Making Changes – What Is Troubling You?

Making Changes – What Is Troubling You?

Making Changes – part 3 of the series. Be Clear About Your Emotions!

What Is Troubling You? In the last post in this series  I discussed the need to be quite clear about what you need to change. I said you needed to be as specific and detailed as you could in the way you defined the change.  Starting with a clear and detailed description has a huge impact on the success of your change.

emotion icon
Next you need to think about how you really feel about the change. No significant change is made without some impact on our emotions.  Understanding what those emotions are and knowing how to manage their impact can be key to success.

Troublesome emotions

Troublesome emotions like anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, anger, hurt, jealousy and envy can occur at any time in our lives.  They might be associated with lots of different events. Sometimes they occur when most people may think there should be nothing to worry about.  But they worry you. And they can be very difficult to deal with.

Perhaps one theme and one emotion recurs time and again.  It hasn’t stopped you doing something but it has made it more difficult to do and less satisfying.

Teasing out exactly what the emotion could be is the first step in understanding the thoughts and beliefs behind it.  It can help you gain control of the emotion and make sure things turn out more positively in future.

What Is Troubling You? What do you really feel?

What do you feel, when you think about the change you have to make? Exactly what emotion is being stirred within you?

Now is the time to take some time for reflection. Try not to judge yourself for the emotion you feel. Be very honest with yourself.  Sometimes support from someone you trust like a coach can be helpful in working out what is troubling you.

The next post in this series will be about what aspect of the change is triggering the emotion and why?

If you have tips to share with others about making changes in your life – please get in touch.

Working with a coach can help you to change successfully – email me at the address below for information on how I can help you.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach
Wendy Smith, Principal Coach, WiseWolf Life and Career Coaching

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link


Be Successful – Making A Personal Change – Part 4 Identify what is most difficult for you

From the Motivation and emotion/Tutorials/Emot...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Be Successful – Making A Personal Change – Part 4 Identify what is most difficult for you

In the last post in this series I asked you to start thinking about emotions and I explained how identifying your troublesome emotion helps you gain control and make sure things turn out more positively for you in the future.

Now, you need to identify what is most difficult for you about the change. 

This is important because it helps you get to the root of the problem and so you avoid spending too much time on the peripheral issues. It saves you energy you would have spent dealing with less important aspects of your change. For example, you might feel angry about something that happened last time you tried to make this kind of change. But what really caused you to feel that way?

When you know what it is that is actually causing your big emotion, you can start to develop a more helpful attitude. 

Find a little time and a quiet space to go through this exercise. Think about what happened in the past to make you feel this way. Now imagine someone telling you the same story. What advice would you give them? Imagine questioning them about what happened and pressing them to tell you more and more about how it happened until you get right down to the root cause. Now what is that fundamental belief about themselves that is making them feel uncomfortable.

What advice would you give them to help them have a more healthy attitude? Now step into their shoes and think about you having the same experience and how you can now apply the new approach. Practice thinking in this new way. 

Success here depends on being very honest with yourself.

If you need support from a coach in sorting out the fundamental belief that is stopping you making positive changes, get in touch, my phone number is below. 

The next post in this series will be about setting goals for your change and how to avoid the pitfalls in goal setting. 

If you have tips to share with others about making changes in your life – please get in touch.

The links to the earlier posts in this series are below.

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at

Related articles
  • Be Successful – Making A Personal Change – Part 3 Be Clear About What Is Troubling You
  • Be Successful – Making A Personal Change – Part 1 Admit A Change is Needed

  • Be Successful – Making A Personal Change – Part 2 Be Clear About The Change You Wa

Emotional Intelligence and Your Job Search

Using emotional intelligence really can help you succeed in your job search.

But what is emotional intelligence, and why is it that success in life sometimes seems unrelated to intelligence and how hard you are prepared to work?

It has been said that your IQ can land you a job but your lack of EQ (Emotional Intelligence) can get you fired. However, demonstrating emotional and social intelligence is becoming more and more important in your job search.

Many more recruiters and employers now appreciate that emotional intelligence and social intelligence are great determinants of the success you are likely to achieve at work.  A study from Virginia Commonwealth University  has shown that “high emotional intelligence does have a relationship to strong job performance  — in short, emotionally intelligent people make better workers.”  As a result, companies like Microsoft and Deutsche Bank now use EQ tests in their recruitment processes.

