Monthly Archives: December 2018

The Warming Spices: A Medieval Touch

Category : Uncategorized

With winter upon us, who doesn’t feel like cozying up to a warm fire and drinking a hot gently spiced tea? Who doesn’t associate this time of the year with cinnamon and all the other “seasonal” spices?

The warming spices of winter have filled the marketplaces of Europe since the time of the Crusades, brought over largely by Arab spice traders through Venice from the distant Eastern lands. Venetian merchants took advantage of their geographical position halfway between the Levant and Western Europe by charging high premium fees as the middlemen in the spice trade.

From their initial introduction to Medieval Europe, the popularity of spices grew as more and more people acquired a taste for their exotic flavors. These spices, which traveled the secret and often dangerous and disputed trade routes (land and sea), were very expensive and only the very wealthy could purchase and use them.

Since the Medieval times, a lot a has changed. Today, these once very expensive spices are more widely grown and more readily available at affordable prices in our local grocery stores, thank goodness.

Ginger

Ginger is originally from China, but it quickly spread to India where it is a widely used culinary spice. It first appeared in Europe through Roman soldiers traveling from the East. It disappeared from use in Europe and then reappeared when Marco Polo brought it back from his travels to the East.

In the Middle Ages, 1/2 kg of ginger was the equivalent of one sheep in terms of payment.

Ginger is highly popular and widely used in India where it is used in gravies, pulses, curries and teas /coffees. It is also used for gastrointestinal problems, colic, dyspepsia, flu prevention and in a pulse for headaches, among other uses.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is native to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, and Burma and has a rather colorful history. As far back as 2,000 years, it was traded throughout the Middle East. Later it was brought to Europe from the Levant through Venice by mainly  Arab traders and also crusaders returning from the crusades. The transportation of cinnamon was very costly which made it available only to those of very wealthy means. It became a status symbol in Europe as it was associated with wealth.

Demand for cinnamon became so great that explorers set out to find where it came from. Eventually, they discovered cinnamon growing in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). From there, cinnamon and Ceylon became the center of much power grabbing and enslavement of the local people.

There are two main types of cinnamon consumed in the world: Ceylon cinnamon and cassia (from Indonesia). Cassia cinnamon is the cinnamon we typically use. it is stronger smelling and cheaper than the Ceylon variety. Cinnamon is quite common in cooking and baking and it has effective medicinal properties: anti-clotting, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and is effective at controlling blood sugar.

Cloves

Cloves are a very ancient spice native to the Moluccas (The Spice Islands) and were introduced into India in the 1800s. Cloves were also highly prized by the Romans. In the 16th and 17th centuries, cloves were considered one of the most highly prized spices, particularly in Europe and were said to be worth more than their weight in gold. Naturally, they were a focus of a power struggle between the competing European nations (the Dutch the Spanish and the Portuguese), even to the point of the Dutch burning down the trees in areas under the control of competing nations. Natives of the islands were irate at this disregard for their traditions.

Cloves are an underestimated spice today, but they are medicinally powerful. some of their properties are: ant-fungal.anti-sceptic,ant-bacterial, anti-spasmodic, and analgesic. They have traditionally been used for nausea, coughs, digestion, dental hygiene among other uses.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a spice native to the Banda Islands (Spice islands of Indonesia) and, like cinnamon and cloves, was a target for power struggles between the competing European nations. Although it is widely available at affordable prices today, this was not always the case. In fact, a small bag of nutmeg would have set the owner for life, financially speaking.

Nutmeg, like the other spices, was introduced into Europe (where it was highly prized) through Venice by Arab spice traders. Fashion conscious men and women of the 18th century would have the habit of carrying whole nutmegs inside little graters to always have it fresh and available. Today, nutmeg is grown more widely, particularly in the Carribean where it is found to have affinities with rum as well as chocolate.

Pepper

There is archeological evidence that India was using and trading pepper at least 2,000 years ago. Most likely, they were trading with Egypt as evidence shows peppercorns in the Egyptian tombs. Romans had latched onto the peppercorn trade by 40 A.D and were using it as currency in negotiation. Arabs, the dominant spice traders, fabricated myths about the origin and dangers of harvesting pepper in order to maintain prices.

