Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Change of Seasons

Beautiful, bold colored leaves sprinkle lawns and sidewalks. Weekends are filled with trips to pumpkin patches, farmer's markets and hay rides. Autumn has arrived, reminding us of the cyclic change of our seasons.

As seasons change so do we. Let autumn be a time to reflect on what changes we want to make in our lives. Ask yourself some of the following questions to help you find the changes you need to make to have the life you want.
  1. What do you want right now? How can you be more true to yourself?
  2. What routine would you like to fall back into? Any old habits or hobbies you should bring back into your life?
  3. What is stopping you? What do you keep tripping over? What outdated beliefs are you holding on to?
  4. What changes have you been putting off? What steps can you take towards greater fulfillment?
  5. What do you need to start saying "no" to? What is zapping your energy? What do you want to stop doing?
Below are simple steps that, if taken, could have a great impact on your daily life.
  • Take your Time - Our culture tells us to go fast; to sprint and win the race. The problem with this is, that the race never ends. Taking things slowly can lead to happiness.
  • Make a Change - A weathered routine can turn you into a zombie. Opt for a change or two and often you will find that it can make thing more exciting.
  • Eliminate the non-essential - First, identify the things in your life that are most important to you; the things that you love the most. Then, eliminate everything else. This process works with anything: life in general, work projects, and even with emails and other forms of communication. This will change your life because it will help you to simplify, to focus on what's important, and to build the life you want.
What leaves of change are you ready to jump into this fall?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Whining in the Workplace

I have talked to you about Communication for Results and now I would like to talk about a dicey subject that I feel has a negative effect on all of us – complaining in the workplace.

I recently came across an article entitled: What to Do With a Workplace Whiner. The article points out that although this is something that every office has to deal with; the question is how to deal with it.

What I found most interesting about this article were the findings that state, “Exposure to non-stop negativity can disrupt learning, memory, attention and judgment." says Robert Sapolsky, an author and professor of neurological sciences at Stanford University. Needless to say, all of these elements will have an adverse effect on one's motivation level, and before you know it you are just watching the clock for your shift to be over.

Here are some suggestions from the article that I felt would be helpful if everyone started applying:

• Don’t just nod & listen – encourage the person who is upset to talk directly to the source of the gripe.

• Change the subject by asking what is going well.

• Ask the complainer what he or she intends to do about the problem.

• If you are stuck listening to a complainer, retreat mentally and imagine yourself in a peaceful place.

Offering some constructive suggestions instead of complaining will go a lot further. The article gives an example about an employee who constantly complained about having to travel, until a fellow colleague responded, “What are you going to do about it? Come to me with a solution.” It prompted the complainer to come up with a plan to limit face to face visits to customers with the highest sales potential The results, from this approach were that sales went up and that employee was able to spend more time with family.

Maybe your suggestions to your workplace problems won't be this simple, however the power of feeling heard may bring something new to light.

Doesn’t that sound better than complaining?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Comparison vs Compassion

When is the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back? More than likely you have engaged in comparing yourself to others or to a standard of how you "should be", highlighting your weaknesses. However you most likely have not taken a moment to highlight your strengths. Why not turn over a new leaf and start treating yourself with a little compassion?

The habit of comparison is very common and most of us do it on a regular basis. Some comparison is natural; the problem comes in when we compare ourselves in a negative way. Because someone is better at communicating they must be more intelligent than us. Because someone has a better job than us, they must be more successful than us. Because someone has smarter children than ours, they must be more worthy of respect than us. Because someone has a large family, they must be more worthy of love than us. This way of thinking continually drains our confidence and leaves us feeling inadequate and unworthy.

Quit the comparison game and replace it with compassion. Compassion is a way of relating to yourself with kindness and support. Think of how you treat a close friend or a child that is struggling. Too often we speak to ourselves in a harsh tone - Why did I say that? I'm an idiot! Don't be so hard on yourself and ask yourself, would I speak to my best friend that way?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to start replacing comparison with compassion:
  • Am I comparing just one quality of me and ignoring the rest?
  • Am I discounting my strengths and the areas where I excel?
  • Am I only focused on the best and most impressive parts of this other person?
Whenever you notice that you are comparing yourself to others, gently remind yourself that you do not want to fall into the comparison game and replace it with self-compassion.

How do you treat yourself with compassion?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Technology: Are we losing the ability to establish personal connections with people?

Sometimes I wonder if technology is taking the place of simple social interactions and having personal conversations with family and friends. My son's friends don't come to the door to pick him up; instead they send a text from the driveway letting him know they are waiting in the driveway. I was recently out to dinner and couldn't help noticing a couple out together for what looked like a nice dinner, and both had their faces down, checking their iPhones.

