Friday, November 19, 2010

Speak Easy Note #42 - Acceptance and Appreciation

As we approach the end of November, I want to offer words of Thanksgiving. The past two years have been full of challenge for so many people. Financial difficulties have been enormous and unemployment has been at record highs. It's hard to be thankful when the pressures are extreme and when there's such a strong sense of precariousness throughout our world.

I often write about perspective and its important contribution to how we experience challenge and difficulty and to what we can do to overcome them.

Acceptance and Appreciation are the keys to

> adjusting our perspective to one that is healthy and productive,

> facing the reality of our challenges,

> recognizing the abundance that exists around us,

> finding realistic solutions for demanding situations, and

> focusing on what we have rather than what is missing.

Acceptance is taking in all that is rather than focusing on all that isn’t. Acceptance is quite different from settling, acquiescing, or giving up. Acceptance means  letting go of perfection and other impossible unrealistic fantasies and taking in and seeing all that exists.

When I think of Acceptance, I’m reminded of Gilda Radner who told us, “It’s Always Something”

Appreciation goes beyond Acceptance and encompasses simple, basic, and true thankfulness for whatever you have. We live in a material world that distorts value and creates a consumer mentality. Children are growing up with so many possessions and toys that it becomes more and more difficult for them to ever comprehend that “The best things in life are free.” There really is no price or way to purchase the richest and best parts of life, like health, love, and friendship.

Appreciation brings to mind the wise saying:

“I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a person who had no feet.”

Here is a wonderful Charles Dickens quote about Appreciation:

“Reflect upon your present blessings - of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

ACCEPT what is. APPRECIATE what you have.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Until next time,
The Wordsmith
Author of
SPEAK EASY, The Communication Guide for Career and Life Success

Friday, November 12, 2010

Speak Easy Note #41 - Pearls of Wisdom

Being a proponent of positive attitude and of the value of seeing the glass from the full perspective, I offer these non-delusional pearls of realistic wisdom for this week’s blog posting.

First, here are two excerpts from
SPEAK EASY, The Communication Guide for Career and Life Success:

Whenever you determine that something won’t work or isn’t working, make sure you find a way to convey, “This is exactly what we need to do to make this successful.” Rather than describe what’s wrong, it’s always better to focus on communicating the solutions to fix the situation. When you challenge yourself to be a person that sees the world from a positive perspective and to focus on what is rather than on what isn’t, you will find that you will gain respect from others and draw them to you. You will also be building a reputation as a person who finds ways to get things accomplished rather than as a person who tears everything down through doubt and criticism.

Negativity can be quite subtle. Even the most positive sentiments can have a negative underbelly:

> “No problem!” is a positive expression comprised of two negative words.

> Saying, “I’ve no objection to…” is very different from saying, “I think that’s a good way to…”

> Stating, “I can’t disagree with you about…” has quite a different impact from saying, “I certainly agree with you that…”

... and ...

Bella, a Marketing Director who had abruptly and unexpectedly lost her senior position in a technology company at age forty-five, described to me the value she’d gained from learning how to reposition what she wanted to convey to people. She described how much easier it had become for her to initiate difficult communications and how differently she felt about herself as a result of these enhanced techniques:

“It’s not whether my mood is up or down, it’s the fact that my choice of language or vocabulary greatly influences how the person I’m speaking to perceives me, hears my message, and understands the events I am describing. It’s about selecting appropriate language for that forward-moving spirit that I want to convey. This is not to ignore the fact that there’s something that is painful or difficult, but to have a set of language to use for the outside world that works for me. It’s how we all survive!”

How we communicate can make a tremendous difference on perceptions and outcomes and can be quite different from any difficult emotions or underlying beliefs we may have.

 Here’s a link that provides a REALISTIC perspective on positive thinking:

Until next time,
The Wordsmith
Author of
SPEAK EASY, The Communication Guide for Career and Life Success

Friday, November 5, 2010

Speak Easy Note #40 - To Speak or Not to Speak - Criticizing the Boss

Dear Wordsmith,

I need your advice on how to handle a performance review meeting that is on my calendar next week. I have worked for a large non-profit organization for twenty-five years. We had a major expansion of our facilities three years ago when a new Executive Director was hired. She brought three additional senior executives with her and over these last three years, I have watched my co-workers become totally disgruntled and dissatisfied. Two people have actually had mental health breakdowns because of work overload and extreme stress. This was a place where people loved to come to work and it’s now a place that is completely demoralized. Of course, in this economy with unemployment at such a high level, people are afraid to speak up, take action or quit their jobs. I am a mid-level manager and report directly to one of the new Deputy Directors who I realize has very little choice about how to maneuver in his job because he was brought in by the new Executive Director and is under her tight rule and control. It’s hard to sympathize with him though and quite frankly, everybody hates him, including me.

One of my peers told me that this Deputy Director has been asking for feedback from Managers about his own performance during their reviews. I am planning on retiring at the end of the summer and don’t want to make waves or be the one who takes a position or speaks out. On-the-other-hand, I care about the well-being of my co-workers a great deal and would like to at least express my views before I leave. I have been a dedicated and loyal employee here for so many years. It’s really troubling to witness the transformation of this workplace. What do you think is the right way for me to handle this meeting next week if I am asked for feedback?

Fed-up and Burned-Out


Dear Fed-Up and Burned-Out,

How upsetting it must be for you to have worked somewhere for so long and see the kinds of changes there that you described. No matter what you decide to say next week in your performance review meeting, it’s good that you could get this off of your chest by writing about it here. That certainly doesn’t solve your dilemma and yet it’s very helpful to be able to communicate to an objective professional third party what you’re experiencing and how you’re feeling about such difficult circumstances.

I can’t tell you whether to say anything in the meeting next week. It really has to be your decision and it’s clearly a hard one for you to make. You say that you “don’t want to make waves or be the one who takes a position or speaks out.” You simultaneously say that you “would like to at least express [your] views before [you] leave.” It’s unsettling to have strong feelings that are the complete opposite from one another. Even though you’re the only one who can decide what’s right for you to say next week, I can give you key guidelines about the optimum way to communicate your observations and views, if you do decide to express them.

Instead of identifying what’s wrong or find fault, you can describe what’s missing and what would have a huge positive impact on the workplace if adapted or implemented.

For example: “Here’s what I see as ways to achieve the success you’re looking for …”

Select neutral rather than inflammatory language.

Rather than: “This is a problem that requires conflict resolution.
Choose instead: “This is an opportunity that requires new approaches and enhancement.”

Express your comments using affirmative language formation without saying “not”.

Avoid: “That’s not a good way to talk to people.”
Better: “A good way to talk to people is …”

Omit “you” from your feedback so that it is situational rather than personally attacking.

Avoid: “You don’t give people the information they need to do their jobs.”
Better: “People feel that the information they need to do their jobs is missing.

By using language that is neutral and voice tone that is level and respectful, it’s possible to convey criticism and difficult feedback in a constructive and beneficial manner.

Until next time,
The Wordsmith
Author of
SPEAK EASY, The Communication Guide for Career and Life Success