Nature could be the key to your stress reduction

stress

We all fall foul to stress. It can hit us at any time and it can really dominate our thoughts for the rest of the day, week or even month. Stress is an indication that you are over-doing it, or that you are overwhelmed by aspects of your life. In today’s fast-paced world, sometimes exhausting hard work, is unavoidable, especially if you’re the ambitious type. However, there is one very interesting and scientifically proven way to help reduce your stress, permanently. It’s called forest bathing or also known as shinrin-yoku, in Japan where it is a very popular method to reduce the stress of urbanized city workers.

Forest bathing for stress – what the science says

A University of Rochester study found that just by simply looking at natural landscapes (as opposed to man-made environments) we feel more generous, connected to others, and in tune with our inner selves.

However when we actually immerse ourselves in a forest, (Japanese studies recommend a 2-hour walk, per week, to see a reduction in stress) the benefits are so much higher. Here’s why:

1. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol (making us less stressed)

Since 2004, the Japanese government has invested some three million euros in scientific research on the therapeutic effects of forests, particularly for stress reduction. Researchers, at the University of Chiba, measured the concentration of cortisol (a stress hormone) in individuals exposed to a forest environment in comparison to those who had remained in an office environment. The researchers found there was remarkably less cortisol in those exposed to the forest environment.

2. It increases our pleasure and empathy towards others

With advanced neurobiology techniques, the scientists were further able to confirm that walking or simply just being in a forest decreases the activity of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where cognitive functions focus on activities such as, planning, solving problems and making decisions. Instead, activity shifts to other parts of the brain related to emotion, pleasure, and empathy.

3. It builds our immune system

The immunologist Qing Li, from the Tokyo School of Medicine, has shown that a walk in a forest or a park significantly increases the concentration of a type of white blood cell that contributes to the fight against infections and against cancer. The beneficial effect of the walk of the forest can increase the white blood cells and anti-cancer proteins for up to to a week. According to Li, the volatile compounds emitted by trees are mainly responsible for this beneficial effect on the immune system. This is because plants produce something called “phytoncides”, which have been found, for centuries, to boost the human immune system and are still used and sold in popular homeopathic medicines, today.

Why you should use nature in your life for stress reduction

I heard a very inspiring quote yesterday, by Chris Pratt, a Hollywood actor, “I’m sharing this video….to entice any of you watching this who may feel unease or anxiety with the state of our world. Just breathe, slow down, go outside, find something not man-made and give it a good look“. Whilst I am not one to usually support Hollywood press, or advocate using it to find self-development meaning, this quote showed me that nature is a tool open to absolutely everyone. From the stressed-out single parent, trying to make it work in a demanding career, to Hollywood billionaires. It’s right outside our homes, free and can be found within a few hours of your urbanized city. There really is no excuse to not utilize this tool, to aid with the reduction of your stress.

Read more about the Japanese science of forest bathing here.

5 reasons why fun in the office is good for business

fun

Work doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. You can execute serious tasks and have fun at the same time. Investing effort into making your workplace more fun has tangible, positive benefits for employees, and organizations.

Here are 5 reasons why fun should be part of your HR strategy.

1. Having fun improves communication and encourages collaboration 

Enjoying time with colleagues in a relaxed and fun environment, including the workspace, encourages honest and open discussion. If employees are friends with the people they work with, as opposed to simply being colleagues, then they’ll work better collaboratively and communicate more effectively. They will understand each other’s traits and it will reduce the risk of miscommunications. Having fun with people is an excellent way to build genuine trust in the workplace and employees will work together towards shared business goals.

2. Having fun makes employees more productive

A 2015 study by the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy found that happier employees are more productive by an average of 12%.

When an employee feels low or sad for any reason, their morale and motivation drops, they may communicate less or less efficiently, and their productivity suffers.

People cope better in environments where they feel supported, even loved. Work doesn’t have to be much different.

3. Happy employees are healthier

A Harvard School of Public health study found that

“A vast scientific literature has detailed how negative emotions harm the body. Serious, sustained stress or fear can alter biological systems in a way that, over time, adds up to ‘wear and tear’ and, eventually, illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Chronic anger and anxiety can disrupt cardiac function by changing the heart’s electrical stability, hastening atherosclerosis [plaque deposits on the lining of arterial walls] and increasing systemic inflammation.” It’s true unhappy employees mean an increase in absenteeism.

