Regretting The Words Left Unspoken


Remember that special person you never told how you really felt? Of course you do because after all this time you just can’t get them out of your head for very long. You wish now you could go back and tell them how much they had an impact on you, how much you loved them perhaps, and you wonder if/how things might have worked out differently if you had.

It’s wondering, ‘what if’ that tantalizes; because it ignites possibilities of what might have happened had shared your thoughts openly. Ah, but you were scared, nervous and afraid of blurting something out you’d come to later regret. Ironically, after all these years, here you are now regretting the words you left unspoken.

It’s very much like that in other situations too; although the people we neglect to say what’s on our mind to aren’t just potential sweethearts. No, sometimes we find we lose job opportunities to others and later wish we had said a few more things at the job interview. This is often especially the case if we sincerely wanted a job bad. It would have been perfect and you have wanted a job like that in a long time, so when the news came that they went with someone else, it hit like a truck. If only you had said what you were feeling, things might have worked out differently.

Or perhaps there was someone you really valued in your past; that person who made a big impact on you. Perhaps it was their influence that set you on the path you later took or are taking now. A teacher, a father or mother, a mentor or some person who inspired you to think differently, perceive things in a new light. You never said how much you appreciated them and now their gone. Whether they passed on, moved away, have dementia and don’t recognize you, or you moved away yourself, the opportunity to tell them how you feel is lost.

Now the only thing worse would be finding yourself in this situation here in the present. You know, feeling so strongly about someone you see in the here and now daily, but feeling timid, awkward, embarrassed or anxious about sharing how you feel. You’re so worried about ruining things or spoiling your chances that you go on being around them in silence. You wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just open my mouth, pour out how I feel? Tell them?” Of course in your mind you worry about creating a wide divide, making things weird, learning that your feelings aren’t reciprocated and as long as you don’t do anything…you’ll at least have what you have now – which is something.

Opportunities to step up and voice your true feelings pop up every day; but not forever. Take your work environment. You really value the support of a co-worker; they’ve passed on knowledge to you, covered for you when you weren’t at your best, listened to you share your frustrations, applauded your accomplishments and even motivated you when you needed it. There they are beside you every day, and having a real heart-to-heart with genuine sincerity, telling them how much they mean to you sounds both the right thing to do but maybe the weird thing to do.

Really though, what’s so weird? How long have you worked together? All those years and the hours you’ve spent in each other’s company? Why should it be weird to shut the door and say, “Hey listen, I want to tell you how much you mean to me, and I’m being serious.” You’ll likely catch them off guard, and they might use humour to deflect their real feelings, but they’ll likely also be grateful. What they feel in any event is up to them. You’ll feel better knowing you expressed your feelings and took that chance instead of regretting saying nothing. Then they retire, take another job, move or have an unexpected long-term medical leave etc. and you lose touch; opportunity lost.

I mentioned the job interview earlier. How many times have you walked out of an interview and suddenly said in your mind, “Oh, why didn’t I just say _____?Should I walk back in? Should I follow-up with an email or phone call? I really want that job! I’d LOVE working there so why did I find it so hard to tell them how bad I really want it!

Sometimes its convention and decorum that gets in the way. It seems somehow inappropriate to tell someone how we really feel. On the other hand we also hear that employers want people who are passionate about the work they do. So when you do find something you’re passionate about; a job or company you’re sincerely excited to work for and will invest yourself with fully, why not just open your mouth and express that.

Just like that mentor, potential love interest, teacher, co-worker etc., you’ve got a limited window to risk expressing how you feel. They won’t stick around forever, and the time will never be any better than it is now – today. If you’ve waited for a sign, this is it.

Look, hearing someone tell you how much they appreciate your support, your love, your encouragement, the opportunity to work with them etc.; it’s all good. We need to get better at telling others just how much they mean to us. Few things are better.

 

When Sharing A Skill


Whether you’re a newbie or a long-time, seasoned veteran, you could be guilty of making a rookie mistake; sharing a skill and assuming the other person can do it without actually observing them try it on their own.

Now it’s not that you’re smarter than the people you’re sharing what you know with. No, it’s more than that. It’s that you’ve had practice over time and have come to master or improve what you once found new and they haven’t. If you make the assumption that someone who is nodding their head in the affirmative can do for themselves what you are instructing them on, you’ll be surprised to find they often can’t. The danger here is that when you do discover they can’t perform up to your – or their – expectations, you might actually even set them back further than when you started, as they wrestle with a drop in self-esteem and question their abilities.

Case in point, the dreaded resume. I know, I know, why that! Ah but it’s true my readers. Yes, as an Employment Counsellor I help many people daily and one of the most common things I’m passing on to those I help is how to craft a winning resume. This is something many people think is pretty simple to put together; they believe anybody can make one. On the one hand, this belief is absolutely true; however, not many can make an effective one, and that’s the difference. I regularly see people genuinely show they understand the suggestions I’m passing on, and most importantly, the reason behind those suggestions. Yet, if they sit down on their own to implement those ideas and suggestions, there’s often a gulf between what they understand and what they produce.

So may I suggest that when passing on a skill, do more than just tell someone how. Perhaps for the auditory learner; those who just need to be told how to do something, this might work. However, the majority of learners I’ve found need to not only hear what you’re passing on, they need to also see it done and then have the opportunity to try it themselves under some watchful guidance.

Again, it’s not that the learner is inferior to the teacher but rather, the teacher has had more experience learning a new skill, practicing it repeatedly and mastering the subject. A new learner has neither the practice doing what you’re passing on, or the time to have mastered what you impart.

A trap you also want to avoid is feeling somewhat smug about your superior knowledge in whatever you’re teaching and then making the leap to feeling superior as a person overall. Whomever you’re sharing your skill with is without question the expert in other areas; certainly better skilled say in what they do for a living than you are at the moment. So a trained and experienced Office Administrative professional might not be able to market themselves in a résumé as well as you, but they may well have superior knowledge about keyboarding skills, shortcut keys, use of tabs etc.. if you’ve never had formal training in Office Administration and everything you know on a keyboard has been self-taught, they just might be able to share a few things with you!

As I say, the majority of people I’ve come into contact with as an Employment Counsellor, Trainer and Facilitator learn best by being given the opportunity to practice newly learned skills. A tremendously good thing to do during this learning period is to give encouragement and recognize the skill development so watch your words. If they hold you in high esteem and value your opinion, they’ll be greatly influenced by both your praise and your corrective criticism.

I have found that taking a few minutes while sharing what I know, to learn something from those I’m working with does us both a lot of good. First of all, I learn and appreciate what this person can do; a little insight into a job perhaps that I only have a basic understanding of. More importantly by far however, the person I’m helping feels good that I’m both interested enough to want to know, and they experience some measure of improved self-worth in knowing what I do not. We are after all, two people with skills in different areas, both having strengths and areas to improve upon. We just happen to be in a situation where my strengths are being showcased and drawn upon. This however, doesn’t make me better overall, or in any way superior.

It is also of critical importance to recognize just how much a person can take in during your time together. If you’re working together for 2 or 3 weeks, you can pass on much more than telling them everything you’d like them to know when you’ve only got 30 minutes together. Your expectations of what you can share and what they can grasp and retain must adjust to the circumstances.

So share what you know while checking both the learners comprehension and ability to do for themselves what you’re sharing. Share to the ability of the learner in a partnership model; working together to pass on a skill or series of skills and not the model where one is the, “Wise One” and the other an empty vessel to be instructed. See if this makes a difference.

Share A Favourite Online Resource


The internet is full of YouTube video’s, TedTalks, famous quotes, personal blogs, satirical cartoons, animated shorts, etc. And themes? Think and search for a theme and you’re highly likely to come across all kinds of resources on that subject. So, what single online resource is your personal favourite and why?

Perhaps you favour an inspirational video showcasing someone who has and continues to overcome tremendous personal challenges. Is it a funny clip that brings more than just a smile to your face no matter how many times you see it? Conversely, is it a real tear-jerker; one that has you getting the tissues ready now before you dare watch it for the 50th time?

It would be valuable to know in addition to why you love it so, how you make use of this item. If in your professional capacity you include it in your presentations, what kind of audience do you introduce it to and how? What’s the response like from your audiences? Is it included in some larger presentation of yours on a speaking tour, a workshop, best used when working one-on-one with people and if so, in what capacity are you working with them?

By sharing this one resource with me in the comments section, you and I could be part of a long string of people having a shared experience. The contribution you make by sharing a single resource could result in not only sharing that one item with others, but you in return might realize a gift of many more. No guarantee of course, but the awesome thing about sharing just one resource this way is that it takes up little of your time to copy and paste a URL with a brief explanation, and someone on the other side of our beautiful planet might in turn love it as much as you.

To get things rolling, here’s something for you from me. This is a link to a video clip but you could also search, “World’s toughest job” on your favourite search engine and click on video’s to find it.

http://bit.ly/ourworldstoughestjob

The reason I find myself liking this one so much is because in many of the career direction and employment workshops I lead, there is a least one if not a few women in the group who feel underqualified. They live and breathe low self-esteem because they made a choice to stay home and raise children in the past and are coming to job searching later in the game. When they hear others in the room speak of the many jobs they’ve had or the many years they’ve had in a job or two, they come across as apologetic when they say they have ‘just’ been a mom.

This video is one that then comes to mind. The clip is about creating a fake job but then holding real interviews with both men and women. As the applicants learn of the job responsibilities and expectations of them, they become increasingly shocked at how much is demanded of them in this job. When they learn the job will pay exactly zero, they are incredulous, one going on record saying that no one would do this, another saying it’s cruel and inhumane. Only at this point does the interviewer say that millions of people are doing this job every day and then reveals it’s being done by moms.

Now the impact on those in the group is typically that the women who were saying they are, “just” moms, now see themselves through a different lens. They feel better and many in the group think of not only themselves but their own moms. Often there’s a few with wet eyes in the group as they recall their own moms.

Now it doesn’t always have a universally wonderful feel for everyone in the room. Maybe someone who is adopted and never knew their mom or who had a rough upbringing wouldn’t respond positively. However, there is a shift in the room when I show it; with more respect for the moms in the room from those who might have felt superior with years of employment to draw on behind them.

So there’s a contribution for you to check out and see for yourself. What would you like to add? I’d rather you felt generous and give out of a wish to share than feel in any way compelled to reciprocate. I know a lot of you out there have a very deep reservoir of media clips, cartoons, quotes, TedTalks, infographics, images, comics, etc. Sure would be fantastic if you’d take the time to share just one of these gems.

For this is what the internet is really all about isn’t it? Sharing. When you search for some article or resource, you’re really tapping into someone else’s creation. They put it out there for anyone to view and benefit from. Maybe you’re a creative sort and you’ve made a masterpiece of your very own for all I know. Sharing whatever you wish here with me by way of your reply would be most appreciated!

This is one way we improve, grow, stay fresh, learn and educate not only ourselves but others. So educate me and your fellow readers.

By the way, this blog falls on my birthday, June 13; so my birthday request is one of the best kinds of gifts where we can all receive in the end!

A Valuable Workplace Activity


Passing on ideas to each other in the workplace is a pretty easy activity that accelerates learning and does so quickly and at relatively low-cost. The fact that its quick is important because reducing time increases savings, and if others already know information you’d have to hunt down, it can make you more productive in the short as well as long-term.

Over the next week one of my fellow employees and I are co-facilitating a workshop on building a virtual tool box. What’s in the toolbox? Cartoons, quotes, videos, articles, Prezi’s, speeches, lectures and more. Facilitating the process of collaboratively building our toolbox is the method we chose to go about it, and not presuming to be the only experts in the room and sharing only what we know.

By way of example, here is what we’re doing. We’re bringing together hosting 6 groups of about 20 staff each who hold various job titles; seating no more than 5 people at a table. On each table we have a laptop with internet access and MS Word. If you haven’t got access to Word, you don’t need it specifically; but you’ll need some word processing program to copy and paste to that will allow everyone to save their work on.

The first thing you should know is that we’re gathering these people together for in our case, an hour and fifteen minutes. While the time could be longer, its sufficient time for people to get into what we’re talking about and then end the session while interest is still peaking. The last thing you’d want I imagine is to drag out an exercise to the point where the audience is bored, ready to move on but the facilitators don’t seem to be in sync and what was fun and new turns into something akin to tooth extraction; painful.

First the two of us introduced the idea of the virtual tool box which one can carry wherever there’s internet access and computer availability. Carry a phone around with you and it could work, but ideally we’re talking laptop, desktop, large fixed monitors or I suppose tablets etc. In other words, large enough a group of people could see a screen without too much straining around a tiny screen.

In our presentation, we shared the idea of what we were doing and that in the end there would be a real tangible benefit for each participant. Each person receives no handouts during the presentation, but will in the end get the total of everything the 6 groups produces. Think of that; in our case we have six groups of 20 people – so 120 people’s collaborative work produced in a unified document and available to all. If 2 heads are better than 1, imagine the impact and value of having 120 people come together! Not bad considering everyone is contributing just over 1 hour of their time.

We begin with inviting each group to think of an audience in their workplace; will it be their colleagues at a team meeting where they are making a presentation, a client group, customers, maybe a management team. Wherever you work, think of those you might come into contact with; don’t neglect to think of yourself too. After all, you can benefit from watching a video, being drawn to a quote, finding meaning and relevance in a speech, being motivated by someone’s story etc. as much as anyone else.

Now once those at the table agreed on a potential audience for this exercise, (giving each group 30 seconds to decide on one), everyone is ready for the next stage; thinking about what you’d like to share with that target. So are you looking to motivate, help them problem solve, dress appropriately, work better together, understand a concept, aspire to consider possibilities etc.?

With your audience and what you want to communicate with in mind, each group is then turned loose on a single laptop on their table to explore the internet and find things having to do with what they want to share with the audience they selected. Maybe they find a TedTalk, an image with a quote, a cartoon or still image that is the inspiration for a conversation; anything that will spark dialogue, start a conversation and help deliver a point.

Now the MS Word document I referred to near the beginning is really for each group to copy and paste the URL’s into; noting the subject of the link as well. At the end of the hour and 15 minutes, each group may have 3 – 10 links which they’ve found, settled on and saved in the document. With 6 groups of people contributing, we could well end up with 18 – 60 links to ultimately share to the collective participants in the coming days after the last group participates.

We are encouraging each person upon receipt of this to spend some time opening up the links to see what’s there. Some will speak directly to them and they’ll find them helpful, while others won’t strike a chord. The ones that are helpful would be good to save in their personal, ‘Favourites’ on the internet. Why? These can then be accessed when wanted and quickly, grouped by topic in folders.

Now they have tools to use for the next team meeting, their own training events, working 1:1 with a client or customer, participant or a management group.

Feel free to copy our example, change it for your own workplace. Shared knowledge is a good thing.

What You Silently Deal With


If you’re in any one the helping professions you probably have advised those you support to be open with you and share whatever issue(s) they are dealing with. It only makes sense you figure; after all, know what they are dealing with and you can best respond to their needs. Why then I wonder, if this such wise advice, do you and I not then reveal to others that which we are silently dealing with?

All kinds of things come to mind; embarrassment, shame, pride, fear of isolation, rejection,  bullying, teasing etc.; take your pick. Of course what you’re dealing with and the environment you are in and the people you might share your personal issues with largely determines how you may or may not proceed.

If you’re dealing with depression for example, you might find yourself going out of your way to be perceived as, ‘up’, friendly, funny and nice to be around. Could be that your circle of friends or co-workers would be surprised to find out you’re depressed and taking medication to stay on the even keel. They mind say, “What you? Depressed? No way. Really? Wow, I’d never have guessed.” While that might be nice, it doesn’t really help you other than to know you’re masking things well and fooling those around you. Is fooling others though what you really want to do?

What if it’s not depression though? You might instead have a criminal record you’re doing your best to keep from being made public. Depending on what it’s all about, you might even worry that it would cost you your current job if it came out publicly. You’re carrying that load and walking around each day hoping it doesn’t catch up with you.

These are the kind of things that affect us in two ways; in and of themselves they impact us and secondly we stress about the impact disclosure would bring upon us. Ironically, you might feel the very fact that it’s your personal secret makes talking about it with someone – anyone – impossible to do as you’ll fret over that person intentionally or accidentally revealing what you want kept private. But if you could tell someone, well, that alone would in another sense be a tremendous relief.

I bet we’d all be surprised and in some cases downright shocked if all the people we met as we go through our days wore visible labels; identifying their demons, secrets and health concerns. While it would be revealing to see what others are really dealing with on a day-to-day basis, how eager or comfortable would you be exposing your own label(s)?

I wonder if it would eventually get to be a non-factor in time if everyone publically advertised their issues? You know, you walk around and in the beginning you’re fascinated and appalled, shocked and surprised. However would we ever get to the point where we’d just say, “Oh yeah…” and think nothing of those labels because they become so commonplace? I imagine we’d rather everyone else publically display their issues and then eventually we might give it a go and reveal some but probably not all of our own issues.

Imagine as an exercise you sat in a group and everyone went up to a table and picked up a number of post-it notes, each with a problem, issue, disease, secret or mental health condition on it. Then these were affixed to the persons top so everyone could see. Imagine too that everyone was free to pick up something they don’t deal with or they could pick up exactly what they are dealing with at the same time; as no one would actually know if the issue was something they lived with or were just picking up for the exercise. Say for the next hour, people just milled around and talked, asked questions, told others how they think they’d feel but said it as if they actually had that ‘thing’ and pretended it was real.

How would you feel if you had a criminal record for real or dealt with depression and you were asked point-blank, “So why did you do it?” or “How do you cope with depression and what’s a bad day look like?” Would you tell the truth or make something up? Would it be a relief to say out loud how you feel knowing that the other person wouldn’t really know if you were being honest with them or taking your best guess as to what that would feel like?

