• In This Issue
  • 1. Healthy diet for the mind
  • 2. Four NLP techniques to improve your people skills
  • 3. Is recession threatening your marriage?
  • 4. Brain in the Belly
  • 5. Parenting: 20 Communication Tips for Parents
  • 6. How to handle bad- mannered colleagues
  • 7. Seven Suggestion for SMEs to weather the financial storm

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1. Healthy diet for the mind

Diet for MindMost of us would have experienced extremely worrying situations only to find later on, that these happenings were not as disastrous as we originally thought. Some of these happenings that caused suffocating stress might have even turned out to be blessings in disguise. Faulty Thinking is the cause of negative feelings of unhappiness, anger and depression. If not checked and corrected, it will manifest into physical diseases through the psychosomatic route. How to change our thinking pattern?

I would like to share some of the techniques that I use successfully to ensure healthy thoughts and positive feelings.

Differentiate perception from reality: Analyse whether the situation is really bad or it is bad in your opinion? Is it bad for everyone? Is it bad now or forever? How bad it is on a scale of 1 to 10? Remember the wise saying, ‘One man’s poison is another man’s medicine.’

Shift away from the disaster mode: Most of us have a tendency to exaggerate things. Failure in the exam does not mean failure in life. Falling sales does not mean the end of business. A chest pain does not mean death.

Compare with less fortunate: Remember the wise saying, ‘When you think of not having shoes, think of those who don’t have legs.’ When one loses his job, thinking of those who don’t have any employability at all due to physical or mental handicap, will prevent one from getting into a depression.

Count your blessings: Instead of focusing on downturn and recession, focus on your assets – health, skills, savings, friends, family-support etc.

Learn from past lessons: Recall the ‘difficult’ situations you experienced in the past. Did they turn out to be really difficult as you thought initially? How did you manage these situations? Think of the potential you possess to handle such difficult situations. Think of the tolerance you possess to face such situations. Think of the stamina you possess to bounce back from such situations.

Focus on the advantage in disADVANTAGE: Recall the wise saying, ‘Every adversity carries an opportunity along with.’ Loss of job, could lay the foundation for a business empire. An illness could pave the way to a health lifestyle. Death of a loved one, could lead to establishing a hospital.

Take appropriate action: Becoming more skilled and pledging to work hard is the action required by one who has lost his job. A healthy diet and exercises is the action required by one who has fallen sick. Forgiving and forgetting is the action required to solve a relationship problem. Saving and investing is the action required to solve a financial problem.

2. Four NLP techniques to improve your people skills

People SkillsNeuro Linguistic Psychology, based on the connection between language, neurological process and our behaviour pattern, offers various techniques for self-help. These techniques aim at improving our communication, relationships and ultimately our performance. Here are some easy-to-implement NLP techniques that could help in improving our relationships.

1. Positive expression of feelings: Suppression of feelings leads to depression, whereas expression of feelings leads to conflict. What’s the solution? Express the feelings, but use positive language. For example, when someone misbehaves and makes you angry, instead of saying, ‘I am angry / upset with you,’ say, ‘I am unhappy with your behaviour’. It not only prevents damage to the relationship, but also reduces your stress, since the neurological process for the words ‘anger’ is quite different from the neurological process for the word ‘unhappy’. Stressing the syllable ‘happy’ and de-stressing the syllable ‘un’ further reduces your stress, as the prefix ‘un’ is neurologically insignificant. Additionally by separating the person’s behaviour, from the person, you are conveying the message that you are unhappy only with the person’s behaviour and not with the person.

2. Positive embedded commands: ‘Don’t come late’ and ‘Come on time’ convey the same meaning. But even after telling someone, ‘Don’t come late,’ a thousand times, you might not have seen any improvement in his punctuality. Why? Because neurologically, the words ‘come late’ has a greater impact, when compared to the word ‘don’t’. Moreover, ‘don’t come late’ is viewed as an instruction (All of us dislike someone telling us what to do, because it interferes with our sense of freedom), whereas ‘come on time’ is viewed as a suggestion. Suggesting people what to do (a positive statement), gets a positive response, whereas instructing people what not to do (a negative statement), gets a negative response.

3. End sentence with a positive: The word ‘but’ is capable of making or breaking a relationship. For example, compare two salespersons, one telling his prospect ‘My product is durable but expensive’ and the other one telling his prospect, ‘My product is expensive, but durable’. Which one do you think will close the sale? Obviously, it should go to the second salesperson. Why? The reason is that the word ‘but’ negates everything that is said before.

4. Prefer ‘when’ to ‘if’: When a conditional offer is made, the use of ‘if’ could demotivate the person receiving the offer, from making his best efforts, as the word ‘if’ has the neurological effect of impossibility/difficulty. Whereas, in such offers, the word ‘when’ presupposes possibility. For example, the offer ‘If you reach your target, you will get your incentives’ may not motivate a person at all or motivate him less, whereas the offer, ‘when you reach your target, you will get your incentives’ will motivate him better.

3. Is recession threatening your marriage?

MarriageThe deepening economic crisis is applying increasing pressure on matrimonial harmony. Many couples are experiencing an increase in arguments, conflict, anger and stress. But they are wither unaware or refuse to accept that economic crisis is the unseen power that is forcing them apart.

Financial worry leads to increased smoking, alcohol abuse, gambling and even extramarital affairs. “When things are difficult and stressful at home and you are feeling bad about yourself as a provider it is easier to be attracted to someone else and be vulnerable to someone’s charms. You are not going to talk to your affair- partner about how you are going to pay the bills, you are going to talk about all the wonderful stuff that is going on between the two of you,” says Julie Linger, a clinical social worker.

Even during normal times, money matters can trigger heated arguments, escalate into conflicts and could even lead to separation. An economic crisis makes it worse with falling incomes and rising expenses. If either or both spouses, lose heir jobs it becomes worse.

Many wives complain that husbands do not reveal the financial status to them. They feel that they must be kept informed as it affects them too. When husbands were asked why they blackout information, they acknowledged that they too were concerned, but they didn’t want to bother their wives. Historically, a man’s core identity comes from being a good provider for his family. When a husband’s role as provider is at risk it grabs at his sense of who he is as a man, and that can cause all kinds of horrible problems in a marriage, feels Karen Gail a marriage therapist.

How to ensure that recession doesn’t endanger your marriage? Couples must realize that it is more expensive to break up a family than it is to stay together. They must discuss financial matters and decide to face the financial crisis together. They must resolve not to withdraw from each other ad not to attack each other on past happenings or on unrelated issues. When they follow these simple guidelines, financial crisis can actually draw them closer and bring them together.

4. Brain in the Belly

Brain in the BellyThe connection between brain and food is not new. We knew from experience that we can use food to change our mood. Caffeine is the most common mood altering chemical in the world. People who have experienced intoxication from alcohol consumption or irritability due to hunger, know that what we eat or drink can influence the functioning of our brain and affects our intelligence and behaviour.

We all experience this interaction ‘in the pit of our stomachs’ under periods of high emotions. In such instances, we are conscious of what is happening between our bellies and brains. Most of the time, however, we are unaware of this interaction. We may be in a ‘bad mood’ and not realise it is because we skipped breakfast. Our nerves may be ‘on edge’ because we had that third cup of coffee or we may feel sleepy after a ‘heavy meal’. And still not make the connection between our central nervous system and substance we ingested,” says Dr. Arthur Winter, MD, Director of New Jersey’s Neurological Institute.

Earlier research has established that taste cells T1R3 and Gustducin found in the tongue are critical to sweet taste in the tongue. Now, researcher Robert F.Margolsbee, MD, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has found these taste cells in the gut as well. Cells in the gut taste glucose through the same mechanism used by taste cells of the tongue. The gut taste cells regulate secretion of insulin and hormones that regulate appetite. This research explains why artificial sweeteners may not help with weight loss.

New research is proving that in the linings of the esophagus, stomach, small intestines and colon, there are millions of nerve cells that send out stop and start messages to our brain. The components of this digestive control centre are lumped under the title ‘enteric nervous system’ (The Chinese has long recognised this ‘brain in the gut’ concept and call it the solar plexus).

Our mental function is directly related to what we eat or don’t eat, because our brains are factories that produce dozens of different psychoactive chemicals. We eat the starter material for these brain chemicals which we then make into the chemicals that affect our intelligence, memory, mood , appetite and weight.

5. Parenting: 20 Communication Tips for Parents

ParentingParenting is hard work and maintaining a good connection with teens can be challenging, especially since parents are dealing with many other pressures. Psychologists Dr. Molly Brunk, Dr. Jana Martin, Dr. Nancy Molitor and Dr. Janis Sanchez-Hucles offer these communication tips to parents.

1. Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between parents and children.

2. Note down times when your kids are most likely to talk – for example at bedtime, before dinner, in the car – and be available.

3. Start the conversation; it lets your kids know you care about what is happening in their lives.

4. Find time each week for a one-to-one activity with each child. And avoid scheduling other activities during that time.

5. Learn about your children’s interest – for example, their favourite music and activities and show interest in them.

6. Initiate conversations by sharing what you have been thinking about rather than beginning a conversation with a question.

