Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I’m only human, after all … (Don’t put the blame on me!)
July 20, 2017

I’m going to have to put my hand up here and ‘fess up – I’m not perfect – I make mistakes.  I don’t do it on purpose, but stuff happens.  I’m only human, after all!!  And, I’m guessing that I’m not the only one, as Sam Smith would say.

I thought it would be a good idea to share how to deal with this very human side of all of us in a few very short blogs.

In this, the first one, I thought I might share my Taylor Swift moment when I had to ‘Shake it off’ when I literally put my foot in my mouth and said something embarrassing.

So, here we go …

A while ago, when I was in the middle of facilitating a management skills workshop I was talking (or so my brain thought) about success.  The problem was that the word that came out of my mouth was ‘sex’.  At that moment I just wanted to disappear  – but there was nowhere to hide. I was leading the session and everyone was looking at me.

Luckily I recalled a ‘shake it off’ technique that I learned.  Word of warning here – you can only use this technique once!

What I did was to step aside from where I was speaking, turned and pointed to the imaginary me that had been standing there and said “I can’t believe she just said that!”  I then turned back to the participants and carried on as if someone else had said that naughty word!!

I’m always up for learning new things.  What would you have done?

Until next time …

My journey to mediation – from a single snowflake to an avalanche
February 6, 2015

My journey started with a business partner telling me that a decision had been made. I had not been consulted, just told and, to me, it felt like I was being bull-dozed and bullied in a direction that was not of my choosing and that I did not want. And, what’s more, as my husband will tell you – I don’t like being told!

Now, I consider myself to be a good communicator, however, despite my best efforts, the other party decided to plough on and refused to discuss matters. I’m sure they had good reasons for their decision but I didn’t know what they were. And, to be honest I’m not proud of this – at the time, that lack of consultation resulted in me becoming stubborn. ‘How dare they!’ I thought.

And so, from that single snowflake of disagreement the dispute started to snowball, gathering momentum and weight, until it turned into an avalanche, destroying a lot of things in its path.

I already knew that the biggest failure in any negotiation is the failure to negotiate – and now I was experiencing it first hand.

At first I resisted getting solicitors involved. Surely we could sort this out. Wrong!

Solicitors became involved. Letters and emails went backwards and forwards for a number of years. I’m sure you can imagine how much this was costing both of us financially. And, it was all-consuming emotionally.

We were now both clear losers in this situation.

Mediation was suggested a few times. I didn’t know then exactly what it involved but was willing to give it a go. I guess I was curious about how it works too, if I’m honest.

Eventually, when the stakes became exceptionally high, the other party agreed to give it a go too. Deadlines really do prompt decisions!

I found that the process of mediation worked really well. We both got a result that we could live with. The situation that had been dragging on and on was finally closed. We would never be friends but we could move on with our lives. What a relief!

I have found throughout my life that I learn the most when I have made mistakes. So, as a result of going through this experience I learned a lot and decided to do something constructive with that knowledge! I trained as a mediator – to help other people when they are stuck so that they too can move on with their lives.

Each snowflake is different and interesting if you examine them carefully. Different points of view are too. But they need to be discussed in a productive way to avoid an avalanche of stress.

Reel them in – hook, line and sinker!
April 29, 2014

(The art of dropping the bait and reeling in the rewards)

I got up on Sunday morning and put on the TV.  A political big hitter was being interviewed – and I was absolutely fascinated by how utterly unconvincing he was.  Would I buy into his ideas?  No.  (And they may actually have been excellent ideas.)  Was he passionate?  Yes.  But the plain fact was that he got my back up.  All I could see was this guy with his eyes glittering, being really pushy, insistent, talking at and over the interviewer – and, mentally, I completely switched off to his message.

This got me thinking.  How often do we have a great idea and yet fail to get people to even listen let alone buy into it?

When we want someone to listen to us and buy into our message, we’ll either enthuse about the topic, or put forward a reasonable, factual argument.  When that fails, we tend to repeat ourselves in exactly the same way.  No, hang on a minute – we’ll probably say the same thing only LOUDER and  S-L-O-W-E-R.   And guess what?  It still doesn’t work.

