How to glide through difficult conversations with your manager

difficult conversations

At some point in your career, you may face a problem that can only be resolved through a series of difficult conversations with your manager.

Whilst you don’t want to upset or disappoint your manager, sometimes you don’t have a choice. Look at it this way – it’s far better to have difficult conversations now than to deal with the future consequences of work unsatisfaction which include depression, anxiety, low productivity and even being fired.

The more open and transparent the employer/employee relationship is, the higher your work satisfaction and quality of work will be. So, here are five great tips to help you tackle difficult conversations with your manager;

1. Schedule a time

Environment is everything. Make sure you have your manager’s full attention. Schedule an appointment with them and create the space you need to be heard. Bombarding your manager at the coffee machine is exactly what you don’t want to do. When you request a short meeting, there is no need to specify too much in your request just something along the lines of, “When would be a good time to talk for 10 minutes?”

2. Structure your issue

When you’re in a meeting with your manager, ensure you structure your problem logically. Start by clearly stating your intention, for example; “I want to talk about my productivity and how I feel that your micromanaging might be hindering me”. You want to be straight but you don’t want to be aggressive in any way. Then go on to show the win/win, highlight your shortcomings and find a resolution, in that order – all discussed below.

3. Show the win/win

You have a problem and undoubtedly if it’s addressed, it will benefit both you and your boss. You have to clearly highlight this benefit to your boss during your discussions. It’s far easier to resolve a problem if it has a mutual benefit for both parties. It also allows even the most stubborn of bosses to consider your argument. Try to support your argument with evidence for example, “during this period my productivity was high, this is because of X and this is why I think it would be beneficial to both of us to have X in place again.

4. Highlight your shortcomings

If you’ve got a problem with your manager or coworker, there’s certainly a chance that you’ve been at fault, even if it’s only something small such as not previously communicating your grievances to them.

Before you proceed to explain how you’ve feel disadvantaged or wronged, you should first admit your shortcomings, this helps the listener to understand and believe that you are being objective about the issue and not just emotionally driven. Once you can show you’ve considered all sides, it’s much easier for your manager to empathize with you instead of doubt your complaint.

5. Arrive at a resolution.

Even if it’s not exactly what you wanted, a resolution is still a win. For example, if your boss doesn’t feel like you are eligible for a raise at present, but agrees to reconsider his position if you meet a specific set of agreed goals, by an agreed date, then your conversation has been a success.

Your conversation may be driven by hurt or even anger, but don’t feel like you’re at war with your manager or that you are trying to win a fight. The goal of any difficult conversation is to open up honesty between both parties so, that they can start to have an open and more mutually agreeable relationship – something that is highly conducive to a happy work environment.

3 powerful ways to constructively deal with a bad boss

emotional

Never waste a good opportunity to learn from a bad boss

A bad boss can make a once enjoyable job unbearable, and a good boss can make you into something greater than you previously imagined. If you have the misfortune to spend time with a bad boss than you must focus on what you can do to make the situation a positive one. When dealing with a difficult character the most important thing is to hold on to your confidence and morale. It’s almost impossible to change the persona of your boss, especially if they’ve been like that for years but one thing you can change is your reaction to them. Here are 3 powerful ways to constructively deal with a bad boss:

1. Become familiar with their character profile 

Play detective. The more you understand the “why” behind your boss’s actions, the more you will be able to manage them, and any other difficult character that may cross your path in life.  The best tip is to try to put yourself in their shoes and see their world, and your workplace, as they might.

  • What do they care about?
  • What keeps him them up at night?
  • What would they love more of and what would they love less of on a daily basis?  
  • What frightens them?
  • How much importance do they place on impressing others? 
  • How do they measure success?
  • What do they think about failure?

When you know what drives your boss (even if your boss isn’t aware) you can begin to respond to them in a way that resonates with their core values and concerns. They will become much easier to manage once you understand how to listen and respond in their language.

