Conversation with dogs

Differences are good

I have two dogs, a standard poodle and a toy poodle, “Mango” and “Smoothie” don’t ask me about their names… that’s a story for another day and nor are they my password.

The point is the little one “Smoothie” is an identical but ‘shrunken’ version of the big one “Mango” they are a very cute combination.  Whenever you walk these dogs someone will stop you for a chat, initially about the dogs.  The conversations are beautiful, always uplifting and always put a smile on my face.

These spontaneous conversations make me feel connected to humankind, so refreshing when technology although meant to connect us seems to isolate us more instead.

It got me thinking, we could all do with a ‘dog’ icebreaker to help us feel more connected.

Now, I know not everyone is into dogs so hear me out…

I remember an old friend of my mothers’ use to make her own hats.  As a young teenager I thought these hats were … well, to be polite, these hats were pretty ‘out there’ I thought she was quite mad, but thinking about it now, these hats were more than a hat, they were a connector for her in society.  Mum and I often saw her in the street chatting away to one person or another and these conversations always seem to start over her hats.

Feeling connected in this world is vital for our good mental health, maybe it’s time to think about what your ‘dog/hat’ icebreaker could be and start savouring these fabulous spontaneous conversations.

Differences are good

In workshops I love using my Conversation Style Game, M.O.D.E.  We all have different conversation styles: Minders, Organisers, Directors and Enthusiasts and in my workshops, in between the laughter, there are so many comments; ‘that explains so much!’, ‘Now I get you!’ as everyone starts to understand the different conversation styles at play, it’s Emotional Intelligence at work and it’s wonderful to see.

I created M.O.D.E. after my experience working with a boss called Trevor.  Now Trevor like me was also originally from the North of England and when we were in the pub together, outside of work, we got on like a house on fire.  Working together less so…

Over a weekend I would come up with a new idea, (I’m an Enthusiast, Director, I like new stuff and think quickly). First thing Monday morning I would rush into Trevor’s office arms waving saying something along the lines of…

“Trevor, I have this fabulous idea for a new marketing initiative!!!” There was no plan, no numbers, just lots of arm waving and energy.

At 8.30 am Monday morning this was Trevor’s response.

“Tracey, I have not had my coffee or planned my day, go away”

It wasn’t a great working relationship. 

A couple of months later Trevor and I attended a program around behavioural styles it was then I realised we were the complete opposites of each other, (Trevor, is an Organiser, Minder, he’s is measured and likes time to think).  

All I had to do was make some small changes in the way I spoke to Trevor for my ideas to be heard and this is what I did.

Firstly, I went in after 10 am that way he had time for planning and a coffee.

Secondly, I approached Trevor in his communication style which is calmer and without arm waving.

Thirdly, I gave Trevor time to think, I put some numbers on a one-page document, (I’m unlikely to ever go beyond one page) and left it with him to think about.

IT WAS LIKE MAGIC!  

Every time I approach Trevor in this way, I got my ideas across, Emotional Intelligence works!

It turned out once Trevor and I understood and appreciated our differences we become a really powerful team. 

Differences are good

In our relationships, we have communication habits or patterns. We might finish off a partner’s sentence, or have certain topics that are no go areas, some of these communication patterns are cute and endearing, and some are unhealthy. Most are unwritten and unspoken about and they happen over and over again.

(It is especially noticeable when you catch up with a sibling you haven’t seen for a while, those childhood communication patterns come flooding back. I observed this with a friend of mine and his older sister who lives overseas, the moment they met they went into this prodding, tickling encounter, as an only child I thought this weird especially since they were in their 40’s, but that’s a communication pattern for you).

In my marriage, there became an obvious communication pattern.

If ever I wanted to give my husband feedback, this is what would happen:

I give husband feedback……. he counters by giving me feedback….. I apologise.

I realised he wasn’t taking any of my feedback on board and instead, he used attack as best form of defence and I was becoming way too subservient as a result, not healthy.

We chatted about this, and I expressed my frustration, and to his credit, he recognised the pattern we had fallen into.

As a result, we introduced, and both agreed to implementing, the ’24 hour rule’.

