Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for September, 2013

Evolving Perceptions

I have a client who has made measurable strides in her efforts to reach her personal goal of becoming a more effective communicator. She’s acknowledged how her own tendencies have gotten in the way of her being as composed as she’d like to be, when she finds herself frustrated. She’s picked up some new tools and approaches and she’s applying them when she feels her buttons being pushed. Her efforts have not only been admirable, they’ve been noticeable. I received a message from her recently that included her continued interest in reading and learning more. She also shared her concerns because although she feels good about the significant changes she’s making, she’s concerned about whether she can change the perceptions of others who may still expect her to communicate and react in old ways. Not to say that one never falls off the wagon when striving to change old habits.

I’d like to share with you what I shared with her, in the event you’re in the midst of striving to be a more effective communicator.

Perceptions evolve. It takes time and consistent behavior—and a building of trust in that behavior—to shift someone’s expectations and perceptions of you and how you communicate. Congratulate yourself for being on the right track towards improvement and remember that current perceptions are not necessarily a reflection of your current efforts or behavior. They’re more associated with past behaviors. So keep up the good work and you can count on those perceptions shifting—over time—to better reflect the person you are today.

One additional thought . . .

If you experience someone demonstrating their perceptions of your old behavior, you may want to consider calmly approaching them and acknowledging your understanding of their experience. Ask them to offer you the chance to change that perception, and offer your ear if they have feedback for you as you move forward. That would be a good start in improving your relationship and their expectations of you.

Here’s to continuous improvement and patience with the process.

Unplugging for a bit can generate some cool stuff.

Then and now . . . .

When my kids were growing up in the 80s, my husband and I decided to require each of them to choose two hours per day when they would not watch television or talk with friends on the phone. This was a time when network television and landline telephones were pretty much the only major technological distractions. Can you imagine? Anyway, each day they were free to choose any two-hour window they wanted and although we hoped they would do their homework or do something creative during those times, we set no requirements around what they chose to do with the time. After the initial resistance, we were happy to find them playing creative games together, sitting and talking with us or with each other, and/or choosing to do their homework during their “free” time.

Today, being “unplugged” can present more of a challenge as we’re constantly plugged in—virtually connecting, networking, and communicating outside of our own physical space. My husband and I planned ahead to make last weekend a “staycation” weekend. In addition to letting family and friends know we were going to be off the social grid for the weekend, we agreed to pretty much eliminate our virtual connections and our iPhone and computer use, and just focus on each other. We were both amazed at how special and relaxing our weekend was and how much time we had on our hands to bike, hike, and just spend time together. What a concept!

The very technology that provides us with flexibility and limitless opportunities to learn and connect with others, also has the potential to affect our stress levels and our well-being. In fact, just “being” seems to be difficult to accomplish these days. So, if you’re looking for an inexpensive yet meaningful getaway, try unplugging for a bit and see what cool stuff it might generate for you.