Tag Archives: Colin Lewis

Is coaching elitist?

Why I don’t think so

Over the past  few months,  I have received a number of emails from individuals who believe that coaches in general (and that includes me)  are aiming the content of their blogs, articles and programmes at people who are already successful , but are somehow just temporarily,  and somewhat inconveniently, experiencing a little glitch on the golden conveyor to the dizzy heights of their professional pyramid.  They feel that these ideas don’t reach or apply to the average person stuck in their jobs,  the ones  who feel that they are living in “quiet desperation”  to quote Thoreau. They see coaching as an elitist option.

Stuck

 Janie B,  says “ Dorothy,  I love your blog it is filled with humor and  good tips and really accessible. But I think you are talking about high-flying,  talented people who can afford coaches. What do ordinary people like me do who can’t?  I’m stuck in a job I hate…. I don’t excel at anything  and there’s no way out.” 

 I have to consider those comments seriously. What Janie B  and others are suggesting is that coaching principles cannot be equally applied and are therefore undemocratic.

How green is your grass?

Let’s give this a global perspective.  We should take into account that the message writers (including Janie B)  are literate, highly educated  and clearly have internet access ( 80% of Americans have broadband access,  Japanese 75%), then they are  probably already in global terms,  better positioned than  a large percentage of the  world population, who do not.  Nigeria for example has  7.4%   internet penetration.  So to that extent, some modern coaching channels  blogs,  web sites,  webinars etc) can appear to be elitist and focus on people living in advanced industrial economies who can tap into modern communication methods. Janie and the other message writers, despite what they think,  are already in a global elite. That is something often forgotten when examining other people’s grass. 

But real coaching is not related to modern technology, or for a select, wealthy  few. Some of the greatest philosophers and thinkers from Seneca, Plato to  Gandhi and Einstein not just in our time, but throughout history, have eschewed material goods on their path to personal development and spiritual enlightenment. Neither did they have internet connections. Nor were they on Twitter or YouTube. Would they have in different times used these media?  Strong possibility  – they were all communicators. However, their legacy is time-honoured thoughts,  that are applicable in all our lives and have nothing to do with  technological advancement and superficial successes ,whether economically or professionally. In fact many  certainly rejected the latter.

So although working with a coach can be hugely beneficial,  do I  think that most coaching techniques are democratic and can be  universally applied  and available, regardless of where we are  financially, professionally, in our relationships or lives?

Yes I do.

 “If you think the grass is greener on the other side,  try watering your lawn” 

 When people feel trapped in their jobs,  there is a tendency to offer  bumper sticker type solutions. But no plastering your office wall  or refrigerator with ‘post its’  or magnets containing the latest positive thoughts will help make your grass greener long term. They are of limited short-term value,  like tending your lawn with a  water pistol.  I’m not suggesting a water cannon would do – but just  more of a garden sprinkler type of activity.  Timely, systematic and measured.

So what can you do if you have the privilege of living in an advanced economy and feel stuck in your job or your life?  How do you achieve something  you feel passionate about – for free?

  Here are just a very few suggestions:

  • Check out your life and professional goals. Are they aligned?  Usually I have found that this is the root of the problem.  If you could change your life what would it look like? How do you look?  Is it really the job that bothers you or something else? Be honest, tough if you have to.
  • Manage your negative thoughts
  • List the challenges you’ve had in your life. What skills did you use to deal with them? What were your success stories? These are your transferable skills .
  • What don’t you like about your job? Why? Is there anything about your job you like?  List those points. What skills do the good points require?
  • Make a mission statement. You know from a previous post   that even CEOs struggle with this. 
  • Set yourself some goals and objectives. They need to be  specific, measurable,  achievable,  realistic and time bound ( SMART)
  •  Take courses: on-line, night school,  open university, start a blog , join Twitter or LinkedIn. There are so many ways these days to add to your personal development  and they cost very little. If you don’t have  internet access  go to your local public library.
  • Volunteer. There are  also different ways to achieve goals outside a professional arena.
  • Set up a job search or life plan with lots of small  incremental steps to achievement.  Reward yourself when you succeed.
  • Cherish yourself  and those near to you!  Ask for their support and feedback
  •  Look after your health and exercise. Walk every day.

