10 health benefits of daily yoga

yoga

Practising Yoga is said to come with many benefits for both mental and physical health but there are so many more reasons why Yoga is a great addition to your life.

Your mind is one of the most important assets and properly looking after it, will help you to get through those tough curve balls in life. Saying that to be super efficient at facing life’s many challenges you need both mental and physical strength

There are many benefits I can list but first I am going to talk about the main benefits which are scientifically proven.

Stress

Yoga is known for its ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Multiple studies have demonstrated that yoga decreases the secretion of cortisol the dominant stress hormone and after a three-month program woman had significantly reduced stress, anxiety and have had improved quality of life and mental health.

Improves heart health

The American heart association has shown that heart attacks, high blood pressure, and diabetes are increasingly more frequent in young people notably women. A review of different studies made in the European journal of preventive cardiology said that yoga can help as much as a traditional workout the even show that who practised lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol. Is just about movement.

Mental health

Yoga allows you to be “in your body”, it helps you connect with yourself.  Many poses can have a mood-boosting effect like camel pose, pigeon pose and legs up which literally open your heart and help you find.new perspectives.

Improves the quality of life

Yoga is turning into an adjunct therapy to improve quality of life for many people. Studies have shown how yoga can help to prevent nausea, vomiting, mood swings and fatigue. It also diminishes anxiety and depression with cancer patients.

Flexibility and balance

Many people have overcome injuries by increasing their range of motion with yoga. But flexibility not only helps with injuries but with joint pain. With a few weeks of practice, you’ll start to notice pain to go away. Tight hips can strain the knee joints due to improper alignment. Inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue can cause poor posture and back pains.

Your head is a big, round, heavy ball and when it aligns directly to an erect spine, it takes less work for your neck and back to support it.

Yoga also regularly increases proprioception [ ability to feel what your body is doing]. People with dysfunctional movement patterns usually have low proprioception. Better balance could mean fewer falls and less body pain.

Let just look at one more benefit, this one is not scientific but is as valid as the rest.

Awareness for transformation: Self-awareness makes easier to break free of destructive emotions like anger. Yoga appears to reduce anger by increasing feelings of compassion and interconnection and by calming the nervous system and the mind.

Just believing you will get better can make you better. Some might call it placebo effect and say it doesn’t count but the mind is the most powerful tool you can have.

So, if you haven’t yet tried yoga, what are you waiting for?

7 steps to know if you really hate your job

job

Often people will think that they absolutely hate their jobs, but when you dig a little deeper, there are almost always aspects that they do actually enjoy.

The danger is that when you feel negative about something you can get so absorbed in the negative aspects – you stop yourself from seeing the light. This can be a slippery slope to what career strategist Zoeb calls job depression. It gets so bad that people can wake up each morning, dreading the day ahead of us.

If we step back from this negative spiral would we really want to crush our own happiness? The answer is almost always, no. So, the only thing we can do is ensure we are taking a realistic view on our work otherwise the issue can spiral out of control.

Below are 7 simple steps to identify if you really do hate your job or if actually, it’s not that bad!

1. Take stock of how you think about your job

If a family member or someone you respected was to ask you “Do you like your job?” Think about how you would answer? Would you break down and cry or would your few moans actually seem quite insignificant?

2. Become self-aware

Is your job making you feel down in the dumps? Do you generally moan to friends and family about all of the things you hate about your job?

3. Make a list of all the things you like about your job

 Take your time and really think about what tasks you like doing. Is everything really that bad?

4. Make peace with the fact that no one job will be perfect!

Accept that there may be tasks that you don’t love that come with the territory. But, will they go after a few more years experience? What solutions can you find to make them better?

5. Create your own work diary

Make a list of each task you do every day for two weeks and rate every task out of 10. At the end of the two weeks, you should have an accurate, rational representation of your job.

6. Consider what your unique skills are

Does your job allow you to use these skills? Does your job allow you to develop?

7. By the end of this process you should be able to identify one of three things:

  1. you actually quite like a lot of your job, it’s just that you were focusing on all the bad bits
  2. there are some aspects of your job that suit you but there are more negatives than positives
  3. you really are in the wrong job because you dislike more than 70%of the tasks you do

If you find yourself with options 2 or 3 then it’s time to start looking at a new career path. Read this helpful blog here if you find yourself in that position. If however, you find yourself aligning more with option 1, then you may be able to make your job work for you by focusing on the tasks you really enjoy and looking for resolutions to resolve the parts that you don’t enjoy!

How to beat fatigue

fatigue

Sometimes, we can live the healthiest of lifestyles (or so we believe!) and yet we are still plagued by fatigue.

Fatigue is one step further than tiredness. It’s defined as extreme tiredness. It’s the type of exhaustion that can cloud your judgement, make you fall asleep on the train and typically make every task feel like a total drain.

On the positive side – there are some very simple lifestyle tweaks that can be made to rid yourself of fatigue, for good.

Many of the items on this list, may seem to easy to be true but they are proven time and time again to be the underlying cause of extreme tiredness.

1. Eliminate sugar and processed or packaged foods.

Eat a candy bar and your energy will usually plummet soon after. Sugar and other refined carbohydrates give you a little shot of energy, but at a huge expense. In reality, we are eating sugar to feel the euphoria for around 5 minutes max (usually less) in return for feeling drained for hours afterwards. If you find it too hard to eliminate sugar, try swapping it for fruits, like berries or apples. And if you need something heavier, swap biscuits or cakes for nuts like almonds or peanuts. If you feel a bit lost on which types of foods have added sugars or refined carbs try to keep away from anything in a package, food closest to its natural state i.e a jacket potato before it becomes a chip or a bowl of porridge before its a flapjack – is what you should be aiming for.

2. Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol.

Sometimes, eliminating caffeine is incredibly difficult especially if you are somewhat dependant on it now. But, what will feel like suffering for the first two days you cut it out will turn into a lifetime of happiness. Coffee much like sugar gives you energy for the first hour but then leaves you feeling totally zapped afterwards.  Alcohol does the same too. It may calm your nerves for a short time, but will certainly leave you feeling drained or mentally foggy a few hours later.

3. Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep nightly.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Some questions you can ask yourself to see if you are not sleeping enough include: Does it take me a long time to fall asleep? Do I wake up often or am I restless? Do I feel sleepy when driving? Do I need caffeine to get through the day? Answer, “yes,” to any of these indicates you may not be getting enough quality sleep. Whilst sleep is another topic in itself if you do think you are not getting the quality sleep you need – its time to take action because a good nights sleep can dramatically improve your quality of life.

4. Exercise.

Spending hours at the gym isn’t doing your chronic fatigue levels any good – remember overexercising can be a culprit of chronic fatigue syndrome. The most effective way to exercise and increase your energy is through the high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These short, intense “bursts” give you a full workout in little time. Or if you find HITT too much try 30 minutes max of cardio combined with max 15 minutes of light bodyweight exercises, these can range from abs to squats. One thing is for sure – with the right amount of exercise you can significantly increase your energy levels.

5. Find ways to relax and reset your mind.

For some people, taking 20 minutes during the afternoon to meditate can be enough to recharge. Maybe yoga or deep breathing is your thing. Whatever you do, you must find time to relax and reset your mind.

For me, the best thing to clear my mind is a walk in nature – nature can be just alongside trees. This is a great way for me to start feeling the small release, I need, to get on with my day.

Chronic fatigue can impair your health and happiness, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. While it may take some time, and some small or large lifestyle changes, you can get your energy back and reclaim your health and wellbeing if you are dedicated to doing so.

How to cope with modern day uncertainty

uncertainty

Modern society is plagued with uncertainty from market crashes and Brexit, to the day-to-day turbulence of most white collar professions, nothing is known. This might be fine if we were not lumbered with a now redundant brain disposition, gifted from our ancestors, meaning we feel an overwhelming sense of caution and fear, when in unfamiliar territory. Obviously, we see the benefits of this brain mechanism for our cavemen ancestors. However, now it simply serves to cause grief and hinder our business in a world where uncertainty rules and important decisions must be made every day with minimal information.

So, it’s time to beat our vulnerability towards uncertainty

Why?

The most successful people are able to override this mechanism against fear of uncertainty and shift their thinking in a rational direction. This process requires emotional intelligence (EQ), and it unsurprisingly follows that 90% of top performers have high EQs and they earn an average of $28,000 more per year than their low-EQ counterparts do.

