Improve how you communicate with one simple shift.

Poor communication is almost always at the root of troubles in any organisation or team.

Too often there is an over reliance on giving presentations to share messages, or sending out an all staff email. Both of which have their place, of course. They simply can’t be the only method.

Communication with your colleagues takes time. You have to be prepared to talk to people individually. You have to be prepared to hear what they have to say and learn what is important.

You may have to change how you deliver a message depending on your audience.

But you know all of this right?

Communication. The word comes from Latin commūnicāre, meaning “to share”. The definition is ‘the act of conveying intended meaning from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs and rules’.

For me, therein lies the problem. All too often we don’t check the understanding of what we have said. We don’t make sure that we have been understood in the way that we meant.

We are so busy getting the message out that we forget to think about how that message will be heard, and how it will vary from individual to individual.

Likewise, if we are at the receiving end, do we stop to check our understanding? Do we question our own understanding? Or, do we go straight off into dizzy world of questions, concerns about the impact on ourselves?

Understanding of others, and their understanding of us is the missing component.

I am going to contradict myself now and suggest that in fact it’s not poor communication, but poor understanding, that is the real problem.

The way we understand what we see and hear is different for every one of us. Each and everyone of us have our own world map. Our map of the world is not the same as anyone else’s.

My map of the world is based on my filters. My personality, my upbringing, my culture and education all have a bearing on how I view the world and all around me. It has been shaped by my experiences. It will vary over time and will dependent on my state of mind at any given time.

Everyone that I come in to contact with will have their own map of the world. It will be different and it will impact on what we understand when we are sharing information.

If we stop and think about that it’s a wonder that we manage to communicate effectively at all!

Here’s the thing, all of our maps have some common ground. We need to get to the place where we find that common ground more quickly.

To understand effectively we need to take the time to find out a little about what someone else’s map looks like. To ask the right questions to find out where the common ground is. To work out the differences.

The only way we can do that is to go beyond listening and work on noticing.

Noticing differences and the common ground, then adjusting our own approach to match the other person’s needs takes practice. It means caring enough about the other person that you want to make it easy for them to understand you.

Noticing is about…

What is being said.
What is not being said.
Asking the right questions.
Paying attention.
How it is being said – tone, the facial expressions.
How am I feeling about this and how is it affecting my responses.
What are the patterns, the common themes.

It’s about not jumping to conclusions based on our own world map!

It is about putting yourself in the other person’s world. To do that you have to have spent some time getting to know their world.

If you have a team of 10 people, that means getting to understand 10 different worlds. It also means helping those people to understand yours.

That way you have a fighting chance of understanding. If you have a better understanding of each other, your conversations will be better understood.

All of a sudden that team meeting, pushing out information to different people needs a bit more thought!

Once you recognise that everyone has a different understanding of what you say you can find more effective methods of communicating with those individuals. Follow up conversations will be necessary picking up on the aspects that you know individuals will be worrying about.

It’s a simple as caring how your team mates are going to interpret what you have to say and anticipating their need to understand it in their world.

Busy managers will say they don’t have the time to do this. A good leader will find the time.

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How to hold on to your inner awesome

In my conversations with colleagues and fellow leaders one issue has come through time and again. That is that so many people do not realise their own value and what they are capable of.

So, I want to talk about self-belief.

Believing in you is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.

We all have moments when we lack confidence. An underlying belief in yourself will enable you to overcome those and realise your full potential.

Believe you can and you absolutely will.

Why? Because you will make things happen. You will try that bit harder. You will invest more of yourself and your energy. Hurdles will seem easier to overcome, because you believe you can overcome them. Anything that pulls you back will simply make you push forward because you have your eye on the prize.

If this sounds like motivational nonsense to you then remember that there is one thing that we can be 100% sure of. If you tell yourself you can’t do something you almost certainly won’t.

Self-belief is really attractive. Others will gravitate to those with genuine self-belief.

However, there is a very big difference between those who have self-belief and those who are displaying cockiness to cover up the fact that they haven’t got it at all!  Many arrogant people act like they believe in themselves and that they are full of confidence, when in actual fact they are far from it.

People who cannot admit mistakes, or when they have got something wrong, don’t have self-belief. They are often afraid of showing that they are vulnerable.

I am not going to pretend that gaining self-belief is easy, nor that you will feel confident all the time. What I do know is that it is possible to develop it, because I have done that myself.

