Millions of people go to work every day at jobs they hate. Hopefully, you’re not one of them. But if you are, you know the negative effect it has on your personal life. Perhaps it’s time to do some real soul-searching. It is time to identify your true purpose so you can get on the road to your career happiness. The first step in finding a new career is to knowing yourself. Whether you are a first year student interested in learning how majors relate to careers, a senior contemplating graduate school or an alumnus considering a career change, it is crucial that you first identify your interests, values, skills and personality preferences in order to make a well–informed decision. Whether you have been in the work force before or have never been, you must know this: no matter your training, no matter your skills, no matter what area you’re in, you are your most important commodity. The most valuable gift you have to give is yourself. If you think you have no job skills – think again. If you were a stay-at-home mom or dad, think about the schedules you have maintained. Your responsibilities include CEO of the household, raising children, be a moderator, cheerleader, caregiver, teacher, chef, housekeeper, personal shopper, and much more. So don’t cut yourself short, you have skills. Make sure to list these skills in your resume. Many people don’t realize that they must change their attitude when putting themselves out there. There’s a difference between making phone calls and going to interviews thinking “I’m looking for a job” versus “I’m here to do the work you need to have done”. When you’re looking to get a job, you’re expecting someone to give something to you, so you focus on impressing them. Yes, it’s important to make a good impression, but it’s even more important to demonstrate your desire and ability to help. Everything that you write and say should be preceded silently by the statement “This is how I can help your business succeed.” Secondly, many people search for jobs, then try to see how they can tweak the way they present their own skills and experiences to fit the job description. Instead, try something different. Instead of this top-down approach, start from the bottom up by making a list of all of your skills, determine which kinds of businesses and industries need them most (ask around for advice if you need to) and find businesses that will benefit from having you and your skills around. You might find that you get more satisfaction and enjoyment out of a career that wasn’t even on your radar to begin with. Whether you’re looking for your very first job, switching careers, or re-entering the job market after an extended absence, finding a new career requires two main tasks: setting and following through on your goals and using the latest tools to enter the job market. Assuming you’ve chosen career objectives and are currently searching, the information herein offers several ways to actually get a new career – not just a job. If you are unsure of your career objectives? Contact me: email@example.com. Through coaching, I can help you to think through your future path.
Over the last couple of months we have reviewed Reading People, Building Rapport, Finesse and Conflict Resolution. This month is Support and Cooperation in regards to Relationship Building. Support and Cooperation Relationships may begin with just two people, but more people eventually become involved. Work friends and associates, family members, old school friends and various other assorted persons interact daily, so gaining the support and cooperation in working towards a common goal is a plus in relationship building. Cooperation is the process of working together to the same end. It is assistance, especially by ready compliance with requests. Support is “give assistance to; enable to function or to act.” How do we build trusting relationships through support and cooperation?
- Show openness and be transparent: Share what you know, but also what you do not know
- Honor your promises: Do what you say you are going to do
- Speak your feelings: Don’t just focus on facts, inject how you feel
- Volunteer information: Don’t hold back information or make people pull information from you
- Keep other people’s secrets: Don’t gossip
- Be objective/fair: Consider other people before taking action or making decisions
- Listen more than speak: Be other-centric
If you desire more support and genuine cooperation in your relationships then you’re ready to venture down these five paths. Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers when necessary. Path 1 – INTENTION Are you clear about your intentions? Do you know the difference between a strategy and an intention? Knowing this difference is essential. Without this you tend to get stuck wanting other people to agree with your strategies. This can leave people feeling closed and defensive. Even worse, being attached to one particular strategy dramatically limits your opportunities to be satisfied. Path 2 – ALIGNMENT Is everyone on the same page? Do you have a shared intention and want similar results? Establishing alignment is the second path to the power of “us.” The fact is that our interdependence puts limits on how far we can get in achieving any result we want without cooperation. Path 3 – NEGOTIATION Will your plans take everyone’s needs into consideration? Will you keep at it until everyone is