Firstly, being fired up, passionate and enthusiastic about an idea you have is great.

The downside of this approach can mean that rushing in without thinking about how to get the message across.  In fact you can end up looking and sounding like an enthusiastic puppy dog – probably not the impression you want to make.  Use that enthusiasm to drive you to put in the footwork so that your idea has more of a chance of being taken up.

The ability to put forward a reasoned, factual argument is also great.  But, you’ve got to get the person you want to influence to listen to you first.

How do you do this?  Let’s look at it from the recipient’s point of view first.  What frame of mind are they in?  Are they pre-occupied, busy, trying to get things done?  For example, have you ever walked into your boss’s office and she doesn’t even look up at you?  It seems that whatever she’s doing is far more important that listening to you!  Or, you’re in a meeting and people are quite openly reading messages on their Blackberry or iphone, oblivious to whoever is speaking?

And, when you think about it, this happens just as much at home as at work.  For instance, your partner is watching TV and you’re trying to have a conversation – his head might turn towards you, but his eyes are still firmly glued to the screen.  There’s no way he is listening to what you’re saying.  It seems like you’re banging your head against a brick wall.

Just how do you get through to them?

The answer is to drop the bait.  Tempt them.  Tease them.  Get them curious so that they want to listen.  Literally make them sit up and take notice.  What ‘bait’ can you use?  For this, you need to think like they do.  Consider what the real benefits are to them of taking your idea on board?  Really step into their shoes and ask yourself what are they interested in?  What do they want?  What are their objectives.

When you think of it,  most people will, at the very least, be interested in something that will save them time, save them money (or make them money), or buy them brownie points with someone they want to look good in front of.

Get specific though.  Ask ‘what will my idea give them?’  Then say ‘so what?  What will that give them?’  Until you get to the most delicious, tempting piece of bait that they simply can’t resist.

So, you’ve got the bait sorted.  The next thing to consider is how you use it to ‘hook’ them in.  Use the bait like a tease – give them a small bite and wait for them to come to you.  So, rather than you telling them all the details, hold back, and wait for them to ask you ‘how’.

Let’s take an example.  You’ve got a wonderful idea for a new system at work that you know will make sense for your company.  It’s easy to put in place, will save the company at least £50,000 over the next 6 months and it will really help you meet your objectives.  There are many ways of putting this across.

You could go to your boss, full of enthusiasm and say, “I’ve had a brilliant idea.  It’s going to make life so much easier for everyone and it’s really simple to put in place.  All you have to do is …”  and continue to give a detailed description of how to implement it.

Be honest now.  Is this what you do?

Quite simply, it’s too much detail, too soon!   This approach is almost guaranteed to turn them off.  And, let’s be serious for a moment.  Is making life easier for people really top of your boss’s priorities for decision making?

First, what’s the ‘bait’ in this?  Saving £50,000 is an obvious one.  What else?  Ask ‘what will meeting my objectives do for my boss and/or the company?’  In this way you’ll have loads of tasty bait you can drop into the conversation.

So, let’s try another approach.

You could go and see your boss and, in a take it or leave it way, say something like “There’s a really easy way of saving the company £50,000 over the next 6 months.  (And, PAUSE).  Do not, I repeat do not gabble on.  “Is that something you’d be interested in?”  Now, wait for them to respond and ask “how?”  I bet you they’ll hear that £50,000 and sit up and take notice.

Remember dropping the bait is about making them want to come to you.

Now, I don’t suppose you’d be interested in becoming even more influential – but in case you do, feel free to get in touch …

The difference is true diversity
April 15, 2013

Don’t make a fuss.  Be good.  Be quiet.  Don’t show off.  Be polite.  Respect your elders.  Do as you’re told.  Don’t answer back.  Speak up.  Don’t be shy.  Stand up for yourself.

