Improve Your Listening

Martin_Change

 

Far too many of us talk a lot but listen very little. That probably means that we aren’t hearing all of the information that people are trying to provide to us, and it might mean that we are actually missing quite a lot. Active listening can help us to both hear, and learn more. It doesn’t mean that we can’t speak, but almost all can profit from listening to what others, especially our work colleagues, are trying to communicate to us.

The fact is that listening is one of the most important and under-rated skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others. We listen to music for pleasure, but we also listen to get information and to understand. We listen to learn, and while many of us think that learning stops when we leave school, the reality is that this is a life-long process, and the smart ones have figured that out.

Some studies have suggested that we only take in and remember between 25 and 50 percent of the information that we hear every day. That means that we lose up to 75 percent of what is presented to us. While some of that lost information might be trivial or unimportant, at work, this could be costing you and your company time, money, or both.

If you weren’t listening at the sales meeting when they announced the featured items for the month, you cannot pass this information (which you didn’t hear) on to your clients; you will not garner the extra sales, and you might not make your sales targets or get your bonus at the end of the month. Once again everyone involved is not happy with the situation – especially, you.

The elements of better listening are simple and include:

Attending

This has to with the physical aspect of listening. In active listening, you begin by facing the person who is talking, opening yourself and your posture to listen. You should also lean towards the speaker while maintaining eye contact. Most importantly, consider relaxing your body – particularly your shoulders – to show the other person that you are ready to listen and receive the information he or she is beginning to provide.

Paraphrasing

This is a technique that allows you to focus in on what the other person is saying and to show him or her that you are paying attention. You can do this by repeating in your own words what you think the speaker has just said. This is not about agreeing or disagreeing with the individual, it is simply re-stating what you have heard, demonstrating to the speaker that you were listening.

Perception Checking

In order to be sure that you are picking up the right information it is often useful to ask questions of the other person. This can help to clarify what he or she said, or to try and understand the feelings contained in what the other person is saying. This element can help add another layer of understanding to the basic facts or information being shared.

Summarizing

Good listeners will often use their own words to summarize what the other person is saying, and clarify perceptions of what he or she is trying to get across. This might also be particularly useful when you are listening to a lengthy or complex presentation.

Empathizing

This is just trying to show the person that you understand and can relate to his or her experience. Empathizing is helpful when dealing with personal issues – even at work- colleagues bring their personal lives with them to work more than they may realize. It can allow you to separate out the feelings from the information and often will let the other person share valuable insights that can assist you in your work.

Becoming a better listener at work can help to improve your productivity as well as your ability to influence, persuade and, negotiate. Improving your listening can lead you to even greater workplace success.

 

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.

You can  buy Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People from the publisher in print or e-book:

Booklocker

http://booklocker.com/books/5576.html

or from Amazon.com

CHANGE THE THINGS YOU CAN: Dealing with Difficult People

Also check out my fiction writing at

http://www.bodyonthet.com

http://www.walkeronthecape.com

http://www.beneaththesurface.co

Twitter @mike54martin

You can follow Sgt. Windflower on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore?ref=hl

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How to be Happy at Work

Martin_Change

 

How to Be Happier at Work

 

There are lots of articles and ideas about making the workplace more productive but who is talking about making the workplace a happier place? Since we spend a third of our lives there maybe we should spend just a few more minutes thinking and talking about that. And while there are many things that an employer can do to make the workplace a more pleasant place to spend all that time in, we can do a lot all by ourselves.

Attitude Adjustment

An employer has the obligation to make sure that the workplace is safe and secure and that you have the tools and equipment you require to get your job done. The rest is up to you, including your attitude at work. If you notice the people who seem happiest at work they are often the ones who have a positive attitude. Now you don’t have to be sunny-side up all of the time, but if you are going to whine and complain all the time, you will be miserable almost all the time. If you can find some things about your work to be grateful for, that would be a good beginning. If you can’t find anything good to say about your job, then maybe it’s time you starting looking for a new one.

Develop Yourself

Even the most boring jobs can have aspects that allow you to learn and grow, even if that means growing into another job. If you are at the bottom then think about it as the starting place for you to rise up. If you are not being challenged in your current job then ask for different assignments and more possibilities. Take a lateral transfer so that you can learn the basics of another job or how another section works. Establish your own personal development and training plan and take outside courses or training that will allow to progress. Quit complaining about being stuck in your career and actually do something about it.

