Tips for effectively communicating within your team

Here’s wishing you an excellent start into 2016! May the New Year bring health and success in your personal and professional endeavors.

To start off effectively, let me remind you of some important things when communicating within your team:    

    
A. Create a nice atmosphere for your discussion

  • Give yourself the necessary time and don’t be in a hurry
  • Offer your fullest attention to your counterpart
  • Be open and without judgment

 B. Separate the factual from the relationship level

  • You can criticize how a person has reacted or behaves but for the person himself/herself you always ought to have respect
  • Accept differences in opinions and views as well as in the way to tackle projects and tasks and remain open and constructive. We are all different and solutions, i.e. “bridges” for collaboration can always be found
  • Don’t take issues personally

C. Use authentic statements and messages beginning with “I”

  • First, observe what is actually happening in a situation: what are you observing others saying or doing that is either enriching or not enriching your life? The trick is to be able to articulate this observation.
  • Then, without introducing any judgment or evaluation simply say what people are doing that you either like or don’t like. Example: “I noticed that…” or “I am angry because…” or “I need…”
  • Next, state how you feel when you observe this action: are you hurt, scared, joyful, amused, irritated?
  • And finally, communicate clearly what you need in connection to the feelings you have identified

Communication: The Heart of Interpersonal Relationships

At the heart of an interpersonal relationship lies the communication between individuals, be it at work or elsewhere.

Did you know that mindfulness can help us to become more directly aware of our own personal and immediate experience whilst communicating with somebody else? This is in fact an essential step before we can fully open to another and communicate effectively. The awareness of what happens within ourselves supports our ability to turn towards and be with whatever arises in this shared experience: in a mindful manner.Mindful communication

The intention here is not resolution or relief but knowledge of what the present moment experience is like. And even if the experience is difficult, you can actually learn to be with it in many creative ways.

The important thing is:

  • Making a genuine connection with the other person
  • Meeting the other person as a fellow human being, where both agree to an exploration; not knowing where the journey is going but remaining open to the direct experience you are having together at this present moment
  • Not trying to “fix” anything but instead empowering each other to find own insights

Mindful communication can be learned but definitely needs to be practiced!

Mindfulness for Athletes

You spend hours training your body, now train your mind to prepare and be ready for competition!

mindfulness | athletesMindfulness can not only enhance athletic, academic, or work performance; it also has a profound impact on stress resistance, resilience, emotional balance, team work, mental habits to only name a few. How does this happen? With guidance and practice you learn how to let go of disrupting thoughts to be able to increase your focus and physical awareness on what is really present for you at that very moment. You become very self aware in terms of what is going on in your body and mind and to respond rather than react to stressors, difficult situations, triggers etc.

There are a multitude of examples where mindfulness has significantly improved athletic results as well as peak performance or even team cohesion and team performance.

The same skills practiced in your mindfulness training will then enhance your training and help you deal with injuries and other challenges, giving yourself a competitive edge. Additionally, the competences that you will have gained will also significantly impact your attitude and behaviour so that you can benefit from them in the classroom as well as in life off the court, field or track.

Susan Salzbrenner, author of “Play Abroad 101 – Your ultimate guide to success as an athlete abroad” has interviewed me in her podcast about mindfulness for athletes and its benefits. Click here to read more and listen in!

mindfulness | sportsLooking forward to your reactions! I accompany athletes, adults and children through individual coaching and training geared towards their particular needs in mindfulness. I also organise retreats and group courses.

Contact me to learn more!

Leading the way: The UK and mindfulness

Just now, in October 2015, the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG) in the UK published a ground-breaking report, entitled “Mindful Nation UK”. In it, it states that: “Our long-term vision is of the UK as a group of mindful nations, an international pioneer of a National Mental Health Service which has, at its heart, a deep understanding of how best to support human flourishing and thereby the prosperity of the country. “ For this to happen, the report recommends governmental action in four particular sectors:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Workplace
  • Criminal Justice System

Having been in the Netherlands recently, I see the same trend forward; schools are training teachers in mindfulness as well as their pupils, trainers and consultants are proposing courses, workshops and interventions. I truly have never seen so many people familiar with and active in mindfulness.

I will definitely bring these great thoughts and projects back to French speaking Switzerland, where I currently live, to try and raise awareness and openness towards new and innovative methods that have proven their worth. Mindful Communication, Mindful Leadership and regular mindfulness courses for adults, teachers and children is what I have to offer. Contact me to learn more!

Jenny

 

 

I wonder

Teaching my mindfulness class, I came across this poem by Derek Tasker… it touched me, so I thought, I’d share it with you too!

I wonder what would happen if

I treated everyone like I was in love

with them, whether I like them or not

and whether they respond or not and no matter

what they say or do to me and even if I see

things in them which are ugly twisted petty

cruel, vain, deceitful, indifferent, just accept

all that and turn my attention to some small

weak, tender, hidden part and keep my eyes on

that until it shines like a beam of light

like a bonfire I can warm my hands by and trust

it to burn away all the waste which is not

never was my business to meddle with.

 

Heart Meditation

Assertiveness: Being an Effective Communicator

Effective Communication is all about assertiveness – rather than aggressiveness or submission

The first step towards becoming an effective communicator is practicing assertiveness, thus knowing how you are actually feeling. Did you know that your feelings are simply that: your feelings and nothing more? Their are neither good nor bad, nor anything else! These are just judgements that others – or even yourself – impose onto your feelings.

Photo credit: Wesley Fryer / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Wesley Fryer / Foter / CC BY-SA

Once you are aware of what you are feeling and you don’t get caught up in any judgements about them, you can begin exploring ways to deal with the situation. Assertiveness involves clear, calm thinking and respectful negotiation, where each person is entitled to their opinion. Simply say how you are feeling or seeing things by making “I statements” rather than “you” statements. There is a huge difference between saying: “you are always pushing me too hard” versus “I feel very tired because…”. The first sentence prompts your discussion partner to feel threatened, under attack, maybe even having more power than you. The second sentence simply says how you are feeling in response to something. This leaves the other person room to hear what you are saying without feeling blamed or under attack.

The most important part of effective communication is to be mindful of your own feelings, speech, thoughts as well as of the whole situation. If you are consciously cultivating this approach, you will be able to better resolve potential conflicts and greater harmony will slip itself into your discussions!

Further reading:

  • http://jennyebermann.com/tag/insight-dialogue/
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Full Catastrophe Living”
  • Gregory Kramer: “Insight Dialogue”

 

 

Patience

Patience

Patience is an ever present alternative to the mind’s endemic restlessness and impatience. Scratch the surface of impatience and what you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is anger. It’s the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone (often yourself) or something for it. This doesn’t mean you can’t hurry when you have to. It is possible even to hurry patiently, mindfully, moving fast because you have chosen to.

Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Wherever you go there you are” found here

Teaching Mindfulness

… is like guiding people in a very humble way for a short while on their very personal journey.

20121221-222218.jpgHaving been accepted on the teacher training pathway of the Center for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University in the UK, I have now led my first face-2-face session within an 8-weeks course that I am teaching. I feel grateful and at the same time very moved about the openness and trust that the participants are showing me. Through teaching, I also deepen my own practice which of course brings me even more insights and personal growth. I am happy that I have chosen this path a couple of years ago as I feel very much centered, creative and alive!

In fact, a central aspect around mindfulness is to learn how to be more fully aware and present in each moment of life. This makes it more interesting, vivid and fulfilling. On the other hand, it also means facing what is present even when it is unpleasant or difficult.

I can now also appreciate fully, why one cannot simply read a book about mindfulness in order to teach it and why one need to practice a long time before actually being able to introduce a mindful approach into communications and leadership as well as broader diversity topics.

Let me close with a poem that I found on this wonderful site which I hope will get to you as much as it does to me:

Walk Slowly (Danna Faulds)

It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and I
remember again that life isn’t a relay
race; that we will all cross the finish
line; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as I
forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I’m going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk
slowly into the mystery.