What I’d also think we’d find interesting is to hear someone else wearing a label that we actually deal with talk about it in their words. Would they be accurate or far off the mark? Would it make us feel relieved to be having conversations about our issues in this manner? Would it help or hinder our ability to then have conversations with others when the exercise was over? Hmm….

Whatever you’re dealing with, it’s not like you’re the only one carrying that issue and living with it everyday. Sometimes we can find support and strength from sharing with others who then find the courage themselves to open up.

If you’re not ready to share your personal challenges, that’s okay. When the time comes you’ll recognize the opportunity before you and will have to decide to do so or not. Be it a friend, a best friend or a total stranger, I hope you do.

Some Words To Work By


Having worked in the field of Social Services for many years, I can acknowledge quite openly that the way I think and interact with my clients and co-workers has changed over the years. Call it maturity, wisdom, experience, even trial and error, but I like to think it’s a sign of growth and continuous understanding. Many have guided me along.

And so, I would like to pass on some thoughts and advice to anyone interested; whether you are a client, a customer, a seasoned professional or just launching your career, I hope you’d agree that sharing such information might prove a good read and useful. Take what you will, leave the rest, add your own as you choose.

Listen attentively in order to determine exactly where your clients are in this moment.

Don’t assume the goals you’d have in someone else’s place will be theirs.

Be forgiving of those who fall short. Find the positives in what they did and start anew.

Surround yourself with positive people whenever you can; you’ll be happier.

Trust in your Supervisor when you’re asked to. Leave things with them.

Be observant, learn from everyone. Your teacher might be a client with a problem.

Build a personal code of ethics and follow your moral compass. It always points North.

Share what you can with those at any and all levels who are open to learning.

You’re skimming without reflecting. Pause, reflect, consider.

Make sure you only hit, “Reply All” when it’s appropriate.

If you are in a position of influence, do so with the best of others in mind.

Do your best whether you run a corporation or dig ditches. Take pride in your work.

If the job isn’t for you, get out without regret over money or benefits. Save yourself.

Hope is sometimes all people have; you may in their eyes be that Hope. Think on that.

Be consistent with your answers and your actions. That’s your reputation growing.

Work productively when no one is watching and a lesser you could get away with it.

Be a person of integrity; you’ll come to admire the person you see in the mirror.

Humour can lighten many a stressful situation.

Smiles cost nothing to give and often have the power to appear on others when given.

Be a Superhero and discover your super power.

Offer to help a co-worker when you can, learn to ask for help when you should.

If you’re lowest on the hierarchy, you influence the people who matter the most.

Dress yourself not for your current job, but for the job you eventually want.

Be kindest to the people who are most affected by the quality of your work.

Even when you are at the top of an organization, you needn’t look down at people.

Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.

Being asked for help is acknowledgement of your ability to provide it.

Do what’s right; always.

Be punctual at all times which respects the time of others.

Apologize when you make a mistake. It takes two words; “I’m sorry.” Done.

When you say, “Good morning”, mean it.

If you ask someone, “How are you today?” wait for the answer.

No matter how much you know, you’ll never know it all; keep learning anyhow.

Every now and then, stretch yourself and try something challenging.

Get out into the sun and clear your head. Breathe in some good air. Repeat.

Every so often, “No” is the word you are looking for.

There’s always a way to say, “Yes”. “Is there the will?” is the question.

Re-read your job description at least once a year. Surprise yourself.

Thank the person with a note who cleans your office. Surprise them.

Be considerate of others who share your workspace.

Others have to find their way just as you did. Let them make small mistakes.

People are counting on you; don’t let yourself down.

Be proud of the scars. You survived whatever assaulted you.

Get help before things completely fall apart. Know your limit.

Kind words build good working relationships.

Be someone to look up to even when you’re at the bottom.

Market yourself, promote your skills and abilities.

Your next job interview has already begun. Someone is always watching.

Get over yourself; others can replace you and maybe do things better.

On your very first day, think what they’ll say about you when you retire.

Know when it’s time to move on and have the courage to leap.

Even in bad times, see the bigger picture.

Every so often, get up and watch the day break over you.

There is usually at least one other solution than the one that you know.

People are entitled to hold their own opinion.

As you age, realize things aren’t black and white, right and wrong.

You can make a difference, and it always starts between the ears.

I certainly don’t mean to come across as a philosopher or a preacher. The ideas and thoughts above are just this mornings thoughts passed on for you to take in, think about, possibly act on or share.

You I’m sure have your own intelligence, wisdom, advice and suggestions which are also valuable. And so, I would encourage you to pass that on to your clients, your peers and me. There is much to be said for learning things on your own, trial and error etc., but advice offered is a valued gift.