Using Reason To Influence People

Reasoning is an influencing style that relies on data and facts to get buy-in.

A leader using reasoning relies on data to highlight the benefits of a proposal and get people’s support.

The most successful leaders learn to use a combination of influencing styles to get things done.

Some of the other common styles include inspiring, consulting and collaboration.

As a style, logical reasoning is more factual and analytical compared to the others.

It’s most effective where a leader needs to justify actions or make objective decisions. 

The “Because” experiment, which we’ll discuss later, is perhaps the most explicit demonstration of the effectiveness of reasoning. 

The experiment showed that giving a reason, however mundane while using the word “because” in requests makes people much more likely to comply.

Backing your arguments with facts and data and using the word “because” is likely to get your team to comply faster. 

For example, a sales manager convincing her team would say something like: “We should focus on upselling our biggest clients because we derive 70% of our revenue from them.”

 

What Is Reasoning?

According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, reasoning is “the drawing of inferences or conclusions through the use of reason.”

Reasoning uses existing knowledge, data and facts to arrive at conclusions, make predictions and even structure explanations.

Unlike other styles, logical reasoning appeals to the other person’s analytical side. For example, a sales manager will use company sales data to identify weaknesses and convince the team to focus on those areas.

Without data, decision-making becomes less objective, relying primarily on emotions and hunches, which are not always practical.

However, using reasoning as an influencing style has its downsides. For instance, sparse or inconclusive data weakens logical arguments making it harder to convince people.

The other side might also have equally compelling facts and data to the contrary opinion. In such cases, decision-making becomes less clear-cut.

8 Ways Reasoning Is Helpful

The ability to reason and use reasoning to influence has a fundamental impact on our performance both professionally and at home.

Logical reasoning helps us generate and maintain beliefs congruent with facts and knowledge. It also guides our actions, including how we relate with people and evaluate arguments.

Reasoning is more than just staying objective. 

 

1. Reasoning works well with certain people 

It works very well with analytical and logical individuals whose decisions are less emotional and more data-driven.

 

2. Demonstrates your analytical skills

These skills have become more valuable and urgent as the world has become more data-driven. Organisations need people who can make sense of the massive amounts of data being collected to guide future actions.

 

3. Helps structure conversations

Data-driven decision-making is like a waterfall. It follows a logical step-by-step approach. This rational flow of ideas helps the discussion by focusing on solving one problem at a time.

 

4. Gives an audit trail on decisions 

How did your team arrive at a decision? Was it based on a hunch or even the team’s combined experience? 

By relying on data, you can always come back and identify what occasioned the decision, especially if you are writing about decisions in email so there is a written record.

 

5. Promotes fairness and objectivity

It’s said that numbers don’t lie, or the more recent, “in data we trust.” 

Logical reasoning reduces emotional decision-making by making decisions based on data instead of personal feelings.

 

6. Improves communication and collaboration in teams

Significant improvements occur when you base arguments on data instead of personal hunches. 

The facts do all the heavy lifting helping the team unite behind ideas and not personalities.

 

7. Boosts overall team productivity

Previous research indicates that teams operate better and more efficiently when guided by facts and logical reasoning. 

 

8. Enhances leadership

Leaders who use data and logical reasoning are perceived as more rational and objective. They are also open to feedback and entertain contrary opinions, which brings out the best ideas and promotes meritocracy.

 

For the best results, understand what motivates people in your team and how they react to conflict and work-related pressures. What’s their default action? Do they argue using facts, or do they respond better to direct requests and orders?

 

Types Of People Reasoning Works Best With

People respond differently to different influence styles. 

Logical reasoning, for example, works best with predominantly analytical individuals. 

These are people high on Thinking (T) and Sensing (S) on the Myers-Briggs scale.

The Myers Briggs uses a four-scale system to identify and categorise individuals’ behavioural patterns.

Individuals who score high on the Thinking(T) parameter tend to make decisions using logic, objective analysis, and process-driven conclusions.

Those scoring high on the Intuition/Sensing preference gather information and focus on facts within that information.

People scoring high on these two preferences make the best candidates for reasoning influence. They already use it in some way at work.

 So, how do you identify such individuals?

 Using the Myers Briggs personality test can help identify people who respond well to logical reasoning.

 The Myer-Briggs or MBTI Model has four scales representing opposing preferences. These are:

 

    1. Extroversion(E) or Introversion(I)
    2. Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)
    3. Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
    4. Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

 

These preferences then yield 16 different personality “types” denoted by a four-letter code, such as INFJ, ESTJ, ENTP, among others.

 Individuals likely to respond well tend to fall into the NT or intuitive reasoning personality type, also known as rationalists. From the MBTI, they would be ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP and INTP.

It would also work well with individuals in the SJ or sensing and judging personality types, also known as melancholics or guardians. Their personality types on the MBTI model include ESTJ, ISTJ, ESFJ and ISFJ.

These personality types rely heavily on data-driven decision-making. They weigh all the facts judiciously before arriving at decisions. They also tweak those choices as new information emerges.

You can also identify individuals susceptible to reasoning influence through observation.

For example, these people tend to be balanced and gather detailed information before making a decision. They are the people who come to meetings armed with spreadsheets and charts to prove their point.

They also tend to prefer order, control and firm decision-making.

Some professions tend to have more individuals who prefer logical reasoning. These include careers that rely heavily on data and analytics to arrive at decisions.

Among occupational careers with these traits include engineers, software developers, data analysts, and marketing professionals.

 

The “Because” Experiment

The “Because” experiment is perhaps the clearest demonstration of how effective reasoning can really be.

 In 1978, Ellen Langer, a Harvard researcher, led a study on the effectiveness of using the word “because” to justify something.

 Langer targeted participants lining up for the copy machine on campus. Back then, copy machines weren’t as common. The researchers used three differently worded statements to get a break in the line.

 The statements were as follows:

 “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine?”

“Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine because I have to make copies?”

“Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” 

The last statement with the word “because” had 94% compliance, the second last statement 93% compliance and the first statement had 60% compliance

Just adding a ‘because’ to the statement radically changed compliance levels. 

The researchers further demonstrated that the reason given didn’t factor into compliance. Just hearing the word “because” led people to comply.

Other researchers have repeated the experiment with similar results in real-world settings. Fundraisers, for example, tend to raise more money when they give a plausible reason for soliciting donations.

So, what do these results mean? 

Applying reasoning influence works as long as you supply a plausible reason. Backing the reason with factual data wins over even the most vocal critics.

If you have a small request, use the word “because” and supply a reason, even a weak one, to justify the request. 

More significant asks may face more resistance, but using data and logical arguments breaks through the resistance.

 

Conclusion

 Persuasion is a must-have skill for any manager or employee in an increasingly complex and unpredictable environment.

Reasoning influence, as demonstrated, can be an effective instrument in your influence toolkit.

However, keep in mind that logical reasoning doesn’t work with everyone. Some people require a more dynamic or direct approach to requests.

Influence is also not a one-off event. It would help if you consistently built credibility and trust to get higher compliance. But regardless of your position inside your team, you can use the word “because” for backing up a request and observe how others collaborate.

Ultimately, reasoning influence can catapult your career to a higher level. You get more buy-in for your ideas, and your team becomes more effective and productive.

 

Source: Pexels , Pexels

 

Most businesses have embraced remote working over the last 12 months.

Traditional business meetings have been replaced by video conferencing and virtual team meetings.

This brings new challenges for team managers.

For those managing virtual teams, helping everybody feel that they’re part of the team is tricky. This is why ice breakers can be so useful.

