How to speak eloquently

One of my personal goals this month is to work on personal branding. I will be reaching out to friends who are successful in their own right and people I see as mentors to guide me as I work towards being a better person. For this article, I will be writing tips which I find useful and action plans that I will performing to speak better and improve my arguments.

Tip 1: Practice Enunciation and Pronunciation

Many of you are not aware that I am currently learning German. One of the things that I struggle with (Not the gender) but getting the pronunciation right. The advice that I received from my German teacher is to practice speaking daily. Don’t be afraid to open your mouth wide in order to improve your enunciation.

Now, I dedicate 15 minutes daily to either speak in front of the mirror or listen to podcast and read the manuscript.

Tip 2: Avoid Swearing

This is a no brainer, but I still hear people cursing in professionally settings. Reserve your ‘venting out’ to after work and mind your manners outside.

Tip 3: Choose your words wisely

A continuation from point 2. I usually pinch the fleshy area between my thumb and index finger when I am nervous or when someone is getting on my nerves.

When you speak, ensure people can understand you speak simply so others are not intimated by you. When needed, improve your arguments. When you can do this, you are making others included and people will not find you unapproachable and showing off.

I find that listening to audiobooks, and watching Tedtalks or other shows seem to improve the way I communicate. Hopefully they are useful for you too.

Tip 4: Speak without filters

Filters are words we use between words. They may not necessary be bad although my mentors at Toastmasters will disagree. I don’t deny that good speeches don’t use filters. However, filters are often used when people are struggling with what to say or rather they are thinking of what to say next.

An easy way to avoid this is to speak slowly. Form the sentence in your head before saying it. For German, I have to write it down first before saying it. I’m far from perfect in this aspect. Filters usually occur between thoughts and when the sentence changes. So instead of saying “umm” or “like” just pause…and continue with your story.

Let me know if you have other tips.

Tip 5: Control your volume

We need to control our indoor and outdoor voices. Be considerate when you speak and avoid turning heads. They are often soft spoken and often times the person listening to them needs to lean in a bit to hear more about them. Never boasts and never yells.

Tip 6: Speaking with kindness and grace

Elevate the success of others and be humble with yours. They know their manners: they know when to speak, when to listen, and when to interrupt. The goal is to sound pleasant with your words and make sure others feel enlightened, not unimpressed after speaking to you.

Be kind to others at all times. Know when to keep your silence. You can be honest and strong, but not rude.

Summary of How to Negotiate by Christopher Copper IND

How to negotiate – Christopher Copper IND

One of the most important skills I have learnt this year is learning to negotiate effectively. Negotiation is not only useful in meeting rooms, bargaining for items while one is shopping in markets, hostage crises, conflict resolution and the list goes on.

As the saying goes, ‘ The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway’ .

Personally, I believe that one should always strive to improve on one’s communication skills, inside out. For 2019, I choose to focus on negotiation skills. After completing a negotiation course and reading a couple of books on negotiation, here are some summaries I have gathered for myself. Of course, the content may change over time depending on the stage or situation I am in when I redo or re read the course or books, but in general, here are some of the key points. This time round, I am avoiding mind maps due to lack of time.

  1. Chapter 0 – Understanding negotiation

What is negotiation?

