The Main Cause of Relationship Problems

Relationships are important. We are social creatures after all, and the people we choose to spend our time with are important parts of our lives. This makes it very challenging if we are on the outs with someone we care about. More often than not, there is one core cause of all relational strife: expectations. Or rather, failure to have our expectations met.

We all have expectations. Big ones and little ones. We even have these of strangers. We may have the expectation that everyone drives the posted speed limit. Or, that when a cashier invites the “next person in line,” it doesn’t mean the first person who can get there. We expect things of our spouses, friends, family, and neighbors. We all have (what we believe to be) reasonable beliefs of proper behavior. To complicate things further, we attach meaning to these expectations.

If someone lets us down, we aren’t only disappointed, but we give a reason to it. For example, you expect your close friends to remember your birthday. Then, when your birthday has come and gone, and you haven’t heard from one of your nearest and dearest, you are disappointed AND hurt. You believe that if you truly care about someone, you remember their birthday. Meanwhile, your forgetful friend cares very deeply about you, but, personally, doesn’t much care about birthdays one way or the other. It never occurs to her that she may have hurt you by not making certain she remembered your birthday.

The next question, then, is how do we prevent our expectations from breaking down our relationships?  Here are a few tips:

  • Make your expectations known – Do not expect that people will just intuitively know what you need. Spell it out.
  • Share the meaning you’ve attached to your expectations – If you need quality time with your spouse at the end of each day and you believe this means you are valued and loved, be clear that this is how important this time is to you.
  • Understand your expectations may be completely different from others – For example, I have a friend who despises getting gift cards as a gift. She feels they are impersonal and it hurts her to think we couldn’t take a little extra time and thought to get her something special and unique. I, on the other hand, like getting gift cards. We both have totally different expectations, but we took the time to discover these differences.
  • Most expectations are coming from a place of love or fear – Rarely do people have expectations with the intent to be difficult or hurtful. A parent who withholds love, may have done so because they expected the world was hard and wanted to prepare you to be tough. Or a loved one avoids appearing vulnerable because they expect to get hurt if they are.
  • Consider your expectations – Have you ever considered what your expectations are? It may be a very eye-opening exercise. When you actually think about what your expectations are and the meaning you’ve attached to them, you may start to question if you really want to hold on to them. (VIP Subscribers get a PDF download of this exercise – Subscribe today to get yours – It’s Free)

Next time you get in a disagreement, before jumping immediately to the emotion of it, take a step back and try to consider how both your expectations, and those of the other person, could be contributing. It’s much more difficult to feel hurt or angry when you actually understand where another person is coming from. It doesn’t mean you agree, only that you understand. It is this mindset that will prevent problems in the future.

In the comments section, share how understanding your own or someone else’s expectations have helped improve a relationship in your life.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

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Written by, You

It’s easy to feel that sometimes we are at the mercy of life’s circumstances. And let’s be honest, some moments we are. But moments are fleeting, and it’s important to keep in mind that you are the author of your life. While life may throw circumstances your way, you get to determine how each chapter ends. You get the last word. If your business goes under, if you get fired, go broke, or get dumped, that’s not where the chapter has to end. You write the last line. You also write the opening paragraph of the next chapter.

When you write your story, it’s not all going to be pretty rainbows and butterflies, because that’s not real life. There will be ugly parts, parts of you and your story that you are not proud of, but that’s okay. The lines in our story, even the chapters of our story, do not make us who we are. They are a part of us, but they are not all of us. If you don’t like how your story is unfolding, write a new one. Change the plot, the setting, the characters, and even yourself if you wish. You get to choose how you react to life’s curve balls.

Life is complicated; we are complicated. That’s the beauty of it. But underneath all of those complications is a really pure version of who we are. This version is always doing the best it can. This version grows and changes, and we, the authors, get to determine how to navigate through the lessons learned, the plot twists, and the overarching desire to matter.

Don’t write your story through the eyes of others. Share their perspective, consider others’ ideas, but it’s YOUR story. You define the meanings; you determine when you’ve succeeded and when you’ve failed. You decide who you are and where you’re going to take your story. When someone criticizes you or tells you that you’re not enough, that’s their story. Don’t make their story your story.

When you embrace your title as author of your story, you empower yourself. You take back control of the parts you have control over. You determine if your story is a tragedy, comedy, drama, mystery or some exciting mixture of all of these. Your non-fiction tale is yours for the telling. It’s your gift in life. There is no editing, there are no re-writes. There is one story. Write it well. Live it well.

Share in the comments section the title of your next chapter.

*This post was originally posted in January of 2017, but I thought it was worth another read.

If you would like some help with your story – if you are experiencing a “writer’s block” in life, then an Empowerment Session is a great place to start! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

A New Way to Create Your New Year’s Resolution (Even if You’ve Sworn Them Off)

People have some strong feelings about New Year’s resolutions. Some commit fully every year, others swear them off altogether. For those of us who set them year after year, it’s pretty common to lose steam after a little while. Sometimes it’s after a few weeks, and other times a few months.  If you can relate to this, or you have completely sworn off resolutions, I’d like to propose an alternative. What if you could come up with a New Year’s resolution that you could actually keep?  Something you could successfully accomplish every day… Sound too good to be true?

There have been plenty of success stories of people quitting smoking and remaining smoke-free forever after, or creating a healthy routine that helped them lose and keep the weight off. So, if that’s your goal, GO FOR IT!! For the rest of us, one of the problems with past resolutions is that they’ve been so confining…so “pass or fail.” We set up strict parameters and the minute we violate them, we start to lose steam and fall back into our comfortable, old routines (plus we tend to crap talk ourselves for a bit, too). One way to combat this without swearing off resolutions altogether is to paint your resolution with a broader brush.

Instead of being so specific, you can be much more general. For example, instead of saying you are going to eliminate all processed foods from your diet, you could say you’re going to eat healthier. Instead of saying you’re going to workout at the gym 5 days per week, you could say you’re going to be more active each week. Instead of deducting $100 every week of the year for a savings account, you can work on saving more money.

When you take a broader approach to resolutions, it’s much easier to do SOMETHING every week, and maybe even every day that honors it. Instead of feeling like crap for eating the cupcake, you can feel good about eating that apple or making that healthy, all-natural meal. Instead of telling yourself you’re lazy because you skipped Day 4 of the gym, you can feel good about that 30-minute walk you took on your lunch break. It’s better to pat yourself on the back for packing your own lunch and saving yourself $10, than to beat yourself up for having to pull that $100 back out of savings because of an unexpected expense.

All lifestyle changes stick because of the habits that form to support those changes. Trying to go from zero to sixty and stay there is often more than we can reasonably adjust to. Certainly, there are some changes that require full commitment, like quitting something addictive, or taking drastic steps for life-saving reasons, but those tend to be the exception. Starting with a broader goal will allow us to take those baby-steps that will lead to good habits and build momentum. We’ll feel accomplished and want to keep feeling that way by adding new habits and eliminating older ones gradually. This allows us to build up to the more specific, regimented goals. Totally doable, right? RIGHT!

My 2018 New Year’s Resolution is to stretch my comfort zone. That’s it. I’m not getting any more specific than that. That’s something I can do every single day and there are countless ways I could do that. Now it’s your turn to share. What is your New Year’s Resolution? Share in the comments section.

Thank you for reading – Wishing you a VERY Happy New Year!!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Five Love Languages – Acts of Service

Communication is the foundation of our emotions and experiences. This 5-part series has a new “language” discussed once a month. These are based on Gary Chapman’s book series, Five Love Languages. Each post will highlight a particular language and some suggestions on ways to meet that need for yourself and others.  In October, I shared Words of Affirmation. In November, I shared Quality Time. This month I’ll be talking about Acts of Service, those things we DO that show we care.

Before we get into that, let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Touch

We all have a primary “language” we speak and need to have communicated to us in order to feel loved in our personal relationships and appreciated in our workplace.  The key is finding out your own language, as well as those you have relationships with in your personal and professional life.  These discoveries will help you communicate and dramatically improve the relationships in your life.  October’s post talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers.  These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why.  November’s post discussed Quality Time which is based on focused attention on, or with, the other person. Remember, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal life and business life so view all the languages from two sets of perspectives.  If you’re looking for a little less conversation and a little more action, let’s roll…

The core of Acts of Service lies less in word and more in deed.  It requires action – doing something for this language speaker.