They get everyone introduced and help lighten the mood, build energy, and improve team dynamics.

This article explores icebreakers a bit and then suggests five great ice breakers for your virtual team meetings and highlights three common mistakes people make.

 

What Are Icebreakers?

Ice breakers are fun activities or games designed to welcome participants to a group meeting and warm up the conversations among them.

They help to set the tone of the meeting and get people engaged and energised.

Virtual ice breakers are the same but they take place online via webchat or video call.

If you are a virtual team leader they can make a big difference to mangaing your team.

It is easy for people to sit passively in a virtual meeting and not really contribute.

An ice breaker will help to get everyone actively contributing and avoid that.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Are Icebreakers Important For Virtual Teams?

Working as a team on group projects strengthens work relationships.

This group camaraderie helps to create a pleasant, open work environment and boosts productivity.

The challenge is recreating this in-person team bonding within the online working space.

Most remote workers tend to focus on tasks and projects and place less focus on interacting with their colleagues, which can lead to weak relationships, isolation and ineffective communication.

Virtual team icebreakers help overcome the challenges that going virtual brings to group communication, and help encourage collaboration and creativity, while also reducing feelings of loneliness.

Key benefits include:

 

1. Introductions

Ice breakers serve as a great way for virtual teams to bypass the usually dreaded “Tell us about yourself” question.

It offers a more creative way for new recruits to introduce themselves in meetings.

 

2. Bonding

Virtual ice breakers provide an innovative way of fulfilling one of the most basic human needs: social bonding.

Bonding isn’t just reserved for friendships and families – organisations benefit from team bonding as well.

Team building activities are designed to help participants present themselves in a more personable way.

You can learn a lot about what your colleagues are like when playing these carefully designed games.

Ice breakers in this context allow for interactions to become more natural and effortless.

Whether in a virtual or in-person setting, icebreakers promote bonding, cohesion, and boost trust among a team of coworkers.

 

3. Creating the ideal atmosphere

Icebreakers help insert much-needed fun into virtual meetings. This often creates a more comfortable atmosphere for brainstorming and ideation.

Since creativity can’t occur in a constricted environment, creating the right atmosphere is crucial to ensure free flow and cross-sharing of ideas.

 

4. Showing empathy

Empathy is the capacity to emotionally understand another person’s feelings and perspective in any given situation.

To build a solid team, empathy is indispensable because it allows team members to step back and put themselves in their colleagues’ shoes. Calm debate, collaboration and decision making aren’t possible without the use of empathy.

Ice breakers give team members the chance to better understand their colleagues and what drives their behaviour, and this encourages them to show empathy toward one another.

 

5. Enhancing creativity

Sometimes, you just need to give your employees a break from the day-to-day routine and spice things up. Some ice breakers for virtual team meetings are designed to spark creative thinking.

Getting the virtual team together in a relaxed atmosphere allows members to come up with fresh ideas without the fear of being judged.

 

 

5 Icebreakers For Virtual Team Meetings

Let’s take a look at 5 great icebreakers and how to implement them:

 

1. Snap a Picture

The “Snap a picture” icebreaker provides a great way to remind members of a virtual team that they’re all coworkers. Having a peek into the work environments of your colleagues can

be a fun occasion for friendly interaction.

How this works:

“Snap a picture” is, just like the name sounds, an invitation for team members to take pictures of their desks or working spaces.

Since everyone will be working remotely, the pictures can reflect the most unusual spaces – a desk, a patio, even a hammock.

We are all visual beings, and posting pics for others to see, other than just words on screens, helps build genuine connections.

Another theme could be “Take a pic of your shoe.” You’d be amazed at the different kinds of images you’ll receive.

This icebreaker ultimately encourages participants to open up about their hobbies and interests. Beach-goers may show their sandals, while runners may post their favourite running shoes.

 

2. Guess Who

“Guess who” is another fun way for remote team members to learn more about each other. This icebreaker is suitable for teams of 3 to 10 employees who have met physically once or twice.

For large teams, you could modify this activity by using breakout groups so that the icebreaking doesn’t take much time to complete.

How this works:

Before the virtual meeting, send out an email asking participants about their answers to certain light-hearted questions. You can also create an open-ended survey asking participants the questions like:

“What’s the best vacation you’ve had?”
“What’s the last song you listened to?”
“What was the last movie you watched?”
“What’s the craziest hairstyle you’ve ever had?”
“What’s the name of your favourite pet?”
“Where’d you like to spend your next vacation?”
“What’s your greatest childhood accomplishment?”
“What was your last Google search?”
“If you could visit anywhere in Africa, where would you go?”
“What was your first job?”
“How is your family?”
“How is your health?”
“What’s your favorite food spice?”

During the virtual meeting, the facilitators can showcase responses from each participant, while the other members are left to guess whose responses they are. If you have enough time, you could organise quick polls to make participants guess these.

Sometimes, several participants may offer the same response. This is good. Just group them together and let other participants know their guesses were correct.

 

3. Sell it

Even if your team doesn’t work in the sales department, “Sell it” is a creative way for breaking the ice in virtual meetings. It’s even better if you’re in sales.

This icebreaker is suitable for teams of any size. If you have a large team, just break the team off into smaller groups, so as not to waste time.

How this works:

This is a nice icebreaker for virtual teams because it needs little preparation.

When the meeting is about to begin, ask participants to grab an item on their work desks, but don’t tell them why. If they ask, tell them they’ll soon find out.

Once each member is holding an item, tell them to try to sell the item to other team members. They’re free to set the price. Each person then has a minute to deliver a business pitch and 2 minutes to answer relevant questions.

Any person who manages to persuade the majority of team members to purchase their items wins.

 

4. Virtual in-meeting bingo

If you need online games for breaking the ice, virtual in-meeting bingo is the best. This game makes it easy for employees to pay attention and be engaged during virtual meetings.

Virtual bingo also helps normalize embarrassing situations and make participants feel more comfortable.

How this works:

The first thing to do is to create bingo cards that list situations that can occur during virtual meetings.

Here are a few virtual bingo ideas you can use:

      • Lost internet connection.
      • Pet in the background.
      • A person in the background.
      • Baby crying in the background.
      • TV showing in the background.
      • Someone has forgotten to turn off mute.
      • Someone forgets to turn on mute.
      • You may also include concepts that participants can notice right away:
      • Someone wearing a hat.
      • Someone wearing sportswear.
      • Someone wearing a tie-dye.
      • Someone wearing a different hairstyle (if you’ve met before).

Before starting the meeting, send every participant their bingo cards, and tell them you’ll explain things at the meeting.

When the meeting starts, let the participants have their cards ready. Tell them to mark off the card anytime a situation on their cards occurs.

The first person to get 5 in a row will type “BINGO” on the chat thread to win.

This article contains some handy suggestions if you want to give this a try.

 

 

5. Group Mad Libs

If you’ve participated in Mad Libs before, you should know they’re a “fill-in-the-blank” activity that often leads to a funny conclusion.

When used as an icebreaker for virtual meetings, MadLibs are effective team building activities that can help remote teams to relax and connect together.

This icebreaker is suitable for any team size because participants can pair up with each other. If there’s an odd number of team members, you can tell a facilitator to pair with the last member.

How this works:

Before starting a virtual meeting, find an appropriate story to use. This could be your company’s mission statement, company policy, or even a write-up about your organisation. Create blanks in this story to be filled by your virtual team members.

Pair up the participants and assign one to act as the writer, while the other acts as the reader. In each group, the reader asks the writer to mention a word which could be an adjective, adverb, or noun, depending on the blank spaces to be filled in the story.

