Tuesday, August 28, 2018

5 Ways to Skillfully Handle Criticism With a Smile Instead of a Frown

"This work is sloppy and does not meet the needs of the company. You'll have to completely rework it."


"Is this all you've gotten done for today? You're going to have to step up your pace."


"Why didn't you follow the instructions I gave you? This is terrible work."


"I liked your old hairstyle better."


Criticism, no matter how delicately someone gives it to you, hurts.


Being criticized makes us feel worthless, painfully vulnerable to our own negative thoughts and unsure of our abilities. Some inexperienced managers think criticizing their employees will incentivize them to work faster and harder but, of course, we know this tactic is the absolutely wrong way to motivate employees.


Scientists speculate there is something instinctual, or innate, about our adverse reaction to even mild criticism. Just like the human body is hard-wired to instantly move into a "fight or flight" state when confronted by danger, our psychological self (psyche) reacts to criticism defensively. In other words, being physically struck closely parallels being verbally "struck." Our heart and breathing rate increases and we may start perspiring as our internal temperature rises. Depending on the type and level of criticism we hear about ourselves, some people tremble, feel extremely anxious, and may even start crying.


How to Give Criticism Positively


Before you criticize a family member, friend or fellow worker, stop and think about how you could rephrase what you are going to say to sound more like constructive criticism. 


Examples of constructive criticism include:


  • (When someone fails to complete a project on time): Next time we have a project to work on, we'll make sure there are enough resources and time for you to finish it as planned. In fact, perhaps we can schedule the project in advance so you are not inundated with work?

  • (When someone has been "slacking" in their work): You've done a great job reaching several goals lately. Nobody can achieve every goal they set for themselves so don't let this affect your sense of accomplishment. Maybe your goals are a little too aggressive?

  • (When someone isn't contributing to a group effort): I've noticed you haven't wanted to take an initiative lately. I would really like to see you take a leadership position because I think you have the talent and skills to be successful.

5 Ways to Handle Criticism Positively


1. Objectify Yourself


As soon as you realize you are being criticized unconstructively, step away from your emotions by imagining yourself as a life-size cardboard cutout.


Wait until the person criticizing you leaves before allowing yourself to think about what they said. Consider who criticized, what they criticized you about, and whether it was actually warranted. Remember that people who are criticized are usually doing something new, different, and possibly daring.


2. Don't Cross Your Arms


Adopting a defensive posture may provoke the criticizer into extending their critique of you.


Simply stand with your arms at your sides, nod, and show that you are listening.


3. Learn from Criticism


Is there a grain of truth in the criticism you received?


Don't let strong emotions cloud your ability to judge truths about yourself. Many of us say or do things that are not in our best interest but fail to realize our error.


4. Get Feedback from a Friend


Tell a trusted friend about the criticism you received.


Getting another opinion can help mitigate the negative feelings you experience from a criticism.


5. You Control Your Emotions and Thoughts


Nobody is in control of what you think or feel.


The way you think and feel about criticism is all up to you, not the person who criticized you.


"Criticism is something you can avoid by saying nothing,
being nothing, and doing nothing." 
~Aristotle

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How to Chart Your New Future (Part 1)

Irene Obera is an 84-year-old southern California native who loves bowling, tennis, and educating others.


She also happens to be the fastest woman on earth for her age. Irene has been breaking records in Masters athletics for forty years, and her aging philosophies are captured in her own words:


“If you don’t move it, you lose it.”


And:


“A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits – and I want to be a winner.”


Irene is one of many “superagers,” a term for people in their 70s and 80s who have the mental or physical capability of their decades-younger counterparts. Irene serves as an inspiration, not only for the power of dedication but the promise of possibility when we harness our full potential. Living well is a goal we all desire and living fully alive is the essence of life. No matter what our strengths or sphere of influence, each of us has the potential for success and impact. This potential is a treasure that should be uncovered, protected, and stewarded!


Shake Off That Slump


Then what do you do when you’ve hit a slump? When complacency has settled like fog, or when you want to grow but feel stifled professionally (or personally) at almost every turn?


Maybe you’re satisfied, but not feeling sufficiently challenged in your daily tasks. What should you do?


Here’s the truth: small adjustments DO make an impact. But we tend to enjoy comfort and resist change, making it harder and harder to change gears.


So, how can we move forward in a positive way that will impact us for years to come?


It Starts with Education


An easy place to start is where many of us began: with education. Education is a gift! The opportunity to learn can unlock our potential, grow our social circle, reap financial rewards, and energize our mind, careers, and health! Consider this statistic:


The Rush Memory and Aging Project, conducted in 2012 in Chicago with more than 1,200 elders participating, showed that increased cognitive activity in older adults slowed their decline in cognitive function and decreased their risk of mild cognitive impairment. The study showed that cognitively active seniors, whose average age was 80, were 2.6 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than seniors with less cognitive activity. Studies also show that educated people tend to enjoy better mental health, increased emotional well-being, and expanded opportunities.


Add Spring to Your Step


Whether you desire personal or professional development, growth of any kind has the potential to chart a new course for your future.


Ready to increase your mental capacity, improve your quality of life, and enrich your emotional health? In this two-part series, we’ll look at four avenues for gaining ground that will enrich your life and expand your opportunities.


1. Stretch Yourself. 


The first step in continued growth is your own buy-in.