Pepper grew to become one of the most important trading commodities in Europe. Traders and middlemen exacted exorbitant premiums to their European customers. Today pepper is more widely grown and the world’s biggest producer of pepper is Vietnam.

A Couple of Medieval Recipes

Pokerounce
  • 4 thick slices of white bread
  • 225 g of honey
  • A pinch of (each) ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground black pepper
  • 15 g of pine nuts

Toast bread well and cut into squares. place bead squares on a serving plate or dish. Heat honey in a saucepan with the spices and the ground pepper for 2 min. Be careful not to bring to a boil. Pour over the bread and sprinkle the pine nuts.

Friday Caudle

Typically served in the morning and evening. Was usually thickened with eggs. Here is another version which was also used, using almonds to thicken.

  • 275 ml of water
  • 850 ml of white wine
  • 2.5 g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • a few shards of saffron

Heat water and wine to a boil. Add almonds, honey, ginger, and stir in saffron. Remove from heat for 20 min. and then return to a boil. Serve hot in large mugs or bowls.

The Takeaway

Spices are amazing and bring flavor and “piquant” to our food and drinks. They are certainly very welcome as winter approaches. Their history is just as colorful and “piquant” as their flavors are.  I hope you enjoy “spicy” the recipes from the Medieval times. Cheers!

Have a great day.

Read Also

Essential Oils Through the Ages

Have You Tried Persimmon Nog?

Fascinating Coffee Facts

Discover Amazing Golden Milk

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Surprising Things That Cause Conflict

 

photo credit Jean Wimmerlin @jwimmerli

An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind  –  Mahatma Gandhi

We don’t want conflict and we usually hate the idea of arguments especially with those closest to us. Fighting makes us cringe at the thought and often (for a good many) brings back sad or traumatic memories of our years growing up as we remember conflicts in our homes and elsewhere. We vowed to ourselves that we would never be like that. For many, intense fighting between parents has left serious scars that they are terrified of opening up again and confronting.

Conflicts, heated discussions or ‘intense fellowships”- it does matter what we call them, conflict is conflict. We can’t live with people and we can’t live without them. People are the joy of our existence and sometimes the bane of our existence (we might think). None of us wakes up each morning thinking “Now how can I be disagreeable today”? “What can I do that will cause some conflict“? Of course not! But often we end up there anyway. So why is it that we end up in these situations. How do we go from being reasonably nice people to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde overnight?

The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself –Garth Brooks

It’s Easier to Blame

Well, for one thing, it is very easy to blame others for our circumstances. How much easier is it to look outside ourselves for the source of the problem rather than face the demons within? We go on our own little “witch hunts” in an effort to paint the other person or people in a negative light. The more we try to convince them that they are wrong and we are right, the more heated the discussions become. We become defensive and protective of ourselves and our need to be right and completely ignore the fact that it “takes two to tango”.

It really is (we think) all about what the other person does or does not do and certainly not ourselves. The things they do, the things they say get on our nerves. “Why can’t they just get it”? we wonder. “Why are they always doing or saying annoying or stupid things”? When we are in close proximity to the “offending party”, such as our spouse or our children, the thermometer can shoot up higher and more frequently.

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.

Jonathan Kozel

So, What Causes Conflict?

(1) We talk too much about ourselves, which also means we don’t listen. We are self-centered creatures. We want the attention to be on us (our problems, our accomplishments our ideas). We are so busy playing out our own life dramas and telling people about them that we sometimes don’t actually take the time to listen or be interested in what the other person has going on in their life.

Most of the time we just want an attentive audience. If we are busy talking about ourselves all the time, how can we possibly hear other people properly or even understand them? They just end up feeling that we don’t care and we can’t be trusted. Talking too much about ourselves turns people off and makes them want to find the nearest door to escape through. No one wants to spend an excessive amount of time around someone who is only focused on hearing his own voice.

(2) We overcorrect and criticize. Sometimes we spend more time telling others about their faults than we do working on ourselves. We judge others and, in doing so, it’s as if we have placed ourselves on a pedestal like we are in some way superior to them. It is easy to find fault in others, especially family members (parents?). But when we call out their shortcomings and criticize them, we are not helping them or thinking of their interest. What we really want is for them to see how right we are. It’s an ego thing.

