7 FBI Tips To Become More Likable

February 7th, 2016 by LaRae Quy

Not very many people are excited to get a phone call from an FBI Agent. They tend to be even less enthusiastic when the Agent tells them they need to speak with them about a pending investigation. As a result, I had to work—hard at times—to be likable if I wanted to get my job done.

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But it’s not only FBI Agents who need to be likable—as business owners, sales representatives, or leaders you need to impress new clients and competitors with your competence and capabilities. You can miss out on great opportunities to develop new relationships if you’re not able to establish a connection with other people.

The more likable you are, the better your chances of being successful.

Here are 7 FBI tips to become more likable:

1. Smile

This is the best way to become more likable instantly—and it doesn’t cost a thing. If you don’t believe me, just smile when you’re in a crowd of strangers and see what reaction you get.

I’m not a toothy person so I smile a lot with my mouth closed. The interesting thing is that a smile on my face changes the attitude in my heart, too.

TIP: Remember, a genuine smile requires your eyes so crinkle around the corners so lay off the botox if you’re serious about connecting with others.

2. Remember Names

Our name is an essential part of our identity, and people feel great when they hear it spoken by others. If their name is unusual, ask the origin. Become more likable by repeating their name in conversation—it will help you to remember it as well. And of course, get their business card!

TIP: Research shows that people feel validated when the person they’re speaking with refers to them by name during a conversation. But don’t overdo it—once or twice is enough. Otherwise you risk sounding too familiar or touchy-feely.

3. Leave a Strong First Impression

Research by Princeton psychologists reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second for most people decide whether or not you are likable. Longer exposure doesn’t significantly alter impressions made within 10 seconds of meeting you.

People will then spend the rest of the conversation justifying their initial reaction.

As an FBI agent, I knew I might not have more than a few seconds to persuade someone I was likable and to cooperate with me, so I made it count.

TIP: First impressions are the result of positive body language. Walk with purpose and confidence, maintain a strong posture, offer a firm handshake, smile, face the person to whom you are talking, and make eye contact. If their eyes start to wander, it’s a clue that they may be losing interest in you.

4. Listen

This is a difficult task for most people. When we’re listening to someone else talk, our mind is frequently 1) busy forming a question to ask, 2) trying to process the information that’s being spoken, or 3) splitting attention between the speaker and something else that’s going on.

TIP: To be likable, give the other person your 100% attention. It will make them feel important and your undivided attention tells them that you genuinely value them.

5. Show Politeness

Show appreciation and gratitude whenever and wherever you can. It’s a habit that can be learned. People really do pay attention to how well you treat strangers, so make it habit to treat everyone well.

TIP: Make it a habit to be polite to everyone. Start with shop clerks and work your way up to the airline ticket agents. Once there, you can take on state government employees!

6. Be Authentic

As an FBI undercover agent, I assumed the identify of a fictitious person. One of the first things I learned that  to be a likable and successful undercover agent, it took more than a fake name. I needed to be authentic and honest with people about who I really was as a person. I could slap on whatever name—or title—I wanted, but the only time I got into trouble was when I tried to be someone I wasn’t. That is when I came across like an empty government suit, and that held no interest for anyone.

TIP: People cannot genuinely find you likable unless they know who you are. Give up trying to impress new people you meet. Instead, share with them who you are—really, and not whom you think they want to meet.

7. Exude Confidence

If you come across as insecure, you also risk coming across as needy and/or incompetent. Start from a positive place and others will notice. If you’re not there yet, fake your confidence until you feel more secure and at ease.

Focus on what motivates you and makes you happy as an individual. Once you do, you will not only become a more interesting person, you will also exude the confidence of a likable person who knows who they are.

TIP: Go into every conversation thinking “I like this person and want to get to know them better.’

To become more likable, try this exercise sometime this week:

  • Notice how much time you spend just listening when you’re in a conversation with someone.
  • Notice how often your mind races ahead to a question you want to ask them.
  • Notice how often the next task of the day pops into your mind as you listen.
  • Notice how often you get lost in your own thoughts.

Now, do this:

  • Slow down your mind and focus on what the other person is saying.
  • Pay attention to their facial features as they speak.
  • Pay attention to what animates them when they speak.
  • Pay attention to how their voice changes when they speak about a specific topic.
  • Pay attention to how their words and body language change.

Then do this:

  • Share with them the most positive things you noticed about them.

How have you become more likable to people?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

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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.”

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Rewire Your Brain For Success

January 31st, 2016 by LaRae Quy

I was a fashion buyer before I became an FBI agent. I quickly learned that I would need to rewire my brain if I wanted to be a success in my new job.

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It began with my first day at the FBI Academy. Everyone stood up and gave their background: military officers who had led dangerous military missions in North Africa, police officers who survived shootouts, and successful prosecutors against dangerous mob families in New York.

So, when I stood up and told everyone I was a fashion buyer for a fancy retail store, everyone turned their head to look at the fluff ball who had accidentally gotten into the FBI.

Born and raised on a remote cattle ranch in Wyoming, I lacked the polish and sophistication of many of my fellow agents. But my years as a fashion buyer had left me unhappy and unfulfilled.

Like many of you, what I needed was a healthy dose of mental toughness to achieve my goals and dreams.

To be resilient in today’s business environment, success comes from thinking positively about your situation and not succumbing to the self-limiting belief that nothing can be done to change it.

If I wanted to graduate from Quantico, I would need to rewire my brain for success as much as would need to sculpt my muscles for physical fitness. You may need to do this as well.

Rewire your brain for success in three steps: 

STEP ONE: Remember Who Is In Control

Mental toughness is the ability to control our mind rather than letting our mind control us.

Controlling our thought process isn’t as easy as it sounds because we don’t notice how little control we have over the way our mind thinks. One thought follows another, and out of habit, we let our subconscious take us through most of the day.