To boost your EQ, you have to get good at making sound decisions in the face of uncertainty, even when your brain fights against this. How on earth can you do this? Well, read below to find proven strategies that you can use to improve the quality of your decisions when your emotions are clouding your judgment!

1. They quiet their limbic systems

The limbic system responds to uncertainty with a knee-jerk fear reaction of fear. Fear inhibits good decision-making. People who are good at dealing with uncertainty are wary of this fear and spot it as soon as it begins to surface. In this way, they stop their judgement from being clouded at the most crucial moments. Once they are aware of the fear, they can objectively remove all of the irrational thoughts that arise. Allowing them to focus more accurately and rationally on the information before them. Throughout the process, they remind themselves that a primitive part of their brain is trying to take over the rational part. This allows them to stay in the game by telling their limbic systems to “Shhhhh!”.

2. They stay positive

Positive thoughts quiet fear and irrational thinking by focusing your brain’s attention on something that is your ‘happy place’. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well and your mood is good, this is relatively easy. but, when you’re stressing over a tough decision and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, this can be a real challenge. In these moments, think about one time in your life that made you immensely happy, no matter how small. No matter what it is, so long as you focus on the positive.

3. They know what they knowand what they don’t

When uncertainty makes a decision difficult, it’s easy to feel as if everything is uncertain, but that’s never usually the case. People who excel at managing uncertainty don’t lose perspective on what they know and what they don’t know. They gather all the facts they have, do their best to recognise what they don’t know. Identifying as many of the unknown things as possible takes away their power.

4. They embrace that which they can’t control

We all like to be in control. But this desire for control can backfire. Living in today’s uncertain world means you have to know when to let go. Successful people live in the real world. They don’t paint any situation as better or worse than it actually is, and they analyse the facts for what they are. If they don’t know something, they fess up to it and they don’t let themselves live in hear of it. Don’t be afraid to step up and say, “Here’s what we don’t know, but we’re going forward based on what we do know. We may make mistakes, but that’s a lot better than standing still.”

5. They focus only on what matters

Some decisions can make or break your company. Most just aren’t that important. The people who are the best at making decisions in the face of uncertainty don’t waste their time getting stuck on decisions where the biggest risk is looking foolish in front of their co-workers. When it comes down to it, almost every decision contains at least a small factor of uncertainty—it’s an inevitable part of doing business and of life. Learning to properly balance the many decisions on your plate and decide which ones actually matter allows you to focus your energy on the things that do matter.

6. They don’t seek perfection

Emotionally intelligent people don’t set perfection because they know there’s no such thing as a perfect decision in an uncertain situation. Think about it: human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and you end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently, instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve. This downward look at all of your outcomes will burst your confidence. So always look at the positives after your decisions and don’t strive to do the impossible.

Proven tactics to handle any challenge at work

challenge

It’s normal to feel nervous when taking on a new and unfamiliar challenge. Whilst feelings of anxiety are uncomfortable, without them we do not grow.

The butterflies we feel attacking our stomach turn into our seeds of success. So, the next time you think of running away from a daunting, professional challenge think twice –  because that situation could fast track you to your goals.

1. Take some time to get used to the challenge 

When you are first confronted with a new challenge, it can all seem daunting. You panic, you can’t think straight and you might even start sweating. This is ultimate panic mode. The only thing you want to be doing, when panic strikes, is taking a step back. So, take a break, a walk or ask for some time to think things over. Whatever you do, you must take time to grow accustomed to the problem. Once the initial shock wears off your creative mind will come into action but this can only happen if you give yourself time.

2. Cut to the heart of the issue 

What exactly is it that you have to do? Break down the problem, to such an extent, that you can explain to your mate at the pub. You should boil it down to the bare bones so that there is absolute clarity over what you have to do. Keep asking questions to really get to the root of the problem. Explaining the problem to others is a proven way of resolving the problem for yourself.

3. Put things into perspective

No matter how awfully terrifying the challenge in front of you may seem, you may rest assured that someone else has been through the same thing. It is important to realise how your situation compares to the rest of what you are doing, and how bad it really is compared to all the good things in your life. Plus, think about all of the even bigger challenges ahead. If you can handle this you will reap the rewards, so sit tight and start to embrace the wild ride.