No one is going be happy when someone corrects or criticizes them. They will just get defensive and counter-attack, rebel or simply ignore you.

(3) We rank people. In our minds and often in our speech and body language, we send a message that some people are inferior to us in some way. We look down on them. We may put them in a category of being uneducated, lazy, or just less intelligent. We judge them by their lifestyle, by their habits, by their appearance and by the way they act. Sometimes just by looking at someone we immediately decide if that person is worth our time or not, if they are worth our friendship or not.

And, make no mistake, people sense our judging, our disdain, and our ranking. They see it in our eyes and facial expressions and other body languages.

(4) We are secretly jealous. Jealousy is not called the “green-eyed monster” for nothing. When we harbor jealous feelings, automatically we can not, at the same time, harbor benevolent feelings toward people we are jealous of. It is a heart problem. We don’t want them to succeed, to have fun, to be happy and our feelings of jealousy will come out through our words and actions towards them. Sometimes they have what we want or what we think should belong to us. Jealousy will absolutely sabotage our relationships and cause conflict. We want the other person to be fully aware of how they have caused our jealousy “pity party”.

(5) We are not teachable. We resist admitting to our errors and learning from them. We resist feedback from others. In a sense, we maintain that we are right and all others are wrong. We reject help from others (even when we may clearly need it) and prefer to do things our own way. We may also imagine that others are “stupid” and don’t know what they are doing and are incompetent. We rely solely on our own understanding and reject any new information or feedback that could be helpful. Our pride prevents us from learning and growing.

Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude

William James

Some Preventative Medicine

(1) Show grace. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Allow them space to be themselves and to be human. They don’t have to measure up to our expectations. It’s ok for them (and us) to make mistakes. If we want others to be understanding toward us, we need to be understanding toward them, Give them space to learn and to grow.

(2) Encourage. Accept, approve and appreciate, as Les Giblin explains in his book “How to Have Power and Confidence in Dealing with People“. We attract more bees with nectar than with vinegar. Be a good-finder and highlight the good things about others.

(3) Be a safe person. Be the kind of person that others feel comfortable going to (like an old slipper kind of person) without fear that you will put them down or blow your stack. Can they trust that you have not other agenda other than wishing to be authentic with you? When we are authentic and trustworthy, others can feel safe to be themselves too.

The Takeaway

We are only as big as we make others feel and as small as we treat others. Conflict is simply the result of what we think about others and how we treat them as a result. There is no room for blaming or shaming because the root of the problem lies within our selves – our mind and our heart. Prevention and maintenance also reside there. If we focus on doing regular checkups with our own attitudes, we don’t have to worry too much about what others are doing.

Have a great day!

Related Posts

The Fight of Our Life

Five Ways to Survive the Inlaws

7 Effective Ways to Resolving Conflict

How to Get People to Cooperate

The Power of Our Words

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

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5 Ways We Sabotage Ourselves – The Solutions

Category : Life Tips

Do you ever have the feeling that you can’t seem to make any progress in life? You may be at loggerheads with your spouse over everything. Maybe you have a sister or brother that you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Perhaps you feel a bit lost because things around you are changing so much and making you feel fearful and uneasy. Maybe you are wondering how on earth you are going to get through this next year.

Then you look around you and it seems like everyone is happily going on with their life. They look happy. The Jones are doing fine – everything is working out for them. So “what is wrong with me?”, you may wonder. “Why can’t I get my act together”?  There are many things that can appear to stand in our way between us and a life where we can laugh, learn, grow and enjoy living. In fact, we can there are 5 main ways which we can actually use to sabotage ourselves.

Door Number One

We resist change. Change makes us very uncomfortable; we are used to our routines and ways of doing things.  So why are we so resistant?

  1. We don’t see the need for change or to change. We need to have a reason to change.
  2. We are afraid of the unknown. New circumstances make us very uneasy. We imagine the change will be for the worse instead of the better.
  3. We feel that we may lack competency and that someone might find out how incompetent we imagine that we are.
  4.  We are stuck in the old pattern of doing things and they “work for us.”  We are hardwired to stick to the old path.
  5. We lack trust and belief in the future and in the change.
  6. We may think it ( the change) is just a passing thing and it will eventually go away.
  7. We don,t feel that we were consulted (our opinion wasn’t asked for).
  8. There was inefficient communication, We weren’t told anything.
  9. It upsets our routine.
  10. Depending on our personality, change may be more or less difficult to handle.

