The silent language

Well, hopefully last week, you got straight into perfecting your work space. And now you’re sitting in it, and you know what? You’re sending a clear message that you’ve got your act together – you’re in control and you’re reliable. So that’s good.
You know what they say – actions speak louder than words. Every single thing you do (and don’t do) communicates. You positively brim with unspoken messages, mostly unintentional and unconscious.
Those message reflect your innermost self, your skills and your confidence. They highlight or hide your talents and accomplishments and tell others how much appreciation and respect you give yourself and expect others to give you.
That, in turn, influences your friendships, promotions, pay rises and career paths. It influences how much support and help you receive from others, how much help and support others seek from you and whether they accept your ideas or ignore them.
So here’s a quick tour of how to radiate confidence, trustworthiness and professionalism. Pick one or two to work on until they’ve become a firm habit. Then pick another, then another and before you know it – the world is your oyster. Whatever that means.
First of all, pay attention to the way you sit and stand. Does it tell people you’re interested in them or involved in what you’re doing? Does your upright posture signal you’re calm, composed, confident and competent, or do you constantly jiggle, shuffle or pace to and fro, signalling that you’re nervous, ill at ease and discombobulated? Or maybe your body drips, oozes and sprawls, so you look like you don’t have the energy or attitude to even sit up, walk or stand, never mind think anything sensible?
Do you detract from your image by sucking on a pen, fiddling with a paper clip, your hair or your tie? Do you weaken your influence by constantly clearing your throat or tapping your foot? Or are you relaxed and calm and your movements open, which says ‘I’m in control; you can trust me’?
How about your voice? When more than 30 per cent of your sentences end as if you’re asking a question rather than making a statement, you sound unsure of yourself and people discount what you’re saying and switch off. You sound more credible and confidant when you lower your voice and you sound more thoughtful and serious when you slow down a bit – but not so slow people can fall asleep between your words. You can speed up to show your energy and enthusiasm, but no so fast people can’t understand your words and follow what you’re saying.
So there you have it. A few quick ways to convey less of what you don’t want and more of what you do want so that people are more apt to like you, believe you and trust you.

The perfect work space

Christmas is over. New Year is over. Lunar New Year is over. I bet you’re back at work and trying to get into the rhythm once again.
Often at this time of year, there’s actually not all that much going on. And sometimes you just want to procrastinate a bit before getting on with the real work. Whichever it is, I have answer. It won’t take long and it will be a good job well done that will save you a lot of time, over and over, for the rest of the year.
Here it is: Spend a few minutes adjusting your work space so it’s perfect. Everything flows more easily and more quickly when you’re working in an orderly way.
I have a really good filing system that makes it easy to find what I need. Or easy-ish. I plan to re-vamp it when I’ve finished the 7th edition of Management so it’s even easier to file things away and find them again. My system is by topic and subtopic, but different systems suit different people; some file by date, others by customer, for instance. A good, workable filing system is a must have.
 Then you make it work for you by keeping your most often-used files close to hand – unless you’re struggling to reach your 10,000 daily steps, in which case, you can put your most-used files far, far away, but that becomes a bit of a pain. I know because I tried it!
My desk drawers are really tidy, too. I know which one to open and where to put my hand to grab whatever it is I want. I don’t even have to look. When I’ve used it, it goes straight back, so I know where to find it next time I need it. Voila! A clear work area, which relaxes the brain so it can get to work.
Now set up your space. Face at right angles to walkways or the door. This makes it harder for passers-by to catch your eye and stop for a chat and it means people can’t see your computer screen and what you’re working on. The light should come over your left shoulder if you’re right-handed and right shoulder if you’re left-handed so you don’t work in your shadow. Put reference books, manuals, stationery etc. where you can reach them easily.
Next, spend some time setting up your desk chair so it’s the right height. Professor Google can tell you how and it doesn’t take much time at all.
The key is to have minimal pressure on the backs of your knees and lower thighs and to support your back. You want the chair seat to be at a height that puts your knees at right angles, your thighs horizontal and your lower legs vertical when your feet are on the floor. And of course, no dangling feet or crossed legs. You want your computer screen to be at a height that you can look directly at it so your back and shoulders don’t get stiff. Position your keyboard so you bend your elbows at right angles and your forearms are parallel to the floor.
Your back will thank you and you’ll find you work a lot more easily, too, because when you’re sitting properly, you breathe properly and that’s good for your brain, too.
Go ahead – set up your perfect work space it now!

