What are you talking about?

White Cat Coaching TalkingMany years ago, before I got the hang of speaking in public, I would often write out my content and talk it through in my head. I figured that talking it out was a great way of practicing. And, I could do it anywhere, any time. Traveling to work on the tram, on my bike, out on a run, in the supermarket. The list goes on. The problem was, it was all in my head. And the very first time my carefully crafted content was said out aloud was the actual moment in front of an audience. How did this go? Well, public speaking wise, not too bad. But not great. Where this really played out badly, however, was in difficult conversations. Yep, similar to public speaking, I used to decide what I was going to say, practice it in my head, then have the conversation. Now we’re not just talking about your every day “hey, how was your weekend?” conversations. We’re talking about “hey, I was thinking I’m not happy working here anymore”, or “hey, I’d like a pay rise” type conversations. These are hard. And just like getting up in front of a crowded room to deliver prepared content, they are just as important to rehearse.

Talking out loud

I have since learned to always practice out loud. Both for public speaking AND difficult conversations. Because when something is just in your head, it is exactly that. In your head. Those precious words have not had the opportunity to make their way outside yet, and our voices have a nasty habit of betraying our underlying feelings of doubt, fear and other emotions bubbling under the surface. For example, asking for a pay rise. You could have the best words and the best reasons, but if there is even a tiny bit of self doubt in your head, your voice will betray you. In Australia it’s a double wammy, as our accent naturally rises at the end of a sentence. And when that happens too much, people hear doubt and uncertainty.

And this is why we practice. Have you got something to say? Something that has been bumping around in your head for a few days, weeks or months? Be brave and say it. As Margie Warrell says in her book Stop Playing it Safe, “Issues that aren’t talked out are acted out, exacting a steep price on your relationships, your success and your life”. We know how important it is to speak our minds, and what is even  more important is making sure we’re fully prepared for that dry mouth, butterflies in stomach feeling. Practice is the key to nailing that difficult conversation.

Practice makes perfect

In Chris Hadfield’s book AnAstronaut’s Guide to Life On Earth, I was amazed (but to be honest, not surprised) at the amount of drills astronauts do. They practice for every eventuality, every potential disaster, that could happen in space. While our difficult conversations have nowhere near the danger a small oxygen leak on a spaceship has, our instinct for survival does not know the difference. So our upcoming performance review with a boss we have problems with can be every bit as frightening as the prospect of running out of oxygen thousands of miles from Earth. So just like an astronaut will practice for an oxygen leak, so must we practice for OUR events – big or small. This will mean we are prepared for anything, and that part of our brain that worries for our survival will relax, reducing fear and doubt. This will in turn mean that our voice is unlikely to squeak unexpectedly and put doubt in the mind of the person we are talking to.

Take some Talking Action

Do you have an important conversation coming up? Take action and practice talking it out aloud. Of course, you probably won’t want to do this on public transport, but what you can do is practice at home and record yourself. Then listen. Then practice again until you are confident you will not only nail the conversation but get the outcome you desire.

How did you go with this? Let me know by commenting or sharing. Need further help? Feel free to contact me. Helping people like you do this is my passion.

Don’t Stop Asking Why

Keep asking WhyDo you remember when you were a child, and your parents would ask you to do something and you would ask “Why?” Your parent would answer, and you would ask “Why?” again. Very patient parents would answer as many “why”s as they could before their energetic and persistent child eventually wore them down and the final answer was “Just because!” or “Because I said so!”

Fast forward a few years to life as an adult. You are sitting in the boardroom and someone mentions a term you are not familiar with, or announces a new strategy that does not make sense to you. How often to you speak up and ask “what does that mean?” or “why this strategy?” Of course, there are some people who do, and they are sometimes seen as troublemakers or time wasters. Over the years, we learn that asking “why” disrupts the delicate balance. If you don’t know something, find it out in your own time, don’t waste other peoples’ time.

Why do we stop asking Why?