  • Art of compromise, while knowing what you want, going after it and being mindful of the other person in the process
  • Useful life skill
    • Power to resolve differences into beneficial agreements
    • On average, people negotiate 2-5 times daily
  • How do we learn to negotiate?
  • Prepare for the negotiation
  • Have self – awareness about your opponent
  • Knowledge on strengths and weaknesses, what he can forgo and Must Haves and Good to Have
  1. Culture:
    • British – Setting one ‘s cards as the last resort (Not efficient)
      1. Preference on using understatement and humor
    • French, Dutch and some others – Slow process as they tend to over analyze
    • German – Expect opponent to be on time and tend to do thorough research
      1. Very logic driven
    • Arabs – Enjoys getting to know their opponents before discussing business, at times can be emotional and circuitous
    • Singapore – Fast and furious
    • Chinese – numerous meetings to understand the proposal and the decision will be made on later date without any interaction with the other party
      1. If the deal is to proceed – they will lay down the terms and conditions in a take it or leave it manner
    • Indians – May play ambiguity along the way
  2. Good listening skills:
  3. Power imbalances
  4. What are the deal breakers?
  • Learning curve – Every negotiation is unique in its own way
  1. Identification of the possibility
  2. Find the people who can make it happen
  3. Types of negotiation
  • Bargaining – Dispute the cost of an item
  • Distributive negotiation:
  • Hard bargaining, zero sum brand of negotiation where both sides adopt from an extreme position and they seek to yield as little as possible
    1. Not commonly used in corporate business
    2. Eg: bargaining the price of a carpet where there is a fixed price, Donald Trump’s style
  • Integrative Negotiation
  1. Integrative or principled negotiation
  2. Tends to expand value to mutual benefit rather than as a fixed entity
    • Usually results in a gain on each side and strive towards achieving mutual interests
    • End goal – satisfies both parties while maintaining strong relations
    • May comprise of some elements from distribute negotiation
  3. Notes:
  • What’s in it for them instead of What’s in it for me?
  • Remain focused on the outcome
  • Leave the boardroom with strong and positive relations
  • Achieve the middle
  • Understand the power and how it works in negotiation


  1. Chapter 1 – Power & Psychology
    1. Psychology of negotiation
      • Empathy – driving force behind negotiation
        • Definition – the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings and conditions from their perspective instead of your own
        • Exercise empathy to gain trust and integrity
      • Power
        • Definition
          1. Ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way
          2. Ability or capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events
        • Successful negotiation uses a balance of power
          1. Redistribute power between yourself and your opponent
          2. Use it to open up possibilities within negotiations, enabling holders to control the agenda, course taken by proceedings and shapes the final outcome
          3. Information is power
        • Managing states of mind
          • Managing expectations is the central part of managing expectations
          • Concession or refusal may bring about a difference in consequences
        • Taking control
          • Draft the agenda in a particular order
          • Hosting the negotiation venue
            1. Setting up seating arrangement
            2. Formal or casual (round table for small group or long table for big group)
            3. Careful of mixing two sides together
            4. Use time as an advantage
              1. Short and efficient process
              2. Set a tight, workable timeframe that suits you agenda and stick to it
  • Using information
    • Do your research and be well informed (Be knowledgeable about what the other side lacks)
    • Don’t just be focused on the deal
  • Things to avoid
    • Mentioning your price
      1. You can mention the parameters in the early stages of the negotiation so that you can easily progress with confidence
    • Acrimony/ Ambiguity
    • Greed – Remember your opponent needs to get something out of it
    • Emotion
      1. Don’t reveal too much
      2. Don’t take it personally
  1. Chapter 2 – Essential Skills
    1. Observe everything
      • Make eye contact
      • Understand first what is motivating both of you
      • Observe yourself and your opponent
      • Body language, emotions, motivations
    2. Never forget the power of silence, that massively disconcerting pause which goes on and on and may at last induce an opponent to babble and backtrack nervously
    3. Know what you want to achieve prior to starting to negotiate
    4. Be open to adaptive skillsets:
      • Observe – Be alert to your opponent, their behavior and their language
      • Speak – But only when appropriate
        • Practice speaking slowly
        • Keep sentences short
        • Use plenty of full stops
        • Be alert to your tome
          1. Believe in the offer that you are making
          2. Match your tone to the situation
        • Question – Ask questions that are pertinent and timely
          • Skillful questioning (Curiosity, Engagement)
            1. Encourage questioning ( two way street)
            2. Smart questioning and empathize
            3. Frame questions and a pause 3 seconds before questioning to show importance
          • Listen – take note of what you are being told and learn to use it
          • Use Silence – Pause to prompt, disconcert and buy time to think
          • Make decisions – Forge decisions in the course of negotiation and keep to them
            • Joint decision making process and timelines to solve problems
            • Trust your own judgement
            • One can practice by using role plays with colleagues
          • Prioritize – Keep those aims in view and in perspective
          • Apply assertiveness – Be firm without offending, use leverage to good effect
          • Solve problems – Recognize when problems are arising and know how to tackle them
          • Avoid emotions – Learn to maintain diplomacy and a clam exchange in acutely stressful situations