Take ownership over your desire to develop and look for new challenges, side projects, or free professional development opportunities offered in or outside your company. Seek out webinars and podcasts on a weekly basis or consider short online courses. Be curious about aspects of the workplace that don’t directly affect your job. Ask questions and get involved where you might not otherwise. When you show others that you are interested in learning, it communicates a proactive spirit and opens invisible doors to future opportunities.


Living fully engaged brings richness and reward. Join us for part two of this series, as we look at four more avenues for personal and professional development that can bring impact for decades to come!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

These Two Things are the Keys to a Successful Business

The physical and emotional abuse began when she was five years old.


By the time she was 13, she was homeless and relying on the kindness of strangers to feed and house her. At 14, she gave birth to a son who died in infancy. Shortly afterward, she was sent to live with an uncle in whom she later referred to as her "father." Even though this teenager had suffered years of poverty and abuse, something fierce and fiery within her would not give up. She attended a Milwaukee high school and earned grades good enough to get her into the Upward Bound program, a federally funded program to help gifted students achieve academic success.


This determined, courageous young woman was later transferred to a suburban high school where she was picked on by her more affluent peers. After being caught stealing money to keep up with the lifestyle of her peers, she was once again sent to live with another relative in Nashville, TN. Here, she became an honors student and joined a speech/debate team that eventually took second place in a nation-wide dramatic interpretation contest.


After winning a college scholarship, working as a news reporter, and ultimately, landing her own TV show, Oprah Winfrey is now one of the world's most famous, most beloved, and most successful women in history.


Attitude is Motivation and Motivation is Attitude


Imagine you are the owner of a bakery that was handed down to you by your parents and grandparents.


One of the traditions you continue to keep as the owner is wearing a large pin on your uniform that says "Business is Awesome!" While all business have down times, the idea behind the pin is that, no matter how the business is doing, your attitude remains the same.


What do you tell customers who ask you what's so great about business? In most cases, people asking you this question are going through a rough time in their lives or may be coping with business problems themselves. You might tell them business is awesome because you love meeting new people every day or that business is great because you can work in an environment where everybody gets along and enjoys each other's company.


At the heart of this story lies the power of embracing a positive attitude. When you anticipate the good things and refuse to become a victim of negative thinking, the motivation to continue naturally emerges, sustained by your sense of renewal, hope and expectations.


Falling Down 10 Times Means You Have to Get Up 10 Times


"I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. Many times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I am not afraid to say that I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." -- Michael Jordan


You have to keep "getting up" (as Oprah Winfrey did) to take those next steps toward meeting or exceeding your goals.


The motivation for getting up and getting back on track is more powerful and rewarding if it is for personal rather than material gain. Keep reminding yourself that the most significant accomplishments in world history all started because someone fell down and got right back up again without even giving it a second thought.


 


 


 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Wrangling Your Week: Time Management Success Techniques That Will Give You Hope

It's painfully true that there are never enough hours in the day. If "normal humans" are having this kind of trouble, how are CEOs and leaders of major businesses able to run the massive scale of their days? As long as you consider that they haven't discovered time travel, there's got to be some tips and tricks that can be learned from their exceptional talents.


These time management success stories will give you hope that you can wrangle your week more effectively. You might be surprised to learn that many of these individuals found adequate time for sleep and budgeting part of their day for meditation or downtime. 


Leave Time for Relaxation


Most famous for his theory of evolution in his book The Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin spent a great deal of his day in solitary study. His schedule also included walking his fox terrier pup and reading. Most interesting was the two hours each day that he devoted to lying awake in bed solving problems before starting his day. Victor Hugo, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Charles Dickens also devoted many hours a day to walking and personal study. Today, Arianna Huffington is one of the business leaders who believe that spending time with colleagues or eating lunch away from your desk makes you more productive -- not less.


Focus on Calendar Management


Focusing only on what is most important each day is one of the time management tricks that Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., swears by. Her busy day is most productive when she spends time prioritizing short- and long-term deliverables instead of reacting to new items that make it to her calendar by happenstance. 


Sleep Soundly, Wake Early


People who are making an impact in their world are likely getting enough rest to be refreshed and ready to face their day, but those days often start quite early. Getting less than six hours of sleep on a regular basis can leave you mentally drained or fuzzy and make you less likely to be efficient in your work. The early morning hours are ideal for a quick workout, which not only helps the body stay fit but helps boost your brainpower for the day as well. Billionaire Richard Branson is famous for his 5:00 am ritual to kick off his busy day. 


Stop the Multitasking


Sure, we all love to pretend that we're getting three things done at once, but is anything being accomplished in these sprints? Successful professionals know when it's time to turn off the electronics and stick to one task at a time. Koel Thomae, co-founder of Noosa Yoghurt, notes how easy it is to be distracted by your inbox and your phone. Add in some music and you're ready to take on the world! 


Just Say "No"


"No," or "next" are some of the most powerful words in the English language -- allowing people to free their time from mundane activities and target those which are moving them forward. There may be some tasks that feel like busywork, so delegate these whenever possible. Turn your attention only to items where you add personal and unique value, and you'll soon find that it's possible to be present in your day while experiencing less stress. This can include everything from hiring people who complement your skills and abilities (a famous Jack Welch-ism) to outsourcing tasks when it makes sense. 


Not everyone is running an empire, finding the cure for cancer, or creating the next great musical masterpiece. However, we are all struggling with a limited number of hours in the day. There is a great deal of hope and comfort in knowing that these basic time management techniques have been practiced for generations -- and are still helping some of the most successful people of our age be productive.