify and meet their own. You need something? Let them know. Ask for their insights. They can either help you or not but leave the choice to them rather than making it for them by never asking.

If not-asking hasn't been serving you well thus far in your career and life try giving asking a try. You want something? Ask. You need something? Ask. You don't understand something? Ask. What's the worst thing that could happen? You don't get what you're after, which is pretty much where you are right now.

This is my current lesson from college and one I'm going to start applying. Get ready world... I've got questions!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tip Thursday - Self Awareness

To be as self aware as possible you must consider two key gaps in your potential understanding. First is the gap that exists between what all there is to know about yourself and what you actually know.

Regardless of how old you are, and all that you have done in your life, there are still untapped skills, latent talents and hidden strengths. To narrow this gap you need to continue to challenge yourself with new activities, new experiences, new learnings. You just might uncover an interest and talent residing in you that opens an exciting new chapter in your life.

The second gap is the one that exists between how you see yourself and how others see you. Through their observation of our behaviours others can become privy to information and  insights about us that we don't have. Seek our feedback, remain open to receiving the insight of others, to narrow this gap and come to understand yourself better.

How well we understand ourselves has a profound impact on our ability to interact with others successfully and is the foundation for growing your Emotional Intelligence. If you want to truly be understood by those around you, you must first work to understand yourself.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Eliminating 'Overwhelm'

We have all experienced a time in our lives when we felt that there were so many things requiring our focus, when there was so much on our plates, that we were unsure how (or even if) we were ever going to be able to get through it.  For many of us these moments of overwhelm tend to arise relatively infrequently.  For others, it almost feels like a constant state.

Regardless of the frequency with which we have to face this feeling though, we know how paralyzing and crippling the feeling of overwhelm can be.  Enough so that we may find ourselves shutting down, refusing and unable to move forward. With so many priorities and so many things screaming for our attention we can quickly become so overwhelmed that we are unable to determine what actions to take next.

Think of all the mental noise that our constant thoughts of items on our to-do lists and things we need to remember create. If we envision all of those thoughts that enter our brains flowing like water into a glass we see how quickly our glass (and brains) become full and overflowing. We become overwhelmed when we feel that we can no longer contain and hold onto all of those thoughts, we become fearful of forgetting, of overlooking a priority, of falling short.

One of the easiest ways to manage this feeling is to create a Dumping Ground List. Get out a pad of paper and begin dumping all of the thoughts that are in your head onto the paper. Think of this as one massive list of all of your thoughts, your priorities, your to-dos, your 'cannot forgets'.  As you purge those thoughts from your mind, capturing them on paper, begin noticing how much lighter you feel. The stress of potentially forgetting something floating in your head lessens as a concrete journal of all those 'somethings' takes shape.

Don't qualify any of your thoughts thinking it's not important enough or that you won't forget it. Anything that you are trying to remember in your head needs to be recorded on the list.  Don't take up unnecessary brain-space.  Clear the clutter in your head by committing it to the Dumping Ground.

Once your list is complete take highlighters in 3 different colours. Designate one colour for your 'Immediate' priorities. These are the items on your list that must be completed within the next two days. Using a second colour highlight those items that need to be completed within the next 5-7 and a third colour for those that must be completed within 7-14 days.

You likely have items on the list that have not been highlighted. These are either items you have been carrying around that you feel you 'should' take care of, but that really aren't that important or urgent, in which case let 'em go, and those that may be important but whose time frame is long enough that you need not worry about them today.  These items you can revisit in 3-5 days and build into your action list.

Actively focus and work on the few items you have highlighted that need completion within the next 2 days. Don't worry about the rest - you'll get to them.  Just know that they are recorded there for you to reference when you have the available brain space to focus on them.

If you are someone that suffers from a sense of overwhelm often, you may find that maintaining this running Dumping Ground List becomes your best tool.  Cross off items as you complete them and continue adding to it as more things arise. Maintaining the list means you always have a concrete record of items to refer to, freeing up your brain space and power to focus and hone in on those priorities that are important 'now'.

