How to improve your relationship with your boss

boss

Most people forget (whether employed or freelance) that it’s not just their boss who is managing them — they also have to manage their boss. This means building a healthy, two-way relationship in order to best accomplish shared goals.

If you manage this relationship well, you create the foundations for your future success. Remember as they are your boss, you do need them unless you are considering leaving your career. Likewise, you’ll be more engaged at work, produce better results, and develop your own skills faster if you feel you and your boss play on the same team.

So, here are six great ways to improve your relationship with your boss.

1. Manage Up 

Sometimes you have to manage “up” and not wait for direction from your boss. This means taking a proactive approach. At its simplest, your boss will think that if he/she doesn’t think of something you will. Also, it shows a level of dedication and interest from your side which is conducive to building trust.

2. Make Their Life Easier

Relationships are about two things:

1. Caring about the person.

2. Caring about the things the person cares about.

When someone feels you care, the relationship moves beyond the work and trust is built. Your job is to make your boss’s life easier. Don’t forget that. Their job is to make sure that you deliver results. When you are actively making their job easier, you’ve created a great relationship.

3. Understand Expectations

Asking your boss, “What’s the best way for me to support you?” with clear expectations of what that looks like can lead to a highly successful relationship. most relationships break down due to lack of communications about expectations. Your work should make your boss look better, if you provide sub-standard work, you’re directly offending your boss’s sense of pride. Their success is your success.

4. Establish Boundaries

When you work for a boss they are in effect one of your clients. They need to respect you and see you as a reliable and responsible person. You need them to be happy enough to want to keep retaining you, but you never want them to feel that they have full ownership. It’s critical to establish firm boundaries in regard to how you allow yourself to be treated, for example, midnight emails, or accessibility outside of work. If you respect yourself, they will respect you. In addition, socialising with your boss or really letting loose with them, breaks all boundaries. It’s advisable if you want a healthy, long-lasting relationship, to keep it professional.

5. Prove you are dependable

You are either making things easier or more difficult for your boss, as discussed. If you want to build and foster a healthy relationship with your boss, do your own job as best as you can, never let your standards slide. Once you have established trust, your boss will consider you for other jobs or projects and in turn, this will quickly advance your career.

6. Bring solutions, not problems

When you have a problem before bringing it to your bosses’ attention first think what the solution could be. Alternatively, if your boss approaches you with a problem, help them to find solutions. Take the onus off of them to solve it. Be a reliable resource and support for them.

How to maximise your breaks

breaks

We all work in a high-productivity, at all costs culture. It’s hard to justify taking a break. Some people even feel guilty, but the reality is we physically can’t work at 100% capacity, 100% of the time. We need breaks.

But did you know that breaks have an art? Here are seven science-backed studies that can help you maximise your downtime.

Take regular breaks every 25 minutes

Without concentration and focus, we have nothing. So, in order to protect your productivity cornerstones, researchers suggest taking breaks, every 25 minutes.

Why do increments of 25 minutes work? There’s a number of reasons:

  • By knowing you have a break coming up, you’re more likely to stay focused and think well, it’s only 25 minutes.
  • Working for any longer can cause procrastination.
  • Your body wasn’t designed to be sedentary, it will work against you if you sit down for too long.

Take in nature around you

Staying in an artificially lit, crowded office, all day might be a necessity for getting things done. But escaping from that space for just a few minutes a day can have huge benefits.

Studies show that just spending time in nature can help alleviate mental drain by relaxing and restoring the brain. Additionally, increased exposure to sunlight and fresh air helps increase productivity and can even improve your sleep. In one study, researchers found that workers with more exposure to natural light, during the day, slept an average of 46 minutes more per night. Imagine how good you would feel if you could fall asleep that little bit earlier?

If you can’t get outdoors during your break bring some plants into your office. This is the next best thing to being outside.

Exercise your eyes

Our eyes take the burden of our increasingly tech-heavy lives. Think about how many hours you spend, per day, on a digital device. Then acknowledge the fact that your eyes will feel strain in as little as two hours. It’s safe to say your eyes are facing strain almost every day.

Luckily, there’s a simple exercise that will help reduce your eye fatigue: 20-20-20. Every 20 minutes look away from your computer screen and focus on an item at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Simple, right?

Exercise your body

Exercise is one of the easiest ways to boost energy and increase your productivity. Researchers from the University of São Paulo discovered that just 10 minutes of exercise is enough to boost memory and attention performance throughout the day.

