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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The Most Life Changing Thing I’ve Ever Done…

When I reflect on my personal development in the last few years, the most significant area of growth has been around my boundaries. I used to be a person that flipped between incredibly rigid boundaries and disgracefully porous ones.

I had very few close relationships, and virtually none at all with work colleagues because I was so hung up on being professional that I never shared anything about myself and I certainly didn’t ask for help. I kept everyone at a distance, and even though i desperately wanted to, I didn’t know how to let my guard down to let other people into my life.

On the other hand when it came to helping others and fulfilling work requests, my boundaries were almost non-existent. I would say yes to every request that came across my desk and I would always over extend myself to help someone else, even if it was at the detriment to my own wellbeing.

In a nutshell my boundaries were very unhealthy and the end result was that I was tragically lonely, burned out, frustrated and resentful. I felt like I was constantly giving but not getting anything in return, and this was no one else’s fault but my own.

I only became aware that the cause of many of the perceived challenges I faced was due to my lack of boundaries during a session with my coach in 2019. It was one of those life changing moments where you almost feel the ground moving beneath your feet.

I realised in that moment that I had been resenting others for taking up my time, or sharing their emotional baggage with me. I’d been blaming myself for being awkward in social situations and my confidence had taken a serious beating because of it.

And then I realised that it was in my control to do something about it. I was capable of saying no to things, I was capable of pushing back, disagreeing, putting my own needs first. It was no one else’s responsibility but my own, and that was empowering.

Learning to identify, set and uphold my personal boundaries has been the single most life changing thing I’ve ever done. It has transformed my outlook, my relationships and the way I work. And before I made this discovery I didn’t even realise it was an issue!

If you have ever felt the way I did, and wondered why relationships, communication and having a good life balance has felt difficult, then I invite you to join my FREE Boundary Setting Course running from from 31st January- 4th February.

I will be sharing what I have learned through both my personal experiences, and my experience as a coach helping other women to establish healthy boundaries so that they can lead happier lives.

You have the power to change, so use that power!

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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.

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