Archive for August, 2015

Silence your inner critic

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

If you are human, you usually have a small voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough.  Sometimes it is identifiable as the voice of a particular parent, teacher or coach.  Even if that isn’t quite you, then you probably have uttered phrases like “That always happens to me!” or “I’m never lucky..” 

However, there is a way to help deal with this kind of undermining.  Ask your self the 3 P’s:-

  1. Permanence: How long will this last?  It may feel like forever, but we know that usually isn’t true.  What is more true “I’m not good enough yet” or “I’ll never be good enough”?
  2. Personal:  Is it part of who you are or just something that happened?  “I’m never ready” or “I wasn’t ready this time?
  3. Pervasiveness: Is it happen everywhere, an unavoidable law of the universe?  “Good guys never win?” or “I didn’t win this time

The thing is if these are universal laws like gravity, or happening to everyone like the weather we don’t have to take any responsibility and there is nothing we can do to change them.  However, if this isn’t the case, then maybe we can dare to hope for something better tomorrow and more importantly, do something to make that more likely.  The key is believing that we can be better and investing in that idea.

Difficult meetings–the elephant in the room

Monday, August 24th, 2015

The other day I had a very difficult meeting to facilitate.  A business was facing a tsunami of troubles, their very survival was at a stake and they needed to plot a course which gave them the best chance of survival.  These things are difficult on many levels.  There are complex business reasons why they are in trouble, some within their control and others outside of it.  However, perhaps the more difficult element of this kind of meeting is the underlying emotions.  They are naturally afraid.  Afraid of failing, and afraid of its consequences.  There is a saying “If you aren’t afraid, you just don’t get it!”

So my job is to not only remain clear-headed, but to help them plot a course through this mine field.  This involves sorting the wheat from the chaff in what is said, and ensuring that everyone hears it too.  However, one of the moments that was most difficult was when I decided to confront head on one of the elephants in the room.  I knew there were some really highly emotionally loaded issues and I took the risk of bringing them into the light.  Some how I managed to do so without triggering any explosions and we could move on. 

The fact is this kind of emotional landmine can blow your leg off even if you try to avoid it so sometimes a ‘controlled explosion’ is the safer option. This kind of thing is always a judgement call, and some people feel more able to do it than others, but like so many things, the secret in is in how you do it.  If you are doing it in an emotionally neutral way, and being honest and unmanipulative about it then you are much more likely to get a good outcome.  If it goes badly, then the chances are it was going to go bang anyway,so better now than later.

Feedback to difficult people

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

In my experience most people are poor at giving good feedback.  Usually they don’t realise there is a way to do it properly and their so called ‘feedback’ often does not come from a neutral place within the ‘giver’.  If you are feeling annoyed or let down by the person, it is likely this will come through in your message.  It is basic human nature that when we feel attacked, we either run away and avoid the message, or attack the messenger.  It is even more difficult when we need to give an unwelcome message to someone who we know is likely to respond poorly.

There is a special technique for doing this, and there is a useful article in the HBR on this.

The key is firstly to be very clear what you need to communicate to them.  This may well be different to what you would like to say to them!  So first of all make sure you have a clean, emotionally neutral message, stripped of any blaming.  Own your emotions and reactions to the other person.  Ensure that where possible your message is evidence-based and you can give real examples of their behaviours and the results thereof.  You need to describe what they do, contrast it with what you would like them to do and describe the benefits following the recommended change. There is a guide here.

It is natural to feel defensive when entering what you feel is a lion’s den, and this can change how you deliver your message.  You need to ensure there is no emotional ‘leakage’ in your manner.  You need to maintain a neutral manner, in much the same way as a newsreader would deliver it.  This helps the other person to hear it and not react defensively. 

You also need to ensure that you use temperate language than doesn’t either carry a sub-text or appear to do so.  All of the above makes it more likely that the person will and can respond positively.  Remember the SARA model of how people respond to feedback or bad news (Shock, Anger, Rejection, then Acceptance.)  You have to allow the person to travel this journey and help them through it.

If you approach this correctly, it isn’t about you being right and them being wrong; it should be about finding a way in which you can work together more effectively.  If you genuinely come from this place, you  should be prepared to take on board the fact that you may need to change too, and to listen to what they have to say.  You may have to lead the way by showing you are willing to change too.

This genuinely tough, but a very valuable life skill. Good luck!

Windows 10–the story so far

Monday, August 10th, 2015

The Upgrade

I reserved my copy by clicking on the little Windows 10 logo.  Despite keeping my computer up-to-date, that didn’t spontaneously arrive, I had to ‘prompt’ its appearance (Google this for the trick).  I got notification yesterday that it was available and I clicked download.  I guess that took an hour or so.  First time it didn’t download fully so I had to do that again.  I let it run overnight and in the morning it was all there.  I clicked upgrade and it went through pretty painlessly.  As others have said, everything was where it should be.  I love the new modern look, it seems so much more Apple!

I suggest you don’t take the Express option, you really don’t want Microsoft to overwrite all your preferences.  You also need to go to the WiFi settings and stop it sharing your WiFi passwords with everyone you are connected to on Skype and Facebook… not a good idea.

I checked most of my main apps and they all work fine. The biggest issue for me was it seemed to have ditched my anti-virus software (Kaspersky) and turned on Windows Defender.  I was advised to ensure I had the latest version of Kaspersky and this was fiddly.  KIS2015 is the latest version on their site and it upgrades to something like 15.0.231.  However, there is KIS2016, version 16.0.0.614, and this is better for Windows 10.  However, I had to disable Defender to get this to work, which meant uninstalling, turning it off, and re-installing.  My son’s machine wasn’t so fussy.  Windows blogging software, Live Writer only seems to work, if you run it As Administrator.