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BossWoman eNews – December 2004
Combining prosperous work lives and balanced personal lives

Welcome to the December 2004 edition of Susan Robison's free e-mail newsletter for women business owners, executives, and professionals.

Our goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and prosperous life while making a difference. If you are on this list you have been a client, an advocate, or attended a workshop. Pass this newsletter on to others who might be interested. This e-mail list is not sold or exchanged. Details on subscribing (and unsubscribing) are at the end.

In this issue, you'll find:

  1. Peace on Earth
  2. BossWoman coaching
  3. Up and coming workshops
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1. Peace on Earth
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Throughout the winter holiday season you will find expressions of the same sentiment, people wishing each other peace. It seems like such a simple concept, that people not fight with each other. Our grandson is in a mother’s morning out program where part of the curriculum is on “good manners.” He is only 20 months old and can repeat the lessons: “take turns,” “don’t hit,” “say, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you.’” Easy lessons to memorize, harder to implement. If you don’t see any progress on the noble goal of peace on earth, it may be because most of us don’t think about doing anything about it ourselves. In a recent survey of 1000 Americans conducted by the American Psychological Association on how people cope with holiday stress, the survey found that 61% of the respondents say that money was their biggest stressor. Thirty six percent say they either eat or drink alcohol to cope with holiday stress. Forty-five percent say they rely on exercise to relieve stress while 44% turn to religious and spiritual activities. A small number turn to massage and yoga. The researchers didn’t even ask if anyone was concerned about peace on earth although respondents did list national security as their second concern (44% over 63% worrying about money). Job security was third (31%) and concern over family issues was fourth (25%). Promoting world peace seems too big and overwhelming so we concentrate on our own worries and leave peace promotion to others like non-profits and government and religious associations.

What we can do instead is to start small in our own interactions with fellow humans. If you aim at peacefulness in all your personal and commercial interactions and pass the word along that peace can be built in small ways, we might all make a dent in the daunting task of bring about world peace.

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How to Increase Peacefulness in the Workplace
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Sometimes to solve a social ill, you have to change the question or redefine the problem. Shirley Barcase, R. N. was interested in anger management in the workplace. While working on an assignment on anger in the workplace for a grad class that I teach at the College of Notre Dame, she realized that decreasing anger wasn't enough. To change the atmosphere in workplaces to friendlier and kinder, Shirley, an occupational nurse at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, has been working on some ways to increase civility into the workplace. When she proposed a brief roundtable presentation to a professional conference of occupational nurses, the meeting planners were so interest in her creative approach to a challenging problem, they asked her to expand her proposal into a presentation for a larger group. The audience loved her material because it answered the question of why anger management programs don't seem to go far enough: they don't help angry employees find alternatives for the frustrations of the job.

I interviewed Shirley's this past week for some of her ideas on how workers can promote peace at work. She said that promoting peace while at work means holding oneself with respect, appreciation and love of self while respecting and appreciating others (although one may not always agree with others). She offered the following suggestions for something everyone, not just managers, can do.

  1. Maintain open and honest communication. You don't have to agree or pretend to agree with others but stay open minded to others’ perspectives and appreciate them for their contributions. Remaining open to others ideas and view points fosters respect, builds trust and civility.
  2. Maintain intact work relationships by learning to accept others the way they are. When we try to change someone we are disrespecting and destroying who they really are. Diversity is what makes the world go around. If we were all one way, if we use ourselves as measuring rods, life would be boring and monochromatic.
  3. When conflicts arise, recognize how your input may have contributed (intentionally or unintentionally) to the confusion, and consider offering a conciliatory gesture. Try some of the following conciliatory gestures at work (or anywhere):
    • owning responsibility for our part in a misunderstanding;
    • conceding;
    • apologizing for your part of the misunderstanding;
    • expressing positive feelings for the other person;
    • suggesting a both-gain approach to the problem.

    I would add another element.

  4. Slow down your communication. Yes, I know we are all instantly connected by cell phones and commuters and faxes but if we would pause for a moment before we press send from our phones or our mouths, we could increase our civility. Often our first response is not our best. Next time someone says something annoying, pause before responding. Maybe the best response will be to do nothing. Maybe the best response will be to respond with less annoyance than your colleague is showing.
If you are constantly cranky or the recipient of others’ crankiness, maybe Leslie Charles can help.