Spread the cheer

Last week I told you about a friend with a time-consuming and costly email habit. Today I’ll tell you about another friend who is so positive and complimentary, she is a total pleasure to be around. Her co-workers love her, her friends adore her and her family are devoted to her. I’ve watched her closely over the years and here are what I thin are her three secrets to not just making everyone love her but also (and this is pretty cool, too) just about always getting exactly what she wants.

First, she never criticises anyone. She always says how nice you look, what a great job you’ve done, how much she appreciates what you do — you get the picture. Then, if there’s anything she’d like to see changed, she offers one tiny suggestion — after asking if you’d like to hear it, of course. And it’s always a good suggestion, and nicely worded, so people are happy to oblige.

The second important thing she does is never to wait until the end to say Thanks. When she’s training someone, for instance, she shows her what to do and as she’s doing it, she’s encouraging her by saying how well she’s doing and how quick she’s learning. When the trainee gets a bit of confidence and does something without being asked, she thanks her for taking the initiative and says what a great job she did and how much she appreciates the effort.

She calls this her Cricket Fan Principle: How would the cricket players feel if their fans waited to cheer until someone gets a century or the team wins the whole match? The answer is, of course, demoralised. It’s demoralising and bad for performance not to hear any support when you’re working hard and making progress.

Her third secret is maybe not-so-secret, but it, too, works a treat. Manners. Simple manners. Please, Thank you, How was your weekend? Manners help people work and live together effectively.

Three tiny little things that make an enormous difference.

Get a life!

Is there anything you do that wastes so much of your time that you don’t have time to do other things that are more useful, things like having more fun or getting more work done?

I have a friend who spends — wait for it — at least five hours a day dealing with her emails. And her job does not require her to be fully available on email. Not at all.

Five hours a day is a huge chunk of time. She says it’s because she gets about 200 emails a day. But this is counting spam, which is very quickly dispatched, and a lot — a lot — of newsletters she subscribes to.

She spends so much time on her emails that she watches hardly any TV, hardly ever reads a book, eats her meals while she’s emailing and she doesn’t even have time to clean her own house — she has to pay someone to do it. So her email habit is eating up her money as well as time!

Why doesn’t she do something about it, you may well ask. And I did. Why don’t you file the newsletters into a folder and read them when you have time? Or better still, set up your email system to file them away automatically? ‘Well, because then I’d never read them!’ So she sits and reads them as they come in. This is NOT a smart use of time. And yet, she’s a smart lady, I wouldn’t want you to think otherwise.

Plus, if she wouldn’t bother reading them if she filed them away, they couldn’t be all that important, could they? The solution is obvious except to her: Unsubscribe to the lot of them. Of course, I suggested that, too, but it seems that although she seldom gets any good ideas or learns anything much from them, she’s afraid she might miss out on something!

Granted, she’s an extreme case but I have a suspicion that she isn’t the only person who does things in an over-the-top way that prevents them from having what the rest of us might call ‘a life’.

So here’s my Call to Action: Figure out what wastes a lot of your time, and cut it out or cut it down.

Start the New Year off Right

Okay, you’re probably back at work now and struggling to get back into the swing of it. Here are three ideas to make sure you swing rightly.

My parents had a book by Dale Carnegie called How to Win Friends and Influence People.  I read it and it was a great book. One of the things he said in it was: ‘There is no sweeter sound to a person’s ear than the sound of his own name.’

That’s the first way to start the New Year off right: Use people’s names (if you don’t already). It encourages them and builds good working relationships.

The Positivity Principle is the second way to start the New Year off right. Not only are people with a positive approach happier, healthier and live longer lives than gloomy people, but they are also more popular — most people would rather hang out with a positive person than an old party pooper. A positive approach makes your day and everyone else’s that much brighter.

The Boomerang Principle is the third way to start the New Year off right. You know that if you smile at someone, they smile back. Try giving a compliment to someone and watch what happens. No, you’re not fishing for a compliment yourself, although they’ll be more willing to compliment you. The point is, you’re building positive working relationships.

