Category: Assumptions

What Assumptions are YOU Making About Others?

By , December 4, 2013 6:58 pm

What assumptions are YOU making?Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

~ Miguel Angel Ruiz

As human beings, we all make assumptions and believe them to be true. We can’t help ourselves! We are barely conscious of most of the assumptions we carry with us because they feel so real.

We make assumptions based on our (sometimes limited) observations of the behavior of others, past experience and what we perceive they might be thinking. Through our filters we distort the messages and create labels for the other person such as he or she is no good at…. (sales, managing projects, etc).

You believe this label to be real and start to develop a fixed mindset around it. Sub-consciously you will look for evidence to support your original assumption. In other words, we see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear, filtering out anything that is contrary to our assumption.

Assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and a lack of communication, because you think you already KNOW the answer or understand what is going on. You can also take things personally and feel awkward about a situation so you ignore it, or gossip about it to others while avoiding contact with the person concerned. You are frightened to ask for direct clarification by having a conversation.

Many of our assumptions remain untested, yet we believe them to be true and use them as a benchmark to discount people. This limits their future potential and any possibilities because we’ve already labeled them.

In other words, it’s easy to write someone off, not include them in something, and ignore their potential for learning and growth.

Assumptions are dangerous!

In a business context, one thing that greatly reduces the creativity, performance and growth of your team are the assumptions that you make.

Here are just a few of them:

  • He/she is not good at xxx.
  • It can’t be done.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • He/she is not a sales person.
  • It’ll cost too much.
  • It would take too long to develop.

Believing your assumptions means that you will write people off, often without even having a conversation with them. Your imagination makes things up when you don’t understand something and an assumption is created about its meaning. Finally, when the truth is revealed, you may find you’ve totally misunderstood the whole situation and gotten it horribly wrong.

Here are some of the potential outcomes of making assumptions. You will:

  • Lose trust in others.
  • Become more reactive.
  • Stop the growth and development of others.
  • Miss opportunities.
  • Limit the potential of the team.

We tend to look for mirror images of ourselves in others. We assume that others think and feel the same way as we do and make the same judgments. We imagine the truth and don’t see the reality of how things are or the potential for what could be.

If we take time to understand WHY people behave the way they do, then we can make better judgments of their behavior and possibly prevent ourselves from making some errors of judgment.

Here are a few ways to avoid making assumptions…

Have the courage to communicate when things feel uncomfortable – Instead of avoiding a conversation and sharing your fears with others, have a conversation with the person directly. You may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome! Have the courage to ask the questions and listen to the response with the intent to understand. Suspend your own pre-judgment of the situation.

Look for the potential in others – Don’t write people off too quickly with sweeping statements. People’s potential is unlimited. They may not be good at sales today, but if you give them the tools, opportunity and encouragement to learn, you could help them transform their performance (and your business). Invest time with your people; be open to them growing.

Test your assumptions – How do you know that what you are thinking is real? What evidence do you have? You might be wrong! You could be creating a bottleneck in your business because of your own lack of trust. Help others grow and move forward. Check in on your own thinking and turn it around. For example:

  • What if he/she was good at xxx?
  • I wonder if it’s possible to…
  • What if I created the time to…
  • What if I developed their sales skills?

Be extra vigilant when the relationship is one you know well Most people aren’t telepathic… they don’t know what they don’t know! You might shutdown when things feel uncomfortable, especially around people that you know well. You might assume you know what the other person is thinking so you don’t say anything. Honestly, you have no idea what the other person might be thinking or feeling! If you don’t have the conversation, you might create discomfort and tension and give out the wrong message one that says that you don’t care. The other person can’t read your mind and won’t always understand just because you think you know them well. Find your voice and always establish the truth.

What assumptions are YOU making about others?

 

Why a Painful Experience Can Be a Great Teacher…

By , November 20, 2013 9:50 pm

“Pain prompts us to face who we are and where we are. What we do with that experience defines who we become.”

~ John C. Maxwell, Author

Throughout my working life I’ve been helping people face their problems, challenges and mistakes. I coach individuals how to grow through them. I believe that people thrive when they are able to face their problems and screw-ups in a way that shifts any bad experience, and uses it as a catalyst for change and future success. I have witnessed many profound shifts.

