Your Happiness Factor:celebrating happiness, prosperity, hearth and home, good health.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

10 Tips for a Confident Christmas


For lots of us, Christmas is one the most stressful times in the year.  So here are some tips to lighten the load a little and to help you have at less troubled Christmas!
  1. Be realistic – Christmas represents a couple of days in 365.  Don’t expect everything to change just for this.  If you have friends and family that don’t get on well for most the year, then don’t expect Christmas to be different.  Things can go wrong any day – please don’t take it to heart!  If your Christmas is less than perfect you have not failed and you should not feel guilty.  You are having a Christmas just like the rest of us!
  2. Write a timetable - If you are responsible for managing the day or for cooking then write a time table – for example, 10 am – put turkey in oven.  Try to keep both the day and the cooking simple, if you can, and delegate some of the tasks.  If you have a family party, can you have a buffet lunch and ask people to bring a platter?
  3. Avoid touchy triggers - If you are unlucky enough to have people who you know don’t get on, do your best to avoid the known triggers.  For example, if religion is a touchy subject, then use distraction and move the conversation on.  Perhaps you can get one of the parties to come and help you in the kitchen or to help with activities. 
  4. Plan some activities - After lunch have an activity planned so that people are occupied and don’t have time to bicker. Activities are also useful for slowing down the alcohol consumption. 
  5. Practice moderation - Even though it is the season to be jolly, too much food and drink is not good for anyone. If you have visitors who are known to drink too much, think beforehand how you are going to get them home – drink driving is always dangerous but more so at Christmas time.
  6. Have spare presents - Present giving can always be tricky.  Try to have a couple of spare presents ready in case you receive unexpected visitors or gifts.  Try to avoid anyone feeling left out if you can.
  7. Exercise for energy - If you have a regular exercise routine then try to keep it up even on this special day.  It will give energy and stamina for the day.
  8. Have a quiet place!  Plan to have ten minutes on your own in a quiet place at some point.  Go there and use a relaxation technique like deep breathing or focussing on your breath to help you relax and make the most of your break.  It helps as well if you can to have a quiet place for others to retire as well if you have a lot of guests.
  9. Make time to reminisce. Have a special thought for older members of the family who find their own Christmas memories a little overwhelming.  Take some time for them to share reminiscences with you.
  10. Look after you - whether you are going to be alone this Christmas or with others, then plan something special just for you – your favorite food, or your favourite film perhaps?  What do you like best? Remember - all over the world there will be others just like you – enjoying this day or just waiting for tomorrow to come! Right now it is time for spoiling yourself – enjoy your indulgence!

And now I wish you the happiest of Seasons and may 2012 be the most wonderful of years for you and yours!


Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer.  She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those; 
  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review
You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114 





Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Giving criticism confidently – 10 Tips

Red smoke 




Sometimes, even in the best relationship, there comes a time when we want to say something critical.  Not everything can be perfect every time!  Sometimes things go wrong.  And sometimes, in your view, it is down to the other person.  You think it is something they can do something about.  So you want to tell them. 
Here are some pointers to giving criticism but proceed with care. And remember, how you sound,  look and behave when you give the feedback often matters as much weight as the words you use.  But the words are important.  
Here are the tips.

  1. Be sure of the facts!  Try to find out exactly what went wrong and why. 
  2. Be constructive! It should be about getting things right in the future not about trying to punish. 
  3. Be direct! Get to the point and give the feedback in a simple, straight forward way.
  4. Be clear! Set out what you are criticizing, the change you want to see and why.  Comment on behaviour not the person. If you want to change the person this is more than a case of giving criticism.
  5. Be sincere! Say what you mean and mean what you say Sincerity means you speak with care and respect. Don’t send a mixed message – for example “I think you are all wonderful but there is just this little thing I’d like to mention”.  This usually means the real purpose of the message gets lost. Putting the “but” in the middle just creates contradictions
  6. Be serious! Express concern but do not become emotional.  Getting angry and showing frustration will distort the messages.  Again remember you are trying to create awareness not to create noise, vent and make yourself feel better.   
  7. Be objective! State what you have observed and the evidence you have gathered.  Don’t try to interpret or to attribute motives – nothing can be more infuriating to the other person. 
  8. Be live! Criticism is best handled directly person to person; not through someone else or through technology – for example an email.
  9. Be on time! Don’t do this when you are angry if you want a good result.  Giving criticism is best not confused with venting.  Speak close as possible to the event or the behavior.  When everything is fresh in both your minds, your comments will have far greater impact than further down the line when you may have forgotten exactly what happened.
  10. Be kind! Do not choose a moment when you know the other person is feeling tired or hurt by some other life event.  And do listen when the other person responds – there may be something you just have not taken into account.
Those are my 10 tips for giving criticism.  Do you agree?  Send me your thoughts and observations by commenting below.
Related articles
Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer.  She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;
  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review
You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114 

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

6 Tips for Confident Networking

SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 20:  A job seeker receive...

