Categories for Authenticity

5 Meeting Principles to Live By

What are the magic ingredients for a successful meeting? A meeting in which participants build relationships, exchange ideas, unearth insights, make decisions, and get the information they need to move work forward? We all know there’s no “magic” that comes without preparation and hard work. But there are five basic principles that underlie successful meetings. Principle #1. Every voice matters Different perspectives enrich a conversation, strengthen a team, and generally lead to better outcomes. Good meeting leaders establish a safe and open environment in which participants can voice their concerns. You don’t have to transform your entire organization’s meeting culture... Continue reading...

February 1, 2017 8:30 am
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The Most Important Factor for a Pleasant Family Holiday Celebration

As we all approach the Christmas holiday, many people’s anxiety level is rising.  Why?  Because we are starting to think about the upcoming visit with our family.  You may be going to your parents’ home (or your in-laws’) or family members are coming to your home, or you may gather at one of your (or your spouse’s) siblings homes.  Regardless of the specifics, it means — you are going to have to spend time with your family (and yes, possibly even interact with them!) So, being the good psychologist I am, I thought I would address the most important factor... Continue reading...

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December 22, 2016 7:00 am
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What Employees Don’t Like About the Holidays

Some people love the holiday season, while others really don’t. In fact, it seems that a growing number of people make comments like: “I hate the holidays!” (Maybe they are just more vocal about it.) To find out more specifics, last year we sent out a survey to find out what about the holiday season employees don’t like – partly for our own education, but also to see if there were practical ideas that when implemented could reduce employees’ irritation. And there are. Over 1,200 of our readers completed our survey (within 24 hours of it being sent out!) On... Continue reading...

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December 7, 2016 11:00 am
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4 Core Characteristics For Success – In Life and Work

In my role as psychologist, I have evaluated over 4,000 individuals – usually with regards to learning difficulties they are experiencing.   In my feedback sessions, I often share with parents the core characteristics that make individuals successful in life. (I define “life success” as becoming an independent functional adult, having healthy relationships, and experiencing a level of happiness and contentment in one’s life.) If parents of developmentally challenged students focus solely on academic success (which is emphasized by their school community), then they can become quite discouraged.  But when we understand “life success” in broader terms – the goals are... Continue reading...

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December 5, 2016 1:31 pm
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Utilizing Thanksgiving as a Reminder to Appreciate Your Staff

Thanksgiving is the holiday where we are encouraged to be thankful for the good things in our lives – health, safety, adequate food, clothing, and shelter, as well as the many material blessings we have. For most people, Thanksgiving is usually more of a personally-focused celebration, including sharing meals and time with family and friends. But the Thanksgiving holiday season can also be an opportunity to focus on, and be reminded of, the positive aspects of our work lives. This is especially true in these more difficult economic times, where many who desire employment are unable to find work or... Continue reading...

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November 21, 2016 8:00 am
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Don’t Be a Turkey in How You Show Appreciation this Thanksgiving

Team leaders are often encouraged (“bombarded” is actually a better word) to communicate appreciation to colleagues during the Thanksgiving holiday season. Expressing thanks for a job well done is sure to be received well, right? Not necessarily. At times, clueless managers are at risk for saying “thanks” in ways that won’t be received well. They don’t really “get” appreciation and what the big deal is – but they try anyway, and often their actions seriously miss the mark and actually wind up being offensive. Here are some actions to avoid: The “I’m off. You’re not. Enjoy the weekend!” message. This... Continue reading...

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November 15, 2016 8:00 am
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How Authentic Appreciation Can Cut Through Government Bureaucracy

Government agencies are extremely concerned about their low levels of employee engagement, and rightfully so. When staff don’t feel valued, they become discouraged, passive, apathetic and cynical. This can result from a variety of factors including not feeling respected by customers, poor communication within the agency, a sense of powerlessness to make improvements, and not ‘heard’ by upper level managers and directors.  The issues seem to be the same whether the agency is at the city, county, state or federal level (but federal employees seem to be the most frustrated.) We receive reports from all levels of government employees (frontline... Continue reading...

