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We live in a world where kindness is often lacking. We tend to dwell on differences–the things that divide us–instead of finding commonalities or learning to listen to others’ points of view. The tendency to see people as “others” has led to many a fighting match on social media, and that tension is now reaching a fever pitch with the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

In this contentious and often heated atmosphere, it’s easy for people to lose their tempers, become defensive, and begin name-calling and initiating personal attacks. This kind of response will lead nowhere, of course, but it is a natural, knee-jerk reaction.

How do you step back from the fray and choose kindness over maliciousness?

1. See Humanity

Instead of making snap judgments and generalizations, I encourage you to pause, truly consider the other person’s point of view, and begin to develop understanding and empathy. It helps to view that person behind the screen as a HUMAN BEING–someone with a family, pets, a mortgage, grocery bills, and health concerns. Someone with hopes and fears.

When we start to see Twitter usernames and Facebook profiles as people (bots excluded!), we can begin to treat them with dignity. Surely, if you were having a face-to-face conversation with someone at a restaurant, you wouldn’t begin calling them nasty names (hopefully not, anyway!). You would do your best to keep the conversation civil or steer it in another direction.

2. Know When to Fold ’em

Sometimes, stating (or reiterating) your point of view is futile. If someone has demonstrated that they are wholly unreceptive to your perspective, gracefully exit the conversation. End on a high note; something like: “Thank you for your thoughts. I don’t agree, but I’m happy you shared them with me.” Then, leave.

Exiting toxic conversations isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s simply recognizing that you’re talking past one another and going nowhere. Better to excuse yourself and move on.

3. Take the High Road

When others resort to name-calling and shouting, don’t go there. Vow to take the high road and be the adult in the room. Hopefully, your behavior will inspire others to do the same but, if not, there’s no shame in ditching the conversation (see point #2). Better to spend your time and energy elsewhere.

4. Pay Attention to Tone

When you post something on social media, is your tone contentious and one-sided? Or is it respectful/factual? If you’re belittling or putting down a group of people, that will only invite arguments and cause contention.

Rather, stick to the facts and avoid personal attacks. No one likes to hear that their beliefs make them “evil” or “stupid.”

5. Engage Others One on One

The best way to truly understand another’s perspective is to engage them one on one, in private. Start a private chat, or take it a step further and invite them to talk over a video chat or in person (if they are a friend, and if you feel comfortable doing so). Let the person know that you’re aiming to understand, and you hope that they, too, will be open to hearing your point of view.

6. Make Kind Gestures

There is a big, wide world beyond social media. Let your kindness emanate beyond the screen, and practice little acts of kindness. Rake an elderly neighbor’s lawn, pay for groceries for the young mother at the grocery store, donate your time or money to a nonprofit, etc., etc.

If you’d like to show kindness to your colleagues or friends, send them personalized notes, telling them why you are grateful for their presence in your life.

In the world of social media, share uplifting, kindness-focused pieces of news and pictures. You don’t have to sugar coat things, but it IS an act of kindness to give people joy and hope every once in a while!

These actions (whether in person or virtual) have a way of spreading. Make an extra effort to be kind this month, and notice how it tends to comes back to you.

The world needs your kindness. Let’s all make an effort to find common ground. Take the high road. Reach out. Be a kind, decent human being.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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This guest blog post comes from Kate Leibfried, president of Click Clack Writing. Click Clack is comprised of a team of writers and editors who create quality content for businesses. Enjoy! –Margaret

5 Basics for

 

Feel like your content is stale? Having trouble keeping your website or social media up-to-date? Here are 5 handy tips that will boost you above the competition:

1. Develop a schedule

Okay, okay. This sounds totally boring and tedious, but it is THE number one thing you can do when it comes to creating fresh content. Set aside a chunk of time every day (whether it’s a half hour in the morning, a few minutes during lunch, or whatever) and dedicate that time to freshening up your content. Surf the web, create a list of handy articles you find, and post them to your website or social media platforms. Try to dedicate at least one day per week to creating your own content in the form of a blog post or newsletter.

Look to steps 2-5 for great content creation shortcuts.

2. Subscribe to Google Alerts

Get daily (or weekly) alerts delivered to your inbox about the subjects that matter most to YOU. Do you care about fashion, photography, ice skating? Does your business revolve around career coaching? Diversity training? Security systems? Subscribe to Google Alerts and find interesting new content to share with your audience.

Alternatively, use your favorite RSS feed reader to get updates from your favorite websites.

3.  Cross-Pollinate

If you’re attempting to keep up your website, multiple social media platforms, and a blog, it can all feel a little overwhelming at times. That’s where cross-pollination comes into play. You can link many of your platforms together so that your content is disseminated across multiple areas. For instance, you can schedule an automatic tweet/Facebook post/LinkedIn update when you publish a blog post. You can also put a Twitter or Facebook feed on your website so that any site visitors can easily see your recent activity (and the website will always seem fresh). You can link your Instagram account to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. so that your snazzy photo will be shared across all your social platforms.

With cross-pollination, you can ease the burden of trying to be everywhere at once. Focus on what you love and let your content spread through your linked accounts.

4. Post Evergreen Content

What is evergreen content? That’s the stuff that stays fresh and relevant, no matter the original posting date. Maybe you’re a construction company and you’ve written a blog post about winterizing your home–that’s evergreen. It will be relevant year after year for homeowners.

Take advantage of that longevity. Feel free to repost evergreen items every once in a while to your audience.

What’s NOT evergreen? Promotions, holiday greetings, event reminders…anything that will become irrelevant after a given time period.

5. Don’t Get Hung Up on #Trends

It can feel like a social media rat race when you try to tweet or post about whatever topic is trending at the moment. Unless you love being on the daily pulse (or truly have something to say about a hot issue), don’t work yourself into a frenzy trying to keep up with the latest trending topic. Instead, focus on your business and your personal area of expertise. Concentrate on what’s relevant in your industry and what will REMAIN relevant to your audience in the foreseeable future.

Keep in mind: your contention creation is NOT about you. It’s about your audience. Do them a service by relaying quality advice, tips, or professional opinions. Give them information that they can use. Make yourself (and your company) a value resource to them, and they’ll keep coming back.

BONUS TIP: Hire Help

If you’re up to your ears with work, don’t be afraid to hire help. While we encourage you to at least attempt to create your own content for a while (this helps you develop a genuine voice and build an understanding of your audience), we understand that not everyone has the time or inclination. Hire an expert (or several) to either get you going or maintain the content creation work that you’ve already started. Companies like Click Clack Writing specialize in content creation for businesses. Other companies like Tena.cious specialize in social media marketing and can help set you up with a comprehensive social media strategy. Whatever your needs may be, there are companies out there that can help. By hiring outside help, you can get back to the work you really love.

Good luck with creating fresh, interesting content! If you need further help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.

–Kate & the Click Clack Team

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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be yourself oscar wilde

I sometimes get the question: “Margaret, what is the most important attribute of a good leader?”

This question is a tough one. There are a lot of factors that make up an excellent leader: trust, self-confidence, good communication skills. In fact, I talk about my top ten attributes in my book, the Ten Minute Leadership Challenge. But the one thing at the heart of it all is AUTHENTICITY.

You have to be an authentic leader before anything else. You need to know yourself, your values, how you work, and who you are before you can even consider leading others. Authenticity means having a deep understanding of your inner self and not compromising your deeply held values. Sure, you can adapt to different situations and show different sides of yourself at different times (i.e. a more casual side at home, a more professional side at work), but your core should remain the same.

superheroHow would anyone trust you if you act like one person sometimes and a completely different person at other times? What would people think if you always agreed with whomever you were speaking, even if their assertions were way off base from what you believe?

Being authentic should be part of your personal brand. Show up, be yourself, and take a genuine interest in those around you.

I’ve been evaluating and interviewing Millennials lately for my forthcoming book, and I’ve found that authenticity is just as important as ever in the workplace. Millennials look for candid, authentic leadership that they can trust.

Furthermore, with the popularity of social media, your comments and photos are everywhere. Yes, you should be your authentic self on the web, but you should be your BEST authentic self. Let your funny or intellectual or caring side shine!

You’ll find that being your best authentic self is a heck of a lot easier than significantly modifying your behavior and beliefs whenever you’re with a different group of people. When people say, “your reputation proceeds you,” you should know that is a good thing.

Tune in next week for the UXL Authentic Leader Model.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, LICENSED INSIGHTS DISCOVERY PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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