Dedicate a small lined book to your Dumping Ground and develop the habit of taking it into meetings with you, adding to it as items get assigned or you are extending promises.  Using the book to extend and direct your brain's focus may be one of the best productivity and success tools you activate. Certainly it's a great way for you to eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed by everything on your plate and get down to the business of managing them instead.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Tip Thursday - Body Lanaguage

When it comes to tough negotiations any little edge you can get is a plus. Successful negotiators
know that it is often the small, unconscious signals and cues that can influence your outcome in a positive way.

When someone is saying something or behaving in a way we don't like, we often make the mistake of looking them straight in the eye, which can create a more confrontational environment.

Instead of looking them in the eyes look at the bridge of their nose. It won't get their back up the same as looking them in the eyes might, but it will prove unsettling to them and will often lead them to drop their eye contact and stop their rant.

It may take a little practice but it can serve to help stop a tirade or to undermine a power play.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Thinking Backward to Move Forward

When it comes to Personal Development you likely have a laundry list of things you'd like to do, things you think you should do and things you think you'd better do. There is seemingly never a shortage of actions we could take that would 'improve' us, our careers, our lives in some way. The challenge, of course, is that we can't actively work on them all. In which case, we need to choose what to focus on to move us forward.

The best way to move through the clutter of improvement projects is to consider...

If you were looking back at your life two years from now, what would you have done over those two years for you to feel good about yourself and your achievements?

This question is designed to help you clear your way through all of the mind-clutter and to hone in on those actions that will net you the result you desire. The reason this technique works so well is that looking forward is difficult while looking backward is easy. Looking forward means that we are peering into the unknown, which can cause us to hesitate in making choices in case we choose wrong. We don't want to waste the next two years working on something that doesn't move us in the desired direction and we therefore fail to commit to taking action.

However, when we look backward we are typically reviewing fact. We are able to discern what actions we took that led to the results we achieved. Placing ourselves two years into the future and directing our minds to look back over the past two years, to review what actions we would have taken to achieve what we did, plays upon that fact-based mind-set we expect to have when looking backward. It again helps us to reduce the list of possible actions to those that will make the difference for us.

Being in that fact-based mind-set also helps us to recognise the actions we need to take from those we are comfortable in taking. This technique therefore helps to shift us out of our comfort zone by acknowledging the actions we need to take to reach our desired goal.

When we look forward to our desired goal we may be able to identify the steps we need to take but we are then also faced with doubts as to our capability.  However, when we start at the end and look back our mind is already viewing those same actions as steps we have already taken and therefore builds our confidence and capability. This simple redirection of thought breaks down our barriers and self-doubts rather than building them up.

We know that our mind is a powerful tool that will help us to achieve what we can conceive and believe.  Starting with a vision of the successful future you desire, and then looking backward at what you have done to get there, trains your mind to believe in the possibility.

  1. What does your desired future look like 2 years from now?
  2. What steps did you take to get there?
  3. You've got your action list, start making it happen.

Three steps to ensuring that you are doing what you need today to have the life that you want and envision tomorrow. There's really nothing like thinking backward to help you in moving forward.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tip Thursday - Negotiations

A great little tip comes to us from a top Former FBI Negotiator, Chris Voss. He says that the key to mastering negotiations is to create empathy. Specifically... to get the other party to empathize with your position.

By getting the other party to recognise the position they are putting you in, and its impact, they are far more likely to offer you concessions. The trick to doing this is to use 7 words - "How am I supposed to do that?"

You put the ball back in their court and force them to think about the situation from your perspective. As soon as they do it becomes more difficult for them to hold a firm line on their position. 7 simple little words that can make all the difference to the outcome of your next negotiation.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Play Your Way to Success

Play is not a word often used within the business landscape. It is generally viewed as unproductive
and even purposeless. However, more companies are coming to recognise not only the benefits of play to the health and well being of their employees, but to the bottom line.

Many dot-com companies are ahead of the learning curve on this one, embracing the benefits of play as a productivity boost. Many offer free art or yoga classes during the day, provide games like ping-pong or Foosball, or even encouraging recess-like breaks.

Research has demonstrated repeatedly the benefits of play for relieving stress, boosting creativity, and improving overall brain functioning. Play is fun and can serve to release endorphins which are the body's natural feel-good chemicals, serving to promote an overall sense of well-being.

The fact that most organizations cultivate an environment where play is seen as counter-productive and 'breaks' are viewed as time-wasters helps to explain the lack of energy, focus and interest expressed and experienced by many employees. If these are the over-riding feelings of your employees each day, what does this say to the quality of work they likely are producing?