2. Learn to be more direct

Always have the courage to stand up for what you need instead of settling for a miserable set of circumstances – or even worse fleeing your employment without confronting your issues. You at least owe your boss the opportunity to respond. Don’t prejudge and assume they aren’t able to take feedback, or don’t care how miserable you are. When you approach them with respect and with a genuine desire to find an amicable resolution you can open the door to whole new levels of trust, collaboration, and resolutions.

3. Don’t allow it to influence your character

Never let your boss’s bad behavior be an excuse for your own. More often than not, people start feeling entitled to work less, take longer and longer lunches, lose interest or stop performing well all because of their bad boss. Don’t do the same. Keep your mind focused on top performance, at the end of the day it reflects on you. Complain to your spouse or your friends all you want, but when in the workplace be the person you were before your bad boss. Handling a difficult boss well can have big advantages too, you never know who is watching and people will think more of you if you can manage a particularly difficult personality. Finally, remember – if you have really run out of resolutions, you should not bad mouth or gossip about your boss. Instead, follow proper procedures for registering complaints with Human Resources or with higher-level superiors, documenting each step of the way.

 

How to be a more comfortable when public speaking

public speaking

Up to 75% of us share an anxiety around public speaking. Even the most confident people can turn into an embarrassed, anxious mess when they take the stage. Whilst the audience can almost never tell just how anxious the speaker is, it can be an exhausting and scary process if you don’t have the right processes in place to make your public speech as smooth as possible. Here are 5 tips, created by public speaking coaches, to help you feel more confident when you have publicly speak. Hopefully, after reading these tips and incorporating them into your public speaking affairs, you might even begin to enjoy it!

1. Know your content inside out

This doesn’t mean learn your speech off by heart but instead memorise your key points and core remarks. Do a couple of run-throughs in your head before you speak and remember to stay focused on impact as opposed to the minute details of your speech. You should be asking yourself, how you want your audience to feel after your speech?

2. Be yourself

If you’re funny, then be funny but if you’re not, don’t force it. The most engaging speakers inject some humanity into their speech. People respond well, to genuine even humble speakers who focus on the knowledge and not on their personal ego points. Rather than a performance see it as sharing your ideas and experiences to help others.

3. Don’t look for approval focus on contributing

If you focus on I want to be good, then you will stay inwardly focused. Instead, think about helping the audience to see something differently or hear a great piece of advice that helped you along your journey. Instead of thinking ‘I hope they like me‘ focus on ‘did I have an impact?

4. Practice makes perfect

The more you speak the more comfortable you get with speaking. Start with practicing in front of family and friends and then start pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and putting yourself forward to all available public speaking opportunities. Without practice you’ll never beat the public speaking jitters. The good news is that it won’t take you long to feel comfortable with public speaking if you’re getting enough exposure – you’ll soon start to realise that it’s not all that bad.

5. Video yourself

Write a speech and film yourself delivering it. You will be surprised about how many things you might want to change and how many things you like. Watching yourself helps you to fix, distracting hand movements or long ‘ummms’ whilst you’re on the stage as it increases your self-awareness.

 

 

How to gently push back at work and encourage a work-life-balance

work-life-balance

Work doesn’t have to be a battlefield. We live in a collaborative, forward-thinking society where employees and employers can be happy. It’s possible to get our work done and also have a happy home life. We just need to put the right work relationships in place, with our superiors, to enjoy the work-life-balance possibilities. Work can be a win/win for everyone and here are 4 proven ways on how to gently push back at work and set the tone for a healthy work-life-balance;

1. Clearly, understand the criteria on which you are judged

Are you marked on output or hours logged? The later causes problems for flexible work and may also disadvantage your employer. Encourage open discussions about how you are expected to work and be crystal clear on these points. This obviously helps you to impress your employer but also to open meaningful discussions about how different work practices could provide a win/win for you and your organization. It’s typically much more beneficial for employers and employees if work is judged by output as opposed to hours logged.