When each group has finished filling out the blanks in their story, let them return to the main thread and share their experience.

 

 

3 Common Mistakes People Make With Icebreakers

The goal of creating virtual team meeting ice breakers is to help participants relax and warm up to one another.

However, icebreakers are often not used properly and they end up becoming “ice makers”. 3 common mistakes people make with ice breakers include:

 

1. Going too personal

Whether we love them or not, icebreakers truly are effective in sparking more group interactions.

But sometimes, these fun activities can cause excruciating embarrassment to participants, especially if the icebreaker questions are too awkward or caustic.

There are certain lines participants shouldn’t cross, such as asking about the colour of someone’s underwear or their sexual orientation.

Team members will probably not admit feeling ashamed or embarrassed, but any unpleasant incident could lead to distancing and an overall awkward atmosphere within your team.

Solution:

Avoid asking questions that are too personal or inappropriate and otherwise just following the rules of common sense.

 

2. Failing to include everyone

Clearly, not everybody will have an equally active role in virtual meetings. But everyone should be able to contribute to “breaking the ice” in a team meeting.

To make this happen, large teams can be split into smaller groups of 5 or 6. This way, all members get assigned a role and everyone will feel more energized and engaged.

Solution:

Make all your team members feel seen and appreciated. This will boost overall engagement and productivity in the future.

 

3. Not using breakouts

When virtual teams have more than 10 participants, icebreakers may turn out to be too long and uninteresting.

As stated before, it’s advisable to break large teams into smaller groups to make it easier to break the ice.

Breakouts encourage participants to take more interest in the tasks at hand and lead to extra valuable input.

Another option is for the facilitator to simply call on participants one-by-one within a short period of time. The compressed timeframe forces the team to organise quickly and focus on the goal rather than the process.

Solution:

Increase the rhythm of the meeting and break up the team into multiple groups to prevent boredom.

 

Conclusion

Virtual team ice breakers can be adopted during online meetings to help team members relax and feel confident to communicate freely. Using icebreakers isn’t just about sharing opinions. It’s also one of the most effective ways to build trust among virtual team members.

By applying the strategies above and avoiding some common pitfalls, ice breakers will become a valuable tool that you can use again and again. Focus on creating strong relationships within your team and this will translate into better problem-solving and increased overall efficiency.

 

Image Credit:  Pexels , Pexels , Pexels  ,

Running a virtual team is one of the modern challenges many managers face. Managing your workers remotely can be difficult. 

This article looks at five challenges to virtual team success that you may encounter along the way. 

 

Background

The Office for National Statistics revealed that the number of people working from home almost doubled from 2019 to 2020.

This has led to an entirely new lifestyle for millions of people. It has also caused companies to re-think their traditional way of carrying out their processes.

Not every type of industry or role is ideally suited to remote working.

For some businesses, the switch to working from home is relatively easy. For others, putting the right processes in place can be a serious challenge.

We also need to remember that people have different lifestyles and needs. The introverts in your team may be delighted to spend more time at home with their young family or pets.

However, other members of your team may find that remote working makes them nervous, stressed, or depressed.

Awareness is the first step to fixing a problem. Knowing this, we can now look at the top five challenges to virtual team success and how to overcome them.

 

The Top Five Challenges to Virtual Team Success

1. Communication

If your team is scattered across the country or the world, getting the same message across to everyone can be the biggest of your virtual team problems.

This is even harder if time differences and language barriers stand in the way.

Even if you hold regular video meetings, your message may not get across clearly. Some people may also be reluctant to speak up about their doubts and difficulties working in a virtual team.

 

2. Working Relationships

Good working relationships are vital to any team pulling together and producing excellent performances.

Naturally, it is far more difficult for team members to feel a strong connection when they don’t work in the same location. Perhaps they have never even met personally. 

This makes virtual team building even more important, than team building in the physical world.

Gallup research has shown over 30% of people have a best friend at work. This boosts their engagement levels by over 700% compared to those who don’t work alongside their friends.

 

3. Loss of Focus / Productivity

There’s a lot of talk on whether working from home increases or reduces productivity. Each person is likely to have a unique experience when working remotely.

A Work After Lockdown survey found that 54% of the Brits surveyed had improved their productivity after shifting to a home office. Fewer than 10% felt their productivity suffered.

Yet, the fact that this was a relatively new change for them when they were surveyed raises the question of whether they may lose focus over time.   

 

4. Security Issues

Cybersecurity has been a hot subject long before the pandemic. This is due to workers beginning to use mobile devices to get connected in their offices. The rise in remote working has now turned cybersecurity into a critical issue.  

If you have people handling sensitive data and hooking up to your system from different places, it can create gaps in your security.

Research by Apricorn suggests that 35% of UK companies believe remote workers have put their data at risk. In addition, 58% of them think that their remote employees might expose them to a potential data breach. 

These figures confirm cybersecurity as one of the key challenges of a virtual team.

 

5. Lack of Motivation or Low Morale

Some people are delighted to get the opportunity to work from home, as it gives them a chance to try out a new lifestyle that might suit them perfectly. For others, a lack of motivation can lead to a drop in productivity.

Remote work can even lead to depression or other mental health issues.

A  poor work-life balance is mostly to blame for this, as well as changing one’s sleeping, diet, and working habits. Working from home is disruptive, and not all workers embrace such a dramatic change in their routines.

 

5 Solutions for Virtual Team Success

Thankfully, all the problems we’ve identified are fixable. These are things that you can do pretty easily to get everyone working together seamlessly again:

 

1. Regular Communication and a Clear Vision

Having at least one weekly meeting that everyone has to attend will allow your whole team to stay updated with what is happening. This could be the right time to brush up on your communication and presentation skills.

It also makes sense to have a clear communication strategy and vision in place. This means that people don’t have to guess when to call a virtual meeting, send an email, or share documents.

Use messaging tools like Slack and Telegram, and try adding a whiteboard to your meetings, so that you can take notes easily. Making use of tools can help fix communication issues.

 

2. Encourage Bonding Sessions 

With a little creativity, you can still organise team-building sessions for your virtual team. 

If your team members live close enough to one another, organise an in-person get together. Done once per month, this wouldn’t be a big time commitment but can make a big difference to how well they know each other.  

When planning your virtual team-building session, move away from the old-fashioned ice-breakers and team games. Instead, try virtual experiences and online training sessions that your team will truly benefit from.

 

3. Put the Focus on Productivity 

The use of online productivity and collaboration tools can allow any remote team to work more efficiently. Google Workspace lets you all work together using a cloud-based service in which you can share, edit and collaborate effortlessly at any time.

Other collaboration tools worth considering include:

  • Asana
  • Trello
  • Podio
  • Monday.com
  • Ryver
  • Flock

Whatever tasks you need to manage, you are almost certain to find a tool that lets you do it online now. Don’t stick to old, stiff processes that no longer fit your team’s requirements. Put a strong emphasis on good time management and efficiency.

 

4. Security

Many of the best cybersecurity tips apply just as well to remote workers as they do to people working in the office. The use of strong passwords and antivirus software that’s regularly updated is crucial to a safe online work environment.

Perhaps the most significant difference for home workers is that they need to be reminded regularly to do things that your IT team would do for them if they worked in the same building.

 

5. Find Ways to Motivate Everyone

Finding how to keep a remote team highly motivated may pose the highest challenge of managing a virtual team. Uniting your team’s efforts towards one clear goal is one way to inspire and motivate. 

Aside from creating a supportive work culture, you should ensure that you ask for and provide regular feedback. Feedback is valuable, especially coming from those team members who might be overwhelmed by remote work.