Stuart Brown is a psychiatrist that has studied Play and its purpose and importance in our lives. He is the founder of the National Institute of Play in Carmel and the author of  Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.  He studied the play histories of 6,000 people ranging from Nobel prize winners to Texas murderers and found that the two main distinguishers between the two were abusive childhoods and a lack of play.

As our economy begins to shape our work environments further, forcing us to work harder in offices with fewer staff to accomplish a growing work pile, we are left with even less time to ourselves and definitely less we feel we can devote to play. However as Dr. Brown points out...
Play is particularly important during periods that we are sustainedly stressful.
In order to become more play-full, Brown recommends getting back in touch with your inner child and how you played as that child. What activities engaged you most, brought you the most joy? He has identified 8 Play Personalities that help to shape the type of play activities you might enjoy most...

  • Joking - A little improv? A little stand-up? Clown school? There is a reason people gravitate to laughter clinics.
  • Moving - This could include athletic activities but really involves anyone who enjoys moving whether dancing, swimming or even walking
  • Exploring - Brown says that this could be physical but it could be emotional as well, with a search into deepening your understanding of music, movement or...
  • Competing -  This is for all of you that love to play games and keep score.  Your stack of games on the shelf is likely testament to your engagement with this one already!
  • Directing - These are the planners of the world - those that enjoy planning parties or vacations.
  • Collecting - Anything is fair game here, referring to people's joy in collecting things whether comic books, shoes, tea pots or model trains.
  • Storytelling - This could refer to those who actually physically enjoy writing stories to share, but could simply be those that like documenting aspects of their life in video, blogging about an interest or mocking up cooking shows in their kitchen.
  • Creating Art - Whether you draw or paint, sculpt, redecorate, rebuild engines or wood work... it's the creation aspect that appeals to you.
Most professional athletes recognise the importance of down time to their success. They can't possibly sustain a high level of performance on 'game day' without giving their muscles and minds a break in between. Those of us with 9 to 5 jobs need to sustain our performance 5 days a week with only 2-3 weeks a year to recover.  This is not sufficient and goes a long way to explaining why we struggle to keep up and stay motivated.  

Instead, introduce a little play into your life. Build in time to relax, have fun and de-stress. Your mind will be that much clearer when you re-engage on the work tasks before you. A clear and focused mind can accomplish more in less time than a tired, distracted one ever could. You just might find that a recess-break becomes your best productivity and success tip!

For those looking for some simple and discrete ways to introduce small little fun-sized breaks into their work schedule, consider some of the following as a way to de-stress while on-the-job!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tip Thursday - Body Language

Yes, I understand that having crossed arms may simply indicate that you are cold, or that it's a
comfortable position for you to hold your arms. However, your audience will unconsciously take your folded arms to mean that you are closing yourself off from the conversations. Having your arms crossed in front of your body effectively creates a barrier signifying to others that you are distancing yourself from the conversation.

If you want to appear open and interested then this is a gesture you should avoid. Interestingly, studies have shown that audience members sitting with crossed arms were far less likely to think favourably of a presenter (or what they present) than those with a more open posture.

If you want to 'be' open you must ensure that your body language is open. Apparently we not only signal our openness to our audience, but to our brains as well!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dissatisfied with Work? Get a Hobby!

We all experience frustration and a sense of dissatisfaction with our work from time to time. However, when we find that those become the pervasive feelings we experience on the job, we may find those feelings spilling over into other aspects of our life leaving us feeling disheartened and perhaps even depressed.

We may feel that the answer is to move to a new job but are frustrated by the lack of opportunities available, or feel trapped because we can't afford to walk away from the salary or benefits we have, or even perhaps because we've trained and studied to do what we're doing and are reluctant to call it quits and move on to something else.

However, the solution may not require us to change our jobs or switch companies. Often the problem with what we are experiencing rests far more with our perspective than it does with the job itself. Too many people expect their work to satisfy too many aspects of their needs. When we are not feeling fully satisfied with our lives we put the blame on our work not being challenging or fulfilling enough. I can't count the number of people I've met that shift jobs every 2 years on the search for the 'right' role, never stopping to consider that their search will be fruitless if they don't first shift their thinking.