Personally, this could include a back rub or a home cooked meal, clearing the snow off the car or doing the grocery shopping.  It might be supporting a charity event important to a friend or planting flowers for an elderly parent. Like the other languages, the preferred act is determined by the recipient.  Any old act of service just won’t do, it has to be this language speaker’s preference.  The key to speaking this language, especially if it’s not your primary one, is to provide these acts of service out of love.  If you provide it out of obligation you have completely wasted your time and likely caused more damage.  So just like Words of Affirmation, your enthusiasm and gift of service must be authentic and given out of love.

The professional examples can look VERY different from the personal ones.  In the workplace, you could offer to help out a co-worker struggling to meet a deadline or complete an overwhelming task.  Also, volunteering to stay late and assist someone in another department that you know is currently very short-handed.  Putting in a good word for a hardworking co-worker or employee works too. What a great opportunity to extend the olive branch to the ornery supervisor too stubborn to ask for help, but would appreciate the offer.  This could be mentoring that newbie employee and offering some tips you learned on your climb up the ranks.  Remember, even in this environment, it’s the recipient that determines the appreciated service, so while you may offer, that may not be what they need.  Perhaps they can’t share the responsibilities of a particular task, but you could offer to take phone messages for them instead or some other menial task that could free up time for them to work on their priority.  Sometimes the offer to assist will be all they need to push through their assignment.

The toughest part of Acts of Service is knowing which act would be most appreciated.  If you don’t know, ask.  “What could I do to help you right now?” or “What could I do that would make your day today?”  If they sense your sincerity, you’ll likely get an honest answer.  So while you may wonder why they didn’t just ask in the first place, remember, sometimes that takes all the fun out of it.  So get going and speak the language of service to those who need it and watch how good you’ll feel having made someone’s day with your selfless act.

If you or someone you know possesses this as a primary or secondary language, won’t you do us all a service and share some stories in the comments section?  Watch for next month’s coverage on Gifts!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

How to Make Tough Choices

I can’t stand cold water. I was always that person who inched her way into the pool. Baby step by painful baby step. But ultimately, by the time the water was to my waist, I had a decision to make: I jump in all the way or I turn around and head back to land. Life is like that. As long-time readers know, I’m a fan of baby steps. Sometimes that’s all we can muster up. There are times when we can put off decisions and continue pursuing multiple objectives. This is what I did when I would only go into the water a little at a time. I was able to live part of my life in the water, and part of it out. But in life, there often reaches a point where there are no more baby steps to take. There comes a time when a decision needs to be made and rarely are they easy.

J.K. Rowling has written that, “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” I’ve seen incredibly talented individuals allow fear to keep them from making a decision they were more than qualified to handle, and I’ve seen highly ambitious people take risks and figure out how to live with them after the leap. When we are confronted with big choices, we can sit on that fence for a long time. We try to weigh out all the possible outcomes. Both short-term and long-term considerations are made. And yet, there we sit. Author Michael Port says, “You’ll never catch any fish if all you ever do is debate with yourself about which type of bait to use and never throw a line in the water.” So simple, yet…

Yet, it isn’t that simple, is it? Choosing between Rocky Road and Mint Chocolate Chip is, but life is a little more complex than that. Sure, you can leave a comfortable and secure job for what appears to be your dream job, only to find yourself disappointed and regretful. But I’ve never seen that as the ending to someone’s story. In fact, it is often those failures that ultimately lead them to their dream job. That’s the rub of choices. You often have to give up something good to get something better. No decision is without its losses. Very rarely (ever?) do we have to choose between something entirely bad and something entirely good. THAT would be easy.

So, what do we do? How do we make tough choices? First, stop thinking about your choices. Yup, STOP thinking about your choices. We’ll get back to them in a sec. See, when we are making a choice, it is often in the context of our life today. Yes, we may consider our future, but often, we are trying to decide which one would be better based on what we know right now. That’s what can make a choice so challenging because we know what we have right now. It’s the unknown of the future that makes a choice so difficult. To counter this you’ll need to get crystal clear on what you want your life to become. What do you value? How do you want your life to look a year from now? Five years from now? Ten years from now? Who do you want to be? How do you want to express yourself? If you had a blank canvas, how would you paint your future? That’s the inner work you need to do BEFORE you make a decision. It is only when you are clear about who you want to be and how you want to live that your choice will be much clearer. That doesn’t mean it will be easy to make, only that the best option will be more visible.

This exercise can also reveal alternatives you couldn’t see when you were comparing Choice A with Choice B. When you know what you ultimately want to achieve, sometimes a Choice C will show up. When you are clear on your ideal future, then you can return to your options and weigh the choices. You may still face regret and pain, but you will face those no matter which choice you make. They are part of life. However, when you make choices based on creating a better life and future for yourself, it is much easier to deal with the repercussions. Every choice results in a journey. The journey may be on a clearly marked path, or it may be on an undefined, bumpy one, but there will be “lions, tigers and bears” on both. Do your due diligence, and then get off the fence and make a decision. Your future is waiting.

Share in the comments section how you made a tough decision or how you dealt with the repercussions of an important choice.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Are You Living on Purpose?

You have likely seen articles about “living intentionally,” but have you ever taken a moment to consider what that means? How much of your week is spent on autopilot? Considering where your life is right now, how much of that is due to you purposefully choosing that life? I know many people who are living a life that they have chosen. Almost everything they do is “on purpose.” They don’t live on auto-pilot. But I know many more who are not living a life this way. They are living based on others’ expectations of them. They are fulfilling the needs of those around them, while sacrificing many of their own. Which of these groups seems to better describe the life you’re living? There is no judgement here; I spent a large amount of time in the second group myself over the years. But there are steps you can take to live more purposefully.

Plan – A common difference between the people in both groups is those who live intentionally, set goals and make plans. They have a vision for their future and give thought to how they want their life to look and what steps they need to take to get there. That doesn’t mean circumstances don’t get in their way or that hardships don’t befall them. Quite the contrary. But they deal with those issues and continue working towards their goals, even if they have to alter them. Now ask yourself: Do you have a plan? Do you have goals you are working towards? Have you defined the steps you need to take in order to be living your life on purpose?

No Excuses – Often, those who are living under the direction of others can be heard explaining why they can’t live any other way. They don’t have time, they don’t have the money, they’ve dealt with more challenges, they’re circumstances are “different.” They are SUCH a special snowflake that they can’t possibly do what others have done. Those living their lives on purpose may get ticked off at circumstances thrown their way, but they don’t use them as excuses to stop trying. Now ask yourself: Are you allowing excuses to stop you? Have you made a plan to overcome your challenges? It’s easy to think of all the things we can’t do, but have you made a list of all the things you CAN do?

Today Equals Tomorrow – Those living their lives on purpose know that today’s behaviors become tomorrow’s results. When they do something today, they consider the impact that behavior will have on their future. They are very intentional about the choices they make today and how that aligns with the vision of their future. Now ask yourself: Did the actions you took today lead you closer to the future you desire? Are you consciously choosing each action you take and how it will impact your future?

I know this may sound as if I’m oversimplifying a complex issue, but it really does come down to these fundamentals. We all want a life that is healthy, happy, and abundant, but that involves many things – health, finances, family, friends, career, and more. Obviously, we can’t focus on 10 goals at once or we’d become overwhelmed. So, start with one or two. What is a priority for you? It could be your health, raising your kids, setting yourself up financially, advancing your career, starting a business, strengthening a relationship, buying a retirement home, or any number of other possibilities.  Focus on the one or two that are most important to you right now and make a plan, ditch the excuses, and take the steps today that will lead you to your ideal tomorrow. Once you’ve developed those habits, you can shift your focus to new goals. It’s hard work, but doing so intentionally and on purpose will get you where you want to be.

Which of those 3 fundamentals have you found most beneficial to you, or which of the 3 do you need to improve on? Share in the comments section.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

3 Tips to Avoid Grown-up Holiday Meltdowns

This time of year is filled with opportunities to communicate. Family and friend gatherings, holiday parties and get-togethers will require a high level of communication. For some this is an excitedly anticipated time to catch up and reconnect. For others, this is a dreaded occasion where they are forced to play verbal and emotional chess with others. Every gathering runs the risk of someone getting hurt, mad, or having a complete meltdown over something. While we don’t have total control over how others communicate, we can take some steps to minimize holiday drama with our own communication skills.

  • Storytelling vs. Storylistening – We all know the “One-Upper.” You say you got a great deal on something, and they share how they got a better deal on a bigger something. Most of us know how to avoid being a One-Upper. However, a close cousin is the “Me-Too-er.” Someone shares a story about travel plans gone wrong, and before they’ve barely uttered their last word, Ms. Me-Too-er jumps in to share her own travel-plans-gone-wrong story. While her intent was to commiserate and participate in the conversation, she actually physically yanked the spotlight off someone and planted it firmly on herself. Storytellers are fun, but storylisteners are, too. If you have something to contribute, ensure the other person is done sharing their story before easing into your own. Remember, when it comes to being the person everyone wants to be around, instead of trying to be interesting, work on being interested.
  • Politics, Religion, Sex, and…Curiosity? – There are many topics that are live-wires right now. Politics is one of them. And that’s a BIG topic. Religion is dicey too. Even sex scandals are creeping beyond Hollywood and Washington and moving closer to our own communities. While I caution any who decide to talk about these fiery topics, there will no doubt be discussions around them. They are permeating our media now and everyone has an opinion. If you find yourself tempted to be sucked into this vortex, instead of sharing your opinion, why don’t you try being curious. Ask questions like, “what do you think the solution is?” or “if you were in charge, how would you handle it?” Be cautious that your tone is one of curiosity, not interrogation. Whether you agree or not (remember, you haven’t shared your own opinions – you’re being mysterious) thank the person for sharing their views and then work on steering the conversation in another direction. You can always get into a debate (or smackdown) after the holidays…
  • Be Aware of Your Own Sensitivities – We all have triggers…nagging little injustices that stay tucked in the back of our mind until a certain someone pulls them to the surface. They say what they always say, you flip out, and then try to explain yourself by saying they always make you feel a certain way. No one can MAKE you feel a certain way. You feel a certain way because you have some facts (FACT: Suzie tells you every year how “cute” your house is. FACT: Suzie frequently brags about her expensive home, cars, and luxury vacations) and you fill in any blanks between those facts with stories: Suzie is a self-righteous snob who just likes to belittle you in front of others. The authors of the book, Crucial Conversations, call these Victim and Villain stories. Neither of which is 100% accurate. Don’t take the bait your storytelling leaves you…vow to have a discussion with Suzie AFTER the gathering, and in the meantime, recognize your triggers, and do your best to let it go…for now.

Some of these are easier than others to pull off, but they are all likely to make a difference and keep the wine in our glass instead of in the face of our foe.

Alright, it’s your turn. Share a tip you have for keeping the drama out of a grown-up gathering. Post it in the comments section.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Five Love Languages – Quality Time

As more and more conversations centered around communication have surfaced, once a month I’ll be featuring one of Five Love Languages based on Gary Chapman’s book series. Each post will highlight a particular “language” and some suggestions on ways to meet that need for yourself and others.  In October, I shared Words of Affirmation. For November, we’re going to focus on good ol’ QT.

Before we get into that, let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Touch

We all have a primary “language” we speak and need to have communicated to us in order to feel loved in our personal relationships and appreciated in our workplace.  The key is finding out your own language, as well as those you have relationships with in your personal and professional life.  These discoveries will help you communicate and dramatically improve the relationships in your life.  Last month’s post talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers.  These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why.  This month we will discuss Quality Time.  Remember, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal life and business life so view all the languages from two sets of perspectives.  If you’re ready to move on, let’s spend some QT together dissecting this language.

The quality aspect of Quality Time is founded on focused attention.  That means without distractions or other tasks being completed simultaneously.  (Are you listening social media surfers?)