Socialize at Work

It’s always more fun when you do something, even difficult things, with someone else. So why not do that at work by trying to make friends and socializing a little? It could be as simple as eating lunch with others in the common room or going out for coffee break in the morning. You just might find that you have more in common than you thought with at least some of your co-workers and maybe even find a friend or confidante. Studies have shown that our emotional and mental improves when we have someone to talk to about what’s going on with us. That someone might just be in the next cubicle over.

 

Avoid Negativity

If you can’t always be positive at work you can do your best to avoid negativity. Sometimes that might mean staying away from the people who used to be like the old, unhappy you. You know the whiny, complaining, negative types. Those people would and could bring anybody down. You also need to avoid one of the most negative habits that people have developed in the modern workplace and that is gossip, or talking behind other people’s back. Gossip often sounds innocent but it can damage people’s good name and reputation. You wouldn’t want it to happen to you, so don’t engage when it’s about something else.

Be Helpful and Appreciative

There is nothing that will get you out of a bout of self-pity than a good dose of gratitude or by doing something good for someone else. It might be offering to help a co-worker who’s buried under a pile of paper and close to missing a deadline. It might be volunteering to do that last weekend in summer when you really didn’t have any plans but it seems like everyone else at work did. Or it just might be something as simple as saying thank you and goodnight to the security guard on the way home at night. Giving away a little bit of happiness to someone else may in the end bring it closer to you at work.

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.

You can  buy Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People from the publisher in print or e-book:

Booklocker

http://booklocker.com/books/5576.html

or from Amazon.com

CHANGE THE THINGS YOU CAN: Dealing with Difficult People

Also check out my fiction writing at

http://www.bodyonthet.com

http://www.walkeronthecape.com

http://www.beneaththesurface.co

Twitter @mike54martin

You can follow Sgt. Windflower on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore?ref=hl

 

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Rebalancing Your Life

Martin_Change

 

Sooner or later we will all have to find a way to balance our work with the rest of our life. If not we will find that work takes up so much of our life that there is little time for anything else. Or we will pay a much greater price in terms of our physical, mental or emotional well-being. Just like many other aspects of life we do not usually figure out we have a problem with an imbalance between our work and the rest of our lives until we are already in trouble.

Here are 3 lessons that we can learn and practice to prevent those troubles from arising and to help us rebalance our work and the rest of our lives.

Learn to Set Limits

Everybody wants to do a good job at work, at least if you want to keep that job you do. For some of us that means we will do anything at work, anything that is asked of us and sometimes what we think might be asked of us. When we learn to set limits we review the requests and demands made of us at work and we do what we can with the time that is available to us. And we almost never exceed those requests because as healthy individuals we learn that a business or organization has no limits so we have to set them for ourselves.

One of the best ways to set limits around work is to physically schedule the time that you are available for work. That is probably not going to be the 35-40 hour work week of the past but there’s nothing wrong with setting a goal or a limit of 50 hours in the office per week. At home the same applies and you could offer to be ‘on call’ or available until 8 at night or one day on the weekend in the case of a work ‘emergency’. Just remember that while’s it’s great to set limits, they only help your work-life balance if you actually stick to them.

 

Learn to Say No

It’s funny but we spend the first two or three years of our lives being told no and then the rest of our days, especially at work, forgetting everything we have learned about that little two letter word. Here’s a mantra to help you re-learn this important word: “It’s okay to say no.” The reason that you have to have a mantra is because that is certainly not the message we get at work. It seems to some people, unfortunately sometimes our supervisors too, that saying no is an excuse or some kind of cop-out. They make us feel like saying no is a personal failing or even worse a personal insult. Whenever they try that on you just repeat the mantra: “It’s okay to say no.”

It’s okay to say no when you are overwhelmed and can’t keep up or when you feel that the request is unfair or unreasonable. When someone asks you to work late on Friday night and they wait until just before 5 to ask, it’s okay to say no. If you have worked the last three weekends and they ask you to work a fourth, it’s perfectly fine to say no. Saying no is also acceptable if you physically can’t perform a function or if it involves a task where you do not feel qualified or competent.

 

Learn Healthy Coping Skills

We all cope differently with stress and the pressures of the modern workplace and the good news is that all coping techniques work to some degree to help us stay in balance at work and at home. But while some coping skills are effective in reducing stress they can also have a downside. This applies to a range of activities from drinking alcohol to gambling to shopping. All may make us feel better at the time but all of these activities if done more than moderately will ultimately cause us more problems than before, maybe as early as our headache tomorrow morning or our credit card bill at the end of the month.

Some other coping mechanisms will not only make us feel better in the moment and alleviate our stress, but they will also help us restore and rejuvenate ourselves. The best and healthiest coping skill that we can learn is regular physical exercise. Walking or any other activity for twenty minutes three times a week will do wonders for our physical well-being and even more importantly our mental health and emotional balance. Plus we get to burn off those extra calories and feel better about ourselves. Healthy coping skills really are the gift to ourselves that keep on giving.

 

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.

You can  buy Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People from the publisher in print or e-book:

Booklocker

http://booklocker.com/books/5576.html

or from Amazon.com

CHANGE THE THINGS YOU CAN: Dealing with Difficult People

Also check out my fiction writing at

http://www.bodyonthet.com

http://www.walkeronthecape.com

http://www.beneaththesurface.co

Twitter @mike54martin

You can follow Sgt. Windflower on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore?ref=hl

 

 

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Always Do Your Best

Martin_Change

 

There is a great little book about life and living called ‘The Four Agreements’. It is a New York Times bestseller by the Toltec Indian teacher and spiritual guide by Don Miguel Ruiz. It features four simple agreements that if you practice them regularly, will improve your life and living. One of them, the fourth actually, is Always Do Your Best.

This agreement, which you make with yourself, allows all the other positive things that you do in life to become more effective and to reach their full potential so that you can live a happy and contented life. But you can also utilize this agreement to make the most of your time at work. And since you spend a third of your life there, the practices that you introduce at work will spill over to help you make the most of the rest of your life as well.

To always do your best at work you need to have a good attitude, be motivated to succeed, a personal plan for growth, and come to work ready and able to carry out your assignments to the best of your abilities.

Cultivating a Good Attitude

There is scientific research that positivity attracts abundance and success. So if you want to do your best at work you need to cultivate and practice bringing a positive attitude with you to work. You can create this energy by doing some very basic things like getting a good night’s sleep, especially during the work week, eating properly and not overindulging in alcohol. You can also do that by surrounding yourself with positive people and by bringing more positive ideas into your life. One of the greatest motivational books of all time is still ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’, by Norman Vincent Peale.

Fuel Our Own Success

We all have a little engine inside of us that propels us along the road in our career and our life. But we have to fuel this engine or it starts to seize up and suddenly seizes up and won’t move any more. We also have to lubricate the moving parts and we do this by finding ways to introduce new ideas and concepts that we can strive to learn. That engine is sometimes called motivation and while we can draw strength from outside to help us keep moving, 90 percent of it is about finding it inside ourselves. Spend a little time every day to find your own fuel so that you can always do your best.

Plan Your Own Growth

Just like motivation is an inside job, so too is the growth of your career. Yes, it is about opportunities coming open for you to take advantage of, but if you notice the people who get ahead quickly, they are standing at the door even before it opens. So get ready for these opportunities by developing your own growth plan at work. Think about where you want to be in five years and ten years and then put it down in writing. Next, put your paper plan into action. Take a course, get a transfer, recruit a coach or mentor, and get to work building your own success. Always do your best by doing everything you can to make success and growth possible.

Stop Judging Yourself

As Don Miguel says in his book, your best will differ depending on your physical and emotional state. You will and can do better when you are healthy versus when you are ill, and you can certainly do better when you are well-rested versus being hung-over. And doing your best does not mean that you over-do things or keep working all night in some desperate attempt to finally finish that overdue project. It means that you give your work your full focus and attention while you are working on it, and then you move on to the next thing and do the same. And when you leave that first piece you do not judge or second guess yourself, you acknowledge that you did your best, and you just move on.

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.

You can  buy Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People from the publisher in print or e-book:

Booklocker

http://booklocker.com/books/5576.html

or from Amazon.com

CHANGE THE THINGS YOU CAN: Dealing with Difficult People

Also check out my fiction writing at

http://www.bodyonthet.com

http://www.walkeronthecape.com

http://www.beneaththesurface.co

Twitter @mike54martin

You can follow Sgt. Windflower on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore?ref=hl

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Sparking Your Own Creativity

Martin_Change

Gretchen Rubin, the author of the highly successful book “The Happiness Project”, spent a year trying to figure out what made her happy. One of her conclusions was that following her passions instead of curbing her impulses to be creative brought her much closer to that elusive goal. In order to do that she designed several ways to help spark her creativity on a regular basis. They include taking notes and making random lists, poking around the Internet and visiting strange locations that seem to attract her.

