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Posts Tagged communication

Have our brains become desensitised?

Source: Pixabay Computer chat

My family heavily relies on technology to feel close and communicate as we are a FIFO family – Separated by Work. I often joke with others that I might get T-Shirts made with the slogan—“Even though we’re miles apart, a computer screen connects our hearts.”

So, I have an intimate understanding of the negatives and positives involved in ‘screen time’.

For many, life demands we use phones, mobile devices, and computers more than we would have a few years ago. We all have instantaneous methods at our fingertips to communicate, which I am personally grateful for, yet there is more to consider when navigating online communication and social media.

Technology itself is not a bad thing, however for people who spend too much time interacting with a screen, the neural pathways in your brain change, and different ones created.

Kaiser Family Foundation reported 8- to 18-year-olds on average spend 11½ hours a day using their technology, and a sample group of adolescents struggled with the ability to recognise another person’s emotions. Dr Gary Small posed the questions, “Have our brains become so desensitised by a 24/7, all-you-can-eat diet of lurid flickering images that we’ve lost all perspective on appropriateness and compassion when another human being apparently suffers a medical emergency? Have we become a society of detached voyeurs?”

Source: Pixabay Social media

Communicating via a screen can decrease empathy and negatively impact concentration and self-esteem, leading people to say things electronically they’d never speak directly to someone.

At times when speaking to others electronically, I have realised by their response the message wasn’t received as intended. When I take the time to discuss it further, they grasp that they had misread what I was saying due to us not being face to face. Has this happened to you too?

From my experience, here are my top eight tips for staying and feeling connected:

  1. Don’t type anything via a screen that you wouldn’t say in person.
  2. Use your words well, whether you are texting or messaging. Re-read it and attempt to avoid any misinterpretation before sending.
  3. Listen for tone of text/type/voice cues as to how the person is feeling and always check for understanding.
  4. Don’t delay responding to messages you would rather avoid. If you think you don’t completely understand, ask for more information rather than disregard, or ignore it.
  5. Remember emojis are not a real expression of feelings, nothing is better than hearing a laugh and seeing a smile on someone’s face – a gentle smile or a heartfelt hug has far more power than the cleverest emoticon.
  6. Aim for a balance of online and in-person contact.
  7. Think about what you are posting and how it affects others – double check that what you are writing represents you and your family in the best light.
  8. Be aware of the other person’s situation or needs if you are tagging or mentioning someone, or a company, or a site on social media groups. If in doubt, get their permission first, or wait 24 hours and see if you still want to type and send that message.

Mobile devices and computers are not just connecting tools for family and friends. The screen world expands to include a global network of people who have access to each letter you type and the technological footprint you are creating.

Source: Pixabay Skype

I enjoy the benefit of instantly sharing photos, quotes, memories, and activities on social media with my friends and family. I like that I can help others if they are struggling and respond to them in an online support group. However, in online groups,  some people use a screen and keyboard to confront others, and some share painful emotions that they would not do face-to-face. Therefore, I suggest that you use online communication and social media carefully and mindfully.

The Internet is a fantastic tool, and it is here to stay. To make technology serve you well requires sound judgment and educating yourself on how it works.

What are your top tips for screen time success?

Until next time, Kirsty 🙂

Images: Pixabay

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Performance Affects Productivity

The health epidemic of the 21st century, according to the World Health Organisation, is stress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Patrick McGorry, Australian of the Year in 2010 and expert on mental health said we need to transform our workplaces into 21st Century Workplaces where leaders at all levels: promote mental health and prevent harm, recognise when people are struggling, are empowered to turn towards strugglers, rescue those who have already been swept away.

Employers and leaders are realising it is time to become more active in providing healthy workplaces and seeking out tools to develop resilient teams.

Why it matters?

Resilient teams are more creative, productive, resourceful and high performing teams.

Studies support that developing practical strategies will decrease the damage done to the individual and the business; reducing costs, increasing staff loyalty, improving morale, and avoiding fines, claims and disputes.