 

Are you an effective communicator?

Are you ready to tackle the challenges of a new year on campus or to sit at your office desk again?

 Can you imagine that August is already nearly over? I don’t know about you but for me it feels like time is flying faster year after year….

For many of us, it now means back to work, to school, to university.

In order to start off in a good way, I thought it would be helpful to re-iterate some important facts about interpersonal communications and what you can do to avoid misinterpretation, frustration and problems right from the start.

Daniel Goleman just shared a very good article on this very topic on Linkedin; He says that there are “(…)various ways to impede useful dialogue(…)”, namely “passivity”, “discounting”, “redefining”, “over-detailing” and the so-called “four sentence rule” (a person can only maintain full attention for four sentences).

Of course there are many more factors that can pose barriers to effective communications, such as: differences in assumptions or points of view, misunderstanding of language, cultural differences and emotions.Angry busines sman screaming at employee

What you can do about this is no secret but keeps being underestimated, especially as we usually don’t think about the non-verbal component, which plays such a crucial role for ensuring that a message is understood in the right way and a real dialogue can take place.

6 simple tips:

  1. Communicate in a clear and simple manner: do not spend time and effort to outline every little detail of your thought. Stick to the important parts of the message!
  2. Communicate using body language to stress what you are actually saying and keep in mind that some cultures might interpret non verbal cues in a different way.
  3. Laugh about yourself: laughing is very healthy and helps putting everything into the right perspective!
  4. Listen attentively and with empathy, not only to the words but also to your own body (your feeling): what is it telling you about the message, what remains hidden behind the words? Capture the key points of what is said and respond to these. Focus on the person you are listing to and not on what you would have to say about this topic. Other people might have an interesting opinion as well, so it is definitely worth listening.
  5. Be open and prepared for negative and positive feedback to what you are saying/the message you are conveying. Constructive feedback is your best bet; it will help you become even more efficient and productive.
  6. Know why you are communicating and what you want to achieve. Before initiating any communication, ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish?” If somebody else is initiating the conversation, ask yourself: “Why is this conversation taking place?” If the answer isn’t obvious, guide the dialogue to the “why” of it!

Well, I guess now you’re all set up for a fresh start, enjoy and looking forward to hearing from you again!

Jenny

How much disconnection do you need?

DisconnectingAre you already back at work or are you still enjoying some time off, relaxing and energizing yourself?

For many people, holidays always start with a lot of stress, either because they need to pack the appropriate things and then spend hours at the airport tackling over bookings, delays or other unforeseen events. Or, as many of us here in Europe, you decide to take your car because of practicality or budgetary reasons just to find yourself in endless queues, traffic jams and accidents. It surely takes some patience to arrive where you want to be and at least a couple of days more to be able to get out of your ever turning  thoughts. For some people it takes as long as a full week, to come down again and feel some relief, even more so if you stay connected to your day-job.

Were you able to switch off your devices and really disconnect during your holidays? And how long did it take?

Many of us are not used anymore to leave our smart phones out during the day without regularly checking something; not only mails and other messages, but the weather forecast, simply the time, news, the best hiking route, the nearest restaurant etc. How many of us still remember how it felt like and – more and foremost – how we managed to “survive” without all the apps, devices, guides and information so readily available nowadays? And how many of us feel comfortable not to use our digital friends regularly and instead simply be for a while?

I agree, Stillnessit is very tempting to read mails and stay connected on social media with many “friends” even during the holiday period. How many pictures and posts can be found of “happy people” smiling into their camera wherever they are in the world…. It takes courage. And also patience as your mind will play tricks with you and lure you back to the device just for checking the weather (it would be safer) or the latest news (I have to know what is going on); of course, once you hold your smart phone in your hands, you don’t usually end up looking solely at the weather or news….

But it is worth it: disconnecting regularly has huge benefits on your overall health and well-being as well as your behavior with others in real life.

As with all things in life: finding the right balance is crucial and necessary in order not to be overwhelmed in a world spinning faster every day…

Enjoy the rest of the summer and take a deep breath!

Jenny