Monday, March 28, 2011

Be Grateful

How did you get to where you are today? How did you find success in your business or life in general? Chances are that you didn’t do it all on your own. There are people out there who were a part of your journey whether big or small and contributed to your achievements Have you taken the time to thank them?

Donald Trump  said  in one of his books that you have to be nice to everyone on your way to the top because you never know when you are going to come back down—which has happened to him. He said that if he had burned all those seemingly little people, than they wouldn’t have been there to help when he fell hardest, and he’s right. There are people we deal with on a daily basis who have very little impact on us. Even if it is a receptionist that pointed you in the right direction, be sure to genuinely thank them for their help because you never know the powers they hold; and from an unselfish motive, it is common courtesy, and you will most likely make their day by making them feel a little more appreciated.

I love writing thank you notes because it makes me stop and realize how truly blessed I am for things people do for me.  Though some know there are times I write them and forget to send them! Sometimes I find them in my desk a few months later…better late than never right??

When someone does something for you, expected or not, always follow up with a thank you because it is a relationship builder. Everything moves so quickly these days with e-mail and other technologies that it is easy to move on and forgot. Taking the time to pause and show your appreciation will show that that person matters to you, and they will be willing to do it for you again. The amount of those that use this simple gesture is becoming so rare that it will make you stand out, sadly but fortunately for you in some cases! 

Has anyone ever thanked you for something that completely surprised you because the thing you did was so insignificant to you but had tremendous effects (or affects? I always confuse those words) on them??

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gift Registries

I always thought that when the time came for me, I would stress about registering for wedding gifts. I know that I will not know exactly what I will need prior to being married because I feel that moving in with someone would create a whole new dynamic that I would have to adapt to and figure out in the long run the things my husband and I would need. I feel like I would just be putting stuff on the list to put it on there.  Also, many people are getting married later in their lives so they may already own all the items people traditionally register for. 

Check out this really neat website that makes it easier for both the guests and the couple. allows the couple to express to their guests the things they really need but can’t register for. For example, they need help paying for the wedding because they want to put a down payment on a house, they need help paying for a car, they would rather have funds for a honeymoon, they have school loans to pay off etc.  This website allows the couple to say “just make it easy and give us cash” in a more polite less awkward way!

For all you married people out there, what was your gift registry experience like? Was it easier than I am imagining?

Second question, what are some bizarre gifts you wound up with? 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pay It Forward

How many people do you admire, yet they would never know? How many people are you extremely thankful for, yet you’ve never really told them? There are so many people out there whether I really know them or not that I admire. Some may not even know I exist. …I love the way that girl dresses in this class; I love this person’s business concept; I love how eloquently so and so speaks; I love how confident this person is…The list goes on! This may sound creepy, but I have friends on Facebook whom I don’t ever talk to or have kind of lost contact with but I love looking at their pictures and admiring the fun times they have or reading their status updates and reading about success they are finding in their lives.

Sometimes I feel awkward when I compliment someone. I’m not sure why because compliments always make me feel better about myself even if I have issues with accepting them (a whole other topic!). What would happen if we started actually relaying compliments to each other? Would it make this world a little bit of a better place? Would it help us really examine the good things about others? I don’t know, but I think we should all attempt it.

 I think it is kind of a weird phenomenon how we usually never talk about the impact someone has had on us until after they die. At funerals, many people stand up and express how that person had affected the speakers’ lives. Did those things ever make it to that person before their passing? That we will never know, but if someone inspires you, let him or her know! It may make their life that much better and it may give them the confidence they need to keep doing the great things that inspire you. It may also help them learn something  they’ve never known about themselves and give them much needed self-confidence. Hopefully it would motivate them to “pay it forward” and make someone else’s day!

To all those that I’ve admired or that have inspired me I hope I will be able to express it to you all!

And here is someone who has inspired kick her outside when I work on crafting projects!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Managing Conflict

I guess this week has really brought me back to things I learned in my Communications courses. My professors would love to know that they taught me some of the most valuable life lessons that I will never forget.  Conflict is inevitable. It will be in every aspect of your life from personal to professional. No one can ever have complete understanding of someone else because you cannot physically put yourself into someone else’s shoes and thoughts. No matter how fabulous of a listener you are, there will always be different experiences or “noise (ie internal thoughts or external disturbances)” that will shape the way we perceive things. That’s why I try to live by the motto: “Never Assume, Verify.” Paraphrase what you heard in your own words to make sure you have achieved the greatest understanding possible. That also goes with assuming someone will react to something in a certain way; it never hurts to ask and verify that your assumption is correct.

For example, you know someone doesn’t like to go to the movies, but a large group is going. And instead of deciding yourself that that person would not like to go, ask anyway because there is a chance that they would feel highly left out and may have wanted to go to enjoy the good company regardless of their feelings about going to the movies. This is a very mediocre example, but one that happens in similar scenarios more than we know!

