• Read How to Say No…without sounding like a jerk

    Leadership

    How to Say No…without sounding like a jerk

    The last few weeks I’ve taught a number of courses on time and priority management for busy professionals.  One topic that often comes up is the matter of saying no at the office.  I often wonder if it’s because I’m based in the South, where we place a special emphasis on “being nice” and “sugar coating” things.  And yet it comes up over and over again no matter what part of the US or world I’m working in.  Questions like: How do I say no to a colleague who needs help, especially one that I like?  Or what about a stakeholder who always thinks their deliverable is the most important and is constantly trying to add extra tasks to my already full plate? Our mindset around saying no is Key I often hear concerns about guilt and what will other people think about me if I don’t help them.  There are a lot of folks that inadvertently fall into the approval seeking trap.  Many of us never develop the strong boundaries in childhood that we need to get us through life, and it rears its ugly head as we get older.  And it really is a trap.  When you’re stuck in it, you often experience what I call the “Plight of the Martyr,” where you’re constantly solving problems that are urgent for others but ultimately not important to you.  And your key priorities fall to the wayside as a result.  Think about that continuous improvement project that you’re constantly putting on the back burner.  Or perhaps you’re wanting to get back in shape and find yourself sitting at your desk toiling away on an urgent deliverable for someone else and decide to skip that yoga class yet again.  What’s interesting is that for some people (myself now included) saying no is not super difficult.  When I ask folks who have an easier time why that is the case, they often explain that they value their time.  They realize their deliverables and priorities are just as important as others.  They also recognize that taking the monkey constantly off another person’s back isn’t a great way for them to learn.  That is itself is an interesting reframe, because we often believe we are helping but in many instances, we could be hindering the growth and development of the person asking the favor. Ultimately it comes down to judgement.  We do live in a society where reciprocity is valued, and it might make sense to say yes to a request when you recognize you might need a favor down the line.  However, if you decide that saying no is the right option, then consider the following technique as a viable option that could save you heaps of valuable time. Use the AIM Framework to say no A – Acknowledge the request.  “I can really tell you’re in a bind and I know how important this report is to you and your team.”  When we acknowledge we are in effect repeating back that we’ve […]

    October 6, 2022

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    4.5 min read

  • Read When you feel the need to please, think about this first

    Authenticity

    When you feel the need to please, think about this first

    Ever been pushed into pleasing in a difficult situation and then resented the heck out of it? Here's something to think about next time you feel the need to please.

    June 2, 2022

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    5.4 min read

  • Read What you gain when you let go of needing to prove

    Authenticity

    What you gain when you let go of needing to prove

    Yesterday I had a long overdue catch-up with a woman I used to work with years ago at BP.  She’s been retired many years now, and at one time I was lucky enough to call her my line manager.  Hardworking, ethical, kind, and compassionate, to date she’s one of the best bosses I’ve ever had.  We got the polite pleasantries out of the way, in terms of where she’s settled, I’ve settled and what we’re up to these days, and then the conversation got much deeper and she said, “You know, when I think back to those times, I created so much stress for myself.  I was always thinking I had to prove something.  It was never enough to simply appreciate what I had achieved, I believed that each morning I had to wake up and do it all over again, like all that had come before had been erased.” It’s hard to imagine that when I think of Brenda, always elegant in her designer suits, hair perfectly coiffed, she was the pinnacle of success.  A young woman of color who had started as a secretary and worked her way up to a senior level leader at a large corporation.  Her story is an incredibly inspiring one.  And yet, here she was, suffering all those years with impostor syndrome, desperate to prove her worth. We all have impostor syndrome I admitted that I too, had suffered greatly at the hands of impostor syndrome.  That nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach that you’re really a fraud.  That eventually the lights will come on and everyone in the room will realize the mental equivalent of you sitting there with your pants down – that you don’t really deserve to be here, you have no idea what you’re doing, get the heck out of here.  That kind of thing. In case you were there thinking you’re all alone with this ailment, I have yet to have a single client who doesn’t have at least a small dose of this.  Call it part of the amazing experience of being human. It’s interesting how impostor syndrome manifests.  In Brenda’s case it was surrounding herself with expensive clothes, handbags and jewelry.  If she looked the part, then maybe she’d fool other people into thinking she was the part.  I took a slightly different tack.  I reckoned the key to kicking the impostor syndrome’s butt lied in beefing up my self-esteem.  I sought out credentials and accomplishments I could tout to others so I could feel better about myself.  She wore a mask of Chanel, and I wore a mask of credentials like any well intentioned over achiever. It even spilled over into when I started my own coaching practice.  It was never enough initially to work with a single client who needed help transitioning their career.  I had to be traveling the world, reinventing organizations.  My client list was everything to me.  How many fortune 500’s had I worked with?  Whose faculty was I […]

    April 13, 2022

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    4.6 min read

  • Read How to Say No to the Needy Networker

    Relationships

    How to Say No to the Needy Networker

    The Case of the Needy Networker The other day I found myself in a conundrum of my own making.  I had accepted a coffee date with a woman I met in a social group we both belong to.  I arrived 5 minutes early, got my coffee and waited.  She showed up fifteen minutes late, sat down, a mess of chaotic energy, and launched straight into a story about how she was new to Austin and nothing in her life was working. About thirty minutes in, I tried shifting the conversation to something lighter.  She kept pushing the subject back to career, in particular her career. I realized at this point she knew what I did.  She knew I was a career coach.  She knew I did leadership development and mindfulness work for organizations.  She mentioned she wanted to break into corporations with freelance work, but she didn’t know how.  She was hungry.  And I was her feast.  And the energy was so strong in that interaction, I could feel myself being devoured by her desperation.  It was a sticky, yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I had to get away. I tried to shake her off and change the subject again, to shift the energy of the conversation, but then she really dug in deep. Then the flattery started.  How I was a trailblazer, how I was an adventurer, how I had built a successful business as a woman, and I am an inspiration to all.  How she just wants to be near me and learn from me. Honesty is the best Policy I offered a few pieces of advice and said, “I can’t wear my coach hat out with everyone in a social setting.  I’ve got to protect my own energy, and to do that I have to establish boundaries with folks outside of work.  I hope you can understand.”  And then I made my excuses, picked up my purse and left, considering I’d already been there almost an hour and a half. Sometimes we call these types of people “toxic,” but I think that’s a little unfair.  There is no such thing as a toxic person.  There are only people who treat us the way we allow them to treat us.  We unwittingly find ourselves locked in toxic situations, often referred to as emotional blackmail situations, by our own poor understanding of boundaries and our need for another’s approval.  And then the gremlin kicks in: “You’re such a bad person if you don’t sit here all day and sort her problems out.” “People are going to think you’re selfish if you don’t help her.” “You’re a coach.  You’re supposed to believe in abundance and giving to everyone!” As a woman in a caring profession like coaching this happens a lot.  We don’t get up and leave when we should.  We take the phone call in the middle of the night from the crazy family member that we know will piss off our spouse.  We spend […]

    March 29, 2022

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    4.3 min read

  • Read The Reason You Shouldn’t Care What Others Think

    Authenticity

    The Reason You Shouldn’t Care What Others Think

    I debated it back and forth in my mind before I sent the text. “Should I or shouldn’t I?” “What if she didn’t mean it?” “Then it’s going to be awkward from this point forward.” “People say things all the time about getting together but they never do.” I quickly wrote the text and hit send before I could give it another thought. Hey Kristin, it’s Shelley from boot camp.  Would you and Vince be up for meeting for drinks/dinner the weekend of the 21st? No response that evening, which didn’t surprise me.  I know she works late at an urgent care clinic. No response the next day either, and I must admit at this point I started to feel a bit foolish. Or the day after that. And just in case you’re wondering, she never did respond. And yes it was terribly awkward, especially the day I saw her again at boot camp. I saw her out of the corner of my eye approaching, looked up and flashed a nervous smile in her direction and then felt that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  You know the one.  It’s the feeling that makes you want to run and hide when you realize you’re the last classmate standing and neither side has picked you for their team in gym class.  (I was the smart one, not the sporty one.) I tried not to make eye contact and busied myself with my weights.  She dropped her mat down next to mine and the workout began.  A few minutes in she leaned over and said, “I’m so sorry I haven’t responded to your text, things have been really crazy busy the last few days.” Her profuse apologies made me feel worse, the sinking feeling was back, and I did my best to reassure her while doing jumping jacks that it was no problem at all.  “It will work out whenever the time is right,” I heard myself saying. The next time I saw her at boot camp it was the same story.  And the same the time after that.  She kept apologizing.  And I kept reassuring her that it was no big deal, I wasn’t offended, I understand how life goes. After the 3rd or 4th crazy busy the shame and embarrassment turned to anger. Wtf!  Who the hell does this woman think she is! Does she think I’m just sitting around waiting for the opportunity when she and her husband grace us with their presence at dinner? What a bitch. And then the righteous indignation set in. Why me?  Here I am trying to do something nice like I always do and no one appreciates it. Why am I the one who always has to coordinate everything?  Why am I the one who always has to be the heavy? Why am I the one who always puts myself out there and gets humiliated?  If she ever does come up with a date for dinner, I’ll tell her we’re busy.  […]

    February 12, 2018

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    4.6 min read