6 ways to make a good impression

impression

Never underestimate how important it is to make a good impression at work.

Equally never underestimate how many times per day you are likely to make a first impression. Networking happens, all the time, not just at planned events after work.

When colleagues start to think that they can rely on you to do good work, then you will start to get offered greater and better responsibilities. This, in turn, can lead to promotions and raises.

1.  Know the workplace etiquette

Everyone’s place of work has their own particular quirks but try to understand yours. Whether swearing is unacceptable or too casual attire is not allowed – be on top of the unwritten rules. If you are allowed a phone at work don’t abuse it. Equally, if you have no restrictions on your internet don’t let yourself scroll aimlessly on social media it’s not a good look.

2. Face up to mistakes

If you haven’t already, you will at some point make a mistake at work. It may even be a big one. It happens to everyone. How you handle the blunder will influence your everyone’s opinion of you much more than the mistake itself. Remember this rule.

The first thing you should do is admit what happened, take full responsibility and then come up with a way to fix your mistake – there’s no better way to fix a mistake than coming up with a great, honest solution.

3. Come through in a crisis

Learn how to deal with workplace crises quickly and effectively.

One way to do this is to imagine different scenarios and come up with plans to react to each one. Then, if the unexpected ever happens, you’ll be fully prepared to deal with it.

4. Avoid controversial topics

people, tend to like it when their workplaces are calm. Who can blame them?

Avoid starting conversations about topics that make people uncomfortable and could even lead to arguments. Steer clear of talking about politics or religion, for instance. This is not playing it safe, there’s plenty of other things to talk about that don’t involve controversy.

5. Respect your co-workers

If this isn’t a natural inclination then be motivated by the fact that you’ll never know when you need a favour!

Always avoid acting in an uncivil manner toward any of your coworkers. Be on time to work, especially if you are relieving someone from their shift. Don’t ever take credit for another person’s work. Always share the workload and don’t forget your P’s and Q’s.

6. Represent your company how they would want you to

Imagine a tiny version of your boss standing on your shoulder. This is exactly how you should feel at company events or meetings. Make them proud and act exactly how they expect you to and nothing less.

3 steps to always perform your best at work

best

Have you ever allowed situational factors to prevent you from doing your best work?

Even if we are consistent high-performers, situational factors such as a change of environment or people can throw us off.

But, fear not. There are certain procedures (i.e the three-step rule), that you can put in place to ensure that you always have consistently high outputs regardless of what is going on around you.

1. Establish Personal Values

Personal values are the guiding light for architecting the future you want. If you define and live by your personal values, it’ll become second nature for you to make informed decisions that result in your values and contribute towards your goals.

If you are still finding out what your personal values are, try writing a mission statement. Start by asking yourself the following questions and build it into a mission statement/ or a set of values that you stick by, no matter what.

What do I want my personal brand to be?
What do I hate to compromise?
What do I want the outcome of my decisions/actions to work in support of?

2. Define Your Workflow

Psychologists have found athletes who visualize and mentally rehearse themselves performing their sport outperform athletes who don’t by 13.5%. So take the time to mentally rehearse your work and increase your workflow, and overall confidence. Not to mention, you won’t be caught gawping like a goldfish when an unexpected obstacle makes you feel like a fish out of water.

Use these questions to define your workflow ;

What is a successful outcome?
What is the best way to work towards the desired outcome?
What could go wrong?
What has worked well in the past?

It’s a great idea to use these questions to define each process you undertake at work.

3. Identify & Automate High-Value Actions

60% or less of work time is spent productively.

Imagine a world where you rarely need to spend time on the things that don’t matter.

If you take the time to identify and automate your high-value actions, this could easily be your reality. Decrease your time spent on non-essential actions and free yourself up to access higher cognitive functions

Ask yourself the following questions to identify high-value actions:

  • What absolutely needs to be accomplished before I move forward?
  • What enables me to partner successfully with my customers/colleagues along the way?
  • What specific tools make it easier for me, my customers, and my colleagues to work towards our goals?

Once you have these three processes in place you can ensure a high standard of work, no matter where life might take you.

For more information on this process, please read the excellent blog written by Sara Debrule for Hubspot.

