Friday, July 17, 2015

Key to Working with All Soft Skills -- A riddle

I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly, correctly. I am easily managed - you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human being. You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin - it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I AM HABIT.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Three no-cost elements to inspire motivation at work

A group of managers from a local manufacturing company and I recently explored the power of feeling motivated.  Three no-cost elements can produce an energetic and productive staff:  

  • an environment of interpersonal support,
  • clear work goals, 
  • and opportunities to be creative.
Our group reflected on times they felt especially motivated.

And we looked at what happens when we feel that motivation.

When we face challenges, isn't it great to know our capacities? 

Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Leaders Institute on television.

I love working with The Leaders Institute.  Their  2 hour Build a Bike events build stronger teams and create great memories for colleagues at work,  (and for happy local kids). 

UNC masters students build bikes for kids

Monday, July 28, 2014

Do we have the courage to create the lives we truly want?

This six minute interview offers a dose of truth. Author Greg McKeown's new book Essentialism, gives us this awesome challenge: pursue only those things that are truly important — and eliminate everything else. Listen below for some other great tips on getting our lives back.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ancient Emotional Intelligence

“Do not conquer the world with force, for force only causes resistance. Thorns spring up when an army passes. Years of misery follow a great victory. Do only what needs to be done without using violence.”- Tao Te Ching

I led a wonderful virtual workshop on assertiveness yesterday.  Many participants spoke of their desire to "do what needs to be done" without slipping into aggressiveness.   It's true that force can yield an immediate "victory" but teams and companies can pay a price for brutal management styles.

During one of my Emotional Intelligence workshops a group of managers insisted that they had to yell at their workers.  Later, the HR manager mentioned that the company had several safety violations.  I saw a link between the stressed (and resentful?) worker and an unsafe facility.

Do we manage our own emotional reactions instead of taking out our fear and anger on others?  Do we use the least amount of force necessary to achieve our goals?

Monday, July 14, 2014

What doesn't kill me.....

While preparing for an upcoming workshop I came across some research on resiliency --the ability to “bounce back” after hardships.  Dr. Mark Seery’s studies show that moderate adversity early in life can actually help us develop resilience and cope with life’s challenges.  The study suggests that the adage, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” is psychologically true.  Researchers offer the example of children contacting germs in play and how this helps their immune systems grow stronger.

In my garden I’m finding the same lesson.  Last year our terrier, Reggie, in his hunt for chipmunks dug up a lanky raspberry bush.  The bush looked half-dead but I covered it with dirt and fenced off the area.  The bush had grown vigorously but had produced only a few tiny raspberries in its first few years.
This year, instead of growing more canes, the bush is much more compact, and has produced many very large, luscious berries. 

On the other hand, my spinach lacks resiliency.  It can’t seem to thrive even in a shady spot during our cooler summer.  It has bolted almost immediately. 

 The work of emotional intelligence can guide us toward changing dysfunctional thought patterns that hamper our ability to bounce back from life’s changes and challenges.

How resilient are we to the hardships of life?  Can we  appreciate our daily annoyances and smaller challenges for the gift they may offer? 

© 2014 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Maybe Training isn't the Answer. Have you considered "Dynamic Faciliation?"

Dynamic facilitation is a structured discussion that sees all team members as having valuable insight into their complex challenges. The simple but powerful format allows old gridlocks and frustrations to be acknowledged and released. The process can help groups arrive together at creative, practical, and elegant solutions to challenging issues.

Does your team have an issue that could benefit from a facilitated discussion?

Thanks to Jim Rough for this great image.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fun team building events from The Leader's Institute!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Are you speaking with clarity?

Fewer words often lead to better communication.
Consider these word counts!

— Pythagorean Theorem = 24 words
— The 10 Commandments = 179 words
— The Gettysburg Address = 286 words
— The Declaration of Independence = 1,300 words
— U.S. Government regulations on the sale of cabbage = 26,911 words!

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Tension is who you think you should be. 
Relaxation is who you are.
~Chinese Proverb

Friday, March 7, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What is the difference between a dream and a goal?

Dreams can become goals once they're written down.  

Are you writing down goals to guide you?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

First skill of emotional intelligence -- Self Awareness

“Without self-awareness, you cannot understand your strengths and weaknesses, your ‘super
powers’ versus your ‘kryptonite,’  It is self-awareness that allows the best business-builders to
walk the tightrope of leadership: projecting conviction while simultaneously remaining
humble enough to be open to new ideas and opposing opinions.”
--Anthony K. Tjan, “How Leaders Become Self-Aware,” Harvard Business Review, HBR Blog
Network, July 19, 2012.  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Listening with Empathy speeds up Problem Solving

In our frantic "every second counts" world, taking a moment to listen empathetically can seem unnecessary or a poor use of time.  But empathetic listening can save time.  When people believe that we truly understand their frustrations, they stop repeating themselves,  trying to "make us understand."

As we listen empathetically, we acknowledge what we hear -- both verbal and nonverbal messages.

Try an experiment.  Listen deeply (especially if someone is upset) and watch for subtle (or sometimes large) shifts in the conversation.  Voices raised in anger (a symptom of trying to be heard) often soften to normal levels.  The speaker (a customer, colleague, spouse, or child) may stop repeating their complaint and move from being stuck in the problem to focusing on solutions.    © 2013 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Friday, December 20, 2013

Don't look Down. Can you guess the 5 statements that customers hate?

That's not my job.

I don't know.

That's our policy.  Sorry.

I'm not allowed to do that.

You'll have to come back later when someone can help you.

Customers love initiative, creativity, and caring.  Even if we can't solve the problem, we can make a commitment to find the answer or the person who can help them.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why Don't We Study This in School?

 George has 3 dollars   $$$
-If Rick takes 2 dollars  $$
How will George feel??

Empathy is one of the most vital skills in Emotional Intelligence and it is a skill that can be learned.  Like math, it must be practiced to gain mastery.  We can cultivate empathy on a daily basis by imaging and observing how others feel.

Friday, November 8, 2013

More on building empathy

This video is amazing.  Sometimes sad but incredibly powerful and a great reminder of building empathy.  Designed for healthcare providers, this can be a reminder to imagine the experience of your customers.