Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

Cracking the Diversity Code with Gillian Keating

June 2, 2018

Gillian Keating - I WISH

Greg had the pleasure recently of chatting with a great friend of Fuzion’s, Gillian Keating and capturing this for an episode of our Win Happy podcast.

Gillian, a Partner with RDJ Solicitors and a former President of Cork Chamber is a true ground breaker.

She was the first female President of Cork Chamber, a role that she fully embraced and from there she went on to make even more impact as one of the founders of the I WISH diversity programme.

I WISH was founded to address the low levels of women participating in STEM by targeting transition year students and encouraging them to consider careers in the relevant disciplines.

In the podcast Greg chats with Gillian about the value of hard work, coping with disappointments, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, gender equality, diversity and “Cracking the Cork Code“.

I hope you enjoy the show!

Click here to listen to the show

Fuzion Win Happy podcast thumbnail

Dee

Deirdre Waldron - Network Ireland PresidentDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

We need to talk about…abortion

April 25, 2018

lets talk about it

The Belfast rape trial inspired a national conversation. The debate evolved from the trial to the verdict to how sex education is taught in our schools.

Almost everyone had a view.

Not everyone agreed with each other, but at least – or at least in my opinion, the majority of people listened to each other with a modicum of respect.

In one month, the Irish electorate will go to the polls to vote in arguably one of the most divisive referenda has ever held.

While the conversation in print, on air, and online is in full flow, I wonder is that same conversation happening among our friends and families? And if it isn’t, why isn’t it?

There are many, on both sides of the argument, completely convinced body and soul, that they are 100% right in their views. But are we in danger of underestimating the amount of people that remain undecided and uncertain and afraid to have a conversation about their uncertainty for fear they’ll alienate…or be alienated?

On May 25th you have an opportunity to shape the outcome of this referendum.

If you’ve already decided how you’ll vote, be gentle with your views and opinions as not everyone will share your point of view, but that doesn’t mean their opinions hold less weight than yours.

Listen with grace and empathy, even if the opposing view is unpalatable, and completely foreign to you – no one ever won hearts and minds by shouting the other side down.


Between now and May 25th, you have a chance to be part of a national conversation – and by voting, you’ll play an active part in the outcome.

On May 26th, we’ll know the outcome of this referendum, and our nation as we know it will be a changed one…for better or for worse.

Be part of that change.

Alison Nulty, Fuzion CommunicationsAlison

Alison Nulty, of Fuzion Communications is a Senior PR Account Manager, Media Trainer and part of the Crisis PR team.

How to Achieve your Goals in 2018

January 3, 2018

Design a Life you Love - Ciara Conlon

This year we will feature some guest bloggers on the Fuzion Communications blog, so we are starting with the fantastic and very lovely Ciara Conlon, who as well as being an author, is just brilliant at making people more productive and feeling much more fulfilled in their lives.

She has a gorgeous approach to Productivity Coaching, which we like to describe as ‘Positive Productivity‘ as its focus is about a better life for you.

Ciara refers to this as ‘Designing your life‘ ….very clever!

Over to Ciara..

Over the next few days and weeks most of us will start to think about change, about giving up bad habits and creating new positive habits.

Traditionally at New Year we think about how this year can be different, we are filled with hope, optimism and excitement.

Unfortunately the statistics for New Year Resolution success is poor.

Apparently only 18% of people succeed with their New Year’s Resolutions, but rather than focus on the negative statistic, what can we learn from the 18% of people who do achieve there goals each year?

1. They Understand the Need for Goals

We need goals if we are to achieve anything outside our normal routine, we need goals to inspire and motivate us and give us direction.

Without them our future is not within our own control, we leave our future to fate.

Being aware of what needs to improve, is the only way that you can consciously make improvements.

Life is a journey that we can only strive to make better, daily, little by little.

Asking yourself a few key questions might help you to focus on areas to improve or change:

  • Are you wasting time doing things that don’t need to be done, or perhaps you are trying very hard and not getting the results that you had hoped for?
  • What can you do to make next year better?
  • What do you really want, but struggle to achieve every year?
  • What would you like to change about yourself?