  1. Chapter 3 – Know your enemy
    1. Understand their motivation, culture, ambitions, values
    2. Establish good relations with them and develop focus points
    3. Use this to anticipate their tactics
    4. Perspective taking
      • Understand or adopt their perspective
      • Be able to step outside the constraints of their own immediate, biased frames of references
      • Perspectives can provide insights as to how deals should be structured
    5. Research, research your opponent
    6. Establish boundaries
      • Keep in contact
      • Define the boundaries of the prospective deal
      • Ensure both parties lay out their cards (goals, expectations etc)
    7. Agendas and motivation
      • Be transparent about your goals, targets and discuss with opponent
      • reassure them that you are the right partner


  1. Chapter 4 – Strategy
    1. Definition
      • A plan of action designed to achieve long term or overall aim
      • Art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle
      • For negotiation – a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal
      • Address your needs (or more) before your opponent takes advantage of you
    2. Strategic thinking
      • Defines the way people think about, assess, shape and create the future
      • Relies upon mastering a series of critical and interrelated skills
      • 11 strategic thinking skills
        • Use logic (left) and creative (right) of the brain
        • The ability to think with a strategic purpose while creating a vision of their direction
          1. Blend the two skills
        • Clearly define the objectives and align them to timelines
        • Able to integrate plans with flexibility by having milestones which they can revise plans along the way
        • Being proactive and anticipate change and challenge status quo
        • Perception: Recognize subtle clues to inform and guide their strategic direction
        • Lifelong learning – Being inquisitive and curious
        • Actively seek out advice from others
        • Creativity is combined with sharp sense of realism
          1. Being alert to what one can achieve in short, medium or longer term
        • Non judgmental
        • Have limitless capacity for patience, being mindful that ideas and strategies take time to develop
  1. Implementation
    • Often starts with business plan
    • Most popular – SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
      • Embrace any weaknesses and threats
  1. Aligning strategy with situation
    • Match strategy to a situation and ensure that is grounded in reality
    • STARS Model
      • Start up, Turn – around, realignment, sustaining process
      • Often used by strategic planners ahead of negotiators to figure out the background of proposed deal
  1. Types of negotiation strategy:
    • Integrative (interest based) or principled negotiation
      • Built on trust
      • Aim for win win
      • Common problem solving approach
    • Distributive negotiation ( hard bargaining)
  2. Tactics
    • Can be used to enforce power dynamics
      • Used by those with power/ confidence and apply pressure on their opponents
      • Key tactics
        1. Preparation: Crucial research
          1. Establish their competitors’ pricings and offers
        2. Initiative: Draft the first version of any agreement
        3. Goodwill: Keep negotiations courteous and positive in tone
          1. Establish a good long term relationship
        4. Listen instead of talking too much
        5. Understand the dynamics at play
          1. Identify who has the leverage and what are their constraints in terms of time and scope
          2. Be clear as to what advantages which side holds
        6. Be prepared to walk away if terms are not attractive and appear immovable
          1. Back up your arguments with research beforehand
        7. Time: Manage time well (Make sure its time efficient and effective)
        8. Send a letter of intent if no contract is signed
          1. Summarize and record main points gleaned from the negotiations
        9. Ask plenty of questions
        10. Always counter. Never accept the first offer
        11. Lay the groundwork to avoid instances of buyer’s response
        12. Break out sessions
          1. Pauses can give off the record time for both sides to think and reflect
        13. Salaries
          1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get mindset
          2. Be well informed before making the first move
            1. Go first if the employer is concerned about his costs
            2. Set your figure in context
            3. Keep it realistic and avoid ultimatum
          3. Chapter 5 – Key Stages
            1. Preparation and planning
              • Every negotiation is unique
              • Better to prepare as a team to ensure everyone is along the same line and minimizing chances of straying
              • Establish your aims and variables, they can be discussed in early stages as well. There may be others depending on type of deal. Give the counterparts time to consider the variables
                • Pricing/ Fee
                • Delivery: When & Where
                • Volume and scale
                • Contract
                • Payment terms
  1. Defining the rules
    • Avoid tension and chaos
    • Put in some rules to remind both parties of the agreed limitations of the deal
    • A set of rules to define topics of discussion, allocated timeframe, no of sessions, place etc
  2. Clarifications and problem solving
    • Aim: Find a working solution not just an agreement
    • Ensure that agreed solution can be implemented and iron out issues
    • Discuss the process to clear up any misunderstandings
  3. Bargaining
    • Avoid openings with extreme positions but adopt an opening position that works for you but manages the other side’s position
    • Use the knowledge you have, insights and market intelligence to gauge a realistic opening position
    • Plan to concede a minimum to get the deal through and end with both sides content
  4. Closure and implementation
    • Try to deal with the person most qualified for the deal
    • Be realistic
    • Create a sense of momentum
      • Set a dateline
      • Time constraints can be a leverage
    • Sit down with a colleague who is familiar with the deal and brainstorm any objections
    • Role play with your colleague to see what they have came up with and what you have missed out on