Unlocking Door Number One

Acceptance will break down resistance. It does not mean surrendering out of weakness, but opening up new doors giving you more choices and options.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
(The Serenity Prayer)

Door Number Two

We get defensive. Most of our defensiveness happens in our close relationships: families. Defensiveness is a disease of modern days. So why do people go on defense?  It is because they anticipate or perceive some kind of threat or danger to themselves. The defensiveness is protection in order to feel emotionally safe. There is usually a trust issue going on when defensiveness is present.

Unlocking Door Number Two

Be open and transparent. Openness gives us the freedom to express our feelings and our opinions. This is the opposite of a threatening environment. Trying to defend ourselves will always make the situation worse. When we take things personally, we lose out on opportunities to learn, grow and make new connections.

Door Number Three

We judge others. Usually, we judge others because of some character flaw in ourselves. Often we see the same character flaw in other people and, rather than address our deficiency, we criticize another. Being judgemental is a compensating behavior; we do it to somehow make ourselves look better. But the opposite happens; when we tear others down, we bring ourselves down too and create a chasm between ourselves and other people.

There are people who like to think they have everything under control and don’t need anyone’s help. They also expect perfection from others and come down on them when they fail to meet this expectation. It creates a lose-lose situation.

Unlocking Door Number Three

Be genuinely interested in other people. Ask questions about them and their families or interests. And then, listen to them. Let them talk. Let them give their perspectives. Accept them as they are, not for how you think they should be. Find something to like about them and let them know you value them.

Door Number Four

We get jealous. We see others around us who have it better than us and wonder why life is so unfair. Of course, we don’t always know the backstory to anyone’s life. We just tend to look at the outside and stew in our envy.

Jealousy is a fear based emotion; it gives a feeling of loss or never getting something that we want. But jealousy will grow like cancer and cause rifts between family members, friends, and colleagues. It closes the door to communication and cooperation. The media feeds into this fear, creating false desires and needs, which in turn unstabilizes our sense of priorities.

Unlocking Door Number Four

Be thankful. There are so many benefits to having an “attitude of gratitude.” Here are a few:

1. A thankful spirit makes us happier.

2. A thankful spirit reduces anxiety and stress.

3. A thankful spirit boosts our immune system.

4. A thankful spirit strengthens relationships

5. A thankful spirit promotes forgiveness.

To fight against jealousy (or envy), be thankful, celebrate what you have in your life and serve others.

Door Number Five

We hold grudges. We hold onto hurts, perceived or real and nurture them, bake them until well done. We don’t want to let go of them because that would mean we would have to let go of our pride. It is better for us (we think) to ‘”let the other person know they are wrong.” So we stew in our resentment and it can go on for a long time. We can resent other people getting what we think we should have gotten by rights. We can resent that someone didn’t “understand” us. in the end, though, holding on to a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Unlocking Door Number Five

Forgive. That’s it, just forgive. Forgiveness will break the anger cycle and sense of being wronged. It breaks down the wall that has been erected. Forgiveness is more for ourselves than it is for the other person although it does free up the other person in our eyes. They are no longer on the blacklist. Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves: a gift of life and freedom.

The Takeaway

Often we can be our own worst enemy without even realizing it. We sabotage our progress, our relationships, and our happiness simply out of human pride. We actually don’t need enemies; we do a great job, sometimes of hurting ourselves.

Let’s be kind to ourselves and give others a little slack. We can’t have everything we want. People are going do stupid things and say stupid things. Life is not fair. And, while we’re at it, let’s not be so hard on ourselves either. Life is too short to be worrying about who got what and who hurt whom, right? Let,s live and let’s forgive and move on.

Have a great day!

Suggested Articles

5 Ways We Block Our Success

Overcoming Fear and Leaving the Comfort Zone

5 Essential Factors for Success

Has this post been helpful to you? Let me know in a comment.

Click and share below.

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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Why I Don’t Do Christmas

Category : Lifestyle

Fair warning: just saying, this post may irk some or offend others. It is different from some of my other articles. I am not going to write a fuzzy, feel-good article on Christmas. Although I have celebrated it for most of my life, I am ready to stop playing the Christmas charade.

