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Archive for the Category "Attitude"

How do I look? Like everybody else Nov 13

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As part of my personal development and communication coaching, I’ve also been looking a lot at personal appearance and business etiquette. There seem to be volumes of etiquette rules about the way you should dress, accessorize and look, in the business environment and beyond it.

For example, the following are 3 such rules I’ve heard or read over the last few days:

  • The only acceptable colors for men’s business suit are black, navy blue and gray;
  • Grey is the best color for a man’s business suit, as it is neutral and conventional;
  • Men should always wear a suit with a tie when meeting a client.

All I can say is: there are a lot of stuck up people out there! Some try to sell us the idea that respecting every minor etiquette rule about appearance is the way to project professionalism and make a great impression, while disregarding any of them is nothing short of a tragedy. I disagree, and I have the arguments to back it up.

You’re not fooling anyone. Sure, people still associate a well put together look with competence and professionalism. I’m not saying you should meet your clients wearing the free t-shirt from the last beer festival. But following every small etiquette rule about your appearance is taking it too far and can easily turn against you.

Why? Because people have started to get suspicious of persons with the 100% correct look. They realize it can be used as a manipulative trick, it can be planned to create a certain first impression which often has nothing to do with what’s beyond the surface.

Personally, every time I see a sales representative with the by the book sales person look (black suit, white shirt, red tie, big grim on his face), the first thought that comes into my mind is: “Watch out! He’s out to trick you out of your money!” The 100% correct look does not communicate authenticity and it’s simply not trustworthy. This leads me to me second point…

Expressiveness is the new way to go. There is a new buzz word out there and it’s called “personal branding” (OK, actually 2 words). According to personal branding, in order to promote yourself and your services with great results, you need to identify what makes you unique and is relevant for the customer, then express it consistently in any context, through any communication channel. This includes your appearance.

Effective personal branding can only happen if you allow parts of your personality to shine and to reflect in your look. This means breaking some etiquette rules, dressing and accessorizing in a way that makes you stand out of the crowd, developing a personal style. And in the XXI century business word, this is becoming more and more important.

Stiff business etiquette about appearance is loosing ground. The fact of the matter is the way people dress in the business word has been changing quite a lot in the past decade. I’m no fashion expert but I think it’s gonna keep doing so for the next one. You can be a pioneer of this change and make an authentic look part of your personal development, or… not.

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Constructive attitudes after getting fired Oct 21

So you got the F word at your job, ha? No, not that one; the other one! Getting fired not only has practical negative consequences (especially in a crisis period), but also emotional ones. Oddly, enough, until you handle the emotional ones effectively, your chances of handling the practical ones effectively are waaay slimmer.

So for me, the process is not 1) get a new job 2) then feel better; it’s 1) feel OK, 2) then get a new job, 3) then feel even better. I think you wanna have constructive attitudes after being fired. Not positive ones, not negative ones, but the one that help you the most to get results.

With this premise in mind, here are my top 3 personal development ideas for having constructive attitudes after getting fired:

1. Mourn. Pissed off and panicked after losing your job, don’t go straight into looking for a new one. It may seem logical to act quickly, but actually, you are probably nowhere near the emotional state to be looking for a new job. Because of this, you can do a lot more damage than good.

Instead, take a mourning period. My recommendation is anywhere between 3 days and 2 weeks, depending on how hard losing your job hit you emotionally. In this period, get used to the thought that your previous job is no more and that the future is ahead of you. Don’t repress the pain – it’s a natural part of the healing process – just let it go through you and drip out.  

2. Detach. Easier said then done. How do you do it? The most powerful advice I can give you here is understand you are not your job. We live in a society that wrongfully teaches us to define ourselves by our job, our car, our clothes etc. Even though it may seem otherwise after you just got fired, where you work and what you do does not define you as a person; it’s just one part of the way you live. Get this thought really deep in your head.

3. Don’t blame. Almost every time a person tells me about loosing her job (and I have a lot of clients in this category), this sentence is followed by blaming someone or something outside of her: “My boss is incompetent and was intimidated by me professionally”, “Someone else got my job based on relations”, “The company does not appreciate my skills”.

Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. Either way, one thing I always notice with these people is that blaming is toxic. Instead of making them feel better, it often gets them feeling worse and it prevents them from seeing their own faults and approaching the job hunting process effectively. So, put the blaming aside and just move to the next step.