satisfied? Understanding the difference between compromise and collaboration will play a big part in everyone’s willingness and ability to stick with the process. Path 4 – AGREEMENT What’s the plan? What needs to happen and who’s willing to do what to make it so? After everyone’s had their say and acknowledge they’ve been heard, people often people think they’ve made agreements. In reality they’ve only expressed vague understandings of what they want and how they would like that to happen. Genuine cooperation relies on your ability to make clear, doable requests that lead to definite agreements. Powerful agreements are specific about who, what, when, where, and how. They include a positive confirmation of each person’s willingness to do their part. Path 5 – ACCOUNTABILITY Will your agreements continue to work for everyone and create the results you want? Without accountability you can’t know. If you wait too long to find out they aren’t working, you may already have built up dangerous levels of frustration, resentment, and resignation. You create accountability by setting specific times to review how well your agreements are working and to discuss what changes might be needed. These accountability meetings are opportunities to continue practicing the 5 paths of genuine cooperation. 1 – Do you still have a clear INTENTION? 2 – Are you still in ALIGNMENT? 3 – Do you need further NEGOTIATION? 4 – Is it time to make new AGREEMENTS? 5 – How will you ensure ongoing ACCOUNTABILITY? In summary, by learning to use more of these “nuts and bolts” of relationship building, focusing on some of these basic techniques can help build and grow relationships. More can be learned about each technique by simply heading to the local library or typing in the technique into your favorite search engine. If you have been utilizing these techniques over the past couple of weeks, you should start to feel more comfortable with your relationships. Congratulations! Don’t forget to be alert to possible problem areas, and take action every day to improve your life.
Last month we reviewed Reading People and Developing Rapport. This month we will review Finesse and Conflict Resolution in regards to Relationship Building.
Fundamentals of Finesse
Basically using finesse in handling relationships means using subtle skill, tact or diplomacy when handling a situation. This doesn’t mean you need to use fancy, flowery phrases or lengthy 10-letter words. It means focusing on the positive in a friendly way, and not embarrassing the other person.
For instance, finesse means not telling a host that he or she has offended you or that his or her house looks or smells strange. Instead, it means politely excusing yourself upon entering, and informing the host of an unplanned meeting that came up or family member who dropped by unexpectedly, and that you wanted to drop by for a quick “Hello” to thank the host for the invitation. Keep things simple here, smile and be on your way without causing hard feelings.
Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship. After all, two people can’t be expected to agree on everything, all the time. Learning how to deal with conflict—rather than avoiding it—is crucial. When conflict is mismanaged, it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between two people. By learning these skills for conflict resolution, you can keep your personal and professional relationships strong and growing. How do you handle conflict?
Conflict arises from differences, both large and small. It occurs whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires. Sometimes these differences appear trivial, but when a conflict triggers strong feelings, a deep personal need is often at the core of the problem. These needs can be a need to feel safe and secure, a need to feel respected and valued, or a need for greater closeness and intimacy.
Managing and resolving conflict requires the ability to quickly reduce stress and bring your emotions into balance. You can ensure that the process is as positive as possible by sticking to the following guidelines:
- Listen for what is felt as well as said. When we listen we connect more deeply to our own needs and emotions, and to those of other people. Listening also strengthens us, informs us, and makes it easier for others to hear us when it’s our turn to speak.
- Make conflict resolution the priority rather than winning or “being right.” Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.
- Focus on the present. If you’re holding on to grudges based on past resentments, your ability to see the reality of the current situation will be impaired. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the here-and-now to solve the problem.
- Pick your battles. Conflicts can be draining, so it’s important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy. Maybe you don’t want to surrender a parking space if you’ve been circling for 15 minutes, but if there are dozens of empty spots, arguing over a single space isn’t worth it.
- Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.
- Know when to let something go. If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.
We will review Support and Cooperation next week. Remember, practice in the mirror first and when you attend your next meeting or social gathering, put these to work. Be alert to possible problem areas, and take action to improve your life.
