Category: Tips

Good Grief – Ten emotionally intelligent tips to deal with grief in the workplace

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This is a brave and poignant post full of resilience and wisdom. Thank you Lyndie Dawson-Clarke

I love you quote this: “There is a practice in Japan called kintsugi where broken objects are repaired with gold; repairing the breakages makes the object more valuable. It is a metaphor about the essence of resilience in that traumatic events allow people to learn and grow, and become even more precious and unique.”

And to your article: “One of the most difficult things as a manager is knowing how far to wade in when having conversations with work colleagues about personal matters. Often managers feel uncomfortable that they have overstepped the mark, some are not sure if they are legally allowed to ask or say certain things, and so many simply ignore or avoid having difficult conversation for fear that things will get excruciatingly emotional. “Best not to go there” becomes the motto. But what if someone is clearly in emotional pain? And specifically, what if they are deeply steeped in grief? After all, they are not just an employee or a colleague, they are a human being

Based on my own experience as a manager, an employer and an employee, and as someone who has been almost paralysed by grief, I am compelled to share what to say, what not to say, and how to best support someone in the workplace who is grieving.

In September 2015 my world changed forever when I received a call telling me my beautiful 24 year old son, a central cog in my little family had gone.  My whole world went into a tail spin and it has only recently slowed to a place where I can think clearly and take my experience and learnings to help others..

Grief comes in all shapes and sizes; basically grief is loss.  It happens to us all but to varying degrees.  Think about where loss has affected you – the loss of a marriage, divorce, a relationship within the family, a family pet … it is a loss where emotions are involved.  Grief affects every person differently and people will respond uniquely.  I remember being told that you grieve as much as you loved.  So in my case, I grieved heavily.  I grieved for the dreams I had for my boy, for his heart, for his amazing conversations and stories that he would share with me from all around the world, and I grieved for the woman I once was before the emotional earthquake that left a massive crack in my heart.

A grieving person turns up at work because somewhere deep down they need to find out if they can ever be a functioning member of society again. Often people don’t have the financial capability to grieve at home, so they grieve silently in a stressful corporate environment – while they may be emotionally adrift, working keeps their house afloat. Warning bells: others can read this as ‘business as usual.’ Indeed, I returned to work, probably sooner than I should have. How in the world did I think that I would be able to function with clarity, handle the pressures of change management, and learn a new industry with grief in tow? I was a Senior Manager responsible for a large team and a significant portfolio. I sat at my desk with a massive issue on my hands thinking “in the big picture this is irrelevant.”  It was hard for me to even imagine that for the company and my team it was very relevant. I pretended to care.

People froze when they saw me.  A work collegaue who had never had children said “At some point Lyndie you will have to build a bridge and get over it.” He was intent on continuing with the organisation’s restucture plans and asked  me “to justify my role.” Hello? I was still trying to justify my life! Comments like this sent me to the ladies toilets to cry my eyes out.

For most people who did acknowledge my devastating loss, their way of dealing with it was to talk about themselves: “Oh I know how you must feel, I lost my …… and I have never got over it.”  But no one’s experience around grief is the same; it is different in every situation. Talking about their grief silenced mine. Back I went to the ladies’ loos.

As I tried to re-enter normality, I stepped up networking and social functions, only to experience people avoiding me or shuffling away quickly, leaving me on my own. Grief can inadvertently turn you into a social pariah.

On reflection, I realised that most of us are ill-prepared as Managers when grief comes to be part of one of our team’s existence.   So this post is to share my top ten tips regarding what you can you do if someone in your team is suffering yet wants or thinks they need to be at work.

  1. First and foremost, respectfully acknowledge the loss. You don’t have to say too much, but just acknowledge the situation.
  2. Say the name of the person who has died, or has left the marriage, or the name of the animal that meant so much to them etc
  3. If you don’t know what to say, say “I don’t know what to say….”  the grieving person will still continue the conversation for you.
  4. Ask questions rather than talk at them about your own experiences.
  5. Be of service to them. Rather than “how are you?”, try “what would make it easier for you here?” or “how could I help you?
  6. Don’t send them home because you don’t know what to do. Probably, neither do they, and there is a risk that they may put themselves in a dangerous position going home.
  7. Check in with what support networks they have at home.
  8. Don’t change their job, just relax your expectations regarding their productivity for a while. Grief is exhausting; it affects memory retention and plays havoc with sleep.
  9. Don’t expect them to take too much time off if they don’t have the money to support themselves. (For me, I still had my mortgage to pay, and the bills to meet, and a daughter to support. As a solo parent I could not afford to take time off.)
  10. And later on down the track, don’t forget about it. Because they sure won’t have. Keep checking in, and be genuinely interested in how they are coping.

