Monday, February 28, 2011

Recogntion, You have to Give It to Get It

How to you get people to recognize that you are wonderful? Often the best way is to tell them that they are.

Admiration is a funny thing. Once someone admires you, you often find yourself liking them as well.

This is not to suggest you fake affection you do not feel, but an honest explanation of what you find interesting or admirable or just why you like someone goes a long way.

Someone who sees your better qualities, particularly someone who admires about you what you like about yourself is someone you want to keep around and talk well of, after all they were insightful about you.

So I suggest that if you are feeling the need for a little bit more in the way of ego stroking (which is an honest desire, but not usually a polite request), you should consider doing a little of it for someone else.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Take a moment and pay attention to how you are sitting. If you are like me you are probably bent in a bit of an arch from the waist to your head and have your shoulders rounded forward.

Take a moment and feel the center of your torso, around the navel. There are a lot of powerful muscles in that area that are probably slack. If you tighten slightly, your back will straighten out and you will feel taller. Your shoulders might fall back on their own when you straighten your back, but if they have not, gently move them backwards. Now use the muscles in the back of your neck to hold your head up and make your neck strong.

Now take a moment and examine how you feel once you are sitting up straight. It never fails to make me feel more powerful and as if I can conquer the task in front of me. A lot of people tell you to stand up straight to look better, and they are right, when you hold yourself up you look more powerful. I think it is more important to remember that something as simple as taking a few minutes to make your back straighter can make you feel more powerful.

Next time you are feeling anxious and not quite up to the task at hand take a moment and stand up tall and strong. Sometimes just taking a moment to make the body feel stronger can do wonders for the mind.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Art of Conversation

Do not tell all you know.

In this increasingly self-confessional world there is a tendency to try to tell all. Do not be fooled, the person who tells all is a bore. Mystery and discovery is what draws people in.

Reality TV might seem to show all, but what you are actually seeing is a carefully edited collection of the most interesting moments. This is actually the same trick one uses for conversation, you take all your thoughts and ideas and with your understanding of the audience at hand you edit it down to the thing that is most likely to engage them.

This means you don't share everything, and you keep your unedited footage to yourself. This is sometimes objected to by small minded people as a form of dishonestly.

I have no patience for people who try to equate this courtesy with dishonesty. Really, get over yourself. Despite what you might think I am really not interested in every thought that crosses you mind. I know you are not interested in all of the nonsense in my raw footage.

Show your respect for your audience. Pay attention to what they say and then carefully select a small idea, anecdote or other reflection that seem likely to amuse that person. This is the way you show that you are talking but interested in the person you are talking to. It is not always easy at first, but communicating with a focus on the person you are talking to gets easier with practice.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Honey, not Vinegar

What do you do if someone’s behavior is not as you would wish?

You might have been told “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That is nonsense. Ladies have the right and the duty to complain and to seek redress when things are unjust. Ladies have a proud tradition of standing up for civil rights both for themselves and for others and I hope that you will embrace this tradition.

On the other hand very few things are so rude that they must be directly addressed immediately. When what you are dealing with is a personal preference, an annoying quirk, or someone who simply does not know better that you have a chance to think strategy.

My mother taught me “You catch more flies with honey then you do with vinegar”. To me this means that confrontation is a last choice in all but the most serious cases. This is simply good tactics. When confronted people are likely to become defensive and the whole business can be unpleasant. It is often easier to correct with praise.

Find an occasion when someone does something you approve of an praise. Good praise should be specific and appropriate in scale. Noting is easier to talk yourself out of then the broad glowing complement. Your Awesome! is easily dismissed. I really appreciated how you supported the team by getting up early to be one of the first people here to set up, I know that timeliness is something you sometimes struggle with but you sure were on your toes this morning! is something that it is hard to dismiss. And giving specific praise to reinforce good behavior can help change someone's habit and even how they think of themselves, it can overcome bad habits.

What if you just can't catch someone at their best? Well praise the behavior you like in someone else. For example "Oh there is Marco, he is there waiting for us already. I always feel like Marco values our time because he makes a point of being there when he says he will". People like praise and will often adjust their behavior if it is something that they see other people noticing and complementing.

I know the stick gets a lot of attention, but the carrot can be just as, if not more powerful.