April 9, 2009

This very clever 16 min film is SO worth the time it takes to watch!

It is a great reminder of the power our words have on others.  Remember your mom used to say, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”?  Well, mom was right.  We have the ability to literally make or break a person.

The correction, criticism, and negative feedback we are bombarded with throughout our lives can be destructive.  People lose their joy and passion when they lose sight of their own greatness.  As humans we have a deep a need to be seen, heard and valued.

How to mute those inner critics

September 9, 2007

Q:  When I complete a project, I get rave reviews from my supervisor, team and clients. But while I’m running it, I worry someone will discover I’m out of my league. I know it’s ridiculous. How can I  change my thinking?

A:  Most people get stopped by the Fraud Factor from time to time. The internal voices that  motivate our drive can also beat us down when we’re out of our comfort zone, in unfamiliar territory.

  • Keep the inner critics at bay. Recognize every new engagement has new learning edges — a unique set of challenges, expectations and measures.
  • Give yourself a break. Expecting to be perfect is a sure setup for failure because it is unattainable.  You wouldn’t be put in charge if you weren’t capable. To verify this, record your past successful projects. Document the key skills and abilities you will transfer to the new project. Write down your special qualities and strengths as well as the acknowledgements you’ve heard from others. It’s hard to refute evidence in black and white. Review this often during your project.
  • Don’t wait until the end of the project to receive motivating feedback. Solicit it along the way. Discipline yourself to hear and accept it.
  • Acknowledge yourself and your wins regularly. Allowing them to slide by, ignored, is a tactical error and gives more clout to the unrelenting negative voices that blow every minor slip-up into catastrophic proportions.

The inner critics will persist in wrestling for power over you. Reduce them to an annoying nuisance by magnifying your successes and refocusing your attention on your special value and strengths.

Originally printed in The Province, September 9, 2007.

Walk with your co-worker through his several fears

April 22, 2007

Q: Our team is rolling out a significant project and my colleague (who put the deal together) is suddenly fretting that we won’t make our schedule or budget.  I am confident about delivery but worried about his impact on the team, the project and client.  How do I address this?

A:  Your peer needs his concerns to be heard.  You can be an effective sounding board and keep the project on track.

Set up a meeting where he can verbalize his thoughts unedited for several minutes.  Resist your temptation to correct, comment or defend or he will feel unheard and need to cycle through his concerns all over again.  Remain detached and objective.  Understand what is underlying his concerns.

Once his anxiety has been diffused he can absorb new information.  Summarize and replay his concern back to him.  i.e. “I hear you’re saying….. am I correct?” Acknowledge a positive quality he demonstrated through his commentary.  i.e. “You are responsible and proactive.  Thanks for bringing this up.”  Reaffirming you are an ally and not an adversary.

Steer him to identify the root of his fear and to his own solution for it.  Be curious and interested.

Ask short simple open ended probing questions. i.e. “What was your rationale when you did your due diligence last month?  What’s changed?  What’s your biggest fear?  What’s our blind spot?”

Continually separate fact and fiction.  Redirect him to fact based comments whenever he “worries” about what he “imagines or fears” “might or could” happen.

Also tease out the truth or wisdom.  i.e. “Where is our greatest exposure?  How will we know we are off track?  What do you propose?”

Encourage him to document his ‘risk management’ solution.  He will feel both valued and relieved. You will have shifted him from being stuck in the problem to solution focused.

Originally printed in The Province, April 22, 2007.

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