Archive for March, 2010

Step 1 – Clear your mind

Before having a conversation, think about the other person.  Ask yourself, “How can I connect fully with what this person is about to say.”   Keep your mind open, free from preconceived ideas or assumptions of what they might say.

Step 2 – Listen

Listen to the words they are using, their tone of voice and body language.  Concentrate on the messages they are conveying.   Skilful listening is critical in understanding what messages are being communicated.

Step 3 – Demonstrate that you understand

It is important to communicate that you understand what they have said and the messages they are portraying through their body language and tone of voice by repeating back some of their exact words.  Say something like, “That’s a really good point you made about….”

Step 4 – Find similarities

Bring into the conversation areas where you both see “eye to eye”, common themes, subjects or observations.

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When we know the steps to take to be in control of our lives, our journey becomes exciting and wholesome.    Of course, we have times in our lives where difficulties or tragedies happen. I would love your response to be in any crisis, “OK, I can handle this”.

The metaphor I use for describing life is a picture of a tapestry.

The back is full of colour, knots and untidiness which represents, hard work, determination, challenges, commitment, a labour of love.  

The front is stunning, precise and beautiful, which represents a fulfilled, enriched and worthwhile life.

“The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick sun struck hills every day.  Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length.  It began in mystery, and will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.”    – Diane Ackerman

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I hear so many stories of people who are caused stress because another person has failed to sensitively communicate with them.  Misunderstandings create mistrust, anxiety and often false assumptions about the other person’s motives. “They just wanted to belittle me”, when the real reason was they were overly concerned about getting their own point across or they wanted to hide their insecurities so they came over as cold and heartless.

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Key 1

Truly appreciating the person or persons, eg commenting on the person’s qualities or making a comment to let the person know you have listened to their point of view or found something that is similar.

Key 2

Listening with an open mind and heart – to understand what they are saying and what they are feeling, eg withholding judgement.

Key 3

Be prepared to explain and discuss your views and beliefs.  Be willing to challenge your own beliefs.  Are they based on sound principals or are they beliefs with very little substance?

Key 4

Demonstrate that you understand their views.  Find common ground.   What are you willing to sacrifice – to give up?

Be prepared to speak, be open, honest and show your true self. 

Key 5

Keep your promises.   This engenders trust.  Show you care. Find ways to demonstrate that you care by doing something unexpected for the person.

Remember that it is a human need for people to be recognised, appreciated and understood – even if their behaviour tells us the opposite!

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Here are some great questions from some young women during  the international women’s week celebrations in Basingstoke.   Fashion Retail and Business Students from BCOT caputured attention by displaying they important questions.   It was fabulous to get a message across in this creative way but my concern is that it was a silent message.  My passion is to encourage and show women how to speak up and get their voices heard by key decision makers who will influence their career.   It is important for women to get out the habit of  “waiting to be asked”.  Enjoy the photos…

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When we listen empathically, people feel understood and it changes the dynamics of the communication.  We are creating positive energy to enable both parties to seek consensus.  The most powerful communication is when we understand fully first, before trying to put our own views forward.  It takes patience and self control. 

This does not mean that we remain passive in the conversation.  You have set the scene for having the best chance to be heard.

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An inspiring day at Basingstoke College of Techonlogy where I was asked to open the event with a short pep talk.   The event was filled with many women from all ages and from a variety of different faith backgrounds and cultural heritage.  I enjoyed a Jamaican lunch and learnt about Islamic traditional  dress.   I have enjoyed coaching some of the wonderful women on interviewing techniques and confidence boosting.  Think about networking with other women – who can you inspire and encourage today…?

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