Let’s start from a personal perspective.  The whole point to these language speakers is quality.  Just spending time together may not be enough.  A spouse may wonder, “we just spent six hours at the picnic with our friends and family and you say we haven’t spent quality time together”.  Ah Marone!  The definition of quality time lies in the hands of the one desiring it.  Your first clue is to listen to their complaints:  “you never watch TV with me”, “we never go out to dinner alone anymore”, “why don’t we take day trips together anymore”, “why are you always on that damn phone?”  You get the picture.  Take these not-so-subtle hints as a sign that this person needs a little QT with you.

From a professional perspective, it can be more difficult to determine when a co-worker speaks this language.  Supervisors should regularly set aside scheduled QT time with each direct report.  If you can trickle it down to other levels, great.  Some may be able to pull this off monthly, others only quarterly.  If possible, allow about 30 minutes with each individual.  You’ll start to see which ones need the full amount, and which ones don’t.  Adjust accordingly.  You should be actively listening while the other person is talking.  Remember, this is about Focused Attention.  Paying attention like this will also help you determine each person’s “language”. Even if you’re not a supervisor, a complaining co-worker saying “nobody cares around here”, or “if I could catch Beth’s ear for 2 seconds I could fix this whole problem”, or “nobody communicates anymore”, is likely to speak this language and can be helped following the same steps in casual conversation.  Ask how they’re doing, if they have any ideas or concerns on their mind.  If nothing comes up, just shoot the breeze with them.  Ask about their life outside of work, upcoming vacations, whatever, just make sure they feel they were listened to and valued for their contributions.

Quality Time can be a tough language to speak as we are all so pressed for time, but for those who really need it, providing it can prevent bigger issues down the line that you also wouldn’t have time for.  So get it in your calendar and stop putting it off.  There’s an awesome likelihood that you too will benefit from that quality time!

Is QT a language you’re fluent in?  Share some stories about how to successfully communicate in this language.  Stay tuned for next month’s post on Acts of Service.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

3 Tips to Being More Coachable

I can say pretty straight up that I don’t like being told what to do. Never have. I recognized this pretty early on. I’ve hung out with spite thanks to the times I’ve done the EXACT OPPOSITE of what it was suggested I do. “Independent Thinker, occasional Rogue” was how I liked to think of myself. But this attitude didn’t serve me well when someone was trying to coach me for my own good. Friends, co-workers, bosses. They all tried to help me because despite this flaw, for some reason, they found me otherwise quite likeable. In my early 20’s, I hung onto this like an honorable badge. I KNEW I was taking the hard way, but felt that was noble for some reason.

When I reached my 30’s, I began to realize the value of coaching. With each wall I hit, either personally, or professionally, I found that I could adjust something in myself which would then either lower the wall, or give me what I needed to climb over it. The secret to this: I started listening to what people were saying to coach me. When I really took the time to listen, I began to realize I had been hearing many of the same things from various people for YEARS. Yup…that’s the painful truth. In my case, I could give the impression that I was defiant, argumentative, or non-compliant. This doesn’t fare well in any relationship, personal or professional.

What gets tricky is you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater (terrible idiom). While I didn’t want to be seen as defiant, argumentative, or non-compliant as a general rule, there were good qualities to be found within those as well. This is where good coaching comes in. There are plenty of people around us who truly want the best for us and can share some perspective that we can’t see. Here are the top 3 things you need to do to become more coachable:

  • Listen – Be willing to listen when someone takes the time to share how you may be perceived. It doesn’t mean their perception is everyone’s reality, but it is theirs and it may have some accuracy. This doesn’t always feel good. Accept that the criticism might sting, but if you trust the source as someone who is truly trying to help you, that should make it a little easier to bear. Try not to get defensive, or explain yourself. Just take it in and process it.
  • Try it on – Does that perception fit? Can you see where others COULD perceive you that way? Can you see the truth in it? Have you heard this same message before from others? Knowing that others may have that perception, determine if this is a perception you do or don’t want others to have of you, based on your goals and aspirations.
  • Adjust – How could you “turn it down” enough to improve the perception without eliminating the good parts? Here’s an example: I have a very playful personality. While it seems most appreciate this, there are some that find it downright annoying. I try to adjust this when I’m in mixed company. I don’t turn it all the way down, just a tad, but it’s something I need to remain conscious of. I don’t mind being seen as “playful,” but I don’t want to be seen as a “clown.” See the difference?

