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Archive For August 29, 2013

5 Practices for Effective Communication

Having effective communication skills is imperative for your success. Positive communication will certainly increase the opportunities you find in your career and business. Having good communication skills will enable you to get ahead in certain areas where others who are less assertive may not succeed. A few things to keep your eyes on while practicing the fine art of communication are:

Body Language
Do not shy away from the person with whom you are speaking. Be sure to maintain a relaxed, but not slouching posture, regardless whether you are the one speaking or listening. Other things that ensure your body is communicating your attentiveness to the conversation can include:

  • Making eye contact.
  • Nodding occasionally to acknowledge a strong point in the conversation.
  • Standing with hands clasped in front of you, never crossing your arms.
  • Not displaying nervous ticks such as wringing hands, picking at your nails, or anything that the person communicating with you will view as a distraction from their conversation.
  • Speech and Attentiveness
    When speaking, you need to be clear and concise. Speak on important matters directly and do not waste time with long drawn out stories that will cause your listener’s mind to wander. Make sure you ask whether they understand, and be willing to further explain any of your points. Do not expect someone to just “know” what you are saying, even if it is crystal clear in your own mind. In addition, one of the most important aspects of verbal communication is the ability to practice active listening. This is not just actively waiting to talk. Always make mental notes of key points when someone is speaking to you. That way once you are given a chance to speak, you can respond to the most vital issues being dealt with. When others are speaking, try to think about the exact words that they are saying. If you practice this, you will comprehend and contain 75 percent more of the information that you hear.

    Communication Consistency
    Maybe your weakness is in the quality or quantity with which you communicate to your employees. Communication seems to have dwindled to superficial small talk. Great communicators practice the ability of consistent communication by remaining available. Do not be afraid to be the one who voices any concerns or difficulties. However, ensure that you are practicing open and honest communication with those who may depend on you. Be available and bold with tact. Be sure to leave communication lines open to those who may need to address problems with you. You will find that you prevent the small issues that normally have the habit of becoming large ones by making those in your life aware that you are open to discussing issues at any time.

    Patience
    During your communications with others always give them time to communicate their issues as well. Remaining focused on what they are trying to communicate will show them that you are indeed open to assisting with their issues. Many of people’s communication lines tend to break down on the side where impatience is in a rush to get out of the conversation. Since you cannot control the other side, do yourself a favor and take a breath. The conversation you’re involved in is important.

    If you are confused as to what someone may be requesting, than repeat back to him or her what you think they said and ask if that is correct. Often this will inspire the speaker to be more in-depth about their needs, which will help you to understand them fully.

    Practicing Effective Communication Skills
    If someone has communicated a need or an issue to you, then your main priority should be to aid him or her in repairing the problem. Following up on an issue is the only way to convince others whom you need to communicate with that you have listened to them and that their problems or issues are important to you as well.

    Practicing strong follow-up will also leave the impression that you are involved in the bigger picture. When people see this commitment, they will know you are open to future communications. This creates a loyal and discerning surrounding that cultivates positive movement and communication. This will develop a strong sense of confidence in those with whom you communicate.

    Looking for more ways to improve your ability to connect your peers, employees or partner? Attend Dr. Kate’s LifeWork: Love & Money Retreat! (more…)

    Does Authenticity Lead to Happiness?

    Humanistic psychologists (I identify myself as one) are fond of talking about authenticity. Mention the words “genuine,” “real,” or “deep” and you’ll see our faces light up. I ran a therapy group not so long ago and during the last session a few of the participants teased me about my oft-repeated catch-phrase: “Keep it real and go deep.”

    But before I continue, let me define some of the terms I’m using here. Humanistic therapy refers to a strengths-focused approach (as opposed to a pathology-based one) that aims to increase a client’s awareness of subjective meaning, enhance personal growth, and encourage a genuine and trusting relationship. In other words, instead of emphasizing what’s wrong with a client, a humanistic psychologist tries to understand and empower the client’s full sense of self. Psychological maladies (e.g. depression, anxiety) are seen as symptoms of a lack of congruence or authenticity in a person’s life.