 Cost to date….  ZERO.

Who can add to the list?

Don’t be afraid of “NO”

" No" is your friend. It creates an opportunity to counter.

There was an amazing, interesting  and almost global response to my last post “Let’s go girls…. negotiate”. All sorts of questions and issues were raised around gender differences  related to salary negotiation. Many complex topics were covered  connecting  cultural and historical barriers that prevent women stepping up to self advocate. But I’m not even going to attempt to address those wider topics here and just want to concentrate on the immediate and practical. I’m  also just going to focus on negotiating for a new job  and will  deal with existing situations  later,  although the principles are  still broadly the same .

So let’s deal with what can anyone  of us do.. NOW.

Women are relationship builders
One  of the first  points  raised was that women are  relationships builders and as a consequence we are not good at “winning ” individual encounters and are therefore disadvantaged from the get go.  So OK… let’s look at this in real terms.

Yes,  we are excellent relationship builders – but  all good  functional relationships I believe  are not about winning. In fact if anyone feels like a “loser”   in a deal  ( male or female) , my feeling is that  connection is predicated to be dysfunctional long-term.  Negotiation  is  ultimately about building a relationship. It is constructive communication between two parties to find a mutually satisfactory outcome. Women excel at win/win solutions. Do male managers really see all negotiations as adversarial? Wise and effective ones surely don’t. I have actually tried to find some management theorists who might support this line of thinking- but couldn’t locate any, except perhaps when discussing situations impacting international security- which we’re clearly not. And even in those cases, as we have historically seen, punitive negotiations don’t always work then either.

Many women  also wrote to me and to paraphrase said   ” … You don’t understand ….negotiating a salary is different to other  types of negotiations.”

NO it isn’t.

Be confident

This is about confidence.  Without confidence we will always find a way to lose, so it is important is to normalise and neutralise  the negotiation process in our own minds and to understand that  as women, we all do it, all the time without a second thought.  We just don’t even notice. Once we realise what an integral part negotiation actually plays in our daily lives, half the problem has been overcome.

 Test yourself:

1. The TV repairman says “ Can’t come for 3 weeks”

2. You have a 4 figure quote from a supplier for a job you feel pretty sure should cost 3 figures

3.  Your 15-year-old wants a party

So what do you do? Do you roll over and  wait for 3 weeks to get your TV fixed  and say to your contractor  “ sure  no problem I’ll pay over the odds for that job?” or leave town and  turn your house over  to your teen for an all night rave?  No. Of course not.

You negotiate.

You research the market, evaluate what you need doing, decide what you can comfortably afford to accept. If it doesn’t work you let it go or change.

So salary negotiation isn’t different.

By becoming a candidate you have already made that  psychological  commitment  to change and have taken that leap into the unknown. You have imperceptibly started the negotiation process.   You have researched the company,  identified your skills, know your value in the sector and must have marketed them well , because  here they are now wanting to make you an offer. You are in a good place! If the hiring company lose you,  they may have to start the process from scratch or fall back on candidate number two. That is an additional cost,  not just in terms of  search fees,  but also in terms of elapsed time before a new hire is effective , which equals lost revenue. They will have done their homework and will know what the salary range for your skill set is on the market.  Generally everyone  should  be looking for successful outcome. Most companies settle at least 10-15%  above the initial offer.

The pre-question

When I started selling,  my boss at the time, a guy called Mike Lowe, the best sales person I have ever met and a formative personality in my career and personal development, gave me a  simple  nerve conquering mantra before I embarked on any project. The pre-question.”What is the worst thing that can happen?”

Mike  also tried desperately hard  to teach me to ski where injury, pain and  death  featured in my option choices ( not necessarily in that order.)  But these  downsides, generally speaking, don’t tend to happen around a negotiating table discussing anything legal.

In any ordinary negotiation process, the worst  case scenario is  usually and I always  unhapppily thought,  pre “Mike” , was a firm ” no” .  But Mike also taught me that “no” is my friend and how to use it .

Make “no” your friend

So even within this negative messagethere is a  hidden bonus which can open up a dialogue and lead you to make informed decisions. So instead of fearing “no” – it’s now a word you feel extremely comfortable with. Take a lesson from your own kids. If you say no to a pre-schooler – what do they say ? Exactly.  ” Why? ”

Why” is now your other new door-opening  buddy.

It hangs around with “no”. It allows you to take each objection and calmly overcome them with your elevator sound bites, which incorporate all your CARS,  USPs and overall added value. So you love “NO.” It can work for you! The evolved adult  you  have become,  may not stamp her foot  like a five-year old  and petulantly pout “why”, but you will counter with something  more grown-up, neutral and reasonable like “What makes you say that?”

Mike  taught me to de-emotionalise  “no” and view it as a vital part of the process. It’s wasn’t about me. “No” doesn’t mean that my value or self-worth are  on the line and reduced in any way, or I’m some sort of mini failure.  It’s only about the transaction.

Research & preparation

But first you have to deal with  negative thinking   and examine the facts and take steps to avoid  being over come by fear ( False Expectations Appearing Real.) So research and preparation are key. Understand the economic viability of the company and know your own market value.

Silence

Mike also taught me about the use of silence. It’s the last member of the  “no / why” trinity. We women are not great at silence. But there are times when the prudent use of silence can be as effective as delivering a great elevator speech. Used wisely it is a great negotiating technique. Deliver your pitch …. and wait….and wait…. and wait….

 Fall back position

It maybe that you will not reach your  first goal  – but  you should always have a secondary goal  in mind  before entering any negotiation.  In the words of Karl Albecht  “Start out with an ideal and end up with a deal.”   If anyone in a negotiation situation that feels  their back is against a wall, trouble and resentment  are going to figure largely in their futures.

But if a compromise still  isn’t possible then  that leaves one  option – seriously consider voting with your feet.

Is it this  final step, which we as women fear most? That primal,  risk taking side to our personalities that keeps us in the metaphoric  “cave”  and prevents us taking that leap into the unknown which separates us from the guys?

The irony  is  of course ,  that  it is the ability and willingness to walk away which can be the single most powerful negotiating tool in any deal.

What do you think?

Special thanks to Wally Bock,    Ava Diamond, Colin Lewis, Rebel Brown , Susan Mazza,  Tim Douglas , Ellen Brown  Anne Perschel    Susan Joyce , Sharon Eden for stimulating contributions!

Twitter: Cynic to Convert in 10 weeks

Hello, my name’s Dorothy. I’m a Twitter convert!

About 10 weeks ago @MikeDDalton (my brother) suggested I sign up for Twitter. He insisted that it would be fun and a way for our dispersed family to stay connected. Unconvinced, mainly because of what I’d heard and read, I did finally register, but truthfully, it was because primarily President Obama was said to use it, rather than any family loyalty.

My efforts were rather half hearted. I followed @MikeDDalton, plus a couple of well known British celebs, which actually turned out to be duller than watching paint dry (sorry Bro!) I posted a few mundane things myself, trying to enter the spirit of it all. The minutiae of their daily lives held no interest for me at all. Cosmo Landesman of The Times (London) suggested that Twitter made even interesting people seem dull. I was in total agreement. I even bored myself.

