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When your beliefs hold you back, reshape them to elevate efficiency

An age old adage teaches us that “there is no such thing as reality, only perception”. In other words, our thoughts and beliefs shape our experience of the external world and colour our reaction to a myriad of events and situations. For this reason, thoughts and emotions hold a great deal of power. It is up to us to harness this power for positive results in our personal and professional lives.

Firstly, it is important to recognize the way in which our thoughts and beliefs influence one another and affect our behaviour. For example, a thought, when repeated, often becomes a belief that our mind processes as an indisputable fact rather than a construction.

If one were to have thoughts such as “I am not creative”; “My ideas are not original” and “My colleagues are superior to me”, then one would be likely to believe “Other people have better ideas that I do”. When thoughts become beliefs, it is often difficult for the mind to shake them off and recognize that they are not absolute truths.

That being said, it is important to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic beliefs. If the thoughts “I am not creative”, “My ideas are not original” and the like are the results of conversations you’ve had with your manager or colleagues, it is best to collaborate with them in order to correct the issues you are experiencing in your professional life so that you may become a more productive employee.

If, however, your beliefs are not based in reality and exist solely within your mind, it is important to firstly recognize that these beliefs are unrealistic and secondly, identify the ways in which your unrealistic beliefs are hindering both your work and the productivity of your team as a whole.

If your unrealistic belief is that “other people have better ideas than I do”, then this belief is likely to influence your behaviour. For example, if you believed that “other people have better ideas than I do”, then you may be tempted to remain silent during virtual meeting, preferring to avoid the embarrassment of presenting a “bad” idea.

Further, if you really believe that you are constantly cooking up bad ideas, then you won’t be motivated to put the effort into thinking up good ones. Thus, your negative belief becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and will most likely impact your work and the rest of the team negatively.

If you don’t speak up during a virtual meeting, you are not likely to feel engaged with the team, leading to a decrease in enthusiasm for your job. Likewise, the rest of the team will not feel very engaged with a silent team member and may begin distancing themselves from that individual; perhaps not responding to emails in a timely manner or failing to put any effort into strengthening their relationship with that individual. Furthermore, a virtual manager will begin to wonder whether an excessively quiet team member is losing interest in their work or simply not keeping up to speed with their tasks due to the fact they have little to share at meetings.

Hopefully, by now, it has become apparent that our beliefs have the ability to influence our behaviour to a significant extent. When our beliefs are negative, they are referred to as limiting beliefs, and the above scenario demonstrates the reason for this label; when we allow negative thoughts to invade our minds, we are limited in terms of the contributions we make to personal and professional lives.

Another limiting belief is: “I have so much work to do. The task at hand is so large, that I will never be able to finish it”. This limiting belief will quickly diminish your motivation and increase your stress levels, both of which will lead to a decrease in productivity. Once again, the limiting belief will become a self fulfilling prophecy; because you believe that you cannot complete your work on time, you probably won’t. So, the question remains, how do we conquer limiting beliefs to become happier and more productive in our personal and professional lives?

We must:

1) Develop self awareness: It is important to set aside some quiet time to consciously examine your thoughts and beliefs. You must ask yourself: “Do my thoughts tend to be negative? Do I place an inordinate amount of blame on myself for things that don’t go according to plan?” “Do I put myself down while building others up”? The answers to these questions will give you great insight into your thought patterns.

Better yet, when a negative, disturbing thought pops into your head, ask yourself whether you are thinking realistically or buying into a limiting belief.

2) Consciously acknowledge your limiting beliefs: Tell yourself that a particular belief is limiting, but do not blame yourself for having that belief. Instead, let it pass through your mind.  Remind yourself that you have strategies for dealing with this potentially destructive belief.

3) Transform your limiting belief into something more realistic and positive.

For example, “Other people usually have better ideas that I do, so I’ll just say quiet” becomes: “Sometimes, other people have better ideas that I do. When this is the case, I will actively listen to their idea and identify what makes it good. I will do this by taking notes. I will transform their good idea into a learning experience. When someone has a better idea that me at work, I benefit because I am able to recognize this fact.  This shows me that I am learning and growing professionally. Often, I have good ideas, otherwise, I would not have been hired in the first place.”

“When I have an idea, I will share it. I will have faith in myself. Even if I think my idea is good but others disagree, my team will appreciate the fact I shared my thoughts. My manager will admire the effort I am putting forth. My team will provide me with feedback that will make my idea better”.

In the end, it is very important to recognize that our experience of reality is shaped by our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs, and that we are in control of our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. We must recognize and acknowledge the negative and unrealistic beliefs that creep into our minds because they have the potential to negatively impact us on a personal and professional level. When we transform our limiting beliefs into positive, realistic beliefs, we become happier workers and this will impact our personal productivity and our relationship with our team as a whole.

