How Fake News Makes It Harder for Millennial Parents

November 13th, 2017 by LaRae Quy

As a Baby Boomer, I spent my formative years listening to the news with a healthy dose of cynicism. I grew up when librarians taught us research skills. Gone are those days since libraries have been replaced by Google and other search engines.

Millennials spent their formative years surrounded by personal technology. If they had a question, they relied on the Internet to provide them the answer. As parents, Millennials still rely on Google, only now it’s to provide parenting guidelines. Instead of calling a Grandparent or neighbor, they type in their question and wait for the answer to pop up.

That works until the volume of information overwhelms them. Even harder is to wade through those piles of information and sort out the junk from the valuable. What is accurate? What is reliable? As a parent, you want to know you’ve got your hands on the real facts, not fake news that is meant to confuse or prey on emotions.

Ironically, it will be easier for the children of these same Millennials to spot fake news. A number of schools now realize that it’s important to teach their students how to be savvy about believing different sources of information. Educators call it “media literacy.” According to a Stanford University study, many students judge the credibility of a newsy article based on how many shares it received or whether a photo was attached.

Millennial parents will need to be diligent, persistent, determined, and plucky as they pan the Internet in their search for gold—i.e. credible and reliable information. In other words, they will need to develop a grit-up mindset to persevere in identifying information that can not only harm them, but can also create dissension and discord.

Here’s how fake news and misinformation makes it harder for Millennial parents, and what they can do about it:

1. Think Like Fact Checkers

Snopes started exposing false claims and fake news since the 1990’s. It’s become more prolific now that anyone with access to a phone or computer can publish information online. Instead of reading information and analyzing the content, fact checkers are researchers who can drill down and get to the truth in a couple of minutes.

Millennials grew up with computers and relied upon them for homework assignments. They researched their papers using the Internet and received great grades. In other words, they trusted the information they downloaded.

A good historian never accepts anything at face-value. Neither does a good FBI agent. Nor does a good parent who happened to grow up at a time when they could trust the information obtained on the Internet.

How To Make It Work For You: As fake news and misinformation has become mainstream, our mindset needs to change to balance this trend. Historians and investigators are two groups of people who read information and then immediately move away from the original text, open up a series of tabs in their browser, and start to dig down.

2. Monitor Your Emotions

As a parent, your child’s welfare is paramount. Scam artists know this and will prey on your emotions. Clickbait and fake news strive for extreme reactions. If what you are reading provokes an emotion like anger or smugness, it could be a sign that you’re about to become a victim.

FactCheck.org investigated a story that claimed Donald Trump told People magazine in 1998: “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.” FactCheck.org found no such quote in People‘s archives from 1998, or any other year. And a public relations representative for the magazine confirmed the quote didn’t exist.

Comedian Amy Schumer contributed to fake news when she admitted the Trump quote was fake. She said, “Yes this quote is fake but it doesn’t matter.”

How To Make It Work For You: Mike Caulfield, Washington State University, warns that when you feel a strong emotion, and that emotion pushes you to share a “fact” with others, stop! His research has shown that anything that appeals to the lizard brain is designed to short-circuit our critical thinking.

3. Check The Author And Source

Fake stories can also be sniffed out by doing a little research on the author. Even more suspicion should be thrown at a story that has no byline at all.

Many times bogus stories will cite official, or official-sounding, sources. But, once you look into it, the source doesn’t back up the claim.

It’s always important to track down the original source of the information. The links in the content should allow you to dig deeper until you do uncover the original source. Once you get to the source of the claim, read what other people are saying about the author, the source, etc.

How To Make It Work For You: These days, most credible reporters and authors have websites you can check out. If they claim to have won some award, open another tab on your browser and check it out. Look for unusual URLs or site names. Many times sites try to appear legitimate news sites by adding .co on the end. They are fake sites.

It takes time and effort to identify fake news but that’s why it requires grit. Millennials are not the only ones taken in by this growing trend. It happens to all of us. We all need to develop a grit-up mindset to persevere and take the extra steps needed to protect ourselves from fake news and misinformation.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

Do You Make These Mistakes In Difficult Conversations?

November 6th, 2017 by LaRae Quy

I could not avoid difficult conversations in my line of work. My job as an FBI agent was to pull back the surface and probe for the truth. Often, my difficult conversations involved people who were too scared to admit anything. They wanted to keep the truth hidden, forever. Or, they held opinions that diverged from mine.

Some topics are so sensitive and emotionally charged that good conversations are never easy.

As leaders, you may need to tell a client that the project is delayed. Give an employee an unpleasant performance appraisal. Or, tell a successful, longtime employee that his position is being eliminated.

In today’s divisive world, it’s almost impossible to avoid difficult conversations. You may find yourself in a political debate with a colleague. More and more, people refuse to talk with others who share differing opinions about a variety of issues.

I learned early that there is no human being on the planet with whom you have nothing in common. Sometimes I had to work very hard to find that common ground. The secret is in whether you maintain the right attitude.

Do you make these common mistakes in difficult conversations?

Mistake #1: Interrupting The Other Person

Listen to what the other person is saying. Hear them out and don’t interrupt. Let them tell their story or make their point.

Make sure your actions back up your words. Don’t say, “I understand” as you check your text messages.

TIP: Focus your attention on what the other person is saying. Don’t wait for them to finish so you can jump in with a response. If you are thinking of a response while they are speaking, you aren’t really listening.

Mistake #2: Approach The Conversation With A Need To Be Right

The purpose of a conversation is to listen to what the other person is saying. We listen to understand. Not to decide whether the other person is right or wrong. When we feel the need to be right, it means the other person is wrong. This is a rigid win/lose mindset that creates even more conflict.

TIP: Approach a difficult conversation with an open mind and sincere intent to understand what is being said.

Mistake #3: Jump To Snap Judgments

This is a big one because we all make snap judgments. Often, our snap judgments are correct and that is why we rely on them. But, when we’re wrong, they prevent us from getting accurate information.

Psychologists call the tendency to lump people into stereotypes as the “halo and horns effect.” If we approve of some quality they possess, we judge them more positively in other areas as well. The opposite is also true.