    Authenticity is a little trickier to define. In a way, we all know what it means, but how do you conceptualize it psychologically? To the humanistic crowd, being authentic means that I’m aware of how I’m really feeling and that I can communicate that to myself and others, if I choose to. So, as a therapist, if I’m in a session with a client and I find myself feeling sad when I hear my client tell a story, I want to stay connected to that feeling. I want to stay present with my client, with the story, with how the client is feeling, and with the thoughts and emotions that I’m experiencing in the moment. In that way I’m bringing the full me, my real self, into the room (instead of aiming to remain a detached expert who only thinks intellectually). A long time ago I got to observe a therapist who was conducting an intake with a new client. The therapist looked at her clipboard, read out questions, and took notes. It was a rather formal/standard procedure, but as the client answered the questions, she started tearing up and soon began crying. The therapist stopped the questioning, looked up, and quizzingly asked the client, “What’s the deal with the tears?” So that’s an example of not being authentic. (And I was disturbed seeing that interaction take place. I found it very difficult keeping quiet, but my role was very clearly laid out: to be a silent observer. In that scenario I didn’t get to communicate as authentically as I wished…)

    So humanistic psychologists have been preaching the value of being authentic for decades. As a therapist, it’s not just about being authentic myself, one of my goals is to work with my clients to form an authentic and meaningful relationship and assist them in developing an authentic sense of their own selves. If my client shares something that comes across to me as deep and real, but if the client seems somehow disconnected or not fully giving themselves credit, I’ll say something. I might say, “You know, that was such a meaningful and powerful thing for me to hear, and I feel like I got a real sense of you as a person, but my sense is that you’re not experiencing it fully, or that you don’t realize the full power of what you just said.”

    It’s not that humanistic psychologists are the only ones who value authenticity. There are many therapists from other theoretical fields who value it strongly. But for the humanistic camp it’s one of our defining elements: being humanistic means valuing and encouraging authenticity both in ourselves and in our clients.

    Authenticity sounds nice, but mainstream science sometimes pooh-poohs on its relevance. If I decide, hypothetically speaking, to apply for an NIH research grant and I use the terms “going deep,” “keeping it real,” or “being authentic,” I’m not very likely to be taken seriously or receive any funding. And you hear many modern-day psychologists say, “Well, of course you want to be authentic, but there’s a lot more to therapy.” There’s a sense out there that the authentic stuff is not much more than a touchy-feely sort of concept with not much meat.

    Humanistic psychologists will tell you that authenticity is a tremendously important factor. That it’s a huge element in the process of healing. It’s not just a prerequisite, it’s one of the chief goals of therapy. And as a client becomes more and more authentic, they become happier and their psychological well being increases.

    Fortunately for us humanistic folks, it turns out that the empirical data lends support to the authenticity hypothesis. Just last month, a small group of psychologists from England published a study in the prestigious Journal of Counseling Psychology. The study empirically examined the effect of authenticity on people’s lives. The researchers (Alex Wood, et al) asked people from different walks of life about the their authentic qualities: self-awareness, communication style, and openness to others’ feedback. These authentic measures appeared solid (e.g. they did not correlate with any other likely confounds like the Big 5 Personality traits or social pleasing). But what was really amazing was that the researchers found that that, in general, the more a person acted authentically, the more likely he or she were to be happy and experience subjective and psychological well-being. These results might appear self-evident from a humanistic perspective, but there’s a lot more there than meets the eye. The researchers shed light on an area of study that has been empirically neglected. Being authentic is not just a nice-sounding catch phrase. It’s an important part of personal growth that carries beneficial values. It might be simple, but it’s also profound.

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    Have You Gotten Off Track?