These answers can be the starting point for setting your goals and they will give you a guideline if you don’t know where to start and help you to get clear about what it is you want to change.

2. They set Motivating Goals that they really want

It might seem pretty obvious but so many people are unclear about what they really want to change.

They set the same goals every year, the same goals as everybody else. Their new year goals become the desires of the masses rather than the needs of the one.

Do you really want to start in the gym on the 1st of January or would you like to start planning a new business or becoming more creative?

The reason why people fail is because they halfheartedly set goals for themselves focused on the things that they know they should be doing.

The problem is a lot of goals that people set don’t actually excite them or at least they haven’t found the motivation in these goals to go out and achieve them.

A goal needs to excite and motivate you – while pounding the pavement might never excite you, the idea of a strong healthy body in your skinny jeans might just do the job!

3. They Start Small

If you try to change everything at once you are setting yourself up for failure.

The key to positive change is to change one thing at a time – Master one habit before moving on to the next.

Charles Duhigg, author of the ‘The Power of Habit’ suggests we focus on what he calls keystone habits. In his book he explains the concept of keystone habits, that when focused on they have a positive and empowering effect.

Keystone habits don’t create a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but they can spark “chain reactions that help other good habits take hold“.

If you master the habit of running you can be guaranteed you will naturally start adopting other habits such as drinking more water and eating healthier. When you master the habit of rising early you will find it so much easier to meditate, journal etc.

These keystone habits are the ones to focus on, others include, family dinners, making your bed in the morning, meditation and planning your day.

So if you plan on making a change this year it may be a good idea to focus on one of these life changing ‘keystone habits’.

4. They Believe they can

Are you one of those people who reluctantly takes on a new habit?

Do you say you are going to do it but inside you don’t really believe it?

A lot of people have set themselves up for failure before they have even started – Deep down they don’t believe they can do it.

Your beliefs will generally determine the outcome so don’t waste your time if you don’t really believe it can be done.

So many people set the goal of losing weight every January but they feel so negative about the goal because they have tried so many times before and failed, that they don’t really believe they will do it.

If this is the case for you the first thing you must consider is, are you doing the same things time after time and failing?

Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity; doing the same things and expecting different results – what do you need to do differently this year?

If the goal is something you do really want, and you don’t understand why you can’t make it work, ask a close friend why they think you haven’t yet achieved your goal, and most importantly be willing to listen to the answer!

5. They are resilient

Successful people in general understand that failure is part of life.

They understand that on the road to getting what they want there will be potholes and barriers, but they stay with it.

Success takes determination and persistence.

The key to reaching your goals is to promptly get up each time you fall down. Try to preempt the challenges and plan for them, but if you fail, accept it quickly and move on.

It’s really important that you don’t waste time dwelling on the negative.

Monitor your thoughts and make sure you speak to yourself with encouragement rather than condemnation – Forgive yourself and move on.

It is your life and your responsibility to make it a good one, and with a little bit of focus and effort you can create the life you have always dreamed of.

Why not become the designer of your life in 2018?

Ciara Conlon

Ciara Conlon is a Productivity Coach and Motivational Speaker and respected thought leader working with individuals and organisations transforming behaviours in order to create more productive and happier people and workplaces.

You can find out more at www.ciaraconlon.com or on her Facebook page

Ciara will be running an evening event on January 25th in Wood Quay Venue, in Dublin called “Design a Life you Love”

A special “two for the price of one” offer is available until January 7th.

 

I had a great year because….

January 2, 2018

Visualisation

For the last few years I have been doing this simple little exercise at the start of the year to help me get focused around things that are important both personally and professionally.

I have found it to be really useful and it has made a big difference and as I look back at last year I can see the things that I have achieved as a result of this focus. In Fuzion we also ask all of the team to do this – it is really important to us that everyone in the team achieves their own personal and career goals.

Making plans and actually achieving them is always challenging and at the start of the year we find ourselves at the start of that loop all over again making promises that often will never materialise!

Benjamin Zander - The Art of PossibilityA few years ago I was inspired by a book about goal setting in a different way called “The Art of Possibility” by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander (a really interesting motivational book by the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and his wife who is an executive coach).