It is now 2 years since my world changed, and incredibly I actually have moments of sunshine in my life again.  I can even reflect back on who I was as a Manager before my loss. How would I have been if it had happened to a work colleague? Well, to be honest, while I would have instantly felt sorry for them, and while I would have expressed how sorry I was, I would also be thinking about the loss of sales and the distraction that grief brings to the business. In other words,  sadly,  I would have turned it into being about me.  Hence, while I have been broken, I am now a better, more empathetic manager for it.

To my son Matthew – thank you for helping me grow everyday. I hope others can learn from our experience.”

 

Change is inevitable. How can we embrace being disruptive of ourselves and stay relevant?

Embracing change is essential to growing as an individual and being a better person than who you were yesterday. How can we embrace being disruptive of ourselves – if we don’t do it people will do it to us!

Change is accelerating at an increasingly rapid pace. Change is often difficult. Perhaps we don’t like the lack of control or the uncertainty of worse outcomes, bruised egos, embarrassment or failing. People also seem to hate losing more than they love winning. Do we try to fight change and sometimes want to retreat back into our comfort zone?

Think about the New Year’s resolutions that we rarely keep. Staying the same allows us to live our lives without facing things that could potentially hurt us or build us up.

Yet embracing change is essential to growing as an individual and being a better person than who you were yesterday. How can we embrace being disruptive of ourselves – if we don’t do it people will do it to us!

As Henry Ford said: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”

Six ways we can we move ahead and stay relevant

1. Change is Inevitable and Embracing Change Encourages Development

If we don’t embrace change then we can go through life without ever living up to our full potential our allowing ourselves to express who we really are. Change is an inevitable part of life and no matter how happy we are with how things are currently, life will always change. Ask yourself: “Do you want to tay relevant?”

Even though we know the only thing constant is change and we understand that our environment can’t stay the same forever, we get stuck. All around us, there is change happening on a daily basis. We are forever growing, expanding, ageing and changing. So why is change sometimes scary? If we can learn to let change work for us and benefit us, even push it to be disruptive of ourselves, then we can more fully embrace the process of growth and transformation.

2. Analyse your Life and Find the Negative

Sometimes we change because we are attempting to rid negative habits or people from our lives. The sooner we become aware that change is going to happen and become open to accepting change, the better off we will be. Ask yourself: What are the positives and more importantly, what are the negatives in your life? Are there things that you recognise as unresourceful but you feel stuck in those habits or actions?

Think about your life and how you are progressing. Are things moving along as you planned? Are there new factors that are influencing your journey?

3. Be disruptive before people disrupt us

It is better to initiate changes ourselves than to let our life progress down a negative or unresourceful path until change affects us in a dramatic way. When we are consciously aware of change, it is much easier. Why not make a commitment to exploring the world and the endless possibilities that are available to each of us. We can find new opportunities, be brave and face fear. reinvent ourselves at any moment in time.

Our attitude toward life is affected by our ability to embrace change. If change happens to us, rather than adopting the belief that we can influence that change, we are much more likely to feel like victims. The results we get are 100% our responsibility in that nobody can create results for us. Therefore embracing change and knowing where we are going and what we are setting out to accomplish will give us strong motivation.

4. Everyone has doubt, fear and uncertainty

Everyone has fears and insecurities that stop us from doing taking responsibility for our lives. This doubt and uncertainty is a fact. Better to learn to embrace it. Learning to take action whatever the circumstances and even as we say – “fake it until you make it” – surely this is a much more positive and proactive way.

5. Take charge of your life – don’t be a victim

If we feel sorry for ourselves then this will lead us down a negative path and in to unresourceful states. Stay focused and set goals that have some stretch in them. As you set your goals, you will learn that embracing change becomes easier and easier. Wherever you are in life, value the journey more than the destination. It takes time to accomplish anything worth achieving and we have to remember that it is a miracle we are here to begin with and every second must be appreciated.

6. Take small action steps

You don’t have to change your whole world overnight. Try beginning with an end goal for changes you want to make in your life. Work backward and break your goal into small action steps until you can get to the very first one in the path. This is usually something that you can control or do yourself. Once you accomplish that milestone, then you can tackle another. These small steps make it much easier to disrupt what you always do, and take some new steps forward.

Thriving in a VUCA Environment: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity

Change is inevitable. Working out how to embrace change will hep us to grow and develop.

In our personal lives. At work. We live in a world where there are ever-increasing customer demands, sudden role changes, agile teams, and shortened product life cycles.

Only a few of us really do thrive amidst chaos. Most of us prefer manageable change, where we are doing the ‘managing’.

I attended an ICF Australasia (NZ Northern Branch) Seminar the other day focused around this topic. We can all thrive in a VUCA environment. It is our thinking and consequent responses to the environment which really matters.

