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  1. Keeping an eye on your online presence – What do your networks and Google say about you?

    February 24, 2015 by Jenna

    As we become familiar with different forms of online networks and methods of communication, our personal brand begins to spread across the World Wide Web. Our data and details are collected in many ways – when we apply for jobs, create social media pages, sign up for competitions or events, etc.

    Most of the information we share we tend to know about as we tailor this information and share it through social networks. However, while we have a certain element of control over what information we share and with whom, if you were to look up your name on Google, what would you find?

    I can’t say that I am too surprised with what I personally find when I look up my name through Google these days. The three main categories I seem to find my name under are:

    • Instagram Image Sharing – As this is more open to the public, the images I share with quotes and hashtags are available to view by the world
    • Event Registrations – Whether they are charity events or races, if I have placed a registration, my name and results are there (to an extent).
    • Corporate Profile/Networks – My company profile is there, blogs I have posted, my LinkedIn profile and other business networks that I am a member of.

    Other information that I wasn’t as aware of included event photos from when I used to work in the events industry and comments that I have made on articles that I follow online. While nothing negative or appalling was revealed, it did make me want to mention the importance of being careful with what you post online.

    This includes reflecting on your emotions during a difficult time and avoiding the use of the internet to vent your frustrations to the world. For example, if you are complaining about your boss and you forget that you have other connections in your network who are also linked to your boss. You could ultimately ruin your dignity and you may also lose your job.

    Keeping a professional image is important for many online avenues. If you attend a networking function with an event photographer present, chances are images will be shared across corporate networks. It is important to keep in mind the behaviour and message you want to portray, especially when trying to establish new connections and relationships.

    It can also be important to have a look online just to see if there are any details that need to be ‘cleaned up’ or updated as well. Sometimes we spend more time on one social network compared to another and therefore we forget to update information that may be relevant. This could include current employment, skill sets, interests/hobbies or courses that you may be attending.

    Have you updated your social media presence? Have you looked up your name on Google lately?


  2. How to handle the toxic employee in the workplace

    November 17, 2014 by Jenna

    During your career life-cycle, you may end up working with someone that you may not see eye to eye with. Individuals that can be placed in any of the following categories – complainers, controllers, gossipers, bullies, judges, or someone who is not flexible with accepting another opinion or feedback. This can make your working environment tense, it can increase stress levels and it can also give you a more negative outlook towards work. However, there are ways to rise above it so that it won’t affect you on a daily basis.

    An article on by Travis Bradberry on SBS News provided insight on How to Handle Toxic People and I have highlighted the most important points to share from this article below:

    Don’t give up too easily

    It’s important to fight through another day, that’s what all great successors do, even if there are toxic individuals in your workplace. Try and be aware of your emotions and respond appropriately so that you can stand your ground when the time is right. If you leave your emotions unchecked and let items build up, it can lead to more damage than good.

    Stay aware of your emotions

    You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognise when it’s happening. You may find yourself in a situation where you need to regroup and choose the best way forward. Buying yourself time to assess the situation can often save an emotional reaction or putting your foot in your mouth by saying something that isn’t necessary.

    Giving yourself some time to assess a situation can also allow you to provide a better and more calculated response to set the situation straight.

    Establish Boundaries

    When you need to face your toxic co-worker on a daily basis it can feel like you are in a trap that you can’t get out of. You may think that this is out of your control and you can feel defeated and have to put up with being in their presence 24/7.

    If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. You can establish boundaries, just make sure you do it consciously and proactively. Otherwise you could find yourself getting wrapped up in difficult conversations or situations more often than you have to.

    Don’t let anyone limit your joy

    When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they have done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take away from them.

    While we value feedback and opinions of others, we don’t have to compare ourselves with other people and it’s important to take options with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what toxic people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within.

    Don’t focus on the problems – only solutions

    When you fixate on the problems you are facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus your actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

    By focusing your attention on the toxic person, you are giving them exactly what they want. It gives them a sense of power over you. By focusing on how to handle the toxic person as opposed to thinking about how troubling they are, you are effectively putting yourself back into control and it will help with reducing stress when this person is around you.

    Squash negative-talk

    There is nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either help intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary and self-defeating. You should avoid negative-talk at all costs.

    Use your support system

    To deal with toxic people, you need to recognise the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Having someone provide a solution who does not have an emotional connection to the situation can really open up a new perspective.

    Test different methods

    You will be faced with different tests when it comes to dealing with difficult people and interactions. This will involve practicing different behaviours, and sometimes learning from failure. However, the more techniques you try (as each individual behaves differently) the more you will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

    In summary, the best way to handle working with a difficult person is to first understand your own emotional reactions and knowing what makes you tick. That way you can better establish how to avoid setting off a time bomb and keeping the workplace functioning in harmony. It will also help to maintain a positive outlook to your role and your working environment.

    Have you recently faced a toxic or difficult person in your workplace? How did you handle it? What worked and didn’t work?


  3. The good, the bad and the ugly of Christmas Parties

    December 10, 2013 by Jenna

    It is getting into the silly season and many of us can’t wait to let loose and have a holiday! But while the anticipation is high and the excitement builds, it is important to keep a level head at all times, especially at work. You don’t want a silly mistake at the end-of-year Christmas Party to take away all of the hard work you have put in throughout the year, do you?

    We have all been there, it has been a stressful day and you can’t wait to ‘kick of your heels’ and have a drink. But remember, as management is providing you this privilege to say thank you for all of your hard work this year, the last thing you want to do is throw that down the drain!

    So while conducting research on this topic I found an article from Susan Adams in Forbes called How Not To Behave At the Office Party and it outlined some of the common mistakes that can be made:

    Don’t Arrive Late – The early stage of a party offers a great chance to chat with senior executives in a relaxed atmosphere before it all gets too hectic.

    Don’t Be a Wallflower – Don’t sit in the corner and chat with the people you work with every single day. Branch out and introduce yourself to people in other departments. You never know who could help you move up the ladder.

    Don’t Lose Control – If alcohol is served, enjoy a drink or two, not 12. Getting drunk at a company-sponsored event may not get you fired, but it will make you the butt of jokes and could have a lasting negative effect.

    Don’t Show Up the Boss – If he’s carrying on about something you know more about, keep it to yourself.

    Don’t Tell Racy Jokes – No matter how much the atmosphere loosens up as the evening proceeds, there will still be people who can be offended–and who will remember it the next day.

    Don’t Flirt – The office party is a no-flirting zone. Even if you think you’re just relaxing and being playful with an attractive colleague, your behaviour risks being construed as sexual harassment.

    Don’t Speechify About How You’d Run the Company – It’s been a frustrating year, and you think you could do a better job than the boss. Keep that to yourself.

    Don’t Vent – You can assume your colleagues have had as tough a year as you have, and that everyone might enjoy a good gripe session. Don’t hold it at the office party. This is a professional occasion, so keep your game face on.

    So remember to make the most of your Christmas party by enjoying the atmosphere, connect with fellow colleagues and management, reflect on the year that has passed and make a toast to the upcoming year ahead.

    Ever had that experience where someone has gone a little overboard at the office Christmas party? If so, how was the situation rectified?


  4. What are the best ways to cope with workplace stress?

    May 16, 2012 by Jenna

    Workplace Stress: This isn’t an uncommon term. We have all been stressed within the workplace, but whether you thrive or crumble on the daily adrenalin moments is a different story.

    Linking closely with my previous blog about effectively managing your time on a daily basis, for those that are in those situations of being in an environment that is likely to trigger stress, what are the best ways that you cope with it?

    When I worked in the events industry, it became common practice to expect that the unexpected would happen. Not necessarily to predict that something will go wrong, but it certainly teaches you to respond and adapt to any changes that may occur with an event last minute, and in some cases problem solve on the spot if need be.