2. Create a goals/objectives document

If this document hasn’t been created by your boss, then use your initiative and create it yourself. Set up a meeting with your manager and use the information to create a document clearly outlining employer expectations. This is a document where you’ll list and then track the progress of all your projects, initiatives and key tasks. You’ll use this document during progress review meetings with your manager. It’s a crystal clear benchmark to asses your progress and can help you to make huge leaps of progress in your career. If you meet all of your objectives then it’s much easier for you to negotiate a more flexible working style.

3. Embody your superiors communication style

Establish a positive working relationship by learning about your superiors communication style and preferred method of working and communicating with you. How do they like to receive updates? Do they want weekly, bi-weekly or monthly updates? Once you have the perfect mode of communication than your working relationship is built for success.

4. Schedule progress meetings

If this isn’t already in place work, with your superior to schedule regular review meetings on both your calendars (based on how often your boss prefers to meet). Schedule them on a repeating basis, at least six months into the future. During these meetings, come prepared with an updated Goals and Objectives document and be ready to discuss your progress on each item. During these meetings you might like to request different working times/ flexible work policies – it’s a good idea to discuss how these policies would be a win/win for both you and your employer.

Six powerful persuasive writing techniques

persuasive

Persuasion is simply about creating a win-win situation.

In writing, this means you present a case that readers find beneficial to agree with. Either because it relates to them on an emotional level and strengthens their own beliefs or because you make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Whilst your case and supporting argument will depend on the topic, there are some timeless techniques that can make your writing more persuasive. Notably, this list is in no way comprehensive but it consists of six techniques that are used frequently, why? Because they work.

Consistency

Pick a stance and stick with it. Avoid ambiguity and contradictions. Your audience should understand from the beginning where you stand and what you intend to argue. If your reader has to guess your stance, you’ve already lost them. State your position obviously from the start, and restate it as you go along (see below for appropriate repetition). Use a powerful and clearly worded statement in your opening paragraph, and use it as a reference point as you develop your argument.

Respectable repetition

Every learning psychologyist will tell you that repetition is crucial. It’s also critical in persuasive writing since a person can’t agree with you if they don’t actually get your point.

There’s good repetition and bad. To stay on the good side, make your point using several different ways – if you repeat your point, in the same way, you begin to undermine your argument. Different ways to make your point are directly in your opening statement, using a real-life example, in a hypothetical example, via a quote from an expert, and once more in your summary.

Comparisons

Metaphors, similes, and analogies are crucial for persuasive writing. If you can relate your argument to something that the reader already accepts as true, you’re well on your way to winning your audience over.

But comparisons work in other ways too. Sometimes you can be more persuasive by comparing apples to oranges (to use a tired but effective metaphor). Don’t compare the price of your consulting to the price of another person in a similar field, but instead to the consequences of not having consulting.

Agitate and Solve

This technique helps you to make and present a persuasive case. First, you identify the problem. Then you agitate the reader’s pain by discussing the consequences of this problem. Finally, you offer your solution as the answer that will make it all better.

The agitation phase is not about being sadistic; it’s about empathy. You want the reader to know that you understand his problem and can see how it impacts society. The credibility of your solution goes way up if you demonstrate that you truly feel the prospect’s pain.

Glimpse into the future

Another persuasion theme involves providing your readers with a glimpse into the future. If you can convincingly present your argument and show how it’s current impact will influence future events, you are well on your way to convincing your audience to your line of thinking.

This entire strategy is built on credibility. If you have no idea what you’re talking about your argument will be obviously weak. But if you can back up your argument with credentials, evidence or expert opinion, this is an extremely persuasive technique.

Confront objections

Don’t sidestep or ignore potential retort against your argument. This not only helps address your audiences’ doubt with your argument but it also helps them to relate to you, you’re both thinking the same things.

Addressing all the potential objections or at least the majority of your readers doubts can be tough, but if you really know your subject, the arguments against you should be fairly obvious. If you think there are no reasonable objections to your position – you need to think again.

5 tips for recruiting millennials

millennials

Millennials are continuing to dominate the modern workforce. They possess characteristics that are entirely different from their predecessors. Whether or not you agree with millennial methods, employers need this tech-savvy, fast-paced generation to keep their organizations competitive.

