Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Benefits of Crazy-Busy

Have you noticed the new lingo - crazy busy?

Like, "I meant to call you yesterday but things just got crazy busy at the office." Or, "I had planned to do pilates class, but things just got crazy busy."

Crazy busy can be a lot of fun. Kinda like riding a roller coaster. You lose a level of consciousness in your effort to get everything done that needs to be done in the time allotted. It's a rush and you feel fully engaged.

Truly, it is impossible to completely avoid crazy busy, especially if you have young children.

Crazy busy is also an excellent way to lose yourself.

Crazy busy allows you to forget what's really important to you. You lose track of your real preferences. You get so used to getting the job done, you can't remember why you're there in the first place.

If you're spending a lot of time in crazy busy, you might want to take a dose of the antidote: deliberate time to do nothing. Minimum dosage 15 minutes. If you've got an important presentation coming up, you definitely want to take some time off. Meaning out-to-lunch.

Crazy busy is fine in small doses, but can be addicting and harmful to your health.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Difference between Fear and an Intuitive Warning

You are really going to appreciate this message. I was so excited to finally find real insight into a question that's been bothering me for YEARS. That is, knowing the difference between fear of doing something, and a warning from your intuition that says "don't go there or you'll be sorry."

You know your intuition is reliable. But fears sometimes muddy the message. Because of this confusion, sometimes we don't follow our intuition when we should, and go on and do something that doesn't work out, or regret not doing something. Fortunately, you can always turn your ship around.

Lynn Robinson has an interesting job. She's an intuition coach. One of her many books out is called, Trust Your Gut, and I found it insightful and interesting. But, best of all, she addresses directly the fear vs. intuition question.

Here is a summary of what she wrote, together with my take on this. First of all, Robinson writes that it really can be difficult to know the one from the other.

1. Some anxiety is normal -- especially any time you're making a big decision or change in your life. So, some fear can be normal, but if you're feeling panic, back off.

2. Take baby steps. Starting off with small moves can clarify your direction. Robinson suggests taking a class, speaking with a colleague, or reading a book related to your situation.

3. Consider the timing. If the decision feels like a "definitely maybe," perhaps a delay is what you need. I really liked this from her, When I push the envelope and try to force things to happen, I find I've stepped out of the flow and ease that usually characterize intuitively inspired decisions and action (158).

4. Revisit your goal. Think about what you really want to gain from this situation; maybe there's an alternative route to the desired outcome. Rushing things without feeling inspired is probably not the way you want to go.

5. Review your options. When it comes down to it, there are limited ways to continue. Go over this list and see which option feels best for you.

- quit

- persevere

- alter your course

- put the project on hold for a period of time

- try something new

- ask for advice from someone who has been successful in a similar endeavor

- work on the project part-time

- discuss the situation with others who may be involved

In my work with teaching and coaching, I see clearly how confidence converts into making better decisions. Now you have an additional resource to get you closer to your ideal life.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How Your Fear Perpetuates What You Fear

Say, what?

Fears and anxieties usually affect us in a cyclical ways; that means our fears can cause us to do things that reinforce our fears. It can be tough, but certainly it is possible, to break out of these vicious cycles.

It is so important to realize that our self talk about a situation is far more important than the situation itself. You can purposely use self talk to create a positive perception which in effect shrinks the negative reaction you're used to. This PhD word for this process is “cognitive restructuring.”

For example, many people fear public speaking so much that they avoid certain jobs or even careers that may involve public speaking. This selection turns out to be avoidance of the problem – which does NOT make it go away.

The best way to overcome the fear of public speaking, or any fear in your life, is to confront it. Yikes. That is best to do in baby steps. You could practice making a presentation in front of a group of friends to build your confidence.

To work at a deeper level, I strongly recommend identifying fears that may be lurking under the radar screen of your conscious mind. These fears sabotage you when you avoid facing them. Sometimes, in some of my clients, the hardest part is even admitting that one even has fears.

In my personal case, my fear of poverty caused me to panic when I felt my income threatened, or when business was down. I would then react to this horrible feeling by frantically applying for any job I thought I could get, even though I was ridiculously overqualified for it.

Most of the time I would get rejected, employers are not that stupid and they knew that as soon as my panic ended I would stop working at a place that was so obviously unsuited to my background. That rejection would in turn reinforce my panic. Or conversely, I would accept a low-paying job, feel bad, and fall short of earning the income I was capable of making. Fear of poverty gets even stronger.

