Creating a Happy Family is an Investment Family relationships can be some of the most challenging and most rewarding relationships in our lives. When relationships at home are going well, we feel much happier and better equipped to endure stressful situations in other parts of our lives. What better way to increase our overall happiness than to invest in happiness in our family relationships? Here are 5 tips for creating and increasing happy family relationships that you can start doing right now. Each of these things takes only a minute or two to do. Try them all. See how they improve your family’s overall happiness. 1. Create Opportunities to Express Gratitude Set up a bowl or jar with some scraps of paper beside it. Each day, perhaps just before dinner, ask family members to write down something they are thankful for. Periodically—such as when the bowl gets full, as part of your New Year’s celebration, etc.—read the thankfulness notes together as a family. This creates opportunities for you to hear what’s meaningful in your family members’ lives. It also means you get to relive those positive moments together. 2. Give Positive Feedback Often Everyone loves feeling appreciated and knowing they did a good job or that something they did was special to you. Make a point to compliment the people in your family when they do something helpful or good. Relationship Tip: If you’re noticing a lot more conflict than usual in your home, try this. Suspend all criticism for two weeks. Don’t say anything critical, and instead focus on pointing out the good things your family members are doing. Be specific and genuine. See what happens after two weeks. 3. Display Pictures from Family Events Around the House Frame that picture of the fish you caught while you were on the lake with your son. Hang the one of you with your daughters at the zoo on the refrigerator. Print the picture of you and your partner at the top of a hike and put it on your dresser. Use a digital frame to scroll through multiple experiences. You can even add new pictures over WiFi with some types of digital frames. Posting these pictures where you can see them in your home means that as you go about your normal routines, you see images that remind you of those positive moments with your family, and you feel happier. 4. Create Electronics-Free Zones This might mean no phones, TV or other devices at the dinner table, or no phones or devices for the first ten minutes in the car. Use the time to talk to each other. Ask open-ended questions. Listen without always expecting to have a chance to respond. 5. Eat Together Regularly For some families, gathering around the dinner table every night is impossible with everyone’s varied schedules, and that’s okay! But it doesn’t have to mean that you never have the opportunity to gather over a meal together. Try crafting at least one regular meal time [...]
More Work Doesn’t Equal More Productivity According to the American Dream Project, the average American works between 43 and 51 hours per week. That’s a lot of hours! One key question to consider as you plan your own workweek is, are you getting the best productivity from your work schedule? Does working extra hours actually make us more productive? The truth is, it doesn’t. In fact, the United States is ranked 5th in productivity behind countries like Norway, Belgium, and Ireland. Yet people in those countries work fewer hours than we do. So, how do we make our working hours more productive? Work Time Versus Productive Time Here are some interesting facts to consider: The average person is only productive 5 hours a day, yet our average workday is 8 hours, or more! Fewer people take breaks and vacations than ever before, which means people spend more time working than in past decades. Working more means feeling more exhausted, which also decreases productivity. Why Do We Work So Much? North Americans tend to have a higher living standard than some other countries. A lot of this comes from convenience spending, which is largely driven by our long workdays. But having more things and having easier access to food and entertainment don’t actually promote happier or more productive lives. Instead, those things can be a kind of escapism. We work hard, we’re tired, so we buy ourselves a treat—a fancy prepared dinner or a new outfit—rather than treating our bodies and minds to the things we really need, like rest and companionship. Happiness Equals Productivity Want to know how you can maximize your productivity while decreasing your stress? The answer might surprise you. Happiness! Taking time to invest in your happiness has a significant impact on your productivity at work. According to the Great Place to Work Institute, the companies with the happiest employees are also the most productive. Happy people have more energy, are more resilient, and suffer from fewer health problems. In other words, taking regular breaks and limiting your work time so that you allow yourself to rest and spend time with people you love actually makes you a better, more productive worker. Try This For Increased Productivity Set a timer on your phone to remind you to take regular breaks at work. While on your break, go outside and take deep breaths. Focus on a distant object or building to let your eyes rest, especially if you work on a computer. Listen to a favorite song or watch a funny video on YouTube. Get your mind away from your work for a few minutes. When you return to work, notice how your body feels. Do you feel more awake? Do you have more energy? Is your focus sharper? More on Breaks and Happiness For more information on how to improve your productivity by using breaks and managing your time to boost happiness in your life, check out chapters 15 “Take a Break: Life is Not a Race” [...]