    Life pulls us in many directions. No matter the phase of development our work is in, we can get caught in the tangle of competing interest and loss of motivation. While I think it is unlikely, and perhaps even unproductive, to always stay on track, there are tools for getting back on track faster and easier. When we develop these abilities we also develop trust in ourselves. This makes the time we spend “off track” that much easier and more productive.

    One of these tools you may have heard me talk about is the Vision Statement. There are just about as many ways to define the vision statement as there are people in the world, but one thing is sure – the vision statement is a useful tool for getting back on track.

    When I talk with my clients, I am continually inspired by the dedication they show in bringing their work into the world. At one point, everyone works to get clear on their vision and their mission. It is not an easy thing – sometimes, the more we care, the more difficult attaining clarity becomes.

    Your vision is the heart of what you do. Putting that depth of feeling and complexity into simple yet powerful words is a big task. But when you do it, you have managed to create the very thing that will pump life-blood through your work for years to come.

    This means that, when you get off track, you are able to reconnect to the heart of what you are doing just by rereading your vision statement. The benefits do not stop there. Your vision statement also helps you every time you communicate with others about what you do because you are clearer about the real reason you are doing it.

    So what is your vision for your world, your community, or your business? What would you like to see be different?

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    Self-esteem: 4 steps to feel better about yourself

    Low self-esteem can negatively affect virtually every facet of your life, including your relationships, your job and your health. But you can take steps to boost your self-esteem, even if you’ve been harboring a poor opinion of yourself since childhood. Start with these four steps.

    Step 1: Identify troubling conditions or situations
    Think about the conditions or situations that seem to deflate your self-esteem. Common triggers might include:
    A business presentation
    A crisis at work or home
    A challenge with a spouse, loved one, co-worker or other close contact
    A change in life circumstances, such as a job loss or a child leaving home

    Step 2: Become aware of thoughts and beliefs
    Once you’ve identified troubling conditions or situations, pay attention to your thoughts about them. This includes your self-talk — what you tell yourself — and your interpretation of what the situation means. Your thoughts and beliefs might be positive, negative or neutral. They might be rational, based on reason or facts, or irrational, based on false ideas.

    Step 3: Challenge negative or inaccurate thinking
    Your initial thoughts might not be the only possible way to view a situation — so test the accuracy of your thoughts. Ask yourself whether your view is consistent with facts and logic or whether other explanations for the situation might be plausible.

    Be aware that it’s sometimes tough to recognize inaccuracies in thinking, though. Most people have automatic, long-standing ways of thinking about their lives and themselves. These long-held thoughts and beliefs can feel normal and factual, but many are actually just opinions or perceptions.

    Also pay attention to thought patterns that tend to erode self-esteem:
    All-or-nothing thinking. You see things as either all good or all bad. For example, “If I don’t succeed in this task, I’m a total failure.”
    Mental filtering. You see only negatives and dwell on them, distorting your view of a person or situation. For example, “I made a mistake on that report and now everyone will realize I’m not up to this job.”
    Converting positives into negatives. You reject your achievements and other positive experiences by insisting that they don’t count. For example, “I only did well on that test because it was so easy.”
    Jumping to negative conclusions. You reach a negative conclusion when little or no evidence supports it. For example, “My friend hasn’t replied to my email, so I must have done something to make her angry.”
    Mistaking feelings for facts. You confuse feelings or beliefs with facts. For example, “I feel like a failure, so I must be a failure.”
    Self put-downs. You undervalue yourself, put yourself down or use self-deprecating humor. This can result from overreacting to a situation, such as making a mistake. For example, “I don’t deserve anything better.”

