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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Dangers of Social Media

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I love social media – Twitter(you can follow me as @WWisewolf), Linkedin,Facebook etc.  Those I’ve tried, I love, most of the time!
Of course, I’m aware of the dangers and, yes, I have come unstuck before.  There are a number of us using Twitter who were taken in by a fraudster claiming to do good works.  I learned the hard way not to take people at gravatar value.
I know about the dangers of meeting up but by following the rules about first meetings in public, etc, I’ve met some smashing people and made some real friends.
But today I had my first really negative experience.  I realised the power of the medium and felt quite intimidated by it.
I received a series of what I considered to be fairly “spammy” messages from one particular network (not one of those named above).  I tried to unsubscribe from these particular messages but it wasn’t easy and for some reason it didn’t work.  In all honesty I don’t think the originator of the messages intended them to be anything but helpful and good natured.  But I was very tired of it.
So I sent off a fairly abrasive message and copied it to others. Next I get what I found a fairly sinister message from someone pointing out that by sending such a message I might be damaging my business.  Then I get other messages more or less raising questions about my professional judgement and credibility.
I was left feeling very threatened, realising that it wouldn’t be hard for a few words here and a few words there on social networks to be very damaging indeed.
I’ve taken my own actions to remedy this. And as I mention above I don’t think the writer of the original message meant to do anything but good.  However I am left chastened and wary.
There is huge power in these tools that we are beginning to take for granted.  I, for one, will be much more careful how I engage in future and I will certainly research any network I think of joining quite carefully before signing up.
And I think I need to remember another lesson or two, abrasive messages are much better not sent and, if you were foolish enough to send one, please don’t copy them to others!

I am Wendy Mason and I work as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger.  I have worked with many different kinds of people going through personal  and career change. If you would like my help, please email me at or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439.  I will be very pleased to hear from you. I offer half an hour’s free telephone coaching to readers of this blog who quote WW1 – email me to arrange. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Retirement – What do I do now?

Some people plan their retirement many years ahead.  They have very definite views on what they are going to do and how they plan to live their lives.  They leave work, start to put their plans into action and away they go.
For others it just isn’t as simple as that.
Some people have made no plans at all beyond work. Quite often they are people who are not really choosing to go.  They may be going as a result of reductions in the workforce, or because partner and family have pressured them to go, or because it is financially advantageous to go.  But their heart isn’t really in it and they would much prefer to go on working.
For others, well once they have left work,  life is just so very different to how they expected and they just don’t get round to putting their plans into action.
But retirement presents you with lots of possibilities, even without a lot of money.
I know someone who found it felt like being sixteen again with lots of choice but not in terms of career.  There were so many things she could do – all she needed to do was to make a choice.
For you, now might be the time to try something completely different, just to see if you like it.
For example, you could take some classes.  There are still lots of adult education classes around and many give concessions to people not working.  You could take music or acting lessons.  I know one seventy year old who wouldn’t be without her dance classes.
There are the obvious fitness, gardening and cooking courses, of course. You could set yourself a goal and make a plan for the standard you want to achieve or simply study something obscure to surprise, delight and sometimes, just sometimes, bore your friends and relatives.
There are all kinds of clubs and societies to join that you can find out about at the library or on line.
Volunteering is an excellent way to get out and meet new people – you can do interesting things and be part of a community.  This is particularly important if many of your friends up to this point have come from work.  Find a cause you can commit to and make an offer of help. You will find a list of charities in the library. 
One thing you should definitely do is to create a “Bucket List“, a book list, a travel list or any list of your choosing.  But it is something you then work to complete adding to it as the whim strikes you, of course.
I think it really helps to have some goals and some structure to your days once you retire. It is very easy to become depressed and just sit at home watching day time television.
You may need to manage a partner or spouse’s expectations as well.  Of course retirement should mean more time to be together if that is what you wish.  But you will be more interesting for each other if you have some interests of your own as well.
I would welcome you views on all this and the thoughts and tips of those who are already out there enjoying a full and happy retirement.

I am Wendy Mason and I work as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger.  I have worked with many different kinds of people going through personal  and career change. If you would like my help, please email me at or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439.  I will be very pleased to hear from you. I offer half an hour’s free telephone coaching to readers of this blog who quote YHF1 – email me to arrange.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Coping with shyness

Some people welcome new experiences and new people. 

They look forward to any opportunity to socialize. They're often the first to introduce themselves and the first to jump into a new conversation. For others, well, it takes us a little longer to warm up to something new!   
ShySness is an emotion that affects how you feel and behave around others. You might feel uncomfortable, self-conscious, nervous, bashful, timid, or insecure.  Some people blush or feel speechless, shaky, or breathless.   
 People are more likely to feel shy when they're not sure how to act, what will happen, how others will react, or when for some reason all eyes are on them.
People are less likely to feel shy in situations where they know what to expect, feel sure of what to do or say, or are among familiar people. .
About 20% of people have a genetic tendency to be naturally shy. But not everyone with a genetic tendency to be shy develops a shy temperament. Life experiences also play a role. 

When people are faced with a situation that may lead them to feel shy, how they deal with that situation can shape their future reactions to similar situations. If people who are shy approach new things little by little, it can help them become more confident and comfortable. But if they feel pushed into situations they don't feel prepared for, or if they are teased or bullied, it can make them even shyer.  