These are just some of the perks of having more self-belief:

greater enjoyment of life in general
comfortable when facing new challenges
excited about new opportunities
confident about your opinions and ideas
a great sense of achievement
respected by other people
at ease in social situations
able to be yourself
sure of yourself and what you want.

So, if you feel like a fake and statements such:

“I am afraid of the time when my colleagues discover my lack of professional knowledge.”

“I often come across as a more competent person than I actually am.”

resonate with you, then it’s time to re-think.

If you feel that any success you have is purely down to luck, rather than your skills or perseverance, then it’s time to have another look.

If you always down play your success, then you are lacking self-belief.

Is this you? If so then read on. I have some tips for you.

1. Make two lists: one of your strengths and one of your achievements. Try to get a supportive friend or relative to help you with these lists, as people with low self-belief are not usually good at seeing their own strengths. Keep the lists in a safe place and read through them every morning.

2. Think positively about yourself. Remind yourself that, despite any problems, you are a unique, special, and valuable person, and that you deserve to feel good about yourself. Identify and challenge any negative thoughts about yourself such as ‘I never do anything right’, or ‘No one really likes me’. They are NOT true.

3. Wear clothes that make you feel good about yourself. And, do things that make you feel happier about your appearance. When do you feel at your best? Emulate that as much as practical.

4. Set yourself a challenge that you can realistically complete. For example, take up yoga, learn to sing, or throw a small dinner party for some friends. Just go for it!

5. Do some of the things that you have been putting off. You will feel so great.

6. Be nice to people, and do nice things for them. Putting a smile on someone’s face is bound to put one on yours and you will feel great.

7. Avoid people who bring negativity to your life. If you are constantly doubting yourself, you might have to evaluate your inner circle of friends and family. It can be tough. If people are the cause of your lack of confidence, you may have to spend less time with them. Even a temporary break from a person that’s causing these feelings can be a real positive step.

8. Change your body language. You can slowly start confidence building by changing your body language. This starts with your posture, eye contact and smiling. A simple smile with your shoulders back emanates confidence and will make you feel more confident. Smiling will not only make others more comfortable around you, it can make you feel better too. Try to imagine a person who is smiling with good posture – this person looks self-confident.

9. Avoid accepting failure. Don’t give up and accept failure. You are able to find a solution in nearly everything, so why would you want to throw in the towel? Succeeding through perseverance can be one of the best confidence boosters.

10. Be prepared. Whatever you are facing next, learn everything there is to know about the subject. If you are prepared and knowledgeable, you will be self-confident.

Honestly, you are incredible. A collection of cells which can walk, talk and do a million things. When you stop and think about that you are absolutely AWESOME!

So, be awesome and stop doubting yourself.

5 things we should tell ourselves and everyone around us every day

It’s a big week in my family this week. My super smart, gorgeous niece turns 18!

Quite where those years have gone I do not know!

Whilst writing some words in her birthday card I got thinking back to when I was 18. It was long before I knew anything about self love, empowerment, or anything much else to be honest.

Nowadays I feel passionately that we should better equip people for life. School teaches us lots of theory. College or university teaches independence (and more theory).

As I look back now there are some very important messages which I wish had been drilled into me in the same way as our time tables were.

I believe we should be reminding ourselves of these messages every single day. As a leader, at any level, one great gift you can give to those you work with, is to instil these messages in your team also.

1. You are enough

This message could not be more simple, nor more powerful.

Our belief that we are not enough holds us back. That nagging voice constantly tell us that we are not pretty enough, not clever enough, not popular enough, not enough at anything.

From a young age we are comparing ourselves with others and very quickly we find something that doesn’t quite measure up.

What we forget to tell ourselves is that the person we are comparing with is more than likely comparing their self with someone else. They will be telling themselves that they are not enough.

So, whilst you are wishing you were them, they are wishing they were somebody else – maybe even you.

The sooner we learn that we are enough, just as we are, the happier and more fulfilled we will be. Once we are at peace with our enough-ness, everything becomes easier. We achieve excellence with ease when we are accepting of what we are and focus on the good stuff.

This is a lesson I have learnt very late and I have had to do a lot of work on myself to get there.

Imagine if we taught everyone that they are enough!

2. Trust in yourself

This is so linked to the first point but why, oh why are we so quick to believe we can’t trust ourselves.

We believe others to be right. It’s obviously us that’s got it all wrong.

We have so little trust in our own beliefs that we put up with toxic relationships.

