Why Having a CEO’s Mindset is Important

a woman sitting at the table

No matter what kind of work you do, you are working for yourself. One day you may wake up and discover that your company is letting you go, your big freelance clients suddenly went out of business, or the social media account where you communicate with customers has blocked you for breaking one of their antiquated rules. Ultimately, you need to be responsible to yourself (and your family). Consider being the CEO of your career.

Being the CEO of your career means that you think of your professional life with passion and vision. You consider your revenue streams as customers. And become more strategic about managing your career: not so that you build an attractive resume, but to do work that aligns with your mission and values. Here are four ways to do that:

Start with a vision

Entrepreneurs and executives alike have a vision of what their companies stand for and what they want them to become. They make decisions based not just on the immediate but also with an eye on the future. 

Consider where you want your career or business to be 3-5 years from now. Then make a plan to get there. You will probably not follow that plan to the letter, but it will help you stay focused.

As the leader of your organization, you should have a mission and driving values that are the essence of why you do the work you do. If you have a company, these are the seeds of your corporate culture. As an individual, we call this integrity. Staying true to this vision will make others want to follow you.

You don’t need to be a genius or a visionary, or even a college graduate for that matter, to be successful. You just need framework and a dream.

Understand what your Stakeholders want

There is always someone else impacted by your work: your family, customers, boss, and colleagues. Understanding how you can meet their expectations and put forth your best effort while serving them is vital to achieving continued success. If you are not sure of your stakeholder’s expectations, ask.

Use goals to advance the mission

Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, made the goal-setting technique V2MOM popular in his book Behind the Cloud. This model for measuring success can help you focus on growth. 

  • Vision – How do you want the future to look?
  • Values – What are your core values, and how does your vision align with those?
  • Method – What are the actions you are going to take?
  • Obstacles – What are the real and perceived obstacles to getting you where you want to go?
  • Measures – What are the objective metrics you use to measure your progress?

We have already talked about vision and values. Next, let’s look at method. Method focuses on the tasks, or deliverables, you need to achieve to make improvements, grow your market and achieve success as you define it. 

As a teacher, I started planning lessons with the end in mind. At the end of the lesson, I wanted my students to be able to achieve X. Then worked the process backwards to the very start of the class where I chose an exercise that allowed me to evaluate their ability to achieve the target. Then, followed the adjusted plan for the remaining time. 

Your choice of method is much the same. You know the goal. What do you need to do to achieve that? Once you understand that, the other pieces fall into place: What are the pitfalls you may experience (obstacles), and how do you know if you are making progress (measure)?

A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.

Obstacles are the things that get in the way of your success. Do you need to work another job while you develop your passion? Are there too many applicants for the job you want? Is the cost of advertising or sales too high? Considering the roadblock to your success and coming up with some alternatives to break through those will improve your chances of success.

Finally, measures – you need to have some way to measure your success. Choosing effective measurement metrics will help you realize early on if you are moving in the right direction. Then, aid your ability to navigate effectively into the future. 

When choosing your measurement metrics and evaluating your initial data, take the time to study the results and consider if you are measuring the right things. Do the results of your metrics equate to the success you hope to achieve?

An example of this I recently encountered was in running Google Ads. My impressions and click-throughs looked impressive until I realized that people from 18-24 were being served up the ad impressions. No wonder they were not converting to my goal of booking free consultations. I adjusted my campaigns to reach people from 30-60, and now I am attracting the right prospects.

Do the stuff you do best

Focus on the areas where you make the biggest impact. As solopreneurs, we often need to do everything. Regardless of if you are a company of one, an employee, or a business owner; it is vital to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Then, delegate, as much as possible, the things that someone else could do faster and better. 

In a company, we may ask someone who is skilled at making pivot tables to do that for us while we turn the draft of their report into a clear and well laid-out document. When we work for ourselves, it may be better to pay someone else to do the work that is not in our skillset. Then, we can focus on more valuable work.

By thinking like a CEO, you will improve the way you look at your work, no matter what it is or your position in an organization. You will make better decisions about how to grow your skill sets and live a life of value. It does not matter if you are the manager of a big company, an individual contributor, or a solopreneur; taking control of your professional life will enhance the value you provide to your stakeholders. And that will ultimately enhance your level of success.

Sources

Interested in developing your CEO Mindset? Check out my CEO Bootcamp Course.

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To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you

When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best thing to do is curl up under the covers and sleep until you feel better. This is why companies give sick days, afterall.

However, if you are working as a solopreneur or a freelancer, your clients are not going to bend their deadlines just because you are not performing at your best. They expect results regardless of the situation.

I faced a similar dilemma recently when I launched the Discovering Your Ikigai course and had 30 new clients waiting for their first seminar. I could feel my throat tightening and my temperature rising. But calling in sick was not an option. And in most cases, it shouldn’t be for you either. Here are three reasons why.

You can still get some of the work done even at less than your best

Choosing tasks that require less mental power, and adjusting your priorities will allow you to get something done rather than having work pile up while you are away. That will make your work more manageable in the long run. While you may feel a sense of worthlessness in being a body at the desk, you are still getting something done and that makes all the difference.

Work from Home

Since the onset of COIVD, there have been more opportunities to work from home. For better or worse, this means that when you are in a contiguous state, you could theoretically work from home too. In addition, if you have sick kids, you could spend some time on the job even if that is from home. Getting some work done is better than zero production.

Most bosses expect you to work, even when you are sick

58% of managers thought that employees should come to work with flu-like symptoms. Additionally, more than 60% reportedly expected employees to work while experiencing severe physical ailments like back pain or recovering from surgery, according to this article by the BBC. It may seem unbelievable that managers are so unsympathetic to their staff, but this is a byproduct of our results-driven society, where meeting deadlines is one of the most key important performance indicators, KPI.

There are, of course, times you should call in sick. If you work as a manual laborer and feel dizzy or have a high fever that leaves you disoriented, are infectious, or have a high fever, you should visit a doctor and stay home. Usually, if you can be productive at all,  do your best to make a contribution.

In game five of the 1997 NBA finals, Michael Jordan played despite having food poisoning. He had been throwing up all night, and he was feeling very weak at game time. Yet, he still found it in himself to suit up and play. When asked about being on the court for 44 of the games 48 minutes and scoring 38 points, including the game-winning three, he said:

 

I didn’t wanna give up, No matter how sick I was or how tired I was, or how low on energy I was. I felt the obligation to my team, to the city of Chicago, to go out and give that extra effort.

Few of us will ever experience life on the level of a professional sports championship. Yet, we will all have times we are depended upon. Times when we can not bring our best. It is in those moments that we need to dig deep, relying on the knowledge, skills, and intestinal fortitude that is inside to make a difference in our work. It may not seem like a big deal to miss time, and maybe you think it’s your right. After all, we do get sick days, but the people you serve depend on you. What is your sense of obligation to them? For me, 30 new clients were glad I did not call in sick.

 

If you do need to work when you are sick the last thing we usually want to do is eat. However, finding foods with rejuvenation powers could have you back to some version of normal quickly. Here are seven superfoods that can speed your recovery. And a bonus at the end.

 

Garlic

Garlic helps to boost immunity. Many people swear by garlic’s ability to help maintain good health or quickly get you back to normal. I was sick recently, and a couple days of cooking with extra garlic helped me.

 

Onions

Cooked onions are high in antioxidants, vitamins B & C. Onion soup is one of my favorite ways to eat them when I am not feeling well. Onions are also good for your blod circulation. When you are sick, eating cooked onions makes them easier to digest.

 

Fish

Fish skin is full of nutrients, like Omega 3 and B vitamins. Simply fry it in the pan or bake it in the oven. I choose cuts with more skin or salmon which is a fish that is easy to prepare.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli is high in antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins C and K. It is also contains a wealth of nutrients, but is low in calories. Broccoli improves digestion and helps to reduce inflammation that commonly occurs when we are sick. 

 

Nuts

Nuts are high in fiber and protein. They contain high quantities of minerals. Don’t feel like eating a full meal because you’re under the weather? Nuts and a meal replacement drink are a good alternative.

 

Yogurt

Yogurt contains probiotics that help relieve an upset stomach. It also has vitamins and minerals that rapidly become depleted when your body is fighting illness. Yogurt is good to mix in smoothies for a power-packed liquid meal that is easier to digest than whole food when you’re not feeling well.

 

Soup

Warm and soothing. Soup is easy to digest and warms your body from the inside out. Choosing a clear soup like broth or onion is easy on the digestive system. Vegetable soups can provide you with most of the nutrients your body needs to recover from illness and it is a meal that you can keep on the stove and heat up all day long.

 

When you are not feeling well, it is easy to go to the drug store or medicine cabinet and look for a remedy. But eating your way back to health is gentler on the body and may see your condition change for the better more rapidly and consistently.

One new recipe I learned when I was sick last time was roasted garlic. Not only did it make my house smell great, cleansing the warm uncirculated air that is common when you are  trying to stay warm, it was also super easy to prepare. You could eat a head of garlic every day with no adverse effects. Here is how you make it:

Roasted Garlic

Ingredients

  • 1 or more heads of garlic
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 170 C (350 F)
  2. Cut the top off of the head(s) of garlic
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic, making sure to get some on each clove
  4. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil
  5. Cook for 30-45 minutes until garlic is soft

Eat cloves whole, smash and spread on toast or crackers or use in your favorite recipe.

 

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Manage Overwhelm With These 4 Tips

Many people fight through their days with an unending list of things to accomplish. That increases stress and leads to a sense of failure in the realization that we can’t complete all we thought we could. There should be an answer to manage the overwhelm and get through all those tasks. And indeed, you can manage overwhelm with these 4 tips.

 

Prioritize

Order your list from critical to not essential. What are the few things that absolutely must be done? Are there tasks or assignments that would be nice to accomplish, but are not essential? And I’m sure there are also some that just seem like busywork. This list is going to keep you focused as you realize that only a few of the items on the list will actually get done.

Is there anything on your list that you can delegate? If necessary, you may need to call in some favors. You should focus on the things you are uniquely suited to handle or need to do for your peace of mind. That list is shorter than the list of everything you hope to do. In my Discovering Your Ikigai course, many participants say they do not have time to develop their skills. This is something that no one can do for them. So I stress the fact that they need to schedule time to enhance their abilities on a regular basis, and not give it up. That is much more important than vacuuming the house. Someone else could do that instead of sitting in front of the TV, computer, or checking social media on their mobile phone. Another example is preparing the children’s lunch on the weekend. Train them to do that simple task for themselves.. 

 

Keep your top priority front of mind

Keeping your essential priority at the front of your mind will allow your brain to work on that in between tasks and when you’re doing things that don’t need all of your process power. A sudden gap in your schedule will provide you the opportunity to spring into action and give your top priority the undivided attention it requires.

 

Look for opportunities

You may have a postponed meeting, extended deadline or canceled appointment. These changes in schedule provide opportunities to get busy on priority number one. Since you’ve already thought through what you need to do, you can get a quick start and be productive from the beginning of your newly available time. Use this time, but not a minute more. That way, you are not cutting into the time you need for another important task. Before you move on, reassess what the next steps are and be ready for the next opportunity to work on those.

 

Knowing when enough is enough

When you have finished a task, it is usually good enough. In most cases, spending extra time on it won’t dramatically improve the quality. For example, when I’m creating a presentation, it is good enough to make the slides and have the information in the deck. I will work on accurate wording, animations, and design elements during my rehearsals.

 

Tying it all together

When you prioritize and only work on your most critical tasks, you can consciously take control of overwhelm. That will dramatically reduce your to-do list and help you fit the key tasks and projects into your schedule. Finally, be satisfied with the results you have created. In most cases, no one else will realize the difference between your good enough and excellent work. So be satisfied with your effort too. In this way, you will find opportunities to manage overwhelm and make what seems impossible possible.

 

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To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best

Read More »

Four Ways to Grow Your Digital Business

Growing a small business from a creative streak and a laptop into a trusted company isn’t what it used to be. With competition fiercer than ever and the cost of everything from supplies to marketing on the rise, bootstrapping isn’t really an option. What can you do then if you have a vision but very little capital to bring it into being? Check out these four ways to grow your digital business from Synergy Personal Development.

1. Network

In a Small Business Trends survey, small businesses were asked about how clients learned about their design services. The answer wasn’t surprising, as it mirrored the one from a decade earlier: word-of-mouth.

According to the results, 85% of SMBs claim that word-of-mouth is the number one way they acquired customers. While you might think that this percentage would go down with time thanks to search engines, the opposite seems to be true, as the rate was up 2% from 2005. Search engine acquisitions came in second, at 59%. No other method even came close.

The point of sharing this data is that networking is crucial to your small business’s success. Networking can be as simple as sharing your name and business information with the person behind you in the grocery store or as complex as attending industry events. For female entrepreneurs, who continue to experience unique challenges, seek out and network with like-minded professionals and get involved with organizations like Women Impacting Public Policy and the Women’s Business Development Center.

A middle ground would be to join your local chamber of commerce, which costs you nothing in some cases, but can connect you with high-paying leads. Regardless of how you choose to go about it, make sure to practice your strategy before you start handing out cards.

2. Ask for Referrals

If you feel confident that you created something special for a client, don’t hesitate to ask for a referral. Most consumers are willing to refer a business with which they had a positive experience, yet a minority ever end up actually doing so. This is because many consumers assume businesses have processes in place for garnering referrals. Don’t let this assumption hurt you, and just ask.

3. Establish an Online Presence

Whether you have a home or outside office, you need to establish an online presence. Why? For starters, according to a Verisign survey, the majority of consumers (84%, to be exact) agree that a business website helps a brand appear more credible. Additionally, 93% of consumers use the internet to view portfolios or research services and prices before making a purchase, and 91% use the internet to look for local businesses. A website also gives you a way to showcase your best work or services, establish social proof, and encourage customers to contact you.

Now that you know why you need a website, it’s time to explore how you can get one. Setting up an online storefront on Shopify or WooCommerce can be easy to do, John did this entire site, including our store, by himself. However, if you need help, hire developers for the project. A developer can help you pick an appropriate theme, add product images, manage customer orders and track user analytics. You can find developers on job boards or through referrals.

4. Use Coupons

People love coupons. It’s a fact that’s backed by numerous studies. In fact, a MarketTrack.com study pointed out that coupons are so effective that they have the power to sway as many as 80% of consumers to switch brands or businesses. Additionally, 80% of consumers say they feel smarter when they shop with coupons. As for purchasing power, 28% of shoppers who enter a store armed with a coupon end up spending more than shoppers without. If you want to convince people to give your products or services a try, attach a coupon to your offers.

Making a name for your small digital creative business and growing it into a design powerhouse is not going to be easy. However, with the right strategies in place, it is possible, and the results will be well worth your effort.

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Synergy Personal Development is a consulting and training solutions design studio that helps our clients enhance their communication abilities.

Whether you are talking face to face or delivering your message to millions via the web, we can help. Book your free initial consultation today!

Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did.

I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong. In fact, my difficulty is that I know I suck.

We generally seem to gravitate towards doing those things we are good at and shy away from our areas of weakness. This is a big problem. When trying to develop a new skill or hobby, we are usually unsatisfied with the results that we are getting. Not only that, but we will continue to perform poorly at the new technique until we have enough experience to feel confident, or we decide to leave our egos behind and just make a go of it. Here are four things we can both do to make some progress.

Give yourself some time

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. To make tangible improvement takes effort and time. No time invested results in zero gain. It’s that simple. Start with scheduling time to work on your new skill. Develop a practice routine and stick to it. I find it easier to do this if I put it on the calendar as a recurring task. To get from where you are to where you want to be you’ll need to invest your time, lose your fear of failure, and learn to enjoy the process.

Lower your expectations

It’s not uncommon to give ourselves unrealistic timetables for seeing remarkable progress. Slow down, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. For me, that means learning to play the super-easy tunes from memory. No fancy strumming patterns just simple down strums to the beat from beginning to end. Once I can do that, I can add some upstrokes to make it sound more interesting. What is the most basic level of achievement that lets you know you are on the right track?

Look for incremental improvement

I’m not going to go from complete beginner to improvisational virtuoso in a year, and neither are you. Whether you are growing your spreadsheet skills, learning a foreign language, or have picked up a new musical instrument. You will go further if you are observant of signs that you are getting better. Analyze your progress and identify what you are doing better this week compared to last. That will help you to remain motivated and continue to try.

Choose the tougher road

There will be slips too. You may have a comparable skill that you can substitute for the one you are learning. That makes it easy to revert to your previous habits. Unfortunately, you won’t improve that way. You need to challenge the new skill. Sometimes it means taking a step backward so that you can take two forwards.

In baseball, switch hitters are usually better from one side of the plate than the other. For example, the greatest switch hitter of all time, Mickey Mantle’s batting average was 50 points higher from the right side of the plate (.330 vs. .281 from the left). Just having the ability to do both sent fear through the opposing manager regardless of where The Mick stood (372 home runs lefty and 164 batting right). Would you rather pitch to a right-handed hitter that gets on base an awful lot or a left-handed power hitter? There is no correct answer to that question.

Currently, Shohei Ohtani probably spends more hours practicing his craft than any other player in the majors. Because he needs to be both a good starting pitcher and a hitter worthy of a place in the lineup on the days he is not on the mound. That’s a tall order.

The same is true for you. The only way to develop new skills and abilities is to work at them and put them on display.

Being good at new skills and abilities is fun. Going through the learning process is not. For me, it means not letting my guitars collect dust, and playing easier versions of the songs I like. It also requires that I add guitar time to my schedule and find joy in my improvements, no matter how small. I could write about music. I am pretty good at that. Though I think it would be more fun to play. I know the older, wiser version of myself will thank me for sticking with it.

This post originally appeared on Medium.com.

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To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best thing to do is curl up under the covers and sleep until you feel better. This is why companies give sick days, afterall. However, if

Read More »

Manage Overwhelm With These 4 Tips

Many people fight through their days with an unending list of things to accomplish. That increases stress and leads to a sense of failure in the realization that we can’t complete all we thought we could. There should be an answer to manage the overwhelm and get through all those tasks. And indeed, you can

Read More »
ikigai chart

How to Improve Your Life Through Ikigai

A guide to unlocking the best within yourself To perform at our best making the most of our abilities, talents, and time it’s vital to focus on the areas in which we are most qualified to contribute. This is the core of ikigai. What is the concept of Ikigai? Ikigai is a Japanese expression 生き甲斐.

Read More »

Four Ways to Grow Your Digital Business

Growing a small business from a creative streak and a laptop into a trusted company isn’t what it used to be. With competition fiercer than ever and the cost of everything from supplies to marketing on the rise, bootstrapping isn’t really an option. What can you do then if you have a vision but very

Read More »

How to Do Better Live Video Events

Hosting my first live video event.

Recently I hosted my first Facebook Live. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I did, however, learn how to do better live video events.

In this story, I’ll share tips for having a successful live video event. Whether you use Facebook, YouTube, or another channel these strategies can help you before, during, and after your event to ensure success. Not just this time, but in future events as well.

Before

Prior to my live, I organically marketed the event both in the Facebook group and to my own friends. I also got my more influential friends to invite people. Because my group is private, one needs to be a member to participate. So I saw my community grow due to this activity.

I have supporters all over the world. Therefore, choosing one time for my event was difficult. I decided to do the same program in the morning and in the evening. This was a big plus (more about that later).

I prepared diligently, and I suggest you do the same.

My email list is modest, and many of the people on it are also in the group. Nevertheless, I did send out a reminder about the event. My mom emailed me back and told me the links to the event didn’t work. This was true for non-members. So I had the opportunity to send out an “Oopsie email”. Saying there was an error in the initial email. An “Oopsie email” is one where you admit you made a mistake in the one you sent out earlier. This email allows you to re-engage an audience and piques interest for those who may not have seen the first one. It worked! This text-only email actually had more opens than the first fancy one that included images and stylized formatting.

I prepared diligently, and I suggest you do the same. This event was to introduce my book and show appreciation to people for their support. My plan was to read an excerpt from Win the Day then explain the format and finally take questions. I practiced reading, made a simple deck, and practiced about ten times.

No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.

Checking RSVPs, I found that my morning session had about ⅓ of the participants registered as the evening. A quick check of the morning audience allowed me to more specifically target the presentation and provided a smaller audience to test my content on.

During

The first thing that happened was that my frame rate was too low. Facetime would not let me access my video. So I immediately switched to my phone. That did work. However, the text was so small that I couldn’t tell how many people were actually watching, nor could I read their comments. To remedy that, I turned from portrait to landscape mode about five minutes in.

Ha ha ha, the video was sideways. It turns out that the platform will use your initial video to lock in an aspect ratio, So I was literally sideways for the remainder of my video.

Whatsmore, on the iPhone, I was unable to use my slide deck. I couldn’t read some of the questions and comments either. Luckily my reading glasses were on the desk. So I put them on and was able to read the scroll. That helped the Q & A session to go ok. There were a lot of personal questions about the journey that I hadn’t practiced answering. As a result, I was overly emotional. I am glad I had that first run with a small audience before doing it again later in the day.

For the second session, I had a friend help me to check my video and I had access to the Facebook dashboard. That was helpful, because 35 people attended, and all told there were more than 300 comments. That’s what I call overwhelm. I can’t even begin to imagine how someone with a larger following would manage the constant feed of questions and comments on their own. Talking, planning the segue ways, and reading comments all at the time could have led to panic. Fortunately, my preparation and practice had me prepared.

Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet - thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing - consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.

Due to having an earlier run at the same content, I was more confident and less emotional in the second session. While I didn’t answer every question, there were more than enough to get me through the sixty-minute session.

After

I received feedback from members of my inner circle and deconstructed the event. It was definitely successful, and I met my goals of authentically engaging with my followers. It would have been better if I had a handle on how to manage the comments and questions. When I watch live events, it seems kind of funny that the presenters are squinting to read the screen. I discovered that is the result of the limits on technology. Having the audience start their questions with “I have a question” helped find those needles in the haystack.

I didn’t really enjoy that the only engagement was messages, and the focus was all on me. Being more familiar with virtual meeting software, maybe using Zoom or a similar platform in the future, would provide a way to better engage the audience.

While not directly related to the event, reading my introduction aloud helped me to find some areas of it that could have been written better. Following this event, I went back and edited the introduction again. As far as writing and editing go, reading stories or chapters aloud definitely helps to write in a tone that is more fluid. After all, most of us silently speak the words we are reading.

Conclusion

Doing a live event is not for the faint of heart. I would recommend you promote your event to get people excited. Encourage your connections to invite their friends and colleagues. They will only share your event if the topic is clear and has value to them. Plan and practice several times, on video if possible. Planning will help you handle adversity and practicing will help you to sound more authentic. Get a friend to do a trial run with you, and expect the unexpected. Then when the time comes to turn on your camera, take a deep breath and prepare to excite your tribe. It’s showtime.

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How to Create Effective Training

A guide to avoiding training that sucks

As an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things you will do is bring new people on board to work your vision. The business has been your baby since its inception. Now you need to dilute that passion with employees. Not only that, but they also need to understand your expectations and systems. That calls for training that doesn’t suck.

I told them a hundred times, but they still don’t get it!

Providing proficient training means you need to understand your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. You’ve got to have a handle on their communication styles and how they learn. You can’t expect everyone to think and act the same way you do. That kind of top-down training leads to unmotivated and unproductive employees.

Having a clear vision of who you are training and what makes them tick will allow you to modify your training so that it meets your objectives and has you feeling confident in delegating tasks to the new members of your team. 

Are your employees’ visual learners? They will need you to demonstrate what you want them to do. Are they kinesthetically focused? They will need hands-on time to grasp the concepts you had planned to lecture them on. Do your new employees do better reading? For those folks, creating a manual would be sufficient. And if they are verbal learners, having them explain how to do the task will help to stimulate their minds. There are seven different learning styles and their variations. Each type of learner will benefit most when the training is adapted to their learning modality.

You will also want to consider your team members’ DiSC profiles. Are they leaders or followers? Are they perfectionists or is it sufficient that the tasks are done acceptably? Understanding your employees’ working style preferences will help you to adapt the training. DiSC knowledge will also enhance your ability to decide strategically who to assign tasks, and how to hire for specific roles. You can learn more about DiSC here.

What do I teach them?

You have a wide view of the tasks and how those benefit your company. However, your new employees may only see those as chores that they need to complete in order to get a paycheck. You’ve got to change that perception. Employees are highly motivated by the sense that they are contributing to the organization. Therefore, don’t just tell them what to do, also include some background information. They’ll want to know why. That makes them feel like they are part of the process.

When you consider how you are going to explain the tasks, break them down to their smallest elements. Don’t miss a single detail, because some people will need to niche it down that much. While others will take a more holistic view. Those people will do better by learning as they go. Remember, you are managing people, not tasks. Keep the needs of your staff in mind as you dispense new assignments.

They are now performing the basic functions, but I want them to do more

Congratulations, you created an effective training program, and your staff is meeting about 50% of its expectations. That’s a big win. But now you want them to raise their collective game. It’s time for feedback. Feedback is better done one to one. You will get more authentic communication that way. Ask the employee to evaluate their performance. Talk to them about how they feel the process and their productivity could be improved. Ask for their advice about adjustments to the system. Then give them the freedom to do their best work.

If their answers are not so free flowing, try suggesting performance enhancements you would like to see and create a plan together for improving productivity. It may feel like you are spoon feeding solutions to this type of person, but that is the level of engagement they will need to achieve the results you envision. Regardless of the employees’ working style preferences, make sure that both of you are evaluating the performance. That way you can agree on expectations, what constitutes success, and continue to improve the system. These were the goals of your training when you decided to conduct it.

Tying it all together

Training is an investment in your business and its people. It may seem that the process is labor-intensive, but after doing it a few times, you will have a system you can use for any employee doing the same task and more easily create new trainings as well. Furthermore, educating staff on the whys for your processes and spending time on feedback will make them feel like they are more than hired help. For any business, this builds loyalty and lays the foundation for great business culture. Finally, once your employees have demonstrated competence in these skills, it is one less thing you need to worry about. That will free you up to work on other needs, like growing the business.

Originally posted on Medium.com

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How To Fight Back Against Power Harassment

Don't be a victim

When it gets tough, your options seem to shrink

Recently, a friend of mine started a new job. As to be expected, they were initially assigned all the tasks that no one else wanted to do. Considering these tasks part of the training process, they did the work with a smile. Though they came home exhausted each night, they felt they were getting a better understanding of the job and its requirements.

Now, three months later, my friend has settled into their position and their smile has turned to a lump of stress that they can’t get rid of no matter what they do. The work is fine. It’s the people that are the problem. A pair of her coworkers (can’t exactly call them colleagues) have decided that she is a threat to their control of the work environment and set out to destroy her reputation through false accusations and nefarious behavior.

Relying on a friend to listen without judgment or proffering their own opinions will help you to get your problems out of your head and into the open.

We have all been in toxic situations and oftentimes there is no help available from the outside to deal with these bullies. The solutions need to come from inside of ourselves and the support of our friends. Having someone to talk with about the situation can help.

Finding an empathetic ear will allow you to voice your perception of what’s happening and the solutions you find viable. Relying on a friend to listen without judgment or proffering their own opinions will help you to get it out of your head and into the open. This will help you to analyze the situation more clearly and raise points you may not have thought about previously. Tell your friend what your expectations are for the conversation so they know how to listen, the types of questions to ask and how to interpret your body language.

As you get it all out in the open, you have some decisions to make, should you pursue some kind of retribution for the bully’s behavior, change your working style to smooth the situation, start looking for a new position, or just keep going forward accepting this harassment. Each of these has repercussions.

Taking your issues to your boss or further up the corporate ladder could provide you peace of mind that you are reporting a disturbance in the workplace and may get you some help in the form of counselling or a transfer. The bully could get reprimanded or dismissed and all will be right at work again. Or...The company could choose to do nothing, even worse they could leak the fact that you launched a claim to the perpetrator. That would make matters much worse. Here in Japan it is often the one that stands up seeking justice that is seen as the problem. So it is vital that you consider your options carefully before starting an internal probe.

Oftentimes what is perceived as conflict in the workplace can be attributed to working style differences. These can be defined using a behavioral model like DISC. Explaining the intricacies of DISC is beyond the scope of this article, but you can find a detailed description of it and how to use DISC to understand your work environment here.

Basically DISC relates to four primary working style preferences, Ds, Is, Ss and Cs. Ds are dominant. They are take charge people who expect to see progress and have little time for reasons or excuses. The senior managers in a company are usually high Ds. Is are Influencers, they like people and enjoy conversations. If you are a high I, you will be quick to volunteer to help but may forget what you’ve signed yourself up for later. High Is are often sales people. Ss are steady. They find serenity in helping others and being a part of the team. Ss rarely push back, instead they choose to go along with the flow. You’ll find Ss in administrative and support roles. Cs are conscious. They prefer facts and data to people. Tell a C what you want done and by when, then leave them to their devices to figure it out. Cs like rules and are skilled at using systems. You will find Cs in detail oriented work like accounting and writing code.

If you are an I and your colleague is a C. They will have difficulty understanding your friendly and carefree style. Likewise, you may find them unwilling to listen to your ideas and opinions as those are speculations and not based on hard data.

Similarly, if you are a high D and you work with a high Ss, you may be frustrated that they seem to never make decisions or that they are unwilling to take a lead role in any project. While your colleague may see you as mean and overly direct, expecting the impossible.

These differences in working style can lead to caverns of misunderstanding. So what can you do? Adapt. Adapt to your role and the responsibilities of your position. If you are offering an opinion to a high C, for example, include some hard data to support your suggestion. The high D boss could make expectations clear to the I and S so that they know what is expected.

Before choosing an option that allows you to stay at the company, consider if it is really a problem with just one person or a toxic company culture.

Using excuses like “it’s not my style” when faced with conflict management or new assignments, is not acceptable in the professional world where you are paid to get things done. You need to learn to style switch to accommodate the needs of others just as you expect them to change to make collaboration smoother. As an entrepreneur, this style switching is even more necessary to create good relationships with the clients you have but also to take advantage of new opportunities that come your way.

Your other solution is to leave the company. This is where having savings and a good network come in handy. The benefit of having money is that it provides you with solutions. If you are struggling to make ends meet and this job is all you have, then you are in a vulnerable situation and the bullies can smell that. To avoid this situation, start putting aside an emergency fund, if you haven’t done that already. Keeping your network warm with regular contact and doing favors will provide you with an asset you can utilize in looking for a new position down the road. Another option for exiting the situation could be a transfer. Before taking this option, consider if it is really a problem with just one person or a toxic company culture. Will your complaint stain your reputation? These are things you will need to think about carefully before choosing the internal options.

Toxic environments do not bring out the best in you. They usually result in diminished results and feelings of inadequacy. Contrarily, positive environments will help you to achieve more than you ever thought possible. Work environments at the extremes of the spectrum are few and far between. You usually get as much out of the culture as you put in. 

Finally, before you choose any of these options, it is a good idea to take a look in the mirror and consider if the problem is you. If you have experienced the same harassment in many roles, then it is possible that you are misinterpreting the situation. Consider your role in the problem and if there is anything you could have done to mitigate the predicament. Is there some way you could come to an amicable understanding with the other person? As mentioned above, a high I may think their boss is a bully, while a high D boss is just after results. An increased understanding of your coworkers, the way they work and the situation may help to alleviate the problems.

Bullying and power harassment are unfortunately prevalent in many work environments. They don’t reveal themselves in the interview and it is only after you settle into a job that the real culture is exposed. Take some time to understand your colleagues and what makes them tick. Despite finding a new position, keep your options open by maintaining a strong connection to the people in your network, and keep your bank account stocked. Then look for what you can do to contribute to a positive atmosphere. In the end, if the job doesn’t work out, re-enter the job market. After all, it’s a job, not your life.

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How to Understand If That Job Is Right For You

What is your DISC Type

Gaining a competitive advantage with DISC

Ever chosen a job you thought would be a good fit and later found that it wasn’t your cup of tea? Or maybe you are job hunting and looking for that position where you can continue to grow over the next 5-10 years. If you are looking for some insurance that you are applying for the right positions, you might want to use the DISC process to measure the opportunity and your fitness for that job?

What is DISC?

DISC is a natural work style preferences assessment that groups workers into four categories: D – I – S – and C based on traits like task or people focused, and whether you are assertive or reserved. DISC considers that your past behaviors and tendencies are a good indicator of the way you will prefer to work in the future. 

While this may not always be true, it is such a reliable tool that some companies have included DISC tendencies as part of the internal job description and use the assessment as a portion of the initial screening process. The ideal person for a position in the finance department may be a high C or conscientious type and if your assessment shows you to be a high I or Influencer, you may be immediately screened out of further evaluation for the position. That being said, it is not advantageous to game the test as you will only find that you dislike the work in the end.

You will, however, have a distinct advantage by knowing your DISC profile and the jobs that align with your strengths. So let’s take a dive into understanding DISC.

There are four quadrants to DISC moving from top left clockwise those are Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S) and Conscientious (C). Ds and Is are assertive, they will make decisions and feel that they have power over their environment. Ss and Cs, on the other hand, are more reserved and feel that their environment dictates what is and is not acceptable. 

At the same time, Ds and Cs often feel that they work in an unfavorable environment, while Is and Ss are generally more optimistic. Is and Ss also prefer to work with people and believe that there is a person who can solve any problem. However, Ds and Cs are task focused and think that people execute on well planned and developed solutions. Now that you have an understanding of DISC basics. This chart will help you to solidify the differences between the personality types.

Disc Characteristics

Defining Work Style Preferences

D (Dominant)

Dominant types prefer to focus on accomplishment. They feel that there may be several answers to a problem, but only one right one (theirs). For a high D, recognition comes in execution of the plan. They act quickly and welcome risk/reward situations. Ds will often challenge the status quo and don’t go along just because “that’s how we’ve always done it. If there is a problem, a high D wants a solution. You can keep your reasons and logic to yourself. Just give them the solution. Quick, clean and without drama. That is how Ds operate. 

The Dominant person wants to work in an environment where they are given authority and challenged to succeed. With that success will come prestige and the opportunity for promotion. As a result, many top managers have strong D traits. Ds like direct answers and will throw down a challenge to test their counterpart’s resolve and commitment to a solution.

High Ds like to work with people who weigh the pros and cons before making decisions. Once that is done, they prefer their counterparts to, like themselves, decide and take action quickly. Since Ds are risk takers, they like to make a decision and move on to the next activity. As a result, they may have a wide knowledge base and enjoy many types of activities. They are leaders, not followers. So they really have little need for others except to execute plans that have previously been decided on.

Colleagues and direct reports of Ds may see them as being overbearing and with a need to always be right. Ds want conversations to be brief and to the point. This can be difficult for those who are more personable.

I (Influence)

(Is) like people. Unlike Ds, (Is) believe there is a person who is right to solve any problem. They feel that influence is gained by winning over the crowd. A high I’s strength is the ability to communicate persuasively and motivate others. They are eternal optimists and will trust others to a fault. As a result, (Is) may be overly indirect to avoid offending others.

(Is)will quickly volunteer for any project and love team work. Unfortunately, they are not the best time managers. As such, they may overextend and forget that they had made a commitment to help. It’s not malicious. It’s more a matter of being over zealous.

Is like public rewards and will be quick to share others success stories, as a way to promote colleagues they like. They may be involved in several clubs and organizations outside of work. (Is) are always building their networks, and they enjoy meeting new people. They favor giving everyone a say before a decision is made and love brainstorming ideas. As a result, (Is) may be slow at making decisions. 

For Is, freedom means no boundaries or controls. A world without rules because everyone is naturally kind and considerate of others’ best interest. This is par-I-dise. The belief that everyone works with the best intentions of the group leads Is to be over-trusting and more hands off in working with others. Additionally, providing an environment of freedom means that a high I will instinctively trust their gut, not worrying so much about the details or consequences. This can occasionally lead to poor or underdeveloped plans and decisions.

S (Steadiness) 

Steadiness types like to work within the framework of preset systems and expectations. They have a need for structure and predictability. This allows them to exhibit extreme patients when things don’t go as planned. They also are very tolerance of others, so long as they are benefitting the team.

Ss find it hard to make decisions. Like Is they want everyone to have input before decisions are made. Even then, they may delay to consider one more thing, or to wait for the opinion of a coworker who missed the meeting. Ss are keen to develop specialized skills that allow them to be more effective cogs of the team. Ss are the go to team members to confront someone who is excitable or having a tough day, because high Ss are good listeners. 

High Ss do best with lots of praise, it makes them feel valued. Unlike Ds who don’t care what others think of them. Ss feel uncomfortable pressuring others to meet deadlines or raise quality. As a result, they may quietly do more work than they need to, finding it hard to delegate. While Ss are completely supportive of the team, they despise conflict and just want everyone to get along.

If there are changes afoot, Ss need a lot of lead time and support to make a smooth transition. They may wonder why systems are changing when the old one worked just fine. As a result, they need a clear understanding of why.

C (Conscientious)

Cs love high quality and accuracy. As a result, their best friend in the office is data. High Cs have little use for others, except to move processes forward. Unlike Is, Cs are more than happy to work alone and without interruptions, only talking to others when they need some something. 

Like Ss, Cs they like to have a solid framework to operate within. However, if you are having a bad day, it is better to stay as far away from Cs as possible. They have no time for emotions and comfort. They have very dry personalities and strive for perfection. This drive often leads to projects that are not completed because they are never good enough. And plans that are never realized, because more data is needed before they can move forward.

High Cs have a meticulous attention to detail and understand the intricacies of things. They are the perfect people to review your work, provided you are ok with direct feedback. Cs don’t mince words.

A C will feel that the deck is stacked against them, so they need as much evidence as possible to prove others wrong and support their own opinions. Unlike Is, they do not rely on instinct. The answers, they will say, are in the data. As such, when giving feedback to a high C is important to have specific examples and desired actions.

Cs need you to explain exactly what your expectations are. They will not interpret what you mean. They need to know that they have control of the elements necessary to achieve success, because they do not like to rely on others.

A D, I, S, & C go out to lunch...

Knowing Your DISC Profile

It is important that you know your DISC tendencies so that you can understand your natural strengths and weaknesses in your position or the ones you are applying for as your job hunt. You may have one trait that is higher than the others or two, some people even have three high traits. There are some suggestions for where you can get your DISC assessment.

While your DISC profile represents your natural working style, it can be adjusted to the situation, environment and even role you are in on a project. As a company employee, my profile is high I, high S. I am a motivator and know that by following the rules I will be more successful working in a big company than a small one with constantly changing norms. However, as an entrepreneur I am more high I, high D and less S. I have very few C traits. Influencing customers and collaborators is essential to successful projects. That’s my I side. Making quick decisions and finding appropriate solutions that propel my business forward align with the D in me.

