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Boost Your Confidence

Don’t let self-doubt keep you from your goals

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit ~ E.E. Cummings

When you place value on who you are and what you do your self-esteem will skyrocket. Here are a couple of quick tips to help you step boldly in confidence:

  • Recognize negative inner thoughts. Confidence begins with a positive self-image. What you think of yourself affects how you feel. And how you act. So get rid of your inner critic and replace her with an inner cheering section.
  • Easier said than done, you say? Not really. To turn negative self-thoughts positive, take stock of your qualities and achievements. Give yourself more credit and make it a habit.
  • Let go of pessimistic people who drag you down. Instead, surround yourself with optimistic friends who can build you up.
  • Seek structured support groups through church, classes, volunteer work. These formal settings will make you feel more capable.

How about those you lead?

You may have your thoughts and relationships in alignment with your goals. Your confidence in your abilities and accomplishments may solid. What would it take to look at those who work with and for you? Offer recognition, encouragement, and support in healthy ways. It works wonders!

Give your confidence a boost with these simple changes. Better yet, help someone else become confident. Go ahead, you can do it!

Preparing for Bad Reviews

“Oh, my gosh, Shelley! There’s a terrible comment on our Facebook page!” Anxious to serve her client, the sales rep urged me to action. “You need to take it down RIGHT NOW!”

What happens when you encounter a less than positive comment or review about your sales team or the products you represent? For me, the first impulse is to report the person as a spammer or harasser to the Facebook police (as if there were such a thing!) and have their account shut down.

However, this doesn’t serve anyone. As you know, bad reviews are a part of doing business. Everyone has a right to their opinion. For good or for bad, social media allows that opinion to be broadcast far and wide. Ignoring or removing the comments doesn’t mean they will go away. Not participating doesn’t stop people from talking; it just means you aren’t part of the conversation.

Knowing that comments and reviews are coming, don’t you think it’s a good idea to plan for them? Here are a few easy steps I suggest you have in place:

Take a moment to listen

Feelings of frustration, anxiety, or anger are normal when a customer complains. It feels personal. But, don’t react immediately.

Breathe. Step away from your computer if you need to. Remember, a bad review is not a personal attack. Rather, it reflects what the person has experienced while conducting business with you or your business. Also, a bad critique is not evidence that the customer is stupid or doesn’t understand your business practices.

Come back and notice the customer is giving the opportunity to fix a problem. Take a moment to “listen” to what they are telling you, what’s wrong, and how you might fix it. View this interaction as an opportunity to improve or to become more attuned to the needs of your clients.

Reach out to the reviewer

This is important. There is always a way to make things better.

Yes, some customers are going to expect too much. But, they are the exception. Reach out to the reviewer with a quick resolution, go the extra mile.

Adding a personalized touch to your response can deescalate the situation by putting a real face to your company. Introduce yourself by first name and job title when practical. Address customers by their first name, and always work towards resolution. If you can, call customer.

Then, write a followup post about how you responded to the complaint or review and improved your service as a result.

Here’s a thought. If you are getting more complaints than compliments, then there is something wrong with your service or products. You might consider ways to react to the issues to prevent continued customer dissatisfaction.

Note: If an individual is launching a personal attack with the intent to smear your company;s name or seems only motivated to stir the pot, trying to please the individual on a public forum might not come to any good. This is when reporting and/or blocking is appropriate.

Share the word

Hopefully, some of your customers are saying nice things about you. What are you doing with those messages? Are you sharing them?

A good testimonial speaks volumes. Ask your customers for permission to share their good words.

Testimonials add a sense of trust. By publishing testimonials from current clients, you are also helping potential customers with their research. You should be proactive in getting these reviews noticed by posting them onto your social media platforms. The effort will not only increase your chances of acquiring new business, but it will also showcase the quality of what you have to offer.

Have a plan in place and always acknowledge reviews, no matter where they come from or who originates them. You may be surprised by what happens next!