It is reported that:

  • 1 in 5 people will experience a mental health condition.
  • The typical age of onset for mental ill health is late teens to early 20s.
  • There are a large number of workers who are carers for friends or family with mental ill health. 

What does a resilient workplace look like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a resilient workplace all team members, from the top down, are actively involved in developing, supporting and actioning programs. The team members understand that their physical health affects their mental health and support each other to reach health goals.

Management is considerate of the mental wellbeing of staff and provides a safe environment for staff to be heard, acknowledged and recognised. Comprehensive training and support are offered during times of change and flexibility and autonomy are encouraged.

Team members are given access to resources that promote skills they can use as individuals to take care of themselves and manage stress. Skills such as goal setting, meditation, mindfulness, taking regular ‘me’ breaks, eating well and being kind to self.

Most importantly, communication in the workplace is effective and open, and social interaction with other employees is enjoyed. These positive relationships promote good mental health and problem-solving solutions among the team.

Working Together: Promoting mental health and wellbeing at work offers good practice and practical information to this complex area of resilient workplaces and teams. This online resource acknowledges that resilient individuals are flexible, adaptive and optimistic, and a resilient team is one of support based on mutual trust and participation.

 Your plan 

Whether you are a solo-preneur, not for profit organisation or a large company, building a resilient workplace will have benefits for you, your workers and your business.

To begin to build your healthy, happy and productive workspace practical strategies can include:

  • Identify areas of concern and areas of improvement.
  • Gain involvement, acceptance, and commitment from all.
  • Provide clear expectations and goals, tools and support that promote resilience, individually and professionally.
  • Take an active role.
  • Have clear role descriptions, outlining all responsibilities and opportunities.
  • Have effective and regular communication methods in place.
  • Encourage social interaction and self-care check-ins.
  • Promote a fair, inclusive workplace.
  • Set up peer support and mentoring opportunities.

Now that you have considered how performance affects productivity, and how building a resilient workplace can benefit each one of your workers in a positive way, what would you consider the most important change or improvement you could make now?

Please share your strategies here.

Images: Pixabay

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Resilience

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Easy-Peasy Blog Post Template

My whole career has been a combination of corporate and small business hands on experience, and during the last decade I have watched on with interest, and attempted to participate, as the way businesses communicate their message to their customers has multiplied, technology driven mediums have increased, and consumer expectations of professional goods and services have soared.

After publishing my book, Separated by Work, I realised that to compete in today’s business world I had to immerse myself in learning the most up to date information available. Where was the best place to do that? University of course, where I am currently completing a Bachelor of Communication, majoring in PR and Social Media.

As I learn, I come across tools that make me recognise I have been mostly winging it for the last 10 years. Just hanging in there with passion and enthusiasm for my work, but ad-libbing my communication strategies it all the same. A couple of valuable templates I came across today are, what I believe to be, a business ‘must have’ and a ‘wish I could have had a long time ago’.

Content rules: how to create killer blogs, podcasts, videos, eBooks, webinars (and more) that engage customers and ignite your business is one of my social media subject’s texts. In the book, which I highly recommend you get a copy of, Handley and Chapman share a blog template and a content rules checklist. To get the links to their ‘secret insiders page’ you must buy the book, but I was so impressed with the book and the tools they share throughout and on their website I wanted to let all my business friends know.

I like to shout it out whenever I come across a wonderful piece of advice, a great product or upon receiving excellent service. So, to finish off I will borrow the final bit of advice from the end of the above recommended blog template:

Shout it! Spread the word! Tell your family! Your friends! Facebook! LinkedIn! Let your network know your post is live; generate excitement for the post and earn some well-deserved kudos.”

Have you read this book and used the tools? Do you have other tools that you find valuable in creating great content and getting your message to your customers? If so, please share them here, or your thoughts on the book.

Until next time, Kirsty 🙂

 

Posted in: Business

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The Seven Circles – Relationships

Many people go in and out of our lives. Some stay for a while and some are gone in a blink of an eye. Some raise hell and others raise our spirits. Many teach us what we need to learn at the time, whilst others seem to be of little consequence.

