Friday, March 22, 2013

How to Make Tough Conversations Easy (Exerpt)

 This looked like a really good article, looked good enough to share!

How To Make Tough Conversations Easy

Nick Morgan


We all have them. Conversations that we dread, that don’t go the way we hope they would, and that some of us even agonize about afterward. Whether it’s asking your boss for a raise, negotiating with a supplier, or figuring out how to give a negative evaluation to an employee – conversations about difficult topics bedevil us. We dislike the upset beforehand, so we tend to put them off. We dislike the tension while they’re going on, so we tend to cut them short and don’t get what we want. We’re not at our best under those circumstances, and that further cuts into our effectiveness. And we find them haunting us afterward, thinking about all the things we could have said.
It’s time for those conversations to go better. This book will take you through a process that will help you stop dreading difficult conversations, get what you need out of them, and look back at them with satisfaction. Let’s get started.

1. Project the future emotional state you want, not the one you fear.

The dread that precedes tough talks comes from fearing that the experience will leave you worse off than you were before – emotionally wounded, perhaps, possibly humiliated, almost certainly feeling bad because you didn’t get what you want.
Here’s what’s happening: Your mind is projecting a bad outcome because of your fear. That creates a doom loop that has your emotions feeding off your negative thinking, and your negative thinking feeding off your emotions. There’s nowhere to go but down.
It’s time for some positive talk. When you think about the coming conversation, don’t let the negative thoughts crowd in. Instead, tell yourself something like, “I am confident and serene. I will handle the conversation beautifully.” Use your own words and concepts, specific to your situation, but that should give you the idea. Keep your mantra simple and positive and avoid negative statements (don’t say, “I won’t be afraid”; say, “I will be courageous.”
Rather than dwelling on the possible bad outcome and feeling so miserable you never have the conversation, project yourself into that happy future state.
The idea is to drown out the negative emotions with positive ones. That will prevent you from getting worked up, and it will stop your mind from feeding off your emotions, ending the doom loop.
But you have to practice it faithfully. What I can tell you is that if you practice saying your mantra to yourself several times a day for a few minutes, and especially whenever negative thoughts develop, you will find yourself shedding your emotional discomfort. An especially good time to practice your mantra is when you are waking up or falling asleep. In those half-awake moments, our conscious minds seem to access the unconscious – where the fear resides – more easily.
It takes a while – sometimes several weeks – but stick with it. The results are worth it. They will surprise you. One day you’ll suddenly notice that your stomach is no longer tied up in knots about that conversation. You’ll face it with equanimity.
Once you’ve achieved that happy state, you’re ready for the next step.

2. Decide what the conversation is about.

It seems obvious: It’s about what you’ve been dreading – asking your boss for a raise (and getting shot down); trying to persuade a colleague to change an approach to a major software implementation (and getting shot down); accusing an employee of pilfering company supplies (and getting stonewalled).
No. The conversation is about articulating to your boss all the great things you’ve done for the company, or perhaps pointing out that people at your level of experience are making more than what you’re making now. Or the conversation is about how we can save tons of time, money and effort if we do the software implementation in the right way. Or the conversation is about taking responsibility for one’s actions, both good and bad.
That’s framing. And it’s the key to a successful conversation. If you frame an issue with your positive end in mind, it will come out very differently than if you frame it around your fears. You want to begin the conversation with a brisk, confident, statement like, “Let’s talk today about the money my cost-saving ideas have meant to this company and how I can be fairly compensated for that.”
Do you see the difference? Right away, the issue on the table is about good things like fairness, and your positive contribution, as well as your compensation, rather than your boss’ penny-pinching.
How you frame the conversation will determine how it can go. Always look for the positive setting, and one that assumes your position, and then puts the negotiation on how that works out. In other words, it’s not, “Can I get a raise?” because that sets up the listener to say “No.” Rather, it’s “Let’s talk about how the company is going to compensate me for my contributions of the last twelve months.” The different phrasing assumes that you deserve better compensation; the question on the table is how much.
Of course, this kind of positive framing won’t stop a complete Grinch from saying something like, “Bah Humbug! The company has no intention of compensating you for anything you’ve done!” But then at least the lines have been drawn in a way that lets you debate that issue, not some other one like how hard the boss’s life it right now.

3. Identify the elephant in the room.

If there’s an elephant in the room – a big, obvious problem that everyone involved knows about, but for one reason or another is avoiding – then you can usually get good mileage out of naming that beast. Sometimes you can change a long-festering issue, other times, you’ll just get a collective sigh of relief. But you’ll almost always get respect for courage and integrity.
It’s really important, then, to think clearly about any such elephants beforehand, in the calm before the battle, when your emotions are not roiled and you have some time to sort out what you have to say. The idea is to state the problem or issue in a way that points back to your frame. “I know the indictments and the fifteen straight quarters of losses have taken a heavy toll on the company and its management. That’s why my cost-saving strategies have been so important. Without them, Blunderbuss Enterprises might not even been able to avoid bankruptcy. In Q3 alone, we put $5 million back to the bottom line . . . “
Bring up the elephant before anyone else does, and you will strengthen your side of the conversation rather than weakening it.

4. Listen and reflect, don’t defend.

As the conversation gets going, the opposite party may well fling brickbats at you, no matter how hard you work to keep things positive. “Of course I take company supplies! I haven’t had a raise in six years! The company owes me!”
Those kind of emotional curve balls are designed to deflect attention, and induce guilt, not to resolve the situation positively. And you’ll find the conversation rapidly spinning out of control if you chase your interlocutor down those particular rabbit holes. Instead, say, “What I hear you saying is that you feel that you’ve gone a long time without a raise, is that right?” Then, once you’ve got agreement on what was just said, you can make your move. “Let’s talk about your raise at another time. Right now, let’s resolve the issue of those company supplies, and how much the losses are costing us.”
Get the employee focused on the shrinkage issue, rather than compensation, and you can stay focused on the real problem.
You have to recognize that hard conversations, the kind that you keep putting off because you’re afraid of the answer, often involve some tough bargaining, and the likelihood of an acceptable outcome becomes much more likely if everyone involved feels that their needs and emotions have been heard and respected. So be prepared to spend some time doing just that, using your reflective listening skills.
People often won’t identify how they’re feeling. Instead, they’ll make an accusation. “You never . . .” “You always . . .” What you need to listen for here is the emotional feeling behind the charge. “What I hear you saying is that you feel underappreciated. Is that right?”
You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to talk to someone once these emotional attitudes behind the statements, charges, and accusations are acknowledged. But you have to listen closely and carefully, without defensiveness, to hear the emotion. It’s easy to get defensive, and occupied in refuting the charge, rather than hearing the attitude behind what’s being said. You must remain open, and be willing to acknowledge that your actions have perhaps led to someone else feeling hurt, afraid, lonely, or distrustful.
The key is to stay open no matter what. Emotional conversations tend to induce feelings of defensiveness, guilt, and anger, and those are explosive emotions to handle at any time, and certainly under the gun. Prepare yourself beforehand by thinking through the possibilities, but then listen hard in the moment, because you may well be surprised. Many of us are not aware of how our actions affect others. This is a good time to find out.

5. Name the differences.

Once the conversation has gone on for a while, you’ve framed it successfully, listened to the emotions carefully, and reflected them, it’s time to state clearly what the remaining differences are in the context of your initial frame. “So let me clarify for a moment. I hear you saying that the company is prepared to offer me a 3 percent raise and the chance at a 50 percent bonus at the end of the calendar year if those revenue targets are met. What my research indicated was that a 6 percent raise would put me in a fairer position given my achievements. It sounds like we agree on the bonus arrangement, and we’re 3 percent apart on the raise. Is that the way you hear it?”
Once the other party agrees, or you reach agreement on the differences, then you’re in a strong position to make a counter offer, or accept the other person’s proposal with conditions, or whatever you feel is appropriate. If you’re too far apart, you can suggest a break in the discussion for both parties to think things over, and get agreement on when to resume.
That gives you an opportunity to restate your goals, if you still are far apart and you want to continue to negotiate.
Always begin by stating what both parties agree on, in order to stress the positive, making it more likely you’ll be able to move forward on the remaining issues. It’s why negotiators in very difficult, protracted bargaining impasses spend time on getting a mutual understanding on things like the shape of the table, the conditions for negotiation, and so on. Once we get into the habit of agreeing, we build positive connection and emotional rapport, and we’re more likely to conclude with a final agreement.
Of course, some negotiations are too difficult, or too negatively charged, for that kind of atmospheric conditioning to help much, but most everyday conversations are helped enormously.

6. State your emotional situation and needs.

Just as you need to be open to hearing the other party’s emotional story, you need to be ready to state yours. In very fraught situations, of course, this can be ferociously difficult. But sometimes simply saying how you feel will lead to a breakthrough or at least an important acknowledgment from the other side. “I’ve been hurting for several weeks ever since that last conversation in which you said my contribution to the company was essentially nil. I need to feel like I’ve got your support when I’m going up against that tough negotiating team from XYZ Enterprises. I need to feel like the company has my back.”
A lot of the agony of these hard conversations comes from unexpressed hurt feelings, so rather than make accusations, state the facts, and say how you feel as a result. You will feel a good deal better just to get your feelings out in the open. Make them the “I” statements of psychological lore, rather than “You said” statements. Explaining how you feel is something that the other person can’t argue with. “You” statements will quickly put the other party on the defensive.
While stating how you feel won’t always turn the conversation in your favor, it will almost always give you added leverage.

7. Conclude with agreement on action.

Always go armed with the clear knowledge of what you can accept, so you’ll know when you’re ready to push for agreement. Sometimes, all you can get is the willingness to keep talking. In both cases, it’s extremely important to reach a mutual understanding on whatever the next steps are – time and place of your next meeting, further outside research that needs to be done, or a complete meeting of minds. Whatever you can agree on, state it clearly and use it to define the action that will result.
Tough conversations can lead to extraordinary breakthroughs, happy surprises, and emotional healing – but only if you actually have them. Prepare yourself to keep the emotions as positive as possible. Frame the conversation in ways that give the other person a choice among positive outcomes for you. Be open about big outstanding issues. Listen openly without defensiveness and reflect the underlying emotions of the other party. Name the areas of agreement and the ones where differences remain. Be open about your feelings, too. And move forward on action.
Taking these steps won’t make tough conversations easy, but they will create the conditions for a successful, mutually satisfying outcome.
Good luck.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My 90 Challenge with Body by Vi (Visalus) 30 pounds in 90 days!

Hello all,
It's been a few months since my last post. I wish I could say that I've kept up with My Positive Life Change and that I've been working out faithfully and melting away the pounds...but no. The wonderful news is, a couple of weeks ago I determined in myself that this would be the last year that I was overweight, and that I would enter the 33rd year of my life (my b-day is in September) healthier that I entered my 32nd. I started to tie up all my loose ends - disorganization, old assignments, anything that I could potentially use as an excuse to working out 6 days a week. Last week I made two steps to the new and improved me - I ordered a Body by Vi Kit and I set up an appointment at my gym to have someone walk me thru the machines again and to have myself weighed and measured. I am super excited to announce that just 3 days into my new plan that I've already lost 1 pound!

I've held off on announcing my weight loss challenge on my facebook for one reason - I want to wait a week to see how much I lose. I didn't want to promote Body by Vi to anyone without knowing for myself if it actually works. In the past It has been incredibly hard for me to lose weight, even with working out. I normally put on muscle first, then it takes at least 6 weeks before I see or feel any other change than in my strength. Usually the whole process is discouraging for me unless I'm very strict with my eating habits. Very, very strict. So, I'm excited that just 3 days into my Challenge, and some light working out, that I've dropped 1 pound. This is with the Balance Kit, 1 shake a day. Visalus (body by Vi company) has a kit with which you drink two shake a day and experience a faster weight loss, but I don't believe in replacing multiple meals with shakes. I'll do one in the morning because I have such a hard time getting myself to eat a healthy breakfast, and so far, it's been easy. I figured that since I'm going to be exercising that one shake a day would do it for me. The other thing I like about Visalus is that when you order your kit, you have access to a free online community full of health and exercise tips, and encouraging testimonies of other people that are going through their challenges. I was especially excited to read one testimony yesterday of a women who lost 28 pounds in her 90 day challenge. My Goal is to lose 30.  I'm not an official promoter (meaning that I am not getting paid for selling the product), but an incentive to spreading the word is that if 3 people sign up thru my page, I will get my next two kits free. I'd be happy to lose the weight regardless, but a free kit for the next 2 months would be neat! Check out my page and watch the video here: feel free to ask any questions you may have!

I made it to the gym 3 days this week and so far this has been the easiest pound I've ever lost. Have I mentioned that I'm excited?!  I'll be posting my progress regularly, so I'll be on here a whole lot more. Thank you for reading, God bless you on your health journey! - Jen

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Elisa Riebeling Ministries: The Blog: God's Special People - The Poor (Part 1)

"A suffering and newly born again 45-year-old man relocated his wife & 4 year old son from up north to our beautiful city in hopes of finding a better life....With no money for food, gas, or laundry, he became suicidal. His wife, barely hanging on and stricken with fear contemplated the unspeakable..."
 Click Link to continue. (This is an excerpt from the blog of the nonprofit ministry I serve). 
Elisa Riebeling Ministries: The Blog: God's Special People - The Poor (Part 1)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

One of my favorite Worship songs: How Great is Our God, by Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, and Ed Cash.

"Turn Up Your Fat Burn"

I stepped into Starbucks with Hubby just now and came across this great article featured in Starbucks digital network. Enjoy
Content © 2012 by the respective content owners. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
The Facts About Fat

The Facts About Fat

The following is excerpted from Turn Up Your Fat Burn!™, new from Rodale
By Alyssa Shaffer and the editors of Prevention
Among American women, an average of 31 percent of total body weight is fat; for men, the number is about 24 percent. Most adipose (fat) tissue is located under the skin (subcutaneous fat) and around the internal organs (visceral fat), as well as in bone marrow and breasts. Visceral fat, the kind you often can’t see, is a deep fat that’s particularly dangerous, especially in the abdominal area. It increases the risk of high cholesterol and impaired liver function, as well as of heart disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, and other health problems.
Subcutaneous fat is the kind that gives us curves, but for plenty of people, it’s hanging around in excess, especially in the trunk, the backs of the arms, the top of the back, and around the butt and thighs. While it’s not as dangerous as visceral fat, too much subcutaneous fat can be unhealthy, especially when it raises your body mass index (BMI) above 25. (BMI is a measurement of body fat based on weight and height. A “normal” weight falls within 18.5 to 24.9, while 25 to 29.9 is considered “overweight,” and 30 or more is considered obese.)
More online from Rodale Books:
Why exercise when I can diet?
There’s no arguing with the basic weight-loss equation: In order to drop excess pounds, you need to burn more calories than you consume. You can do this by drastically cutting calories, but for many of us, dieting alone is simply too hard. To lose just a pound a week, you’d need to cut 3,500 calories from your diet, or 500 fewer calories a day than you are used to eating. While you can keep this up for a few days or even a few weeks, eventually it becomes just too difficult to keep slashing calories.
That’s where exercise comes in. Scientific journals are filled with evidence that regular physical activity not only will help you lose weight (and live longer) but is crucial to staying leaner. The American College of Sports Medicine even created an official recommendation that anyone who wants to lose weight should try to create a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories a day through a combination of diet and physical activity. Among participants in the renowned National Weight Control Registry (the largest ongoing study of successful long-term weight loss, consisting of more than 5,000 individuals who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept that weight off for at least 1 year), consistent exercise is the single best predictor of long-term weight maintenance.
Think of it this way: If you add 60 minutes of activity a day, even just a brisk walk, you’ll burn another 2,300 calories a week. Over a year, that’s about 35 pounds you’ve either kept off or lost.
Bottom line: If you’re in this for the long haul, dieting alone can be tough. To get the best results, you also need to exercise.
And yet...
Sometimes no matter how many miles you walk on the treadmill or pedal away on the bike or elliptical, you can still feel very frustrated when you step on the scale or look in the mirror. While exercise is undeniably good for your heart, lungs, and brain, it can be bad for your psyche if you’re not getting the positive results you want.
Let’s start with what you’re doing right. You don’t need a PhD in exercise physiology to know that any form of physical activity will improve your health. Every time you raise your heart rate with aerobic exercise, you’re helping your heart and lungs get stronger and more efficient. You’re bathing your brain in feel-good hormones; you’re pushing oxygenated blood throughout your body to deliver important nutrients to your tissues; you’re helping your body get a better night’s sleep. When you add strength and flexibility training to the mix, you’re also building stronger bones; revving your metabolism; and keeping your joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles limber throughout the decades of your life.
Yet many of us don’t see the weight-loss results we expect because of how much, how often, and how hard we’re exercising. Take a look at these common workout mistakes—some may sound pretty familiar.
Mistake#1: You’re caught in an exercise rut.
When you do the same activity day after day, week after week, your mind isn’t the only thing that gets bored—your muscles do, too. Whether you take the same daily 30-minute walk around the neighborhood loop or do a few sets of the same old strength moves, after a while your body stops being challenged and your results plateau.
Mend it: Change things up. Go for a hike on the weekend instead of doing your usual power walk. Find new strength moves that work the same muscles. (There are some great ones in the following chapters.) Try a new type of exercise by slipping in a workout DVD. Any little way to mix things up and challenge yourself with something new is a step in the right direction.
Mistake #2: You’re loyal to cardio.
I have friends who run, bike, or swim religiously but can’t get rid of stubborn fat around their tummies, hips, and thighs. It’s because they haven’t picked up a pair of weights in years. While aerobic exercise is good for your body and soul, if you don’t balance those workouts with some strength exercises, you’re not only compromising your results but missing a key component of health and fitness. Resistance training— lifting weights or strength training—is the only way to increase lean muscle mass. That’s important on many levels, especially as we start to get older.
Beginning in their thirties, women begin to lose about 1/2 pound of muscle per year. (Men usually hold on to muscle longer, but the rate of muscle loss speeds up dramatically after age 60.) Since muscle burns through calories even at rest, losing it will noticeably slow metabolism. This is one big reason many of us see that “middle-age spread” beginning in our forties.
A study from Skidmore College found that exercisers who combined cardio with a high-intensity, total-body resistance routine lost more than twice as much body fat—including twice as much belly fat—over 12 weeks than those who followed a moderate-intensity cardio plan.8 (You’ll find out more about the many benefits of strength training later in this book.)
Mend it: Substitute a couple of strength sessions for cardio days. On our plan, you’ll be lifting weights twice a week, hitting all of your body’s major muscle groups.
Mistake #3: You’re stuck in a “fat-burning” zone.
If you hop aboard a treadmill, elliptical trainer, stairclimber, or other cardio machine at the gym, you may see a programming option that allows you to stay in a “fat-burning” zone. It’s based on the fact that at lower intensities, the body uses a greater percentage of its fat stores for fuel. Sounds great! You don’t have to work as hard and you’re sucking some of that fat out of your belly, butt, and thighs.
But do the math and you’ll see the problem. At a lower intensity level, your body will indeed burn a higher percentage of fat than carbs but still burn fewer calories overall.
Here’s an example. A 150-pound woman who walks on a treadmill at 3 mph (a 20-minute mile) burns about 112 calories in 30 minutes. At this moderate intensity, she burns about half of those calories from fat, or about 56 fat calories. If she were to take that workout into a brisk walk for 30 minutes at 4 mph (a 15-minute mile), only about 40 percent of her calorie burn might be from fat. But she’d be burning more calories over-all—about 170 in those 30 minutes, or about 68 calories from fat.
Mend it: In the next chapter, you’ll learn how to burn more calories and make more of those calories come from fat. You will increase your overall effort by doing intervals—periods of higher intensity followed by a slower recovery pace.
If you’re already exercising regularly, the Turn Up Your Fat Burn program is designed to help you get past some of these common mistakes and achieve the fitness and fat-loss results you want. And if you’re not involved in an exercise program right now, there’s no better time to start.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Calorie Counters for Weight Loss Help

I just started using this online calorie counter for help in weight loss that Lori @ shared with me -
Here's another one I might try - .

Why was so excited to try this? It's not as restrictive as a diet where you have to completely eliminate certain foods (or food groups). You only need to keep your calories under or at your limit. It's so easy to just select what you eat each day! When you have completed the day's entry, you get a message that tells you something like, "If you continue eating this way, in 5 weeks you will lose...X number of pounds"! That's what I like to see!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Body, Mind and Spirit: Losing Weight For the Right Reasons

A post from a friend @

Body, Mind and Spirit: Losing Weight For the Right Reasons: As someone who has recently lost weight, I highly recommend it.  It is important to make sure you are losing weight for the right reasons. Y...