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Build Your Mental Muscle

When you hear the word, “stamina,” you probably think of muscles and sweaty hours at the gym. While building bodily stamina is important, it’s also important to build mental stamina. Just as physical stamina helps athletes deliver excellent performance over and over, mental stamina can keep you motivated and help you deliver top-notch performance on the job. Here are some tips for building mental muscle.shutterstock_99376793

  • Be positive. Being positive is a key factor in staying motivated, especially in the face of obstacles. Positive people believe that they can deliver results and be successful regardless of challenges. You develop a can-do mindset and when you believe you can achieve something, you persist in the effort until you reach the goal. See my blog post Does Positivity at Work Really Make a Difference?
  • Mentally rehearse. Mental rehearsal is a visualization technique that has proven effective in improving performance. Tiger Woods, the master golfer, used mental rehearsal to perfect his swing. Sit comfortably and close your eyes, now go through the entire situation you want to improve in your imagination. Feel your confidence getting stronger and let yourself fully experience what you want to achieve in your imagination. This process tricks your mind into thinking you have already done it successfully and will result in real performance improvement when you finally are in the situation you have rehearsed.
  • Take care of yourself. Mental muscle relies on physical stamina! What you eat, the quality of sleep, and the exercise you get all play a part in mental stamina. Replace fast food, added sugars, and unhealthy snacks with natural, organic foods. Get at least eight hours of sleep at night and avoid sleep deprivation. Take time each day to become physically active. Even something as simple as walking the dog after work can turn into a short workout that pumps you up both physically and mentally.

One of the most important things you can do for mental stamina is to manage stress. Check out my blog post Take Action to Manage Stress for more tools you can use to sharpen your mental stamina and be more positively productive.


Be Persuasive When You Hear “No!”

No matter how persuasive you are, sometimes a customer or manager is going to say, “No.” If that happens, don’t give up. Countering objections starts before you even meet with the person. Part of succeeding at persuasion is anticipating objections and deciding how you will address them.No

Be Prepared

  • When you are preparing your presentation, allow time to brainstorm all possible objections that might arise. The more time you spend here, the easier it will be to handle them during your meeting.
  • Decide how you will respond to each objection. Generally, you want to focus on the benefits of your product or service that mitigate or eliminate the objection. For example, if you know that cost will be a problem, prepare a cost-benefit analysis that justifies the expense.
  • Keep in mind, most people make buying decisions based on their emotions, which you communicate with the benefits offered by your product and service. Focus on what the person gains and what they avoid with what you offer. The stronger the benefits, the easier it is to overcome objections.


  • If you hear an objection, probe for the reasons. Price? Service? Product features?
  • Ask leading and open questions to dig deeper for the source of the objection.
  • Listen closely to what you hear and avoid becoming defensive. As I teach in my Getting Results Through Influence and Persuasion workshop, fully understanding an objection gives you ammunition for countering it.
  • When you believe you understand the issue behind the objection, ask for confirmation that you are correct. Even if the person agrees that you understand, ask if there’s anything else. This may open a new line of inquiry that reveals additional reservations you must address.
  • If you are unprepared to counter an objection, ask if you can return after you do some research.

No one wants to hear a rejection or objection. If this happens to you, be prepared to address it and know how to respond. Check out my Getting Results Through Influence and Persuasion workshop for more information.


Be Positively Productive All Day

Most of us arrive at the office in the morning ready and willing to get things done, and then things happen to get in the way of being positively productive. Some days we crawl out of the office at night, feeling as if we have accomplished nothing. Here are some quick tips to help you focus on productivity throughout the day.shutterstock_111462038

  1. End the workday with a plan for the next day. Before leaving, spend the last 15 minutes of the day deciding on your most important activities for the next day. Prepare any files, documents, or research you need, so it is readily available when you arrive the next morning.
  2. Discourage interruptions. When you are interrupted, it can take up to 20 minutes to regain your focus! Remove your guest chair or pile things on it so visitors can’t sit. When someone tries to interrupt you, be assertive, explain that you are in the middle of something and will call them when you are finished. Put a “Do-Not-Disturb” sign on your door or cubicle entrance. Turn off your phone ringer and email notification. See my blog post Take Charge of Interruptions.
  3. Schedule your time for your highest priorities, but don’t over-schedule. You can quickly become derailed if you book up your entire day. You cannot eliminate interruptions, but allow time to handle the ones you can’t avoid.
  4. Create momentum by batching or bundling activities. For example, if you set aside time each day to read and respond to emails, you will do this activity faster and more efficiently than if you respond to emails as they arrive. By focusing on a single activity for a given amount of time, you get into a groove and accomplish more. This tip alone can put more time in your day.
  5. Get rid of clutter. Every time you must look through a stack of paper or scan your computer desktop or email inbox looking for something, you lose productivity. This type of disorganization also drains your self-esteem and reflects badly on your professionalism. If you have clutter, either in your physical workplace or your electronic workspaces, take some time each day to get rid of it and impose order on your work. See my blog post Eliminate Clutter for more information.