If you don’t want to change into workout clothes or work out at all, just going for a simple walk has been shown to refresh memories and increase creativity. In a report from the American Psychology Association, researchers discovered that walking increased 81% of participants’ creativity.

Let your mind wander

A report published in Science magazine found that simply letting our minds wander by daydreaming, without any purpose, has similar benefits to meditation. When we stop focusing on anything, our brain’s Default Mode Network takes over. This means we rest our overworked prefrontal cortex–which is where all the complex processes like problem-solving, memory, reason, and logic take place.

Not only that but taking some time to let your mind drift can help you come up with more innovative ideas and uncover mental blocks when you do look over your work again.

NYU psychology professor Scott Barry Kaufman found that daydreaming is a fantastic way for us to access our unconscious. It allows ideas that have been silently incubating in our subconscious to reach our conscious. Meaning, that while you think you’re doing nothing, you’re actually mining the depths of your mind for more creative solutions to the problems you’re facing. It’s a win-win.

If this hasn’t inspired you to take more breaks, read this helpful blog by Jory Mackay-Zapier for Fast Company, here.

 

Expert backed confidence hacks

confidence

A lack of confidence finishes more dreams than failure, ever could.

Confidence is not indicative of skill, it’s merely an enabler. You can be the most suitable candidate for a role, on paper, but without confidence, you can’t portray this as well as you’d like.

We all have our issues with confidence so, here are some expert supported ways to keep your confidence levels up when you next need a boost.

Refer to yourself in the third person

This might seem odd, but recent research has shown that if you refer to yourself, in the third person, during self-talk (for example your inner pep talk before a presentation) it can make a big difference to your confidence.

The trick here is to use he, she or your name to distance yourself from a terrifying situation. For example, instead of saying, “I am about to deliver a presentation” try saying,  “Angela is about to deliver a presentation.” In other words, see yourself as the observer.

According to the researchers, this type of self-distancing helps you see nerve-wracking moments as challenges, rather than threats. Resulting in you feeling an instant alleviation and confidence boost.

Overcome imposter syndrome

You have the job, the certificates, even the awards but you’re still worried about being called out, as a fraud.

You are not the only one. Many of us suffer from imposter syndrome. Interestingly, this is known as the syndrome of high achievers. Those who set the bar low simply do not care much about the quality of their work.

To overcome the inner imposter syndrome, remind yourself of your achievements. Write a list of your personal successes. Can all of that list just be a coincidence or luck? I think not, it’s time to recognise your value.

Work out

Your body needs exercise. We were not created to be sedentary. Even a simple stretch, power pose or walking, helps.

Practicing physical activity allows you to stay in touch with your body, raises your energy levels and releases more endorphins. You are happy after you work out, so it’s worth the hard work and pain. This process is quite reflective of how we reach our goals – working out makes you more target driven and tenacious when it comes to goal setting.

Before you go to an important meeting, interview, or any other stress-inducing situation, do a little workout, stretch or strike a simple power pose and make yourself feel more comfortable.

Visualise your success

Visualisation is a critical part of achieving any goal. It’s hard to be confident when you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Your future success just doesn’t seem real.

Close your eyes and start seeing your success as a reality. Picture how you’ll get there. Picture how you walk, stand and even dress. Try to engage all five senses in it. How does it feel and smell, what do you hear, who are the people around you, what do they wear? Every little detail matters. For better results, take a piece of paper and write everything down, or even draw it. Do what works for you but most importantly get visualising.

Meditate

Meditation helps you to become more self-aware. Get to know your low confidence triggers, find ways to be more at peace with yourself. After a good meditation, weak confidence seems like a distant dream based on tiredness and stress. When you really put your mind to it, you see confidence as a very small issue.

Meditation is a tool to inspect your daily thoughts and become more self-aware about your own thought process. It helps you to nip limiting self-talk in the bud, and encourages you to create a new, loving and compassionate self.

Get comfortable with failure

No one likes to fail, but failure is the best indicator of your progress. If you’re serious about getting confident, then you need to get comfortable with failure, as it will be your best teacher.

There is no easy way to do this, but according to Peter Guber, you can fail faster. Fix your mistake, as soon as you realise it and learn how to avoid it in the future.

 

 

 

Master your morning routine with the five M’s

morning

Morning routines are nothing new. It’s likely you’ll have your own routine in the works but how effective is it? Many people won’t want to change up their mornings for fear of getting off to a bad start. Well, these people are far too comfortable. If your morning routine is providing you with nothing more than comfort and perhaps more sleep time, it’s time to shake it up. Here is how to bring max productivity to your morning with the five M’s. Enjoy!

