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Hi Strategist!  I LOVE the power of words and how you can line them up “in just the right way” to get better and stronger results.  SO….Here’s a tip I know we ALL could use!

This first one is all about The Power of Communication and why it’s so important to speak assertively.  When I present training seminars on this topic, I call it “Your Communication Jukebox” and you’ll know why after reading this!

 Six Savvy and Successful Ways to Say NO  (Without Sounding Passive or Aggressive!)

Whenever I do a Communication Seminar, my audience is full of people with different needs.

Some are there because they consider themselves to be assertive but their friends, co-workers and family would label them aggressive.  A small group is there because they hate telling other’s what they want or think.  They learn in class that no one owns a crystal ball and so they need to develop the skills to speak up assertively and state their needs.  And then the majority is there because they just can’t say no to anyone.  They get taken advantage of personally as well as professionally.  They feel saying no means that they are rejecting someone and they hate rejection themselves.  They believe in being a “good team member” and they mistakenly believe saying “yes” is required if they want to hold on to that label.  Each person in this group needs help in saying no – assertively…not aggressively or passively.  So using the word “no” can actually help in advancing your career and getting you noticed as someone who is decisive and values their time.

This tool is also imperative for life balance.  Is that a problem in the great U S of A?  You betcha! Today’s American worker is working 30 days more a year than just three years ago.  We are asked to do more and more with fewer resources.  Many of us are using our vacations to get control of the work load at home – painting, repairs, remodeling.  If you can learn to say “no” more assertively and make better choices with your time – you will actually have more time to get done what YOU want to get done.

You see you are a Communication Jukebox.  There are over 700,000 words to choose from in the dictionary, and year after year we tend to pick the same words, line them up the same way, and wonder why we get the same results.  And some people really know how to push our buttons!  We might play an assertive record with someone but an aggressive one when THAT button is pushed.  Just like a jukebox carries country western music, rock and roll, R&B, classical, pop….our records are assertive, passive, aggressive and passive-aggressive.  Here you’ll learn how to use the assertive record best when saying NO!  Why is THAT important?

One of the problems with getting our lives into balance is that we are doing for everyone else in our life that there is no time left over for ourselves.  Exercise program?  Out of the question if you’re that Little League parent that shows up for every game and practice, and the Sunday School teacher that never misses a class, and that babysitter on weeknights for your friends or family.  Somewhere along life’s path you must learn to say “NO” to others so that you can say “YES” to yourself.

Some passive communicators use an old tool called “white lies”. As our parents taught us – one lie leads to another.  And then it becomes even more work to remember which lie you have told to whom to be able to keep all those stories straight.  Avoidance is a tool never used by an expert communicator.  So forget your white lies.  With confidence and an even tone of voice, you can assertively make yourself clear and be heard.  In fact, some people have been pushing and pushing you for years…just waiting for you to say that two letter word…NO.  So let’s get you started.

The first issue…volunteerism.  I believe we are not put on this earth to take, take, take.  We need to give back. Volunteerism is great!  And you can be a good citizen WITHOUT giving all your time away.

Remember, that old saying…you either have all the money in the world and no time to do anything with it or all the time in the world and no money to do anything with it?  Remember that and it will be easier to say “no”.  If your life is out of balance then it’s the time that you desperately need to add to your life.  How do you do that?  Here are some real life examples and responses to allow you to be savvy and successful with the word “no”.

  1. Weekend Event Participation.  The next time you’re asked to volunteer your Saturday for a charity event, here’s your reply.

“Thank you for thinking of me.  No, I can’t give you that time to sell hotdogs at the game.  I DO however want to support the league so let me cut you a check for $ ____ and where would I need to send that?” or

“No I’m not available. What a great opportunity for my children to donate to the community.  What time should I send Craig?” or 

“No, and that sounds like a great way to raise funds.  I was thinking about donating some of our old toys and clothes to the upcoming big garage sale.   When and where should I deliver those?”

Next we’ll deal with those pesty solicitors that call even though we are on the do not call list!

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I always enjoy speaking at networking events.  I get there an hour early to set up everything for my presentation and then I stand in the the back of the room and watch people enter.

Here’s the opportunity for them to rub shoulders and minds with other professionals and yet the most common thing that is done? A hesitation when entering, a “look around” to see if they see anyone they recognize, and then a beeline to that person and a flip of a napkin on the back of their chair to guarantee a “safe seat”.  What a poor investment!

The goal for networking is to EXPAND and EXCELLERATE opportunities to be of service to others.  By far, being a resource of knowledge to connect others with those that can help is a much better position to hold than the “salesperson” who’s pitching their stuff.

Business has changed dramatically.  Most people I meet today have at least 2 business cards and several businesses they are working. At one meeting this woman had 4 different business cards holders and had to decide which one to give me.  So in honor of her and others like her…I wrote this poem and had it turned into a rap song.  It’s now my entrance when I speak on Are You Networking For Profit or Poverty?