Once you have constructive attitudes about getting fired, you are properly equipped emotionally to move to the next personal development step: the actual process of finding a new job.

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Category: Attitude, Career  | Tags: , , ,  | 5 Comments
Self-improvement is masturbation Oct 09

In one of my favorite movies (Fight Club), at one point, Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) says: “Self-improvement is masturbation”. You have to see the scene and the movie to get the full meaning of this line, but even if you haven’t, you get the idea…

This quote sticks in my head like glue. Here’s the thing: I do believe in personal development and improving constantly as a person. Hell, I make a living out of it! But, I also believe that a lot of the people who are into personal development have a skewed vision about it and an ineffective approach.

Some of my best friends are into personal development and I really appreciate them for that. But at the same time, some of the people who are into personal development simply weird me out. These people read a lot of books on personal development, they go to trainings, they quote Dale Carnegie, Michael Jordan or somebody in almost any conversation. And there is this strange, negative energy about them.

Here’s why: they come into personal development from a place of not accepting themselves. They believe they are bad because they have weaknesses (big or small, plenty or a couple), because they are imperfect. They have no concept of self-worth as people beyond their strengths and weaknesses.

Coming from this place, a lot of personal development lovers feel very uncomfortable with whom they are and they project that all around: in the way they walk, they talk, they behave. You feel the need to stay away from them or you’ll catch whatever they have. This is the negative energy I’m talking about.

I wanna make it as clear as possible: wanting to improve because you cannot accept yourself, even if you have major weaknesses, is in my perspective a very, very bad motivation for self-improvement. Here are some of the major reasons:

  • It makes personal development a hard, frustrating journey to somewhere;
  • It makes you look for shortcuts and magic solutions for their transformation, which rarely work;
  • It makes you try to change a lot of things at once, it makes personal development disorganized and ineffective;
  • Very often, even if you’ll improve a lot, you still won’t like yourself or be happy.

It’s very important that first, before anything else, you learn to accept yourself as you are. It doesn’t mean you don’t wanna improve anymore; it only means that you realize you have an intrinsic value as a human being and that imperfection is actually very natural.

Only after you accept yourself and become comfortable in your own skin, do you move on to improving yourself, one step at a time. Think of accepting the status quo as the first major step in changing it. This, to me, is mature, effective personal development.

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Avoid manipulation by understanding your emotional buttons Oct 03

One thing I’ve been realizing with a lot of clarity in the past few years is how people can easily manipulate you if they’re capable of pushing the right emotional buttons. They seem to get you to feel bad if you don’t do things their way. You feel without choice, you feel trapped and you’re looking for a way out…

Your emotional buttons are closely related to your social needs. We all want to be loved, accepted, approved by others. These are normal, healthy human needs. But when these needs become very strong, very intense, they’re no longer healthy and they take over our lives. They become strong emotional buttons other people can push to manipulate us.

One client of mine was constantly manipulated by her boss when she had a request of him. Whenever her boss anticipated that she wanted to ask for something, he made her feel selfish and bad for it in advance. By saying things like “You always want something! Everybody wants stuff from me around here!” She often felt so bad that she ended up ignoring her wants and not making her requests, even though they were justified.

Her very strong need not to be seen as selfish, her dependency of other people’s approval was one big red emotional button for others to push. As she became more aware of this, as part of her personal development, she started recognizing the situations in which this dependency was getting the better of her and stared actively fighting it.

If you can think of situations with various people in which you feel trapped, than it’s time to ask yourself: “Which are my emotional buttons?” Look carefully at these situations one at a time, notice your emotions in each one and try to understand what specific words and behaviors the other person uses seem to trigger them. Analyze the data like a detective and look for the patterns.

In time, this exercise of observation and introspection will make you more aware of your emotional buttons, you very strong social needs and how they can be used in manipulating you. Maybe you’ll discover that:

  • You have a strong, dependency-like need to be approved by those close to you;
  • You can’t stand to lose someone’s respect, no matter who that person is;
  • You feel intimidated by people with a high social or professional status.

For every person, there is a specific combination of specific needs and vulnerabilities relating to others. Knowing and understanding them is the first important step in avoiding manipulation and getting more control over your own life.

Then comes the second important step: addressing and gradually changing your emotional reactions, your communication style and your behavior. It takes time, the right personal development tools and consistent effort, but the options it gives you definitely make it worth you while.

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The Gestalt prayer Oct 03

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.

- Fritz Perls, 1969

My way of saying… party time!

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