Energy Drainers

Energy Drainers

Making a change – those who drain your energy

Energy drainers – if you are involved with any kind of change you will find it drains your energy. Energy will drain as you come to terms with new situations. energy drainersand deal with confusion. You will have to deal as well with anxiety – your own, and other people’s.  You will find yourself giving out lots of your energy in support of others.  But some people seem to take just a little too much – more than you can afford to give if you are going to stay fit for the task ahead.

We all feel insecure in the middle of change but energy drainers are usually people who are insecure and negative in their everyday life. Quite often they find it difficult to tolerate their own company. You may find people like this start to depend upon you to help them make all kinds of relatively simple life decisions.  They may phone or text you several times a day on any pretext – they can eat you as well as your time and sap your life force!

Energy drainers don’t know how to tap into their personal energy reserves to survive

Very often these sad people are stuck in “Survival Mode.”  They don’t know how to tap into their personal energy reserves to survive. Like children, they haven’t accepted responsibility for their own lives. But they find many ways, including emotional blackmail,  to persuade you to give them the emotional support  and the reassurance they need.  Life is frightening and they are very scared indeed!

We all know people like this. They might be old friends, family or work colleagues. You want to help but their needs are overwhelming.

So, what do you do?

Keep in mind that you may need to conserve your energy to manage a complex change.  If they are part of the change, you are certainly not going to be in a position to cut them out of your life.  Anyway, at the end of the day, most of us would actually like to be in a place to help.

The stance you take depends upon your relationship with the person and the level of your energy reserves. However, your first responsibility is to yourself. You, too, may have to adopt a “Survival Mode” attitude.

It is certainly much easier to deal with someone who is an acquaintance or a work colleague. You have no personal commitment to them and you have every right to say goodbye when you finish work.

Dealing with energy drainers

Always try to stay in a neutral space when talking to them.  Give neutral responses and try not to get drawn into their, or your, emotions.  When you deal with them, imagine you are wearing a breastplate to defend your energy – withhold your energy behind your breastplate. Deliver a neutral, and deliberately, low energy response. Offer no more and no less than is necessary to carry out the transaction.

As a personal survival technique, this approach is also applicable for family and old friends. However, you may choose to take a more compassionate and supportive stance by demonstrating “tough love.” Your goal here is to move them on from negative to positive. You want to move them back into using their own energy resources. In this way, you can help them to become self-sufficient.  Get them to think through their own options – to make choices and plan.  When they do so give them lots of quiet praise – move them on from whining to thinking about concrete ways they can help themselves!

Dealing with emotional blackmail

Be aware, though, that energy drainers will resort to many forms of subtle emotional blackmail to get access to your energy. Don’t let them! Let them know, through your actions, that your energy is no longer accessible to them. Encourage them to make decisions on their own and to enjoy their own company by simply not being available: physically or emotionally.

It will not be easy for you or them. You are breaking established patterns of behaviour and setting a new precedent. But eventually a new dynamic should be established. They should begin to take responsibility for their own life and their own decisions.

You may have to support them through a change as part of your role but do so in a managed way! With friends and family, if they will not take action, success will be impossible. So recognise when you have banged your head once too often against that proverbial brick. It may be the wisest step is simply to “let go.”

If you need help dealing with your energy drainer, please get in touch

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@wisewolfcoaching.com

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

         

 

Your Personal Brand Checklist

Your Personal Brand Checklist

Your personal brand checklist will ensure the world sees you as you wish. It will help you reflect your personal brand in all you do. Everything, from the comments you make on Twitter to the way you dress, strengthens or weakens the way the you are seen! Here is your personal brand checklist.

personal brand checklist
Your checklist
  1. Are you sure people believe you know what you are talking about? First of all, does your resume reflect the real depth of your experience – is it up to date? Do the words you use at work reflect the latest thinking on your subject at this point in time? Do you write articles and blog posts on your specialist interest?

What about your “elevator speech”?

2. Can you deliver a succinct description of what you do, how you do it differently, plus the benefit it delivers? Can you say your piece within the time that it takes an elevator to travel one floor?

3. Are you a convincing communicator? Do people believe what you say? Can you influence people? Why not do a market survey? So, you could choose three people you trust and ask them what they think!  Why not, read a book about it, take a class or work with a coach like me.