Working From Home Before or AFTER Covid 19?

Yikes – Told you’re continuing to work from home after Covid19? Be careful what you wish for.

Now that you’ve gotten all the equipment and organizational tools down with what was needed to work from home – many are being told – “just stay there”.

It can be a real shock because not EVERYONE is best suited to be productive at home.  There are issues…so let’s discuss a few.

  1. Got kids? Pets? Partner?  I’ve watched many Zoom meetings with visible interruptions on screen.  I even heard one attendee yelling at her hubby and kids to “get outta here.” The reality is- people think because you are home – You’re not REALLY working.  That same feeling will come thru once the kids are back at school too.  You may get called to run errands never before asked, after the prefix… “while you’re home.”  Even local friends and relatives might call and ask you to take them to the doc, go to the grocery store, go hunting or to the beach, or to blatantly take the day off…because you aren’t at “the office.”
  2. Staying focused is also a real issue. Have you caught yourself going to the fridge to get a drink only to realize you are next doing dishes or unloading the dishwasher?  Did you drop a towel off at the washing machine only to think I might as well do a load of laundry while here?
  3. You need a mind break. At work you could break that work concentration overhearing in-house conversations, or getting a cup of coffee, or attending an office meeting, or the boss wants you. No such luck at home.  And yet research proves you need to take mental breaks to be at your most productive.

As a Get a Life…Balanced Podcaster and Professional Speaker, I have gathered strategies from my many years with audiences. It just makes sense to share some real-life ways to solve some of these issues.  So, for issue one.

  1. Of course, the very first thing you must do is hold a KTC (Kitchen Table Conference) and explain what is going on in the household and how you will be working now. Communication is key to preventing most issues so keep those lines open. Then, here are some tips. One of my stay-at-home workers told me she had two ballcaps painted with 4 letter words.  One with the word LIFE and one with the word WORK.  When she’s in the business mode, she wears the WORK hat and even if she goes into the kitchen to get a drink of water, everyone understands they are not to interrupt her thinking and business flow.  When she’s finished, she puts her LIFE hat on and then welcomes any requests for hugs and kisses. Many of my attendees report back that this really works for them.

Another took a hint from a hotel room and hangs on his door DO NOT DISTURB.  Everyone knows not to open that door or bother him.

One sailor made small flags, red, green, and yellow and hangs one of his door.  Green means he is available for personal interaction, yellow means “I’m busy but you can interrupt” and red means “No interruptions, I’m concentrating.”  Everyone abides by those rules and he has been able to stay focused and get more done than expected, which has given him more free time with the family.

  1. Ok for problem number 2. Staying focused on your work helps if you will list and schedule what needs to be done that day.  Knowing you need to get a project or task done will aid in you getting your drink BEFORE you start work so that you don’t have to stop and take the risk of getting distracted.  Have you ever felt like you worked all day but got “nothin” done?  When you make a list, that allows you to “tic off” your accomplishments, you will feel better about “staying in the now” to finish the job.  And with all the organization videos on YouTube (I love Marie Condo) you will have systems in place where you CAN get the laundry and housework done, as a team, so you aren’t tempted to do it INSTEAD of working on work.
  2. Staying focused on work is important and research has shown you WILL be more productive if you DO take mind breaks. You may have even worked in an environment that knows that a power nap will boost your memory, cognitive skills, creativity, and energy level. But a power nap is a purposeful time (usually 10-20 minutes) set aside to rejuvenate – not just that you got bored or want to crawl back into bed and watch the end of that series on Netflix you started.  And what if you are someone who feels worst after a nap?  Then you could…

Take a mental break outside.  Go listen to the birds, feel the sunshine, the wind rustle, and feel the grass between your toes.  I break every day for a few minutes to see which flower or vegetable plant has opened.  And if you’re not an outside person, set the timer and pick up some crayons and a coloring book.  I love all the adult coloring books that are now available and encouraged.  They certainly have calmed me in the past while sitting at an airport or on a plane waiting to be cleared to leave.  When I do this training inside corporations, we suggest everyone bring a catalog from home and trade.  It’s interesting to view different themed magazines you haven’t even heard of before.

So this is just a start.  There are more tips on the podcast and YouTube channel.  And you can certainly email me at Sheryl@Sheryl.com with additional questions.  I’d love to hear how this is working for you.

Every new challenge is an opportunity to grow because success is always in YOUR hands.

About the Author:  Sheryl Nicholson, holds the CSP designation given to the top Professional Speakers in the industry.  She has authored 7 of her own books and is published in major magazines.  She created Get a Life Balanced podcast and Youtube channel with 52 tips to help listeners move from survival to success to Significant Living.  For booking information view www.Sheryl.com