Tag Archives: career

Family Wealth Alliance Webinar – Sept 14

15 Aug


Criticism–used well, this powerful leadership tool can promote positive change and strengthen relationships in business and life. Is it possible to use criticism at work without breeding resentment?

Dr. Deborah Bright, best-selling author and business coach, joins Family Wealth Alliance CEO Tom Livergood for a free webinar and fireside chat about the highly misunderstood topic of using criticism positively in the workplace.

Dr. Bright offers valuable techniques from her most recent book, rated by getAbstract as one of this year’s top 5 business books! She pulls tips from her book The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change to help us:

  • Understand the essential role of criticism in the workplace
  • Overcome common mistakes made when giving criticism
  • Gain insights on handling difficult work-related situations

Register now for this free 1-hour webinar on September 14th, 2:00PM EDT. Turbocharge your workplace and career by learning to strengthen relationships and enhance performance with criticism!

Note: Dr. Bright’s 30-minute fireside chat will follow Bob Legan, of Whitnell & Company, discussing unique issues and planning opportunities with family owned or closely held businesses.

Is Dressing for Success an Outdated Concept?

28 Apr


With what I am observing in organizations today, it appears that employees are increasingly caring less and less about their appearance. To put it a little more bluntly, it seems like “dress down Friday” has become “dress down Monday thru Friday” in many organizations. This trend got me thinking about what would happen if John T Molloy’s top selling book in 1975, Dress for Success, were to hit the bookshelves today? Would it still be the bestseller that it was back in the late 70s? Would organizations actually change any of their dress codes? Most importantly, would the author’s message gain any traction and cause individuals to change the way they dress? Being pessimistic, I don’t think Molloy’s book as written in the 70s would even get considered a “must read” among today’s office workers! But why is this and why the pessimism? And what has changed in the past 20 or so years that made “dress own Friday” “dress down Everyday” in most workplace settings?

Well, for one thing the social notion of personal rights has been extended to how we dress in our workplaces. I have been told, as probably you may have, that dressing according to your own taste is your personal right. Furthermore, I think a kind of revolution erupting out of the 90s against the wearing of ties, suits, dress shirts, skirts and just about anything pressed in the workplace, has created a kind of “anti conformity” or redefined cool when it comes to dress. Ironically, nothing could be more conformist than today’s dress down climate! And, while most organizations seem to be okay with the notion of “casual dress”, few have been successful in defining where to draw the line between just plain ugly and casual.

But consider this, have you ever been overlooked for a promotion or have not been given opportunities to take on challenging and visible assignments within the organization? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then perhaps it’s time to look into the mirror.

Please don’t think I’m suggesting that dress is essential to being successful. However, try being successful without dressing well! Furthermore, I’m not suggesting that you dust off Molloy’s book either. Rather, what I am suggesting is your choice of how you dress signals an attitude that influences how others think about you. Why else do we dress up for a job interview?

No one has said anything to you about your dress? That’s not surprising.  In today’s politically correct atmosphere, where there is a heightened sensitivity to anything negative, bosses and colleagues are most likely not going to say anything for fear of hurting your feelings or infringing on your sacred “personal rights”. So, rather than take a risk, it’s easier for them to say nothing at all.

One thing is for sure; don’t think that poor dress is going unnoticed. Sounds a little over the top? Well, think about this: if you subscribe to the idea that a cluttered desk equates to a cluttered mind, then what’s the corollary to someone who dresses in a careless and sloppy way?

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. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

“Personal Responsibleness”: The All-important Active Ingredient In Personal Responsibility

22 Feb


Part One: Introduction to Personal Responsibleness

Most of us realize that it takes a very special kind of person to get through Special Forces training or flight school in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force. These schools take the most qualified candidates they can find and each one that they choose must be a genuine team player who can be trusted by his comrades. But, early in their training, as much as they trust one another, deep down they learn to trust themselves the most when it comes to packing their parachutes on flight missions. For if that parachute is not packed and prepared perfectly, it’s failure to open will be the fault of no one but the one who packed it.

Now, while in your own job and in your own life you may never need to worry about the reliability of a parachute, there are always going to be times and situations where you will have to count on someone else to act on your behalf for something that is crucially important to you. So, take 15 seconds and think hard about this: Among all your friends, fellow workers and associates, which ones, if any, would you put your trust in when it comes to “packing your parachute” regarding a matter that is very important and where a failure would cost, maybe not your life, but, a lot of money, prestige or embarrassment.

Your 15 seconds are up!

After you pick this person, think about what the true traits are that they seem to have that all the others don’t when it comes to your trust in them. It’s likely that you’ll conclude that they have a value structure that seems to guide what they do most of the time. They are probably the kind of person who puts doing what is right before what is simply most beneficial to them. More often than not they take the initiative to move the ball forward for the benefit of all and stand ready to celebrate the success of the overall mission of the organization rather than their own contribution.

This type of person is described by most who come in contact with him or her as “having responsibility”. But wait just one minute! A lot of people have responsibility but what exactly do they do with it? Generally speaking, “having responsibility” refers to something that is just given to us. What we do with responsibility is where our character, self esteem, values, and degree of reliability come into play.

And that is what Personal Responsibleness is all about. It describes a characteristic that engenders an inherent competence and trustworthiness dedicated to the maximum fulfillment of responsibleness. In essence, it’s the acceptance of control!

More about Personal Responsibleness in my next blog.


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. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

A New Position? Some Tips for Getting a Head Start Toward Success

16 Feb

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image21661599You’ve just accepted a new position in a different division within the organization you have been working in for the past few years. Even though the company goes by the same name, from your point of view it might as well be a different company because all the players are pretty much unfamiliar to you. In fact, the only familiar link you have to this new environment is your new boss – and you barely know her. She’s the one who personally approached you about the job. She impressed you as someone you could easily get along with and the job responsibilities fit well with your competencies. One critical factor in accepting had to do with a lesson you learned from a mentor awhile back – he urged that the best way to “reset yourself” is to leave your current job. Your desire to hit the “reset button” reached a critical point when your husband put his foot down and said you can’t keep going at the pace you’ve been running. Up until this point, traveling was a constant, as was putting in 65-70 hours a week. On weekends, you were moody and glued to your laptop. Rather than argue with your husband’s forceful so-called “request”, you agreed. So now you’ve made the grand leap to change jobs and bring some balance into your life. To make sure you get off to a successful start while resetting yourself to a more reasonable work schedule, here are 4 tips to keep in mind:

 1. Secure Some Quick Wins

Remember, at the start of most any job there’s an implied honeymoon period where you have a little extra time and leeway to make things happen; so, take advantage and use your time wisely. One way to successfully position yourself to identify some quick wins is by interviewing all the key people you support. Ask them, as one successful manger did, the following question – “What is one thing that’s within the framework of my role that I am in control of doing that would be of greatest help to you over the next 30 days?” Write down what they have to say and remember to reconnect with them when you have fulfilled their request.

 2. Don’t Be Too Quick to Draw Conclusions

In your effort to get up to speed in a new job, it’s not uncommon for us to jump to conclusions about what the issues may be only to find out later that we misread what was happening around us. Don’t fall into this trap. One manager, who recently started a new job, avoided that tendency by deciding to keep a daily log that chronicled his observations about people and issues. Each day he would write down his thoughts about the people he needed to support and work with. He also had a separate section that identified pressing problems and potential longer-term issues. As a word of caution here: since this diary reflected his candid thoughts, he felt it was best to journal his ideas at home – just to keep on the safe side! Each week he would summarize his thoughts. To his amazement, he found that many of his initial conclusions about people and issues were totally inaccurate or had to be modified. Explore whether using an approach such as this may prove to be helpful for you. To be successful, you need to accurately read the work environment.

 3. Be Aware of the Expectation You Set in the Eyes of Others

If you demand perfection in everything you do from the onset, others will come to expect that level of performance from you all the time. Is that the reputation you want to create? By no means am I suggesting that you slack off or do mediocre work. Rather, you want to discriminate between when you need, want to, and have the time to go beyond what is required and when you can get by with simply meeting expectations. Use your time wisely and assess carefully the priority you assign to each task. The ultimate control lies with you – so take care to focus your energies on what counts regarding the success of the organization’s objectives as well as your own objectives

 4. Manage the Number of Hours You Work Each Week

In most cases, success is based on results, not long hours. Gaining some insights into what success looks like in your new role may be something you can and should clarify with your boss. You might even consider having a similar discussion with those individuals you support. It’s about reading the culture of your organization that can be important. For instance, is there a culture of expectations that includes responding to emails after work hours or over the weekend? This is something to address early on with your boss, peers, and staff in an effort to keep from being surprised on Monday morning when your boss or team says, “We didn’t hear from you regarding the home office request for budget cut ideas.”

When taking a new position, the idea should always be to move from something to something. Using these tips will help ensure that your new career moves in an upward direction to something even better!

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. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

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.”

Receiving Criticism: Tip #4

12 Dec

Let Go of the Criticism

Holding on to criticism for days on end isn’t very healthy, nor does it do much to resolve the issue.  Brooding over criticism is a means of acting on it, but is this action what you really want to be doing?

Building from our premises that we aren’t perfect and that criticism is designed to bring about action that will lead us closer to a desired end result will then make it easier to use Bright’s Wastepaper Basket Quick Charge.

This skill is practiced by mentally writing down all your thoughts, especially your troublesome ones, on an imaginary piece of paper. After mentally placing all your thoughts on the paper, visualize crumpling up the paper and throwing it into the wastepaper basket, where it immediately gets burned. Depending upon the severity of the situation, it may be necessary to practice this skill several times. Remember, after you’ve carefully examined the situation and have learned from your mistake, then it’s important to “let go” of the criticism by practicing Bright’s Wastepaper Basket Quick Charge.

Receiving Criticism: Tip #2

21 Nov

Don’t personalize the criticism:

Confidence better enables us to handle criticism because we are not easily threatened. We are able to listen to the criticism without taking it personally and we can more accurately evaluate what is being said. Let’s take a look at the following perspectives that will help you avoid personalizing criticism:

  •   Look at criticism as information. Remember you are the one who colors what’s being said.
  • Identify what you need to do differently. To avoid personalizing criticism, get past what’s being said and how it’s being communicated and focus in on the desired behavior.  Ask for the information you need to achieve the desired behavior, and remember that the information comes from the giver’s perspective, not your own.  Having enough specific information will give you a greater sense of control and the confidence needed to take the corrective action desired and positively move forward.
  • Examine your perspective as the receiver. Whenever you receive criticism, keep in mind that your confidence will play a big part in whether or not you personalize that criticism.  If your boss has just criticized you for several mistakes you have made, and your customer is suddenly upset with you about a couple things, and your mate or loved one starts to criticize you, your confidence may wobble because so many things are happening at once. You are more vulnerable.  This temporary loss of confidence may result in your being more susceptible to personalizing the criticism.
  • Look at the big picture perspective.  Use Bright’s 2-M Simultaneous Focus Quick Charge to put things into perspective and to regain your confidence.  Bright’s 2-M Simultaneous Focus Quick Charge is practiced in the following way:  The first “M” refers to the Macro perspective, the other “m” is the micro or more specific perspective.  Today, it’s not enough to have the big picture focus, or the macro, nor is it effec­tive to operate always in the micro. You need to be able to operate in the micro and the macro simultaneously.  So you want to focus your lens to clearly see both perspectives at the same time. For example, when being criticized, you are in the “micro”- zoom out to the “macro” to recognize that at least that person took the time to say something to you.
  • Remember to inspect the criticism.  Keep in mind that when you are receiving praise, it is very much like criticism.  Both are forms of information that you should develop habits of inspecting. Because we’re creatures of habit, if you take praise “hook, line and sinker,” without inspecting it, chances are that you will take criticism the same way.  Remember to inspect!
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