We all have painful moments in business (and in our personal lives, too) no matter how hard we try to avoid them. Honestly, if you’re taking risks and wanting to stand up and play a bigger game, then you can’t avoid painful experiences. It’s part of the journey on the rollercoaster ride of success!

No one enjoys being in the middle of a bad experience. It hurts emotionally, and sometimes physically, when things go wrong. We re-live the experience moment by moment, replaying it in our mind in the hope that we can somehow change the outcome, go back and say things differently, or change our behavior in the past.

But, as you know – it’s not possible…

How do you respond when you say the wrong thing or drop the ball?

Do you get angry or frustrated with yourself? Shrink into yourself emotionally? Get upset and teary? Worry that everyone thinks you are a bad person? Do you think, ‘Who do I think I am?’ Or maybe you try to completely detach yourself from the situation and ignore it?

Whatever you are thinking, you can’t change the past.

However, you ALWAYS have a choice on how you move things forward. In other words, what you decide to do with the experience will define who you become as a result of it. Do you:

  1. Allow the pain to stop you in your tracks and you stay small licking your wounds and stay stuck re-living the moment over and over?
  2. Make a decision to work through the discomfort by facing the issue and dealing with it?

Here’s the thing…

Painful experiences increase our self-awareness – we get to know ourselves a little better. They enable us to reflect on who we are, where we are and what we need to change, or how we can move forward.

It helps you to define WHO you want to be at a deeper level.

So pain can be helpful and I’ve known many clients who have admitted that their biggest breakthroughs came in the middle of a painful experience, often when they felt like giving up. These experiences move us in a different direction. You get to decide which way to go: will they limit you or lead you forward?

Challenging times are often pivotal points in our growth. If you want to grow and develop then you have to learn to manage these experiences along with the good ones.

Here’s how to grow through pain…

1. EVERYONE has them – Knowing this helps! Negative things will happen; we’ll say the wrong thing in the moment, even though we had good intentions. Life is full of good and bad experiences; some you have control over and others you don’t. It’s how you manage them both that count because you can’t avoid them. Manage your expectations and know that it happens sometimes. It’s not fun in the moment, but if you can handle it well and turn it around, it may become a great story to tell afterwards.

2. Make it a positive experience – Most people react to bad experiences – they don’t handle them well. Change your frame of reference for the situation and how you look at it. It’s easy to make judgments and assumptions or blame others. Maybe you can’t change what has happened, but you can change your attitude towards it. Look at what you have learned about yourself and how you can apply these lessons moving forward. Bad experiences are portals for learning – choose to see them and use their gift as an opportunity for growth.

3. Take responsibility – Accept that you’ve screwed up or could have done things better. Don’t listen to your ‘victim’ story: woe is me or start wallowing in self-pity – this isn’t serving you! It’s easy to cling on to the negativity as it intensifies in your head. Instead, accept the situation and be kind to yourself. Let it go. Make good what you can and take forward motion knowing that your intention was good…You get to choose how this changes you.

Whatever you are experiencing in life just now… remember that you always have the opportunity to grow from it. The seed of growth is always there, you just have to look for it.

Your bad experiences can be a catalyst for unlocking your creativity. Assess the situation and manage your experience by deciding to make some positive changes. It’s all part of the process of life!

 

Are You Worth Your Own Effort?

By , May 8, 2013 8:51 pm

iStock_000010454461Small“If you put small value on yourself, rest assured the world will not raise the price.”

~ John C Maxwell

Not believing in yourself is one of the main reasons that holds people back from being successful.

Most people struggle to recognize and articulate their own value. They feel uncomfortable communicating and creating leverage with others. (Such as a potential client or your boss.)

To be successful you need to recognize that you have value and continually add value to yourself by investing time and effort into you. This isn’t about being arrogant or egotistical – it’s about knowing your strengths and seeing the possibilities.

Here’s the thing…

So many people stop growing and fail to reach their potential because they don’t believe in themselves.

It’s a self-esteem issue.

If you don’t know your own self worth, you limit your potential because you’re not able to recognize the possibilities that are available to you.

