Have you ever been around a moody person? You never know what type of behavior you’re going to get, or what might trigger the person. Several times in the past week I have heard clients say they feel like they are “walking on eggshells” … not a pleasant way to live. Easing some things in your life can reduce stress. The impact moodiness has can cause stress. Setting healthy boundaries and limits can reduce stress.
Recently I was in line at Whole Foods when I saw the cover of Time magazine promoting The Science of Stress: Manage It, Avoid It. Put it to Use. One of that themed concept was an article that stood out to me called Simple Ways to Manage Your Mood, by Audrey Noble.
Noble gave statistics about stress. She noted that a Gallup poll found 8 out of 10 Americans are afflicted by stress. She continued that according to the American Psychology Association, the top three stressors were (1) the uncertainty of the nation’s future, (2) money, and (3) work. Workplace stress accounts for nearly $200 billion in health-care costs, according to Forbes.
Noble pointed out that there are healthy ways of dealing with stress in your professional and personal life. Here are a few tips:
Focus on Intention
Direct your emotions about upcoming goals or obligations toward positive feelings instead of focusing on the negative. Practice feeling that emotion so you can carry that mindset whenever stress starts to arise.
Set Realistic Expectations
We are living in a world where bigger and better is pushed in every aspect of our lives. That sets us up for failure. People feel they’ll be less stressed if they get a better ‘this’ or a bigger ‘that’. Set realistic expectations. Focus on finding gratitude for the things we have in our lives that fulfill us.
Find a Confidant
Get an outside, objective perspective from someone with whom you feel that you’re in a ‘safe space’. Being able to confide in someone can reduce stress.
Change Your Mindset
Intentionally activating positive heart emotions such as care, appreciation, compassion and ease decreases stress. The key is learning how to react positively to negative stressors.
Write It Down
Once you’ve identified what triggers you, write them down. Writing things down can be a therapeutic mode of expression. Once they are written down, share them with someone you feel safe with at work or personally.
Seek Peace and Love
Spend five minutes a day to find something that brings you serenity. Listening to music or finding a quiet time can help. Surround yourself with caring friends or family. Do things to elevate your mood.
I think everyone can use some inspiration, particularly in today’s tumultuous times. I am always looking for inspiration. It’s a search that often involves finding a special someone or something to inspire me. We are so used to putting limits on ourselves and others that our self-limiting beliefs hold us back. That’s why most of us are in serious need of positive inner resilience as well as the inspiration to find it.
Perception is reality. So why not break through those self-made glass ceilings and pursue our own greatness. We are all capable of achieving what we set out to do. I didn’t have to look too far to find both resilience and inspiration.
I often watch a positive reality television show called Meet the Peetes. This Hallmark Channel program features actress Holly Robinson Peete, her husband, former pro football quarterback, Rodney Peete, and their four children, one of whom has autism. Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior.
This show is truly inspiring. That’s largely due to the respectful way this family interacts and handles a complex disorder that involves many challenges. After learning from doctors the limits their child would face – such as never being able to work or never being able to be in a relationship – this family never stopped believing in possibilities. These included the possibility that their autistic son might prove capable of more than the specialists thought.
Today, a young man of 21, their son works for the LA Dodgers, drives a car, speaks publicly to inspire others on the spectrum. He has healthy relationships with others. He believes in himself because his family and others believe in him.
Inspiration and resilience.
Once, most sports experts thought that no one would ever run the mile in four minutes or less. That is, until Roger Bannister ran the first sub-4 minute mile on May 6, 1954. He surpassed the limits others set out because he believed he could. Since then, Bannister’s own record has been broken again and again.
My own coach was diagnosed in 2003 with stage-four breast cancer. Her doctors informed her she had a limited amount of time remaining to live. But after undergoing numerous surgeries, her doctors gradually changed their diagnostic tune. They started to increase her percentage chances of survival. She asked them to stop. When they didn’t, she turned around and walked out.
That was sixteen years ago. She remains cancer free.
I look up to people like Bannister and my coach as genuine heroes. People who face adversity, push through, and inspire us to do the same. An inspiration to us all, individuals like them continuously strengthen their resilience and look optimistically to their future. And they get support from others. That’s why it really does take a village when it comes to inspiration and resilience.
Everyone encounters problems and struggles with life at various times. But it’s how we view these struggles and how we react to them that determine which path we take.