Have you ever tried to smile and think a negative thought? Usually the result is that one of the feelings will win out. You will either feel better because you smiled or you will eventually feel bad and frown, this is an important fact in human psychology. Humans cannot really hold attention on more than one thought at a time. This is the key to mastering oneself in this life. Victor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who ended up in a concentration camp during World War II. He witnessed numerous atrocities and was a victim of German experimentation himself. However, he observed that people trapped in the camp had different ways of dealing with their dire predicament. Some people lost the will to live, others went mad. Some men turned on their fellow inmates, while some ended their lives in suicide. There were others, though who turned out quite differently. There were men who went from hut to hut, and gave away their last piece of bread. They encouraged the men, women, and children of the camp to keep on living. They gave them a reason to hope for a better future. Why were these men, in the face of overwhelming despair, still able to master themselves enough to help others with their problems? This is what puzzled Frankl. But even he would eventually find out why when he was tortured. Frankl believes that between stimuli and response lays the choice of man to react to any given circumstance. He has practiced this in the concentration camps and his sense of future vision helped him survive. He realized he had a choice, and his choice was to live. The human animal is the only organism so far known to be aware of its own existence. Untrained, this awareness does not help him overcome his instincts to react to any given situation. Frankl has found out that it is possible to use the will to make a choice on how one can react. Other theories also hold true to this tenet. Sales people have long practiced that if one smiles long, he will eventually feel good about himself. In essence, he can make himself feel anything he wants. In essence, it is outside-in. Smile even if there is no reason to smile. It will foster a sense of positivism that drives out negative thoughts. This is a two-edged sword. Try to frown and you can find yourself too serious to even let people near you. Our thoughts are fluid and they are ever in one state to the other. The challenge is to keep them where you want them. The Buddhists have long recommended breathing methods to clear the cobwebs from your everyday life. They believe that a sense of detachment and awareness of one’s state is the key to dealing with unbalanced emotion. The effect of breathing is that concentrating on the breath is a source of steadiness that is much needed when one needs a sense of control. Breathing deeply and concentrating on it also loosens hold on the ego. It supplies the body with more oxygen to fight the effects of stress. The Buddhists sense of detachment lessens the stress of responsibility by teaching the practitioner to not be concerned on the outcome of a task, but to only enjoy the process. Coupled with an emphasis on simplicity, compassion, and exercise, the lifestyle Buddhists lead is full of activity yet does not affect their outlook in life. The test is still to catch yourself when you are too stressed to function well. This is where choice comes in. You make the choice to stop work when going on will be counter-productive. You choose whether it is feasible to commit to a project when you know you already have your hands full. Awareness is the gauge that tells you when you have too much. Choice is the lever that you turn to ease the pressure. Part of choosing is when to say no. When presented with an opportunity. One must ask if the opportunity is feasible and if there it time to devote to it? If it is not, then there should be no shame in declining. Overloading oneself is another sign of poor choice, and doesn’t do you or the inviting party any lasting good. The key is the awareness to respond with an appropriate choice. Take action today! Take a deep breath, smile and make the choice to live the life you desire.
Over the next three weeks I’m going to address Relationship Building. This week’s focus is on Reading others and Building Rapport. While the majority of people can learn the nuts and bolts of relationship building, focusing on some basic techniques that can be learned is a must. The main ones, in no particular order, are:
- Read: “Read” people well.
- Rapport: Develop rapport with others.
- Finesse: Have with finesse; i.e. handle conversations and activities in a cordial manner.
- Conflict Resolution: Resolve negative issues and conflicts without too much friction.
- Support Co-Op: Gain the support and cooperation in working towards a common goal.
Reading People: All about Body Language Body language is the meaning behind the words or the “unspoken” language. Surprisingly, studies show that only up to an estimated 10 percent of our communication is verbal. The majority of the rest of communication is unspoken. This unspoken language isn’t rocket science. However, there are some generalizations or basic interpretations that can be applied to help with the understanding or translating of these unspoken meanings. Here are some basics below:
- Smile – People like warm smiles. Think of a heartfelt warm-fussy, maybe your favorite pet, and smile.
