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Listening BlocksListening Blocks Having spent more than 20 years training business people in listening skills, Richard Anstruther and his team of communication experts at HighGain, Inc., have identified five...

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Cultivating Serenity in the Workplace and BeyondCultivating Serenity in the Workplace and Beyond The serenity prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous says that the key to serenity is accepting what you cannot change, changing what you can, and possessing the wisdom to know the...

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Speak Like a ProSpeak Like a Pro There are numerous books on public speaking, all offering valuable information and different angles on the topic. To speak like a pro, keep these tips in mind: Plan Start...

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Benefits of Laughter at WorkBenefits of Laughter at Work Stronger Connections Laughter breaks down barriers, builds relationships and allows for better communication among coworkers. People with a sense of humor often have the...

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Practice Cultivating Curiosity

Posted on : 20-03-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


Practice Cultivating Curiosity

Here are some ways to cultivate a more curious life.

Questions. Practice asking questions with openness and neutrality. Practice with strangers in stores and with people close to you. Stop thinking you know all the answers…be open to being surprised!

Inquiries. An inquiry is an open-ended question designed to broaden your perspective. For example: “What would make life a daring adventure for me?” “Where in my life do I assume I already know?”

Assumptions. These impact how we treat strangers as well as loved ones. Challenge your assumptions by asking, “What if that’s not true?” What other choices might you make then?

If you truly want to expand your excitement, joy and fulfillment in life and relationship, sprinkle doses of curiosity and watch your life become the fabulous adventure it can be!

Curiosity and Results: What’s the Connection?

Posted on : 19-03-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


Curiosity and Results: What’s the Connection?

Curiosity has been given a bad rap. Perhaps we grew up hearing that asking questions was rude or conveyed ignorance, or that we’d get into trouble if we were like Curious George. We might even have been warned that “Curiosity killed the cat!”

What’s being discovered is that curiosity can be one of the most vital and life-affirming qualities you can bring to your life and your relationships.

Curiosity in Business

It is so easy to blame others when things go wrong. Consider being curious about your experience rather than critical. For example, instead of beating yourself up for not reaching sales goals—again—try asking yourself what was going on for you that you kept performing below your expectations? With an attitude of “how fascinating that I’ve created this” you are much more likely to help yourself find new solutions to attaining your goals.

Curiosity in Life

Helen Keller said, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all!” When you cultivate an attitude of curiosity, doors open and adventures begin; questions lead to new possibilities. For example, asking yourself, “What do I want to learn now and where might that lead me?” can set you on a journey of exciting exploration that moves you forward. If, instead, you come from the place of “I already know what I need to know,” you shut off the possibility of discovering something new that could rock your world.

Curiosity in Relationships

How often we assume we know what someone else is thinking or experiencing. What if we came from a place of not knowing and offered others an invitation to speak? According to Sharon Ellison, creator of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication, “A non-defensive question is innocently curious, reflecting the purity of the child who asks how a flower grows or what makes an airplane fly.” We invite others to share their true experience when we ask questions without hidden agendas and to clarify understanding.

Look for ways to begin practicing curiosity.

Typical Reactions to Feedback

Posted on : 16-03-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


When given difficult feedback, most of us find that we do one or more of the following:

Pretend. We say little, disguise any hurt or humiliation, push the feelings way down and eventually act like it never happened. Thank you so much for sharing that. 

Defend. We justify our actions, give explanations, point out reasons. There was so much happening last week, I didn’t end up with nearly the time I needed to prepare. Oh, and the microphone wasn’t working so well today.

Deny. Denial automatically makes the other person wrong. I didn’t see a problem; I’m great at what I do.

Interrogate. We ask for proof that there is any truth to the feedback. Well, if you want me to understand what you’re trying to get at, I’ll need some specific examples.

Lash out. Anger is the first reaction for some. Get off my back, will you? How dare you criticize me, you of all people! I thought you were my friend.  