I had to look the acronym  up – it  describes the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of life these days.  We focussed on  ways we could thrive despite dealing constantly with what seems to be a world increasingly full of VUCA.

 

I challenge you to commit to putting aside some time each day to developing your awareness on hoq you can thrive in the midst of change, and developing strategies that suit you to address change in your life.

 

I thought to myself that one of the best ways to thrive in a VUCA environment is to cultivate spaciousness Having space, feeling more relaxed, sleeping soundly, being able to focus on what we want to achieve, and generally nurturing equanimity. Why use up our time on  stuff that is not life-enhancing?

 

So here are some strategies to find what I call spaciousness in your life. Practicing these then adapting to change is easier.
If your mind is too full, you are not sleeping well, you are procrastinating and not focussing, and you feel stressed, here you go.

 

Spaciousness#1: Feel your breath
Calm yourself through feeling your breath, …”in the soles of your feet, rght here and now…” Calm, slow, breathing.
1. Sit and close your eyes and turn your attention to your breathing. Simply become aware of your breath on your nostrils, going in and out, naturally.
2. Be aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. Place one hand on your belly, and the other on your chest. Take a deep breath for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of three. Exhale for a count of four. The hand on your belly should go in as you inhale, and move out as you exhale.
3. Concentrate on your breath and forget everything else. Your mind may be very busy, and you may even feel that the meditation is making your mind busier, but the reality is you’re just becoming more aware of how busy your mind is.
4. Resist the temptation to follow different thoughts as they arise, and focus on the sensation of the breath. If you discover that your mind has wandered and is following your thoughts, gently return it to the breath.
5. Repeat this as many times as necessary until your mind settles on the breath.
There are lots of breathing techniques, for example belly-breathing; oe through the nose and out through the mouth; the in breath double the length of the out breath. Each technique elicits different states…This exercise is a good start.

Spaciousness#2: Meditate instead of Medicate
Dealing with change and fostering calm is an inside job. If you can take care of yourself you can take care of others. Give yourself the gift of spaciousness and start the day with ten minutes of being on your own, breathing and feeling positive energy. What a great way to set you up for a VUCA day!

 

Spaciousness#3: Practice Gratitude
Whatever your situation, there’s always someone in a worse predicament.
Read a chapter of Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, or check out today’s news. Be thankful your life is not the sad story you are reading.
Make a mental note of the positive things in your life. Remember everything in life is temporary -everything comes into being and passes way.

 

Spaciousness#4: Practice Self-Care
Care for yourself to come to a state of equanimity and confidence. Go and have a massage, take a yoga class,  get a haircut. Have a big bath full of epsom salts to relax. If you can’t afford a massage do a swap with a friend for services. Simply take a walk in a beautiful place.

 

Spaciousness #5: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
Exercise is nature’s remedy for calm and getting strength to thrive in a VUCA environment. It clears the mind, fires up the endorphins, and helps you to sleep soundly at night. Be age appropriate in your exercise but commit to doing do something every day.

 

Spaciousness#6: Plan a Treat
When you spend time in nature, you give your mind and body a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of life.
Where ever you live, there will be an interesting and beautiful place to visit to take a break and enjoy.

 

Spaciousness#7: Go to Bed Early
This may sound impossible if you’re accustomed to staying up late to catch up on all the things you have to do in each day.
Sleep deprivation causes all sorts of issues and anxieties and a sense we re unable to cope with change.
It’s impossible to have healthy emotional functioning without adequate sleep. Don’t burn the midnight oil in hope of catching up on the weekends. Unused sleep minutes don’t roll over.

 

Spaciousness#8 Wake up 15 Minutes Early
You are probably rushing around in the morning and saying “Hurry up! We’re going to be late!”
Go slowly, and set yourself up for a relaxed day ahead. If you start to worry about the To-Do list, take a deep breath and think, time is only a concept there is always enough time.

 

Spaciousness#9: Get Rid of the Clutter

Have you read Marie Kondo:“The LifeChanging Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”

Chances are you’ve got too much stuff clogging up your living space. And your life! That makes dealing with a VICA environment stressful.
Try Marie Kondo’s method – and while it’s physical these actions are working on a mental plane to declutter your life.
1. Clean by category, not by location — don’t just tidy up your wardrobe, gather all the clothes from every corner of your house and “place every item of clothing in the house on the floor.” I’ve never thought of myself as a person who has a lot of clothes but when confronted with my staggering pile, I was shocked. When had I accumulated so much stuff?
2. Kondo calls for you to pick up each item and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t then get rid of it – how liberating.
3. Make three piles for a) stuff to throw away, b) stuff to donate, and c) stuff to sell.
Letting go turns out to be quite addictive. Says one person: “I quickly filled three huge bags to donate and applied the same tactic to my books, kitchenware and miscellaneous papers, feeling lighter and freer with every purge….”
Decluttering will help every aspect of your life.

