How to Be Assertive While Harmonizing

Businessman with hand extended in "no" gestureDon’t be someone else’s rug.

By Bill Reeb

In the ’70s, there was a big movement in business culture to learn to be more assertive, aptly called “assertiveness training.” Michaelle was quick to enroll because this was an important skill set to call upon, especially with many women moving into jobs that had historically been held by men (Michaelle was a systems engineer with IBM during this period). The concept was simple: “You need to speak your mind, ask for what you want, demand what is fair and don’t let yourself be a rug for everyone to step on.”

MORE: Do You Give Yourself Too Much Credit? | How to Focus Your Priorities | Increase Your Odds of Success | Heading Off Course? Time to Correct | Don’t Let Time Pass Without … | Is Your Sense of Duty Misplaced?
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In our early years working at IBM together, when one of the secretaries needed to step away or take a  break, she would often come over to Michaelle and ask her to cover with typing, answering the phone and so on. In addition to the fact that she held the professional job of being a systems specialist, Michaelle also had earned her undergraduate degree in psychology and an MBA with a concentration in accounting. I just had a bachelor’s degree in business – far less educated – yet no one ever asked me to fill in.
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Do You Give Yourself Too Much Credit?

Young black businessman looking at his reflectionProbably. Here’s how to change your ways.

By Bill Reeb

“Focus on changing you” is an important technique to embrace. For your life to change in a meaningful way, it is about you changing – not anyone else.

MORE: How to Focus Your Priorities | Why Clash When You Can Harmonize? | Make Tension Work for You | It’s All Right to Enjoy Success | Failure Paves the Road to Wisdom | Are You Paralyzed by Fear? | How to Change the Way You Think (and Why)
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While this sounds cliché, it is absolutely true. As a consultant, I work with organizations helping them with everything from improving operating processes to succession. Because every project I am involved in requires me to deal with a number of different personalities, if I want the client to achieve a successful outcome, it becomes critical for our team members to understand the following premise:

Change occurs when you change!

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How to Focus Your Priorities

Meditative businessman is pondering time management while surrounded by alarm clocksWhat is the best use of your time right now?

By Bill Reeb

All of us, no matter what our income, gender, race, religion, origin, have the same amount of time – 24 hours in a day, 365 days in a year. Each of us has the same capacity. The question is how we use it.

MORE: Why Clash When You Can Harmonize? | Rely on Strengths … but Not Too Much | When to Cut Your Losses | Make Worry Work for You | Why We Have to Deal with Guilt
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For most of us, you can carve out roughly 3,000 of those hours for sleep. Even if you don’t need eight hours, you need some time to sleep, and that number cuts a big hole into your available capacity.
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Why Clash When You Can Harmonize?

3 metal funnelsPut another way, are you a box or a funnel?

By Bill Reeb

A college professor I know has had a difficult time harmonizing as his approach always escalated to clashing and resisting. And no, this isn’t a story about Michaelle in disguise, but someone else I had the pleasure of getting to know.

MORE: Rely on Strengths … but Not Too Much | Increase Your Odds of Success | Heading Off Course? Time to Correct | Don’t Let Time Pass Without … | Is Your Sense of Duty Misplaced? | Are You Sure You’re In the Wrong Place? | How Are You Programming Your Mind?
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He had a definite approach to teaching and was good at it. He believed in setting very high standards for his students and passing only those who achieved a specific level of excellence.
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Rely on Strengths … but Not Too Much

Don’t let them become weaknesses.

By Bill Reeb

While there are many lessons in martial arts that repeat themselves, the idea that a strength can also become a weakness is a commonly recurring one.

MORE: Increase Your Odds of Success | Make Tension Work for You | It’s All Right to Enjoy Success | Failure Paves the Road to Wisdom | Are You Paralyzed by Fear? | How to Change the Way You Think (and Why) | Have Your Beliefs Stopped Serving You?
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But it doesn’t make sense – how could a strength ever be bad? Well,  here are a couple of examples.
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Increase Your Odds of Success

Young Asian woman lifting dumbbellsShrink the gap between strengths and weaknesses.

By Bill Reeb

There are many self-development books and advisors that proclaim that you should focus on your strengths, develop your strengths and don’t worry about your weaknesses.

MORE: Make Tension Work for You | When to Cut Your Losses | Make Worry Work for You | Are You Right Where You’re Supposed to Be? | Letting Go Is Not Giving Up | Your Obligation to Yourself | Why We Risk Change
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This is a great story to tell because it is one everyone wants to hear. Who wants to be told that they should work on what they feel inadequate about in themselves or their abilities? In other words, it is easy to get people pumped up about spending time concentrating on what they do well and discard what they do poorly and leave it for someone else.
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Make Tension Work for You

Calm balanced businessman sitting outdoors on bench in Yoga lotus pose meditating, with office building and blue sky in backgroundIt impacts performance, so use it.

By Bill Reeb

Your best comes through, especially when you are calling upon fine motor skills, when you are relaxed. Too much tension can quickly impact your mental, physical and emotional acuity.

MORE: When to Cut Your Losses | Heading Off Course? Time to Correct | Don’t Let Time Pass Without … | Is Your Sense of Duty Misplaced? | Are You Sure You’re In the Wrong Place? | How Are You Programming Your Mind? | How to Stay in the Present | Stop Ignoring Opportunities Right in Front of You
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What I am referring to is finding the right level of tension to support performance at a heightened level. The problem is that there is a fine line between tension that pumps you up and tension that starts to drag you down.
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When to Cut Your Losses

Man with head down on desk, sticky note with "HELP" writte on it on baseball capTenacity and persistence can be friends … or foes.

By Bill Reeb

You are now at the final leg of the Process. To be here, you had to kick out of the Try (Work)-Evaluate loop because you were either feeling unsuccessful or unhappy about your progress or priorities. This negative evaluation occurs as you are either starting to get stuck or you are already stuck.

MORE: Heading Off Course? Time to Correct | It’s All Right to Enjoy Success | Failure Paves the Road to Wisdom | Are You Paralyzed by Fear? | How to Change the Way You Think (and Why) | Have Your Beliefs Stopped Serving You?
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Because you have already worked through the techniques of “What You Are Thinking,” it’s time for us to walk through the other side of this evaluation, which is “What You Are Doing.” These techniques should help you find ways to get unstuck from what you are doing so that you can once again start regaining momentum toward whatever goal you are trying to accomplish.
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Heading Off Course? Time to Correct

Young man steering a wooden shipBe ready to forgive yourself.

By Bill Reeb

We need self-acceptance that as human beings we are emotional, have faults, are regularly scared, will make mistakes, are very self-critical, expect more from ourselves at times than is reasonable, and more.

MORE: It’s All Right to Enjoy Success | Make Worry Work for You | Why We Have to Deal with Guilt | Are You Right Where You’re Supposed to Be? | Letting Go Is Not Giving Up | Your Obligation to Yourself | Why We Risk Change
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We need to accept the fact that we will commonly sabotage or undermine our own efforts, sometimes consciously, often subconsciously. When we find our psychological and physiological energy heading down one of these destructive paths, rather than pile on and beat ourselves up even more, we need to accept that these detours are both expected and predictable so that we can quickly refocus on more constructive responses.
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