Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ben Franklin and New Year's Resolutions

Just found this list of virtues developed by Ben Franklin.  A good reminder for living a healthier, more balanced life.  Could be useful if you're looking for a New Year's resolution.

Benjamin Franklin’s Virtues and Precepts

·  TEMPERANCE  -Eat not to Dullness, Drink not to Elevation
·  SILENCE - Speak not but what way benefit others or your self. Avoid trifling conversation.
·  ORDER -Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.
·  RESOLUTION - Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
·  FRUGALITY - Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
·  INDUSTRY - Lose no Time – Be always employed in something useful. – cut off all unnecessary Actions.
·  SINCERITY - Use no hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly;and, if you speak; speak accordingly.
·  JUSTICE - Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.
·  MODERATION - Avoid Extremes. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.
·  CLEANLINESS - Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Clothes or Habitation.
·  TRANQUILITY - Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quote to Live By

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
---Steve Jobs

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quote from my friends at Six Seconds

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
- Viktor Frankl

Friday, September 16, 2011

Are you missing some important data today?

According to Peter Salovey (Yale University), Emotions are "real-time feedback signals."  What are your emotions telling you today?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

An important reminder. Anger is not the problem.

 Angry feelings contain information.  How we use this information (our behavior) is key.  Our anger can motivate us positively—to try harder.  Or negatively, to give up or lash out.  Repressing anger is not the same as managing anger.  Repression backfires.  Managing anger allows us to communicate effectively with others and obtain useful information (and motivation) for ourselves.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Birth of an Idea" Fun!!!

The Creative Process Takes Time.  Are you giving time for your own gestation of new ideas?

Untitled from Joe Russell on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is it possible to teach Emotional Intelligence (and why should we bother)?

I’ll confess: even though I know the value of EI (proven in research and my own experience), sometimes the subject seems too hard to teach. Most of us have been taught to avoid and repress our emotions. The simple question: What are you feeling right now?” is often met with blank stares or vague generalities: “I’m good.”

Since our emotions are often confusing or embarrassing, our reluctance to explore them makes sense. And even if we can figure out what we’re feeling, what difference does it make?

One reason to explore our emotions is that they are the only way to glimpse our “internal wiring.” Each of us “run” on a “program” of unconscious thoughts, beliefs, fears, biases, and desires. Our emotions are a window into these deeper parts of ourselves. Even if our emotions don’t reflect “reality” they do reflect our own perceptions. Learning to understand our inner world is the first step toward understanding how we “tick.” Then we can learn when to trust or distrust our instincts. We can develop our own unique intuition, a moment by moment GPS system that can guide us in the hundreds of decisions we make every day.

Ignoring our emotions is like refusing to read the directions for a powerful new gadget. Without this technical information, we’ll probably overlook some really cool device applications. Likewise, without a deeper knowledge of our own emotional patterns, we can misread others, make poor choices, and get stuck in some miserable situations.

It is also impossible to develop empathy (the WD40 of relationships) without emotional awareness. How can I understand your fear or anger if I’m unaware of my own?

Examining our emotions isn't easy but, like any skill, we will improve with practice. The rewards for this self-knowledge are great.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

EI Thought for the Day

"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.
Tao Te Ching

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How feelings affect the bottom line.

My friend, Jill, is getting a new website.  Her designer, Doug, is an exuberant, fun professional.  Still, sporadically he will send Jill an angry email complaining about her requests.  The emails are respectful and polite but we can feel his anger.  Jill is always surprised by these angry outbursts.  Why is Doug angry?  Jill would be happy to pay more if the job required it.  

After a flare-up, Doug is extra helpful and often apologizes.  But the damage has been done.  Jill won’t be using Doug again and she won’t refer him to others.  His repressed anger makes her uncomfortable.  If he would simply say to her, “I’m afraid that the scope of our work is expanding," Jill could hear this.  But Doug remains oblivious to his own feelings and their effect on his business.

© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How do I model accountability for my team?