Criticize. We go on the offensive through blame, innuendo or other unsolicited comments. I never believe anything those hotshots have to say. You know how it is in that department.

Self-destruct. We turn all our negative reactions inward against ourselves. I am such a loser. I’ll never get it right. I’m never doing another presentation. 

All of these reactions serve to distract us from painful feelings of not being good enough, as well as the notion that we need to change in some way. But adapting to feedback—which inevitably asks us to change, and sometimes significantly—is critical if we are to succeed in our jobs, our marriages, our family relationships.

Taking Feedback (to Heart)

Posted on : 15-03-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


A colleague who just heard your presentation at work is giving you some feedback that you were too quiet, didn’t get to the point quickly enough and lacked a compelling example.

Your breathing goes shallow and your body stiffens, your heart speeds up, and you look around to see if anyone is in earshot of this conversation. You worked for days trying to perfect this presentation—days!

Faced with the often-difficult experience of feedback—in our work and personal lives—many of us respond in unproductive ways. But taking in feedback from others, both positive and negative, is imperative if we are to experience the satisfaction that comes with enhanced competence and improved relations.

It is possible—and necessary—to think positively about feedback.

Is Good Leadership Boring?

Posted on : 14-03-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


Daniel Goleman’s recent book, Primal Leadership, suggests that a coaching style of leadership may best describe the rarest—and most essential—qualities of the quiet leader.

“The coaching style is the least-used tool in the leader’s toolkit,” says Goleman, “probably because it doesn’t look like leadership.”

Like a coach, a quiet leader can achieve breakthroughs by asking guided questions rather than giving orders or advice, and by getting to know each member of a team well enough to be able to craft work assignments to best suit where they are and where they’re going.

Yet it’s clear that quiet leadership is not so much about any particular management style as it is an attitude toward work and people—and life. Keeping your ego in check certainly seems to be a prerequisite, as is giving up your ambitions for being on the cover of Fortune.

As Henry Mintzberg, a professor of management studies at McGill University, commented in a recent article on quiet leadership, “Maybe really good management is boring.”

Follow To Get Results

Posted on : 13-03-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


Author Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, first documented that transforming a mediocre company into a stellar performer seemed to require a leader who was the polar opposite of the “celebrity CEO” archetype. This type of leader combines tremendous personal determination to do what it takes to achieve success for the organization with a willingness to accept responsibility for failure and to pass along the credit for success to his or her team.

In his bestselling book Leading Quietly, Harvard professor Joseph L. Badaracco Jr. identified key behaviors that successful quiet leaders seem to follow to get results. He distilled these into seven recommendations, among them:

•  Don’t kid yourself. Be realistic about what you know—and don’t know—of the situation you face. Accept that you may have to act with uncertain knowledge.

•  Trust mixed motives. Recognize that people, including yourself, bring a blend of motivations to their jobs—public-spirited and self-interested. Work with this instead of fighting it.

Which ways do you demonstrate quiet leadership?

“Shhhh. Quiet Leadership: The High-Performance Secret”

Posted on : 12-03-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


The conventional image of a business leader is one we see all around us—the commanding, visionary person who takes charge in a time of crisis or transition and leads his or her company to victory over daunting odds. The tales of these “celebrity CEOs” and their successes make great reading—as does their failures.

Yet, for several years, a slowly growing body of knowledge and experience has begun to suggest that another approach—under the heading “quiet leadership”—may be ultimately more effective at achieving sustained high performance in organizations of all kinds.

While that may be good news for those of us who are not natural media stars, don’t be misled: Quiet leadership is a challenging management approach that requires a keen understanding of your business and the people in it to achieve its promise.

For starters, quiet leadership isn’t clearly defined. Certainly a bedrock of quiet leadership is leading by example, of eliciting the behavior you want by demonstrating it, rather than just telling others to do it. But a deeper understanding of what it means to be “quiet leader” is emerging as management researchers and business coaches delve into just why it is that certain types of leaders tend to produce better results, in more varied conditions, over longer periods of time. And quiet leadership isn’t just for the person at the top, but applies across the spectrum, from the leader to all levels of middle-management, from solo entrepreneurs and their team of subcontractors to small business owners with a small staff.