So take an opportunity to observe your inner self. Are you a benefit finder or a fault-finder? How do you handle adversity? What keeps you motivated and moving forward? What is the one thing you can add to your life that would make a positive difference?
I worked with a client who wanted support to shift from a negative, non-productive mindset to a positive, productive mindset. I asked him how he wants to live each day and what he wants to be different in his life?
In the final analysis, we determined it’s our perspective on life and the choices we make that end up constituting our lives. I asked him how he wants to fill his time. After all, it’s a choice. Soon, he experienced that “Aha!” moment.
Subsequently, we set up a plan. Now we are working on achieving his goals. By integrating his business and personal life and focusing on what he has rather than what’s missing, he is forging ahead to achieve a better and more positive life.
Remember: Inner resilience and the inspiration to do better puts us on the road to personal success.
Recently, I have been listening to people say their energy is drained or depleted. My suggestion and one that I use all the time is a shift in perspective from feeling drained to living a full life where you are engaged and passionate about your work and personal life. That subtle mindset shift allows me to feel energized. When you are fully engaged and moving forward you are moving energy through yourself so it doesn’t get blocked or stuck.
In my situation, I could have easily given in to a feeling of depletion, but I know that we’re never out of energy (even though we may feel like we are). Think of the example of childbirth. Whether you have experienced it personally, witnessed it or read about it, the woman giving birth often feels exhausted during the birth process. Yet when the baby is born there is a surge of energy. Simply putting it, and not getting technical, the energy is there, we have to ‘call’ it forth. That’s what I did during this process of having a lot on my plate.
My past nine months were filled professionally with coaching clients and speaking engagements focused mainly around my book, Talk Yourself Into Success: Strategies for Positive Self-Talk, Confidence, and Resilience. On the personal side I was handling a three-step moving process (two truckloads donated to a great organization called A Wider Circle, one truck to where we moved, and one truck to my kids). I also continue to care for my mother (who is suffering from progressing dementia) and generally dealing with everyday life. This may sound familiar to baby boomers, the “sandwich generation” or as I call it the Oreo – the crème between two cookies.
Having an expertise in life and career transition, I know the resistance that shows up when we are about to make a change, even if it’s 100% positive. (Briefly speaking, we are wired to resist change to keep ourselves safe and the status quo. For more info on the brain and the neuroscience behind this, feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The move came about pretty quickly. Pack, move, sell the house, unpack, handle all the technology issues that came about (boy do I dislike Verizon), and so on…all within a short timeframe of approximately one month.
I have been ready to downsize for a couple of years. I also know that change and transition take longer for my husband so we had conversations about it every now and then. When my husband said he was ready, I knew from other situations that we needed to act fairly quickly, which we did.
Instead of viewing things like the packing/unpacking as something draining, I focused my energy on this next stage of life and enjoying this milestone. The thought of packing and unpacking shifted to it’s exciting to be in a new place and experience new things with my husband.
Could I have felt tired? Sure, and I did, but not depleted because of my mindset. Remember, we control our thoughts; our thoughts don’t control us. We have a choice of how we view situations.
So when I felt like I needed a break, I took it. And when I needed to create more energy within myself, my mindset went to the positive outcomes we would have…and we now have them…and we love our new place!
One part that was difficult during the moving process was feeling isolated from friends because I was so focused on getting things accomplished. What kept me going was looking at the end result, that I would see friends once I was settled in and having supportive friends.
So the next time you feel like you have no energy, whether it’s physical or emotional, shift your focus to knowing that your energy is a resource you can call forth and feel.
This must be the month for a great amount of change and transition. Clients are changing jobs, careers, moving, going through separation and divorce. I am in the middle of downsizing. The kids are happy and settled in their lives, and we’re ready to simplify life in a condo or apartment.
Briefly, change is external (ex: I am moving or changing my job), whereas transition is an internal process (ex: before entering a new phase, tie up loose ends or unfinished business so that you are not bringing your old story into your new phase). By developing an understanding of our purpose, values, and vision, transition can be made easier. It is an opportunity for powerful change.
Most people resist change and transition. It takes us out of our comfort zone. To create a smooth transition, take baby steps forward instead of big leaps that can leave you overwhelmed. If you’re learning how to swim, put a toe in the water, you don’t have to start by jumping in the deep end!