Have you ever wondered who fits where? Have you ever struggled with people’s changing attitudes and behaviours? Have you ever hung on to a toxic relationship or friendship for too long? Are your thoughts cluttered with trying to ‘work out’ where others are at, or why they made ‘that’ comment in ‘that’ tone? Have you trusted someone you wish you hadn’t? Are you unsure who is ‘your tribe’? I may have the solution.

Over two decades ago a teacher of mine shared with me The Seven Circles. At the time, I was struggling in a deteriorating marriage and had some toxic friendships to compliment it; and to top it all off, a couple of family members where behaving badly. This exercise changed my perspective and lifted me out of the draining situations, gave me clarity, and allowed me to make better choices with my time and energy. Since then I sit down and fill in my circles every year, or when I feel I am beginning to get drawn into others dramas.

Here is a graphic of the seven circles explaining what each circle represents:

 

You can print The Seven Circles up here, including a blank one for you complete.

I would love to hear your findings, and how The Seven Circles supported you to create more clarity around those you choose to share time and energy with. After all, “We become who we hang around.”

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience

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A Year of Possibilities

Happy New Year!

Preparing for a new year can often feel daunting, and will be overlooked by many if it seems to hard, only to find regret around Easter that this time wasn’t taken.

So, to help you prepare, I have put together a list of ten points to consider when entering into anything new, especially a new year of possibilities, to support you getting the most out of this year.

The following list will give you the beginnings of creating a strong foundation to leap off. This reminds me of one of my favourite sayings, “prior preparation prevents piss poor performance!” Take time to mull over each one.

  1. What is your carrot? What is the thing, your why, that will keep you moving forward and keep your focus?
  2. Get real about the pitfalls, and the worst-case scenario that can occur. It is likely you will be struggle free this year, yet there is also a chance that stuff will happen, you will be blindsided, and bowled over. When stuff happens, what is the plan? What is the best way to address it? What is going to work to keep everyone on the same team, solution and goal focused?
  3. Create a dialogue around what you say to other friends, family members, your children, and those you talk to about your goals, career and lifestyle. Be supportive and positive in your language and prepare the standard responses. This will help when people begin to share their well–intended, yet negative opinion of your choices.
  4. How are you going to manage your finances this year? Create a realistic and flexible budget, then stick to it.
  5. Identify the possible stressors within your family, the routines that are required, also how the responsibilities will be shared to meet the demands of how you would like this year to look.
  6. Listen to how the other people in your circle of influence are feeling, the hopes, positive feelings, concerns, worries, and motivations. Open the conversation to what ifs, those things that may never happen—what if someone becomes ill, what if you are losing sight of the carrot, what if stress gets the better of you, what if one of you is just over it? There are lots of what ifs, discussing them lightly with no expectation of them ever happening, is a good thing because this can alert you to possible stress triggers later on and you will be more open and prepared to deal with the issues together.
  7. Start now to find all the resources you can that have information on what you would like to achieve. Start by Googling, and the more you read, learn, feel supported, and develop an understanding of the jargon, the easier you will find it is to keep on track.
  8. Set up a plan of communication and connection to others. What will work for you, your friends and your family? It doesn’t have to be every day, but by having a sense of belonging and a supportive network around you will triple your chances of success. Don’t get too busy to check in with your mates and family.
  9. What is going to be your time management system, or flexible plan, or list process that keeps you on track with all you want to do, need to do, and includes rest and relaxation?  Have a rough idea prepared so you will enjoy more fun and relaxation, keep working towards your ‘why’, and reduce overwhelm and stress.
  10. How will you improve, grow and develop this year? Just working and watching TV isn’t going to hit the right note. Could you be studying, reading, personally or professionally developing, starting a side home business, learning a new type of dance, getting fit, getting involved in a sport or volunteer position, or making new friends? You may be limited by hours in the day or home responsibilities, however embarking on something new that fits in with your life will energise you and support new possibilities.