TIP: Research proves that we all have biases. So, drop your assumptions about a person because you may not have all the facts. People change and grow, so update your assumptions from time to time.

Mistake #4: Failure To Show Respect

Take a cue from our headlines—lack of respect has become an epidemic in America. But like any illness, there is an antidote. Empathize with other people. Their experiences and backgrounds are different from yours so try to learn from them. This does not mean you must accept their opinions, but you do need to show respect and listen.

As the spokesperson for the FBI, I did a live TV interview on the topic of Crimes Against Children. The other guest was a convicted child molester who was now out of prison. The producer sat us next to one another with the reporter in front. It took all my restraint to politely listen to him speak about why he molested litle girls. Both the reporter and I showed this man respect. He expressed remorse. He also said interviews like this one were intended to persuade other molesters to get help.

If I can keep my mouth shut and politely hear someone out, so can you. You never know what the other person has experienced or feels. But, with a little respect, you might see the other side of the situation.

TIP: Practice empathy. Watch a video or interview of someone you don’t like. Focus on understanding how that person believes they are doing good.

Mistake #5: Let Emotions Run Wild

Difficult conversations often revolve around emotionally charged issues. Whether it’s politics, religion, or poor performance issues, reactions can be intense.

Emotional competence is the ability to understand and manage emotions in a today’s environment. It is a cornerstone of mental toughness. We are emotionally competent if we know how to control our emotions rather than allowing our emotions to control us.

Professor Robert Plutchik created a Wheel of Emotions to show that emotions follow a path. What starts as annoyance can move on to anger or even escalate to rage.

TIP: Human beings are hard-wired to be emotional. If your emotions get the best of you, be adult enough to admit you said something stupid or hurtful. Then put it behind you and move on.

Mistake #6: Give Up Too Early

Stick it out. Talk through difficult topics even if you want to walk away. There might be moments in the conversation when silence occurs. Silence can be an opportunity for the message to sink in. A pause can morph into a moment of clarity.

TIP: Extroverts tend to think as they speak, so they are more uncomfortable with silence. On the other hand, introverts want to think before they speak. If you understand these differences, it will help you navigate moments of silence so you don’t give up too early.

Mistake #7: Forget To End Well

There is no need to have the last word. If at all possible, do everything you can to preserve the relationship. Relationships can take years to build and minutes to blow up over a difference of opinion.

If possible, think about how your discussion might fix the situation or at least expand your understanding of it. The last thing you want to do is create an irreparable wall between youself and the other person.

TIP: Always end a difficult conversation in a friendly and gracious way. Try to find common ground that will set the groundwork and tone for future constructive conversations.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

 

6 Ways Busy Women Can Get More Organized

October 23rd, 2017 by LaRae Quy

One of the male FBI agents on my squad was talking about household chores that needed to get done. He then ended the conversation with, “I’ll let the wife handle it.” I was a female FBI agent carrying the same amount of assignments as my male counterpart. I couldn’t help but spit out: “We could all use a good wife!”

My retort was met with icy silence but I had made my point. Today’s professional woman is just as busy as her male counterpart. For those of us who don’t have domestic help, it quickly becomes a situation of trying to balance two jobs at once.

In recent years more men have taken on equal responsibility for child-rearing and home-maintenance. Studies studies have found, however, that most women still face an uphill battle when it comes to juggling their priorities.

Whether women resist giving up control at home, or whether the tasks are foisted upon them, it is clear that women need to rewire their thinking. They need to be more efficient at juggling multiple mental tasks to enhance their performance.

Here are 6 ways busy women can get more organized:

1. DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE

Busy women are told they can multi-task better than men to meet the busy challenges of both life and work. But they are getting sucked into a lie—a big one with serious consequences.

While there has been a lot of talk about how women can multi-task, there is very little science to back up this assertion. In fact, psychologists have only been able to confirm that men are slower than women when switching quickly between tasks.

It is possible to engage in several tasks at once but it’s also clear that accuracy and performance drops off quickly—for both men and women.

The reason multi-tasking is not efficient is because the brain works in a serial manner—one thing after another.

People can observe multiple activities, but they are not able to pay equal attention to all of them.

Tip: Busy women should practice how to switch rapidly between tasks. And focus all of their attention on each task as they do so.

2. PRACTICE ROUTINE ACTIVITIES

In the course of a busy day there are times when we all need to perform more than one task at a time. One way to juggle more than one ball is to practice specific, routine activities over and over again until they become embedded. Once that activity is embedded, start layering by adding more activities.

Driving to work is a perfect example: you do not need to “think” about the route you drive, the radio station to select, which exit to take, or directions to your office.

These activities are embedded into your thinking because your brain likes to identify patterns. The more you use a pattern, the less attention you will need to complete the task.

Tip: Busy women need to embed repetitive tasks as much as possible because it will free up their brain. This will allow them to focus on other tasks that arise during a busy day.

3. PRIORITIZE INFORMATION

We’ve all experienced a barrage of information coming at us all at once. As a result, we sometimes get paralyzed and feel that we can’t move ahead with any decision! This is a normal reaction because your brain is experiencing an overload of information that is queuing up for attention.

Just like a computer can get constipated with too many jobs coming in at once, our brain reacts in much the same way.

Tip: When busy women find themselves confronted with chaos or bottlenecks, prioritize the information. Once they introduce order into the way they make your decisions, they will free up the brain’s energy so it has more space for other information.

4. WORK IN SPRINTS

Physiologist Nathaniel Kleitman has discovered that we operate in a 90-minute rhythm throughout the day by moving progressively through periods of higher and lower alertness. After working at high intensity for more than 90 minutes, we begin relying on stress hormones for energy.

The result is that our prefrontal cortex starts to shut down; we begin to lose our ability to think clearly and move into a physiological state commonly referred to as “fight or flight.”

This research confirms that we have a need for rhythmic pulses of rest and renewal throughout our day. Many of us rely on willpower to bulldoze through lengthy projects or meet deadlines, but taking regular breaks is just what our brain needs.