But here is a big secret: The greatest weapon we have is our ability to choose one thought over another.

There is a reason so many people recommend meditation—it is an excellent way to be an observer of your own thoughts, even uncomfortable ones. By observing how your thoughts wander, and keep returning to a specific topic, you can gently bring them back to where you want them to be.

It may take time, but each time you succeed, you are taking control of your thoughts by choosing which ones are important.

How You Can Make It Work For You:

Control your thoughts by becoming more connected to them. Too often, our subconscious takes over the way we think about our daily experiences; so, take control by intentionally choosing to observe, question, challenge, or dismiss new pieces of information that come your way. Start with one hour and see if you can work up to an entire day.

STEP TWO: Just As Important, Don’t Be A Control Freak

Being “always on” can block the creative brain processes that occur when we let our minds wander.

If we are facing a challenge that needs new ideas, new research shows that we’re more likely to come up with an innovative and creative solution when we let our minds wander for a brief period of time.

According to the research, our brains continue to puzzle through the challenge in the background.

How You Can Make It Work For You:

  • Take a walk around the block, watch passing cars, or observe strangers moving around you on a sidewalk. Anything that gives your brain a rest from the tough challenge before you.
  • Close your eyes and notice the sounds and smells around you.
  • Get up and make yourself tea or coffee—anything that gives your brain time to wander.

STEP THREE: Say Yes To The New

Until recently, the brain was regarded as an immutable organ that did not change after early childhood.

In 2000, Eric Kandel was given the Nobel prize for medicine demonstrating that, as learning in the brain occurs, the connections among nerve cells increase. Hundreds of studies went on to demonstrate that the brain has the ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. This is called neuroplasticity, and it continues throughout life.

Researchers like Mike Merzenich and Norman Doidge have concluded that while our genes help determine how we can respond to our environment, they do not make us who we are. We we all have untapped potential.

How To Make It Work For You

Do not believe everything you think.

Since the limbic brain is hardwired to pay more attention to negative thoughts than positive ones, make sure you stop and listen to what your mind is telling you. You will be shocked to realize how much of it is negative.

Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny― Mahatma Gandhi

In order to stimulate neuroplasticity, try something new. Go somewhere you haven’t been before. Take up a new hobby. Read a book or try eating something or doing something that isn’t a regular activity for you.

How have you rewired your brain to achieve success?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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

4 Surefire Ways To Move Through Uncertainty

January 23rd, 2016 by LaRae Quy

The FBI requires all agents to qualify with their firearm at least four times a year. Part of this training is taking turns arresting fellow agents and putting them in handcuffs. As I tried to handcuff one of the senior agents on my squad, I found he didn’t have the flexibility to place the back of his hands together behind his back. Over time, he had lost a great deal of the suppleness in his shoulder muscles.

Uncertainty - waves

While he took great deal of ribbing by fellow agents, I remember thinking: “If only he’d made the effort to keep limber, he would have more flexibility.”

If stretching and yoga can promote healthier bodies, we need to find similar ways to keep our mind flexible and agile for top performance. Rigid thinking cannot help us adapt when we are faced with the uncertainty of today’s workplace.

As entrepreneurs, leaders, and business owners, you are required to adapt and move through transitions at faster and faster paces. Whether it is a new assignment, a new supervisor, or a new career—success depends on finding new ways to keep our minds supple.

Mental toughness is the ability to be flexible and agile in the way we respond when faced with the uncertainties of both life and work.

Here are 4 surefire ways you can develop the mindset to move through uncertainty:

1. Overcome Uncertainty By Growing A Little Each Day

When facing uncertainty, you have two choices:

You can dread it because you are afraid of failing—you believe that failure sends a negative message about your abilities, or…

You can anticipate it because you interpret failure as an opportunity for learning and improvement.

The first choice describes a fixed mindset that does best when there is a heavy hand running the show. That way of leading may have been efficient years ago, but today’s leaders are learning that the brain power of their workforce is a terrible thing to waste.

The second choice describes a growth mindset that looks at success as hard work, learning, training, and having the grit to keep moving ahead even when faced with obstacles and roadblocks.

2. Overcome Uncertainty By Discovering What Makes You Feel Strong

As an FBI agent, one of the first things I did was surveil the target of my investigation. I analyzed and assessed their strengths, weaknesses, needs, and wants. This gave me tremendous power, because I usually came to know more about them than they knew about themselves.

Harness that same power by making yourself the target of your own investigation:

a. Discover your own patterns: What makes you smile? What are you always wanting to do or think about? What can you not help do, think, or feel? Even if someone asks you not to?

b. Keep track of how you spend the next week: What are you doing, feeling or thinking about daily? Write down everything that energizes you and makes you feel strong. It could be a particular physical activity, or a book you read, or people you meet. Alongside, write down everything that makes you feel less confident or anxious. How many of these do you encounter at work?

c. Compare the lists: How can you start doing more of the things that make you feel strong? And eliminate those that make you feel threatened?

When you find a few things you repeatedly do and love, dig deeper and see what part of that particular activity makes you feel good—and empowers you.

As you transition out of your current situation or move into a time of uncertainty, lean into those things that make you feel strong and keep a wary eye out for those things that do not empower you.

3. Overcome Uncertainty By Mixing It Up

FBI training is relentless and continuous, but this kept our minds flexible and agile so we could adapt to the unknown when confronting an arrest situation.

When a roadblock or obstacle confronts us, we often have no Plan B. Instead of moving around a roadblock in a deliberate and flexible manner, we continue to assault it using the same tactics that have already proven ineffective. Our default explanation is blaming others.

The only thing worse than getting into a rut is staying in one. Often, our patterns of thinking become rigid because we’re fixated on thinking about achieving our life’s goals in one way.