The key challenge facing many recruiters when hiring millennials is retention, failure to do so is costly and can be fatal to businesses bottom lines. Whilst the media can focus on millennial bad points, it’s important to recognize the numerous advantageous characteristics that millennials can bring to the workplace. If these skills are understood and utilized by employers, in the right way, it can create the perfect win/win environment for millennials and organizations.

So, here are 5 important tips to keep in mind when hiring millennials.

1. Seek to understand their motivations

It is crucial if you want to retain millennials, to understand their workplace needs. Benefits go a lot further for millennials than a paycheck. Millennials want growth and freedom, amongst other personal things that will depend on the candidate. By understanding exactly what they want you can see if they will be a good fit for the role and further, whether you can reasonably meet their needs.

2. They have their own rhythm

Millennials are used to doing things against the grain. They work from home, use tech to make better use of their time and are not afraid to do something different if they believe it will yield a better result. It would be wise to let them operate at their own pace and flow. This doesn’t mean extend their work deadlines but instead, measure their performance by outcomes as opposed to hours logged. It will give millennials the space they need to work and also help to support their creative flow.

3.Team Interviews

Team interviews work best for millennials as they enjoy feeling like they are part of a community. It encourages them to open up, try their best and enter into genuine discussions about workplace topics.

4. Focus on questions surrounding values and goals

Questions in an interview about core values and goals will go down well with millennials, who are largely driven by such topics. These type of interview questions help recruiters to examine their state of mind and enables you them better asses whether a particular millennial is a good, long-term fit for the organization.

5. Constructive feedback

Millennials need feedback on their work and it has to be consistent and constructive to motivate them. They want to be leaders and they also want to feel that they are adding value to their work. Feedback allows them to self-develop and also understand how they can better meet their objectives. A key benefit to employers is that millennials are open to new ideas – they consider it an aspect of growth and are patient workers when it comes to achieving their goals.

4 science backed reasons exercising is the secret to success

boss

How can we expect to deliver our best and reach our desired success, if we don’t properly look after ourselves? Burnout is a real problem in the business world. The solution isn’t to work less but instead to practice self-care. A huge remedy for any feelings of stress, fatigue or depression is maintaining healthy habits in our lives – one of which being exercise.

In any demanding career position, exercising at least a couple of times a week is crucial because you need to be mentally on point and operate with an unbreakable focus each and every day. Your objective, if you want to survive the stress many modern workers face, is to make your brain immune to stress, as much as possible, so that you can be highly productive and also maintain a happy home life.

Here are four science-backed reasons as to why exercise should be your primary focus, for a better work-life;

1. Focus

Did you know that we spend 47% of every waking hour thinking about something other than the task in front of us? Can you imagine how incredibly productive we would be if we gave our undivided attention to each task? A huge component of success is concentrating and getting some actual work done. Exercising and focus are closely interlinked, a study published in the journal PLoS ONE, found that those who exercise, have improved functioning of their central nervous system (CNS) and autonomic nervous system (ANS).

2. Exercise supports memory

Think about everything you need to remember on a daily basis – from the names of new contacts to the basics of your to-do list. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to increase your memory capacity? Well, there is. Studies show that improvements were seen in participant’s memories, after just six weeks of 20-minute interval training sessions. This is because exercise helps to support Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a protein that increases the growth, functioning and survival of your brain cells.

3. Combining exercise and nature boosts your problem solving skills

In a 2014 study at Stanford, scientists found that when people are walking in nature, their creative output increased by a whopping 60%. Not only does being in nature increase your creativity and problem-solving ability but it also greatly eases your stress and improves your overall wellbeing. so whenever you can make strolling or running in nature a priority.

4. Exercise improves your presence

I’m not just talking about looking good, which actually does matter when you are trying to persuade or engage an audience of people, I’m talking about internal confidence. In a study by the Journal of Health Psychology, the simple act of exercise, and not fitness itself, can make people feel better about their appearance for long periods of time. Further, exercise has been shown to reduce overall levels of anxiety. It’s no secret that people want entrepreneurs to be cool, calm and collected and exercise is a sure way for you to build these characteristics.

