Archive for the ‘Difficult People’ Category

#43 House Selling and Cleaning

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

So I’ve never been a neat person. I like clean but as far as things on the counter, beds unmade,  clothes unfolded, that’s okay with me. I have always had better things to do. I know it’s all in our priorities, and mine were never on an immaculate house.

Well now we are selling our home, have it staged and it must be show-home ready in one hour, I’m finding that there are some quick tricks to keeping it tidy. No more eat something and put it away later. “Do it now” is my motto.  Before my poor husband is out of bed I’m making it and punching the pillows to make them plump and eye-catching.

“No, don’t sit on the bed!!!” I scream. “It will wrinkle.” “What you want another shower?” “Okay you did run the marathon this morning and are a little stiff, but don’t leave water marks and heaven help you if you forget to squeegie off the tiles .” I think he wonders where his wife went.

I’m hoping these new habits stay with me in a little less intense way when we get to our new home. I do like the look of the house when I come in. I certainly use my time differently now. No baking – it’s way too messy -  again my husband isn’t happy, but more time for shining and polishing. I even ironed the drapes!!! Besides we didn’t need the calories in those brownies or cookies.

I’m doing things differently and it is rather interesting how detail-oriented I can be, when I have to be. No more chat, I’ve got to run and shine up the bathrooms!!!

#42 Communication Self Talk Personal Motto

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

When things go wrong, what’s the first thing that pops into your head? Is it “I don’t get paid enough to put up with this?” Or “Why me?” We all have a personal motto, just that most of us haven’t said it aloud. Does it serve you or sabotage you? It might be something hanging on your fridge or it might be in your daytimer or even your screen saver.

Your self-talk can hurt or harm you if you continue to keep it negative. Switch it around with something like “This too shall pass.” Or my personal favorite “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.”

Whether it is a cranky boss, miserable co-worker, aging parent, difficult child or spouse or nasty neighbor, what you say in your head will dictate the kind of day you have. Have some fun and ask others what their motto is. Post it where you see it and reframe your days.

Keep your self-talk postive. Would you say the nasty things you say toyourself to others? Of course not. Be kind to yourself.

 

#41The Sandwich Generation – Egg Salad Squashed!

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Caregiving for aging parents, babysitting grandchildren, getting a house we’ve lived in for over 36 years ready to sell and buying a condo apartment had me feeling rather squashed last week. I understood I was a prime candidate for a sandwich generation photo option.

I loved every minute of each adventure it’s just that as I age I’m not quite as resilient as I used to be. Add in a few unexpected mini crisis and there are not enough hours in the day to complete needed tasks.

The question became, how to pick and choose and still feel good.  When I was honest with myself, I could elimnate some of the things like make my bed, cook from scratch and vacuum. So I  made a list, checked it twice and priorotized.  I stopped using drastic words like horrible, worst, never and I began to reframe my self-talk. It wasn’t the worst day of my life, it was an amazing day where I could see two of our grandchildren plus my parents all in one day. Once this was done I smiled, counted my blessings and carried on.

The grandchildren were a much needed tonic as little arms squeezed me tight, I had a great visit with my parents when I dropped off the medicine that was needed immediately and you know what? Our house is still here, needing a little tender loving cleaning care. It will happen…. When I’m ready.

So I poured myself another cup of coffee, sat down and admired the snow capped Rockies and the magpies chatting in our mature trees. This was a good day. A busy day and very good.

#39 Reframe, Change How You Think, Confront Problems

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Sometimes we wonder why we are doing so many things. Does anyone notice or care? Often this happens as we become more and more tired.

Has anything I’ve done today made life better for another human being? These are questions we might ask ourselves as we are trying to fall alseep.

Falling asleep? Who can do that easily with so many  ‘little nasty voices’ circulating in your brain. It’s time to reframe those thoughts. How can you make an idea or thought into a postive instead of a negative?

It’s takes mental elbow grease to change how you think. As soon as you hear a negative thought coming into your head, stop and ask yourself “Is this true?” Often we exaggerate. Then state what is true and do it in a positive manner.

“I’m so tired because I did all the work to make that presentation happen” might become “Isn’t it lucky I could do the work to make that presentation so successful.” or “Why does the boss always ask me to do the crappy jobs?” might become “The boss must really trust my ability to ask me to get these things done.”

Instead of fretting about what is happening, if you can do something about it make a plan. If you can not do anything, let it go.Think about a balloon filled with helium and release it into a clear blue sky. Don’t let it clutter your brain and poison your thougths.

If you are making a plan, think it through, run it by a trusted colleague, practise what you are going to say out loud and when you are confident, talk to the person. Be thoughtful as you plan. Keep your thoughts to two or three key points. NO MORE! Keep it brief or they will give you grief!!!

No one is mind reader. So if you are unhappy, you must let the person know. If you present your thoughts in a non-confrontational, honest, caring and short way, the person will listen and try to understand. Try it today!

 

 

#37 Stressed, Tired and Unhappy At Work?

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

“It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.”

Mary O’Connor, Romance Writer

I love quotes that make me laugh. That’s exactly what the one above did for me and then… it gave me a slap upside the head. Why are so many people SO busy and SO stressed and SO tired?  And why are other people, who are just as busy, happy and content?

I wonder if some aren’t like the mosquito, sucking all the blood out of others by negative attitudes and never looking within, for answers or help. If we keep pointing at others and pointing out how they are upsetting us, we will never stop and take an honest look at ourselves.

Do most of your sentences start with ‘but’?  Get rid of that word. Catch yourself and substitute the word ‘and’.  If ‘but’ is in your self-talk you might be using it to make excuses for your own behaviour.. ‘But he never listens to my ideas’. “But I was hurt at my last job, that’s why I won’t try again.”