As Zig Ziglar once said:

“It’s impossible to consistently behave in a manner inconsistent with how we see ourselves. We do very few things in a positive way if we feel negative about ourselves.”

How do you see yourself? Are you worthy?

  • If you don’t believe that you have any value what you’re saying is that you’re not worth investing in.
  • If you believe you are worthless, then you’re not going to put the time or effort in or look for opportunities to add value to yourself. You unconsciously relegate YOU to the bottom of the list.

Our own self-image is often a reflection of the value that others project on to us. Most of us set our expectations based on other people’s opinions or beliefs of us.  This is okay if we have supportive and encouraging people around us. If not, then you’ll start listening to the negative influences of others. You stop believing in yourself and listen to the voices of others instead.

Here’s what the naysayers might be saying around you:

  • ‘You’ll never account for much!’
  • ‘You’ll not get anywhere with running a business’
  • ‘No one in our family has ever amounted to much!’
  • ‘You’ll fail in six months and wish you’d kept your old job!’
  • ‘It’s not going to happen so don’t waste your time.’

These statements are not true…

I believe your potential is unlimited. Explore and cultivate the possibilities of what could be.

Here’s how to start:

1. Stop worrying about what other people think of you – It’s what YOU think of YOU that matters! I’ve coached many people who have been living their lives according to what other people believe about them. My family was skeptical that I’d run my own business. Do it anyway! Create your own solution. You get to choose who you become – Not other people!

2. Listen to your language You are what you think through the constant conversations that you have in your head. Are these positive or negative? Change the way you think of yourself by improving the quality of your inner dialogue.  Stop being your worst critic and become your coach instead. Have positive conversations rather than negative ones. Tune in to how you talk to yourself.

3. List your strengths – Get to know yourself. Increase your self-awareness by understanding what you’re good at:

  • What feedback do you get from others about what you are good at?
  • What are your strengths (Strengths Finder 2.0 is a great starting point)?
  • What are your talents and skills?
  • What are you doing when you’re helping other people?
  • What do you enjoy doing?

4. STOP comparing yourself to others – Being successful is about your relationship with YOU. Comparing is an unnecessary distraction that takes your attention away from your intention and is harmful to your self-esteem. It’s all perception and it will either discourage you or feed your ego! None of which serves you or help you grow. Stay in your business of YOU. What do you need in order to grow today?

5. Identify and reframe your limiting beliefs – Most limiting beliefs are self-Imposed. Reframing enables us to find new and different ways of thinking about a situation to open up new possibilities that were previously closed off. Reframing can transform our understanding of a situation and lead to new thinking, feeling, action and better outcomes.

Here are some questions to help you to reframe a limiting belief:

  • What are you thinking that’s getting in the way of your success right now?
  • How does this make you feel?
  • How do you want to think, feel and act instead?
  • Write a turnaround statement for yourself.
  • Give yourself permission to think, feel and act in this new way.
  • Practice it daily so it becomes a habit

5. Look for opportunities to demonstrate your value to others – Share your gifts with others. Be in service to others by helping them with your expertise and experience. Let them know how you can help them. You might have information to share that saves someone time and helps them become more effective. Look for opportunities to reach out. This will create positive experiences.

Take a small step each day to uncovering and sharing your value – Forward motion.

You ARE WORTH IT!

 

How to be YOURSELF – Even when talking to important people!

By , February 27, 2013 2:34 am

Be Yourself“Leadership is not about holding on to territory, it’s about letting go of ego, bringing your spirit to work, being your best and most authentic self.”

~ James A Autry, The Servant Leader

Why are people sometimes so afraid to be themselves?

One of the key principles of self-leadership is the importance of being you.

However, some of us hide who we really are and instead present an image of how we think the other person wants us to behave in the hope that we will be accepted or liked.

I see this happen a lot in business, especially when leaders are stepping out of their comfort zones to play a bigger game. In corporate you might be attending a meeting with senior managers. As a business owner, you might be meeting an influential client or someone who is a role model and you feel star-struck to work with them.