 

Spaciousness#10: Challenge Negative Beliefs
Remember that thoughts precede feelings. Negative thoughts lead to negative emotions, which lead to negative behaviours. Then there is no room for dealing with a VUCA environment. For example:
How to challenge your negative state:
1. Record your thoughts periodically. Pay attention to when you feel overwhelmed or stressed out.
2. Write the feelings that accompany the thoughts. Think one-word responses like frustrated, angry, worthless and defeated, etc.
3. Challenge reality. This is hard because we tend to lack objectivity about the truth. Is there proof you are an ‘imposter’? That you don’t deserve a job promotion? That you are not a good parent? Partner?
If you commit to recording your daily thoughts and feelings, along with reality testing, you’ll see that many of your negative feelings are created in your mind, and not based in reality.
The good news is you created the negative thought, and you can uncreate it.

 

Spaciousness#11: Know that Feelings Are Not Facts
If you have feelings of low self-esteem, guilt and shame, these are feelings. Negative thoughts cause negative feelings. Many of our negative thoughts are automatic, deeply internalised, and rooted in the unconscious. It is possible to change them.
Spaciousness#12: Accept the different States you experience
Whatever is happening in your life, take responsibility for yourself. Stop blaming everyone and everything else.
If you suffer from getting anxious about Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity in your life, stop fighting this.
Understand you have to work hard every day to bring spaciousness and calm to your environment.

 

 Spaciousness#13: Stop being Constantly  “plugged in” and “connected”
The impact of technology on our social, mental, physical and environmental health can be devastating if we don’t keep ourselves in check. There are plenty of  benefits  from technology, but as with all things in life moderation is key. Being aware of the harmful aspects of the overuse of electronics is important.
For starters keeping technology out of the bedroom is a good idea. Some of the negative effects of technology can be linked to the effect it has on sleep habits. We get sucked into online activities that keep us up too late and the constant stream of information can make it difficult to turn off our brains. Also, the ambient glow from screens can affect the release of melatonin, the sleep chemical. 

 

Spaciousness#14: Consider meeting with a Coach or a Therapist
Everyone can find their sense of purpose. We can all earn how to better deal with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity in our lives.
A qualified mental health professional is your best bet if you are not thriving in your life. Ask a trusted friend or colleague for a referral.

 

You are the expert on your life. Choose or create a project that might work for you, and give it a try. My project for the next next few weeks – droppingthe word busy from my vocabulary!

Presuppositions of NLP – Understanding The Map is not the Territory

Understanding presuppositions is a first step for an NLP coach and a client. NLP presuppositions are a convenient beliefs which if we adopt them will allow us to get better results. Here we explore what “The Map Is Not The Territory” means. Dr David Shephard speaks on his weekly Facebook Live about this topic.  

Understanding presuppositions is a first step for an NLP coach and a client. NLP presuppositions are a convenient beliefs which if we adopt them will allow us to get better results. Here we explore what “The Map Is Not The Territory” means.

This  presupposition originally comes form Alfred Korzisky, (who was a Polish engineer, mathematician, and philosopher, most famous for creating the theory of General Semantics. Published in the 1930s)

Here is Dr David Shephard (whom I trained with), speaking on his weekly Facebook Live about this topic.

The NLP Communications  Model

To understand this we need to look at the NLP communication model which looks like this.

Every second we have  12 million bits of information coming in to our nervous system through our 5 senses. So we can deal with that huge amount of information, our unconscious mind receives and filters this information.

We

a) delete information

b)  distort information (take information and distort it into something that is not happening)

c) generalise – how we simplify information

There are then other filters such as our values and beliefs, language and so on.

Then we build our internal representations which are the only thing we actually experience, they are our model of the world. So all of our experience of our world is inside of our nervous system. The only thing we can experience directly is our internal representations. We can’t actually experience the external event as it is in reality. So the map that we are operating from- our internal representations – is not actually the territory which is outside of us.

This is why NLP is so powerful because NLP enables us to change the map, change our experience of reality, the reality that we create for ourselves. Since what we are experiencing isn’t real anyway, we can use our NLP techniques to change our experience of the map in a way that works better for us rather in a way that as it doesn’t work for us.

 

 

The New Wave Of Mindfulness Tech: Meditation VR

When talking about the particular stressors of life in the modern age, it’s hard not to point to tech as part of the problem. Technological innovations, it seems, have wormed their way into every corner of our lives. 

When talking about the particular stressors of life in the modern age, it’s hard not to point to tech as part of the problem. Technological innovations, it seems, have wormed their way into every corner of our lives. 