Tip: Busy women need to resist overriding a period of low alertness with caffeine. Instead, manage your time by working hard for 90 minutes and then take a 20-minute break. Make it a priority each morning to focus single-mindedly on your most challenging and important task for 60 to 90 minutes before taking a break. Even better, encourage those who work for you to do the same.

5. USE WISDOM WHEN SPLITTING ATTENTION

If you feel pressured by several things at once, make a conscious decision as to whether you should split your focus, and then put a time limit on how long you will spend spitting your attention.

Afterward, go back and focus on your first priority. If a thought should enter your mind about another matter, jot a quick note to remind you at a later date and resume focusing on your priority.

It is possible to juggle several things at once, but remember, the only way to do multiple mental tasks, if accuracy is important, is by doing them one at a time.

Tip: Busy women need to be observant at meetings. If you’re speaking and observe that people are splitting their attention by texting or checking email, announce that the next point you are going to make is important so you get their full attention.

6. RECOGNIZE YOUR BRAIN LOVES VISUALS

Visuals are a great way to activate the mind. That’s why storytelling, pictures, and metaphors work so well — they generate an image.

Visuals are laden with information. They provide color, shape, size, context, etc. Since they take less energy than words, they are efficient ways for the brain to process information.

Tip: Busy women should grab a pen and paper and write down their prioritized projects for the day. This saves their brain from the need to recall and review each one. Save that energy for getting those tasks done! There is a reason checklists are so useful.

The biggest tip of all

While busy women can use these tips to help them get more organized, the same tips apply to busy men!

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

Why Some People Succeed Almost All The Time

October 16th, 2017 by LaRae Quy

I was never the smartest student in my classes. I had to really work hard to earn an A. But, I thought I knew why some people succeed almost all the time. Because they are smart!

When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people who are blessed with brains are the ones who will make it to the top. Common sense suggests that being smart inspires confidence. It does for awhile, but only while the going is easy.

The deciding factor in success is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People who are convivial and pleasant even in hard times tend to attract the right people around them. With the right people come the right opportunities.

There is a reason why some people succeed almost all the time, and it has little to do with being smart. Instead, they develop personal habits that carry them through setbacks and challenges. They use mental toughness to master the art of discipline and become the right person at the right time.

Here is a list of personal habits for you to cultivate as well:

1. Forget Self-Improvement

The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they understand their core strengths. They don’t waste precious time trying to fix their weaknesses. Too much popular self-improvement tries to build up a skill set or talent that is lacking.

Identify your strong character strengths and skill sets. Think about how you might use those strengths at work, in relationships, and at home. You’re also less likely to experience depression and other anxiety.

TIP: Bask in what is already great about yourself rather than try to fix what is not.

2. Savor “Me” Time

The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they understand the value of time. They direct their efforts toward the most important things in their life. It is important that they impose effective time management skills and learn how to say no.

They prioritize what needs to be done from what would be nice to get done. People who savor “me” time are very good at cutting out toxic relationships that add no value. Small acts of self-care do not need to take up giant blocks of time. But it is important to allow yourself to indulge in the stuff that brings you joy.

TIP: Spend a little time and write down the things that bring a smile to your face. Find ways to incorporate these small acts of joy into your daily life.

3. Develop A Back-Up Plan

The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they don’t leave things to chance. They have a back-up plan—for just about everything. From electrical outages to failed business plans, they create strategies that will help them move forward.

One of my favorite lines comes from The Eiger Sanction, a movie starring Clint Eastwood in which 5 men plan to climb the Eiger in Switzerland. Eastwood asks one of the climbers about the back-up plan in case they need to retreat. The climber replies, “I consider it self-defeating to plan in terms of retreat.” Eastwood’s character responds with, “I consider it stupid not to.”

Have a Plan B, because if Plan A is derailed, you can land on your feet and move right into Plan B. You might get blindsided by new competition, new regulations, or a turn in the economy.

TIP: Always have a Plan B to fall back on when things go wrong. And have other people available to help you execute it when the time comes.

4. Know What Makes Them Tick

The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they pursue things that bring them value and meaning. They’ve figured out what makes them tick and they go for it. They edit the stuff that detracts from their pursuit.

Often, they make an extra effort to educate themselves about different issues and topics. This doesn’t mean they have loads of formal education, but they are curious.  Most likely, curiosity is what alerted them to their passion in the first place.

TIP: Find something that provides you with value and meaning. It might be related to your job, or it might not. It isn’t always important to get paid. But do put your gift to use.

5. Unafraid Of The Unknown

There was a shepherd boy named David. He was not a warrior and he was small in size. David looked at a giant named Goliath and said “I will strike you down and cut off your head. ” That is exactly what he did. Challenges are only as big as we make them.

The runt of the litter takes on the giant. We love stories of the underdog who musters the courage and confidence to find ways of beating the odds!

According to the story, David ran toward the giant. As Goliath moved in for the kill, David noticed a gap in the armor that protected Goliath’s head. David reached into his bag and slung one of his stones. It struck on the forehead, the giant fell down on the ground.

TIP: To increase safety, move toward the unknown. When David moved closer to the threat, he was able to see where and how to strike. Opportunities not seen from a distance were made visible as he pressed forward.

6. Cultivate Kindness

The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because other people like being around them. They attract other people who succeed almost all the time!

Being a do-gooder can increase your level of contentment. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but small acts of kindness can change your mental outlook. If the man standing behind you in the grocery line looks hungry and is buying one item, let him go ahead of you. Give someone a compliment.

What goes around comes around. If you are kind to others, there’s a decent chance you’re kind to yourself as well.

TIP: Try this 10-second exercise from Chade-Meng Tan. Identify two people in your office and think, “I wish for these two people to be happy and content.” Don’t say or do anything else. Since no one else knows what you’re doing, there’s no risk of embarrassment. It turns out that being on the giving end of a kind thought is rewarding in and of itself.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

5 Mindsets Of Resilient People

October 9th, 2017 by LaRae Quy

When I interviewed with the FBI, I was asked why I wanted to become an agent. I answered, “I want to make the best, better.” Apparently my interview panel liked that answer because 6 months later I was in the FBI Academy.

