Attitude and Change

“If you don’t like something, change it.
If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
~ Maya Angelou 

Most people do not like change! Especially to be forced to change. In our world, change is continuous and we need to be more accepting of it.

To ease individual tension regarding change, allow the person to be part of the change process. If you are familiar with DiSC behavioral styles, you know that those with Steadiness and Conscientious styles do not like change. They are more methodical in their approaches and need time to adjust and feel comfortable with change.

The challenge is for those high in Dominance and Influencing styles as they like to move quickly. This creates conflict and uncertainty in the workplace. If each would take the time to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and meet their needs, there would be less conflict and discomfort.

Achieving Your Goals – Get Your Foot Off the Brake!

Achieving Your Goals – Get Your Foot Off the Brake!

Have you been going through life with one foot on the gas pedal and the other one on the brake? If you learned to drive a stick shift vehicle, you needed your left foot on the clutch. Now that your life is out of first and second gears and hopefully humming along in overdrive, it is time to stop using the left foot. It’s on the brake – not the clutch! It is holding you back in success!

  • What is keeping you from shifting into overdrive for smooth sailing?
  • What fears are holding you back right now?
  • From what are you using your “braking action” to protect you?

rolling_into_2010Make 2010 the year you declare your grand goals and announce your intentions to execute the action steps to get your desired outcomes. Are you worried that you might not be able to live up to what you announce? What do you need to help you successful execute your intentions? A personal success coach? A mentor to listen and guide you? A friend who pushes without humiliating you?

This may be the year you recognize which people close to you are holding you back or putting you down. Is their negative energy draining your energy and enthusiasm for success? Recall the Law of Attraction. You get what you think about and draw to you. Is it time to seek a new group of friends – the kind that will encourage you and celebrate your successes?

Start with a simple plan:

  1. Decide what you really intend to accomplish in 2010.
  2. Assess your circle of associates (family, friends, colleagues, etc.) to determine if any of them are negative influences.
  3. Take action to reduce the negative factors (people, habits, environment, etc.) in your life.
  4. Actively seek situations and people who are like-minded and supportive and can influence you in positive ways.
  5. Confidently declare your intentions and boldly take the proper action steps for success.

Along the way – each day – when you may not be staying on the success track, ask yourself: “Is what I am doing right now getting me closer to my goals.” If not, stop the current activity and refocus on executing the actions steps that will increase your success.

Achieve Strategic Thinking With S.W.O.T.

Achieve Strategic Thinking With S.W.O.T.

There are a number of techniques to stimulate strategic thinking. One of the most balanced approaches is the SWOT approach. The letters S.W.O.T. stand for:

S = Strengths                   W = Weaknesses
O = Opportunities            T = Threats

The reason the SWOT technique works so well is that it requires you to think about the four categories equally. You are forced to look at both the good (Strengths and Opportunities) and the bad (Weaknesses and Threats). The optimistic people can’t escape looking at the downside, while the pessimists must look for something positive. The main idea in this process is to stimulate thoughts and discussions by contrasting Strengths vs. Weaknesses as well as Opportunities vs. Threats. Then you can challenge the Strengths and Opportunities with Threats and Weaknesses. The process has you look at the situation from all sides and juxtapositions.

It is easiest to create a four quadrant grid and label the top left Strengths and the top right quadrant Weaknesses. For the bottom two quadrants, place Opportunities in the left on and Threats in the right. Leave space below each for people to write comments. You can also set up four separate flip chart pages, each labeled with one of the SWOT words. Once you have the “worksheets” set up, begin gathering information by asking four questions. Ask them one at a time, leaving discussion time before moving to the next one. Here are the questions to ask:

1.  What are the Strengths:

  • What is working?      SWOT image-blue
  • What is good?
  • What should you keep doing?

2.  What are the Weaknesses:

  • What is not working as well as it should?
  • What is bad or unacceptable?
  • What should you stop doing?

3.  What Opportunities do you see?

  • What new ideas, approaches, practices, etc.?
  • How can you adapt what you learn here to create something new?
  • How can you better use resources?

4.  What Threats do you see?

  • What challenges do you anticipate?
  • What is the probability of it happening?
  • How serious could it be if it does happen?

There is no set or logical order to the questions and people will want to jump around as thoughts come to them. Your challenge is to channel the energy to collect the comments in the appropriate quadrant. It is easier to facilitate if you explain this to them before you begin the process. You can decide if you want the free flowing approach or a more structured approach. You can also determine whether you want the group to work individually first and then share, or take another approach. The key is to get the information so you can draw conclusions and plan for the future.

Once you have gathered the thoughts and recorded them in the quadrants, look at them from another perspective: Use the Strengths and Weaknesses as an extension of Opportunities and Threats.

  1. What Strengths do you currently have that support the Opportunities?
  2. What Strengths do you currently have that will help you overcome the Threats?
  3. What Weaknesses do you currently have that will have to be overcome to take advantage of Opportunities?
  4. What Weaknesses do you currently have that will have to be overcome to manage the Threats?

While you will not come up with ready-made strategies, using the SWOT process will provide a framework for deeper exploration of how you can take advantage of Opportunities and prevent or reduce Threats. It is also a good technique for engaging others and building on ideas. SWOT’s can be used by individuals, teams or any group that wants to strategize. It provides a good framework and establishes a disciplined approach where ideas – rather than individuals – can be challenged.

Branding You for Success

Branding You for Success

I get a lot of emails everyday. You probably do also. I have to say if you are in business and you want me to take you seriously, make sure your email address is business-like!

If you have an email address at Yahoo or G-Mail or AOL instead of at a business domain name, you are missing the mark. If you are really in business, spend a few dollars a year and buy a domain name and set up an email account there!

receive emailAnd don’t have your administrative assistant send out emails from you under her email address. It should be coming from you so people recognize your name. You are a big part of your brand!

I would like to hear what others have to save about this.

Google-icious Email Marketing

Money + computerIt has been said that if you are not marketing your business via the Internet, you are not competitive in the 21st Century. The days of mailing glossy marketing materials are being replaced by email blasts, websites, Constant Contact-like email marketing sites, html pages, etc. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your email marketing program:

1. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, Sugar

2. Make it easy to share

3. Let is scream your brand

4. Offer a delicious click-through

5. Give it wings – make it viral

Use these five tips to review your existing email marketing materials. Test each piece against the five pointers. If they do not measure up, tweak the marketing materials to create more energy with them. Ask others for their reaction to the materials to get valuable feedback. Instead of defending your reasons for writing them the way you did, listen and try to modify by adding the input you have received from others. Many times you think you know what others want, but will discover what you value is not the same as what your potential customers value.

To read the details of each tip, simply register for the In-Circle Community just below LogIn at the right. There is no fee. Welcome to our forum.

Does Social Media Work For Or Against You?

Does Social Media Work For Or Against You?

Are you connected, linked, followed, following, befriended, etc.? How much time are you spending staying current with all of your social media connections? Are you becoming addicted to it?

My observation is that many people I know who are not working or do not own their own business spend a lot of time checking their social media sites and writing on walls or tweeting. For what reason? Some seem to take it so seriously – as if it were essential to their very existence.

I don’t get it! But I do get using social media for business connections. The question is: how do you manage it all and still run your business? I would like to hear your takes on this subject. I will be incorporating social media management into my “Having the Time of Your Life” Time Management Workshop. Please share with me in the Comment box. Thanks.

Want To Be An Entrepreneur?

Want To Be An Entrepreneur?

What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?  Think about it for a minute… Entrepreneur.

Does it mean:

  • Living on your schedule?
  • Going to work when you want to?
  • Having total control over your work life?
  • Having freedom to run the business the way you think it should be run?
  • Not being responsible to a boss or stockholders?
  • Doing something you love and for which you have a real passion?
  • No more commuting?
  • More time with family and friends?

This list can go on and on with all of the reasons you have decided to own your own business. It is all of this… and more. What does it mean to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you are or are planning to become a entrepreneur or business owner, you will benefit from joining our Member In-Circle Community to access many resources to help you succeed. Your success matters to us.

Just register at the right side of this blog. There is no fee for basic membership access to the categories listed at the top of the page.

Thoughts About Controlling People

coaching 4The harder we try to control an individual, to make him perform or “fit a mold,” the more likely he is to rebel. Each individual wants to have his own identity, regardless of what we want him to be. For this reason, it is important to understand human behaviour and what motivates people.