I believe we lose our child-like wonder of the world and come to believe that what we don’t know we should know, and assume the reason “why” has already been agreed AND there is a great reason for it. Our parents (bless them) are probably partly to blame – in their efforts to find a little peace, the discourage our curiosity. They (and others) teach us that the world has boundaries, so stay within them. We then grow up to build those boundaries even higher, and before we know it, our wonder and amazement of what else is possible is gone.

Of course, some boundaries are there to keep us safe. Why do we not touch the hot plate? Because it is hot and it will burn and hurt us! There are many factors that contribute to doing things like putting on sunscreen, wearing gloves, taking your umbrella out with you. Somewhere along the line, we confuse those genuine needs for safety with the not so genuine needs. Some great questions to ask now could be:

  • Why do I have to go to university?
  • Why do I have to get a full time job?
  • Why do I have to learn this way?

The world is changing. Previous paradigms that were held true are no longer true. Our need to ask “Why” has always been there, and is now greater than ever.

How to start asking Why again

We are conditioned not to ask, so learning how to ask Why again means changing our conditioning. Changing our behaviour. I mentioned before that the people who speak up can be seen as wasting time or disruptive. It’s time to be disruptive but in an a way that serves everyone. And doesn’t waste time. Firstly, recognise a genuine need to ask Why – what is it you don’t know? Why do you need to ask why? (see what I did there?) Next, think how could I ask this in a way that serves the room. “Why?” can be confronting, and often leads to people being defensive or shutting down. Other ways to ask could include:

  • For what purpose?
  • What will that give us?
  • What does that mean for us?
  • What is this an example of?

Any question that can help align to a common purpose. Finally, when the question is answered, acknowledge it. The person answering it has no doubt stepped out of their comfort zone and thought about something in a way they have not thought before. Make sure they know you appreciate it.

How often do you question the purpose of something you don’t understand? How might asking Why more help you get better results? Feel free to share using your favourite button!

 

Public Speaking Simplified

public speaking simplifiedLong term followers of this blog (thank you!), will already know I am passionate about helping people communicate. In fact, I wrote a piece about it some time ago – you can find it here. I find there are a lot of people teaching communication and public speaking skills, and all of them have some great messages and knowledge to take away and use. I love it when I come across a training or a workshop and I walk away with a feeling of “aha!”. And that’s what I got today when I participated in a workshop with Matt Church. Actually, it was more of an “AHA!” than an “aha!”, to be honest. He really simplified a few things that I tend to turn around in my head way too much, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Body Language Simplified

Albert Mehrabian taught us that a large percentage of our message when we speak is non-verbal. An important point to note ahead of the “93% of our language is body language” is the statement that comes before this:

“when we are in rapport”

So… when we’re catching up with a close friend and we’re talking about how things are going at work, there’s not as big a need to share all the facts and data about what is going on, who is doing what, what your responsibilities are. Firstly, a friend we are in rapport with will know most of that anyway. Secondly, and most importantly, we would only need to shift our gaze or move or bodies in a certain way, and they would “get” what was going on. Our friend may respond with “oh sweetie, I’m sorry things are so stressful for you”… And the conversation would continue. Possibly with cake. Or wine.

However… when in front of a room of 100 people, the chances are you are not in rapport with everyone. At least not all the time. So what you say becomes extremely important. Of course, using congruent body language with volition is still critical, but your message is more important. Is it just me, or is this a relief?

Your Audience Simplified

Some of you are probably a bit more advanced and may already know that body language is not as important as what everyone says it is. After all, crossing arms might mean you’re just cold, or comfortable. Before you stand up in front of a room with your arms crossed, STOP. What this actually means is don’t try and mind read your audience. We are so conditioned to watch TV at home, we have lost the ability to show our presenter just how engaged we are in their presentation. As speakers, we must not look at our audience and assume they are bored or not interested just because they are crossing their arms. We have no idea what could be going on for them in that moment.

However, all eyes are on you, so unless your body language is congruent to your message, the audience will not trust you.

Your Message Simplified

Another great learning from today was the importance of keep your message simple and focused on solving a specific challenge your audience has. I know I am guilty of including lots of content in my presentations because I might run out of stuff to say (hint: you can’t), and of course, I want to deliver lots of value. The concepts of:

  • One key word
  • 3 points
  • Address a problem or challenge

are definitely nuggets of gold I’m taking away and using. I’m looking forward to putting this into practice!

Another thing that blew me away today was a number of people I knew to be great speakers were there learning and taking notes. Wow. It just goes to show there is always something to learn.

What are your best learnings about public speaking?

What a teapot can teach you about Responsibility

What is your "silver teapot" moment?

What is your “silver teapot” moment?

When I was 11 years old, I was innocently going about my business in the kitchen when the silver teapot just LEAPED off the bench. It really did. One minute, it was sitting there, the next it was lying on the floor looking a little worse for wear. I put it back on the bench and tried to bend the lid back into shape with no success. When my father asked what happened, I replied “it fell and it broke” – a true and accurate representation of what had transpired. He was a little cross and didn’t seem to believe in the possibility of the teapot falling all on its own with no assistance. As it turned out, after a bit more patient questioning from my father, I had actually been holding the teapot with the intention of moving it from one bench to the other and I had accidentally dropped it. My father invited me to talk him through what happened and take responsibility for my actions. Instead of “it fell and it broke”, I said “I dropped it and broke it”. Asked if I felt better for taking responsibility, I had to be honest and say I didn’t really, I just felt bad. Okay, maybe a little relieved. It’s now a bit of a joke in the family when something happens to say “it fell”… “it broke” etc as a way of making light of how easy it is for us to not take responsibility for our actions.

A Lesson in taking Responsibility

It was a great life lesson, and I’m so grateful I learned it early in life, because in this fast paced world, it is so easy to blame things that happen on others or events outside my control. Mostly because everything seems to be so complex, with so many moving parts, it’s actually hard for our brains to get around it all. I read an article recently in one of our newspapers in Australia where the journalist told a story of her driving and almost running into a cyclist (I won’t share it here as it is getting way too much unpopular attention already). The way she told the story was that it was all the cyclist’s fault, and she was not to blame at all. Fortunately, no one was hurt but it was close. It got me thinking about the silver teapot. This was not a rant on social media, but a column in one of our major newspapers, read by a lot of people. And this person was completely unable to even question whether she may have had a role to play in the incident.

The Power in your Hands

We’re seeing this a lot, and it makes me sad. Because, if you can develop the skill of simply questioning what role you may have played, you are not only being more self-aware, but an added side effect is that you are giving yourself MORE POWER. Yes, by accepting you played a role in something rather than being a helpless victim, you are telling yourself you have more control than you ever realised. And when you have more control, you are living at cause – taking responsibility for the world around you as opposed to at effect, where everything seems to be happening TO you.

One of my favourite quotes from Spiderman is “With great power comes great responsibility”. I agree. I also think the reverse is true:

“With responsibility comes great power”

Sometimes stuff happens. It rains and the trains are delayed. Someone pulls out in front of you without indicating. You are leaving on time when your cat vomits. You cannot have control over these things, and I get that. But by simply asking: “what was my role in this?” or “what might I have done that could have prevented this?” is sending a strong message to your unconscious mind that you have control. You have have power.

And the cool thing about this is that it doesn’t cost anything. You can ask the question, quietly in your head, and see what comes up. Sometimes, you can rest knowing you are clear of any fault (good for you!) but the answer is not the important thing. It’s the fact you asked in the first place. And THAT’S what makes all the difference.

Have you had a “silver teapot” moment where you may have assigned blame quickly before wondering what your role was? How might things have worked out differently if you had asked first? Feel free to share your experience using your favourite button!

 

Limits vs Boundaries and the Secret to the Universe

Limits BoundariesWow, now at the risk of over-promising in this blog post I want to tackle a few things close to my heart… For long time followers of my blog (firstly, thank you for reading my blog!), you may have noticed I inspire you to consider new concepts, try new things and test your limits. I strongly believe that our limits are only created in our minds and we should challenge ourselves daily in order to grow – we are indeed more capable than we think. And I’m sure you get that. We don’t always test our limits. Sometimes, we seek comfort in the known, the safe, the certain. Writing about the 6 Core Needs prompted me to think that sometimes I get my need to test my limits mixed up with my need to set boundaries. Let me explain…

Other’s Limits vs your Boundaries

I recently had a colleague try and convince me that it would be great if we got together and went running at a very early hour on the other side of the city from where I live. If I did, I would run my “best 10k ever”. When I showed reluctance, he said “come one! Where’s your dedication? Time to test your limits!” And it made me kind of defensive. You see, I totally agree we should test our limits, but this specific activity did not appeal. The idea of an ex-marine yelling at me to run faster after I had traveled across town at 5.30am did not gel. I told him I wasn’t sure, and indecisively changed the conversation, all the time feeling a little guilty for semi-rejecting him. Nice one, Emma. Later, I heard him encouraging another friend to do it, and she simply replied with “I walk my dog every morning at that time, and it’s something I love to do. Thanks, but no thanks”.

It’s that time of the year when New Years Resolutions are starting to fade, and you are likely being inundated with so called “experts” telling you what you should do to make this year extraordinary. Their (well meaning, I’m sure) advice comes with reasonably priced programs you can join. These programs will help you unlock your potential and achieve everything you could ever want. And these programs work. If they are right for you. This is the time of the year, where it is easy to get your need to test your limits confused with your need to know your boundaries.

Some definitions:

Your limits: Limits YOU have placed on yourself due to prior experiences. They should be challenged by you whenever possible in a way that works for you (running an extra kilometre, trying a new recipe, taking on a new and challenging role at work).

Other’s limits: Limits OTHERS have placed on themselves and they are (hopefully) working at challenging. In a way they think is best for them (all of the above but probably different to you). They may wish to share these with you.

Your boundaries: The things you have decided are right for you, your goals, needs and values. For example, you may have decided this is the year you are going to run your best 10km. You may even have a training plan worked out, when someone suggests you should run a half-marathon. Deciding to stick to your goal of your best 10km is NOT limiting yourself. It is setting a clear boundary. Of course, the person wanting to run a half-marathon is stretching their own limits, and they should go do that. Your reluctance to be part of that is your decision. YOUR boundaries.

In summary: Test your Limits – Set your Boundaries

By this stage, you have probably set, and are well on your way for, your goals for 2014. Are they achievable? Are they right for YOU?

The Secret to the Universe

Now you have set your goals and are working toward them, take stock. How are they going? Are you still clear on why you are working to achieve them. And now, the “secret sauce”…

Who do you need to be to achieve them?

How might YOU need to change that will ensure your goals will stay on track? It might be a small change. It might be big. What sort of person do you need to become to fulfill your dreams?

Go on, and be that person. Right now.

How is your year going? Are you sticking to your goals? Is there something that needs tweaking? Need some help? Feel free to contact me for a free 30 minute consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.

Expect the Best!

Expect the bestThe other day I was contacted by two separate people, both asking for a similar thing. They both needed some help facilitating a workshop with some senior people to understand what it was their project needed to achieve and how much it would cost. The first person called me and took some time to talk about what she needed then checked when I was free. We agreed on a time and calendar entries were confirmed. The second person sent me a calendar entry for a time when I was in another meeting with no explanation. I replied immediately and said I was happy to help him and when I was available. His reply: “This is the only time Amanda is free so can you reschedule your plans”. Of course, he had no idea of what my plans were. And I had no idea who Amanda was, but fortunately I was able to reschedule my morning to meet his demand requirement. In the meantime, I caught up with lovely first person, and we had a great meeting. Everyone arrived on time, and there were sandwiches provided. Everyone was honest and up-front about what they needed and at the same time polite and respectful. I walked out with a bit of a buzz, and at the same time dreading my interaction with Person #2 the next day. And it was dread. He had come across as very rude over email and had only sent the pre-reading very late so I had to read it that evening.

I couldn’t change his behaviour.

But I could change mine.

I decided to expect the best from our meeting. I imagined a lovely get together where everyone had the chance to speak and everyone listened. I imagined a respectful conversation and a great outcome where we would reach agreement on a way forward.

What happens when  you expect the best

I got the best. I took the time to listen, and it quickly became apparent this person was under a lot of stress and was not sure of a way forward. After listening carefully, and asking some further questions, I was able to share some advice I thought might help him, and at the same time agree on next steps. By the end of the meeting, he was a lot less agitated and was looking forward to grabbing a coffee with me the following week to talk more. Amanda (who is she??) didn’t show. I pretended not to notice.

Now, even though I coach in this mindset “stuff” all the time, I am still so in awe when I apply something and it works. Not because I didn’t think it would, but because it amazes me every time how powerful the human mind is. Simply by changing MY thoughts, I can change an outcome. Because, whether we like it or not, we cannot change someone else’s behaviour. We have to use their strength as our strength. We have to be the change we want to see – not expect someone else to change for us.

This is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. And it doesn’t always get the outcome I exactly want. Sometimes I get what I need (ouch). A learning. Sometimes I get something else entirely. The point is, I always get a result consistent with my efforts over time. So, I’m going to keep practicing!

Have you ever changed your thoughts and influenced an outcome? I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to share using your favourite button!

3 Signs that you lack Empathy

Empathy White Cat CoachingIn a previous job, I found myself confiding in a colleague. It was pretty big for me at the time, and I was not sure what to do. I considered us friends, as we had known each other for a while and she often sought my counsel about random life things. The time was right, and I needed a sounding board. She was listening, and I appreciated her time. Right in the middle of the conversation, she suddenly said “oh, that reminds me, I need to make a dentist appointment for <insert child’s name here>”.

What?

I felt really let down. And really hurt. I wondered if she had been listening to me at all. And, even though we have since stayed in touch on and off, I would probably never confide in her again. I often think about that encounter and reflect on what it taught me. The most important thing it taught me was how important empathy is if you want to connect with others. It makes us human.

Empathy Defined

According to Wikipedia, Empathy is “the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another sentient or fictional being. One may need to have a certain amount of empathy before being able to experience accurate sympathy or compassion”.

So, do YOU lack empathy? Let’s find out. If these apply, you may want to work on your self-awareness skills…

1. People look at you with puzzlement - now it might take a tiny bit of empathy to be able to see this. But if you are finding that people have slightly squinted their eyes (and it’s not that sunny), and possible slightly shaking their heads and looking a little bit confused, chances are you have said something that has shown a complete lack of understanding of the situation around you. You may have just failed to listen properly and missed a vital point. Do this too much and the next point applies…

2. People don’t confide in you - do you ever get the impression that people are not being completely open with you? Like they’re not saying EVERYTHING? It’s possible that you may have failed to show them any empathy or respect for their situation in the past. So they have made the decision (probably unconsciously) to not bother telling you anything again. Common signs might be colleagues hanging around after a meeting to talk. Chances are they’re not talking about you, but rather things that they are not comfortable sharing with you.

3. Your actions are not getting you the results you desire. Okay, this is a long bow, but let me explain. I have a client who has the most amazing amount of empathy. She truly has the ability to see the world from other’s shoes. She has turned that empathy into getting involved with causes that mean something to her so she can make a difference. She is getting results from her empathy. You can spend a lot of time “feeling sorry” for the starving children in Africa, your next door neighbour whose husband died or your colleague who lost their job, but unless you can turn that feeling into productive action, it is nothing more than sympathy. Worse still, if you take action, and it gets you into trouble or harms another person, this is just sympathy executed badly.

What to do

If you have worked out you lack empathy, congratulations! Awareness is the first step. Start to pay more attention to what people say. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. Actively listen when someone is speaking. Don’t interrupt with something else just because it came to mind. Truly seek to connect with others and show you care.

I would argue that empathy is not an optional attribute. In order to function as human beings we simply MUST have it. What can you do to improve your empathy and connection with others? Feel free to share!

Be the Change

Nelson Mandela ChangeIf you’ve been reading my blog for a while,  you will know I love all things change. I’ve worked as a change and project manager and have always been drawn to the people side of change and human behaviour. I have always considered myself open to change and willing to try new ideas. I absolutely believe Nelson Mandela (may he rest in peace) when he says “we can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference”. And, of course, Gandhi when he says “be the change you want to see in the world”. And I’m sure many of you do too. And it can be easy and effortless. Sometimes, it just means being the “bigger person”, letting a comment “go through to the keeper” or maintaining “leadership of self”.

I have been been dealing with some difficult people lately. One particular person has been untruthful and mean, and it’s affecting people I care about. It’s caused me to (well, get angry first… then…) reflect on what I can learn from this. We all deal with difficult people. In fact, I am convinced they are evenly distributed. No matter where you go, no matter how great your job is, there will be someone nearby who could be perceived as:

  • difficult, annoying, mean, stupid

or

  • someone who is there to teach you something

Being the change is hard when I’m surrounded by stupid people…

It’s not always easy. Sometimes the turkeys get you down. Sometimes you go to jail for 16 years for what you believe in. But you can still make a difference. What we need (among other things) are options. When faced with any situation, we always have AT LEAST two choices. We can:

  • remove ourselves from said situation – e.g. change jobs, change relationships, move house, move city, move country (!!)

or

  • ask “what can I learn?” and change how we perceive the situation

I love what I do, so changing the situation was not an option, so I had to ask what I could learn. And how I could perceive the situation differently Which was interesting because I was right in the middle of my 6 Core needs blog series, so I didn’t have to look far. This situation (and many others) is a reminder that everyone has different needs that are met in different ways. Going one step further, everyone has different skills or resources that they use in different ways.

We are all doing the best we can

I choose to believe that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have. If we had different resources, we would do things differently. So, looking past all this, I realised how grateful I am for the resources I have. I appreciate that not everyone has learned what I have learned. Or experienced what I have experienced. Without applying this learning and experience to my own life, this knowledge and learning is for nothing.

What has this taught me? Well, it’s taught me to step up and apply what I know to myself and be the change that I want to see in the world. It’s not easy. It’s frustrating. But if can’t do it for myself, how can I do it for others? The situation is still the same, but by taking control of it and giving myself an action, it doesn’t seem so hopeless. And it definitely seems much better than before. I’m calling it a win…

Do yo have a situation that if you saw it differently and took a learning from it, everything could change? Go ahead and share using your favourite button!

 

What do you want? The value in being positive

Peace PleaseOn our honeymoon, I was simply delighted with the wooden sign on the back of our door that said “Peace Please”. Whenever we wished to be left alone, rather than hang the usual “Do not Disturb” sign that is common place in hotels, it reflected what we really wanted in a positive way.

It got me thinking about how we set our goals. If you have been working with me on your Passion and Purpose Archetypes, you will be well on the way to setting some great goals based upon who you really are and what you really want. And they will all be stated in the positive! Always. And here’s why…

Well, I definitely don’t want…

I am always amazed that people seem to find it easier to say what they don’t want, rather than what they DO want. Remember, the unconscious mind cannot process a negative. So, while it might be very easy to say “I don’t want my next job to involve working with annoying people”, what your unconscious mind is hearing is “My next job will involve working with annoying people”. This also explains why when you stay in a hotel and put up the “Do not disturb” sign, every member of staff and guest in the hotel seems to find a reason to walk past your room talking in a loud voice. Or small children start a spontaneous game of corridor cricket (oh, yes, that has happened to me). You are “disturbed”. So, what do you want instead? Instead of being disturbed, what would you prefer? Instead of working with annoying people, who would you like to work with instead? What are they like?

So, why is it so much easier for us to say what we don’t want? When was the last time you hopped into a taxi and told the driver you wanted to be “anywhere but here, just drive!” Try it! You  may also want to list other destinations you do not want to go to. What would the driver do? I think you might find yourself on the curb. Generally, we like to tell the driver where we would like to go. Sometimes, we don’t know the way (and often the driver doesn’t either). But that doesn’t stop your journey from being successful. Eventually.

The same goes for our goals. Your unconscious mind is your “taxi driver”. Let it know where you want to go. You might have to say it several times, describe it in more detail, or even show them a picture. Providing you can express the destination as a place you want to go, the driver will take you there. We may have a better idea of where we don’t want to go because we have made mistakes in the past, or our friends have. So, we have built up a list of things we don’t want. The choice is ours – do we want to focus on THAT list, or build a new list of things we know we DO want?

What do you want? What do you desire?

What is it that you want? Where do you want to be next week? Next year? In three years?  What will it mean for you when you get there? What are you telling yourself about this want? This desire? What words are you using? Are you being clear and positive, or is this want being clouded by doubt? Are you expressing what you DON’T want? Because whatever it is you are saying to yourself, you’re going to get it…

So, if whatever you are saying to yourself you are going to get… What are you saying to yourself right now? And how must it change in order to get what you want? What you desire?

Necessity vs Possibility – the power of our Language

PossibilityHave you stopped to analyse the words you use and how they may be related to the results you are getting? How is what you are saying to yourself affecting the way you feel? Are you speaking from a place of necessity or possibility?

 

Let me explain. You see, all words have energy attached to them. Think of these words:

  • Love
  • Kindness
  • Compassion
  • Light
  • Smile

Compared to these words:

  • Hate
  • Fear
  • Darkness
  • Scowl
  • Mean

Notice the energy. Notice how your face changes. Notice your mood. How do you feel when you read each word? We are all very aware of these words and most likely use them carefully. You wouldn’t accidentally say “I hate you” to a loved one. Well, unless they eat all your Tim Tams…

The things to look out for are a sneaky bunch of words that infiltrate their way into our day to day conversations, and without even knowing it, they are sabotaging our lives. Sounds extreme? It is!

How many times do you catch yourself saying “I should go to the gym”, “I must get this work done”, “I need to be on time”? How does it make you feel? Think of the energy behind these words:

  • Should
  • Must
  • Have to
  • Need
  • It is necessary
  • Ought to

Compared to these words:

  • Can
  • Could
  • Possible
  • Am
  • Choose
  • May
  • Will

The difference is a bit more subtle than the first examples, but can you sense it? These sneaky little words are known as Modal Operators – verbs that modify how activities are done – and they are EVERYWHERE in our language. The first list are what are known as Modal Operators of Necessity. The second list are Modal Operators of Possibility. Louise Hay even goes so far as to say the word “should” should be banned from our language. And I agree. It’s right up there with “can’t”. How helpful is telling someone they “should” do something? In fact, I’m sure they only person I say “should” to is myself. I think I would be short of friends if I ran around telling them they “should” do this or that.

Think about the way you are talking to yourself. Are you talking out of necessity or possibility? Is what you are saying to yourself getting you the results you want? How useful is your self-talk? If you could do with an overhaul, start replacing words like “should” and “must” with words that are about possibility and choice. And let me know how you go!

So, how does it sound replacing “I must get this work done” with “I choose to get this work done”? Better? I thought so… Feel free to share your thoughts using your favourite button!