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Back to work – shiny shoes, sharpened pencils and a raised eyebrow

Among people’s concerns about going back to the office are: • Will my work clothes fit? • Will proper shoes give me blisters? • Do I really have to shower EVERY DAY! Of course, these are trivial and amusing but let’s make no mistake, FORTO (Fear of Returning to the Office) is real. Some are dreading the commute, others an oppressive corporate culture of presenteeism. And let’s not even think about all those lockdown puppies…… Very many people, though, have experienced the limitations of remote working: • Relationships are harder to manage (whether with more senior or more junior colleagues)…

Don’t fear failure, sing it out loud

Stuart the examiner looked slightly bemused when I walked in the room for my grade 3 singing exam. All the other candidates were under 10 years old. I was way out of my comfort zone. As was Stuart when I started belting out ABBA’s Thank You For The Music! But actually, part of the reason for doing the exam was to push myself into unfamiliar territory. To experience discomfort. Because what we know to be true is that going through hardship makes us stronger, more resilient and better able to deal with difficulties in the future. Robert Glazer writes about…

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Don’t make a drama out of small talk….

The Importance of Small Talk – Act one, scene one EXT. CLAPHAM JUNCTION TRAIN STATION, PLATFORM 9, EARLY MORNING Jayne notices a poster about loneliness. It’s a cartoon image of two people sitting on a bench. In front of them, on the ground, there’s a cute bird. In a speech bubble, one person says to the other, “did you see that?”. The caption suggests that people are missing out on moments of human connection because we’re on our ‘phones all the time and therefore not noticing what’s in front of us. Jayne smiles knowingly. Act one, scene two EXT. A…

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I don’t want to talk to my daughter but I must …….

One day soon I need to have a chat with my 16 year old daughter about sex, pornography, coercion and consent. The ongoing ‘Everyone’s Invited’ issue has propelled this topic on to our family radar. As tricky conversations go, I think you’ll agree that this is up there with the most challenging. I don’t want to do it but I will because the potential consequences of avoiding it far outweigh the embarrassment we will both experience. Coincidentally, I ran a training session yesterday with 100 graduates from a global bank, and one of the areas they wanted to explore was,…

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How to speak confidently when you don’t know what you’re talking about…

By way of preparation for every training session, I ask attendees to share with me their strengths and weaknesses, as communicators. The issue which comes up time and time again is this – “I’m ok when I know the material well but I really lack confidence when I’m not so sure about the content”. This lack of confidence manifests itself in a number of ways – a hesitant tone of voice; lack of eye contact; fidgeting; a high-speed delivery and lack of pauses (lest someone should jump in to ask a question); apologetic language (especially at the beginning). And then…

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