The important mental shift to make is to stop thinking that your 'work' must be 100% responsible for your level of satisfaction with your life.  I will often get my coaching clients to complete a satisfaction exercise that you can complete quite easily on your own.

  • Take a piece of paper and draw a chart with three columns.  
  • In column one list everything that matters to you in life.  Start by listing all of the things that a 'perfect' job would provide or contain (financial requirements, achievement, learning, etc.) but go on to include other 'life' elements that matter to you also that might not arise when you think of work (Spirituality, community, adventure, etc.)
  • In the top of Column 2 write the word Work and then go down the list of elements in Column 1 indicating how well Work is currently satisfying each element for you.  Use a 1 to 10 scale with 1 being not at all and 10 indicating you are fully satisfied.
  • In the top of Column 3 write the work Personal and do exactly the same thing assessing (using the 1 to 10 scale) how well your non-work life satisfies each of the dimensions.
  • Review the results... look for elements that score high at either work or in your personal sphere. These are elements where you are being satisfied either in one sphere or another.  Recognise that work isn't meant to satisfy all dimensions all the time.  The key is to build in satisfaction somewhere.  These high scores indicate you are doing that. Celebrate that rather than berating work for perhaps not doing it enough.  
  • Look for elements that have low scores within both spheres.  This indicates an area that you could benefit from improving. Put on your creativity hat and begin brainstorming ideas and ways that you could improve this score but ensure that you consider ways and means both inside and outside of work.
  • Look for elements that matter to you most and, regardless of your score, brainstorm some ideas for building in even greater levels of satisfaction.  If it's an element that matters a great deal to you then even a small shift upward in your levels, even if they aren't bad to start with, will go a long way to heightening your overall level of satisfaction.
  • Review your list of generated ideas, highlight the one or two that really resonate with you and implement those.
What this exercise does is to force you to recognise and acknowledge that dissatisfaction with our work is sometimes a reflection of just an overall sense of dissatisfaction. All too often we expect our 'work' to make us happy without considering that it cannot possibly satisfy us in all aspects of our lives.  Looking for ways we can strengthen our out-of-work activities and experiences can serve to heighten our overall sense of satisfaction and lead us to feeling much more positively about our job.

So, rather than cursing the job you have or feeling that you need to find a 'better' one, maybe you need to consider boosting your outside-of-work activities. If you are feeling a lack of engagement, satisfaction and energy then look to your hobbies.  If they are comprised primarily of watching television and scrolling through social media then you can definitely use a boost!.  

A true hobby is one that requires active and mindful engagement, an activity that serves to heighten your mood and build your skills. Any hobby can do this; explore which ones will serve you.  From biking or hiking, to ballroom or hip hop dance, to quilting or painting, to woodworking or rebuilding cars. All that matters is that it is something that interests and engages you.

The moment you stop looking for work to serve as the sole source of satisfaction in your life, and find other outside sources of satisfaction, the happier you are going to find yourself at work. Outside interests can go a long way to cultivating your interest in the work you are doing.

Maybe the next time you are thinking you need a new job, stop and think about whether you need a new hobby!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tip Thursday - Creativity

It can sometimes be challenging to come up with new and creative solutions to things.

Psychology professor Nicola Baumann found, in an experiment she conducted, that clenching your left hand into a fist (versus clenching your right) triggered a brain circuit associated with creativity.

Clenching your left fist may be all that you need to activate your innovation and creativity. Certainly worth trying the next time you're feeling a little stuck!

Monday, February 6, 2017

But That's Not What I Meant!

How often have you caught yourself protesting...  'That's not what I meant'?
How often have you found others misunderstanding, misinterpreting or simply missing your messages? Unfortunately for most of us, a misunderstanding on the part of the audience is most often due to poor communication on the part of the speaker.  Us.

The fault rests on the focus of speakers on the development and delivery of their message, rather than on its receipt.  Most speakers are very content focused, wanting to ensure that the content of the messages they share is accurate and direct. However, they typically fall short on working to ensure that their message delivery systems are aligned with their content. In short, they focus solely on the messages they are delivering with their words and do not take into account the messages being simultaneously delivered through their voice or body.
"More miscommunication and misunderstandings arise simply through a misalignment of messages between 'what' you say and 'how' you say it than any other communication error"
When someone misinterprets your desired message it will most likely be due to a failure on your part to align your spoken words with your non-verbal messages than it will be due to your audience's failure to listen appropriately. Our expectation that others will listen to our words, without our message being influenced by any sub textual messages we are sending, is unrealistic at best and destined for misunderstanding and misinterpretation at worst.