Online training sessions for remote team managers will also let you discover how to best motivate your team.

Conclusion

The shift towards remote teams has been one of the most significant and sudden changes in the history of the business world. The good news is that there is now a wealth of ideas and tools that you can use to overcome the top five challenges to virtual team success.

 

 

Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash

What Is Trust?

Trust is the foundation of all healthy relationships. 

At heart, it is the belief that someone to do what they say they will.

Why Is Trust Important?

Life is complicated and knowing you can rely on somebody else makes it that much easier.

Being trustworthy makes people feel more secure around you and frees up their energy to do other things. 

In your personal and private life, when people know they can trust you, it also increases their willingness to listen to your ideas and opinions – you become more influential. They know that you will listen to theirs.

Lets look have a more detailed look at trust:

9 Ways To Build Trust

The good news is that you can start building trust as soon as you meeting someone.

It is possible to build trust relatively quickly. 

 

1. Tell the truth

Don’t lie. Nothing corrodes trust faster than a lie. 

Try to say what you mean and mean what you say. 

Sometimes we think it’s ok to tell a ‘white lie’ and avoid a difficult situation.

Usually, the opposite happens.

People lie because telling the truth is harder, and it seems like an easy way out, but your words and actions will lack integrity, and people can often sense this. People often feel uncomfortable with someone who is lying, even if they don’t know why. Instinctively they don’t trust them.

To build trust, stick to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

2. Keep your promises

Follow through on commitments

If you do, people will learn that they can rely on you.

When you let other people down, it creates doubt in their mind about all of your future commitments. This will prevent them from relying on you in the future, which harms their trust in you. 

 

3. Learn effective communication

When you talk to people, you must ensure the message intended is the message received. 

Always aim for clarity in your speech, make eye contact, listen carefully and try not to assume anything. 

If you don’t know, ask – even if you think it makes you look stupid. 

Communicating clearly avoids a lot of the smaller misunderstandings that can undermine trust. 

 

4. Be willing to admit your mistakes

No one is perfect.

Have you ever tried to cover up or avoid dealing with mistakes because you were afraid it would make you look bad when people found out? 

When you make mistakes and admit to them, it shows the other person you respect them enough to tell the truth, and you are mature enough to admit a mistake. 

It also helps to take away the fear that in future, you won’t own up if there is a problem.

They will know that owning up isn’t easy but respect and trust you all the more for it. They know they can rely on your to be straight with them.

5. Be emotionally open

Trusting others means being vulnerable. You are relying on them one way or the other. 

If you open up to someone, you are being vulnerable with them. This, in turn, shows them that they can be vulnerable with you, and this builds trust.

Reciprocity is a fundamental human behaviour, and when you show trust in someone, they, in turn, are far more likely to trust you.

 

6. Have the courage to say ‘No’

Often people with ‘people pleasing’ tendencies are afraid to say no – even when they want to – because they don’t want to upset anyone.

However, occasionally saying ‘No’ will actually help to build trust in your relationships

When you say ‘No’ to someone (politely!), they know that you are being honest with them and appreciate that it’s difficult. 

An occasional ‘No’ that is a sign that they can trust what you are saying in other conversations as well. 

You’re not just going along with them for an easy life.

7. Be generous with your contributions

When working in a group, many people do the least that they think they can get away with.

They try to benefit from the work of others.

If you do the opposite and contribute generously, that is an act of trust in the group. It is assuming that there is a win-win outcome if everyone contributes significantly.

You’re showing that you trust them to do their part and that you’re not going to try to freewheel and let them do all the work. 

If you’re generous with your contributions, people will naturally trust you.

Conversely, if you do the least possible, people won’t trust you. They will worry that you’re always looking to see what is in something for yourself and not thinking about others.

 

8. Be generous with praise

Don’t blow your own horn. Champion the efforts of others.

They will notice that you’ve taken the opportunity to highlight their contribution and not put yourself first. 

This is a great demonstration of the fact that you can be trusted. You’re not just looking out for yourself. 

 

9. Be consistent

It is difficult to trust someone who acts inconsistently. 

Even if they seemed trustworthy yesterday, you can’t tell how they’ll act today. This means that it’s very difficult to trust them.

Behaving consistently means that people feel they can accurately predict your behaviour.

If you have acted in a trustworthy fashion in the past, you will most likely act in the same way in future.

3 Things People Get Wrong About Trust

No-one is perfect. We all screw up sometimes.

If you’ve screwed up and broken someone’s trust here are the 3 steps to getting it back:

1. Trust is soft

Trust is incredibly powerful.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s soft or fluffy. It makes a huge difference.

Trust is the foundation of all relationships, organisations, and civilisations. Studies have shown the power of trust as higher-trust organisations tend to outperform low trust ones. 

If you’ve ever had to deal with a hostile audience who don’t trust you, you’ll know the value of trust!

 

2. Telling people what you think they want to hear

Feigning interest in something in order to be liked erodes trust. 

At some point, it will become obvious, and then the other person will begin to wonder about your motives and why you are acting that way. 

When building trust, it’s better to be open about what you do and don’t like. People pleasers come across as weak and fake at best and emotionally manipulative at worst. Neither helps you to build trust!

 

3. It can’t be forced

Although trust can be built pretty quickly, it can’t be forced.

Healthy relationships take time to grow, and trust develops with them. 

Don’t try to rush or force things. Let things develop naturally.

Re-Establishing Trust 

Sometimes trust can be eroded through small mistakes, or it can be broken by a single act of betrayal.

This can happen in a marriage, with friends and family, or at work with employees.

The steps to rebuild trust are the same in every case. 

 

1. Take responsibility

You must take responsibility for your actions.

Until you take responsibility for your behaviour, you can’t start dealing with its consequences. 

You must come clean about what you did and admit it was wrong. Your words and actions should show genuine sorrow for the damage done and the hurt caused. 

 

2. Give them time

Taking responsibility goes a long way to re-establishing trust, but you must understand it can take time for the other person to process their emotions. 

You should be willing to do what it takes to heal the broken trust, but you also have to respect the fact that other person might require some time.

 

3. Show That You Have Changed

Talk is cheap.

You need to show the other person that you have changed whatever it was that caused the breakdown in trust.

Take time to reflect on what you did. 

When you understand why you did what you did, you then need to come up with a plan to avoid making the same mistake again. 

If you can consistently show that you have fixed your behaviour, it will go a long way to re-establishing trust. 

 

Conclusion

Without trust life would be very difficult.

We couldn’t rely on each other, but no one can do everything on their own. 

Building trust is key to relationships and success across the board. It is a key life skill.

So if you want to be more successful at work and at home, start using the tips above.

The ability to influence others is the ability to change and affect the opinion of others without forcing your opinion on them.

Influencing skills have been identified as one of the four fundamental leadership skills by the Center for Creative Leadership.

Persuasion and influencing skills depend mainly on how well you know your audience. 

The more you know about the audience, the more effect you can have on them

This article will show you how you can better understand your audience so that you can influence them more effectively.

We will follow up with articles focused on how to deal with different types of audiences – hostile audiences, neutral audiences and positive ones.

 

What Do We Mean By Know Your Audience?

“It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.” Harry S. Truman

Knowing your audience makes you better able to connect with them. 

It means that you know enough about their values, backgrounds, and beliefs to understand what matters to them.

The more you learn about your audience, the better you can plan communication. You will be able to speak to them in terms of what matters to them. 

In this context, an audience can mean a group you are speaking to or just one person you will be interacting with.

