Is this also stopping you from being able to share ideas and grow?

In a coaching session last week:

Client: ‘I feel nervous in presentations.’

Me: ‘What do you say to yourself during a presentation?’

After a long silence, she said, ‘I ask myself “is my English good enough..? Am I clear enough? Oh I forgot the word.. Oh am I using the right word?” Today I wanna talk about whether I need to take English class.’

‘There are a few things. First, when you say ‘I didn’t go to an International school. That’s why I don’t have a natural accent.” is this a problem or a solution?’

‘It’s neither.’

‘How about if I say it’s a fact from the past that we can’t change anymore. That’s why we’re upset when we think about it. It does nothing but drains our energy. Instead, how about if we focus on what we can change?’

I probe further, ‘How do you decide your English is not good?’

‘I don’t use fancy words. I receive emails from colleagues and they use fancy words. That’s cool. When I see the new words, I look them up, write them down, so I can use them next time.’

‘Right! Sounds like you are doing the right thing already!’

‘True.’

‘What evidence do you have that shows that your English isn’t good?’

‘Eh…’

‘Sounds like you have none? What evidence do you have that shows that this thought might not accurately reflect reality?’

‘My customers know what I’m talking about. My colleagues have said I’m good.’

‘That means this statement “My English isn’t good” isn’t true?’

Silence.

‘And how did you decide that fancy words means you are an effective communicator?’

‘…’

‘What’s the percentage of people who you work with, or your clients, is native English speakers?’

‘1%..’

‘If you used fancy words, how many of them would actually know what you mean?’

‘…’

‘If you were them, and you spoke with someone who used big words you can’t understand, how would you feel?’

‘Embarrassed..’

‘What would you really care about if you were your customers?’

‘That they go through what I need quickly. Direct and simple. I have no time.’

‘Yea!’

‘Actually I use simple English.’

‘And how has it worked?’

‘It’s easy to understand.’

‘So what’s wrong with that? Why do you have to copy others? Why can’t you be yourself?’

‘…’

‘Do you still think you need to take English class?’

‘No.’

What’s your experience? What’s stopping you?
#HeightenedAwareness #ShiftYourMind #CommunicationCoaching #EmpowerWomen #DevelopWomen #ChooseConfidence #CoachingIsGold #WhatIsCoaching #DemystifyCoaching

Is your focus making you unhappy?

A 60-year-old lady who likes to receive compliments and recognitions for her effort has just put some house plants in the bathroom to decorate a little. She asked her son, ‘what do you think about the new plants?!’

Her son, who likes to offer his opinion and tends to be critical, replied, ‘they’re a little girly. Too colourful for my taste.’

Maybe he’s right about the plants themselves. Maybe they’re not his type. But how about the bigger picture, from a bathroom with no plants previously to one that’s got plants now? Why does life always have to be ‘too much or too little’? Can’t it be just good enough? Can’t we just be content about all there is?

We can be subjective and have an opinion about something. We can truly believe we are right at different moments. We can have tunnel vision. Life can be divided into ‘this is not nice’, ‘that’s nice’. But this seems to only create grief when we think that whatever is different to our taste is ’not good’. It only makes us unhappy. But actually what’s going on in reality is just that things are different from our expectations. If we look at it objectively, then it could be a nice change to have a plant in the bathroom compared to before when there was no plant.

Do we choose to be miserable sometimes?

What do you choose to think?

#ChooseToBeHappy #ShiftYourMind #FocusOnPositives

How do I know what’s special about me..? :(

Got to work with a pilot this week! Excited! He came through to me for interview coaching. *It’s funny how I saw him completely differently when I found out he was a captain! A captain!!!*

‘Why should I hire you?’

‘I have the professional certificate, the medical certificate, the experience, the papers.’

*Again.. general answers..!*

‘What do you think you’ve got that others don’t? I mean, there are so many pilots out there who got pass the first round!’

‘I’m motivated, passionate, dedicated. I’m responsible.’

Ok.. not quite satisfied with the lame generalities.. I asked, ‘imagine you were the company hiring managers. What do you see in this guy that gets your attention over the other ones?’

‘Well.. actually this is one of the questions I found hard to answer.’

‘Ok. Let’s try a different one. What have your boss and colleagues said about you?’

‘Hum.. they said I’m ahead of the game. That I’m well prepared. That I got the weather report before the captain even thought of it.’

‘Right! So you have foresight.’

Next time, when you have problem knowing what’s special about you, ask yourself, ‘what have others I worked with said about me? What would they say about me if they were asked?’

#CommunicationCoaching

Are you in the right mindset for job interviews?

Client: ‘I went for the interview. They asked me if I knew about certain artists. They mentioned this long Italian name that I’d never heard of! That’s when I thought, I wish I’d studied history of art! So I didn’t get that job..’

Me: ‘Next time, don’t worry about what you don’t know. Focus on talking about what you are good at! E.g. “I can get you more sales because I can gain people’s trust quickly.” That’s a skill that they can’t easily find! It doesn’t matter if we don’t have the knowledge of the subject matter – even an art historian wouldn’t know about every single artist! In many countries, candidates are recognised for their ability to learn, rather than what they already know, because the world is changing so quickly that our skill set gets obsolete if we don’t keep updating ourselves!’

What would you have said in your interview if asked about knowledge / experience that you don’t have?

#ShiftYourMind #FocusOnWhatYouHave

Are you making this mistake in interviews too?

This week a friend of mine had a job interview and wanted to grab lunch with me to practice for it.

We just sat down, she didn’t wait, ‘ask me questions, Jess.’ I obliged. I asked a few questions. But she was struggling to find anything to say about herself. She struggled to find the words. So I said, ‘try to speak to me, not thinking that you’re in an interview.’

When she stopped because she was looking for the perfect word (she could have said ‘goal’), she struggled to pick herself up and get back. I noticed that she might have been beating herself up, having an unconstructive internal monologue, maybe something like ‘I suck. My English is terrible.’

So I said, ‘Hey, look, you know what, there’s a common misconception that having a good English level means speaking very fast like Americans. Some people take longer to put their ideas together and it’s important to recognise that doesn’t mean your English is poor, that only means your style is different.’

That night, I texted her, ‘the word for you is “confidence”, not “English”.

I hadn’t joined the dots at that time but now I realised that she’s perhaps another slight introvert who just takes time to form her own ideas.

Sometimes we forget what the task is. If we focus on what we need to do instead of evaluating how well we’re doing at the same time, then we’ll be fine. The truth is, in a meeting, in real time, our brains are not designed to think what we need to do, how well we are doing, and how people think about us, all at the same time!!! What we need to do instead is be mindful. Do one thing at a time.

That’s just too much going on and no one human being would be able to juggle all that multi-tasking at the same time! It’s a mistake for most of us to speak and judge ourselves at the same time! If we can put aside the judging, even to delay it to post-event, that would stop us from feeling nervous! Our society has conditioned us to constantly evaluate our performance. That’s common among high achievers. And that’s ok, as long as we don’t do it at the same time as we are presenting!

Are you also living a ‘fake’ life at work?

I recently got a new client who broke down and started crying in our first coaching session. 😮 It was a nervous breakdown. Upon some digging it seems that her problem is not communication, but confidence. I heard paradigms (self-talk, beliefs) that don’t help her, e.g. ‘I need to look good in front of my boss.’ ‘My English is not good enough.’

It also became clear that she may be an introvert who is even less likely to be outspoken, even in her own language. But instead of being herself, she’s trying to play the role of a ‘successful leader’, e.g. articulate, vocal, speak fast, dominant, an extrovert.

After a few coaching sessions, she realised her strategy was to be herself and do the things that she’s comfortable with, e.g. prepare in advance for meetings, write things down, propose ideas to her manager, let the boss lead meetings and promote her ideas, so she can observe in meetings instead.

I’m so happy to see her smiling!

Instead of subscribing to behaviours that are socially perceived to be successful, what feels authentic to you? What roles can you play instead?

#authenticleadership

Do you want to be happier too?

Last week, I needed to go to the doctor’s. Was running late for my appointment.

Left home. Called for the lift. It came. When the doors opened I found two dismantled doors inside.

Doors closed.

Lift opened one floor below. A construction worker wearing a tank top looks as if he planned to come in with another 3-meter high wooden plank. It’s a small lift. There’s no room for the two of us with all the wood. It looked dangerous.

I said impatiently, ‘can I go down first?’

He didn’t pay any attention to me. He barged in, muttering, ‘it’s gonna be fine! Don’t worry!’

Since I made eye contact with him, he seemed confident, and started talking to me, ‘Beautiful, where are you going?’

I didn’t want to tell him where, so I replied, ‘out and about.’

‘Oh, meeting up with your boyfriend?’

‘Yea.’

Lift arrived on the ground floor.

‘Can you hold the door for me?’ He asked.

What!? I was astonished that he’d even ask! I was late already! I certainly have no time for that! But at that time I didn’t feel like I could say no..

I held open the lift for him. He took his time to take the 3 planks of wood out, one by one. Unbelievable!!

Finally it was my turn to go out.

‘Wait! Can you hold the gate?’ Now he wants me to hold open the building’s gate!? Can’t believe he even asked!

Even though I simply wanted to run out, I did it for him anyway, didn’t really think I had a choice..

Then the unexpected happened. He turned around, looked at me, ‘Oh you are so kind. Your boyfriend must treat you very well. Thank you so much,’ he smiled happily.

Although I wasn’t planning to, I made someone’s day, and seeing him smile made my day.

It’s easy to spread joy. Easier than we think. The secret is in the every-day small acts. Just be kind.

Often we say ‘I feel happy’, ‘I don’t feel happy’, ‘you make me happy’ ‘you upset me’, as if we have no control over how we should feel, giving the ownership of our happiness to others. Giving others power to ‘make us happy’.

You can ‘create’ happiness instead waiting for the feeling to ‘come up’. You can be the owner of your happiness. 🙂

#CreateHappiness #OwnYourLife #CoachingIsGold

Introvert vs Extrovert

At a party this weekend, I found myself witnessing an Introvert and an Extrovert in a conversation. Introvert was waiting for her opportunity to speak. She was very polite and patient. She was waiting for that pause that’s long enough to denote that Extrovert has finished her point.

But Extrovert doesn’t pause! She went blah blah blah the whole time. Any silence in the conversation that’s longer than 1/2 a second seems to her that no one wants to speak, and then she just starts speaking again. Extrovert’s thinking time, patience and pauses are much shorter, and any silences longer than 1/2 a second is deemed to be awkward, while Introvert is much more comfortable with silence so only when you stop speaking for 3 seconds, she thinks it’s her turn to jump in.

Then at the end of it we all wanted to grab food when Introvert said to me, ‘Hum. I need to catch you later, I’m making a mental note about all the things you said: about coffee, art, culture..’ That hit me – she’s paying attention the whole time and waiting for her chance!

What does this mean?

For extroverts: Try pausing for 5 seconds after sharing your idea and force yourself to live with the silence even when you’re not comfortable with it! Ask the other people questions to invite them to share their ideas!

For introverts: recognise that you don’t need to wait till the other person stops talking before you talk, otherwise you will never be able to talk!

How to learn from introverts and appreciate thinking time, rather than worrying about fluency

Today when working with a super introvert, I remember one of my Airbnb guests from the States, who was very, very strange, compared to anyone I’ve ever hosted. He spent the whole week in his room. He might have gone out twice a day to the bathroom, and once a day out for food.. Very unlike others.

I love my Airbnb guests. You can learn so much about human behaviours. I love learning about how every individual is so different.

On the last day, he finally came out, all packed, ready to go. ‘Would you like a coffee?’ He replied formally and quietly, ‘yeah, that’d be nice.’

We started chatting. It was soon obvious that he painstakingly takes utmost care to choose the right word, so much so that there would be awkward silences in the conversation, although he wasn’t uncomfortable with it, whereas I was a little uncomfortable that there should be silences for more than 5 seconds. A few times I caught myself cutting him off half way. As an extrovert, I was learning to give him more time, to be aware that the silences feel much longer to me that they to them.

I learnt to use the silence for my own thinking time. I thought of all my clients in the past who have grumbled at their lack of ‘fluency’, i.e. not speaking quickly. Then I saw this guy, who’s a native speaker, who was speaking so slowly with long pauses. He shows that pausing is not an implication of lack of fluency! It’s alright to pause, and make others wait if you have something important to say!

How to instantly turn everybody around you into nice people II

Went to the supermarket for lunch yesterday. Decided to go for French roast chicken.

Girl in front of me ordered, ‘I want this quinoa. Can you heat up the quinoa for me?’ She didn’t seem particularly happy to be there. Perhaps she was hoping to get back to eat at her desk asap.. Maybe catching up with emails.

Lady at counter said ‘no we don’t heat up salads.’

A little grumpy, didn’t even look at the attendant, she replied, ‘ok it’s fine I’ll take it anyway.’

So I told myself, ‘I will be nice to this counter lady, since it seems that her day must be not that easy!

I’m naturally jolly, so it wasn’t hard to show her my good vibe. I went up, looked at her, made eye contact, smiled, pointed at the menu, ‘this salad option – how big is it? Which ones can I have?’

‘You can choose 3.’

Pleasantly surprised at the number of options, I smiled again, ‘Oh nice!’

I already had my eye on the quinoa and couscous. I couldn’t decide between the red rice and potato salad, so I asked, ‘these 2- which one is better? I can’t decide..’

To my surprise, she whispered, ‘I’ll give you both. Don’t tell anyone.’ I even detected a little upturn in the corner of her lips!

I was really surprised!!! 😀

This shows all we need is common courtesy in our daily interactions with people we come across, even though they may be the bus driver, the cleaner, or the barista. It’s not about manipulating people. I about just being ourselves. We would smile at people we are close to, wouldn’t we?

It shows if we go to people with a good attitude, people will go out of their way to do things for us! The girl before me might have been able to go her quinoa heated up if she’d just smiled!