You can spark your own creativity by trying out some of her ideas or maybe some of these five other ways to get your imagination and creativity flowing.

  1. Convene a Personal Brainstorming Session

We’ve all been part of brainstorming sessions at work as part of some team building exercise. That’s when you all throw out ideas and don’t judge or criticize them but come up with as many suggestions as you can. Why not try it just by yourself? Find a quiet corner or boardroom and get a large piece of craft paper and writing down a few questions or problems that are going on at work. Then write down any ideas that come to you. Don’t try and judge them and see what happens. You just might find that answer you were looking for and you will feel your creativity just come right out of your head onto the paper.

2. Read All About It

There are thousands of success stories out there that you can read about. There have been books written by and about many creative geniuses from Leonardo Da Vinci to Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs. You can read about how they came up with their ideas and how they allowed their creativity to grow flourish. For example Da Vinci believed that everything was somehow connected and he used his creativity to connect up his interest in such diverse areas as astronomy, art and mathematics. He also had specific techniques like starting into the ashes of the fireplace for inspiration for his art. You don’t have to do that but reading about it might help spark your creativity.

3. Open Your Mind by Closing the Door

Sometimes all you might need to spark your creativity is a little peace and quiet to think. The good news is that you can think almost anywhere and at any time. At work trying closing your door (if you have one) or finding a quiet place to sit and allow your imagination and creativity to come to the forefront of your mind. But you can also think on the bus or the train or in your car. Don’t daydream on the freeway but you can put on some music that inspires you or that can calm your mind and within the solitude of your car or beneath your headphones you can feel the creative juices start to flow. Right afterwards take ten minutes and jot down your thoughts. Then build on these thoughts later to keep the creativity going.

4. Play

Working hard is great but sometimes it’s a little better to work less and play a little more. Think about the joy and freedom you felt when you were a kid just kicking around a soccer ball or playing hide and seek with your friends. At those times you weren’t worried about the outcome or who was winning, you were just being your authentic self and having fun. You were also likely at your highest creative level possible. Play can release you from the burdens of work, improve your motivation and well-being and recharge not only your creativity. All work and no play made Jane a dull girl. Playing made her brighter and more creative. And a lot more fun to be around at work.

5. Travel or Plan to Travel

One of the absolute best ways to reignite your low creativity flame is by travelling to another city or country. It gets you out of the rut of routine and allow you to see the world in a different light. Try some new foods and even try speaking a few words of a new language. Change is the fluid that lubricates our imagination and creativity. But if you can’t travel right now then do your research and start planning to travel to somewhere new. Just by reading about it you will start to feel a little different and if you make a plan to travel as soon as you can you will not only have something to look forward to, you will also start thinking a little different about how you are doing things right now. Travel if you can and plan to travel if you can’t. Either way your imagination will be inspired and your creativity will receive a much needed spark.

 

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.

You can  buy Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People from the publisher in print or e-book:

Booklocker

http://booklocker.com/books/5576.html

or from Amazon.com

CHANGE THE THINGS YOU CAN: Dealing with Difficult People

Also check out my fiction writing at

http://www.bodyonthet.com

http://www.walkeronthecape.com

http://www.beneaththesurface.co

Twitter @mike54martin

You can follow Sgt. Windflower on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore?ref=hl

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How to Gain Confidence: Five Steps to Success

Martin_Change

 

It’s not easy to gain confidence, especially when you start out in anything new. Remember what it was like when you first tried to ride a bike. If you were like me it took many attempts to finally be able to master that two-wheeled monster. And I had the bumps and scrapes and bruises as my badges of honor. But once you get the hang of riding a bike then you never have a problem with that activity ever again. At least until your knees give out!!

Gaining confidence is kind of like that too. You are often tentative at the beginning, maybe even a little nervous. But once those wheels start rolling underneath you then you know you are on your way to not just confidence but success. To get you started on the road to gaining confidence here are five steps to success.