Start implementing just one of these tips and when it becomes a habit, introduce another. Before long, you’ll leave work at the end of the day knowing that you have been positively productive!

Need more help with organization and productivity? Check out my GO System program.


Seven Tips to Become a Politically Savvy Manager

Most people view workplace politics as something to be avoided since it can be manipulative and even unethical in practice. However, workplace politics is not inherently bad; its bad reputation comes from how people use it. In fact, if you want to succeed as a manager and leader and be positively productive, you must understand how things get done and who has the power to make things happen. Politically savvy leaders know what power they have, when to use it, and who to rely on for support. They understand how to navigate the organization, accomplish goals, and deliver results. Here are some tips to help you in the political arena.shutterstock_121207279

  1. Get to know the people you manage. What motivates them? How do they prefer to work—alone or on teams? Cultivate their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses.
  2. Form mutually supportive relationships with your peers. Look for ways you can support others and offer guidance, advice, and assistance.
  3. Pay attention to the decision makers in your company and learn how they exercise their influence within and outside the organization.
  4. Plan your career two or three steps ahead and find out what you need to do and who you need to meet to reach your professional goals.
  5. When you make a mistake or misstep, apologize, fix it, and analyze the situation to determine what went wrong, so you can avoid the same pitfall in the future.
  6. Be considerate of how you communicate. Think about the effects of your words before you speak. How will people respond? Is there a better way to express yourself?
  7. Be positive and upbeat. Generally, those who exercise negative politics—the gossipers, the back-biters, the manipulators—have a negative reputation around the office. Position yourself on the opposite side by always being courteous and pleasant and refuse to be sucked into their petty games.

Start thinking about office politics as a positively productive means to achieve organizational and professional goals. Understand how it works in your organization and use the information to improve. Check out my newest program Getting Results through Influence and Persuasion for more help.


Position Yourself for Leadership

Now is the time to develop your leadership skills, especially if you are a Millennial since 75% of the workforce will be dominated by this generation in the coming decade. This upsurge will be led by the retirement of millions of Baby Boomers and too few Generation X employees to take their places. More and more, business will tap into the Millennial population to fill leadership roles. Here’s how you can prepare for the future starting now.shutterstock_117843934

  • Become a star performer. Leaders consistently go above and beyond what’s expected. Show initiative by volunteering to serve on or lead teams, demonstrate your expertise by asking smart questions and giving savvy answers in meetings, and learn everything you can about the organization’s mission, values, and objectives.
  • Become known. Networking inside and outside your organization is a key factor in being recognized as promotional material. You want to be top-of-mind when an opportunity comes along. Reach out to your counterparts and colleagues and get to know them as people. Join industry groups, both live and online; LinkedIn has thousands of special interest groups. Participate in discussions, attend meetings, and be visible.
  • Cultivate empathy. There are many aspects of emotional intelligence, including empathy. Experts on leadership believe that the ability to have and show empathy is a key leadership attribute. Empathy is not sympathy; it is the ability to step into another’s shoes and feel what they are feeling. You accept where they are coming from and who they are without judgement.

Your leadership opportunities may be a few years away, but it’s not too early to start preparing yourself and honing your skills to take advantage of them when they come. For more information, see my blog post Workplace Relationships and Leadership.


Juggling Multiple Deadlines Using Paired Comparison

Some days it seems as if everything is important and needs to be done NOW! On those days, overwhelm can quickly take over and make it impossible for you to set priorities and accomplish the right things. Start by stepping back and taking stock of what’s on your plate, what really needs to be done now, and what can wait.shutterstock_86483428

This is hard to do when you are looking at a dozen different tasks. List everything you think you must do and then compare each item two by two, weighing one task directly against another for relative importance. This is called “paired comparison,” and it is an easy way to get a handle on what’s truly important and what just seems important. Here is a simple example:

You have the following tasks on your list:

A. Prepare three performance reviews and plans

B. Start a sales proposal due in two weeks

C. Counsel an employee about tardiness for the third time

D. Meet with procurement about a needed amendment to a vendor contract

E. Finalize a presentation to the board

With paired comparison, evaluate the importance of each by looking at just two items at a time.