I’m in the midst of change also. My husband and I are pretty busy. We both work, and in the middle of what we’re doing, we’re downsizing, moving things to three separate locations, caring for an elderly parent, dealing with each other’s needs and those of our kids, and keeping up with relationships.
For me, I have learned to go with the flow. I have taught myself to fill my time with ease instead of dis-ease. I literally ask myself what do I want to fill my time with, and I have taught myself to fill the time by being productive rather than becoming anxious or overwhelmed. It’s a choice.
Make sense? Here are a few steps you can take to make change and transition flow with ease.
Without being aware, you can’t make a change. Notice how you’re feeling mentally, emotionally and physically. For example, I check in with myself. I ask myself, how much energy do I have? Where do I need to focus my energy?
Typically for me, I have the most energy in the morning and that’s when I tackle the most challenging items.
To keep the house-packing moving forward I look at it as de-cluttering, and it actually helps clear my mind and makes me feel good. What works for me is I’ll have some coaching sessions and do some work at my desk. When I have had enough sitting, I then do something physical, like packing, until my energy begins to lessen. Then before I go to another task, I will take short breaks throughout the day. The mixture of sedentary, physical, and taking short breaks is a good mix for me. What works for you?
Also when appointments are close to where my mother lives, I stop by for a visit. Then it’s back to work.
Another thing I do is to take breaks different types of breaks when my schedule gets real busy. I carry several golf clubs in the trunk of my car. I live close to a public golf course and I stop by and hit a bucket of balls at the driving range. That helps keep me grounded and clear. Other times I will do a ten-minute meditation or simply pause and do a breathing exercise.
For most people, change and transition can deplete energy. It is essential to focus on sleep, nutrition, and some form of physical exercise (playing a sport, dance, yoga, working out). Be aware of the stress in your life because over time it impacts your immune system, and it will have a negative impact on your health.
You can let change and transition deplete your energy, or you can choose to embrace change and transition.
Knowing you have a choice is subtle, empowering, and can make a huge difference in your life.
Life can be harder when you resist change. Again, take baby steps in the direction of moving you forward and being more flexible.
Perhaps like many, my husband’s natural ‘go to’ response to changing situations is ‘no’…and it takes him some time to shift. So when I knew we were heading towards downsizing, I began to mention it 1.5 years ago. Another example was that I told him many years ago (12-15) to expand and open an office in Baltimore, and three years ago he did. (He now thinks both were his idea.)
My point is that everyone is different. There is no right or wrong regarding the length of time we take to shift; much depends on our experience and the situations we’ve had. Yet, it’s very clear that flexibility and being open to change make life easier. (I’m going to send this to my husband’s inbox!)
I know it can feel uncomfortable to step out of your comfort zone. Notice how you feel (use your body as a signal to identify where you feel the stress so you can shift your mindset) and your self-talk (what your thoughts are), and don’t let it stop you. Stepping out has you grow. It opens you up to new possibilities. You don’t have to jump, simply take a step!
I was recently in a meeting where the owner of the business was talking about trust. It was music to my ears when, at the same time, he and I mentioned transparency… a main ingredient in the trust recipe. Successful leaders (and I believe leadership is within all of us and occurs at all levels), whether they are leading an organization, a group they belong to, or leading their family, have enhanced success when they are transparent, that is, open, honest, and clear.
Trust is a foundational element in everything we do. It is the cement that holds everything together. It takes time to develop trust. We have to be willing to show vulnerability.
According to Management Concepts, “When you trust someone, what you make vulnerable can range from concrete things such as money, a job, a promotion, or a particular goal, to less tangible things such as a belief you hold, a cherished way of doing things, your ‘good’ name, or even your sense of happiness and well-being.” (Side note: To learn more about vulnerability look at the works of Brene Brown.)
Think of someone in your life that you trust. What is it that allows you to trust them? What exactly is it that they do?
I look at what people say, but more, what they do. In other words, do their actions match their words? I believe that when the words and actions match, that is “being in integrity.” Is the person honest? Are they being transparent?
Trust builds for different people in different ways. Some people trust quickly, and then, if there is a break in that trust the relationship shifts; while others look for the other person to earn their trust, experience by experience, forming a strong foundation for their relationship.
When we trust, we feel more comfortable and tend to share more. We are more willing to take risks and feel more confident with the people we trust. How much we trust and the way we trust depends on the relationships and experiences we’ve had.
As you build trust in your relationships, it generally is reciprocal and easier to trust with each experience. Collaboration is built on trust.
It is clear that without trust relationships don’t grow. Growth is sustained as time goes on, and, when someone breaks a trust we see it as a threat, and we then have less confidence in that person. Moving through the disappointment, we go into a protective mode that can drain and deplete our energy. The result can be very damaging, because of the loss – we can be temporarily less productive, have a lower morale, and even question our own judgment.
The upside however is great. Trust makes it easier to go through change and transition. We are less resistant and stronger in our beliefs.
What does trust look like to you?
Here are a few criteria to look at:
Mutual Respect: one of the most important blocks of our ABC’s. It is a behavior that is found in healthy relationships. When there’s mutual respect, it reduces stress, conflict, and increases communication, productivity, knowledge and understanding.
Character of a Person: consists of qualities that make them distinct from other people. In this case, being trustworthy, honesty, being a good person.
Reliability: being dependable, meeting commitments, and following through.
Consistency: always accurate and fair; what is said and the message delivered doesn’t contradict what was previously said, and the message is clear and the same.
Sincerity: as the saying goes, you say what you mean and you mean what you say; when someone expresses an opinion, it is known to be truly their own.
Competence: the ability, skill, and capacity to carry out what you say you’ll do.
Trust Your Gut: In different situations we get a signal from our gut intuition, something either feels right or it doesn’t. This creates a feeling of dissonance or resonance. It can make us wonder if we can trust or not.
Don’t ignore the signal that you feel in your body.
I feel dissonance in my gut. Others may feel it in other parts of their body. Don’t ignore this feeling. Use it as a guide. Trust yourself!
When you listen to the news you might notice the increasing amount of stories containing anger. I’ve personally observed a case of road rage after one driver cut off another; and I’ve witnessed people being rude and having an angry tone when they are waiting in a slow moving grocery store line.
People seem more reactionary than ever before. My question is how can we channel the negative emotions we experience in a way that leads to more conscious empowering decisions? If you’re thinking that you can’t, the good news is you can. There are things we can do to lessen the negative and depleting energy.
All emotions, including anger, provide us with information. Scientifically, anger hijacks us and can lead to emotions like shame and guilt. Being aware of what triggers us is helpful. Emotional triggers can be people, words, opinions, situations, or environmental situations.
I recently was on a webinar given by the Tapping Summit (Emotional Freedom Technique) where the moderator said that anger is a signal that says our system is being attacked, and the energy from anger keeps us safe. We have that trigger because we feel the need to protect ourselves and because our systems perceive us to be in danger. So this is a healthy response. Issues arise when what we perceive is not necessarily accurate.
When things like frustration, weakness, disappointment, a lack of patience, or sadness show up, it can all get channeled into anger. Here are several ways to deal with these emotions in a healthy way:
Deepen your awareness. You can’t make a change unless you are aware. Notice your thoughts (self-talk) and notice your environment (where you are and who you’re with). Places and people trigger reactions, both positive and negative.
Be aware of where you feel the emotion in your body because it triggers a physical reaction. As soon as you recognize the trigger use that physical reaction as a signal. For example, when I get anxious about something, I get a “kicked in the stomach” feeling. As soon as I am aware of that feeling I take a breath or a pause and ask myself, “What am I anxious about, whether it’s work or personal, that I’m getting that feeling?” It’s very helpful in pinpointing what’s going on at that moment.
Deep breathing exercises. Try this:
Take a deep breath, hold it for 5-8 seconds, and release the breath. You can repeat as needed. It will physiologically ground you.
Tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Tapping is a tool to assist with emotional or physical issues. As you tap on certain points on your body you are breaking up energy that might have been stuck there for years. At the same time you are tapping, you are saying limiting beliefs (“I am afraid of being wrong”) and then re-framing to a positive phrase (Sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong and that’s okay!) To learn more about tapping Google the Tapping Solution to see it demonstrated… Or, you can ask me. I am an EFT practitioner.
Count to ten. If you still feel triggered, keep counting
Take a walk to cool off.
Several times in the past week I have heard people comment that they can’t believe it’s March. Time seems to pass more quickly with each year. We are heading into second quarter. How can you make the most of 2019? Are you heading in the direction you want or do you need to shift anything? Do you know of anything that could get in the way of you attaining your goals? If so, what can you do to head it off?