It’s puzzling, isn’t it.  We are given such mixed messages as we grow up by people who are significant in our lives and who are often well intentioned.  But it can leave us struggling to know whether we should stand out or fit in. 

As adults we can choose – to make a difference – to stand out even – but we need to acknowledge the messages inside our heads that drive us.  Which ones are relevant to us now.  Which ones we want to live by.  Which messages we now want to cast aside because they no longer serve us well.

The problem is that these messages become so much a part of us we don’t consciously pay attention to them – but they certainly drive our behaviour.  If we don’t acknowledge these messages, we are not aware of what’s driving us.  So we won’t fully commit to our goals and then we loose even more power by blaming other people when things don’t go the way we want.

Self knowledge in itself is power.  Taking responsibility for the way we respond makes us even more powerful.  

There can be a tendency to gravitate towards people who are like us, who have things in common with us.  It makes us feel comfortable.  However, just for a moment, think how fortunate we are to live and work with people who are different to us.  People who can challenge what we are thinking and help us consider different options.  I don’t mean people who demand that we think or do things their way but people who open up a world of new possibilities to us. 

That to me is true diversity. 

Diversity rules!
October 16, 2012

Don’t make a fuss.  Be good.  Be quiet.  Don’t show off.  Be polite.  Respect your elders.  Do as you’re told.  Don’t answer back.  Speak up.  Don’t be shy.  Stand up for yourself.

 

It’s puzzling, isn’t it.  We are given such mixed messages as we grow up by people who are significant in our lives and who are often well intentioned.  But it can leave us struggling to know whether we should stand out or fit in. 

 

As adults we can choose – to make a difference – to stand out even – but we need to acknowledge the messages inside our heads that drive us.  Which ones are relevant to us now.  Which ones we want to live by.  Which messages we now want to cast aside because they no longer serve us well.

 

The problem is that these messages become so much a part of us we don’t consciously pay attention to them – but they certainly drive our behaviour.  If we don’t acknowledge these messages, we are not aware of what’s driving us.  So we won’t fully commit to our goals and then we loose even more power by blaming other people when things don’t go the way we want.

 

Self knowledge in itself is power.  Taking responsibility for the way we respond makes us even more powerful.

 

There can be a tendency to gravitate towards people who are like us, who have things in common with us.  It makes us feel comfortable.  However, just for a moment, think how fortunate we are to live and work with people who are different to us.  People who can challenge what we are thinking and help us consider different options.  I don’t mean people who demand that we think or do things their way but people who open up a world of new possibilities to us.  That to me is true diversity. 

Networking and the Olympics
April 2, 2012

Let me just say, I am not a natural ‘work the room’ type of person. Yes, I know the mechanics of how to do it, and I can do it but, quite frankly, it takes effort and I find it quite draining. However, I am interested in people and what makes them tick and making them feel at ease. My experience the other night at a networking event at which I was running a seminar reminded me of the power of networking and how it’s worth putting in the effort to meet like-minded people.

At the event I got talking to a very interesting woman – let’s call her Jane. Anyway, Jane was looking to change careers. I was running a session on ‘Taking Control of your Career’ aimed at senior women in finance – so this was quite topical!

Jane told me how she recently had a conversation with someone (let’s call her Eleanor). During their general conversation Jane told Eleanor the direction she wanted to take and what she was trying to achieve. Eleanor said she knew someone she thought Jane should talk to. (By the way, Jane was not expecting anything from Eleanor and she was certainly not a ‘target’ to sell to.) At the end of a great two-way conversation Jane swapped business cards with Eleanor.

A few days later Jane got a phone call out of the blue from the person Eleanor had spoken to about Jane’s ambitions and that conversation proved extremely fruitful.

Now you could just put it down to luck – but I believe that this really illustrates the power of networking.

When you think about it in Olympic terms: knowing what you want – well that’s like winning the bronze medal. Telling others about it is the equivalent of the silver medal. But helping others by putting them in touch with the right people wherever you can – that’s the Olympic gold standard – it helps to make dreams come true.

