Word-Of-the-Week #939: Compliment

August 4, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Compliment: an expression of praise, admiration, or congratulation.

When was the last time you paid someone a compliment? When was the last time someone paid you a compliment? Was the response (in either situation) “brushed off,” or discounted in any way?

I am a big believer in giving compliments and this week’s WOW features excerpts from “The Art of the Compliment: Everyone needs to know how to give and receive compliments,” by Hara Estroff Marano.

She writes, “Compliments are one of the most extraordinary components of social life. If given right they create so much positive energy that they make things happen almost as if by magic. They ease the atmosphere around two people and kindly dispose people to each other. Of course, there is a way to give them. And, just as important, a way to receive them. And everyone needs to know how to do both.

Compliments derive from taking notice of praiseworthy situations and efforts. So they are a mark of awareness and consciousness. We need to cultivate awareness of the good developments that are all around us.

People benefit from being the objects of compliments, but we also benefit being givers of them. Recipients benefit from knowing that we notice and learning that we value them. So compliments are powerful in motivating continued efforts. People strive to do more of what brings praise from others.

Compliments are little gifts of love. They are not asked for or demanded. They tell a person they are worthy of notice. The art of the compliment is not only a powerful social skill; it is one of the most fundamental. You don’t need to be an expert to do it well. You just need to be genuine. If compliments are a gift from a donor, their reception is equally a gift—a return gift to the giver. How a compliment is received can invalidate both the giver and the observation that inspired it.

Sadly, too many people discount compliments. Example: someone says, “Hey, you gave a really good presentation.” And you say, “Oh, I just slapped some stuff together in five minutes.” Such answers instantly suck the positivity out of the air and deflate the donor. They make the giver feel stupid for noticing and commenting on something so unworthy of praise. They totally invalidate the person’s judgment.

There is only one way to receive a compliment—graciously, with a smile.” And by saying, “Thank you.” One thing Chris and I do every day is tell each other how much we appreciate and love each other. Compliments abound and so does the positive energy they bring! Remember, what you think you about, you bring about. The same thing applies to expressing praise, admiration, and congratulation.

This week’s focus is on giving and receiving compliments. Who is worthy of praise long overdue? Who deserves to hear what a great job they’ve done? How many “gifts of love” could you give? How would it make you feel to have others know you value them?

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Word-Of-the-Week #938: Respect

July 28, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Respectto show consideration for; treat courteously or kindly. 

Have you ever thought about how we get respect? Is there anyone you have lost respect for? Do you think it’s possible to get respect back once it’s been lost?

This week features 5 Simple Ways to Gain Respect. Do you often feel disrespected? Here, Inc. columnists share insights on how to get the respect you deserve,” by Kevin Daum. 

“Even before Aretha Franklin had her hit record in 1967, people have been demanding respect. Odd, since respect is something that must be earned more with action and less with words. Some people are naturally respected; others have to work for it. It can often depend on the people you hang around or the environment in which you live or work. 

It’s never too late to start earning respect if you feel it’s lacking. You should start by taking an honest look at yourself and how you treat the people around you. Then go to work on being respect-worthy. Here is my best tip for gaining respect, and more insights from my Inc. colleagues.

  1. Start with them.

The number-one obstacle to earning respect is narcissism. If the first impression people get is that you are all about you, you will have a tough hill to climb to be respected. Be aware of what is happening in people’s lives. Act as an observer before taking action. Show genuine interest and empathy. If you authentically work to improve the environment for the betterment of all, respect will rain down upon you.

  1. Find respect for yourself first.

Forget hoping for respect. Some people will respect you, some won’t–you can’t control it. Focus on feeling good about yourself and what you do. Find ways to measure what you do, and evaluate yourself using those standards. If you’re doing what is right, what is best, and what works for you–and those things are helping you achieve your goals–then the people who matter will naturally respect you. But better yet, you’ll respect yourself, and that’s the best respect of all. –Owner’s Manual

  1. Follow the golden rule.

To gain respect, you must be worthy of being respected. Be a good person–someone who looks for the best in others and who follows through on his or her promises. Tell the truth, be transparent, and genuinely care about others. Show your gratitude early and often. Respect the people you work with, and they will respect you in return. –The Leadership Guy

  1. Begin with self-confidence.

Gaining the respect of others begins with respecting and believing in yourself. A lack of self-confidence is easily recognized–consciously or subconsciously–by those from whom you wish to earn respect. People who become overly absorbed in their quest for admiration definitely appear lacking in confidence. So just let it go. Live your purpose, help and respect others, and enjoy the process, and then you’ll be a magnet for respect. –The Successful Soloist

  1. Understand that respect is reflected.

Respect is a direct reflection of how you treat others. Building respect takes time and is earned as you interact with others. When you don’t feel respected, it’s easy to overcompensate and start barking orders, micromanaging tasks, bragging about your accomplishments, and demanding attention. This behavior pushes others away and results in less respect. This is a common problem for new managers as they learn how to effectively lead a team. Qualities of the most respected individuals I work with include quietness, thoughtfulness, and inquisitiveness. These traits reflect their desire to respect and listen to others. When these leaders make a decision, no matter how unpopular, their teams are accepting because of the respect they have for the leader. –Lean Forward”

“Respect is established when you consistently: consider and value the feelings and opinions of others; talk to and treat them in ways that you would want to be treated; and compromise and negotiate with them.” – Excerpt from Centers For Family Change

This week’s focus is on respect. Do you show genuine interest, care, and empathy for those around you? Do you ever feel that you are not being treated with respect? Have you clearly defined your boundaries?

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Word-Of-the-Week #937: Wisdom

July 21, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Wisdom – the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight.

Do you know anyone who is still alive at 95? Have they imparted any words of wisdom?

This week featuresEnduring words of wisdom from my wise fatherby Phil Blair.

“A few weeks ago, on the way to a vacation, my wife and I stopped to visit my 101-and-a-half-year-old father.

He and his 95-year-old girlfriend live together in a small community outside of Houston. They have a wonderful life together with lots of friends and are each quite independent.

My brother and I visit Dad about every six weeks or so, with my brother coming from Connecticut. Together, we’ve been doing that for nearly 15 years, with each visit making us wonder if it might be our last.

As Father’s Day came and went, I got to thinking about Dad’s career, and why, by anyone’s standards, he was so successful in so many ways.

  • What wisdom has he passed on to my brother and myself?

That’s easy to answer, because I’m certain that Dad’s positive, outgoing personality is the key to his longevity. As ever, Dad loves being around people whom he cares about and who care about him.

He’s never met a stranger and he’s still proactive about meeting new people — especially anyone he feels may be lonely or unhappy. They are quickly invited into his circle of friends.

  • Money was tight when Dad was growing up

Dad was one of seven children born in the Bartlesville area of Oklahoma. To support the family, his father ran an oil lease out in the Oklahoma countryside, maintaining one of those plunger-style oil rigs that pop up in black-and-white movies. Money was tight.

After high school graduation, Dad opted to join the Air Force and soon flew bombers over France trying to dislodge the Nazis.

When he came back from the European front, he met my mother and they settled back in Oklahoma. He got a job with an oil company doing manual labor, not all that different from what his father had done before him.

With each visit, my brother, Russell, and I are continually amazed to hear new stories of Dad’s life and what events, like serving in WWII, had a profound effect on him.

Even though Dad started at the bottom, he had no intention of staying there. He was always outworking and outthinking his coworkers, to the point that often led to resentment. You know, the typical “Slow down, you’re making the rest of us look bad.”

He loves to talk about one boss who told him to “slow down” and how Dad relished the day when he became that man’s boss. The war had shown him what it took to be a leader, and he was determined to prove himself.

Dad began moving up the ranks and into management, slowly at first, and then he caught the eye of other managers on the fast track. They knew a winner when they saw one and took him with them.

  • Like Dad, Mom knew the value of having a good job

Dad and Mom were willing to move anywhere, at any time, to benefit his career. Mom was from a farming family in Nebraska and, like Dad, she knew the value of having a steady job.

Their shared spirit of adventure soon took them to oil outposts in Iran, Peru, Venezuela, Libya, England and Spain, among other countries where they lived. They didn’t hesitate to pack up and move for the benefit of Dad’s career.

He rose quickly in the management ranks of Standard Oil of Indiana (Amoco) and proved that a college education is not necessarily a prerequisite for a successful career.

What was most important was his gift of liking people, treating everyone fairly, seeing the positive in any situation, and being profoundly flexible. Pretty basic concepts when you think about it.

Those concepts haven’t changed.

Whenever I’m at a civic or social event and see someone standing alone, feeling awkward because they don’t know anyone, I do what Dad did so often — still does. I introduce myself and then introduce them to others.

Even now that he’s into his second century, Dad helps people be a better version of themselves, be happier and more welcoming. As ever, he surrounds himself with friends who love and care for him.

Just like he loves and cares for them.”

Blair is co-founder of Manpower Staffing and author of “Job Won.”

This week’s focus is wisdom. How would you rate yourself on common sense and insight? Do you exhibit the gift of liking people and treating them fairly? Have you ever helped someone be a better version of themselves?

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Word-Of-the-Week #936: Swagger

July 14, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Swagger – to walk with a lofty proud gait.

Today I am celebrating the 18th anniversary of my WOW’s! Time sure feels like it’s flying by so fast.

Do you know anyone who you think has swagger? Someone who can enter a room and command it. Some who radiates confidence.

I picked this word because I have heard it used in the media a couple of times lately, and I just like the word. I love golf and while I was watching the Travelers Championship, they referred to Sahith Theegala as having swagger.

This excerpt is from 5 Telltale Signs that You Have Swagger, by Leslie Ehm.

Let’s be real — we all wish that we could have that elusive thing called ‘swagger’. We marvel at those who can walk into a room and instantly command it. Their confidence radiates off them in waves, they seem so effortlessly sure of themselves, and no one seems able to resist their peacock charisma.

“Man,” we say “if only I could look that bulletproof.”

If you Google ‘How can I come across as more confident?” you’ll find over 16,000,000 results including 7 Ways to Look Really Confident (Even When You’re Not), 7 Conversational Tricks to Appear More Confident, and How to Fake Being More Confident When You’re Just Not Feeling It.

Why are we so obsessed with looking badass even if we have to lie about it?

  • Does Swagger Matter?

There’s tons of research reinforcing the almighty power of a confident persona. Just one example is a University of Sussex study that recently proved that the “brain is wired to allow confident people to influence our beliefs.” Holy crap! Does that make the opposite true as well? No confidence = no credibility = no power of persuasion??

No wonder there’s so much focus around developing a swagger-y persona.

Sahith Theegala

  • Redefining Swagger

The formal definition of swagger isn’t terribly flattering. “To walk or behave in a very confident and typically arrogant or aggressive way. Synonyms include; boast, brag, bluster, crow, gloat.

Why would anyone want that? Instead, wouldn’t it be great if we could just walk into any situation being exactly who we are, and genuinely put hand on heart and say “I got this”. Even more importantly, confidently say to others “I got you” and know it was true. That’s my kinda swagger.

So here’s my re-definition.

Swagger is the manifestation and acceptance of who you actually are and the ability to keep that ‘self’ intact as it surfaces through all the psychological crap that tries to suppress it — regardless of the environment.

It’s badass-ness in the most human sense. Swagger has got nothing to do with being either perfect or right. It’s far more related to self-acceptance than it is to self-assuredness.”

This excerpt is from PSYBLOG, “This Way Of Walking Makes You Look Twice As Attractive. The magical formula for beauty could be in your walk.”

“Attractiveness is about more than just body shape and facial features — it is also about the way people move.

Women who sway their hips while walking increase their perceived attractiveness by 50%, research finds.

Men who walk with swagger in their shoulders more than doubled the perception of their attractiveness.

Swagger involves dipping the shoulders slightly with each step to create a rolling motion.”

This week is all about swagger. How confident are you? How would you rate yourself on self-acceptance? Do you feel comfortable walking into any situation being exactly who you are?

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Word-Of-the-Week #935: Unfamiliar

July 7, 2022 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #935: Unfamiliar 

Unfamiliar – not within one’s knowledge; strange.

Do you experience anxiety or tension in unfamiliar situations? When was the last time you learned something new? Is there a new activity you would like to try?

This week features 4 strategies to Tune in to Your Curiosity from “The Power of Curiosity. Discover how cultivating an inquiring mind can help you lead a happier, healthier life,” by Todd Kashdan. His follow up excerpts, “One of the best ways to better appreciate the power of curiosity is to start exercising it more consciously in your daily experiences. By doing so, you can transform routine tasks, enlivening them with new energy. You will also likely begin to notice more situations that have the potential to engage you, giving your curiosity even more opportunities to flourish.

  • Build knowledge – Knowledge opens our eyes to interesting gaps about what we don’t know. When a marine biologist goes snorkeling and is able to name specific fishes by the size, color, texture, and shape of eyes and fins, he or she is going to be acutely aware of the unusual features that the rest of us will miss — a pattern of orange stripes that are vertical when they are usually horizontal. The child who can name 45 states is much more interested in discovering the five he or she doesn’t know than the child with only three states in the brain bank. The person learning to play the piano will hear more nuances in a piano concerto than the person who doesn’t know treble clef from bass clef. If you want to be curious, start accumulating knowledge.
  • Thrive on uncertainty We rarely look forward to anxiety and tension, but research shows that these mixed emotions are often what lead to the most intense and longest-lasting positive experiences. People who take part in new and uncertain activities are happier and find more meaning in their lives than people who rely on the familiar.

Most of us mistakenly believe that certainty will make us happier than uncertainty. Imagine that you go to a football game knowing that your team will win. Most people would say that, yes, that would make them happy. Yet knowing the outcome in advance takes away the thrill of watching each play and the good tension that comes with not knowing what will happen next. You will likely be surprised to find how big a role surprise and uncertainty plays in your joyful experiences.

  • Reconnect with play – We can add play and playfulness to almost any task, and the attitude of play naturally builds interest and curiosity. This dynamic was captured wonderfully in a National Public Radio story about an assembly-line worker in a potato chip factory whose job was to make sure that the chips rolling down the conveyor belt were uniform and aesthetically pleasing before being bagged.

This man found the job dreary. So he developed a game that made it more interesting: He searched for potato chips resembling famous people and kept a collection (imagine silhouettes of Elvis, Charles Manson, Marilyn Monroe and Jimi Hendrix). Because he was constantly scanning odd and bizarre shapes for celebrity resemblances, the day moved quickly. He also became incredibly efficient at catching misshapen chips.

  • Find the unfamiliar in the familiar – One way to become more curious is to intentionally circumvent expectations, labels and assumptions about “seemingly” familiar activities and events. It’s easy to prejudge an activity because we think we have seen it before or avoid an activity entirely because we expect it to be boring or unpleasant.

In a recent study, researchers asked people to do something they reported disliking and pay attention to three novel features when they did it. This small exercise altered the way they viewed and felt about the activity. For example, an 18-year-old male bodybuilder who scoffed at crocheting spent 90 minutes practicing the task. The three novel discoveries he reported were 1) how demanding the process of making small stitches could be (he hadn’t anticipated that this “easy” task would tire him); 2) that it could be meditative (“time flew by”); and 3) that the crochet stitches could be tight enough to create flip-flop sandals (which was the project he worked on).

When the study subjects were contacted weeks later, those individuals who were asked to search for the novel and unfamiliar in their laboratory task were more likely to have done the task on their own without being asked or prompted (though it is unknown if the bodybuilder continued crocheting). This same little experiment can be applied to any activity in your life. Consider the list of low-interest, but necessary, activities in your typical day. Choose one of these ho-hum activities and, as you do it, search for any three novel or unexpected things about it.

Also keep in mind that, even though recurring situations may look identical on the surface, any event — especially one involving people — has some degree of novelty each time it occurs. Be on the lookout for even the tiniest thing that is different, special or notable, and chances are good that you’ll find something.

This week is all about embracing the unfamiliar. Can you remember a time when you experienced the joy of surprise and uncertainty? How easy is it for you to suspend judgment and see things as they are and not how you expect them to be? When was the last time you “played” at work?

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