As you gain insight to your own DISC profile and the definitions of the others, you will begin to recognize the traits of your coworkers. That will help you to more effectively interact with them. Don’t ask a high C how they feel about a new policy. Ask them what they think of it. Avoid giving a problem without a solution to your high D boss, tell them your recommendation and be prepared to tell them why. Though they may not ask for your reason if they agree with you. When proposing a new idea to a high I get them excited by telling them about the benefits. And if you need to get something off of your chest, find the high S in your network and have a chat with them.

Using DISC During Your Job Search

While positions have the same name from one company to another, the responsibilities in those roles can vary drastically. To really know if a job is a good fit for you, you need to read the job description carefully and do some background research on the company. That being said, DISC can be a good starting point to establish your fit.

Companies often use DISC as part of the hiring process to understand you. Why not use the same criteria to measure the job against your working style preferences and what you need to succeed? Here are some general examples of the DISC quadrant popular jobs usually fall into.

Entrepreneur – D

Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs are risk takers. They don’t mind the fact that all the decisions rest with them. They have a vision and they want to lead the way to that success. As is typical of the high D, Entrepreneurs make decisions fast and don’t need a lot of input from others to do so.

Senior Manager / Executive – D

As you move up the corporate ladder, it goes without saying your level of responsibility and the risk you need to take grow dramatically. Senior managers and people in the C Suites welcome the challenge of operating without a safety net. They know that big risks have big rewards and they have become good at assessing threats. These people, however, do not have much tolerance for those who would rather sit on the sidelines and have reasons for not taking action. They want things done and they want them done now, as any high D would.

Management Consultant = I

Management consultants need to be good listeners. Once they have heard where the bottleneck is or uncovered a problem, they need to recommend resources and solutions to solve those issues. Since management consultants need to meet people and make them feel comfortable almost immediately, they really need those outgoing and positive traits that are characteristics of the high I.

Recruiter – I

A recruiter’s skill comes in building networks of companies that are looking for new talent and career seekers that are seeking to leverage their skills and experiences into new and challenging high paid positions. Making connections between these groups is an area that high Is excel in.

Sales – I

Highly effective salespeople are skilled at solving personal problems with their line of products and services. They want you to keep coming back and to do that they need to create long-lasting relationships. Combine that with the recognition and rewards that come with achieving sales targets and you have the perfect job for a high S. 

Technical Writer – I

Technical writers need to learn about a specialized area quickly and share that information effectively. When they are finished with one project, they are on to a new area of temporary expertise. This type of work naturally suits a high I who doesn’t like complicated tasks. They usually garner their knowledge by interviewing others and capturing the expertise of their less outgoing counterparts into content that is accessible to a wider group of people.

Customer Success Manager – S

High Ss make great customer success managers. They want to help people to use their company’s services to the most of its ability. High Ss will listen to the customer explain the problems they are experiencing and be able to gently suggest solutions that meet those objectives. They may need to teach or train their clients on using some part of the system and have the patients to do well in that responsibility. Customer success managers need to make their clients feel they have a friend on the inside, the perfect role for an S.

Teacher / Trainer – S

Teachers and trainers are not always the best decision makers, they need a structure to their work. This makes them feel safe in their environment, a strong S characteristic. Once the teacher has this sense of stability, they can help others to prosper through attentive listening and applying their skills and experiences to customize the educational material to the students and their needs.

Hotel Staff – S

Customer facing hotel staff need to make guests feel like the most important people in the room. Since Ss do not have the need to stand out, like Is do, this is a role that suits their working preferences well. HIgh Ss and hotel staff are team players who realize that each cog serves its purpose.

Office Staff – S

Office staff excel at carrying out orders and following procedures. They prefer to be given a list of tasks and the time to carry them out. The skilled staff member knows everybody and most, if not all of them, like her, because she is a good listener and supportive. Characteristics that are common in a High I. She knows how to get tasks done and will quietly go about doing that, not wanting to make any waves.

Accountant & Auditors – C

It has been said that an accountant’s best friend is numbers. This could not be more C like. These people would rather work on a computational task than attend a party. Their attention to details can save a company millions of dollars. So they are consumed with making sure that everything is in its correct place on the ledger.

Translator – C

Translators work alone and their daily routine is all about accomplishing tasks. These are classic high C working style preferences. Translators are highly independent. Just tell them what you want and by when. Then leave them alone to do the work. They have little time for interruptions and distractions like their high C colleagues.

IT Programmer – C

IT programmers focus on detailed code writing. They prefer to work in silence and can spend long hours writing and analyzing code at the computer. While they are skilled at this intricate task, they are generally not so good at training others to do the work. They tend to feel you either understand or you don’t. And if you don’t understand, go ask someone else, the high C programmer is too busy to help you.

Research Scientist – C

Research scientists like to work within the confines of the scientific method. That structure allows them to control variables within it. In this way they can get engrossed in the details of their work without need for talking to others or getting input from the outside. This type of work environment is paradise to a high C.

How You Can Have Success With DISC

Ali, not her real name, had just come to Japan and was excited to start her new job as an ALT. It had been her dream to live and work in Japan. She felt that was going to come true. However, after a few weeks at her school, she had become disenchanted.

She stressed about all the rules and that she was assisting, not leading, in the lessons. Being an ALT is a good position if you are a high S. the job requires a high level of cooperation and an ability to work effectively as a supporting member of the team. Ali liked the social part of the job. As a high I, having to always comply with the English Teacher’s demands and teaching the same lessons over and over again drove her crazy. 

Ali came to me feeling like she had failed at her opportunity to make it big in Japan. Through an interview and DISC assessment, we discovered that she is indeed a high I and would do better in a role where she can socialize, build relationships and manage her own workflow, so long as she is getting results. Based on our discussions, she began applying for jobs as a recruiter. Not only did she get a job within a few weeks but through additional coaching, she sharpened her professional skills, too. As a result, she excelled in her new position, and she received the award for New Associate of the Year. She has now been working with her firm for three years and is loving her work.


Bryan, not his real name, was having problems relating to his colleagues, as a high C, many found his communication style abrupt and rude. During one brainstorming meeting, he commented, “This is stupid. Why don’t you just make a decision, so I can get back to work.”

This made his high I and S counterparts quite angry and Bryan soon found himself in the boss’ office. His supervisor warned him to respect the ideas and opinions of others, or he would be looking for a new job. The feedback from his boss was a wake-up call to Bryan. He contacted me about developing more effective communication skills.

