Posts tagged with ‘how to have more confidence at work’

30 may

Compassion at Work: Helping Grieving Colleagues Cope

Kerrigan2No one likes to talk about death. It makes people feel uncomfortable and awkward. It’s the ultimate change—the one thing that cannot be fixed or undone. Even the word “death” creates anxiety because it’s mysterious and emotional.

Death shakes our confidence. We are vulnerable in its presence. It’s the one thing we cannot control. We can only control how we think about it and react to it. There is no magic formula in the grieving process.

So, the suggestions I offer are from my own experiences in helping co-workers and clients cope. Hopefully, they provide some guidance and comfort.

Offer support to meet your colleague’s needs, not your own. Often, they need someone to listen. Sometimes, they need advice, or help with errands. Sometimes, they need the rest of the team to carry their load for a while. Sometimes, they need privacy. And, sometimes, they just need a place or a time to cry. If they haven’t expressed what they need, then ask. The best gift you can give is you: the comfort of your presence and the help from your attention.

Try not to judge or teach. Don’t feel as though you have to have the answer to death—no one does. Now is also not the time to pull out the “5 Stages of the Grieving Process” or to tell them what they “should” be doing. Your job is to be there for support.

Be genuine. Avoid sympathy-card sayings such as, “Your loved one is in a better place,” or “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s fake, forced and annoying. You can do better than that. Just be yourself. This is your teammate after all. Think: What would you want to hear?

Be patient. Mourning takes time. If a colleague needs to cry, let her. Don’t push her and think you can shortcut the process—you can’t. Know that each person grieves differently and at their own pace.

Assume nothing. You really don’t know how they feel. And, if you’re anxious about what to say or do, it’s easy to project your own anxiety onto the very person you wish to comfort. Never assume anyone feels the same way you do. This can be very dangerous if you’re wrong, so don’t go there.

Know that work is often a wonderful respite from grief. So, don’t be surprised if a grieving colleague returns to work sooner than expected. Activity is one of the greatest antidotes to depression. It grounds us, especially when we’re caught in a whirlwind of painful emotions. Work provides focus and meaning, and teamwork diminishes the sense of alone-ness.

In the end, grieving is about loss, change, acceptance, and moving forward. Your role is to support your colleague through their journey.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace confidence and performance who has been helping businesses and professionals grow stronger and more successful for over three decades. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on May 30th, 2014 in Career, Family, General, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

05 mar

6 Ways You Torment Yourself at Work and How to Stop

Kerrigan2Let’s face it: At one time or another, you have tormented yourself at work. Often, the ritual is daily. Without a doubt, it’s more frequent than most people know. You have to catch yourself to even know what’s making you feel bad or sad. We are so conditioned to look on the dark side, that negativity becomes our automatic default. In fact, I ‘ll bet that the main reason you’re reading this right now is the word “torment” in the title. Yes?

So—why do you do it? What is the main reason for all that torment?

Here it is: Fear of failure, of not being good enough, as though you have to prove yourself–-often.

Here are 6 ways you suffer and how to stop:

#1: You’re afraid to ask questions

Of all the performance and productivity killers I’ve seen in the workplace, confusion, by far, is numero uno. It can hold you back and delay progress, and often goes undetected because most people hate to admit when they’re confused. Ipso facto: They hate to ask questions.

Whole processes can screech to a halt when someone somewhere along the line is too afraid to ask: “How does this work?,” “What am I supposed to be doing?,” “Why is this needed?” You get the idea.

When you’re afraid to ask, you lack clarity, and torment yourself in many ways. Your job becomes a guessing game. You have no idea what you’re doing and you fear that, if you ask, you’ll look ridiculous. So, you put yourself and your team at risk.

Worst of all, your anxiety increases as you worry about things going wrong, and then it reaches an all-time high when they actually do.

Stop. Ask. The more confident you become, the stronger and less fearful you will be, and the better you will perform.

#2: You’re afraid of answering questions

This brings me to the flip side of that coin: fear of answering questions. Many executives are known for this. They think it’s the mark of strong leadership if they appear as though they have all the answers. So, instead of seeming weak, they avoid questions like the plague.

They become politicians, not leaders, sidestepping questions with vague and inane answers. Then, their insecurity and torment passes to their team, and everyone is confused and lost.

Is this what you really want?

Stop tormenting yourself and your team by trying so hard and making it up as you go along. Stop giving wrong or incomplete information. It is your job to problem solve, to get answers, and to know where to look. It’s not your job to know everything—nobody does.

If you don’t know, say so. And then ask.

#3: You second guess everything you do

When you can’t ask or answer questions, you have little confidence in yourself. Your anticipatory anxiety runs at an all-time high with “what if” thinking. “What if I do this, and that happens?” Initially, this can be great for planning, but you can’t get stuck there. You need to make a decision and move forward–to trust yourself and choose. Yes, sometimes you choose wrong, but that’s life.

First, know that most of the time, your anticipation is much worse than the actual situation. How many times have you worried yourself to the Nth degree and the outcome was far better than you imagined?

Anticipatory anxiety keeps you from taking chances that would improve your life.

Step through that wall of anticipatory anxiety! Get on the other side. Give yourself permission to feel anxious. Then, get in the present moment and ask yourself: what’s the next positive step I need to take to move myself forward? And do it!

Think of “what iffing” it this way, “What if I succeed?”–You won’t know until you try.

#4: You second guess what everyone else does

If you don’t trust yourself, it’s hard to trust others. This brings about huge control issues. People often think control freaks are strong—wrong. It’s a sign of weakness, of insecurity. So, stop it. Once again, you’re not only tormenting yourself, you’re tormenting your team. Stop hovering over them and not letting them do their thing.

We all bring something special to the table. No one is good in all areas of work—that’s why there are teams—to collaborate. Collaboration is the alloy that makes companies strong. It’s fine to ask and answer questions to monitor progress, but you must trust your team to do what they do best. That’s how you all grow and succeed.

#5: You have an excessive need for approval

If you feel victimized, manipulated or guilty often, then you are tormenting yourself by always needing approval from others. Anxiety runs high when you feel this way because you’re just too afraid of stepping on toes. You show people where your buttons are, with a big sign that says “Push!”

The most important approval you need is the approval you give yourself. I wrote about this in 10 Steps to Get Over the Impostor Syndrome. As a people pleaser, it’s easier to be compassionate to others, but not to yourself.

If you heard a close friend talk badly about him/herself, you would defend that person and say it’s not true. You would comfort the friend with kind and supportive words. You need to be able to do this for yourself. Speak to yourself as though you were speaking as if speaking to your own best friend. Be compassionate to yourself. Use those same convincing words and be supportive — to you.

#6: You suffer from the “terrible too’s”: too young, too old, too inexperienced, too forgetful, too tall, too short—you name it!

Often, when faced with change, we torment ourselves with the “terrible too’s.” We use self-criticism as an excuse to procrastinate and resist change. What we’re really saying is that we’re too afraid to leap because we’re too afraid to fail.

Your thoughts make up your reality. So, change the messaging in your mind. Get more positive in the way you think–especially about yourself.

Get confident: Ask and answer questions. Trust yourself and your team. Give yourself the support you need. Get out from under the “terrible too’s” and your excuses. One thing is for sure: It’s never too late to stop tormenting yourself and start enjoying your life!

Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace confidence and performance who has been helping businesses and professionals grow stronger and more successful for over three decades. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on March 5th, 2014 in Career, Global/Social Change, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , ,

04 apr

Corporate Breakup Rule #2: Don’t Get Caught Like a Deer in the Headlights

Kerrigan2Life is about change. Corporate life is about more change.

The more grounded you are in your ability to navigate change, the more confident you will be.

So, here’s corporate breakup rule #2: Don’t get caught like a deer in the headlights when change—especially unwanted change, like getting laid off—hits.

Be comfortable with change. Expect it. Prepare for it. Keep your network alive and well.

Most people get complacent once they have a job. They stop networking. They think “Why bother?”

Don’t be one of them. Even if it’s just a quick phone call or cup of coffee, keep those relationship lines open and active at all times.

Remember:

There is no such thing as job security anymore. Change is now rapid and constant.

In this world of change, who doesn’t need more friends for support?

More companies are hiring based on recommendations. (it’s like one big facebook out there!)

Business development is about relationship building–-so start building.

Ask yourself, “If the unexpected happens, do I really want to look like a deer caught in the headlights?”

So—Prepare for change. Stay connected. And be reciprocal. Networking is always a 2-way street.

How do you handle change? How do you stay connected?


Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All Rights Reserved.

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping businesses and private clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence. Based on her own leadership experiences, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change, and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in significantly improved performance and productivity. Michelle is also currently working on a series for public TV about workplace confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on April 4th, 2013 in Career | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

25 mar

Workplace Confidence: Does Age Matter?

MichelleKerrigan“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain

Mark Twain was a very wise man. And yet, age often causes such a chasm in the workplace, affecting teamwork, performance and innovation. Why?

A lot of it comes from perceptions driven by the media: seniors are slow and technology challenged; gen y is self absorbed with a sense of entitlement; and baby boomers are stuck in the past and glory days. Sound about right?

While many of these thoughts don’t originate with us, once we adopt them, they turn inwards, and we run the risk of putting ourselves in age boxes (18-24, 25-33, 34-45, 46-55). Like most things in life, it’s the stories we tell ourselves that get in our way.

Case in point: When asked to speak at Hunter College about navigating change, I was nervous about addressing a room full of students in their early 20s. In my 50s, I found myself thinking not like Mark Twain, but like Will McAvoy, the anchorman character in the hit show The Newsroom, who has that awful fear known as ”Am I still relevant?”

As I help people address issues with confidence, it’s odd that I even think of this, but that’s exactly why I think of it. If you let it, negative perceptions can shake your confidence to its very core.

So, as I arrived in the classroom, I kept trying to talk myself through it: “It will be alright…just 20-30 minutes, and I’m done and out of here, before they start yawning…..loudly.” See? We can really get fluent in ‘crazy’ when facing fear and doubt.

90 minutes later—yes, 90 minutes–I was in a deep Q and A with the students. I kept looking over to the professor, wondering when to sit down, and she mouthed—“as long as their hands are up, keep going.”

I found that the students were just as nervous as I, if not more so. They were concerned about all the changes they were facing—definitely at a much faster pace than I’ve ever experienced.

They were also frightened of entering the workforce, and being considered too young, too inexperienced, too inferior. In essence, give or take 30 years, they felt just like me.

They were so relieved when I told them that everyone has fears—no one’s immune. It’s what you do with your fear that matters. You can let it stop you by worrying about the future or getting stuck in the past. Or you can get in the here-and-now, and ask “What’s the next positive step I can take to move myself forward and who can help me?”

It was then that I realized the most relevant lesson of all: No one succeeds alone—no one. The success we felt in that Hunter classroom was a team effort—timeless and transcending all barriers. We can all learn from each other, and we should.

In the workplace, embrace this practice of working together, and there’s nowhere you can’t go. Performance, productivity, and innovation are driven by collaboration and must be unencumbered by preconceptions because they limit us and everyone we touch.

We all have something of value to bring to the table—our different strengths and experiences.

Age, like fear, doesn’t matter. It’s the confidence to move forward together that does.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All rights reserved.

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping businesses and private clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence. Based on her own leadership experiences, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change, and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in more effective management and leadership, increased productivity and growth. Michelle also writes and speaks about achieving success, and is currently working on a series for public TV about self esteem and workplace confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on March 25th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

14 mar

Workplace Confidence: Corporate Breakup Rule #1: Deal…. Don’t Dwell

MichelleKerriganGetting laid off is a big change. Often, a painful and unwanted change. When we are faced with a major change, the natural tendency is to dwell on the past, worry about the future, doubt ourselves and get stuck.

All these emotions are natural reactions, so don’t beat yourself up over them. But when you dwell too much on the negative, it becomes problem generating.

When we dwell, we go over the same ground again and again: “Why did this happen to me?,” ” What did I do wrong?,” “Will I ever be able to find another job?”

Have you ever done this? Gone over the same ground again and again, and come out at the same place?

When you deal instead of dwell, you focus in the present moment and take control over how you think and act. You become a problem solver. You think empowering thoughts, ask better questions and take action. It can sound like this: —“OK—I might not be comfortable with job hunting, but I’m not going to let that stop me. First I’m going to educate myself about the companies I like. Then I’m going to decide: How can I move forward?” and “Who can help me?”

You need to be able to acknowledge your fears and doubts, then turn them into planning and action. Remember—you choose your thoughts and actions. You choose what’s next.

When faced with change, always ask yourself: “What’s the next positive step I can take to move myself forward?” Then, do it.

How about you––do you deal or dwell?

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All Rights Reserved

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence. Michelle also writes and speaks about the roles confidence and self esteem play in high performance and productivity, and is currently working on a series for public TV about workplace confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.MichelleKerriganInc.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on March 14th, 2013 in Career | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,