    Step 4: Adjust your thoughts and beliefs

    Now replace negative or inaccurate thoughts with accurate, constructive thoughts. Try these strategies:
    Use hopeful statements. Treat yourself with kindness and encouragement. Pessimism can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if you think your presentation isn’t going to go well, you might indeed stumble through it. Try telling yourself things such as, “Even though it’s tough, I can handle this situation.”
    Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes — and mistakes aren’t permanent reflections on you as a person. They’re isolated moments in time. Tell yourself, “I made a mistake, but that doesn’t make me a bad person.”
    Avoid ‘should’ and ‘must’ statements. If you find that your thoughts are full of these words, you might be putting unreasonable demands on yourself — or on others. Removing these words from your thoughts can lead to more realistic expectations.
    Focus on the positive. Think about the good parts of your life. Remind yourself of things that have gone well recently. Consider the skills you’ve used to cope with challenging situations.
    Relabel upsetting thoughts. You don’t need to react negatively to negative thoughts. Instead, think of negative thoughts as signals to try new, healthy patterns. Ask yourself, “What can I think and do to make this less stressful?”
    Encourage yourself. Give yourself credit for making positive changes. For example, “My presentation might not have been perfect, but my colleagues asked questions and remained engaged — which means that I accomplished my goal.”

    These steps might seem awkward at first, but they’ll get easier with practice. As you begin to recognize the thoughts and beliefs that are contributing to your low self-esteem, you can actively counter them — which will help you accept your value as a person. As your self-esteem increases, your confidence and sense of well-being are likely to soar.

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    Am I A Fraud?

    I was talking to someone the other day who was making some comments about my business — specifically my marketing. She said, “I can’t relate to this — it’s too polished.”

    I know there is a certain group of people — I actually put myself in that group sometimes — who are so tired of the pomp and circumstance. Whenever they see something that looks like “one more empty person trying to sell them something” they recoil. They are done.

    Well, I could write a book about this. But what I am going to say here is what I said to her. If you have hundreds of thousands of dollars to put toward what you think is most important in the world; if you had a platform to reach thousands of people and help them live better lives; if you could create a voice that could be heard by the masses that speaks for change — but it required you to wear earrings and make-up and get a fancy picture taken — would you do it?

    My answer is, “Yes.” I would probably eat worms, too. Because these things do not change me or what I am about. My clothes do not define me. That is WAY too shallow. That problem is in the eye of the beholder. I can dress as counter-culture as I want and sit in cafés drinking coffee and talking about how the world sold out — or I can suit up and do something about it. And, THAT is what I am doing — something about it.

    What are you going to do?

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    Why Getting Comfortable With Discomfort Is Crucial To Success

    When I first left my parents’ small farm at eighteen to move to “the city” for college, I was part terrified, part excited, and completely outside my comfort zone. As I found then, and have countless times in the years since, no worthwhile aspiration can be accomplished from within our comfort zone. Only in giving up the security of the known can we create new opportunity, build capability, and grow influence. As we do, we expand the perimeter of our ‘Courage Zone’ and our confidence to take on bigger challenges in the future.

    It’s a lesson that was reinforced in my interviews with accomplished leaders across a diverse range of fields while researching my latest book Stop Playing Safe. While each had forged their own path to success – either up an organizational ladder or as an entrepreneur – the common thread of wisdom they all shared was that in todays competitive and fast changing workplace, we can never hope to achieve success unless we’re willing to embrace change and risk the discomfort of failure. In short, we must be willing to get comfortable with the discomfort involved with taking risks.

    One of those leaders was Lori Garver, who worked her way up in the male-dominated aerospace industry from an administrative assistant role to the Deputy Director of NASA. Like so many other successful people, Lori has always been driven more by what inspires her than what scares her. She’s always been willing to challenge assumptions, and push the boundaries of possibility. She’s never let her fear of not having what it takes keep her from stepping beyond the confines of her comfort zone and expanding her confidence to take risks, try new things, speak up and act with the courage that has been a hallmark of her leadership at NASA. While it’s easy to assume that Lori is covered with psychological Teflon, the reality is that along her road to success, she experienced numerous setbacks, along with her fair share of criticism. She just hasn’t let her fear of it hold her back.

    Throughout our careers we must continually assess whether we are letting our fear of failure or losing face keep us from taking the actions, and engaging in the conversations, that will move us forward and make the impact we want. Again and again, we have to decide:
    Do I keep doing what’s always been done, or challenge old assumptions ad try new approaches to problems?
    Do I proactively seek new challenges or just manage those I already have?
    Do I risk being exposed and vulnerable, or act to protect my pride and patch of power?
    Do I ask for what I really want, or just for what I think others want to give me?
    Do I ‘toot my horn’ to ensure others know what I’m capable of, or just hope my efforts will be noticed?
    Do I speak my mind or bite my lip, lest I ruffle feathers or subject myself to criticism?

    Of course, being willing to take a risk doesn’t mean everything you try will work out. But as every successful person will tell you, it’s only by being willing to make mistakes and try something new that you can ever accomplish more than what’s been done before. As John F. Kennedy once said, “Nothing worthwhile has ever been accomplished with a guarantee of success.” Nothing ever will be.

    Too often we let our mistakes and setbacks define us. Yet, as Dr Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology once said, “It’s not our failures that determine our future success, but how we explain them to ourselves.” Likewise, if you knew that no matter what happened, you could handle it, what actions would you take that you aren’t taking now? What conversations would you engage in that you’ve been putting off? Where would you step out onto center stage more fully and boldly in your own life – and in doing so, open up the possibility for new opportunities, new relationships, new alliances, new ideas to take bloom?

    Cast your mind ahead ten years from now and think about the life you want to be living then. What do you want to be doing? With whom? Who do you want to have become in the process?

    Ten years from now there will be people who have achieved extraordinary success. While we don’t know who they will be, one thing is sure – they won’t be people who have stayed inside their comfort zone. Rather, they will be people who have continued to stretch themselves, even when things are going smoothly, and who have been willing to risk failure or looking foolish, knowing that the biggest risk they take is not taking any risks at all. The question is – will you be one of them?!

    In our ever more cautious and competitive world, there is little security in playing safe. Being willing to give up the familiarity of the known and embrace the discomfort that comes from being outside your comfort zone is increasingly crucial to your success in work and life.

    Margie Warrell is an executive coach, keynote speaker and the bestselling author of Stop Playing Safe (Wiley) and Find Your Courage (McGraw-Hill). More information at www.margiewarrell.com

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    10 Things You Can Do To Boost Your Mood NOW

    1. Get Moving: Exercise has been proven to elevate mood.

    2. Talk to someone: When things go wrong, people tend to isolate. Telling someone about your difficulties provides you with connection which is ultimately healing.

       

    However, do not dwell too long in the negative. Excessively repeating a negative story can actually prolong a bad mood and make it difficult to move forward.

    3. Reframe the situation: There is usually something positive to be gleaned even from the worst of situation. Can you find the silver lining? Learning to reframe situations is a powerful coping strategy used by successful and confident people.

    4. Plan your future steps: Things might not be good now but they do not need to stay that way. What are ways that you can build a better tomorrow? Imagine yourself doing these things. The imagination plays a powerful role in shaping our lives and our feelings about yourself.

    5. Take an inventory of what IS working: Even if a lot has gone wrong chances are there are a few things that are still right. What are the things that are the things you      can be grateful for? Write a list of everything you are grateful for each day. Read it again in the morning when you wake up.

    6. Positive self-talk: When we continually repeat statements such as, “It will never work out.” or “I am such a failure.” These beliefs are the reality that we live with.  Make a list of your negative beliefs and write a second list of positive –yet believable– beliefs. Try replacing your negative beliefs with your positive beliefs as you go about your day.

    7. Give yourself specific times to worry: A cognitive-behavioral technique is to quarantine the time that you give to your negative mood. For example, for 30 minutes each day I will ruminate about what has gone wrong. After that, I will stop and focus on other things.

    8. Throw a fit: Is it so bad that you can’t imagine trying to find the good in it all. Take a few moments to jump up and down, scream, or hit something. Of course keep yours and other peoples safety in mind when you are doing this. You might feel a bit silly at first but you will feel much better as a result of giving yourself this time.