Derren Thompson, Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo, one of the largest services companies in the world reminds readers in their  blog that the “businesses that will succeed in the 21st century will be the ones that allow employees to bring the whole of their intelligence into the work force – their emotional and intellectual self. Not only does this impact morale, but productivity increases, too.”

Recognizing the significance of this, means you can use emotional intelligence to help you succeed in your job search.

But what is emotional intelligence?

In 1996 Daniel Goleman wrote his groundbreaking book “Emotional Intelligence“. His exhaustive research had confirmed that success in life is based more on our ability to manage our emotions than on our intellectual capability or our physical strength.

According to Howard Gardner, the influential Harvard theorist, “Your EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them,”

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and manage your own emotions, the emotions of others and also group emotions. It can also be a way of engaging with others that draws them to you.

EQ requires four capabilities;

  1. Self-awareness,
  2. Self-management,
  3. Social awareness
  4. Relationship management.

But EQ can do more for you in your job search than just impress a potential employer, it can help you decide what kind of role to go for.

One way to begin is to ask yourself two questions:

  • First, when do you feel excited or curious? This will help you be clear about your interests and passions.
  • Second,  work out what makes you upset, depressed and angry, and why? This helps you identify your core values and that often makes the difference in whether a job or career will be the right fit for you.

Understanding your emotions can also help you maintain your optimism and cope with stress during a long job search – it can help you stay positive while you find the right role for you.

If you would like to know more about emotional intelligence and how it can help you at work as a manager and leader, go to our sister site WiseWolf Talking– Leadership, Management, Career and Personal Development.  If you would like to know what emotional intelligence might mean for you in your life outside work then please visit WiseWolf’s Your Happiness Factor.

If you would like to read Dr Goleman’s book click on the picture link below and if you would like to try out an EQ test try this link

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career. You can email her or ring ++44(0)2084610114 



Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Using emotional intelligence can help you succeed as a leader. But what is emotional intelligence, and why is it that success in life sometimes seems unrelated to intelligence and how hard you are prepared to work?

In 1996 Daniel Goleman wrote his groundbreaking book “Emotional Intelligence“. His exhaustive research had confirmed that success in life is based more on our ability to manage our emotions than on our intellectual capability or our physical strength.

Dr Goleman describes five main elements of emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-awareness.
  2. Self-regulation.
  3. Motivation.
  4. Empathy.
  5. Social skills.

The ability to call on these five qualities can help you to succeed as a leader.

  1. Self-awareness means you are in touch with your own feelings and emotions. You understand how they affect your behaviour and how they influence those around you.  You can strengthen your self-awareness by keeping a daily journal where you record how you feel each day and then reflect on what you have written.  Take time during the day to monitor yourself, your feelings and how you are reacting to things.
  2. Self-regulation means you don’t let fly with negative emotions or make rushed judgments about things or people.  Successful leaders stay in control of themselves and they are prepared to be flexible while being accountable. To help you do this, you need know your values and where you are not prepared to compromise. Spend some time thinking about what really matters to you.  Make a commitment to be accountable for what you do and practice staying calm. A relaxation technique can help – try this technique on our sister site WiseWolf’s Your Happiness Factor.
  3. Motivated leaders have a clear vision and work consistently towards their goals. Do you have that clear vision and is it still appropriate to you and your organization?  Find out more about developing the right vision at this link. If you get to the point where you are responding to events, rather than being proactive, then take action because your lack of motivation could put your organization at risk.
  4. For leaders, having empathy is critical to managing a successful organization or a successful team.  Empathy means you can put yourself in someone else’s situation. Leaders with empathy help develop their teams as they develop themselves. They make sure that people are treated fairly, and they listen.  As a result they earn respect and loyalty. Practice imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes – put yourself in their position.  Listen carefully to what people say and pay attention to body language – respond to feelings!
  5. Leaders with social skills are good communicators – they communicate well and often. They’re just as open to hearing bad news as good news!  Leaders who have good social skills have the confidence to resolve conflicts before they threaten the team or the organization. Learn to talk to your team and if necessary do some formal training in communication skills and conflict resolution.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage both your own emotions, and those of the people you lead.   Having a high EQ means  knowing what you are feeling, what this means, and how your emotions can affect other people. For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential for success. Take time to work on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.  They will certainly help ensure that you succeed as a leader.

