The Self-Awareness Guy


7 Questions to Help You Define Your Company Values

7 Questions to Help You Define Your Company Values

Leaders are often are so used to conducting business a certain way that they forget to take the time initially to define the values that are important to them an their company.  Values are the guiding principles that direct how you conduct business and how your customers and the world in general view your company.

Think about the following points as you start defining your company’s values:

1.  What is the reason for your company’s existence?

2.  In what ways does your company help the world?

3.  What would you like to hear people say about your company?

4.   How do you treat your employees?

5.  How do you treat our customers or clients?

6.  What are the guiding principles that affect everything you do?

7.  What’s meaningful about your company?

When you have thought carefully and written down the answers to these questions you can begin the process of defining the values of your company and creating a culture based on them.

Values will help you create a coherent presence in the business world.  They will broadcast who you are and attract a clientele that appreciates the same things you do.  They will also help you create an organization based on the things that really matter.  What are your company values?



The Importance of Self-Awareness in Social Work

As someone with a family services, program management, and personal/professional development background, as well as an MSW, I've had the pleasure of working with a wide range of people, both self-aware and otherwise. A question that often crossed my mind as I worked with social workers is whether they understood the importance of self-awareness in social work. It's vitally important for social workers to possess a high degree of self-awareness because it directly impacts their clients. I'll share some real-world examples of social worker behaviors that are both self-aware and unaware. Here are some things social workers who lack self-awareness do:

  • They become enmeshed with clients to the point that they hamper the client's progress.
  • They are unable to determine where they end and the client begins due to a lack of healthy boundaries.
  • They aren't aware of how their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors affect them or their clients.
  • They function based on the need to dominate or control instead of facilitating.
  • Their self-esteem is derived from their clients liking or looking up to them.
  • They enable their clients' less-than-positive behaviors.
  • They prolong the worker/client relationship way past its expiration date.
  • They make clients dependent on them.
  • They are in constant conflict with co-workers, subordinates, and colleagues.
  • They make things more difficult than they have to be.
  • They refuse to work with other professionals due to their own personal issues.
  • They work out their personal issues on their clients.
  • They lack empathy.
  • They like power a little too much.
  • They make things difficult for others, often acting as a gatekeeper.
  • They yearn for public recognition.
  • They set up fiefdoms and zealously guard their power.
  • They haven't healed their own hurts before trying to heal others.
  • They're personally unhappy.

Although these behaviors are common in many fields, they are especially counterproductive in client/worker relationships because the client's wellness and success in life is at stake. On the other hand, social workers who possess self-awareness do things like:

  • Constantly work on healing their own hurts so they can be as healthy as possible for their clients.
  • Establish and adhere to healthy boundaries.
  • Do things that encourage collaboration with other professionals to help the client.
  • Possess empathy.
  • Are deeply aware of and are able to manage their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and understand how they affect their clients.
  • Are not interested in power, control, or having to appear special in some way.
  • They make things easy for people, going the extra mile to be helpful in a professional way.
  • They understand clients' issues are not theirs.
  • They have healthy, professional relationships with clients.
  • They facilitate the process of clients' finding their own answers.
  • They know how to help someone and get out of the way.
  • They're balanced, happy, healthy people.
  • They enjoy healthy personal and professional relationships.
  • They understand, value, and possess self-awareness.

One of the main reasons I write this blog is that I've seen my fair share of people damaging other people and I told myself many years ago that I would do what I could to help people become more aware of what they were feeling, thinking, and doing so they could live positively and build a better world for everyone. Ultimately, the importance of self-awareness in social work is that it greatly increases the well-being and chances of success for the social worker, the client, and the world.



Team Building: Healing Your Workplace

Team Building: Healing Your Workplace

Team building and healing are strongly linked in the workplace because teams can’t function well if everyone is walking around carrying personal grudges and hurts.  It often falls on the team leader to help everyone function effectively but it’s nearly impossible if he or she is carrying around a lot of negative energy.

