Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Powerfully Positive Words

This week we are looking at different aspects of relationship boundaries, both in our personal lives and in the work place. Thus far I have shared thoughts about saying no to relationships that are not reciprocal in Clinging to Crumbs, Dreaming of Cake, and learning how to take care of yourself in Don't Hate Me if I Say No! On this bright Wednesday morning, I'd like you to take a minute to think about the words you use with those who you work and live with. Are you using positive reinforcement?

There is an unwavering rule in my house: "stupid" and "shut up" are bad words and we are never to use them on one another. Think about it. How do you feel when you hear these words? I certainly don't feel positive, heard, or valued when someone directs them at me.

Your Words Are Powerful
How about in the work place? Which feels better coming from your boss: "This report sucks! You totally blew it. It's not that hard, get back to your office and do it right!" or "Nice effort on your report. I will work with you to improve a few areas." In both cases the report needs to be corrected. What's the difference?

What about the Debbie Downer in the crowd. She's the one that hates this and hates that. She says she never has enough time, money, nice things, behaved children, whatever. She complains that she's too fat, tired, busy. All that negativity makes her no fun to be around.

One of men's biggest complaints about women is that they nag. "You don't ever..." "You're so sloppy, lazy, late..." "When was the last time you...." Ouch! Seriously, what guy wants to snuggle up to someone who talks this way! It's amazing how words impact us

Pay attention to how you feel when certain words are used. Do you feel confident, positive, and hopeful when you speak? Even in a negative situation, positive words can be used. For example, you're sick with a cold, your head is stuffy, and your temperature is a bit high. How can you sound positive when you feel horrible? You can! When asked how you're feeling, try saying something such as, "I'm sure looking forward to feeling like my old self again." It's much better than muttering that you are miserable and want to die.

Use this approach when talking to others. What about giving feedback to your girlfriend when she's late yet again. You're frustrated, annoyed, and disappointed. If you use shaming words, it's a pretty certain bet your fun event will be iced over with hurt feelings. But it is important that you address the situation. Here's a suggestion: Tell her you appreciate it when she's on time. That it helps you relax and guarantees a good attitude on your part.

Does all of this positivity sound silly? Maybe. But, positive words uplift and establish a powerful sense of well-being. Doesn't everyone want to feel this?

I borrowed the following lists of words from Every Word Has Power by Yvonne Oswald. One is a list of words to remove from your language. The other list of words are optimistic, high energy words. Don't limit yourself to these lists! There are many, many more words that can be added to both.

Avoid using these Negative Power words:

Afraid Angry Anxiety Bad Blocked Bottom Broke Cheap Cheat Control Criticize Dark Difficult Disease Disempower Doubt Down Envy Expensive Failure Fear Forget Guilt Hard Hate Idiot Ill Lazy Lose/loser Mean Nasty Old Poor Problem Putdown Rage Reaction Reduce Rule Sad Separate Shame Sick Small Sorrow Stupid Sue Trying War Weak Worry

Use these Positive Power words:

Achieve Baby Beautiful Believe Choose/choice Dream Easy Energy Enthusiasm Family Father Feel Free Funny Future God Happy Harmony Heart Humor Improve Knowledge Mom Money New Please Popular Positive Profit Release Results Safety Sexy Smart Success Sweet Thanks Top Unique

Using words for the positive is so powerful! Try switching out the negative words from your vocabulary. Get creative and find ways to only use positive, impactful words. You'll be surprised how you feel and I guarantee those around you will appreciate the shift.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Don't hate me if I say no!

This week we are looking at different aspects of relationship boundaries, both in our personal lives and in the work place. Yesterday I shared thought about saying no to relationships that are not reciprocal in Clinging to Crumbs, Dreaming of Cake. Today, I want to talk about appropriately using "no" more often.

Saying "no" is one of the most difficult things for women to do. Why? Traditionally women have been trained to be caretakers. How many families expect the mother to take care of everything from making everyone's beds to balancing the checkbook to organizing the school fundraiser? If you are feeling overwhelmed and tired or you wonder where time for you fits in, maybe new attitudes and behavior patterns need to be developed.

Recognize the limits of your time and energy. Make a list of your commitments and prioritize them. Ask yourself, "How much do I want to do this?" Rate it on a scale from 0-10. Then ask, "How important is this?" Again, rate from 0-10. If you get a combined score of 10 or more, then do it! If your score is less than this, consider saying no.

If saying no is not currently in your vocabulary, it may take time and determination. The change will feel uncomfortable for many; some will encounter resistance and frustration. It may take months or even years to feel okay about saying no, refusing to clean up others' messes, not always driving the soccer team to practice, delegating responsibility to others. It will not be easy to hold fast when others try to manipulate you into giving in and going back to your "old accommodating self." However, it is necessary to break these habits. The alternative is burnout at best, physical or mental breakdown at worst.

Who in your life do you need to say no to? Is it the neighbor who "guilts" you into watching her children while she gets her nails done? How about your forgetful child who constantly needs you to bring lunch money to school? Maybe it's the manager who flatters you into planning the office holiday event.

Have you found that committing to something incongruent to your agenda usually happens when you are caught off guard? Someone has some how convinced you to get involved in their project or they desperately need your expertise for an urgent assignment. It's women's tendency to want to be helpful. How often after you have spontaneously said yes to someone's request, you say to yourself, "Oh, why did I say yes again?"

