Sunday, 28 August 2011

Why give feedback?

There's a lot written about giving feedback and how to give it and this week's workshop, Telling It Like It Is, will help you enormously understand the ins and outs of feedback, but to me what's really important and often not thought about enough, is why you're giving feedback in the first place.

It might feel easier to think about why you're giving Positive feedback - because everyone likes a compliment - but I'm not sure it is.

The other day I was on the set of the really fun film my son is appearing in (Papadopoulos & Sons) and the lead actor, Stephen Dillane, came over to have a chat. I'd just heard him acting a man losing his temper and had been really scared by that 'fake' outburst of anger and wanted to tell him, but, at the same time a little voice was going through my head asking me why I wanted to tell him...

Was it because I wanted to share my sensation of being scared by 'his' temper with him and how impressed I was that he could put that on so easily?
Was it because I could never act and wanted to have a conversation with him about what it's like acting?
Was it because I wanted to boost his ego for the rest of the day - or at least a second?
Was it because I felt awkward in front of someone so good at what he does and felt a compliment was the best way in?
Was it because I wanted him to like me?

Gosh, it's complicated isn't it?

Or maybe it isn't complicated.

Maybe with positive feedback, it's OK to have mixed reasons for wanting to give it, because hopefully the compliment given to the other person does make them feel better, especially if it was honest and true, but with negative feedback it's crucial you know why you're giving it.

Sometimes when my children are wearing clothes I don't think suit them, for example, why would I give them negative feedback and tell them I don't like their shirt, especially if they're just about to go out? What outcome do I want?

Because it gets it off my chest (wrong reason)
Because it might make them go and get changed into something 'nicer' (wrong reason)
Because it's important to me what they look like ('get over it, Nina')
Because I'm a controlling mum (definitely wrong reason)
Because I think others will like/respect them more if they're wearing something 'better' (wrong reason - how do I know what their friends will like)
Because I want to change them (impossible and definitely wrong reason)

Of course, I mean it well, but...

Negative feedback is a tool that has to be used carefully. It's key to find out what outcome you want before you launch into it. If it's a situation you want to change then it's essential to use it, but if you just want to change someone else... forget it.

You can't change me through feedback, but any constructive feedback you want to throw my way, I'd be delighted.

See you there,
PS This week's workshop always has wonderful feedback from those who come along. What more can I tell you?

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Finding Your Strengths

As you can imagine, this photo has very little to do with this week's Life Clubs workshop, Presenting Me, except that the model clearly knows one of his strengths and is able to use it to his best advantage.

September is a time when many of us are going to be looking for new jobs and often we don't go into the career that actually suits us best and plays to our strengths, possibly because we're not aware of them.

A great friend of mine, for example, redefines charisma. He sparkles when you meet him. He makes you feel alive and interesting. He's a delight to be with. Everyone he knew suggested that he became the next Michael Parkinson, but no. He decided to become a philosopher instead - a career which didn't really play to as many of his strengths.

We tend to do that. Things that come easy to us seem boring and obvious. Instead we go for careers that challenge us and in which we feel we can learn more.

But that isn't what's going to make us happy in the long run. We can challenge ourselves in any subject, whether it's something we're good or bad at. There's always more to learn.

The guy in this photo has found his strengths and this week at Life Clubs we're going to be finding your strengths - in time for the September job market. Come along and flex your muscles.

See you there. Looking forward,

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Feeling good in your body

My husband is a cross between the water rat in The Wind in the Willows and a character from Three Men in a Boat, so I know to expect a weekly 'let's go rowing'. I quite often find some sort of excuse, but as the clouds were nowhere to be seen and this week's workshop is called Energise Your Body and is all about finding out what makes your body feel good, I thought 'why not' and got ready for a bit of gentle exercise.

It was beautiful on the river. A little choppy, but one of those windy, sunny days which I love. After a disastrous start, in which we almost collided with Richmond bridge, I was off and very much at one with my oars.

We speeded along admiring the coots, grebes, gulls, cormorants and herons, swapping every now and again to take it in turn to row. We were having a lovely time, smiling at all the other passing boats, and I was glad I'd come.

Then, disaster struck. Nearing the boatyard my husband suggested he row the final stretch so that he could 'park' the boat. We got ready to swap sides.

Now, this boat is very narrow, very shallow and a little bit tippy anyway and I had one of those feelings that something was going to happen. As we did our crawling on your hands and knees dance to swap over, the boat toppled over onto its side and I, almost in slow motion, fell out and into the Thames.

I was pleasantly surprised at how warm the water was and I got some swimming in - so even more exercise than I'd anticipated - but once I got back into the boat I began to feel extremely cold and a little shivery.

Luckily my husband had a spare jumper and pair of shorts, so I could get out of my wet clothes and into his dry ones, but I couldn't wait to get home and have a hot shower.

Now, tucked up in bed with a sweet cup of tea I'm feeling much better. I wouldn't say 'good' in my body, but almost.

Roll on next weekend. Can't wait to go rowing again.

See you this week for our inspiring workshop on your body. Great for anyone who doesn't think they like exercise and wonderful for anyone who does


Sunday, 7 August 2011

Que Sera Sera

I remember vividly my mother and I singing Doris Day's Que Sera Sera as we were waltzing around the kitchen.... Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.

It's a great way of feeling you can relax and passively allow someone/something else to be in charge of you and your life.

In many ways it's true - we're not in charge. A friend of mine has just got pneumonia out of the blue, another is moving to Singapore for two years as her husband has been relocated. Both of them feel tossed around by fate and are making the best of their situation.

At Life Clubs we like you to feel you have at least a modicum of control in your life. We like you to feel inspired by a big Plan A - a future you're planning.

As you'll be tackling your Plan A one week at the time you can be flexible if things change, but without that Plan A, we believe you'll not be motivated. You'll be reactively moving along to whatever gets thrown in your way.

This week's workshop, *Life Circles, is about intuitively creating a future you want. You'll leave with a Plan A for the next two years tucked under your arm and a spring in your step.

In fact you'll probably be dancing around the kitchen singing I Want It All (High School Musical)... I want it all, imagine having everything you ever dreamed...

Now won't that be fun!!!

See you this week to create our Plan A.
Looking forward,
*This workshop was run to much acclaim in January - it's our only workshop to be repeated twice!