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The Best Listener at Work

 

The Best Listener at Work

The Best Listener at Work

You may wonder why being a good listener at work is really valuable.  However, if you experiment with improving your workplace listening skills, you will see changes.   In the fast past, high demand jobs so many of us have, really good listening may be something of a novelty.  This may because of the ever-impending deadlines, the many distractions we have or the workplace stress.  If you commit to being the best listener at work, you may notice that some of these challenges shift.

So how might listening skills impact your work place experience?  Well, consider your experience now.  How well do you feel heard at work?  What do you notice about people how are really present with you when communicating vs. those that are anxious to move to the next “to do”?  I would imagine that when someone is really present with you that it is easier to talk to them, you may feel more connected or more at ease. What if you were that person for everyone else?  How might this impact your workplace experience if people knew that when they spoke to you, that they could count on you to really pay attention?

Particularly if you are a leader, really good listening skills go a long way.   Being able to connect, understand and communicate effectively with your employees is a crucial component of an effective leader.   According to a study in The Journal of Occupational Health, it was found that… “psychological stress reactions were lower in subordinates who worked under supervisors with high listening skill, while no statistically difference was observed among older subordinates.” 

So if we know that our listening skills have an impact on our overall work stress, it seems like a great advantage for us to actively improve these skills.  Below you’ll find three tips to improve your listening skills

1.) Offer more clarity

Repeating something back to someone in the way that you heard it will help to reduce miscommunication.  Repeating a statement also offers the opportunity for this person to add additional clarification if necessary.  This way of “active listening” ensures that this person is being understood correctly and shows them that you are paying attention.

2.) Focus

Sometimes we can get caught up in how we are going to respond to something.  Thinking of what to say next reduces our ability to listen to what someone is saying.  Attending to what someone is saying without focusing on how to respond will create stronger communication.  Remain focused on the present moment and really digesting what it is that someone is communicating. 

3.) Breath

Often times at the workplace we are moving a million miles a minute, which reduces our ability to take in information in any given moment.  Taking a few moments to breath as you speak with someone will help you to be more present and process what they are saying more effectively.  Before you speak or when you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and take a deep breath.  This may sound trivial but can do wonders for not only stress but your ability to communicate and listen effectively. 

After you’ve had the opportunity to put these behaviors to the test, I would invite you to make a comment below.   I would suggest that in order to notice results you may have to practice one or all three for at least four times a week for three weeks.   After you’ve practiced, consider answering the following questions –

How did they work if they did at all? 

What did you learn?  

How long did you practice each new behavior?  

Best,

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

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The Value of Showing Up

The Value of Showing Up

The Value of Showing Up

One of the first rules of life – show up.   What does this mean exactly?  I believe it can mean lots of things but perhaps first it means, give it your all.  Always be participating in your life rather than being a passive observer.   This is great advice, however, this article is more about the value of showing up in a literal sense.

Being actually present with someone rather than emailing, calling, Facebook messaging, Tweeting, texting or otherwise communicating.  I recently had the opportunity to be mentioned in an article in Entreprenuer.com.  This article goes in to great detail about the value of in person communication.  In today’s Vlog I want to emphasize three components that I find particularly important –

  1. Intention

  2. Subtleties

  3. Immediacy

For more information and detail about the value of in person communication, please see this article.   If you have questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  If you have interest in continuing the conversation, consider answering the following the questions and then commenting below –

What have you found to be valuable when communicating in person? 

How has in person communication impacted your personal or work relationships?

Cheers,

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

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Beat the Post Vacation Slump!

 

Beat the Post Vacation Slump

Beat the Post Vacation Slump

It’s that time of year.  You may have recently returned from a trip, visiting relatives, vacationing with friends or maybe just enjoying a few days off.  However your holidays were spent, I hope they were rejuvenating and enjoyable.  Getting back to the grind can be a challenge.  I’ve certainly experienced it and I know many friends, family and clients have too.  Today I want to talk about how to beat the post vacation slump!

Whether the holidays were filled with fun, laughter and excitement or anxiety, busyness and overwhelm, coming back to a routine may be tough.   Below you’ll find some strategies about how to get back to being at the top of your game in work and in life, in addition to some tips for the next time you go on vacation.

Be Clear 

Personal Life – This is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, woohoo! The truth is that the majority of them don’t stick.  According to some data, only 8% of people accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions.  However, there are many strategies on how to improve the likelihood for change that lasts.  I would argue that part of the reason people don’t accomplish their resolution is that there is not enough clarity around the goal.  In order to get back in work mode and also work towards new goals you have, consider outlining the details in order to build clarity.  This could mean creating a yearlong vision and then working it backwards to a six month goal, a three month goal and eventually an action step you can take today!

Work Life – Meetings often are less productive after many people have been out their routine or away from work.   You may see less productivity in the meetings outside of work too.  To remedy this, set clear expectations for what the meeting will review and accomplish and do not veer away from this objective.  Make sure there are clear action steps for all members of the meetings you attend.

Stay Focused

Personal Life – In order to stay focused on our personal goals and re-engaging in our routines post-break, there needs to be some way to stay motivated.  Build focus through keeping reminders around that are visible and related to your goal.  Alternatively, creating a writing practice that explores the reason for working towards this goal can help to stay motivated and focused.  Also, creating accountability in some way may be helpful in building focus.  Accountability could be created through working through a goal with someone else or hiring a coach to help explore what is holding you back.

Work Life – Lack of focus at work often shows up in the context of getting tasks accomplished or having a productive meeting.  Often times meetings set out with many things to accomplish and by then end have not completed their intended outcome.  Stay focused on what is most important and do not add too much to the meeting, always expect that things may take longer than anticipated.  Have no more than three main objectives per day that are on your “must complete” list.

Action Items, Expectations and Deadlines

Personal Life – Reaching goals is all about combing process and product.  It’s great to read self-help books, follow thought leaders, or engage in philosophical debate about mindset, intention and positivity.   The next step is combing all of this wonderful theory with small steps in the right direction.  Keep in mind that these steps can be small, but should be consistent.  Keeping after deadlines and continuing with actions items after exploring ideas will lead to progress.

Work Life – The same issues exists in the work world when we have meetings or discussions around an idea.  Ideas often need to be translated.  People feel that meetings are a waste of time when there is no clear outcome, objective or “to do” item.  Always be clear about expectations for all attendees.  Have attendees commit to their particular action item as well as deadline so everyone is clear on each person’s objective.

Keep your Routine in Check

Personal Life – Having some kind of routine in your personal life will do wonders for your mood, clarity, energy and productivity.  The holidays are an easy time to get thrown out of a routine, whether is exercise, eating healthy or a daily practice, it’s a challenging time of year to keep up with our best intentions.  Here is a great resource from The Model Health Show about holding onto a good routine, even during the busiest time of year

Work Life – Getting back into a routine is easier to do with work when it isn’t totally avoided during a break. This certainly doesn’t mean you have to be checking email every day or doing work on vacation….that is definitely not recommended.  But keeping sleeping in to a minimum may be helpful when it’s time to get back to work. Also, reading while on vacation may help to keep your mind active and productive so that it may be easier to re-engage when its time.

Push Yourself!

Personal Life – I hold the firm belief that we are much more capable than we often give ourselves credit for, in every sense.  Care to experiment with this idea?  Try pushing yourself past the invisible finish line that you’ve set for yourself.  Go to the extra class, read the extra chapter, do another set, run the extra mile, take the risk in a relationship. Make a consistent effort to go past your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised what you learn.

Work Life – The same concept of going past where we think we are capable of applies to work.  Consider how much you get done in the typical day and see if you can double it.  No, I don’t recommend working 16 hours instead of eight.  Working more efficiently and pushing past some of the self-set boundaries is a better (and healthier) experiment to try.  Consider how much time you spend during the average day being distracted by non-work related issues or work that doesn’t necessarily make you more productive but makes you busier.   Evaluate how to be the most productive version of yourself and push out any limiting beliefs that may have held you back previously regarding how much you could accomplish in a day.

Re-Evaluate

Personal Life – This time of year is a great time for downsizing, clearing out, resetting, cleansing and letting go.  What has been serving you this last year and what no longer helps you to become the best version of yourself?  You can pose this question to any facet of your personal life from your relationships to your diet to how you spend your time.  Evaluating the different aspects of your personal life allows you to set clearer goals and intentions for the year ahead and also helps to come back stronger from time off.