Whoever the person, it’s easy for us to feel small, unworthy, inferior, or of lesser value. We perceive them as being so much more important and fall to pieces in these situations instead of being our normal, confident and articulate self…

Our internal thinking has a huge impact on our confidence and self worth. Our social and parental conditioning is against us being authentic and over time we have created rules, such as:

  • It is disrespectful to disagree with our elders, seniors or those more important than us.
  • Only speak when you are spoken to: We are taught what to say, when to say it.
  • Who you are is shaped by those who have influence over you. (You hand over your power to them.)
  • Don’t brag about what you’re good at as it might make other people feel uncomfortable. Push it down… (This is why most of us struggle to talk about our own successes.)
  • You have to be submissive with people more important that you.

Society creates ‘norms’ and we measure ourselves to them. We are under pressure to fit in. So here’s how we respond:

  • You want to keep the peace and hope they like you. So you say what you think they want to hear in order to become a people-pleaser.
  • You believe that your opinion is of lesser value and doesn’t count or it doesn’t matter. You perceive the other person’s opinion is of far greater value.
  • If you challenge or disagree with something, then you’ll be shot down or seen as difficult or negative.
  • You should keep your head below the parapet and blend in.

We live up in our heads most of the time, believing our thoughts to be the truth (you literally are what you think!).

Most of us go through life not knowing who we are or what we want. We settle, survive and keep our heads down. This is easier than trying to be yourself. Being real exposes you to vulnerability and judgment – this is scary.

The perception that someone is more important than you is often based on old concepts of power, especially in business. We try to work out where we fit in in the hierarchy.

True power comes from your personal power as a human being. By building trust and support you naturally attract other people.

Here are some tips on how to be you:

1. STOP WORRYING about what other people are thinking about you. You have no idea what they are thinking. These assumptions aren’t real. They are probably not thinking about you at all! This distraction only makes you get your own way of success. Instead of worrying about what to say, or how you look, focus on your intention for the meeting. Be 100% present for the person who is talking.

2. KNOW YOUR VALUE – Be useful as a leader to those you serve. Know WHY you’re attending the meeting.  Understand the value that you bring. You are there to provide information or  expertise so that others can make an informed decision. You are helping them to understand and make sense of things and prevent them making mistakes: Here’s how I can help you…

3. BE AN EQUAL –As human beings we all have the same worth and dignity. We are all equals no matter what role we play. See yourself as a consultant, not as a sub-ordinate. Let go of ego (theirs and yours) – it’s a distraction. Understand that some personality styles are different to yours. They package their language in a different way. It’s normal, not personal.

4. ALWAYS BE YOUR REAL SELF – Be the same person at home as you are at work… because you are! Be your authentic self – It’s who you really are. You have the same values whatever role you are playing. You already know how to interact with people at other levels – This is no different – Just be YOU. Find the language to help you say what you want to say.

5. FIND THE COURAGE to be you. Learn to listen to your heart as well as your head. People want an honest opinion, not ‘lip service.’ Be authentic and respond assertively, even if it is a difficult message. Remember, you are just talking to another person – we are all the same.

Be the person YOU want to be… from today!

It’s really okay to be YOU – Take yourself to work!

 

Recognizing and Understanding How Other People Feel – An Empathic Approach to Success

By , November 7, 2012 4:17 pm

“Empathic people are superb at recognizing and meeting the needs of clients, customers and subordinates. They seem approachable, wanting to hear what people have to say. They listen carefully, picking up on what people are truly concerned about, and they respond on the mark.”

 ~ Daniel Goleman, Author

Thinking that you can do everything yourself is a myth. Our own power actually comes from the self-awareness that we can’t be in control of everything. We must depend on and interact with others if we want to succeed.

Relationships are an essential part of our daily life and work. The quality and effectiveness of our connection with others makes a huge difference to our success as a people manager, coach or business owner.

Do you genuinely care about the people that you work with?

Your clients? Your team? Your colleagues? Your customers?

The relationship is important, but it’s often ignored, not considered or neglected. Many of us have heavy workloads and pressure, which limits the time available to focus on building relationships. Instead we focus on WHAT needs to be DONE. Empathy and rapport are seen as luxuries. It’s quicker to make assumptions and fill in the gaps, especially if you feel you are the expert in the conversation.