  • What’s more important, A or B? You choose A.
  • What’s more important, B or C? You choose C.
  • What’s more important, C or D? You choose C.
  • What’s more important C or E? You choose C.
  • C is now your top priority.
  • Start over with A and B. When you finish, you discover your new priorities are C, A, D, E, B

Paired comparison is a quick, easy tool to help you get out from under overwhelm and back on track toward being positively productive. For a longer-lasting solution, see my blog post How to Use the Pareto Principle for Productivity at Work.


Movin’ On Up!

Moving from a staff role to one of management and leadership can be challenging. Your new role changes others’ perceptions of you, and you may have former colleagues now working for you. Here are three tips to help you be more successful in your expanded role.Ladder of Success

  1. Get everyone on the same page. Explain to your team what your leadership role means and what your expectations are about department goals, deliverables, responsibilities, and interactions. Be open, transparent, and confident.
  2. Lead by example. Employees will look to you to determine how to act toward you in your new role. Be friendly and open with them, but establish clear boundaries when it comes to professional behavior. Avoid traps like gossiping, becoming part of cliques, and showing favoritism. See my blog post The Dangers of Office Gossip for more information.
  3. Stay positively productive. In your expanded role, you are accountable for not just your own deadlines, but that of your entire team. Set clear priorities, manage your time based on your most important tasks, and help your team to do so also. See my blog post How to Productively Manage Priorities for more information.

People expect you to always demonstrate management and leadership skills. There are no time-outs! This can be a challenge, especially when you are new to the role. See my blog post Are You Recognized as a Leader? for more information and check out my leadership program Leading Multi-generation Teams.



Workplace Relationships and Leadership

Effective leadership requires you to build good relationships with people up, down, and across your company. The more responsibility you have, the more important your relationships become for your long-term professional success. Here are some tips to help you deepen your workplace relationships.Authentic

  • Be collaborative. A report by ESI International showed that more than 65% of workers surveyed believe that personal and organizational performance would improve if teams worked more collaboratively. Collaboration is a willingness to set aside your personal preferences and biases and work together with others for a common goal. If you disagree with tactics, you accept that everyone has a prefered way of working and as long as everyone is headed in the right direction, others can contribute in their own way without criticism.
  • Be transparent. Transparency requires honesty and assertive communication skills. Speak up if something happens that affects your team or deliverables and accept accountability by admitting mistakes and acting to remedy them. This demonstration of leadership deepens your influence with others and improves your ability to be persuasive. (See my program Getting Results through Influence and Persuasion for more information.)
  • Be a people person. Get to know people as individuals and interact with them one-on-one.Forge lasting relationships with people by relating to each person as an individual with a life and interests outside work. Be willing to share information and offer to help if you see someone struggling.

Building effective workplace relationships enhances your perception as a leader, broadens your influence throughout your organization, connects you to new sources of opportunities and information, and gives you access to new resources.



Achieve Customer Service Excellence

Every interaction a customer has with your company is an opportunity to build a long-term customer relationship–or break one. For an organization to grow and thrive, investing in customer service training is essential.shutterstock_147498467

Developing your staff doesn’t just improve the customer experience. It can drive sales and give your organization a competitive edge. Positive service experiences translate into satisfied customers who keep coming back and who tell others about the great service they have received from you.

According to the Customer Experience Impact Report, 86% of customers stopped purchasing from companies after experiencing negative customer service, and customers who had the best experiences spent more than ones who hadn’t. How you treat your customers affects your bottom line.

Training, however, does more than create happy, loyal customers. It also increases employee engagement, motivation, productivity, loyalty, and retention. When employees feel valued, customer service delivery excels. If you’re ready to improve your customers’ experiences, contact me about bringing my program Creating a Positive Customer Service Experience to your organization.


Help Your Team Grow Professionally

As a manager and leader, you want to cultivate your team, so it can take on greater responsibilities and achieve greater results. You need employees who can take initiative, make decisions independently, offer suggestions that improve productivity, and demonstrate leadership. Here are some tips to help you:

Business development - Closeup of hands holding seedling in a group

Business development – Closeup of hands holding seedling in a group

  • Encourage the behavior you want to enhance by creating a safe environment for them to take risks.
  • Avoid blaming when someone makes a mistake. Hold staff accountable, but use mistakes as learning opportunities to foster continued initiative.
  • Ask employees to come up with process improvements, listen to their suggestions, and implement their recommendations, wherever possible.
  • Provide opportunities for them to gain new skills and sharpen existing ones by offering training programs.
  • Delegate assignments that showcase their abilities and let them stretch and grow.
  • Coach and mentor employees who show promise and cultivate their management and leadership skills. See my blog post Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor?

Helping each team member improve and showing them how to enhance their skills will strengthen your entire team and make everyone more positively productive.