Schedule Time for Self-Reflection

Self-esteem problems don’t develop instantly. They grow over time, sometimes so slowly that we don’t notice change taking place. We run into a major roadblock in our lives and suddenly, we lack the emotional strength to bounce back.

It’s important to make self-reflection a routine. Whether daily or weekly, we need to make a concrete appointment on our calendars. Put effort and intention into your self-reflection. See how you can enhance all areas of your life to improve your emotional, mental and spiritual balance.

Take an honest look at these searching questions:

  • How do I feel about me today?
  • What have I achieved?
  • What have I enjoyed?
  • What have I done to look after me?
  • Have I done anything I will regret?
  • Have I held true to my values?
  • Have I been myself?
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7 deadly sins of speakers and presenters

It takes a lot of preparation to craft the kind of speech or presentation that is going to grab your listener’s attention. Once the speech is crafted, you need to spend a lot of time practicing, so as to make sure you keep their attention.

Listeners don’t give their attention lightly and it doesn’t take much for it to wander. Here are seven bad speaking habits that will guarantee your listeners will be focusing on other things, instead of what you’re presenting.

  1. Rambling – if you don’t know where you’re going, the audience is not going to follow. If you do not have anything to say, sit down! No one has ever complained about a speech that ended early.
  2. Speaking in a monotone – not only are you at risk of losing their attention, but you might also even put them to sleep. Speaking in a monotonous voice is a real communication killer. When you don’t vary the pitch of your voice, it is difficult for the listener to maintain any interest in what you’re saying.
  3. Appearing to have limited topic knowledge – people come to listen because they expect you know what you’re talking about. You need to know your topic backwards and forwards. Research your topic thoroughly while preparing your speech.
  4. Poor eye contact – lack of eye contact creates a barrier between you and the audience. Make a connection to the listener; they want to know you’re speaking to them.
  5. Pacing, wandering, or fidgeting – often a sign of nerves, it can be distracting to the audience. You may not eliminate the nerves, but preparation and practice can reduce the appearance of nerves.
  6. Lack of preparation – if you haven’t made the effort to prepare, why should the audience make the effort to listen?
  7. Poor storytelling skills – nothing communicates concepts better than stories. If you want to hold on to the listener’s attention, learn to tell stories well.
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How to write an elevator speech

Our public relations director came by my office recently with a prospective volunteer board member. As part of the introduction, the director asked me to outline my role, in 30 seconds or less. Well… I hemmed, hawed, and took about 90 seconds to stammer out a rambling answer.

Time to write an elevator speech.

What is an elevator speech?

An elevator speech is a brief description of what you do, or a point you want to make, delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (say, thirty seconds or 100-150 words).

Why use an elevator speech?

It is important to be able to quickly introduce an organization, product, service, etc. to potential stakeholders. You only have a few moments to make a first impression. Investing time in developing and rehearsing an elevator speech can make the difference between gaining a new customer/supporter and walking away empty-handed.

What are the key elements of an elevator speech?

Your elevator speech should have three elements:

  1. Who you are?
  2. What you do?
  3. How you do it?

Three steps to take when developing your elevator speech:

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare – This is a short speech that needs to sounds like it’s being delivered off-the-cuff. That means you need to put a lot of work into writing and editing. Then, once you’ve completed the process, go back and edit some more.
  2. Practice, practice, practice – Know your speech well enough so you express your key points without sounding as though the speech was memorized. Let it become an organic. Practice in front of mirrors and role-play with friends
  3. Tell a story – Avoid a dry recitation of facts. Listeners will retain more of what you tell them if you share a story.

Three things to avoid with your elevator speech:

  1. A speech that sounds canned – If you recite something you’ve memorized, you run the risk of sounding stilted and unnatural.
  2. Avoid jargon –Keep it simple. Avoid using terminology that is meaningless outside of your industry or organization.
  3. Rambling – Being familiar with your speech will help keep on track.

Next time I’m asked, I’ll be ready.

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39 Phrases Everyone Should Know and Use

I remember a visit at the Greyhound depot, pick up a couple of parcels. As I walked through the door, I heard a customer berating an agent in loud and abusive terms. The customer had expected something to be there for pick-up and it wasn’t.

The more the customer screamed and threatened (and it was screaming), the more agitated the agent became. The confrontation resembled a playground fight between two children, not a business transaction.

I felt sorry for the agent. Her manager was sitting in an office behind the service area, aware of what was going on, but not intervening. I wanted to give the manager a boot and say, go out there and support your staff.

The agent also seemed ill-equipped to deal with the situation. If she had any training in dealing with angry customers, it wasn’t apparent from her actions.

A dozen or so years ago, I attend a workshop on interpersonal communication skills. One of the “tools” handed out was this sheet of phrases that could be used to communicate in diverse types of situations.

I’m not suggesting—as the workshop presenter did—that memorizing a sheet of phrases is going to solve all your communication issues. I can’t imagine the Greyhound agent would have been well served by having this list taped to her station, along with a communication flow chart.

Interpersonal communication is too complex to be bound merely by fixed rules. However, effective interpersonal communication skills can be learned and developed.

Any complex skill needs a foundation on which to build. This list of phrases can serve as such a foundation. Look at areas which are weaker communication skills for you and then look at the kinds of phrases you need to add to your lexicon.

Always appropriate

  1. Please
  2. Thank you
  3. You’re welcome

Reaching out to people

  1. Hi, I’m… What’s your name?
  2. Excuse me, I see you every day in the hall and I want to introduce myself. I’m…
  3. I understand how you feel.
  4. I would feel that way too in your situation.
  5. I can see this matter is especially important to you.
  6. This is what I hear you saying.
  7. Tell me more about it.

Cooperating and compromising in a conflict

  1. I gather you don’t agree. What’s the reason for your objection?
  2. Why won’t this work?
  3. I have a problem I’d like to discuss with you.
  4. Let’s talk this over. When is a good time for you?
  5. Let’s see how we can reach our mutual goal.
  6. It’s in our common interest to reach an agreement.
  7. How can I help you meet your needs?

Giving and receiving criticism

  1. It’s important for our relationship that I tell you about an issue that is making it hard for me to work with you.
  2. I’m not blaming you for my feelings. I’m just describing how I feel.
  3. I’m not attacking you as a person; I want to focus on your behaviour that is preventing you from moving ahead.
  4. That never occurred to me, but I’ll give it some thought.
  5. I’ll consider that and get back to you.
  6. Let me think over what you said and then discuss a different approach.

Acknowledging errors and mistakes

  1. I’m sorry.
  2. I was wrong.
  3. I accept responsibility.
  4. Yes, it happened, and it was a mistake.
  5. I don’t have an excuse. I have an explanation if you want to hear it.
  6. You have a right to feel the way you do.
  7. Here’s what I learned from the situation and what I’ll do differently in the future.
  8. We know what the problem is. Let’s focus on solutions.
  9. How would you like the problem resolved?
  10. What do you think a fair solution would be?
  11. Here’s what we can do to correct the problem.

Gossip and rumours

  1. I understand you have been saying…
  2. Do you really mean what I hear you’ve been saying?
  3. I’ve heard that, but it’s just a rumour.
  4. If it’s not true, it won’t be said anymore, will it?
  5. This may be an isolated incident, but I’m going to conduct my relationship with you quite differently from now on.
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How to Manage Your Time with a Journal

Do you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Are you tired of feeling rushed and frazzled?

Better time management can make you feel as though there actually are enough hours in the day to get everything done and better time management can leave you feeling refreshed — less rushed, less frazzled, less stressed. Time management is an executive function; that is, a skill that uses multiple cognitive functions.

A first step to improving your time management ability is to keep a time journal.

Keeping a time management diary can be a valuable tool to help you to see where the bulk of your time is being spent. If you are constantly being interrupted by phone calls or find yourself surfing the net when you should be working, a time management diary can help you to pinpoint areas where you might need to make adjustments.

Once a year, select a typical week or two and gather data on your regular daily routine. Record your activities in half-hour increments, noting the things that impacted the work flow. Take the data, look for areas where you could improve your use of time and develop a specific action plan to bring about the desired improvements

Gather Data:

Keep a daily time log for one week if you have a somewhat routine schedule and for two weeks if your schedule is less predictable. This will provide information for you to improve your use of time.

  • Select a typical week, (i.e., avoid vacation, sick leave, personal leave, holiday, etc.)
  • Record activities at least every half hour. Be specific. For example, identify visitors and record duration and topics of conversations. (Be honest. Only you will have access to this information.)
  • Write a comment on each activity. Did something take longer than usual? Why? Were you interrupted?
  • At the end of the day note whether this day was typical, busier than usual, or less busy than usual.

Analyze Your Use of Time:

Working with the data gathered, analyze your current use of time. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are there any surprises in my use of time?
  2. Am I spending my time as I think I should be?
  3. Am I wasting time on activities that do not advance me towards my goals?
  4. Is there a balance between the various facets of my life: work, family, play, personal, etc?

Action Plan:

From your analysis, develop specific action plans to bring about the desired improvement in your use of time.

Follow-up:

Six weeks after beginning your time management improvement effort, assess your progress, and determine what work still needs to be done. If you find yourself reverting to time-wasting habits, explore questions like these:

  1. Why am I not spending time the way I want?
  2. Why am I settling for second-best in my priorities?
  3. What changes am I going to make?
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3 tips to help support your small business’ road to recovery

(NC) As the COVID-19 vaccine begins to reach Canadian communities, many small business owners are viewing 2021 as the year to shift from crisis response to rebuilding and recovery.

“While the pandemic continues to pose uncertainties, it’s important that business owners do not remain idle,” recommends Lori Darlington, vice president of small business and strategic partnerships at RBC.

“This is a critical moment to proactively reflect and start thinking about changes and actions you can take today to better position your business for the future.”

For those looking to prepare for their small business’ recovery, consider these three tips:

1. Explore all available relief programs.

Many initiatives – including the Canada Emergency Business Account and EDC and BDC Business Credit Availability Program – have updated eligibility requirements throughout the pandemic. Be sure you’ve checked the latest updates as these solutions can provide the critical temporary relief your business may need as vaccines continue to make their way to communities.

2. Speak with financial experts.

Reach out to your financial partner to proactively discuss your cashflow and recovery plans, as well as flexible credit options. Sharing details on your company’s situation will help bank advisors provide financial and business solutions tailored to your unique circumstances.

3. Focus on what you can control.

Take this opportunity to strengthen relationships with your employees, customers, and community by helping to protect their health. In addition to adhering to physical distancing and sanitation requirements, explore resources that may be included in your payroll software or health benefits to support your employees’ mental well-being. Protecting your greatest asset – your human capital – will have a tremendous ripple effect on customer loyalty, brand reputation and operational resilience.

Find more resources at rbc.com/smallbusinessnavigator.

www.newscanada.com

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