  1. Chapter 6: Cultural Differences
    1. International business deals cross both borders and cultures
    2. Learn about the culture in advance
    3. Let the host know in advance your key points and send them a message saying you are looking forward to meet them
    4. Time is money for Americans, while Asians want to take things slowly to build trust
    5. Observe local customs and etiquette
    6. Bring more business cards with you (Give with both hands in Asia)
    7. Sometimes you will have to speak in the foreign language or have a translator
      • Stay calm, polite and focused on your strategy
      • Always clarify when sensing a misinterpretation
      • Be a sensitive listener and ask appropriate questions
    8. Get your bearings right and learn some local history
    9. Other forms of communications
      • More direct and simple dialogue VS indirect and convoluted approaches
      • Style & Diplomacy: Being prepared and knowing what to expect and how to react
      • Always a good idea to under estimate and over deliver
      • Silence: Count to ten (Silent way of showing disapproval and a great way to keep on negotiating)
    10. Body language: Maintain a good posture and assume your opponent is a good reader of body language
      • Do your homework before you arrive and take your cue from your opponent
      • Mirror them to steer you through
      • Be punctual or arrive way earlier at the venue, allocating time for traffic


  1. Chapter 7: The Deal
    1. Eight core principles:
      • Keep calm
      • Be patient
      • Stay focused
      • Work to eliminate ambiguity or misunderstanding
      • Buy time if necessary
      • Remain in control of your emotions and your body language
      • Be firm and clear while avoiding aggression
    2. Decide on the break even point before you sit at the table, then set the negotiations to open at the maximum sustainable position
    3. How to pitch
      • Maintain a studious anticipation
      • Avoid conflict by identifying your opponent’s threshold (Bolstering range)
      • Know the value of your anticipated outcome
      • Patience and calm persistence are necessary to outlast your opponent
      • Remain focused on the goals
      • Aim high (Let the opponent go first)
        • Lend them a certain legitimacy
        • Broaden the deal
        • Be alert to opportunities
          1. Barters
          2. Sharing of technology etc
        • Avoid telling the other side why you choose them over their opponents and talk on why you want to do business with them
      • What to ask for
        • Requests have to be realistic and you must have the capacity to deliver
      • Countenance
        • Maintain a cool, calm and collected exterior to curb your enthusiasm
        • Control the way you deliver the message to ensure they got the correct message
        • Learning to stay calm and focused will help you make decisions with a cool head
        • If things aren’t going well, looking nonplussed can leave your opponent feeling awkward
          1. Can undermine their own pitch
          2. Don’t yawn and maintain eye contact
          3. Act like you can make the deal work
        • The Contract
          • Clauses and payment terms are clearly stated
          • Clarify the identity of the parties involved
          • Hire a lawyer
            1. May slow things down
            2. Hired by the other side
          • Conflict
            • Keep post negotiation conflicts to a minimum
            • Speaking on the phone is a good way to clear up misunderstandings
            • Present yourself as on the ball on side and trustworthy
            • Expectations should be aired in early stages
            • Causes of conflict
              1. Sound research can reduce the number of conflicts
              2. Imbalances of power
                1. Recognize your position of power but apply your leverage with great care
  • Conflict resolution strategies
    1. Separate interests and look at problems on each side
    2. Try to ascertain what your opponent attaches to his various positions, as a way to break the impasse
    3. Try to build relationships through common grounds or interests
    4. Focus on shared values first
    5. Don’t let differences between you fester
    6. 5 ways to respond to conflicts (completed through assertiveness or cooperation) :
      1. Competition
      2. Compromise
  • Avoidance
  1. Collaboration
  2. Accommodation
  3. Mediators as a 3rd party to resolve conflicts
  • Time and timing
    1. Firm dateline should be established at the start
  • Walking away
    1. Got to be careful as it is the most overused and easily misunderstood
    2. Alternative: better off to explain your stand and the reasons why you cannot accept their offer
    3. Thank them for their time

Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent. A thorough research and positive attitude paves the way to a more trusting relationship regardless of the outcome.

Along the way remember to:

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
  2. Identify common ground and be prepared to concede in principle
  3. Maintain frequent communications throughout
  4. Remain calm and courteous
  5. Look over the contract like a hawk

Remember that negotiation brings people together to make something happen.



Reflection on Coursera Course – Design for Innovation

Example Reflection – Storytelling

Storytelling is a tool I use all the time, one of the most useful skill sets that I use all the time and intend to improve over time. As a business analyst cum consultant, I often use this technique to get people to open up and tell me their thoughts, ideas and concerns. I usually do this over a cup of coffee, outside of the office, so they feel more comfortable to open up. Once this is over, I use the information I got and transformed them into ideas to improve or develop the functionalities of the software tools we developed for our clients.

Application – From What to Why

I have numerous stories about storytelling in my short career of five years. A common example would be driving the adoption of technology of all of the software that fall under my care. Usually, I would have regular one to one catch up over coffee or have a conference call with each one of them regularly if they are not based in the same country as me.

There was an incident where our stakeholders in South East Asia (SEA) were not embracing the analytics tool that we have developed for them. So I arranged a video conference with the main stakeholder in each of the countries in SEA to understand their concerns. Turned out that there was a lack of adoption because of lack of training and lack of follow up to understand their future concerns.

Approach and Insight

So during most of the conference calls or what I call ‘catch ups’, I would listen to their thought process and concerns. Turned out that our stakeholders or rather users of our tools are worried about their job security. The analytics applications that we developed will at least shorten their job tasks by 50% while numerous tasks will be automated, such as email scheduling and running reports based on the filters they want.

This was an eye opener although I was not that surprised.  Upon understanding this major concern, I had to reassure them that their jobs are still secured while their main job tasks may have shifted towards providing insights to the sales and marketing teams.  This also means that we had to create additional materials on how they can provide insights to their respective sales and marketing teams such as using color codes and understanding the nature and purpose of the reports. At the same time, we developed a self-service component of the tools to encourage users to explore ways they can further contribute to their teams. As such, we were able to drive adoption of the applications and improve the working lifestyle of our users and stakeholders. The long term benefits, everyone makes better use of their time and fully contribute at work and grow their skill sets.

I never thought that storytelling will allow me to not just deliver my work duties, but it is a truly great feeling when you improve the quality of life for others. Indeed, Albert Camus was right when he said ‘There is no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do’.

Review on Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson

I finished Rework on my first leg of flight on the way to Munich. That means seven hours in flight. That was how easy the book was written by Jason Fried and David Hansson.

Technology has disrupted the way we work. We all know that. We moved from industrial economy to informational and perhaps gig economy. However, the expectations on how we should work, where and when have not changed with the times.