This can leave the other person feeling manipulated and not listened to, even attacked.

I’ve known leaders who use a telling style and jump straight in with a solution, once they get a glimmer of an idea about what the other person is talking about (even if its not wanted!).

You may start a conversation about a topic and the other person railroads it, taking over to share their example or experience, with little interest for what you have to say. The conversation ALWAYS ends up about them… (Does this sound familiar?!).

This is what I call the ‘me’ Factor: Minus Empathy!

‘I’m going to talk about me…then I’d like you to talk about me!’

Talking all about me creates a lack of trust, openness and honesty. It’s usually when our ego kicks in to help build us up and make us feel more superior.

No one wants to listen to someone who is ONLY interested in themselves, their issues or their achievements.  It drains the other person, who gets tired of listening and walks away.

One of the essential elements of Self-Leadership is empathy.

Empathy is created from self-awareness:

1. Stepping back and knowing what it’s like being on the receiving end of you… Being attuned to your inner signals.

2. Developing the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and view things from their map of the world.

Here are some tips on using a coaching style to create empathy if you want to build better relationships and empowering experiences for your clients, team or customers:

  1. Listen first before reacting or jumping in with feedback or solutions, allowing the conversation to flow. Listen with an intent to understand, not respond. This is the greatest gift you can give to someone.
  2. Focus on their intention, not yours. What is important to them? A good question to ask yourself is: ‘Am I making this about me or about them?’
  3. Be Authentic. Any advice given is genuinely in the interest of the other person and you’re not trying to manipulate them to your agenda, or fit them into your model of thinking.
  4. See their potential to work it out for themselves with your support. Hold that space encouraging and motivating them to think for themselves and own their solutions.
  5. Show you care by communicating that you believe in them. Demonstrate that you prepared to invest time in what they have to say. Be fully present and they will sense that you care. They’ll open up more and relax, the conversation will flow easily and they’ll feel motivated and accountable for their results.

Self-awareness and empathy together help you to become an authentic leader. You create a genuine sense that you truly want to hear the other person’s thoughts and concerns and that you understand them.

 

How to BE the person you want to be… NOW!

By , May 23, 2012 11:55 pm

 “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

 Walt Disney

Sometimes growing involves stepping forward into the unknown and doing something  outside of your comfort zone. It can be scary to change direction or decide to take a new path in your career or your life. You have to be brave and take some action towards your intention. My mentor taught me that courage is all about being courageous and not waiting for it to happen.

Instead of waiting, it’s about stepping into your power and ‘being the person you want to be…Now!’ Whatever the situation or role you’re intending to be, you have to claim it for yourself and start living from that place where you want to be.

I’m often reminded of this when I’m coaching leaders to deliver presentations. Speaking to an audience, as you may know, is scary. Just the word presentation is enough to fill a person with dread and fear.

One of my coaching clients was waiting to develop into a confident speaker. She’d framed it in such a way that she held her intent on the outside and didn’t step in to claim the role for herself. She didn’t believe that she was a confident speaker… so she was waiting to become one… and she was still waiting. Because she believed that she wasn’t confident she wasn’t there yet. This was a limiting belief.

Believing this affected her confidence and ability to perform. She’d hesitate and become nervous. The voices in her head reminded her that she was a fraud and she didn’t know what she was doing!

When transitioning into something new you have to “Be the person you want to be…” before you actually become that person! In other words, you have to start being that person from today and embody it.

 You begin working on this from the Inside. Yes… There is an element of ‘fake it until you make it.’ Your mind and body are connected, so if your mind is focused on you playing small and being nervous, your body will respond in perfect alignment and it will be so!

So you have to start by creating a recipe for success and begin to act as if you already are a:

  • Confident speaker
  • Sought after business coach
  • Senior manager
  • Published author

Here’s how to begin:

1. Create your own recipe for success – Write down what it would feel like to be someone who… (insert the role here). What behaviour does that person demonstrate?

a) What are they saying?

b) What are they doing?

c) How do they act?

2. Step into the role – Set your Intention to deliver an engaging presentation or coach an effective session. Create a mantra and frequently repeat this to yourself: ‘I am a confident speaker’ or ‘I am an awesome coach.’ Using this recipe, you can step into the role and act like a confident speaker or an awesome coach.