7. When your children are talking about their concerns, stop whatever you are doing and listen.

8. Express interest in what they are saying without being intrusive.

9. Listen to their point of view, even if it is difficult to hear.

10. Let them complete their point before you respond.

11. Repeat what you heard them say to ensure that you understand them correctly.

12. Soften strong reactions; kids will tune you out if you appear angry or defensive.

13. Express your opinion without putting down theirs; acknowledge it is okay to disagree.

14. Resist arguing about what is right; Instead of say, ‘I know you disagree with me, but this is what I think.’

15. Focus on your child’s feelings rather than your own, during conversation.

16. Ask your children what they want or need from you in a conversation, such as advice, simply listening, help in dealing with feelings or help in solving a problem.

17. Kids learn by imitating. Most often they will follow your lead in how they deal with anger, solve problems and work through difficult feelings.

18. Talk to your children; don’t lecture, criticize, threaten or say hurtful things.

19. kids learn from their own choices. As long as the consequences are not dangerous don’t feel you have to step in.

20. Realise your children may test you by telling you a small part of what is bothering them. Listen carefully to what they say, encourage them to talk and they may share the rest of the story.

6. How to handle bad- mannered colleagues

Bad MannersRude colleagues and managers can negatively impact employee engagement and productivity, according to a study by the University of Western Sydney.
“Rude and undermining colleagues are those who question your judgment, exclude you from situations, interrupt when you are speaking, make derogatory comments, withhold information or belittle your ideas,” said Dr. Barbara Griffin, an organisational psychologist and study co-author.

This behaviour is more subtle and diffuse than outright bullying, which is targeted and occurs more frequently. It has a large impact on employee engagement, including whether you stay in an organization, speak positively about your job or go that extra mile. It can also cause psychological distress and poor physical health.

“We know that poor employee engagement affects productivity and customer satisfaction as well as increases staff turnover,” said Dr. Griffin. Even the occasional rude comment is enough to lower engagement and make you feel less committed to your job.

Senior management can address the problem by modeling good behaviour and creating an atmosphere where people feel they are being treated fairly. Having procedures in place to manage rude behaviour and ensuring that these policies are clear to all employees is also vital.
Dr. Griffin offers the following tips for dealing with bad-mannered colleagues:

1.      Do not reciprocate the behaviour. Reacting with similar actions can quickly spiral into increasingly aggressive behaviour.

2.      If circumstances permit, set up a discussion with the person and tell him that you find his behaviour offensive.

3.      If the situation worsens, you can report the offensive behaviour in an official manner.

4.      If you are stressed and upset by the behaviour, talk to a psychologist or to a friend.

7. Seven Suggestion for SMEs to weather the financial storm

SMEsIt is predicted that SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) will bear the brunt of economic crisis as they face the twin threats of liquidity crunch and dwindling orders together. Is it really that bad? Will all SMEs go insolvent?

Traditional wisdom says that every adversity brings an opportunity along with. A realistic optimism backed by hard work and guided by proper planning could actually turn this difficulty into an opportunity. Here are a few suggestions, founded on common sense and experience, which can help SMEs to sail through the current storm.

1. Tighten the belt: Classify expenses into essential, non-essential and cosmetic expenditure. For example, advertisement expenses may be classified as essential, sponsorship expenses may be classified as non-essential and donation may be classified as cosmetic. Incur only essential expenses.

2. Seek out new business: Even during an economic downturn, people still buy goods and services. Go for a shopping – for customers.

3. Improve quality & service: Improve your product quality and customer service. Customers from your competition might consider switching their loyalty to you.

4. Listen to employees’ suggestions: Give an honorary post of ‘Business Advisor’ to your employees. They might come up with gems of suggestions in cost reduction and sales promotion. Remember to reward them with appreciation and promotion.

5. Diversify into related areas: Look out for different streams of revenue. If you sell laptops, you can think of adding a laptop repair service. If you run a restaurant, you can consider adding a home-delivery section.

6. Monitor your lifeline – cashflow: Liquidity becomes the first casualty during downturns. Follow up your receivables, without let-up. Remember, crying baby gets the milk. Buy time to pay your bills. If there is pressure, pay in part. Negotiate with your bankers to reschedule repayments. Prefer cash customers even if you have to offer more discounts. Prefer credit purchases, even if you have to pay a higher price.

7. Ask for help: Ask your customers, employees and friends for business leads. Ask your bankers to reduce interest, reschedule repayments and increase credit limits. Ask your advertisement agency to give you better positioning, write-ups and press-releases. Ask your employees to be thrifty, to sacrifice some benefits or work for longer hours.