There are many negative workplace experiences that affected people negatively.  Individuals sometimes hold on to these feelings for a long time even when they realize intellectually that they would be better off letting them go.  I train leaders and employees about how they can end this cycle of negative feelings and thoughts and build stronger teams and it almost always begins with healing.

Healing your workplace is one of the most important concepts for you and your employees’ well being and it begins with healing yourself.  If you think about it, you deal with people very differently when you are healthy rather than hurt.  If you want to create a work environment that is free of hurts from the past, then think about the following questions.

1.  What do I need to heal?

This question will help you define what it is that you need to look at.  There is no right or wrong answer, you get to decide what part of you or your workplace is hurt and then you get to heal it.  No issue is to small or trivial, if you need to heal it it is a valid starting point.  You can have several issues but try to pick one to start on.

2.  How will I heal myself?

There are many avenues you can take to heal yourself and they almost always involve getting help from an outside person who can help you get a clear perspective.  You benefit from realizing that you need help and then reaching out to someone who can partner with you to make it happen.  There is no right or wrong approach to healing, look for an approach that works for you.  Some people talk to a friend, others a therapist and others HR.

3.  How will I know that I am healed?

The goal of healing is to come to terms and feel at peace with the issues you face.  You will know you are healed when an issue no longer stirs negative feelings inside you.  You will also see improvements in your day to day work life because that issue won’t be affecting you in the same way.  Healing can take time so be patient and keep working on taking care of yourself.  Take it easy on yourself and only work on healing one thing at a time.  Once you feel better about one thing then you are then ready to move on to the next issue.

Do some careful thinking about these three questions and you will begin the process of discovering what hurts and how to heal it.  The idea is not to reopen terrible wounds and relive those moments, it’s to acknowledge that you have an issue and work on it.  Once you heal yourself you’ll be in a great position to help your team do the same.  The result is a workplace where people aren’t working out their personal stuff on each other.  How will you start healing your workplace?



Are You Really an Effective Leader?

Are You Really an Effective Leader?

When I facilitate leadership training the participants frequently describe a leadership style that is pervasive in many workplaces. It usually consists of a leader who is a good person, works really hard and means well but is constantly overwhelmed and reacting to events. This creates a leadership dynamic where the leader is in survival mode and really doesn’t have the time or perspective to lead in any other way. Working frantically isn’t the same as actually being productive. Very often, these decent and caring individuals end up being the dreaded bad boss or ineffective leader. It’s not because they’re horrible people, they just don’t have any other way of doing things.

When it comes to leadership, I think in terms of practicing positive behaviors and how they generate certain results. When we do positive things it tends to create more positive results. If we choose to focus on the negative we get different outcomes. To begin evaluating whether you’re an effective leader see if you recognize the following behaviors:

1.  Always checking up on employees.
2.  Constantly asking employees for updates.
3.  Feeling rushed or pressured.
4.  Feeling out of control if things aren’t done a certain way.
5.  Running from one fire to another.
6.  Constantly reacting to events instead of planning beforehand.
7.  Living with constant stress or tension.
8.  Telling employees what to do instead of listening.
9.  Not really happy at work.
10.  Needing to dominate others.

Do you do any of these things? It’s not horrible if you do, it will just create a certain kind of workplace dynamic than if you were to refocus and practice the following alternatives:

1.  Lets employees do their work independently.
2.  Trusts employees to keep him up to date.
3.  Feels calm and balanced even under pressure.
4.  Lets people do things in ways that make sense to them.
5.  Doesn’t create or add to the fire.
6.  Plans proactively to minimize emergencies.
7.  Relaxes at work.
8.  Listens to employees and values outside input.
9.  Happy at work.
10.  Doesn’t need to dominate others.

When you look at these two lists which one sounds more like you?  Effective leaders tend to be more like the second list and enjoy happier work lives and fewer heart attacks. There’s no secret to behaving this way in the workplace. All it takes is letting go of the old way of doing things and replacing it with more productive behaviors. How will you start being a more effective leader?


101 Effective Communication Tips

101 Effective Communication Tips

Effective communication skills are vital for building a well-functioning workplace yet many of us interact with each other using a style we learned at home or through our friends or co-workers. Here are 101 effective communication tips to help you build a healthier, happier workplace:

1. Listen to your employees.
2. Don’t interrupt.
3. Don’t offer advice.
4. Refrain from trying to fix things.
5. Don’t give your opinion if not solicited.
6. Stop yourself from jumping in.
7. Don’t react or get upset.
8. Listen for key terms.
9. Set basic ground rules.
10. Repeat information back to the person.
11. Paraphrase what the person has said.
12. Ask the person open-ended questions.
13. Talk in a quiet environment.
14. Talk at a time that isn’t busy.
15. Be friendly.
16. Be courteous.
17. Don’t sit behind a desk.
18. Set up a comfortable atmosphere.
19. Let the other person lead the conversation.
20. No retribution for anything said.
21. Keep confidentiality.
22. Work with the person to find solutions.
23. Be open to more conversations.
24. Be gentle.
25. Talk at the other person’s pace.
26. Be kind.
27. Be caring.
28. Act like you’re interested.
29. Face the person.
30. Look at the person.
31. Nod and say “uh huh.”
32. Invite the person to keep talking.
33. It’s OK to have silences.
34. Try not to guide the conversation.
35. Let the other person set the agenda.
36. Meet at a time the other person determines.
37. Be open to ideas.
38. Be open to changing your mind.
39. Don’t react out of emotion, especially anger.
40. Empathize with the other person.
41. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
42. Be helpful.
43. Act like the other person matters.
44. Allow enough time for the conversation.
45. Leave your ego at the door.
46. Leave personal beefs behind.
47. Leave negative opinions out of the meeting.
48. Talk only when the other person asks you to do so.
49. Let the other person talk most of the time.
50. Resist the temptation to rebut.
51. This isn’t the time to be right.
52. Don’t try to prove a point.
53. No arguing allowed.
54. No convincing the other person of your point of view.
55. Don’t cross your arms.
56. Thank the person for meeting with you.
57. Don’t pull rank.
58. Don’t mention policies or procedures.
59. Don’t reference the employee manual.
60. This isn’t the time to punish.
61. Encourage the other person’s thoughts.
62. Build rapport.
63. Show an interest in the other person.
64. Learn about the other person.
65. Appreciate the information they are giving you.
66. Focus on the other person.
67. Don’t think of the next thing you want to say.
68. Smile.
69. Try not to crack jokes at the other person’s expense.
70. Don’t diminish or minimize what the person is saying.
71. Don’t negate what the other person is saying.
72. This isn’t about right and wrong, it’s about talking.
73. Don’t teach.
74. Don’t try to dominate.
75. Don’t try to control the situation.
76. Turn your phone off.
77. All ideas are welcome.
78. One person talks at a time.
79. Act like a grownup.
80. Avoid confrontation.
81. Don’t take things personally.
82. The other person’s opinion is incredibly valuable.
83. Think in terms of building a relationship.
84. Use conversation to build a stronger team.
85. Let people find their own answers.
86. Answer questions only when asked.
87. Treat the other person like a human being.
88. The other person isn’t an enemy.
89. Treat the other person like an ally.
90. This isn’t a competition, it’s a conversation.
91. Encourage different points of view.
92. Praise the other person.
93. Try not to predict what the other person will say.
94. Don’t work out your family stuff at this time.
95. Speak clearly.
96. Speak openly.
97. Speak in a calm tone.
98. Don’t raise your voice.
99. Be positive.
100. Ask for help if you need it.
101. Be courageous.

Effective communication doesn’t just happen, it takes practice over time. Many people get discouraged because it takes time and energy to become an expert communicator. The good news is that anyone can do it if they commit to practicing over time. Effective communication is about techniques but also about our mindset, you can create amazing, dynamic and caring workplaces if you decide to interact positively with others.