Top ways to reduce stress

stress

A better way to look at stress is to view it as information, that we can examine and use, to better inform our processes.

For example, stress teaches us about our personal triggers and how we react to them. Is it deadlines that get to you? Or fear of failure? Or maybe it’s a phobia of public speaking?

Sometimes and ironically, when we study our triggers it becomes apparent that we, in fact, can handle the stressful situation. What lets us down is our reaction to the stressor.

There are varying methods and tips on how to manage stress, but the following covers methods which are consistently repeated in all stress-related literature, i.e solid concepts and also some innovative tricks, to help you better manage your stress.

1. Change your mindset

If your job is point blank stressful then try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective.

Reframe problems. If you start to embrace challenges and understand the huge benefits bestowed on you as soon as you step outside of your comfort zone, you will be hungry for the next stressor. You will start to build an “I can handle it” mentality and soon enough, all of your stressful anxiety, will turn into adrenalin and keep you pumped as you take on challenge after challenge.

2. Take a break from a stressor

When you feel like you can’t think. Writer’s block, brain block, however you want to name it, it’s a thing. It’s when you lack mental clarity to resolve a problem. When this occurs the worst thing to do is to obsessively try to tackle the problem – you just end up more confused. The absolute best thing to do is to take a 20-minute break, preferably walking in nature. Stop thinking about the problem and take your mind off it, completely. When you come back to the problem, after your break, you’ll be surprised about how differently you start to approach something that just some 20 minutes ago, seemed insurmountable.

3. For immediate relief, breath

For moments when your heart is racing and you feel like you might keel over from the immenent stressor, the only way to calm down is to breath. Sounds simple but it’s actually continually overlooked as not strong enough to cure a near panic attack moment. But trust me (and all of the science-based findings) it does and will help you. The key is to take at least three deep diaphragmatic breaths – so deep you fill your entire lungs with air and then slowly release. You will feel the benefits in seconds – it’s a lifesaver.

4. Find your quiet place

This is, in effect, a short 10-minute meditation but without actually meditating.

You must find a quiet place, get comfortable and focus on a short phase (your most inspiring or relaxing mantra) no more than five words and repeat it over, and over. Whilst you do this take deep diaphragmatic breaths.

5. Be on top of your unhealthy coping methods 

Whether you hit the bottle, develop a short fuse or become emotional – be self-aware about who stress makes you become.

As soon as you feel inclined to turn to one of your unhealthy habits – stop yourself. I promise you will only make it worse, instead turn to one of these methods, listed in the article and before long you won’t need to turn to anything that’s bad for you!

6. Practice journaling 

Journaling reduces stress by removing the worry and thoughts racing over and over in your mind. You move these worries, concerns, hopes or dreams out of your body onto the paper.

And you can re-read these worries and concerns and see how you’ve overcome different tests in your life.

7. Value friendships 

Friendships are not a luxury but are essential to your wellbeing. Even if you’re feeling exhausted after work don’t cancel pre-arranged social commitments with your friends. You gain a huge amount of happy hormones from being with your friends. It also increases your circle of support when you feel bad and gives you people to talk to. If that’s not enough science finds that people who have a strong network of friends increase their immune functioning and decrease their mortality risk.

8. Be healthy

Look after your body. Give it the nutrients it needs and also exercise as often as possible. Not only do these practises boost your happy hormones but they help to decrease existing stress hormones in your body. So if you want to fight stress, start fighting fit.

 

How to master the art of first impressions

first impressions

Harvard Business School Psychologist, Amy Cuddy has made a career studying impressions for more than a decade. She famously found that we make snap judgements about others when we first meet them which are founded on two key questions:

  • Can I trust this person?
  • Can I respect this person’s capabilities?

According to Cuddy’s research, up to 90% of our first impressions are based on the answers to these two questions.

Interestingly most people believe that competence is the most important factor, in our initial meeting with someone new. But in fact, the most important factor is trust. So, in order for you to make any connection, whatsoever, with this new contact, you must first communicate your trustworthiness. Even more fascinating is Cuddy’s finding that if you are perceived as competent but not trustworthy, you are determined as a threat – so without trust, your competence will play against you.