I hope these tips spark a brighter vision for you this year. I wish you a wonderful 2018, and if you would like any support – either questions, or would like a quick phone chat please email me.
Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Resilience

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Book Review: PUG (Philosophical Universal Guidance)

When Exisle Publishing asked me to review PUG I wondered whether it was a children’s book, a book for Pug owners (the dog breed) or, something else.

What I found was it was something else entirely!

The author (apparently, no ordinary Pug) hopes that through sharing his or her thoughts with the reader, they are inspired to be happier, more optimistic and live a more fulfilling life.  Did I find this to be true as I turned the pages and read on?

Yes, I did!  PUG’s message – translated through the wise words and delightful illustrations of Helen James – opens possibilities for the reader to take positive action in 29 encouraging and insightful short teachings.

This colourful book is perfect for a central location in your home, on the lunchroom table at work or a gift for someone who needs a boost. And, the most wonderful realisation is that this book will be enjoyed by all age groups.

If you are looking for a daily or weekly focus, know you could be doing something different or better and don’t know what that is or you want to benefit from the wisdom of one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, this book is certain to inspire and delight.

Buy Book | More Information – RRP $19.99 – Due for release October 2017 so pre-order your copy now.

 

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience

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Troll Travels – Who Am I?

This is a fun exercise that supports you finding out who you are, why it matters and why you think, feel and act the way you do.  Why is it important to pinpoint your top qualities and define you?  Answering the question, ‘Who Am I’ will enable you to become a better communicator, increase your confidence and help to create clearer goals that are more meaningful to you in the future.

A few years ago I heard about Trevor the Troll, he is a self-improvement junkie who is very skilled at helping you define who you are.

There are a few steps to take to get you over three bridges and to the end, and Trevor the Troll will be there at each bridge demanding you hand over some of what you think makes you YOU; until you only have some of your qualities left!  I wonder which ones will be left? Let’s begin and find out…


 

First ask yourself “Who am I?”. And now write down everything that makes you YOU below. Remember not all of these qualities will be ‘good’.  Write as many as you possibly can, maybe you could fill a whole page! (HINT: Which makes some easier to get rid of)

 


 

I want you to imagine you’re about to cross Bridge Number 1. But to cross and not be eaten – Trevor the Troll demands you hand over 30 percent of who you are to him!

What are the qualities you will give away first? Return to your list of qualities now, and when you’ve crossed out 30 percent of your most expendable qualities you can move on…


 

So, now imagine you’re approaching Bridge Number 2. And again, to cross and not be eaten, Trevor the Troll demands you hand over 30 percent of who you are to him.

What are the qualities you will give away next? When you’ve crossed out another 30 percent of your qualities you can move on to the 3rd bridge…

 


 

So, you’re about to cross Bridge Number 3 and it’s time for the final visit to your list of qualities. What final 30 percent of your qualities will you give away? Think hard because the 10 percent you are left with is all you will have for the rest of your journey. What really matters to you? What is the essence of you that you MUST KEEP?

And when you’ve crossed out the final 30% of your qualities you can freely move forward…?


 

Reflection Exercise

Time to wrap up your travels by looking at what is left on your list of qualities.

  • What do you value MOST about yourself – your top 10 percent?
  • What do you notice as you review your most valued qualities?
  • Now consider the qualities you got rid of FIRST. What percent of your time do you spend on these? ……… %
  • What about the qualities you’re left with? What percent of time do you spend on these? ……… %
  •  Where do you place your focus in life? Why do you think that is?
  • Where do you place to place your focus and energy from now on?  How will you do things differently so you can?
  • What else have you learned about yourself from this exercise?

To be aware and in alignment with who you are will always produce more satisfying results.  You will have more, do more and be more of what is important to you; and inspire others with your confident go-getter energy.  Knowing who you and why it matters will allow you to move from the day to day drain to a place of flow and opportunity. Who doesn’t want a bit more of that? Thanks Trevor the Troll 😉

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Resilience

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Over being overwhelmed in January?

As you enter the shops and see the isles filled with exercise books, pens and pencils; pass the shoe stores and notice that black and white shoes have taken over much of the floor space – you realise that back to school is fast approaching.

Apart from the cost of purchasing school supplies, there is a sudden realisation that madness is fast approaching – before, during and after school activities, homework expectations, uniforms to be constantly cleaned and pressed, and making sure there is enough food to prepare and pack!

My eldest is 21 years old and my youngest is 9.  I have had many years of getting it wrong, getting it right, and most years it is a bit of both!  Here I share my top 18 tips to support you being better prepared and be more productive this upcoming year.

  1. Plan and prepare to avoid chaos. This includes weekly schedules, lists and weekly meal and shopping plan. Create a flexible routine that works for your family – from waking to bedtime.
  2. Have a central calendar in the house that all family members have access to with events written on it that are coming up.
  3. At least a couple of times a week make double the evening meal and freeze half for those nights when you run out of the time or enthusiasm to cook.
  4. Make time to bake each week.
  5. Make lunches and get uniforms ready the night before. We all think we will get it done in the morning, but sometimes it is just such a rush and adds so much pressure when trying to get you and your children ready and out the door!
  6. Have bags packed and checked ready to go the night before (including the hat).
  7. I think it’s never too early to give children some responsibility –tasks that you know they can complete for their age and abilities.
  8. Give children checklists – good for parents too!
  9. It is the perfect time to have conversations with your children when driving around with your kids in the car. They can’t get out or walk away!
  10. Take weekly time out for you to de-stress and reward yourself.
  11. Get proper sleep so you have the energy each day needs and avoid getting run down and common illnesses.
  12. Eat well to feel good and keep up. Feed your kids well to keep them healthy and calm.
  13. Remember to breathe – sometimes we just need to stop, take a couple of deep breathes and then proceed.
  14. Keep at least one day free on a weekend to relax and have fun with your family.
  15. Be kind to yourself.
  16. Ask for help when you need it!
  17. 30, 30, 30 and 30 every day! 30 minutes for quiet time for you, 30 minutes listening to your children with enthusiastic interest, 30 minutes for your partner and 30 minutes making sure you have cleared your day and are prepared for tomorrow.
  18. Get up each morning with a grateful affirmative attitude and a desire to meet all challenges with a smile.

As parents, we are constantly creating, re-inventing and re-shaping whilst keeping up with all the demands and challenges of each day. Creating routines and being organised will keep everyone on the same page and help you make sure you go to bed each night feeling a sense of peace and achievement – well most days!

What can you do differently this year to make your school and work weeks run smoothly?

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Here Be Dragons – Book Review

I was asked recently by Exisle Publishing to review Here Be Dragons.  It says on the cover, “A parent’s guide to discovering purpose, adventure, and the unfathomable joy of the journey.” I did think to myself, “not another parenting book!”

I got to about page three and, to my delight, couldn’t put it down.

It wasn’t like any other parenting book I had read or reviewed.  I loved what was different. It is written by Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh and Ken Harbaugh – from how they met, how they developed as people together and apart, and how they met each challenge once they became parents.  I found it to be an honest and personal insight into both parent’s experience and how they felt about it and dealt with it – and is full of humour only parent’s would appreciate!

I felt a part of Annmarie’s and Ken’s lives as I turned the pages and could relate to their many experiences; as well as how they had overcome the tough times.

What stood out for me though was how they described real issues faced by all of us once we become parents –

  • How mothers are judged differently to fathers.
  • Working through career goals and meeting the needs of your children.
  • Who does what, when.
  • How imbalanced it can be – and that is perfect.
  • Getting the right people around you.
  • Weathering each storm, knowing it will pass.

Then it is all tied nicely together at the end with a section of topics and questions for discussion as you examine your own ‘story’.