It’s very simple, the rule is, if we want to give our partner feedback, we preface it with;

‘this a ’24 hour rule’ conversation’

Which means for 24 hours, our partner cannot come back with feedback for us.

Let me tell you this rule works it forces the other person to think about the feedback they have received, of course, we all want positive feedback. Still, sometimes our nearest and dearest can have valuable things to say that can help us grow as a person, and we need to put ourselves in a position to hear that valuable feedback properly.

Differences are good

In workshops I love using my Conversation Style Game, M.O.D.E.  We all have different conversation styles: Minders, Organisers, Directors and Enthusiasts and in my workshops, in between the laughter, there are so many comments; ‘that explains so much!’, ‘Now I get you!’ as everyone starts to understand the different conversation styles at play, it’s Emotional Intelligence at work and it’s wonderful to see.

I created M.O.D.E. after my experience working with a boss called Trevor.  Now Trevor like me was also originally from the North of England and when we were in the pub together, outside of work, we got on like a house on fire.  Working together less so…

Over a weekend I would come up with a new idea, (I’m an Enthusiast, Director, I like new stuff and think quickly). First thing Monday morning I would rush into Trevor’s office arms waving saying something along the lines of…

“Trevor, I have this fabulous idea for a new marketing initiative!!!” There was no plan, no numbers, just lots of arm waving and energy.

At 8.30 am Monday morning this was Trevor’s response.

“Tracey, I have not had my coffee or planned my day, go away”

It wasn’t a great working relationship. 

A couple of months later Trevor and I attended a program around behavioural styles it was then I realised we were the complete opposites of each other, (Trevor, is an Organiser, Minder, he’s is measured and likes time to think).  

All I had to do was make some small changes in the way I spoke to Trevor for my ideas to be heard and this is what I did.

Firstly, I went in after 10 am that way he had time for planning and a coffee.

Secondly, I approached Trevor in his communication style which is calmer and without arm waving.

Thirdly, I gave Trevor time to think, I put some numbers on a one-page document, (I’m unlikely to ever go beyond one page) and left it with him to think about.

IT WAS LIKE MAGIC!  

Every time I approach Trevor in this way, I got my ideas across, Emotional Intelligence works!

It turned out once Trevor and I understood and appreciated our differences we become a really powerful team. 

Follow your instincts

Our instincts are our best guide in life yet for many of us we have stopped listening to our instincts (our gut feel) and instead we have let our rational mind (or not so rational mind) over ride.

Case in point, I was coaching Roberto a leader in a pharmaceutical company, he had several new reps join the company in the last year and was stressing out that they weren’t going to make the grade

‘What do your instincts say?’ I asked.

Roberto started a rambling conversation around the three new hires, targets, knowledge tests, politics, bosses, facts.

‘No’ I said, ‘what do your instincts say?’ I looked him straight in the eye. 

Roberto took a deep breath…

‘They are no good and they all need to go’ he replied. 

It was interesting seeing the difference in Roberto, when he tapped into his instincts, he was crystal clear on the answer, there was no waffle, no uncertainty.

I wonder in our busy lives have we lost the art of listening to our instincts? Have we allowed our rational mind to override?

Before you make your next decision, take a breath and pause and see what your instincts tell you.

Mean World Syndrome

With the aftermath of the New Zealand massacre still being felt it’s hard not to feel depressed when we hear the news.

I noticed that the news has crept back up in my life, I avoid watching it on TV but I’m listening more to it on the radio in the car or walking the dogs. Last year I was much more disciplined about barely listening to the news at all and you know what…..

I was happier!

And the research has found I’m not alone. The concept Mean World Syndrome was coined by George Gerber and describes the phenomenon where violence-related content of mass media makes viewers believe that the world is more dangerous than it actually is.

We were good at censoring what our children watch but like the typical women we are, we don’t consider the impact this negative news can be having on us.

To balance this out I want to share some good news stories and for more information check out the link. Enjoy 

https://tinyurl.com/ya8kb4rh

GOOD NEWS STORIES

  1. India increased its already massive 2022 clean energy target by 28%. 
    It plans to add 150 GW of wind and solar in the next four years.
  2. Ireland became the world’s first country to divest from fossil fuels after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament.
  3. Spain committed to shutting down most of its coal mines by the end of the year, after the government agreed to early retirement for miners, re-
    skilling, and environmental restoration.
  4. The Journal of Peace Research said that global deaths from state-based 
    conflicts have declined for the third year in a row, and are now 32% lower 
    than their peak in 2014.
  5. After a decade long effort, Herat, Afghanistan’s deadliest province for landmines, was declared free of explosive devices. Nearly 80% of the country is now mine free.
  6. Following the collapse of ISIS, civilian deaths in Iraq decreased dramatically. 80% fewer Iraqis were killed in the first five months of 2018 
    compared to last year.
  7. Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace treaty, signalling the end of a 20-year war, and reuniting thousands of families.
  8. Malaysia abolished the death penalty for all crimes and halted all pending executions, a move hailed by human rights groups in Asia as a 
    major victory.
  9. Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world in 2012. Murders have decreased by half since then, more than any other nation.
  10. Crime and murder rates declined in the United States’ 30 largest cities, with the murder rate for 2018 was 7.6% lower than 2017.

 

Let’s celebrate the good stuff x

Thank you not sorry

I was running a leadership workshop the other day and one woman, I’m going to call her Donna stood out for the wrong reason, she apologised 5 times in the first two hours of the workshop.

First, she was late arriving by 5 mins.  Now I’m sure we are both aligned here, we all want people to turn up to events on time, no one wants to be kept waiting but she wasn’t the only one to arrive at that time,  Sydney’s traffic was particularly awful that day, but she was the only one to apologise. That’s OK I hear you say; she is being polite… and yes, I agree, but so the day went on.

During the first session of the day, we were discussing the importance of vulnerability as a leader, and there was a strong push back particularly from some of the men in the room.

“Sorry, can I say something…” Donna said to join in the conversation shortly followed by

“Sorry for interrupting but…”   then

“Sorry to ask, but…” 

And then the classic one was as Donna was walking to the flipchart, I changed directions as to where I was going in the room, and I bumped into Donna.

“Oh sorry,” said Donna.

You get the picture.  I had a chat with Donna at lunchtime, and she was genuinely surprised by the number of times she had apologised, “I had no idea” she said.  

For Donna ‘sorry’ had become a filler word to use almost to get her conversations started, it was a habit, something she, like most of us, had no doubt been conditioned to say as a child.

And it’s cultural, I grew up in the UK, and we English are known for excessive apologising, one event I have never lived down in my family archives was the time I walked into a lamppost and apologised to the lamppost.  (The lamppost was fine by the way, I had a massive bruise on my forehead, but my family nevertheless thought the apology was hilarious).

We should absolutely apologise for things we have done wrong; these messages should be delivered with sincerity and action.  

The challenge is when we become compulsive with our apologising, they make us appear weaker, particularly at work and in our personal relationships. 

These were the suggestions I gave Donna.

If you are a couple of minutes late, instead of saying sorry say,

“thank you for waiting’” 

In group discussions when you want to join in use.

 “And…”

“Another point of view to consider…”

“I’d like to expand on that…”

“What about considering….”

If you want to complain about something instead of starting with “I’m sorry”.  Start off with “thank you for listening. I want to talk to you about…”

And when someone bumps into you simply smile and say “hello” they’ll feel much less awkward.

In the afternoon session Donna only made one ‘sorry’ we smiled at each other.

These habits are tough to spot in ourselves; they are habits, after all, we do them without thinking.  If you know a beautiful woman who has this habit herself, pass these suggestions on to her, it’s a simple way to help her become more compelling in her conversations.

Giving feedback

There have been several instances recently that has led me to the conclusion that most women are crap at giving feedback, myself included even though I teach communications I recognise it is not easy to do especially if it’s with a friend.  

I think the challenge is we are so concerned we will offend or damage the relationship that we say nothing or when we do, we’ve bottled it up for months and it doesn’t come out well.  Two stories one funny one very sad that makes my point.  The first, the funny one was I was vegetarian for years when I was living in the UK, my family were mortified, (we were a meat and two veg family so taking out the meat was shocking for the family).  My Mum being the beautiful woman she was, made me some lentil burgers, she made them in big batches and stored them in the freezer.  I was so grateful that she had made the effort to accept my vegetarianism that I said they were lovely, and as a result they kept coming year after year, and they were anything but lovely.  I should have been up front, given her a big hug for being thoughtful and laughed with her at these incredibly dry burgers instead I had to cop them for six years, true story.  

The second story is the more important one.  Some women I know are part of a sewing club, I know an unusual club for many of us, just stick with the story.  One of woman is poor socially and can be very abrupt with the group.  Everyone in the group knows this except her! She has this terrible blind spot, and no-one was ever game to let her know the impact she had on those around her. Her behaviour would often result in tension in the sewing group which last week resulted in two of the women leaving because of an ‘incident’ and the club has imploded, a lose-lose situation.  I wondered if someone had said something earlier would the situation have had a better outcome?  Quite possibly.  

I know it can be hard to give feedback, but be brave and consider your intent as your intent is key.

If your intent is to genuinely help someone then a private conversation should go well.  If your intent is really to ‘tell them off’ then success is less likely

And importantly, we need to understand if we are silent, just like the other sewers in the sewing club were over the years, we are actually part of the problem, as our silence says we are OK with the situation.

They say feedback is a gift, let’s see if we can make it feel that way and help each other be the best version of ourselves. X

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-27/philosophy-helped-me-leave-my-marriage-quit-my-job/10959868

Colour is the new black

What we wear says lot about us.  I’ve noticed I’ve abandoned the fitted garments for something more comfortable, but don’t worry I’m not yet into the polyester slacks my Mum use to wear, please don’t ever let me get that low.  But comfort is really important and I have abandoned wearing black!

I know, believe me it was a dramatic shift for me, not only is black slimming, it was my default option in my wardrobe.  Actually, black was my wardrobe for my entire life until now… Black suited me it was a colour I could pull off.  The new reality, although depressing initially, was that black doesn’t suit me anymore, it makes me look so much more tired than I was actually feeling, and I hate to use the ‘a’ word but black was aging me. It still took a good girlfriend to give me the hint, well it was more a shove, ‘you should stop wearing black, it doesn’t suit you anymore’ and she was right.

Fast forward 6 months, I’m fully into colour.  I’ve discovered its way more fun than just basic black and unsurprisingly, I’m being noticed much more, more compliments and what’s not to like about that.

Check out the link below and bring some colour into your life that gives meaning to who you really want to be 

https://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-beige/

To smile or not smile that is the question

I spend a lot of time coaching people on developing their personal brand and helping them make great first impressions.  So much of it is around body language and facial expressions, the stuff we often don’t even think about.

In workshops when people are conscious about their body language they naturally stand or sit taller, which instantly makes they look thinner and fitter and when I get them to connect with each other I get them to smile, not a half-baked smile that hides your teeth, no, one of those big smiles that yes, does and should crinkles around your eyes.

Smiling not only makes us look more attractive, smiling makes us stand out in a room and the smile triggers our brain to release endorphins which makes us feel happier AND if we smile at others they will naturally smile back, even if they don’t know you, it’s a great social experiment you can try out walking give a big smile and eye contact to someone walking by and I guarantee they will smile back and that will give you such a lovely lift and you will want to keep smiling ☺

P.S.

OK I have just told you to smile and it’s important BUT not all the time.  When you are telling someone something of importance, something you want them to believe you need to lose the smile.  Women are notorious at smiling when delivering serious news messages and it confuses the recipient and dilutes your message.  This happened to a friend of mine years ago. He was in a performance management meeting with his boss, he was basically crap at his job.  When I met him that evening he said the conversation he had with his boss was weird “she just kept on smiling” he said. “I didn’t know whether I was being sacked or asked out on a date”.  If you want to be taken seriously with your messaging be congruous with what you say and how you say it.