A lot of times we get upset about things and harbor them instead of going to the source of the conflict. A simple misunderstanding can be completely blown out of proportion because we create all these false assumptions in our heads and create something that doesn’t exist.  
For example, the person that was left out of the movies may start creating various scenarios for why the group doesn’t like him, which leads to pent up emotions that can lead to detrimental results. By asking if something was wrong and if they had left him or her out on purpose, it would have all boiled down to, “Oh I just ASSUMED you wouldn’t want to go; I’m sorry you missed the fun.”

It is so important to talk about things and clear them up.  It can be very problematic to hide hurt feelings especially when the person doesn’t give the source the opportunity to defend his or herself. The angry person may have turned the group into really bad people in his or her mind and maybe going as far as talking to other people about it or doing hurtful things in return when it was all just a simple misunderstanding that could have been avoided by....Not assuming and verifying ON BOTH ENDS! 

Conflict is not necessarily bad and can help us learn about each other and grow. It helps us see the world from others’ perspectives and teaches us how to avoid problems in the future. There are more effective ways to approach it though: 

First, don’t invalidate someone that has an issue. Just because someone has a problem over something that you wouldn’t, doesn’t take away his or her right to be hurt. Instead thank them for being considerate enough to approach you and want to fix the situation.

Do not get defensive, and take responsibility if you are in the wrong.

Use I statements versus you statements because pointing fingers causes people to get defensive…”I felt hurt when you said this” rather than “You really hurt me.”

Ask questions and be empathetic trying to really feel what the other person feels and see things from their perspective.

I could not have run into this Blog at a better time. These verses are such an eye-opener:
Seven Biblical Steps to Restoring Conflict
1. Talk to God before talking to the person [James 4:1-2]

2. Always take the initiative [Matthew 5:23-24]

3.Sympathize with their feelings [Philippians 2:4]

4. Confess your part of the conflict [Matthew 7:5]

5. Attack the problem, not the person [Proverbs 15:1]

6. Cooperate as much as possible [Romans 12:18]

7. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution [1 Peter 3:11]

Hope I helped you to avoid conflict!!! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Be Ready

I am such a planner! No, I don’t mean party planner. I mean I constantly make lists and plans and am very methodical about following schedules.  Sometimes I get a little flustered when last minute things come up, and think, “This completely ruins my day!”

But it hardly fails that when I do a little reshuffling, I find that those things that come up fit quite nicely. I also usually find that I am glad that something else came up because it ends up being a good experience!  In my Devotional today, it said, “When I am free from selfishness, I am free from irritation.” That really stuck out at me because when things go against my schedule, I tend to get irritated or stressed. It made me realize that life isn’t going to be all about me and my schedule and I have to learn how to bend for others.

You want God to laugh? Tell Him your plans! His plan is always so much better than what we have planned even if in the moment it doesn’t seem it. We have to be open minded and go along for the ride because it will definitely be an exciting adventure.

Have a plans and goals but also be ready for it to go awry. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by being so solidified in your ways and future aspirations. Be open to a little spontaneity in your life!  

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Better Listening Skills (Cont. from Last Post)

There are so many ways people can improve their listening skills.  Different situations call for different types of listening. Some are more receptive and some are more directive. 

            Silent listening: Sometimes it is important just to be there and not say anything.  In this situation you turn hearing into being and avoid interjecting  or advising.

            Question: use sincere nondirective questions that indicate interest and learn about others’ thoughts, feelings and needs. It is important not to use questions that are condescending or cause someone to be defensive.

            Paraphrasing is restating in your own words. This is where you can verify that you understand what the speaker is saying rather than assuming. Always verify and never assume to try to achieve the highest understanding. 

Empathizing is showing that you identify with and care about the speaker.  It means to be “other oriented,” and it validates the speaker’s emotions and perceptions. The opposite of empathizing would be to denying the speaker the right to his or her feelings, minimizing the significance of the situation, self-defending, or one-upping.

            Analyzing provides an interpretation of the speaker’s message. When analyzing, make sure your motive is to help not condescend and offer interpretation in a tentative way such as “Maybe the reason is…”

            Evaluating: appraising the speaker’s thoughts or behaviors in some way.  This can be favorable or unfavorable.  The best chance of someone being receptive of evaluating is if the person has requested it and it is not meant to be critical or as a put- down or an “I told you so..”

            Advising: This is best offered when:
                        The person wants to hear suggestions
                        The person is ready to accept it
                        Your input is a suggestion “You many want to…” vs. “You should…”
                        You know you won’t be blamed if the advice doesn’t work out.

Become a better listener by adapting your listening to different types of situations as well as the different styles of people. Choose to listen and eliminate distractions. Consider your strengths and weaknesses in listening and responding. 

Enjoy the Rest of Your Weekend! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Poor Listening

Listening is such an important part of life, and let’s face it, most of us are generally terrible at it! We all have our own agendas and are generally too preoccupied to really listen. A good listener is a rare thing. I learned so much about listening and the types in my communications classes, and I feel it should be something shared with everyone! I have to be careful when I start planning events that I hear exactly what people want and cater to their style and needs---not my own. My opinion doesn’t necessarily matter unless it is warranted!

There are different types of listening and some of the poor listening habits include:
Pseudo-listening-fake listening: How often do you nod your head and are completely physically in the conversation, but your mind is somewhere else?

Scene Stealers—looking for any opportunity to turn the conversation about them
         “Oh Cool, but let’s talk about me!”
These can also be people who are trying to “one up” all the time

Gap Filling—Miss a message because we hear one thing and jump to conclusions or “fill in the gap,” and miss the rest of the message, completely alter it, and lose the meaning of it.
These people tend to make snap judgments without really hearing the whole thing.

Selective Listening—Only listen to the parts we are interested in and completely blow off the rest.

Insulated listening—rejecting the conversation or building a barrier as a way of avoiding the conversation
These people can change the topic and find ways to re-direct the whole conversation

Defensive Listening—Viewing innocent comments as personal attacks or hostile criticisms. These people often perceive threats in messages because of personal issues
         “You look great! Did you lose weight?”
         “Are you saying you thought I was fat?”

Ambushers—creating a false sense of security for the listener and then attack them
         “No, I won’t get mad if you tell me…”

There are so many things we can miss if we don’t make a conscious effort to be a good listener. It is not only important to be a good listener if you are a psychiatrist or just being a good friend, but it’s important to having effective businesses and building viable relationships. How can you effectively deliver what the customer or what your employees want and need if you are so focused internally? Hearing is so much different than listening!

In my next post, I will talk about how you can become a more valuable listener! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Be Personal!

How many weddings have you been to where you didn’t know much about the bride and groom? Either you were a date of a guest or went because you were invited with your family. I love how the emphasis of weddings is becoming more and more personal. You invite people to come celebrate you and the wonderful life you are about to start, but oftentimes there are guests out there who know nothing about you. It’s a very intimate event so I think it’s very important to let everyone take a closer look into your life for the night.

 I have seen a few details that allowed the guests to get to know the bride and groom a little better and see the story of how it all happened. It was so special! There was one wedding where they had a video of the bride and groom talking about how they met and it was so fun hearing each of their stories! Josh and Marci by Aqua Vivus Productions (Still makes me cry!) I saw another wedding on TLC that had named each table after one of their ten first dates. There was also a little blurb that told a little story about the date! Another wedding I went to served donuts from the brides’ favorite donut shop.  I’ve seen all over wedding blogs about people personalizing their weddings, stepping away from traditions, and letting the little details reflect the couple. 

Guests are there to celebrate you so I think it is very important to make them feel involved as possible! Let the guests know what special things mean at the wedding…write it on cards or display it on signs throughout the reception. This will force people to walk around and help strike conversations, and it will create lasting memories of more than just another white dress and black tux! 

Other Ways To Personalize Your Wedding:Personalize

Have your favorite foods that are completely out of the ordinary….I love frozen yogurt, so I think a fro yo bar would be so fun!

I want to incorporate the color of my parents wedding and plan on using it as an accent color.

DIY—Create the d├ęcor yourself and have craft parties with friends and family for some solid bonding time.  This helps others feel a part of your day! 

Have a fabulous Monday and stay warm!!  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

One Piece At A Time

I eventually want to have a what I'm told is called "coming out" party where I design the party and can add it to my portfolio and begin to advertise myself as an event coordinator. I will show bits and pieces of my plan, and hopefully it will all come together nicely! This week I experimented with a few new recipes. I made some black bean brownies for my family when my parents visited, which were surprisingly not bad! I used a low fat brownie mix because I didn't have all the necessary ingredients to make them from scratch, black beans, vanilla, instant coffee, and cinnamon. They all liked them! I made some "no bake" cookies for the brothers and so far, so good!! They were virtually milk, unsweetened cocoa, peanut butter, oats, wheat germ, and Splenda. I made a few other new things for dinner but nothing worth noting! And as for my crafty craftiness I tried these: T-shirt Pom Poms. Though it didn't turn out as cute, because I was too lazy to do the last step and didn't feel like breaking out the vacuum to clean up after it! Sorry the picture is sideways again!

I am so thankful for my family for being so supportive of me, constantly encouraging me, and being brave enough to try my cooking! Living with both of my brothers has been such an amazing experience, and the bond we are creating is so amazing. I was so excited this last weekend when my parents visited because we had more than one dinner that was just the five of us sitting together! We had no place to be, and we were just able to enjoy each other's company! It's been far too long!!

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend!!