Displays of non verbal expressions of power are displayed by both humans and animals alike. The peacock fans it beautiful tail feathers to attract attention, birds and cats puff themselves up to appear larger than they actually are. Even the most confident person may not always feel super confident and outgoing, they too may have times of feeling under confident. But can we learn to develop our confidence?
There are times when we want to be confident such as at a job interview, a presentation, an important occasion or an important sales pitch but something keeps holding us back. I always tell my clients’ to fake it to make it. The brain does not know the difference between doing the real thing and pretending to be confident. I once had a great boss who when I approached him and told him that I was not coping with the new promotion that he had given me said “if you feel that you are not confident then just act as if you are confident” sure enough after a short while of pretending to be able to do the job I did indeed begin to really do the job. But what was it that worked for me?
I came across this research conducted at Harvard University that suggests that by simply spending a few short minutes ‘power posing’ that we can all improve our confidence. The research indicates that people with small closed body powerless posture and low confidence have a higher level of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood than people who display large open body powerful posture have a higher level of testosterone. The research was conducted with students who were separated in to two groups and assigned low power posture or high power postures. The students in the high power group were instructed to adopt either the high power pose or the low power pose for a few minutes. The cortisol and testosterone levels were tested for both groups.
The low power posture group were asked to either sit with their heads bent & their arms across their body or to stand in a similar position. Whilst the high power group were asked to stand or sit in expansive positions with open arms or with their hand on the hips. The results show significant increases in the testosterone levels of the students who took the power poses and they reported that they felt more powerful after the posing then they did before hand.
I am not suggesting that you power pose in the interview or meeting, beforehand take yourself off somewhere where no one can see you doing it. I have shared this research with some of my clients who have had great results at interviews and presentations and reported that they did indeed feel much more confident.
So acting like a pro or faking it to make it can actually work if you want to gain more confidence. So next time you want to be more confident try a ‘power pose’ & see if it works for you.
Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuronendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance – Dana Carney, Amy Cuddy and Andy Yap. Psychological Science Online, published on September 21, 2010 down loaded from psss.sagepub.com at Columbia University.
Gillian Kitchen – The Change Agency
– How to make choices at work or at home
In the classic film noir Casablanca the reluctant and ambiguous hero Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is faced with many decisions. Did he have a decision making process or did he make all his decisions based on his gut feelings? The film is set at the beginning on the Second World War. People wishing to travel beyond Europe to the Americas to find freedom found themselves in Casablanca in French Morocco, the transit point. Those with money, influence or good fortune to gain the exit visas were able to escape to their new world from here.
We live in a technological world but as the song from the film goes “the fundamental things apply as time goes by”. We are faced with many decisions both in our professional and our personal lives. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do and how to make the decision that can shape our future. We can always do nothing and simply see what happens or we can decide to take action and follow our own path. Sometimes a simple pros and cons list can be useful but this does not take in to account the emotions that are often interwoven aspects of our decisions making processes. If we look at the type of decisions facing people and the end results of the decision making process, we find that generally human kind does not have a particularly striking track record.
When we make a decision we make a choice or a judgement about something. Choices about life chances like careers that might have been deserted, mourned or lost. At many universities in the UK a dropout rate of about 30% is now common. A fifth of teacher training students drop out after six months of training and never make it to the class room.
In business the decision making situation is often blemished with bad decisions being made as regularly as good decisions.
In our personal lives things are not much better. How many of us save for our retirement, embark on relationships that are simply not good for us, fail to look after ourselves by not exercising or choosing the wrong type of foods to make us healthy and energised. There are many reasons why we do not make decisions perhaps an element of procrastination and fear of making the wrong decision holds some of us back. Our heroine (Ingrid Bergman) makes a decision that gave us one of the greatest lines in film history “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine”.
How can we improve our decision making? According to Chip & Dan Heath in their book ‘Decisive’ there are four villains of decision making.