My answer was freighted with the stuff that makes resilient people—grit. It’s not knowing how, but doing it anyway. Push through the obstacles and crap that shows up in life, and always seek ways to improve and be better at what we do.

Organizations need resilient people. We all know that things do not always go according to plan, and employees can lose both heart and focus. When it happens, leaders need to be resilient people who are flexible and resourceful so they can create productive work environments for people. Uncertainty and ambiguity are the enemy, but if we want to survive in today’s environment, we’d better get used to them.

The right mindset produces the coping skills we need to resilient. Here are 5 mindsets of resilient people:

1. ACCEPT THAT IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU

In the FBI Academy I was surrounded by colleagues who were truly extraordinary people. I did not feel as though I measured up against them; after all, most were seasoned armed forces personnel, successful trial lawyers, or stalwart law enforcement officers. I was a buyer at a fancy department store. When I stood and introduced myself at the FBI Academy, everyone turned to get a look at the fluffball who had accidentally found herself at the Marine Corp base In Quantico, VA.

I suffered the instant humiliation of being average, and being average in an organization like the FBI is akin to sanctioning a standard of failure. I could either wallow in self-pity or I could accept  that it was not all about me.

Instead of worrying that I was not exceptional, I honestly evaluated my skill set and understood where I was mediocre and average; but this is what made me resilient—I knew I could improve.

Resilient people focus on improvement, because it shifts the focus from feeling sorry for their situation to the humble acceptance that we all need to find where and how we can improve—whether it’s in our relationships, our ability to embrace change, or in our corporate governance.

The pressure to be the next best thing is automatically lifted from your back, along with the stress and anxiety that comes with being “exceptional” in everyone’s eyes, especially your own.

TIP: Success will not make you a better person. All the self-esteem coaching and books in the world only gives you permission to focus on what you don’t have. You don’t need more mantras or affirmations; you need a better way to look at your world. No matter where you are in life, simply focus on how you can improve as a person.

2. PRIORITIZE WHAT IS IMPORTANT

 

Events in themselves are not necessarily traumatic. It’s the way we choose to interpret those events that produces the negative emotions. Events can be neither good nor bad; it is our interpretation of them that makes them good or bad.

If someone puts a gun to your head and orders you to run 6 miles, that is a negative event. If you run 6 miles to graduate from the FBI Academy with a throng of people cheering you on, it is a positive event. Its the same 6 miles; what is different is your attitude.

Resilient people choose the right mindset when they focus and prioritize their thoughts based on what matters to them. This produces a mindset that teaches them how to fight for what they want in life without becoming a casualty themselves.

TIP: Resilient mindsets are those that choose to be the victory rather than win the victory. Real success comes from who they become, not what they achieve.

3. REFUSE TO PLAY THE BLAME GAME

The only 4 letter word I never heard in my 24 years in the FBI was “can’t.” Do not bitch, whine, complain, or blame others. As agents, we took responsibility for the cases we investigated and worked hard to help the victims. We looked struggles in the eye because they produced the kind of problems that were worth fighting for.

To make an excuse for yourself or shirk responsibility is immature. You might as well lower your standards here and now because you’re not resilient enough to face life’s struggles and endure the pain and ambiguity that is needed to move forward.

When you choose to live according to your values, you automatically generate a better set of problems. When you have better problems, you have a better life.

TIP: Ask yourself, “What am I willing to struggle for?” Remember: Life is hard. Pain is inevitable. Growth is optional.

4. BRING IT ON

One of the things the FBI liked about me is that I grew up on a remote cattle ranch in Wyoming. I was tough scrappy, and full of grit. They liked that I wasn’t coddled, pampered, or entitled. When I was 5 years old, I got bucked off my pony, Socks. I learned early that getting knocked down was part of life; I also learned that getting back up was part of it as well.

Snowflake is a term used to characterize the young adults who are more prone to taking offence and less resilient than previous generations, or are too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own.

They are entitled people and they are not resilient because they need to feel good about themselves all the time. Entitled people are needy—they put themselves before others. Besides being a pain in the ass to be around, they crumble when things get tough. You can’t count on them when the chips are down.

The easy way does not create resilient people. You may want to start your own business or work your way into the C-suite, but you won’t end up a successful entrepreneur or executive unless you find a way to work through the uncertainty and ambiguity that comes with change and risk.

If you want the benefits, you also have to want the struggle. A beach body requires the sweat of intense workouts. To lose weight, you have to want the hunger pangs that go with it. If you want success, you have to want the hard work, persistence, determination, and endurance that comes with success.

TIP: If you keep finding yourself wanting something but never getting closer, then maybe what you are looking at is a fantasy. Or even worse, a false promise.

5. STOP TRYING TO BE HAPPY

Happiness is transitory. It can claim our full attention for a few moments, and then it disappears as it passes through our life. Happiness doesn’t have the same heft as an emotion like sadness, joy, or contentment. It’s a bit of fluff; nice, but of no real consequence.

Happiness depends upon external circumstances, those in which you are never in total control. Happiness is anchored in the future and depends upon outside situations, people, or events to align with your expectations.

Joy and contentment, however, depend upon our internal circumstances. They can’t be bought and don’t rest on someone else’s behavior. You can get fired, dumped, pulled through the coals of a fire and still feel joy deep in your heart.

It is in our choices that we become mentally tough. We learn to prioritize our emotions, thoughts, and behavior so we can pick what is important to us based on our values and beliefs.

TIP: All the “be happy” shit is a lie. Happiness is an emotion; joy is an attitude. Demand more from life than a few fleeting moments of an emotion that draws its power from others. Instead, dare yourself to dig down deep and find joy.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

How To Get Along With Negative People

October 2nd, 2017 by LaRae Quy

Negative people show up in all walks of life. As an undercover FBI agent, I couldn’t pick and choose the people I met. So, I learned to get along with everyone, even negative people who were downright toxic. Often I was forced to spend time with people who felt trapped by their life and blamed others for their situation.

What are the characteristics of negative people?  They are soul-sucking individuals who take but never give back. Often, they refuse to accept responsibility for their failures. Blame others for their hardships. Possess no desire to improve themselves. Search out and find the negative in everything they see. They then pass on those observations to everyone around them. Have I missed anything?

I’m picky about the friends with whom I spend time. It’s important to be surrounded who uplift, energize, and encourage those around them. I’ve always believed that the people with whom I surround myself will either make or break my success.

My undercover experiences made me realize that many people go to work everyday and find themselves surrounded by colleagues and associates who are losers. Losers are people who are depressed, unhappy, frustrated, or angry about their situation in life.

Negative people often become toxic.

It takes mental toughness to walk into the same situation day after day and face the negative attitudes of others. And, not let it rub off on you. That negative shit can be catching! We need to find ways to get along with the people without becoming depressed or frustrated ourselves.

Here are 4 things to understand if you want to get along with negative people:

1. Catch the Right Attitude

Negative attitudes catch on more easily than positive ones. The reason is our survival-driven, limbic system in the brain is powerful. It has kept us safe for centuries by alerting us to negative information that warns us of danger. Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than positive stimuli. Social psychologists explain that negative information is like velcro while positive information is like teflon. Negativity is stickier; we take it more seriously and pay more attention to it.

Tip: We don’t need to run from negative information because it creates anxiety or fear in us. Do not let the negativity of others affect your well-being. Instead, handle negative information and do one of the following:

  • write in a journal
  • focus on a positive thought for 20 seconds or more
  • talk it through with a trusted friend

These activities will move you from the emotional brain to the part of the brain that thinks.

2. Groupthink is Strong

Once a negative synergy develops within a work environment, it’s tough to break the culture that’s been established. Groupthink is strongly associated with survival. To express a contrary view places us at risk of being ostracized. Negative behavior is sometimes encouraged by leadership so watch your step. Make sure you understand your organization’s culture and groupthink.

Tip: Walk into work everyday and understand that your co-workers and colleagues are heavily influenced by the message sent from leadership. We tend to give more heft to messages delivered from people in authority.  If you’re trying to bring positivity into the conversation, you must be seen as a person of influence.

3. Keep Your Mental Chatter Positive

The way in which we speak to ourselves is one of the best indicators of our chances of success. Because of our negativity bias, our mental chatter is up to 70% negative.

We often assume that a when a person uses positive language, it’s an accurate indication of their attitude. However, studies have shown that behavior is a far more reliable predictor of what a person really thinks than the words they speak. People can appear positive on a superficial level when they use the right words. But their loser behavior is a far better indicator of what is going on inside their head.

Tip: When negative people surround us, we need to recognize when their negativity affects our own mental chatter. Research shows that we say between 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves every minute. Train yourself to speak and think in positive terms. You can “override fears” that are stimulated by the continual negativity of others.

4. Maintain a Positive and Realistic Attitude

Researchers have drilled down into the science of positivity. The positivity of Normal Vincent Peale quotes may seem trite to some. However, there is ample evidence to suggest that a positive attitude makes a difference. You can either survive your circumstances or thrive in a world that you create.

When we are positive, we are able to look reality in the face and not flinch. Positive thinking is not sugar-coated phrases or optimism that insists circumstances will change.

Tip: Often, your circumstances will not change and you must decide how you will continue to move forward anyway. Be positive and believe your destiny is in your hands.

Be an example to the negative people around you. Help them identify what they are good at. Encourage them to focus on those positive qualities. Once they do, they may believe they are more than passive observers in their own life.

“Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude toward us.”~John N. Mitchell

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

8 Ways To Become More Resilient

September 18th, 2017 by LaRae Quy

FBI agents need to be resilient so they can solve cases that have no easy or obvious solution. They go to where they are needed, not to where they feel comfortable.

As an FBI agent, I was assigned investigations where I had no idea how to solve them. But this was my thinking: Drop me in the middle of any squad or any situation; anywhere, anytime. I will not be scared, nor will I give up. If I’m knocked down, I’ll drag myself back up and keep at it until I solve the case.

This is the mindset of a survivor—a person who is resilient enough to bounce back from the trauma of everyday life.

As business leaders and entrepreneurs, you will be required to be resilient when confronted with obstacles and roadblocks. You have a willingness to swim upstream and not give up simply because the tide is against you.

Resilient people are successful because they possess certain qualities. Here are 8 ways you can become more resilient:

1. Take Responsibility For Your Actions

I quickly learned that the FBI would not tolerate whining and complaining when my circumstances were less than ideal. Instead, they drilled into me the need to take personal control and responsibility for the direction life was taking me.

Resilient leaders do not seek out happiness by relying on others, nor do they blame others for their situation.

How To Make It Work For You: Don’t whine, blame others, or point fingers if you don’t get what you want.

2. Focus On Possibilities

Resilient people are always asking this question: what can I do to change my situation? When they focus on the possibilities that lie before them, they make their own luck. They do what they can with the hand they’ve been dealt, and in doing so, they take control of their life.

In his book, The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity, Michael Marmot explains how clerks and secretaries are more likely to die of heart attacks than senior executives.

His team took into consideration on variables such as smoking and poor nutrition. His research team concluded that those in lower category jobs had less control over their life. That is why they were more likely to suffer from heart disease.

How To Make It Work For You: Believe you can control the important events in your life. Often this will mean you will need to be flexible in the way that you approach your goals. And agile in the way in which you overcome obstacles.

3. Become A Positive Thinker

There is a big difference between being an optimist and being a positive thinker. Positive thinkers are not necessarily happy or optimistic.

Instead, positive thinkers are blunt realists who look misery right in the eye and confront the most brutal facts of their day without expecting things to change. They adapt to their circumstances without ever losing hope.

As FBI agents, we planned arrests by giving priority to what could go wrong. We were not optimists who hoped everything would go according to plan. We weighed the possibility of a negative outcome with equal heft as the possibility of a positive outcome.

How To Make It Work For You: Hunt the good stuff and find 5 positive thoughts to counter each negative thought. When confronted with something that feels overwhelming, you will need to find 5 positive thoughts to counter each one negative thought that comes to mind.

4. Prioritize What Is Important

Squad briefings were a great way to help agents get over a hurdle in one of their investigations. When an agent briefed the squad on a case, white boards were created with priorities listed—from most important to least.

Prioritizing information is a useful resilience tool because forces your brain to interact with information rather than simply react to it. Lists are an excellent way of forcing different parts of the brain to interact with each other. This also prevents different parts of our brain from fighting against each another for attention and energy.

How To Make It Work For You: Writing down your priority list helps you to visualize, so keep paper and pen handy. Typing your list out on a computer does not satisfy the brain’s need for visualization.

5. Manage Emotions

You are a wimp if you run away from a negative emotion or deny unpleasant thoughts and feelings. You don’t think you’re mentally tough enough to handle the hard stuff.

Too often, people pretend negative emotions and feelings don’t exist. Ignoring negative feelings is not healthy; nor is wallowing in them. Resilient people hurt when life hands them a rough time, but they never forget that they still have control over their attitude.

How To Make It Work For You: Identify your emotions, and then call them, or label them, for what they really are. If the emotion is pride, envy, or anger—own up to it. Although most people expect labeling emotions to increase them, when you label your fear or anxiety you actually lessen your discomfort. It’s very important, however, to keep the label to one or two words because if you open up dialogue about it, you will only increase the emotion.

6. Reframe Negative Events

Setbacks are a natural part of life. Resilience requires mental toughness because it is the ability to recover quickly from adversity, no matter your situation.

Nip negative emotions and reactions in the bud when they first appear. This is when they are the weakest.

Cold cases are those in which the leads have grown cold, but nothing motivates an FBI case agent as much as looking into the face of an innocent victim who trusts and expects them to find the answer. Quit is not a word used in FBI investigations.

How To Make It Work For You: Reframing is a fancy word for changing the way you look at adversity or a negative situation. Reframing can provide you with different ways of interpreting your less than perfect situation so you can expand the possibilities and overcome the adversity.

7. Find Your Tribe

Friendship are important; they can lift you up, provide security, and prevent slip-ups in both business and life.

As Sebastian Junger wrote in his book, Tribe, “We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding–“tribes.” This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.”

A strong psychological thread developed during our training as special agents is the concept of the “FBI family.” FBI employees will close ranks around one of their own if the individual is targeted or harmed in some way.

How To Make It Work For You: Find your tribe. Whether it’s your biological family or your adoptive one from work, school, or church—find people who give you the sense of security and connectivity.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

5 Strategies To Deal With Difficult Colleagues

September 11th, 2017 by LaRae Quy

It is hard to put difficult colleagues into a one-size-fits-all box. After all, they come in so many shapes and sizes. No workplace is without them.

What about the passive-aggressive who feeds on bullying others? How about the know-it-all corporate climber who walks all over people in her 5 inch stilettos? Or the two-faced backstabber who delights in betraying confidences?

Difficult colleagues create stressful environments and unpleasant working conditions. A survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 65% of Americans cited work as a top source of stress. Only 37% of Americans surveyed said they were doing an excellent or very good job managing stress. In fact, work-related problems significantly outpaced other leading causes of stress such as health concerns or family responsibilities.

Not all stress at work can be blamed on difficult colleagues, but our workplace is a perfect breeding ground for people who push our buttons. A gossip who might not ordinarily get on our nerves becomes toxic when we are forced to work with them on a daily basis.

Unfortunately for entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders, difficult employees are not always bad employees. They may be highly skilled or very talented. They may add to the bottom line of your company, but they can also create stress for your other team members which reduces overall productivity.

The way your team deals with difficult colleagues will have a major impact on their careers and their well-being. Here are 5 strategies to deal with difficult colleagues:

1. Keep Friends Close, Enemies Even Closer

A difficult colleague may not be your enemy, but the more you know about them, the better you can understand them.

I will admit that, as an FBI agent, there are people out there who considered me to be the difficult colleague. I (sometimes) regret that I left casualties in the squadroom, but I also know I had reasons for taking my stance. I’m not justifying my behavior; I make this point to underscore the importance of trying to understand the difficult colleague.

A Buddhist practice suggests that if someone is causing you to suffer, it’s because they’re suffering as well.

If someone had taken the time to ask me about my behavior, I would have pointed out that I am an overachiever. As such, I put so much pressure on myself to excel that, at times, I had no time for the pettiness of common courtesy! The stress I put on myself to run undercover operations and develop human intelligence (humint) sources caught up with me; I ended up incredibly sick for several months.

TIP: Take the time to understand that your workplace antagonist is an imperfect person, just like you. You don’t have to like them but if you can understand why they act like a jerk, you might be able to prevent yourself from adding fuel to the fire.

2. Know What Pushes Your Buttons

 

 

 

No one escapes childhood without a few bruises and scrapes. We all have flash points that stem from our upbringing, family life, and relationships. Anger or frustration can be triggered when we least expect it. We react to a situation or individual rather than choose our response.

Our buttons are our responsibility to uncover. It’s so much easier to blame the difficult colleague or stupid supervisor rather than admit we have our own flaws.

Instead, take a look at why you react to certain people or situations in a negative way. Mental toughness is managing your emotions, thoughts, and behavior in ways that will set you up for success. You need to be brave enough to look at yourself with honesty and compassion. This might mean going back to childhood hurts to discover the patterns of thinking that are sabotaging you now.

TIP: Don’t be a wimp. Get a handle on what those buttons are and who, or what, pushes them. Rather than seeing difficult colleagues as a burden, they could actually be your ticket to dramatic professional growth.

3. Save The Fight For What Matters

Analyze the person and situation so you can rule out “false triggers” that create unnecessary stress in your environment. If you can’t, you will be at the mercy of the office bullies because they will know how to manipulate you. By pushing one of your buttons, you can be made to look oversensitive, weak, or gullible.

TIP: Be responsive, not reactive when someone pushes your buttons. A knee-jerk reaction is never a good choice.

4. Keep A Lid On Anger

Anger flares up when we feel that we, or another co-worker, have been unjustly treated by the difficult colleague. There are several reasons anger is not a good reaction:

  • An unpleasant emotion
  • Bad for your health
  • Clouds your judgment
  • Makes you look unprofessional

Avoid anger in the workplace. If you are embroiled in a constant conflict at work, you risk being seen as unable to handle the situation like a seasoned professional. Worse yet, you may get labeled as being a difficult colleague as well.

TIP: Don’t flare up in the immediate heat of a confrontation. Instead, allow yourself to observe what is happening without getting caught up in it (meditation can help you with this). If you feel you can’t control your anger, try stalling for time. Here are some suggestions:

“Can I have a little more time to think this through? I’ll get back to you with an answer.”

“This isn’t on today’s agenda. Can we talk about it later?”

“I have a deadline. Can I get back to you on that?”

Bottom line: get out of the situation as quick as you can so you can decide if this is the hill you want to die on. If not, wait until your emotions are under control and then choose your response rather than reacting with negativity.

5. Face Conflict

Conflict avoidance is not always a great idea, either. Staying away from disagreements and conflict creates stress as well.

If you’re faced with a difficult colleague, take some time out to reflect on the situation. Think about what the ideal outcome would be for you. What would you hope to accomplish from a conversation with your colleague?

Talk the situation out with other co-workers to gage their assessment of it. They might be able to offer constructive advice and observations.

Don’t criticize, blame, or judge. Point out what you both agree upon at the beginning of the conversation.

TIP: Things might not change between you and the difficult colleague at first, but it’s worth a try. In a corporate environment that is known for tactics and playing games, develop a reputation of someone who is direct, personal and genuine. You’ll stand out!

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

How To Gain More Clarity Of Goals

September 4th, 2017 by LaRae Quy

As a kid, my parents gave me no choice—I was going to go to college after I graduated from high school. I had no clarity of goals for my life, so I followed the blueprint laid out by my parents.

I followed the path chosen for me all through school, and when I graduated, some fool told me to follow my passion. Clothes were fun and interesting to me, so I looked for a job in retail. I was miserable, bored, and restless. To get out of the rut I had dug for myself, I went back to school to pursue a Masters degree—but in what?

I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Most of my friends had gotten married and started families. Was I supposed to do the same thing? I’d had enough of the “follow your passion” crap advice so I set out to pinpoint when and where I found joy in my life. Not vacuous happiness experiences, but deep and meaningful joy.

Two things came to mind: I loved history and books. Did that mean I was to be a writer of historical fiction? Or were history and books to be my favorite hobbies?

Leadership is understanding how to help people plot out clarity of goals. It can be a difficult and messy process and it takes mental toughness to work through the uncertainty. 

Do you follow the blueprint of someone else’s life or create one of your own? Parker Palmer wrote in his book, Let Your Life Speak, that he grew up admiring people like Martin Luther King and Ghandi. He set out to change the educational system from within. His goal was to become the president of UC Berkeley, and he was almost able to achieve his goal.

The problem was that he hated his job. Palmer finally realized that he could be inspired by people like King and Ghandi, but he didn’t have to walk their path. He resigned and started another career that was more authentic to him.

There are powerful and wonderful voices in the world that provide ideas of what we can do and where we should go. Ultimately, however, you must choose to create your own unique blueprint and not try and imitate the lives of others.

At the age of 25 I became an FBI agent. I had found a path that resonated with me. The values held closest by this venerable organization are Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity. I loved the grit in integrity because I grew up a scrappy kid on a Wyoming cattle ranch. My new career wasn’t in history or books, but I didn’t leave them behind, either.

It was a trade-off, but the values of the FBI were also important to me. I cut myself a deal: I was living in alignment with my goals even though not everything was in perfect order. There were connections between what I was doing and what I believed to be true.

I retired from the FBI after almost 25 years and wrote 2 books about leadership development. And we’ll see where my love of history takes me in the future.

Here are 5 ways you can gain clarity of goals that are important to you:

1. Create The Right Morning Ritual

Research confirms that our brain is most active and creative immediately following sleep. Unfortunately, 80 percent of people between the ages of 18-44 check their smartphones within 15 minutes of waking up, thereby losing those precious creative moments.

In Morning Papers, Julia Cameron suggests we sit down every morning and write out 3 pages of whatever is on our mind. It might sound like a time-waster at first, but neuroscience backs up Cameron. Your brain is most creative upon waking up; use this time wisely to gain clarity on goals.

How To Make It Work For You: Go to a quiet place and grab a journal. Data dump whatever is on your mind but loosely direct your thoughts on how to gain clarity of goals. Write down whatever comes to mind about those things.

2. Focus Your Energy

Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca states that, “it’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.”

Today’s entertainment-on-demand world provides instant distractions. It’s easy to catch ourselves getting off track. As a result, our clarity of goals tend to rolled over by those distractions.

Steve Jobs suggested that we ask this question everyday: ”If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” It’s a powerful question because it forces us to focus on what we want to accomplish each day. Our approach to our day is purposeful because we identify which tasks are essential.

How To Make It Work For You: Say “no” to opportunities that do not align with your goals for the day. Forget the “busy work” that doesn’t move you toward your goals. Leave social media until the important work is done.

3. Align Immediate And Long-Term Goals

Psychologists Ken Sheldon and Tim Kasser have found that people who are mentally healthy and satisfied with life have a higher degree of vertical coherence among their goals. Long-term and immediate goals all fit together. The connection, even if loose, is important. The pursuit of short-term goals also advances the pursuit of long-term ones.

How To Make It Work For You: Always keep in mind that successful people achieve their goals not because of who they are, but because of what they do.

4. Create A Work Blueprint

Psychologist Martin Seligman found that people who can make a connection between their work and something socially meaningful are more likely to be satisfied. They are better able to adapt to the inevitable compromises that we all have to make in our job because they have clarity of goals.

How To Make It Work For You: Take a look at the questions below. The answers to them shouldn’t be a job description of what you do. What you do for a living is not important because the real question here is: why do you work. This will give you a general idea of your view of work:

  • What is work for?
  • Is it just about the money?
  • How does my work relate to what I feel is important?
  • Is my work worthwhile?
  • How does work provide you opportunities for growth and fulfillment?

