4 Reasons to Be Assertive at Work Being assertive at work means voicing your opinions and ideas with confidence. Assertiveness helps us set boundaries and ask for what we need without being rude or combative. Communicating assertively increases job satisfaction and creates win-win situations with our coworkers. It also allows us to recognize our feelings and build honest relationships with teammates. Here are 4 more reasons to use assertive communication at work. 1. Keeps the Focus on Your Idea, Not You One common problem we face at work is thinking we’ve communicated an idea more effectively than we actually have. For instance, if you share an idea in a meeting or email, and the tone is too soft, your comment may get lost in the conversation. Your teammates may not recognize that you’re asking for or proposing something. On the other hand, if you pitch an idea too forcefully, the idea gets lost as people react more to your delivery than the idea itself. Assertive communication uses clear, direct speech to explain an idea, allowing the idea to hold centerstage for discussion. 2. Gives You a Sense of Empowerment Assertive communication provides you with tools to make your needs heard. It helps you zero in on what you will and will not do so that you can state that clearly. Setting boundaries offers you a sense of control and autonomy. That sense of empowerment makes a big difference in your happiness and resilience at work. 3. Helps You Earn Respect One of the critical components governing the level of respect you have at work is how often you do what you said you’d do in the time you promised to do it. Here’s where assertiveness comes in. If you cannot ask for the resources you need to complete your work, it won’t get done. Assertive communication gives you a vehicle to ask for those resources and clearly state what you can do so the team can plan accordingly and count on your contributions. Assertive communication also helps those in leadership to set priorities and expectations so that team members know which tasks to focus on and what to do if they encounter problems. 4. Reduces Stress No one likes feeling unheard or as though their needs never make the priority list. It’s true in family relationships, and it’s true on the job, too. If you feel unheard as a leader or team member, assertive communication can help you break through that wall. Learning to speak up and state what you need firmly and clearly allows your coworkers to adjust their expectations and offer the support that helps the whole team succeed. Knowing you have a path to being heard reduces stress and ensures you have a safety net in your ability to speak up. Expert Training on Assertiveness at Work Mastering the balance of speaking assertively without being rude can be tricky, but it’s a skill worth learning. Our Assertiveness workshop teaches communication and conflict resolution styles and how to [...]
5 Tips for Energy and Stress Management No matter how positive your outlook and how zen your mindset, it’s impossible for any of us never to encounter stress or fatigue. Unfortunately, experiencing some stress and fatigue is part of life. In truth, they’re part of what make the days we have great energy or feel calm and at peace so wonderful. The best solution is having strategies for energy and stress management in our arsenal to help on difficult days. Here are 5 great tips for energy and stress management. 1. Adapt Rather than Avoid It can be tempting to avoid stressful situations or choices by putting them off as long as possible. Avoiding the most challenging task on our to-do list or postponing that meeting with a challenging person might feel good in the moment. What it does, though, is give us more time to fret over the event. Pushing a meeting or task toward the end of the day can also mean asking ourselves to tackle the task when our resources have already been depleted by other work. Instead, use your natural energy rhythm to your advantage. What time of day do you feel the most energized and sharp? Schedule your most difficult task or meeting at that time. Or, schedule it first thing in the day, so you can get it over with early and move on to easier tasks afterward. At KCC, we call this “eating the frog”…inspired by Mark Twain. 2. Schedule a Stress Session If you’re struggling to keep worries and stress from intruding into your day, try scheduling a thirty-minute block of time to allow yourself to focus on what’s bothering you. It may seem counter-intuitive, but research shows that this actually helps us table anxiety and stress at other times of the day. It means we know we’ll have a chance to process those thoughts and worries at a specified time. You might find journaling to be a helpful way to quantify the things causing you stress. Writing a list may also help you identify solutions or ways to cope with some of the stressors you encounter. 3. Sweat it Out Exercise is a great way to work through stress. It gets our bodies moving, burns some of that anxious energy, and increases blood-flow to our brains. When we exercise, we’re also focusing parts of our brains on physical activity. We’re focused on balance, coordination, and breath. This gives other parts of our brains a rest, which can break that hamster-wheel cycle we sometimes fall into. If you don’t like exercising, try finding an active hobby or class to participate in. Consider joining a dance class, community sports team, or martial arts program. The goal is to get your body moving and have fun doing it! 4. Pursue Balance Is your work-play balance off lately? When we get stressed, it’s easy to withdraw from recreational activities without realizing we’re doing so. Feeling starved for recreation? Consider taking a day or afternoon off. [...]