A good leader provides constant motivation to his team to help them maintain excellence and quality in results. A good leader always looks for ways to improve efficiency and quality, especially if this can be done by simplifying processes or without increasing an employee’s workload. Here are some skills you can sharpen to boost your leadership skills and help your team be more effective and increase results. 1-Wander Around Do you remember M.B.W.A. aka Management By Wandering Around? It’s still the best, even if it’s a “virtual MBWA”. Observation often gets neglected due the demands on a leader’s time and schedule. Find ways to schedule regular visits to your team’s work environment into your calendar. If your office is nearby, try blocking out a few minutes before or after lunch to walk through and check on your team. If you’re far away from your team, stay connected and use technology like video calls. Also, when possible travel to their location and spend time working with them on a regular basis. When you visit, notice workflow and ask questions. Is everything going okay? Does everyone understand what they’re working on? If not, who is the best person to assist them? Observing employees work procedures and the work flow is foundational to implementing adjustments and improving results. To have credibility, a leader must be seen and trusted to be up to date with what is happening in the work place. 2-Feedback and Praise Fair monitoring helps keep the ship on course and gives employees confidence when expectations are clear. Give feedback regularly, especially when things are going well. It’s easy to fall into the trap of only confronting an employee when there’s a problem. Regular praise and feedback help raise employee morale. Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Do your best to provide quick individual assessments on a regular basis. Think of the time and energy you spend on feedback as a direct investment in your team. Set goals with your team and any leaders who work with you. Make sure everyone understands the role they play in reaching those goals. 3-Demonstrate Working Knowledge and Expertise Have you ever seen the show Undercover Boss? One common theme that runs through each episode is the way the leaders have become detached from the actual workings of their businesses. They may have lost touch with how difficult the job can be or may have inadvertently implemented policies or procedures which actually make the average worker’s job harder while not providing adequate compensation for the changes. Good leaders stay connected to their workers. If you do not possess the expertise and knowledge needed for tasks employees regularly complete, consult them regularly and LISTEN. This is important in order to maintain an accurate and informed overall picture of the business. 4-Ability to Anticipate To keep on the cutting edge in business, it’s vital to be open and curious about upcoming trends. While managing the present to ensure ongoing excellence, a good leader also looks towards the future. [...]
What do You do When Feel Unhappy? Everyone has days when they feel down. What do you find helps you on those gloomy days? Do you go out for a meal? Maybe see a new movie? Visit a friend? Take a walk? Do you get a buzz from jogging or going to the gym? Maybe you find it energizing to go shopping. Or perhaps you treat yourself to an ice tea with friends to overcome your unhappiness. We all have our preferred methods to shake off a dreary day. Sometimes those things are enough to make us feel better in the moment. But science tells us something interesting about achieving real happiness. Right now, scientists are in the process of showing us how happiness can only come to us through internal change and positive daily habits. Other things might lift our moods for the moment, and that’s not a bad thing to do. But real, lasting happiness doesn’t come from keeping up with the latest movies or sharing a round of cocktails or beer with friends. Learn Meditation as a Happiness Habit Consider the research by Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin and Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre. The study involved 41 stressed, but otherwise healthy, individuals working in a biotechnology firm in Wisconsin. 25 participants were taught mindful meditation, in which you focus on what you’re experiencing in the present moment, such as emotions, thoughts, and other sensations. The group of 25 met for a few hours each week to learn mindful meditation. Each member of the group was also asked to meditate at home using a guided meditation for one hour per day. Then after six weeks of training, all attended a meditation retreat. The other 16 were held as a control group and did not receive meditation training until the study was completed. After eight weeks, researchers collected data on brain function in areas that activate when we feel positive and happy. The results confirmed that the participants who were taught meditation had increased brain function in these areas as well as a measurable boost in their immune systems. Not only did using their minds help these study subjects feel happier, it also helped their bodies become healthier, too! Not for You? Try this! You think meditation is not for you? You’ve tried it a few times and it didn’t work for you? You’ve read the research but you are just too busy or active? That’s what I thought, and then I learned that there are many ways to meditate. If you can breathe, you can meditate! I have explored different ways of meditating that fit with my “excited” personality and my favorite is walking meditation. I even have downloaded a guided walking meditation app from here. You can learn more on how to increase happiness in my book, 21 Days to Happiness. Chapter 18 guides you through setting up your own simple daily meditation practice. Try it today! [...]