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October 24, 2016 9:10 am
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Tips for Telling Compelling Stories

John was struggling with how to handle a difficult situation with a key vendor for the company. He went to his supervisor, Stephanie, and asked her advice on what he should do. Rather than telling him what to do, or even giving her direct input, Stephanie replied, “John, let me tell you a story …” She went on to tell a story about an experience she had early in her career and the consequences of her decision over the years.  When she was done, she paused and waited. After a few seconds of silence, John smiled and said: “Got it.... Continue reading...

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October 11, 2016 11:31 am
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Communicating Appreciation to Your Boss (Boss’s Day is coming up!)

Boss’s Day is coming up soon, in two weeks, on Monday, October 17.  And no, it isn’t one of those appreciation days that was created recently by Hallmark, the National Association of Employers, or some other group with a potential secondary gain.  (Boss’s Day was first instituted in 1958, by a secretary for an insurance company, if you want to know.) The key questions, if you are an employee, are:  1) Should I do something for my boss?  2) If so, what?  3) How do I keep from looking like I am just “sucking up” to her or him?  Let... Continue reading...

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October 5, 2016 7:30 am
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Should Appreciation Be Performance-Based?

One of the most frequent questions I am asked when I’m conducting training for a business is: Should you show appreciation to someone who isn’t performing well? Tension exists in the world of recognition, employee engagement, and appreciation. There are differences of opinion on the relationship between an employee’s performance and recognizing them. Should you recognize an employee if they aren’t doing well in all areas of performance? Is appreciation independent of performance? To address the issue, I think we need to keep two foundational principles in mind: The purpose of work is to provide goods or services to customers... Continue reading...

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September 12, 2016 12:08 pm
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Why Cynicism is Good for The Workplace

It seems counterintuitive, but cynicism can be a positive influence in our workplaces. How? When people are cynical, they are giving us honest feedback about how they really feel. When was the last time that you heard a cynical remark from a colleague and you accused them of not being honest regarding how they really feel? (Aside from the sarcastic remark: “So, Janice, tells us how you really feel!”) Cynicism communicates from the heart, so you don’t have to question whether the person is being honest with their comment. Cynical remarks give us a reality check with what was said,... Continue reading...

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August 22, 2016 12:16 pm
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6 Essentials for Full Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a big problem for organizations today. Research has shown that the vast majority of employees are not engaged, thus they aren’t giving their best efforts or aligning their behavior with organizational goals. A helpful way to understand how to engage employees is to consider the six universal human needs to thrive at work: respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth and meaning. These are needs that people long to have met. And even if people are not consciously aware of them, subconsciously our human bodies are wired to have these needs met. When they are not met over time, it... Continue reading...

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July 19, 2016 2:00 am
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“Just For Show” (with No Substance): When Appreciation Fails

While watching a movie, you’ll notice it before you can put it into words — something seems very off about a character and it immediately sets you on edge. They claim to be a fierce warrior but run and hide whenever a fight breaks out. You’re pulled out of the fantasy and can finally describe why – their actions don’t match their words. Though life isn’t a big screen production, we can still easily notice when others show us false appreciation rather than actual appreciation for a job well done. Social Awareness Body language developed long before oral language, making... Continue reading...

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July 11, 2016 6:56 pm
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How Appreciation Builds Resiliency

The U.S. government and all branches of the armed forces have identified the development of resiliency as a key goal to strengthen our military personnel over the long term. As a result, for the past 10 years both research and resources have been focused on determining how to make service members more able to “bounce back” after experiencing stressful and/or traumatic events during their service. Much research and emphasis has been focused on identifying individual characteristics, coping skills, and environmental factors that can help servicemen and women: a) become more prepared to manage the stressful events experienced in life; b)... Continue reading...