Recently, I was coaching a client, Gary, who said he felt like he was running out of steam. After asking several probing questions we were able to dig deeper to find that Gary started out the year ‘full steam ahead,’ and now, he felt like he was just chugging along. He then mentioned that the same thing happened the past two years and he didn’t want this to be his pattern. He wanted to feel productive and happy at work and enjoy his family. I believe that’s a reasonable request and something we could accomplish together.
I asked Gary if he were fully committed to changing that pattern, and if so, I would be his committed partner to guide him along the way. Sometimes people say they want something to change but their actions don’t match their words. In this case, Gary was ready. He said he didn’t want to look back on another year and not have what he wanted. It was great that Gary recognized this and was ready to move forward. Too often people burnout because they lack the awareness that a change has to be made, or they feel that there’s nothing they can do to shift things.
After meeting with Gary, we made a game plan. There were several factors impacting his Gary’s energy level, physically and emotionally.
He had a high level position within a large company with many demands. At home he and his wife, who also works, had one child in middle school and one in high school. In addition, his wife’s mother’s dementia was getting worse, and she was living with them.
Like many people in similar positions, Gary and his wife had difficult decisions to make. And making big decisions can cause some sleepless nights and worry.
Regarding Gary’s long working hours, he made the decision to be home for dinner each night. Long hours kept Gary at the office and the negative impact was that he was missing family dinners and the chance to connect with his family. Moreover, at work, because he was so tired, Gary wasn’t as clear and focused and he wasn’t being productive. Here’s what Gary committed to do.
By leaving work earlier, Gary was able to enjoy time with his family and the conversations he would have missed. He got into bed earlier and felt more refreshed. We put together a workout schedule and a “relationship” schedule so that Gary and his wife had some time for themselves, couple time, and family time.
Gary and his wife are figuring out next steps with her mom. The two choices they came up with were having an aide in the house full time or putting her in a facility. The good thing is they have the energy and clarity to make those decisions together, and they are tough decisions to make.
It takes courage to take the steps that Gary has taken. When he told his supervisor the decision to leave work earlier, his boss was not thrilled but Gary made a life decision of what he was willing to tolerate. His boss saw that the longer hours weren’t necessarily equating to being more productive.
Even though we’ve got a long way to go in 2019, take a look at how your life is going. What’s your schedule like? What are you willing to sacrifice? What are your values and are you living them?
Make this the best year of your life!
We’ve all heard the well-known real estate saying, “location, location, location.” And when it comes to people, I think “relationship, relationship, relationship.” In order to maximize and best enjoy relationships you want to have good interpersonal skills.
Since almost all aspects of our lives involve communication, having ‘people’ skills, such as collaboration and good interpersonal abilities, and traits like self-confidence, and positive thinking, are highly desirable.
Specifically in the workplace, where we interact with different types of people, good interpersonal skills are vital. Other important interpersonal skills are listening, understanding and using body language and the same of gestures (non verbal communications). Moreover, having a positive attitude, and showing respect and appreciation are highly valuable to fostering good relationships.
Our interpersonal skills are integral to our relationships in both personal and professional connections. Having good interpersonal skills leads to a better understanding of others. We use those skills when we interact with others.
Anyone can develop strong interpersonal skills. Like developing a muscle in our arms or legs to make them stronger, these skills can be built. For some it may come more naturally, but the reality is that anyone, with practice, can develop these skills, and doing so can lead to building more effective relationships.
In the workplace interpersonal skills are the foundation of trust, and are key factors in individual and organizational performance. Results from developing successful interpersonal skills contribute to better performance, effective problem solving, and help in decision-making.
A local organization, Management Concepts, offers a course Interpersonal Skills. The course teaches competencies that are essential for developing effective relationships with others. The competencies are at the course’s foundation. They are:
Awareness of self
Awareness of others, and
Awareness of self: understanding your own communication skills and how they impact others. As you deepen your awareness you’ll be able to make new choices about how to communicate more effectively.
Awareness of others: includes careful listening, skilful questioning, and keen observation of nonverbal cues to ensure understanding. By being aware of others you can structure your communication to be more effective with different types of people.
Maximizing Relationships: using and refining your interpersonal skills over tie to develop satisfying connections with others; also being able to deal with conflict and breakdowns that occur.
We know that growth in one area can cause your personal effectiveness to flourish. Who wouldn’t want that!
In my next article, I’ll dive deeper into interpersonal skills because they are essential for a person to thrive. Stay tuned!
Feeling like you need to catch your breath? The beginning of 2019 has certainly gotten off to a fast start. Are you busy or too busy? Feeling overwhelmed or exhilarated? Are you being productive?
To ensure that “busy” doesn’t turn into an energy depletion, too much on your plate, or feeling out of control, try these tips:
Be aware of how and where you’re spending your time. Answer these questions and make sure you are satisfied. Does your schedule conflict with your priorities?
Are you spending too much or too little time to get things done? What do you do to monitor your to do’s?
Remember the four quadrants in Steven Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? Important, Not Important, Urgent and Not Urgent. Don’t put everything in urgent because when you do it loses its importance. Make a list of your needs. The list might then be affected by due date or whom the response is to. Assess the value. Be flexible.
Be bold. If you can’t take on another task, say ’no.’ By saying ‘yes’ when you would rather say ‘no’ you are saying ‘no’ to yourself because the time has to come from something you are doing. You also don’t want to take on too much and have something fall through the cracks. That is a reflection on you, especially if it happens more than once.
Notice your energy level. It’s great to be busy, but too busy depletes your energy. Ask yourself when you have the most energy in the day and do your hardest or most time-consuming tasks then, so you don’t run out of steam. Choo-choo ahead!
Multi-tasking can be a huge problem. We are expected to multi-task even though our brains are wired to do one task at a time. The reality, unfortunately often, is that in our professional and personal lives we are expected to do several tasks at one time.
Since this is often the reality of the situation, choose three tasks. Then allot time to work on each so that you can go deeper than touching the surface of multiple tasks.
“Too much” gives us a feeling of clutter and that overloads our senses and makes it difficult to focus and manage. Take baby steps and keep moving forward.
Turn off any technology you can, like noises pinging us that another email or text is waiting … it’s too much of a distraction…and, an annoyance.
The constant phone and email interruptions don’t help, and neither do all the meetings we attend. Again, take baby steps forward so that you feel like you’re accomplishing something instead of having that heavy feeling from clutter and overwhelm.
Dealing with endless email is a complaint I hear over and over. So it doesn’t turn into clutter, choose several specific times of the day to look at your email. Email can use up a great deal of time. Estimate how long it takes to respond. Generally speaking, a shorter reply is acceptable if you answer sooner.
Here are two ways of thinking. You can answer emails first thing in the morning. Make sure you have the discipline to then move on to something else in a reasonable amount of time. Or, consider doing a couple of tasks first and then going to the email…set a timer on your technology so you don’t lose track of time.
For me this come has into play since my book was published. I love the coaching, speaking engagements, webinars, etc… and it also takes a lot of prep time. I was at that point where I needed assistance with some of the administrative and technical support for my book so that I could work on the client related prep work. Prep work takes a long time. I assessed my situation and decided that I would hire a virtual assistant.
If you prefer a task management system there are plenty out there. Find the one that is right for you.
No matter what you decide, it’s important to feel productive. Carry on!
Whether you are reading a Harvard Business Review article, watching a talk show, or looking at The Atlantic magazine, one topic that continues to show up is on self-awareness. This is probably because of the direct impact it has on professional and personal relationships.
The definition of self-awareness is “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.”
In a recent article in HBR, Working with People Who Aren’t Self Aware, by Tasha Eurich, several consistent behaviors of un-self-aware individuals were identified:
During an interview, former Vice-President Joe Biden mentioned two characteristics he believed made a successful leader, courage and self-awareness. He said that with self-awareness, you want to understand strengths and weaknesses. You want to play to your strengths and shore up your weaknesses.
Self-awareness was one of the main topics I talked about in a recent presentation. It is crucial in successful relationships to be self-aware. You want to notice your impact on others and their impact on you. Then, deeper awareness is not just about the words a person says, but the tone in which they say things and the body language they use. The impressions we have are 7% from what we hear (the words others speak), and 93% from tone and body language.
Company leaders are also paying attention to certain character traits. Forbes is leading with self-awareness; Microsoft is leading with empathy; and LinkedIn with compassion. To quote Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”
I’ve noticed an increase in requests for the Emotional Intelligence 360 degree feedback assessment which has an emphasis on the soft skills: self-awareness, listening, compassion, and empathy, in addition to the harder skills that show me “bottom-line” results.
We are living in a world where soft skills in the workplace and our personal lives mean more than ever for achieving success. It is time for people to start developing their self- awareness at a deeper level.
