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Coming up for air

coming up for air 3

Over the past couple of years I have been out delivering a number of development programmes covering topics such as Strategic Thinking, Communication and Enhanced Sales to name a few. When spending time in businesses I have noticed there seems to be some commonality.  Leaders often get so busy doing the day to day tasks within their business that they don’t “come up for air” to look around…. and ask some fundamental questions that can save a lot of work, keep them out of danger and help maximise opportunities.         

When working with these leaders I encourage them to plan in some ‘thinking time’ which can be invaluable to refocus and reinvigorate.

I have listed some questions which you may find useful whether you’re running a large, medium or small business. Working on your own in a business or leading a team.  Give them a try.

  • Is the business still heading in the direction that was originally planned and is that OK?
  • What’s going on around me in my industry?
  • Is the business landscape the same?
  • Are my customers the same?
  • Do we/I need to innovate or modify the offering or the way we/I do business to keep up with customer wants and needs and competitor activity?
  • Are we/Am I maximising our every opportunity? Being efficient and not wasteful with time and resources.


Just a few things to think about. See my next posts for ideas on business planning, how to implement change and get the most from your team.

They don’t understand, I don’t understand why!

This week I had a conversation with a friend who is half way through a three months programme of weekly training.  When asking what she had covered this week the answer was “I’m not really sure.” I knew she had attended the session and asked “what do you mean?” She explained how she had been listening for the full hour and a half but didn’t really understand the content so found it really hard to concentrate and didn’t want to disrupt the group by asking lots of questions.  After all how hard is it to say to someone after half an hour, “I don’t understand anything you’ve covered so far”. The trouble is each week follows on from the week before.  So she’ll need to understand before the next session or she’ll be lost off again.

It reminded me of one of the key factors to communication.  Often when communicating with others whether to one individual or a group we think if we explain things clearly they will understand.  But what we think is clear may not necessarily be for someone else.  It’s our job as the communicator to check for clues that they understand.  Either by asking them to recap, using your sensory acuity to observe body language and look for their reaction or listen to their responses to what you have said.

There is no easier place to experience miss communication than with children.  They are often very literal in their understanding of language. I was only chatting with my daughter the other day.  She was a little upset as her golf ball had gone under the sofa.  She said she couldn’t reach it.  I said, “You need to lie down on the floor to reach it”.  Less than a minute later I saw her lying down in the middle of the room facing the ceiling saying she still couldn’t reach it.  Guess I should have been more specific.

One of the Key topics covered when completing a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Licensed Practitioner course is language skills.  These skills are both verbal and non verbal.  Along with how people encode, store and retrieve data which gives great insight into communication.  One of the key things I learned in those early days of study was that everyone’s experience is different even in the same situation.  When we say something for instance it can be understood in many different ways depending on the individual. It’s for us as communicators to ensure the message we want to get across is communicated in such a way that minimal distortion can be made by the receiver.

I have advised my friend mentioned above to give the lecturer a call before the next session and explain the situation. I wonder if the lecturer will cover some of the content in a different way next week or give her some material to go through before next week’s session. She’s probably not the only one who hasn’t quite grasped the topic covered.

Managing Pain? Just relax.

I’ve just caught up with call the midwife, the episode was looking at how relaxation can help during childbirth.

It’s interesting to hear that in the past when medication to reduce pain wasn’t available they used relaxation techniques to manage the experience. Also in populations throughout the world there are women who don’t expect to feel any pain and report not feeling any.

They explained on the episode about how fear of pain causes the body to tense and therefore causes pain. It’s a bit like a self fulfilling prophesy. It’s funny how there is so much talk of pain during the childbirth process in my experience, from planning how and where to have your baby, up until the moment your bundle of joy arrives.

When giving birth to my daughter I didn’t want to have any talk of pain and discomfort, a tip I’d gotten from an excellent book I’d read by Tina Taylor called Painless Childbirth. Using focus, relaxation and being calm really helped throughout the process, which meant I only used a tens machine for relief. I think I was still a little scared of the unknown though.

I’m just a couple of days away from experiencing the process again and i’ll definitely be using the same techniques and feel I’m better prepared this time. I’m more confident and have been practicing over the past few weeks.

These techniques mentioned can also be useful to manage most types of pain. Not always eliminating it but helping you to cope more effectively.

Just relax in a quiet place, think of a place or time when you have been very comfortable. Really focus on what you saw, heard and felt at the time. You could also make up a place you would really like visit. It doesn’t have to be exotic it could just be a beautifully comfortable bed or chair. Remember to make the pictures in your mind big and bright. The sounds more clear and louder and this will intensify the feeling. Try this whenever needed, while regulating your breathing, slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. Relax your body one part at a time. I often find starting at your toes and working your way up your body works well.

This is also good if you have difficulty dropping off to sleep in the evenings.