Being in business or working in a senior executive role brings a lot of responsibility. The more senior the role, often the more stress.  You have a lot of people looking to you and relying you to provide a good work environment that will enable them to thrive as well as earn a decent living.  They look to you for inspiration and security.

The decisions you have to make on a daily basis are challenging.  It’s not easy to have the clarity to make these decisions when there’s a thousand other things to do and so many people to communicate with, from customers to suppliers.

It can be a lonely place at the top and having someone to bounce ideas with and discuss options seems like an impossible luxury.  This is where working with a coach works so well.

You will have someone you can trust, who will listen to you without prejudice , without criticism.  Who will challenge thoughts and behaviours that are holding your back, who will congratulate you unequivocally where it’s due, and help you find the oh so elusive work life balance.

Don’t forget you do have choices

Your choices can change everything

Choice is such an important part of life.  Most of us, are lucky enough to be able to make so many choices about how we behave, how we work and live.  We can chose how to react to others, to situations – we are not powerless.  This is often too easy to forget in the day to day busy-ness and stress of life.  It’s too easy to be passive and react to situations with frustration, anger or hopelessness, blaming circumstances or others for what happens.

Most people don’t realise / aren’t actually aware of how much power they do have when it comes to choice.  As with all change, the first step is to notice what’s happening.  Then, choose to do something about it.

Because there are always options.

An example

A colleague is driving you crazy with negative comments and a generally negative attitude.  Sometimes it borders on rudeness.  This is affecting your work, your attitude to your job and how you behave with others when they’re around.  They are taking more and more of your headspace and your usual positive demeanour is diminishing. They are having a big impact on you and this is getting you down.

OK, so what are your choices here?

Accept the status quo and do nothing – that is a choice, after all.

Choose to do something about it. You could speak to them, be honest, they may not realise the impact they’re having on you.  There are many ways to do this – you could, for example ask if all is OK with them.  Often this sort of behaviour is as a result of something they’re going through.  If they have always been like this, then they simply may not be aware of how their behaviour affects others. Choose an appropriate time and place to do this, where you can both speak like adults to each other and leave judgement and anger aside.  Try and see it as an interesting experience from which you can learn.  Some find it useful to imagine it as a chapter in a book or scene in a film and they are the protagonist.  It’s useful to remain curious as to the outcome.

If you can’t face approaching them or have tried and they were not responsive, then you have further choices.  You can choose to react differently. You can choose to ignore, to work on letting the frustration go, to focus on more positive things.

You could also find a way of re-framing the situation.  Instead of seeing it as them winding you up on purpose, you could re-frame it as them not being emotionally aware enough to understand and then adapt their behaviour.  This is not personal (things rarely are) and they are just being themselves in their full (and frustrating) glory.  

You can choose to let go of the effect they have and focus on doing a good job and spending as much time with people that do focus on the positive and make you feel good.  Imagine turning down their influence, like a dial on a radio, and giving yourself the power to live and work as you want, without their negativity. 

Write it down

If you’re faced with a difficult situation which is getting you down, write it down.  Then brainstorm all your options.  From the sensible and do-able to the far-fetched.  Have a laugh doing it! Do this alone or with a friend. Apart from feeling better from laughing, you will feel better when you see all the options open to you.

So remember, you don’t have to just take it, you have choices.  If you can’t change others, you can change your reaction to them.  You can change your perception, re-frame the situation, realise it’s not personal and choose to make the changes that will enable you to feel better and move on.

To find out how coaching can help you consider your choices, email me info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk.

Tools for resilience – the pearl and the oyster

Resilience: The pearl and the oyster analogy

During my time training as a resilience practitioner, I learnt many useful resilience techniques.  Learning that through adopting these, we can develop and become good at resilience was hugely inspiring as previously I don’t think I completely understood how much influence we have over our own reaction to challenge. It was made clear that resilience is not something we are, but something we do and that with practice, we can all find ways of dealing with or managing difficulties.  There is no magic pill to take away the difficulty or challenge and we must recognise our initial reaction / disappointment / shock, whatever it may be. However the next steps can move us towards a place of calm, perspective and acceptance as opposed to fear or a sense of defeat.