3 Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress so You Can Celebrate What Matters Sometimes the excitement of having time off, being with friends and family, sharing our favorite foods and drinks and creating special memories can get lost to the holiday stress of preparing for each event. What can we do to minimize stress and maximize happiness this holiday season? Here are 3 tips to boost your joy and be more “zen” this holiday. 1. Give Yourself Permission to Update Your Plans. If you find yourself dreading a particular event or aspect of the holidays, take the time to pause and examine why. Are you dreading a particular event because it’s located in a difficult place to get to? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the number of things crowding your calendar and really wishing you could take a break from the hustle and bustle? Give yourself a moment to understand what’s causing the holiday stress. Once you understand what it is, ask yourself some questions: What happens if you skip this event? Is it essential for you to attend? Could you make an appearance for an hour and then excuse yourself gracefully? If it’s a small event that you’ve organized, is it something you can reschedule to after the holiday rush is over, when you can enjoy it more? 2. Put Your Favorite Holiday Traditions on Your Calendar. Take a few minutes to think about your favorite holiday moments. Is there a specific activity that’s your favorite? Do you love putting on Christmas music and decorating a tree? Is there a holiday treat or meal that’s your favorite? A holiday movie or show you’ve been looking forward to? List your top two or three favorite holiday traditions and put them on your calendar now. You might consider timing them so that you have something special to look forward to the day after something you’re not as excited about doing, or as a space-holder in the middle of a week that’s sure to be super busy. Putting the things that are special to you on the calendar makes sure you don’t reach the end of the holiday season feeling like you’ve missed out on the things that matter to you. 3. Find Simple Ways to Give. Giving at the holidays helps us capture joy by spreading it. It also helps us feel grateful for the things we have. Sometimes that joy and gratitude are exactly what we needed to bring us out of our holiday stress and pull us back into a place where we can enjoy and celebrate this special time of the year. The holidays are saturated with opportunities to give, from donation buckets outside department stores to toy drives to opportunities to provide a holiday meal for a family in need. You might find out that someone in your community or family needs help with a something specific. Maybe you simply buy coffee for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop. Happy Holidays from KCC! Give [...]
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 [...]
Are you a worrier? "I know worry works because nothing I worry about ever happens." Have you heard of this quote? It sounds funny, but it's not far from the truth! It's normal to worry from time to time, but more and more people seem to worry about the smallest stuff. They also worry about the big things, too, of course, like health, relationships, and finances. Because worrying can be overwhelming and counterproductive, when writing my book 21 Days to Happiness, I decided to try to understand it through research and dedicated the chapter "Don't Worry Be Happy" to address how to decrease it. Maybe you'd like to know what to do about it. 3 Strategies for Peace of Mind: 1) Practice catching yourself. During a recent phone call with a friend, I caught the person worrying 5 times about 5 different things. I'm not kidding. "Hey, you're worrying again." What I've learned is that worry is a mental habit. You can change habits; but you have to catch yourself first in order to stop it. 2) Practice thought switching. Once you catch yourself worrying, decide to think about something else. By this I mean, think of something that is more positive, perhaps a project or passion that will take your mind off whatever you are worried about. Are you planing an event, a trip or have some work goals you could focus on? Remember, "worrying is like a rocking chair...it keeps you busy, but it doesn't get you anywhere." 3) Act, file, or throw it away. Decide to do one of three things: decide to address the issue right then by finding a solution; if you can't do anything about it at the moment, give yourself a time to address it later; or decide that it is not important and let it go. In other words, act on it, file it or throw it away. Awareness and acknowledgment are the keys to changing our habits. If you tend to worry a lot, try to lighten up. 95% of what we worry about doesn't happen. What a waste of time and energy that can be. Of course, if there's a problem, find a solution...but let's not imagine and create problems that aren't there! What strategies work for you? Leave a comment or post on my 21 Days to Happiness Facebook page to tell me about it. My book, 21 Days to Happiness, describes additional strategies for setting aside worry for greater happiness. Ingrid Kelada Business Psychologist/Happiness Expert KCC Inc.