Monday, July 29, 2013

The power of politeness

When I lived in Southern California one of my least favorite places to spend time was the line at the DMV.  It wasn't at all unknown to spend 45 minutes to an hour (or longer) waiting to be seen.  Then, once you got to the counter, you had the joy of speaking to a person whose approach to his or her job was one of less than boundless enthusiasm.  Sometimes these folks deserve the reputation they have for being rude and unhelpful.  I've been chastised and insulted by more than one public employee for things as ridiculous as resting my elbows on the counter and thus "invading" his or her personal space.  One day, I had an idea.  While I waited in line, I spent my time watching the interactions between customers and other customers, between staff members and between staff and customers.  I noticed that there was often a lack of politeness on the part of all parties, especially between customers and staff.  So, I decided to try something every time I went to the DMV.  I spoke politely to the staff and other customers.  If the person ahead of me had been rude, I made it a point to say something like "I'm sorry you had to put up with that behavior.  It must make your job harder."  I'd thank them for helping me.  An amazing thing started to happen.  While I still had to spend more time in line than I wanted, my interactions with the staff began to improve.  They became more willing to go a little further than required to help.  They smiled more.  They started saying things like "you're welcome" and "thank you" in something other than a monotone.  It didn't happen every time (there are, sadly, some people who just don't value politeness) but it happened often enough to be noticeable.  I tried the same thing with other customers and got similar results.

Perhaps you're old enough to remember hearing someone actually saying "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."  The point was that politeness is far more effective than rudeness in getting people to cooperate with us.  Taking the time to listen to others.  Asking questions about them.  Using their name when we speak to them.  Saying "please" and "thank you."  All of these are examples of what I call basic politeness.  Dale Carnegie's book entitled How to Win Friends and Influence People spends a great deal of time encouraging this politeness.  It's easy to look at his book as a primer on manipulation, but it really isn't.  Instead, it's a good guide to treating other people in a way that acknowledges their worth and value. In fact, one of the points made in the book is that if the things it teaches are used for manipulation, the manipulator is virtually guaranteed to get caught!  It's not about manipulation, it's about treating others with respect.  I had a conversation about politeness with my daughter.  She was upset that she had said "please" and hadn't gotten what she wanted.  I explained that politeness isn't to get what we want.  Politeness is about treating others the way we want to be treated (I seem to recall there is a Golden Rule that says something about how to treat people).  Does it have benefits?  Yes, it does.  If I'm not committed to treating other people with common courtesy, chances are I won't do it consistently enough to experience any of those benefits (another reason to not try to manipulate people).

Are people not responding well to you?  Do you find your interactions with others to be marked more by conflict than by cooperation?  Maybe you'd just like to have more pleasant interactions.   I'm certainly not saying you're impolite.  Still, since you can't control others, but only yourself, you might want to consider giving more attention to politeness a try.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What methodology do you use?

Recently, I had a person ask me "What methodology do you use in your therapy?"  I have to admit, it caught me by surprise.  Let me tell you why.  I'm a coach and hypnotist who also happens to be an RN (licensed in 3 states, currently).  I have extensive education and over 20 years experience in each of those areas. Question: With my credentials and experience, what therapy am I legally entitled to offer?  Answer:  None at all.  That's right.  None.  Zero. get the idea.  I am not a therapist.  I offer professional hypnosis and coaching services to my clients.  Now, I have experience in leadership.  I've done extensive work in mental health nursing.  I've led counseling groups and provided one-on-one counseling to mental health patients under the guidance and auspices of the institutions where I worked, but I am not a counselor or a therapist. On my website I note that what I provide is "vocational and avocational coaching".  Now, that certainly covers a lot of ground and it allows me to help a lot of people with a lot of different things, but it isn't therapy. For some reason it always catches me by surprise when people refer to it as therapy.  That's one reason I refer to myself as a hypnotist rather than as a hypnotherapist.  I want to help my clients avoid that sort of confusion.

Now, back to the question.  What methodology do I use?  This is how I answered the question.

While I've not been able to come up with a clever sounding title, my approach to coaching is to increase a client's awareness. That sounds sort of vague and “fluffy”. Since I try to avoid both vague and fluffy, let me explain.

In my experience, most people, regardless of how they define success and how much of it they have enjoyed, are profoundly unaware of:
  • Their basic values
  • Their passions
  • How their underlying beliefs and attitudes affect their chances for success
    • How these same beliefs and attitudes have limited their success so far
  • And the impact of their subconscious, acting in its capacity as a protective mechanism, on their lives
You'll notice that, at their heart, these are really “why” type questions (coaches are notorious for these, are we not?). This is where many of my clients wind up doing a significant amount of work during the coaching relationship. I use and teach specific tools and techniques to help them through what many people consider the least comfortable part of the process. It's after this that the “how” and “what” become not only easier to see, but far less tedious (or even enjoyable).

I hope this answers your question without being too long.

Thanks, again, for your comments.


A good portion of what you'll read on this blog reflects that approach.  I really believe that for most of us, being more aware of why we do what we do, why we want what (often think) we want and why we haven't achieved more than we have will bring us much close to achieving our goals than focusing so much on "how" and "what."  After dealing with the "why" questions, the others are easy.

Change your mind...change your life

Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I get out of this mess by...knowing what's important to me

I've said before that if my life is a mess, the way I get out of it is by learning to make more effective decisions.  That means I need to learn to make decisions that move me in the direction of my goals and that I need goals for different areas of my life that provide clarity about the kinds of decisions I should make.  Now, if you're like me the temptation at this point is to jump right into using the "latest and greatest" goal setting tool.  Problem solved, right?  Again, if you're like me, probably not.  Here's why.

As we move toward achieving our goals, the result is that our lives move in whatever direction the goals take us.  That's a good long as we like that direction.  If we don't like that direction, it's good only if we learn from it.  Then we can set other goals to take our lives in another direction.  But, what if we don't like that direction?  Well, we can set other goals to change direction again...I'm sure you get the idea.  We can go through life constantly making major course corrections.  Sometimes that's necessary.  Sometimes we have no choice but to make a major change or shift in what we do or how we do it.  For instance, let's say one of your goals has been to own and personally manage a combination dude ranch/bed and breakfast in the high country of Arizona.  You're going through life, putting things in place and taking the actions necessary to realize that goal.  Then, one day, you learn that you are terribly allergic to pine trees, especially Ponderosa pines.  In fact, your allergy is so profound that your doctor has told you that exposure to living Ponderosa pines could lead to anaphylactic shock and your likely death.   Given that the mountains of Arizona are home to the largest Ponderosa pine forest in the world, this is a significant problem.  In fact, it could very possibly result in you having to abandon this goal.  This is not the kind of problem I'm talking about, here.  This problem isn't related to not liking the direction your life is taking.  I'm talking about the kind of problem where you realize you hate cows, ranches, cowboys, bed and breakfast inns, being out in the country, solitude, the Rocky Mountains, pine trees and Arizona.  All of this after shaping a major portion of  your life to get something that involves all of these.

Somewhere along the way, if you find yourself having to constantly change goals and life direction, you might ask if there's not some way to avoid this.  Is there not some way to at least reduce the likelihood of having to make frequent and major changes in my life direction?  The answer is "yes."  It comes down to knowing what' important to you.  If you can clarify the values that matter most to you, then you can set goals that are consistent with those values.  I've worked with a lot of clients who have set goals and either not achieved them or been unsatisfied with achieving them simply because their goals conflicted with what was truly important to them.  Quite often the goals were based upon what they felt they should want or what other people told them to want rather than upon their own values and ideals.

So, the first step to setting good goals and making effective choices is know what's important to you.  There are a lot of tools available to help you do this.  Exercises that engage your imagination and lists of values that you can rank in terms of relative importance are available for free on the Internet.  If you have trouble with these, you can hire a coach to help you work through the process.  In fact, I encourage that because there's more beyond simply using the tool.  Still, if a coach is not a viable option for you right now, the tools are out there for you to use.  Find the one(s) that work for you and learn what really matters.  Life is so much easier and far more fulfilling when what you do matches what you care about.

Change your mind...change your life.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Write the book

Have you ever thought about writing a book? For many people the idea seems overwhelming. It was that way for me for a long time, even though I like to write. Fortunately, all that changed when I attended a webinar by Alicia Dunams entitled “How to Write a Bestseller in a Weekend.” She laid out with very specific, concrete examples the process for writing quickly a book that sells.. It was amazing in terms of what it has allowed me to accomplish. While I wasn't able to attend her weekend long class (Bestseller In A Weekend workshop) the webinar itself has made a huge difference in what I've been able to accomplish. I am convinced that had I been able to attend the weekend long webinar the results would have been even more amazing. I cannot recommend her highly enough. She really knows her stuff!

Sometime within the next month , my first book will be published. I don't really want to use this post to promote my book as much as to talk about my experience writing it. I've found the process of writing it to be more challenging than I expected. Still, it's been well worth the effort even if no one reads it. I've learned more about myself while writing than I have from any one activity in a very long time. It's also helped me really clarify some things I believed to be true for a long time. I still believe they are true. In fact, I'm more convinced than ever that they are. What's changed is that I see the relationships between what I write about and the behaviors I see from my clients much more clearly now. This clarity is changing the way I think about and practice both coaching and hypnosis. That alone makes writing the book worthwhile.

For anyone who has ever entertained even the tiniest of thoughts about writing a book, let me offer my strongest encouragement. Take the time. Contact Alicia and find a way to attend one of her events and write the book! For me, the process has been transforming. I'll certainly be attending her workshop as soon as I can find an open weekend in my schedule.

NOTE: Other than having attended her webinar, I have no relationship with Alicia Dunams or I mention her solely because of the value her webinar has brought to my life.

Change your mind...change your life.

Stay tuned...