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In This Month’s Issue…

A Note from Liz

Have you gotten your year off to a good start?

Even if you haven’t, you can always make today a good day — and start again from here. Begin with yourself: Look for what is good, pleasant, and beautiful about you, and take a moment to appreciate it all.

Then go back to your good day, knowing the year is now off to a good start.

Ready? Go!


Stress Less

Get Your Feet on the Ground

It’s only mid-January, and you’re already feeling edgy? Or has that agitated sense been dogging you for a long time now? Here’s a technique you can use to help ground yourself almost anywhere, no matter who’s watching. It works in a meeting, at the supermarket, when you’re hearing bad news, or even during an argument.

  • Shift in your seat or stand so that both feet are flat on the floor. Bare feet are optimal, but this will also work quite well in shoes (although I can’t vouch for its effectiveness in high heels).
     
  • Press down with your feet. Make sure that you feel the surface with each part of your feet: your heels, your arches, the balls of your feet; and finally, grip with your toes as best as you can.

Don’t worry if you can’t feel everything all at once. Just be sure you’re aware of the surface under your feet, whether it’s the actual ground or the inside of your footgear. Feel that surface press back as you exert pressure on it.

  • Take a breath.
     
  • Say out loud (or if you’re in public, think to yourself): “I feel the ground underneath me. The ground supports me.” (Some people prefer to refer to the earth or the universe rather than the ground. Use whichever has the strongest connotation for you.)
     
  • Breathe again.

Repeat every few minutes if you’re feeling rocky. It’s amazing how comforting it can be to experience the feeling of solid ground, of being planted. It’s very stabilizing. And it can be a plus to know that the planet is supporting you, particularly if you’re feeling a bit like no one else is!


Service Smarts

Self-Expression

On a recent JetBlue flight, I was impressed with our flight attendant, David. He was calm, competent, and seemed like a sweet and lovely person. I made this professional judgment based not only on his words when he asked for our drink orders, or his actions when he performed the safety demo, but on his expressive face.

David used all his features. He smiled with his eyes as well as with his mouth, and was a perfect study in the use of eyebrows to demonstrate caring.

Whenever people are truly engaged in greeting, serving, or listening to others, and are in a positive frame of mind, they actually open their eyes wider to be able to see — and take in — the human being or event that is the object of their full, focused attention. And as their eyes widen, their eyebrows lift slightly.

You can check this out in a mirror:

Imagine someone you’d be really pleased to see, and say, “Oh!! Hello!”

Notice how your eyebrows and, indeed, your entire forehead lift slightly.

Now visualize a person you’d rather not see, or a place you don’t want to be.

Notice how you’re more inclined to bunch your eyebrows, furrow your forehead, and narrow your eyes a bit.

Think about the value of exhibiting your dedication, care, and attention directly on your face — exactly where most people are looking as you interact. It even works on the phone. Remember that generations-old exhortation to “smile as you dial?” You’ll find that “lifting to listen” may accomplish just as much.


Management Matters

HiPo, Maypo, Alpo

What do your High Potential employees (aka HiPo, HIPO, or Hi-Po), an old-fashioned hot cereal, and a dog food all have in common?

They all offer a kind of fuel and contain a source of energy. But in their raw, natural state, none of them is inherently appealing — unless you know how to prepare them and who to serve them to.

Personally, I’ve never dealt with Alpo, but I remember ads that showed lumps of something in gloppy gravy. And Maypo, which I loathed as a child, was gritty and grainy — my mother said it was good for me, but that didn’t make it any tastier.

So why would I put HiPos — the ones selected for gleam, steam, and dreams — in the same category with substantive-but-not-very-exciting cereal and dog food? Because here’s what one HiPo said to me recently while I was coaching him through a new and fairly intimidating project challenge:

“I’d feel better if someone else was in charge.”

That’s really not what you want to hear from a HiPo. So we did a logic check.

LK: Why don’t you feel like leaping forward as your shining true self?

HiPo: Too much input from too many places. Too much output to generate.

LK: But if someone was actually telling you what to do, you’d get all nutsy and rebellious!

HiPo: Yes, but I’d be calmer.

LK: Would meditation help?

HiPo: I don’t have time to learn it, even though now’s when I need it.

And he rushed off, anxiously, to make another list — one of our tools for dealing with a bunch of unnamed worries.

When I checked back with him several hours later he felt great — still nervous, but productive and raring to go. He had given himself a break, gotten organized, and knocked off some of the “first-step” tasks that had been haunting him about his new project responsibilities — all techniques we had discussed.

Growth can be tough. New responsibility is often scary and painful, with many sheer cliffs to climb and absolutely no soft landings. You may have great material. If you’re a HiPo, you may even be great material. But when you’re on the verge of growth, you’re raw. Even the best candidates can’t raise themselves.

So whether it’s a sprinkle of sugar on the cereal or the dog’s food being served in its favorite dish, a little special attention at the right moment can make all the difference in the quality of your presentation, your experience, and your future development.

If you need a little adjustment yourself, get in touch. Click on the coffee cup in the right sidebar or email me. Or find someone else who wants the best for you, treats you with respect, and gives advice you can trust.


One More Thought

I just read The Strategy Book by Max McKeown, a consultant and futurist I follow on Twitter. The book is chockful of clear explanations and thoughtful questions. It’s simultaneously so comprehensive and comprehensible that virtually anyone — from an intelligent middle-schooler to a sophisticated corporate executive — will be able to benefit from it. That might sound excessive, but I think it’s true!

I hope you found a nugget of wisdom in this month’s issue that will help you make it a good day — and a good year. Perhaps you can pass along this copy of Workplace Wisdom to someone else who can use ideas like these to make a good day for themselves as well.

Till February, onward and upward,




LK

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