Work Life – Is the job you’re in the one you want to be in? Taking the time to evaluate how much you are really committed to the work you are doing can be a helpful way to not only improve your re-engagement post vacation, but also help you make changes to your current situation.  If you are certain the work you’re in is for you, great!  Take the opportunity to evaluate how you will make this coming year a better one than the previous.  If you determine that your purpose is elsewhere, come up with an exit strategy. Outline your strengths, objectives and timelines.  This will help make the rest of your time in your current position not seem as daunting.

*Challenge of the week*

Pick one of the strategies above and take action!  Just one.  After you’ve experimented for one week, come back and leave a comment below and share what you learned. Let’s help each other make significant changes this year!

All the best,

Michael

 

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

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Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

 

Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

When I was in college I did a summer abroad trip to Spain.  I traveled, learned about a totally unfamiliar culture and learned to speak more Spanish in three months than I had in three years of class. This was one of my favorite memories from college.  There are many stories to tell, but the one that I was recently reminded of is the difference in scheduling there.  The cultural difference is significant and views productivity from a different lens in some areas.   For those that have not been to Spain, a typical day, (at least for a college student in 2004) looked like this –

  1. Wake up at 7am, wake lethargic roommate up, have some light breakfast and start the walk to school. This walk was 1.5 miles one way, a great way to start the day!  School 8am-12pm or so.
  2. Break around noon, walk back to the house, lunch and then Siesta! Siesta translates to ‘rest’ or “nap”, more or less.  This is the time when the majority of activity slows down for a few hours and people just relax or sometimes actually take a nap.  It’s wonderful!
  3. Wake up around 3pm, walk back to school and have class from 4pm – 7pm or so.
  4. The rest of the evenings were spent socializing and often would result in dinner sometimes not until 10pm or later, then more socializing and bed around midnight…..sometimes much later.

Reminiscing this week had me wondering about what this schedule may do to one’s productivity? Here are a few of the pieces I discovered in searching through some data/research –

  • Napping helps you be more alert

According The National Sleep Foundation who references a study done by NASA on sleepy military pilots, it was found that a 40 minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%.   However, be mindful that the time of day, personal disposition and length of nap may increase or decrease its effectiveness.  It may be best to experiment with napping in order to find the right fit.

Whether it is napping, relaxing, going for a walk or finding some other way to decompress, there is value in taking a break. Having regular breaks in your day can help you to mentally, emotionally and physically re-charge, allowing you to be more effective with your time working.

There is building research available to show that napping can improve long term memory and task performance.

  • Having a mid-day break is controversial

According to an article in the NY Times, there is some mixed research about how productive Spain is based on the schedule of including the daily siesta.  While some research shows productivity is low, other research shows that Spain is more productive than many other European countries.   There is currently some push to move to a more regular schedule, which some of the country already embraces.

So why bring up this idea of the Siesta and productivity?  I think it is an interesting example of how our lifestyle and culture impacts our experience.   Certainly implementing the siesta in our western culture wouldn’t really fit, given the demands and cultural scheduling that we already have in place here.  However, we do have the option of implementing other ways to improve self-care.

One of the most consistent topics that come up with both groups and individuals that I work with, is the idea of a self-care practice.  Practices look different for everyone but common themes include exercise, meditation, time with loved ones or a variety of other hobbies.

There may be some controversy about including a long nap in the middle of the day.  But, there is certainly strong evidence to show that when we take time to take care of ourselves our productivity, relationships, happiness and health improves.    If you are interested in testing this out, consider answering one or both of these questions –

 

What can you commit to for 10 minutes every day for the next two weeks that will help you to slow down, reduce stress or improve your ability to be present?

 

What is one thing you can take out of your life for the next two weeks that you know distracts you?

 

Thanks!

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

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Expressing Your Anger at Work

 

Expressing Your Anger at Work

Expressing Your Anger at Work

Getting frustrated at work is common.  However, how you express it or don’t, may greatly influence the environment that you’re in, as well as future opportunity.  While expressing your anger at work may be generally frowned upon, there are certainly strategies that will help with this process.  Consider these three tips below when expressing your anger at work.


  1. Timing is important – Remember that when you are anger this may not be the time to resolve an issue. However, coming back to a situation after decompressing and letting the parties involved know how it impacted you will allow you to be a better communicator and express the importance of the situation, improving the likelihood of resolution.
  2. Understand what helps you decompress – Having an understanding of what kinds of strategies are most effective for you in reducing anger is important.  This may be walking, exercise, writing, listening to music or a wide variety of other things.  Taking the time to explore what works best will benefit you in the long run and give you the chance to effectively express and reduce anger instead of letting it become a problem.
  3. Remember the context – This is a very important component. Even though telling someone exactly how you feel may seem like the best idea at the time, the context may suggest otherwise.  Being mindful of how and where you are expressing anger, if at all, may be a very important factor to consider.