Are you one of those rare (and very lucky ) people who enjoys networking?  
Or are you like many others?   Do you arrive at a networking event, look around at the sea of faces, then find yourself barraged by a stream of doubts and uncertainties.
Negative self talk tells you that you’re a fraud, everyone else in the room is just great.  There they are experienced business professionals at home in this environment.  While you are just pretending, you don’t really know what you are doing!
And on top of you’re going to forget your speech, you won’t remember anyone else’s name and there is a very good chance you will forget your own!
The “sensible” part of you tells you not to be so silly.  But there you are with these negative thoughts and anxieties in your head. 
Relax and take a deep breath, then tell your brain it has more important things to think about!  No, you are not going to have a heart attack as you take the floor.  You’ve got this under control and here are some tips to help!  
  1. Relax, take a deep breath, and smile!  Taking in Oxygen deeply can steady nerves and lower your heart rate!  Smiling releases endorphins and makes you feel more comfortable.
  2. Practice positive self-talk.  We all have some negative thoughts.  Be conscious of them and then cut them off.  Recognize them for what they are.  Then replace them.  As you approach the event fill your head with the repeated thought that you are confident and successful;  People like you.   Tell yourself firmly that you are going to do well and that people will be impressed.  Say it very loudly and firmly in your own head.  You can say out it loud in private at home before you go as well – repeat, repeat, repeat!  
  3. Have a great elevator speech and practice it ahead of time. This is a short paragraph or two that describes who you are and what your business does.  Give it punch - make it interesting, informative, and memorable.  Practice delivering it at home with confidence and don’t rush.
  4. Be memorable. What is it about you and your business that makes you unique?  Work it out then be quite clear about it.  Don’t be afraid to tell people – make it part of your branding
  5. Have good contact material! Make sure you always have business cards with you with up-to-date contact information. It is worth investing in a good business card that you feel proud of.  They help you to feel very comfortable handing them out at networking events.
  6. Be yourself and show an interest in others. Expect people to like you – tell yourself they will.  People like people who show an interest in them, and that is what you are going to do.  Remember you are bringing them a gift - your talents and experience and there can be no one else just like you! 
Now you are ready to get started.  Off you go and enjoy your networking.    
Do you have any tips for confident networking?  I’d love to hear them!
Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer.  She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;
  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review
You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114 Related articles Building Self- Confidence (cmaankur.wordpress.com) Confidence- the evidence that you can overcome any barriers (successnetwork.wordpress.com) Unemployed - Interview Techniques - Behavioural or Competency Based Interviewing (leavingthepublicsector.blogspot.com)

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Resilient Mindset – don’t let a fixed mindset defeat you.

Cover of "Mindset: The New Psychology of ...

"Don’t change – stay right where you are"!

Nobody said change was easy.  Change is hard It is uncomfortable and risky. 
That is why most of us don’t change until change is forced on us. 


We don’t change; even when making a change could make a huge and positive difference for us and those about us. 


Most of us have a mindset that favours staying put right where we are – a “fixed” mindset. And fixed mindsets lack resilience. 


Standing still and staying where we are, can present far more danger and risk in the long term than making a change.

Changing that mindset

So how do you develop a resilient mindset? You need to learn to challenge your own thinking. 


Your fixed mindset will chatter away in your head, if you let it.  


It will fill your head with negativity and erode your confidence. 


That nasty fixed mindset will tell you that even if you wanted to change, you can’t do it!  


You’re not bright enough! You're not strong enough!  You don’t have the brains or the talent!

This time you are going to answer back. 

“Well I’m certainly bright enough – if I see the need for change, I’m bright enough to do it.  


I can learn and I can find people who can advise me.  I can learn!” 


Your fixed mindset will probably answer – “But what happens if and when you fail? 


So here is your defence.  “Everyone fails sometimes.  But I’ll do it well and I’ll manage the risks – so I’ve got every chance of success” 


“But” says your fixed mindset, “if you don’t make the change, you can’t fail.” “No, but, if I don’t try, I’ve failed already! 


Now your fixed mindset sneers and becomes cunning.  “Oh so it is going to be easy for you then!” 


You smile wryly.  “No it isn’t going to be easy.  Nothing worth having comes easy. I’m going to do it”

Back into the shadows!

If you keep beating it back, at some point your fixed mindset will slink away into the shadows.  It won’t be dead. 


It may emerge occasionally when you are feeling tired or frustrated. But you have the upper hand now.  You know you have to find the energy to take up your sword and beat it back into the shadows again. 


With practice you can learn to think positively and confidently about your change.  


You will develop a resilient mindset.