Absenteeism is a significant problem. UK businesses lose 6.9 days a year per employee because of absenteeism, at an estimated cost of £554 per employee. Nearly a quarter (23%) of UK organizations say ‘non-genuine absence’ is the top reason for short-term absence for non-manual workers, with this proportion rising to 30% for manual workers.

4. Having fun encourages public sharing 

Employees who have fun and enjoy work are far more likely to spread the positive word. Having a good image for your business through a marketing campaign is one thing but having it through word of mouth is so much more powerful. If every one of your employees shared news about your business to their social groups, then your audience will increase exponentially, genuinely and for free.

5. Fun breeds innovation

Social ‘play’ is crucial to creative development. An individuals’ ability to learn improves when the task is enjoyable or even fun. Play can also stimulate imagination, helping people adapt and problem solve. Innovation is the crossroads between two ideas when employees are placed in an environment that nurtures creativity a business is far more likely to find and develop innovative ideas.

This creative culture can be created through problem-solving exercises, collaboration meetings and innovation hubs in the workplace.

5 books you need to read before you die

books

We always struggle with finding time for things (especially the luxury of time for reading) outside of work and family. However, what if I told you that these books could shape your life, in numerous unimaginable ways? These tiny bunches of paper can give you a different way to look at the world and for this reason alone they are well worth your time investment. So, here are 5 books you need to read at least once whilst you’re alive.

1.Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

This is a diary of the last great emperor of Rome, written during his military campaign against present-day Germany. Hailed as one of the cornerstone pieces of Stoic philosophy this book is a collection of bullet point style recommendations on how to live a morally just life. Last but not least it was written by the most powerful man in the world at that time.

2. Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amore

This is an autobiography following L’Amore from impoverished beginnings with little formal education as he goes through life taking up various jobs. We learn about his journey as a boxing prize fighter to a deckhand in south-east Asia, to an army officer in WW2. Quite simply through self-discipline and a ferocious appetite for reading L’Amore was able to become Americas most prolific Western genre author. A truly inspiring read.

3. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

*disclaimer – this book is some 900 pages, however, even the first few chapters are worth your time investment if you can’t commit for the whole thing.

This book artfully depicts the spectrum of human emotions, allowing you to self-develop through the progression of the main character. This book follows an escaped convicts flight to Bombay India, where this Western man is pushed to the bottom of the Indian class system to later become a “slum-doctor”. This book invites you to explore the hard choices that come with love, loyalty and the pursuit of personal growth.

4. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This brilliant book by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman is a fascinating account of all the incredible behavioral economics research he has done over the years. This book explains how our psychology affects our decisions – and explains how our thinking is divided into two systems: one fast and one slow. The fast thought process is governed by our hardwired instincts and includes things such as emotions, pulls from our evolutionary past and shows us to be an unconscious irrational animal, at best. The slow thought process is governed by purpose and logic, but can easily be distracted and takes a lot of effort. Both play a large role in our lives and Kahneman explores in laymen’s terms how these two thought processes shape our reality. It is a truly fascinating and mindblowing read.

5. Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa

This is the dramatic retelling of the life and story of Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s greatest swordsman. Set in feudal Japan, it chronicles his life and training, notable for the more than 50 duels he fought with other samurai, each time emerging victorious. It showcases the hardships and sacrifices one must overcome when fully committed to perfecting their craft, be it sword fighting or scholarly pursuits. It is a captivating tale which provides a glimpse into the philosophy of Bushido and the Japanese martial spirit, an excellent choice for anyone on the path to get a little better each and every day.

 

How to create your own reality

reality

 

The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe – Albert Einstien

The phrase “you can create your own reality” has been buzzing around the self-development world for a while now. Without really understanding it’s significance it can seem like a vacuous, self-righteous statement when the truth is, it’s so much more. In fact, it hasn’t just been made up by an enthusiastic life coach, others have expressed the same thought for centuries: Buddha said, “What you dwell upon you become.” Hindu teachings from Shankaracharya says, “Whatever a person’s mind dwells on intensely and with firm resolve, that is exactly what he becomes.” Mahatma Gandhi says “Your beliefs become your thoughts and it says in the Talmud, “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

Your thoughts control your reality

So what does all of this mean? In simple terms, it means that your system of beliefs, whether conscious or subconscious in their existence, actually control the reality you experience. This rather bold statement is also supported by science.