Why the most successful people have removed these 5 things from their working day

successful

Successful people know exactly how to manage their time. They have highly productive days and limit their stress levels by staying focused on the things that matter. When they run into unexpected mishaps, they don’t get thrown off course because they are prepared for anything.

If you find yourself regularly wishing there were more hours in your day, cut out these 5-time wasters holding you back.

1. Unplanned mornings

Being successful is tiring. If you leave your mornings unplanned you can aimlessly drift into the afternoon, trying to get through your huge to-do list without any proper strategy. This leads to crucial time-wasting and ultimate unproductivity. Your brain is the most efficient in the morning, so with simple planning, you can take advantage of this time and glide into the afternoon with several important tasks completed.

2. Social media

According to Business Today, social media usage reduces total workplace productivity by 13 percent. With so much to do successful people can’t afford to let their working days fall into the hands of social media procrastination.

Unless you need to be on social media for work tasks, delete or restrict the apps from your phone. Many of us are in a vicious cycle of checking social media out of habit, or boredom, or both. Break this ultimate time-wasting skill and be in the habit of not checking up on Facebook or Twitter, multiple times a day. Not only will this benefit your productivity but also your wellbeing.

3. Worry

High achievers are obsessed with the future. They want to think about where their careers will be next year, what kind of obstacles they could be facing and how they can act now to prevent those potential hiccups.

Foresight is important, but unnecessary and incessant worrying can prevent you from accomplishing tasks that require your full attention, today. Schedule time to brainstorm future plans and needs (because you don’t want to shoot blindly); then, spend the rest of your time focusing on what’s in front of you.

4. Routine meetings

Routine meetings are a waste of time, especially for leaders who have a huge amount of tasks they need to complete. By rule of thumb, never attend a meeting simply to learn information – you can get the same update from an email. Instead, attend only meetings that require your input. Even then, if you are a founder or a leader, send someone else in your place, when you can, unless you’re irreplaceable at a particular meeting.

5. Multi-tasking

It’s now a common fact, that multitasking, as a form of productivity, is a myth. Despite this truth, many people still try to do everything at once and reduce the quality of each task by doing so.

Slow down so you can focus on one thing at a time. Emails are one of the main reasons we feel forced to multi-task, so rather than let incoming mail disrupt your flow of productivity, schedule two times, during the day, to focus on checking your inbox. That way, you can keep your messages from distracting you and you can continue to be in the zone of your workflow, distraction-free.

 

Why cravings and aversions can ruin your wellbeing

cravings

Buddist philosophy and Vipassana yoga are founded upon the belief that the root of all negative human emotions (such as depression, anger, frustration, annoyance, sadness, pride, arrogance, and fear) are caused by just two things; cravings and aversions.

What are cravings and aversions?

Cravings encompass everything we desire but do not yet have. This can be material items such as cars, houses or things such as a better relationship, an idealized family or more power in your career. The issue with cravings is that they create feelings of frustration, anger, and sadness. Without self-awareness, cravings can take over and lead us to constant disappointment or guilt.

Aversion is a similar but different beast. Aversion is feeling a negative emotion and avoiding it entirely. It might be that you’re avoiding uncertainty and possible failure and as a consequence you procrastinate.

Both craving and aversion arise when we are unable to process our circumstances and so, deal with the emotions in a negative way. In order to eliminate suffering from these two feelings, Buddist philosophy teaches us to be mindful of our negative emotions and understand where they come from – it will be either a craving or aversion. Once you identify the root cause of the problem you can start to unpick the feeling and in time experience decreased negative emotions.

Practical application of dealing with craving and aversions

In each moment where you have some kind of negative emotion … see what you’re averting from or, or what you’re craving. It might be that you’re avoiding uncertainty, failure or rejection and this is causing you to procrastinate or not communicate your feelings to another. It might be that you don’t want someone to act a certain way and so you’re craving a better way for them to behave. There are multitudes of possibilities, and it can take some time to understand what you’re avoiding or craving.