We know that the messages that others receive from us are based 50-95% on our non-verbal messaging, not upon the words we choose to share with them.  At a minimum then half of the messages we deliver to others, in any given situation, are driven by our non-verbal messages. Half.

Now consider how much time you have invested in understanding those messages, in studying what your voice and behaviours are telling people about you, about your content. What are your non-verbal messages doing to heighten your credibility? What are your non-verbals doing to diminish it?

It is not enough for us to 'know' what we are talking about if we cannot get others to understand it, accept it, believe in it or... believe in us. Powerful and successful communicators understand this. Top influencers study this. Those of us that want our messages to be heard and understood need to as well.

In this pursuit audio recordings are your best friend.  With the accessibility to recording devices on every cell phone out there you have no excuse to not record key messages and review them for clarity of communications.  The following are some of the main things you might want to look and listen for...

  • Think first of what you are attempting to do with the message you intend to deliver.  Are you trying to explain, persuade, motivate?  The goal of your message will have an impact on the 'how' of your delivery.  Be clear about this before reviewing your recording, providing a measure to review your messages against.
  • Pay attention to the speed of your delivery - both voice and body. Neither should appear manic! Too much speed will seem out-of-control and decrease the credibility of both you and your message.  However, if you are looking to motivate and excite your audience your voice and movements should be a little faster than normal, that heightened energy helping to drive them to also feel excited. If your message is more thoughtful or serious then your movements and voice should be slightly slower than is usual for you, providing a little more gravitas, generating a message that you are in control of the situation and affording the audience a little more time to take in the information and process it.
  • Ensure that your gestures are sized in proportion to the message and the audience. If you are delivering to smaller audiences your gestures will occur within your own personal space. If speaking to a larger audience then you will have to extend your gestures further for them to be seen. 
  • Your voice must project and drive the emotional response that you want from your audience and needs to fit the message you are delivering.  You cannot expect to motivate and inspire the crowd if you sound bored with what you are sharing. Lead and model the response you want them to emulate.
  • Pay attention to the direction of your hands. Gesturing up is positive while downward is negative.  Both have their uses but each must support the content. Gesturing downward while attempting to convince your audience that good days are ahead will lead your audience to distrust you and to believe the situation is worse than they thought. 
  • Use your eye contact to connect your audience to you and your message. There is no better tool to use, to show you are interested in them (and not just on you and your message,) than connecting with them at a personal level. Your eye contact is a primary tool for doing this.
Watch for the above points while reviewing your video recordings, working to strengthen the alignment between your spoken and unspoken messages.  The closer you come to ensuring they are all saying the same thing, the stronger your messages, the greater your credibility and less often you will find yourself feeling the need to protest 'but... that's not what I meant'!

(and... if you require further direction or support in learning more about your body language and how to use it to greater advantage, just let us know!  That is, after all... what we do!)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tip Thursday - Sales

When selling it is easy to get caught up in hyping the 'what' of your product or service by outlining all of its features.  However, you need to speak to customers about the 'why' of what you do, of what you offer, of what your product can help them with.

The language you use is critical.

Instead of speaking using a lot of nouns, describing what your product or service is, shift to more verb-based descriptions of how people use your product (or you)! Talk about 'why' they need it (or you), 'what' it does for them, 'how' they can use it (you).

Verbs, not nouns, to increase sales.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Skis Only Come in Pairs; the Challenges of Being a Single Businesswoman

My son had grown out of his old snow skis and needed a new pair.  New boots, bindings, skis... the whole deal. Not an inexpensive enterprise but something we were willing to invest in, given our desire to ski as a family over the upcoming winter season. However, our first outing, proudly sporting his new racing skis, he went over a small jump and landed tip first snapping of the tip of his brand new skis.