Since it only takes seconds for someone to decide if you’re trustworthy and competent, and research shows that first impressions are very difficult to change, the intense pressure that comes with meeting new people is justifiable.

So now that you understand the importance of trustworthiness over competence, you are ready to take control of the small window of opportunity afforded to you when meeting a new person – first impressions. Here are the best methods to make sure your first impressions are always a success.

1. Let the other person speak first

Seems odd, but it’s actually quite powerful. Showing dominance or a want to get ahead, can make the other person feel you are untrustworthy and potentially ruthless. So, let them take the lead in the conversation and ask them questions to help them along. Trust comes from sharing and the more you get them to share, the more they will trust you.

2. Use open/positive body language

Body language such as crossed arms and legs communicate negative or defensive body language. Instead, being aware of positive body language such as uncrossing arms, maintaining eye contact, and leaning towards the speaker and using them in your interactions are great ways to win a person over during first impressions.

3. Put away your phone

Did you know that looking at your phone during a conversation is not only rude but it actually makes you seem untrustworthy? Nothing is more offensive to people off like a mid-conversation text message. When you commit to a conversation, really commit. Focus all your attention on the person in front of you and make them feel special. This is crucial to building trust and making someone like you.

4. Make time for small talk

It might sound wrong, but research proves that starting conversations with just five minutes of small talk creates better results. Whilst small talk can seem dull if it’s used to warm up a hugely productive first connection, that it’s well worth the investment.

5. Listen

This means actually paying attention to what the other person is saying and not just waiting for your turn to speak.  Asking insightful questions is a great way to illustrate that the speaker has your full attention. If not for checking your understanding or asking a probing question, you shouldn’t be talking when the speaker is talking. This means that you shouldn’t jump in with solutions to the speaker’s problems. It’s our natural human inclination to want to help people, but what we don’t realise is that when we jump in with advice or a solution, we shut the other person down and in turn, destroy trust.

How to combat the effects of stress

stress

Thankfully, according to researchers at Stanford, a meaningful life is almost always a stressful one; the more we care about the things in our life, the more stress we are likely to feel. We simply can’t have one without the other. So, for all of those finding that stress is a daily occurrence – at least it means we are having a meaningful life. Apart from this statistic, there is little advantage to stress only a heap of consequences, many of which, actively reduce the quality of our lives.

But imagine if you could have a meaningful life, with stress (as we can’t have one without the other, unfortunately), that didn’t involve health consequences or unhappiness? Sound too good to be true? Well, actually, it isn’t – we have a lot more control over our stress than we think. Here are the best strategies to overcome the consequences of stress.

Change your thought process 

How you think about stress ironically impacts you more than the actual stress. Positive attitudes about stress were correlated with better health outcomes even when stress levels were chronically high. Interestingly just knowing you can handle stress is a way of protecting yourself from its harmful effects. For more reading on how to rethink stress, see Kelly McGonigal’s Upside of Stress.

Forsee your stress

Don’t let stress throw you into a tizzy. Instead plan when stress might hit you and foresee when it might reduce your ability to be as organised, eloquent or as efficient as you usually are. If you have trouble remembering things or spotting mistakes in your work during periods of stress be aware of this and make extra allowances or time to ensure it doesn’t impact your life.

Let stress motivate you

Stress is adrenalin, that can be put to good use. Rather than letting it crush you – use it to let you crush everything else. Knowing you are putting your stress to good use, or even thinking it benefits you actually helps you to avoid its negative consequences so, it’s a double win.

Social contact

Whether you walk with a parent, chat with your colleague or talk to your spouse during your commute, socialising helps you to cope and feel supported. Irrespective of whether you talk about the stress at hand – simply knowing you have people around you makes you feel stronger and more able to defeat consequences of stress.

Stress can be challenging, especially if you are career driven and ambitious. But, by simply changing your perspective, on how stress fits into your life, you can avoid its negative consequences and even reap a few rewards!

 

For more help with managing stress and anxiety, check out this useful anxiety blog.

How to make any bad situation better

bad situation

Sometimes, things just don’t go as we plan.

Whenever we have a big, high-stress situation, the reality is, somethings will go badly. The only thing you can do in these bad situations is controlling your reaction.

Here are 5 tips for managing the worst days and getting your groove back.

1. Put it in perspective.

Whatever is happening, does it really matter? Will it matter in one year? For some situations, the answer might very well be yes—e.g., a job loss ect but think about how when one door closes another opens.

2. Accept the bad situation 

Often, most of the negative feelings that come with a bad situation, actually come with our inability to accept it. If we just accept that something hasn’t gone our way, we can start to find solutions or even see the positive. it also speeds up our ability to get over a bad situation.

3. Be flexible.

Don’t rigidly stick to a plan. If something got going how it should be flexible enough to know when it’s time to give up or try something else. For example don’t sit through a bad film, if leaving you could have more fun.

4. Don’t ruminate on bad situations 

It’s easy to beat yourself up after something goes wrong. You may find yourself playing out alternative realities, and what you could have done differently. If there are lessons to be learned then take them but importantly, move on.

5. Make the most of it  

You can choose to focus on a bad situation or you can choose to make the most of it. You can feel resentful and annoyed or you can trust that you are on the right path and doing your best. There is really no point in making a bad situation worse – so if you can always try to enhance your mood and make the most of a bad situation.

 

Don’t let these bad habits damage your happiness

happiness

We all strive for happiness. Happiness, however, has no universal definition. Instead, it depends on you and whatever it takes to get you to the bliss, content, utter euphoric state of happiness.

Unhappiness, on the other hand, is easy to identify; you can see it, feel it and you definitely know when it’s wrapped its arms around you.

Happiness, rather satisfyingly, has little to do with financial circumstances. A University of Illinois study found that people who earn the most (more than $10 million annually) are only a tiny bit happier than their employees.

Psychologists from the University of California found that happiness makes up of only 50% your life circumstances and genetics `9i.e things outside of your control). So, the remaining 50% is up to you.

Unhappiness can catch up with you. It grows, following a long period of time, not being self-aware. During this time your thoughts and actions have been unhealthy for you. You have failed to look after your needs, properly and you are left feeling unhappy.

The good news is that this state of unhappiness is not permanent and resolvable. So much of your happiness is determined by your habits (in thought and actions) and once you are aware of the unhappiness traps – they are easily avoided to ensure you a future, filled with happiness.

1. Not being true to yourself

If you’re anxious, say it. Don’t pretend you’re not feeling something when you are. Suppressing feelings is unhealthy. It doesn’t let you deal with anything. Instead, by pushing your feelings down, and not dealing with or accepting them, you are vulnerable to them coming back and attacking you, when you least expect it.  The height of emotional intelligence is, respecting your feelings and allowing yourself to experience the consequences that come from embracing them, for what they are. Only then, can you express and use your feelings, in a manner that helps (rather than undermines) your ability to reach your goals.

2. Too much tech, too little nature

Everyone enjoys binge-watching a TV show and checking up on social media. The real question issue is how much of your time do you give to that TV show or social media pages, avoiding the real world? Does it make you feel good or numb? Most times, it doesn’t make you happy but just passes your time. Is that what you want your life to be? Did you know that taking a walk in nature is a natural anti-depressant? It can boost your flat mood far higher than any tech, ever could. Monitor your tech time and make sure you’re spending more time with nature, than tech, for a happier life, it’s that simple.

3. Waiting for the future

Telling yourself, “I’ll be happy when …” is one of the easiest unhappy habits to fall into. Future imagined circumstances don’t lead to happiness. Happiness happens, right now. Even if you get everything you want for your future, happiness comes from within. You can’t be happy, even if you have the husband/wife, car, job of your dreams if you haven’t worked on your internal happiness. Don’t spend your time waiting for something to change how you feel. Instead, be in control and focus on improving your happiness, right now.

4. Fighting change

Change is an inevitable part of life, and if you fight it it’s because you are struggling to remain in control. The problem with this is that you remain on edge, constantly fearing change and actually put up a barrier between yourself and the actions you need to take to improve your situation. You must remain adaptable for change. Be flexible. Your brain needs challenges to survive. Your brain craves adversity. By avoiding adversity you become mentally weak, which leads to unhappiness. Embrace change, live an interesting life and reap the happiness rewards.

 

 

 

Why your brain needs adversity

adversity

Do you ever find your mind wandering just as everything in your life seems perfect?

It’s almost as though your actual problems silence the ones fabricated by your mind.

Maybe you start to wonder which is worse – fear of future problems with their lack of boundaries or actual problems which you have some form of control over?

If you do feel like you’re always scanning your life ready to identify the next thing to worry about than you’re right.

And you’ll be pleased to know that you’re not alone, in fact, it happens to most of us and it’s down to a disposition in your brain meaning that it thrives from adversity.

Why your brain thrives from adversity.

The human mind is “antifragile“,  this means that it actually gets better with adversity.

Like an immune system that strengthens after repeated exposure to germs,  your brain needs stimulation in the form of a challenge in order to grow.

This is precisely why it’s instinctual to keep creating problems — even if there aren’t any real ones in front of us.

The more mental space you have – to imagine problems – for example, if you have a disposition towards rejecting any kind of real challenge or adversity in your life, the more your brain will compensate by creating a problem to overcome.

In effect, unless you are actually dealing with a problem in real life, you will be imprisoned by fears in your mind.

Shielding the mind from any adversity makes us more vulnerable to anxiety, panic, and chaos. We become mentally weaker and unable to reach our full potential.

How to add adversity into your life

Antifragile things need tension, resistance, adversity, and pain to break and transform. Learn to embrace all of life’s hurdles. We can only feed our antifragile brain by experiencing all life has to give us, taking the good and the bad. The worst thing, as explained above, is to fear future problems – it simply perpetuates your state of fear before you are unable to take any challenge through not only fear but a weakened mental state.

The key to adding adversity in your life is to be self-aware about the boundaries of your comfort zone. Do everything you can to step outside of them. The more you push your comfort zone the more your brain and mental agility will grow too.

Further, when you do start to worry about future problems, try to first ascertain whether it is a likely or real threat. If you do not believe it to be real or likely than change your mindset. Instead of thinking about problems that may not exist, be grateful. Think about how grateful you are for the things you do have. Try to break the habit of unnecessary worry.

Why we all need to know about the six pillars of self-esteem

self-esteem

Nathaniel Branden, the leading self-esteem psychologist, neatly wraps up what he defines as the foundations of self-esteem in his best selling book, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. 

Self-esteem is not just about how to become successful in the business world or ace networking. Self-esteem is one of the most important parts of living a fulfilled and happy life. Regardless of your material achievements or assets, if your mind is unfulfilled, you can never feel happiness.

Branden explains how there are two limbs of self-esteem. First, there is self-efficacy, which describes the basic confidence telling us that we can “handle” certain situations. The second part of self-esteem is self-respect. This is a sense of being worthy of happiness and joy. The second limb is the most interesting as it is often overlooked in our confidence pursuits.

The six pillars of self-esteem

Live consciously

Self-awareness is always the first step to improvement. When we start to become aware of our thoughts and behavior we can asses our actions. The best way to understand if our self-esteem (or lack of), is influencing our actions is to asses whether our decisions are fact-based or emotions based. For example, am I deciding to not speaking at this meeting because I feel insecure or because I have nothing valuable to add? You must then correct your behavior if necessary.

Self-acceptance

This is closely linked to self-respect. Whilst we might not be able to “choose” to be self-confident for factual reasons, such as lack of experience, we can “choose” to accept ourselves. Instead of berating ourselves for not having the high stands we want, we can choose to value ourselves and treat ourselves with respect. Accepting is not judging or disliking. Accepting does not mean we are stuck in a situation, in fact, the contrary, it means we are respecting our journey to success.

Acceptance creates the important space we need to grow and self-develop. If we allow ourselves to be who we truly are, we don’t seek the approval of others. At this moment, it’s okay to just be us. We acknowledge the important fact that it can be changed in the future but right now accepting ourselves is the most important part.

Self-responsibility

If we want self-esteem, we have to stop seeing ourselves as victims. Our future is in our hands. Until we acknowledge that we control our own reality we won’t be motivated to work on our self-esteem – because it greatly influences how we enjoy our lives. Nobody else can give us what we internally need to be fulfilled, this mindset can lead to misery. Other people only have as much control over us as we give them. “Concentrate on what is in your circle of influence and neglect what lies outside of it” are words to live by. Things inside our circle of influence include our response to situations, the way we self-care and how we try to self-develop.