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Why Is Everyone So Cranky?
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Author/speaker Leslie Charles has done a beautiful job researching and cataloguing some of the ills that prevent us from being peaceful. They include:

  • Compressed time.
  • Communication overload.
  • dis-Coonectedness.
  • Competition.
  • Complexity.
Leslie suggests that all steps toward change begin with one principle: you need to put more conscious thought into what you want and how you plan to make it happen. In other words, if you want world peace, bring peace into your world.

She had ten great suggestions. I picked a couple of my favorite to summarize for you.

  1. Life a life of purpose. Know who you are and what you need to live a meaningful life. Not just putting one foot in front of the other to get through the day but having the steps lead to a sense of fulfilling your unique mission. The happiest people are those who seem the complex tapestry of their lives as all one fabric. That means making choices about your tasks and time related to a bigger picture than just a set of to-do lists.
  2. Quit judging others and put your energy into someone you can change – you.
  3. Replace negative emotions with positive ones. A measure of your maturity is the ability to stop in the middle of a bad mood and change the stinkin’ thinkin’ into new perspectives that will cause a mood shift. How quickly can you flip the switch?
  4. Choose compassion over crankiness. Maybe the waiter is brand new or maybe he is having a bad day. You have some bad days sometimes. Don’t you wish someone would be just a little more patient with you?
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How to Increase Peace in Your Family and Community
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To increase peace in the world, increase your kindness in the small world around you. In what ways can you practice random acts of kindness?

Writer Margot Silk Forrest has written in her excellent book, “A Short Course in Kindness,” that “Kindness is natural. We need to unlearn the lessons that caused us to ignore our natural impulse in the first place.” She suggests that as each person becomes kinder, “There is not telling how much the world can improve if a sweeping movement of kindness provides a safe platform for change… Each act of kindness we contribute inspires others.”

Several of her suggestions:

  1. Take time to really listen to someone without distraction.
  2. Accept the kindness of others. Allow the flow of kindness to pass from others through you to others. Don’t block its flow.
  3. Be kind to yourself. There is a difference in being “nice” where you make huge sacrifices for others at great cost to your own needs and being “kind” where you show thoughtfulness to others while respecting your own needs.
  4. Encourage others when they are down.
I’ll add a few of my own suggestions.
  1. Expect nothing in return and you will receive much. Researchers have found that kindness brings satisfaction and good health to the giver.
  2. Consciously, purposefully look for opportunities to ease someone’s pain through your small effort.
  3. Write down some of your examples of how you are increasing in kindness. The next time you get discouraged about world peace, get out your list and remind yourself that you are doing your part.
  4. Practice the “Platinum Rule,” that is, instead of doing unto others what you would want done unto you, do to them what they really want. That might mean you ask them what they want or with close friends and family, listen to the clues of what they want to relieve stress or add to the quality of their lives.
  5. Encourage children, employees, friends and anyone who looks to you for example to increase their own efforts at kindness.
  6. Refuse to gossip.
  7. Come to the defense of someone being made fun of or put down.
  8. Be generous with praise.
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Conclusion
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Be kind. Practice good manners. Pay it forward and pass it on.

Peace to all,
Susan Robison

References:
C. Leslie Charles. (1999). Why is Everyone So Cranky? New York: Hyperion.
Margot Silk Forrest. (2003). A Short Course in Kindness. San Luis Obispo, CA.: L.M. Press.

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2. BossWoman coaching
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About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a professional coach, speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach women who want improvement in:

  • work-life balance,
  • career transitions,
  • building your business or practice,
  • time management,
  • increasing productivity.
If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life, give Susan a call for a complementary half-hour coaching session.

She provides keynotes and seminars to business and organizations on the topics of:

  • leadership strategies for women,
  • relationships,
  • work-life balance,
  • change.
She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session because she knows that workshops don’t work.

Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar needs at Susan@BossWoman.org or at 410-465-5892.

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3. Up and coming workshops
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Leadership and Management in Non-profits for the master’s program at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. January – May 2005.

Topic: The Four “P’s” of Powerful Presentations
Date: January 24, 2005, Dinner Meeting
Place: Snyder’s Willow Grove
Sponsor: National Association of Women Business Owners – Baltimore Chapter
Contact: Grace Scott, 410-876-0502.

Other talks in 2005 on work, meaning, money, happiness, leadership: to be announced

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BossWoman e-Newsletter is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Coaching should not be construed as a form of, or substitute for, counseling, psychotherapy, legal, or financial services.

© Copyright 2004 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site without the publisher’s permission.

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