If you would like to know more about emotional intelligence and how it can help you in job search go to our sister site WiseWolf Leaving the Public Sector.  If you would like to know what emotional intelligence might mean for you in your life outside work then please visit WiseWolf’s Your Happiness Factor.

If you would like to read Dr Goleman’s book click on the picture link below

You can try out an EQ test at this link

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career. You can email her or ring ++44(0)2084610114 

Becoming a Leader – Managing Your Own Energy

Energy Arc, central electrode of a Plasma Lamp.
Image via Wikipedia

We spend a lot of time thinking about  energy.

We do this at global, national and local level – for very good reasons. It has become a daily obsession for politicians and rulers all over the world.

But I want to think about you and your personal energy? For you, it is just as precious!

Your managers will know exactly how much your organization spends on energy.  In an enlightened organization,  they will know exactly how you use what you buy.  But how often do you think about your own energy.  Because, believe me, just like the world’s fuels, your energy can run out.

What are you going to do to renew it?

We all use physical energy in our work, We use emotional energy as well.

Even with very good time management skills, you can find yourself arriving home every night exhausted and unable enjoy time away from work.  This takes a toll on family life and relationships.

The effect is cumulative because there isn’t time over night for true refreshment.

As a leader it is difficult to inspire your team, or even listen to them actively, when you are feeling worn out.

There are steps you can take to conserve your energy and to renew it!

  1. Take short breaks between tasks – you can use a simple relaxation exercise at the desk or even in the washroom if necessary.
  2. Gentle exercise is good for emotional energy – can you walk to the next meeting? How about taking the stairs rather than the lift?What about walking a couple of floors of the building each day and talking to people – – get to know your team and feel refreshed at the same time.
  3. Do have a short break for lunch – low blood sugar makes you feel tired and miserable, plus you cannot concentrate.  But eat lightly; eating a heavy meal requires more energy for digestion.
  4. When in the day are you most creative?  Use that time for your more creative tasks: do routine tasks when you feel less energetic.
  5. Be ruthless about interruptions and distractions. Having an “open door” policy can be disastrous for energy.    Make it clear when you are accessible and when not – of course you need to make yourself readily available in an emergency.
  6. Review how much you delegate.  Is there more that you can pass on to others?  It will give them experience and you more space to concentrate on what really matters.
  7. Worry drains energy!  Work through your worries with a trusted colleague or friend or with a coach or counsellor.  Fix what you can fix, look the rest in the eye, make any necessary contingency plans and then, with support, stop worrying.  Worry doesn’t put things right, it just wears you out.
  8. Sort out those unresolved conflicts, with support if necessary, you really cannot afford the energy that conflict can cost you.
  9. Last, but not least, take a step back and think about why you are doing all this.  Take timeout to remember your own dream and to refresh your personal vision.  There is nothing like it for enthusing and energizing – so take it out, polish it up and keep it close.

Try these energisers or at least some of them. You may not aspire to inspirational leadership but all leaders need the energy to inspire sometimes. Right now anyway you need to energy to see your organization through these challenging times – please don’t let your energy just drain away.

I am Wendy Mason. I work as a Personal Development Coach, Consultant and Writer.I have worked with many different kinds of people going through all kinds of personal and career change, particularly those
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted,
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • moving into retirement.

I am very good at helping you sort out what you want, overcome obstacles and handle change and I would like to work with you! I offer face to face, telephone and on-line coaching by email or Skype

Email me at or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 to find out more. 

  • Leading Change – are we there yet? (
  • Becoming a Leader Today – Can you have friends in the team? (
  • Are you a resilient leader? (

Leaders on the front line – taking criticism

As a leader you stand out from the crowd and, guess what, none of us are perfect.

When you are under the spotlight – even when the light is being shone by your own relatively small group – sometimes, you will receive criticism!

Some of it will be fair and some not.

If you learn to deal with it positively you will soon be able to stand back, see what is valid, and ignore the rest.

You will be able to use it to your advantage and that of your group!

There are characteristics that make us better and worse at dealing with criticism.

  • Mental Attitude  – Positive people don’t let criticism take a grip. Instead they look on the bright side, try to learn from it and then move on. When you are feeling negative, you can feel it deeply and begin to obsess about it. It can erode your morale and that of your group, so stay positive.
  • Courage – As Winston Churchill said “It takes courage to sit down and listen”. It will disarm your critics if you listen to them attentively and with openness. In those circumstances they are much more likely to give you a balanced view that could provide valuable feedback.
  • Hierarchy – Be prepared to listen and learn from criticism from any part of your organization and from customers and suppliers. It sometimes helps to regard it as free consultancy! You’ll be amazed how much respect you can gain from quite junior members of your team if you are prepared to listen and respond positively to their ideas including their criticisms. Disappointed customers respond well to being given a hearing and an apology for an honest mistake.
  • Emotional Intelligence – Being able to relate with positive emotion to your team is a key ingredient in inspiring them to success. That includes being able to recognise and acknowledge their emotions even when they are mad with you. Recognize it for what it is; empathise with it. Answer it positively and then move on. Have the grace to say sorry if, as a result of your action, someone on your team has found their work more difficult!

As for me, I have always been pretty thin skinned and found criticism quite challenging to deal with. But over the years, I’ve managed to train myself to take a far more balanced view. I would love to know what your experience has been and how you have dealt the criticism you have encountered.

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Are you going to listen to me? The delicate art of communication! Giving bad news!

This week my posts are going to be about Communication and I start here with how to give the bad news – in this case seriously bad news, for example, about redundancy.

About a year ago I published a version of the post below!  It has been one of the most popular items on this site!

I started my working life as a nurse.  In those days we were given no preparation for giving bad news.  I can still remember feeling totally undone by the prospect of having to tell a young husband that his wife had died!  I was the only person there to give the message.  I did my best but to this day, I know that I could have done it better! I still remember every moment of the encounter with that poor man! So here is the advice which is now usually given to medical students in the UK and I believe nurses in training receive similar advice! It can be equally useful in the workplace.  Don’t under estimate the sense of loss and pain that accompanies news of redundancy!

This post is going to be concerned with, what John Nettles’ character described in a recent edition of Midsomer Murders as, ‘the delicate art of delivering bad news’

I covered giving feedback in a recent post and this is closely related, so you may wish to read that as well.

On most occasions when you give feedback your hearer is expecting a message of some kind – good or bad.  Bad news often comes as a shock, even if it is expected!  The reality and the details may be very hard to bear!  There is, and should be, a lot more to it than just saying or writing the words!

If you want to ensure there is the best possible outcome then you will need to prepare and to follow-up, as well as delivering the message itself well!


Preparing to give bad news is almost as important as actually giving it. For instance, where are you going to have the meeting?  Where you sit or stand in relation to the hearer and even what you wear is important, if the news is seriously bad.  If you have to write, then you need to think about the medium – this is not the time for a very brief email! You will need to think about how you are going to follow up and provide an opportunity to handle questions

When choosing a place, you should make sure it’s quiet with little or no chance of interruption. Make sure it’s some place you can make the person feel as comfortable as possible.  If possible, sit close to the person at eye-level with no barrier between you.  Studies have shown that many people feel isolated and alone if you sit behind a desk or some other barrier. They may also perceive you as cold and uncaring if you sit too far away.

Knowing how you should comfort really must come from what you know about the person!  For instance, if you’ve found they don’t like people sitting too close this may make them feel uncomfortable rather than at ease.

One thing that is important is for you to be very clear about the facts, the explanation behind a decision, for example, before you begin.  You also need to know the options open to the person.  In case of redundancy, what support can the person expect from HR?  In this example, identify an HR contact so that you can pass a name and telephone number onto the individual?

The worst thing you can do when giving bad news, is to give the individual the impression that you didn’t even care enough to find out the facts.  Know your material and don’t work from notes, if you can, on this occasion!  Notes can provide a barrier and you will not be able to judge their reactions so well!

Work out what your own feelings are about the situation before the meeting, and how to deal with them!  You want the person to know you are sorry but it isn’t fair to overwhelm them with your own grief!

Giving the news

Watching the person’s reaction and listening are very important while actually while giving bad news. Just from body language or the extent of eye contact, you can tell if they understand and accept what you’re saying and what emotions they are experiencing.   Be prepared for anger or despair with serious news.

It is really important to remember to speak clearly and slowly.  Don’t jump straight into the news – go through the usual courtesies at the beginning of the meeting.  In a letter warn them that you have bad news and say that you are sorry about it!

Throughout the meeting, ask them if they have any questions and if they understand what you’re telling them.    Don’t let your feelings weigh on the listener!


After you’ve given the bad news, don’t end the meeting abruptly. Ask again for questions or if they need any information repeated. Offer additional sources of information like pamphlets or the names of support groups if they are available. Make sure to pass on that name and contact details for HR.

Most of us feel somewhat lost after receiving very bad news.  One way to deal with this is to schedule another meeting shortly afterwards or to ring them to discuss how they are going to manage the time ahead.

At the very least you will want to make sure they understood what you told them and that they can respond to it as necessary. Then you may want to allow them some time alone! Just don’t rush them out of your office or wherever the meeting is taking place.  Take time to be kind – compassion costs us nothing!”

I would very much welcome your own tips on handling bad news and to hear your own experiences

I hope to publish the next post in this series on Communication on Wednesday 2nd March 2011

On dressing, distressing and the dangers of group think!

I watched the Weakest Link last night.  Anne Robinson was clearly in good form!  I missed most of the opening round but I did see the first departure and that made me wonder.  Dave was voted off mainly, apparently,  for his rather flamboyant shirt and the distraction it caused for others.  He hadn’t got any of the questions wrong.  For me his response to going was confusing!   He had a fairly fixed smile on his face as he commented that no one would be surprised as he was expected to have ago at things and fail.

For me this raises a number of challenging issues:

  • Dressing for the programme/part/job really does make a difference! For this group, certainly how you dressed mattered.  When faced with making a choice, even when all other things were equal, the shirt was the deciding factor.
  • Believing you are going to fail usually means you do! If you don’t see yourself as a success, and don’t have the confidence that flows from that vision, then you begin to behave as if failure has already happened.  The energy level drops  and, guess what, down you fall from your tightrope!
  • Standing out from the crowd is risky!  Choosing to stand out from the crowd is always brave but to some degree it is usually required for real success.  It is risky! You put yourself apart from the group and that can mean they turn on you!  If you are already reconciled to failure this can be very risky indeed!  It is very easy to slip into the role of victim and that can lead to bullying – see the point below!
  • Group think can be damage. I doubt these nice middle class contestants would have commented so publicly on someone’s dress, in a group with different values.  In a group it is very easy for us to take on group values and sometimes even slip into the habit of criticising to the point of bullying and destroying someone else’s confidence.   Do the groups you belong to reflect your own values? As a manager – what steps do you take to monitor the values of the groups you lead and how do you intervene to protect potential victims?

I would be very interested in your views on the issues raised here.  Have you been in a group that regarded you as ‘different’?  What happened and how did you handle it?  Have you found yourself managing a group that developed values different from those you would of chosen? What did you do?


Anger usually arises from some form of perceived transgression against yourself.  It needn’t be real – you just need to believe it happened!

It comes about in three main areas

  • Some one or some thing gets in the way and stops you achieving a goal
  • Someone or some organisation breaks you personal rules.  For example, ‘I’ve worked for them for years and now they want to get rid of me!’
  • You self esteemed feel threatened

You feel angry and you may lash out verbally or physically.  Or you may displace your aggression and take it out on someone else.  Instead of attacking you may withdraw – storm out! Or you may attack indirectly – for example, subverting or spreading rumours – a passive aggressive response.

But it is clear that prolonged anger damages you mentally and physically!

You may believe that letting it out is the best way to deal with it.  But ‘cathartic’ expressions of anger reinforce your anger because the underlying beliefs are strengthened. To get over being angry you have first to get over the idea that others make you angry! If others annoy you, it is you who presses the anger button so that you ‘blow your top’!  You ‘lose your temper’, no one takes it from you!  And you probably regret it later which shows that other options were available.

Your self talk determines how you respond to a situation. Anger results from how you think about a situation, not the situation itself.

Examine the potential results of your anger in terms of damaged relationships, poor performance and the effect on your physical and mental health!  Look at alternative responses  – being more assertive ( stand up for yourself without loss of control), developing an early warning system by recognizing the early signs of anger (muscle tension, clenched fists, the rising voice and impatience) and learn how to diffuse it,  You can talk yourself down or leave the situation and when you are calmer think how to deal with the situation in a more constructive way.

Here is a really useful website

With grateful thanks to Life Coaching A Cognitive-Behavioural Approach Neenan and Dryden 2002