How do you speak to yourself? Are you looking for trouble before it happens? Are you blaming the past? Are you setting yourself up for failure? If we keep enough negative words circling in our heads we become like the mosquito. People see us coming and they wish they could reach for the spray.

If you find yourself making sweeping negative comments, stop and ask yourself, ‘Is this true’, ‘what is true’. Those two phrases will help you reframe your thinking. Often we use phrases like ‘he ALWAYS’, or ‘she NEVER’, when in fact if you ask yourself ‘what is true’ the situation is far less earth-shattering.

When dealing with difficult people, we are told to ask questions for clarification. ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Why do you say that?’ Perhaps it’s time to point your finger back at yourself and ask yourself those same questions.

Learn to listen to yourself and think about what messages you are sending before you start to judge others. Ask yourself, ‘are you a bee or a mosquito’?

Joan Craven’s bookGot It! 21 Communication Tips for Busy People is available on Amazon and as a Kindle.

 

#34 Got It! Lower the Bar on Expectations for Family Caregiving

Friday, June 1st, 2012

When I wrote my book Got It! I put in a chapter titled Lower the Bar about lowering expectations of ourselves. So often we expect so much  of ourselves we are constantly disappointed because we have not achieved our goals.

I have decided it’s time to lower the bar with regard to our expectations of our aging parents. When we do, our life will become easier.

As I thought about my own parents and my husbands parents (who are now deceased) I decided that part of the issue we “children” have when we interact with our parents is we are not lowering the bar in our expectations of them.  They were our caregivers and were selfless and always available.

Now they often need our support. The relationship changes. For children, most of us in our 50s and 60s, it becomes a time when we sometimes  feel helpless and hopeless.

We don’t want to take away their dignity and yet in some cases we must make difficult and unpopular decisions. We don’t want to see them struggle and yet sometimes they must. We don’t want to see them slowing down, and yet that is a natural part of aging. Sometimes our parents say and do things that embarrass us.

I say it’s time we lower the bar with regard to our expectations. When I think about the way I felt at 40 and now as I near 60, I’ve slowed down.  Add 20 or 30 years and I expect I’ll be checking my door lock three or four times, repeating stories and digging through my pruse, for what seems likes hours, to find the correct change.

When at a restaurant I will most likely say something inappropriate in a loud voice and take my time choosing from the menu.  My kids might say I do it now! So, as a caregiver, we have to lower our expectations.

Yes our relationship changes, yes things take more time, yes we wish things were different – I know my parents wish things were different now too! So now  I give myself a stern talking to and say good enough is good enough.

We will do one errand instead of three. We can take our time at a restaurant and when I look around I see that no one else seems upset that there is loud talk or the odd comment that seems a little off. It’s obviously my issue.

So instead of expecting things to get better or go back to the way they were, I am enjoying this governor that helps me slow down too. I am learning lessons on how I want to be when I reach 80 or 90.

Once we switch our expectations to be real ,and lower the bar,  life is much less stressful.

I take time to enjoy my time with my parents and can smile at the “new” experiences I’m having. Instead of taking on volunteer work, I consider the time I spend with them my volunteer commitment.  What a lucky person I am to have such a great volunteer job. It makes it easier to say no the requests I get to help out somewhere.

I often ask myself, will it matter in 5 minutes, 5 weeks or 5 months and if it does not, I build a bridge and get over it.

What a gift I’ve been given to be able to spend this time with my parents who cared so well for me all these past years. I’m thankful for each new experience.

 

I Got It! #30 Would You Like Shorter Meetings?

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

If so, cut yourself off. Too often we go on and on thinking the more information we give, the more the person will understand or want. (more…)

I Got It! #26 Would You Like to Reframe and Listen to Your Self Talk?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

I had an interesting chat with Erica Jefferson, host of Be Inspired,  in mid June about the power of words in communication. Do you listen to what you are saying to yourself? Are you striving for perfection, when good enough is good enough? As the summer winds up, you might like to hear a portion of the interview.

Just click on the following link:

Joan on Be Inspired radio show June 16, 2011

I want to thank Erica Jefferson for having me on her radio show – Be Inspired.

I Got It! #25 Sharpen Your Listening Skills

Friday, July 29th, 2011

When I hear clients recounting negative interactions with others I often say, when in doubt, say nothing. When upset it is best to listen and before answering or commenting, think before you speak. As many before have said, “you can’t regret something you haven’t said.”  When you do speak, think about your body language, your tone and then the actual words.

Saying ‘should have’, ‘can’t because’ you never’ or ‘you always’ will lead you down a path that is not good for your soul or your career. Each day we make a choice about how we will communicate. Only you have that power. Use it wisely.

Remember what Abraham Lincoln said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

I Got It! #24 Can’t Get A Direct Answer? Quick Communication Tips

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Doesn’t it drive you crazy when people won’t give you a direct answer? People who use noncommittal language such as ‘perhaps’, ‘maybe’ or ‘sometime’ are often avoiding being honest. For the receiver of the message you don’t get closure or direction. What can you do? Try phrases like “When you say ‘maybe’ what exactly do you mean?”  They may hedge so ask another more specific question like, ” What conditions would need to be met for you to be able to say yes?”  or “When you say ‘perhaps’ you are telling me you haven’t come to a decision yet.  Am I correct?” Then  you could say ” When will you be ready to decide?” or “What will it take for you to decide?” Then stop talking, look the person in the eye and wait for an answer.

The most difficult part is to wait for an answer. Sometimes if the person says “I don’t know” you can look at them and say “what would the answer be if you did know?” Your face must match your concern for an honest answer. While not perfect, I’ve tried this and it often works. Good luck!