30 Years Is a long Time To Be Miserable!

 

Be miserable. Or motivate yourself.

Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.

Wayne Dyer

 

 

I bought a condo three years ago this month and I still feel like I’m moving in. It feels so new, even though the building is thirty years old.

 

Although there are fewer than forty units in the building, I’ve not yet met all my neighbors.

 

Just last week I got into a conversation at the mailbox with Moira, an elderly resident, who’s been here since the building opened. She raised her family here.

 

Moira told me that she and her husband grew up in the mid-West and came to Los Angeles soon after they got married.

 

She wanted a house; he didn’t. He insisted they live in a condo and so they were one of the first to buy in this building.

 

She told me this story with disgust in her voice but when she was done, Moira asked almost boastfully:

 

I’ve been miserable all these thirty years – can you believe that?

 

I laughed and assured her that I do believe her – she never met my grandmother who was miserable for most of her ninety-eight years!

 

It’s so easy to be miserable and in its own way is such a delicious feeling.

 

Clients most often come to me because they want to become more confident, more powerful.

 

Confidence and power only come about when you avoid casting blame

on some one or some thing for feeling bad about your life. 

 

People and events only have as much power as we give to them.

 

You control your thinking as well as your actions stemming from that thinking.

 

That’s power!

 

As I left Moira I found myself feeling sorry for her – not because she had led a miserable life, but rather because she had surrendered her power to a condo!

 

What about you?

Are you miserable?!

Why?

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

 

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

 

 

 

 

How to Handle Drama without Drama!

 

The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions

are precisely one’s life.

C.S. Lewis

 

When not conducting communication workshops or teaching I officiate non-denominational wedding ceremonies. Last weekend something happened before a ceremony start that I’d never seen before – and I’ve seen a lot!

 

It was a blustery afternoon at Pelican Hill Resort as the floral designer’s team was setting up. A glistening crystal chandelier hung from the center of the rotunda, site of the ceremony. I was reviewing last minute details with the event planner, Jeannie, when, without warning, the chandelier crashed to the ground.

 

It was one of those surreal moments when your brain can’t compute what your eye has witnessed.

 

Jeannie snapped to and asked if everyone was okay. They were and she exhaled, “Thank God no one was hurt!”  I marveled at her composure.

 

She turned to the head of the team and asked him to call the floral designer while she called the resort’s catering director. Within minutes, the destroyed chandelier was being swept up.

 

Jeannie suggested we not tell the bride until after the ceremony and she decided there was no time to attempt to replace the chandelier.

She was in charge, calm and, yes, we did manage a “what the?” laugh. Throughout this bizarre incident, her attitude was a reassuring, “I’ll handle it.  We’ll handle it.”

 

And so everyone went about doing what needed to be done.

 

What I found utterly remarkable was that in a dramatic moment, there was no drama.  Now that’s leadership!

 

Later, when I told Jeannie how impressed I was by how she handled the situation, she was puzzled, “How else could I have responded?”

 

I laughed because she could have responded in so many other ways. She could have yelled, demanding to know who screwed up; she could have debated whether to tell the bride and stir-up emotions by asking for everyone’s opinion; or she could have played the victim, lamenting, “What am I going to do?”

 

Jeannie reminded me what’s needed in a moment of crisis:

  • She stayed focused on her goal – having a beautiful ceremony for the couple – and she let nothing distract her.
  • She didn’t lose confidence in herself simply because something outside her control happened.
  • She trusted and relied on her team.
  • She was able to laugh.
  • She was not fixated on the original plan – and so she could improvise.

 

These skills are crucial not only for leaders.

They’re crucial for our own well-being and success in any crisis.

 

Jeannie’s company is named “Details, Details” and it’s precisely because she values details that she didn’t lose sight of the big picture – the welfare of her team, the happiness of her couple and her own sanity.

 

Chandeliers come crashing down in all our lives –

it’s how we handle the broken shards that make all the difference.

 

Do you want to learn how to handle the drama in your life without drama?

To explore how business skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence – and skill

please contact me

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

Finding Your Voice!

 

There is no coming to consciousness without pain.

Jung

 

Last week I had an email from Michelle (name changed), a potential client who wants to learn how to speak-up in meetings and conversations. Here’s some of what she wrote:

 

I’ve been trying to work on “finding my voice.” Often, I don’t express my own opinion or defend my point or I simply don’t insert myself in the conversation enough, preferring to take a back seat and let other people enjoy the spotlight.

 

As convenient as this can be, in that I don’t have to put myself at risk of arguing with others, spending time and energy elaborating a certain point or defending my position, I realize it’s also a source of dissatisfaction and confusion. I feel better once I’ve made myself heard, but it’s still a “work-in-progress” because I tend to slip towards old patterns of passively letting other people expose themselves to the “public eye” while I remain passive and silent.

 

Michelle is like many of my clients who hold back in conversations and end up frustrating themselves and others.

 

Why are people hesitant or afraid to enter into the fray of a conversation? 

 

For some it’s a habit that developed in childhood.

 

Some are perfectionists obsessed with speaking perfectly formed and correct thoughts.

 

For others, they’re afraid that if they say the “wrong” thing people will judge them stupid and withhold approval.

 

For still others, they’re more comfortable formulating their thoughts in their heads before sharing them.

 

The problem with this approach is that by the time they’ve processed what they want to say, the conversation has moved on!

 

By holding back, you’re denying others the benefit of your perspective.

 

Even if your perspective is askew, it can move the conversation along in a productive way.

 

In addition, you’re confusing people because they don’t know if you’re uninterested or if you’re simply uninteresting!

 

Most disturbing, your silence gives others power over you. You let them determine what you’re thinking and feeling.

 

What to do? 

 

First, understand why you’re quiet.

What are you telling yourself that is keeping you quiet? And really, what is the worst-case scenario?

 

Second, commit to making one-to-three comments during a conversation.

Use phrases like, “let me jump in here” or “just to backtrack on what was said earlier” to help you ease into the conversation.

 

Third, don’t dismiss your ideas by beginning with, “this is probably going to sound stupid.” Just say it!

 

Fourth, be non-verbally active.

Look at a person when they’re speaking. Make sure your face is not blank (yes, beware of RBF!). Let your eyes be animated so that you are making a “connection” with people.

 

What’s the point of being at a meeting if you’re not going to contribute

to the overall tone and substance of the gathering?

You don’t have to dominate.

You don’t have to be the expert.

 

You can enjoy “listening” and still contribute.

 

Remember:

Wallflowers are for the bedroom – not the meeting table!

 

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

 

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

Practice. Practice. Practice.

 

You don’t just deal with adversity.

You use it to propel you forward.

Erik Weihenmayer

first blind person to summit Mt. Everest

 

 

A year ago, Claire (names changed), who works in HR, attended my UCLA Extension class on interpersonal communication. Her boss, Mike, suggested the class and Claire’s non-verbal telegraphed how much she resented having to attend.

 

As the weeks progressed, though, she warmed to the class dynamics and enjoyed the other participants. She stopped feeling like this was “punishment.”

 

At the mid-way point of this 11-week course, she told me that Mike thought she was improving her communication skills.

 

Claire finished the course grateful for this opportunity and feeling more confident in her social abilities.

 

Six months later, Mike brought me into the company for leadership training.

 

During this time, Claire had another “episode.” Mike thought she was falling back into old patterns and in her performance-review dinged her for communication.

 

Claire was distraught and convinced Mike was out to “get” her.

 

The three of us sat down for a conversation and Mike assured her that he was not out to get her.

Everything was “good” by meeting’s end and they agreed that every Friday they’d carve out time to review the previous week and make sure things did not build up over time.

 

Then, last week, it started over.

 

Claire and Mike had gone out to lunch with a service provider. At the lunch, Claire felt slighted, ignored. She was pissed with Mike.

 

In the course of conversation, it came out she felt Mike was keeping her deliberately out of the loop. She gave examples and became a puddle of tears; she didn’t know what to do.

 

What’s going on here?

 

Without looking at security footage, it’s hard for me to determine the accuracy of Claire’s perceptions.

 

I’ve never had the impression that Mike was manipulative or passive-aggressive; rather, I’ve thought he genuinely wants Claire to succeed.

 

It would be easy to say that Claire is overly sensitive and is too quick to misread others.  Whether that’s true or not, here’s what I do know. . .

 

Old habits die hard. 

 

Not even an 11-week course with me is going to permanently solve your problems!

 

Honing one’s skills, adopting new skills, re-aligning old relationships, all of this takes much time and much practice.

 

And practice implies making mistakes, taking risks, and making more mistakes.

 

In order to break self-sabotaging habits, a person needs to feel the fire-in-the-belly.

 

I think Claire has always seen her boss as the problem and that she had to find a way to deal with the problem that was her boss.

 

I don’t think she understood she had a role in any of this.

 

Claire basically has had the wrong attitude as she approached the relationship challenges with Mike.

 

And attitude goes a long way to producing new, healthy results.

 

Claire is playing the role of victim (yes, she resented my suggesting this).

 

Here’s the thing, though. . .

 

When she perceived herself being out of the loop, she pouted.

 

When she felt ignored at lunch, she withdrew.

 

When she felt frustrated with her boss, she shut down.

 

She didn’t claim her power.

 

She didn’t develop a strategy.

 

And this is, perhaps, the most important thing. . .

 

She didn’t take responsibility for her communication.

 

From taking responsibility comes power and from the power

comes an increased sense of self-worth.

 

This now is Claire’s challenge – to understand how she has contributed to this breakdown in communication and to be brave enough, self-confident enough to formulate and try out new communication strategies.

 

She has to commit to the practice!

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

 

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115