Now, unlike shoes, snow skis typically have no left or right. Therefore, in my ignorance, I assumed that we only had to purchase one new ski, replacing the one that had broken. To my surprise (and financial dismay) though, I discovered skis only come in pairs. I never did receive a good explanation for this phenomenon, the most frequent reason cited being ``that`s just how they come!``

The following week I was part of a women`s discussion group concerning hidden stereotypes and barriers to the progress of women in business when the subject turned to the perceived view that to be viewed as `successful` a woman needed to be part of a `twosome`. This was not the first time I had head this, I`ve had numerous senior businesswomen express frustration with the view that there must be something `wrong` with them if they are still single, the most common belief being that they must be some kind of man-hater, a woman who has perhaps sacrificed her femininity in order to be able to `make it` in the corporate world.

In short, they are made to feel inadequate for not being part of a pair, as though it is somehow indicative of their inability to forge relationships, thereby decreasing their business effectiveness or leadership success.  Interestingly though, single men don`t seem to suffer the same perception in the work world. They are either viewed as being between partners or are believed to be work-focused. Neither view seeming to carry any perceived negative stigma, serving instead to move people to be sympathetic to his situation or to revere his dating popularity. In either scenario his single status was generally attributed to circumstances and not to any `failing` on his part.  Certainly it was never indicative of any potential inability to lead or manage the business aspect of his life.

Many of my single female clients though comment on the fact that their single status often carries numerous assumptions, many of which focus on personal qualities and characteristics they must lack, qualities which are deemed to be essential to lead effectively. Additionally, they find others uncomfortable in inviting them to social events if they plan to attend alone. This is reflective of not only people's reluctance to have uneven numbers at a dinner table (please!) but the belief that a single woman must be 'looking'. If there are only married men present... beware!

The stereotypical belief that all women are earth mothers and naturally nurturing implies that all women want and need to be mothers. Those women that choose not to have children are somehow seen as lacking in some way. The guilt and baggage these women can be made to carry as a result is surprisingly huge, yet men that choose not to enter into fatherhood are not burdened with negative impressions in the same way.

We know though that women who skew too far away from the expected stereotypical image of 'who' women are can find their career stalled or derailed. Many top female CEO's who are relieved of their position have often commented afterward that their biggest mistake was focusing primarily on the business at hand (leading like a man) and not overly demonstrating enough awareness of and interest in the employee base (leading like a woman).

So what is a single business woman to do in an effort to combat the assumptions and stereotypes that may negatively impact their career?  The following are some tips offered by our female single clients that have served them well...

  • For those less-than-secure wives of male co-workers, make a point of approaching them at social gatherings with a comment or two about an activity that they are engaged in.  This not only demonstrates that their spouse is speaking openly and positively about them (a welcome sign) but shows a natural and warm interest in them as a person. This helps to move you out of the 'potential threat' category. You don't want your male counterparts avoiding working with you on projects simply because they are fearful of what their wives might think. (and... yes... according to numerous clients this is a legitimate 'thing'!)
  • Many single people have a pet or two for companionship (so do many married people but we're not talking about them!) Don't hesitate to reference your pets, it can help you appear more caring, but don't overly personalize them. Bear in mind that the 'crazy cat lady' is always seen as single!
  • Don't hesitate to speak about the shows you've seen, the hikes you've taken, the restaurants you've been to. Many times single folks avoid this so as not to make their married counterparts jealous. However, my clients assure me that it helps them to be viewed as someone who has chosen to be single versus someone who has not. The more that being single is viewed as a state within your control, a lifestyle choice, the more accepting others are likely to be. Letting others discretely know that you are doing well on your own is often all that is required to keep them viewing you as successful and competent (and from all the well-wishers from trying to set you up!)
  • It may sound silly, but speaking glowingly about favoured nieces and nephews helps others to see you as nurturing and helps everything fit better in their world. Nothing changes in yours of course but... after all... it's all about them anyway, isn't it?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Tip Thursday - Building Rapport

There are numerous unconscious signals that we use to communicate to someone that we like them. Understanding what they are can help you to watch the behaviour of others and determine whether you are truly connecting with them or not.

1. You are both engaged in mutual eye contact
2. We often touch people we like, on the hand or arm, when sharing a comment, laughing over a joke
3. We are mirroring each others movements
4. We are leaning or angling our bodies toward each other, even slightly
5. We remove barriers between us, even small ones like coffee cups, purses or magazines

Watch for these signs to determine if someone feels connected to you, or use them yourself to help build rapport more readily!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Prime your State for Success

You wake up feeling tired and overwhelmed, dreading the day ahead.
You are in the midst of your day and are struggling with finding a solution to the latest problem to cross your desk.
You arrive home after a long and busy work day, looking forward to crashing on the couch, when your daughter reminds you of her school project you promised to help with.