5. Place Yourself Under Surveillance

Surveillance can produce a mother-lode of accurate information. FBI agents surveil terrorist suspects to get answers; you can surveil yourself at work to get answers about yourself. Create your own surveillance log.

How To Make It Work For You: Each evening, go back over the day’s activities:

  • Pinpoint where you were most engaged and energized.
  • Zoom in where you were least engaged and energized.

Rate each on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest).

Reflect on “why” for each of the above. Did it have anything to do with environment, people, activities, or technology?

Now that you know where you are energized at your work, and where you are not, what can you do to change your situation? These are indicators of clarity of goals. Once you pinpoint the areas that breathe life into you, either look for ways to expand those areas in your current job, or start looking for a job where you can.

Remember that life is often a series of trade-offs between the values that are important and the opportunities in front of us. Many things in life are a compromise. Give yourself permission to cut a deal with yourself as long as there are connections between your short-term and long-term goals.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

5 Reasons Charisma Makes More Effective Leaders

August 28th, 2017 by LaRae Quy

Charisma is seldom used to describe a necessary skill for effective leadership. Personal charm has its place in society, but is it needed in the boardroom?

People with charisma get their message across. It’s a trait that can be hard to define but easy to spot.

Several of the FBI agents with whom I worked had charisma. They had the ability to captivate and motivate other people. The audience could be a single person who gives their testimony. Or, it could be a room full of venture capitalists who learn about economic espionage.

As a leader, entrepreneur, or business owner, charisma will help you reassure your stakeholders—whether they are investors, employees, or clients. If you have charisma, it helps you to communicate that, as the person in charge, you have what it takes to make the vision happen.

Charisma is so powerful because it is rooted in values and emotions. To persuade others, or to motivate them, we need to use compelling language to rouse followers’ emotions and passions. This allows us to tap into the hopes and dreams of our employees, clients, and investors. The truly charismatic leader knows how to give his people a sense of purpose and inspire them to achieve great things.

Politicians know the importance of charisma, but few leaders or managers make an attempt to develop it. While a knowledge of technology and operating procedures is essential in today’s marketplace, the most effective leaders add a layer of charismatic leadership on top.

Recent research suggests that charisma can be learned. Scientists who study it say it’s less a natural gift and more a set of behaviors that anyone can learn.

Research was conducted with a group of midlevel European executives trained in charismatic leadership tactics. Researchers found that their leadership ratings rose by 60%. The researchers then repeated the charismatic leadership training tactics in a large Swiss firm. Overall, they found 65% of people trained received above average ratings. In contrast, among people who had not been trained, only 35% received above average ratings.

Let’s take a look at some charismatic training that can make you a more effective leader:

1. Empathize

Put yourself in another person’s shoes. Empathy is the ability to see things from another person’s perspective and to understand how that person is feeling.

Using a phrase like, “I feel your anger,” is much better than “I can relate to that.” Establishing an emotional connection with people is always a good idea, even in a business setting.

I often use the phrase, “I sense that you are disappointed.” It lets the other person know that I understand what they are going through without making it seem as though I feel sorry for them.

2. Focus

If charisma is making the other person feel understood, it’s important for you to turn off your inner voice and focus on them.

We tend to focus on what we’re going to say next or how the other person’s message will affect us. As a result, we fail to hear what is really being said. While we may hear words, their meaning might get lost.

Focus on the other person when they speak. You may forget how you wanted to respond but so what? It’ll come to you later. Your real goal is to let them know that they connected with you.

3. Listen

If we focus and turn off our inner voice, it is much easier to listen to the other person. Listening is another behavior that can be learned. When you listen to what the other person says, you can reflect back what you heard.

I often use a phrase like, “This is what I heard you say….” and then rephrase the conversation in my own words. This lets the other person know I was listening and that I care about what they said.

4. Enthusiasm

The ability to uplift another person through praise of their actions or ideas is an essential leadership skill. Enthusiasm is difficult to fake but if you need to at first, go ahead. Enthusiasm is contagious but it is most potent when you sincerely engage with what someone else is saying or doing.

One of the easiest ways to generate enthusiasm is to smile and ask questions. Even if you don’t agree with what the other person is saying, ask questions to deepen your understanding of their position. This doesn’t mean you become a “yes person,” but do try to show a bit of real enthusiasm when an idea is presented. Give them their 15 minutes in the spotlight. Later, you can go back to them with specific reasons why the idea won’t fly.

5. Eye Contact

Eye contact is a powerful form of human connection. When someone’s gaze shifts away from us, we sense that their attention has also shifted away.

If you practice empathy and demonstrate good listening skills, people will want you to look at them. Remember eye contact requires you to meet and maintain another person’s gaze.

6. Expression

Stop the botox injections so that your face can show expressions. Show others that you are feeling empathy with their situation by being more expressive with your face.

The flipside of showing emotions in your face is knowing how to control them as well. Mental toughness is the ability to control emotions that can sabotage you when you’re not paying attention. Don’t let others see that you are angry or exasperated with them. Moderate what people see by being in control of your emotions.

To understand how you come across to others, practice having a conversation with yourself in front of a mirror. Notice how you express emotions in your face. If in doubt on how to act, watch charismatic people on TV and then mimic their expressions.

7. Stories

The Harvard Business Review reported that researchers have found that stories make our messages more engaging and help listeners connect with as the speaker.

In one example, a manager motivated her employees during a crisis by comparing the current situation to her experience climbing a mountain during dangerous weather conditions. She told them how working together saved her and the team on that mountain. Pulling it all together, she motivated her employees to work together so they could turn their immediate situation around as well.

8. Three-Part Lists

Three-part lists are good way to summarize your message into key takeaways. Most people can remember three things so make your pitch pithy and memorable. For example:

First, we need to look back and see what we did right. Next, we need to see where we went wrong. Then, we need to come up with a plan that will convince others to give us the resources to get it right next time.

When you are direct and spit out your message in clear and precise terms to your audience, it shows that you respect both their intelligence and their time.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”