3. Claim your power – Step in and claim this for your own! BE that person – NOW. Decide that this is what you want and become it, through your actions and words. Grow into it every day.

4. Practice it – in your everyday life… Be that successful coach in everything you do. Be a successful author while writing a chapter of your book. Practice makes it happen. Play with being whatever it is you want to be. This is a little like playing mental dress up. The more you practice walking and talking like the person you want to be…the more you’ll grow into becoming that person congruently.

This really works!

Who do you want to be?

 

 

 

Why business meetings are painful, boring and unproductive…

By , March 28, 2012 6:27 pm

“Bad meetings, and what they indicate and provoke in an organization, generate real human suffering in the form of anger, lethargy, and cynicism. An while this certainly has a profound impact on organizational life, it also impacts people’s self-esteem, their families, and their outlook on life.”

 

~ Patrick Lencioni, Author

 

Have you ever attended one of these?

“I could get my work done, if I didn’t have to go to so many pointless meetings!” ~ John, a coaching client. He went on to summarise that most of the meetings he attended were unfocused, lethargic and boring, but a necessity of business life.

I can remember attending many meetings in my corporate life that were frustrating and pointless. Yet I was told that had to endure them because it was part of my job.

I remember a low point once where ‘Fun’ was listed as an agenda item and we were actually forced to ‘enjoy’ a team game as part of a meeting. Have you ever pretended to have fun? – It’s counter-productive. If you ever get to this stage you need to step back and explore WHY you’re contemplating this as an agenda item in the first place. It might be because of some of the reasons below…

Why are meetings so painful and unproductive?

…Because they are! – Acceptance that part of the process of doing business involves the tedium of attending meetings. You have to go through the ritual of attending to get the job done. Many people believe that meetings are bad in every company so it’s just the way it works in business. Brace yourself and just get on with it! We’ve got used to hating them!

Lack of ownership – Participants attend with the mindset that it’s something that is done to them rather than taking RESPONSIBILITY for the role they play and how to get the best outcomes. Mediocrity and complacency sets in. You show up because you feel you have to. You’re a silent observer and the meeting becomes passionless and dull.

Little or no leadership – Ineffective meetings happen because of the approach and attitude of the people leading them. The leader models and influences the attitude and approach of those attending. Sometimes it becomes a forum to exercise the ego of the highest ranking person in the room. The focus is lost as individuals drift off-piste to satisfy their own agenda or because they’re bored! Participants aren’t sure of their role: should I be debating? Discussing? Brainstorming? Or listening?

Boring – If you had nothing else to do with your time, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to spend it in a dry, tedious un-engaging meeting with some people that you might not even like that much! Sitting and listening for long periods of time to uninspiring content is monotonous. Every one moans that it’s boring – but no one does anything about it. It’s a ritual to attend every week. People are scared to give an opinion or challenge – so they sit like nodding dogs. Poor decisions are made as a consequence. Awkward situations are avoided by staying quiet, nodding where appropriate and writing your weekly shopping list!

No structure – The regular staff meeting is a classic example of this. Weekly? Monthly? Where everyone gets together for an unfocused random discussion about everything! There’s little clarity about topics and there’s no context for discussion. Individuals literally check out.

Pressure and anxiety – Most people have loads of other things to do. Attending a bad meeting only amplifies the anxiety and pain. Focus on the meeting is lost and you start thinking about how you could use this wasted time. If it’s a conference call – you’re probably multi-tasking doing your emails at the same time! You’re not used to sitting still and doing just one thing at a time so it’s easy to get distracted.

Recognise any of these?

Harvard Business School a few years ago claimed that over 50% of meetings are a waste of time…

Here’s the thing…

It’s possible to make meetings compelling, engaging, interactive and productive. It starts with changing the mindset of those attending and involves a little re-thinking on how to manage them effectively. Here are some of the benefits: Better decisions, improved morale, shorter time away from your desk, better results and increased value.

Which meeting would you rather attend?

(More tips soon on how to make meetings engaging, interesting and productive)

 

 

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