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Back to School Resilience Mantras for Kids and Parents

As kids head back to school, families want to set their children up for success. If you want to help your kid have a productive school year, try teaching some of these resilience lessons. Each one will help make your child more capable of navigating school year stressors.

 

Everything is Hard the First Time

 

School isn’t meant to be easy. If you knew everything already, you wouldn’t need to go to school! Learning something you don’t already know how to do is the whole point of an education. But for lots of kids, if something is difficult, they interpret that difficulty to mean they must not be good at that task, or they must be stupid.

 

There’s an emerging school of thought called “growth mindset,” which focuses on our capacity to learn and grow. Often in our society, we praise children for their innate gifts and skills, saying “oh, you’re just so smart!” “you’re a good artist!” When that happens, we accidentally deliver the message that a child’s success is because they’re naturally good at something. Children are then at risk of developing a “fixed mindset”, which is the opposite of a growth mindset, and tells them that their skills and talents are fixed and can’t be changed. Help your child develop a growth mindset by encouraging work that is just beyond their current abilities, showing them a path to solve the problem, and then praising them for the effort they exerted, showing them how that effort got them the outcome they wanted.

 

Your Teacher Didn’t GIVE You a Grade

 

Has your child come home and said “my teacher gave me a C on my project! I don’t know why!”? That’s language you want to catch and correct. Saying “my teacher gave me thus-and-such grade” isn’t usually accurate. Except in the rare case of a disconnected or vindictive teacher, your child most likely earned that grade. When a child phrases their grades in a way that places responsibility on the teacher instead of themselves, you’re seeing something called “external locus of control.”

 

People can exhibit either an internal locus of control or an external locus of control. People with an internal locus of control believe that they have some measure of control over the outcomes in their lives, and they take responsibility for doing their part. People with an external locus of control think that what happens to them is out of their hands: it’s all because of luck, fate, their boss, their mom. Listen to how your children talk about their grades, because it may be the first time you hear whether your child is prone to an internal or external locus of control, and you can help guide them to take more responsibility for what happens in their lives.

 

 

Bullying isn’t the Same as Not Being BFFs

 

For very good reasons, schools and communities are now intervening much earlier and more seriously when it comes to bullying. Childhood bullying can cause long-term stress that even carries into adulthood, and the growing awareness of bullying is a great thing that protects vulnerable children.

 

But there’s one unintended downside to the rise in awareness against bullying. As children are being taught not to bully, their developing brains aren’t great at understanding what bullying really is. To a 5 year old, anyone doing something that makes them feel sad or angry feels like a bully. So saying “no, I’m not going to give you my favorite doll,” could be bullying to a 5 year old. We know better, as adults, but kids can’t always see the difference.

 

It’s important to help your kids navigate a world where everybody doesn’t want to be their friend. Your 9 year old may want to be friends with somebody who doesn’t want to be friends back. And it doesn’t necessarily make the other kid mean. It’s just a fact of life that we all prefer some people over others, and children are no different. So at home, if you hear about meanness or bullying, try to really tease out the actions that took place, before you get upset. (Because if you get upset, your kid will get even more upset!) Their teenage and young adult years will be filled with change friend-circles and romantic rejection, so this is great practice for what lies ahead.

 

 

Help your child develop more resilience by repeating these three mantras whenever they need a little nudge back on track. School-year stress is a real thing, but with a little guidance from you, your kid can grow into a hard-worker and a self-starting student!

Burned Out By Your Job? It’s Never Too Late to Change Careers

Are you burned out at work?

Thinking it’s time for a career change?

But worried you’re too old to change careers?

In fact, if you’re feeling burned out, a lack of motivation, and disconnected in your current career path, it’s NEVER too late to change careers!

Here are 3 steps to follow to make a career change at any age…

The Real Reason You Aren’t Getting a Promotion at Work

When I work with teams to help employees be more resilient, one concern people tell me is that they get frustrated at work when they don’t get a promotion. Promote-able employees are – in general – positive, flexible, coachable, and resilient.

 

So if you’re hoping for a promotion soon, here are 4 key behaviors to keep an eye on:

 

Who Looks Up to You?

Promotions mean more responsibilities. Making the leap from contributor to managing other people is one type of responsibility that often causes problems after a promotion. If you’re being considered to move to a position that includes managing other people, or even interfacing with more important people, decision-makers will be paying attention to who looks up to you. Are you coaching new hires? Are you mentoring younger team members? Do other members of the team look up to you? Behave like a leader before you have leadership responsibilities, and you’ll be the first one your bosses think of when a promotion comes up.