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May 18, 2016 1:38 pm
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Leading with Character: Gratitude

Definition of Gratitude Gratitude is being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks. Why Gratitude Matters The word gratitude is based on the Latin root gratia which means “grace,” “graciousness,” and “gratefulness.” Religious thinkers and moral philosophers throughout history have long appreciated gratitude. Only recently, however, have scientists come to appreciate the positive influence gratitude has on human and organizational performance. Neuroscience research has shown that positive environments improve the human brain’s ability to solve problems and think creatively. An environment where people possess the character strength of gratitude tends to be... Continue reading...

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April 18, 2016 2:01 pm
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Cutting Through Cynicism with Authentic Appreciation – Part II

Last week we asked the questions: Who determines authenticity? Is authenticity based in reality or perception? What causes people not to believe others are genuine? Today’s post will answer these and shed some light on how to improve a cynical workplace. Common Reactions Some work settings seem to just “ooze” cynicism, sarcasm, and a lack of trust. Probably the most intense cynical environments I’ve experienced recently are medical settings and hospitals. Why might this be? It appears that leadership in many of these institutions have tried to communicate recognition and praise, or have done training on “How to build a positive team”, and... Continue reading...

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April 6, 2016 3:38 pm
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Cutting Through Cynicism With Authentic Appreciation – Part I

  “Are you kidding me? They don’t care about us.” “They don’t give a rip about me. It’s all about my performance. If I meet my performance goals, they’re happy. If I don’t, I’m gone.”   As I’ve worked with more facilities across the country, I’ve become aware that a large number of employees have a very cynical reaction to any discussion of positive communication from their supervisors, and sometimes, even their co-workers. The lack of genuineness in communicating appreciation may be the single biggest barrier to positive workplace relationships. One of the contributing factors to these underlying attitudes of cynicism... Continue reading...

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March 31, 2016 11:04 am
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Years of Service Award Leads to $30,000 Fine

You may or may not know that the #1 reason employees are recognized is for their length of service with their organization. Individuals routinely receive recognition and some tangible reward (a certificate, a watch, bonus check) for being employed for 1 year, 5 years, etc. [By the way, I use the term “being employed” deliberately, as opposed to “working” for reasons to become evident.] Recently, an employee was found to be receiving his annual salary even though he had not shown up to work for at least six years!  Ironically, he may have gone undetected for longer except that his... Continue reading...

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March 2, 2016 7:00 am
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Don’t Forget—People are People, Not Machines or Rats in a Maze

Recently, I had the privilege to meet and listen to Ginger Hardage, Senior Vice President of Culture and Communications for Southwest Airlines. (I happened to be the morning keynote speaker and she was the afternoon keynote speaker.) One phrase used to describe Southwest Airlines was that they were “in the customer service business and just happened to use airplanes to help people get where they want.” Ginger’s presentation was a refreshing reminder that truly successful enterprises understand that their primary calling is to serve the customer and, that by doing so, they will be profitable.   (As opposed to the seemingly... Continue reading...

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January 17, 2016 2:50 pm
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Do You Really Want Tolerance…Or Respect?

“Tolerance is something you have for alcohol or someone with body odor…versus focusing on Respect.  Respect demands more. It demands an active role.” I first heard this unique view on tolerance from speaker and author Bruce Jacobs, speaking about his book, “Race Manners.” His basic premise is that you should never let yourself get away with simple tolerance. You don’t want to feel merely tolerated, and neither do others. For example, when I come home at night after a long day of training, I hope my wife is not looking out the window as I drive up and saying to... Continue reading...

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July 20, 2015 10:08 pm
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How Cynicism and Sarcasm Sap Creativity From Your Organization

We all have a finite amount of mental and emotional energy. That is why we are tired at the end of a busy day when we have been processing information and making decisions throughout the day.  Thus, effective leaders learn how to prioritize and channel their mental energy into completing the most important tasks, and not waste it on non-productive activities. One major drain of emotional energy often is ignored by leaders, however.  That is the presence of sarcasm and cynicism in your organization.  Both stem from negative thoughts and perceptions among team members that are then communicated and bounced... Continue reading...

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May 12, 2015 6:00 am
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Not Everyone Appreciates Your Type of Appreciation

One of the lessons that aspiring leaders and those who want to continue to develop their leadership abilities must learn is: to be an effective leader, you have to learn how to lead individuals who are different than you. If you don’t, you will only be able to gather and lead those who are similar to you in personality, perspective or ability; and this, in turn, limits what you can accomplish. Although at first the idea seems intriguing, you actually don’t want to lead a group of “Junior You’s”. You may be talented but you can’t do everything, and to... Continue reading...

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February 3, 2015 1:31 pm
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Appreciation When You’re a Solopreneur

Appreciation is everything for your brand. How do you feel when someone genuinely appreciates you for your input/effort? It feels nice and warm, doesn’t it? That’s the kind of feeling you want customers and clients to associate with you. As a solopreneur, chances are you will perform a lot of the business’s tasks yourself, so you’ll probably relate with a lot more people than if you had a team working for you. As a business owner, you don’t need to be reminded on the importance of keeping customers happy. However, in the midst of all the tasks and appointments you... Continue reading...

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September 19, 2014 2:06 pm
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Why “My boss is a jerk!” Isn’t Reason Enough to Hate Your Job

Two common mantras in our culture today are: “I hate my job” and “My boss is a jerk.” While both statements may be true, hating your job because your boss is a jerk isn’t going to lead anywhere good. According to Gallup, more than half of the U.S. workforce (or about 70 million employees) either are just enduring their job or actively hate where they work. With that level of dissatisfaction, it’s no surprise that we hear so many negative comments – either in personal conversations, through social media or the mainstream media. In other words, If you don’t like your job, welcome to... Continue reading...

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July 21, 2014 7:19 pm
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Healthy & Unhealthy Boundaries — Their Impact on Our Lives

I’ve been thinking about boundaries lately, and observing how significantly they impact our daily lives. The lack of boundaries in relationships (or attempts to overstep established boundaries) seem to be a frequent cause of relational tension. I would like to use the example of our physical body (our skin provides a boundary between our body and the world around us) to illustrate a few points about some characteristics of boundaries, and the purposes of boundaries. First, we need to acknowledge that one purpose of a boundary is to distinguish where an object/person starts and ends.  This is my body and... Continue reading...

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June 4, 2014 9:30 am
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Solution #2 for Finding Good Employees: Train Your Current Employees

In a prior post on the challenges employers are having in finding qualified applicants for the positions they need to fill, I shared that there are three strategies that, over time, can help employers and managers address this problem.  The first solution is to keep your valued employees by making sure they feel appreciated. The second way to fill empty slots in your organization is to train and mentor current employees who have potential but who need to grow. We often have employees who are “okay” but who have an area of deficiency or a character quality they need to... Continue reading...

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April 7, 2014 10:34 am
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Lack of Qualified Applicants? Solution #1: Keep Your Good Employees

The news is repetitive and blaring:  employers are complaining about the inability to find qualified applicants for positions that need to be filled.  I have seen three articles in business magazines this week about the issue.  Part of the discussion is about the irony — having 10+ million workers who can’t find work, while employers reporting they can’t find potential employees who meet the needs they have.  (In fairness, there are employers interviewed in the articles saying they aren’t having this problem.) The issue is both national and local, and across multiple industries and workforces.  Key term to understand: qualified... Continue reading...

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March 31, 2014 11:55 pm
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Why Authenticity is All You Need During the Holidays

We all feel a lot of pressure regarding things we “should do” during the holidays — for our family, friends, co-workers, clients, boss.  It gets to the point that the expectations feel overwhelming, and the temptation is just to “shut down” and do nothing (for anyone!)  This is typically not a good solution. Let me offer an alternative solution to you: be yourself.  Be genuinely you during the holidays.   Don’t try to impress people.  Don’t do things just to “look good” or because “you are supposed to”. Let me explain.  There is more than enough “image management” going on in... Continue reading...

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December 5, 2013 11:16 pm
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