- Narrow framing – a tendency to define our options too narrowly instead of “should I break up with my partner or not” they recommend “ What ways can I improve my relationship”
- Confirming bias – Only seek out the information that confirms our beliefs.
- Short term emotions – Being swayed by emotions that will fade
- Over confidence – Having too much faith in our predictions
They also suggest the following their WRAP model for improving decision making processes. Here is an over view of the process.
- Widen your options
- Reality test your assumptions
- Attain distance before deciding
- Be prepared to be wrong
From my experience and my work with clients I have found the following questions to be useful when considering options or choices. You may find some of them helpful to you too.
- Have you considered your values or those of your organisation?
- Who do you need to involve in the decision making process?
- Have you gathered all the facts and understand the causes?
- How have you analysed the different options?
- What is the worst that can happen?
- Have you looked at the situation from a number of perspectives?
- What is your deadline?
- How are you going to communicate the decision?
- Can you live with the outcome of the decision?
It’s also worth remembering that we make decisions all the time and that not all decisions are life changing. So whether it’s deciding what to have for your tea, a new business deal or who to give the exit papers to. Sometimes it’s simply a gut reaction that wins the day. So like Rick in the film hold you own counsel and believe in yourself, find a decision process that suits you and the context that you are making your decision in. Here’s looking at you, kid!
Read the book – Decisive ‘How to make better choices in life and work’ – Chip & Dan Heath 2013. See the film – Casablanca – 1942.
The Change Agency
Do you dread those difficult conversations with staff or perhaps someone close to you? Perhaps you have been putting off speaking to a member of staff you are responsible for or you are having some issues with a teenager or perhaps you just want to improve your relationships and you want to get the conversations right, but you just don’t know how to start the conversation.
Handling difficult conversations requires developing a set of skills. Conversations are not just what we say but take account of a number of other factors, including our listening, observation, questioning and empathic skills which all come into play in our conversations with others. Words and body language are very powerful and we can find ourselves in a rapidly accelerating situation without realising it, if we are not careful. Following these few simple steps will help you to get your point across in an objective manner.
How often do we really listen to the other person’s point of view? If we really listen to what the other person is actually saying we can have much more productive conversations. Try focussing on what the other person is saying. It becomes easier to understand their situation rather than focussing on our own situation and what we want to say next.
Observation and body language
Only twenty percent of communication is what we say, eighty percent is non verbal. Through body language and facial expressions we give a great deal away. We use a number of micro facial expressions, that if observed can tell us a great deal about what the other person is really feeling. If we subtly mirror the other person’s body language and maintain good eye contact we can rapidly gain their confidence and help them to feel that they are being listened too and understood. Being aware of our own and the other person’s body language can be a really helpful way of tuning in to the other person feelings.
The questions that we ask can really help to clarify the situation. By using open ended questions we can gain information about the others persons situation. For example, instead of “you made a mess of that” if we say “tell me what it is that you wanted to achieve,” we start to get to the bottom of the situation without blaming anyone. By stating the facts, and not our emotions and by saying what we observe and not what we feel. We can help to move the situation on.
We should try putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes and try to see the situation from their point of view. Even in the most difficult situations, if we are able to gain a sense of understanding for the other person’s situation and build a genuine understanding we are more likely to achieve a positive result.
Handled well difficult conversations become learning conversations and can lead to improved outcomes for both parties and a deeper understanding of both ourselves and others.
How we like to take information in is important to how we learn. Mostly you can tell how people learn by simply listening to the way that they talk about their world. There is no right or wrong way to learn but your learning style is important to you in establishing how you see the world. Some people have a particular learning style others like to use a blend of all two or all three modes when learning something new. It is helpful to understand how you learn and choose the right learning methods or options for you.
VAK = Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic.
- Visual learning style preference for seen or observed ways of leaning use phrases like ‘the way I see it is’ or ‘I see what you mean’. People with a visual learning style respond well to drawing, visualisation, pictures, models and diagrams.
