What’s in a Conversation?

With Valentine’s Day just behind us – many people had the chance to reflect on being in relationship.  One of the 3 pillars of a great relationship is the ability to communicate.  Having been married now for almost 33 years, there have been many lessons learned about the best way to communicate in my relationship.  First, timing is everything as they say. Also, it is not what you say, but how you say it that matters most.  Any relationship requires good communication whether it is with your partner, work associate, friends or family.  Many times our communication is generated based on the mood we are in.  Not communicating is another form of communication.  The reality is that we are always communicating in some way.  It can be easier if we have time and experience with the person so that we have discovered the best way to communicate.

Here are some universal tips on how to have the best results when communicating with others:

Think before you speak.  What is it that you want the other person to hear?  What is your purpose for communicating?  This could be making a request, giving advice or feedback, brainstorming an idea, solving a problem or showing your acknowledgment or affection for the other person. The purpose of your communication can be very broad so it is always best to stop and think about what you want the other person to hear and experience from your communication.megaphone300

Who will you be talking to?  This is where understanding different personalities and styles of communication can be useful.  Is this a dominant person or more quiet and reflective style?  Are they high energy with lots of ideas and excitement or more analytical and pragmatic.  Think about how they will hear you.  If you are talking to a more analytical style, then it is best to lie out the facts or the key points to make your case. Whatever you say, it must have solid logic and make sense.  If you are talking to someone who is more of an idea person, then talk to him or her about the big picture using colorful descriptions so they can visualize what you are sharing.  The Emergenetics Profile is an excellent tool to use when working with different styles to help identify thinking and behavior preferences when working with others.

talk300Plan a time to talk.  Many people in relationship at home and at work never plan time to discuss important issues. In today’s world, there are so many distractions that big issues can be put on hold until there is the “right” time to discuss and then never really get addressed until it becomes critical to discuss.  Planning an important conversation to have is one of the most accountable things we can do in our relationships.

Commit to hearing another point of view.  Many conversations start with an agenda and outcome that does not consider the other person’s point of view. What makes a powerful conversation is one in which all parties involved are committed to listening to and hearing different ideas.  When we do this, many times we have better ideas and outcomes and certainly more alignment and commitment to working together around whatever is being discussed.  Even if you are planning to have a difficult conversation, you can still feel confident that if you approach it from a place of neutrality and commitment to listen, you may be surprised what can be resolved.

Think about the many romantic activities that might have taken place this Valentine’s Day or how many proposals where made and how much time was spent preparing to pop the question.  For these couples, this will have been one of the first of many important conversations they will have.  Here’s to many more!

Warmest wishes, Barbara


The Power of Declaration

We are just into the New Year and already our world is celebrating success and also facing challenges.  With the recent terrorist attack in Paris, we are once again reminded that a lack of respect and understanding of different world views will lead to conflict, and in radical situations loss of life.  As we see opportunities for our economy to once again become strong with the opportunity for more jobs being created, young professionals are seeing opportunities for their career and their life.  The New Year gives us a clean slate – a place to declare and envision what we want to create in our life.

I am very fortunate to be able to celebrate Christmas, New Year’s and my birthday all within a 10-day period.  For those of you who know me well, you also know that this is the time of year when I look at my vision for the next 5 years of my life. Recently, my husband and I were planning a few days to get away and celebrate the New Year and my birthday and there was no accident that I discovered a piece of paper pressed into a book on his nightstand.  I opened it up and saw it was dated 2009. It was our Vision Map where we had written down exactly 5 years ago to the day our 5 year goals.  I was so excited to see 6 of the 8 things we had identified were achieved.  We had not pulled this paper out and looked at it in 5 years.  I was reminded once again of the power of personal vision and intention.

ImpossibleIt would be wonderful if each person could begin their New Year really believing in the power of achieving their dream.  Many of us see people who have lost faith, given up, become too tired or cynical and stopped believing in possibilities.  As a professional coach, of course I believe in the possibility that each person can create their vision. I have seen it happen many times.  But there are certain requirements that must be in place for that to occur.  We have all heard of New Year’s resolutions – but I am not talking about that. I suggest personal declarations.  The kind of declaration, once shared, you feel in your gut is real and important for YOU; not because you should do it, or someone else thinks you should. Declarations that come from deep inside of you that speak to what is truly important to you.  Declarations that support your purpose in life and your values.  It is great to set goals, but a goal that is not grounded in your personal purpose and vision for your life will ultimately become hard to achieve and not bring real fulfillment.

So, before the end of this month, I suggest you take time to reflect and allow yourself to examine what you really want in life – then declare it to yourself and to someone else who will hear it and check in from time to time to see how you are doing.

  1. What is it that you want to accomplish before you die?  What is that “one day” conversation you find yourself repeating?
  2. What is the spirit you want to being to your life each day?  Optimistic, pragmatic, curious, adventurous?
  3. What are the unique gifts that you naturally have to give?  Perhaps you are artistic, or you have a great engineering mind.  How are you contributing those gifts?
  4. If your life unfolded in the next 5 years just the way that you wanted it to, where would you be living, what would you be doing, what new projects or goals would you be embarking on?
  5. Who are the most important people in your life and what are you doing 5 years from now?keepcalm

It is true, time flies by faster and faster each year.  So take that time now to see yourself in your future and write your declarations down – not from your head but from your heart.  We all know what we really want but seldom take the time to reflect deeply what is really behind what we want.  So, at this time in the peace and quiet grey of winter, look inside and begin to plant the seeds for your future.  When we access our feelings about our life and experience the gratitude for the gift called life – we realize that we are the real gatekeepers of our destiny.

Warmest wishes, Barbara


Asking for What You Want

I watched the news last week where Denmark was identified as one of the happiest countries in the world.  I found that laughintriguing and watched the program that included talking about Yoga Laughter.  Basically this is where people come to a yoga class and the instructor leads them in continued laughter.  Laughter is great for the body and the mind as it opens the lungs and creates endorphins like most good exercise.

I began to think of other ways people can be happier in life. As a coach, I hear my clients complaining many times about an event or circumstance they find themselves in.  One thing most people want is to feel in control at some level in their lives.  And when they don’t have it, they usually feel some sort of negative emotion.  In coaching, I remind clients if they want to be in control then they have to take control of the choices they are making and the relationships they create.

Learning to make requests of others and to ask for what you want can be very empowering.  Complaining and blaming will only create negative feelings. Practice this exercise with a friend – a very good friend.  Ask them to sit and listen to you complain for 10 minutes and then share with you how they are feeling.  Negative energy creates negative emotions.  Your attitude is a choice you can make – yes, it can be chosen but most people are used to just letting their emotions fly.

In order to have what you want in life, you must be willing to ask for it – or as I say, enroll people in accepting a clear request from you.  John Gray, noted author, became well known for his book Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus which helped people understand that each gender has certain characteristics on how they respond to situations.

One very important tool I coach clients around is the protocol for making a clear, complete request.  Here it is:

Step 1: Get very clear on what you want. You may even practice writing it down first.  Be specific.

Step 2: Prepare to be a committed speaker and share what you want. Find the right time to make your request and be clear whom you will make it to.

Step 3 : Have a committed listener – the person with whom you are making the request Be sure to have their attention. Do not do this while you are walking down the hall or dashing out for an appointment.  The person you are speaking to must have your full attention and you must have theirs.

Step 4 : State the conditions of fulfillment.  Exactly what you will have when your request is met.

Step 5 : State by when you want it – specifically.  For example, “tomorrow afternoon by noon.”

Step 6 : This is the most important part.  Wait for a response of either yes, no or a counter offer on time and

Many people do not take the time to make requests in this way and then complain because people do not give them what they want, in the way they want it, and when they want it.  Some people resist making requests because they are afraid that the person will say no. A “No” is good because then you have a clear understanding and expectations and it gives both people a place to negotiate a clear agreement.

Practice using this model in all areas of your life and you will be amazed at how much more responsive people are and you will certainly be getting more of what you want your life.

Warmest wishes, Barbara


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Launching Your Business . . . What You Need to Know

I recently had a coaching session with one of my clients who was excited to share that his business was beating his yearly projections and he was ahead of his forecast.  What great news to hear.  This reminded me of a presentation I gave almost 5 years ago to a group of professional coaches at an International Coach Federation Chapter in Silicon Valley California on how to accelerate their coaching business.openbusiness

Today, there are more new business start-ups in the San Francisco Bay Area than ever before. So if you are contemplating starting your own business or if you have your own business, here are things to keep in mind to have a successful “lift off”.

Gain Clarity – on your values and your value proposition.  In other words, evaluate your personal values and be sure that you establish clear guidelines on how you want your customers to experience you. You will be tested on this so it is great to lay it out and align on the importance of being guided by your values.

Explore Your Purpose – Why are you starting this venture?  Why is it important to you? What about it lights up your passion?  Starting a business requires time, energy and commitment.  The business you are beginning must align with your purpose and passion.  This is what will keep your creative side alive and continuing to find new ways to deliver your products or services.

See Your Vision of Success – This means look to your future 5 years ahead.  What are the outcomes you want?  Be willing to have your vision be BIG – you will be amazed at how things will unfold if you allow yourself to think big – beyond your wildest dreams! Be sure that your vision includes your whole life – not just your vision for your business success.  Family and friends will be a part of what you are creating; if they have a relationship with you they will be impacted by your success.

boatDevelop Goals – This might seem hard at first but will become a natural part of how you grow and develop your business.  Without clearly defined goals, you can get lost and fall off course.  Goals are also a great accountability system.  You must be willing to look at results – even when they do not match up to your goals.  This will be your way of  knowing when to make adjustments.  I have a favorite way of explaining that purpose is like the rudder on a boat; but goals are your steering mechanisms.  They help you adjust to the current and the wind.

Use All Forms of Communication – Social media has become the fastest way to stay in touch with your market so you must begin to unleash the writer within.  Be authentic in your communication.  Let people know who you are, why you have this business, what you offer, and how you will serve them.  Tell your story; people today love to hear about the people behind the business.  This is one of the quickest ways to establish a relationship.

Define Your Niche and Expand Your Network – Having your own business means there is no time to be timid or shy.  If this is truly your passion and what you want to create and provide, then be out there telling everyone you know all about it.  Go to places where people who want what you have will be meeting. This includes conferences, trade shows, even webinars and blogging groups.  Let people hear from you.  Become known as the subject matter expert for your market area.

The ” lift off” can take a lot of energy and work; this is where your commitment will be tested time and time again. But once you take flight, the joy of soaring can be the most accelerating experience of your life.  Here’s to your success and soaring to new levels!

Warmest wishes, Barbara