If you think you’re incapable of something, it’s very unlikely that you will ever prove yourself wrong. This in psychology, is called the “self-fulfilling prophecy”.  A widely accepted principle that your own beliefs, shape your behavior and therefore directly influence your reality.

On a subconscious level, our beliefs have a stronger influence on the reality we perceive. Dr. Leonard Mlodinow explains it in his book, “Subliminal—How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. “The point is that we are not like computers that crunch data in a relatively straightforward manner and calculate results.  Instead, our brains are made up of a collection of many modules that work in parallel, with complex interactions, most of which operate outside our consciousness.”  Mlodinow goes on to make a very interesting point about our memory in that we “smooth out memories”. This describes the process of us adding information to, or self-editing past memories when they seem incomprehensible to us so that those past memories can fit in with our current realities. In short, we are making stuff up!

What does this mean for us? Well, it’s an important reminder that our life experience is constantly being shaped, motivated and influenced by our existing beliefs. Our belief system is a collection of the memories/experiences we have absorbed from our past. It impacts our reaction to new situations as our unconscious will automatically search our belief system for easy and automatic responses and fill it in.  If our belief system is primarily negative, in relation to a certain new experience—the experience will automatically be filled in with negative responses.  If our belief system sways to the positive— then the circumstance will be created with a positive spin.

How to create your own reality

  • Have a concrete idea of what your core beliefs systems are
  • Try to be self-aware about how past experiences can shape future reactions. It won’t be easy to dip into your subconscious but writing a timeline of life events and gaining an understanding of how these could impact your future reactions is a great start
  • Work towards eliminating any negative beliefs such as insecurities and fears – this is not an easy process but you cannot hope to achieve the reality you desire if you carry all of this baggage.

Becoming more self-aware is no easy task and in fact, it’s a lifelong lesson but every day we can make progress and become the best version of ourselves.

To read more about the science of creating your own reality, read here

 

10 lessons successful people learnt in their toughest moments

successful

Dr Cloud, a clinical psychologist and author of Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again, spent the last decade researching and compiling data on the certain “awakenings” that successful people have—in life and in business. He wanted to understand the significance in their awakenings and whether they could help others on their paths to success.

Although life has many lessons to teach us, Dr. Cloud observed 10 “doorways” of learning that high performers go through.

10 lessons that will make you more successful

1. They never return to what hasn’t worked

They never return to the same situation and expect different results. Whether it be a career, job or a relationship they understand that it ended for good reason and respect that lesson.

2. They never pretend to be someone else for a career

In everything they do they ask themselves. Why am I doing this? Does this require me to be someone I am not? Does it suit me? Is it sustainable?

3. They never want to change another person

They understand that they cannot change people and do not try to. When you realize you cannot force someone into doing or being something, you give them their freedom and you keep yours too.

4. Understand they cannot please everyone

They appreciate that it is impossible to please everyone. This simple fact allows them to live more purposeful lives as they only focus on pleasing those who matter.

5. They focus on the long-term

If something requires a lengthy sacrifice or uncomfortable lifestyle for a while, they’ll do it. They don’t mind taking a painful step because it will give them a long-term benefit. Dr Cloud explains that this is a defining and fundamental difference between the successful and unsuccessful.

6. They never believe something or someone is flawless

They love excellence and believe in its existence however they are unwilling to trust anything that seems too good to be true. They understand that the world is imperfect and successful people question everything.

7. They never take their eyes off the prize

They have their end goal tattoed on their brains. Their overriding objective is written at the top of their to-do lists and reflects everything they do. This allows them to streamline their tasks and time so that they only do the things that actually matter.

8. They always remember that their inner self reflects their outer success

Success often has little to do with external factors. People are most fulfilled by their internal constitution as opposed to external materials. Things like happiness and even feelings of success come from things like feeling secure, high confidence and being self-aware. Succesful people spend a lot of time and effort developing themselves from the inside to ensure they are the best versions of themselves.

9. They never play a victim role

Succesful people take responsibility for their actions and dislike apportioning blame to external factors. Excuses serve little purpose in their path to success. They always ask themselves what part have I played in this? This mindset allows them to learn from their mistakes. They do not see themselves as victims, even when they are.

10. They always perform due diligence

They question everything from investments to productivity hacks. They have a clear understanding of why they do the things they do. They take deep and honest looks at everything which allows them to always make informed decisions.

5 ways to dramatically advance your self-development with communication

communication

“The way we communicate with ourselves and others ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” – Tony Robbins 

Communication and self-development are two concepts inextricably linked to one another, you cannot improve one without improving the other.

Effective communication is your ability to clearly articulate information and ideas to yourself and others.

If you think about it, our entire lives are influenced by how effectively we can communicate concepts;

  • By effectively communicating to an interview panel we can advance our careers
  • By defining our personal goals, with clarity, we can construct efficient paths to success
  • If we properly and genuinely communicate with a significant other, we can have more meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

We cannot expect to advance our lives without mastering the art of communication. So, here are 5 ways to improve your communication and in turn enhance your self-development.

1. Communicate with intention

When you communicate, in any context, communicate with intention. Don’t just state facts to yourself or your audience, explain the relevance of why this information is important. For example, if your personal goal is to make X amount per month, always support this goal with your intention. This type of communication is far more influential than just listing points. It adds meaning and inspires action. Everything becomes clearer with a purpose.

2. Support your communication with emotion

If you want to inspire yourself, or anybody else in your life, you need to be emotive in your communications. This doesn’t mean become dramatic or overly enthusiastic but simply be true to your emotions. If a particular piece of information makes you feel excited, show it. If something you are communicating makes you feel sad, then don’t be afraid of showing vulnerability. “Stone-faced” communications are both boring and uninspiring. Further, when you allow yourself to connect your emotions, to external information, you are increasing your own self-awareness by understanding how you interact with the noisy world around you.

3. Relate communications to stories

By giving context to your communications, through stories, you can become a highly engaging communicator. The stories you rely upon should be real-life events and not fictional fairy tales. Stories help yourself, and others to comprehensively understand new information by relating it to similar past experiences. It gives your communications much-needed context and is also a bulletproof way for you and others to actually remember the information.

4. Be mindful of phrasing

The way your phrase communications has a powerful impact on your motivation. For example, when you are thinking about what you need to complete in a day, how often do you say “I have to do”, as opposed to “I get to do”, something? The people who’ve built the most fulfilling and successful lifestyles are those that spend the majority of their time in the “I get to” zone. This type of self-communication actually redefines how you perceive your life. If you spend more time in the “I get to” zone, you boost your self-confidence, morale, self-control and overall self-development. It’s a communication trick that increases your daily motivation.

5. Simply communicate

Injecting unnecessary big words into your communications only stands to make what you say, confusing. If you can’t explain something in a few sentences than, you haven’t grasped the concept and your audience won’t either. Intelligent and effective communication is about clarity. Express all communications, in their simplest form. If a complicated word is the only way to express a point, then, of course, use it but don’t bolster information with long words to simply show intelligence because, in fact, it communicates the contrary. Learning how to simplify concepts also helps you to understand what you want from your life. Goals might sound great on paper, but when broken down to their core concepts might not actually provide what you desire. Ensure you understand every concept within your career and personal goal sphere, by breaking it down to it’s simplest form.

Why internal communication is the secret to growth and innovation

internal communication

Joe Fredericks, founding director of PCA Law has helped to deliver communications training to over 150 clients since 2001, including over 30 leading global law firms and 20 FTSE 100 organizations.

In his recent keynote speech for Thomson Reuters, Elite Vantage NYC 2018, Fredericks revealed some key communications secrets helping top global firms to dominate their industries.

Fredericks explained, that “internal communication” is often overlooked by firms seeking to grow and innovate but it’s one of the biggest influencers impacting organizational growth. As such, those firms paying attention to internal communication can expect (and have seen) huge rewards.

On this note, Fredericks took his audience back to the “communications basics” and covered what many firms are lacking in their internal communication.

Internal communication – Why does it matter?

Great internal communication is at the heart of any successful organization. It’s a core component to employee engagement initiatives, internal work process, and motivated, unified teams across an organization.

If internal communication is functioning properly, organizations can expect to see the following benefits;

  • Team members feel more supported, have higher morals and are less at risk of burnout
  • Overall work productivity is higher (clearer delegation, fewer mistakes & more motivation)
  • With increased internal fluidity and less “hiccups” employees have more time to focus on client needs

All of these factors contribute to business growth and allow organizations to grow as they have the required internal structures to support innovation.

How to implement great internal communication

Fredericks explained two key equations, utilized by top firms to create effective internal communication.

The Trust Equation

One key ingredient to effective communication, especially in relation to business growth, is building trust.

Fredericks used the “trust equation” to show an individual’s thought process when considering whether to establish a relationship of trust.

Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy / Self-orientation

So, when seeking to establish trust in clients or colleagues one must score highly on credibility, reliability, and intimacy and have a low self-orientation score.

Commercial Application Equation

This equation supports organizational innovation.

In most cases, the word “failure” comes with a negative connotation, but Fredericks noted that one cannot innovate and grow without failing and added, that it is important to have conversations about why something went wrong within an organization. Avoiding failure is not conducive to growth. If employees do not feel like they can try something different, how can a business expect to innovate?

Fredericks used the Commercial Application Equation to explain how failure assists innovation.

Organization Confidence + Client Creativity + Productive Failure = Commercial Appreciation

“Productive failure” means to change how we see mistakes, it means embracing failure. Organizations should feel confident and empowered enough, to tell clients that they may not have been successful in the course of an initiative. In fact, Fredericks explains, the ability to embrace failure demonstrates organizational experience, in that it has grown and experimented with more effective ways of executing a task or developing innovation. Through failure, teams learn to improve and be better. The Commercial Application Equation is a useful tool for developing “the next big thing.“

Internal communications can positively transform organizations in terms of both growth and innovation. It drives organizational productivity and helps employees develop defining qualities to form deep relationships and engage in two-way conversations that eliminate bureaucracy. It is a win/win for any organization and a determinative factor for those firms seeking to remain competitive in today’s market.

To hear more from Joe Fredericks listen to his podcast interview where he discusses some of the challenges facing modern law firms and how they address them.  To listen, click here or to download and listen later, right-click

 

 

 

Traits of millennials that can positively impact business bottom lines

millennials

Millennials are a unique generation and they are causing a big stir in the business world. They have already surpassed Generation X and the Baby Boomers to become the biggest generation in the workforce today. It’s predicted that millennials will be a huge 50% of the workforce by 2020.

So what’s the problem?

Millennial traits are largely unprecedented by previous generations. Their career needs and life goals are totally different and this gets CEO’s worried because, frankly, they don’t understand them. But, there is some good news. There are 5 millennial traits that can positively impact business bottom lines. The only thing businesses have to do is understand these traits and put them to good use.

1. Tech-savvy

Millennials are the first generation of babies to grow up exposed to technology such as the internet, computers, and web applications. It’s likely they grew up playing video games instead of board games. Whilst this might make some marked social differences managers/CEO’s find hard to understand, it has some serious business advantages. Millennials can do things faster using technology to support them. More often than not, they have found an innovative way to batch emails, manage data or even work remotely. At feedback meetings with millennials, you could probe them about tech and ask them what they think might benefit your work environment. Millennials want to feel involved in the bigger picture of a business and this type of genuine, two-way feedback can really help to satisfy their career needs. In addition to this, millennials are social media experts by birth and every business should be looking to have a digital presence in order to remain competitive. Asking millennial employees to help out on the social media front (if they would like to do so) could give them the responsibility they desire and also help your business to become more tech savvy.

2. Curious

Millennials are big into self-development. They are curious about themselves and the world around them. They want to learn new skills and will invest time in doing so. Companies that have successfully tapped into this aspect of millennial workers have created career-development programs that help millennials grow. PepsiCo, for example, recently launched a program that focused on providing employees with access to “critical experiences” rather than a simple ladder to the top. This type of self-development path is incredibly attractive to millennials and can help to recruit and retain them. Further, they are willing to learn new skills that can support your companies growth, it’s a win/win.

3. Socially progressive

Millennials are more socially conscious than any other generation. Businesses offering millennials a compelling social advancement vision/objective will find success in recruiting and retaining this generation. Salesforce is an example of a company that has successfully tapped into millennial energy through a variety of initiatives that encourage employees to give back. Other socially conscious companies, popular with millennials, are Ben & Jerrys, Levis, and Google. Take a look here to see how these companies are marketing their social movement to millennials. Whilst being socially progressive may not seem like it will impact revenue, it actually does. It helps you to build trust with millennial consumers who are your future clients. It also helps you to give back to the world and be a good person.

4. Performance management

Millennials love feedback. A recent study found that over 40 percent of millennial employees wanted to receive weekly feedback from their managers. Millennial workers thrive on feedback even if it’s only related to improvement, instead of praise. Regular feedback sessions can be utilized by businesses, to make sure millennials are reaching goals, in the right way, from the offset. Further, it can also ensure millennial employees are satisfied in their roles, to manage and prevent any future retention issues.

5. Collaboration

Millennials want to be in an open office environment. They thrive in teams and in “work families” where groups work together toward similar goals. It’s no surprise that dominating businesses such as Facebook and Google have capitalized on the collaborative work environment to bring out the best in their millennial employees. For you to do the same, create a transparent work environment (not necessarily physically) where there are cross-team meetings and open concept meeting spaces, so employees can be aware of each others work throughout the organization.

 

5 proven ways to boost your knowledge retention now

retention

It’s scary to think we waste hours, absorbing new information just to forget it minutes later. What’s the point of learning if we don’t practice knowledge retention? Luckily, there are 5 scientifically proven ways to beat this ubiquitous knowledge retention issue, many of us face, on a daily basis.

Why we struggle with knowledge retention

Before we can meaningfully apply these retention strategies it’s important to understand why our brain forgets new knowledge. This can be explained in two simple points:

1. Our brains get stuck at the first hurdle

When we read a book or listen to a presentation we can miss up to 3 or 4 concepts in just the first few minutes. This is because the brain gets stuck at the first new concept/obstacle. It then tries to apply the new concept but fails. And if you continue to read the book or listen to the speaker. The brain is still focused on the first point and fails to absorb all of the new points, even if you hear them, they don’t get retained. And of course, without complete information, you have ‘incomplete information’.

2. We need to make the mistake, ourselves

No matter how good the explanation and how well you feel you understand the concept. You won’t really grasp or retain the concept until you make a mistake when implementing it. This is because your interpretation will vary from the actual meaning the writer/speaker intends to communicate. You’ve only interpreted what they’ve said, and more often than not, the interpretation is not quite correct. You can only find out how far off the mark you are by trying to implement the concept.

How we best retain knowledge

Some interesting stats about how different learning processes influence our retention.

We retain;

  • 90% of knowledge when we teach someone else/practically apply it, immediately after learning.
  • 75% of knowledge when we practically apply it.
  • 50% of knowledge when we engage in a group discussion.
  • 30% of knowledge when we see a demonstration.
  • 20% of knowledge from audio-visual.
  • 10% of knowledge from reading.
  • 5% of knowledge from lectures.

Read more about the stats here.

Interesting stuff but how we can try to retain more when we are forced to rely on things such as books and presentations? Here are 5 scientifically proven ways to encourage your knowledge retention, even if the learning process is statistically against you!

5 tips to boost knowledge retention

1)Ask yourself questions about the new material

If you are reading a textbook, this can simply be what is the main point of this section?

What are the key discussion points?

Try to answer these questions as you read along the text. Writing the questions and answers down is even more helpful.

2) Engage in reflective learning 

Similar to the above point but more practically focused. When learning new materials you should be constantly be asking yourself “How can I immediately apply what I just learned?” If you focus on how to immediately apply the knowledge to your current job, it will increase retention and positively influence performance/deliverables in a big way.

3) Skim material

The idea here is to skim-read material first and pick up on keywords and concepts that you’ll be covering. This way when you read the material, properly, your brain knows what to expect. And you can organize the new information into your pre-learned headings.

4) Relate new material to what you already know 

In one study, participants who were provided with relevant context linking to previous knowledge, before listening to prose passages were better at knowledge recall later than those who had received no context before.

You can add context for new material as you are learning it, or you can prepare and spend some time thinking about what you already know about the topic before you begin studying.

5) Visualization 

You can connect the new information to visuals in various ways. For example, you can imagine that you are having a conversation with a friend about the new information, you can visualize a story about or even better, you can vizualize practically applying the new information.

 

What’s the one thing you are going to do after reading this blog? Try applying one of the retention techniques and I bet you will retain more from this blog, than most things you have read today.

 

10 ways to influence how we are perceived

perceived

Who we believe we are and how others perceive us, can often be two distinct concepts.

We can never be a fly on the wall to our own personality but we can have a little more control over the self-image we project.

I’m not saying we should be anyone but ourselves, however, by incorporating a few simple tips, we can be perceived in a manner more consistent with who we believe we are.

1. Head high, shoulders back

Whilst the temptation to hunch may be strong, refrain from doing it, it’s terrible for our posture and it strongly communicates that we lack self-confidence. Is this really how we want to be perceived? Pushed back our shoulders makes us appear taller. It’s a power stance that conveys confidence.

2. Make eye contact

Avoidance of eye contact communicates lack of confidence, even deception. It might be difficult to hold eye contact if you’re not used to it. However it’s worth developing this skill, it’s crucial to building trust. Plus, the mental process of looking at people in the eye, naturally makes us feel more confident. We spend less time feeling intimidated and more time focused on the words we are exchanging. Try it out and see how it adds value to your conversations.

3. Ask questions

People love talking about themselves, it makes them feel good. So, if you’re the question master, they will naturally associate you with good feelings. You don’t need to become a detective and interrogate everyone you meet, in fact, quite the contrary, a few simple questions (with a few follows up to show genuine interest) and people will instantly start to like you.

4. Relax your body

If a situation makes us feel uncomfortable, our natural (often subconscious reaction) is to tense up. This isn’t a good look, it makes us appear guarded, unapproachable and perceived as, “highly strung”. I’m certain this isn’t how anyone wants to come across and luckily it can be avoided by simply remembering to physically, relax our body. Make a habit of asking, “is my body tensed, right now?”. Relaxed bodies are perceived by others as confident.

5. Postive self-talk

Perceptions run deeper than just appearances. If we are given a task at work and our norm, is to talk ourselves down, such as, “you can’t do this”, everything we do communicates this to others. People will see our fear and this undermines our competence, regardless of our actual competence. What might not be obvious to us, is SO obvious to others. People can smell self-believe! Well, not actually but, we can’t be aware of all the subtleties we give off when we self-doubt, there is just too many. Instead, a better way to manage, this negative perception is to eliminate our self doubt through positive self talk. Instead of “I can’t”, change to positive affirmations such as “I can” or, “I’ll do my best”. It sounds simple because it really is and it makes the world of difference to your own self-perception.

6. Be kind

Give off positive vibes. Of course, people are going to gravitate towards you, if you smile more than you frown. It’s also nice to be nice! If you don’t want to walk around with a smile plastered across your face all day, then maybe you can focus on your eyes, or be supportive to co-workers when you think they need it most. There’s more than one way to be kind and being perceived as a kind person should be a high priority on anyone’s list.

7. Listen

People will remember whether or not you really listened to them. Listening is not being silent and mentally preparing what you’re going to say next. It’s being focused on the other person and actually absorbing their words. It feels different. People who have mastered listening find it easier to make new connections and build trust in those around them.

8. Fill a room

When we feel intimidated it’s natural to shrink, cross our arms or legs and take up less room. However, simply the act of taking up more physical space (“power posing”), standing taller, stretching out arms or legs, sends confidence hormones to our brains, making us look and feel more confident. I’ve written extensively on the impact of power posing here.

9. Decide on your personal brand

How can you hope to influence your external perception if you don’t have a good idea of how you want to be perceived? Take the time to write down a list self-defining points. A few short positive statements of who you believe you are will suffice. Doing this helps to focus your energy on the right things in social situations.

10. Lead with charisma

The more comfortable you can be in any situation the better. Be your true self and laugh, yawn, stretch, dance – just do you. Research proves that energy is contagious. You can inspire even the most serious of execs to relax around you, if you radiate this kind of energy. Everyone is human after all.  Plus, you’ll hold a positive spot in their brain as a result.

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