4. Divide the challenge into smaller pieces

That one big challenge you’ve just been confronted with is usually a combination of smaller challenges that require small steps and easy solutions. Write everything down. Break the challenge into small chunks. Under each chunk, write your proposed resolution. As you go through these steps you’ll slowly turn your focus to the solutions instead of being obsessed by the problem.

5. See the positive 

This challenge has been bestowed onto you, to allow you to grow. You are very lucky to have this kind of professional development in your path and you should do your best to make use of it. The most successful people in life, take on challenges like most of us take on tea or coffee during the day. These challenges and scary situations are what allows them to reach new peaks of success. So, don’t hold back and do your best. Your future self will thank you.

 

The 7 secrets to being persuasive

persuasive

The only way to be truly persuasive is to understand the human mind.

The human mind doesn’t work by rules of logic when it comes to being persuasive but there are rules involved when seeking to influence others.

Tali Sharot is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London and her new book is The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others.

In this book, Sharot has helpfully identified 7 factors that influence our ability to be persuasive.

1. Prior beliefs

Don’t start off by telling people they are wrong. The reality is when people hear things that contradict their beliefs, their minds turn on defensive mode. So, instead, start with common ground between your position and theirs and then move on to try and influence them to your side. Once you find middle ground with your opponent you’re halfway to being persuasive.

2. Emotion

Emotion affects judgement. One of the most persuasive ways to communicate arguments effectively is to share feelings. Emotions are contagious and by expressing our feelings the audience will empathise with you.

If the time is not appropriate to share emotion, for example, in policial or legal debate, then try to inject emotion through storytelling. Take the audience on a journey with you, help them to understand where you are coming from and by the end of your story, they should be able to take up your point of view.

3. Incentives

A little story – hospital staff started to be electronically marked in terms of feedback. Every time a doctor or nurse washed their hands, the numbers on the board went up. Interestingly, the number of workers washing their hands increased to almost 90%. The takeaway – provide an incentive, if you want someone to do something. Whether this is following an order or following your way of thinking, be imaginative and think about how you can subtly incentivise them do it. Remember subtlety is key – nobody likes to be told what do to – and if they think they are being ordered around they are highly likely to rebel.

4. Control

Former FBI lead international hostage negotiator Chris Voss says it’s critical in any negotiation to give the other side a feeling of control. And the research agrees.

So, when you seek to be persuasive, don’t order but instead, give options. Guide them towards the light and they will often believe they got there on their own.

5. Reframe negativity

People often don’t want to hear bad news and will do their best to ignore it. So, if we have to deliver bad information, we have to reframe it, as a positive. This is because when people hear positive information, they become curious and intrigued. So in effect, you are reframing the message to highlight the possibility for progress, rather than the doom.

6. State of mind

An interesting exception to the above rule. Researchers found that people under threat were far more inclined to take in negative information.

Another interesting point is that when we feel positive we are far more likely to take risks.

So the point is, align your speech with the other person’s mood. When they are low they are far more receptive to suggestions that make them feel safe, when they’re up they’ll be more responsive to riskier ideas, or thoughts.

7. General consensus

Whether it be a negative or positive consensus, if there is a following backing one side of an argument over the other, people will support the general consensus.

What that means for the power of persuasion is try as best as you can (without obviously being misleading) to frame your position as the positive and popular one as it simply gives your argument more weight.

 

To read more on this topic read the magnificent blog on Barking up the wrong tree, on this topic, here.

Small daily tweaks to make big happiness gains

happiness

Happiness is influenced by our actions.

We can choose to live in a way that makes us feel happy, or not.

But, the reality is, we get too caught up everyday day life, to sit back and cultivate our happiness.

For example, travelling makes me happy but, can I do that every day? Not right now. So, does that mean I am subjected to a life of depression? Of course not.

Luckily, for you and I, there are some simple tweaks – that can significantly boost our daily happiness.

1. Write a “control pad”

Write a paragraph, in your note pad, on how you honestly feel about your present place in life – cover work, love and family alongside anything else important to you. Below that write three things that are within your control to change in the next 6 months.

2. Take a warm bath with your favourite scent 

“You time” is crucial to your happiness and overall wellbeing. Even if it’s just 20 minutes, take it and protect it with your life. Your mental health relies on it.

3. Wake up ten minutes earlier and drink your tea or coffee slower than usual

Try to do this facing a window, preferably with daylight and take in your morning without rushing or flooding it with nervous energy.

4. Cook your favourite dish for lunch or dinner

Cooking food can be very therapeutic. If you don’t enjoy cooking, as much as others, maybe involve your friend, partner or children to make it more fun. However you decide to cook, the end result of eating delicious food will certainly boost your happiness.

5. Drink one more cup of water than you usually do

Instead of reaching for a coffee to help you break through the afternoon slump, drink a glass of water, you’ll be shocked at how energised you will feel after.

6. Write down your favourite quote and frame it 

Recognise words that motivate and inspire you. Use these words as your mantra. Reading your favourite quote, each day, will help you to stay on track with your personal goals and also remind you why you are pursuing them.

7. Learn one new thing a day

This doesn’t have to be huge. It can be something as small as an animal fact (if you want to learn more about animals!). Try to point your daily learning towards a large concept that interests you, this way all your learning will have a purpose.

8. Accomplish one small goal a day that’s dedicated to personal development

This can be anything from reading more personal development literature, exercising more or start meditating. Whatever your personal development goal, make sure you start chipping away at it, each and every day.

9. Spend at least 20 minutes walking outside, per day 

Nature is mother natures remedy for stress. Just simply looking at trees can make you feel more at ease and peaceful. So make sure you spend at least 20 minutes per day, in green nature to feel the benefits.

10. Give something back 

This can go from complimenting a colleague to taking on a young mentor. Either way, make sure that you acknowledge the fact, that the world isn’t all about you and give something back.

11. Look at old photos and reflect on how much you’ve grown and changed over the years

It’s always nice to see how far you’ve come. Really study yourself and learn about how you have grown. Remember what it was like to be you all of those years ago. Were your worries ever necessary? What have you learnt?

12. Give yourself five reasons why you’re glad to be alive

This allows you to stay grateful and humble. Two things integral to our happiness.

13. Sit in a dark room and do absolutely nothing for 15 minutes

During this time try to focus on your breathing and take yourself to your happy place. It’s worrying how much our digital distractions destroy our inner peace.

14. Create a bucket list of all the things you want to do before you turn a certain age

This will challenge you to seek new experiences, dream boldly, and stop holding yourself back. Hold yourself accountable to this list.

15. Reach out to a few people you admire

Tell them how your life has changed for the better because of them. This helps you to understand the value of others and the importance of a strong network. It also helps you to solidify existing relationships.

 

How to ask for a favour and get it granted

favour

There will come a time in your life when you will need to ask for a favour.

It doesn’t feel great, asking someone to do something for you, but it’s sometimes a necessity.

So, here is how to ask for a favour and actually get it granted.

1. Consider the other person

You need to recognise that it’s not all about you.

You’re asking someone to help your needs at the cost of their time, energy and/or money. Don’t just brush it off as nothing because it does put the other person out. The best way to address this is to acknowledge it. When you ask for the favour, think about what it involves for them and make it clear you’ve considered this in your communications. Not in an overly apologetic way but more of I have thought about what this ask, involves for you. This not only builds trust but actually works to persuade the other person – if you’ve carefully considered what they have to do and you’re still asking them for it can’t be such a huge deal.

If you can try and strike a win/win deal, where if they help you – you’ll help them. This can work in most businesses contexts for example support with covering shifts or work.

2. Ask with the expectation that your request will be granted

If you ask them for a favour with your tail between your legs, then you’ve already failed.

Mentality is everything.

You need to believe you’re going to get what you ask for. This means not profusely apologising or saying that this is a waste of their time. You wouldn’t genuinely approach someone if you felt like you were wasting their time, so don’t play games or give them too much power. Ask to win.

If you play it up, they are less likely to accept, but if you don’t create a huge fuss about it they are far more likely to accept.

3. Be truthful

Being truthful gains trust.

Make sure to not tell any white lies, or butter anything up no matter how large or small. Studies show that when you come at people from a place of honesty, they tend to feel a lot more secure with you, because they empathise with and understand, you.

Tell them why you’re asking for it. Help them to understand your motive. It helps people to empathise and see that they would probably do the same thing if they were in your position.

4. Be very specific about what you need

Don’t be vague or unclear.

It’s crucial when you ask someone for something that they understand it in the first instance. Otherwise, it becomes more lengthy and confusing then it needs to be and they will be annoyed in helping you.

Be clear, concise and exact. That way you’ll get exactly what you want.

Common networking pitfalls

networking

Networking can be a hectic time. Why? Because there is typically several factors whizzing around your head when meeting new people. Firstly, you may have personal grievances – you may be shy, nervous or even tired. Secondly, there will be certain conversational steps you need to action such as remembering names, shaking hands and asking good questions. Finally, you will have your personal objectives for networking at the forefront of your mind all whilst trying to appear calm, genuine and smooth.

Networking can seem intimidating but, it’s actually a lot simpler than we assume. With so many things going on it’s inevitable that we make a networking mistake or two. The important thing is that we don’t let those mistakes turn into misconceptions. Making some obvious mistakes, like forgetting someone’s name, detract from your genuine nature and actually makes it harder for people to trust you. The most common networking offenders typically have no idea that what they’re doing is bad. So, if you have in mind, what not do to, at your next networking event you’re already ahead of the rest.

So here are the most common networking pitfalls;

1. Lack of eye contact

Meeting new people can be intimidating especially if they are far higher in the rankings than you. A natural inclination would be to not make any eye contact or glance away at every given opportunity. But, you must try to avoid this at all costs. Not only with the person with whom you are speaking, look at you more intently but you also come across as insecure and untrustworthy. Both highly undesirable descriptions. So even if it initially feels uncomfortable, force eye contact, it will be more natural throughout the conversation and certainly, make you feel more at ease they awkwardly diverting your eyes.

Even though it seems so “macho” to focus on the strength of a handshake, the truth is that it matters. If the handshake is too weak, it can be offputting and convey at the very least that you are uncomfortable in the current situation. According to life coach and etiquette expert Mary Frances McGraw “A quick grasp of the other person’s hand, one to two pumps (slight movement up and down), and then letting go is the appropriate way to shake hands.”

3. Appearing distracted

Don’t start checking your phone for no reason. It automatically, breaks the dynamic between you and the other person and you appear uninterested, at the very least. As a rule, don’t have your phone in your hand, on the table or visible at all. This will reduce your chances of being distracted.

Be disciplined about other distractions too. Don’t lose focus in your present conversation even if you see your best friend glide into the room. If you must check your phone, leave the room discreetly and at an appropriate breaking point in the conversation.

4. Forgetting names

It’s obviously not easy to remember everyone’s name, especially if you are at a particularly large networking event. So if you forget, don’t panic. The best way to remedy the fact, that you forgot someone’s name is to confess to it. This will not only show the other person that you’re interested in them but it will also convey your genuine nature – you’re not afraid to admit mistakes. This rule doesn’t apply if you forget more than once, repeatedly asking someone their name might convey a mental illness, or too much champagne – if this does happen they try to pry the twice or more forgotten name from a fellow networker.

5. Over-sharing 

Sometimes people can go “wax-lyrical” when meeting a new person and decide to tell them a whole host of personal information. If you are under any misinformed idea, that sharing personal information, at a first meeting, will forge a closer relationship, than you are most definitely wrong. Too much is a turn off in business and networking.

Certainly, once you get to know a person, you can share your heart out. But, in a professional context, keep it short and sweet as anything more may be perceived as unprofessional.

6. Using closed body language

When meeting someone new, you’ll want to seem as welcoming and warm as possible. So standing in front of them with your arms crossed over your chest is something you don’t want to be doing. It builds an instant barrier between you and the person in front of you and comes across as defensive. Equally fidgeting, by either touching your face or playing with your hands, comes across as anxious or nervous and can make the other person feel that way too. The best way to hold your body is in a relaxed manner (i.e relaxed shoulders, no fidgeting) and perhaps your hands rested in a clasp at your front or gesticulating if that’s how you like to communicate.

If you can’t think of anything to say to the other person, the best remedy is asking them about themselves. Most people love talking about themselves. It will also give you the chance to pick up on something they’ve said and “piggyback” i.e expand on it. This allows the conversation to flow more naturally and removes the risk of you being becoming an interrogator and only firing lots of questions at them.

8. Exiting the conversation prematurely

“Working your way around the room” does not mean saying one line to each person before you run away. Whilst you don’t need to devote your entire night to one individual resist your urge to bounce around from one person to another. If you do this you won’t have made any real inroads with anyone and the networking event will be pointless.  You also run the risk of offending the person in front of you by ditching them for another. Instead, give the person before you your undivided attention – you never know what will come from a great conversation.

 

five common cultural characteristics and how they impact business

culture

The beauty of business is that it connects all four corners of the earth.

Throughout our careers, we will come across several cultures, some of whom can feel miles apart from our own.

My favourite definition of ‘culture’ is, “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively“. It follows that culture is not confined to wider society and communities but is equally prevalent in organisations.

The comforting thing to acknowledge is that typically cultures share at least five mutual characteristics. So before you’ve even started to embrace a new culture for business or personal purposes you are already familiar with at least five of their practices.

So, whether you are trying to penetrate a new market, build global contacts or you simply want to understand your playing field a bit better. here are the five common cultural characteristics that you will find in every society and organisational culture.

1. The Initiation

Cultures all tend to have a ritual for becoming a new member. A newcomer starts out as a stranger and then embarks on a rite of initiation, created by a particular culture, which marks the passage of that individual into the community. Some of these rituals may be so informal as to be hardly noticed (e.g., the first time you are invited to a coworker lunch), while others may be highly formalised (e.g., the call to the bar ceremony for Barristers). In every business, there are groups, power struggles, and unspoken ways that members earn their way from the role of a “newbie” to that of a full member.  All these challenges are to be expected in any culture.

2. Common History

Think for a moment about the history of a business like Coca Cola. Do you have an emotional response to the mental images of the red and white Coca Cola logo? Traditions form as the organization grows and expands. The history of every culture, of every corporation, influences its present state. Its history also influences where it might want to be in the future and further what is may struggle to compete with. You just have to reflect on the history of a business to understand it more.

3. Common Values and Principles

Cultures all hold values and principles that are communicated from older members to younger or newer ones. For example, time (fast customer service) and cleanliness are the two pillar values of the McDonald’s corporation. A new employee may take these for granted, while a seasoned professional who inspects restaurants and its franchises, may see the continued need to continually reinforce these core values. Without reinforcement, norms may dissolve, and if this were the case it could fundamentally change the success of a business which has been founded on its core values. This reinforcement of values is seen across every successful organisation. These businesses owe their success to certain values and they respect those values.

4. Shared Purpose

Why are we here? What is our mission? Throughout every culture, this fundamental question is asked. In business, the answer to this question can be found in the mission and vision statements of most organisations. Employees or members will be expected to acknowledge and share the company vision. The most successful organisations make sure each member is working towards the same goal in unity.

5. Common habits (Symbols, uniforms, language, and rituals)

Cultures have common symbols that mark them as a group; the knowledge of what a symbol stands for helps to reinforce who is part of the group and who is not. Cultural symbols can be seen in organisations in the form of logos however they can also include dress, such as the Western business suit and tie, the Scottish kilt, or the Islamic headscarf. Symbols also include slogans or sayings, such as “Just do it” or “because you’re worth it.” The slogan may serve a marketing purpose but may also embrace a mission or purpose within the culture.

Cultures have their own vocabulary and unique ways in which they communicate. Consider the lawyer or the accountant both have and use specialised jargon when communicating within their field. This language is learned over time and “on the job”. While a textbook can help, it can’t give you the first-hand experience of how it’s used within a particular culture. The use of this language is a defining feature of whether you are part of that culture or not.

Rituals are another core component of cultures. They can most simply be seen in company practices, for example, whether they have embraced the digital landscape or whether they exist largely on paper. Or, in how they recruit staff and so on. Rituals mean that organisations can have formalised processes which then stifle their future ability to innovate or adapt to new circumstances. This can be a real sticking point for organisations as the business world is far from stagnant and is in fact constantly shifting. However, once organisations get around any disadvantages of pre-existing rituals they can start to build practices allowing them to remain competitive.

The first step for any organisation, wishing to compete at the forefront of innovation, is to understand their deep seeded company culture. Without acknowledging it’s cultural advantages and restrictions companies cannot hope to grow.

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