I recognize that there is a lot of good that goes on at this time of the year and that many people reach out to those less fortunate. I am not saying that there are not good aspects to the season and a spirit of generosity. I am actually writing about the concept of Christmas. What I have an issue with, is the confusion surrounding what exactly Christmas represents and its impact. do we really know what we are celebrating or is it just “traditions of men”?

Saint Nick Mythology

First of all, there is the whole thing with Saint Nick (Santa Clause) Mythology, which has taught generations of children to believe in a fabricated story of a more or less benevolent and somewhat judgmental character who brings gifts (whatever the kids want) to “good” children while seeming to neglect the poorer children around the world. I guess his reindeer can’t make it to these children? And of course, none of this tradition teaches children about truth, since it is based on a fabrication, which is perpetuated generation to generation.

Jesus’ Birthday? Really?

Not only is there a problem with this Saint Nick Character, but there is also a problem with saying  that Christmas is all about the baby Jesus, that Jesus was “born on Christmas day”.  No, he wasn’t!! Jesus has nothing to do with Christmas and it’s not his birthday! We sing all these carols “ad nauseum”  to talk about baby Jesus and Christmas without even knowing what Christmas really is all about.

So what is it all about? Well certainly, it is not about “A White Christmas” or “Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Don’t get me started on that one). And It is certainly not about “Petit Papa Noel” either. What is Christmas?

The True History of Christmas

There is so much to be said here, so I will only give a very brief account. Christmas has deeply rooted pagan origins going back to the Babylonian Empire. Later, during the Roman Empire, there was a lot of mixing of pagan festivals and Christian beliefs. A lot of compromising was done and watering down of Christian beliefs and practices. Essentially, the Pagans celebrated the winter solstice by worshipping their “fire god” Saturn (Saturnalia), which harkens back to Semiramis (Queen of heaven) and her son (Tammuz), the sun god.  The compromising by the Christians and the Roman Catholic church led to an agreed upon date to celebrate Jesus (December 25th), but in actual fact, nothing changed; Semiramis became Mary and Tammuz became Jesus and life went on. The Roman Catholic church instituted Christ-mass.

Saturnalia

What was Saturnalia all about? Saturn was the god of fire – other names included Nimrod and Tammuz). All pâgan worship necessarily involved human child sacrifice and cannibalism (consuming the sacrifice). This was standard practice. Other things that went on were orgies, gluttony, and all kinds of debauchery that we might find unthinkable today.

It is in interesting to note, also, that the name “Santa” also comes from the name Saturn, the fire god. There is nothing new under the sun.

Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men

That is what we sing, don’t we? Christmas is all about bringing peace to the world. Or is it? Well, first of all, Jesus never said anything about bringing peace to the world. in fact, he said:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; i have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Wow! harsh words. He came to bring division. That doesn’t sound like the warm, fuzzy love of Christmas.

And what does Christmas mean to all those people who live in solitude, or are just struggling to get by? What about all the people going through tough times? The huge focus on  Christmas everywhere we look all through November and December just magnifies the pain of solitude and poverty (and homelessness). What are they supposed to think with all the focus on family gatherings, parties, and extravagant gift-giving that our society promotes? Does Santa (Saturn) care about the children living on the streets or in shanty towns around the world?

What Would Jesus Think?

I highly doubt that any of the buying frenzy, serial festivities, extravagant food fests have anything remotely connected to the real Jesus. He told us to take care of the widows and the orphans. He was concerned about the sick and the down and out. He spennt time with the rejected in our society. I do not think he is impressed by what we call Christmas and pretend to celebrate in his name.

I am a believer who has celebrated Christmas all my life. I never questioned it, but just accepted it for what it was. I guess you could say, I went into automatic Christmas mode each year But now, I think it is time to rethink or think about what we are doing and what we are celebrating. Knowing what I know now, I can not in all good conscience continue with the Christmas charade.

Joy to the World!

Jesus brings joy and I wish you joy in abundance. He gives us life and I wish you life in abundance. There is no need for Christmas to have these gifts.

Thank you for reading. This is just my experience and my reflection. I hope it will be a starting point for your own reflection on this season.

Blessings and all the best to you and your family.

