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Mentor the Mentors Series

Mentoring others is a Sacred Duty of All Leaders

The Givens:

To mentor someone he or she needs to be:

  • Convinced something needs to change
  • Willing to self-correct as they work
  • Willing and able to try out new ways of behaving

As a leader, you have the carrot and the stick.  The carrot is the vision of a better job and a more robust career, a bonus or other perks.  The stick varies from the performance appraisal and yearly salary review all the way to possible dismissal.

When you mentor mentors, you want them to understand that a complete reversal of old behavior is not easy or all that desirable. The ideal results are self-correcting and self-generating employees who are willing to try new ways of doing things.  A leader is not so much teaching “an old dog new tricks.”  The dog is trying the new tricks on his or her own.


The 12 Steps Toward Becoming A “Recovering Bitch”

In my seminars, and in the “Ask Dr Karen” series on my website, there are numerous questions about working with leaders on communication styles. Two recent questions from seminars are how to help others:

*Be less abrasive when dealing with others

*Have a less combative communication style

With the title of this piece I’ve taken the liberty of using an expression a client used about himself. When he realized that his combative/abrasive style was getting in his way he endeavored to try a new approach.  At the beginning of his change in style he found himself using his old way of coping with abrasive language and reactions jumping out of his mouth. When Eric reacted in the old way he would say “Please excuse me.  I’m a recovering bitch.”  That way he bought himself some time to change his tactics. And the folks around him smiled and gave him a bit of leeway.

  1. Work on muscle tension: all strong reactions start with tight muscles.  There is a myth that the only way to do this is to do hard, sweaty workouts.  That works for some people. For some people workouts reduce muscle acidity and tension.  They also create wonderful endorphins which make you high and happy.  Blood type A people do well, however, with meditation, tai chi, yoga, and chilling out.
     

  1. Calm your mind

    • Learn basic mediation

    • Use “alternative nostril breathing” to calm you in five minutes.  Look this up on the Internet.

    • Sing along with a favorite song
       

  1. Pay attention to diet: Reduce or eliminate diet stressors There are many foods and drinks that “rev” you up so that you are tense and ready to react to others.  It’s worth looking at what you eat and drink every day and eliminate the following as often as you can.  Yes, it may be hard to do; often these are addictions. The withdrawal period may be a painful few weeks.  The withdrawal symptoms show how addicted we are
     

    • Caffeine – sodas, coffee, tea, chocolate

    • Energy drinks with cute names, sodas including some diet sodas

    • Sugar foods including candy, donuts, cakes, cookies, energy bars, pastries, ice cream

    • High carbohydrate snacks like potato or corn chips, pretzels, pop corn, cooked potatoes, tortillas, bread without protein like meats and cheeses

    • High carbohydrate drinks like smoothies, juices, alcohol of any kind

Pay attention to diet: Plan for and add diet sustainers that keep your energy at an even level

·        Hard boiled eggs

·        Balanced sandwiches with meats, fish and/or cheese

·        Salads with cheese, fish or meat for protein

·           High protein drinks

·        Nuts and nut butter especially almonds and walnuts and almond butter

·        Juice with no sugar mixed with equal amount of water

  1. Get enough good sleep

    • Average eight hours a night

    • Ensure that you don’t drink alcohol before going to sleep so you have a good night’s rest

    • Try to go to sleep at the same time every night

    • Aim for total darkness in your bedroom

    • Use natural sleep aids rather than sleeping pills
       

  1. Give yourself break time

    • Take a 10 minute walking break every two hours

    • Take time to unwind when you go home from work

    • When you feel yourself getting stressed do something pleasurable for 10 - 15 minutes.

    • If you get angry or “wound up” take 10 minutes for a “time out.” It usually takes 10 minutes to calm down the stress response.

    • Spend a few minutes every hour staring out the window or into space to change your perspective
       

  1. Take mini vacations

    • It’s important to take most of a weekend day or a holiday so you unwind.

    • Take a “mini-break” as the Brits call it.  Go somewhere new just for a long weekend.

    • Spend time on the phone talking with friends if that is a break for you

    • Spend time reading or working on a hobby if that is relaxing for you
       

  1. Wait for others to finish speaking before you respond

    • Count “1,2,3” after someone stops speaking.  A response that is faster than that may seem abrupt.

    • Ask a question or ask for a clarification to show that you have been listening
       

  1.  Change your body posture

    • If you’re leaning forward lead back in your chair

    • If you are holding onto something like the arms of a chair let go and put your arms in your lap

    • If your arms are folded unfold them

    • If your head is thrust forward align your head with your back

    • If you’re standing sit down
       

  1. Change your eye position

    • Look up right to see new possibilities

    • Look up if you find tears of anger coming to your eyes

    • Give other people eye contact and occasionally look away so you don’t stare
       

  1.  Give yourself extra of everything that supports you when you have a stressful period of time

    • If you have a time of the year or month that is high stress (like month-end closings) keep your evenings free so you can eat and rest properly.

    • Minimize or eliminate alcohol.  Alcohol disrupts your sleep pattern.  Although you feel more relaxed at first you will often wake up in the wee hours of the morning

    • Let your loved ones know that you will need more de-stress time in the evenings

    • Reduce your outside activities.
       

  1.  Use descriptions rather than assessments

    • Use neutral words to describe

    • Avoid words like “stupid” or “dumb”

    • When using a harsh word stop and correct : Instead of saying “That’s a career limiting move” try “You might consider asking for feedback before taking action.”

    • Give an alternative behavior when you see something that’s not working
       

  1. Focus  on whatever you believe and ask for guidance

    • Ask that things go well

    • Ask that you are guided to do the best

    • Set your intentions before all interpersonal engagements

    • Ask for the highest possible good for all concerned

 
 

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