    9. Focus on something else: If you find yourself dwelling in the negative, start distracting yourself. While it is important to feel your feelings, being stuck in negativity is not good for you. Find something else to occupy your attention and give yourself a break.

    10. Do something you are good at: Mastery provides us will feeling of confidence, competence, and well-being. When you have experienced a set back, doing something you feel good helps you feel better.

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    Ever Get That Invisible Feeling?

    Ever had that experience, where you are in a group of people, possibly those you consider as friends and join in the conversation, only to find someone changes the subject or talks over you?

    Ever had the experience of instinctively knowing a plan, solution or process that would enhance your business, team or company only to find your suggestions/comments ignored?

    Ever had the experiences of being told what to think, do or say?

    How often have you had that feeling inside that the ‘Super Hero’ in you was trying to burst out? Maybe it was that feeling, deep down, of the freedom to spread your wings, expressing your individuality on seeing or hearing your favorite singer/actor/artist perform?

    Then you come back from your lunchtime daydream or wake up at the start of yet another work day…into your current reality of invisibility. The frustration of knowing you are capable of so much more than your current life holds, yet having no idea of how to change it or how to become visible to the world, can be overwhelming.

    I know…been there…done that!

    It took me decades of being invisible to finally find how to make the changes and the secret key turned out to be inside me all the time. After spending years and years suffering other people’s insults, abuse, derision and control, I had the biggest challenge in accepting to myself I created all those experiences and I was the one keeping myself invisible!

    Let me explain what happens energetically and scientifically, to make it so you create your own experiences and invisibility cloaks, as each of these are examples of allowing yourself to be invisible. Yes, I did say allowing, let me explain the science behind this:

    You project out the holographic perception of your beliefs, which energetically transmute into experiences and opportunities. This is a scientifically verified FACT.

    Your cells take their signal from your beliefs, this triggers electrical impulses to the Frontal Lobe in the brain, from there to the Thalamus, your processing center and where the by product of thought is created. From here signals will go to the Occipital Lobe, your visual center and your Peritoneal Lobe , it is this that is the crucial part of the process. The peritoneal lobe projects the holographic perception of your reality…from the power of your belief.

    Therefore your external experiences are a reflection of your point of belief. Getting the picture?

    OK, so why do you do this? Where does it begin?

    When you hold low self worth, don’t value yourself or find it hard to love who you are; this is what you project into the external world. This through the transmutation of energy create your external experiences. So you really do allow situations to happen.

    More often than not, the low self worth is also a reflection of you feeling invisible to yourself. When you are invisible to yourself , you mirror this in your external world and become invisible to others.

    Are you getting a sense of how you create this now?

    Through my own work with clients, working back on where the feelings of being invisible come from, can more often then not, be traced through generations.

    Negative emotional memories are passed from mother to child at cellular level.

    We hold these in and around the cells, which is the reason why, even with the best will in the world to be positive, it only takes a small, negative incident to move you back into feeling negative, as it is still held at cellular level and until you accept and acknowledge this, only then can it be energetically released.

    It is crucially important to begin understanding the power you hold inside and how this dictates your external world. Once you can accept this, you then have the ability to clear out the internal baggage and begin consciously creating your external world through changing your beliefs.

    This process begins through observance, contemplation and meditation.

    This can start with simply getting out in nature and allowing yourself to be still to get ‘tuned in’. Nature is naturally abundant and will always help in the energetic process.

    Other than this, begin the regular practice of me time, time to go into contemplation and meditation; this time will allow you to identify where your low self worth, the invisibility comes from.

    To be ‘seen’ in your external experiences you have to first be visible to yourself and this takes finding the strength in your vulnerability to admit and acknowledge your fears and release them.

    reblogged from http://consciouslifenews.com

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    A Shift In Perspective

    “Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kind of cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe; we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

    — Neil deGrasse Tyson. Astrophysicist, Director Hayden Planetarium, NYC.