To understand more about your audience, start by asking yourself the following questions:

FACTS AND OUTCOME

  • How much does my audience know about this topic?
  • What do I need my audience to know and understand?
  • How does this topic impact my audience?
  • How does this topic impact the organisation that my audience works for?

PERSONALITIES

  • How well does my audience know me? Have you already built a rapport with them?
  • What does my audience have in common with me, and where do we differ?
  • What type(s) of people is/are my audience?
  • What types of culture does the organisation that my audience works for have?

 

Why Is Knowing Your Audience Important?

Knowing your audience allows you to understand what is important to them and focus on that. 

It allows you to speak to them in their language and about what matters to them. 

Everyone is different. We all have different personalities and different experiences. This makes us value different things in different ways. 

Something that one person thinks is crucial, another person might not be worried about.

Think of the differences between people when buying a car. 

Some people value speed, some luggage space and some a great stereo.

None of these people are ‘wrong’. It is just that they are looking for slightly different things from a car. 

If you are someone who wants a car with lots of luggage space, it’s unhelpful if the salesperson speaks at length about how fast it is and how great its stereo is. 

All of that is fine, but you want to know about the luggage space first and foremost!

 

5 Ways To Assess What Your Audience Thinks

So how do you assess what your audience thinks?

Before the meeting, you will need to do some research and some thinking to try to put yourself in their shoes. 

 

1. Prior Experience:

Prior experience is probably the number 1 factor driving an audience’s behaviour. 

If they had problems the last time that they dealt with your subject, expect them to be wary. 

As the old saying goes: “Once bitten twice shy”.

Conversely, if things went well, they will probably be enthusiastic.

2. Self-interest:

Think through how they might see the situation? 

What concerns might they have? Where might they see benefits accruing to them?

People engage with things on the basis of their self-interest. 

If you can present a win-win outcome to your audience, they will be far more likely to say Yes.

3. Personality Traits:

Personality traits make a big difference to people’s approach. 

If they are curious, expect them to ask lots of questions and be ready with answers. 

If they are impatient, make sure you get straight to the point. 

Similarly, organisations have certain personalities. Some organisations value certainty and lack of risk. If someone works for this type of organisation, expect them to look for certainty and lack of risk in what you are proposing. Other organisations are very data-driven in which case using reason to influence them is the right strategy.

4. References:

If you know someone that knows your audience well, ask how they would approach things and what they have learned from past interactions.

People and organisations don’t tend to change that much, and so knowing their past behaviour is a strong indicator of how they might behave in future.

5. Level Of Knowledge

How much does your audience actually know about what you would like to discuss? 

They may know little or nothing about it. In which case, the only views they will have will be what they have picked up from other people. 

They may know lots already. 

Present to them at the right level of expertise. 

Marching experts through the basics is a waste of time. Presenting at an expert level to beginners is guaranteed to lose them. 

Neither achieves what you want to achieve.

 

3 Common Mistakes When Trying To Understand Your Audience

There are a few mistakes that lots of people make when they want to influence people. 

1. Not knowing the bigger picture:

If you don’t know the broader context, you may well miss some vital aspects of the situation.

Many people focus so tightly on the minutiae of exactly where they want to get to that they don’t pause to consider the broader context enough.

A classic example of this can be trying to influence your boss and manage upwards. You don’t know all the competing issues your boss is juggling. So don’t push your ideas too hard, remember you don’t know the whole story.

2. Lack of organisation and logical order:

If you throw your ideas out without any logical order, you will lose your audience’s attention. 

Organise your ideas logically so that they can follow your reasoning the whole way and hopefully reach the same conclusion as you!

3. Boring your audience:

Get to the point! People have short attention spans. 

When people are nervous, sometimes they don’t get to the point. They sort of circle around it.

This is terrible for the audience. 

They don’t know where the discussion is going or what you are trying to achieve and will get bored.

They will switch off, and you will have lost them.

 

Conclusion

The key to successful communication is understanding your audience. Before you get into a meeting or a presentation, prepare yourself by understanding your audience.

During the meeting, you will need to listen carefully to your audience to assess where you were right and where you were wrong, but going into the meeting with a carefully constructed idea of your audience will always put you at an advantage. 

 

Image source: Pexels Pexels. ,

If you work in an office, you probably use email as your primary form of communication.

While this is a convenient way of avoiding unnecessary meetings and lengthy phone calls, writing persuasive emails can be tricky. Without the added context of body language or vocal inflection, it can be difficult to convey tone and easy to get your wires crossed. 

To have a meaningful impact at work, you will need to learn how to influence and persuade those around you so that you can get buy-in for your ideas.

Learning to write persuasive emails will be a key part of your skillset. 

Let’s look at how and when to use email for maximum advantage and avoid a few of the common pitfalls of communicating via email.

 

 

When should you use email?

The first thing to consider is, “Is email the right way to communicate this?”.

Every method of communication has its benefits and drawbacks. 

Think about what you want to communicate, to how many people and the nature of the discussion you wish to have. This will help you determine whether writing an email is the best course of action.

For non-urgent, everyday issues that don’t require discussion, email is likely to be the ideal choice.

Quick, simple and efficient for getting your message across, it can save you time that can be spent on more pressing matters.

On the other hand, if the issue requires detailed discussion and listening to others views, a meeting is a better choice.

The difficulty in conveying tone and empathy in an email is also worth considering. 

If a work issue has an emotional element, your words are much less likely to be misinterpreted or misunderstood in a meeting compared to an email.

Finally, remember that emails can be pretty ‘cold’ ways to communicate. 

Phone calls and face-to-face meetings are better for forming close relationships with your colleagues, so if you are dealing with people you are still getting to know, then a call or meeting may be a better choice.

 

6 Techniques For More Persuasive Emails

Once you’ve decided to write an email, you should think about how best to present what you wish to write to achieve the desired effect in the recipient(s).

Here are six tips to make sure that your emails have maximum impact. 

 

Think Hard About Your Subject Line

Your subject line should convey as much meaningful information as possible in as few words as possible. It should be short and make clear what the email is about. 

The average person receives over 100 emails a day (Source: Campaign Monitor), so you need to make sure your subject line stands out. 

If there is a call to action, try to include it in the subject line.

 

Be Clear

Whether you are asking a question or relaying an instruction, you should clearly explain what you expect from the recipient so that they understand the specific outcome you have in mind.

Wherever possible, mention this outcome at the start of your email so that the reader doesn’t miss it if they skim-read the email. 

Alternatively, highlight this key section using bold or italics to make it hard to miss. 

 

Keep It Short And Interesting

Avoid extraneous information.

Long-winded emails are likely to be skimmed or even ignored entirely. 

 Write emails that are as short as possible while still covering all the key information.

If you have to write a longer email, make sure to keep it interesting.

   

Tailor your emails

If you know the recipient of your email, tailor your style to their style. 

Some people like formal emails. Others are much more relaxed. 

Matching your recipient’s style will get their attention and make your email more persuasive. 

 

Emphasise The Positives

If you’re making a request, use social proof to your advantage by highlighting the positive responses others have given to the idea. We look at the basis for this in our book review of “Influence: The Principles Of Persusasion” by Robert Cialdini.

If the recipient knows that others within the company see the benefits of your proposal, they are more likely to believe in it and agree. 

 

 

 

Get Your Facts Right

Providing evidence to back up your words is a simple way to ensure that your emails are persuasive.

This will back up your argument and give the impression that you have a firm grip on the details of the subject, allowing you to answer any questions.

 

3 Mistakes To Avoid

As with all communication, there are also some basics that you must avoid to make sure your emails have an impact.