- Auditory learning style preference for the spoken word, sound and noises use phrases like, ‘That rings a bell’, ‘That sounds like a good idea’. People with an auditory learning style respond well to story, metaphor, scenario creation, discussion and music.
- Kinaesthetic learning style preference for physical experience for touching, feelings, doing use phrases like ‘how do you feel’ or ‘let me try’. People with a kinaesthetic learning style respond well to analysing using situational models, working with clay, mask making, design/creation activities and movement.
In the coaching situation offering creative methods as a choice, in addition to talking enables the client to actively agree to experiment and minimises defensive reactions. Choice can be offered by matching activity to the client’s learning preference, or to the situation that needs to be explored. Sometimes deliberately moving someone out of their comfort zone (with their consent) and extending their skills by offering an unfamiliar activity which is not their identified learning preference can really get the idea’s flowing.
Do you know how you learn? We are all different and learn in different ways. There are many ways of assessing how we learn including a simple VAK assessment available here.
How the Enneagram can help you to understand your personality type
The Enneagram is the study of personality types, ennea is Greek for the number 9 and gram means a drawing with 9 points. The nine points on this diagram represent 9 different personality types. Understanding these 9 different views can help us to understand ourselves better and why we and other people do the things they do. It can offer us specific direction for personal growth.
What type am I?
Here is a brief description of the nine different types.
Type One: The Perfectionist
Perectionists believe that they have to be good and avoid error to be accepted. At best they are ethical, conscientious and responsible, but at worst can also be judgemental, rigid and irritable.
Type Two: The Giver
Helpers believe that to get their own needs fulfilled they have to give to others. At best they are nurturing, generous and empathic, but at worst can also be intrusive, manipulative and martyr like.
Type Three: The Achiever
Achievers believe that to be loved and accepted they have to achieve things and be successful. At best they are hardworking, motivated and successful, but at worst can also be unfeeling,
superficial and workaholic.
Type Four: The Romantic
Romantic believe that there is something missing in their lives, without which they are not complete. At best they are creative, compassionate and deeply feeling, but at worst can also be moody, self absorbed drama queens.
Type Five: The Observer
Observers believe that the world asks too much of them and gives too little in return. At best they are analytical, objective and self-sufficient, but at worst can also be intellectually arrogant, emotionally detached and negative.
Type Six: The Questioner
Questioners believe that the world is a dangerous place and that they must constantly be on the alert. At best they are loyal and practical with enquiring minds, but at worst can also be paranoid, defensive and self-sabotaging.
Type Seven: The Adventurer
Aventurers believe that in order to avoid pain and frustration in life they need to always be looking for new options and ideas. At best they are spontaneous, joyful and enthusiastic, but at worst can also be unreliable, manic and narcissistic.
Type Eight: The Asserter
Asserters believe that they have to be strong and powerful in a tough world. At best they are direct, authoritative and protective, but at worst can also be excessive, bullying and insensitive.
Type Nine: The Peacemaker
Peacemakers believe that they have to blend in and go along with others to be accepted. Nines at best are friendly, unselfish and accepting, but at worst can also be spaced out, stubborn and unassertive.
What knowing you type can do for you
Understanding your personality type is very useful information to have, as no matter how much we want to achieve something there will inevitably be difficult times ahead and the more we know ourselves the better equipped we are to discover and remove our own mental blocks to achieving our own goals. It is also useful to know how we deal with situations when we are at our best and also when we are at our worst and to have better knowledge of ourselves and our effect on others. You may be more able to anticipate more accurately how we are likely to behave in the future, in as yet unknown situations.
What to do next
There are a lots of automated enneagram questionnaires on the internet that could quickly give you a rough idea. Be careful of them because they are not that accurate and you can mistype yourself. A much better way is to have a qualified enneagram professional ‘type’ you or read more about the enneagram numbers and see which resonate with you.
