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    appreciation

    You Have My Complete Attention

    attentionOne of my favorite rituals when my twins were babies was to give them their nightly bath. I loved the one-on-one (-on-one) time with them, playing and splashing and just being together. Over time, they advanced from baths to showers, and from needing my help to wanting complete privacy, thank you very much!

    But one bath-time ritual that my daughter Sophie didn’t seem to outgrow during her tween years was keeping me company in the bathroom when I took a shower. Each evening after work, I would hop in the shower and pull the curtain closed, and then hear Sophie sneak into the bathroom, close the lid of the toilet, sit down and say, “So let’s talk.”

    I was torn: I missed the privacy of being alone with my thoughts and my loofah, and I also appreciated the opportunity to have some deep conversations with my growing girl. But one day, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked her,

    “Sophie, why do you always want to talk to me when I’m in the shower?”

    Her answer caught me with my pants down:

    “Because it’s the only time I know you won’t check your phone while you’re talking to me. It’s the only time I have your complete attention.”

    There was no shower long enough or hot enough to wash off the sting of that pointed and painful observation.

    Ever since then, I’ve started:

    Paying a lot more attention to paying attention!

    I realized that I did it consistently with my clients (who pay for my complete attention), but I didn’t do it consistently for my family, who are, in fact, the reason that I even have clients. And it’s still hard – every day. There are a million things competing for my attention, between emails, calls, dinner, errands, the expected and the unexpected interruptions. But I am well aware that because of how hard it is to give someone your complete attention these days, it is a more precious gift to give and to receive than ever before.

    In a recent New York Times article, “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.” the author cites that the costs of dividing your attention with people you care about include empathy, connection, and trust. And while technology is surely a factor in what makes this challenging, what is also a factor is our willingness to settle for less than someone’s complete and undivided attention. We need to learn to ask for what we need from others in our personal and workplace relationships to feel heard, connected and respected and we need to stop making excuses for ourselves for why it’s ok to not be fully present for another human being with real and immediate needs and challenges.

    In the 7th and 8th cohorts of the Jewish Coaching Academy that I facilitated last week (email me for 2016 dates), we discussed 10 behaviors that let someone know that you were committed to being fully present for them. They include:

    • Close the door.
    • Turn off all electronic distractions.
    • Put your cell phone completely outside of your line of vision.
    • Let other people know that you’re going to be occupied, and for how long.
    • Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign up and honor it.
    • Create a time buffer before your conversation so you can clear your head from your previous work or interaction.
    • Make a list of what you need to do after this conversation so that you can be fully present now.
    • Notice when distracting thoughts come into your head, and then send them away without judgment.
    • Let the other person know if something is interfering with your ability to be fully present, and then do your best anyway.
    • Tell the other person “You have my complete attention”.

    How do I know these work? Because I use them with my clients, my friends and my family and they thank me for not just being there for them, but for really, fully being there for them. And I also know these work because I now, blissfully, shower alone.

    The Best Way to Get the Worst Results

    Last weekend, in an uncharacteristic burst of energy, I decided to tackle the piles of clutter that threatened to overtake our front entrance hall and my bedroom bookcase. Despite the fact that I knew this would thrill my (orderly and neat) husband, Michael, I decided not to announce that I was going to do it. I just did it. I managed to get the many non-book stacks of stuff off of my bookshelf and into my office/bathroom/garbage without anyone noticing what I was up to. I then went to tackle the front hall, where I had dumped everything from makeup and office supplies to spare keys and headphones (so that’s where they were!) and had promptly forgotten where they were.

    This was where I got careless. I stopped being so quiet. And I got caught.

    “Wow,” said Michael to me, eying surfaces he hadn’t seen in weeks. “You look like you’re on a roll!”

    “Yup,” I said, “I’m getting my act together.”

    And that’s when Michael committed the fundamental sin that partners, parents, bosses and co-workers make every single day:

    Since you’re in an organizing mood, I have a great project in the basement for you when you’re done with this.

    As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake. Big. HUGE!”

    What was Michael’s egregious error?

    Continue reading

    RA RA for Team Ruach!

    When it comes to getting your staff, volunteers, donors, members, etc. excited and engaged about their work for and connection to your organization, you’re going to need to create a little ruach: “RA! RA!”

    Now before you pull out your high-school pom-poms, try this less embarrassing and more effective approach to rallying the troops:

    R – Recognition: Tell your staff members and volunteers specifically what they have done to make your life easier and/or how they have contributed to the organization’s mission. Make sure that you meet each person’s preferences for how they like to be recognized (publicly vs. privately, in-person vs. over the phone, in writing, with a small token, etc.)

    A – Appreciation: The options are endless and you can find one that fits your budget and timing: take someone to lunch, give a Starbucks gift card, stop and ask them about a hobby or personal interest, offer some schedule flexibility, allot some professional development budget for them, or just take the time to tell them. Oh, and remember handwritten thank you notes? They never go out of style!

     

    R – Respect: Trade in the Golden Rule (treat others as you would want to be treated) for the Platinum Rule (treat others as THEY would would want to be treated). So, while you are finding out how each of your staff and volunteers defines respect, here’s one universally appreciated gift: Listening. Really listening. That means listening on two levels — for both content (what is being said, and what isn’t being said) and emotion (how the message is being communicated). To do this effectively, you’ll need to put away the Blackberry, turn off the lap top, and get rid of any other distractions. Attentive listening is hard — and desperately needed. But it’s free of charge and looks good on everyone. Try it.

     

    A – Accountability: When the U.S. Army was looking for a workshop on Accountability, they found my online self-assessment, downloaded it, and called us up for training. I invite you to take this assessment and see where your staff and volunteers may be looking to you for greater leadership: www.myjewishcoach.com/pdf/accountability-self-assess.pdf.

     

     

    When it comes to retaining your organizations most important resources — your human resources — make sure you take the time and make the effort to give them what they need to keep contributing.

     

     

    RA! RA!

    Deborah
    www.myjewishcoach.com

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    – Allan Finkelstein, Past President and CEO, JCC Association of North America

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