Archives for 22 Jun,2015

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Is it too late to say what you really want to?

Everyone has the experience of walking away from a conversation wishing they had addressed something important in the exchange. It might be a desire to clarify the intentions or values behind what the other person said, or to tell the other person that they are behaving badly or don’t seem to mean what they say. How do you keep an open mind so you can clarify what’s going on and educate the other person about how you want them to treat you?

The 3-step ATOMS Method is a simple process to help you:

  1. Examine Assumptions
  2. Remain Tentative and Open Minded
  3. Say what you want to say and educate other people how to treat you.

Step 1: Examine Assumptions

Write down the assumptions you have about what is going on. Your assumptions may not be what the other person intended or what is going on for both people, but they are real for you. Don’t censor these; just make a note of them so you know what is going on in your head that needs to be checked out.

Step 2: Remain Tentative and Open-Minded

Tell the other person what assumptions you are holding as a result of the exchange. Do this is in a tentative and open-minded way, allowing them to clarify their intentions with you and advise whether your assumptions are correct or not. They may, of course, deny that they come across in a certain way; they may say you are exaggerating. However, if you raise the issues in an open-minded, questioning way, you allow them to ‘keep face’ and set the record straight. You may still believe that they are not admitting to their intentions, but you will be positioned differently because you have noticed and raised the issue. In future, the other person will not forget that you are prepared to talk about these things.


In our recent meeting, it appeared that everyone had a chance to contribute except me.  Is that how you see it?

In our last conversation, I felt you undermined the effort I’ve made on this project.  Did you mean to do this or have I interpreted you incorrectly?

I always feel I’m the one to make the plans.  It’s as if you think this is not a joint responsibility.  Am I right?


Step 3: Speak out and educate the other person how to treat you

After discussion and the opportunity to clarify intentions (or point out what you have experienced), it is time to say how you want things to be different in future. This often requires you to say how you want to be treated in future, and how the relationship could be improved.


When you say there isn’t time to include my input, I feel undermined.  It would be really helpful in future if you would allow time for me to contribute so I feel I’m treated equally.

Thank you for saying you didn’t allow time for my ideas to be considered properly.  In future, I would like to raise this sort of issues this as they happens.  Can you see us being able to discuss it as it happens, or can you suggest an alternative to ensure we both feel our ideas are explored properly?

Whilst there are numerous techniques that could be used to ensure discussion flows easily, the ATOMS method is a starting point from which to visit issues that often are left unexamined. Whatever the other person’s response, you will feel more empowered when you speak out and educate others about how to treat you. If issues are left unexamined, you may feel resentful towards others, and towards yourself, for not raising them.

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7 Questions for a Better Year

Every year, thousands of people make New Year resolutions, each of them determined to change their lives or aspects of them. By the third or fourth of January, many have broken them and by the middle of the month, most have forgotten them completely, yet alone used them as the impetus to change their lives. What is this collective urge to usher in a New Year, determined to make it different from the previous one?

Why are so many people failing to put in place the changes they believe will transform their lives?

New Year Resolutions are often made in response to a self-censoring of one’s behaviour or punishment for not doing what they believe will bring happiness. Giving up smoking, losing weight or getting fit are often at the top of the list when it comes to the top ten resolutions. Self-disgust, low self esteem or admonishment by others is often the reason for making resolutions. When we look at New Year resolutions, they are focused on changing aspects of one’s unacceptable behaviour – rarely are they couched in terms that reflect a larger vision for our lives or the values that might underpin a personal mission for what we want lives are about.

Thus, conscious and unconscious resistance to the punishments that resolutions demand, sabotage us from keeping them. The outcome is that we continue our lives as before with humour, cynicism or increased self-loathing for our inability to change. We risk, as Henry Thoreaux said ‘Living a Life of Quiet Desperation’.

What alternatives are there for changing aspects of our lives in more productive and nurturing ways?

The following seven questions help you look at your life more strategically so changes you desire can be assessed in terms of their alignment with your vision and desires.

  1. What do you really want to do with your life? What do you want your life to stand for and how would you like to be remembered?
  2. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Don’t answer this question within the constraints of what you believe is currently possible. Think big and worthy dreams.
  3. What are your values and what is so important to you that you would stake ‘even life itself’ to act in ways to celebrate these values?
  4. What thoughts, feelings and actions do you believe align with achieving your vision, values and dreams of how you want your life to be?
  5. What stops you from achieving the life you so desire? What reasons do you give yourself for not having what you want? Do you blame others for your failures or are you taking full responsibility for your own life?
  6. What reasons do you give yourself for not having what you want? Do you blame others for your failures or are you taking full responsibility for your entire life?
  7. What do you need to do to support achievement of your desired life? If those supports are not in place, what stories do you tell yourself for why this is so?


By asking these and similar questions, you can create a pen picture of the life you want. Take that picture and set goals, targets and the means for measuring and assessing your success.

The late Earl Nightingale once said ‘Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal’. Dare to dream something worthy and examine your thoughts, feelings and actions to assess the extent to which you are progressively realising it.

New Year Resolutions are temporary ways to assuage the anxiety of not living the life you truly want. They provide a temporary salve hoodwinking you into believing that positive change is on the horizon.

This year, replace your New Year resolutions with value aligned ways to create a life that is worth living so temporary setbacks no longer determine your success or failure.

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KPI’s for our relationships?

How can you measure the quality of your relationships? In business, people say ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!’

Can we take something from this principle and learn something important about our relationships?

Watch this short video and learn how simple measurement principles could help you understand how you can ensure your efforts are bringing a return.

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