Sophie had been taught by her parents, teachers and society to be a ‘nice girl’. To be polite, treat others well and avoid upsetting anyone. As a result, she received lots of positive feedback from those she was kind to.
But Sophie’s self-worth became linked to those compliments and as she reached her mid-30s she realised that her good nature was being taken advantage of.
Colleagues would dump work on her, her family expected her to listen to all their problems and she was stuck in a relationship where she felt unappreciated.
It was at this point that Sophie started to work with me and we discussed her need to set personal boundaries. To value herself in a way that didn’t rely on other people’s feelings and behaviours towards her.
You can set personal boundaries around any area of your life. They could be about your thoughts and feelings, your physical space, your friends and social life and your spiritual beliefs.
If you haven’t had a significant adult who role modelled personal boundaries, setting them can feel uncomfortable.
So, I’ve listed 3 ways you can start to discover yours:
Think about the different types of boundaries I’ve listed above. Try to recall situations where you’ve felt discomfort, anger, resentment or frustration with someone. This is usually because one of your limits have been crossed.
Identify the boundary that you would need to put in place to avoid these feelings again. For example; you’re not happy to ‘bad mouth’ other friends or you’re not prepared to have your parents every Xmas when your siblings don’t help. Which relationships in your life would this boundary apply to? Friends, colleagues, family, partner or strangers?
When you feel someone is about to cross your boundary, speak up assertively. There’s no point in having boundaries if you don’t respect them. Be polite but firm and rather than blaming the other person use ‘I’ statements like; I feel, I need, I don’t, I believe.
“I don’t feel it’s fair to talk about X when we don’t know her side”
“I would like us to take it in turns to have our parents at Xmas”
When you’re changing your mindset or behaviour it does take time and practice to embed. I suggest you identify one boundary at a time and challenge yourself to speak up if it gets crossed. Don’t feel guilty though, because respecting yourself is not the same as being selfish.
You’ll find that people may be surprised at your new behaviour but will respect you for having boundaries and what a boost it gives to your self-worth!
According to research, workplace bullying is four times more likely than sexual harassment at work and is an issue for both men and women.
The problem with bullying in the workplace is it’s not always easy to identify. When a colleague of mine made comments that I perceived as undermining and hurtful. I couldn’t decide if I was being oversensitive or if they really were out of order.
Another colleague’s reaction when I told her about the comments was, don’t worry we all know he’s difficult, so I tried to brush his behaviour off.
I, like lots of women, was conditioned to be nice,
not to upset others or make a scene. That is why women tend to dismiss or ignore belittling behaviour
The #metoo movement has made great changes for sexual harassment so perhaps this is the perfect time to stand up against workplace bullying as well?
Going back to my story, I was fortunate not to see this colleague every day as he was based elsewhere in the country. We did, however, have regular contact as we worked on the same project.
His intimidating behaviour and derogatory comments really knocked my confidence and I began to dread his calls and visits. My performance at work was affected and I felt anxious and demotivated.
Eventually, I had the courage to take my problem to my boss. His response really surprised me; as he said I needed to stand up to the person myself. Not what I’d been expecting or hoping he’d say!
It took me a day to build up my courage then, with my stomach churning and hands shaking I called him.
“John*, I’m really enjoying working on this project. At times though, I feel that you don’t respect my contributions and value. I find the comments you make such as;………. hurtful and unprofessional”
John was clearly shocked and the call quickly ended. In the moments afterwards I was hit by a sense of guilt, but that was soon replaced by a feeling of strength and power at having spoken up and having my voice heard.
What happened next?
I’d love to say John changed overnight and we became best friends, but in reality, our working relationship did improve and the hurtful comments dramatically reduced.
If you’re struggling with a workplace colleague I’d urge you to do something about it. If it’s upsetting you and your effectiveness at work then do tell someone, HR, your manager or a colleague.
The key thing I took away from my experience of workplace bullying is that there’s nothing more powerful than standing up for yourself and having your voice heard.
If you’d like to have a chat with me about this or other confidence issues, you can book a free Confidence Breakthrough Call at www.speakwithjo.com
Only 7% of any message we want to communicate comes from our words, so we need to make sure that we sound more confident at work.
Regardless of your role, having great communication skills only improves your ability to lead. It helps you better motivate your team, create a culture of open and honest feedback, and keep people organised and on the right track.
As someone who coaches women to make a confident impact in the workplace; communication and language are key to me. I spend a significant amount of time supporting clients to learn the most effective ways to convey messages.
I’ve noticed some of the bad habits people adopt in the workplace, and the impact that changing these habits has on both the outcomes of conversations and leaders’ credibility and confidence.
Here are three you can fix today to be a stronger leader at work:
1. Use “Don’t” Instead of “Can’t” When Turning People Down
For many people, saying “no” can be one of the most difficult skills to master—and yet the most important. How you say it is almost as crucial as saying it at all.
Most people often use can’t or don’t when turning opportunities down, but one of the two is far more successful than the other.
When people say they can’t do something, it shows limitations to their abilities. By using don’t, it expresses power in the choice.
For example, if you’re asked to take on a new responsibility that really doesn’t suit your talents or have any benefit to your career, instead of saying, “I appreciate the opportunity, but I can’t take on the extra work now,” say, “I appreciate the opportunity, but I don’t have the available time at the moment due to my other priorities.
By phrasing your response to sound more confident, you reinforce the value of both yourself and your work.
2. Stop Writing “Sorry for not replying earlier” in Emails
In 2016, journalist Marissa Miller tweeted, “Adulthood is emailing ‘sorry for the delayed response!’ back and forth until one of you dies.”
Since then, tens of thousands have liked, retweeted, and shared her post across other social media platforms. To say it resonated would be an understatement.
Why are we so eager to apologise for being a reasonable communicator? It ultimately makes people sound weak and undermines their authority.
Let’s ban the phrase. Instead of writing, “Sorry for not replying earlier” say, “Thank you for your patience.” Or include more detail such as: “Thank you for your patience while I gathered the information required to provide you with clear next steps.”
This one small change will enhance your perception as a competent, confident leader.
3. Tell People You’re “Focused” Instead of “Busy”
How often do you hear colleagues talk about their busy days?
While that’s unlikely to change, we can improve the way we describe our activities.
When people say they’re busy, it sounds like their lives are out of control and they don’t know how to manage their time.
Instead of saying you’re busy, clearly, state your priorities. That means “I’m so busy” or “Work is crazy right now” becomes “I’m travelling for an event” or “I’m focused on developing two new client proposals.”
People often don’t realize how the seemingly trivial things we say can significantly impact the way others perceive us. Making these small changes to sound more confident, will increase your capacity to effectively lead others as well as work alongside them.
If you’d like to discuss other ways to communicate in a confident and impactful way, do book a free call with me at www.speakwithjo.com
Having a difficult conversation is an issue that came up with a couple of my clients this week and got me thinking about how I deal with them.
Do I get angry and release my frustrations by shouting or do I say nothing and bottle my feelings up, suppressing them with resentment?
In all honesty, I probably do a bit of both and in some situations, I’m able to follow my own advice and be assertive.
I recognised that the way I react depends on who I want to have the conversation with and my thinking in that moment.
For example, I will tackle an issue with my husband or kids head on. But with people I don’t know as well I might avoid any confrontation and instead swallow down my feelings. That gives me the message that I don’t value myself enough to speak up. Then the hurt I’m feeling often comes out non-verbally in my body language.
Does this sound like you?
Whether it’s your boss and colleagues at work or a family member who’s upset you. It’s important to voice how you feel and be heard.
How do I approach having a difficult conversation?
Before you start the conversation ensure the initial wave of emotion has passed so you can have a calm and confident interaction.
Then check whether the environment is suitable for your conversation. A busy open-plan office with others earwigging may not be ideal.
Once you’re ready to speak use my 4 steps to avoid conflict and get the outcome you’d like:
Be curious and compassionate – start by asking questions to understand their perspective and any facts that might explain their comments or behaviour. Most people are only trying to do their best in any situation. So before you offload, check their view of things.
Acknowledge – listening to the other person is essential to show respect but isn’t enough to help them feel heard. You also need to acknowledge you’ve understood what they’ve said even if you don’t agree with them. For example;
I understand that you were giving me important feedback…
3. Self-Respect – this is the part where you get to talk about your feelings and to show respect for yourself by speaking up. Stick to ‘I’ statements rather than blaming the other person as they’re less confrontational. For example:
I understand that you were giving me important feedback, however I felt embarrassed that it was in front of others and upset as I didn’t have a chance to explain.
4. Options – you might not always need to include this when you’re having a difficult conversation, but if you do keep it positive and concise. For example;
I understand that you were giving me importnant feedback, however I felt embarrassed that it was in front of others and upset as I didn’t have a chance to explain. I’d appreciate it if in future we could discuss this seperately.
Do you have any difficult conversations coming up or have you avoided any recently?
If you’d like some advice, do tell me about your situation by replying to this email or booking a call with me at www.speakwithjo.com. I’d love to hear from you.