2017 was a challenging year for me. If it was not for God’s grace, encouragement and support from parents and close friends, I probably would not have the courage to pull through. I have learnt a lot of lessons from this year, I would say the most by far. The vacation I took to Munich was not just a much needed one, but I would like to think that I was reborn if not a changed person. I have learnt to trust the process and let the universe to do its thing – that is after all effort has been put. However, at the same time, we need to learn to adapt in the ever changing environment – it can be country or a new company. Simply because there is no one size fits all box and people change over time. Learning to deal with such factors not only make us more confident but more empathic as well.

Rework shows us an easier, faster if not a better way to be more productive. In fact, we don’t need a lot to achieve what we want to achieve. Planning is good, but plans are useless if you don’t start working. I would think this is useful not only for entrepreneurs but for typical employees like me.

Having a strong faith in our ambitions, products is the fundamental of the business or core value. Others may think that competitors can deliver better, but we should not always comply to clients’ requests if they are unreasonable and cannot be delivered within an agreed time frame. Having a strong belief that the business will succeed starts from living it!

In any case, the authors broke down some critical concepts that I think we should follow. You can refer to the mind map below.

Exerting Influence Without Authority

I am not the boss. How can I lead? I am not a full-time employee, just a temporary one. Why would they want to talk to me? I am just a small fry, unlike those big fishes right there in the centre of the room. Perhaps I should skip the meeting.

It is said that we should not aim to achieve triumph in every situation, but rather building bridges and winning hearts over. Communication skills is not easy to master, especially when it comes to dealing with diverse cultures. But at least, with practice and time, we will get used to it and achieve the end goal. It is about identifying the opportunities and stepping in then demonstrate leadership through adding value to the initiative you are in.

One of the articles written by Lauren Keller Johnson suggested lateral leadership. Leadership does not apply to titles or positions. It is the natural inclination of an individual to get things done. The objective is to get things done and not the various ancillary issues that come along with it.

Here are some interconnected strategies that can be used as guidance to help us achieve that.

  1. Networking:
    • Build a network of relationships in and outside your organization
    • Know the people who can connect you to bigger networks
    • Be genuine and associate with all
  1. Constructive persuasion and negotiation
    • Try to achieve a win win situation
    • See your ‘targets’ as peers and learn to listen to understand rather than respond
    • Put yourself in their shoes
  1. Consultation
    • Take the time to visit the people whom you need to be on your side
    • Ask their opinions about the efforts that you are championing
    • Get their ideas and reactions to your ideas
    • Involve the people to participate in defining the process for achieving the outcome
    • Make sure everyone feels part of the journey and not feel left out
  1. Coalition building
    • Gather influential people together to form “a single body of authority
    • Get to know the people before the kickoff of a project
    • Clarify the destination point
    • Strategic and ‘BIG’ picture thought leadership comes effective at this stage
  1. Acknowledgement and feed forward
    • Acknowledge people’s views and thank them for it
    • Celebrate success and always be forward thinking
    • Review areas of improvements at every stage

Often enough, we get so engrossed in our silo roles that we dont really know who should be included in the networking or coalition building effort. To counter this, one should take time to know who are the stakeholders, who are the advisors. For instance, setting aside a day to have lunch with a different person each week.

The next time you want to get more proactive when it comes to driving projects, initiatives, you should say, let’s work things out and make it happen!


Lesson 4: How to act quickly without sacrificing critical thinking

Often enough, we get into situations where we should act quickly. If we were too slow to respond, we may be entangled into nasty situations where we get consumed or get caught off guard. If we are too fast, we may be perceived as micromanaging or end up making short term decisions.

How do we balance out both?

According to Jesse Sostrin, we all have reflective urgency. It is defined as the ability to bring conscious, rapid reflection to the priorities of the moment — to align your best thinking with the swiftest course of action.

Step 1: Diagnose your urgency trap:

For a start, we need to set time aside for thinking. I do that three times daily. When I wake up, before lunch and before I leave the office. It may be counterproductive if we don’t know what will limit the quality thinking time. One should recognize the habitual, conscious, counterproductive ways that will prevent us from making us of this dedicated and delicate time.  For instance, attending a meeting unprepared or multi-tasking.

When unsure, ask yourself this question, “When the demands I face increase and my capacity is stretched thin, a counterproductive habit I have is….”

