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We show our true colors when things don’t go as planned. It’s easy to be kind, confident and happy when everything goes our way, but not so much when we encounter that unavoidable road block.

If you have a pulse, you’re going to hit road blocks. So how do you prepare yourself to deal with failures and letdowns with grace and character?

1.  Take a step back.

Think of all the times in your life when you thought it was the end of the world. How often did that turn out to be true? I’m guessing never, since the world is clearly still here. It’s easy to get trapped in doomsday thinking when you run into a real problem. The truth is, it’s almost never as bad as you think it is at that given moment. When you learn to reinforce this while you’re brain is in crisis mode, you’ll be able to take a step back and see the situation more clearly.

2. Don’t give up.

Your self-destructive voice in your head I like to call your saboteur will take every stumble as a chance to encourage you to throw in the towel. Don’t listen!

It takes thousands of hours of work to reach success and mastery, and nobody gets it the first time around. Be patient with yourself, and keep plugging away.

3. Reach out.

Letdowns, failures, and detours can be embarrassing. The last thing you may feel like doing is going to someone else for help and support. But just remember, there’s no shame in failure, only shame in not trying in the first place. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how happy your friends and family will be to get behind you. You need only be humble and honest about your situation.

4. Revise your plan of attack.

If you’re constantly failing at the same task or project, there’s a good chance you need to change your plan altogether. The definition of insanity, after all, is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Take hiccups as a chance to reassess your strategy. What’s not working? Why? How can you make it work? You may need to reign in your goals a bit, and this is okay. It’s better to make incremental steps forward than to have grand plans that you’re unable to reach.

Take comfort in the fact that setbacks are part of the process, and keep plugging away!


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By Margaret Smith, Speaker, Career Coach, and Certified Insights Discovery Practitioner
You may feel like you’re already a pretty great listener. Or perhaps you’re ready to admit that your listening skills could use a little improvement. Either way, everyone will benefit from a little refresher on the necessity of being a good listener, with a few helpful tips for staying focused on the person across from you, on the other end of the line, etc.

If your listening skills improve, you’ll also see improvements at work, at home, while socializing, and everywhere in between.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve lost sight of what a conversation was really about? Have you ever been “sucked in” to a toxic conversation or argument that’s become completely unproductive? Of course you have—we all have!

I’ve found that the best way to avoid conversational distractions that become argumentative is to remember this one simple fact: Listening is about gaining knowledge. In a conversation, it’s important that I remain a dedicated listener because otherwise, I may as well have a conversation with myself in the mirror.

By focusing on the messages of others at work, you not only improve productivity, you also strengthen your relationships with the people in your life because you avoid misunderstandings and make others feel heard and understood.

An awesome benefit of being a better listener is the positive impression you leave with those you listen to. Being a better listener actually makes you seem more respectful, composed, and interesting to other people. It may seem counter-intuitive, but displaying genuine interest in what someone else is saying actually makes you a more interesting person to them.

Your Challenge:

Improve your listening skills starting now. Think about your plans for the rest of the day and choose an interaction that you’ll practice improving your listening skills during. This interaction may be with your children when you or they walk in the door, with a supervisor this afternoon, or even with the next person with whom you share a phone conversation.

Share your story: Have you ever interacted with someone who was a really good listener? How did this make you feel? How did it affect your image of, and relationship with, this person?

Interested in learning more about listening or working one-on-one with a professional career coach to gain a competitive edge? Contact Margaret Today to learn about career coaching and UXL’s public workshops!

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