You can do it! You can make the change you desire – it is time to start believing. Reach for your  your sword and begin practicing.


 
Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer.  She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;
  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review
You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114 Share

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Happiness is how we think! Part 1

Illustration depicting thought. 


Most of the time we don’t think about how we think!  We just do it.

Thoughts seem to drift in and drift out again without much intervention from us. And most of the time we are happy that way!

But sometimes our thoughts do not make us happy.  Negative thoughts can make us feel miserable and very unhappy. 

Our thoughts may keep us awake at night and they can intrude into our days.  They can make us feel angry and sad. 

Sometimes the thoughts in our head leave us with unpleasant and uncomfortable feelings about ourselves, the people about us and the world in general. 
   
Our thoughts can mean we focus on the negative even when there is very strong evidence that we are, and everything about us is, basically OK.

Over the next few posts here, we are going to explore some ways that we think negatively and how you might be able to make some changes.

Here are my first three ways of thinking negatively; “overgeneralising”, “labelling” and “personalising”.

 Overgeneralizing
This is when we come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence.

Something bad happens once, so we expect it to happen over and over again.

Someone may see a single, unpleasant event which then becomes part of a never-ending pattern of defeat.  

For example, a young man asked a girl out and she turned him down.  He felt lonely, unwanted and rejected.  So he went on to think he would never be able to have a girlfriend as girls did not find him attractive. It wasn’t true of course; it was just the girl already had a boyfriend.

Words that indicate you may be overgeneralising are
  • ·         all,
  • ·         every,
  • ·         none,
  • ·         never,
  • ·         always,
  • ·         everybody,
  • ·         everything ,
  • ·         nobody.
If you find yourself using these kinds of words often, think about what you would say to a friend who said the same thing.  Think of the advice you would give.  Now try to follow your advice and intervene whenever you find yourself using words like “I never” or “I always” negatively about yourself.

Labelling
This is really a very extreme form of overgeneralisation.  

Sometimes we describe behaviour, our own or other peoples in absolute and unalterable terms.

For example when we call ourselves "Stupid" or say that we or someone else is "Totally Hopeless" or a "Failure"!

The trouble is once give, the label sticks. 

If a label is given on the basis of perhaps one mistake or one failure, it can alter the way we see ourselves or someone else for a very long time. 

This kind of thinking distorts the truth.  It is particularly dangerous when used in anger by parents or teachers about children. 

If we label ourselves, it can mean that we are not able to see ourselves any other way.

Here again, it is useful to think about the words we use and the evidence for what we are saying.  This kind of language usually starts out being used emotionally.  It helps to calm down and think about the standard that we have applied to ourselves or to someone else.  Is it realistic?

When you find yourself thinking this way, intervene and remember things do go wrong sometimes; we all make mistakes. We are all human and we are entitled to get things wrong sometimes – that doesn’t mean we are failures. 

 Personalizing
This is usually where a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to them.

We compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking. 

So, when something negative happens, we may think we are solely responsible for the unpleasant event.  But, there may be no real evidence for this at all.  

We may try to carry the weight for everything that goes wrong; everything is related to some deficiency or inadequacy in us. 

Again, it is time to think through the evidence.  What really happened and what part did others play?  Perhaps something just happened and no one was responsible. 

Sometimes it helps to talk to someone we trust to get a clear view!

You will probably find that you should only take a share in the blame or you may find you are not responsible for what happened at all.

I’ll tackle some more ways of thinking negatively in the next post.

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer.  She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;
  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review
You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114
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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Appreciate Before You Change

Mother and child personify the optimistic   
Appreciative Inquiry is an approach to change that focuses on the positive! 

It works on the principle that what is good now that can be built on to achieve a vision for the future.

When thinking about change people often focus on what is wrong now – what is deficient. This has been the traditional approach to change management

Appreciative Inquiry, which has its roots in Positive Psychology, starts the other way round. 

It looks at what is good and valuable now and then uses that as a foundation for moving forward.

Once the basis is established you can then explore the future possibilities with much greater confidence.

In all change, something will be lost, but with Appreciative Inquiry you work to make sure that much of what is good remains.  It allows people to honour the past and have confidence in the future!

Appreciative Inquiry was developed as a tool for changing organizations but, as an approach, it works very well with people and teams.  It allows them to approach change with greater confidence.

If you work as a coach or consultant using Appreciative Inquiry,  you work with a client to show existing strengths and successes so that you can then work together to bring about positive change.

Appreciative Inquiry uses a cycle of 4 processes that can work for people, groups or whole organizations,
  1. DISCOVER: Identify what works well now.
  2. DREAM: Vision what would work well in the future.
  3. DESIGN: Make a plan how to deliver what will work well.
  4. DESTINY (or DELIVER): Implementation the plan
You can read more in these books
Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer.  She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;
  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review
You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114
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