In a challenging conversation, speak and listen mindfully

Being true to yourself in a difficult conversation is both important and hard to do. You will get the best results and move forwards towards the best solutions if you can do this in a way that demonstrates empathy and compassion for the other person. Here are our top tips to enable you to both speak and listen mindfully.   Know your purpose and what you hope to accomplish – be realistic. Be clear about what you want to discuss but leave space for the other person too. Be open to listening and try not to make up your mind in advance. Have an inquiring stance – listen, watch, observe without judgement and without taking anything personally. Understand the other person’s perspective but base your thinking on as much evidence as possible and not assumptions. Be direct, honest and constructive. Take responsibility for your views, words and actions and don’t dither about getting any bad news out in the open. Give the other person space to react and express their views, even if they do this in way that perceive as negative. Listen respectfully to the other person without interrupting – repeat and paraphrase what they have said to acknowledge their contributions and make sure you have understood correctly. Empathise with the other person’s viewpoint (this does not mean you have to agree with it) and focus and what you are hearing. Separate out emotions from the people but acknowledge and respect any emotional energy that emerges. Give the conversation your full attention – stay neutral, supportive, compassionate and solutions-focused. Be aware of any cultural differences or variations in...

How to approach a difficult conversation

No-one actually likes having a difficult conversation. Indeed, most of us dread it and freely admit to avoiding conflict (or even the potential of conflict) at all costs. However tempting it is to put things off, it is healthier for you and your relationships in the long run if you learn how to approach situations where discord or disagreement is likely. The two basic rules are (1) change your mindset and (2) plan ahead. 1. Change your mindset Swap negative thinking for positive expectations The usual thinking before a potentially unpleasant conversation is negative. The more we think it will be “difficult”, the more this tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Expect a good outcome instead. Approach the conversation as… an opportunity to clarify, clear the air, find mutually beneficial solutions, repair a damaged relationship, provide constructive feedback or to simply listen to what the other person has to say. Start from a place of respect and stay away from the “blame game” Truth can be subjective and there are often two sides to every story. Aim for respect and ask for respect in return. It is perfectly possible to empathise with someone’s emotional perspective and still agree to disagree. Focus on the facts not feelings; and judge actions, not the person. Look for solutions instead of just seeking to attribute blame Stop worrying about being liked and leave space for reactions Wanting to be liked can get in the way of delivering a tough message and make you nervous about how the other person will respond. You cannot control what the other person says and does, but you...

Secrets of authenticity

The word authentic carries with it a number of meanings and implications. First of all, authentic literally translates to “real” or “genuine”. Philosophically and psychologically speaking, it is a term used to describe the degree to which a person is true to his or her own personality, spirit, or character – possibly despite external pressures or extenuating circumstances. With this in mind, who among us would generally not want to be perceived as an authentic communicator? The difficulty in achieving this often lies not in any intentional desire to be inauthentic or to mislead, but rather in getting rid of some barriers. The barriers are frequently self-imposed, difficult to shift and overcome and get in the way of us being real. What happens on the outside – our words, our behaviour as heard and observed by others – is only a reflection of what is happening on the inside. This means that credible and authentic communication really needs to come from a place of authenticity. If we have nothing to hide, can speak openly and honestly and confidently about what is important to us, then we are much more likely have a positive impact. What happens if we are not sure about who we are, or lack the confidence to be our true selves? Covering up and perfecting a facade is one way to go – but this can be exhausting and difficult to maintain. Surely it is better in the long run to remember that we are meant to be real not perfect? What about working towards being a first rate version of yourself rather than pretending to...

Strategies for managing yourself through change

People who deal naturally well with change tend to have some important common skills and abilities. What can you learn form them when it comes to your own change challenge? 1. Those who naturally deal well with change tend to have a high ambiguity threshold Our Tip: Change is inherently ambiguous, so deal creatively with change and have a high tolerance for uncertainty and ‘shades of grey’. 2. Those who deal with change often have a constructive internal dialogue Our Tip: See yourself as pro-active, with the ability to control elements of the situation in which you find yourself. Some circumstances cannot be changed, but the way you respond to them is always a choice. Use your sphere of influence, however small, and in doing so you will expand it. Focus on solutions. 3. Those who deal well with change have a high reserve of emotional, physical and mental energy Our Tip: Take care of yourself physically and mentally so that you too have reserves to draw from when things get tough.   Areas to improve your skills: Reflect on your own core values and your mission in life. A sense of purpose is essential to success and effectiveness, and you need a clear idea of what you are doing and why. Be persistent. Success is usually more to do with tenacity than genius. Persistence is only possible when you have clarified your values and successful people keep going, finding new and creative ways to achieve a positive outcome. Be flexible and creative. Persistence does not mean pushing through by force. If you are unable to achieve success one...

Work towards what you want

How compelling are your goals for yourself? Are they attractive enough to encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone? If you always focus on what could go wrong, you will find it difficult to motivate yourself sufficiently to find positive solutions. Think about what you actually want and what is important to you rather than what you don’t want. Back this up by having a sound plan and working towards what you want. 1. Know what you REALLY want and what achieving the goal will do for you. 2. Express this in positive language; want to have… rather than avoid having… 3. Be sure the goal is under your control or take steps to bring it under your control. 4. Check that it is worth what it takes to get there and assess the impact on others. 5. Look forward into the future and imagine you have already achieved it. 6. Look back from this future to the milestones along the way and see how you got there. 7. Formulate your practical and specific plan; who, what, where, when, how. 8. Assess your own commitment and if in doubt, adjust the goal, or other parameters, to increase your level of commitment to achieving it. 9. Step out and start by taking the first step as soon as you can, no matter how small this step may be. 10. Act “as if” it were already true to keep yourself motivated and to have the maximum impact. Creating a compelling vision is Tip 3 in The Training Box book and ebook 52 Brilliant Communication Tips by Maureen...

Break out of the box

A belief is something we hold to be true about ourselves and the world – it is not necessarily true. Many beliefs come from our childhood, often heavily influenced by significant figures in our lives – our parents, family members, perhaps our teachers at school. We also develop our own beliefs based on our experiences. If these experiences are not always positive, or if others influence us with their own negative beliefs, our perceptions about what is or is not possible may hold us back. If you want to take up a new challenge, positive and empowering beliefs are worth their weight in gold. When you are preparing to step out of your comfort zone, you may find yourself in need of re-examining or even changing a belief that has become limiting in order to break out of any boxes you find yourself in. Beliefs are notoriously difficult to change through typical rules of logic or rational thinking. The first step is to recognise the limiting belief and develop a new, more empowering one to take its place.  When you want to abandon or replace a limiting belief, use the power of your mind. Try the new belief on for size and behave AS IF you already believed it. Take a look at the examples below: Limiting Belief: I don’t have much chance of winning when I play tennis I don’t bother to exercise because there is not much point. I know what will happen. My opponent will play much better than me and I can imagine the outcome when I lose and I feel dejected. I feel unmotivated....