Benjamin Zander, the conductor has the task every year of bringing out the very best from a large group of very talented musicians for his orchestra.

His approach is rooted in the power of visualisation – the simple idea behind this is that if you visualise what you want to achieve then there is a much better chance of it actually happening (disbelievers ….stop reading now !!)

This is my approach to his great idea to tap into all of Your Possibilities..

Take a quiet few moments so you can concentrate with a blank sheet of paper and a pen and do some visualisation – Take a few deep breaths and relax and close your eyes.

Now imagine the last working day of this year, just before you head out the door to do some last minute shopping and enjoy a well-earned rest. You are feeling really satisfied as you reflect on your fantastic achievements during the year. Some of these were personal things and some of these were professional things – you are feeling great!

Now open your eyes and start writing:

I had a great year because ….

Now off you go and list the things that will make this year a great one for you:.

Take your time and be as specific as you can including all of those business and personal goals that will give you that huge sense of satisfaction on that last work day.

Now you need to study this list and start figuring out how you can make this list come to life.

Put your piece of paper in a safe place so that you can refer to it throughout the year to make sure your wish list stays on track.

Enjoy realising all of your possibilities..

Happy New Year

This clip of Benjamin Zander is really motivational and well worth watching.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Gina London: How some RESOLVE can go a long way to making this year a great one

January 2, 2018

Janus - Greek God

January is named for the Roman god Janus.

He was the god of doors and gates. The guardian of entrances and exits. Of beginnings and endings. Of time and transitions. Ancient marble sculptures depict him with a double-faced head – one looking back and the other looking forward.

And here we are at the beginning of another January. Another new year. Another new beginning. And with it, another opportunity to make a New Year’s resolution.

The first time I remember ringing in the New Year, I was nine. The week after Christmas my parents had driven with my little brother and sister and me to a self-catering hotel in Florida to escape our Indiana snow. Dad announced that, for the first time, we kids could officially ring in the New Year at midnight.

We were so excited about the prospect of staying up late that we dashed into our little kitchen to gather pots and pans as makeshift drums and assorted spoons as drumsticks. Provisional instruments assembled, we paraded around the place – loudly proclaiming our enthusiasm.

As you might expect, this drove my mom crazy. She urged my dad to pretend midnight arrived a few hours early. But he honoured his word to his offspring and we all saw it through to the bitter end. Or beginning.

The next morning, when I woke up, I expected to feel completely different. It was the dawn of the new year. The sun should be shining brighter or something, shouldn’t it?

I remember how surprised I was that I was just the same. I was disappointed.

Then my mom told me I could make a resolution.

An outward pronouncement that something different is going to happen in the new year. Something that I had the power to change.

To this day, I love the prospect of making New Year’s resolutions.

I know, I know..

There are basically two types of people in the world – those who make New Year’s resolutions and those who make fun of the people who do.

We’re creatures of habit, so naturally change is hard.

You can frame your resolve with the word itself: RESOLVE

Reflect:

Before you decide what your New Year’s goal should be, act like one of Janus’s faces and look back. It’s helpful to review your year. Don’t dwell on the negative things, but do reflect upon what you’ve achieved.

I’ll bet each of you have something to be proud of. Maybe you didn’t win ‘Salesperson of the Year‘. But did you enter?

By just how much did you miss the mark? Maybe you didn’t lose 10 kilos, but did you join a gym? How many times did you go? Reflecting will help you adjust your strategy and behaviour to take another move ahead.

Examine:

Why are you preparing to make a resolution? Whatever you decide, it should come from you, not from real or perceived pressure of an employer or loved one. If you personally don’t really want to make a change, then you won’t.

Specify:

‘Losing weight’ is consistently the number one resolution people cite. But that’s so vague.

One of the main reasons people don’t achieve their resolutions, is they’re not narrowly defined. Do you mean one kilo or one stone? You need to write down a specific and realistic goal, so you can measure your success. Imagine how impossible “I’m never eating Cadburys again” sounds.

Instead, get real and try: “I’ll limit myself to three chocolates a week.

