Linda’s Bookbag – and upcoming webinars!

Hello everyone,

August is upon us, soon to be followed by “back to school” (I’ve talked to some who are already there!), then the whirlwind of the holiday season and a brand-new year already.

This month, I’d like to share a book title that is almost two decades old – and although there are many great books on communication, the topic of listening is more important now than ever before. The book, “Listen Up,” by Larry Barker and Kittie Watson was published in 2000, almost in the last century! And yet, when I think of that book, I realize the art of listening has never been so sorely missing in our society as it is today.

We know there are many distractions that keep us from listening: we aren’t really all that interested in what someone is saying (!); we’re bored; the speaker intimidates us, so we can’t stay focused; our email alert just went off drawing our attention away; we don’t like the person speaking; the speaker’s vocal tone; we’ve already heard this story; we have a headache; it’s too hot – or too cold – to pay attention; or maybe a butterfly just flew by the window and mesmerized us…you get the idea. It can be tough to pay attention and actually listen.

In years past, one of the biggest reasons researchers found for why we didn’t listen well was that we were thinking about what we wanted to say. Even if we were trying to think of something that would make the person speaking more comfortable or bring them comfort over a sad or difficult situation, if we were thinking about something else, we couldn’t have been listening well. It was that simple. And it still is.

Sadly, though, there is a “new,” ubiquitous item that seems to have taken over every ounce of our listening skills. Want to guess what that is? Yep, it’s the “smart” phone, which can sometimes make us look anything but smart.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not sure I could live without my phone, especially when I travel. And I don’t even want to try. But I have been reading more and more research that asserts that our phones are decreasing our communication skills, including how well we listen. For example, a recent study by Qualtrics and Accel found that Millennials check their phones as much as 150 times a day. Why wouldn’t they? They are the epitome of digital natives and that seems as natural to them as speaking to someone they meet for lunch. Just three years ago, studies showed that people in that group checked their phones “only” 74 times a day. But those of us who aren’t Millennials aren’t off the hook, either. Other studies are showing that people of all ages are beginning to show signs of addiction to their phones. It’s tough to be a good listener if we constantly have our ears tuned to the dinging of a text message.

So let me ask you a ridiculous question. What would happen if we became addicted to really listening to others? Hearing the emotions – or the unspoken words – rather than just the noise coming at us from the other person? Do you think that might impact our relationships? Our workplaces? Our own thought processes and perspectives on our world?

I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t create some element of change in how we interact with others and I believe that change would be positive.

Whether you read the book or not, please consider how becoming a better listener could positively affect your life – and the lives of those around you. Becoming a better listener isn’t about agreeing with everything others say. It’s simply about…you know – listening to them!

And don’t forget to check PLAN’s training calendar. We’ve got some great webinars coming up for you in August:

  • August 14 – Cranky Coworkers and Other Difficult Behaviors
  • August 17 – How to Handle That Dreaded Discipline Problem
  • August 28 – Lessons for Lifelong Learning (part of the PLAN Library 101 Series)

And surprise! Becoming a better listener could help with every one of those topics.

Be sure to login and register for these August training sessions!

Hope to “see” you soon!

Linda

Linda’s Bookbag – and Upcoming Webinars!

Photo of a stack of books topped with a cup of teaHello everyone,

Wow – it’s hard to imagine that we are nearing the halfway point of the year! Time flies, as they say, and whether we are whining or winning as the days go by sometimes depends on our mindset.

And that’s exactly what I’d like to talk about this month. Mindset, a book by Carol S. Dweck, has over a million copies in print. So, I’m guessing there may be a lot of people who know they need to be aware of their own mindset – and many of us who may need some work in that area.

In the book, Carol talks about a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. I think we can all grasp that concept without a lot of explanation. Do you think things will always remain the same for you regarding what you are able to do or learn or are you continually looking for ways to grow? The tagline for the book is “How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential,” which definitely requires a growth mindset.

But I’d like to expand on the word “mindset” just a bit. A growth mindset is a worthy ideal as a long-term view for our entire lives, but what about that ol’ day-to-day grind we sometimes have to deal with? Life does happen, after all, and it can be challenging (and sometimes nearly impossible!) to keep focused on moving forward to fulfill our potential. There are times we need to just put one foot in front of the other and deal with whatever life brings our way in the moment.

We have a couple of webinars coming up in June that can help you in those areas. The first one I’d like to mention is one of my favorites (I know I say that about a lot of my programs – because I love what I do 😊). It’s called “Leave Your Stress @ Work!” and it’s scheduled for June 1 at 2 p.m. CT. We’ll talk about just that – how do I leave my stress at work? We may even talk about not bringing our home stress TO work! I love doing this webinar because it helps ME be more aware of how those little dribs and drabs of life may be causing stress – stress that sometimes just lurks in the background causing a feeling of dis-ease. How can I be positive and have a growth mindset when that’s happening? So, let’s discuss a list of things we can do that will help us realize we sometimes have more control over our stress than we give ourselves credit for!