Step 2: Bring focus to the right priorities

Start with things you must focus on, rather than tempted/ wanted to work on…

Step 3: Avoid extreme tilts

Do not treat every situation the same. Evaluate the situation and decide if you need to turn down or increase the level of urgency or reflection. Evaluate if you require tactical action or dynamic thinking more and then allocate time for it.

Anyone can use these three techniques, for work, public speaking and so on. When you combine these micro reflections with a heightened sense of urgency, your decisiveness and speed to impact will not be at the mercy of the counterproductive habits and unconscious oversights that occur when you act without your best thinking.


Lesson 3: How to change your brain for good

We all have our ups and downs in life and that often require us to be mindful of what we feel and we will need to motivate ourselves.

There are four steps we can follow to change our brain for the greater good.

I  do hope that by doing this, we will become more focused and certainly reduce the chances of us getting Alzheimer’s disease, seizures, strokes etc.

So here are the four steps to change our brains:

  1. Relabel
    1. Put a label on experiences that are going away from long term values
    2. I am anxious: ‘I am getting anxious now’
    3. Acknowledge your feelings and emotions
  2. Reframe
    1. Use mindful awareness
      1. Process your thoughts into grey instead of black or white
      2.  Know when its good thoughts and when they are bad (cognitive distortion)
    2. Emotional reasoning: Relabel and reframe: figure it out reality versus emotions
  3. Refocus:
    1. Focus your attention in the moment:
      1. Do something constructive using control approach
      2. Divert your attention to something constructive
      3. That’s when you rewire your brain
  4. Revalue
    1. Comes easily when you do the first three regularly
    2. Pattern the first three into your daily life and revalue comes easily
    3. Becomes a positive feedback for your brain to react after

I’m going to try these techniques as I tend to overthink too much at times and often enough, my thoughts do go random.

Lesson 2: How to speak so people want to listen

Morning all and only. I am starting my day by listening to a couple of ted tv videos and pilates.

As I  was listening to Julian Treasure, I learnt the few things about our own unique voices.

There are seven deadly sins of speaking and we should avoid it as much as possible.

  1. Gossip
  2. Judging
  3. Negativity
  4. Complaining
  5. Excuses
  6. Lying
  7. Dogmatism

Four foundations of speaking that we can use to make our speech more powerful. The speaker used the acronym of ‘HAIL’.  The definition is ‘to greet or acclaim enthusiastically’.

  1. H – Honesty
    • Be clear and straight
  2. – Be authentic
    • Be yourself
  3. I – Integrity:
    • Be your word
  4. – Love
    • Wish them well
    • Don’t judge them

A few techniques we can use for speaking will be:

  1. Register your voice
    • Voice from the chest for power and authority
  2. Timbre
    • The way your voice feels
    • We prefer voices that are rich, smooth and warm
  3. Prosody
    • Voice variety not monotone
    • Repetitive prosody (every sentence ends like a question)
    • Break the habit
    • Pace
      • Fast, slow
      • Silence
  4. Pitch
  5. Volume

Do voice exercises before any speech does help too!

Remember that powerful speaking often leads to conscious listening in an environment that is fit for purpose. Create sounds consciously will eventually lead to sounds being received consciously and that will create an awesome environment for sounds and people will reach an understanding of what you are trying to address. That is the end goal of any speech.



Review on Humans Are underrated by Geoff Colvin

Humans are not all alike. We each have our own unique genetic makeup, as well as our own experiences and cultures. Understanding this is useful to managers because it provides a framework for appreciating why people behave in a certain manner under organisational settings. Some behaviour are positive, others are not. Humans’ strength comes from the mind. The thoughts and emotions are enveloped in their psyches and have always determined their behaviours today.

In an unpredictable world, those who thrived have always relied on their instincts. Although, most companies are in favour of logical softwares and tools instead of emotions, the latter can never be fully eliminated. The need to feel is the most basic human requirement and one of the central human acts of inhabiting of connecting ourselves on this planet which belongs to us and to which we belong. So is being optimistic, empathetic and kind enough to swim through the waves? Often enough, we wish people are more rational but we can never run away from our emotions. If we can no longer keep up with computers, how else can we contribute to the working society?

