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Just Saying “Sorry” Doesn’t Cut It

September 24th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, we’ve heard multiple “I’m sorry” statements from public figures who have been accused of bad behavior. Most of them sound pretty much the same. “I’m sorry for how I’ve hurt my family, my friends, my (fill in the blanks)…

Let’s get real.  Just saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it.  Apology not accepted.

While you can’t go back and undo whatever the offense or error was, a few robo-words in response to it do not in any way compensate, nor do they make the offended party feel any better. You need to take ownership, acknowledge the impact of your error or offense, and assure the other person that it won’t happen again.  In other words, you need to be sincere about it. Saying “sorry” and being sorry are not the same things.

This applies to all errors or infractions, not just the big and public ones.

Imagine this scenario.  You’re on a project team with four other people.  The target project completion date is looming, and your deliverable is key to hitting that target. You’ve had a hellish couple of weeks. Family issues, and “fires” in your day-to-day responsibilities have put you behind. You didn’t alert anyone, because you were so sure you’d be able to catch up.  The day of reckoning – the status meeting – has arrived. How do you convey “mea culpa” to your team?

"I’m really sorry, folks. Between family issues and fighting fires there was just no way I could get it finished. I know it puts us behind, but it just couldn’t be helped."

Or…

"I realize that my slipping this deadline has put our hitting the target date in peril. I should have given you a heads up early last week when I first recognized I might not make it. I didn’t, and I know that was irresponsible. Here’s what I’m going to do to get us back on track, and how I’ll prevent things like this in the future…"

As a member of the project team, which would convey more sincerity to you?

I’m on a mission to encourage more kindness and courtesy in people’s day-to-day lives. Promoting sincere apologies is part of that.  We’ve seen multiple examples of insincere apologies from politicians and other public figures. Enough already.

Let’s move the tide in a different direction by: 1) taking ownership; 2) acknowledging the impact; and 3) assuring the injured party that it won’t happen again.

Till next time,

Karen

 

conflict resolution, Kindness, Learning, Life, Relationships

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Calling for Random Acts of Kindness

September 12th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

In the current divisive and rather mean environment, I imagine many of you wake up wondering, “What is this world coming to?” I know I do. It would be so easy to just crawl under the covers with a good book and a powerful flashlight and wait until the world gets better. But then, I’ve never been one to just wait around for things to change. I think we each have a responsibility to make the change we want to see in the world – even if we can only make it one small step at a time.

I’d like to suggest that we start the change by committing to a random act of kindness every day. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be a kind word, a smile, opening a door, helping someone across the street.

“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” – Bob Kerrey

As much as it’s about the kind things you do and say, it’s also about NOT doing and saying the unkind things that may sometimes fight to be heard. The rant against someone who thinks differently than you; the angry email to a co-worker who let you down; the horn or (admit it) hand gesture in response to a careless driver; the snarky, anonymous comment on an online article. Pack those away in a “venting box” in favor of a kinder world.

Tomorrow, instead of waking up wondering what the world is coming to, wake up and ask yourself, “How can I be kinder today?” Then commit to looking for opportunities to show someone you care. Here are some ideas.

• Do a chore or run an errand for an elderly neighbor.
• Let people merge in front of you – even when they’re rude about it.
• Call your Mom.
• Say “please” and “thank you.” Always.
• Volunteer at a food kitchen.
• Smile and say “hello” to everyone you pass on the street.
• Buy breakfast or lunch for a homeless person.
• Donate to a food bank.
• Give a blanket or some warm clothes to those in need.
• Help a stranger.

You probably will find lots of opportunities, big and small, to be kind. I’d love to hear about your random acts of kindness and how they made you feel.

“Never believe that a few caring people cannot change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead

Till next time,
Karen

Kindness, Life, People

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Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the past year or so (and who would blame you?) you’ve probably felt the effects of the big black cloud of negativity that’s looming about. I see it hovering in the buildings of the organizations I work with, reflected in the grim expressions of people on the street, and bolstered by the politicians and pundits we hear every…single…day. Even Pollyanna might have difficulty finding something to be glad about today.

So what are we to do? Give in to the negativity? No! Despite what’s going on around you, you have a choice as to how you respond to it, just like in this Native American legend.

One evening an old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."

"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

I’m here to suggest that you feed the right wolf. Make a conscious effort to focus on the positive, and increase what Shirzad Chamine calls your “positive intelligence” (PQ). Not only will you be happier, you’ll improve your relationships, increase your success at work, and, let’s face it, be a lot more fun to be around!

Here are some ideas for feeding the right wolf.

-Think about one thing that is causing you a lot of stress. Now think of three ways you can turn that into an opportunity.
-Practice saying “Yes, and…” instead of “Yes, but…”
-Keep a gratitude journal. Each day, write down something positive about the day.
-Surround yourself with positive people.
-Turn off the news and turn on a comedy.
-Get away from your computer and go for a walk, a hike, a run or some other activity OUTSIDE.
-Play.
-Watch kids at play.
-Meditate.

And check out my latest podcast: Please and Thank You - words that are very easy to use.

Let’s make positivity (and politeness!) “trending…”

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.” – Joyce Meyer

Till next time,
Karen

Kindness, Life, People, Stress, wellness

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Rudeness is NOT a Core Competency

June 21st, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

Is it just me, or does rudeness seem to be on the rise?