• Use accountable language instead of victim language.
• When you make a mistake or you contribute to a project that doesn’t achieve desired results, share what you could have done differently, and how you will use the experience to improve future results.
• Share gravity issues (those issues over which you have no control, such as budgets) with your team, and talk about how you can work within those constraints.
• Take accountability for the results of your team.
• Incorporate these principles into performance evaluations and recognition programs to demonstrate their importance.
Adapted from Ohio State program

Monday, March 21, 2011

When Anger Gets the Best of Us

Celebrities have the burden of sometimes revealing their flaws to the world. This quarterback is experiencing a moment of low emotional intelligence. His anger masks his embarrassment. If he was in touch with his feelings, he could have communicated more authentically and skillfully. He would have managed his feelings without reacting defensively (which made a bad situation worse).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saying “no” --positively

Most of the time we are articulate, composed and pleasant. But lack of sleep, stress, or emotional triggers can lead to a poor choice of words. Even if we’re the king or queen of tact, it’s always great to practice for stellar customer service responses. My customer service workshop offers many great exercises. We practice key principles in refocusing difficult interactions and avoiding angry escalations.

Instructions: Replace the phrase in the left column with a more positive phrase in the right column.
Negative Phrase                    Positive Replacement
1. No.
2. It’s not our policy.
3. That’s not my job
4. It’s not my fault.
5. Calm down.
6. I’m busy right now.
7. Call me back later.
8. I don’t know.
9. The computer lost your info.
10. You’re wrong.
11. You’ll have to read the policy.
12. Most people know this.
© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Building Blocks of Motivation

Researchers from Maslow to Pink to Kuhn come to the same conclusions about motivation. Here's my graphic to remember their main points. I'd love to talk with your group about ways to keep our workplaces motivating!

© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Daniel Goleman on EI--NY Times article

A sad report here but something we can change.... You can read the entire article here.

As children grow ever smarter in IQ, their emotional intelligence is on the decline. Perhaps the most disturbing single piece of data comes from a massive survey of parents and teachers that shows the present generation of children to be more emotionally troubled than the last. On average, children are growing more lonely and depressed, more angry and unruly, more nervous and prone to worry, more impulsive and aggressive.

Two random samples of American children, age seven to sixteen, were evaluated by their parents and teachers--adults who knew them well. The first group was assessed in the mid-1970s, and a comparable group was surveyed in the late 1980s. Over that decade and a half there was a steady worsening of children's emotional intelligence. Although poorer children started out at a lower level on average, the rate of decline was the same across all economic groups--as steep in the wealthiest suburbs as in the poorest inner-city slum.

Dr. Thomas Achenbach, the University of Vermont psychologist who did these studies--and who has collaborated with colleagues on similar assessments in other nations--tells me that the decline in children's basic emotional competencies seems to be worldwide. The most telling signs of this are seen in rising rates among young people of problems such as despair, alienation, drug abuse, crime and violence, depression or eating disorders, unwanted pregnancies, bullying, and dropping out of school.

What this portends for the workplace is quite troubling: growing deficiencies among workers in emotional intelligence, particularly among those newest to the job. Most of the children that Achenbach studied in the late 1980s will be in their twenties by the year 2000. The generation that is falling behind in emotional intelligence is entering the workforce today.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A quote to contemplate

“Feeling and longing are the motive forces behind all human endeavor and human creations.” Albert Einstein

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tweaking my Secrets of Motivating Others workshop

I can't help myself. I'm always tweaking programs because I'm always learning more. Here's my most current description of a popular program, especially designed for managers.

For Managers--Secrets of Motivating Others.
How can I motivate Larry to take out the garbage? How can I motivate myself to write that report? These and other secrets are revealed in this dynamic exploration of psychology and emotions.
This session will cover:
• The three most important factors needed to create a motivated workplace.
• How to create the productive and pleasurable “flow” state at work.
• Recognizing language that derails or builds accountability.
• Thought patterns that increase motivation and productivity.
• Best practices to motivate yourself and others.
© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fun exercise to improve presentation skills

Want to improve presentation skills for your managers or team leads?
Here’s a fun, effective exercise. It will provide great lessons for even the most anxious speaker. They key is returning to the emotional world and innocence of childhood.