There’s now a smart mirror, for instance, that will analyse your appearance to direct you in how best to carry out your morning beauty routine, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t suffered the mental fatigue of realising they’ve just spent the last hour scrolling through Twitter and Facebook on their smartphones.

Eillie Anzilotti in this report for Fast Company gives another view on how tech can be part of the solution for stress too.

Apps like Headspace (which I highly recommend Sue Warren) facilitate daily check-ins and meditation; wearables like WellBe are even going so far as to measure your stress levels for you. The team at m ss ng p eces, a Brooklyn-based production company (the missing letters are intentional), decided to take it a step further.

“I’m always thinking about ways in which these new technologies like VR are going to enable us to become more immersed in stories and become better human beings,” m ss ng p eces founder and executive producer Ari Kuschnir tells Fast Company. “I didn’t see enough experiments in VR with anything related to mindfulness.”

VR hasn’t yet crossed the threshold into mass consumption, but Kuschnir and the m ss ng p eces team wanted to find a way to use it as a platform to boost mindfulness and relaxation–and reach as many people as possible. “We were thinking of what could be a good place to start, and landed on a VR experience that could also work as a 360-degree video, featuring a well-known spiritual teacher,” Kuschnir says.

Kuschnir immediately thought of Jack Kornfield, the founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California; he’d been listening to Kornfield’s podcasts for years, and admired his ability to weave stories together. Kuschnir ran the idea by Ivan Cash, a contributing creative director at m ss ng p eces; Cash, in turn, told Kuschnir that he had an uncle who worked at Spirit Rock. The m ss ng p eces team got in touch with Kornfield, sending him a sample VR headset and explaining the concept: to translate the storytelling work Kornfield was already doing on his podcast into a more immersive, visual format. Kornfield was immediately on board.

“VR really is the future–it will become widespread as a way for people to experience something they didn’t know before,” Kornfield says. “It’s a particularly beautiful way to capture what it means to be on a retreat or to come to a meditation center. For a lot of people, those experiences are quite foreign–they may think that it’s out of their comfort zone, or not for them. But what VR does is allow people to have an immersive experience where you feel you are actually present somewhere with people around you, and you get a sense of why people gather together in these places.”

The experience put together by Kornfield and m ss ng p eces–which is now available on YouTube as a 360-degree video, and as a VR experience on Daydream and the couple million YouTube-enabled VR headsets–aims to capture myriad facets of meditation. “There are meditation talks, a nature meditation in the hills of Marin County, a walking meditation, for which we’d encourage people not to actually walk through while wearing the VR headset,” Cash says.

As Fast Company has previously reported, it could take around eight years for VR to reach the mainstream “tipping point”–there were 2 million non-Google Cardboard VR headsets in consumers’ hands at the end of 2016, and it’s expected that there will be 135.6 million in use by 2025. But m ss ng p eces feels it’s important to stay ahead of the curve, and begin to prove VR’s usefulness in democratizing access to truly immersive mindfulness-supporting experiences.

In addition to trying to reach those VR users interested in meditation, Kornfield and m ss ng p eces are also looking to partner with organizations who can bring the experience to people in jails and underserved schools, expanding on the mindfulness training work Kornfield has already been doing in those spaces. “And honestly,” Cash says, “hopefully it inspires more creators to explore the interesting tension, which is that we have such amazing technology, but it’s making us miserable. We want to keep figuring out how to make the right kinds of content and resources to support people being happy and fulfilled, and holistically in a better place.”

7 Listening Strategies for Better Business

WE’VE ALL HEARD THE EXPRESSION ‘KNOWLEDGE IS POWER’, BUT CONSIDER THE MAXIM ‘LISTENING IS POWER’ – THERE IS NO KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT LISTENING.

“Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak.” Richard Branson.

WE’VE ALL HEARD THE EXPRESSION ‘KNOWLEDGE IS POWER’, BUT CONSIDER THE MAXIM ‘LISTENING IS POWER’ – THERE IS NO KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT LISTENING.

Thanks to ilume who I trained with last year, and Tim Parkman for this free guide to excellent listening skills, the foundation to business growth and success.  

Listening is how we acquire the facts that lead to good decisions. It can also build trust, reduce conflict and improve morale. If you introduce strategies to make your people better listeners, better business can only follow. At Ilume we know a lot about listening. It’s something we practice to the highest level each day. Drawing from our knowledge and experience, as well as recent research and insights from listening experts, we’ve assembled seven powerful pointers on listening.

1. RECOGNISE WHAT LEVEL OF LISTENING YOU ARE AT 

Here at ilume we recognise that there are 4 stages of listening:
HEARING This is the most superficial listening level, and it’s not really listening at all. Hearing registers the sound waves of the other person’s voice, but nothing’s getting through to you. You can hear someone talk and be thinking of something else, or even doing something else. When sitting at the breakfast table reading the paper you might hear the “chatter” around you but not really take it in. Think of the conversations you zone out of, and then a question is asked and you are trying to madly jump back in.