As a coach, I absolutely love sharing these techniques and encouraging clients to try them out and report back.  We can all, at different stages of our life or career benefit from resilience strategies and it is something that comes up frequently in coaching. As we are all so different in our reaction to situations, I find it fascinating to hear how things went when a client takes away a technique, what worked and what didn’t.  Some clients like a more philosophical approach, a new way of thinking or seeing things, others like a more concrete, step by step guide that they can practise until it becomes second nature.

Many clients love a story or analogy and often, when I’ve shared the pearl and the oyster analogy with them, come back some time later, saying they still hold this in their minds when they are facing a challenge.

The analogy is as follows:

An oyster is a type of mollusc and when a bit of grit or sand floats into its shell, it begins to coat the intruder with layer upon layer of nacre, which is what makes up the oyster’s inner shell, what we would recognise as mother of pearl. These many layers, create the beautiful, sought after pearl.  So from a situation of discomfort and irritation, comes this iridescent gem.

The thinking follows that similarly, from discomfort or irritation, we can derive something useful.  It may be that we learn from the experience, or that it leads to something better that we may not have imagined could happen at the outset.

This simple analogy can bring perspective, it encourages us to realise that the difficulty is a moment in time and that we will move through it.

If you’re interested in hearing more about coaching or training and resilience, get in touch on 07785 996917 or email info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk.

Business Coaching

Grants and Funding for Business Coaching

Business West, an organisation that supports Businesses in the South West is offering government support for businesses to thrive. They believe that business coaching is an essential part of  ensuring this happens.  They state:

There’s strong evidence that good coaching can accelerate business growth.

A survey carried out by Manchester Inc. found the average return on investment to be almost six times the cost of coaching, and a report from the Personal Management Association showed that productivity increased by 86% when training was combined with coaching, compared to just 22% when training was carried out without a coach.

Lots of ideas but too busy to implement?

A busy CEO told me that she has a hundred ideas for growing the business, but never any time to implement them.  This is where working with a business coach comes in handy. It’s an opportunity to prioritise what you want to achieve, work out the obstacles in your way (time, procrastination, difficulty in delegating, lack of focus etc), find solutions for them and a plan for implementing your ideas.  The coach then holds you accountable to ensure that what you say you’ll do is done.  A sharp focus in maintained and you’ll find that you’re able to change the way you’ve been doing things and find new, more efficient ways, that will help your business grow and be more profitable. Many clients say that they come away feeling clearer and motivated to take action.

Struggling with delegation?

As you grow as a business, you cannot do everything yourself.  When you first set up, it’s possible you had to, but if you want to make more sales and handle more customers successfully, you will need to recruit more staff and delegate many tasks to them.  Ideally, those you delegate to will have the skills to do these tasks better than you as they will be specialists and able to focus solely on that area of the business, e.g. finance.  You can then focus on business development and finding new opportunities for growth.  For many business leaders, delegation is a huge challenge as they fear that others cannot do things as well as them, or that they simply don’t have enough time to explain what is needed – it’s easier just to do it themselves.  Investing time and effort in training and being able to delegate well saves a huge amount of time later on.  I see too many businesses where the founder is the biggest obstacle to growth.  A coach can help you address this and identify ways of recruiting and successfully delegating so that you free yourself up to look at the bigger picture.

Business relationships not going well?

When you’re stressed, it’s hard to keep your cool and communicate successfully. When you’re trying to do everything and there are not enough hours in the day and an important customer or client calls with a problem, you may not be in the best frame of mind to talk to them in a helpful and measured way. Or you may not communicate in a constructive way with your staff if you’re feeling overloaded.  A coach will work with you to identify what is making you stressed and improve your communication so that you become more of an inspiration as opposed to a frustration.

How do you access funding for a business coach?

I know what it’s like from experience of applying for funding and tenders.  You are busy enough, and the thought of taking time to write and fill in forms is enough to put you off.  With Business West, it is pretty simple.  They do most of the work and you come away with financial support to grow your business.You can find more about coaching grants here

Questions about business coaching?

If you have any questions about working with a coach, just give me a ring on 07785 996917 or email me catrin mac@gmail.com

Unknown to known : making change easier

Unknown  known

Having the courage to face change

Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.

– Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

What is it about change that is so painful? It happens to us all the time and yet we cling on to things in the hope we can somehow avoid it. We dearly want things to remain the same and ignore the fact that change is one of the most constant aspects of life. As Heraclitus said “there is nothing permanent except change” and he was right, wasn’t he?

there is nothing permanent except change – Heraclitus

You would think that thanks to evolution, we humans would have found an easy way to accept change. But so few of us have. Even when we know that a change is going to probably be beneficial, we still do all that we can to uphold the status quo, procrastinating like true professionals. If someone is trying to put changes in place that will affect us, we will resist and complain as much as we can. Do we think this reaction will be useful or helpful? If we actually stopped to consider the consequences of our behaviour, we probably would conclude that we are actually making things worse, but it’s somehow easier to stick to what we know and stay with fear.

What is it about change that we so fear? I believe it’s all about the unknown. It’s a place that is strange and alien and decidedly out of our comfort zone. Our instinct is not to go there, to avoid at all costs. We will even stay in an unhappy or unhelpful status quo out of fear of the unknown.

But why?

We’ve stepped into the unknown before. Many times. And we’ve survived. And we might just admit that in entering the unknown, we learnt lots, we became stronger. Even if it was uncomfortable, we came through it. We have all had a fair amount of practise at it, so we should be good at it. Or at least able to do it without too much thought.

We fear failure. We worry about things not working out. What if we are worse off. We might not know what to do when we reach the unknown. We might make fools of ourselves.

But what if we didn’t fear the unknown?

What if we could think about the unknown as a place that we need to move into and once there, it will become a known. This has happened in the past. We know that once we get used to something new, it becomes a known and we settle in. Or if it doesn’t work out, we mostly have choices to do something about it. By changing our thinking around the unknown, by reframing our view, we can reduce the fear and anxiety surrounding it.

Unknown ⇒ known

If you’re thinking about change or are moving towards an unknown, try the following:

  • ask yourself what it will be like in the unknown
  • what will you need to make the unknown a known? It might be support, tools, training, finance, advice etc
  • what are the risks involved in the unknown?
  • what can you do to mitigate the risks?
  • will anyone else be affected by this change? If so, what can you do to ease the transition
  • what is it that you fear about the unknown? List these fears and see if you can find logical solutions.
  • think about previous experiences where change has happened and you went into an unknown. What happened? What did you learn? Could you have done anything differently?
  • list the benefits of moving into the unknown? Even if you can’t think immediately of any, there may be benefits such as a learning process, a new beginning etc.
  • ask yourself what sort of mindset you would like to adopt as you enter the unknown. It might be one of curiosity, one of courage, one of careful exploration. This should help you realise that you do have some choice in the way you will react.

 

In short, if you do some planning and work out how to ease the transition from unknown to known, your resistance and fear should lessen.

This exercise is part of a workshop and is useful for all types of change. It works well when you use if for yourself or when teams are facing the unknown and you want to help them feel less fear.

Would you like to increase your impact?

Creating an impact and developing gravitas

It’s probably true that we could all do with some work on our presentation style.  I’m not particularly talking about standing up in front of an audience and delivering a speech, but more about the day to day dealings with others at work.

Our own awareness of how others perceive us is probably fairly minimal.  When did you last ask yourself

how am I coming across?

Most of us are usually too busy, getting stuff done, to stop and ask this question.

However, I do often hear others saying “why don’t people listen to what I have to say?” or “why do people not take me seriously?”  If you really want to communicate with others in an effective, impactful way (and wouldn’t we all?), then start by asking this excellent and essential question.

how am I coming across?

Have you changed your style?

Over the years, you may have changed little in our communication style.  From first job to wherever you are now, there will be aspects of how you come across that will need to have changed. For some, it happens naturally as they gain knowledge and experience. For others, it is not so easy. But with some attention, this can be worked on.

Gravitas

If you are in a senior position, where others look to you for expertise, then coming across with some gravitas, would, I think most will agree, a good thing.  By gravitas, I mean a good dose of dignity, measure, impact.  Saying something with gravitas would mean that others want to hear it and will respect your words.

When someone behaves and speaks with gravitas, others listen. They are more likely to be believed, their opinions have more weight and others are more likely to agree with them.  Someone with gravitas is someone that, generally speaking, others want to follow.

The question is then, how do we come across with gravitas, how do we create the desired impact?

Here are some straightforward tips that can be adopted by most, to help you increase your impact and gravitas.

Don’t

  • remain quiet thinking others will have already thought of your point (they probably won’t, and if they have, they may be thinking the same as you.)
  • speak quietly and look down – this may seem obvious, but few of us are that self aware.
  • forget to breath! (seems obvious, but in important meetings, this can happen!)
  • apologise “I’m sorry to interrupt” “I’m sorry to disagree”.
  • ask if you’re making sense – many very capable people I have worked with will make a good point or present a great idea and then ask “does that make sense?” The effect is that the listeners are left with doubt.
  • make self depreciating jokes or put yourself down “I’m not very good at this, but” “It may sound stupid but…”
  • avoid silence – silence can be good and there is no need to fill it with mutterings, distractions etc
  • avoid eye contact – looking people in the eye builds trust, helps connect.
  • feel you have to instantly respond to questions or demands.  Take your time to consider.

Do

  • stand tall. Even before you speak, you will exude confidence.
  • relax.  People with gravitas are relaxed and have a quiet confidence.
  • smile! People like people who smile.
  • speak with a clear voice, don’t rush.  No need to explain the effect mumbling has.
  • give yourself some positive self talk.  If you are in the right mindset, this will come across.
  • use the right language. See the ‘dont’s’.
  • believe you are worth listening to.  If you don’t, this will most likely come across.
  • assume others want to listen to you. Most people will.
  • make a statement then wait. Don’t fill the silence with explanations, apologies, whatever just out of nervousness, or dislike for silence.  It will dilute your message.
  • take time to always be clear about what your opinion is.  You will come across much better!
  • be yourself.  It’s far too much effort trying to be someone else, and people will see through you.

Start doing something differently

If you have always behaved in a way that might come across as hesitant, apologetic, a little under confident, then that is how people will have come to expect you to behave.  By tweaking some behaviours, you will quickly create more impact as you will be behaving in an unexpected way, which will instantly make people notice that something is different, albeit unconsciously.  Choose to make a couple of small changes to your behaviour and notice if / how people react differently and how you feel different.  It can be useful to keep a diary on this if you really want to change the way you come across.

Imitation

If you work with or know someone who comes across with gravitas, observe how they do it.  What aspects of their personality and behaviour mean that they create impact when communicating.  Make a conscious effort to copy some of these aspect. It may feel strange to start with, but will become second nature after a while.

Everybody deserves to be listened to, but we don’t always choose behaviours that communicate that we want to be listened to.  We sabotage ourselves with body language, choice of words, general behaviour.  And remember that not everyone is good at listening, so we may have to work a little harder with them. But in short, by adapting language and behaviour, we can all increase our impact on others and develop a healthy dose of gravitas.

 

Actively seek out the good stuff

Hunt the good stuff

As a coach I work with many hard working, often ambitious people who want to be clear about what they want and how they’re going to get there. In a competitive world, entrepreneurs, leaders, heads of business know they must keep on going, persevere, never give up if they are to succeed.  When working over long periods in this way, it’s easy to get ‘stuck’ in a pattern of keeping their head down, focusing on the targets and being extra aware of obstacles or challenges that might get in the way of success.

This can be exhausting and create a mindset where they only notice the negatives in every situation.  What might go wrong? What if it doesn’t work? It could be better.  This treadmill of negatives, in turn has a negative effect on our state of mind.  Everything feels stressful, everything looks bleak.  Everything they do, no matter how good, will never be good enough.  It’s as if there’s an invisible whip that just keeps on pushing them forward, punishing them if they get anything wrong.  Often, this way of thinking also affects those around them, as they pick up on negatives and mistakes, rarely noticing things that have been done well or that should be celebrated. This mentality often spreads into their private life.