Article by Gillian Kitchen
- You can get it if you really want
In his famous song Jimmy Cliff sang “You can get it if you really want, you can get it if really want, but you must try, try and try….you’ll succeed at last”.
At this time of the year many of us are starting to revisit our old goals and start planning for new ones. However, in this article I want to show you how to achieve goals that you will actually be able to stick to this year!
A new year is an opportunity to reassess our lifestyles, rethink our goals and plan for the rest of the year. But despite our best intentions, the majority of us fail to see them through before January is up. But rather than blame our fleeting willpower, perhaps we need to review our resolutions themselves. Changing ourselves is not easy- but if we want it enough and are prepared to think about what we want with good planning it is entirely possible.
Once you have decided upon your goal make sure that it is as clear as possible. Can you see yourself or your business achieving the goal? It not perhaps the goal is too big or the wrong goal. Spend some time really getting to the bottom of what it is that you want to achieve. It is best if the goal has you or your business at its centre, and it is expressed positively. For example, “I am fit and exercise regularly” or “we are the ‘go to’ business for …..”.
Key questions to ask
The more clarity there is about your goal at this stage the better, what will it be like when you have reached your goal? What will you be doing? What will you say? Where will you be? Your goal should be something that you or your business can achieve alone. It is not about changing someone else. Make sure that your goal matches your values, our values can be very powerful so make sure that your goal is in line with your values otherwise it will not happen. Do your personal behaviours match your goals? Success is about behaviour strengthen your personal behaviour to match your goals.
Make your goals SMART
This year, make your goals SMART. Keep your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Just say, for example if you wanted to lose weight you might plan your goal using the SMART model to look something like this.
Think about how much weight you want to lose. Think hard about why you want to lose that weight. Many people think that if they lose weight that their lives will change. That everything will be different, that their lives will be better in some way. But losing weight will not cure a broken marriage or change our personalities.
Can you measure your progress? ‘I will lose x amount of pounds by the end of January’ break it down into steps, week by week, month by month and keep a track of what you are doing. Write your goal down and read it every day. The act of summiting your plans to paper makes them clearer and firmer in your mind.
Is the goal possible? Perhaps you have been unrealistic in the past. Trying to lose too much weight in too short amount of time. Break your goal down into small bite size chunks. Many people fall along the wayside simply because their goals are too big and therefore seem unachievable. Dividing it up into small chunks can make it seem more achievable.
Check that any short term objectives you set yourself are aligned to the direction you want to take overall. Making small gains towards your goal is better than giving up and missing your goal altogether. Some people fail because they haven’t thought though what they will do when they lapse. So when it happens they give up and go on a binge. Think in advance there will be some turbulence, things may get sticky. But if you stay with your plan example, you will not meet your overall goal.
Create a timeline for achieving your goals, how much exercise will you do each week? This will help to keep you motivated and help you to stay focused. Identify what you want to accomplish and when you want to accomplish it by and reassess it regularly to make sure you are on track.
If we really want to achieve something we may have to work at it and as Jimmy also sang….
“You can get it if you really want – I know it
You can get it if you really want – so don’t give up now”.
You can get it if you really want’ – Classic Jimmy Cliff
At the Change Agency we can help identify what it is that you want to do. We can also help you to identify your priorities and long term goals and work out how you are going to get to where you want to be.
“Behind a panted smile, my life’s a masquerade a world of lets pretend” – The Isley Brothers
Like in the song ‘Behind a Painted Smile’ do you feel you are masquerading and pretending to be someone that you are not? The festive season is upon us and the time for social gatherings, but sometimes parties and festive get togethers make us more fearful than joyful. Do you dread social gatherings at this time of the year? Then think ‘win win’ and seek to win more trusting relationships at work and at home. As much as we may look forward to seeing friends, relatives and or acquaintances at Christmas as any other time of the year, we may be anxious how we come across. Christmas with work colleagues, in-laws, relatives even close friends can be stressful.
