Archive | workplace RSS feed for this section

The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt

10 Oct

Truth Doesn't Have to HurtTake a moment to think about and answer the following questions regarding the people you manage and/or interact with on a daily basis at work:

  • Do you find that managing other people can be very stressful, especially when you are trying to offer suggestions for improvement?
  • Are you desirous of establishing open communications with your staff or peers but are having difficulty making that happen?
  • Are you hesitant to point out anything that staff or peers can do better because you are concerned about causing tension in the relationship?
  • Are you interested in learning how to better influence others?

If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions then I recommend that you give some thought to the role criticism plays in relationships and bringing about change.

Interestingly, not everyone associates the questions above with the subject of criticism. Yet you will find that criticism is an underlying element in each of these questions. In my newest book, The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt, How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change, you will learn that helpful criticism is directly linked to strengthening relationships – the kind of relationships rooted in trust and respect, improving performance, and promoting positive change.

What’s so exciting is that after investing over a year to write, I’m pleased to announce that The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt is now available in bookstores and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. To learn more about Deb Bright, visit her website at

Tips for Accepting Control

16 Apr

We’ve recently been exploring control and what it is you can do to accept control in order to achieve your goals. To wrap up this larger discussion, here are a few tips for what it is you can do to take personal control in your life. They are great reminders!


  • Stop thinking that control is something bad, and that by seeking control you’ll become a “control freak.” Remember, you are seeking control over yourself (and your situation) in order to reach a desired outcome.
  • Stop equating control with rigidity. Rigidity can trick us into thinking we have control, when we really don’t.
  • Stop allowing yourself to get caught up in routines. Sometimes, those routines can become the emphasis and focus, rather than a desired outcome or goal.
  • Stop thinking that you have “no control” over your emotions and your thoughts.


  • Start realizing that control is equated with flexibility. Build flexibility by developing a repertoire of skills that will allow you to be more adaptable. In turn, your confidence and self-reliance will grow.
  • Start building flexibility into your day by introducing new routines.
  • Start letting go of negative situations. Learn to “absorb the mistake and remember the lesson.”
  • Start building more choice into your life by asking yourself if you “want to” do certain things.

Remember, “total” control is unattainable; what you are striving for is a true sense of control. By attaining this sense of control, you will no longer feel overwhelmed, boxed in, or unable to do anything about a situation.

Working with Choice

4 Apr

Another key element that underlies the ability to have a sense of control in our lives is choice. Simply put, as long as you have choices, you are in control! By creating more choices in your life, you advance your pursuit of control. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to create more “choice” in your life:

Pose what-if questions and create your own fallback positions. How does one go about creating fallback positions? A key step is to think about what’s important to you, and then create your own what-if strategy for it. For example, what if you were to lose a big sale that would mean not reaching your quota? Or what if you lost your job?  These are simply examples, but you get the point. Many people I have worked with and interviewed over the years commented that they have a fallback position in case their jobs are eliminated. They will oftentimes identify something they enjoyed doing earlier in life, for example, such as waitressing, flipping hamburgers or being a greeter at Wal-Mart. These same people keep their resumes current and make a continuous effort to network so they are prepared for an unexpected change in their job situation. Thinking about what’s important to you helps you to retain perspective. After all, we could ask ourselves what-if questions about everything in our lives, and that would be an exhausting endeavor. So for starters, identify what’s important to you, followed by establishing a what-if plan.

With that said, you can invest time thinking about how best to handle everyday situations that frustrate you or really get under your skin. If your bane is being stuck in traffic, develop your what-if plan. For instance, your plan might include loading your car with a selection of educational CDs or audio tracks so you can make productive use of the time. If you are frustrated by last-minute appointment cancellations, call or email a day or two ahead to arrange and confirm your appointments to minimize surprises.

Another way to create more “choice” in your life is to operate more often on a want-to basis. Choices are often perceived as being limited when you are operating on a “have to,” should,” or “must” basis. The easiest way to operate on a want-to basis is to ask yourself questions that get you thinking about whether you have to or must or should do something. For example, ask yourself, “Do I have to move all the furniture when cleaning?” Clearly, you don’t have to. But if you want to have a clean home and you are going to do it yourself, then you want to do it, even if it is only a “little want.”

By coupling the question of “want to” with the achievement of desired outcomes, you’ll develop a greater level of enthusiasm, because you are acting out of choice instead of feeling as if you’re limited in what you can do – which leads us back to not taking control – because you already have it. Rather, in the big picture, it’s learning how to utilize the control that’s already yours!

Letting Go of Negative Situations – Part 2

1 Apr


Some of us have a difficult time visualizing things. Others (and this may be you) may not care for the Wastepaper Basket Quick Charge or Helium Balloon Quick Charge introduced in my previous blog. Not to worry. Not all of us are visual. So, you might want to try other types of Quick Charges which can be just as effective at helping let go of negative situations.

As you may recall from my earlier blog, Quick Charges are easily implemented techniques designed to help users perform at their best when in difficult situations. They are instantly effective and undetectable by others. Here’s an example of a Quick Charge you can use if you prefer to talk to yourself. Try the “So What? What Now” Quick Charge. There are two steps that are always involved with this Quick Charge: the first is to ask yourself, “So what if…?” followed by, “What now?” or “What am I going to do about it?”

Take, for example, a situation where you have a meeting with your boss and she asks you a question that you are not prepared to answer. You are flustered and embarrassed about your lack of preparation. Rather than dwelling on the situation the rest of the day, stop and use the “So What? What Now” Quick Charge by saying to yourself, “So what if I didn’t have the answer? So what if I looked a little unprepared or unprofessional!” Give yourself 15 to 30 seconds to beat yourself up. (Most of us can beat ourselves up royally in 5 seconds!). Then ask yourself, “What now?” In other words, address what you are going to do about it. You can’t erase the mistake or negative situation, but you can take control by making the necessary corrections. You can also take control to manage or influence your image. For instance, besides deciding to get back to your boss with the appropriate answer, you may reassure the boss that you typically work hard at being prepared and that this is a rare incident. From there, make an effort to take extra measures to be prepared and point out periodically how you’ve lived up to your promise.

What’s valuable about using this Quick Charge is that your negative feelings and emotions are dealt with instantly, and it leaves you with little need to carry them over into your next effort. Whatever the negative situation, the important thing is to “absorb the mistake and remember the lesson.”

Letting Go of Negative Situations – Part 1

28 Mar

Letting go of negative situations and outcomes is an important skill to have in your toolbox. It allows you to refocus and reinvest your energies into more positive channels and can help you in establishing a sense of control. But how exactly can we harness our energies to rebound from temporary setbacks, disappointments, or even mistakes?

Here are a few simple methods you can use which I like to call quick charges. Quick Charges are easily implemented techniques designed to help users perform at their best when in difficult situations. They are instantly effective, giving their users a “boost” that helps them through high-pressured moments. Even better, they are undetectable by anyone but the person using them. They are like a “secret weapon” working to keep their user in control of a situation.

A Quick Charge that is particularly effective at eliminating negative thoughts and for rebounding from mistakes is the Wastepaper Basket Quick Charge. Begin by envisioning a sheet of posterboard. Take up to 15 seconds to mentally scribble whatever negative thoughts you are having at the moment onto the posterboard. Maybe you’ve just returned from a presentation you were giving where your boss pointed out two errors in your PowerPoints. You can mentally jot down, “How could I have been so stupid? Why didn’t I double-check my figures? I should have caught that! They’re never going to let me give another presentation, now!” At the end of your 15 seconds, envision yourself taking a very big paintbrush and painting a large ‘X’ across those negative thoughts. Then picture a big wastepaper basket – take the poster, crumble it up or tear it to pieces, and dump it into the waste basket. Then light a match and burn the whole thing!

If you are really pressed for time, the Helium Balloon Quick Charge may be your best bet because it’s an even faster way to let go of a negative thought. Simply picture a balloon being filled with helium – as the gas is pumped into the balloon, include your negative thoughts. Then release the balloon and let it fly away, taking your negative thoughts with you.

If you are visually-oriented, or have had visualization training, either the Wastepaper Basket Quick Charge or Helium Balloon Quick Charge will probably work very well for you.

Letting Go

26 Mar

When striving to enhance performance, the ability to “let go” is a valuable skill, and one well worth cultivating.

Letting go is closely related to flexibility, which I covered in my last blog. Letting go involves a combination of backing off, going with the flow, trusting yourself, and, for some, having faith in a higher power. When we talk about letting go, we are not talking about “hanging loose” or operating with a complete laissez faire attitude where you let whatever happens happen. Rather, we’re talking about eliminating the conflict often inherent in trying too hard, or forcing a solution to a problem.

Consider a situation where nothing in your day is going right, and the more you try to improve what’s happening around you, the worse things get. Or, you are away from work, spending time with your family and loved ones, and you can’t get your mind off of work. The more you tell yourself to stop thinking about work, the more you think about it. Or consider when you are tackling a problem and the answer just isn’t coming to you. The more you try to force yourself to come up with a solution, the more confused you get.

In each of these situations, and others like them, your energies are being misdirected because you are forcing things to happen, fighting either yourself or what you are trying to achieve. The more you force things, the tenser you become. You start worrying more about consequences than outcomes, emotions take over, and ultimately, you lose focus on what’s most important – staying in the present. By letting go and eliminating the “fight,” you can create momentum and allow your energies to flow better. In the end, that’s a recipe for staying in control and staying in the present.

In my next blog installments, we will look at some tips on how to “let go.”

Cultivate the Ability to Be Flexible

5 Mar

As I alluded to in my previous post on performance and rigidity, one of the skills worth cultivating in your professional and personal life in order to maximize performance is the ability to be flexible.

Since you don’t know when you will be faced with the next hurdle or difficult situation, it’s important to incorporate a certain degree of flexibility into your life. After all, if you are at your best when working from behind a desk, what will happen if your job suddenly requires you to have a lot of customer onsite contact? Could you still perform at the highest level?  Now mentally shift from the office environment to a sports environment, in particular, golf. Imagine a professional golfer – if they had a tremendous golf game but weren’t a morning person how would they perform with an early tee time?

Flexibility, however, is about more than just being able to adapt and “roll with the punches.”  It allows us to look to ourselves to make something happen by utilizing our own resources and those around us – even when things don’t go as planned. Flexibility allows us to build the confidence and self-reliance needed to reach our desired outcomes, despite occasional setbacks and disappointments.

Here are some things you can do on a daily basis to help promote flexibility in your professional (and personal) life:

  • Direct your energies toward the end result, rather than toward uncovering the best way to do something.  Be aware that several paths can lead to the same point, or goal.
  • Equip yourself with a tool box loaded with a variety of skills. By learning and fine-tuning techniques for dealing with criticism, rebounding from mistakes and disappointments, or relaxing and re-energizing, you are in a better position to rely on yourself when necessary, rather than depending upon good fortune.
  • Stay on top of habitual routines. From the moment you wake up in the morning, you engage in routines for dressing, eating, and getting yourself off to work, to school, etc. Routines are an efficient way to operate. But to keep yourself flexible, you need to change your routines occasionally. By introducing variety, even slight variety, you are challenging yourself and positioning yourself to better handle a wide range of situations.

In my next blog on improving performance, we will look at letting go, which is closely related to flexibility.

%d bloggers like this: