Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Simple Smile Shifts Energy

I’ve been experimenting with this idea for several months now . . . does the simple act of smiling to yourself shift your own energy?

This experiment came about quite innocently when I would be feeling a bit frustrated (like lots of us) when trying to take care of household business calls that seem to have no end.  It’s not the fault of the person on the other end of the phone (when I actually am able to talk with someone) but it seems like nothing is simple and almost always one call necessitates another two or three calls.  I’m thinking of calls like scheduling medical appointments for family members; sorting out errors on bills, arranging for car/dog/house maintenance etc. etc. You know what I mean.

So I tried experimenting with putting a smile on my face (none can see me) to observe what would happen. Interesting, several things would almost always occur quite quickly. First, I noticed that my voice would soften and become a little lighter. It also had a warmer quality to it.  My shoulders relaxed a bit and I sat back slightly in my chair.  I also was more attuned to the conversation and was listening a bit closer.  And if I really wanted to test the waters, I would find a moment to just laugh slightly to see if that created a nice connection with the other person.

I was pleasantly surprised at the result of my experiment.  Each time I coached myself to smile, my energy had clearly shifted in a very subtle way.  It was not dramatic – I hadn’t done anything extraordinary but my energy had simply shifted to a more positive and collaborative posture.

Did the smile get business done any faster or better?  Maybe not or maybe so.  But it does make it easier on me.  I’m being a bit kinder and gentler on myself.  Now on to more phone calls . . .


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Don’t Wait to Learn From Each Other

It’s the end of June and retirement parties are happening all over town. They are festive events for the pending “retiree” (who can’t stop smiling) but not everyone feels the same way. Often, the managers, department heads and team leaders are suddenly realizing that a wealth of expertise, experience and history is walking right out their door. As leaders tell me, “it’s a tsunami” of baby boomers retiring and for the most part the remaining leadership is totally unprepared to fill these gaps in the short or long run.

So what can you as a leader do? Build relationships now! Don’t wait. The single most effective initiative you can take in your organization is to ensure that the four generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials) have regular opportunities to connect with one another, to collaborate on projects and therefore to learn “up & down” the generations. Challenge your employees/colleagues to tap into each other’s wisdom, knowing that each generation is bringing different strengths and gifts to the workplace and ultimately for the benefit of your company. After all, they were hired by your company to do just that.

It’s tempting to stay with what we are most comfortable with – to work in silos. You as a leader have the responsibility and opportunity to create a “multi-generational learning environment” for the benefit of all. Give them an opportunity to work and learn from each other. Try it!

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Coaching Up & Down the Generations

Coaching Up & Down the Generations, by Lisa Haneberg, ASTD Press, 2010.

The title of this book caught my eye at the recent ASTD TechKnowledge conference in San Jose, California. There are lots of books on multi-generations in the workforce but I had never seen a “how to” book on using coaching to bridge these common generational gaps.

It’s an excellent book for both professional coaches and leaders alike. Haneberg identifies an issue that is often hinted about in today’s workplace but rarely offered a solution. And that is how to help the four generations now working in today’s world connect, communicate and finally learn from each other. Haneberg calls this “Up & Down the Generations” to illustrate that this kind of collaboration goes both ways – from oldest to youngest and (just as importantly) from youngest to oldest. Haneberg gives an excellent review of state-of-the-art coaching strategies and techniques to accomplish exactly that. This is a great book for every leader and every coach I know.

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