Sound familiar?  We all face similar situations daily, times when we lack the energy and focus to fully and successfully handle what we must. It is far too easy to allow the overwhelm to over-take us, to allow our emotions to lead us to thoughts of  'I can't', 'It's too much', 'I`m not`.

Instead of being driven by our emotional state though, we need to learn to take control. We don`t need to be at the mercy of our states when we can readily shift our state to be what we need it to be in order to face the challenges in front of us.

Many of the world`s most successful people have a morning routine they follow in order to set their state for the day. They know that how they feel drives what they do and will therefore impact what they achieve that day. These short routines/rituals allow them to establish the mental and emotional mindset they need to accomplish what`s in front of them.

In Psychological terms the actions they take are called Priming. We know that our exposure to various words, images and concepts can have a major impact upon our behaviour. Often this occurs unconsciously.  It is the reason why so many advertisers pay for you to hear and see their messages. They are 'priming' you to buy their products. However, there is nothing preventing us from using this same principle deliberately upon ourselves in an effort to increase our success.

We know that energy is life.  It therefore follows that the quality of our energy will determine the quality of our life.  Starting our day by reinforcing how tired we feel, how tough the day is going to be, how much we are dreading it will only serve to prime our minds to find each task we undertake to be difficult and overwhelming.  Instead we need to start each day with positive energy.  

Many successful people find that engaging in a minute or two of activity (jumping jacks would work but so would a vigorous walk) is enough to get their body feeling awake, energized and ready to tackle the day. You don`t need a full workout routine to produce a change in your physiology, to prime yourself into a positive state.

Tony Robbins, world famous Performance Coach, is a strong advocate of the need to prime himself daily. He has an established 10 minute routine he follows, regardless of where he is in the world, to help him set his mental and emotional state for the day.  He does a cold water plunge, followed by a breathing exercise followed, in turn, with 3 minutes of focusing on 3 things he`s grateful for, 3 minutes focusing on the presence of God and 3 minutes focused on three things he`s going to make happen that day.  This 10 minute routine sets the pattern for his day.
"To me, if you want a primetime life, you've got to prime daily"  Tony Robbins
How do you start your day? Are you dragging yourself out of bed thinking about how much more sleep you need? Are you thinking about the meeting you wish you could avoid, the project you're behind on, the to-do list you can't seem to ever get to?

How's that working out for you so far?

Why not try something different? Why not get out of bed and do 50 jumping jacks (or so) to get your heart pumping and to feel some energy and then take 1 minute to think about what you're grateful for and then 1 minute to think of 3 things you are going to achieve that day.  Note I said 'going to' achieve, not things you 'want' to achieve.  Language here is everything, you are priming yourself to get things done.  

That's a 3 minute routine that no one is too busy to follow. Try it for a week and see how much better you're feeling and how much more you've achieved by only investing 3 minutes each day. A small social experiment that could pay big dividends to you. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tip Thursday - Image

Job hunters take note - if you are being interviewed over a meal you might just want to skip ordering that glass of wine or pre-dinner drink.  Researchers from the University of Michigan and of Pennsylvania found that merely seeing someone holding an alcoholic drink is enough for us to deem them less intelligent.

This is not due to our expectation that intelligent people don't drink, but more an impact of the perceived connection between drinking and cognitive impairment. We tend to assume impairment even if there isn't any. There is actually a name for this association - the 'Imbibing Idiot Bias'.

So, job candidates beware. ordering that drink over dinner may make you appear less intelligent and be enough to cost you the job. A steep price to pay for enjoying a small glass of wine!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Learning to Receive Feedback

When it comes to Feedback, most of the discussion is generally centered around how to deliver your messages.  Equally important however is our ability to receive feedback. We are far more comfortable in hearing 'job well done' but are not likely to grow as far or as fast in our chosen careers if we don't become equally comfortable in hearing and seeking out how we can improve.