Outline:

Now that you’ve defined your goal, list each of the incremental changes you will need to make to support it. For instance, I know I won’t go to the gym unless it’s the first thing of the day. So, I would list ‘set my alarm an hour earlier’ as I outline my steps towards losing those last stubborn five pounds.

Link:

Find someone who will help motivate you or hold you accountable. Or both. Linking up with another person or maybe even a group of people is a big key to resolution success.

Value:

How much do you value yourself?

A lot,” you might quickly answer. But, then why are so many of us already convinced we won’t see our resolutions through?

Many of us are way too hard on ourselves. That’s another reason people don’t keep resolutions.

Just because you ate 10 chocolates this week, doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel on the whole year. Forgive yourself and get back at it. You’re not perfect. None of us are. But if you value yourself and your goal, you must keep going.

Evaluate:

Schedule time on your calendar at regular intervals to take stock of your progress. Don’t wait until the following December. Try every couple of weeks or once a month. Target quarterly milestones to track your progress. Don’t forget.

The Romans believed Janus would forgive them their mistakes and shortcomings over the past year.

You can take today to forgive others as well as yourself. The Romans also asked Janus to bless them and help them with their goals for the new year. While Janus may not be the one helping you, it’s also time for you to make some serious plans.

January is upon us – Like Janus, let us contemplate our past achievements while anticipating success in our future efforts.

Happy New Year. Put your resolve into action!

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

Tackling that age-old question in our modern marketplace

November 27, 2017

Old and young

When it comes to age, I’m a firm proponent of “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.

Recently a journalist who was interviewing me asked me my age. I get it.

I used to be a newspaper reporter and I know it’s traditional to write, “So-and-so, age blah-blah, did fill-in-the-blank.” But I also know it’s not a hard and fast rule.

There are plenty of stories these days that don’t include a person’s age. Therefore, I politely said to the reporter, “I prefer not to give the number as it’s not germane to the story.

She accepted that and the story was printed no problem.

Likewise, if you’re in the jobs market and are of a certain age, you may find yourself struggling to overcome other people’s preconceived notions around your particular number.

Unless you’re a 102-year-old who swam the English Channel or a 12-year-old who graduated from university, age shouldn’t be the leading factor.

1 Stop referencing your age

At an event, a very lovely female participant came up to me and complimented my shoes. Then she lamented,”When I was your age, I could wear heels. But it’s been forever.

Another time, I heard a man say to colleagues at a project meeting, “Give that task to Peter. I’m too old.

How often do you reference your age? How often do you draw unnecessary attention to the distance between your age and that of your audience?

At first glance this might seem aimed at older folks. But the same goes for younger folks too. The whole, “Oh, I wasn’t even born back then” crowd.

It’s fine to talk about age with your best friend, but if you want to stay vigorous or be taken seriously in the workplace, then cease your own ageism. You might be your worst enemy.

Interviewers aren’t allowed to ask you your age. So, don’t out yourself.

Sure, put your universities and degrees on your CV. Just don’t put the dates.

2 Mine your contacts

A reader from western Ireland wrote to me saying he’s a 64-year-old former sales professional frustrated because he hasn’t found work in four years.

He’s convinced his age is part of the reason his CVs are not getting traction. He says he’s sent out more than 200 of them over the years but landed nothing.

But he also tells me that in four years he has probably only reached out to ‘two or three’ of his former contacts. So, I am working with him to strengthen his strategy.

Think about the wide-range of people you have met over the years. Talk to them. Ask them for people you can call. Cold resumes don’t result in jobs nearly as much as warm referrals do.

3 Mix it up

In addition to tapping into your friends and contacts from throughout your career, you can also network with people younger than you. Is there a business incubator you can join? Is there a project they’re working on that could benefit from your experience?

You might want to think less about a full-time job and more about piecing together consulting work.

4 Power up your profile

You don’t have to have a zillion followers, but, you should immediately set up a LinkedIn profile and a Twitter account. We can chat Facebook and Instagram and whatever else later. For now, let’s focus on these two.

First, I recommend Canva.com to create a polished header for your social media accounts. Then you should spend some time crafting words about you and your experience that are strong, punchy and engaging.

Also be sure to Google professionals you admire to see what they’re doing.