In front of the group, have the speaker describe his/her childhood bedroom in as much detail as possible. Watch what happens.

The speaker will lose self-consciousness and become lost in the memories of their childhood. Since this is a strong (and emotional) memory, he/she will have no fear of forgetting “their material.” The speaker will be much more dynamic and naturally use gestures to explain the space. In fact, all speech mechanics (tempo, volume, eye contact, facial expressions etc.) will be effective because the speaker will enjoy this subject and truly want to communicate it.
© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Teambuilding and Trust Exercises at Work.

I often bring interactive exercises to my workshops. These keep participants engaged (and awake). But these exercises can’t simply be diversions or gimmicks. Especially in the area of trust. Researchers and business experts continue to confirm Patrick Lencioni’s (5 Dysfunctions of Teams) premise. Trust is vital for healthy teamwork. The irony of team building events is that the day can be exhilarating or fun but actually cause a loss of trust. This is because the real issues are never surfaced and everyone learns to pretend the team is now closer. Trust erodes at work the way it does in other areas of our lives--through sometimes small, mundane misunderstandings that seem too "unimportant" to talk about. These build into attitudes that filter everything we see our colleague (friend, family member) do. Lencioni’s work reminds us that trust is required for conflict to be handled effectively AND conflict must be addressed for trust to survive.
© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Decoding our Emotional Messages

If our emotions contain important information for us, why do we often ignore them? One obvious reason--emotions are disruptive and distressing. Another reason is that our emotions are often hard to decode. A dear friend was irate at the loss of a packaged “Anniversary Barbie doll.” She wanted to deny her anger (it embarrassed her) but her rage remained. What did it mean? After some delving, we discovered that she had unconsciously created a daydream that this Barbie would be a collector’s item and worth “big bucks.” This was, objectively, not likely. But even if “Debra’s” emotions weren’t giving her accurate info about her outer reality, they were giving her vital info. Debra realized just how fearful she was about her finances and retirement.

Another example is a client who continued to feel rage toward her supervisor. “Jean” created many excuses for her anger but over time, talking to good friends and writing in her journal, she began to realize that she was really feeling anger towards her mother. This unresolved anger was now being directed at another woman who reminded Jean (subconsciously) of her mother. The emotion signaled that Jean needed to resolve those early feelings. Once she was able to understand what her anger was really about, she felt a new peace and work and was able to apologize and build a great relationship to her supervisor. Jean’s emotions weren’t “wrong.” They just contained information that needed decoding.
© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Monday, January 24, 2011

Another tool--the Facilitated Discussion

After a meeting with a client, my friend and colleague Pam complimented me on having "lots of arrows in my quiver." She meant that I had many methods to choose from, when customizing a program. Wow. I love that. As the psychologist Abraham Maslow said, "If you only have a hammer, you see every problem as a nail." Last month I wrote that coaching a few employees may be more appropriate than training the entire group. Another awesome tool is the facilitated discussion.

Facilitators use structured questions, exercises, and specific debriefing patterns to help a group productively explore issues. Techniques such as "The Workshop Method" or the "Affinity Method" are useful to:

•Channel and guide participant input
•Integrate diverse and creative ideas
•Build an informed group consensus
•Develop purposeful, workable solutions.
If the team's dynamic is dysfunctional or simply unknown, a facilitated discussion can uncover root causes and create action plans. Because members feel listened to, they are motivated to participate and follow through on these plans.

But make no mistake: facilitated discussions are alive with both promise and risk. They create a venue to hear the real struggles and hopes of the participants. Rather than applying a formula, these structures allow us to deeply listen to the real situation and work with it. We may have to tolerate uncertainty and discomfort. Deeper levels of conflict may be exposed. But, just like the rigors of creating better health--we need to persevere through discomfort to arrive at healing. The pain is the precursor of new potentials and creativity.

© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Friday, January 21, 2011

Excited about upcoming training at Menlo Logistics. Our day together--gr8 mix of analysis, experiments, play, and practice. #in

Monday, January 17, 2011

Best practices when facilitating groups

Facilitating a group process is challenging but the rewards for the group are great. Here's a list of ideal facilitator actions. See Ingrid Ben's "Facilitating with Ease" for more info.

__ asking for dissenting views
__ paraphrasing a lot
__ showing respect for opposing views
__ non-defensiveness
__ validating speakers
__ redirecting sarcasm
__ confronting the facts
__ using norms for control
__ showing concern for others'
__ making interventions
__ checking on how people are doing
__ disclosing personal feelings
__ letting people vent
__ bringing proper closure
__ mediating conflicts between
two people
__ making sure everyone stays
from "Facilitating with Ease" by Ingrid Bens

Friday, January 14, 2011

Some highlights from Time Management discussions yesterday

Had a great time with the good folks at Bimbo Bakery. Our Time Management crash course was a blast. We covered the basic principles:
Time Audits
Goal Setting
Energy Matching

We also discussed many ways to handle the deluge of email and other interruptions. Here are some other hightlights from from the day.
Other best practices to remember:

1. Unload your brain into a planner at the end of the day. You’ll sleep better and be prepared to jump into duties the next morning.

2. “Kiss that frog!” Procrastination drains energy. Complete the task that weighs on you and you’ll have more energy.

3. Plan for the unexpected. Provide time in your schedule for “Murphy’s Law” events. A more realistic schedule will keep you less stress and you won’t disappoint others. If you have extra time, use it to improve processes.

4. Having time to think and improve processes is the best way to leverage time. Your improvements will save more time and eliminate fire-fighting at work.

© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Use surveys to improve training

Fun with bar charts! My new EI/trust survey assessment. Use before and after training to gauge skills and health of team. Call or write for more info.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Got Trust?

Best-selling training gurus Steven R. Covey and Patrick Leoncini, (his 5 Dysfunctions of a team model seen here) and training researchers at DDI all agree—the levels of trust within a team determine its effectiveness and health. Without trust, teams can be plagued with hidden agendas, defensiveness, and passive aggressive maneuvers. During team meetings, the best ideas are lost, as members censor themselves. Without the necessary conflict of ideas, the team is more likely to make inferior decisions--with disastrous results. Without trust, this cycle worsens as members shield themselves from blame, withhold crucial insights, and produce more inferior results. As members withdraw (psychologically and emotionally) from the group, their first priority becomes self-preservation.

Do I trust others at work? Am I a trustworthy member of my team?

To create trust on the team, members must let down their guard and show vulnerability. This is hard! And often counter-intuitive. We’re primed to compete and hide our weaknesses. But if our leaders model a healthy sharing of their feelings (fear, frustration, confusion), others will feel safe to follow. Now a new cycle can begin. As trust grows, members discuss conflicts or misunderstandings before they escalate. They discuss their inferences, instead of assuming the worst of their colleagues.

EI skills make us trustworthy. As we recognize our emotions, we can acknowledge them to others—building empathy and avoiding mixed messages. As we practice tolerating and managing our reactions, we communicate with more skill and less reactivity—helping others feel safe even in conflict. As we examine our unconscious self-talk, we intercede before an unhealthy assumptions creates problem behaviors.

Team reflection: Have we made poor decisions because members did not feel willing to share vital information? Is there a current issue that is taboo? Any current conflict can uncover deeper issues within the team. Can we invest time to understand each others’ point of view? This investment can pay huge dividends.

Journal prompt: How comfortable am I with self-disclosure at work? On a scale of 1-10, how much do we trust others at work? How can I improve levels of trust with my coworkers?

©Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Self-serving quote :)

For those who are reluctant to spend money on an outsider, it's important to consider the hidden but staggering costs associated with being a dysfunctional team. The cost of losing and having to replace one good member will more than cover any initial expense of a good consultant. And that’s before factoring in the value of higher productivity and reduced stress.
From Overcoming the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni