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Friday, 31 October 2014

Influencing: let them get their own way

*
I agree we're not influencing anyone if we don't get the outcome we want and just let them get what they want.

Here's the challenge though - most of us hate being told what to do and want to make our own minds up about something. (In the UK & US anyway ** ). Our stakeholders are no different. To get the outcome you believe to be right therefore you need the other person to agree with you, and to do that successfully how would it be if you let them make the recommendation as if it were their own. (Yesterday's blog explored the impact resistance can have on getting support for our strategies)

The challenge then becomes keeping our ego out of it. I remember a session I facilitated with a procurement team where we were discussing arrogance and self importance. It took some time for them to understand that their stance with their stakeholders might be seen as arrogant by those stakeholders and therefore might be getting in the way of them achieving their goals. (Standing in their stakeholders shoes was a very enlightening process for them and achieved long term benefit.)

And that's the key - if you're achieving your goals then you can continue to behave as you are because its working. The challenge is when you're not achieving your goals. Its important then to identify what changes are required in order to increase the likelihood of your objectives being achieved. (If you always do what you've always done etc...)

Of course we all like the praise of coming up with the idea in the first place, we want the pat on the back, we want to be seen to be proactively doing our job. Won't we though get all that by being part of the team that delivered the change? Won't your bosses know the journey you took your stakeholders on to deliver the change? 

If your intended outcome is the correct strategy for the organisation then why wouldn't your stakeholder agree. The problem is to take them on a journey to obtain that agreement it might take a little more time than just telling them what we're going to be doing. 

An additional benefit of our stakeholders coming on the journey with us is any errors in our assumptions and strategy can be ironed out before it's presented and agreed. If they're with us implementation will also be easier, and once they're managing it day to day they're more likely to want the strategy to succeed than find ways for it to fail. 

So next time you start to tell a stakeholder what the strategy or solution is you may want to think about how to get them to tell you what the strategy should be and, after dialogue, discussion and amendment, agree how you can implement it for them. (Although that process can take a number of weeks/months - so best get started) **

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out

NB: Do please remember influencing isn't about manipulation.

PS: As a response to this blog I've been asked whether I think procurement's attitude was really arrogance or simply insecurity driven by their need to be seen to be adding value.

Of course that's an option. Just not one I'd think of that quickly because no matter how much I try my preferences will sneak out in this blog (more of this tomorrow in a blog entitled 'we treat people as we wish to be treated').

That is I'm motivated by affiliation so any behaviour that gets in the way of that I will judge more harshly than someone motivated say by achievement would. Just as someone motivated by achievement may judge my affiliative style as too weak! The key is whether the style we're using is working.

Just as Trust is in the eye of the beholder so too arrogance or any other judgement of someones behaviour. In the session with the procurement team they stood in the shoes of their stakeholder and realised they could be seen to be arrogant and that was getting in the way of them achieving their goal. They therefore, did as this series of blogs on influencing suggests and, put their own preferences to one side and considered how their stakeholder might wish to be communicated with.

* Cards shown are from Frameworks for Change Coaching Process I use in coaching and group facilitation sessions.

** The level of acceptance of requests, and reaction to being told what to do, differs around the world - someone from a different culture than UK/US may therefore prefer a more direct approach initially with a very heated debate thereafter on what the strategy should be! It certainly pays to do your home work on the preferences and culture of all involved (to calibrate them so to speak) and remember these blogs are based on generalisations. The more you know about a specific individual the better and more effective your strategy for influencing them can be.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Influencing: Resistance is futile

Just to recap - the Borg are a race whose strap line is "resistance is futile". A warning as they assimilate every other race they come across. Obviously Captains Piccard and Janeway give them a run for their money in Star Trek Next Generation and Voyager (sorry perhaps more detail than you want - my Trekky preferences allowing me to get carried away). 

The thing is resistance is futile only when you're up against the Borg. In all other instances resistance can be very very effective and if you're at the receiving end of it very frustrating and can certainly prohibit you from achieving your goals.

So how do you breakdown resistance or stop it forming in the first place?

I know some people have preferences for eliciting and then dealing with resistance - they like the battle. The problem with it as a strategy of influence is - its only going to work if the other person has similar preferences for sparring. If they're adverse to it then they might just shut down and be closed to any influence from then on in. Making you pay the price later if you do start dialogue with them again.

I remember one example when working with another trainer. We had very different preferences with respect to sparring. If someone answered a question we had two different types of response:
  • Their response was "no that's not right" and then went on to identify all the things that were wrong in what they'd said. Then they provided the correct answer.
  • My response was "yes that's right" and then went on to expand their response to ensure they knew the correct answer.
On the whole if someone provides an answer and hears 'yes' they will keep their mind open to hear what you say next. Often if someone hears 'no' they don't always keep listening. No, especially said with a specific tone, can just mean the barriers go up and you've lost them. (That said I know the other trainer used this strategy to get debate going and in a training environment that's very helpful.)

Any influencing strategy must therefore on the whole aim at keep resistance down and communication open (unless as I said earlier you know they love to spar, or there are other reasons why resistance is helpful to you achieving your goal). Language used can help keep resistance at bay, so too can tone, so too looking for points of agreement before exploring points of difference (after all people like people who are like themselves). 

Yes points of difference do get a look in - they're just made to sound more like points of agreement and are not to be found at every turn. (Blog to follow).

Do you know whether you prefer to spar or not - what about your stakeholders - have you noticed how resistant they are - and is your strategy aligned with their preferences and aimed at reducing their resistance rather than simply breaking through it.




Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out

As ever if you're achieving the outcome you want then you do have the right strategy irrespective of the advice above (assuming you've not impacted future support for your strategies in the process anyway). The aim with all my blogs is to inspire change. That is if you're not getting the response you want what changes might you want to consider to facilitate that? The more knowledge you have about the person you're wishing to influence the more accurate your strategy can be. Self awareness is also very useful - after all it might just be one of your 'preferences' that prohibits your influencing being effective. Happy to help alison@thepurchasingcoach.co.uk + 44 7770 538159.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Trust is in the eye of the beholder

I remember having a conversation with a colleague 6 months after the Halifax merged with the Bank of Scotland.

"You meant everything you said when we merged" they said to me.

I was a little taken aback - of course I meant everything I said - why wouldn't I and, perhaps the biggest surprise for me at the time, why wouldn't they have believed me.

At some level their response says more about the culture they were in at the time than is does me. However it also demonstrates that trust takes time to build.

We might know ourselves to be trustworthy but how do we demonstrate it to those we work with and those we wish to influence - whether internally or externally.

In Stephen MR Covey's The speed of trust he believes 'self trust' is needed before we jump into trying to achieve 'relationship trust'. Which of course makes sense - we have to be credible before we can expect others to trust us.

Self Trust

Covey identifies 4 keys of credibility that can be categorised into credibility of Character and credibility of Competence.

Integrity
  • Make and keep commitments to yourself
  • Stand for something
  • Be open
Intent
  • Examine and refine your motives
  • Declare your intent
  • Choose abundance (perhaps more of this on a future blog)
Capabilities (Talents, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, Style)
  • Run with your strengths
  • Keep yourself relevant (perhaps something I could learn for my blogs :-))
  • Know where you're going
Results (Track record) (one I consistently forget to convey to others - although I have updated my linkedin profile to try to address this :-))
  • Take responsibility for results
  • Expect to win
  • Finish Strong
Relationship Trust

Covey identified 13 behaviours * needed to develop and maintain relationship trust. As you read through the list how many of these may be contributing to your lack of influence with those you're currently working with?
  • Talk straight
  • Demonstrate respect
  • Create transparency
  • Right wrongs
  • Show loyalty
  • Deliver results
  • Get better
  • Confront reality (wonder if you can do this too much - see latest rant on confronting unacceptable behaviour in business!)
  • Clarify expectations
  • Practise accountability (blog to follow on slopey shoulders)
  • Listen first
  • Keep commitments
  • Extend Trust 
In those first 6 months of the Halifax/Bank of Scotland merger I certainly believe I demonstrated the 13 behaviours. I wonder however if I'd spent a little more time building and demonstrating my creditably earlier on if it would have been any easier?