Don’t completely plagiarise, but do borrow ideas, formatting and/or a few keywords from others. Don’t be afraid to be creative. You can always adjust your copy.

But if you write the same old, same old, you’ll sound the same as everyone else and, well, “old”.

In short, if you’re not online, you’re not relevant.

5 Shape up

If you’re not eating right and exercising regularly, do not blame your age alone for gaining weight. Your physical health is connected to your mental health.

This is a scientific fact and it’s also the perception of many potential employers.

The more fit you are physically, the more you will be perceived as someone who is fit for the job.

The same goes for your wardrobe and grooming. Wear something sharp and current. And for heaven’s sake, if you have hair growing out of your ears, get rid of it!

We can be put in a box once our number becomes the lead of our story.

Like, “She looks great for 45….” Or “He appears much younger than 50….

Whose opinions are these? Why can’t it just be, “You’re doing great“, period? It can.

A 65-year-old client of mine, who is right on top of each of my suggestions, told me this week that a friend of his remarked, “I have never seen you have so much energy!

That’s a great report. And it can be yours too. Your experience combined with applying these strategies actively will make it so.

Is your age holding back your career?

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

Millennials -The Good, The Bad, and The Selfies

November 8, 2017

Millennials are a generation of lazy, entitled, fame obsessed, technology worshiping, narcissists.

Sound about right?

Baby Boomers out there, think we (yes, I am one of “the” M crew) have been handed life and its obstacles on a silver platter, meaning we have grown up with a sense of entitlement, brought up to believe that we deserve the best (even when we don’t) and crave praise and attention, all of the time!

Subsequently, it is not difficult to see why we are stereotyped as lazy, entitled and selfish.

But to you, the Baby Boomers reading this, shocked at the expectations and entitlements of my generation, you may also be shocked to learn, we are not all that different after all.

Now as we fast forward ten, fifteen years, Millennials have the same high expectations in the workplace. But what is so wrong with having confidence in yourself and your work?

It is not that we, as Millennials, have created a revolution in workplace and life expectations, but rather evolved to this world of abundance. We have not developed new personality traits from Baby Boomers when they were our age. Most teenagers and young adults, from any era compared to their parents, are selfish, can be lazy, and at the very least narcissistic, now and again.

Baby Boomers say we are consumed by social media. We check our phones, at minimum, once every hour. But how many times a day do you check your email? Now I can hear you say in that voice at the back of your head “But emails are far more important that social media”. Are they?

I believe we are evolving to the point now that they are both equally as important (especially in the world of PR).

And just think what if the world of technology had evolved a generation earlier? Is it possible that Baby Boomers would have been just as social media obsessed as us? We didn’t choose this life, but rather it was selected for us by Apple, Samsung, and Facebook, and we simply evolved and adapted.

So what can we bring to the world of PR?

We know Millennials don’t see technology and social media as a chore but rather part of their everyday routine being switched on and connected, close to 24 hours a day.

We are a troop of networkers, ready to shout and scream to get our message across. We want to work hard, make a difference for our clients and reap the results, even if that does mean sharing it on Insta Stories, Facebook posts, Snap Stories, Tweets, and the list goes on.

As a generation, we don’t have high levels of respect for authority. But because we don’t respect authority we don’t resent it, and therefore we feel as if we can approach and create relationships with our leaders.

We are a generation of dreamers, meaning we are optimistic, thinkers, and life hackers.

We inspire and find new ways to deal with on-going issues. We believe that we can in fact “change the world” and want to bring your business to the next level. We stand up and combat the stereotypes by continuing to show up to work with enthusiasm and ambition.Actions speak louder than words after all!

Let’s not forget that Baby Boomers, you too were a problematic generation, and you turned out alright.

Didn’t you?

Blaithín

Blaithín Gallagher is a PR intern with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Time to stop playing politics

October 31, 2017

Jeff Flake speech

In the earlier part of my career as an accountant I used to hear people talk about “Being Political” and naively I never quite got what it meant.

Did it mean being sneaky, being dishonest, playing silly buggers instead of just doing your job?

I never quite got it, and I did think that, if it did exist it was something that happened in large organisations or literally in politics, where it sadly seemed to be a necessary part of that game.

As far as I was concerned. as long as I worked hard I would get ahead and there was no reason for me to believe that I needed to act otherwise.

I worked hard in a busy accountancy and management consultants office and progressed well. I worked hard in an American subsidiary of a multinational and progressed well. I worked hard in a subsidiary of Guinness and progressed well and I found myself promoted to the role of General Manager at the age of 28.

I could see “politics” happening externally around me but it was still a case of, work hard and you will always progress.

I then took up a role with the fantastic Guinness company in Dublin and six months later I discovered that my ‘hard work’ previously effective instrument was no longer sufficient to progress – I had to learn how to play politics to get on!

I never quite cracked this skill and while I had a fantastic time working at St.James Gate I can quite honestly admit that I never fulfilled my potential, even though I did learn a lot and make some contribution to the business.

I guess I was never the type that was suited to playing games and I guess this is why I was always suited to entrepreneurship, where you make your own bed and lie in it.

What does “being political” actually mean?

Being apolitical refers to situations in which people take an unbiased position in regard to a political matter.

I guess if you are being political it means you give up on your own views and principles, you take positions on things that are not yours to stay in some sort of favour with others, for some other benefit (a promotion, a raise maybe?).

Once this creeps in, as I saw in Guinness you never get to see all of the potential of the people there. Many will leave frustrated and those that stay will be the ones who are good at surviving in that environment. A lot of positive energy gets suppressed and the business never performs at the level that was possible.

At a certain point it is accepted that “this is the norm” and something bad creeps in forever.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake

I watched the speech last week given by Senator Jeff Flake of the Republican Party in the United States whereby he was declaring that he was ‘turning his back‘ on politics and not running again.

He used the words “the new normal” and how we must not let what is happening now become ‘the new normal‘.

If you listen to the content of his speech it is very interesting and quite sad with some very basic points, which illuminate how bad things have become when you ‘play politics‘ at the very highest level with the dangerous potential of affecting the whole world.

There are times when you must risk your career in favour of your principles” – the opposite is a scary place to be. Who are we if we don’t follow principles – do you want that person working with you?

We are all complicit when we don’t stand up when we know wrong things are happening” – this should be something basic you would want in everyone you work with.

The flagrant disregard for truth and decency“`- the new norm?

The reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons” – the schoolyard bully?

Heaven help us if this is politics as usual” – this feels like a huge cry for help and something higher to intervene

Reckless, outrageous and undignified behaviour has become excused as telling it as it is” – politics in all its glory

When this come from the top it is something else, it is dangerous to democracy

Our strength comes from our values” – the most powerful statement of all.

It is often said that children are watching” – We are setting an awful example for the next generation

Remaining silent and failing to act in fear of making enemies is dishonouring our principles” – Yep!

I think you get the idea…

If you want your business to flourish then be proactive about creating a culture that brings out the very best of people. and one where no one is afraid of speaking their mind in fear of the consequences.

Stop playing politics…

Well done to Jeff Flake for standing up to the biggest bully of them all, potentially the most powerful and most dangerous man in the world today, Donald Trump.

Check out the full speech by Jeff Flake, which already many are considering to be one of the most important of our age.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Gina London – The Message is clear: Soft skills are a critical part of success

September 3, 2017

Back to school

It’s back to school time for the kids!

While we prepare to deal with the school-run surge in morning traffic, my daughter Lulu and the rest of Ireland’s students are (blessedly) preparing to sling on their book bags again.

Which reminds me, I spoke last Tuesday to a high level group of HR directors from an assortment of top tech companies.

Why do these professionals remind me of schoolchildren? – because we grown-up employees have a lot in common with not-yet-grown-up pupils!

The HR directors shared some of the biggest issues employees say they’re facing.

Top concerns centered around well-being and communications. They’re connected – and they’re issues children face as well.

When I lived in Italy, Lulu went to Aliotti, the most progressive primary school in town.

There, under the guidance of director Donata Baroni and English instructor Pavlina Checcacci, students are taught so-called ‘soft-skills’ alongside other subjects as part of core curriculum.