We lose a lot when we strictly use technology in establishing connections with others:
  • Handshake, Smile or Frown
  • Expression, Volume & Tone
  • Eye contact & Posture
It has been said that, how something is expressed may carry more significance than what is said. Are we losing this with the constant use of text, email, and social media? Expression is attempted over the internet, however many times it is misconstrued or taken the wrong way, creating problems.

Every day we respond to thousands of nonverbal cues and behaviors including postures, facial expression, gestures, and tone of voice. From a handshake to our hair styles, nonverbal details reveal who we are and impact how we relate to each other. I can't help but wonder about where society is headed when I see these important personal connection getting lost in the whirl wind of technology today. What has your experience been with technology and personal connections?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring into Action

The snow is melting and the birds are chirping, both a sure sign that spring is upon us! The flowers and trees will be in blossom before we know it and it feels like a new beginning once again. This time of year i am energized and motivated to spring into action.

There are so many ways we can make a difference, just read some of the inspiring stories at Ordinary People Change the World. You don't have to be a famous person to make a difference, you just need to believe in something and take the first step.

I am currently involved with starting a group called URF Women's Network. This is a network of women uniting together, to make a difference in Illinois politics and public policy. We believe in limited government, individual liberty, free enterprise and traditional values. We are encouraging women to stand up and be heard in the halls of power. I believe in being the change; getting involved; making a difference.

From volunteering within your community to running for office, lets spring forward together to make a change. Please share your story about how you are making a difference, and together we can spread the word.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Communication for Results

Most women like to communicate, it's in our nature. However, what happens when we need to gear our communication to drive results? I have learned that when communicating for results there are some general guidelines that can help you reach the finish line.
  1. Define What You Want - you can start by creating a "must have" and a "nice if" list. Knowing what you absolutely "must have" and what would just be "nice if" it happened, will help you determine what you want to keep the focus on. Determine what you are and aren't willing to settle for.
  2. Make Your Request - when making your request remember these 3 rules:
  • Be Direct - Don't walk around the pond, ask for what you want!
  • Be Specific - Don't generalize, so that there is no confusion about what you want.
  • Predict the Outcome - Let them know what the benefits will be when this request is met.

     3.  Avoid Common Communication Errors -

  • Disclaimers - Try not to start a sentence with, "I may be wrong but..." or "I'm not really sure..." this is a common trait especially among women. Read Nancy Clark's blog  Use Confident Language
  • Justifiers - Get to the point without the long convoluted reasons.
  • Avoid Tag Questions - Have you ever heard someone ask a question like this, "You want this done using the regular method, don't you?" Instead say, "I'm going to use the regular method."

These tips are easy to use and will help get you the results you are looking for...now go out there and give it a try! Be sure to share your results with me!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Making your New Years Resolutions Stick

This time of year the gyms are packed with people making their new years resolutions to exercise more, eat less and lose weight. In most places the gyms are back to their normal numbers of attendance by Mid-March. Why do most of us lose interest in keeping our new years resolutions? I have some ideas that may point us to the road to success!
  • Be Specific & Realistic. Keep your resolution list to 1 or 2 things you want to work on. Instead of saying you want to lose weight make the commitment to lose 10 pounds. Many of us make the resolution to try to spend more time with family and friends. Make this resolution happen by getting specific; every other Wednesday of the month I will make a lunch date with a family member of friend. Be realistic and remember to keep your resolutions to things that are with-in your control. Getting a new job is not realistic because you can't control that outcome.
  • Have a Plan. Another popular resolution is to quit smoking or drinking alcohol. Having a plan in place will help you succeed. For example, cut down the amount you smoke or drink a little each day, week, or month. Be sure to include support in your plan. Let others know about your plan, preferably those that you know will support you in you resolution. If you intend to workout more, having someone to work out with is a great support. Don't forget to set goals with-in your plan such as losing 5 pounds by a specific date...and be realistic!
  • Evaluate and Move Forward. For the first 30 day's keep a journal that you write in everyday about how your resolution is going. Keeping a journal may help you stay honest or work through some difficult times. Keeping a journal will also help you evalutate what worked and what didn't. Set a longer term date to evaluate your progress such as the spring, this will help you stick to your plan. If you stumble a little, such as gain a couple of pounds, skip a lunch with a family member, or sneak a cigarette, don't throw in the towel...put it behind you and morve forward!
I hope you beat the odds and achieve your 2012 new year's resolution(s)! Good luck and Happy New Year! Have you had success sticking to one of your resolutions from last year? If so, what worked for you?