Trust is often seen as something you either have or don't have and forget that it's in the eye of the beholder, and therefore more action is sometimes required to demonstrate our trustworthiness to others.

What about you - any ah-ha moments?

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out and demonstrating trustworthiness in all that I do

* This has been a very academic (for me anyway) statement of Covey's model. Whilst this week's blogs will be expanding on the subtleties of influencing blog, in November I will bring alive the 13 behaviours mentioned above using good, and not so good, real life examples. Any contributions most welcome alison@thepurchasingcoach.co.uk

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The subtleties and politics of influencing

This blog arose from a request for a blog on this subject - my response at the time was "it's simply about getting the basics right".

I realise however we sometimes need reminding of the basics, and perhaps they're only basics if we're aware of them! After all if you didn't know the above door needed pulling you might very well keep pushing it wondering why it wasn't opening. Definitely likely also if you're thinking "But I don't do soft fluffy stuff" to which the answer in that blog (see link) is we all do fluff every minute of every day. 

As a trainer and coach I could write, and have done many times before, on the theory of influencing and communication - checklists of things to remember and things to do. I thought however I'd unpick what I do when I'm getting it right, and compare it to when I get it wrong. 

Beliefs its useful to remember:
  1. There's 3 versions of any story - yours, theirs and the truth.
  2. Resistance doesn't assist new information being assimilated nor new beliefs being take on (for you or other people). So it's best to try to reduce resistance inducing behaviours.
  3. Others like to make their own minds up and don't like to be told what to do. 
  4. Others need to be taken on the journey of your facts, data and the evidence that are the basis of your strategy (best not assume they already know). 
  5. Others also often need to be taken on a journey to agree to your involvement too (see 2 above if you're thinking of imposing yourself or telling people it's just your job.) 
  6. Developing trust is going to be useful but can take time. 
  7. Your communication preferences won't be the same as the other persons preferences.
  8. If you don't get the response you're expecting change what you're saying, or how you're saying it.
Which means if you want to influence someone you first need to calibrate them, understand them and their current understanding of the situation. Things you may want to find out about include: 
  • What motives them, their objectives, the current problem, what they think the answer is, their views on your involvement/input and of course determine their preferred means of communication. 
Since people like people who are like themselves then any interaction needs to address that. In other words:
  • You need to stand in the other persons shoes. If you were them in the current situation how would you feel, react and what would you need to hear? We so often get wrapped up in what we want to say and forget we need to translate it so that it may be understood. 
Each subsequent meeting then has the above beliefs as its basis. 
 
I would love to known if there's any of these you'd challenge, or have difficulty with, and if there is one you feel may make the difference in the future. Requests for blog topics also welcomed.
 
Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out and especially good at joining up all the dots! 

NB: please remember influencing isn't about manipulation.
 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Influencing: It's NOT about manipulation

Oh dear I do feel like I'm opening a can of worms with this blog but it needs to be said.

People often get worried when they find out I'm an NLP trainer - they think I'm assessing their every move and will then be able to use that information to make them do something they don't want to do. 

NLP arose in the 70s and simply modelled what people who were good at things did.

In other words the first NLP practitioners modelled excellence - whether that excellence was for speaking, writing, influencing, communicating or doing the washing up. This excellence wasn't simply a model though it was what people were already doing - answering the question 'what was the difference that made the difference that made someone good at something' for example getting on with people. 

For example: Rapport is taught in NLP practitioners and workshops - it's nothing new - we're doing it all the time unconsciously - you only have to look around the pub and watch people to see them happily mirroring and matching each other for yourself.

When you're struggling to engage with someone what knowing about Rapport does is remind you to look for the similarities between you both, before you explore the differences. It also reminds you that these similarities might be in the words you're using, your tonality, your body language or even what you're interested in or motivated by.

Simply put - modelling generated some generalisations about how people respond to each other and what works best and what doesn't work. Calibrating for an individuals preferences though is still required. 
 
Using these models isn't about manipulating the other person into agreeing with you, or you lying to make them think you're the same, it simply enables you both to find points of agreement to use as a basis for exploring the areas of disagreement.

These models help you both to understand each others points of view better. When that happens then it's always going to easier to make changes to your own point of view or for the other person to. It's why, when I applied what I'd learnt, my stakeholder said she thought I was easier to deal with, and yet I thought she was. 
 
If what you're doing isn't working then understanding how the other person you're communicating with ticks helps you to change what your saying, so they understand what you mean. Knowing these models is like having access to the translation book for that individual. If you're talking the same language you're much more likely to understand each other than when you're both talking a different language. 

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out

With that off my chest perhaps you'll join me as I explore the different models of influence.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Influencing: Calibrate! Calibrate! Calibrate

*
The difficulty with presenting any model of communication and influence is that it's full of generalisations and therefore it's easy to get caught out if we forget to calibrate for an individual. That is forget to understand how the model should be applied to, and would work for, that specific person.

A quick example is all those body language books that tell you if someone crosses their arms it means x, and if they hop on one foot it mean Y. Of course the theories in those books have merit but you need to calibrate for the individual for it to have real meaning. Crossing their arms does mean something - what it means is still open to debate until we have more information - do they do it all the time, just in certain circumstances, aligned with a certain tone or facial expression, with specific people etc. The model helps you look to see if it might be true for them but it doesn't mean it is until you've done more observation. 

(If you understand the concept then please jump straight to the last paragraph - otherwise join me on a once in a blue moon (for me here in these blogs anyway) in depth exploration and unpicking of an NLP theory - eye accessing cues.)

For example: eye accessing cues is a model in NLP that only works if we calibrate for an individual. You can't take the model, simply apply it to everyone and know you're making the right assumption. Despite the fact that many apply the model and will tell you that if someone looks up and to the left they're lying!
 
Let me explain - The eye accessing model suggests that when we visually recall something we will look up in a particular direction. It also suggested we'll look up in the opposite direction when we're visually constructing an image. (It also tells you where you'll look when you're hearing and feeling things too but lets not complicate matters.)

If you've not come across the model before then try it for yourself.

Find someone to do this simple exercise with. 
  • Sit comfortably across from someone and look into their eyes :-) (not close enough to scare them just close enough for you to easily see their eye movements).
  • Ask them to visualise their front door.
  • As they do this notice the direction in which their eyes flicker (likely to be up and to the left or right).
  • Talk about something else - just to break state.
  • Ask them to visualise a front door with pink spots and purple stripes (unless that's what their front door already looks like in which case make it even more unusual).
  • As they do this notice the direction in which their eyes flicker.
If the person fits the generalisation then:
  • 'recalling something visually' meant they looked in one direction (it's about 60/40 split of what direction people look).
  • When they had to 'construct the image' (ie didn't already have it on file in their memory) they looked in the opposite direction.
Which means when you're talking to them and they look up and to the right you now know what they're doing (more about what assumptions might be made later).

If they looked in the same direction when you asked them both questions then you may want to explore that a little more. It is the reason why we can't simply apply these models without calibrating for the individual.

If the model is right then when constructing an image we look one way, and when remembering an image we look the other. So if we look the same way for both then we could deduce one of the following:
  • They don't visually recall anything and have to construct both images.
  • They don't really have a front door as such (living in an apartment etc) and so had a construct an image. In this instance you just need to ask them about something they can remember and then add something to it for them to construct and see if they look in different directions.
  • They really have seen a door with pink spots and purples stripes and didn't have to construct it.
You get my drift. Asking people other questions you know the answer to and calibrating to see what direction they look may help you understand more about what they're doing. 

Constructing something visually doesn't however necessarily mean someone is lying but it could do - you'd have to ask a lot more questions and calibrate how they do what they do to get a bigger picture to be able to make that deduction.

A round about way of saying that when influencing others you need to:
  • Understand their preferences and how they do what they do
  • Apply these models to those preferences
  • Flex your approach to suit their preferences
  • Notice what you notice about their reaction to your style
  • If it worked - try it again
  • If it didn't work - explore what preferences you may have failed to address
Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out

* Image above is the international prototype of the kilogramme (IPK). It's what every other KG is calibrated against. It is made of an alloy of 90 % platinum and 10 % iridium and has been conserved at the BIPM since 1889. Sorry the geek in me loved the image :-) There was a programme on the BBC earlier in the year all about it!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Joining up the dots

 
 
I was working at home today with my office looking out onto the street. I saw the courier with what I assumed to be my Amazon order drive past the house 3 or 4 times.
 
I've seen it before - they see No 1 (on the left of this picture) and No 11 (on the right) and then wonder where numbers 3 - 9 have gone! Then continue to drive around the block a few times thinking they'll find it - or the satnav will.
 
Some visitors click on quicker than others where my house (No 3) is located. It's certainly easy when you know.
 
As ever always looking to draw analogies between life and the work I do - I realised I'm great at joining up the dots to find out what you're missing and what's stopping you from achieving your goals.
 
#Justathought
 
Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out - when what you're doing isn't working

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Let your unconscious be your guide

The challenge with challenges is if you knew what to do you'd have done it by now. The fact that you haven't done anything, and still sit wondering what to do, means there's something stopping you.
 
What's potentially stopping you from taking action is endless - fear, beliefs, assumptions, promises, lack of resources and so on. This blog can't hope to tackle every one of these reasons. That said it's likely that some part of you does know what to do and the trick is tapping into that part of you (your unconscious) that does know.

There's many ways of listening to your unconscious - meditation, writing, drawing, metaphor and stories etc. Last month I took a challenge I had on a walk and noticed what I noticed in nature. Earlier this month those attending a #streetwisdom session did something similar in the streets of London. I also often use the frameworks for change coaching process - today however I'm using the books in my library. 

The premise is:
  • the unconscious knows the answer 
The unconscious just needs to be able to get the conscious awareness to see/hear/understand what that answer is. With millions of bits of information available in every second the unconscious sets the filters so the bits of information we do notice provide the insights to our enquiry. Where we look for the answers might be nature, streets or in this instance books. 

That is open a book at any page and see what it has to say - with c500 words to play with your unconscious will find the words that help start the communication and ignore all those that don't fit!
 
Let me show you what I mean - I picked 6 books from my library and opened each in turn at a page and read it. Please note it's my unconscious picking these insights so they make sense to me - your unconscious would notice different insights that make perfect sense to you.

For illustrative purposes however here's what I discovered:

  • We're living in a digital world of 0s and 1s, on or off. In an analogue world we have a choice that could be 0.45 or 0.76 not just 0 or 1. 
The Compass
  • "There's danger in a divided heart" - indecision is the culprit but its indecision of the heart not mind. Quieten the mind and you may just hear the heart's whispers. 
Defy Gravity 
  • "Renewal of your life, your health or your very being is a mystical undertaking."
The Invitation
  • "Have faith in the truth."
The Overview Effect
  • The difference between the earth and a globe is the earth doesn't have all those lines on it showing where one country ends and another starts - we are all one.
Crossroads
  • "Why are you running so fast" - slow down.
Interestingly not too far away from the insights from the walk the other week - patience, flow, trust and now the additions of quietening my mind and listening to my heart and soul.

These insights may make no sense to you - they don't have to - they do to me. 
 
Why not take a situation you'd like more clarity on into a few books and notice what you notice? 
 
Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Metaphorical language - in need of a facelift

 
It's that time of year again and I'm watching and engaging as much as I can with One Young World - where inspirational young people from over 190 countries come together to share, collaborate and take action. It always leaves me inspired and motivated to also become the change I want to see in the world. After last week's rant don't be surprised therefore if corruption and wrong doing in business turns up here over the next few weeks.
 
Each year #OYW have many influential speakers - last year Richard Branson, this year Bob Geldoff, and if I'm not mistaken Kofi Annan has attended the last 3 years? This morning I saw a tweet quoting Michael Moller the acting Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
 
"The UN is a 70 year old lady that needs a face lift right away."
 
I and others on twitter where uncomfortable with the wording. This blog isn't going to address the rights and wrongs of what he said. What I'd like to do is explore the metaphor Moller used because to his unconscious that metaphor makes sense and therefore may provide a solution.
 
I've written before about the power of metaphor and explored how saying "making mountains out of molehills, no pain no gain, I'm stuck in a rut or I'm up a creek without a paddle" can provide the very solutions you think are out of reach. 
 
Let's explore the metaphor Moller used - or more importantly his use of "need for a face lift"- here's some insights I'd make (assuming Moller has spoken on behalf of the UN who agree with him):
  • They're feeling their human age
  • They're seeing an organisation as having the same life span of a human (you're certainly not 'old' at 70 if your life span is 300 years)
  • They're unhappy with what they're 'seeing'
  • They're potentially ignoring the underling causes of the wrinkles
  • They focusing on what they look like
  • They're only focusing on their face - and specifically certain aspects of it
  • They're just focusing on what they don't like 
  • They're not seeing it from other people's points of view
Which for me provides the following solutions:
  • Change is needed but more in how the UN think (see here my Pinterest board on 'age is in the imagination' or some coaching on limited beliefs might be useful ;-) )
  • Stop focusing on what you don't like and focus on what you do
  • Ask others what they admire in you
  • Get in touch with how you're feeling - if it's like a spring chicken then stop worrying
  • Embrace all the good you've achieved and know that can continue
  • If you really do have a human lifespan then how do you hand over to your children and grandchildren and stop pushing yourself so much (think that's where One Young World comes in)  
  • Embrace the behaviours that support well being - what ever your age - time in nature, nutrition, water, creativity, exercise, good doing and so on.
The longer you an stay with the metaphor the better because that way we stick with the structure and don't get caught up in the content (the he said this, you said that, then he did this and ... etc). So don't worry for now for example what wellbeing of the UN looks like. Just keep coming up with solutions if someone of 70 was suggesting they needed a facelift. Once you've exhausted all the responses then and only then try to relate it to the situation. (Although your unconscious is likely to be ahead of you on this and have already sorted out the solution )
 
I've said before (in this blog on finding your inner Picard - yes of Star Trek fame) the problem with me interpreting the metaphor is I'm not the one using it. To Michael my words may make no sense what so ever. That said a conversation at the UN about how they all relate to this saying and the solutions that emerge would be useful - so too at One Young World.
 
I would love to know what solutions this saying reminded you of?
 
Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out
alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 7770 538159
 
I also use nature as a metaphor for life in Landscaping Your Life where nature provides the solutions. More here on Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook.
 
Gardening is a great metaphor for purchasing too - after all we know lawns need mowing and shrubs need pruning but often forget to do so with suppliers. Great for those stakeholders and managers new to procurement. 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Don't turn a blind eye

,

Enough is enough - I am fed up of hearing "that's nothing new" "that's just the way it is" "get over it" or "get real" about my reaction to unacceptable behaviour in business. 

We teach our children about honesty, trust, openness, collaboration and appreciation. When did we decide that we only needed to talk the talk not walk it! When did we decide that those rules only applied within the four walls of our home and not outside it? When did we specifically decide that business could ignore the rules of acceptable behaviour? 

I wrote a blog some time ago about a problem RBS was having when their ATM software went awry, and said it was as much YOUR fault as anyone else's. It was also your fault the financial system crashed, your fault for horse meat gate, in fact your fault for every non natural disaster that's ever happened. Not someone else's fault, not that person over there you can point a finger at and say "not me gov - it's their fault" - your fault - or more precisely - our fault. 

Our fault for every blind eye we're turned to unacceptable behaviour - because every time we turn a blind eye we give others permission to do the same. We give permission to accept and condone:
  • Bullying
  • Lies
  • Self interest
  • Short termism
  • Wrong doing
  • Unethical decisions
  • Unsustainable actions
  • Danger to health and life
  • Corruption
Or perhaps the less obvious and more insidious unhelpful behaviours:
  • Heads buried in sand
  • Blind eyes turned
  • Secrecy 
  • Lack of trust
  • Taking no, or limited, responsibility 
  • Disinterest
  • Apathy
I hear you when you tell me "if I say anything I might lose my job". I fully understand you have bills to pay - me too. Since when did having bills to pay mean different criteria should be used for what is and isn't acceptable behaviour. 

Bullying is abhorrent but if saying so means the difference between mortgage paid and not you'll just ignore it and be like those 3 monkeys and see, hear and do nothing - is that it?  Going down that slippery slope landed us in BIG problems in 2008 and has continued to do so with every crisis since then. 

Next time to start to agree with someone in the office that a certain behaviour is unacceptable (but you can't really do anything about it can you) then as the song goes:
  • Stop
  • Look
  • Listen to your heart 
and realise there could be a different outcome if you make a different decision this time and responded appropriately. 

This blog didn't start out with the intention of linking to the wonderful news that Malala Yousafzai has won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Kailash Satyarthi. There's a link there none the less. 
  • Standing up for what is right irrespective of the consequences. 
If you'd like more evidence of what's possible just watch the live videostream from One Young World next week in Dublin (Wednesday 15th - Saturday 18th October). Where inspirational young people from all around the world will be speaking up for what's right. I promise you'll be inspired and touched by the stories you hear - many more Malalas in the making. 

A reminder perhaps of the ideals you had at their age and may have lost somewhere along the way - why not join them in making a difference in your world? 

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out - sometimes a little more forcefully than others ;-) 

(It was recent reactions to Tesco's procurement strategy for dealing with suppliers that has finally inspired me to write. See David Atkinson's blog on the subject for more info and the reactions of others suggesting its nothing new!)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Break out of the Mould


Such a great visual I thought to summarise this series of blogs that has explored:
Life is a constant series of breaking the mold moments. Once we've broken free from the current box it's easy to just find a bigger box. Staying conscious is the key to ensuring we stay free of any box.

Alison Smith
Inspiring Change Inside and Out

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Comfort zones in relationships

Picture Oprah.com

Change is inevitable in working relationships. Whether that change however is embraced or not will be a function of how much all concerned currently operate in a relationship comfort zone.

Previous blogs have touched on the impact small changes can make to expanding our comfort zone both personally and at work. The premise being if we're constantly making small changes the bigger changes are more likely to be embraced than we're firmly stuck in our comfort zone day in day out.

Don't get me wrong many of these daily habits may be the most efficient and effective ways of doing something - you'll soon realise which they are and revert to the tried and trusted ways of behaving. The challenge is sometimes these habits have become unconscious and may no longer be effective nor efficient. How will you know unless you test them?

Today I'd like to make some suggestions of those small changes that can be made in working relationships that would foster a culture that embraces change.
  • Speaking to different people rather than always ringing the same person to sort out a problem
  • Changing the agenda for regular meetings, or their time or duration
  • Changing the venue for these meetings - what about a museum, park or coffee shop or where the goods or services are delivered
  • Discussing To-Be lists not To-Do lists
  • Picking up the phone more to discuss issues rather than rely on emails
  • Appreciate the things that are going well (one that often gets forgotten)
I'd love to hear your suggestions of what changes you might want to try? Do let me know how you get on too.

Alison Smith
Inspiring Change Inside and Out