According to the psychiatrist Carl Young extroverts get energy from being with others and for them the night is always young. Introverts may feel that too many people are present at a gathering and that crowds are lonely places. We all have varying degrees of extrovert and introvert within us. Therefore, even the most ardent party goer needs time to rest and those who normally like to retreat from the world may come out of their shells. Improve your networking in 5 steps this Christmas
Whether it’s a Christmas with old or new friends or acquaintances here are some tips to get you through the party season.
• The Power of Body language
Stand tall, relaxed but confident. Have a warm smile and open body language with arms unfolded is most approachable. Read between the lines of body language to see what people are really thinking. When you get in tune with the person that you are in conversation with your body language is also in tune and you mirror each other naturally.
• Build Rapport
Building rapport is about helping people that you meet to see some benefit of investing their time with you. You have approx. 15 seconds to make a great first impression – and first impressions stick. Find some common ground and make a connection, if you can find something that you both have a common interest in you will build rapport much quicker.
• Work the Room like a Pro
If we could watch social gatherings in slow motion we would see the natural connectors working the room with ease, moving from person to person and having a number of conversations with almost everyone in the room. They may only ask a few questions but they know how to milk it and they know the value of having many short conversations with many people. Have a few opening questions in your armoury e.g. ‘How do you know the host?’ and ‘do you know many people here?’ People are usually happy to give a potted history of how that they know the host or other people at the event.
• Create Presence
Your own personal space is an invisible energy field that you create around you and if others can sense it, it must more than just imagination. Some indicators of your ‘presence’ are your posture, energy, smile, voice, eye contact. But there are more indicators including, attitude, thoughts and imagination. Take some time to develop these in yourself and watch your ‘presence rating’ grow.
• Communicate with confidence
Active listening is one of the most important things you can do when communicating, as communication isn’t a one way street. Taking the time to actually listen to what someone is saying can really make a difference in building a meaningful relationship at home or at work.
These steps are not just for Christmas but can be used for the rest of the year in developing your social and business networks. Why not take one tip at a time and try it out the very next time that you are in a social or business gathering and see if you can make a difference to your networking skills. You no longer masquerade behind a painted smile. Take your social and business networking to a higher level with these simple steps.
“Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success”. Stephen Covey
Does your team communicate well? Does your team understand the culture? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of the above read on.
There are many activities, tools and techniques available to the team leader in order to develop a winning team, but what is right for you? A great deal of money is spent on team building programmes at work but do they really work? Building your team is not like building a house it is more like building a sustainable relationship. In the current economic climate, customer insecurity and keen competition has seen some companies go to the wall. Teams have become much leaner over the last few years and teams need to be ready to adapt and change to respond to the competitive field in which they operate. The steps outlined here can also be used to develop team work in your personal relationships at home with your family, friends and personal networks.
When thinking about developing your team there are two main issues to consider. The team culture and how the team communicates both internally and externally.
The team culture is often made up of the values, vision, philosophy and mission of the organisation. Once these areas are clear and everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing the way forward can be forged.
How key messages are communicated is a key factor to successful team working. Communication is one of the fundamental processes that is the basis for almost all activity in organisations. It is the process through which we conduct our lives and work.
A step by step plan to create your winning team
• 1-1 sessions with staff to understand individual perspective. What motivates people? Do people understand their roles and the expectations of the organisation?
• Conduct a team survey – what do the individuals say about themselves and what do others outside of the team say about them?
• Establish the teams identity, including identifying the teams values, vision, purpose and culture. This should be done together as a team not done to the team and given to them as a done deal.
• Develop a clear communication strategy to ensure cascade of key messages and develop interpersonal skills within the team. It is also important to work on how people interact as a team, developing listening skills, building rapport, reading body language, reflecting upon how the team works as a norm and giving and receiving feedback from team members.
• Develop a team action plan together so that everyone takes ownership and wants the team to be successful.
These steps are intended as a guide for developing teams and not a quick fix. Team development, like a relationship takes time to develop and with the right set of circumstances, a group of people can develop into a highly effective participative motivated team. However evidence suggests that the process can be accelerated if there is total commitment of the team leader and the overall decision maker.
The Change Agency can help identify what it is that you want to do to develop your team. We can help you to identify your team priorities and long term goals and work out how you are going to get to where you want to be.
The Change Agency
What is a value?
A value is a moral principle or accepted standard of a person or group, and a principle is the distinction between good and bad or right and wrong. These distinctions about right and wrong are made by us – the value and principle holders.
Your values define, to an extent, who you are, and how you will relate to the world around you and the people in it. Values are the part of your identity. Personal values are at the core of our being and we hold on to them tightly.
What are your values?
You can get a feel for your values by thinking about the things that always make you happy or angry, for example, bad manners, being late, honesty, hard work and so on. Think about a really great day that you experienced. What was it that made it so great for you? What do you want people to remember you for? Your generosity, your loyalty or whatever it is that’s important to you.
Here are a few examples of values that might be important to you. You can add your own values to this list. Variety, security, contentment, recognition, respect, freedom, stability, independence, honesty, sincerity, friendship, self -respect.
Knowing your values will help to:
• find your direction
• choose the right job, relationship
• make the right decisions
• find a sense of purpose
Check out your values
By finding out what is important to us we can discover our values. This may be helpful to you when looking for a new direction in life, a new relationship or a new job. For example,
if one of your values is social enterprise don’t become a banker. When looking for new jobs think about your values and how they fit with the values of the organisation, a poor fit may lead to tension.
List the values that are important to you. Add some values that you wish to have to your list as well as the ones that you already have. Think about the different areas of your life, including work and personal life. Ask yourself the following questions:
What’s important to have?
What’s nice to have?
What’s not important?
What’s important to avoid?
Once you have identified your values. Consider which are the top 3-5 most important to you. Now consider if these top values are being met at in each of the areas of your life. Values can change so it is worth reviewing values from time to time. If you want to change your life you will need to take some action.
• When you have worked out your values make sure that your goals are aligned with your values
• Stand up for your values, live your life by your values. Next time you need to make a decision ask yourself how it will affect my core values
• Develop your action plan to achieve your goals
How did Team GB’s cycling teams manage to do so well this summer in the Paralympics, Olympics and the Tour de France? We have seen outstanding efforts and more gold medals than any other country in cycling this year. Where did it all start? Someone had a vision, the velodrome was built in Manchester for the commonwealth games in 2002 which gave the track cyclists somewhere to practice and a chance to show how good they are. The road team was put together and sponsorship found and TeamSky was formed. The coach said that within five years we will win the Tour de France. People thought that he was mad! No English man had ever won the Tour de France. But they had a goal and the rest is history.
So what can us mere mortals learn from this. These fantastic achievements happened because one man had a dream and by believing in that goal and working toward it without giving up he was able to achieve great things. Yes It has been hard work, but it has been done. When asked how this was achieved Team GB’s cycling team director of performance Dave Brailsford said “the aggregation of marginal gains” that is if we make small adjustments in many area’s it will make a huge difference to overall progression. Training schedules must have been punishing, adjustments were made to the bike specifications, helmets were tweaked, clothing streamlined. But most importantly how the athletes think about what they can achieve in their heads was addressed. Small changes were made that made a big difference to the overall performance of the team.
We too may have a dream of something that we want to achieve and work towards no matter how big or how small. If we want to achieve something by setting ourselves clear goals and working on achieving something small toward that goal every day is a step in the right direction. If we believe in our goal and don’t give up, we too will achieve our dreams. September is a good time of the year to review goals that may have been set at the beginning of the year. Returning from summer holidays and the beginning of the new school year is often a time to reflect on our achievements and perhaps time to make our own small adjustments.
At the Change Agency we can help identify what it is that you want to do. We can also help you to identify your priorities and long term goals and work out how you are going to get to where you want to be.