Never assume that others are good communicators: 3 tips to get it right

Communication sits at the heart of all our interactions whether they are written, verbal or non-verbal, and yet very few of us are formally taught how to communicate. We learn how to speak and to write, but not how to communicate; the one skill we require to function effectively within an organisation, or any relationship for that matter. When it comes to learning how to communicate, most of us rely on the observations we make witnessing the people around us communicate; our parents, teachers, friends, colleagues and employers.

I was recently facilitating an Ignite Your Confidence group coaching session where we were talking about methods to communicate assertively and one participant said ‘No-one speaks like that at work, I could never say anything like that.’ My response was ‘How many people do you know who you would consider as assertive communicators?’ The whole group looked stumped and there were a few minutes of silence. Finally the participant who made the original comment mentioned she had a friend who was great at communicating assertively, but she was the only person she could name.

This participant was reluctant to use assertive communication at work because she couldn’t see anyone else modelling it. However when she did practice implementing some of the assertive communication techniques at work the next week, to her surprise she got the positive outcomes she was looking. Not only did she feel more confident in herself, but her assertive communication improved project outcomes too. It didn’t even feel that awkward for her to communicate assertively in the end, even if she was the only person doing it.

It can be easy to assume that those around us, and particularly those senior to us, are good communicators. We have grown up learning to communicate by observing those around us, and while we inevitably learn some useful things we also unknowingly pick up bad habits and can be at risk of adopting unhelpful communication styles. This is especially true when working in high pressure environments, as good, assertive communication is usually one of the first things to go when pressure ramps up.

If you’ve ever wondered why your relationships are suffering at work or in your personal life it’s highly likely that communication is the root of the problem. If you don’t feel like you’re being taken seriously, or that your voice is being heard, or you just feel like you’re being walked over, then communication is the likely culprit too. And this is nothing to be ashamed of, because good communication is probably not being modelled around you.

You have a choice to do something about it though, and it’s very easy to learn. I strongly discourage you from waiting for a role model to show up because they may never come along. Take the reigns and do something about it for yourself, and be that role model for other people.

Some simple things you can do right away:

Learn your communication style
We all have a natural tendency towards a particular communication style, and this can be dependent on the situation we find ourselves in. When you know your default style, you are better able to start adjusting how you communicate. Learn more about the four communication styles in this great overview from the University of Kentucky here.

Raise your awareness
Begin shifting your attention to how you communicate in different situations. Notice what your body language and behaviour is when you communicate with different people. Notice the words you choose to use and the tone and force with which you use them. What are you projecting by the way you are communicating? Which communication style are you adopting in which situations?

Set clear boundaries
One of the best places to begin communicating assertively is around your boundaries because these can be quite easily reduced to short, clear, direct sentences. For example: ‘I don’t work weekends’ or ‘Commenting on my appearance is not appropriate. You need to stop.’ Want to improve your boundaries? Get access to my free Boundary Setting E-mail Course.

Want to learn to communicate more confidently?

Apply for the next Ignite Your Confidence group coaching programme.

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How I accidentally sabotaged my career and stifled my potential

I was doing some decluttering the other day and came across this peer-feedback report from my old job. It was so nice to read some of the comments that people had written about my strengths (my personal favourite is ‘Fearless’). There is so much praise here, and so much to be proud of.

AND when I read the section about development needs I get chills down my spine, because all of these comments point to the lack of confidence I had in myself. Other people could see it, and I knew it.

I didn’t believe in myself, I didn’t trust myself, I didn’t love myself. I was harder and meaner to myself than anyone else could ever be, and all of this was sabotaging my career. It’s right there in the comments:

  • ‘Does not contribute in meetings. Could be overlooked’
  • ‘Not very visible’
  • ‘Lacks confidence’
  • ‘A quiet approach can mean some colleagues don’t feel they know her’

Having read my strengths you’d probably think this section was written about a different person. But no, it wasn’t, all of this was true. Despite being skilled at what I did, passionate about my work, and incredibly dedicated, I usually felt painfully uncomfortable at work because I was in the grips of self-doubt. My colleagues clearly thought I was great and doing a good job, but I couldn’t see it, and that was coming across in how I showed up on a daily basis at work, and it was severely impacting my ability to achieve my potential.

What my colleagues probably couldn’t see is the toll this was also taking on me physically and emotionally. I felt constantly out of my comfort zone and stressed. I had almost permanent brain fog, tight muscles, stomach cramps, and I often felt forgetful. My body was sending me loud signals that something was wrong and it felt like I was permanently under attack.

But from what? At the time it felt like everything, but in actuality, it was all self-sabotage. I WAS ATTACKING MYSELF!

I knew this wasn’t how I wanted to be, but I’d been consumed by this feeling for so long I really didn’t know how to change it. I felt like a victim.