Finally, try this technique which is also taught in “mindfulness” –  be present in the moment you’re in, and see the reality you are facing. It’s important to separate your perception of the moment from the hard facts. Accept how it makes you feel, understand that your negative emotions will not change the situation and try to see if you can accept all of that it is, without craving something else, without avoiding what’s there. Just accept it. Importantly, this technique is not about submission to a set of circumstances that are below your satisfaction but instead, freeing yourself from negative emotions which add no value and doing whatever positive you can with a calm mind.

There’s an incredible feeling of tranquility that comes from the knowledge that you can handle any situation, without being blown over by negative emotions. It is ultimate control over your sense of self. You just sit there, observing the moment, in a happy (or at least calm) state of being, perhaps finding a silver lining to one of lives many twists. The best resolutions come from a calm and collected mind.

 

Why worriers will never win

worriers

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. – Leo F. Buscaglia

Worry is a human instinct related to immediate danger. When we existed as hunter-gatherers, worry played a vital role in our survival. However, since the agricultural revolution, this day-to-day primitive worry transformed into worry about the future. Farmers had to think about the upcoming weather, animals that could affect their yield and changes in the economy. Unlike hunter-gatherers who received daily feedback about whether their decisions were furthering their survival needs, agriculture brought society a new set of psychological stresses. People had to invest their efforts into uncertainties, hoping that it supported their distant future.

Modern society, obsesses about future, even more so, than our farming predecessors. Many of our goals (such as pay and holidays) lie days or weeks ahead, whereas others (such as academic degrees, job promotions, new homes, and retirement) may be years in the future. Unlike our ancestors, much of what we do, each day, is directed toward future outcomes rather than toward what we need today. It’s perfectly normal to live in the future and sacrifice the present. However, this type of living is incredibly damaging to our minds. It encourages and breeds, incessant worry. Thinking about your future and having goals is one thing, but obsessively worrying is plain unhealthy.

So, how can you rid yourself of future worry and ease your mind? Here are 5 great ways to rid of your future worries;

1.Worrying wastes the present

If you’re prone to worrying about your future, start to think about the regrets you may have about your past. Think about it this way, future worries are outside of your control but the present moment is entirely within your realm of control. Appreciate the time you have and don’t waste it worrying about things that might not ever happen.

2. You can’t control the future 

You (nor anybody else) can control the future. Your incessant worry isn’t going to change how your future unfolds. As a rule of thumb, worry about what’s in your circle of control and nothing more. It’s a great rule to live by and it will certainly help your overall wellbeing and life enjoyment.

3. You incorrectly think worrying solves problems

Worrying does not solve problems but in fact, generates them. Problem-solving is constructive and practical, worrying is redundant, exhausting and leaves you feeling helpless.

If you incorrectly think that you can anticipate the problems of the future, you will justify your worrying. Once you begin believing this false (but common) justification, worrying becomes an obsession. Soon you just won’t be able to stop.

Let go of your future worries and start solving the problems of today.

4. Worriers lack the ability to focus

Worriers tend to be in a vicious cycle of dwelling on the negative things that might happen in their future. They have problems making decisions for today especially if it concerns their job, family, and other crucial things.

Taking control of your today is a way to alleviate your future worries. Shift the focus from what “might happen” to what “is happening”. The more present and conscious you are for your current decisions; the more faith you will have in your future. You will trust in your path – why? Because you carved it with deliberation.

5. Worriers are not confident that they can deal with life’s hurdles

Worriers typically create future problems and solutions and then spend the rest of their time, fearing of their inability to cope if things don’t work out as planned. Interestingly, that same worrier will perform well during a crisis. This is because they’ve spent a lot of time considering the worst scenario which makes them able to cope. However, non-worriers can perform just as well or even better, in a crisis. The only difference being that non-worries haven’t exhausted their brain with incessant worry. Non-worriers have the confidence that no matter what happens they can deal with it. This mindset is incredibly empowering and something we should all aim for.

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