 

1. Don’t ignore the basics

Get the basics right. 

Make sure your punctuation and spelling (especially the recipient’s name!) are correct. 

Getting this wrong distracts from your main message and damages your credibility.

74% of people say these types of errors damage an authors credibility (Source: Investment Writing).

 

2. Never email when you’re in a negative frame of mind

Everyone experiences frustration or anger while at work sometimes. 

This may or may not be work-related. Regardless it will come across in your emails, just as it would in your voice.

If you’re having a frustrating time, go for a walk or try another way to shift the feeling before emailing.

Sending emails when you’re in a negative frame of mind will only reduce their impact. 

3. Stay professional

Criticising, gossiping and moaning should all be avoided and doubly so in emails that can be forwarded and are stored.

People can fall into the trap of writing things that they’d never say out loud. 

Keep your emails professional. 

If you’re unsure whether to send an email sleep on it.  Review it in the morning to see if you still think it would be a good idea to send it.  

 

 

Conclusion

Email is overused. 

However, its prevalence means that mastering it will be important for you when learning to influence colleagues.  

Next time you sit down to write an email, take a few extra minutes to think through the steps above. The results will more than justify the time it takes. 

 

Image Credits:  Miguel , Unsplash.  Unsplash

What Is Workplace Power?

Workplace power is the capacity to get someone else to do what you would like them to do.

It is made up of two components — your level of authority and your level of influence.

Leaders use workplace power to get others to take desired actions and hopefully get the results they want.

Your power will vary depending on many factors, including who you are trying to impact, your position, your history and relationship with them and your reputation.

To be an effective leader, you need to understand where power comes from so that you can build your influence strategically.

Social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven studied the different forms of power and identified six sources.

 

The 6 Sources Of Workplace Power

1. Legitimate Power

This type of power relates to the position that someone holds in a hierarchy (a classic example would be the army). The power you have is related to your title or role.

Your authority relative to someone else in the hierarchy gives you the right to expect obedience and compliance (details in this authority article).

This is an insecure basis for power, though, as when you lose your title, you lose the associated power.

2. Coercive

This type of power is used when you expect someone to submit to your will and is typically enforced by punishing people if they do not comply.

People are motivated by fear to avoid the consequences. This type of power usually leads to resentment.

It is worth noting that this is quite different to being assertive (see article on assertiveness).

3. Reward

This power is the other side of the coin to coercive.

It is ‘the carrot’ that you dangle in front of someone to get them to do what you want. Your power comes from your ability to compensate someone for their compliance. This only works while you still can hand out rewards.

This is another fickle form of power as your power is based on something external, namely your ability to allocate rewards.

Although it may seem better to motivate people with something nice, it can be as ineffective as coercive control. Once the reward is received, there’s no motivation to continue the behaviour, so you have no lasting impact.

4. Expert

This form of influence comes from having a high level of competency, skills and experience and being known for it.

This source of power is based on your personal traits, which means it is something that you and manage and curate yourself.

You can have this type of workplace power no matter what your position in a company.

This is especially true if you have the facts and figures at your fingertips to back up your opinions.

5. Referent

This kind of power is highly personal and is the type of power that a popular person or celebrity has.

Some people are naturally likeable, and this popularity gives them influence. People want to be liked by them and will seek their approval. This means they are more likely to comply with a request from them.

On its own, this isn’t a very effective form of power in the workplace. However, as part of a package, for example, if you are also seen as an expert, it can be potent.

Bill Clinton is the classic example of this. He was a master at building rapport with people incredibly quickly. This was part of an incredibly impactful package that took him to being President of the USA.

6. Informational

This power comes from your ability to control access to information that others need.

People in a position to share or withhold valuable information can use this to gain power over those who don’t.

Again, this is not a very stable form of power, and its use can lead to resentment. People often end up feeling that they are being manipulated rather than influenced when this type of power is routinely used.

 

These six forms of power are divided into two groups: positional and personal:

Positional power is related to your position in your company or organisation.
(Legitimate, Informational and Reward)

Personal power is available to anyone no matter what their title.
(Coercive, Referent and Expert)

 

How Can I Use This To Increase My Workplace Influence?

Real leaders rely on a combination of positional and personal power. They have positional power but augment that by developing personal power.

Understanding this, they usually look to develop across two areas of personal power.

  • Expert Power

As a manager, it can be tricky to build deep expertise, but leaders will, as a minimum, seek to maintain and develop their existing areas of expertise to ensure that they do have an area of specialism.

  • Referent Power

This is a more technical name for networking. Managers seek to build and maintain good relationships across their organisation and beyond.
Being known and liked broadly gives them the ability to reach out to people across the organisation if they need to.

As discussed above, coercive power is precarious, and so sensible leaders do not use this.

 

Conclusion

Everyone has some power, whether they know this or not.

Understanding the components of workplace power will help you to identify areas where you can most effectively improve your influencing skills.

 

 

Image credits:  PexelsUnsplash , Unsplash

In this series of blog posts, we’re going to look at some classic business books and discuss their main ideas. 

The big idea behind ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People ‘ is that how other people react to you is largely within your control.

If you change the way you behave, you will change the way that other people react to you. 

Most people would like others to be friendly and to be able to influence other people – hence the name of the book. 

 

 

 

8 Lessons From How To Win Friends And Influence People 

 

1 Don’t Criticise

“While dealing with people, remember that you are dealing not with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, who are motivated by pride and ego.” Dale Carnegie

No one likes to be attacked or feel that they are being attacked. Research shows it is one of the most common causes of divorce.

If you criticise or complain about someone, they will feel like they are being attacked. 

This is going to turn them against you. 

Instead of criticising, try to understand why people do what they do, empathise, and forgive.

2 Give Honest And Sincere Appreciation 

What do most people want? 

We all want to feel important and appreciated. Make someone else feel this way, and they will love you for it. 

“The deepest desire in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” William James

Don’t do this dishonestly. People will see straight through it. 

Look for the positive when dealing with others. Constantly ask yourself: “What is there to admire about this person?”

Once you’ve figured it out, let them know in an honest and straightforward way. Everyone likes to be admired.

For people who find gratitude useful, this is really just learning a gratitude practice which you use each time you meet someone.

3 Arouse In The Other Person An Eager Want 

“It is true you are interested in what you want. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: interested in what we want.” Dale Carnegie

Just as we are interested in what is important to us, others are interested in what is important to them. 

We all want different things. We all see things differently.

To persuade others, you must figure out what motivates them and then explain how your plan or idea helps them get what they want, looking at things through their lens on life.

If you can combine your desires with their desires, they will become eager to work work with you. 

4 Talk In Terms Of The Other Person’s Interests 

“The best and easy road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things they treasure the most.” Theodore Roosevelt

Focus on what the other person is interested in and talk about it first. 

Talk to people about their interests, and they will feel valued and important. They will enjoy the conversation. 

When in doubt, ask people about their past achievements and to talk about themselves. Both are subject very close to their hearts!

You can talk about your interests just don’t lead with them or monopolise the conversation with them. 

This is really the interpersonal equivalent of knowing your audience when presenting an idea. Meet your audience where they are and in terms that speak to their wants and needs.

 

5 Remember Names 

“The average person is more interested in their name than in all the other names on earth put together.” Dale Carnegie

Your name is a large part of what makes you unique and sets you apart from others. 

Remembering other people’s names will make them feel noticed and remembered (important in short). Make a real effort to remember and use people’s names. 

6 Become Genuinely Interested In Other People 

“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them than in two years by making them interested in you.” Dale Carnegie

Reciprocity is a fundamental human trait. 