According to author Tasha Eurich it is essential to know both “who” we are and “how” we are. She writes there is something I call internal self-awareness, which is understanding inwardly who I am, what makes me tick, what do I want to do in my life. And there’s another kind called external self-awareness, which is knowing how people see me.
People sometimes say they don’t care what others think about them, but the truth of the matter is that it does matter what people think of you. Eurich says if you want to be successful in your career, if you want to have strong and lasting relationships, if you want to have a happy and fulfilling life, a lot of that is dependent on you understanding how you’re perceived.
Fortunately, self-awareness can be cultivated in life and at work. When someone tells you how you make them feel, listen to what they’re saying to you. Try not to get defensive. Maya Angelou, poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist said, I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
In an article in The Atlantic by Adam Grant, People Don’t Actually Know Themselves Very Well, Grant wrote who could possibly know you better than you? But your backstage access to your own mind sometimes makes you the last person on Earth others should trust about it. He added, think of it like owning a car: just because you’ve driven it for years doesn’t mean you can pinpoint when and why the engine broke down.
We all have blind spots. We easily see some things, but others are not as clear. Here are a few steps to developing a deeper self-awareness:
1) Start noticing your self-talk, your inner dialogue or chatter. What are you saying to yourself? Is it negative or unproductive or is it positive and moving you forward?
2) Notice where you feel things in your body. For example, if you are in a stressful situation, do you feel tense? Does your body tighten? I personally get a kicked in the stomach feeling. Some may get headaches or tightness in the chest. Everyone’s different. Start noticing where you feel things because our body clues us into what’s going on in ourselves and the environment.
3) Try meditating or taking time out to pause and reflect. You can begin by focusing on your breath, inhaling in and exhaling out. This can improve your moment-by-moment awareness.
4) Spending time with someone in a high-intensity situation allows you to get to know a person at a deeper level.
5) Keep a journal of what brings out your best and worst can help with self-awareness. Journaling is also great for identifying what you want to do, and keeping track of your progress.
6) Put yourself in positions where you can get feedback from several people. In the workplace feedback from a 360 assessment (where others rate you) can be helpful. Look for themes. When several people rate you the same on an item, it’s not easy to argue with that.
7) Ask a trusted friend. Let them know you are seeking objective perspectives…and make them feel comfortable so they can give you an honest view.
Building self-awareness is a life-long effort, much like sustaining your confidence, having a positive self-talk and high resilience. They are factors for your wellbeing. Self-awareness is key to being a good leader. What we say, what we think, and what we feel should all be consistent. These will lead us closer to a state of self-congruence.
I have been working with several clients this month who are at different stages in their careers. One client is starting a new business, another client is looking to move vertically or laterally in his organization, one is at the succession planning stage and looking for what’s next, and the final is recently graduating with a Masters degree.
The thread I found in common was all of them needed a better clarification and understanding of their core values. No matter what stage you are in your career, whether you are a graduating student or a seasoned professional, knowing what your core values are, is an important start. This applies to not just a career search, but for anything in life. As well, I am sure you know how important a role values play in our relationships.
How would you define your values? Values are who we are at our core. They drive the decisions we make which greatly impacts our lives. Values are a person’s principles or standards of behavior; a person’s judgment of what is important in life. Values have a major influence on a person’s behavior and attitude and serve as broad guidelines in all situations.
Whether you are looking to join a company, club, group, going on vacation with others, or getting married, what values do you have in common and share with those with whom you’ll interact? What do you believe in? What do you stand for?
When the things you do and the way you behave match your values, life seems to move smoothly…you are satisfied and content. When what we do is not in alignment with our personal values we have a feeling of dissonance. For example, if you are honest and have integrity, and you are with someone who lies, that can create a feeling of dissonance for you. That feeling of dissension is because they are stepping on your values.
To help identify your values, think of a time in your life when you were happiest. What were you doing and why were you so happy?
When was a time when you felt proud of yourself? Why did you feel proud? When did you feel satisfied and fulfilled? What need and desire did you meet in these situations? Think about why these situations were so memorable.
Next, make a list of the values that led to these outcomes. There are hundreds of values, such as honesty, respect, integrity, success, independence, creativity, fairness, and more, of course, to choose from, so focus on the values that best define you.
Finally, prioritize those values that are most important to you at this time of your life. Your core values do not change, however, they do shift in priority depending on what is going on in your life at the time. Take your time with this exercise. You can Google and pull up a values list if you would find that helpful.
What is important is that by knowing your values you can use them to make decisions about how you choose to live your life. How do you make your decisions? It may help you answer questions like the following:
What job should I pursue?
Is now a good time for me to start my own business?
What can I do that will afford me more of a work-life integration?
How will this affect the relationships I’m in?
Is this the best choice for my family?
It is imperative that we know what our core personal values are because that awareness can make a huge difference in all areas of our lives. Our values inform us of whom we are.
Knowing your values will help you interact with others.
For example, say you are going on a job interview or you are looking to collaborate with someone, personally or professionally. Listen for what their values are. What are their beliefs? What is important to them? How we think and what we believe is going to guide our decisions. And if your beliefs are different, is their respect for someone else’s opinion?
Take a time-out for yourself and define your values. Doing this is best for your current and future happiness and satisfaction. By deepening your awareness of your values, you will be able to use them as a guide to make the best choice in any situation. Use your values to help you navigate through life. It is time to take command of your life!
Sometimes life feels like one big negotiation. Whether you are at work and speaking with your boss or colleagues, or at home and talking to your spouse or children, learning the art of negotiation can provide you with a powerful tool.
Recently, a client told me he was looking to close a deal. The goals he set gave him direction and clarity. Yet his expectations gave him conviction and the mental advantage conviction at the negotiation table. He was very self-assured, and that confidence gave him a winning edge.
Another client told me of an experience she had with her son. He wanted to have a later bedtime.
When my client’s son asked to extend his bedtime from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00, she asked him to make a list of reasons justifying his request. His list included the fact that since he was a year older and should be able to stay up later. In addition, he vowed that he would continue with his regular responsibilities like walking the dog, doing his homework when he got home from school, and practicing the drums.
My client said she’d extend the time to 9:30 p.m. as long as her son’s grades remained the same or higher. She told him she was giving him the benefit of the doubt based on his previous track record that what he says is what he does.
She added that if, after six months, things were going as expected she would raise the bedtime to 10:00 p.m., and if he weren’t reaching his expectations, his bedtime would drop back to 9:00 p.m.
Whether you’re negotiating with your kids or at work, here are some helpful tips for negotiating success:
The best negotiators stay focused on their ideal target despite the risks they face. If you practice focus training, it will become easier and then become virtually automatic. Keep in mind that what you aim for often determines what you get. Make it a WIN-WIN.
To learn more about negotiation, Bargaining for Advantage by G. Richard Shell and Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury.
Can you answer the following questions?
The answers to these questions sum up your Values.
Why are values important?
Values help define who we are. They point us in a direction that, if we choose to follow, can lead us to discovering our life purpose, accomplishing our goals, and finding what we are passionate about.
For example, for me, the value of freedom means independence, financial independence, and doing things on my own. For someone else the value of freedom can mean patriotism, the flag, or our military. Check in with each other. It is a fun way to connect and often an enlightening one.
Our values are our principles or standards of behavior. They are our judgment on what is important in life. They are principles that we hold to be worthy.
Our values represent who we are right now. They are not chosen. Our values are intrinsic.
Here is a word of caution: Often we internalize our parents’ rules and values. For that reason, it is important to look inward to be able to distinguish between our parents’ values and our own.
So who are you?
What makes you tick? What are you passionate about?
Spending quality time to get a better grasp of your values, interest, personal style, and skills will allow you to better assess your personal and career wants and needs. Ultimately the assessment process will allow you to make better-informed decisions and judgments on situations in your life, be they big or small. Our choices and decisions are made easier when they are in relation to our purpose, values, and what is important to us.
Here is a tip if you are currently seeking a job.
Understanding your values will be helpful. As the interview proceeds, make sure to listen for the values of the interviewer. In order to be truly happy in the workplace, the organization’s values must be aligned with and support your personal values. Otherwise, the variance will create a feeling of dissonance in you and the prospective job may not be a good match.
For example, if you are working with someone who is not honest, and one of your core values is honesty or integrity, it will create a feeling of dissonance for you that you will actually feel in your body. The reason is that person who is not honest is “stepping” on your values. Or put another way, this individual is violating what you believe in. Such a situation is not likely to produce a positive outcome.
Remember: When you know your values, you can draw on them at any time to help you make decisions, determine what your priorities are, and guide you to the best direction for you and your goals.