I highly recommend Here be Dragons for parents of any age children.  Whether it is for reflection, guidance or amusement – this book has it all.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Beyond the Paper, Pen, and Envelope — Being Mindful Online

being-mindful-online

I think I might get T-Shirts made with the slogan—“Even though we’re miles apart, a computer screen connects our hearts.” It sums up my families reliance on technology to feel close and communicate when we are separated by work.

Our FIFO (fly in fly out) lifestyle demands we use phones, mobile devices, and computers more than we would if we were seeing each other every day. We all have instantaneous methods at our fingertips to communicate. This is a wonderful thing, and I personally am very grateful for it, yet there is more to consider when navigating online communication and social media—the to do, what to be aware of, and what to avoid.

Technology itself is not a bad thing—it is how it is used that can be a cause for concern. We need to be aware that technology can completely rewrite our brain pathways. For people who spend too much time interacting through a screen, the neural pathways change and different ones are created.

A study by UCLA professor Dr Gary Small in 2007 asked three regular internet users and three neophytes to browse websites, in an attempt to point out the cognitive differences between heavy and light multi-taskers. Dr Small discovered differences in the neural activity between both parties when tasked to Google pre-assigned topics. The part of the experienced Internet users’ brains involved in decision-making and problem- solving lit up like fireworks, but the same couldn’t be said for the other half of the group.

After further testing under this study, test participants were asked to browse the web for one hour a day. Dr Gary Small discovered that the inexperienced Internet users’ brains lit up like their experienced counterparts six days later. This showed that people’s web surfing habits change their neural pathways. Online activity affects concentration, self-esteem, and people can lose empathy.

Communicating via a screen can increase a lack of empathy. This leads to people saying things electronically they’d never say directly to someone—because the person to who they are talking to isn’t physically present to display their emotional reaction. Dr Gary Small said in 2011, “I think all this online time is weakening our face-to-face human contact skills. Many people, particularly young digital natives, gain social support through their hours of texting and social networking, but does that person who averages more than 11 hours each day using technology look you in the eye when you have a conversation? I know when someone maintains eye contact, I have a greater sense that he or she is listening and interested in what I have to say. I feel a greater empathic contact.”

I think it is as if the part of our nervous system that registers the feelings of others has been paralysed or removed when we are communicating electronically. I have had times where I was talking to others electronically and they respond in a way that shows the message wasn’t received as I intended. When we discuss further they are quick to realise that they had misread what I was saying due to us not being face to face.

Five tips to use phones and computers effectively –

  1. Don’t say anything electronically that you wouldn’t say in person.
  2. Use your words well, whether you are speaking, texting, or typing. Re-read it and attempt to avoid any misinterpretation before sending.
  3. Don’t delay responding to messages you would rather avoid. If you feel you don’t completely understand, ask for more information rather than disregard, or ignore it.
  4. Listen for tone of voice cues as to how the person is feeling or hearing what you are saying, and always check for understanding.
  5. Remember emojis are not a true expression of feelings— nothing is better than hearing a laugh and seeing a smile on someone’s face.

Mobile devices and computers are not just connecting tools for family and friends. The screen world expands to include a global network of people who have access to each letter you type and the technological footprint you are creating.

I enjoy the benefit of instantly sharing photos, quotes, memories, and activities on social media with my friends and family. I like that I can support others if they are struggling and post about it in an online group I am in. Just remember though that in these online groups some people use a screen and keyboard to confront others, and some share difficult emotions that they would not do face-to-face.

Use online communication and social media properly and mindfully. The Internet is an amazing tool and it is here to stay. To make technology serve you well requires good judgment. Aim for a balance of online and in-person connecting and really think about what you are posting and how that affects others. Think about how it represents you and your family and keep at top of mind that a gentle smile or a heartfelt hug has far more power than the cleverest emoticon. Please be aware of the other person’s situation or needs if you are tagging or mentioning someone, or a company, or a site on social media groups. If in doubt, get their permission first, or wait 24 hours and see if you still want to type and send that message.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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