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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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Accepting the Gift of Feedback

May 21st, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

Most of us have a tough time receiving feedback, especially when it’s uninvited. We either immediately reject it (“What does she know anyway?”) or we take it so personally that it tampers with our basic self-esteem (“I can never do anything right.”)

Yet here’s the thing. Feedback is a growth opportunity. The key is in having the right mindset to take advantage of that opportunity.

Here’s how.

Shift your thinking. In her book, Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, talks about two mindsets – a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence is a fixed trait and that it’s talent not effort that creates success. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believe that “brains and talent are just the starting point.” They recognize that continuous learning is essential for great accomplishment. Practice a growth mindset by being receptive to feedback.

Ask for it. Not from everyone, but from people you respect and who know you. They may have some ideas that can help you grow.  They’ve been waiting for your permission to share them with you. Be specific in the ask. “I want to be sure I’m conveying confidence when I’m presenting. What observations do you have, and how can I improve?” Research shows that people who seek feedback have higher performance ratings and are happier overall.

Conversely, a 3-year study by Leadership IQ found that the biggest reason new hires fail (46% of them fail within the first 18 months) is because they cannot accept feedback. Seriously? You’d think that, being new, they’d be more open to it. Nope. Of those who fail, for 26% it’s because they’re uncoachable and for 23% it’s due to lack of emotional intelligence (which also relates to being able to accept feedback.) Only 11% fail due to lack of technical skills.

Listen. Even when feedback is uninvited (or unwelcome) allow yourself to just listen. Ask for clarification – and/or a specific example – to be sure you understand what the other person meant. If you feel an emotional response coming on, take a breath (not a sigh and eye roll) and say something like, “Thank you for that feedback. Let me think about it.” Then really do think about it and pull from it what is useful.

Take notes. When someone gives you feedback jot down in your own words what they said. That will take the sting out of it and also give you the opportunity to tie it to specific examples in your work or behaviors. Look for patterns. Maybe there’s a non-word you use all the time that is impacting your credibility when presenting or speaking to customers. Writing that down will make it real and help you think about how to fix it.

Say thank you and follow up. Feedback is a gift. Say thank you. And one of the best ways to show your appreciation is to actually implement what you learned from the feedback. It doesn’t mean that you have to make every change. What it means is that you have to at least think it through and capture the nuggets of wisdom that will contribute to your growth.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

Feedback, Leadership, learning and development, Personal development, Uncategorized

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Get Real About Getting Ready for What’s Next

January 26th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

ProfDev-4

You’re in a job you like, you can do it almost on autopilot, and your performance reviews are stellar. No need to update your skills, right? Wrong!

Or…you’re in a job you hate, but, “it’s a job” and you are so overworked or busy trying to keep that job that you have no time to even THINK about what’s next, let alone PREPARE for it. There’s just no way, right? Wrong!

Whether you like your job or hate it, keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date and preparing for what’s next is a must. Here’s a “get real” process to help you get started.

Conduct an inventory. Look at your last performance review. Make a list of both strengths and development areas. Then think about what you want to do next. If you are currently working and want to progress on your career path, what skills and knowledge will you need to get to the next level? Add these to your list. If you are looking for a new opportunity, what are the requirements of your target position? Which of those requirements are you lacking? Add these to your list.

Create a personal development plan. Select one or two areas from your inventory that you will focus on in the next three months. Do some research to find resources to help you develop in those areas. Remember, learning doesn’t only occur in the classroom. Create specific development actions for each skill/knowledge area. Don’t forget to include target dates on your plan!

Execute the plan. Post your plan somewhere visible – your calendar, your refrigerator, your desktop. Stay focused! Concentrate on the one or two areas you’ve prioritized – don’t get distracted by the other areas on your inventory list. You can work on them in your next plan. Take a melting pot approach. Keep your eyes and ears open for articles, blogs by experts, presentations, webinars, etc., on your focus areas. Learning comes in many forms, from many places. Capture it! Be accountable and/or enlist someone’s help to keep you accountable. Reward yourself for completing your development goals.

Update your resume/personal “infomercial.” When you have gained proficiency in the skill/knowledge area, add it to your resume, if appropriate. Practice incorporating your new knowledge/skill into your interview discussions. Blend it into the evolving “you.”

Review, revisit, and revise the plan. Spend some time reviewing your plan and how it worked. Did you set reasonable goals? Were the resources worthwhile? Did you find additional/alternate ones you’ll use next time? Revisit your inventory. What are the skills/knowledge areas you’re going to work on next? Create and execute a revised personal development plan that reflects your new focus areas and development goals.