    There were the times, however, when handling enquiries, liaising with chefs and the operations team, meetings, client calls and emails would get the better of you and this is where communication was a valuable tool, but often not enforced enough. Each team member that I worked closely with did not want to appear defeated or unable to cope with our assignments and we would often handle our stress in silence. This was often noticed by a tense atmosphere of mood swings, sending emails to one another instead of communicating directly, and late hours catching up on work from earlier that morning.

    At least our manager had a keen sense at detecting this tense atmosphere and had individual meetings with us to establish what was really going on.

    Working as a team environment however, one should never feel that they cannot speak up for themselves in times of stress, because the most harm that an individual can do to themselves is bottle up the feelings of anxiety inside.

    Some of the feedback that I received last week from respondents were:

    • Have a good work life balance so that outside of work, you have something else to focus on which is meaningful to you.
    • Ensure you advise your managers and direct reports of the reasons why you are stressed.
    • Try to avoid it in the first place! Stop for 10 minutes and go for a walk whenever it gets too much.

    A recent article on www.inc.com pointed out that once upon a time, society would work from 9.00am to 5.00pm. But now the demand for that has changed and in some cases individuals are expected to be available 24/7.

    I have a friend that looks after the audiovisual side of events which as you know is quite a significant component of any event. While he works a set number of hours a day with setting up, testing equipment and operating for events, he is also expected to be on call after hours in the event that there are any ‘technical difficulties’. This means he can be called at any time, and often is called at any time. He is also on his phone constantly checking email updates from the events team to make sure he has the most up to date instructions for all upcoming events. But while the job will often encompass moments of stress, he loves his job and he doesn’t let the stress get the better of him.

    Having said this, he will also know when to say ‘no’ or advise if a job cannot be completed at a set time due to another job that he may be working on. He is assertive and realistic when it counts as well as competent to achieve tasks.

    This leads me to the multiple choice options of how you rated the ways to cope with stress in the workplace, to which the responses were as follows:

    • Avoid being a ‘Yes Man’: If you have a lot on your plate, do not add to the pile if you cannot do it in time. – 16% of you agreed to this, and I know I have fallen for this.

    And the following three options were looked upon as the same level of importance at 54%:

    • Communication: If you are overloaded, make sure to speak up and ask for help
    • Effective Time Management: Setting realistic achievement goals for the day
    • Having A Positive Mindset: If overwhelmed, take a break, then come back to the task at hand with more clarity

    I threw in the last option of a positive mindset because I have known so many people who have told me, ‘I don’t feel like getting up and going to work this morning,’ or ‘today is going to be a bad day I can just feel it.’ Now while we may have different situations at work causing us to feel that way, has this viewpoint ever really accomplished anything? How often if you look upon a situation negatively will the outcome be just what you thought it would be?

    What’s to say that we can’t change the outcome of a situation for the better if we look upon it with fresh eyes and less bitterness?

    To get to an even further point, if you are that unhappy with your employment, why are you staying in that current position?

    Another website I reviewed called www.helpguide.org outlines the importance of establishing what is causing the stress in your current situation. You may not even realise you are stressed and showing the common signs by dealing with it in the following ways:

    • Drinking too much
    • Overeating or undereating
    • Procrastinating
    • Using pills or drugs to relax
    • Withdrawing from friends, family and activities
    • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

    If this sounds like you, don’t be discouraged as there are healthy ways to relax and recharge:

    • Go for a walk
    • Call a good friend
    • Write in a journal
    • Sweat out the tension in a good workout
    • Savor a warm cup of tea or coffee
    • Get a massage
    • Enjoy a good book

    If you find that time restricts you from doing these things, then perhaps you need to review my previous blog What are the ways in which you effectively manage your time?

    A website called angelawilson.suite101.com outlines that one of the ways to cope with stress is to recognise the ‘Good Stress‘ from the ‘Bad Stress‘. Good Stress gives you a optimal amount of arousal to give you the motivation and focus to achieve a task (such as running a race, taking a test, getting to work on time). Whereas bad stress, when out of control, prevents us from feeling content and being successful in our daily lives. It releases nasty hormones into our bodies and has a negative effect on our health.