 

Watch Your Language

The words you speak at the office influence your promote-ability. Do you talk about possibilities, or only problems? Great leaders aren’t blind to problems, but they keep the conversation going until they have possible solutions. Start using solution-oriented language in meetings. Another language-related behavior to consider: How do you receive feedback? Bosses are more likely to promote team members who are coachable. Practice receiving coaching and feedback in a confident manner. Bosses often share with me that they’re telling their employees exactly what it takes to get promoted, but too many people get defensive. Only the coachable employees take the feedback and make the change.

 

Examine the Company you Keep

Did your parents ever tell you “if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas”? Workplace gossip is a common occurrence. While social chatter with your colleagues isn’t usually a problem, what is a problem is something called “venting.” Venting is a type of communication where a frustration is rehashed over and over, with no solution (check out this blog post I wrote for the Office Dynamics Conference, to learn more). Venting is toxic to team culture, and being involved in venting – even if you’re just the listener, not the venter – can get you branded a complainer. Resilient employees don’t complain, they solve. To get a promotion, be a person who is up-front about bringing problems to the boss in a solution-oriented manner, not the person who vents offline behind the boss’s back.

 

Consider your Contribution

It’s one thing to say you want a promotion. But it’s most likely to be given to the person who shows they’re ready with their actions, not just words. Do you volunteer to take on more responsibilities? Are you involved in workplace activities or affinity groups? To rise up through the company, you’ll want to see it from different angles besides just your corner of the business. Going beyond your job description isn’t a “brown nose” tactic. It’s a smart way to be exposed to more people and ideas in your organization, which will give you the knowledge you need to keep climbing the ladder.

 

 

The decision to promote you is in your boss’s hands, but it’s in your power to show your boss that you’re the perfect person to be promoted. Perfect these four behaviors, and your days of getting passed over are behind you!

 

How to Get Along With your Frustrating Coworker

Do you get along with EVERYBODY in your office? (and if you do, do you work from home?) 🤣

Office conflict stinks. So if you have a frustrating coworker, here are 3 steps to making peace, getting along, and working together successfully.

(Spoiler Alert: if you’re having problems, you’re probably starting with Step 3 instead of Step 1!) Follow the steps in order, and you’ll be able to survive a difficult colleague in no time.

3 Signs You Have High Emotional Intelligence

Since the mid-1990s, emotional intelligence, or “EQ,” has been a hotly discussed topic. People with high EQ are believed to be more successful than people who only have a high IQ, the measure of intellectual intelligence.

 

When I first learned about EQ, I heard about it as being “people smart,” not just “book smart.” And being able to read and understand people IS a part of emotional intelligence, but that’s just half of it. The other half is being able to understand YOURSELF. For that reason, emotional intelligence makes perfect sense as a major predictor of success. (This is one of my favorite sites describing emotional intelligence, here).

 

So how do you know if you have high EQ? These 3 indicators can give you a good idea:

 

You have close friendships

 

It’s not about the number of friends, but the type of friendships you have that counts, in this case. If you have friendships that include not just kindness and having a good time, but compassionate honesty, that’s a good sign that you and your friends may have high emotional intelligence.

 

One of my friends and I once disagreed about something in her personal life. She felt that something her boyfriend had done was “bad” and a dealbreaker. I pointed out that it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker in MY relationship, but that she had every right to draw whatever line she wanted. Having a boundary didn’t make the other person “bad,” or even wrong. She could set whatever boundary she wanted, and if it worked for both of them, then great. If it didn’t, then they should break up.

 

It was hard for her to hear, because her other girlfriends were all offering agreement and empathy about his “bad” behavior. But being able to voice a differing opinion actually brought us closer, and then several years later she was able to honestly tell me “Hey, I think you might be coming down on your son too hard for X and Y”! Having close friendships based in honesty shows EQ, because it combines both social skills and empathy.

 

You can describe your emotions

 

When you’re mad, what kind of mad are you? Are you just plain mad? Or can you recognize different shades of mad, like “disappointed,” “frustrated,” or “embarrassed.”

 

The more varied and descriptive language you use for your emotions, the higher EQ you might have. The reason is because you’re tapped into what you’re actually feeling, and you’re recognizing the nuances of your experience. There are so many different ways to be sad, for example. I’m sad when my favorite restaurant stops being open for lunch, and I’m sad when my dog is sick, but I would never say those two emotions are the same!

 

When you use descriptive, specific language to talk about your emotions, that shows self-awareness, one of the key components of emotional intelligence. So the next time you’re feeling something, reach into your mental dictionary and see if you can pull out a fancy word. It’s a good emotional workout!

 

You set hard-to-reach goals

 

How hard are your goals? Are all of them things you can accomplish in 1-2 years? Goals should be attainable (hello, SMART goals that we’ve all heard of!), but if every single one of your goals is something pretty easy for you to accomplish, then you may be playing it way too safe just to be able to say you’ve reached all your goals.

 

People with high EQ aren’t afraid to defer rewards and success for a looooong time, because having high motivation is another key indicator of emotional intelligence. So with high EQ, you can stay motivated even if reaching your goals is a long, slow process. If you can feel accomplished even before you’ve reached an end goal, that’s a pretty good sign that you’ve got emotional intelligence.

 

Here’s the best news:

 

All of these indicators are traits that can be developed and improved. So even if you only see yourself in one or two of these characteristics, you can work on it and increase your EQ. Having a high emotional intelligence DOES help you be successful. So get some practice and flex those emotional muscles!

 

 

How to Deal With Things Out of Your Control

Feeling out-of-control is so frustrating. I’ll be honest… a LOT of things have felt out-of-control this year. I’m moving, packing, and budgeting for a major home renovation, while dealing with some health issues.

I’ve been relying on some of the coping skills I’ve researched, like “locus of control,” but ALSO adding some new ones of my own that seem to be working for me.

Are you feeling stressed or frustrated at things that are out of your control? Check out what I’m doing and see if it’ll work for you, too.

And comment below about what’s keeping you up at night, so we’ll all be in it together!!!

4 Secrets To Make Workplace Change Go Smoothly

Delivering the opening keynote at a recent conference, a woman told me she had just found out the day before arriving that her company was being bought out by a larger company. She and her colleagues were facing a huge change, and she was (understandably) nervous about what to expect.

 

Every company is different, and every change is different, but there are a few things you can do to navigate workplace change and make the transition a little easier on yourself – and maybe some of your colleagues, too.

 

Volunteer to Help With the Change

Longitudinal research of companies going through change found that employees who reported feeling “connected” at work also reported feeling confident and positive about the situation. Employees who are engaged with the change are the ones who have a seat at the table, and may even have the opportunity to direct certain aspects of the change. Raise your hand and get involved! Usually when a company change is happening, committees spring up. Maybe there’s a committee researching this new technology versus that new technology. Maybe there’s a committee planning an all-hands staff meeting to celebrate the launch of the new direction. Find a way to volunteer, because getting involved won’t just help you feel more positive, it will give you a way to participate and maybe even give input into the change.

 

Ask Questions

If you’ve been blindsided by an announcement of change, you and your colleagues might not have had the wherewithal, in the moment, to get answers to every detail about what happens next. But don’t let that stop you from getting your questions answered! It’s not only okay, but actually a good thing to ask your manager or boss about what’s going on. (If you’re a manager, check out this post on 5 Things a Good Leader Does During Change for more info) The best questions you can ask are “why” questions, like “why is this the direction we’re choosing?” “why is this going to be good for the employees/customers/etc.?” The more everyone involved understands the purpose of the change, the more smoothly the process goes. So don’t be afraid to ask why.

 

Be Patient

Change takes more time than you think. In my research, I’ve noticed that a lot of company changes actually fail not during the change itself, but during the period afterward, known as “transition.” Transitioning to the new normal can be uncomfortable for a lot of people. During transition, you don’t have the robust support and intense focus you had during the time of change. Everyone assumes that since the change is over, we should get back to top performance. But there may be new systems, new processes, new technology, new employees… you get the idea. If you expect everything to fall back into place right away, you’ll be disappointed.

 

Make Comparisons

You can get on-board mentally with change by making positive comparisons. Are there things that frustrated you or were challenging before? Change is a great opportunity to start fresh and fix those problems! But sometimes we don’t even notice when something changes for the better, so we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to be happy about it. (Sorry, our brains are just wired that way.) Instead, make a note of the way things were before, so that you can actually look back and make a positive comparison after the change. That will give you something to appreciate, even if there are some hiccups during the transition period.

 

Workplace change is never easy, but it can be positive, if you handle it correctly. Whether you’re facing a merger, a restructuring, a new boss, or anything that shakes up your team, it’s time to stop dreading change and get on board.

What NOT To Say When Someone is Struggling

I hate to tell you this…but at some point in your life, you’ve probably said the #1 thing NOT to say to a loved one who is struggling.

I’VE done it. We’ve all done it. It’s almost like a habit. But these common platitudes we offer people who are suffering through a difficult time… they don’t help. And they can actually HURT.

Here’s what to say to your friend or family member who is struggling, INSTEAD of one of these platitudes, and why it’s more likely to help them feel better (and probably cement your relationship with them, too).

The Three Worst Habits of Weak Teams (and How To Break Them!)

Nobody wants to work in a dysfunctional workplace. A healthy office culture plays a critical role in not only productivity, but also employee retention and happiness.

 

You can identify a weak team by looking for common dysfunctional behaviors. Most teams with problems exhibit more than one of these behaviors, and they’ve become a habitual part of the team culture. But there’s hope! There are ways to break these bad habits, if the whole team can start practicing healthier behaviors instead.

 

The Company Grapevine Is Sour

Gossip is one of the worst habits a work team can get into, but it’s one of the most common. It often starts with good intentions, when someone needs to process, share, or let off steam, so they turn to a friendly colleague and start to unload. But the basis of gossiping is “venting,” which is an unhealthy coping strategy (check out this blog post I wrote for IAAP to learn more), and bad for office culture. And when you gossip and vent with other team members, you’re probably doing that instead of actually talking to your manager.

 

Break the Habit By…

Communicating instead of gossiping. Real communication involves not withholding important information. If you’re frustrated, your manager needs to know. If something is going wrong, your manager needs to know. If you don’t have what you need to be effective, your manager needs to know. To break this habit, remember what you learned as a child: “if you wouldn’t say it to their face, think about whether you should be saying it at all.” It’s fine to lean on your colleague friends for support, but in most cases,  it should be done after you’ve started the conversation with your boss.

 

You Can’t Whine Your Way to the Top

Good for you for deciding to have a conversation with your boss about something that’s been weighing on you! But before you walk in there, let’s take a look at what you’re going to say. In my second job out of college, the cultural norm was that people complained to their bosses A. Lot. I didn’t realize how much I had internalized the habit until I moved into my next job, with a management title. It was my job to solve problems as a manager, yet I was routinely approaching my boss with complaints, and no solutions

 

Break the Habit By…

Solving instead of complaining. Think up at least one potential solution before you walk into your boss’s office. That solution may not work. It may not even be feasible to try! But your boss will likely give you bonus points simply for having a solution-oriented mindset. And the more you practice this new habit, the better you’ll get at coming up with workable solutions.

 

Look Like an Ass…umption

In today’s work environment, time is at a premium. Faster is always better. And because we value speed, I’ve noticed that a lot of workplaces rely on assumptions. Workers assume that X will be handled the way it always has. They assume that Y colleague is taking care of Z issue. Making assumptions can save time, but only if the assumptions are correct. If they’re wrong? Well, you’ve wasted far more time than you’ve saved.

 

Break the Habit by…

Asking instead of assuming. When I work with organizations going through change, I often hear employees saying “I don’t want to ask because I don’t want to look stupid” or “I didn’t ask because if I asked about the project, I thought they might assign me more work and I’m already too busy.” This points to both a trust issue and a communication issue. But no matter your title, you can model healthy inquiry (that doesn’t earn you more work or a label of being stupid!) by phrasing things like “I’d love more context on X, so that I can answer any questions the clients may have” or “you seem to be really knowledgeable about Z, and I’d love to know more. Could I buy you a cup of coffee and tap into your wisdom?”

 

It’s hard for one person to change an office culture alone. And if you notice these bad habits at your workplace, it may take more than just you to fix it. But if you start with open communication with your superiors, then show them that you’re a problem-solver who isn’t afraid to ask tough questions, you may just have a shot at influencing a team-wide culture change.

How To Use Humor in a Crisis

One of the fastest ways to stop freaking out when life is stressful is to use humor. But do you know how to tap into the funny stuff in life, even when things stink?

Well, thanks to a broken rib, I’ve had a crummy week. But it reminded me of how to laugh my way through the difficult moments. Here’s what you can do, even BEFORE things get stressful, to help you survive the tough times with a little humor.