Tales from the Dovecote – the time of your life
August 19, 2011

Imagine for a moment a young man, eighteen years old, intelligent, about to take his A levels. His teachers predict great results. He’s physically fit, likes lifting weights and loves playing rugby. The world is at his feet – he has wonderful prospects and fantastic dreams for the future. BANG! In an instant all this changes when he is involved in a motorcycle accident. He is pronounced dead 3 times and yet survives to tell the tale. But his life will never be the same again.

The past that he had – and the future that he imagined – no longer exist.

I met that man a recently. It’s twenty or so years since that accident. To look at him you wouldn’t know about that dramatic event all those years ago but speaking to him, it’s had a profound effect on his outlook on life. It’s had a big impact on me too.

So, was that event a blessing in disguise or a curse? The answer is, of course, that it depends what you learn from it.

Sometimes it takes a short, sharp, shock to put things into perspective and appreciate what we’ve got.

Most people I talk to lately have the mindset of doom and gloom. If I’m honest, I’ve been guilty of that too.

The problem is that whatever we believe to be true, we act as if it’s true. And, what’s more, we only look for the evidence that supports that point of view because we have to make ourselves right. Doom and gloom then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The truth is that life is uncertain. The saying that ‘tomorrow never comes’ is also true – but we need to have hope for the future and we need to make the most of now.

It seems that it’s always the things you don’t do that you regret. So, what do you want to do? What do you want to say to others? What’s really stopping you?

Remember – this is the time of your life.

Tales from the Dovecote …
October 11, 2010

Get the ‘make a difference’ habit

Let me tell you what happened to me a couple of weeks ago.  The train arrived at Charing Cross, packed as usual.  Everyone, me included, seemed to be in a rush to get somewhere.  People piled out of the train, not really paying attention to anything other than putting their best foot forward.  It was cold, wet, slippery and miserable. As I stepped off the train, my foot slipped and I fell over in a quite undignified way.  I ended up with a wet bottom and a very red face! 

As I sat there, stunned, most people hurried by, ignoring me, but two complete strangers stopped, helped me up, asked if I was OK and even offered to walk with me.  Wow!

That simple act of kindness, that cost nothing, made my day, put me in a great mood (even though I felt bruised) and made me want to help other people. When people help you, you want to help them back – it’s catching! And, although outwardly there was nothing in it for my two good samaritans, I rather suspect it made them feel good too and made a difference to their day.  

 It made me think.  Small things really matter.  A lot. 

When there’s a real crisis, people amaze me.  Haiti is a fantastic example of people pulling together and being astoundingly generous – a case of lots of small donations turning into millions of pounds worth of aid.   

The problem is, when there is no perceived crisis  –  nothing to pull us up sharp – we carry on doing what we’ve always done, and the result of our habits just seem to creep up on us.  So we have just one more biscuit with our tea and several months down the line we’re overweight! 

I wonder what difference it would make if we got into the habit of being just a tiny bit kinder to each other.  By the way, this doesn’t involve a complete personality transplant, or going too overboard.  It might just be letting someone go before you in a queue when they’re obviously in a rush, or giving up your seat to a pregnant woman on the tube, or stopping the person driving the car you’re in from going through an enormous puddle and so preventing an innocent pedestrian from getting soaked!

Now, I know that sometimes, randomly being kind to a stranger can backfire.  For example, a colleague of mine, when travelling on the tube, noticed that the person next to her kept looking at her newspaper.  So she gave it to him – and he got all huffy!  That’s probably because we’re not used to people doing something for nothing.  We assume they’ve got an ulterior motive – what a cynical society we’ve become!  So, for the whole thing to work we need to learn how to accept acts of kindness politely too. 

My challenge then is for as many people as possible to take up the ‘make a difference habit’ and invest in making small changes to your daily lives that would make a positive difference to others and noticing the effect that has.  Let me know how you get on …

Jacqui Dove is a coach whose aim is to help you become as successful as you want to be

Email:  info@jacquidove.co.uk

http://www.jacquidove.co.uk