It took working with a coach to help me recognize this negative pattern in my life – to see my part in what I used to think was “just the way the world was.” What was most amazing was seeing how the simple awareness of a negative pattern in my life - perpetuated by ME - would begin to dissipate as soon as I saw it.

If you dare to admit it, you may be allowing fear to trip you up unnecessarily.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Look the Part Get the Part

The first thing people notice about you is the way you look. It takes about 30 seconds to make a difficult-to-change first impression. But more important than that, is giving the right message to yourself about the person you really are.

This is not about fashion advice.

This is about looking like the person you want to be.

The routine advice given for job candidates going on an interview is to dress for the job they want, not the job they have. The same is always true.

The most important thing is that you decide how the person you want to be should look.

Here are some tips:

- Be comfortable. Don't wear a completely new outfit on a stressy day.

- Look like you are well aware you're worth spending $ and time on.

- Look like a professional in your industry.

- Avoid distracting your audience.

- Think about wearing a signature item -- for fun and creating a memorable personal brand.

More than just a superficial covering, the way we present ourselves reflects what we think about ourselves. Other people are simply following our own cues about this.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Being Fake in Front of Your Audience

Some people think that to improve their presentation skills, they have to somehow be fake, or inauthentic. For example, a self-defined shy person sees being confident as being fake, because she doesn't feel confident right now.

Let's say you want to improve your tennis game. You sign up for a class, and learn that you're holding your racket too tightly. Your coach tells you to loosen your grip. So, does that make you a fake tennis player when you assume a new grip that feels a bit awkward at first?

I didn't think so.

A lot of my clients complain when I ask them to stand with their feet spread slightly apart, right under their shoulders. They say it feels awkward and fake. Hmmmm.

There are 2 cures for feeling awkward about your new speaking skills. One is watching yourself on video tape. You can see for yourself how things that feel strange, simply because you're not used to them, look much better. The other solution is getting positive feedback from your audience. But that only happens after you implement an improved technique.

Improving your presentation skills is just like improving the skills of any other activity: working with an expert you learn the tricks to get more powerful and confident. It feels odd at first, and then it's second nature.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sell Your $0.50 Piece of Chocolate for $6.00

You know you don't want to compete on price. That's for losers.

What you want to do is figure out how to add more and more and more value.

Here's a little story of adding value. The girls and I just had a blast shopping for a wedding present for my sister. We bought her a a $0.50 piece of chocolate for $6.00 (among other things.)

How does one go about adding value? Let me tell you how it happened with the non-Godiva chocolate.

1. The venue. Lovely, cool, spacious, did I say "lovely." Good taste in the selling site adds value.

2. The packaging. Lovely, creative, colorful, and fun. Excellent packaging adds value.

3. The creativity. The message on the package is very clever. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what it says because my sister reads this blog and it would totally ruin the surprise. Another example of similar packaging of chocolate: Emergency Chocolate.

4. Free gift wrap. I didn't even get a nasty look when I asked them to wrap a $6.00 purchase. It has the label of the store, a pretty ribbon, and nice cellophane. Gift wrap adds tons of value - saves the buyer time and money.

5. The experience. Shopping at our local boutique, Jefferson's, is an experience. So is shopping at Wal-Mart, but that's not necessarily an enjoyable experience; sometimes it's even traumatic. At boutiques, it's fun to see who else is shopping there. At discount stores, you have to fight the mobs.

6. The brand. That's why brands are so valuable to their owners. But the company who produces this chocolate does not have a recognizable brand. Yet.

The economy is weird right now, I don't deny that. But gobs of money is out there. Go out there and get a piece of it by adding value.

Monday, June 22, 2009

7 Easy Tips for Greater Persuasion

Here they are, short and sweet:

1. Relax by detaching from the outcome. You're there to present your case and you know it's a good one. If they do not wish to accept your premise, that's their problem. If you push, the other is likely to push back against you. Who knows - they might come to their senses later.

2. Cut it short. If you're supposed to speak for 10 minutes, make it 7. Your audience will be forever grateful.

3. Remember the power pause. If you ask the audience a legitimate (not rhetorical) question, wait for them to answer. Get used to handling silence in the conversation.

4. Don't read to your audience, unless it's an incredibly powerful quote. Reading makes people sleepy. If you're on television and have a teleprompter, then that's different.

5. Don't tell your audience how hard you worked to prepare this presentation. Pleeeze.

6. Think of an unexpected prop to make a point. Audiences love surprises and really get when you make a concrete example of something. I once brought a set of hand-made ornately decorated silver measuring spoons to a presentation to show how art elevates the value of even a common kitchen tool. Fortunately my grandmother, who gave me this set of measuring spoons, had left the price tag on -- $21 -- thus adding even greater credibility to my argument.

If you can think of a way to use the prospect's or client's product as a prop, that would be excellent.

7. Keep your mission simple. If it's your first time to meet with these people, they're not likely to sign a multimillion dollar P O today. A legitimate persuasion goal is to get the next appointment, find out the next key person, learn more about the real budget and deadline.

Persuasion. Like a lot of things, when you focus on being yourself and helping your audience, you suddenly become a heck of a lot more persuasive.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Best Way to Stand

As you can imagine, I've seen all kinds of body poses in my students' and clients' presentations. You never really think about how to stand, normally, until it's time to speak in front of a group. All of a sudden you can feel awkward.

First, a list of things I see that don't work too well:

- Slumping onto the podium -- I see this surprisingly frequently among people who know better.

- Standing with the legs crossed -- looks like she needs a bathroom break really urgently.

- Back to the audience, staring at the visual aid. Hard to believe, but this really happens.

- Playing with coins in pocket, or playing with your hair.

- Standing with arms crossed -- gives the impression that you're being defensive.

So, what to do? Think about being athletic.

Imagine you're on the tennis court, or in a boxing ring -- your body is relaxed, and you're ready to move. Your feet should be a bit apart, right under your shoulders. You can move a bit from side to side, or toward your audience.

Keep your hands above your waist. You can put your fingertips together, as if in prayer, or not. Feel free to move your hands and stay relaxed about it.

Remember to breathe in deeply, get into an athletic position, and enjoy making connection with your audience.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Breathe Like Your Life Depends On It

Here's a Mixonian Mindset vitamin: The more deeply I breathe, the more relaxed my body is. Repeat this to yourself as often as needed.

Whenever you feel a tinge of anxiety coming on, for whatever reason, train yourself to focus on your breathing right away. Here's one way to do it:

1. Inhale deeply, counting to 2.

2. Hold it for 2 seconds.

3. Let it out slowly for 2 seconds.

4. Wait 2 seconds before inhaling again.

Make sure you make strange noises when you exhale. Sometimes I do that without thinking and people look at me weird.

All this focus on breathing helps you avoid catastrophizing about anything. Also it's a great signal to your brain to RELAX right this instant.

Another trick for warding off anxiety is to look at the sky, the one outside, not your popcorn ceiling at work!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Have You Been Normalized?

Normalizing is a wonderful PhD word. I really got a grasp on it when I heard an academic presentation about "hetero-normalizing" at a conference in Savannah. (Click here if you want to read more about that.)

It comes from the work of French scholar Michel Foucault and essentially posits that one way the status quo maintains power is by making it appear "normal" for them to be in power. If it seems normal, no one is questioning, and it's just easier to stay in power that way.

For example, years ago apartheid was considered normal in South Africa. Finally some people began to protest that racial segregation was not indeed normal, and while the change didn't happen overnight, apartheid is no longer the normal way of being in that county.

It used to be normal for fathers to go to work every day and for mothers to stay home all day. Today, all kinds of alternatives to this are accepted as normal.

These days, getting a college degree is the normal way to join the solid ranks of the middle class. In fact, in many disciplines you absolutely cannot participate if you do not have this degree, but that isn't the only way to gain a boatload of knowledge about something. Another example: it's normal to get your driver's license at age 16. But, in Europe, you mostly have to be 18 to get a driver's license. It's normal for a lot of people to want to spend your college years in an inebriated state. Being normal is not necessarily a good thing.

It used to be normal to expect to work as a manager all your life with one or more companies; today the so-called gig way of work is becoming normal.

If you're not pleased with something in your life, see if you're accepting it as normal when you don't have to.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Motivate Yourself With Attribution Theory

You've actually been applying the social psychological attribution theory for a long time now. I'm bringing it up because it supports what Mixonian has expressed many times: your ability to choose interpretations is a valuable source of power for you.

To quote Wikipedia, Attribution theory is concerned with the ways in which people explain (or attribute) the behavior of others or themselves (self-attribution) with something else. It explores how individuals "attribute" causes to events and how this cognitive perception effects their usefulness in an organization.

To make this work for you, imagine you have to make a killer presentation. That means if you don't achieve your objective, your boss will kill you. No pressure, right?

Option 1: You could choose to attribute this responsibility to your boss having unwavering faith in your ability. Otherwise she would have assigned it to someone else.

Option 2: She's about to fire you anyway, so in a way you're the sacrificial victim -- closing the deal is only a remote possibility.

Option 3: Obviously you're up for a promotion, otherwise this task would have gone to someone else.

We could go on and on with other options. Motivations are normally complex and may even fluctuate. So go with an interpretation, or attribution, that seems reasonable and comfortable.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Credibility When You Don't Have the Right College Degree

I've heard that many public universities are cutting back on their 2009-2010 course offerings in response to deep budget cuts. That means it will take a lot of students longer to graduate. While that's not what the parents of students and students themselves want to hear, it does represent a great opportunity to rethink ways of building your expertise and credibility.

It's surprising how many people see their lack of a degree in the field of work they wish to pursue as a handicap.

Let me remind you that my sister, who studied Painting, for goodness sake, at the University of Georgia, enjoys (most of the time) a productive executive career working with marketing of software to the healthcare industry. I don't think color coordination was a requirement for that job, but her company loves her multidisciplinarian approach to her work. Clients love her non-geeky way of explaining how the software works.

Here are two really important facts to keep in mind:

1. College degrees are overrated. Lot's of really smart people who make tons of money didn't get one at all: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are just two of the most famous examples.

2. There are so many gazillion ways of getting the expertise you want.

I like to tell my students that everything I teach them they can learn other places as well. I never did see the point of paying $120 for a "required" public speaking textbook when there are hundreds of excellent books on the subject at the local bookstore that sell for less than $20 each. (The collusion of universities with college textbook industry is subject for another post.)

BTW, I wrote this post on Saturday and Sunday morning Seth Godin sent out his take on the textbook charade. Click here to read it.

Books are one great source. Mentors may be even better. Especially if you read the books they recommend.

Ali Brown, owner of a multimillion dollar Internet marketing company recently contracted a woman executive to be her mentor. This woman is head of a multibillion dollar empire, and Ali pays her a cool half million for a year's worth of mentoring.

You could probably find a local expert for a fraction of that -- in almost any field that interests you.

Whether you support homeschooling or not, that movement has resulted in significant, though far from sufficient, changes in our public elementary education system: charter schools, magnet schools, vouchers, etc.

Maybe it's time to recognize the value of tested expertise from non-university sources. Your own experience counts!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Energy to Wow

Fact: Giving an effective presentation requires a high level of energy.

Fact: Anything you do to increase your energy improves the energy level of your presentation.

Just to remind you, there are many ways to increase your energy level:

- Eat more unprocessed food and less junk food.

- Exercise more -- at least 5 times a week.

- Get enough sleep. That may mean taking naps.

- Worry less.

- Take more control over your schedule.

The energy you put into your presentation gives a strong but invisible signal to your audience that this is something worthy of their attention. Raise your energy level, engage your audience.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Your Personal Authority to Speak

Yikes! Authority is such a loaded word these days. It conjures up images of military generals, dictators, and football coaches.

While hanging a 8-story picture of yourself on a prominent building in town is one way to proclaim your authority, there are easier tactics.

Speaking with authority does NOT mean you are authoritarian or dictatorial, although you might be, from time to time. ;-)

Speaking with authority means you know what you're talking about. It does not mean you are the world's expert on your topic, although that's not a bad thing to be. You do, however, know more than your audience about your topic.

It is not only important to know your topic, you also want to look like you know your topic. You want people to take you seriously when you're presenting.

Many of my clients are not used to thinking about speaking with authority; they're used to getting the job done, often working behind the scenes.

Sometimes I work with a client who is highly suspicious of coming across as pushy or overbearing while trying to speak with authority. Thinking in terms of authority or ineffective is a dangerous false dichotomy.

I like to emphasize a natural and quiet confidence when working with most of my clients; they're not the cheerleader types nor do they wish to be.

In preparing your talk, remember what makes you an authority on your topic. Think about what an authority figure would look like and sound like. Now you are the authority.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The #1 Mistake with Visual Aids

You're probably thinking that the #1 mistake with visual aids is too much text on a slide.

Close, but that's #2.

The worst thing you can do with a visual aid is to spend your presentation looking at it....instead of your audience.

You can look at it for a few seconds, while keeping your mouth shut. This gives your audience the chance to take it in, without being distracted by your words.

Despite the protests of i-pod addicts, people cannot take in information from 2 different sources at the same time. Either they read your slides OR they listen to you. They're not doing both at the same time.

That's why you limit text on a slide.