Putting a plan in place to continually add to your abilities and knowledge is an investment that will keep your market value on an upward trend. And…you never know when that golden opportunity will come along. Be prepared!

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” - Chinese proverb

Till next time,
Karen

Career planning, learning and development, Personal development, Professional development

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Resolve or Evolve? Time to “Shake It Up”

January 10th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

Circle of Life.FINAL

Chances are, you’ve spent some time since January 1 thinking about and/or talking about what your “resolutions” are for 2018. Admit it. It’s something we do automatically every year. And although some of us may have the same set of resolutions every year – lose weight, exercise more, drink less, earn more, travel more, work less – we are confident that THIS will be the year we keep them. But the fact is, it’s estimated that by February, 80% of resolutions have dissolved. Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?

Too often we focus so much energy on changing one aspect of our life that we totally neglect the other aspects. For example, there’s that promotion you want, so you put 110% of your energy into doing the work, gaining the visibility and finding the opportunity that will get you there. Pretty soon you’re skipping the gym, eating junk food at the office for dinner, and saying “no” to time with family and friends. “Vacation? Not happening!” And do you get the promotion? Sometimes. But at what cost?

There is a better way. We need to “shake up” our approach, put balance back into our lives, keep it simple, and, of course, insert some fun!

Let’s do an exercise. Close your eyes. No wait. Read this first. Then close your eyes. Imagine you are standing in the center of a circle – the circle of your life. There are eight sections in the circle, each representing a different aspect of your life:
1. Career/Business
2. Financial
3. Friends/Family
4. Health/Fitness
5. Personal Growth
6. Play/Fun
7. Significant Other
8. Spiritual

Now. Think about your life today and where – in that circle – you spend the majority of your time and effort. Is it in your career or business? Probably true for many of us. Is it worrying about your financial situation? Is it at the gym trying to forget about your career and your financial situation? What other aspects of your life are you neglecting in the process? Is your circle leaning significantly in one direction? Time for a change. If you truly want 2018 to be a better year, you need to get your circle back into balance. Here’s how.

1. Assess. Think about each of the eight aspects and how much attention you pay to them. Then rank each of them from 1 to 10 with 1 being “I pretty much neglect it” and 10 being “I spend most of my time and effort here.”
2. Review. What patterns do you see? What has been the impact – on you, on the neglected areas?
3. Recharge. Change the “out of balance” pattern by creating one or two SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) in each area of your life. These are not New Year’s resolutions that will dissolve by February, but reasonable goals that will help you pay attention to ALL aspects of your life.
4. Commit. Write the goals down. Put a due date on them. Share them with someone who will keep you accountable. Better yet, find an accountability partner who will recharge their circle of life and then you can keep each other accountable. It’ll increase the fun factor, too. And need I say that the fun factor is verrrrrry important?
5. Maintain. Keep checking your balance throughout the year to ensure that it doesn’t get off kilter. There will be times when you need to focus in one area more than the rest. That’s natural. But assess, review and recharge on a regular basis to ensure that you don’t let that one aspect of your life cause you to sacrifice the others.

Don’t resolve, evolve!

Here’s to a balanced and AMAZING 2018! I’m declaring this The Year of Shakin’ It up!!

Till next time,

Karen

Goal setting, Life, Personal development, Planning, wellness

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Stop Multitasking! It’s Bad for Your Health

August 9th, 2017

By: Karen Colligan

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of information and activity out there. So much, in fact, that it’s impossible to keep up with it all. And yet we try. Like bees seeking pollen, our attention flits from task to task, from email to phone call, from text to Twitter, from LinkedIn to Facebook and back again at a dizzying rate throughout the day.  Heaven forbid that we should miss something. This “fear of missing out,” or FOMO, is creating an army of multitaskers and adrenaline junkies who are stressed and, well, not as productive as they think they are.

Let’s talk about FOMO and the sheer volume of content some are trying to keep up with. A daunting task indeed. According to statistics from Micro Focus, Internet activity in 2016 included:

-More than 350,000 Tweets per minute

-400 hours of new video on YouTube per minute

-3 million Facebook posts per minute

-4 million Google searches conducted worldwide each minute of every day

-In the US, 4 million text messages sent per minute

Even the most adept multitasker could never keep up with it all, so why do we keep trying? Maybe it’s time to take a step back, breathe deeply, and learn to focus. Besides, multitasking is detrimental to your health, and research shows it does not make you more productive.

In a BeBrainFit.com article, The Cognitive Costs of Multitasking, the author points out that while most of us are capable of doing two things at once, such as carrying on a conversation while walking or drinking coffee while driving, “what we can’t do is learn or concentrate on two things at once.” When the brain receives more information than it can process, she says, it queues up the first two pieces and ignores the rest.

Some other startling gems from the research in her article:

-Multitasking costs the US economy an estimated $650 billion annually in wasted productivity

-After an interruption, such as a phone call or checking email, it can take 5 minutes to get back into your workflow

-Studies show that multitasking stunts emotional intelligence and makes us less creative

-Chronic multitaskers have more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, making them slower at switching gears

-According to brain scans, chronic multitaskers have less gray matter in their brains, which is linked to depression, anxiety and poor impulse control

-Excessive multitasking meets the criteria of an addiction – you can’t easily quit, you suffer withdrawal symptoms when you try, and you’re aware of the negative consequences but you do it anyway

Yikes! And it’s not just your brain and productivity that are affected. Multitasking can be a safety hazard as well. Texting drivers are 6 times more likely to cause an accident than drunk drivers.

So what are we to do? Start with a self-awareness check. What’s your workflow like during the day? Are you constantly checking your phone, stopping tasks to check email, or taking a peek at Twitter to make sure the world hasn’t ended? If so, time to get a handle on that habit.

Consider chunking your tasks into 25-30 minute segments, focusing on one task only during that time period. Schedule your email checks, phone calls, and confirmation that the earth is still turning at specific times during the day. Say, every two to three hours. Believe me, if something major happens in the meantime, someone else will let you know!

And practice mindfulness. Allow yourself some time every day to unplug, sit outside or some other place that’s quiet, and just be. Whatever you’re missing out on is not as important as your personal health and well-being.

Till next time,

Karen

 

 

 

Health, Life, Personal development, wellness

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As a speaker and facilitator, I need to be able to think on my feet. You just never know when a question or comment or situation will pop up out of the blue and require a speedy response. Some years ago, I took an Improv class for the purpose of honing that skill. And just recently, I took another one - at BATS Improv (Bay Area Theater Sports) in San Francisco – to refresh it. Not only was it a lot of fun and personally rewarding, it got me thinking. The principles of improv can benefit everyone. In business and in life.

And guess what? I’m apparently not the only one who thinks this! Some top tier business schools are now teaching improv classes in their MBA programs, including Duke, MIT, UCLA, and Stanford. A Fast Company article explained why:

“The underlying axiom is that curveballs don’t just happen on stage at improv classes; they also happen in the ever-changing business world. When you’re on stage, unsure of what will happen, and are forced to go along with whatever suggestion your fellow actors offer with a “yes, and…” response that means you’re always accepting–and building upon–whatever others are doing or saying as part of your own storyline. This kind of cooperation is said to inspire adaptability, which becomes a particularly useful skill to have in the current global business landscape.”

Here are some improv principles that we can all apply.

Yes, and… Saying “yes, and…” as opposed to “yes, but…” can make a big difference in one-on-one conversations, brainstorming sessions, performance reviews, talks with your teenager, self-talk, you name it. Think about it. When someone is speaking to you and says “but” in the middle of the sentence, do you remember anything before the “but”? No matter how sweetly the sentence begins, a “but” in the middle signals negative territory ahead.

Listen. In improv, listening effectively is essential. Other actors may be setting a scene or giving you characteristics (addressing you as “your highness” for example) that you’ll miss if you’re talking or not paying attention. Listen so you can respond appropriately. Same goes for meetings, relationships, etc.

Make your partner look good. Improv is a team sport. It’s not about upstaging others so you can shine. It’s about working together to create a scene that entertains the audience. Most of our work today is done in teams or in collaboration with another. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” – Harry Truman

Embrace mistakes. One of the refreshing and fear-fighting things about being on stage in improv is that mistakes are OK. In fact, often it’s the mistakes that get the biggest laughs from the audience. You fall, you dust yourself off, and you keep going. Just as we need to in life.

Give it 100%. Improv is less about being a good actor and more about jumping 100% into whatever role or situation you’re given.  If you believe, the audience will believe. How much better would we all be if we gave 100% to every endeavor, every assignment, every relationship?

Do something. Here’s where the thinking-on-your-feet comes in. Someone knocks on the (imaginary) door, answer it. Someone throws you a line, respond to it. Think how this applies to life. Every day we have opportunities and possibilities. Don’t just stand there, do something!

Till next time,

Karen

Communication, Life, Personal development

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