Clinging to Crumbs

But, dreaming of cake

Ever feel like you’re on the short end of a relationship? Will giving more really bring you what you need? This week I am going to explore several aspects of the work place, starting with relationships. After all, we have relationships in our personal lives…and at work!

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

The dating situation where he’s forever off doing his own thing. He has an extensive collection of excuses why he doesn’t have time to do things with you.

What about the friend who always needs help with this or that, but backs out of almost every plan you’ve made together. You learn she’s spending most of her time hanging out with other girlfriends.

How about the spouse who spends all of his free time doing things for others, but has nothing left for you. And, there’s the boss who is demanding and never satisfied, but chums up to you when she needs your help in a crunch situation.

When my friends tell me about situations like these in their lives, I get pretty cranked up. My Xena, Princess Warrior persona kicks into full gear! I get all riled up about how they deserve better and I’m happy to set everyone straight!

Crumbs of love

I have to admit that I’ve had more than a few of these painfully unfulfilling relationships in my life. I would wonder to myself what’s wrong with me, am I not good enough to have a really wonderful relationship? The scarier question was why did I stay? Upon reflection, I realized that in most situations I was getting a little portion of what I wanted.

Crumbs

Tantalizing bits of a good thing. Just enough to keep me hooked, hoping for more. I would say to myself, if I just give a bit more I’ll be rewarded with something wonderful. Honestly, the reward seldom came.

Frankly, I was fearful of losing the little bits of love or attention that I got from these individuals. I used to think that some of a good thing is better than none. I learned that it’s not.

Asking for cake

In recent years I gathered my courage and began stating my needs. I asked for what I wanted. In one situation I said that I wished that my friend would spend more time with me, to be made a priority in their life.

With another person my answer to desperate requests to save them from imminent disaster was consistently “no.” (don’t worry, the disasters were pretty much drama created from lack of organization on their part).

In the cases where the other party could not or would not commit on the same level that I had, I chose to let them go. It didn’t mean that I held resentment toward them, I just let go of the crumbs. In the end it was a good thing.

Fortunately, I have some wonderful, solid relationships in my life. Reciprocity is the hallmark of these healthy associations; friends, coworkers, family members and others in my community. All are mutually supportive, each party considering the other. My best friend is the perfect example. She loves spending time with me, delights in my successes, is there when I need her, and she makes time in her life for me. And…I do the same for her.

No more crumbs

Well, I’m pretty much done with clinging to crumbs. I am either going to find ways to make difficult relationships work or I’m going to let them go. Then…I will leave open the way for those who come bearing cake!

Take Time to Make Time

How often do you start your week choosing to implement great ideas and big plans, only to spend your time in a state of disarray because of crisis situations created by others?

Maybe one of these look familiar

  • You have a great plan to expand your business, say open another store or office. But, hiring and firing staff, putting out fires seems to be all you can do. Your people are constantly knocking on the door with an emergency that only you can fix. There’s just not enough time!
  • You know you need to take care of paperwork for your taxes or maybe it’s that an audit is looming in the near future. But, your clients are so needy. They are constantly calling on you for something. They are your bread and butter, so you can’t put them off. But, when can you ever get to the part of your job that always seems to come last? There’s just not enough time!
  • Homework, lunches, practices – all are things you do for your kids because you love them. Your days and nights are filled with doing, doing, doing. When could you ever take the class at the gym you think about? How could you actually use the college degree you earned by creating a small business?  There’s just not enough time!

There are all sorts of ways we could look at these situations. But, let me give you one good tip for today: Take time to make time. Yes, that’s right. It’s like investing money to make money. You don’t just get more money by doing what you’re already doing. The same is true with your time. By setting aside specific, planned time to accomplish what is really important to you, you will create time.

Let’s get out your calendar (oh, you don’t have one? get one!) Look at your day or your week. Block off an hour a day, or two mornings each week, or a day a week, to specifically work on your goals. By blocking off this time, it means blocking out everything that doesn’t have to do with completing the goal.