The better question to ask may be how to reduce anger in general.  Understanding how to control our feelings may be beneficial in many different environments. Having the ability to respond to events rather than react, may serve us well.  If we know how to control our sense of reactivity then we may respond in a more appropriate way. Understanding ourselves, how we respond/react and triggers that we have, may involve some self-exploration.

Interestingly, the expression of anger may be totally culturally contextual anyway.  In our culture we tend to look at the expression of anger to be generally unfavorable.  In other cultures expression of anger may actually be of health benefit.  In a study by The Association for Psychological Science, they found that expression of anger in Japanese culture was associated with better biological health.  This suggests that anger isn’t necessarily positive or negative but the meaning that it is applied to it may impact the results of its expression.

This idea of exploring our anger to identify what kind of meaning we apply to it may give us another reason for self-exploration.   Certainly the negative or positive consequences of expressing anger are still being studied.  In the meantime, we do know that improving our understanding of self and how we respond and react can have a great impact on our work and home environments.

 

Thanks,

Michael

 

If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

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The Human Side of Business

The Human Side of Business

The Human Side of Business

 

Welcome to my first Vlog!  I may be experimenting with these more in the future.   I was recently featured on an article via Askmen.com titled Ways Relationships are like Business.   I thought this was interesting and a good tie in to the idea of the human side of business, which I often reference.

Please see three tips below on how relationships are like business.

 

I would love some feedback about your experience with the dynamic of relationships and business.  As a spring board for comments, consider answering any of these three questions below –

 

How have you seen the human side of the business you are involved in impact the success or struggle of that business?

What other examples can you provide regarding the commonalities between business and relationships?

What is one thing you would change about the interpersonal dynamics of your workplace?

Thanks,

Michael

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Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

I recently wrote an article for a website called inspiremetoday.com.  This article answered the question –

“If you only had 500 words to share, what wisdom would you want to pass on to humanity”

Of course this is a complicated question, but fun to answerMy answer consisted of ways to build inspiration, courage, congruence etc.  I wondered though, how does one hold on to inspiration?  I want to take this opportunity to discuss not only how to hold inspiration but particularly how to hold inspiration and engagement in the workplace, where most of us spend the majority of our time.

Inspiration is hard to hold on to sometimes.  However, this should be of primary concern to companies.  Here are three tips identifying why it may be beneficial to inspire employees and encourage employee engagement –

  • Employee turnover is expensive, unproductive and challenging.  Keeping employees engaged and enthusiastic about their work will reduce employee turnover and ultimately reduce costs and lost productivity for the company.
  • Most employees report that one of the most desired components of a positive work experience is being appreciated. One way to show appreciation for employees is making sure they are engaged in what they are doing, thus improving employee experience and reducing likelihood of turnover
  • Understanding the match between the company’s values and employee’s values is important.  If this is unclear, consider bringing in consultants or coaches that can evaluate and mediate this discussion.

So this may pose the question – how does a company get leadership to buy into this importance of employee engagement?

Companies can encourage leadership to understand the importance of employee engagement through modeling it. This means that HR and executive leaders should feel engaged in their work so that they can experience the value of what they will be teaching to other leaders in the company.

If leaders are experiencing a congruence between the values of the company and their own values, this will certainly inspire employees in the workplace.   This does seem relatively intuitive in nature, that if values match then positive outcomes will result. However, now there is a building mountain of evidence to support the importance of engagement, value alignment and inspired employees, as it relates to the successful business.

For example, according to Towers Watson, companies with a  highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2% over a 12 month period while companies with lower engagement saw a 32.7% decrease in operating income.

However, according to a study by Accenture, less than 50% of chief financial officers appear to understand the return on investment in human capital.   Even though this may be changing, continued awareness is important.  For additional evidence regarding the value of addressing engagement and other human dynamic issues, here is an extensive list of studies pointing to the value of improving employee engagement, culture and satisfaction.

How is your current level of engagement in your work?

What would it take to inspire you?

Best,

Michael