This is not a great way to live and work.

Hunt the good stuff

As a coach, I challenge clients on this negative treadmill to step off a moment and recalibrate.  It’s natural for humans to notice and remember negatives – we seem to be pre-programmed to do so (read about negativity bias here).

As soon as we become aware of our tendency, we can start to do something about it.  Making an effort to “Hunt the good stuff” (Martin Seligman writes about this in his book ‘Flourish’), can lift the mood and lighten the weight.  With practise (change is rarely easy), we can train our minds to actively search for positive aspects in situations.  This doesn’t mean we stop being dedicated to our project or business, it doesn’t mean we ‘take our eye off the ball’, or that we become naive or unaware of challenges, but it does mean we will find more pleasure in our work and life, as well as be easier to live and work with.

Simply put:

To begin with, it’s important to notice the tendency for seeing the bad stuff. Just notice these thoughts and let them go.

Every morning when you wake up or as you brush your teeth, and as you go to sleep in the evening, make an effort to think of 2 or 3 good things that will happen / have happened.  No matter how small, they are important.

Getting into this routine, will hopefully mean you start thinking of good stuff during the day. It might help to encourage others to do this, so that the “hunting the good stuff” idea spreads.

Start small and as you get the hang of it, let the good stuff take over. Clients find it transforms their thinking and makes everything a little more enjoyable.

Learning from your story

What can you learn from your story?

Considering our own story is invaluable when considering our own life, work and development.  In a presentation on mentoring and narrative, Professor Bob Garvey, introduced the quote below from film maker Krzysztof Kieslowski and it got me thinking;

Coaching your story

 

It got me thinking about why I was there, in that room, listening to Bob Garvey, Professor of Coaching and Mentoring at Sheffield Hallam University alongside other experienced coaches and mentors. It encouraged me to consider my commitment to furthering my learning and professional development and my interest in coaching in general. It opened up a host of mini stories that brought me to sit in that chair, each one equally valid in how it has shaped who I am today. Suddenly, I felt like I could see clearly the path that had brought me here, as if a spotlight had been positioned onto my past.  Focus seemed to centre on the aspects of my past that I had enjoyed, found interesting, motivating and above all influential in putting me on this road. I realised the benefit of these and how I would like to do more. We can all feel frustrated or self critical when we consider our past decisions, but by seeing it as a story, that you might read in a book or watch in a film, a new perspective often opens up as we realise that each is a sum of what we are today.

Passive or proactive?

 

All that we do leads us to where we are

This quote helped me stop for a moment and reflect.  It helped me consider what drives me and realise that all that we do leads us to where we are. We can be passive in this and just find ourselves somewhere, or we can be more proactive and actively do things that will take us to our desired outcome. Being passive is always an option and can work well for many.  Being conscious and clear about outcomes brings more purpose and increases the chances or us finding ourselves doing something we enjoy and find stimulating.  This is relevant for our personal lives as well as at work and business.

What next? You can influence this.

Being aware of what has brought you this far can inform you of what you’d like to happen next.  It might be more of the same, some changes or a complete transformation.  It’s so important to realise that you really can shape your next steps, but being clear about what you want and putting a plan together of how you’ll get there. It can be scary to think that you can shape your future – it’s a big responsibility and you’ll be able to blame no-one but yourself. It’s worth asking yourself what the alternative is and whether or not you’re happy with that.

What if

 

What would be the right chair, who would be the right people?

What if considering this quote, you realise you’re in the wrong chair, with the wrong people? It’s not an easy realisation. It could help to ask yourself what makes it wrong? What aspects can you change? What can you do? Is it just a bad day? Or do you want to make some changes? Ask yourself what would be the right chair and who would the right people be? What first steps might you take?