Blocking out time means

  • No phone interruptions – don’t answer the phone! You have voice mail. They can leave a message. If you are in a situation where there may be true emergencies, then provide a means for contact if there really, really is an emergency. Plan ahead what the definition of an emergency is and stick to it.
  • No email, Facebook, internet – stay off the computer. If you need the computer to complete your goal, then very carefully guard yourself. Don’t even log onto sites that are not completely necessary to your task.
  • Block your access – tell your people ahead of time that you’re not available during the blocked out times. If you have to, put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. Again, if there are true emergencies, make provision before hand.

Warning!

Taking this time will feel strange to both you and to your interrupters. Changing your availability will be an adjustment for everyone.

Expect resistance.

Stick with it.

Be firm.

If you let one or two slip in, then you’ve established a weak boundary.

Taking this time will pay off in a huge way! I promise. Do you need help organizing and goal-setting? Please give me 30 minutes to chat with you to talk about ways Shine Strategies can ease the load. Drop me a line at sahepler@gmail.com and we will set up a time to visit.

Don’t Hate Me if I Say No

Saying “no” is one of the most difficult things for women to do. Why? Traditionally women have been trained to be caretakers. How many families expect the mother to take care of everything from making everyone’s beds to balancing the checkbook to organizing the school fundraiser? If you are feeling overwhelmed and tired or you wonder where time for you fits in, maybe new attitudes and behavior patterns need to be developed.

Rate it from 0 to 10

Recognize the limits of your time and energy. Make a list of your commitments and prioritize them. Ask yourself, “How much do I want to do this?” Rate it on a scale from 0-10. Then ask, “How important is this?” Again, rate from 0-10. If you get a combined score of 10 or more, then do it! If your score is less than this, consider saying no.

If saying no is not currently in your vocabulary, it may take time and determination. The change will feel uncomfortable for many; some will encounter resistance and frustration. It may take months or even years to feel okay about saying no, refusing to clean up others’ messes, not always driving the soccer team to practice, delegating responsibility to others. It will not be easy to hold fast when others try to manipulate you into giving in and going back to your “old accommodating self.” However, it is necessary to break these habits. The alternative is burnout at best, physical or mental breakdown at worst.

Who needs to hear No?

Who in your life do you need to say no to? Is it the neighbor who “guilts” you into watching her children while she gets her nails done? How about your forgetful child who constantly needs you to bring lunch money to school? Maybe it’s the manager who flatters you into planning the office holiday event.

Have you found that committing to something incongruent to your agenda usually happens when you are caught off guard? Someone has some how convinced you to get involved in their project or they desperately need your expertise for an urgent assignment. It’s women’s tendency to want to be helpful. How often after you have spontaneously said yes to someone’s request, you say to yourself, “Oh, why did I say yes again?”

Practicing No

Practice an answer before you are ambushed. You might memorize something like this, “Let me give it some thought and get back to you.” This gives you a time-out, time to think before you commit yet again. If you decide you want to help and it’s important, feel free to say yes. If you choose no, you might say, “After looking at my commitments, I realize that I will not be able to give you a hand at this time.” or “With the commitments I have already made to others, I can’t do it justice.” Practice these phrases over and over until they become second nature to you.

Consider using technology to help you. The caller id function on your phone is there for a reason! Use it to screen calls. You are under no obligation to answer your phone, let the caller leave a message. This is another way to take a time-out, giving you an opportunity to plan your response according to your needs.

How do you say no to a child or a spouse? Sometimes a simple no is appropriate. However, there will be times when you need to describe why you cannot say yes. Express why no is your answer; be specific in giving your reason, and explain the consequences if you were to say yes.

Resist the urge to be all things to all people! Sometimes saying no is a good thing.

You Have the Power to Make (or Break) Someone’s Day

Know the power you have

Are you a business owner, manager or a supervisor? If so, your days get pretty crazy with purchasing, strategic planning, taking care of customers, making payroll, hustling for contracts and a myriad of other important priorities necessary to make a business run. But, do you ever stop and think of the power you wield?

Your actions, your words, have power over those who work for and with you. It’s a big responsibility knowing that people go home at night thinking about you – for good or not so good. When you stop and think about the experience others in the work place are having, do you feel good about it?

How did you do?

Let’s take a quick inventory of your actions over the past couple of weeks. In regard to staff, how did you do with the following:

  • Give clear directions
  • State your expectations
  • Provide tools for successful completion of work
  • Assess work performed
  • Give objective feedback
  • Follow through with commitments
If you did all of this well. Excellent! The impact you are having on your people should be positive. It goes a long way to helping staff to be happy and productive. The general attitude is positive, resulting in good production and little time loss.

What if you didn’t do well in these areas? Well, your people are probably grumpy, nonproductive, maybe even undermining and subverting your efforts.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s you!

What happens when you become frustrated with them for being stupid, lazy, incompetent, or disrespectful? You probably let them know it! And, I’m betting it isn’t pretty! You may have thought this was because you hired bad staff. Probably not. It’s more likely that they don’t know what you want and don’t know if you think they are doing a good job.

You have the power to make or break their day

It’s time to realize your power. You have the authority and means to get your people back on track. Look at the list again. What if you could do all of this right. Yes, you’re busy and all of this takes time you don’t have. I say take time to make time. By putting in effort and setting good communication as a priority, you will come out way ahead in the long run.

Love: Her Secret Business Ingredient

People crave my friend

Really, they actually crave her. Men, women, and children – all can’t get enough of Celeste. They cling to her like tacks on a magnet. They eagerly purchase her services, gobbling up everything in sight. And, after just a moment with her, they leave with big smiles on their faces.

Sure, she’s pretty and trendy. There’s always a fun vibe happening when she’s around. But, that’s not it. That’s not what people are drawn to. There’s something that emanates from her that people want to soak up.

It’s love, baby!

Love is Celeste’s secret business ingredient. One feels it when she puts her hand on your shoulder and looks you in the eye. Her face, her attention, is on you. You know she sees only you. When she holds you in a hug that’s just a wee bit longer than most, you know you’re treasured. Her love isn’t limited to hugs and smiles. It’s not all soft and sweetness. Love is the nuts-and-bolts that she uses to build her business.

That ain’t love

You know when you’ve stepped into a business and you’re not feeling the love. Like when you get that sense everyone is being herded along, as if you were one of many cattle. Next! Certainly it isn’t love that you’re getting when you’ve just spent a whole lot of money and you aren’t quite sure what exactly you just purchased. Huh? How about that fake smile that drops when you don’t buy? Ugh. Hovering, pushy sales people put off a lot of vibes, but I don’t think love is one of them. As a customer, you know when it’s not there.

Love is the secret

As a business owner Celeste knows that everyone needs to be acknowledged; all of us need attention and affirmation. She also knows people desperately want security and trustworthiness, so she extends love by providing products and services that are reliable, consistent, and fair. When Celeste greets a client she doesn’t secretly see only dollar signs. She sees them as a member of her community, which to her is an extension of her family. Each is a person worthy of being treated with dignity and care. Giving love in this way doesn’t cost Celeste anything. Whether her customers actually recognize it or not, they are feeling the love. And, they keep coming back for me. They crave it.

Shouldn’t this be the way we treat all the people who we rely on to give us business?

If your business is suffering, if it isn’t blooming like it should, try this. Step away from the bottom line for a bit. Take your focus off your profit. Rather, put in extra effort to treat your clients with attention and care. Give service that projects assurance and generates trust. Try love as your secret business ingredient.

Celeste Shaw is Co-Editor-in-Chief at Flea Market Style Magazine, Owner at Lucky Vintage and Pretty Things, and Owner at Chaps Diner and Bakery

A State of Acceptance

But, believing the best is yet to come

by Ellen Stanton
Lee Iacocca, former Chairman of the Chrysler Corporation, offers the following advice to people seeking to make life reflect their inner most desires, “The trick is not to die waiting for prosperity to come.” What this means is the more you’re clear about what you want, the sooner it will flow your way. No amount of wishful thinking without action will attract anything.

Another way of putting it comes from motivational superstar Zig Ziglar who tells us, “You cannot hit a target you do not have.” Precision of desire is an essential ingredient to attaining our dreams.” Simply to say, “I want to make more money or I want to lose weight or find the perfect mate” isn’t good enough. One has to ask “how much money, how much weight and what is my perfect mate”?

Focus on what you want

One thing I have noticed in my coaching practice is that some people tend to focus on what they don’t want. While it is important to know what we don’t want, it is essential to focus on what you want in your life.

I have witnessed firsthand shifts in people’s “luck” once they learned this simple law. Positive thinking is important. But, the Law of Attraction goes much deeper than that, it’s about emotions and feelings. The more you feel good about yourself and your life, the more you are going to attract good things.

Patience!

Remember this though, as with anything else, there is a gestation period, so it’s important to be patient and believe that there is something bigger than yourself working in your life for your greater good. Much has been made of the Law of Attraction in recent years. Building and maintaining a visual image of what you want in your life (instead of focusing on what you don’t want) can be a powerful way to attract positive change and opportunity. Make a detailed list of what you’d like in your life. Sit down daily and visualize what your new life would look like and how it would feel.

Visualizing oneself at the end of the process can be a useful motivational tool to keep one focused on the desired result. But, as Iacocca and Ziglar tell us, nothing can be achieved without a clear vision of where one wants to be and a solid plan to make the dream a reality. This is where persistence comes in. The universe isn’t going to make a dream come true, the dreamer is.

What is…

One must accept What Is before focusing on What Can Be. Rather than spending time focused on what you don’t like about your life, wishing things were different, one must take stock of one’s gifts and come to terms with the way things are. Only then can a determined person plan to move forward, making peace with what is while moving forward to what can be. This is called a state of Acceptance, accepting where you are today, but believing…

The Best is Yet to Come!

Authored by Life Coach Ellen Stanton. She is passionate about helping people. She is a firm believer that there is someone for everyone. Sometimes we just need a little help and hope, so we can move forward with our lives. Ellen is a personal and professional relationship coach, as well as a freelance writer with previous articles both in print and on-line. Visit her website:  www.stantonlifecoach.com.

Happy Employees

This morning I was chatting with the cashier at my local grocery. I learned that she recently transferred from another store. I asked her if she liked the move and she said she loved it. She then told me that her commute changed from 5 minutes to 60 minutes. What? Why would she do such a thing, I asked. Because she wanted to work for her favorite manager, she said. He was the best boss she’s ever had and she was willing to drive two hours a day to work for him.

What makes happy employees?

Wow! That says so much about that manager. What makes happy employees? There are many things that contribute, but I have observed over and over again that giving clear expectations is one of keys to employee happiness. This gal’s boss is an excellent communicator. In chatting with her, she told me that he:

Tells his people what he expects
Gives them good training
Gives them the right tools and equipment for the job
Talks to them about how they are doing on the job
Cares about them personally
Is fair and consistent
Gives perks and rewards for people who go above and beyond
Has a good attitude about his own job

What would your staff say about you?

Do you have happy employees? Check this store manager’s list. Then, ask yourself how many of these attributes your staff could say about you. It starts with you, dear boss. It starts with what you expect from yourself, then what you expect from your people.

Do you know how to start the conversation with yourself? Do you know how to get the conversation started with your people? SHINE does! Let SHINE Strategies help you have happy employees! Drop me a note and we can chat about how we can get the conversation started.