SELECTIVE LISTENING You’re listening with a story in mind – ‘what does this mean to me?”. When you listen to someone at this level, you’re trying to link their experiences to your own. What they say will trigger your memories. This level of listening is often employed in day-to-day conversations, particularly when stories are shared back and forth.

ATTENTIVE LISTENING At this level you’re specifically listening for something in what the speaker is saying, and you’re thinking and acting in ways that connect you with the speaker. This level of listening happens naturally when you’re very interested in what the speaker’s saying. Think about times when you are building a relationship with someone new and wanting to build on information, and connect in the best possible way.

CONSCIOUS LISTENING The deepest level of listening, conscious listening is also called ‘empathic listening’. You’re keeping yourself out of the way and listening with the minimum of judgement. There is almost no internal dialogue. At this level, you’re in the best position to understand and feel what the speaker is saying, and this level is often employed when you are dedicated to a totally open mind and perspective, controlling your attention and making people feel like they are the only person in the room.

2. USE CONSCIOUS LISTENING AS YOUR KEY BUSINESS TOOL
For business, the primary benefit of conscious listening is building stronger interpersonal connections, which can lead to getting a ‘yes’ when you need it. When people can see and feel that you truly understand them, and that you’re not passing judgement, they feel respected – and they’ll respect you in turn. In his white paper ‘Active listening’, James Clawson, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, likens conscious listening to a ‘magic wand’ – a hugely effective asset for business transformation. His tips for conscious listening include:
• Suspending judgement of the speaker
• Focusing on emotion as well as content
• Following, not leading, the conversation
• Accurately reflecting back to the speaker what you understand

Apart from improving your relationship with the speaker, conscious listening allows you to learn and grow. Unless we absorb other people’s opinions, experiences and knowledge, we’re doomed to get stuck in a thinking rut.

3. TURN OFF LISTENING BLIND SPOTS
Real-world ‘power influencers’ Mark Goulston and John Ullmen say we all have blind spots in our brains that distort our ability to listen without judgement. Our own needs, biases, experiences and agenda get in the way of truly understanding what the speaker is trying to express. To listen beyond your blind spot – even when you find it difficult to concur with the speaker – you need to be able to temporarily turn your own beliefs off.

eg If you’re listening to a proponent of public transport who wants to axe company cars, but you’re an avid motorist who detests bus rides, your blind spot makes you less inclined to appreciate the speaker’s points. You’re not consciously listening, because your brain is too busy actively assembling an argument against public transport to defend your driving agenda.

4. TWO EARS, ONE MOUTH
So use them in that order. When you dominate conversations and interrupt often, it’s easy to make the other person feel unimportant. Your ears will always be a more effective tool than your mouth, especially if you’re a manager trying to win the cooperation and commitment of an employee. By saying less, using effective listening skills and asking open questions, leaders have the power to raise the motivation to work effectively.

In his article ‘Motivating Employees by Using Effective Listening Skills’, author Brian Tracy talks about holding staff meetings where everybody gets airtime. He learned to do this because his previous approach had been to use staff meetings as an opportunity to hold forth with his ‘fascinating ideas, opinions and advice’. It eventually dawned on him that he was abusing his leadership position, wasting the time of his employees and diminishing their passion for work. David Staffer’s article ‘Yo, Listen Up’ in Harvard Management Update paints a portrait of the manager as a good listener: • You’re looking at the talker, asking probing questions and giving him or her more than enough time to answer. • You’re clearly communicating the importance of every word you hear by taking notes, leaning toward the talker and nodding to show you understand. Ask yourself: Are you leading by listening? Or are you holding forth, determined to speak your own truth?

5. RESIST FORMULATING AND SPOUTING A SOLUTION
Thinking about solutions is a mistake that many of us make while listening to somebody else’s challenges. It’s essentially multi-tasking, because instead of simply focusing on what the other person is saying and feeling, you’re trying to come up with answers. Leadership guru Peter Bregman says problem solving to make people feel better can have the opposite effect. It can even lead to an argument: He goes on to say that “sometimes, just listening is problem-solving”. eg If you’re listening to a proponent of public transport who wants to axe company cars, but you’re an avid motorist who detests bus rides, your blind spot makes you less inclined to appreciate the speaker’s points. You’re not consciously listening, because your brain is too busy actively assembling an argument against public transport to defend your driving agenda. “ Most of the time when we try to make people feel better, we end up arguing with them because we’re contradicting what they’re feeling. Which, inevitably, makes them feel worse.”
As a listener, remember that your objective is to understand and empathise, not to fix. By being allowed to express themselves without input or judgment, the speaker is often working towards a solution.

6. KNOW THAT BETTER TIME MANAGEMENT MAKES LEADERS AND MANAGERS BETTER LISTENERS

Quoted in a Harvard Business School newsletter, sales training guru Bill Brooks says the most overlooked reason for poor listening is poor time management. People simply don’t take time to receive and understand messages. He goes on to say that many who don’t open their receptors are stuck in an ‘activity trap’. Their immediate tasks, however trivial, are stopping them from paying attention. And the worst thing about this is that the stress generated by poor time management means that “people will listen mainly to their own voice” – the one that’s whinging constantly about having too much to do. This nugget of wisdom suggests that one answer to improving listening skills within your team is to provide them with time management coaching. It’s a lateral approach that’s likely to have many other positive spinoffs for your business.

7. QUALITY LISTENING COACHING DELIVERS QUICK PAYBACK
An increasing number of enterprises have recognised that excellent listening skills are foundational to business growth and success. At every level of an organisation an investment in listening coaching can result in better interpersonal relationships, both internally and externally, which has a flow-on effect all the way to an improved bottom line. Think about it this way: if you deliver effective listening coaching before a conference or any other kind of training or development, all the learning that comes after will be better-absorbed. That’s a quick payback.

At Ilume, our specialty is designing and delivering effective executive coaching and development of senior leaders. More than 20 years of experience in Australia and New Zealand has given us the ability to deliver listening coaching that sticks. We also offer accredited training programmes that would enable you to develop your own listening coaches. [email protected] Level 6, Rabobank Tower,

The Best Exercise for Ageing Muscles

I just rode a 26 kilometre cycle challenge. It was tough and I found it really difficult. I said to myself afterwards, gutted that I didn’t do as well as I expected, but gutsy that I gave it a go…what about exercise for ageing muscles?

    I just rode a 26 kilometre cycle challenge. It was tough and I found it extremely difficult. I said to myself afterwards, gutted that I didn’t do as well as I expected, but gutsy that I gave it a go.

I read this article from the New York Times, March 23, by Gretchen Reynolds and it made me feel a whole lot better that I am doing my body and mind a great favour as I keep at the exercise – and as it turns out cycling is a pretty good option for older people!

“The toll that ageing takes on a body extends all the way down to the cellular level. But the damage accrued by cells in older muscles is especially severe, because they do not regenerate easily and they become weaker as their mitochondria, which produce energy, diminish in vigour and number.
A study published this month in Cell Metabolism, however, suggests that certain sorts of workouts may undo some of what the years can do to our mitochondria.

Exercise is good for people, as everyone knows. But scientists have surprisingly little understanding of its cellular impacts and how those might vary by activity and the age of the exerciser.

So researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recently conducted an experiment on the cells of 72 healthy but sedentary men and women who were 30 or younger or older than 64. After baseline measures were established for their aerobic fitness, their blood-sugar levels and the gene activity and mitochondrial health in their muscle cells, the volunteers were randomly assigned to a particular exercise regimen.

Some of them did vigorous weight training several times a week; some did brief interval training three times a week on stationary bicycles (pedaling hard for four minutes, resting for three and then repeating that sequence three more times); some rode stationary bikes at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a few times a week and lifted weights lightly on other days. A fourth group, the control, did not exercise.

After 12 weeks, the lab tests were repeated. In general, everyone experienced improvements in fitness and an ability to regulate blood sugar.

There were some unsurprising differences: The gains in muscle mass and strength were greater for those who exercised only with weights, while interval training had the strongest influence on endurance.

But more unexpected results were found in the biopsied muscle cells. Among the younger subjects who went through interval training, the activity levels had changed in 274 genes, compared with 170 genes for those who exercised more moderately and 74 for the weight lifters. Among the older cohort, almost 400 genes were working differently now, compared with 33 for the weight lifters and only 19 for the moderate exercisers.

Many of these affected genes, especially in the cells of the interval trainers, are believed to influence the ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscle cells; the subjects who did the interval workouts showed increases in the number and health of their mitochondria — an impact that was particularly pronounced among the older cyclists.

It seems as if the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with ageing was “corrected” with exercise, especially if it was intense, says Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, a professor of medicine and an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic and the study’s senior author. In fact, older people’s cells responded in some ways more robustly to intense exercise than the cells of the young did — suggesting, he says, that it is never too late to benefit from exercise.”

Of course it is never too late! So there you go, exercise is both fun and healthy, plus something like cycling gets you out and about in the fresh air and beautiful scenery, and for me the best part is it’s a solo activity where you are always trying to improve, yet best done with mates!