Every one of us has the opportunity to become a quiet leader.

Benefits of Laughter at Work

Posted on : 09-03-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


Stronger Connections

Laughter breaks down barriers, builds relationships and allows for better communication among coworkers. People with a sense of humor often have the ability to deal effectively with people and work issues; they are able to keep the severity of problems in perspective.

Humor also enhances motivation, collaboration and team-building, quickly creating a climate in which people feel motivated, energized and ready to contribute. You could say that the group that plays together stays together.

Happier Workers

Laughter reduces workplace stress, and breaks up boredom and fatigue. Happier, more relaxed workers are able to better focus on tasks, make fewer errors in their work and produce more. They also stick around longer, are absent less and don’t burn out.

Humor also helps to minimize resistance to change. It is a good weapon to defend against the stress of reorganizing, downsizing, outsourcing and other negative trends in today’s workplace.

Creative Problem-Solvers

Humor unleashes much-desired creativity and divergent problem-solving. For example, good jokes guide us down one path only to suddenly track us onto another with the punch line. This breaks the mind set of our thinking and leads to increased creativity.

The bottom line: All work and no play isn’t even good for work.

Can You Be “Professional” and Have Fun at the Same Time?

Posted on : 08-03-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


For too many, the prevailing attitude is that one cannot be “professional” and have fun at the same time. The office motto has become the athlete’s: No pain, no gain. If you’re laughing, then you’re not working.


Consider these:

  • The Harvard Business Review (September 2003) reported that executives with a sense of humor climb the corporate ladder more quickly and earn more money than their counterparts.
  • University of Wisconsin professor Stu Robertshaw cites one corporate study in which the firm experienced a 21 percent decrease in staff turnover and a 38 percent decrease in Friday absenteeism after incorporating humor into the workplace.
  • Robert Half International, an executive recruitment firm, surveyed 1,000 executives and found that 84 percent felt that workers with a sense of humor do a better job.
  • In a study, David Abramis of California State University determined that employees who have fun on the job are more productive, more creative, are better decision-makers and team players—and have fewer absentee, sick and late days.
  • An often-cited survey of 737 corporate CEOs by Hodge-Cronin & Associates found that 98% said they prefer to hire someone with a sense of humor to someone without.

Injecting humor in the workplace is not about turning your organization into a comedy club. It’s not about entertaining others or being able to tell a joke. It’s not about pranks, practical jokes or juvenile antics. Instead, it’s more of an attitude, a way of viewing and processing things.

Effects of Humor On Humans

Posted on : 07-03-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


Here’s what the American Association for Therapeutic Humor, composed of more than 600 health care professionals who study the effects of humor on humans, is discovering:

  • Laughter decreases the amount of stress hormones in the body, activates the cells that boost the immune system and increases the activity of natural killer cells that go after tumor cells and fight viruses.
  • Three minutes of deep belly laughing is the equivalent of three minutes on a fitness rowing machine. This kind of laughing also releases anti-depressant mood chemicals.
  • By the time a child reaches kindergarten, he or she is laughing some 300 times a day. Compare that to the typical adult who, one study found, laughs a paltry 17 times a day.
  • When you laugh, your heart rate goes up, bringing more blood and oxygen to the brain. You also breathe faster, expanding your lungs.
  • Laughter increases production of catecholmanines, which increases the level of alertness, memory, and ability to learn and create.
  • After you laugh, you go into a relaxed state. Your blood pressure and heart rate drop below normal, so you feel profoundly relaxed.

So with all their prods and wires and gizmos and gauges, professionals are telling us what we knew all along: when we laugh we feel better. It doesn’t take much to reach the conclusion that all this extra brain power and relaxation leads to enhanced performance at work.

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