So there you have three quick and easy things to do to start the New Year off right!


How to make your New Year’s Resolution Succeed

Most New Year’s Resolutions go the way of the Dodo. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make one, though. When you schlumph along doing the same old, same old, you stagnate, which surely isn’t what you want. That just grinds you into a rut and the only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions (borrowed from Ellen Glasgow, that one).

So, to keep improving, commit to making some positive changes. Then, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen.

Make your resolution powerful by writing it down. Research consistently shows that people who write down their goals are far more likely to achieve them that people who just think about what they’d like to achieve.

Write your resolution down in clear words and put it where you’ll see it. Go ahead — Stick it on the bathroom mirror or put it on your bedside table where you can see it before you fall asleep and when you wake up. The more you see it, the more it imbeds itself into your subconscious, which makes it easier for the Universe to conspire to help you make it happen. Plus, when events conspire against you, as they do, having your goal in sight means you won’t lose sight of it.

Make your resolution realistic. Not too easy or you won’t bother and not too hard so you don’t give up before you begin. Go for something you can achieve with a bit of effort. Make sure you have enough background information and knowledge to succeed at it and that you’re willing to pay the price to carry it out.


Make your resolution a doing resolution, not a being resolution. In other words, don’t resolve to be trim, taut and terrific but resolve to lift weights three times a week and go for a 40-minute walk every day before work. Then stick to your commitment.

Warning: You may run into sabotage from yourself or from your loved ones.

We’ve already agreed that you won’t make your resolution so easy you do it effortlessly and automatically. Building a new habit takes time and effort. Remind yourself of why you set your goal in the first place. Let someone you know and respect who has already achieved it be your inspiration. Turn your self-talk into your biggest motivator and make sure it’s encouraging and supportive. Messed up one day? One week? Don’t worry. Hop back into your newly-forming-but-still-fragile habits. Motivation gets you started. Habits keep you going. So let me say it again: Stick to your commitment.

When it’s others who seem determined to put you back in your box, remember that it’s much easier for them when you’re predictable. Your new habits might unbalance what they’ve come to expect and feel comfortable with. So don’t make them too uncomfortable by too big a change. You might want to tell them what you’re doing and why so lessen their resistance and maybe even garner their support. And make sure your resolution doesn’t require them to make any accommodations, adjustments or changes.

There you have it: The low-down on how to make your New Year’s Resolution succeed. Over to you — Go for it!


Christmas Down Under

Here’s a little wish for the last post of 2016: Let’s stop copying the Northern Hemisphere, particularly with our holidays and our seasons. And since it’s almost Christmas, let’s talk about how to have an Ossie Christmas.

A lot of us have already farewelled the hot turkey dinner and moved to a mixed grill on the barby on the beach or by the pool. Me, I like a cold buffet.

What about farewelling Father Christmas, too? Poor man must get heat stroke down here with all those heavy clothes. Let’s adopt the Swag Man. He can wear a brown Akubra, a blue singlet, long baggy shorts (pulled up high enough for modesty please) and thongs. He can spend the year under Uluru with his merry dingos until Christmas, when he sets off in his big four-wheel drive to deliver presents.

And what about farewelling some songs? I’m dreaming of a Brown Christmas doesn’t have the same ring to it as dreaming of a White Christmas, but what about Deck the Sheds and A True Blue Aussie Christmas, maybe sung to a traditional tune unless we can come up with our own tune, and I don’t see why we can’t.

I’ve had a bush Christmas tree for years, basically a dead branch that I spray paint white or gold and decorate. Last year I made a bush wreath for the front door, another dead branch sprayed white and hung upside down and decorated. One year, I picked some bright red kangaroo paws, popped them in a vase and put tinsel all over them. Beautiful, until the cats discovered it.

Happily, there is a growing selection of Australian Christmas tree decorations, too. I couldn’t resist a kookaburra wearing a swag hat with corks – corny but cute, and a kangaroo with a star to use as a tree topper, and a joey in a boot.

Really, now, why can’t we come up with a lot more of our own ways of doing things, eh?

‘Ave a bonza Chrissy everyone! Back in the New Year!