13 Things You Can Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

Sometimes, to become successful, we do not need to add more things, we need to give up on some of them.
Even though each one of us has a different definition of success, there are certain things that are universal, which, if you give up on them, you will be more successful. Some of them you can give up today, while it might take a bit longer for others.

Sometimes, to become successful, we do not need to add more things, we need to give up on some of them.


Even though each one of us has a different definition of success, there are certain things that are universal, which, if you give up on them, you will be more successful.

Some of them you can give up today, while it might take a bit longer for others.

1. Give Up On The Unhealthy Lifestyle

“Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live.”  — Jim Rohn

If you want to achieve anything in life, everything starts here. First, you have to take care of your health, and there are only two things you need to keep in mind:

Healthy Diet
Physical Activity
Small steps, but you will thank yourself one day.

2. Give Up The Short-term Mindset

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” — Mae West

Successful people set long-term goals, and they know that these aims are merely the result of short-term habits that they need to do every day.

These healthy habits should not be something you do; they should be something you are.

There is a difference between: “Working out to have summer body” and “Working out because that is who you are.”

3. Give Up Playing Small

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

If you never try and take great opportunities, or allow your dreams to become realities, you will never realize your true potential.

Moreover, the world will never benefit from what you could have achieved.

So voice your ideas, don’t be afraid to fail, and certainly don’t be afraid to succeed.

4. Give Up Your Excuses

“It is not about the cards you are dealt, but how you play the hand.” – Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Successful people know that they are responsible for their life, not matter their starting point, weaknesses, and past failures.

Realizing that you are entirely responsible for what happens next in your life, is both frightening and exciting.

However, it is the only way that you can reach the success because excuses limit and prevent us from growing personally and professionally.

Own your life; no one else will.

5. Give Up The Fixed Mindset

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

In a fixed mindset, people believe that their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits and that talent alone creates success — without effort. They are wrong.

Moreover, successful people know this. They invest an immense amount of time on a daily basis to develop a growth mindset, acquire new knowledge, learn new skills and change their perception so that it can benefit their lives.

Remember, who you are today, it is not whom you have to be tomorrow.

6. Give Up Believing In The “Magic Bullet.”

“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better”  — Émile Coué

Overnight success is a myth.

Successful people know that making small continuous improvement every day, will be compounded over time, and give them desired results.

That why you should plan for the future, but focus on the day that’s ahead of you, and improve just 1%.

7. Give Up Your Perfectionism

“Shipping beats perfection.”  — Kahn Academy’s Development Mantra

Nothing will ever be perfect, no matter how much we try.

Fear of failure (or even fear of success) often prevents us from taking action and putting our creation out there in the world. However, many opportunities will be lost if we wait for things to be right.

So, “ship,” and then improve (that 1%).

8. Give Up Multi-tasking

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Successful people know this. That is why they choose one thing and then beat it into submission. No matter what, a business idea, a conversation, or a workout.

Being fully present and committed to one task, is indispensable.

9. Give Up Your Need to Control Everything

“Some things are up to us, and some things are not up to us.”  — Epictetus, Stoic philosopher

Differentiating these two is important.

Detach from the things you cannot control, and focus on the ones you can, and know that sometimes, the only thing you will be able to monitor is your attitude towards something.

Moreover, remember, nobody can be frustrated while saying “Bubbles” in an angry voice.

10. Give Up Saying YES To Things That Don’t Support Your Goals

“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.”  — James Allen

Successful people know this that to accomplish their goals, they will have to say NO to tasks, activities, and demands from your friends, family, and colleagues.

On a short-term, you might sacrifice a bit of instant gratification, but when your goals come to fruition, it will be worth it.

11. Give Up The Toxic People

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

People we spend the most time with, add up to whom we become.

There are less ambitious people, and there are more ambitious people than us. If you spend time with the ones that are less driven than you, your average will go down, and with it your success.

However, if you spend time with people more advanced than you, no matter how challenging that might be, you will be more successful.

Take a look at around yourself, and see if you need to make any changes.

12. Give Up Your Need To Be Liked

“The only way to avoid pissing people off is to do nothing important.” — Oliver Emberton

Think of yourself as a market niche.

There will be many people that like that niche, but there will be individuals who do not, and no matter what you do, you will not be able to make an entire market like you.

This is entirely natural, and there’s no need to do anything to justify yourself.

The only thing you can do is continue being authentic, and know that growing number of “haters” means that you are doing important things.

13. Give Up Your Dependency on The Social Media & Television

“The trouble is, you think you have time” — Jack Kornfield

Impulsive web browsing and television watching is a disease of today’s society.

These two should never be an escape from your life or your goals.

Unless your goals depend on either, you should minimize (or eliminate) your dependency on them. Moreover, direct that time towards things that can enrich your life.


Written by Zdravko Cvijetić Founder Of Zero To Skill

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