Coming from a computing background, I kind of mentally prepare myself that I will always be on the move, always will have to pick up new technical skills along my career journey. From project management skills, IT security, SQL to big data and excel. It’s easy to be focused, do what you need to do and ignore those around you. In my book, it’s the next easiest thing after running. While it’s good to try to improve, we forget that sometimes, what matters is the depth not the width. Being in- depth, does not just means being good at what you are doing but also, being your humane self, always in search of a deeper purpose, while continually look at life and situations in an obscure way to discover what’s beyond the surface.

So, how do we get out of the mundane repetitive world that some of us are in and move to a much deeper level? In our daily lives, we all form relationships despite doing transactional tasks. For instance, when one drops by a coffee house and place an order. The barista listens and tries to interact. He might even remember what your favourite order is, asks about your well-being and share things. Notice the valuable traits – good listener, we know they are people who always got our backs, which means that they are trustworthy, sincere, caring and committed to you apart from doing what they need to do. There are many benefits of being a trusted person. You get access to information faster, referrals as well as people tend to be helpful and forgiving. The key thing is, people need to know that you care about them more than yourself. So ask for their opinion, tell them your standpoint and be open about the outcome.

Geoff Colvin mentioned about the power or storytelling. Humans are created to form interpersonal connections, create ideas from personal contact rather than from hard data. Hence the reason why it’s easier to improve or create new processes from stories than facts. Most big organisations work in a counter-intuitive and data driven approach. Perhaps what we need to remember is that people with their own talents and aspirations make up organisations and they create processes that best represent the organisation’s mission and goals. Then, use the shared mission to drive the strategy and act aggressively.

The difference between a story and a narrative is that a story is forgotten over time while a narrative is open-ended (determine a powerful beginning, middle and end) and invites participation while maintaining the purpose of the ambition. That is how the audience come together and expand the horizons of human knowledge in peace and tranquility and eventually lead to innovations that change the course of human lives.  Use a story as an event and as a part of a larger narrative, it provides the core of a mission where everyone can contribute.

We all agree that we can no longer compete with computers. So here are the three skills that Geoff Colvin mentioned that will be essential for one to survive in the industry.

  1. Humans will remain in charge
    • Humans will make important decisions
    • Human nature to listen to leaders not machines
    • Humans will need to be held accountable for important decisions
    • Social necessity to have leaders at every level in an organisation
    • Every single interaction involves influencing and persuading others to get what we want
    • Give credit to others when things go well and take responsibility when they don’t
  2. Humans must work together to set collective goals
    • Teamwork is important to define the problems in an organisation and how to solve them
    • Keep the focus on the other person. Keep your stories short and complaints shorter. This will leave the other person wanting more. Let them share more about themselves. That’s when they start to trust you.
    • Groups can solve problems faster than individuals
  3. Only humans can satisfy deep interpersonal needs
    • Human beings evolve for interaction with one another
    • Personal relationships equates survival
      • Great work ethic while having the ability to have relatable, effective and influential relationships
    • Possess most deeply human abilities
      • Empathy above all, social sensitivity, storytelling, collaborating, solving problems together, building relationships
      • Great leaders are expert networkers
      • Have a small group of people whom you trust to confide into, That’s how you remain calm under pressure

In conclusion, right brain skills of social interactions are as important as left brain logical skills. In fact, due to the rapidly changing economy, empathy is the key to high value work, not just to be productive, but also to negotiate and resolve conflicts in the most effective way. The next question is, what do you do if your efforts backfired? That happens, especially when you exceed expectations. One will get unpopular. But at the end of the day, you will need to remind yourself that you are not hired to please everyone, but rather improve the organisation as a whole. Great leaders understand the positive energy and try to increase these activities. They  recognize what drains their energy and minimize those interactions and replace with something that inspires them.

To put things in perspective, being a great performer is becoming less about what you know, but more about what you are like. For that, make the most out of you, for is what there is of you. With that, have a positive 2016!

Humans are Underrated by Geoff Colvin