Support
But a few people, even through cyber-space, picked up on my “lost caused -ness”. @karenpurves, @nicolabird and @judethecoach, all came to the rescue and went to huge lengths, with super supportive basic tips about choosing the right people to follow, posting a photo, leaving myself open to be followed (hadn’t realised I was closed) and some of the other protocols. But even then, despite their encouraging words, cynicism still prevailed. Honestly… I did try – but the whole thing just completely eluded me. I sensed the tearing out of cyber hair.

Breakthrough
Then one day – something kicked in. I have no idea really, even now, what it was. I think more by accident than design, I left the social media robots behind and finally started connecting with people with 3 digit IQs. Their tweets caught my eye and I started reading and responding. I engaged. I began to get, just a little, the Twitter etiquette and protocols. Gradually, there seemed to be a few people I was connecting with on regular basis who seemed fun, on the same wave length and prepared to give, rather than send automated messages and self publicity. I finally understood ( after 8 weeks – I know a slow study ) that I needed to download Tweetdeck to manage the activity.

Don’t worry I’m not going to launch into a ” How to…” pitch! Wouldn’t dream of it! There’s clearly no way someone can advise people on the detail of this process, when they only found the Tweet shorten button today! This is just to share my own Twitter journey. Sometimes the voices of the clueless, resonate as much as the voices of experts – a bit like Forrest Gump.

My rules
Generally, as an almost total beginner, what I look for are people that I find fun and interesting and are active in my areas of general interest. That’s all. Nothing strategic or sophisticated at this point. I have no master plan. I make it a basic rule to only connect with people who have a photo or a convincing bio, wearing clothes. They do make a difference – so are mandatory, for me at least. I only follow animals if they are extremely funny.

I look at the stats just to check they’re balanced and I can see that the individuals are active. I avoid braggers and give anyone pre-occupied with target-reaching a miss. Same for anyone who tries to hard- sell me anything early on. I am gradually identifying the egoists and I can see now that there are people who have the same messages on automated feeds which come around and around, 24/7. You know who you are! Guys, change the tape or stream ( or whatever it is that goes round) I suspect I will eventually decide to “un-follow” some of them, when I summon up the courage. Apparently this is ” not a good thing”. Whole contentious blogs are devoted to this process, with a slew of vitriolic exchanges in their wake.

So what has this got to do with a Talent Management Strategist based in Europe? Why since last week, have I included a section introducing it into in my coaching programme?

At the moment 47% of Twitter traffic is US based, but that will change for sure. Just like the Big Mac, it will take root here in Europe. As more and more corporate HR and recruiters use it as a network, it will be another opportunity for candidates to raise their visibility and connectivity, in the hope of being found. With a job loss: job creation ratio at 3:1 in Europe, right now, job seekers need that. The churn on Twitter is huge, but people leave their bio details, and provided that the contact info doesn’t change, that’s great for internet sourcers.

Added value
But for me personally, and this is the message I share currently, the greatest value is the high speed communication of really useful, up to date information. Having it distilled and recommended by trusted sources is a major bonus. It’s the sheer pace of the circulation that is amazing and fascincating. It’s a wonderful way to stay in touch and keep a finger on an ever changing pulse. It has not only saved me hours of time, but brought my attention to sources and resources that I may have over looked or not even considered at all, simply because I didn’t know they were there.

IRL ( In Real Life)
Earlier this week, I had dinner with a Tweet buddy @marionchapsal who was visiting Brussels. We had connected via Twitter. Despite mutterings from @MikeDDalton about meeting strangers from cyber space, and the lady from Lyon turning out to be a potential axe murderer ( that thought is rooted in extensive knowledge of heinous on-line scams, following a long career in internet security) we had a wonderful, fun evening, sharing experiences and getting to know each other. What was most interesting, was that I saw immediately how 140 characters can convey a person’s personality. She was exactly as she seemed in her Tweets! It was simply global networking at it’s best. Virtual, became actual. Would our paths have crossed otherwise? Probably not. Just brilliant!

Somewhat approropiately, the restuarant of choice was the ” Idiot de Village”. Nothing lost in translation there.