Fake it Til You Make It

Nobody starts out in life with confidence in their back pocket. We all have to earn it or learn it. But until you do you can start acting as if you know what you are doing. Not in a dangerous, sloppy or disrespectful way, but just by smiling instead of frowning or talking positively, even if it’s inside your head to can gain confidence for yourself and maybe even impress others. It’s calling faking it until to make it and if you watch people like Donald Trump you can see it in action.

The ‘Donald’ acts as if he knows everything, and many people believe that he does, until of course he opens his mouth. That’s the other secret to faking it, it is always better to say little or nothing about things that you know little or nothing about. You can look like you know what you are doing and people might believe you. But if you try explaining what you are doing, you are likely going to be in big trouble, very quickly.

Watch, Listen and Learn

We got to school for a reason; to learn practices and processes to solve problems. We have to listen and learn at work for the same reason. This is particularly true if we want to know how to gain confidence about a particular function or activity. Find someone who really knows how to do something and watch how they do it. Ask them questions and wait for their answers. Then ask if you can learn from them by being their apprentice or if they will coach or mentor you.

Even if they cannot actively participate in your growth you have just made an ally in helping to build your confidence. You are starting to build a support system that everyone who already has confidence usually has to help them when times or things get tough. And if all you do is just watch, listen and learn your own confidence will grow because you will have real knowledge to support it.

Look the Part

There was a men’s clothing store in my home town with the slogan… ‘Clothes Make the Man….And We Make the Clothes.’ Looking good will not automatically make you confident but it will help. Studies have shown that sharply dressed men and women are more respected in the workplace and you have to admit that when you see someone who is put together fashion-wise, one of your first thoughts is that they must be successful. Personal hygiene is also important because let’s face it, who hasn’t thought less of someone who looks unclean or disheveled at work.

Women in particular have told me that they feel much more confident when they wear a smart suit or have their hair done in a particular fashion. Looking good may be all about what we look like on the outside but it has more impact on what we feel inside than we sometimes think. Being confident is an inside job and it does help if we look and feel better on the outside.

Don’t Be Afraid

Of all the things that hold us back from being confident, our fears and insecurities often top the list. Fear is a great way to keep people in line but it is actually a very poor motivator. And the thing about almost all of our fears is that they are imagined and not real. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be a barrier to confidence or success and or many people they hold them back from fulfilling their true potential at work and in life.

To overcome fear and work towards confidence we have to first of all convince ourselves that the fears are not real. We can do this through positive self-talk (I think I can… I think I can), or by talking to someone we trust about our fears. Secondly, we have to find a way to walk through our fears. If it is a fear of public speaking we can take a course or join Toastmasters. Finally, we have to visually our success in order to make it worthwhile to overcome our fears. If we can do all three of these things we can be confidently on our way.

Build on Success

Nothing builds confidence like success and the most confident people always try and make every activity a success, or at least take some small success out of every endeavor.  After a while these small successes start adding up, like a pitcher who starts striking out a few batters and then finds himself with a near perfect game. His confidence grows with every strikeout until he believes that he can actually make that perfect game happen. He may not get there but he will have great success along the way.

Most importantly, that pitcher, and you too, will grow more confident in your abilities as you have even the smallest of successes. And even if you stumble you will have the confidence to get back up on the mound and try again. Success breeds more success and a little bit of confidence will grow and multiply just as quickly.

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.

You can  buy Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People from the publisher in print or e-book:

Booklocker

http://booklocker.com/books/5576.html

or from Amazon.com

CHANGE THE THINGS YOU CAN: Dealing with Difficult People

Also check out my fiction writing at

http://www.bodyonthet.com

http://www.walkeronthecape.com

http://www.beneaththesurface.co

Twitter @mike54martin

You can follow Sgt. Windflower on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore?ref=hl

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Buy The Book.. Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People

Martin_Change

If you like the articles and content on this site then you will love reading the book Change the Things you Can: Dealing with Difficult People.

In this book you will find out:

How to Know if You are a Difficult Person

How to Deal with the Difficult People in Your Life

How to Deal with Bullies

How to Find Serenity in Your Life

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.

You can  buy Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People from the publisher in print or e-book:

Booklocker

http://booklocker.com/books/5576.html

or from Amazon.com

CHANGE THE THINGS YOU CAN: Dealing with Difficult People

Also check out my fiction writing at

http://www.bodyonthet.com

http://www.walkeronthecape.com

http://www.beneaththesurface.co

Twitter @mike54martin

You can follow Sgt. Windflower on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore?ref=hl

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