Practice an answer before you are ambushed. You might memorize something like this, "Let me give it some thought and get back to you." This gives you a time-out, time to think before you commit yet again. If you decide you want to help and it's important, feel free to say yes. If you choose no, you might say, "After looking at my commitments, I realize that I will not be able to give you a hand at this time." or "With the commitments I have already made to others, I can't do it justice." Practice these phrases over and over until they become second nature to you.

Consider using technology to help you. The caller id function on your phone is there for a reason! Use it to screen calls. You are under no obligation to answer your phone, let the caller leave a message. This is another way to take a time-out, giving you an opportunity to plan your response according to your needs.

How do you say no to a child or a spouse? Sometimes a simple no is appropriate. However, there will be times when you need to describe why you cannot say yes. Express why no is your answer; be specific in giving your reason, and explain the consequences if you were to say yes.

Resist the urge to be all things to all people! Sometimes saying no is a good thing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Clinging to crumbs, dreaming of cake

Ever feel like you're on the short end of a relationship? Will giving more really bring you what you need? This week I am going to explore several aspects of the work place, starting with relationships. After all, we have relationships in our personal lives...and at work!

Do any of these relationship scenarios sound familiar? The dating situation where he's forever off doing his own thing. He has an extensive collection of excuses why he doesn't have time to do things with you. What about the friend who always needs help with this or that, but backs out of almost every plan you've made together. You learn she's spending most of her time hanging out with other girlfriends. How about the spouse who spends all of his free time doing things for others, but has nothing left for you. And, there's the boss who is demanding and never satisfied, but chums up to you when she needs your help in a crunch situation.

When my friends tell me about situations like these in their lives, I get pretty cranked up. My Xena, Princess Warrior persona kicks into full gear! I get all riled up about how they deserve better and I'm happy to set everyone straight!

I have to admit that I've had more than a few of these painfully unfulfilling relationships in my life. I would wonder to myself what's wrong with me, am I not good enough to have a really wonderful relationship? The scarier question was why did I stay? Upon reflection, I realized that in most situations I was getting a little portion of what I wanted. Crumbs. Tantalizing bits of a good thing. Just enough to keep me hooked, hoping for more. I would say to myself, if I just give a bit more I'll be rewarded with something wonderful. Honestly, the reward seldom came.

Frankly, I was fearful of losing the little bits of love or attention that I got from these individuals. I used to think that some of a good thing is better than none. I learned that it's not. In recent years I gathered my courage and began stating my needs. I asked for what I wanted. In one situation I said that I wished that they would spend more time with me, to be made a priority in their life. With another person my answer to desperate requests to save them from imminent disaster was consistently "no." (don't worry, the disasters were pretty much drama created from lack of organization on their part). In the cases where the other party could not or would not commit on the same level that I had, I chose to let them go. It didn't mean that I held resentment toward them, I just let go of the crumbs. In the end it was a good thing.

Fortunately, I have some wonderful, solid relationships in my life. Reciprocity is the hallmark of these healthy associations; friends, coworkers, family members and others in my community. All are mutually supportive, each party considering the other. My best friend is the perfect example. She loves spending time with me, delights in my successes, is there when I need her, and she makes time in her life for me. And…I do the same for her.

Well, I'm pretty much done with clinging to crumbs. I am either going to find ways to make difficult relationships work or I'm going to let them go. Then…I will leave open the way for those who come bearing cake!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The voice of your past will only disqualify you from your purpose... but the call of your future will invigorate you to press towards it! ~Paula White

I was visiting with my mom the other morning. We were just talking about this and that when she shared about a young girl she is counselling (mom is a family therapist). Of course, she didn't tell me who the girl was, but she did tell me this sixteen year old had already made some pretty bad choices in her short life. As her court-ordered mental health professional, my mom was trying to get this kid to see that her life doesn't have to BE what it WAS!

Choices are ahead of you. Choices that will take you where you want, what you want, who you want to be! Don't look back, only look ahead. Set your eyes on what you can be and what dreams you came make into reality. 

Press on!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Yay for new doors!

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us." ~ Alexander Graham Bell

What door is closed, yes even locked, that you keep focusing on? Head's up! There are many options, you just need to open your eyes and your heart. Yay for new doors!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Don't let fear hold you back from change

Happy Monday! Let today be the day you make one of those changes you've been thinking about. If you're fearful - step into it with one small change. Go ahead, you'll be proud of yourself. And, those around you will be grateful, too!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy employees

This morning I was chatting with the cashier at my local grocery. I learned that she recently transferred from another store. I asked her if she liked the move and she said she loved it. She then told me that her commute changed from 5 minutes to 60 minutes. What? Why would she do such a thing, I asked. Because she wanted to work for her favorite manager, she said. He was the best boss she's ever had and she was willing to drive two hours a day to work for him.

Wow! That says so much about that manager. What makes happy employees? There are many things that contribute, but I have observed over and over again that giving clear expectations is one of keys to employee happiness. This gal's boss is an excellent communicator. In chatting with her, she told me that he:

  • tells his people what he expects
  • gives them good training 
  • gives them the right tools and equipment for the job
  • talks to them about how they are doing on the job 
  • cares about them personally
  • is fair and consistent
  • gives perks and rewards for people who go above and beyond
  • has a good attitude about his own job
Do you have happy employees? Check this store manager's list. How many of these attributes would your staff say about you? 

Let SHINE Consulting help you have happy employees! Drop me a note and we can chat about how we can make it happen.