1. M Is For Morning Journaling

In our busy, day-to-day lives, our minds end up collecting a lot of nonsense, fears, negativity or worse. Morning journaling is one of the best ways to resolve this.

Morning pages is a creativity-unblocking technique first described in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. It involves writing three pages by hand before you do anything else in the morning. Try it out and see what you think – it could be truly life-changing.

It really works because you declutter your mind and get rid of all your distractions before your work day has even started.

2. M Is For Meditation

Meditation is different for everyone. You are certainly not limited to sitting cross-legged saying “OOOM”.

Meditation is one of the best and most effective ways to keep your mind calm.

People typically spend 5-10 minutes on meditation each morning. There are great apps for a guided meditation – the Headspace app is particularly popular.

But more than anything else meditation helps you to stay focused and on track with a stronger and more balanced mindset. If meditation is new to you research what type would be best for you and give it a go. Meditation can be done in various ways such as listening to an app which takes you through a guided meditation, walking or even running.

Meditation is a highly personal act, so experiment until you find a way that “clicks.”

3. M Is For Make The Bed

It sounds odd but If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It sends a message to your brain that you’re not a slacker and it gives you a small sense of accomplishment encouraging you to continue to complete tasks, throughout the day.

4. M is for Morning Meal

If you want a supercharged, productive day, your body needs fuel via your morning meal.

Make sure your breakfast is healthy, nutritious and delicious. Enjoy eating it and use the time to focus on the food and just get lost in the moment. Before long you’ll look forward to waking up and enjoying your breakfast.

5. M Is For Movement

You could be the type that works out before work and if so then you’ve already nailed this M. If you’re not then you can fulfil this M by setting aside just 10 minutes, every morning, to move your body.

What does this mean? It simply means that during this 10 minutes you will focus on your body. Simply stretching for 10 minutes will activate your muscles, help you to wake up and also help you to create energy for the rest your day. You can obviously set aside more time and go further than stretching however this is the bare minimum required.

A bit of advice – implementing all five 5’s at once might be too much. Try introducing one at a time until you can do all five, with ease.

So, what are you waiting for? See how the five M’s could change your world today.

Read more on the five M’s with this excellent blog on Forbes, here.

How the most successful spend their weekends

career

The only thing we shouldn’t do with our weekends is work.

study from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and it drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more. What this means is that people who work as much as 70 hours (or more) per week actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours. Those extra hours are wasted.

So make sure work doesn’t encroach on your precious weekend and do these things instead;

How the most successful spend their weekends

1) They own their mornings

They value the time not being spent commuting to work and they use their weekend mornings to have “me-time”. Whether this is a slow breakfast, staying longer in bed, or reading their favourite book – they make sure their precious weekend mornings are used purposefully.

2) They plan mini adventures

They buy tickets to a concert or play or get reservations for an exciting new restaurant. They even decide to drive to the country and get lost in nature. The best thing is that they don’t care who is with them, they’ll do it alone if their friends are busy or with their grumpy children in tow – (they’ll love it when they get there). They do it to inject newness into their life, which significantly improves their life satisfaction. Studies show that anticipating something good to come is a significant part of what makes the activity pleasurable. Knowing that you have something interesting planned for the weekend will not only be fun come Saturday, but it will significantly improve your mood throughout the week.

3) They Pursue a Passion

Indulging in your passions is a great way to escape the stress of your day job and also opens your mind to new ways of thinking. You can’t expect to grow becoming a master of just one discipline. Learning new skills adds incredible value to your life. Whether it’s chasing entrepreneurial interests, learning an instrument, reading, writing or painting – anything that you are passionate about, can help stimulate different modes of thought that can reap huge rewards over the coming week.

4) They Disconnect

Disconnecting is one of the strategies on this list because if you can’t find a way to remove yourself from work electronically technically (no pun intended) you’ve never left.

Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes ruins your wellbeing. You can’t unwind if you are just an email or phone call away from work stress. If taking the entire weekend off handling work e-mails and calls isn’t realistic, try designating specific times on Saturday and Sunday for checking e-mails and responding to voicemails. However, you decide to disconnect – just make sure you do it.

5) Make sure your weekend isn’t just chores 

Chores can totally take over your weekends. When this happens, you lose the opportunity to relax and reflect and you go back to work unrested – this is a weekend, wasted. What’s worse is chores often feel like work so you’ve just created a 7-day work week. To stop this from happening, you need to schedule your chores like you would anything else during the week, and if you don’t complete them during the designated time, then you move on and finish them the following weekend.