If the parents of a shy child are overly cautious or overprotective, it can teach the child to back away from situations that might be uncomfortable or unfamiliar.
People who are shy may become very good listeners and sensitive to other people's feelings and emotions. This means they may be very highly regarded and valued by others as friends. In some cultures, shy people are perceived as being thoughtful, intelligent and more likely to think before they speak.

If you are shy, here are some tips to help you.

1.    Practice social behaviours like eye contact, confident body language, introductions, small talk, asking questions and making invitations with the people you feel most comfortable around. Smile. Build your confidence. Then gradually extend the circle until you can do this with new friends, too.
2.     Think of conversation openers, like introducing yourself, giving a compliment or asking a question. Being ready with a conversation starter will make it easier to start a conversation with someone new.  
3.    When you have to deal with something uncomfortable like a particular phone call or a conversation, write down what you want to say beforehand. Rehearse it out loud and in front of the mirror if possible. Then go for it.  It doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect.  It will get easier with practice. 
4.    If self-criticism plays a role for you, ask yourself whether you'd be this critical of your best friend. Chances are you'd be much more accepting. So treat yourself like your own best friend. Be kind - encourage yourself!  
5.    Remember your opinion does countbe a little more assertive and speak up for yourself when there is something you need or want – keep Item 4 above in mind!

Shyness is something that you can work on with a coach or a counsellor.  Don’t be reluctant to find someone to work with you – they will be very happy to give you the support you need.

I’d be delighted to hear from you – what tips do you have for dealing with difficult situations?  How have you coped with being shy? 

I am Wendy Mason and I work as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger.  I have worked with many different kinds of people going through personal  and career change. If you would like my help, please email me at or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439.  I will be very pleased to hear from you. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Depression and negative thinking – when your thinking gets you down!


We all have negative thoughts sometimes.  
These dark thoughts (known as automatic negative thoughts) just come into our heads and, most of the time, we can just throw them off.
At other times they just overwhelm us.  This is so when we are depressed. But sadly these negative thoughts can actually make us depressed. 
When we get into the habit of constantly chastising ourselves and telling ourselves we are no good and we are worthless, the feelings we have in response can send us spiralling down.  

These thoughts seem to feed upon each other, so deeper and deeper we go!   Thoughts like these can send us spiralling down into depression.
This concept is the guiding principle behind cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy which was developed by Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s
If we think something often enough, we begin to believe it's true!  Then our feelings start to match what we think about ourselves.
How do we raise ourselves back up again?
Well to conquer this, we need to stop those automatic negative thoughts.  We can stop them and replace them with more positive, truthful ones.
If we get in there and nip these thoughts in the bud, we can halt depression before it even starts.
If you would like to know a little more about thinking positively and how to change your thinking, have a look at this video!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Do you have to be arrogant to succeed?

This is me on the trapeze during practice with...  

Like many others I was brought up with dire warnings against the sin of hubris.

Hubris means extreme pride to the point of arrogance True hubris usually indicates a loss of contact with reality and a substantial overestimation of your own abilities.
I wrote here last week about the value of confidence in your own ability. 
Hmm - what is too much confidence and what risk does it carry?
In fact,  research suggests that there can be benefits for an individual in overestimating their abilities.
Research has found that a two-player team consisting of one overconfident and one more rational person outperforms a team consisting of two rational people.
This is because overconfidence enhances effort levels – over confident people try harder.
It seems that over-confidence probably accounts for the ultimate success of some serial entrepreneurs.
There is  evidence that  the earlier failed ventures provide valuable resources for entrepreneurs’ future use.  
Being highly confident in their abilities keeps them trying and learning from their experience, until eventually they succeed.
It may even be that the prosperity of some societies reflects a culture that allows more confident individuals and entrepreneurs to undertake more challenging and risky tasks with greater conviction. Survivors set up new businesses, achieve technology breakthroughs, develop new drugs, initiate and articulate novel ideas and theories and so on.
But in societies where people are more preoccupied with establishing when and how they could be wrong, they may become more timid, indecisive and achieve less! 
Higher confidence appears to increase the odds of success from creating wealth to saving jobs and lives. 
But remember extreme arrogance is never attractive!  If you want to get on with others in your society, it helps if you keep some sense of reality and perhaps at least half a foot on the floor!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Personal and Career Development with Wendy Mason

Working with a coach is a simple but very effective form of self development – either professional or personal.
The client and coach work together to promote a change and to help the client become who they want to be and to overcome obstacles to their success.
Coaches work with individuals in their personal life and with executives, managers and others in their professional and business life.  I work with people in the round so I don’t draw a big black line round the personal to distinguish it from the professional, the two often overlap!
But I do work with change and transition.  If you are not going through a change or want to make a change, then perhaps I'm not the right person to work with you. There are lots of other good coaches around.
Many of us have plans about what we want to do, who we want to be and what we want to become.  A coach works with you to find out what is important and how to create the conditions that foster it.
Coaching builds skills; both personal and professional.
It is about growth; both personal and professional.
I started my professional life qualifying as a nurse and I am a Confidence Coaching Graduate.  I have many years of experience of working with people and organizations going through all kinds of change!  
You may be starting a new job or a new business, or wanting to improve the way that you communicate with other people.  Or perhaps you want to change careers or make some kind of change in your private life.  Perhaps you need to deal with a difficult boss or a difficult relationship.  Then working with a coach could help you on to the next step.
If you are facing a change in your life or you want to make one please get in touch. I offer coaching by phone and on-line as well as face to face.
Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach with an interest in leadership and in change - both personal (career and life out side of work) and within organizations. You can email her at this link or ring ++44(0)2084610114