4. Do you dress for the job at work? Because you do need to know the dress code for your sector? And you would be wise to follow it for success. But what about off duty? If you met you boss in the supermarket, what impression would they get? Think about what is appropriate to the situation. And balance your individual style with clothing that will appeal to those you are trying to impress.

Do you know how to behave at work?

5. By that I mean the etiquette for your organisation and your sector? What kind of business cards do people carry? Most of all, always be courteous. Therefore, always be the one who follows up and says thank you after a kind deed. Remember to do it after sector and professional events.

6. Do you know the people you need to impress? Take time out to build your address book. Collect business cards – make sure yours reflects your image properly! When you have built your relationship, ask contacts for further introductions. Use LinkedIn to find new people.

How often do you nurture your network?

7. Are you working at nurturing your relationships with your contacts? Most of all, are you showing an active interest and do you genuinely care care about them? Ask how they are and what they are doing. But make sure you mean it.  Remember things they tell you – note them down if you need to!

8. What do you do with your spare time? Do you give something back to the community with voluntary work? Or perhaps you help your local sports club? You don’t need to brag about it; news does get around!

Your personal brand is precious. It’s the you the world sees and judges by. Nurture your brand and you will nurture both your life and your career.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in 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@wisewolfcoaching.com

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

         

LEADERSHIP – KNOW YOURSELF

According to “The 80 Minute MBA” successful leaders know who they are!  They understand their strengths but are humble enough and, dare I say it, confident enough to admit their own weaknesses.  Understanding what they lack, they can then go on to select a rounded group of individuals who can work together in a strong team. According to researchers Robert Hogan, Gordon Curphy and Joyce Hogan, a realistic assessment of personal performance marks out leadership potential.  Leaders whose self appraisal matched the assessment made by those working for them were the ones most likely to succeed.  But finding out that assessment requires strength in personal relationships within a team that  can be hard to achieve.    So, of course, successful leaders are usually those with strong social skills as well – they can communicate and be communicated with.

The chances are that if you are humble and confident enough, and have the social skills necessary, to deal with asking others to give you an honest view of your performance, you will have done so long before you reach the top slot.  It is a very good habit to cultivate as you develop your career.  Make sure you take on a range of views and be prepared to listen to some difficult messages and to adjust.  But don’t make changes based on just one view.  If you hear something challenging from one direction, test it out in another.  Bear in mind that each person you ask will have their own perspective e g your family members will probably see you differently from your boss.  But there will be some recurrent themes and these are things to take on board and work with.  Beware of asking a one dimensional questions – don’t just ask what you are poor at!  Try to get a balanced view!  Ask the people who like you but be brave enough to ask those who may have reservations – they might be biased but they will give you a new perspective.

This is probably not a task best tackled when you are feeling down or have just had some other confidence-challenging knock back.  Go for it when things are going reasonably well and you were just about to become complacent.  Dealing with the answers could just give that incentive to raise your game again and  give you the edge.  And remember you are not meant to be perfect or to have all the answers.  Building a winning team is about recognising your own gaps!

THE DELICATE ART OF GIVING BAD NEWS

This is 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’   We 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.  Where as bad news often comes as a shock! Even if is it expected in principle – the reality and the details may be 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 out come then you will need to prepare and to follow-up, as well as delivering the message well!   The advice given here is based on that usually given to medical students in the UK as part of their training.  But it applies equally well if you are giving seriously bad news at work,  for example,  about redundancy!

Preparing

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’ll sit or stand in relation to the hearer and even what you will wear is important if the news is seriously bad.  If you are going to write, then you need to think about the medium – this is not the time for a very brief email!

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 that you can pass onto the individual?   The worst thing you can do when giving bad new 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 fully judge their reactions so well!

Work out what your own feelings are about the situation and how to deal with them before the meeting.  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.    Your own feelings should be dealt with before the meeting and should not weigh on them!

Following-up

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 the 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 processed what you told them. 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!

SOME BASIC GUIDELINES FOR GIVING FEEDBACK

In all kinds of situations we may need to give feedback to someone about something they have said or done.  This may be an employee, a work colleague, a business partner.    But it may  equally well be a close friend or relative.  In my view the same principles hold good and they certainly work for maintaining a positive approach in change teams

McGill and Beatty (in “Action learning: A practitioner’s guide”, London: Kogan Page, 1994, p. 159-163) provide useful suggestions about giving effective feedback:

1. Clarity — be clear about what you want to say. Think before you speak!

2. Emphasize the positive —  this doesn’t mean you are endorsing the present behaviour!

3. Be specific — avoid general comments and clarify pronouns such as “it,” “that,” etc – be as clear and simple as you can!

4. Focus on behaviour or the words spoken or written rather than the person.

5. Refer to behaviour/approaches that can be changed.

6. Be descriptive rather than evaluative. Try to stay in the neutral ground emotionally!

7. Own the feedback — Use ‘I’ statements. This is your view!

8. Generalizations – be wary of word like “all,” “never,” “always,” etc., be more specific — often these words are arbitrary limits on behaviour.

9. Be very careful with advice!  People rarely struggle with an issue because of the lack of some specific piece of information; often, the best help is helping the person to come to a better understanding of their issue, how it developed, and how they can identify actions to address the issue more effectively.

I would add one further piece of advise – always put yourself in the other person’s shoes!  Think how you would feel receiving the same information!  No room here for humiliation!

BUILD SELF ESTEEM IN YOUR TEAM – BE GENEROUS

Remember building self esteem is about valuing and feeling valued! Why don’t you be generous and start a value chain – your team will reward for your endeavor!

Be generous with encouragement
It may sound trite, but if a member of your team does a good job, let them know you have noticed. You know what looks like good and when you see it say so! Let the team know what you have seen and that your recognize a job well done and value it!

If a someone makes a mistake but they are doing their best, let them know that it’s okay. and back them up.  They already feel bad about letting you and the team down and what more can you expect than their best effort? It’s fine to give them pointers on what they can do better next time to help succeed, but don’t berate them just because they fail occasionally – value them.

On the other hand, if they are not giving it their best, point that out, and let them know that you expect more – and that they should, too. Your team members will respect you for this, especially if you apply this standard to the whole team (star players should never be exempt).  Make sure each link in the chain knows they are a diamond!

Be generous with rewards
We all  love to get rewards.  Think about what might be the right kind of rewards for your team – might not just be money?  May be its a a meal out occasionally or going to a sporting event!  What about shopping vouchers or tickets for a show?  What do they really enjoy?  So long as you have set some clear standards – give rewards when these are exceeded.    Don’t underestimate even the power of a certificate or plaque for “Team Member of the Month” !  A simple award ceremony over coffee and a recounting of the achievement can make the whole team feel good.

Be generous with your social time
Sure, you’ve spent hours at  work this week but the work is over and you are ready for some relaxation time.   Maybe one Friday a month you could spend the evening together with a quiz night or even just bowling.  Make sure you spend some time with each member of the team getting to know them away from work.  Le them know they matter to you as people.

MANAGING CHANGE – WHAT TO DO ABOUT ENERGY DRAINERS

If you are involved with any kind of change you will find it drains your energy as you come to terms with new situations, deal with confusion and your own, and other people’s, anxieties.  You will find yourself giving out lots of your energy in support of others.  But some people seem to take just a little too much – more than you can afford to give if you are going to stay fit for the task ahead.

We all feel insecure in the middle of change but energy drainers are usually people who are insecure and negative in their everyday life – quite often they find it difficult to tolerate their own company. You may find people like this start to depend upon you to help them make all kinds of relatively simple life decisions.  They may phone or text you several times a day on any pretext – they can eat you as well as your time and sap your life force!

Very often these sad people are stuck in “Survival Mode.”  They don’t know how to tap into their personal energy reserves to survive and like children, they haven’t accepted responsibility for their own lives. But they find a variety of ways, including emotional blackmail,  to persuade you to provide them with the emotional support  and the reassurance they need.  Life is frightening and they are very scared indeed!

We all know people like this – they can be old friends, family and work colleagues.  You want to help but their needs are overwhelming.

So, what do you do?  Keep in mind that you may need to conserve your energy to manage a complex change.   If they are part of the change, you are certainly not going to be in a position to cut them out of your ife.  Anyway, at the end of the day, most of us would actually like to be in a position to help.

The stance you take depends upon what your relationship with the person is, and upon the level of your energy reserves. However, your first responsibility is to yourself. You, too, may have to adopt a “Survival Mode” attitude.

It is certainly much easier to deal with someone who is an acquaintance or a work colleague. You have no personal commitment to them and you have every right to say goodbye when you finish work.

When you are dealing with them try to stay in a neutral space – give neutral responses and try not to get drawn into their or your emotions.  When you dealing with them, imagine you are wearing a breastplate to defend your energy – withhold your energy behind your breastplate – deliver a neutral, and deliberately, low energy response. Offer no more and no less than is necessary to accomplish the transaction.

As a personal survival technique, this approach is also applicable for family and old friends. However, you may choose to take a more compassionate and supportive stance,- demonstrate your love but it may be “tough love.” Your goal here is to move them from negative to positive and to move them back into using their own energy resources. In this way, you can help them to become self-sufficient.  Get them to think through their own options – to make choices and plan.  When they do so give them lots of quiet praise – move them on from whining to thinking about concrete ways they can help themselves!

Be aware, though, that Energy Drainers will resort to many forms of subtle emotional blackmail to get access to your energy. Don’t let them! Let them know, through your actions, that your energy is no longer accessible to them. Encourage them to make decisions on their own and to enjoy their own company by simply not being available: physically or emotionally.

It will not be easy for you or them.  You are breaking established patterns of behavior and setting a brand new precedent. But eventually a new dynamic should be established.  They should take responsibility for their own life and their own decisions.  You may have to support them through a change as part of your role but do so in a managed way! With friends and family, if they will not take action, success will be impossible. So recognize when you have banged your head once too often against that proverbial brick wall and when the wisest step is simply to “let go.”

BEING FAIR

There is a website called goodcharacter.com that provides educational resources for children.  It works on the principles that

  • Your character is defined by what you do, not what you say or believe.
  • Every choice you make helps define the kind of person you are choosing to be.
  • Good character requires doing the right thing, even when it is costly or risky.
  • You don’t have to take the worst behavior of others as a standard for yourself. You can choose to be better than that.
  • What you do matters, and one person can make a big difference.
  • The payoff for having good character is that it makes you a better person and it makes the world a better place.

This is what it says about HOW TO BE A FAIR PERSON

Treat people the way you want to be treated.

Take Turns.

Tell the truth.

Play by the rules.

Think about how your actions will affect others.

Listen to people with an open mind.

Don’t blame others for your mistakes.

Don’t take advantage of other people.

Don’t play favorites.

As managers we talk a lot about being “fair”!  Indeed there is significant amount of legislation aimed at trying to make sure we behave in a way that is fair.  But I wonder what we are really thinking when we use the word?  Would everything you have done over the last week or even over the last day at work and at home, really stand the test set out above.  Isn’t it clear that our customers, as well as our friends and family, might think better of us and return more often, if we acted in accordance with these simple rules for children!  If you do happen to be someone who doesn’t think  this approach actually works, then all I’m asking is that you try it for a while, just try it!  You may be surprised!

YOUR PERSONAL BRAND – A CHECK LIST – 8 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

The world sees your personal brand in all you do.  Everything, from the comments you make on Twitter to the way you dress, strengthens or weakens the way the world see you – your personal  brand!   Here are eight questions to ask yourself!

1. Do people believe you know what you are talking about?  Does your resume reflect the real depth of your experience – is it up to date?  Do the words you use reflect the latest thinking on your subject at this point in time?  Do you write articles and blop posts on your specialist interest?

2. Do you have an introductory piece – an ‘elevator speech?  Can you deliver a succinct description of what you do, how you do it differently, plus the benefit it delivers, within the time that it takes an elevator to travel one floor?

3. Are you a convincing communicator? Do people believe what you say?  Why not do a market survey – choose three people you trust and ask them what they think!  If not, then read a book or take a class.

4. Do you dress for the job?  Do you know what the dress code is for your sector?  Do you follow it?  But what about off duty – if you met you boss in the supermarket , what impression would they get?  Think about what is appropriate to the situation  – balance your individual style with clothing that will appeal to those you are trying to impress.

5. Do you know the etiquette for your organization and your sector?  What kind of business cards do people carry?  Be the one who follows up and says thank you after sector and professional events.

6. Do you know the people you need to impress?  Take time out to build your address book.  Collect business cards – make sure yours reflects your image properly!  Ask contacts for further introductions.  Use LinkedIn to find new people.

7.Do you nurture your network?  Do you work at nurturing your relationship with your contacts.  Do you show an active interest in them and genuinely care care about them?  Ask how they are and what they are doing and mean it.  Remember things they tell you – note them down if you need to!

8. What do you do with your spare time?  If you give something back ot the community with voluntary work or help your local sports club – the news does get around!

Your personal brand is precious – it’s the you that the world sees and judges you by.  Nurture your brand and you will nurture your life and your career.