For more fantastic tips on how the most successful spend their weekends, read this great article by Forbes, here.

The conundrum of Lawyer brain and the secret cure

mental errors

Lawyer Brain arises when you spend your career critically thinking, stripping everything around you of ambiguity or mystery. It’s something entirely unavoidable for lawyers in their day-to-day careers, the issue arises, however, when Lawyer brain encroaches your everyday thinking.

The consequences of Lawyer brain 

Lawyer brain can force you to exist in the black and white when in reality, the grey can be quite enjoyable. The thing is, lawyers are so used to breaking things down and analysing facts, that it can cause them to squeeze the spontaneous fun out of their personal life. Over-analytical thinking can lead to more pessimistic thoughts. This pessimism can lead to habitual negative thinking and depression. The key is to not to normalise this negative thinking when it occurs outside of work – otherwise, you are trapped in Lawyer brain.

How to heal Lawyer brain

Interestingly, John Stuart Mill, identified with the negative consequences of critical thinking. He said that he turned to poetry to heal himself of the depression he could feel from his analytical inclinations. His favourite poet was Wordsworth who he described as saving him from depression “… the delight which [Wordsworth’s] poems gave me, proved that with a culture of this sort, there was nothing to dread from the most confirmed habit of analysis.”

Poetry exists almost entirely in the grey and is a great liberation from the strict confines of critical thinking. Just simply letting your thoughts wander, without purpose, can ignite your imagination and help you to reframe your negative thoughts into more creative and positive ones. It also helps you to train your brain to use different thinking patterns. It takes you out of the Lawyer brain trap and helps you to become more self-aware. So, when you do start to feel negative – you can simply change your thought patterns. Try it out and see what you think. It’s the perfect break from all the legal reading.

For more on this topic read this great blog from Law Care here.

The efficient trick of honouring sadness

sadness

We are told time and time again that focusing on the “good” is the best way to deal with depression or sadness.

However, this does not mean that we should suppress sadness in order to only focus on the good. In fact, we should treat feelings of sadness with the same respect we give to happiness. We should honour sadness.

Many people put pressure on themselves to be happy all the time. This is not realistic. Life is not a happy cartoon. Distracting yourself, or even ignoring sadness only makes it worse. Sadness can actually be beneficial if you deal with it correctly.

Why honouring sadness is good for you

1) Feeling sadness is the only thing that helps release it

Much like any suppressed feelings, you can only push them down for a short period of time before they shoot to the surface, at the most inconvenient time.

Instead, bringing a spirit of curiosity and compassion to sadness lets you explore feelings without getting stuck in them. Become your own detective, think about why you feel sad and just feel it.

Notice where the sadness is in your body. You might feel chest aches, heaviness on your shoulders or tears. Accept these feelings and let them rise to the surface.

2) Unpick the sadness 

Think about back to when you started to feel sad. Is there anything familiar about this feeling? Is it triggered by something in particular? What early life experiences felt similar? Start to increase your self-awareness around why you feel sad and this is a sure way for you to understand how to cope with it.

3) Invite Them In

What would you do if you allowed yourself to just be really sad? What would your day look like? Ho much would you cry? What movies would you watch? Would you sleep? What would you be in your pyjamas? If you let yourself just breakdown, would it help? What would you be thinking? Or doing? Even if you can’t take a sick day, or literally have the sadness breakdown you believe you’re on the brink of having, imagine if you did. Don’t live in fear of your sadness.

4) Get creative 

Emotion unlocks art and creativity that our rational mind tries to keep muted. It’s a great time to explore what you really have broiling under your veneer of reason. Use this time to write, draw or play an instrument. Do whatever skill takes your fancy or whichever you have a natural flair – just make sure you do something.

5) Be kind to yourself 

Often we can make ourselves feel a whole lot worse by our reactions to sadness. Thoughts such as “this is pathetic”, “I need to be stronger” or “Just snap out of it” – are particularly problematic – you are not a robot. Embrace your humanity. Just like being kind to others in their time of need we should equally be kind to ourselves. Not only does kindness make us feel better in the moment but it also helps us to deal with the sadness in a more efficient way. Instead of encouraging us to surpess feelings of sadness it encourages us to accept them.

The absolute best way to deal with sadness is to honour it and who knows, you may find something beautiful at the end of your blue tunnel.

 

 

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