Once you're talking, look your audience in the eye, one person at a time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Power of a Pause

One of the ways you can tell someone is not used to speaking in front of a group is to notice if they're rushing through their message. It's sometimes hard to follow speakers who shoot out their message like a barrage of paint balls.

My first semester of teaching at ECU I went so fast I got through a 16-week syllabus in about 11 weeks. Faced with the consequence of having to develop new ways to go over the material again for the remaining 5 weeks of the semester, I learned the value of slowing down. Years later Sister Mary Bernard at Merici Academy reminded me that novice teachers tend to cover too much material. (Some of us are enthusiastic but slow learners.)

As you get used to speaking in front of groups, you naturally slow down. But you can always work with the power of a pause to make your point more memorable.

Slowing down and pausing also helps you get rid of verbal fillers - those annoying "ahmmmms."

One tip I tell my clients is to pretend they're going to talk in slow motion. The words usually come out faster than you think. If you're using notes. write "pause" or "stop" at the appropriate points.

If you have a dramatic statistic or story, pause afterward to let it sink in.

If your audience laughs (whether or not you intended to be funny,) give them time to enjoy the humor.

If you experience brain freeze and totally forget what you were going to say, don't worry about the resulting unintentional pause. Your audience will think it's on purpose.

Pause between the main points you make.

If you have something complicated to explain (complicated to your audience, not you,) go slowly. Pause frequently.


Practice pausing in your daily conversations. You may notice that people begin to listen better to what you're saying.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Triangle of Audience Love

You may not be familiar with the triangle of audience love; not many people talk about it.

The fact is, the more you relate yourself to your topic, the closer your audience will feel to you.

You and your audience are at the bottom 2 angles and your topic is the top angle. The more you related yourself to your topic, the closer you your core audiences gets to you.

Let's pretend you're teaching a cooking class. People who love to cook are in your audience, but within that "love to cook" category, there are more specific attractor factors to cooking. Some are more interested in nutrition, some in easy meal preparation, some in entertaining, and some in showing off.

When you share with your audience what attracts you to your topic, you invisibly reach out to the people in your audience who share the same value for what you're talking about.

Will others feel left out?

Not really. The more the expert shares her personal side that is relevant to the presentation, the more stronger the relationship becomes between the speaker and the audience.

Start your presentation by telling your audience what you like about the topic. Your fans will go wild!

Friday, June 5, 2009

How to Be Popular and Better Off

One big thing I have learned in working with my business coach, is doing the "right" things for the "wrong" reasons erodes your self-confidence.

Losing the faith you had in your own abilities when you were 6 has serious and negative consequences. On the other hand, any increase in your confidence is money in the bank.

Confident people actually do earn significantly more money. They are also more powerful and persuasive with other people. They live better because they perceive the world differently.

More confident people usually:

Perceive other people in a better light.

Assume that other people will like and accept them.

Perform better under pressure.

Do better work when the standards are high.

Have an easier time of not taking criticism personally.

Do not think that others are out to get them.

Make friends easily.

Increasing confidence in your own abilities to solve your problems has a huge multiplier effect in all areas of your life. In my research into why people support charismatic leaders like Hugo Chavez, one of the strongest reasons is that his fans don't think they can make it without the help of a "messiah" leader.

The $25 PhD word for confidence is self-efficacy, fyi.

As I repeatedly tell my clients, confidence is not a speaking technique; it is a way of living.

It is not about imitating another person.

Confidence is feeling the safety to tap into your authentic self (who you really are) instead of trying to be the person others expect, or want, you to be.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

One Simple Way to Communicate More Powerfully

Listen carefully.

Make this one simple change in the way you talk, email, and chat and increase your leverage significantly and instantly.

Slow down.

Talk less. Say more. Insert pauses. Reflect.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Those Difficult Conversations

Yesterday my son asked me if I thought he avoided confrontations with people. My answer was something like, "Is the Pope Catholic?" Then he told me that he learned in his Pscyhology class that most people dislike and avoid confronting others. I was pleased that my son might actually be emerging from his "Age of Infinite Wisdom" (term borrowed from Robert Ringer), would be so open to learning something. Thus, I refrained from screaming at him, "DUHHHHHH."

I have found that the trick with sticky situations is confronting others early in the game, long before meltdown is even a possibility. And certainly people who confront via email should have their fingers rapped with a sharp metal ruler!

Debra Fine, in her book, The Big Talk, recommends the following openings to difficult-but-hugely-important conversations. These suggestions are far better than what I absolutely abhor hearing, that "I need to talk to you!"