Our potential growth is actually a factor of three elements;
  1. our ability to ask for feedback, 
  2. our openness to receiving the messages and 
  3. our willingness to take appropriate action based upon that feedback
Although all of the above are teachable, the barrier to receiving feedback well tends to fall at the juncture between our desire to learn and grow with our desire to also be accepted and respected. Developmental feedback has a perceived negative component to it that leaves us feeling less accepted, less respected and less successful. Wanting to save ourselves some possible pain we then learn to avoid feedback as much as we can. 

Charles Jacobs, in his book Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn't Work and Other Supervisory Lessons from Brain Science, shows that when people receive feedback that is counter to their self-image, they are far more likely to change the information they hear than they are to change themselves. In essence we unconsciously massage and edit the information to make it more palatable to us. The problem, of course, is that we then lose the value of the feedback itself and no longer are to act upon the content given.

We all have internalized sensitivities about ourselves, our values, our relationships that feedback can unconsciously 'hit' causing us to become defensive. Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone, in their book Thanks for the Feedback, The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, highlight three primary triggers to feedback;
  1. Truth Triggers - the challenge to SEE
  2. Relationship Triggers - the challenge of WE
  3. Identity Triggers - the challenge of ME
Understanding what triggers have been activated by the feedback will help you to not only understand your emotional response to it but gain control over it. The following points will also prove helpful in your bid to become a far better receiver...

Just One Thing.  When asking for feedback ask for just One Thing that you could focus on in the next 30 days to improve.  We can typically only really focus on one negative thing at a time anyway so ask for feedback in a way that allows you to truly focus on improvement rather than becoming overwhelmed by too much perceived negative content. Smaller chunks of feedback gained more frequently is easier to process and work on, advancing you faster.

Listen Fully.  Listen to what is truly being said rather than your internalized interpretation of it. Pay attention to your response, both intellectual and emotional, allowing the message to remain intact and not coloured or influenced by your responses.

Time to Reflect.  The more difficult the message is to hear, the more important it is to allow yourself time to fully absorb the message and to balance it with your beliefs and understanding. Don't feel that you have to say or do anything other than offer your thanks to the giver before you have digested the message fully.

Don't Argue. Don't allow your triggers to take control. Don't defend, don't dismiss and don't denigrate. Simply offer your thanks and then take the time you need to process the information given before choosing an appropriate course of action.

As with any skill, receiving feedback well can be learned. Learning to actively seek our feedback on a regular and timely basis may prove more insightful and helpful to your development and growth than anything else you might do. People are going to be far more specific when delivering feedback immediately following an activity and are going to be far more honest and direct with their comments when they learn that you are open to hearing and gracious in your response.

(for your reference, here are links to the books I mentioned above...)


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tip Thursday - Branding

Although we may focus on the 'big' strategies of branding, there are often small things we can do that help to reinforce our desired messages.  For instance, if you want to be perceived as being 'intelligent' and 'credible', consider including a middle initial to your signature line.

In one study participants were given a copy of Einstein's essay on the theory of relativity but the authorship of the essay was credited to either David Clark, David F. Clark, David F.P. Clark or David F.P.R. Clark.  Researchers found that David F. Clark was rated higher than David Clark and that David F.P.R. Clark rated highest of all.

An additional study found that participants using a middle initial were selected far more often for an academic competition than were those without one.  The advantage may be slight, but it proves to be an advantage none-the-less.

Job seekers may want to take particular note.  It certainly worked for the likes of John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Tip Thursday - Body Language

Research has already shown that all of the facial cues that accompany a lack of sleep make men and women appear less attractive. However, additional research has shown that the droopy eyelids also make you appear less intelligent and mentally agile. When over-tired our mouth corners tend to turn downward which can make us appear sadder. We certainly know that feeling over-tired affects our focus and energy levels, but its impact on our body language signals will also have an impact on our perceived level of attractiveness and intelligence - both of which tend to impact promotional opportunities. Getting a good night's sleep may prove to be one of the best things you can do to assure your success!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tip Thursday - Productivity

All productivity tips typically focus on optimizing your ability to get things done. However, this is only important if the things on your list are important. Otherwise, you are merely trying to keep busy.

Ensure that you are constantly building in activities that move you toward the fulfillment of a 'big' goal - something that moves you, inspires you, drives you, fulfills you. Without this you will likely always struggle to stay 'productive', simply because you have no interest in working on what you're working on!