By : Anil Kumar /April 23, 2014 /blog /0 Comment Read More

Tips on recognizing and stopping negative energy from sabotaging your virtual team

In a previous post, we discussed being mindful of the energy (also known as emotional energy) in group environments and how to identify when a meeting is being sabotaged by an individual’s negative energy.

Blog pic2 - Tips on recognizing and stopping negative energy from sabotaging your virtual team

What is negative energy then, and why is it important for teams and their leaders be aware of it?


In addition to our verbal and non-verbal communication, we all transmit signals to the outside world about how we’re responding to it – that’s the emotional energy that we put out. If we feel deflated or unengaged, it’s often something that others will feel and may impact how they feel, but have a hard time articulating how they can sense it. Psychologists refer to this as emotional contagion. When we talk about energy, we’re not talking about it in the physical energy capacity. Although, we are often able to feel when something isn’t working between people in a group environment, there’s no clear mathematical equation to measure the emotional energy that someone is putting out.

This emotional energy is strongly connected to a person’s internal state. It’s largely dependent on if their needs, both physical and emotional, are being met and if they feel like they are in a safe environment. When we are in a good or neutral state, negative things can happen and people are able to brush them off as minor nuisances. If, however someone is in a negative or emotional state, their perceptions and interpretations of the world will be impacted and as such, their interpersonal interactions will too. When this happens, the emotional energy coming from the person can quickly sabotage working groups – even from a distance.

Today, we’re going to explore some tips for how to recognize your contribution to the energy of the workplace, how to minimize negative energy in the workplace and how to foster positive energy to create behaviour that is congruent with team and company goals.

First things first, what energy are you bringing to your team?

Being mindful of the energy you bring in to each meeting is a good first place to start. As the team leader, bringing a positive vibe to meetings can help knock out any negative energy before it gets a chance to fester. Tony Swartz, President & CEO of The Energy Project and blog writer for the Harvard Business Review writes that: “The most fundamental job of a leader is to recruit, mobilize, inspire, focus, direct and regularly refuel the energy of those they lead.” Being aware of the energy you bring in to the room will better allow you to lead your team to focus on the energy they are putting out to their colleagues.

Is there an energy bandit at play?

In one of Swartz’s blog posts for The Energy Project, he shares a story about a new senior executive who, in a relatively short period of time, was able to detract from the highly positive year the company had been experiencing and create a destructive energy that was transmitted around the office. Swartz held himself responsible for allowing the executive to influence him, which then influenced his team. Instead of beating himself up, he used it as a learning opportunity. In addition to recognizing that it’s often difficult to leave our emotions at home and people need to be mindful of this when engaging in interpersonal situations, he identified that the emotions people bring to the team are as important as someone’s cognitive skills. When hiring, this can be an important consideration to take in to account.

That said, if you’re dealing with an already established team and you’re noticing that negative conversations are taking place more frequently, or problems are being identified without solutions being brought to the table, it’s possible that you’re dealing with an energy bandit. Take a step back and try to be objective in your reflection of the situation.

By stopping and assessing where the negative energy is coming from, you can determine if it’s one person that’s poisoning the workplace atmosphere, or a group of people who are potentially congruent in the negative vibes that are being transmitted. Because negative emotions can move quickly in a virtual environment and influence easily, it can zap motivation and momentum before you even know it’s an issue. This is why it’s best to be highly attuned to the team’s morale – if someone is not contributing to a positive morale, it may be time to have a conversation with them to find out what’s happening with them and why.

Listen

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between negative energy and constructive feedback. Sometimes a negative outlook is appropriate to the situation. Sitting back and listening, as well as asking open ended questions and repeating what you think you’ve heard are all good ways to determine clarity around if someone is being negative, or if their points are a legitimate point of conversation.

In virtual environments, we frequently don’t have cues such as facial expression and body language. We frequently make our own interpretations based on our assumptions about who is saying it and the situation being dealt with. Listening intently and asking for clarification are good ways to determine if negative energy is seeping in, or not. If you determine that the person is being negative, acknowledge their concerns and change the group focus to developing solutions to the issues. Guide the team towards thinking of what will work, versus what won’t work and why.

Being mindful of what you are bringing to the team, as well as the energy you feel circulating in the virtual atmosphere isn’t easy. The more you practice, the better you will get but seeing progress may take some time. Also, distractions can easily derail even your best intentions, so it’s important to stay focused on what you want to achieve with your team in respect to the energy going in and coming out of the work.

Persevere

Often, when we experience set-backs, we allow negative talk to invade our thoughts and we get derailed. When there’s a hitch in the plan, instead of derailing, try focusing on what is working to bring that positive energy back in. Publilius Syrus, a 1st century BC Latin writer is said to have written, “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” By bringing your positive energy to your work, you can hold the helm regardless of what the sea is serving up.

Visit us in two weeks when we look at techniques to manage negative energy on your team. We’d love to hear from you on what you struggle with, or if you have ideas on how to respond to negative energy – drop us a line!

By : Anil Kumar /April 23, 2014 /blog /0 Comment Read More
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