We are interested in others who show an interest in us. Generally, we like people who like us. 

If you greet others enthusiastically, listen to them attentively and smile, you’re showing that you like them. 

The odds are that they will like you in return. 

Learning to ask open-ended questions will help a lot with this. Open-ended questions signal that you have time for the person that you’re speaking.

7 Avoid Arguments 

“If you argue and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s goodwill.” Benjamin Franklin

There is no way to win an argument, so don’t argue. 

If you feel as if you’ve won because the other person accepted your point of view, you’ve still lost over the longer term. 

You have made the other person feel inferior and probably hurt their pride. So you’ve now lost their goodwill. You have lost over the long term.  

Avoid arguments whenever possible. 

8 Be A Good Listener 

Good conversationalists start by being good listeners. Learning to listen well is key to human relationships.

If you take a genuine interest in people, ask them questions that show you are interested in them and listen carefully to their answers, they will enjoy speaking to you.

People are most interested in themselves, so their wants, and their problems. 

If you show genuine interest in them, you will be showing that you also think those things are important.  

 

Is This Ethical? 

As with many things, the answer is that it depends on your intentions. 

There is nothing wrong with wanting someone to like you so that things are easier and more fun for both of you. 

Friendship is a fundamental human need and part of civilisation. 

If you apply the principles above genuinely and are not trying to deceive or manipulate someone, then they absolutely aren’t creepy or unethical. 

If you apply them trying to make someone like you for a reason that isn’t in their interests, then there absolutely is an issue.   

 

Summary 

Winning other people over is an incredibly valuable skill in all aspects of life. 

This classic has some great advice, which we should probably all be using more often. 

Next time you are meeting someone new, pick one of the above and apply it. 

Afterwards, think about how the conversation went. 

I’m willing to bet it will go well. 

 

If you are interested in more book reviews you can see our other blog posts:

Influence: The Art of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

 

Image Credits: Pexels , Pexels , Pexels

 

What Is Gratitude?

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Charles Dickens

Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation.

Gratitude makes us able to recognise the positive aspects of our lives and be thankful for them. Positive psychology research shows that gratitude improves lives psychologically, socially, spiritually, and physically.

Gratitude is essential to building resilience. When life is hard, that is the best time to be grateful. Appreciating the positive sides of our daily life means that we don’t focus on just the bad.

Being grateful does not mean denying hardships. It just means that you continue to be conscious of the positive while acknowledging that you are also facing some challenges.

This positive attitude means that gratitude helps you become more resilient to life’s disappointments.

It also triggers our brains to be more focused on opportunities than threats and so helps to moderate stress.

Interestingly being gratitude is helpful but expressing gratitude out loud to others is even more beneficial.

Famous Believers In Gratitude

Let’s have a more detailed look at a couple of famous believes in gratitude.

Robert Emmons

Robert Emmons is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. His research focuses on the psychology of gratitude and joy as they relate to human flourishing.

He is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, where he has taught since 1988.  He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana‑Champaign.

He is the author of over 200 original publications in peer‑reviewed journals or chapters. He has written or edited eight books, including Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You and The Little Book of Gratitude. He is the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology.

In his book “Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” he suggests that you need to make gratitude an integral part of your daily life which will integrate opportunities to acknowledge the positive in your life into your day-to-day life.

Emmons has found that gratitude “can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide.”

Robert Emmons explains the what, why, and how of gratitude in these videos.

Tim Ferriss

Another famous believer in gratitude is Tim Ferriss. He is an author, investor, and podcaster. He is famous for his tips on productivity and efficiency.

In 2007, he published his book The Four-Hour Work Week. It was a great success. The book was featured on ‘The New York Times Best Seller list for 4 years and translated into 40 languages.

Ferriss then started his own podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. In his podcast, he interviews world-class performers and explores their routines and habits. He then tests other habits himself and shares the results with his audience.

He wrote Don’t Like Meditation? Try Gratitude Training about what he found when he tried gratitude.

His process to try gratitude in less than 10 minutes was to ask himself the following questions.

  • What am I truly grateful for in my life?
  • What relationships do I have that others don’t?
  • What do I take for granted?
  • What freedoms, unique abilities, and options do I have that others don’t?
  • What advantages have I been given in life?
  • Which allies and supporters have helped me to get to where I am?

 

Image source: Pexels

4 Benefits Of Gratitude

“Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.” – Steve Maraboli

Experiencing gratitude leads to positivity and a raft of other benefits:

  1. Emotional benefits:

Being grateful has wide-ranging beneficial effects on our emotional health.

Regularly practising gratitude will:

  • Increase optimism
  • Build resilience
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Decrease self-centeredness
  1. Social benefits:

Positive emotions resulting from being grateful make you more friendly and sociable. People who express appreciation have a wider social circle and better relationships.

Grateful people are more empathic and less aggressive. A study has confirmed that appreciation not only helps you get the social support you need to get through difficult times, but it lessens the need for social support in the first place.

  1. Career benefits:

Gratitude is helpful throughout your career. As an employee, it helps to make you better at managing stress and depression. As a manager, it makes you more likely to praise your team members and less impatient.

  1. Health benefits:

Gratitude also has positive effects on our physical health. It makes us healthier by

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Decreasing pain
  • Improving sleep
  • Increasing exercise frequency
  • Enhancing energy levels

 

Image source: Pexels

How Often Do I Need To Express Gratitude To Improve My Mental Health?

The more grateful you are the more you will enjoy the benefits of gratitude.

However, as with other habits, the usual rules apply:

  • It is best to walk before you try to run.

Start by practising once a week. Set aside time each week to write down the positive things that happened to you.

  • Consistency and quality are key.

You will feel the real benefits of gratitude if you can keep up your practice over a prolonged period of time and do the exercise carefully.

Rushing the process or not maintaining it will mean that you only enjoy a fraction of the benefits that you could have.

How Do I Start Expressing Gratitude?

Different people find that different methods of expressing gratitude suit them best. Let’s look at a few ways you could try.

  1. Journaling:

This is one of the most popular gratitude practices. It is simply to write down things you are grateful for daily. Revisiting this journal will remind you of all of the good things that you’ve benefited from. For more details on journaling see our new post on The Benefits Of Journaling.

  1. Give personalised gifts:

Taking the time to personalise a gift shows care and appreciation for someone else. It can be as simple as a handmade card.

  1. Make a gratitude jar:

Get a jar and small pieces of paper. Whenever something good happens, write it down and put the paper in the jar.

Over time, you will collect happy memories. When you are feeling down you then take a note from the jar to remind yourself of the good things that have happened.

  1. Say “Thank You”:

Make it a habit to thank your co-workers and colleagues directly when they help you with something.

Conclusion

Gratitude helps in building our resilience.

Appreciating what we have means that we don’t focus on the negative and can keep being positive.

We all have the ability to practice gratitude. We just need to look around and cherish what we have.

 

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” John Allen Paulos

Given that life is inherently uncertain, to thrive you need to learn to cope with uncertainty.

Dealing with uncertainty is a key part of learning to be more resilient and looking after your mental health.

What is Uncertainty?

Uncertainty is not knowing what will happen.

It doesn’t refer to situations where you know that there are a number of different outcomes, and often have a good idea of how likely each is – for example, tossing a coin.

It refers to situations where there are more unknowns and so you don’t even know what the outcomes might be. It describes a situation where you lack the knowledge to be confident assessing an outcome.

How Is Uncertainty Different To Risk?

Risk refers to future events that may or may not happen, some of which would lead to a negative outcome.

Risk is a potential loss that can often be predicted or estimated in advance.