We can encourage people to become 100% more influential in their lives by:

  • affirming people’s capabilities, significance and personal resourcefulness
  • proomoting closeness and trust
  • enhancing their self-esteem
  • helping them build their self-confidence

This may be the opposite of what happens in the workplace, but it is the direction in which we must move in order to have an empowed quality work team.

Anytime you can turn a liability into an assess you have a 200% gain!

Can You See What I’m Really Saying?

Can You See What I’m Really Saying?

The old adage “Your actions speak louder than your words” is as true today as it was when some wise sage proclaimed it. Whether in a family, social, educational or work setting, the unspoken language of facial expressions, posture, gestures and the like send very powerful — and often incongruent – messages.

Throughout our lives we are taught ways to behave in various situations — ways that are considered appropriate for the situation. We learn very early in life to refrain from “talking back” to authority figures. Early in our careers, we learn not to state our own opinions or ask too many questions for fear of repercussions — either immediate or as fall-out later in our careers. Just because we do not verbally respond in those situations does not mean we are not communicating our feelings or reactions. Too often, even we are unaware of the non-verbal message we are sending.

We are encouraged to “go along” with the group or situation and to form consensus and keep things moving forward. We carefully select the words we use in speeches and presentations. Yet the message is still often unclear; we may be sending mixed signals. Unless we carefully align our non-verbal communication with the words we chose to use when conveying the message, we may be defeating our own efforts to communicate clearly.

If we were only to listen to the words of a conversation, we would miss most of the meaning of the message. We leave ourselves open to interpretation from our own perspective. What pictures to you see in your mind when you read the following scenario?

Parent (or Boss): “I want this task completed by noon. Will you get it done by then?”

Child (or Subordinate): “Yeah, I think I can do it by then. It shouldn’t be a problem.”

If the parent/boss hears only the words, rather than listening to the complete message, he misses the non-verbal message. In this scenario, the child/subordinate’s head is shaking left-to-right and back again repeatedly while the individual is saying, “Yeah,…” In North American cultures this non-verbal indicates, “No.” So when the mouth is saying “yes” and the head is saying “no,” the resulting action will probably be “no.”

The real message being sent is “No, I don’t think I can meet your deadline.” Since the message is a subconscious expression of concern, it comes out through a non-verbal form of communication. The individual consciously knows what answer the parent/boss expects to hear; therefore, he says the appropriate thing even though he does not believe it is possible to perform to the expectation. So unless the parent/boss was listening with his ears and eyes, he would not have heard the complete message.

Was the child/subordinate lying about the intent to complete the task? At least not consciously! He knows what the expected answer should be and gave it. However, he was ignoring or otherwise failing to acknowledge, what he was thinking or feeling about really being able to meet the expected deadline. Since the parent/boss failed to read the non-verbal communication, he expects the task to be completed by noon.

Why wasn’t the child/subordinate honest about the concerns?

  • First, the individual may not even be aware of this subconscious processing and reaction.
  • Secondly, it may be that based on previous experience with the parent/boss, the individual has learned expected behavior and is trying to please.
  • It is also possible he is trying to avoid the anticipated reactions or repercussions from the parent/boss.

Therefore, it is easier, and perhaps safer, to give the expected reply, even if it means suppressing your real concerns. A good communicator will use all of his senses to both send and receive messages. So the astute parent/boss would read the non-verbal messages that could include tone of voice, posture, eye contact, facial expression, etc., as well as the head shaking “no.”

At that point, an appropriate response from the parent/boss could be, “I’m not sure I understand whether or not you will have the task completed on time. I hear you saying “yes,” but your body language seems to be saying “no.” What are your concerns?” Now a safe environment for discussion can be established for problem solving.

Let’s look at the impact of non-verbal communication. Research reported in Psychology Today gave the following statistics about how we interpret the meaning of communication:

  • 7% Verbal Cues
  • 38% Vocal Cues
  • 55% Visual Cues

These facts have been substantiated in later studies. The important point here is that only 7% of the meaning of a message comes from the words. So no matter how carefully we choose the words, there is high probability that the message will not get through to the receiver without considering the non-verbal communication factors. Both the sender of a message and the receiver of the message must consciously use, listen for and observe non-verbal messages and check them for congruency with the words being said.