The second webinar that might be helpful for some of us is “Patience: How to Get It, How to Keep It,” scheduled for June 15 at 2 p.m. CT. In our social-media/technology/instant-on world, patience seems to be less and less available – or perhaps we just aren’t paying attention to the idea that we have lost our patience. Another area in which I’m always happy to have a reminder. I have two ornery cats and a sweet but sometimes stubborn dog, and they can try my patience every now and then! It never hurts to be reminded that we also have control over whether we choose to live in a state of impatience. And it is a choice, isn’t it?

I hope you’ll register for both webinars – I’m sure you’ll find a tip or two that will help you be your best self. Oh…and a little teaser for you…in August (the 28th at 2 p.m. CT), we’ll be talking about “Lessons for Lifelong Learning” as part of the PLAN Library 101 series. Now THAT’S a growth mindset!

Enjoy spring and I’ll “see” you soon!

Linda

P.S. We have a few other webinars sprinkled throughout the summer months, so be sure to check PLAN’s training calendar!

Linda’s Bookbag for a New Year!

Hello everyone,

Target with arrows captioned goal settingHere we are, early in a brand-new year. The most-commonly spoken word at this time of year may very well be the word “resolution,” the definition of which is “a firm resolve to do or not do something.” Considering that very generic explanation, there are days that I tend to make resolutions several times in one day 😊.

So I tend to avoid that word and would rather focus on the word “goal,” “an aim or desired result.” And since we have a 2-part webinar series coming up titled, “Ready, Set, Goal!” (February 16 and February 23), I wanted to talk about how our behavioral tendencies (or personalities) can affect our desire to set goals and our motivation to work toward them.

Many of you know that I present workshops on behavioral tendencies based on the Florence Littauer book and assessment titled, “Wired That Way.” Other words that are sometimes used to describe our behavioral tendencies are “personalities” or “temperaments.” Whatever word you choose to describe how differently we move through the world as individuals, I think we can all agree that our innate behaviors are tendencies and not etched in stone. That means there’s hope for any of those less-desirable tendencies we might have!

So let’s look at some of our differences when it comes to setting goals and why that process can be challenging for each of the styles.

The “popular” behavioral tendency, that person who loves people and fun, may struggle a bit with goal-setting, unless the goal is to have fun 😊. More serious goals can put a damper on living life to its fullest for these folks. They may need to have a very specific step-by-step process to achieve goals and may find it easier to tackle those goals in chunks, which is actually helpful for many of us.

The “powerful” behavioral tendency, that person who is ALL about the goal, may become a bit obsessed with achieving goals, competing, or simply getting it done! They can sometimes choose chasing goals in lieu of actually living life. Unlike other styles, powerfuls may need to step back from the pursuit of goals from time to time to stop and smell the roses.

The “perfect” behavioral tendency, the person who wants to make sure everything is, well…perfect, can sometimes get tunnel vision and not even realize there is an end goal in play. It’s all about the specifics, the logistics, the details – so much so, that progress toward the goal can be painfully slow or even worse, non-existent. The perfects among us may need to realize that a goal achieved is progress and we all need progress, not necessarily perfection.

The “peaceful” behavioral tendency, the person who likes things consistent, nice and easy, and a steady routine, can struggle with even finding a reason we should set goals. Why make life so challenging when the important things eventually – usually! – get done. The peacefuls may need to realize their own goals are often connected to the goals of others – and not accomplishing their goals can affect whether others are able to do so.

As you can see, setting goals and achieving those goals can be challenging to every one of us. That’s why you’ll want to register for that upcoming webinar series I mentioned earlier (Part 1 and Part 2). As a matter of fact, why not make that your resolution for today? 😊 Hope to see you there!

Returning to Linda’s Bookbag – Happy Thanksgiving!

GratitudeHello everyone,

As I was thinking about sharing my bookbag with you this month, I realized that some of the things in my bookbag aren’t really books.

I read dozens of books a year and I add to my reading through a host of magazine subscriptions such as American Libraries, Chief Learning Officer, Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, and one of my favorites for “living life,” SUCCESS Magazine.

When I first saw an issue of SUCCESS several years ago, I will admit my cynicism. I concluded that it must be about how to become a millionaire by the age of 25 or some such fantasy. And although the magazine does sometimes speak to the idea of managing finances or growing a business, what I found interesting then and still find very helpful are the many articles on topics ranging from leadership skills to networking to decision making, to expressing gratitude for each day, which I think we can all relate to, especially at this time of year.

To give you an idea of the breadth of topics, a recent article was titled, “Would Today Be a Good Day to Die?” Sounds rather macabre, eh? Actually, it was written to encourage readers to think about how they move through each day – and how, at the end of the day, they would answer that question. If life must end, and we know it does for all of us, will I be able to look back at that specific day and know that I lived it well? Did I help someone learn something new? Did I simply help someone? Did I do something to encourage my own growth? Did I play with my kitties and throw toys for my dog? Did I enjoy the beautiful Florida weather? Did I notice how blue the sky is or how the birds at the feeder are sharing nicely? Did I take time to reflect on fond memories of those who are no longer with me?

Obviously, we all suffer from “blah” days now and then. Sometimes we even suffer from very bad days! The key is to recognize whether those types of days are the exception or the rule. If the blah or bad days are the rule, perhaps we need to find ways to lessen their frequency.

Although I strive to make most of my days great days, I decided to begin a simple gratitude list rather than a journal. I already use a journal for other writing and I didn’t want this to become another thing on my “to-do” list. Instead, I begin each day by writing at least one thing I’m thankful for – sometimes two or three or more. I actually number them to remind myself of what I have to be thankful for. Even though I only started a few months ago, my list is already close to 500! I amuse myself when I look back and see something I’ve recorded more than once without realizing it – my fuzzy blanket, for instance 😊. Sometimes those duplicates come within days of each other, which seems to indicate that I am particularly thankful for those particular items, since I don’t even realize I already recorded them!

I just jot down a word or phrase that describes what I’m thankful for that day. Sometimes it’s a person’s name. It could be hot water in the shower, an email to let me know someone is thinking of me, a kitty asleep on my lap (when they aren’t asleep, I’m not always so thankful, lol), a new booking I received to conduct training for someone – and a hundred other things if I just pay attention.

This ritual, for me, accomplishes two things: it requires me to look for things I’m thankful for every single day AND it allows me to look back and remind myself that I do indeed have much to be thankful for.

So…what are you thankful for? Was today a day well lived?

What do Customers Really Want??

We’re going to take a break from Linda’s Bookbag to discuss an upcoming webinar topic.

The discussion of customers and what we can do to really impress them with our service is what might be called an “evergreen” topic – it never dies!

Just when we think we have all the bells and whistles they might want in materials, programming, databases, and even technology (if that’s ever possible!), they still don’t seem to be what we might call “delighted” with our service. Why is that?

Let’s take a moment to think about what’s going on in our world. As hard as organizations work to figure out what you might like, much of that attempt has become automated by technology. Have you ever searched Google only to have something pop up that you looked at the day before? Maybe even asking if you are sure you don’t want it? It’s almost scary, isn’t it? Although I’m sure Google thought they made my day by wishing me a happy birthday last year (complete with dancing cupcakes!), it really felt almost creepy.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want someone looking over my shoulder and invading my space through technology when I am simply going about my business. So, from my perspective at least, I don’t think the latest and greatest in programs and/or technology is the be-all and end-all of making customers very happy with our service. Do we need dynamic, ever-changing programming? Sure. Do we need to stay up-to-date with the latest technology as much as possible? Of course.

Instead of expending all our energy in those areas, though, maybe there are other areas we can look at to see if we are really pleasing our customers as much as we think we are.

Let me give you a personal example. Some of you know that my husband passed away in March of this year after 10 years of health issues which had escalated over the past 3 years. Just before he went to the hospital for a minor surgery, I picked up a routine prescription that he would need when he got home. Sadly, he never made it home. In my frantic effort to gain some control over my life during that awful time, a few days after his death, I took the prescription back to my pharmacy – Publix. I was certain they wouldn’t be able to take it back and sure enough, the pharmacy tech informed me that wasn’t permitted through their system. She asked the pharmacist and he agreed. They were not permitted to accept the drugs back. Now…here’s where the “delight your customer” attitude comes in. The pharmacist expressed his condolences and told me they would give me full credit, even though they couldn’t accept the drugs. The other pharmacist on duty came from behind the counter to give me a hug. Wow. It was “only” $47, but $47, especially in those circumstances, can seem like a lot of money going down the drain. But they gave me that $47 back. Could they afford it? Yep. They probably do $47 in business every minute! Did they have to do that? Nope. Do you think I will ever get prescriptions through any other pharmacy if I can help it? No, I surely will not.

Okay, so that’s a pretty dramatic example of exceptional customer service. But let’s look at life through the lens of your patrons.

What “stuff” are they bringing with them when they enter your library? Personal health issues? Relationship problems? Financial problems? An argument with the teenage child? Too many obligations? A negative customer service experience with some other entity in the past 24 hours? As we all know, those kinds of experiences are all too common these days!

If you think about it, the chances of them having had an exceptionally good customer experience in the recent past – with anyone – is fairly small these days. At least that’s the way it feels to a lot of people I speak with as I travel in my work.

So, what can we do to delight our customers in our current “customer-centric” culture? That’s just what we’ll talk about in our upcoming webinar on Thursday, September 14, 2 p.m. CT. Register now!

What’s in Linda’s Bookbag?

Those of you who’ve met me or attended any of my training sessions know that I love to learn. And of course, one of the best ways to learn (besides attending training, of course!) is to read. I don’t often have an opportunity to attend training sessions unless I’m presenting them, but I do love to read. Imagine that!

The term “personal development” sometimes gets a bad rap these days, but if you think about it, those of us who help others learn in any context are really helping with their personal development, aren’t we?

In light of that, in my PLAN blog posts, I’d like to share some of the tools that have helped me in my own personal – and professional – development.

One book that quickly comes to mind is Continue reading “What’s in Linda’s Bookbag?”