You walk through an airport and it’s like “bumper-people” – people walking and talking on their phones and not paying attention to what’s in front of them. Or what about people who have a long (and loud) conversation on their phone without considering that maybe no one else really wants to hear it?  Or when you’re in a restaurant with someone and throughout your conversation you can see that they have one eye tilting toward the mobile which they’ve left on the table top because they’re waiting for an “important call.” So what am I, chopped liver?

Seriously, people. Put the phone away. Talk softly. Look where you’re going.

And it’s not just phone etiquette. It’s common courtesy and respect for others that seem to be taking a back seat to some individuals’ needs to be first in line, to take all the credit for something (that they worked on with others) or to shape their environment so that it works best for them, regardless of the consequences or how it might impact others.

A while back I wrote a blog about “The Young George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” (Leading by example. Ahem.)  I’ve borrowed a few and added a few to create Karen’s Rules of Civility.

Smile – even at a stranger – you never know what amazing things may come of it.

Say “Please and Thank you.” Always.

Be accountable. Do what you say you’re going to do by when you say you’re going to do it.

Be on time. Being chronically late to meetings or events or dinner shows a lack of respect for others.

Remember, we’re all human; we have good days and bad days. Don’t glory in someone’s bad day.

Listen. Put down your cell phone and engage in conversation.

Be kind to one another. (Borrowed from Ellen DeGeneres).

Tell the truth. Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Be curious. Never stop learning.

Forgive. Life is too short to hold a grudge.

It’s not rocket science. Set the example and hopefully others will follow.

You can hear more on this blog topic in my podcast, Rudeness is NOT a Core Competency.  Let’s bring courtesy and kindness back!

Till next time,

Karen

Accountability, Gratitude, Kindness, Life, Personal development

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Igniting a Campaign for Civility

October 27th, 2016

By: Karen Colligan

Is it just me, or have you also noticed that people seem to be increasingly cranky, rude and self-absorbed these days? Certainly the polarizing rhetoric of this election campaign doesn’t help. And it’s reflected in our everyday communications and behaviors.

“Please” and “thank you” have all but disappeared. And the immediacy and fervor of social media seem to have unleashed a flood of negative and nasty comments that years ago would have kept Proctor & Gamble soap distributors in business.

Enough already.

It’s time for us to pause and consider, “The Young George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and in Conversation.”

Apparently this is not the first time our society has suffered from a lack of kindness, civility and manners. Originally from a list made by French Jesuits in 1595, Washington wrote out the rules as a handwriting exercise when he was a teenager. There are 110 of them. I won’t share them all, but here are 5 that seem especially relevant today.

25th - Superfluous Compliments and all Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

65th - Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest. Scoff at none although they give Occasion. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. Be kind!

82nd - Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise. Do what you say you are going to do.

89th - Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust. Don’t gossip or speak behind someone’s back.

110th - Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience. THINK before you speak, before you write, before you act.

In the spirit of George Washington, I’d like to add some modern-day rules to the list. So here are Karen’s Rules of Civility.

1. Smile – even at a stranger – you never know what amazing things may come of it.
2. Say “Please.” Always.
3. Say “Thank you” and acknowledge the gift or deed or service received.
4. Remember, we are all human; we have good days and bad days. Don’t glory in someone else’s bad day.
5. Listen. Put down your cell phone and engage in conversation.
6. Be kind to one another. (Borrowed from Ellen DeGeneres).
7. Say: “Yes, and…” not “Yes, but…” Be positive! See the possibilities…
8. Tell the truth. Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
9. Be curious. Never stop learning.
10. Forgive. Life is too short to hold a grudge.

Thank you for listening.

Till next time,
Karen

Communication, Gratitude, Kindness, Life, Relationships

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Bring Back the Handwritten Note!

June 20th, 2016

By: Karen Colligan

When was the last time you sent or received a personal note? I’m not talking about an email or a text or a “comment” directed only to you, but a handwritten, personalized note on stationery and in an envelope. When was that? Last month? Last year? Can’t remember?

The handwritten note has become a rare commodity. A U.S. Postal Service survey found that in 2010 the average home received a personal letter only once every seven weeks, compared to once every two weeks in 1987. With so many electronic media options available to us, it’s much quicker and easier to whip out a “thank you” email, a “TY” text, or the equivalent via emoticon, than to take the time to write a personal note.

But here’s the thing. None of those electronic options are as meaningful or as memorable as a handwritten note. A handwritten note:

- Says you think the other person is important enough for you to invest the time to write it

- Stands out from the flood of electronic messages we receive every day

- Has longevity, compared to emails that can get buried or accidentally deleted

- Is truly personal – crafted word by word rather than from a template

And best of all is the way it makes the recipient feel. I was reminded of this recently when I received a note from someone thanking me for a personal note I had included for her with a copy of my book, The Get Real Guide to Your Career.  Here’s what she said:

“Thank you very much for the personalized note that came with my book. I forgot how wonderful it is to receive handwritten messages. I just wanted to say your book is a masterpiece. It has been an amazing tool for me and it couldn’t have come at a better time in my professional life. Thank you again for your amazing guidance.”

In my quest to return us all to a gentler, kinder society, let me suggest that the next time you want to say “Thank You,”  “Happy Birthday,” “Congratulations,” or just catch up with an old friend, you take the time to do it the old-fashioned way – the personal, handwritten note.

Till next time,

Karen

Communication, Gratitude, Kindness

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