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I Want for My Office

Unsolicited Advice: It's About the Speaker

I usually am not one to dole out unsolicited advice because I don't usually like being on the receiving end of it. However, I thought it would be a good title for the occasional article where I expand on wisdom that has been passed onto me through various channels.

Wisdom that I have found applies both...

at HOME: with kids, school, friends, volunteering, at the grocery store, driving in traffic..

and at the OFFICE: with vendors, partners, clients, co-workers...

"It's About the Speaker"

When I first heard this saying I didn't quite get it. What exactly is the speaker saying that's about themselves when what they are saying is CLEARLY about me? And then it was explained to me. When someone says things that are hurtful, insulting, or filled with anger, they are really talking about themselves because THEY have been hurt, feel insecure, or something has happened to THEM to make them angry.

When I started applying this knowlege in all facets of my life, I really started to 'get' it.


Well, You Do

At Home

My husband is notorious for misplacing his wallet and keys around the house, and then blaming me for 'moving' them. He will not deny that during some of these episodes he stomps around, his anger getting the best of him. It's about the speaker. His anger is his. He's annoyed with himself, not ME, with misplacing them. Knowing this allows me to change my reaction so that I can calmly ignore him rather than create a huge argument over...keys.

At Work or the Office

Have you ever had a meeting or a call with someone that is just not happy? Maybe it's a client, or a vendor that you have a contract with. What we don't know, is what is going on in that person's life. Maybe they just sat through a 3 hour meeting, or got stuck in terrible traffic. Whatever it is we can only imagine, but obviously it's affecting their day, and this particular interraction with you. But most likely it's not you. It's them.

As a Parent

One of the challenges we face as parents of girls is to ensure they maintain a positive view of themselves. Poor self-esteem can be damaging for young girls and can stay with them...forever. "It's About the Speaker", I tell them. If someone cuts you down, says you aren't pretty, says you are dumb...they are really talking about themselves. They feel ugly, dumb, and probably someone in their life is cutting them down, and they say these things to other people to make them feel better about themselves.

I also need to realize that when I'm tired, I get angry easily. If I lash out at the kids, I am much quicker to realize that it's not about them - it's about me as the speaker - my lack of sleep, my lack of patience. With this knowledge, I am quicker to take ownership of it, and then I apologize.

Can you think of a time in your life where you might apply the "It's about the speaker" wisdom, and suddenly it makes sense?


Fivein15: Five Ways to Change my Attitude in 15 Minutes


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself feeling tired, angry and just raw, knowing I want to change my attitude, but not being able to. I don’t want to hang onto whatever is bothering me (and many times it’s just lack of sleep) and I know there are tools to help me release it. I just forget sometimes what those tools are. This list serves as a reminder for me. If you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.


1. Make a Gratitude List with at least 10 items


First, I take out the easy three (health, family, money). I use those but the rule is I have to be more specific...otherwise the exercise will take me 5 seconds and not 15 minutes. The idea is to really think about what has happended recently - big or small - that I am grateful for.

Maybe a conference call ended earlier than I thought. Maybe the kids didn't give me a hassle that morning. Or maybe I've just read a positive update about a friend who has breast cancer. Whatever it is, I make note of at least 10 things. Sometimes I look back to the list later that day, but often just the act of creating the gratitude list has pulled me out of the funk.


2. Set my cell phone alarm, cover my eyes, and focus on how I want the rest of the day to go


Image via Sheba Also on Flickr

So we've all heard about Olympic athletes that sit there before a race or game and visualize themselves winning. When my day isn't going as I'd hoped, it often helps to take 15 minutes to sit quietly and really focus on how I see myself for the next few hours. I see myself getting that proposal done, then working through a project, and finally getting through that list of phone calls I have to make...and all of it done before I have to grab the girls from school. If I visualize it, it not only makes me feel better (like it's possible to get all that done in that amount of time), but sometimes it helps me stay focused the rest of the day and it becomes a reality.

Here's an interesting article about helping kids "Visualize Victory like Olypmic Athletes".


3. Set my cell phone alarm and power nap

enough said

Though here are 15 tips for power napping from Manage Your Life.


4. Change the Pandora station to Jazz

I was introduced to Jazz at a young age. A typical Sunday at our house would be Dave Brubeck album playing in the background, my father either whistling along while he cleaned his desk or reading the paper, and while my mom with pancakes bubbling on the griddle. Jazz for me is relaxing but keeps me moving.

The Dave Brubeck album, Time Out , is the one that always comes to mind when I think of those Sunday mornings.


5. Pick up the phone and call a friend I haven’t talked to in a long time

This has been really helpful. It gives me a chance to reconnect with old friends, and set a time to have a longer conversation, or even lunch, at a later date. Old friends can pull anyone out of a funk.


***Help the Hustlers***

What other quick and easy things do you do to help turn around your attitude?

See also

5 Ways to Calm Kids for Bedtime in 15 Minutes

Disclosure: some links are affiliate links.


Five Ways to Calm the Kids for Bedtime in 15 Minutes

1. Travel to Far Away Places

Before bedtime choose a country your child would like to learn more about. Then explore that country's sites and sounds on your tablet, smartphone, or on your laptop. Use apps like Google Earth and World Travel Guides (many are free) to explore famous sites, and then tell your child to visit in their dreams.


2. Pain-free Storytelling

Cover of a book my daughter made when she was 5

This statement will not put me in the running for parent-of-the-year but I Hate Making Up Stories. I always have. I'm just not good at it on the fly. I might be better sitting down to write one but at 8:00 pm I just need the kids to sleep so I can get back to work.
I CAN, however, make up one line of a story at a time without much whining...on my part. The trick to pain-free storytelling is to include your child. I start with one sentence,
"One day there was a little boy..."

Then the kids each say a sentence,
"He lived all alone in the woods..."

"...all alone except for a family of bears that were nice to him."

See where it goes but shut it down for the night after 15 minutes. You may want to start a new story the next night or see where this one ends!


3. Play “What does it mean to you?”

This activity came to me as we were working our way through a book called E Is for Ethics: How to Talk to Kids About Morals, Values, and What Matters Most.

image via Ian James Corlett

Each night we would choose one of 26 stories that cover topics like honesty, courage, politeness, and gratitude. For some reason these stories would lead me to ask the girls, "well what does it mean to you to be ________" and I would fill in the blank with words like
A good friend

The book was a helpful too but I realized it wasn't a necessity to prompt a good, meaningful l discussion at bedtime. Having something to chew on at night is a great way to settle down.


4. Review the Good things from the Day

Can you list 5 things that went well that day? Even on your worst day, I bet you can find 5 things that went right, or that you are happy about. Help your child review their entire day and make a list of all the good things that happened from getting to school on time to getting their homework done in time to watch some TV.

Note: Try the Knock Knock Good Night not pads to help with #4 and #5 on this list!

5. Vision for Tomorrow

Just as it can be helpful to review the day, it can be calming to plan for tomorrow's success. Together with your child write down on a piece of paper the plans for tomorrow, how you envision the day going, and what you want to dream about that night. In my house we even make note of what we will wear, and eat for breakfast and lunch. This is actually really helpful when it comes time to get ready in the morning!

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