Did you know that... "Studies show that 70% - 80% of change initiatives in organizations fail" -John Kotter As an organizational psychologist, I can tell you that this alarming failure rate is often attributed to the human factor! Here are 3 classical myths that I frequently deal with in my practice. Myth #1 - It is important to communicate the information in groups Several organizations formulate a communications plan and focus on presenting the changes in information sessions to employees. The goal is to deliver the same message to all employees so they can hear it at the same time and in the same way, minimizing misinterpretations and rumors. Warning!! This often has the opposite effect. Within a group, many people avoid speaking and asking questions. I often say "after every meeting, there's a meeting ... it's the real meeting ... the bosses are not invited and employees really say what they think! " What to do? Alternate your modes of communication: large groups, small groups, and individual meetings. Myth #2 - Focus on the benefits of change It is clear that it is important to present the reasons that motivated our organization to implement the change as well as the benefits deriving from the change. We want this to be positive, right? Warning!! Managing change is not about selling. If we talk too much about the positive without addressing the obstacles and potential difficulties, we give the impression of not understanding or care about the impacts and people will be suspicious. What to do? Present a realistic portrait from the start. There are always pros and cons associated with a decision; if you are aware of these, then they must be pointed out. Solutions can be found by working collaboratively. Myth #3 - We must organize meetings when we have NEW information to share We all know that organizing follow-up meetings while implementing change is important. Often, we wait for new information to share before organizing a meeting so that the communication is relevant and value-added. Warning!! The less we communicate in times of change, the less we manage the information. Every day, people are discussing the changes. If we do not plan for frequent dialogue, disinformation and rumors will take over. What to do? Schedule periodic meetings and hold them regardless...whether there is something new to discuss or not. If we cancel a meeting because we are waiting for answers or because there is not much new to discuss ... people will worry. It is better to have short frequent regular meetings and ask people to share where they are, their successes, obstacles, etc. Looking for More Leadership Tools? Get started today with our Leadership Assessment and Development Tool, a test which will help you maximize your leadership impact. The test reveals your strengths and weaknesses and then provides you with a focused development plan, including exercises, which will lead to huge increases in performance. Invest in your leadership potential by taking the test today!
Having more than 25 years of practice and experience under my belt, I can share with you 2 winning strategies to have more impact as a leader.
Good Management is Key According to Gallup, a US firm specializing in management research, in a survey of more than one million Americans, "people quit their bosses, not the organization." The effect of mismanagement is widely felt. Gallup also determined that poorly managed teams are on average 50% less productive and 44% less profitable than well-managed teams. As an organizational psychologist, I can confirm that an apparent lack of commitment from employees is often the result of the absence of effective leadership from their boss or bosses! The following are 3 common mistakes that I have often observed in my practice and tips that could help you improve your performance management skills. 1 - Waiting until the end of the project or the year to give feedback We often wait before giving feedback for several reasons: lack of time, we do not want to disrupt, derail or demotivate people; it is unpleasant, etc. But without a concrete way to measure performance, and without feedback, one cannot improve. My advice: Think of "just in time". Feedback must be given quickly to be useful and have the desired impact. Especially with the new generations fueled by instant communications, I recommend using the "48-hour" principle: you have a window of two days after an event to find time to share your observations. 2 - Too much recognition can play tricks on you Managers sometimes ask me if it is really necessary to praise someone for doing a job they are paid to do. Conversely, I am also asked if too much positive feedback could make the employee arrogant or less diligent at their job. However, one of the most frequent complaints at work is the lack of recognition. My advice: There is very little risk associated with frequently highlighting our appreciation. Giving positive feedback remains, in my opinion, a simple and free way to value the members of our team while directly impacting their performance. Remember that positive reinforcement increases desired behaviors and attitudes. 3 – Getting too close to employees Traditionally, managers were recommended to maintain a "professional distance" with employees. Things have changed. In March 2015, Forbes magazine cites several studies that show that friendships at work have several positive effects. My advice: we want to work with people we love. We work harder for a boss who shows interest in us, and not strictly on a professional level. I suggest you review your position and consider the different forms of friendships. Redefine your definition of a "professional friendship." Closer interpersonal contact with people generates commitment usually followed by positive results! Improve Your Performance Management by Understanding Your Team Looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of your team? This Team-Building Assessment Tool is specifically geared for improving team synergy. Learn ways to more effectively manage your team members based on their personality and natural strengths and weaknesses. Improving the effectiveness of your team makes your business more successful. It's an investment worth making. Order your test today. Ingrid Kelada Business Psychologist/Happiness Expert [...]
Did you know... According to the Statistic Brain website, 76% of people cite money and work as the main causes of their stress. As an organizational psychologist and happiness expert, I can tell you that people think it's normal to be stressed, overwhelmed and tired, but it's not! Certainly, when experiencing it, stress gives energy, but in the long run, it hurts our performance. Stress is the answer to a perception of danger. In difficult situations, the adrenaline released allows us to be fast, strong and agile. It's very practical in the moment, but in the long term it harms our physical and psychological health. Here are the 2 most effective tips I recommend in my practice. 1-Breathe Slowly and Deeply By slowing down our breathing, we send a signal to our brain that we are in control. This allows us to react better because we are more effective when we are calm than when anxious or exhausted. A practical tool to control our breathing is cardiac coherence. This method of monitoring heart rhythms was discovered by American researchers and then widely publicized by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber. It is believed that the average number of complete breaths that is related to positive emotions and well-being is between 5 and 7 per minute, depending on the person. By "complete breathing" we mean long, deep inhalations and total exhalation: the cycle is about 10 seconds in total (5 seconds of inhalation, 5 seconds of exhalation). Quick tip: try this…To guide you with your breathing, here is a video with instructions. In addition, I suggest you download the APP RespiRelax-iOs or RespiRelax-Androidon your smartphone, so you can easily "de-stress" between crises in about five minutes! 2-Learn to De-dramatize Stress, as previously mentioned, is caused first and foremost by our perceptions or interpretation of events. If you think a situation is severe or negative, your stress automatically increases. Conversely, if you think there is a solution to everything and that things could be worse, your stress decreases. One thing I love to do to help de-dramatize comes from the book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. The book poses the question “will it matter a year from now?”. Usually, the answer is NO! Most of the time, we are stressed with things that are usually quickly resolved. We tend to manage multiple emergencies and crises per week to which we most often find solutions. I always say: “if there is not a solution, there is a lesson!” Quick tip: try this… Since I am not a physician, when dealing with problematic situations at work, I often say to myself: "There are no lives in danger" and this allows me to regain my composure in order to find the best way to deal with the issue. Do you want to know more? You can learn more tips on managing stress in my book, 21 Days to Happiness, in chapters 12 and 13. 21 Days to Happiness is a practical guide offering 21 different simple techniques to try for 3 weeks in order to increase your happiness, productivity and energy. Do you have [...]
We've all experienced them. We can't get along with everyone, right? Difficult relationships can be stressful, frustrating and exhausting. But it doesn't have to be that way. Unfortunately, there's really no way to run a business or be a leader or work with people without encountering some difficult relationships. With a few simple tools, though, you can learn to minimize the roller coaster ride dealing with these challenges. You can learn to manage your own reactions in ways that put people at ease and diffuse frustrating situations rather than allowing them to escalate into bigger problems. Here are 4 steps which will help you handle these challenging situations in your professional life. Realize You're On the Same Team. Whether the person you are having issues with is a customer, coworker, peer, or friend, recognize that the issue is the problem, not the person. You can't control another person's reaction or perception of the situation, but you can definitely control yours. Take a deep breath and change your focus: be on the same "team" with the person. Try to understand their point of view. Tackle the problem with them, not because of them. Focus on the Issue. Some people may have difficulty communicating or express themselves in a way you would like them to. Instead of reacting to the way a person delivers information, try to focus on the information itself. What is the actual problem? Try using reflective listening, and restate the problem back to the person. "What I hear you saying is, you're upset about this..." or "It sounds like you're bothered by what happened when...". Validate the Person's Feelings. You may not agree with someone, but empathy will go a long way toward mending a breach between business and customer or leader and team member. Take time to really listen to the complaint the person is sharing with you. Don't interrupt. Be conscious of your body language-- make sure your shoulders are open, arms not crossed, your body and face toward the person. Make eye contact. Nod to show you are paying attention and understand what's being said. Say something like, "I'm sorry this experience has made you feel frustrated." Let the person know that their feelings matter. You don't have to agree with the way they behaved or the solution they're asking for. Simply acknowledge how they're feeling. Shift the Conversation Toward the Outcome. Once you've listened and validated the person's feelings, you can begin to shift the conversation away from the problem and focus on the solution. Do this gently but firmly. Sometimes people get stuck in a loop, restating and restating the problem and exacerbating all the negative emotions associated with it. Draw them toward the solution with statements like, "I can tell this is really bothering you. Let's talk about what we can do to solve the issue." Sometimes the person wants an impossible solution which you're not able to provide. What you can do instead is focus on one actionable part of the [...]
What do you buy the person who has everything? Have you heard people ask this question? Sometimes it seems overwhelming to try to think of a gift for a friend, coworker or loved one when they seem to have everything they could ever want already. It's probably because you're thinking of giving them a thing, an object, something they could easily buy. I'm going to tell you a secret about gift giving that will change how you think about birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas celebrations. Ready? Here it is: the best gifts aren't items. They're experiences. Opportunities to Buy Experiences Are All Around Us Look around your community for local events and experiences. Take a music-loving friend to hear a community orchestra or a jazz ensemble. Find a new park or trail to hike together and pack some fun snacks to share along the journey. Is there a show or an exhibit coming to a museum or gallery near you that your spouse or coworker might enjoy? You can also help your friends and family members by suggesting these kinds of experiences as gifts. Doing something together to celebrate your birthday creates a memory that lasts. It gives you new stories to share and gets you out of your routine to add a little freshness to your life. Celebrate with Experiences Any Day Giving experiences doesn't have to be expensive. You can bring them muffins, take a picnic lunch somewhere fun. Pick up smoothies and walk at a local park. Invite someone for coffee or for a meal. Spending time together and getting away from daily distractions allows you a chance to connect to the people who matter most to you. You don't even have to wait for a special day to celebrate. You can give this happiness-boosting gift any day! So this year, as the people around you celebrate milestones, keep experiences close in mind. Look for opportunities to share them with the people you appreciate to show how much you care by giving them a lasting gift of happiness. Get More Tips and Information on Improving Your Happiness Learn more about how experiences impact happiness in Day 16: Money: Buy Experiences, Not Things, in my book, 21 Days to Happiness.