You can’t teach only knowledge anymore,” Pavlina says. “Twenty years ago, you went to university and studied a subject like engineering. The methodologies didn’t change for about every 10 years. Now it’s every five years. So, when you get out of school, what you learned is already out of date. Today, we need people who can communicate. That makes the difference.

If two people have the same amount of knowledge, yet one also has soft skills and the other one does not, the difference in their success is significant. Your success in business starts in primary school,” Pavlina says.

Likewise, here in Ireland, John Doran, guidance counsellor at Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge, is championing his own approach called ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘, which, he says, “encourages students to adopt a growth mindset and to communicate with confidence“. It is currently being taught in 120 schools in Ireland and Europe. “If we don’t consciously teach young people to communicate, find their voice and create a literacy around emotional intelligence, we may end up with a generation in a fast-changing world that is unemployed, under-employed, or unemployable” John states.

Here in the business world, it’s high time to get serious about soft skills.

They’re not soft, they’re critical!

Let’s compare some student approaches to what we can do in our own professional lives:

1 Learn to give and receive constructive feedback

Here’s an example from Aliotti: Each child draws a picture. The artwork is put up on the wall. Each child is given a Post-it note and instructed to write one thing they like about the picture, one suggestion of what to do differently next time and then another thing they like.  The classic “compliment sandwich”.

At an early age and with a distinct twist, the children aren’t allowed to simply write something they “don’t like” in the middle. They must frame the criticism as a suggestion for the future.

Each artist reads the feedback aloud and thanks the writers.

This approach is structured and it’s a big deal – Imagine how more effective our business meeting debriefs would be if we had all learned, as children, how to organise our thoughts this way.

Productivity would surely increase if we spent less time getting personally offended and defensive from feedback. Learning not to punish the past but empower the future is a trademark of effective communicators.

2 Learn to work in groups

The HR directors who gathered at McKesson Cork’s remodelled offices, checked out the new “collaboration pods” – designed to get employees away from individual work stations and come together as teams.

More and more firms are updating work environments this way.

Similarly, John’s ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘ programme encourages group sharing for his students and Aliotti’s Pavlina says they’re committed to stop requiring children to work quietly alone.

When in your life will you sit in a room of 30 adults and not take opportunities to discuss things? We can’t prepare kids for a reality that doesn’t exist.”

3 Learn to be kind to others and yourself

Studies show the number one factor in team effectiveness is emotional sensitivity to the others.

Learning empathy is key because effective teams make sure everyone speaks and contributes to get a lot of ideas on the table and build consensus around the best idea.

‘Ways to Wellbeing’, stresses techniques to help develop more positive and constructive relationships. “We help them change their emotional state from one of fear and anxiety to one of effort and application” says John.

4 Learn how to learn from your mistakes

Aliotti concentrates less on grades and more on the process of problem-solving.

Pavlina puts it this way: “Life is all about the mistakes and errors and learning from them. So, we don’t just correct tests, we ask questions like ‘What did you do? Why did you do that? What can you do differently next time?’

We find the child who gets perfect grades and never makes mistakes may actually have difficulty as they get older. Children who learn how to try again and again may have an advantage.

Top university business schools like Stanford and Harvard are also adding highly interactive classes and exercises to develop these types of people to people skills. Your place of employment can introduce them too. After all, we’re all students in this school called life.

It’s time to learn soft!

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

It’s nice to be nice!

July 17, 2017

It’s nice to be nice..

I strongly believe in the saying ‘it costs nothing to be nice’. If we can all remind ourselves of this every so often it can have such a positive impact.

In today’s world, often it seems to be all money money money, but it’s the simple things that are free and can make all the difference. When people are nice towards one another we are much happier people.

I believe that you can never go wrong with being nice.

You often see and hear of heartwarming stories of people helping another person or carrying out a simple gesture and although it may seem small to you it can mean the world to the other person.

Sometimes being nice can come down to a little understanding.

Just take a second to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try and understand it from their perspective and as they say, treat others like you would like to be treated yourself.

Life is short so just be nice – you will be a better person for it.

Saidhbh Sweeney - Fuzion CommunicationsSaidhbh

Saidhbh Sweeney is a PR Executive with Fuzion Communications: PR, Marketing and Graphic Design


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