It took me another 3 years to really wake up to what was wrong and start working on peeling back those layers of self-doubt. I wish I’d done something about it sooner, but sometimes when you’re so consumed by something you just can’t see the wood for the trees.

The path back to my confidence was not one I expected. It wasn’t about reading self-help books, and gaining hints and tips. It was about slowing down and reconnecting on a deep level with the confident woman I knew was hiding somewhere inside me. She needed coaxing out, rebuilding, loving. I know I couldn’t have done this without the support of a coach to guide me.

I know the pain, disappointment, frustration and overpowering discomfort that a lack of confidence in yourself can bring, and I really don’t want you to feel this way, because it is a waste of your time, energy and potential. You deserve better. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be successful in your career.

I’ve designed a 4-week group coaching programme to help other women make the shift from feeling self-doubt to self-confidence. A programme that will help you to reconnect with who you are and step back into your full power.

If you’ve received similar feedback to the feedback I did, and you feel ready to do something about it then the Ignite Your Confidence programme is for you.

Over 4 weeks you will learn to:

  • Deepen your understanding of yourself and reconnect with who you are and what drives you
  • Discover your core strengths and how to communicate them
  • Identify and overcome self-limiting beliefs
  • Learn how to cultivate self-confidence and enhance your resilience

All with the support of a certified coach and an intimate group of women also working on developing their confidence.

Programme Dates: We will meet on Monday evenings 19:30 – 21:00 CET starting Monday 7th March and ending on Monday 28th March.

Places are limited. Deadline for applications – Friday 4th March

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Why Having a Baby Was The Best Thing I Did For My Business

I always knew I wanted kids and I spent the majority of my 20s worrying about how it would impact my career. I worked really hard, in part so that I could secure a position where I felt I was able to take maternity leave and not fall too far behind, and have the life-work balance that so many of us dream of.

I had always focused a lot on how a baby could negatively impact my career, so I never imagined that having a baby would be such a good thing for my business and for me as a solo business owner.

I preface this by making it clear that at no point has it been easy (that’s a different conversation)!

Here’s why having a baby was the best thing I did for my business:

Improved my Time Management

Doing anything with a newborn is basically like using the Pomodorro method. Whether it’s having a shower, working, or reading a chapter of your favourite book. You have very short amounts of time to get things done so you have to be intentional about what you do with that time. There was no time for scrolling my feed or naval-gazing. I had to decide what I was going to do and how exactly I was going to do it in advance so when I did have the time I used it to my advantage.

Accelerated my Decision Making

We all have those moments in our business when we don’t know how to move forward. Should we outsource the work to someone? Should we try and learn ourselves? I didn’t have time to waste wondering which path to take so made faster decisions on how to keep the momentum in my business. I invested in areas I could not do myself and cut tasks and projects I knew were not essential.

Expanded my Network

Building your network is one of the easiest things you can do during your maternity leave. You meet people from different industries and walks of life than your own because you have something new in common: a baby. Networking happens at the park, at baby groups and wherever mums are getting together. I started a Mom-Mastermind group for members of the Women Entrepreneurs Munich group so that we could share our business ideas and challenges whilst our kids were in the pram sleeping. My network increased 3 fold this year just because I had a baby.

Invested Time in my Development

When I wasn’t talking to others about business I was developing myself, reading books and listening to podcasts. It can be a challenge as an Entrepreneur to carve out time for professional development, so this was a real treat facilitated by hours of walks I wouldn’t usually have gone on, and days of endless breastfeeding.

Let Go of Perfectionism

It is absolutely impossible to do everything at the standard you used to before you had kids, or you end up either burnt out or not doing anything at all. I had to let go of perfectionism because it led me to ruminating over ideas and wasting so much of the little time I had. I had no choice other than to let go of it if I was going to make any progress at all. When I did, so much opened up to me. I began asking for help and coming up with loads of ideas to problems I’d been stuck on for a long time.

Check out my blog post “10 Ways to Rebel Against Perfectionism” for inspiration.

Realised the Value of my Services

Time is money, yes we know, but we only really appreciate it when our time is actually limited. I had been underselling myself for too long. When it came to working during my maternity leave it had to be worth the effort to take time away from my family, so i finally started getting serious about what my time was worth.

How has having a child positively impacted your business?

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10 Ways to Rebel Against Perfectionism

You know perfectionism is getting in the way of you achieving your goals, but what can you actually do about it? Here are my top 10 easy-to-action tips for rebelling against perfectionism:

1. Set a Timer for Yourself

You either spend too long on tasks or procrastinate like crazy. Hold yourself accountable to get things done within a limited period by setting a timer to complete something. When the time’s up mark that task as complete. During the Purpose Project Co-Working Sessions we use Cuckoo Timer to keep time.

2. Share an Unfinished Idea

Have you ever reached a sticking point with something you’ve been working on and spent a long time wondering what to do, but been terrified to ask for help? Instead of wasting time trying to get yourself unstuck, share your unfinished idea and ask for input and ideas from other people. Your idea will be stronger for it and you’ll move things forward faster.

3. Don’t Make a Plan

Plans are a perfectionists best friend. They’re safe, they make you feel in control and they can also become the project if you’re not careful. Ask yourself the question, “What is the least I need to do to achieve this?” and stick to doing just that.

4. Tell Someone How You Actually Feel

Vulnerability is the antidote for perfectionism, so when someone asks you how you are, tell them instead of bottling it up and showing a stiff upper lip. Sharing how you REALLY are doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.

5. Don’t Ask for Feedback

If you usually ask people to check your work, and you seek reassurance about what you’re doing, STOP! Asking for feedback on everything reduces your self-confidence and feeds your inner perfectionist. People will always have opinions but it doesn’t mean they are more valid than your own. Believe in your skills and abilities and know that you are capable of knowing when something is “good enough”.

6. Let Someone Else Take Control

It feels so good to be in control, and yet it’s exhausting to constantly be responsible for everything. Share the decision making responsibility out by asking friends and family to make some of those joint life choices that take up your head space like what to eat for dinner, where to stay on vacation, and how and when to clean the house. At work it could be letting the Intern take on more responsibility for a task.

7. Finish Work on Time Everyday

When you’re trying to make something perfect and you’re focussed on getting that done it can be so easy to say the words “Just 5 more minutes” which inevitably turns into 10, then 15, then 2 hours. Make a commitment to finish work every day and keep it.

8. Say “No” to Something

You are a people pleaser and want to please everyone in your life, so you’ve got used to saying yes to everyone whether it’s your boss asking you to take on more work, or your family asking you to do a quick favour. This leaves you feeling stretched thin and a little resentful. Be bold and say no for once. Start with some small no’s to begin with if you need to work up to the big ones. What’s important is that you learn to stretch your “no” muscle.

9. Say “Yes” to Something

As much as you love to say “yes” to other people, you find yourself saying “no” to a lot of opportunities because you hate doing things you’re not good at or have never done before out of fear of looking silly. The easiest way to rebel is to say yes to something new. A new sport, restaurant, TV series, way of doing things. Say yes and commit whole heartedly.

10. Enjoy Quiet Time

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to enjoy your down time? Without thinking about all the things you could or “should” be doing? It is easy to move from one thing to the next because it makes us feel productive; perfectionisms best friend. Slowing down and giving yourself permission to let go of your responsibilities and just “be” may feel counterintuitive but it will nurture your mind and soul, in turn increasing your creativity and productivity.

Continue Reading10 Ways to Rebel Against Perfectionism

Purpose Project Co-working Sessions

Are you working on a project you’re super excited about, but struggling to carve out time to focus on it?

Do you get to the end of a busy day and lack the motivation to continue working even though the work is important to you?

I totally understand your struggle!

I was on ‘maternity leave’ all of 2020 and during that time I was running my coaching business in the few hours I had between looking after my newborn and managing the household. There were so many evenings where all I wanted to do was curl up on the sofa and watch Netflix. And no one would have known except for me! 

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely watched my fair share of Netflix, but I also made sure I carved out time at least once per week to focus purely on my business. This time was sacred, and it has helped me to achieve so many of my goals, in far fewer hours than I could have imagined. 

So many of the women I coach are working on inspiring projects and struggling to find the time to focus on them, so I figured we could mutually support each other in our endeavours and hold each other accountable by doing them together.

Say hello to….

Purpose Project Co-Working Sessions

Free virtual co-working sessions for creative women, entrepreneurs and change makers who are striving to launch and lead projects of purpose in their spare time.

When? 
Thursdays evenings from 7-9pm CET starting 11th March (and fortnightly after that)

What is a purpose project?
Something you’re doing that gives you purpose in life, be it writing a book, launching a business, creating a cultural movement, painting, designing, making, re-training…you name it!

What will we do?
In this session we’ll meet virtually on Zoom, and after a short intro we’ll work on our own tasks for 25 minutes (cameras and mics off). Then we’ll have a short 5 minute break where we chat or do an activity. We repeat this another 3 times.

How do I sign up?
You’re ready to invest time in your purpose project? YAY!!!!! To save your seat click the big red button 🙂

Past Co-Working Sessions

What Others Say

That was such a lovely group!

Rebecca Rönty, Translator DE>EN

Hostess with the mostest! Thank you for that super productive session. I have now finished the course plan with my milestone dates 💪🏼 A huge well done to you for hosting such a great co-working event 👏 Looking forward to the next one 💛

Jess McCulloch, Marketing Specialist

Thanks for tonight! I got the webpage done in the time we did the sessions!

Laura Keung, Brand Designer
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