Mix up the way you think. It’s important to combine focused thought with periods of play and scattered attention because changes in your environment, attitude, and behavior influences how you think.

When you’re feeling happy or optimistic, you are more inclusive and more creative. When you are fearful, your focus narrows down to specific details.

Mental toughness is having the flexibility to make a mental shift without remaining stuck in a particular mindset.

4. Overcome Uncertainty By Summoning The Courage To Try New Things

Finding our courage is no small thing, but once we find it, it takes over everything in its path. A flood of courage is exactly what we need when faced with uncertainty.

The goal is to move fluidly between specific and abstract thought patterns so you can flex and bend with the changing circumstances of your life. Start with making small changes in your routine. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or listening to different music can boost your mental agility.

Variety is also good. Try different foods and different methods of exercise. Call a friend and go to a place you’ve never visited. Watch your thoughts become more expansive as you break out of old patterns and develop your brain.

A flexible and agile mindset is essential if you plan to get past the roadblocks and obstacles ahead of you. Remember this: everyone can get smarter about how to overcome obstacles if they work at it.

How have you pushed through periods of uncertainty?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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

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5 Ways Resilience Can Make You A Survivor

January 17th, 2016 by LaRae Quy

FBI Agents working terrorism see firsthand how individuals and families are torn apart every day from stabbings, shootings, and bombings. They also see how people use resilience to bounce back from hard knocks by being a survivor in the midst of trauma and chaos.

Grit - Man jumping blog

Being a survivor should not be confused with being a superman—or woman—by performing heroic feats that saves the lives of millions. There are plenty of us who need to learn how we can bounce back from trauma of everyday life with the resilience to not only survive, but thrive.

For example, Lisa is a neighbor who recently lost her job, Mark is an entrepreneur starting a new company at the age of 48, and Veronika has learned that she has inoperable brain cancer. 

All of these people were thrown into shock and turmoil, in part because they all seemed to live charmed lives in which they were in total control—until they got news that changed their circumstances forever.

As I listened to each of their stories, I was reminded of an old parable where a little boy is so discouraged that he was planning to quit school. His grandfather boiled three pots of water: into the first pot he placed a carrot, into the second pot an egg, and into the third pot coffee beans.

When the little boy asked what this was meant to teach him, the grandfather replied, “Each of these objects faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently.”

When adversity strikes, do you respond with resilience? 

  • Are you the carrot that looks strong but becomes soft and loses strength?
  • Are you the egg that does not appear to change on the outside but grows hardened inside?
  • Or are you the coffee beans that learn how to adapt? As a result, they change the hot water, the very thing that brings pain, into something that is desirable.

It is not the experiences that are important; it’s how we interpret them. It is our choice whether or not we grow stronger from them.

Here are 5 ways resilience can make you a survivor:

1. Understand The Obstacles You Face

The way in which you deal with turmoil in life is determined at an early age. Overprotective parents try to shield their children from adversity, but in doing so they also keep them from the hardships that help them mature.

Getting in shape to meet life’s difficulties takes considerable effort and practice; start now so you are not traumatized when faced with giant-sized turmoil.

How you do one thing is how you do everything.

2. Overcome The Urge To Run Away

Resilience can be summed up like this:

Resilience is recognizing that if you are dissatisfied with certain aspects of your life, then it is your responsibility to take the initiative and make the changes you need to become a survivor.

Running away or expecting others to handle your problems is childish.

Gritup and change the way you look at your obstacles and roadblocks. Mental toughness is believing you can prevail in your circumstances rather than believing your circumstances will change.

3. Acknowledge All Emotions You Are Feeling

Because many of us are wimps, we run away or deny unpleasant thoughts and feelings. We don’t think we’re strong enough to handle the hard stuff so we listen to self-help gurus and pretend negative emotions and feelings don’t exist.

Ignoring negative feelings is not healthy, nor is wallowing in them. If life has handed you a tough hand, remember that the only thing you may still have control over is your attitude. If you feel powerless because of your circumstances, it’s because that is what you are telling yourself.

Your circumstances may not be what you planned, or expected, but if you are a survivor, you never forget that you still own your thoughts—so make them powerful.

4. Challenge Yourself To Be Brutally Honest

When the chips are down, honesty is your best salvation.

Self-awareness, or mindfulness, is the practice of thinking about the way you think. It’s hard to change negative habits and ways of thinking if we aren’t aware of them.

As you become more aware, take negative reactions and feelings as clues that you need to probe deeper into where the resistance is coming from and what is causing it. Train yourself to notice what is going on.

A survivor knows himself/herself well enough that they can discern the best way forward in every situation—even the tough ones.

5. Keep Three Types Of Friends In Your Life

No matter who you are or what you do, you need three types of friends in your life.

  1. First: the one you can call when things are going well and you need someone with whom to share the good news, someone who will be genuinely happy for you.
  2. Second: the one you can call when things are going miserably and you need a listening ear.
  3. Third: the one who holds you accountable. Life is hard, and you need people who will stop you from feeling sorry for yourself so you can reach down and pull yourself back up by the bootstraps.

None of us have a magic ball to predict our future. However, we can become a survivor and be prepared for what we can’t predict

What other traits do you think make a survivor?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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

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3 Ways To Be More Resilient

January 10th, 2016 by LaRae Quy

As a child, I was shy and had a hard time taking credit for my achievements. When my Grandmother asked how I was able to accomplish something, I’d shrug my shoulders and mumble something like, “I don’t know.”

Resilience - tree

Her response was curt. “Either learn to stand up for for yourself or be content to stand around sucking your thumb the rest of your life.”

My lack of ability to stand up for myself disgusted my Grandmother. True, she could have been more sympathetic but she lived in a time and place where resilience was an essential component in surviving tough winters on a Wyoming cattle ranch.

She learned at an early age to value her skills and talents because she knew she’d need them again—most likely in the near future. Taking personal responsibility for her contributions was not boasting; it was learning how to survive and be resilient.

Resilience is a component of mental toughness. It is the ability to take personal control and responsibility for the direction our lives are taking. Resilient leaders do not seek out happiness by relying on others, nor do they blame others for their situation.

Resilient people are always asking this question: what can I do to change my situation?

For entrepreneurs and business owners, it means believing that 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.

Here are 3 ways you can learn to be more resilient:

1. Become More Resilient By Focusing Your Energy On What You Can Control

I watched as my Grandmother’s cranky horse stretched out his neck, bared his teeth, and bit down on her left breast so hard that she had to have a mastectomy. But she was resilient—she knew while she couldn’t control everything that came her way, she could absolutely control her response to it.

And that changes everything.

A major component of positive thinking is the belief that the future will be a more pleasant place because, to a large extent, we can control important events in our 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.

Even taking into consideration other variables such as smoking and poor nutrition, his research team concluded that those in lower category jobs had less control over their life, and the more likely they were suffer from heart disease.

2. Become More Resilient By Not Looking To Others To Provide Your Happiness

When I was about 6 years old, I was given a tall black quarter horse to ride. The only way I could get on him was to lead him to a rock high enough that I could step into the stirrup. Horses are not stupid—it didn’t take him long to catch on and he started shying away from the rock.

I would cry in frustration as everyone left me alone to deal with my problem. Although my Grandmother never graduated from high school, she asked me an incredibly wise question: Why did I keep doing the same thing over and over even when it didn’t work?

She was right. I had a self-limiting belief about what I could, and could not, do. From then on, I grabbed the leather ties hanging from the pommel of the stock saddle, pulled myself into the stirrup, and then into the saddle seat. 

To be resilient is to recognize that if you are continually dissatisfied with aspects of your life, then it is your responsibility to take the initiative and rewrite the self-limiting beliefs you have about yourself that keep you chained to repetitive thinking and behaving.

Try this:

  • List 3 things in your life you would like to change.
  • List steps taken in the past to make these changes.
  • Why do you think you were unsuccessful?
  • What is a self-limiting belief you have about yourself?
  • What steps will be required for you to change this self-limiting belief?
  • What obstacles might interfere with these steps?
  • What is your backup plan?

3. Become More Resilient By Finding Your Zones Of Competence

As a child, I needed to learn acceptance, not narcissism, was the path toward a resilient mindset that accepted ownership for my achievements.

Once I was able to claim ownership for my zones of competence, it didn’t hurt so bad to let go of those areas in which I was not as competent. My confidence was not shaken when I was asked to drop choir class because I sang so off-key it was disturbing the other kids!

If we believe that chance or luck is responsible for our achievements, then we march through life believing we have no control over our destiny. We develop a victim mentality.

Once we realize that we are responsible for our success, we also experience more satisfaction when we do attain our goals.

Resilient people believe that problems can be solved, the solutions must be found within themselves, and success is not about self-glorification.

How have you learned to be more resilient?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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

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Use Emotional Intelligence To Discover Your Inner James Bond

January 2nd, 2016 by LaRae Quy

We admire the way James Bond keeps his cool in any situation. He is savvy, and by using emotional intelligence, he can anticipate where the threat will come from so he can keep his eye on the ultimate goal. It’s a formula that leads to success.

silhouette man kneeling aiming gun

As entrepreneurs and business owners, you also need to keep focused on your goal instead of being distracted by threats coming from both competitors and a shaky economy.

If only I could predict people’s behavior like a spymaster, you tell yourself, I could accomplish great things, too.

But let me share a secret: there’s a little James Bond in all of us. All you need is enough emotional intelligence to observe the people around you. Watch closely enough and they will give you all the clues you need to uncover loyalty, honesty, and deception.

As an FBI counterintelligence Agent, the first thing I did was put the targets of my investigations under surveillance.

It wasn’t just about being snoopy; instead, I wanted to identify their patterns of behavior.

Humans have always looked for patterns. From navigating by the stars, planting crops by season, or decoding genetics—we have a desire to understand, and therefore, predict the future.

Emotional intelligence is being able to identify and understand the behavioral patterns of people around you. Once you do, you know about what motivates them, and the more you know about what motivates them, the better you can predict their choices.

It doesn’t take training at the FBI Academy to learn how to use emotional intelligence to observe behavior and identify patterns. You can learn to do this on your own. Once you do, you will also be able to more accurately predict behavior—even your own.

Once you recognize your own patterns of behavior, it will help you recognize them in others.

Here are three tricks of the trade to develop emotional intelligence:

1. Use Emotional Intelligence To Notice Spontaneous Remarks

Gut reactions are always close to home. Top-of-the-head responses reveal the location of strong mental connections.

Unexpected, or even stressful, situations often reveal dominant traits. Use emotional intelligence to properly observe and understand these personality traits. They can explain a lot about the behavior of the other person.

Daily life provides hundreds of opportunities to observe how people respond to little doses of stress.

When it comes to learning the tricks of surveillance, start with yourself—It will make it easier to notice what to look for in others. Let’s use the following scenario:

You have a busy day—schedule is full, wrapping up projects before 3-day weekend. An employee with a project on deadline calls in sick, what is your first reaction?

How are they doing—you are empathic and concerned

How will the job get done—you are goal oriented

Who is going to fill-in—you are organized and structured

Are they looking to make this a 4-day weekend—you are naturally wary and suspicious

Not worried because it will all work out—you are an optimist who looks for the best in situations

Why didn’t I know about this sooner—you have a need for control

Once you have the emotional intelligence to notice these gut reactions in yourself, it will be easier to notice how someone on your team or a business partner reacts when confronted with a similar situation. If they don’t tell you, ASK!

2. Use Emotional Intelligence To Understand What You Noticed

Taking the time to think clearly after an event has triggered a response is critical. This provides an opportunity to notice feelings and use them as a reminder of how people respond in different situations.

Again, start with yourself:

Always pay attention—make a habit of paying attention to what surprises you, what makes you feel anxious, and what makes you feel good about yourself.

Never cease collecting information—where do you not want to listen, where do you insist on taking the opposite point of view, when is your reaction out of proportion?

There is always more to learn, about ourselves and others.

3. Use Emotional Intelligence To Stop Undesirable Patterns In Their Tracks

People are creatures of habit. We repeat our patterns of behavior without thinking about them. The most effective way to use emotional intelligence to become aware of these patterns is by looking back at undesirable responses from your business partner, associates, and others in a variety of stressful events and situations.

With a little experience, you will be able to identify particular instances when people displayed undesirable reactions such as exaggerated drama, panic, anxiety, or anger.

Deliberately step back from your on-going activities and take some time to think about them. In the process, ask yourself these questions:

Were you surprised by their reaction?

Do they always react the same way in certain situations?

How could you have made it a better experience for them?

What would you do differently next time?

As you continue to practice noticing their responses in various situations, you can begin to pull out the threads of their behavior pattern.

As entrepreneurs and business owners, we can use emotional intelligence to stop negative reactions in both ourselves and others while at the same time encouraging the positive and productive ones.

When you can read other people, it helps you navigate the unknown so you can land on your feet while never taking your eye off your ultimate goal

How have you used emotional intelligence to spot undesirable behavior in others?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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

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7 Top Secrets Of Persuasion

December 20th, 2015 by LaRae Quy

FBI counterintelligence agents, such as myself, recruit foreign spies to work for the U.S. government. It’s not that we are selling anything; instead, we are using persuasion to make our point. Very often, we are successful.

7 Top Secrets Of Persuasion

You may never find yourself in a situation where you’ll be confronted with a Russian spy trying to steal classified information, and chances are even slimmer that you’ll be asked to recruit him to work for our side, but there will be times that you will absolutely need to make your point. 

Persuasion is not just for spies, salespeople, and teenagers.

As entrepreneurs and business owners, you may need to persuade an investor to take a closer look at your proposal, get assistance at work, or persuade employees to perform better. The truth is, we’re all negotiators.

I took FBI hostage negotiation training at Quantico, and the first thing I learned is that persuasion techniques not only work with barricaded criminals wielding assault rifles—they apply to any form of disagreement or any situation where you need someone else to see your point of view.

Persuasion is about far more than argument and counter-argument.

Here are 7 top secrets of persuasion and tips on how to counter them:

1. Be Bold And Assertive

Humans equate confidence with skill. If you come across as confident, even the most cynical person will be at least partly persuaded.

The key is to stop using qualifiers like “I think” or “I believe.” Instead, if you think something will work, just say it.

Let your enthusiasm and confidence show through and people will be more likely to be persuaded.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Resistance is easiest when we feel sharp and alert. That is when we’re in a better position to raise a counter-argument, maintain our position, and spot persuasion attempts coming our way.

2. Inoculation Slowly Bleeds You Dry

Medical inoculations work by giving you a little of the disease so that your body can prepare itself for attack in the future.

Psychological inoculation works the same way.

Propose an idea that takes on a new angle that people haven’t thought of before. Then, introduce an alternative approach or solution that is a bit closer to their way of thinking. Chances are very good that people will jump at the alternative, even though it would have been immediately dismissed if introduced before the first one.

This is how ex-spouses, hostage negotiators, and politicians extort us everyday with persuasive arguments. In the end, we grab the alternative and think we’ve struck a good deal.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Expose yourself to different types of arguments and positions you will likely come across. When you know what’s coming, it’s easier to psychologically prepare yourself. Be wary of the same old argument presented in a slightly different way.

3. Come Across As An Expert With Authority

Make sure your credentials are solid. Research has shown that we defer to those who appear to have authority. If you don’t have the heft to make a persuasive argument, align yourself with someone who does.

People don’t often second guess or question someone who makes a recommendation if they believe the individual is either an expert or someone with authority.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Be extremely wary of anyone who relies entirely on authority to influence you.

4. Validate What The Other Person Says

This may sound counterintuitive, but if you don’t let the other party have their say, you can talk until you’re blue in the face and they will not have heard a word you said. Instead of listening to you, they were forming their own counter-argument in the mind.

The best way to quiet the voice in the other person’s head is to hear the other side out and then make your argument.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Don’t ask open-ended questions after they’ve made their argument. Open-ended questions invite more discussion, whereas you want to close it down. Ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

5. Mirror Both Behavior and Words

A lot of research has been conducted on the effectiveness of mirroring a person’s behavior to create rapport. We smile when others smile, lean in when they do, and give the impression of sharing a secret understanding that is personal and makes us appear more likable.

Effective coaches, therapists, and hostage negotiators simply repeat the last word that was spoken by the other person. It indicates that they are listening and engaged.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Think about whether the persuasion attempt is trying to maneuver you to do something that you wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in doing. Try to dissociate the speaker with the message they are conveying.

6. Adapt To The Personality Of The Other Person

An essential element of mental toughness is the ability to accurately read the emotions of others and then adapt your behavior accordingly.

Match your personality to your boss, employee, or client. Assess whether they are introverts or extraverts, analytical or a visionary, purpose-driven or security-driven, goal-oriented or people-oriented.

If you’ve been a good listener, you will be able to make these distinctions.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Determine whether the person is sincere or just trying to please you by saying things they assume you want to hear.

7. Add Charm To The Conversation

My years in the FBI were a grueling course in learning good manners because people were not going to talk to me, let alone follow me, unless I could engage them in a way that was meaningful and productive.

Demonstrate warmth first when connecting with others, develop a bond and then be competent in the work you do together.

It’s much easier to change people’s minds if you take the time to develop more than shallow, fleeting relationships with them. It comes down to this: in a world of mass media you must learn how to charm people if you want to persuade them to take your point of view seriously.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

We are more easily swayed than we realize. Be wary of all attempts to camouflage a persuasive message.

What ways have you found to be the most persuasive?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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

10 Commandments Of Interpreting Body Language

December 13th, 2015 by LaRae Quy

Body language plays an important role in leadership success. Many entrepreneurs and business owners focus on verbal skills, but they fail to realize there are two conversations going on when they meet another person.

10 Commandments Of InterpretingBODY LANGUAGE

The first conversation is the one where words are used to convey information; while the second one broadcasts thoughts, attitudes, and emotions through the body. If we’re unaware of the non-verbal messages we’re sending, the second conversation could undermine the first one.

 Reading people successfully means collecting non-verbal information to evaluate thoughts and emotions.

It is a skill that requires constant practice and training. Here are 10 commandments of interpreting body language that will help you to maximize your ability to accurately read non-verbals:

Commandment 1: BODY LANGUAGE REACTIONS ARE MORE HONEST THAN YOU THINK

The brain controls all behaviors, both conscious and subconscious. This premise is the cornerstone for understanding non-verbal communication.

The limbic system is that part of the brain that reacts to events around us—in real time and without thought.

These reactions are genuine and are considered to be the “honest” part of our brain. The limbic brain enlists the body to send messages about what it is really feeling. The body will signal stress and discomfort in a variety of ways, and we interpret these behaviors as body language.

Read Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

Commandment 2: SPOTTING DECEIT IS TRICKY SO DON’T GET COCKY

There is no single sign of deceit itself—there is no gesture, facial expression, or muscle twitch that indicates a person is lying.

There are only clues that the individual is feeling an emotion or thought that is not being expressed verbally. Once the point of stress is identified, it’s possible to pursue the cause of the discomfort.

When interviewing subjects, I looked for behaviors that would tell me they are stressed or not at ease with one of my questions. Once I asked a businessman if he knew Igor—an individual whom the FBI had identified as a Russian spy. The businessman responded, “No,” but then immediately touched his mouth. I didn’t know whether he was lying, but I did know he was bothered by that question. This prompted me to probe further into this line of inquiry.

Commandment 3: CLUSTER FOR SIGNIFICANCE IF YOU WANT ACCURACY

Conversations are a string of words put together to create meaning. One word, by itself, can mean many things, or nothing. A sentence, however, expresses complete thoughts. Similarly, one gesture can mean anything—it’s only when we put them together that they have meaning. Nonverbal gestures come in clusters so it’s important to observe a person’s initial cluster of gestures to establish a norm.

It’s a serious error to interpret a solitary gesture.

Scratching the head can mean confusion or it could indicate a serious case of dandruff. Many people punctuate with constant gestures and movement while others are relatively still. They key is to notice how these gestures change during a conversation.

Commandment 4: CREATE A BASELINE

Reading other people is a process that requires time to build rapport because deception can only be identified if a baseline of the other person’s responses is established.

Non-threatening and innocent questions are likely to receive honest answers, and this is how norms are established. They can be used to measure responses to more probing questions later on.

Norms help to distinguish between a personal quirk and a contradiction in behavior. Contradictions are not goalposts when trying to detect whether someone is lying. Rather, they are signposts that suggest there is either deception, or there’s more to the matter. The person’s response is not consistent with how he or she normally responds.

Read What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro.

Commandment 5: LOOK FOR CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR

Reading body languages boils down to this: noticing whether the individual is stressed/relaxed—uncomfortable/comfortable.

A failure to understand this basic premise will lead you to make false assumptions about another’s behavior. If you notice a sudden change in a person’s behavior, it can help reveal the point of deception. This can be either verbal or non-verbal.

I’ve been in interviews with people who were in contact with foreign spies and they were very hospitable and eager to explain the reason for their contact. When I’d mention the possibility of continued contact with the FBI to gage the spy’s activities, most would answer “yes” because they wanted to appear cooperative with law enforcement.

At that point in the conversation, I looked for changes in their body language to determine whether they were being honest in their answer.

When I noticed a pursing of the lips (the lips disappear into a fine line which indicates stress) or a squinting of their eyes (they wanted me out of their eyesight), I knew I needed to address their concerns immediately if I wanted continued contact.

Commandment 6: CAREFULLY INTERPRET FACIAL EXPRESSIONS

The face is the one part of the body that is most often used to conceal feelings and emotions. Dr. Paul Ekman, an expert on facial micro-expressions, states that the face is the primary place we display emotion. This is also why the face can be incredibly untrustworthy. According to Ekman, we lie with our faces because that’s what we’ve been told to do since childhood.

“Take that look off your face,” was one of my mom’s favorite expressions when I was growing up.

The face can lie and tell the truth, often at the same time. While the face can be untrustworthy, most people still leak micro-expressions. These expressions are fleeting and can be easily missed.

Read Telling Lies by Paul Ekman.

Commandment 7: WATCH EYEBROWS AND FOREHEADS

Not all of the muscles that produce facial expressions are equally easy to control. Some muscles are more reliable than others. The forehead is the chief focus for reliable muscle movements. It can reliably indicate negative emotions such as sadness, grief, distress, and even guilt.

Eyebrow actions—raising and lowering—are the most frequent facial expressions, and they are usually made in conjunction with forehead movements. When eyebrows are raised and pulled together, it is a reliable muscle movement that occurs with fear, worry, apprehension, and terror. The eyebrows are difficult to inhibit from expressing true emotion. When a person is calm and positive, there is less forehead furrowing and eyebrow movement unless they are used to emphasize speech or as question marks.

Commandment 8: WATCH THOSE SMILES

The third most reliable facial action is the mouth area. Anger, tension, frustration, and fear can all lead to a narrowing of the lips. All of these emotions can easily be concealed by smiling.

But pay attention to the entire face: for a smile to be genuine, there must crow’s feet around the eyes and the cheeks must be pushed up.

Smiling is a sign of submission, which is why many dominant individuals don’t smile. I always smiled when I began an interview with a subject because it directly influenced how they responded to me. The last thing I wanted to do was intimidate them or put them on the defensive. On the contrary, I wanted to put them at ease so I could create a baseline of their behavior. Smiling helps create empathy, something that can be important if you want concessions in a negotiation.

Commandment 9: TALK WITH YOUR HANDS

There are more nerve connections between the hands and the brain than between any other parts of the body.

Our brain is hardwired to engage our hands to accurately communicate our emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

I make an effort to shake hands with people I meet. The handshake that conveys equality is when both hands are vertical. As a woman, I’m frequently in situations where a male will offer a dominant handshake—his palm faces down. Palms down indicate dominance (think of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi salute).

To counter a dominant handshake, I simply move to the right of the individual so we are almost side-by-side. He is forced to move his hand into the vertical position as I move to his right.

Commandment 10: BELIEVE WHAT THE FEET ARE SAYING

As unglamorous as it sounds, feet are the most honest part of the body.

Children and adults alike bounce up and down when they see someone, or something, that makes them happy.

I met with an individual whom I suspected had contact with a Russian spy. I began the interview by asking general questions, as much to gain a baseline as to confirm background information that I already possessed. His answers were forthcoming and his body language was relaxed.

However, when I moved the conversation toward the Russian spy, he became rigid. He uncrossed his legs and sat with his feet flat on floor with ankles locked. Again, this didn’t mean he was lying, but it did indicate he became stressed at the point in the conversation when we started talking about the Russian.

Read Secrets of A Strong Mind.

These 10 Commandments of Body Language will help you more accurately understand the importance of non-verbal behaviors.

Whether in business or life, always focus on whether the individual to whom you are talking is exhibiting stressed or relaxed behaviors.

What other commandments to interpret body language would you add?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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

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4 Secrets of Mental Toughness

December 6th, 2015 by LaRae Quy

FBI agents working knotty and sophisticated cases—like terrorism, cybercrime, and counterintelligence—build mental toughness to handle themselves in dangerous situations.

4 Secrets Of Mental Toughness

As the world has become more complex, the focus of FBI investigations has evolved from hunting bank robbers like John Dillinger and criminals like Al Capone to better address the current threat to American lives.

It’s no secret that business and life are not as simple as they were, either—even a few years ago. It is no longer a matter of knowledge, ability, and skill.

As entrepreneurs and business owners you need to be psychologically prepared to deal with strong competition, recover from mistakes and failure quickly, tackle tough situations, devise strategies, and collaborate with others.

In other words, you need mental toughness to manage the emotions, thoughts, and behavior that will set you up for success in business and life.

Mental toughness allows us to push past hard situations and face adversity with confidence.

Here are 4 secrets of mental toughness taken from the FBI playbook,:

SECRET #1 Mental Toughness Requires Self-Control

Being the loudest, or toughest, or meanest is not being mentally tough—it is being a bully.

People act aggressively out of defense. Only when we do not feel strong enough to resolve a situation do we rely upon aggression as a means of dealing with the conflict.

The strongest leaders you know do not need to act aggressively because they have power.

TIPS For You:

  1. Spend your energy on understanding your weaknesses so you can manage them rather than trying to cover them up.
  2. Focus on turning painful situations into a time for personal growth and meaningful development.
  3. Control your own emotions, thoughts, and behavior, rather than trying to control other people. Meditation is described as too touchy-feely by many, but it is a valuable tool for building mental toughness. The discipline of continually bringing thoughts and emotions back to where you want them (instead of letting them wander) is the way to start bringing them under your conscious and intentional control.

SECRET #2 Mental Toughness Requires Positive Thinking

Positive thinkers are not optimists and here is why:

  • Positive thinkers believe they will prevail in their circumstances rather than believing their circumstances will change.
  • Optimists believe their circumstances will eventually change for the better.

FBI Agents are not optimists who hope or expect an arrest to go without a hitch—instead, they prepare for the worst and practice ahead of time.

When they do come across adversity, they don’t wait and hope things will change for the better. They adapt quickly to the new situation and remain flexible by choosing to remain positive so that they will find a solution.

TIPS For You:

  1. Talk positively to yourself. Research has determined that you say between 300-1,000 words to yourself per minute. Keep those words positive!
  2. Remember the mind’s first response is a negative one when you’re stressed or have encountered an obstacle.
  3. Recognize the 3 P’s of negativity and pessimism:
  • Permanent (“It’ll never change or I won’t ever get it done.”)
  • Pervasive (“You can’t trust any of those people.”)
  • Personal (“It’s all my fault. I’m terrible at this.”)

SECRET #3 Mental Toughness Requires Grit

Jack Dempsey once said, “A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.”

He was talking about perseverance and determination—grit.

Entrepreneurs, leaders, and business owners all know that while intelligence and creativity are important, you need grit to accomplish anything big.

Researchers like Angela Duckworth have found that grit is more predictive of success than IQ in military academies like West Point.

In fact, grit is unrelated, or even negatively correlated, with talent. When working with West Point cadets, she found that those who scored higher in grit had the mental toughness to keep going when times got tough.

The high score on grit surpassed other tests such as SAT scores, IQ, class rank, leadership, and physical aptitude when it came to predicting retention rates.

TIPS For You:

Gritup

  1. Face your fears
  2. Pursue work that has value and meaning for you
  3. Believe in something bigger, better, and bolder than yourself
  4. Establish strong relationships
  5. Challenge your brain
  6. Challenge your body
  7. Control your emotions and thoughts through meditation and mindfulness exercises

SECRET #4 Mental Toughness Requires Visualization

Visualizing your success is a powerful mental toughness tool because when we visualize our success, our brain produces dopamine—a “feel-good” hormone that associates our visualized success with actual success.

In fact, parts of our brain can’t tell the difference between a visualized version of a successful performance and an actual performance!

Be careful, however; your brain is smart enough to recognize a fantasy for what it is and will not produce the dopamine that you need to create the motivation to succeed.

TIPS For You:

  1. Imagine a presentation or meeting in the future where you need to perform at your best
  2. See yourself in front of the crowd—what you will be wearing and how you will be standing
  3. Practice exactly what you will say and how you will say it—many times
  4. Anticipate negative reactions or questions from the group
  5. Imagine how you will respond
  6. Rehearse your body movements

As our world becomes more and more complex, mental toughness will become an essential mindset.

Building mental toughness is a life long task, but here is the good news: Mental toughness is not something we were born with—it is something we can learn.

When have you been mentally tough?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Get my FREE Mental Toughness Mini-Course

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

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16 Ways Mentally Tough Leaders Become Self-Aware

November 29th, 2015 by LaRae Quy

As part of an arrest team in the uglier part of Oakland, my job was to cover the back door while the FBI SWAT team crashed through the front door with a bantering ram. These were the sort of criminals who did not hold day jobs—we had waited until 5:00am to make certain they had made it back home.

Self Awareness - desert

I heard, “FBI, come out with your hands up.” I tried to control my fear as I waited for one of the suspects to make a run for it out the back door. I was wearing a bullet-proof vest and knew that I was surrounded by highly skilled FBI snipers, but that was not enough to assuage my worry that something could go wrong.

Then a scuffle, shouts, and the back door opened. One of my colleagues stepped out and gave me the OK sign that the suspects were in custody. As I lowered my weapon, my emotions immediately calmed down—the pressure was off.

As entrepreneurs and business owners, you may have felt fear when in a tense situation; or, found yourself sabotaged by an unwelcome emotion when under pressure.

Our brains are hardwired to make us emotional creatures—first and foremost. No matter how tough and self-controlled we think we are, our first reaction will ALWAYS be emotional. We can dampen or deny our emotions, but we are kidding ourselves if we think we can actually control the way in which our brain processes emotions. 

You do have total control, however, over the thoughts that follow an emotion. If you are in control, you also have a great deal of power over the way in which you react to your emotion and the situation that created it.

What Is Mental Toughness?

Mental toughness is managing your emotions by controlling our subsequent thoughts and behavior in ways that will set you up for success.

The key is to be aware of your emotion. If you are not fully aware of what you are feeling, you will be clueless in how to handle it effectively. You cannot change what you will not acknowledge.

Self Awareness Is Essential

Mentally tough leaders understand that self-awareness is the first step in building an unbeatable mind. Self-awareness is not some touchy-feely exercise that is meant to make you feel better about yourself.

Instead, it requires mental toughness to come to terms with the good, the bad, and the ugly about yourself. You will need a strong mind to face who you really are, without the pretense of illusion or vanity.

And it takes an equally strong mind to not let your emotions jab you in the stomach when you admit to yourself that you are not Superman or Wonder Woman. If you are not in control of your emotions, you can feel like a loser and give up.

Self-Awareness Takes Honesty And Patience

Mental toughness requires us to develop our strengths, and just as importantly, manage our weaknesses.

That means identifying what triggers 1) positive and healthy emotions, and 2) negative and unproductive ones. Mentally tough leaders know what triggers both types. Whether you like it or not, only by learning and understanding what triggers unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior can you begin to notice it and control it.

16 Ways Mentally Tough Leaders Become Self-Aware:

  1. Stop treating your emotions and feelings as either good or bad.
  2. Admit each emotion has something to teach you, even your negative emotions.
  3. Recognize that pretending a negative emotion doesn’t exist doesn’t mean it’s not still there, lurking beneath the surface and ready to sabotage you when you least expect it.
  4. Put yourself under surveillance.
  5. Notice what event, person, or situation provokes a good emotion.
  6. Notice what event, person, or situation provokes a negative emotion.
  7. Keep a journal of what you’ve noticed.
  8. Explore why you experienced a good and positive emotion.
  9. Explore why you experienced a negative and painful emotion. Did I mention: Keep a journal of what you’ve noticed and explored—no matter how unpleasant the emotional experience.
  10. Work your way through the positive and negative emotion.
  11. Express what you are feeling in less than 3 words if it’s a negative emotion. Be honest and stop pretending your aren’t feeling jealous, envious, angry, etc. Do NOT engage in dialogue about these negative feelings, however, as it will only increase your anxiety.
  12. Drill down and ask yourself Why you do the things you do.
  13. Revisit your values.
  14. Spot your emotional reactions in others, including movies and books.
  15. Use stress as a time to get to know yourself better.
  16. Ask for feedback from people you trust. One more time: are you keeping track of this?

Facing the truth about who you can be hard—even ugly at times. But it will remain ugly only if you don’t start doing something about the things you don’t like about yourself. Getting in touch with emotions that produce the thoughts and behavior you don’t like takes courage and a strong mind.

TIPS:

  • Start on one area at a time.
  • Find a trustworthy mentor or coach to help you through the process.
  • Forget about perfection, just measure your success.
  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Keep a journal or record of what you’ve learned about yourself.

What strategy have you used to become more self-aware?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Get my FREE Mental Toughness Mini-Course

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

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