There is something I'd like to talk with you about that I expect will improve our work together.

I'd like to discuss ________ with you, but first I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Do you have some time to talk? I need your help with what just transpired

I'd like to discuss the _____. We may have different ideas on how best to ________.

I'd like to come to an agreement about ________. I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspective as well.

Remember, successfully dealing with conflict, like everything else, requires practice.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The First Thing You Say

You may remember the advice from your last public speaking class to memorize your opening statement. That's not a bad idea. A lot of my clients find that once they get past the first sentence or two, their butterflies begin to fly in formation. Then they enjoy great rapport with their audiences, whether of just one person, or a room full.

Atlanta-based executive speech coach Sandy Linver expresses the purpose of your opening statement as, "to get your listeners as ready as possible to really hear your Message." To achieve this objective, you really need to think about how you can help your listeners get your message, rather than focusing on a bombardment of impressive information.

Marketing man Dan Kennedy is even more ambitious, he wants to set up his audience to be predisposed to accept his message. He accomplishes this not only through an opening statement, but through communication with his audience before his speech. Something to think about.

A good talk can begin with a story, a quote, a joke, a question, or some personal statement. That really is the speaker's decision. And you certainly can't coerce an audience into accepting your argument, you do your best to show that your interest is aligned with theirs.

What's an awkward introduction? Telling a joke or story that has no relationship with your message.

Two suggestions to open a talk or interview:

1. Tell them something you know they'll agree with. This is classic sales technique, getting the audience in a "yes" frame of mind. It's usually helpful to show that you understand their point of view, before introducing a new perspective. In some way, you can define your audience's current reality, with the goal of getting them to see the benefit of your solution.

2. Acknowledge some existing tension in the current reality. Obviously if we were already in Paradise, you might not need to be giving your talk/presentation in the first place. Explain what the problem is in terms that make it easy for the audience to see how you can help resolve it.

Here's an example of how this works.

My client whom we'll call Suzy, wants to start a mastermind group with some forward-thinking friends of hers. They admire her, but are skeptical of her idea.

She starts off by giving a quote from Napoleon Hill about the power of mastermind groups, then explains the common goals she and her group of friends share (which though they differ in specifics, in essence the goal is showing up in a bigger way in each of their lives.)

In this case, the existing reality that the speaker and the audience share, is a situation in which everyone has a similar goal, which is a desire to shine more brightly. Thus she and her audience establish agreement about what current reality looks like, she proposes a way to get everyone closer to their goals, and she borrows credibility from Napoleon Hill. Now that presentation is off to a great start. It's that easy.

Monday, June 1, 2009

You Decide How You Want to Be Treated

You've probably noticed how we tend to judge romantic relationships by the way we see how the couple treats each other. You've surely heard, or said, "She treats him like dirt," or "He treats her like a princess." And that's usually what we go on.

When I complained about the way I was being treated in a relationship, my friend replied, "But I thought you liked being bossed around." Ouch. That was when I always assumed it was the other person who was responsible for treating me the way I should be. That was kind of like waiting for the rescue mission.

What usually happens is that something, a request, for example, catches us off guard. And if we're innate people pleasers, not trained in the delicate art of saying "Why did you think I would want to do that, the answer is 'no' and don't ever think about asking me to do that ever again, buddy," we say "sure, no problem."

Lesson One: Always and without exception ask for time (at least 24 hours) to contemplate any request that does not sound totally awesome in that moment. It is indispensable to make this commitment now, not when your neighbor asks you to take care of her 8 cats while she spends the summer in Provence.

Lesson Two: Take a peep inside your brain and see if there is any possibility you want to feel guilty for not lending $500 to your colleague. You are not responsible for her inability to stick to a budget.

Are you afraid they'll call you "stingy," or "selfish," or "ego maniac"? It's easy to fear losing business, too. But that's not the problem. What other people think of you is never your problem.

Lesson Three: Getting treated like the awesome person that you are starts with the way you treat yourself and others. AND....it's a process, not a technique. Some days you're floating on diva clouds, and sometimes you get suckered into something.

In working with my clients, it helps them to isolate and identify a single situation where they felt like they were getting the short end of the stick.

That one situation holds a plethora (bunches) of free lessons for you - why you said "yes" when you wanted to say "no," what triggered you, and what you thought people might think of you if you did say, "hell, no."

Don't wait until the next crisis erupts, remember that you treat yourself, and others, with utmost honor and respect.