The first step was to analyze his disc assessment and confirm that he is, in fact, a high C. Knowing that, we could explore the differences between his working style preferences and those of his colleagues. We uncovered strategies that allowed Bryan to switch his communication style to more effectively interact with his colleagues. Before too long, his co-workers came to understand him better, too. They consulted him for his technical expertise and attention to detail. He opened up to them a bit more about the challenges he faced on projects and got some interesting ideas by listening to a wide variety of ideas and opinions. Needless to say, Bryan kept his job and made some new friends too.


Peter, not his real name, is a high S. He has worked in the sales department for the last five years. As one of the company’s top producers, he had been offered promotions several times. Each time he declined. He was happy just being responsible for his own work and unsure if he really had the patients and task focus needed to be a good manager.

A previous assignment had him mentoring and training new sales associates. He found that he liked that aspect of the work. So he took a chance and accepted a promotion to District Sales Manager. At first, he found the work very challenging. Too many administration tasks and not enough time meeting customers or motivating his staff. Eventually, however, he settled in and found a detail focus assistant that helped free him up to do tasks that fit his working preferences and the key roles of his job. 

He became better at making decisions, sticking to deadlines, and holding people accountable. Now he runs the most successful sales region in the company. He also assists his team on sales calls where his direct reports are having trouble closing or meeting client’s high expectations. Though his DISC type has moved more towards D, Peter couldn’t be happier.

3 Free & 1 Paid DISC assessment

So how do you understand which job will be the right one for you? Start with a DISC assessment. This will help you to more clearly understand your natural working style preferences. While you could pay for an assessment, and those offer tremendous insight, why not start out with a free one? There are several available on the internet. In fact, if you took more than one, you could validate the results and feel confident that you have successfully identified your preferred working situation.

Here are some DISC assessments you can take right now

Online Personality Tests – https://www.onlinepersonalitytests.org/DISC/

The Online test takes about five minutes and you can take it without providing your email address. It will give you a brief, 1-2 page, report about your DISC preferences and tendencies.

Truity Personality Tests – https://www.truity.com/test/disc-personality-test

The Online test takes about five minutes and you will get a four page analysis identifying your strongest DISC areas. You can’t download this report, but you can print or save the page as a PDF. To get the full Online Personality Test DISC report costs $19 US or about ¥2,000.

Tony Robbins DISC Assessment – https://www.tonyrobbins.com/DISC/

This assessment gives you good insight to your preferences and motivations. It will take you about 30 minutes to complete this assessment. Once you’ve finished the self-assessment, read the 11 page report and the download page carefully to have a better understanding of your tendencies. Then, you won’t need to buy the report upgrade, which is priced from $20 US to $100 (¥2,200 – ¥ 11,500).

The Paid Assessment

One DISC assessment that is really useful, but not free, is the DISC Classic 2.0. This 10 minute assessment provides a detailed report that explains your natural strengths and weaknesses, how others see you and a description of how you will see those with differing assessment scores. It even provides some information on what types of jobs are a natural fit for you. It cost $72 (¥8,000) and is available from Manager Tools – https://www.manager-tools.com/products/DISC-profile#

Wrapping It All Up

Understanding DISC could give you a competitive advantage as you do your job hunting. It will help you know what your working style preferences are, and you can compare those against job descriptions to find a job that suits you best. Once you enter the workplace, knowledge of DISC tendencies will help you better understand your colleagues and provide some insight as to how to work more effectively together.

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To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best thing to do is curl up under the covers and sleep until you feel better. This is why companies give sick days, afterall. However, if

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Be more empathetic with active listening

Active listening requires listening deeply

It's not your turn to speak yet

It can be frustrating, infuriating and even disappointing when others don’t listen to your views and opinions. Everybody has an idea to share yet no-one takes the time to hear yours. So how do you get others to truly comprehend your words, your thoughts and your ideas? Try active listening first.

To communicate more effectively you need to start with listening. Not only will being a deeper listener help you to engage others, it will also allow you to present ideas in ways that resonate more lucidly with your communication partners.

We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.

Listen with your eyes and watch with your ears

When you listen, it has to be more than just waiting for an opportunity to speak. That’s confrontation, not communication. You need to slow down and really take the time to understand what is on  your communication partner’s mind.

One way to be an active listener is to look at the other person as they speak. Take in their posturing. Do they look nervous or excited? Read their body language. Are they swaying or fidgeting? Examine facial expressions. Is there a smile or does their face look strained? There are so many things that are going on inside the person you are speaking with. If you do not take the time to consider their thoughts and feelings, you will be unaware of what they are really expressing to you.

Using your eyes helps to increase your level of empathy  and more actively involves you in the discussion. Let your eyes help you unwrap a deeper meaning to the message than just the words that come from your communication partner’s mouth.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

It's about more than just the words

To be an active listener, you need to consider both what the other person is sharing and why. Why are they saying this now? Why are they saying it in that way? Are they framing the message in a way that will make more sense to you, or are they choosing their words carefully to omit something they do not wish to reveal?

Peter Drucker said, “The most important thing in communicating is hearing what isn’t said.”

Maybe her words are just coming off the top of her mind. Try to rephrase as a way of ensuring you understand the meaning behind those words. Stopping your partner with an occasional do you mean or are you saying builds trust that you are actually listening to them and helps them to focus their ideas as well.

Ask questions to dig more deeply into their point of view. Once you have the gist of their idea ask more questions to understand it deeply. Get the depth and detail you need to respond in an engaging way.

Gabriella Blum, the Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Harvard Law School recently talked about the dangers of not actively listening, “By failing to listen carefully and effectively’, she said, ‘we lose important information, act on wrong assumptions, and unnecessarily damage the relationship.”

Communication is what the listener does.

Respond with empathy

Now that you have a clear understanding of your communication partner’s thoughts, frame yours in a way that will be clear and insightful for them. You know their mindset from listening deeply. So you can now present an impactful response that will resonate with them.

Choose your words and phrasing in a way that will engage. Just because you are listening in a laser-focused manner, does not mean that your communication partner is too. In fact, they probably aren’t. So framing your response is even more important.

There are so many ways to say the same thing that presenting your ideas in a way that your conversation partner easily comprehends will make your message more impactful. Stop from time to time to ask, does that make sense or do you know what I mean?

Let them reply to your idea as you build it out. Weaving their ideas into yours, or even better yours into theirs, makes the discussion more collaborative. Even if you do not see eye-to-eye, you will have a better understanding of their views and they of yours. That all starts with listening.

So listen actively. Understand what your conversation partner is feeling and saying before you respond. Then when you do, reply in a thoughtful and insightful way. As you become a better listener you will be a good communicator too.

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