Now you know why your spouse, children, co-worker, etc., do not always understand your message — especially if they are giving most of their attention to something else while you are sending your message! They may not be listening for the entire message. Even the most carefully chosen words cannot guarantee communication of the message.

There are three main factors to consider in non-verbal communication:

1. Vocal Dimensions: These include the various sounds we make, as well as the tone and pitch of our voice. Pacing of words and use of pauses also impact the vocal dimension. We use various “grunts and groans” to indicate interest, agreement, disagreement, puzzlement, etc. Sounds like, “humm,” “ah”, “tsk,” “uh huh,” and the like are know as paralanguage. These sub-vocal sounds can impact the meaning of a message or send a message of its own. Filler words such as “you know” or “like” may indicate uncertainty in the speaker and detract from clear communication.

Tone and pitch can totally change the meaning of words. Higher pitched tones, louder volumes may indicate excitement, intense feelings, or strong emotion. Lower tones may indicate calmness or that one is in control of the situation. High volume may suggest the speaker is losing control, while too soft volume can signal lack of confidence.

Both pacing and inflection give meaning to words and affect how the listener receives the message. A sarcastic tone or a quick, sharp, barbed reply can totally change the meaning of a message. Whether the voice rises or drops at the end of a sentence may question or determine the meaning for the listener.

2. Body Language: An in-depth study of body language could become a life’s work. The factors to be aware of in your daily interactions are: posture, position, head motion, facial expression, eye contact and gestures. These few factors, when carefully observed and compared to the words being said, will give you much insight into the real meaning of the message. Again the thing to look for: Is the body language congruent with the spoken word?

It is important to remember that body language is a cultural issue. What it meant in our culture may be different in other cultures. If you travel or interact with people of other cultures, it is advisable to study non-verbal communication before accidentally offending others or embarrassing yourself!

3. Spatial Relationships: Again this varies by culture, so we will focus on North Americans. In our culture, we have several accepted spatial areas we should respect when communicating with others:

  • Intimate Relationship 0 – 18 inches distance
  • Personal Relationship 18 inches – 4 feet
  • Work Relationship 2 – 3 feet
  • Social Relationship 4 – 12 feet

When people use an inappropriate distance for the relationship, we feel uncomfortable. If someone hovers over us, we no longer concentrate on the task, but rather experience uncomfortable sensations, wishing they would get out of our space. Aggressive people use invasion of space as a power tactic. Timid people leave a great deal of distance between themselves and others. Many kinds of messages can be sent by the use of space.

Notice how we feel when someone we do not know gets too close. Also notice what we do in our vehicles. When someone cuts us off in traffic, we get angry. They have invaded our personal space. We take our personal space and extent it outside of our vehicle as if it were our bodies. And if we observe people inside their vehicles, we see that they seem to think the glass is one way — looking out only! Space is very important to individuals, but needs vary greatly by culture.

With fifty-five per cent of the message being sent non-verbally, it is critical for good communication that we understand jut what non-verbal communication is and the positive and negative impact it has on achieving a shared understanding. When observing non-verbal behavioral signs, remember to take a gestalt approach. Look at the whole situation and person rather than taking a cue from one signal without regard to the whole.

Become a people-watcher. Listen and watch accompanying non-verbal behavior. Look for the variety of facial expressions and body movements that send messages. It is fascinating. Even more fascinating is seeing how many people totally ignore the powerful non-verbal messages that color their conversations. There is so much being said silently or indirectly. Is it any wonder that we suffer from massive communication breakdowns?

It’s Time to Give Yourself Permission

Remember when you were younger and needed a “permission slip” for missing school or leaving the classroom or to go on a field trip? Now that you are an adult, you may no longer need a written “permission slip” to do the things you want to do, but I am betting that there are many things you don’t do because you don’t give yourself permission!

How about these:cell phone use

  1. Permission to take a day off – without feeling guilty.
  2. Permission to not check your email or BlackBerry if you do give yourself a day off!
  3. Permission to say “no.”
  4. Permission to go to bed early or sleep in (or stay up really late!)
  5. Permission to do something others may think is out of character for you.

Now is the time to give yourself permission to lighten up and enjoy life more! It will reduce your stress and lighten your load.

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