Be honest we’ve all had a grudge or resentment that we cling onto, analyse and allow to spiral out of control.
Whether it’s the party you weren’t invited to, the friend who owed you money and didn’t pay it back or the family member who criticises you to others.
An outsider may think some of these hurts are trivial, but they’ve built up to be a real issue for you. That means you’re going to hold onto the grudge and poke it every so often to check it’s still painful.
The problem with hanging onto your grievances is that the only person their hurting is you.
When you can forgive the perpetrator, it’s not them who benefits but you.
Research has shown that when you harbour a grudge, your brain thinks it’s under threat and releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. The job of these hormones is for fight or flight, so you go into an anxious and stressed state.
However, if you can forgive the grudge, you stop feeling like a victim and become more optimistic, confident and compassionate.
Does it matter who is right or wrong if you’re the only one in pain?
How do I let my grudges go?
Do you find yourself playing little films in your mind of a painful situation and reinforcing your resentments?
To change your perspective on the scenario, imagine yourself connected to the other person by strings. Then visualise yourself cutting those strings and floating away with compassion.
It’s also true that when we find it hard to forgive others. It’s because we also need to forgive ourselves for our part of the experience.
Finally, remember that everyone is trying to do their best with the resources and experiences they have (including you). If you assume there is another reason you don’t know about for the other person’s behaviour. It becomes easier to put down your load of resentment. Then you’ll feel lighter, happier and self-assured.
How would you answer the question: “Are you a success in life?”
I know many people who would say that they are not successful; at least they have not reached success in the areas that feel important to them. I have been one of those people.
So, I asked myself “What keeps me from being successful?” It took me a while to come up with the answer but I realised that I was holding myself back.
Why? Well, maybe I was afraid that when I started something I would fail. Maybe I was afraid that I was not “one of those people” who get everything they go after. Maybe I felt that I didn’t deserve success in life.
The truth is that I didn’t believe that I was able. I was not able to be successful, able to be happy, or able to fully enjoy my life. Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
If you want to be truly successful in life (and who doesn’t?) then, first of all, you have to learn to believe in yourself. If you don’t think that you can be successful, then who will?
Life success does not mean that you will not fail but it means that your mistakes will teach you something and show you a better way to get what you want.
These are the tips that have helped me get over the fear of being successful and finally believe in myself:
The truth about thought. Not all thoughts are true, but we can have a habit of engaging in and believing negative thoughts. We have thousands of thoughts a day and if left alone those thoughts will pass through just like clouds in the sky, with a new one popping up soon. Once you understand this, negative thoughts can lose their power
Continually remind yourself that you are part of something larger than you. Fear often has to do with worrying about uncertainty, feeling out of control, and wondering what your life’s purpose is. When you realize you are part of a bigger picture, even if you don’t fully understand what that is, it’s easier to ascertain that you both deserve and need to be successful and happy.
Do you take time to reflect on your life and figure out your purpose in this world? Unfortunately, most of us get so caught up in responsibilities and goals that we forget to enjoy our lives.No matter how busy you are, you must make time for yourself. It can be just 10 minutes a day, but this time must belong to you. If you give yourself the luxury of free time then you will notice that the rest of your responsibilities will get easier.You will be a better parent. You will be able to come up with creative ideas at work (and finally get that promotion.) AndYou will be able to take better care of your health. You will reduce your stress and experience the joy of living.
Learn. People are always scared of what they don’t know. On my first appearance on Sky News, I was scared to death because I didn’t know anything about live television and not much about the subject of overweight people being paid less! I was forced to learn about everything and now I feel absolutely at ease with the media.If you have a fear of something you just have to educate yourself about it. It is like walking into a dark room. At first, you feel scared and don’t know what to expect but once you turn the light on, everything gets clear and simple.
Live in balance. No matter how important success might seem to you, it is still important to follow it with balance. Otherwise, your journey towards success will turn into an obsession that will ruin everything that you truly love in life.
Success is not a destination.
It’s a journey, and it’s important that we take each step feeling grounded and balanced. Spend time with your loved ones, enjoy your hobby or follow your passion, take care of your health and grow spiritually. This is the meaning of true success, the one that you can achieve only in balance.
I believe that you are able to be successful. It is your right and purpose in life to be successful in whatever you are doing. If you believe in that then nothing will ever stop you from living a balanced and joyous life.
If you know that you sometimes put the handbrake on your own success, but are READY to breakthrough your blocks and step up in your career & life, why not book a Success Breakthrough call with me using my online calendar at www.speakwithjo.com