Uncertainty, on the other hand, is when future events are completely unknown. It can not be measured or calculated.

Making decisions under conditions of high uncertainty is very difficult, and many people find it almost impossible.

Risk and uncertainty differ in the degree of control and predictability that you have.

Risk can be measured and controlled.

Uncertainty, on the other hand, can not. When the possible outcomes are not known in advance, it is impossible to estimate how likely they might be.

Tossing a fair coin and wanting to get heads is a good example of the difference between risk and uncertainty.

There is no uncertainty in this situation. You know that the odds of getting tails (bad) is 50:50. That is just the way that tossing a coin works.  You can’t know in advance if it will come up heads or tails, so there is a known risk of getting tails.

 

 

RISK UNCERTAINTY
Known variables Unknown variables
Can be measured Can not be measured
Decision making possible Decision making very difficult
Can be controlled Can’t be controlled

 

Risk Management

Given that risk can be predicted it can be managed. Risk management is the action organizations and

individuals take to deal with risks.

The key steps in risk management are:

1.      Identifying the risk: use research and available data to identify risks.

2.      Assessing the probability: risks need to be analyzed to determine their severity and the range of

their effect.

3.     Cost-benefit analysis: evaluate the negative and positive sides of your possible routes forward.

4.      Choosing a response: decide how to respond to the risk.

5.      Evaluating results: What are the effects of your decisions?

6.      Ongoing monitoring: keep monitoring risk events to encounter changing circumstances.

For a more comprehensive take on risk and uncertainty, you can check out this article.

 

How Does Uncertainty Affect Mental Health?

Your mental health, simply put, just refers to how you feel or your emotional state.

Do you generally feel positive, enthusiastic and happy? If so your mental health is good.

Do you generally feel anxious, negative and / or lethargic? If so then your mental health probably needs some work.

Uncertainty removes our ability to plan for the future. It makes us feel that we are unable to rely on experience to make new decisions.

This inability to make informed decisions can deeply impact our mental health. Intolerance to uncertainty is a hallmark of anxiety-type conditions.

Human beings want to be in control of their lives. When uncertainty rises above a certain range, people begin to feel increasingly as if they have lost control of their lives which can be frightening.

Our mind is not designed to keep us happy and comfortable. It is designed to keep us alive. This means that it is automatically spends a lot of forecasting, planning and ‘worrying’ about the future. If you take this away, then you mind will go into ‘fight or flight’ mode.

According to a study by the researcher R. Nicholas Carleton, intolerance of uncertainty refers to the difficulty in enduring not knowing. This intolerance can cause a range of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses.

Many people find that uncertainty can lead them to a vicous circle of worrying about the future, which makes them less likely to take action. This in turn makes them even more worried and anxious and so even less likely to take action.

They go round this cycle a number of times getting steadily more worried as time progresses.

Often this can be exacerbated by the impact that anxiety has on your sleep. Again this is a vicious cycle.

You are worried and so you sleep less well. Poor sleep has been shown to increase anxiety, and so you become more anxious as a result, which only serves to make the problem worse and worse.

This is backed up by research that suggests that the four biggest impacts of uncertainty are:

·        anxiety disorders

·        depression

·        eating disorders

·        sleep issues

 

Depression and anxiety disorders are also associated with a feeling of lack of agency and so reduce the likelihood that you will take action.

This is why learning how to deal with uncertainty is a key part of becoming resilient. Keeping moving forward is key.

How Do Resilient People Deal With Uncertainty?

Resilience is what helps us to thrive amidst difficult circumstances whether they are a set back (psychological, personal or professional) or just uncertainty.

Resilience is all about adaptability and flexibility in the face of adversity and stress. It is a skill that can be learned and practiced.

Characteristics of Resilient People

Resilient people respond to uncertainty and problems differently to more psychologically ‘fragile’ people.

There is lots of clinical evidence that they have lower levels of stress (see this article for more tips on managing stress) and focus more on the present moment in response to challenge.

They are

·        Self-aware

·        Realistic

·        Have self-control

·        Problem Solvers

·        Flexible

·        Empathetic

·        Confident

The 7 Ways Resilient People Deal with Uncertainty?

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is normal to feel you lack control over

many aspects of your life. Amidst this uncertainty, it is more important than

ever to learn about how resilient people deal with uncertainty.

Resilient people use their skills to deal with ambiguity without letting it affect

them. Here are the 7 ways resilient people use to bounce back in uncertain

times.

1.      Develop a sense of purpose

2.      Maintain a positive attitude

3.      Stay connected

4.      Focus on what you can control

5.      Embrace change

6.      Strengthen your self-management

7.      Be physically active

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.

1.      Develop a sense of purpose:

With the disruption in our daily activities resulting from the current situation of COVID-19, developing a sense of purpose will keep our thoughts in the present moment rather than spinning off worrying about what might be.

Having a purpose helps you even when things go wrong. A sense of purpose allows you to put unfavorable events, like sickness or accidents, in perspective, refocus on the meaningful things to you, and move ahead and enjoy life.

2.      Maintain a positive attitude:

Positive attitudes can not always change the outcomes of events, but they increase your resilience. Having a positive attitude means being able to view adverse events as only temporary setbacks.

Optimism and hopeful thinking are characteristics of resilient people. They see a chance for improvement in every stressful situation.

Resilient people find an opportunity in every difficulty. That is how they thrive and bounce back.

3.      Stay connected:

Human beings are social creatures. We rely on cooperation to survive in life.

Social distancing makes this desire for connection more challenging but not impossible. Virtual platforms are beneficial in the current circumstances to stay connected with our loved ones.

Asking for help and offering help to others can both boost your resilience.

4.      Focus on what you can control:

Resilient people are aware of how they feel, think, and respond in different situations. They realize what they can control and do not focus on what is out of their control.

Setting small daily goals, such as daily exercise, helps you stay grounded and more focused. As Laura Knouse, associate professor of psychology at the University of Richmond, says, “Goals and activities that generate a sense of accomplishment, mastery, difference-making, or positive emotions such as joy are especially good choices, but it can still feel good to accomplish even seemingly mundane tasks.”

5.      Embrace change:

“The only constant in life is change” Heraclitus.

We face change every day. There will always be change. Accepting change and tolerating its disrupting effects is what resilient people do.

We resist change because we are addicted to our habits. We fear to change our habits because of uncertainty, but life is all about embracing change and fighting uncertainty.

Change is a positive development that has several benefits.

The most important of which are

·        Personal growth

·        New business opportunities

·        Flexibility

·        Innovation

6.       Strengthen your self-management:

Knowing your strong points and weaknesses is a characteristic of resilience.

Work-life balance and effective time management techniques prevent burnout, which is a source of pressure for many individuals.

Resilient people accept responsibility for their actions. They are the managers of their own life.

7.      Be physically active:

Exercise boosts resilience.

Physical activity positively affects blood circulation and reduces several health risks.

It also improves memory, mood, and sleep routine.

A daily exercise routine, especially in times of uncertainty can be a great way to stay resilient.

 

Building resilience is not just about bouncing back and getting on your feet after

falling, it is about being more equipped with these ways in the face of difficult

situations. Resilient people are prepared for challenges and uncertainties.

Conclusion

Resilient people are aware of uncertainties in their lives, their emotional reactions to them, and their mental health effects.

They realize the importance of maintaining their mental health in the face of changes and challenges.

Resilience helps us control our responses to distressful situations resulting from uncertainty by being open, flexible, and willing to adapt to change.

Yes dealing with uncertainty is difficult and scary but with the right approach, it can be overcome.