- Eyes – -If you don’t look someone in the eyes while speaking, this can be interpreted as dishonesty or hiding something. Likewise, shifting eye movement or rapid changing of focus/direction can translate similarly. If more than one person is present in a group, look each person in the eye as you speak, slowly turning to face the next person and acknowledge him or her with eye contact as well. Continue on so that each person has felt your warm, trusting glance. Some suggest beginning with one person and moving clockwise around the group so that no one is missed, and so that you are not darting around, seemingly glaring at people.
- Attention Span / Attitude – Other people can tell what type attitude you have by your attention span. If you quickly lose focus of the other person and what is being said, and if your attention span wanders, this shows through and makes you seem disinterested, bored, possibly even uncaring.
- Attention Direction – If you sit or stand so that you are blocking another in the party, say someone is behind you, this can be interpreted as rude or thoughtless. So be sure to turn so that everyone is included in the conversation or angle of view, or turn gently, at ease and slowly, while talking, so that everyone is incorporated, recognized and involved in the conversation. Again some suggest the clockwise movement when working a group.
- Arms Folded / Legs Crossed– This can be seen as defensive or an end to the conversation. So have arms hang freely or hold a glass of water, a business card or note taking instruments while communicating with others. Be open with open arms. Note: If you need to cross legs, cross at your ankles and not your knees. Sitting tightly folded up says that you are closed to communications.
- Head Shaking – This is fairly accurate. If people are shaking their heads while you speak, they are in agreement. If they are shaking, “no,” disagreement reigns in their minds.
- Space / Distance – On the whole, people like their own personal body space. Give people room and keep out of their space. Entering to close can be intrusive and viewed as aggressive.
- Leaning – Sitting or standing, leaning is viewed as interest. In other words, an interested listener leans toward the speaker.
While you are with others, note how their bodies read. If a person suddenly folds his arms across his chest and begins shaking his head “no,” you’ve probably lost him. Try taking a step back and picking up where the conversation began. It’s all about strategic planning! Developing Rapport Now let’s take a quick peak at the basics of developing rapport with others. In a nutshell, what it takes is to ask questions, have a positive open attitude, encourage an open exchange of communications (both verbal and unspoken), listen to verbal and unspoken communications and share positive feedback. Here are a few details on each step:
- Ask Questions – Building report is similar to interviewing someone for a job opening or it can be like a reporter seeking information for an article. Relax and get to know the other person with a goal of finding common ground or things of interest. You can begin by simply commenting on the other person’s choice of attire, if in person, or about their profile, if online, and following up with related questions. For example, in person, you could compliment the other person on their color choice and or maybe a pin, ring or other piece of jewelry and ask where it came from. In online communications, you could compliment the other person’s background, smile or mention that the communication style seems relaxed and ask if he or she writes a lot. Then basically follow up, steering clear of topics that could entice or cause arguing, while gradually leading the person to common ground you’d like to discuss.
- Attitude – Have a positive attitude and leave social labels at home. Many people can tell instantly if you have a negative attitude or if you feel superior. So treat other people as you would like to be treated. And give each person a chance.
- Open Exchange – Do encourage others to share with you. Some people are shy, scared or inexperienced in communicating and welcome an opportunity to share. So invite an exchange with both body language and verbal communication. Face the other person with your arms open, eyes looking into theirs gently (not glaring or staring), and encourage a conversation with a warm smile.
- Listen – Be an active listener. Don’t focus your thoughts on what YOU will say next. Listen to what the other person is saying and take your clues from there, while also noting the body language. For example, if the other person folds his arms and sounds upset, you may need to change the subject or let him have some space and distance; maybe even try approaching him later on and excusing yourself to go make a phone call. On the other hand, if the other person is leaning towards you, following your every word and communicating with your as if you were old friends, YES! You’ve built rapport!
- Share – People like compliments. So hand them out freely without over doing it. Leaving a nice part of yourself is like a compliment. This will leave a good memory for the other person to recall – numerous times. That’s good rapport. But do be sincere! False compliments aren’t easily disguised.
We will review Finesse and Conflict Resolution next week. Practice in the mirror first and when you attend your next meeting or social gathering, put these to work. Start building relationships! Be alert to possible problem areas, and take action to improve your life.