How important is self-awareness?

Having researched ‘how to change behaviour in 3-months’ as the basis for an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural change, I was surprised to note that 70% of my coachees lacked self-awareness i.e. low to very low.

This was confirmed by an HBR article which states than between 85 and 90% of individuals they surveyed lacked self-awareness.

Self-awareness is at the foundation of emotional intelligence; without it, it becomes hard to develop meaningful (business) relationships and since building relationships are vital for business growth, it’s a skill that shouldn’t be underestimated.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that emotional intelligence can be learned. Psychometrics and Emotional Intelligence models are invaluable to help you understand what can help and hinder you in business, and coaching, can be valuable to unlearn bad habits.

Contact me if you would like to find out more.

How do you compare?

Seeing the attached picture, prompted me to write again. I hope it presents you with some food for thought and some reflection.

As a child, my parents penciled how tall I was growing on a doorpost in our hallway. My growth was never compared to that of my brother. As I grew older, way too often, I found myself comparing myself to my colleagues, my friends or even celebrities. I wanted to be slimmer, wealthier or achieve the success that others had. I may even have pointed an imaginary finger at a colleague who had worked really hard to receive a promotion and I pondered why my colleague had received it and I had not.

Everyone has a different pace, different priorities, different challenges and different things that they are willing to compromise throughout their lives. Before comparing yourself to someone else, remember that when you point your index finger at someone, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you. I’ve come to realize that when I look at someone who has achieved success, that I may only be seeing the result of that success. The diet and early morning rises to exercise; the scrimping and saving to purchase the larger home; the stretch assignments, late night calls and weekends at work; all go unseen.

I’ve learned to be happy for the achievements of others and to be ecstatically happy with what I have achieved myself because as the old adage goes, ‘you reap what you sow’, and all that I have accomplished is what I have been willing to commit to; what I have been willing to sacrifice and the work that I have done.

So, next time you find yourself comparing your own efforts to someone else, you may want to stop yourself and reflect.

Helen Martin is a coach and trainer based in London.

Measuring up

7-steps to manage a difficult conversation

Whether you need to have a discussion with your manager or give advice to a friend, just the thought of some conversations may leave you feeling anxious and you may decide to avoid the subject altogether. Today, I’d like to share with you, a fairly simple 7-step method to manage difficult conversations.

Please consider the following:
A. What do you want to achieve by the end of the conversation for yourself and for the other party?

B. What do you really want? What are your feelings telling you about what you really want?

C. Why would smart, well-intentioned people be behaving in the way that they have been? Develop 3 hypotheses (use respect, empathy and curiosity).

Use the following 7 steps to structure the conversation. I have also included a completed example below:

Step 1. Name the issue. Give a neutral and concise description of the issue.

Step 2. Clarity – give a specific example of the issue.

(At this stage, you may need to break eye contact to stop the person interrupting you. If they still interrupt you, ask if they would kindly let you finish what you would like to say).

Step 3. State calmly how you feel about the issue. I feel ‘disappointed, annoyed, sad…..’ If you can substitute ‘I feel….’ with ‘I am…..’ you’re on the right track as this will prove that it’s a feeling.

Step 4. State why it matters…..’This matters because…’

Step 5.  Identify your own contribution to the problem.

Step 6. Reassure that you want to work with the person to resolve the issue.

Step 7. End with an open question.

Follow the steps and write down an issue of your own; then practice on someone as you may still need to work on your tone of voice and/or body language to achieve the best result.

Example:  Your statement should take under 60 seconds.

1. I would like to talk to you about the job application process in our company,

2. for example, the ‘senior’ position that was recently posted to the intranet.

3. I feel disappointed that this new position was posted without anyone in the department knowing that the job existed.

4. This matters because I would have liked to have applied for the position and the current way of doing things is perceived as unfair.

5. I understand that it’s my responsibility to manage my own career and therefore to keep an eye on job postings,

6. I would be happy to help build a new process so that everyone who is interested in new opportunities has a fair chance to apply.

7. What’s your take on this?

It may take a few test runs, to become comfortable with this process, but it’s one that has been found to work well.

Good luck!

Helen Martin is a coach and trainer and is based in London.

Managing yourself through Change

Some of my friends tell me that I am brave because I am not afraid of change, while others think I am crazy and that I take unnecessary risks; I would like to challenge them all.

Change is not comfortable; in fact it’s scary! But what’s scarier: Having the carpet pulled out from underneath you because you would rather ignore change; or, having your own plan in place, irrespective of what the world throws at you?

As a leadership coach, I have met many people who have become paralysed by change, even if they knew it was coming: from, company reorganisations in which they have been made redundant, divorce, to promotions, etc. Change paralyses! Or does it? What if you always had a plan?

Acting like the victim in ‘Karpman’s drama triangle‘, blaming the establishment, government, schools, your partner, your family, your manager, etc. for all of your woes, won’t make your problems go away. When you point your index finger at the world, there are three fingers on your hand pointing right back at YOU. Is there something YOU could have done to avoid a situation? And more importantly, how do you ensure that you take control in future?

Are you happy with your job? Is your organisation happy with you? Where do you see yourself in a few years? How would you need to develop yourself to get there? What are you doing to remain true to yourself? How can you ensure that you are always one step ahead? What’s your Plan B?

Don’t wait to be unpleasantly surprised and for change to happen to you. Be part of the change. But before you start, ask yourself how committed you are. If you want to lose weight: how committed are you to going to the gym, eating less and moving more? Work towards your own ideal future and towards your own goal, irrespective of what other people expect you to do.

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought and quiet reflection. Change need not be scary if you are following your own plan. I will close with a few words from someone much wiser than I am, “We, but mirror the world. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” – Mahatma Gandhi. Life changes are inevitable but when we initiate personal change, we rise to the challenge, ensuring a more positive result.

Helen Martin is a coach and trainer and is based in London.