It’s not always easy to be coached, but it’s always beneficial. Seek out feedback from people you trust and respect. Not just the ones who will tell you how awesome you are (which you are), but also from those who will be honest about potential flaws. One thing to keep in mind is that we judge ourselves based on our INTENTIONS, however, we judge others based on their BEHAVIOR. That means people aren’t judging us on our intentions (they don’t even know what those are), they can only judge us by our behaviors (which they can clearly see).

Also, remember we may lead with different qualities depending on which role we are in. For example, I have different roles: mom, leader, friend, co-worker, business owner. I allow different qualities to lead in each of those roles. In my earlier example, I can allow my playfulness to be full-on when I’m in the mom & friend role, but need to turn it down in the leader role. You serve many roles as well, so bear that in mind for yourself.

Your turn to do some coaching. Which of the 3 tips have you found most useful, or what’s another tip you have to help us all to be more coachable? Share in the comments.

If you would like to see what a coaching relationship can do for you, let’s work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design. An Empowerment Session is the best place to start (and it’s FREE)! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Your neighbor needs help moving; Your co-worker asks if you can take on some of their project; the school needs more volunteers; your friend needs a babysitter. So many requests, so little time. When someone makes a request of us, it can be challenging to say, “no.” This often leads to decisions that don’t benefit us. We may agree to the request, but sacrifice our own needs or wants. If the request is made through email, we could ignore it altogether, but this doesn’t fair well for our reputation.

So how do we say “no” without feeling like a jerk? While not 100% guilt-proof, there are a few ways that we can decline a request without feeling as guilty about it.

Use Your Calendar – One of the easiest times to say “no” is when we have something else we’re committed to. For example, when you tell your friend in need of a babysitter that while you’d love to help, your niece’s recital is that night, you don’t feel so bad.  Yet, we tend to only put things in our calendar that are outside our normal routine. For example, if you go to the gym 3 nights a week, is that in your calendar? Probably not. Scheduling important-to-you tasks should be part of your calendar. While you may have some flexibility, like skipping the gym to help your neighbor move, and just making it up tomorrow, you may not always have that flexibility. For example, if it’s important to your family that you have quality Sunday morning time, this should be blocked off as “Unavailable” in your calendar. It’s much easier to say, “I’d love to, but my calendar is booked that day.” People tend to respect the fact that you have other commitments. You don’t have to get into the details of what those commitments are.

Offer an Alternative – A clear cut “no” is not always the best choice either. In the case of the friend looking for a sitter, you could say, “I can’t on Friday, but I could on Saturday, if that helps.” Or to the co-worker looking for you to take on some of their project, you could say, “I don’t think that will work, but I’m happy to cover your calls for the afternoon so you can have uninterrupted time to work on your project.” These are compromises that may be mutually beneficial.

How to Say It – Then there are the times you just have to say “no.” These are tougher because you’re not blaming your calendar and you don’t have a compromise to lighten the situation. This is common when someone is requesting our business services or products for free. So how do you say it? You can be direct and honest if you think that will help the situation, but more often than not, when someone needs you for something, it isn’t the best time to point out that they never seem to be available when you need help. Being vague can be the best way to decline, while staying polite, but firm. Here are some examples:

  • I’m sorry, I wish I could help, but I just won’t be able to make that work.
  • Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t right now. Will you ask me again next time?
  • I’m sorry, I’m going to have to pass.
  • I have to decline now, but if something changes I’ll be sure to let you know.

Remember, when you say “yes” to one thing, you’re saying “no” to another. You need to stay in control of your life and activities. If you’re constantly at the mercy of requests and favors, it won’t be long before resentment starts keeping regular hours with you. And that’s not good for anyone!!

While it would be great to single-handedly fulfill every request that comes your way, that just isn’t possible. You have to keep a manageable balance between achieving your own goals and helping others to achieve theirs.

Your turn – what’s a method you use to say “no” without feeling guilty? Share in the comments section!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com