Are You Listening?

Active listening has been a hot topic lately. Research shows, we only capture about 25% of what people are saying. As everyone gets busier and more stressed out, we have a tendency to be less present in conversations or want to react.  Below are some helpful tools to help us all be better listeners and be more present in conversations….even if we may not agree with the information we are hearing.
Five Tips’s for Active Listening:

1. Pay Attention
Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly. Texting indicates otherwise. 

  • Look at the speaker directly.
  • Put aside distracting thoughts. (Breathe)
  • Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
  • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.

2. Show That You’re Listening – Be attentive

Body language and gestures convey your attention, make them feel comfortable. 

  • *Nod occasionally.
  • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.
  • Leave your cell phone at your desk or in your bag.
*Some schools of thought feel differently, and suggest not being expressive as a way to be present and nonjudgmental – I tend to think a combination of the two is effective.
3. Provide Feedback

Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions. Breathe through it even if you don’t agree, wait until the person finishes what they are saying. (See #4 and #5)

  • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is,” and “Sounds like you are saying,” are great ways to reflect back.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say.” “Is this what you mean?”
  • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.
  • This is a self check to ensure you’ve understood the information as well.

4. Ditch the Judgment

Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message. By not interrupting, you’ll be able to gain more information.

  • Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
  • Don’t interrupt with counter arguments, this is distracting for everyone in the room and disrespectful to the presenter.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions.

5. Respond Respectfully

Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. Attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down add’s nothing (it makes the attacker look like a jerk if anything). 

  • Assert your opinions respectfully.
  • Be open, and honest in your response.
  • Treat the other person in a way that you think he or she would want to be treated.
(Source: mindtools.com)
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Updating Your Resume + Why it’s Important

A colleague and I recently started a women’s networking group. After searching out ways to network and really coming up with nothing, we took matters into our own hands and created our own group. So far we’ve had two meetings and they’ve been a hit. We’re looking forward to hosting more, which is really exciting. So for our last meeting we discussed why it’s important to keep our resumes and bios updated.

The majority of us at the meeting happened to wrap up annual review season, some members of the group were entrepreneurs and some were creatives. In what ever form your resume is – we decided if you’re working for a company, even if you’re not looking for a job, the best time to update your resume is around review time. Your resume is your selling point, it is meant to highlight your skills and accomplishments. Your annual review is a summary highlighting your skills and accomplishments throughout the year, so it makes sense to copy the information from your review on to your resume, because you’ve already done the work. Who doesn’t like saving time?

For those of you who are self-employed, it’s equally as important to update your bio. As one member of our group pointed out, you may need to submit a bio to attend a conference. What if you don’t have a bio? Or your bio is 5 years old and you need a current one? Obviously you didn’t go into business to write bios, but you’re skill is your money maker. For business owners, take a look at your bio, update it based on any new skills, achievements, awards, or continuing education that may happen over the course of a year.

Creative types have resumes highlighting their technical skills and education, but the proof is in your work. Portfolios are digital and technology is changing, fast. Your artistic talents are your money maker. Before updating that reel, portfolio or deck, make sure the work you add to it gets clearance from your boss or clients — much of creative work is under NDA, or rights are owned by the company. You don’t want to get yourself into legal hot water, so do your research first. And always give credit, where credit is due.

Doing all this is a total pain, right? Ugh! Who want’s to come home after a long day, and update this stuff? No one. The idea is, to chip away at it little by little. Even if it’s a few sentences here and there, or a small edit to your reel. Every little bit helps. Another key take away is making sure you’re in a good head space. It sucks having to update your resume when you’re spent, pissed off and have one foot out the door from a job that you’re ready to leave.

Alternatively, if you’re not big on updates or writing, or have a hard time selling yourself; hire a resume writer. A good one is worth the money and they have a way of using language that can really sell a person. Bio’s, resume’s and reels are ways to show off your talents, your skills and how amazing you are. As one person in our networking group said, “if you’re resume isn’t current, you might be missing out on jobs you’re not even looking for.”

I’ve done a fair amount of recruiting and scanning resumes and there are a few things that stood out to me, which are I think are important to share:

  1. Less is best. That busy header, with the headshot and cool infographics on your resume, takes up valuable real estate on your resume. The infographics are great, but it’s a canned template and the person scanning your resume wants to see your talents.
  2. Presentation is everything, font’s should be in order of priority and don’t use more than 2 fonts and 3 sizes / formats. Otherwise it’s busy.
  3. Larger companies have resume scanners, so submit your resume in Word and make sure there isn’t fancy formatting happening, other wise the scanner won’t pick up your resume.
  4. Proof read, proof read, proof read. Have someone you trust review your resume.
  5. Always, submit a cover letter. Even if it’s a few sentences, which is even better. When you’re reviewing 200+ resumes, a couple of paragraphs get glossed over.
  6. Explain gaps, career changes, job hopping in your cover letter, do it in a few sentences but remember, it’s all in how you spin it.
  7. It’s okay to have a 2-page resume. If you’ve been working at a job for awhile and got promoted through the years, or have some technical experience — it’s fine. If you’re just starting out though, keep it to one page.
  8. Everyone says this: use key words. What are key words?? I’m not really sure, but I’m thinking they are simple words related to what you do.
  9. If you are applying for jobs, make sure to tailor it to the job, you don’t have to spend a ton of time doing this, but your resume and cover letter will stand out. It’s really obvious when a resume hasn’t been tailored.
  10. If you are updating your bio, make sure you have a great headshot to go with it. My bio is obviously lacking one 🙂 Do as I say, not as I do, right?

Breathe, this can be overwhelming, but try to keep it as simple as possible. When all else fails, use the internet for inspiration. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

 

 

Easy 5th Chakra Meditation for Communication

IMG_3641Located at our throat, the 5th chakra is our communication center. We communicate all the time, whether it be verbally, via e-mail, text, phone – you name it. Since we are always communicating, we need to nurture the throat chakra. The color associated with the throat chakra is blue – a soothing, cool blue. Blue is associated with heaven and the divine. Blue has a calming, healing, peaceful effect and reminds us to slow down and take a step back.

We’re so busy and constantly being filled with information overload as a result, we’re always doing, communicating, striving– when we think of blue, let it trigger you to slooooooooow down and take a step back. Before we get sick, we feel it in our throat, which is the first sign self-care is needed. We often keep pushing ourselves, because the demands we’ve put on ourselves require us to do so. We end up getting more stressed out, which affects our ability to communicate from a place of love. When we get stressed out we communicate based on the feelings of stress, therefore what we say can come across as rude and offensive. Nurturing your throat chakra allows you to be in tune with your communication center.

Alternately, when we are shy, or feeling insecure, we often hold back from communicating – because that good ol’ story of not being enough, surfaces and gets in the way of full expressing ourselves. What happens is we psych ourselves out from really finding the power within to clearly express ourselves and get that important message out there.

Follow this easy 5th chakra meditation to help you nurture the throat chakra and find your ability to express yourself from a place of love. Set the timer on your phone for at least 7 minutes and settle in:

Close your eyes, breath deeply for 5 breaths, imagine a cool, soothing blue light centered on your throat, notice how good it feels when the blue light cools your vocal chords, continuing to breath, repeat to yourself, “I communicate from a loving place, I allow myself to express myself freely and easily, I allow myself to speak the truth, and I communicate with clarity and ease,” repeat this however times you feel necessary.

Alternately, repeat these affirmations throughout the day, take a deep breath and imagine the blue light at your throat before you communicate.

The throat chakra relates to the throat, esophagus, thyroid gland, neck, cervical spine, mouth, teeth, and jaw. When nurturing the throat chakra, eat foods that are blue in color, such as blueberries. Eat foods that naturally require little effort to harvest when ripe, such as apples, oranges and peaches. Drink herbal teas, such as chamomile, ginger tea and peppermint tea, which are soothing and calming.

Remember, you owe it to yourself to speak the truth from a place of love.