This quote is a great catalyst for some thinking and questioning.  Take a moment to consider what thoughts come up for you. It’s essential that we all realise that we do have some say in shaping our own futures.

Ask yourself if the story that has brought you here, can help you shape what happens next.

To discuss coaching, please get in touch: info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk or phone 07785 996917.

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What’s really going on for them?

Finding out what’s behind the words

We make so many assumptions when it comes to communicating with others.  We have to, as we generally don’t have time to read between the lines.  This leads to snap decisions and judgements.  Much of the time, this is OK and no harm is done.  However, if we make a snap decision that someone doesn’t like us, or is moody or ungrateful , or whatever… it is very unlikely that we will change our minds on this.

On good days. we might give people the benefit of the doubt and won’t come to such a decision, but at stressful times (like Christmas!), we are so much more likely to jump to conclusions and misinterpret the words and behaviour of others, making assumptions quickly that may be detrimental to relationships (and our enjoyment).

Stressful situations don’t help….

Stress doesn’t bring out the best in us and if time is against us, we are loathe to find out what’s really going on for others. Too often, misunderstandings happen and nobody stops to find out the reasons behind a person’s behaviour. If someone is behaving badly, this is all that we see.  This is the story that we have about them. It happens far too often in the workplace. Someone might be behaving badly – their attitude, time keeping, performance etc and this might get as far as a disciplinary or actually being asked to leave. In some cases, fortunately, someone sits down and asks them what’s going on, only to find out that they’re experiencing some difficult circumstances at home that are causing them to behave like this.  Once support is offered and put in place, the behaviour changes.

Taking people at face value means that we only get to know a tiny part of them.  Have a look at the cartoon below and consider what’s going on.

coaching people

Two people are speaking to each other.  If they are moderately good listeners, they will hear what the other is saying.  Each will interpret the words in their own way (usually according to their own personal way of interpreting the world – see this article on “we see the world as we are not as it is”).  What they don’t hear is what is behind the other person’s words (illustrated in the large orange bubbles).  All their experience, thought processes, their own interpretation of the world and events, what happened to them that morning, what’s going on in their family, what drives them, what they value etc). If we can access this information, or just a small part of it, we would have a better understanding of what the other person is saying and would be in a better position to make fewer assumptions.

So what can we do?

  • Firstly, notice that you’re making assumptions about the other person. What effect is this having on your relationship?
  • Take a step back and consider what might be going on for them – here it’s difficult not to make assumptions, but imagine you are an innocent bystander, watching the conversation. Picture the cartoon and remember we only see a fraction of what is really going on.
  • Ask them some open questions to find out what’s behind the words.  Let go of your judgement (this can be easier said than done!).

Hopefully you will gain some insight into what is behind their words. At the very least, this new perspective will help you understand them a bit better and you might feel a better connection as you learn more about them and they see that you are genuinely interested.

This is a strategy that works well for many of the people I coach. It is definitely worth giving a go and I’d love to hear what you think.

 

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Listen better to improve relationships

As an executive and business coach, I work with a broad range of clients, be they part of a large organisation or agile, ambitious start up, and everything in between. I constantly reflect on what value I might add. I realise now that one of the most valued services I offer is that of genuine listening and hearing what clients say. It seems simple and perhaps even obvious, but the more people I come across, the more I realise how few people there are that do genuinely listen and hear what you say. This lack of attentiveness creates a host of misunderstandings, lack of engagement and breakdown in relationships even, that could, I believe be avoided if we all learned to better listen and hear what is being said.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.  Stephen R Covey

When you genuinely listen to what someone has to say as opposed to waiting for a gap in conversation to get your point or response across, you will find that not only do you gain an insight into how they think, what drives them and what they want, but you will find that you can achieve a deeper level of communication and trust.

It is wiser to find out than to suppose.   Mark Twain

We make so many assumptions that can be damaging to business and relationships. So often, if we changed the way we communicate and listened to people in order to genuinely learn from them, we would make fewer assumptions and actually find out what is really going on. Imagine how much time this would save and how misunderstandings and conflict could be minimised.

Genuine listening builds better relationships

By not listening properly, we miss out on a great deal. We miss out on information to start with. We miss out on all sorts such as how people are feeling, what their mood is like, what their attitude is towards us, the business, others. These factors all enhance our knowledge of others and how we can better work and interact with them. By really listening, we can promote engagement and others feel that their words are worth something.

Make people feel valued

If we allow our own thoughts to elevate as others speak, we shouldn’t fool ourselves that they won’t pick up on this. Humans are very sensitive to how others behave and we all know what it’s like to speak to someone who is physically present but not hearing anything. Think of a time when this has happened to you. How did that make you feel? Perhaps you felt the other person showed a lack of respect, you may not have felt valued. It is highly likely that you went away thinking “well that was a waste of time, I’ll avoid approaching them again”. This sort of behaviour builds negativity and resentment which could potentially have been avoided.

What is your default when it comes to listening?

All behaviour change starts with actually realising where you are now. Then you can work out where you want to get to and how. What do you tend to do when in conversation?

Are you a broadcaster?You have an agenda, something to say and you want to get it out there and get on with it. How does the other person feel? Try considering things from their perspective and the benefits of a two way conversation.

Are you a mind racer?

Your focus is internal rather on the person speaking. How do they feel? What are you missing out on by not being present? How can you tame your thoughts and bring your attention to the speaker?

Are you a jumper to conclusions?

Do you listen to the first few sentences and then make up your mind regardless of what comes next? What sort of pattern will this create for you and your business? How can you let go of your assumptions?

Are you easily distracted?Whatever else is going on in the room or outside the window, that’s where your focus is. You might have your phone or laptop at hand and be glancing over at them. You leave conversations thinking you’ve heard it all, but will have missed so much. Ask yourself what you can do about this? Putting the device away would be a good start!

What can you do now?

Most of us can relate to some if not all of the above. Ask yourself what small change can you make to improve your listening. There will be something, no matter how small. None of us are perfect listeners all of the time. There are so many benefits to getting good at listening, why not start today and notice the positive changes that take place.

Did you know I run workshops on better listening? Get in touch to find out more.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

How would things be different without fear?

If you woke up tomorrow morning and no longer experienced fear, what would your life be like?

This isn’t about getting rid of the fears that protect us, like those that fear pain if we jump from a high wall and other fears that are in place to protect us.  I’m talking about those unreasonable fears that hold us back from doing all sorts of things in life and at work.

We all experience these fears in different ways and to a different extent. Some people are fearful of any type of change to the status quo, others happily take risks in business but fear addressing certain challenges due to a fear of confrontation.

Most would agree that many of our fears are not very helpful and life could be better and easier if we managed to successfully address them.

What would you do?

Here’s a simple technique for addressing fears that might be holding you back.

Write down a list of things that come to mind when you ask yourself this.

It might be “ask for a pay rise”,”negotiate better hours”, “change jobs”, “start a business”, “go travelling” etc.

Let’s take “ask for a pay rise” as an example.

  • Ask yourself “why don’t I ask for a pay rise?”
  • List the reasons.
  • Next to each reason, write what your biggest supporter would say. Eg, next to “I hate asking for money”, your biggest supporter might say “you have been working hard and taking on additional responsibilities, if you don’t ask, they may not consider a pay rise.  It’s worth asking”.
  • It’s likely one of the reasons will be “I’m afraid they’ll say no“. What might your biggest supporter say to this? It could be that they would say “and what if they say no?”
  • What would your response be to that? You will have your own personal reaction to this, but it could be “I will feel humiliated” (ask yourself why?), “It will be embarrassing” (why?), “they will think I’m money grabbing” (really?).
  • Keep asking the questions until you find that the idea of being afraid of asking for a pay rise seems like a distant memory and your thinking has changed to thinking it’s something that is worth doing, even with the potential risks involved (feeling embarrassed, humiliated etc).

So often we avoid doing things as we fear rejection or failure. We just accept it as part of life.  What I’d like you to realise is that each fear can be challenged, and often many of these fears are not founded on anything more than beliefs developed over time.

Why not try this out? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?