Self-assertiveness

Self-assertiveness is a skewed concept from assertiveness, in that it is not about negotiating and gaining, it is more about owning who we are and demanding what we deserve as a person. “Honor your needs and wants. Live and express your values“.

Live purposefully

Live with a goal in mind. Aimless wander leads to incoherence and feelings of a lack of purpose in life. When we live with a goal in mind, we don’t waste time on things irrelevant to our wants. Instead, we can be efficient high-achievers always striving for the prize.

Furthermore, it’s important to choose a specific goal, not just “I will do my best”.

Give it metrics, numbers, times and a finishing date. It is important to be able to measure your progress. Only by making the progress measurable will we be able to tracks results and adjust our actions accordingly.

Personal Integrity

Two key quotes from this book perfectly encapsulate this pillar “Always make sure that your behaviors are congruent to your values”, and “be honest, as everything else is disrespectful to yourself.”

When our behavior is in line with our values, we gain more self-esteem as we can rely on ourselves to take care of our needs and wants. We stop doubting ourselves and start leading ourselves. This might lead to situations where we face the aversion of others but so long as we are true to ourselves and act authentically to our values we can be sure to lead a happy and fulfilled life.

The four agreements that will forever change your world

four agreements

The Four Agreements is a global best selling book by Don Miguel Ruiz. It draws on the traditions of the ancient, indigenous people of Mexico named the Toltecs. By studying their fascinating and perceptive way of life, Ruiz concluded that present society lives within self-imposed limits and are “domesticated from childhood”, he highlights how these internal rules make people miserable and suggests four agreements that people can make, with themselves, to break free from restrictions and truly live a happy and conscious life.

Think about it, as children we accepted our own names, without choice. So, what else have we adopted that we don’t even realize? Ruiz discovered through his studies of this wise Mexican tribe that the biggest human fear is not death but instead to be alive. The biggest fear we have is taking the risk to be alive–the risk to truly express who we are. We have learned, from birth, to live our lives in accordance with other people’s demands. We have learned to live life, in line with principles we didn’t create, through fear of not being accepted.

The four principles are not profound and we have undoubtedly heard them at least once in our lives. They are drawn on by Ruiz because they are the four areas, most over-analyzed and typically misunderstood by society. It is Ruiz’s belief that by respecting these four simple mottos we eliminate man-made limitations and live our happiest lives.

The Four Agreements according to Don Miguel Ruiz

1. Be impeccable with your word

This really means that a person is only as good as their word. It is our most powerful tool as a human and in essence, separates us from navigating the world like animals. Recognize the power of your words in the world around you. Don’t use the power of your words to encourage or spread gossip, it only attracts negative energy into your own life.

Impeccability means without sin. A sin is anything you do which goes against yourself. So mind how you speak with yourself and never do yourself harm with your words.

2. Don’t take anything personally

Thinking that everything is about you, is the maximum expression of selfishness. Nothing other people do is because of you. Any negative words or emotions from others, towards you, is simply a projection of their own reality and not a projection of you or your characteristics. Once you understand this very simple concept you avoid many upsets in your life. To really appreciate this concept you must be confident in yourself and know who you are as a person. This way the words of others can’t turn your world upside down.

3. Don’t make assumptions

When you make assumptions you invite problems into your life. You create and believe a false reality and this creates drama around you. You have a duty to yourself and others, to communicate with utmost clarity. If you don’t understand something you must ask for clarity, instead of making assumptions. By doing this you avoid misunderstandings, sadness, mistakes and the break down of relationships with others. With just this one agreement you can totally transform your life.

4. Always do your best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment, for example, you won’t have the same productivity output in bad health. If under any circumstance you just do your best, you can avoid sadness, self-abuse, and regret.

 

ABOUT US

PCA Law (the Personal Communications Academy For Lawyers) are the legal sector’s specialist providers of conversation-based experiential training products

We are the only Personal Communication Consultancy in the world to work exclusively with lawyers...

CONTACT US

We are happy to come in to talk with you at your offices, wherever you’re based, so please contact us at: