Archive for October, 2015

How To Read People —9 FBI Tips

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

The topic was How To Read People and it was one of the best interrogation seminars I ever attended. It was led by a muscular man with a face that looked as though chiseled out of a block of wood. 

How To Read People

A member of Special Forces, he told me and 30 other FBI agents that the best way to elicit information from another person was to learn how to read people. That, he said, requires two things: careful observation and developing rapport.

I was stunned. I expected all sorts of tips on how to be sneaky with my questions and intimidating in my manner.

“Always remember that you cannot read people accurately if you don’t spend time with them and if they don’t trust you,” he said.

As a business owner and entrepreneur, you do not need to be a top notch interrogator to figure out what is going on in someone’s head. The signals are always there; all you need to do is know what to look for.

Here are 9 FBI helpful tips on how to read people:

1. Create A Baseline If You Want To Accurately Read People

Spend enough time around a person to get to know their quirks and patterns of behavior. For example, some people clear their throat, look at the floor when talking, cross their arms, scratch their head, stroke their neck, squint, pout, and jiggle their feet frequently.

In others, however, these same behavior might be indicative of deception, anger, or discomfort.

Before you can make any judgments or assessments about an individual, create a baseline of their normal behavior.

2. Look For Aberrations

Start looking for inconsistencies between the baseline you’ve created and the person’s words and gestures.

For example: your boss normally nods when in conversation with others but when you start talking to her, the nodding stops. Pay attention! Is it you, or is the topic you’ve introduced?

3. Notice Clusters of Gestures

No one gesture or word necessarily means anything; but when several behavioral aberrations are clumped together, take notice.

For example, not only does your boss stop nodding, she also angles her body away from you, leans back, and compresses her lips.

You are reading her accurately: she has a problem—either with you or with the topic that you’ve introduced into the conversation.

4. Compare And Contrast

Move your observation up a notch to see if/when she repeats that same behavior with others in your group.

Continue to observe her as she interacts with others in the room. Does her expression change? Has her posture and body language changed? Have you noticed a specific change in her behavior toward you?

5. Walk This Way

Notice the way a person walks. People who shuffle along, lack a flowing motion in their movements, hug themselves, and keep their head down, often lack self-confidence.

Do not be that person! Walk with alertness and purpose, and keep your shoulders back and head held high. When you do, you are signaling to the world that you have an important place to be and an important task to accomplish.

6. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

Mirror neurons are built-in monitors in our brain that reflect other people’s state of mind.

We are wired to read each other’s bodies. A smile activates the smile muscles in our own faces, while a frown activates our frown muscles.

According to Paula Niedenthal in Psychology of Emotion, we are programmed to observe each other’s emotions so we can appropriately react, empathize, or assert our boundaries.

When we see someone we like, our eyebrows arch, facial muscles relax, head tilts, and blood flows to our lips making them full.

If this is not reciprocated, that person is sending you a clear message: they do not like you and/or are not happy with your performance.

7. Identify The Strong Voice

Confident people have strong voices. Do not confuse a loud voice with a strong one.

Confidence and power are kissing cousins.

Around a conference room table, the most confident person is very likely to also be the most powerful one: expansive posture, strong voice, and a big smile. The most powerful person is not always the one sitting at the head of the table.

Make sure your body language and behavior make it clear that you are confident and that your message has heft.

8. Use Of Action Words

As an FBI agent, I always looked for clues on what people were thinking, and words were the closest way for me to get into another person’s head.

Words represent thoughts so identify the word that is freighted with meaning.

For example, if your boss says she, “Decided to buy brand X,” the action word is decided. This single word tells you that your boss is 1) not impulsive, 2) weighed several options, and 3) thinks things through.

Another example: if your colleague says, “I won another award,” the action word is another. She is telling you that she 1) has won awards before, 2) is bolstering her self-esteem, and 3) wants you to know she is a winner.

9. Spot Personality Types

Each of us have our own unique personalities, but there are basic clarifications that can help you relate to another person so you can read them accurately.

  • Are they an introvert or extrovert?
  • Are they driven by relationships or by significance?
  • How do they handle risk and uncertainty?
  • How is their ego fed?
  • What are their behaviors when they are stressed?
  • What are their behaviors when they are relaxed?

It takes time to learn how to read people accurately. Start practicing now on people you know and with whom you interact. You can develop the skill by constantly listening and observing actively in every day life.

What tips would you add?

© 2015 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.” 


How To Overcome Adversity —The Big Bounce Back

Saturday, October 17th, 2015

Kidnapping cases present FBI agents with some of their most challenging investigations and opportunities to overcome adversity. More often than not, the choices that the agent makes has life and death consequences. The goal is always to recover the victim safely and put the kidnapper behind bars.

How To Overcome Adversity

Grit is the word that best describes the attitude that takes hold of an agent when they will not allow themselves to consider the possibility of failure. When someone’s life is at stake, you keep going—no matter how dark the path ahead.

The way in which we look at ourselves, and our circumstances, dictates our attitude when determining how to overcome adversity. As entrepreneurs and business owners, you will have several moments where lots of negative thoughts will be occupying your mind.

To jettison those negative thoughts, you may find it necessary to express your situation differently. When you rethink, or reframe, your adversity, it helps to move it into a context that is more favorable.

This is not to make light of tragedy. It’s perfectly normal to be sad when we are immersed in a negative situation and we need to overcome adversity. That said, we do not need to let the crap moments produced by adversity sabotage our efforts to keep moving toward success.

1. Reframe Your Situation To Overcome Adversity

Reframing is a fancy word for changing the way you place limits around your goals and behaviors. If something sucks, the most logical thing in the world is to call it out for what it is. But, when you grit up to overcome adversity, it means you seek out new interpretations and perspectives that will help you keep moving forward.

Bad news will never keep a dedicated FBI agent from looking for a kidnapping victim. Instead, the agent will reframe the situation so they maintain a more positive and resourceful state of mind.

Reframing is not about pretending everything is perfect and positive! Instead, it’s about providing you with different ways of interpreting your less than perfect situation so you can expand the possibilities to overcome adversity.

2. Reframe The Content

If you reframe the content of your situation, it means you choose what you focus on. Nothing has changed, but instead of wallowing in what did not work, you intentionally choose to focus on what did work.

For example, instead of spending time complaining to everyone that you’ve lost a contract, take the time to analyze why you lost it—learn from the incident. And then move on. No one wants to keep hearing about it…

Ask yourself:

  • Why did we lose the contract?
  • Could we have done something earlier to head it off? What?
  • What can losing this contract teach me about myself? My company?
  • Are there any negative behaviors that need to be addressed for the future?

Another example might include a mistake that you made. Ask yourself:

  • How can I find the positive in this situation?
  • What did I do well?
  • How can I learn about myself from this experience?
  • How can make this information useful for future behavior?

3. Reframe Context

In almost every situation where the interrogation of a kidnapper does not lead to a confession, the interviewing agent always kicks themselves by asking, “What should I have done differently? What could I have said that would have made them buckle and confess?”

Perhaps the evidence was overwhelming, and yet the kidnapper did not feel compelled to admit to the kidnapping. It’s even worse when the victim has still not been found.

Almost all behavior is appropriate in some context—maybe not the one in which you are currently in—but in another situation, your behavior or decision might be quite acceptable and helpful.

Just because your performance was not appreciated in this context, it does not mean it might not be appreciated in another time or place. This is important to remember so that you don’t come down too hard on yourself when you face adversity and things don’t work out the way you anticipated.

Let’s take the same example as above: you’ve lost a contract so you might ask yourself:

  • What different conversations would have been appropriate?
  • In what context would my choice of words have been the right one?
  • What behavior or words could have saved me in this situation?
  • Can I recognize that situation in the future?
  • When has my behavior helped me in the past?

Often there is no right or wrong way to overcome adversity. What might work in one situation or context may not work in another. Keep reframing things so you can look at all possibilities.

Grit is learning how to bounce back, no matter what your situation.

How have you bounced back from adversity?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

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.” 

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5 Ways To Develop Thicker Skin To Become More Resilient

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

Being nice to colleagues is one of the first casualties when work gets stressful. So how can we develop a thicker skin and become more resilient when we’re in a fast-paced environment that produces criticism that stings us?

Thick Skin

Most of us can shrug off a certain amount of criticism by telling ourselves not to take the comment personally. But when you are face to face with someone who accuses you of lying, betraying their trust, or not caring about other team members, it’s hard not to take it a little personally.

Many of us work in fast-paced, high-stress environments and we know how important it is to have a strong mind. So what happens when we realize that we actually do care what people think of us?

Being sensitive to criticism can hold you back. Here are 5 ways you can develop a thicker skin to become more resilient:

1. Welcome Constructive Criticism

Every successful leader and entrepreneur has not only been criticized in their career, but they have also failed spectacularly at something along the way.

If criticism is coming your way because of something you did wrong, be thankful that someone is willing to take the time to let you know how badly you did mess up. So what if the tone is loud and the words are sharp!

Grit up!

If there is a nugget of information that can help you become more successful, grab onto it and let it teach you what you need to know. When feeling down in the dumps after her employees blamed her for glitch on a marketing program, a friend of mine was told by her boss, “It’s time to put your big-girl panties on now.”

Maybe his words were not politically-correct or even polite, but my friend got the message—grow up and face the fact that there will be a few bruises and scars in moving up the ladder of success. The key is to sift through the dross to find the nugget of wisdom—and learn from it.

TIP: Become more resilient by writing down the basics of a critical comment so you can go over it later, when emotions have been tamped down, and you can take a closer look at the facts. Address the errors you made and how you will avoid doing the same in the future.

2. Throw Out The Junk Comments

Just as it’s important to squeeze every ounce of understanding out of a criticism laden with constructive observation, be smart enough to jettison the junk comments that reflect more on the person speaking than your performance.

Stress makes us more emotional and blurting out hurtful or negative comments is common. The reason is that stress decreases our “working memory.” which is the amount of information we hold in our mind.

When we are under stress, our working memory doesn’t allow us to access big chunks of information about the individual whom we are criticizing. All our brain can access is why we’re pissed off at this person. As a result, we say things we really do not mean.

This is when we shouldn’t take a negative criticism personally.

TIP: As you think about a conversation or communication, separate fact from interpretation.

3. Nurture Important Relationships

When you are being assaulted by negative comments and criticism at work, it’s critical that you stay close to people who will support and encourage you. If you do not have strong connections with a core group of friends or family, take the time to do so.

Relationships with others reminds us that we are not alone and that all of us struggle. Talk out your fears and concerns. Once you do, you may find that people who exude the outward appearance of confidence and success have the same fears and concerns that you do.

This is where self-care becomes very important if you want to become more resilient.

When you’re stressed, it’s easy to become worn down emotionally and physically. Even minor stressors feel like a major event.

TIP: Seek out supportive friends or family members so you can give and receive the assistance that we all need at times. This includes developing a proper relationship with yourself—make healthy lifestyle choices that remind you that you’re a priority.

4. Create A Success List

Most critical remarks contain a combination of constructive and junk comments. It’s not always easy to quickly sort out the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Make a list of some of your accomplishments in your current situation. If you don’t feel good about your contributions, you will take the criticism harder.

Whenever you are feeling down or unjustly criticized, take a long and loving look at that list. Remember that you’ve made significant impact on your work environment and that all the negativity flowing around you does not accurately represent your accomplishments. The right attitude will help you become more resilient.

TIP: Writing stuff down 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. Remember projects that have gone well, people you have helped out, or prospects who were happy with your services.

5. Examine The Deeper Wound

The ability to look at a criticism objectively has a lot to do with self-awareness. Sometimes the reason a person’s comment hurts so deeply is because it pricks at a deeper wound from our past.

Self-awareness will allow you to identify the original injury so you can gain proper perspective on your reaction to your current situation. For example, if image is extremely important to you, any implied criticism that calls into question the image you are portraying will wound more deeply than other ones.

We often do not realize the tender places from our past, and a rejection found in a critical remark can unconsciously take you all the way back to why you didn’t get the red ball in the playground.

TIP: Spend time getting to know who you are, what makes you tick, and what pushes your buttons. Not all childhood memories will be pleasant, but toughen up. Pretending painful past experiences aren’t influencing your behavior in negative ways today is just plain stupid.

No one gets a pass on life. Scars from life’s battles are the places where we are the toughest and our skin is the thickest. Do not let those experiences slip away before you’ve had the chance to learn all they have to teach you.

How have you developed a thicker skin and become more resilient?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

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.” 

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How To Raise Mentally Tough Kids

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

When I was offered a position as an FBI agent, I was told one of the things they liked most about me was that I came from a large cattle ranch in the middle of Wyoming. I was among the few mentally tough kids who didn’t expect a career to be handed to them on a platter.

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The FBI liked that I was not a pampered and coddled child that grows up in the suburbs and produced by modern parents. Living on a ranch, I learned the meaning of the word “responsibility.” My daily chores meant that I fed horses, cows, cats, dogs and a meager number of chickens that managed to escape the jaws of hungry coyotes.

The word chore means “a necessary but unpleasant task.” In fact, I couldn’t join after-school programs or participate in sports because my first responsibility were always my chores that waited for me at home.

In the rough Wyoming winters, the very weather I most wanted to avoid is exactly when I was most needed by the animals. They depended upon me for their food, water, and shelter. It mattered when I was late—or simply forgot because of my own selfish behavior. I saw it in their eyes as they waited with expectation for me to take care of them.

Mentally tough kids are not wimps who sit out a snowstorm next to a fireplace. Mentally tough kids are not allowed to be self-indulgent and blow off chores and responsibilities. Even if they’d rather be having fun with their buddies.

As one of those mentally tough kids, I grew up understanding the importance of grit, accountability, and self-reliance.

A 2014 Braun Research study surveyed 1,001 U.S. adults and found 82 percent had regular chores as youth. But only 28 percent expect the same for their children.

The reason?

Kids are busy learning foreign languages, sports, and other skills that will catapult them to success as adults. They have no time for the rigors, discipline, and dull routine of household chores.

There is no doubt that the discipline of learning in general, and sports in particular, will lead to confidence and self-reliance. But according to Richard Rende, co-author of “Raising Can-Do Kids,” decades of studies show that household chores are a proven predictor of success.

To raise kids who are mentally tough in today’s world means they need to succeed academically, emotionally, and professionally. Academics, sports—and yes, chores—all need to be present if you want your child to have the mental toughness they will need to thrive as adults.

Here are 5 tips on how to raise mentally tough kids:

1. Start Early

Dr. Marty Rossmann finds that young adults who begin chores at the age of 3 are more likely to have good relationships with family and friends. They are also more likely to achieve academic and early career success, and to be self-sufficient.

2. Create A Need For Empathy

Livestock in the backyard may not be suitable for most suburban families. However, when your child learns to care about someone or something besides themselves, they become empathic and responsive to the needs of others.

In a startling survey by psychologist Richard Weissbourd, he discovered that almost 80% of high school students chose either achievement or happiness over caring for others.

Parents can readjust their child’s skewed priorities and teach them to be loving and kind at home. Pets are a great place to start, just as I grew up loving animals.

3. Stick To Your Guns

Many kids do have household chores, but they whine and complain about how much homework they have to do. It works because parents are tempted to let them off the hook.

Big mistake.

You send a dangerous message to your kid about their responsibilities and priorities. You’re saying that achievement is more important than sticking to their commitments. They may be able to sweet-talk you to give in, but eventually they will meet someone who is not concerned that they’ve got a full plate.

I mean, how well do you think someone who whines and complains about a busy day is going to work with their boss?

4. Use The Right Language

Studies find that being described as a “helper” gives a child a positive role and identity, as opposed to saying the child is “helping.”

A helper is an individual of action who helps others.

5. Praise Often

Remember to acknowledge when your kid has done their chores and to praise them correctly by saying, “You did a great job because you worked so hard.”  When you affirm that they have succeeded because of the effort they put out, they will understand that it always takes effort to do a job well.

This creates a growth mindsetI can learn to be smarter, better, or more skilled.

Never say, “You did a great job because you are so smart.” This creates a fixed mindset that leads a child to believe their success is dependent upon their intelligence, skills, or attractiveness.

6. Keep Allowances And Chores Separate

Experts advise that external rewards, like money, can actually lesson a child’s motivation to help out with chores. Rewards teach them to turn altruistic acts into business transactions.

7. Teach Independence

Why do American children depend on their parents to do things for them that they are capable of doing for themselves?

According to the Wall Street Journal’s “Field Guide to the Middle Class,” a 5-year-old in Peru’s Amazon region can be found climbing trees to harvest papayas and “helping haul logs thicker than her leg to stoke a fire” Meanwhile an 8-year-old in America’s Los Angeles region lies on his back on a sofa, orders his dad to untie his shoe—and is scolded only because he didn’t say “please.”

We’re all very busy, and sometimes it’s just much easier to do the chore ourselves rather than see it done slowly and imperfectly. But parents are the ones who must teach their kids to be capable and independent.

Click here for a list of suggested chores by age.

How have you raised your child to be mentally tough?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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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