Word-Of-the-Week #715: Calm

April 19, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Calmnot showing or feeling nervousness, anger, or other strong emotions.

How easy is it for you to be calm in a disagreement? How receptive are you to hearing another person’s perspective? Can you disagree without being disagreeable?

This is the second half of Thanks for the conflict! Recognizing—and appreciating—when a co-worker fights fair” by Deborah Grayson Riegel. To recap, “Workplace conflict is inevitable.You are going to come up against people who challenge your ideas and who challenge you. 

That’s a good thing. Disagreements can lead to diversity of thinking, improvements in products and services and greater productivity. Disagreements also can lead to better working relationships, but only if everyone involved fights fair. 

Here are the other two healthy conflict behaviors to look for so that you can say “thank you” when you see them. 

  1. Using a respectful tone

In the face of an interpersonal conflict, our brains register a threat in approximately 1/5 of a second. We immediately go into fight, flight or freeze mode, and it’s easy to become snippy, short-tempered, sarcastic, surly or silent. It’s reacting rather than considering how to respond. 

If your colleague is willing and able to stop his automatic reaction, and demonstrate emotionally intelligent self-management by speaking to you calmly and with care, thank him. It likely took some work to be able to do that, and some respect for you to be willing to do it. 

Try saying this: “I just want to thank you for the calm tone of voice you’re using right now, even though I know you’re upset. It makes it easy for me to really hear your perspective, and to have a productive conversation.” 

As radio host Bernard Meltzer once said, “If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along — whether it be business, family relations or life itself.” 

  1. Being curious

Healthy communication navigates and balances between two practices: advocacy (promoting our own ideas, perspectives and points of view) and inquiry (being curious about the other’s ideas, perspectives and points of view.) 

In a conflict, we tend to over-rely on advocacy — telling the other person what we think and know, why we’re right, and why the other person clearly is wrong. Inquiry tends to go out the door. We’re often more committed to getting our way than to getting new information that could sway us (or, heaven forbid, reveal that we were wrong).

When you hear your colleague asking you questions like, “What do you think I’m not understanding here?” or “What would you like to see happen?” or even prompting you with “Tell me more,” thank him for being curious. 

Try saying this: “Thank you for asking me. I’d like to tell you how I see it, and then I’d like to learn more about how you see it.” 

And if he also really listens to your answers, thank him again. 

A conflict doesn’t have to hurt people’s feelings or slow down productivity. In fact, a conflict where both people care about the relationship as much as the outcome can be a catalyst to interpersonal and organizational progress. 

This week’s focus is on being calm during conflict. Do you know how to fight fair? Can you use a respectful tone without getting defensive? Can you see how being curious could help create healthier relationships?

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Word-Of-the-Week #714: Conflict

April 12, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Conflicta clash of opposing feelings or needs.

Does conflict make you feel uncomfortable? How does it make you feel if someone doesn’t share your same opinion? How willing are you to speak up if you disagree with someone?

Thanks for the conflict! Recognizing—and appreciating—when a co-worker fights fair” is this week’s topic from the Chicago Tribune article by Deborah Grayson Riegel. She writes, “If your company employs more than one person, workplace conflict is inevitable. 

And even if you’re a sole proprietor, you’re going to have challenges with clients, vendors, industry colleagues and others. Unless you only surround yourself with people who think, speak and work exactly like you (and how boring would that be?), you are going to come up against people who challenge your ideas and who challenge you. 

That’s a good thing. Disagreements can lead to diversity of thinking, improvements in products and services and greater productivity. Disagreements also can lead to better working relationships, but only if everyone involved fights fair. 

Let’s assume you already do; you communicate directly and thoughtfully, you are considerate in your language and tone, you engage others in a dialogue rather than a monologue, and you are focused on achieving a good outcome and a healthy relationship. Good for you! But how do you get your colleague to do the same?

How can you work better with someone who may be working against you? By acknowledging and thanking him or her for demonstrating agreeable disagreement behaviors whenever they occur. 

Here are three healthy conflict behaviors to look for so that you can say “thank you” when you see them.  

  1. Telling you directly

In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, “The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.” 

As uncomfortable as it feels to hear negative feedback or be confronted directly, it is significantly more uncomfortable (and less productive) to have a colleague who is secretly seething, holding a grudge, acting passive-aggressively toward you or telling everyone but you that she has a problem with you. 

When a colleague tells you directly that she is frustrated with you, seeing a situation differently from you or otherwise feeling disgruntled, consider it a gift. If you know, you can do something about it (or make an informed decision not to do anything about it). If you don’t know, you’re in the dark. 