    Some of the other coping methods include:

    • Decrease your body tension
    • Face your anxiety situations – doing those least favourite things first so that they do not build up into something worse when it could have been handled at the time.
    • Be truthful – when people are unhappy or struggling, you can often read it in their behaviour. If someone asks you how you are, telling the truth will better deal with the tension then saying ‘I’m fine’ when it is clear you are not.
    • Don’t Give Up – Some people get so overwhelmed by stress that they often shut down and stop reacting to situations around them because it has become too much to handle. Do not let the stress get the better of you!

    Well I hope some of these tips have proven to be useful in your day to day situation, and if you have not had a chance to respond to this poll then we would be more than happy to hear your thoughts below.

    Also, don’t miss out on this week’s poll: Are more people today settling for any job as opposed to finding their dream job? Your chance to win a Hoyt’s Cinema Double Pass are up for grabs!


  5. How much does positive thinking influence your outcomes?

    October 25, 2011 by Jenna

    One fine morning a few years ago, my very lovely and well-meaning neighbour thrust a DVD into my hands. It was “The Secret”. Many of you will be familiar with this title. The book spent forever at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I still remember my feeling of absolute incredulity as I viewed the film. Was I being too negative as thoughts such as “you have got to be kidding me” and “what a load of nonsense” floated through my mind? 

    “The Secret states that desirable outcomes such as health, wealth, and happiness can be attracted simply by changing one’s thoughts and feelings. For example, if a person wanted a new car, by thinking about the new car and having positive feelings about the car, the law of attraction would rearrange events to make it possible for the car to manifest in the person’s life.” [Source

    Almost 22% of respondents to last week’s online pollHow much does positive thinking influence your outcomes? – selected “Completely – exactly like the law of attraction, my thoughts attract what I want”. 

    Fascinating. 

    To gain more of an expert insight into the “positive psychology” movement and philosophy, I approached our Organisational Psychologist, Narelle Hess, for some guidance. The articles she directed me to all cautioned that “positive psychology is much more than ‘positive thinking’, and offers a vast array of insight and direction for how people can function more optimally. Positive psychology offers us added insight into how we can embrace change, feel positive about who we are, and enjoy healthy, responsible and fulfilled lives. But, like anything else the application of this knowledge and information is very important. Particularly when it comes to how we apply positive emotions.” [Source

    This reflects the feelings of 75% of our poll respondents, who agreed that positive thinking helps them “Moderately – a positive outlook helps me to approach situations, but thoughts won’t work without actions too”. One commented: “You can think as positively as you like, however, it is your actions that will determine whether your positive thoughts come to fruition”, whilst another said “the power of positive thinking is incredible and certainly helps me, but in certain situations action is required. All the positive thinking doesn’t get the job done but it certainly helps and stops procrastination.”     

    Last week, I read Peter Bregman’s book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done 

    I was particularly struck by a section in which he discussed how managers can motivate staff members by giving them tasks above their current abilities and outside their comfort zone. The important thing for the manager to do was to assure their staff member that it was okay to take some time, make some mistakes, and even to fail initially. The combination of setting realistic expectations within a framework of unleashing unrealised potential created an ideal environment for growth, achievement and a new level of productivity for the staff member, and therefore the company. 

    The interplay between a positive environment and attitude, combined with a realistic set of expectations and actions, created the optimum zone. There can be no result without action, but a positive yet realistic attitude certainly helps things along. 

    As a final, neat illustration of this, the person who responded to the poll with the comment “this week’s poll is the best ever and will win me tickets” was not the winner. However, if they, and you, continue to enter the poll, they might be a future winner. 

    As my dad always says when he buys his Lotto tickets, “You’ve got to be in it to win it”.   

    Our new poll is live! Tell us: Are we relying too much on email, rather than actual conversation, to communicate? Results published in next week’s ChallengeBlog …

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    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …




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