We don’t speak our truth and let it fester into a tight ball in our stomach.

Trust requires us to be vulnerable. We have to open ourselves up to others and that takes courage. Trusting ourselves is even harder. That voice in your head that tells you you are not enough is also very vocal about whether you can trust your instincts.

I have learnt that the one person you can rely on is you. So why wouldn’t you do that?

3. Be you

This is straightforward. You can only be you. You are exceptional at being you. No one else can do you as well as you can. If you want to be your best you have to be you.

Trying to be someone else is hard work. Your energy will be spent trying to be someone you are not, something you are not.

Put that energy into being the best version of you and you are already ahead of the game.

And, you are enough!

4. Be kind

All of this being enough, trusting yourself and being you could easily lead to us not being very nice.

Believing in your enough-ness should not lead you to think that you are better than anyone else. Just that you are enough as you are.

Trusting in yourself will not mean you are always in the right. You may be basing your opinions on the wrong information. Or not seeing the whole picture.

Being you should not mean that gives you licence to be unkind.

If kindness runs through everything you do then you won’t always tell someone that they look a mess. You won’t tell your colleague that they have just massively cocked up and it’s going to take you hours to put things right. Sometimes you have to hold that stuff in and be kind. Sure, you can suggest alternatives – kindly. Of course you should help your colleague to get it right next time but with kindness.

Oh, and don’t forget, you also need to be kind to yourself.

You know those negative thoughts that run through your head? Would you say those things to your best friend? No? Then stop telling them to yourself.

5. Expect some tough times

I’m a practical sort of person. Of course life is going to throw up challenges. It’s better to expect this.

But with step 1 – 4 in place those challenges will be easier to face.

It’s never too late to put these things in place. I wish someone had taught me all of this when I was 18. I am thankful that I  can now pass them on.

No Limits

It’s easy when you know how!

You hear this a lot, and it’s true. It’s also not as hard as it might seem to turn off the negative voices telling you you can’t do something.

We are born not knowing anything at all. When we are children we soak up all the new stuff and happily learn how to do things. We don’t let anyone tell us we can’t do something. As a child we are absolutely certain that if we want to be an astronaut then we can be one. The thought that it might be hard, or scary, doesn’t phase us at all.

As we get older we stop believing that anything is possible. That cardboard box is not in fact a car but just a box and now holds no appeal. Our imaginations and also what we believe we can achieve start to become restricted.

It’s not intentional, but everyone starts telling us what we can’t do. Yes, there will be plenty of positive affirmation thrown in if you are in a loving household. But, guess what – the stuff that really sticks in our brains is the negative. The ‘you can’t do that’s, the ‘you’re not good enough’s, they find a place inside you and snuggle down for the long haul.

They get very comfortable and sit there getting fatter and fatter. Every time you receive negative feedback they gobble it up. Before you know it those nasty negatives are taking up so much space that you hardly have room to hold on to the positive. You grow up with this collection of beliefs which limit what you believe is possible for you.

Here’s the thing. Underneath all of that is a person who can do pretty much whatever you set your mind to. What you choose to focus on becomes your reality. Choosing to change that focus is your first step in overcoming this limiting beliefs.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Of course it’s not easy. You have to get clear about what your limiting beliefs are and that can be painful in itself. You have to be prepared to rewrite your story. You have to commit to releasing your attachment to the beliefs that are so deeply embedded.

But, it’s do-able. And worth every bit of the effort. Imagine if your first thought when faced with something new, was ‘I can do this’. Think about the joy of attending that next training session safe in the knowledge that you will be able to learn the new system or process. What if you faced down your fear of visibility and embraced giving that next presentation? This is all possible if you reframe what you believe about yourself.

Okay, so now you are asking how?

There are lots of people who can help with this but to get you started here are my tips for breaking down the big fat negatives to make room for the positive.

1. Understand the ‘stories’ you tell yourself

They are just that – stories. They are not truth, they can be rewritten.

Think about the things you tell yourself. The language you use. Do you hear yourself saying:
I can’t …
I never get that right….
I always get this wrong…
I’m useless at…
One day I…
Have these sentences become who you think you are? Does this resonate with you? If so, you can change this. You are not this person, you simply think that you are.

2. Work out why

Why are you holding on to these thoughts? What do you gain from them?

I know if I hear myself say ‘Oh I can never do this’, what I am actually doing is making sure that I am vindicated if I can’t do it. ‘See, I tell myself gleefully, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that.’

What is going on for you? Are you holding onto these limiting beliefs because in some way they serve you? If so, are the benefits really more important than achieving what you actually want? I know it’s comfortable and in some ways protects you but is that who you are? Or do you want to be more and banish those big fat negative thoughts?

3. Find a way to get rid

Now you know what you are dealing with there are so many ways you can fight back and take control of your beliefs.
Meditation
Journalling
EFT (Tapping)
are all great for tackling this and there are loads of resources out there to tap in to (pun intended!).

A simple method of starting to get back control of your thoughts is to replace the words you use. Instead of saying ‘I can’t…’, say ‘I could…’. Rather than ‘I always get this wrong…’ use ‘This is an opportunity for me to have another go at cracking this’.

These new words can create new stories – your new truth.

4. Take action

As well as changing your language, change your behaviours. Change the habits that you have created around your beliefs. Behave in the way that a positive successful person would. Assume you’ve got this, and act accordingly. Believe that you can. You stand a greater chance of success if you believe in yourself. And, if worst come to worst, let it go. The fact that something went wrong does not define you.

5. Be kind to yourself

If you were supporting someone else and something went wrong, what would you say to them? Would you give them a verbal beating, tell them how stupid they are? Not likely. So don’t do it to yourself.

Be nice to yourself. Accept, learn from it and let it go.

If you are struggling with your mindset, or any aspect of your leadership role, I have a wealth of experience and knowledge I can share. I can create bespoke coaching packages to address your specific issues. I will work with you to understand what your priorities are and get you to a place of confidence quickly.

Contact me if you are interested in a free consultation call to discuss your problems. I will honestly advise you how I could help.

What is your real purpose?

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about what my purpose is.

I am going through a huge transition because ill health is making me totally rethink my life. I have had to start getting very clear on what is possible and what is not. What I want to do, and what I don’t. Who I really am and what makes me, me!

It has struck me that this is not something we do as individuals enough.

We do it at work with our teams, or in our businesses, to be clear about what the team is there for. We do it to write mission statements, corporate plans and strategies.

But, we don’t do it ourselves and we don’t help individuals do this for themselves.

As a result we have people working in roles that don’t fulfil them, don’t bring out the best in them, and, in some cases simply do not suit them. Working in jobs which are in no way connected to their true skills, their values and beliefs. They have no passion for role because it doesn’t chime with them even in part.

I have seen it myself so many times – working in a role that doesn’t suit you makes you ill. It may take time but ultimately if you are in role that you are unsuited to, you will be unhappy, frustrated, often angry, certainly full of negativity.

That is no good for anyone.

Even in the most mundane of jobs you need something that you can feel good about. OK, so expecting to feel passionate about every aspect of your job might be pushing it. But, there has to be something that you love, that gives you satisfaction and which fits with your purpose at that time.

If we don’t know what our purpose is we won’t recognise the parts of the job that do fit. We won’t explore our own possibilities.

Imagine all the untapped potential there must be in the world!

These will be good people, full of great skills and abilities. They will have talents that even they might be unaware of.

What we should be doing is understanding our own purpose. Do you even stop to consider what your purpose is?

It won’t necessarily be the same things throughout your life. It’s not like everyone has some grand calling that they can identify when they are at school and it is their lifelong passion.

Most of us stumble through life taking opportunities as they come up, or pursuing something which we later decide to move away from. That’s fine too, so long as we are not unhappy.

And, lets be honest, most of us have to prioritise money for food and bills over fulfilling our life long dreams.

But, surely we can do both – at least to some extent.

Surely, if we helped individuals, at school, college, and in organisations, to identify their purpose, we could tap into more of their potential?

Roles could be better tailored around the individuals skills. There could be greater acceptance that human beings are not all destined to do well academically. There could be greater recognition that some people are perfectly happy doing their job and doing it well but don’t aspire to do anything else.

Looking back my purpose has always centred around helping people. When I was a receptionist I took great pride in making people feel welcomed, comfortable and important. When I was a Customer Service Officer, I loved making sure that my customers felt that I had done all I could to help them – even the ones who started out angry! As a leader I have always wanted to help those around me by sharing my knowledge and my experiences.

I didn’t recognise this until very recently. It’s only now that I am starting to centre my life around the things that are most important to me. Only in the last 12 months have I come to understand how I can take my purpose in any direction I want.

I wish someone had sat me down 30 years ago and helped me understand my purpose. I have a feeling I would have accomplished even more.