Try saying this: “Thank you so much for telling me directly that you (didn’t like my decision/felt disrespected by me in the meeting/wished I had consulted with you). I appreciate you trusting me enough to share that feedback. Would you like to discuss it further?” 

The other two ideas follow next week. This week’s focus is on dealing with conflict. Do you communicate thoughtfully and directly if you’re in disagreement? Does it make you feel uncomfortable to hear negative feedback or be confronted directly? How would it feel to acknowledge and thank someone for demonstrating agreeable disagreement behavior?

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Word-Of-the-Week #713: Balance

April 5, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Balanceproper prioritization between work (career and ambition) and lifestyle (health, pleasure, leisure, family).

How did you do last week with creating boundaries? Were you able to get out of “work mode” when you left? What one thing did you do for yourself that was lifestyle related? 

This is the second half of Marla Tabaka’s Out of office (really) How to leave work behind at the end of the day”.  

And to recap, “An inability to disengage from work has its consequences, including high stress levels, lowered productivity and damaged relationships. It also puts you in danger of being seen as a very dull person.

  •  Plan your next steps

Planning your next activity, whether it’s cooking dinner or going to a movie, creates a distraction for your brain. I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t want to think about doing anything because I’m exhausted. On those evenings, I imagine myself relaxing with a good book (which may include a glass of wine), and that does it for me. 

Having something to look forward to helps us resist the temptation to keep working. 

  • Perform an anchoring activity

A simple, neuro-linguistic programming trick is to associate an internal response with some external trigger. Using that same trigger at a later point will prompt your body and brain to recall the same feeling or mood. 

When it comes to leaving work behind, it may be closing your office door, calling home or even something that feels silly, like tapping on your desk three times or squeezing the trigger points on the side of your knee. 

Sending such a signal to your brain programs it to trigger a feeling or action that can make it easier for you to stop thinking about work. 

  • Add to your to-do list

Scratching things off your list is a positive action and promotes a sense of achievement; adding to your list helps to organize thoughts and reduces concerns about forgetting something important. 

When I jot down the things I didn’t get to by the end of the day, it eliminates the nagging feeling that I’ll forget something important. 

View your work and personal life with equal importance, rather than placing an exaggerated importance on your work. 

You know you’re less productive when you’re tired and stressed out, so why not close the door on your problems guilt-free and get some rest? 

If you’re a non-believer, give it a try for a few weeks and notice the positive, all-around impact that a little balance brings to your world. 

This week’s focus is on balance. What are the things that you most look forward to doing? Are you like me and LOVE having a to-do list? How many times a week do you plan personal activities?

If you want more ideas on how to create work boundaries I found this on the Inc. website.

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Word-Of-the-Week #712: Boundaries

March 29, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Boundaries the limits you define in relationship to someone or to something.

How easy is it for you to leave work? How often do you take work home with you? Do you feel guilty if you’re not the first person (or last) at the office?

This Inc. article from Marla Tabaka seemed like the perfect follow up to last week’s Unplug. Out of office (really) How to leave work behind at the end of the day.”  

“You can turn off your computer at the end of the day, but shutting down work-related thoughts isn’t as simple as pushing a button. 

An inability to disengage from work has its consequences, including high stress levels, lowered productivity and damaged relationships. It also puts you in danger of being seen as a very dull person. 

A client recently told me that her older sister confessed to missing their little sister because all she talks about is work. Where’s the fun in that? 

Working from a home office for about 20 years has forced me to find little tricks to successfully separate my work and personal life. These simple steps can make a big difference. 

  • View your disengagement as productive

Setting goals is important and setting boundaries gives us the energy and clarity to achieve them. 

I recently bumped into an acquaintance in a coffee shop who rambled on about why it was OK that he chose to sleep an extra 30 minutes instead of racing to the office. Obviously, he was trying to talk himself into believing it, and I was happy to be a sounding board. But this is a silly thing to feel guilty about. How can a person be productive when he or she is exhausted? 

Study after study shows the importance of resting the mind and body. You’ll be clear-headed and productive when you nurture your relationships, eat right and get enough sleep. 

You are achieving something important when you take yourself out of work mode. 

  • End the day on a good note

Leaving work with an incomplete project or a problem weighing on your mind makes it difficult to disconnect. To close out your day, send a signal to your brain telling it to switch to something pleasant and let the problems rest until you intentionally switch back into work mode. 

Make a phone call to thank or compliment someone, scratch some things off your to-do list or jot down a couple of positive things about your day. Sometimes it’s a stretch to find the good in a particularly difficult day, but believe me, it’s there. 

  • Straighten up your office

When I walk out of a messy office, it leaves me with a nagging feeling that I’ve left something undone. Why carry frustration into the next segment of your day? My daily clean-up ritual signals the end of the day for me, and I walk away with a sense of accomplishment. Being organized also saves an immense amount of time, once again adding to increased productivity. 

  • Connect with someone outside of work

When you call a friend, your brain switches gears, setting you up to move into your personal agenda. Make the conversation about the friend rather than your work, especially if you’ve had a stressful day. Instead of opening up an opportunity for negativity, avoid asking the standard, “How was your day?” and ask about the good or exciting things that happened since you last spoke.” 

This week’s focus is on boundaries. Would your family or friends say “all you ever talk about is work”? How often do you leave work on a positive note? What can you do to “switch gears” so you can move into your personal agenda quicker?

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Word-Of-the-Week #711: Unplug

March 22, 2018 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #711: Unplug 

Unplugthe state of being disconnected from electronic devices.

This topic just doesn’t seem to want to go away! Which leads to me to believe it’s a much bigger problem than we think? Did you know they actually have a National Day of Unplugging?

“Unplug for a day” by LA Times author Catherine Price offers good advice for those of you who are addicted to your digital devices.

“My husband and I did an experiment several years ago that sounds simple, but changed our lives. It began like this: As we sat down for dinner on a Friday night, I lighted a candle, we each took a deep breath – and we turned our phones off.

Not airplane mode. Not “Do not disturb”. All the way off. For the next 24 hours, we observed what’s often called a digital Sabbath: We completely disconnected from screens, including phones, tablets and computers.

It was eye-opening. At first, we had to resist a constant urge to reach for our phones. But by the next morning, we were surprised to notice our attitudes beginning to shift – and our twitchiness beginning to fade.

In just one day, we took a long walk, read and cooked a nice meal. I felt more grounded, as if I were getting back in touch with a part of myself I hadn’t realised was missing. When the time came to turn our phones back on, we did so somewhat reluctantly and felt much less compelled to check them.

When I told other people about our experience, they were intrigued yet scared – mobile connectivity has become integral to our lives, after all. The trick, I’ve realised, is to prepare.

The National Day of Unplugging (March 9 and 10) is an event organised by Reboot, a non-profit that creates new ways for people to observe traditions such as a Sabbath day. Here are my suggestions for how to make the experience easier and more rewarding.

  • Set your rules. Are you just taking a break from your phone? Or are you avoiding any Internet-enabled devices with screens, including tablets, smartwatches and laptops?
  • Warn people. Tell your parents, friends, boss or anyone else who is likely to try to contact you that you will be unplugged.
  • Get others on board. Ideally, everyone in your household should participate. Recruit a friend or post on social media what you’ll be doing and invite others to join you.
  • Make plans. Schedule enjoyable activities in advance. Make a coffee date with a friend. Put a book you have been meaning to read on your coffee table. Print out a recipe you want to try. Dust off a musical instrument. If your whole family is observing a digital Sabbath, pull out a board game or plan a hike.
  • Set up autoreplies. The fear of missing a text message keeps many of us tethered to our phones. The solution is a text message auto-responder, saying you’ll reply the next day. Do the same thing for your e-mail.
  • Use call forwarding. Go ahead and send your smartphone calls to your landline, if you have one. My philosophy is that I’m taking a break from screens, not from other human beings. So I put no restriction on landline calls — they represent live contact with people.
  • Get it in writing. Write down phone numbers of people you might want to call. Also, if you’ll be navigating someplace new, print or write out the directions. You can always ask for directions from a real person.
  • Keep a list. Note on paper the things you want to do, buy or look up when your 24-hour break is over. You may well find that by the time you turn your phone back on, you no longer care.

Still freaked out by the idea of phonelessness? While writing a book on how we can create healthier relationships with our phones, I asked 150 volunteers to try their own digital Sabbaths and then asked them afterward if they would recommend the experience. The consensus? Definitely.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” wrote one person. “I really expected that there would be a pull toward my phone, but there wasn’t,” wrote another. “It was freeing. I was liberated.”

So go ahead – go dark for a day. If you can’t take it for more than two hours or even two minutes, you can always turn your phone back on. But you might be surprised by how empowering it can be to power down.”

This week’s focus is to uplug. Have you ever turned your devices off? How long did it last? When was the last time you felt truly liberated? Here’s an idea you could spend your “unplugged” time doing random acts of kindness!

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