Related Articles

Five Mistakes Not to Make as a Holiday Guest

How Not to Go Broke at Christmas

 

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

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The Power of Our Words Part II

Category : Life Tips

 

Words can destroy! They have power. How many of us would love to take back some (or many) of the words we have said over the years to people? How many of us have just wanted to put some duct tape over our mouth or wished we weren’t so good at blurting out things without thinking? Sometimes it feels good (for about 10 seconds) to just say it or rip into someone and let them have it, doesn’t it? For just a moment we think we know better, we think we are right or more justified than the other person. I know that I could have done with a standing order of duct tape over the years.

And what about texting?! Maybe we are more or less careful with our spoken words, but what about all those inflamed texts (or emails) we send out into cyberspace never to return? We can’t take them back and the written word remains and can even be used against us later. It’s easy to hide behind a computer or cell phone and type out our anger and literally throw word daggers at people. How many people have been damaged by a careless text message sent out? How many people have been humiliated by the text message of one person put into the hands of several people?

Why Our Words Matter

So much damage can be done. When we fling out our angry, judgmental, or discouraging words at people without a second thought. The impact of those words is received like a dagger to the heart. All the negative energy of those words can have the consequence of completely deflating the self-worth of the person. We don’t think about our words they just spill out with all our defensive anger and frustration like water from a firehose. Words have the power to build up or destroy and lives can be impacted (and destroyed) forever just because of a few careless words that were spoken.

It Only Takes a Minute

Every day we have the opportunity to impact the life of another person. We just don’t know what is happening in the lives of those around us. We could be walking by someone in the street, talking to a cashier at the grocery store, sitting beside a coworker and never know what is really going on in their lives. There is always someone who is going through a difficult time. So, we have a choice. We can choose to just walk right by them, carry on with business as usual, or we can take a few moments to say something encouraging to them and make a difference.

We just never know what a simple few words of encouragement can or will do. We don’t know to what extent those words will change the course of their lives. Will those words be the reason they have hope again? Will those words give them what they needed to not give up? Maybe those words will make them feel worthy again and valuable to others. In an extreme example, those encouraging words might mean that the person chooses not to end his life (as he may have planned to do) just because of a few encouraging words.

Encouragement of Others Begins in Our Head

We sling our words around often because we just don’t think or, at least we don’t think the right way. Firstly, we are often too wrapped up in our own lives, our personal issues, and insecurities to be thinking about what’s going on with others. We want others to concern themselves with how we’re feeling or what we are going through and we don’t take the time to step back and look at things from the other person’s perspective. And, of course, our Super Ego gets in the way.

Getting the thinking right in our own head is a good start to reining in our words and taming them. What are we thinking inside our complicated heads? What are we telling ourselves and how are we speaking to ourselves? Most likely there is a heated argument going on inside. Maybe we have conversations like the following:

You: “I have a great idea. I would like to start a business!”

Bully voice: “Are you kidding me? You don’t know anything about business! What makes you think you can do that?”

Encouraging voice: “I think you can do it! Just get the information you need and go for it!  You can do it!”

Bully voice: “Stop being a dreamer! Come back to earth and be practical! That’s only for some people, but not for you.”

And on it goes, back and forth until you don’t know what to think anymore. So, what do you do? Well, who’s in charge? just put an end to this bickering inside the head and decide what thoughts you will tolerate and which ones you will not. If we are having a war in our mind, we are certainly in no position to be able to be encouraging and uplifting to others. We need to change the thinking to change the words we speak.

We Hurt Those Who Are Closest to Us

Sometimes we get it into our head that we can say whatever we want to those closest to us because they know we love them. This is a very dangerous thought pattern. Yes, we love them and yes we can patch things up – to a point. But what happens when we go too far? What happens when we have sent word daggers one too many times? And what about the damage we do to them – to our spouse or to our children?

We can damage these relationships too. It is so easy to find fault with others, particularly our loved ones. We can change the course of their lives for better or for worse. Everyone has a tipping point. The danger with misusing words with those close to us is that we interact with them much more often on a daily basis and have far more opportunities to encourage or to discourage. We also know their weaknesses (their hot buttons) and use these against them.

At the end of the day, we have many more opportunities to create bridges or rifts. We can be a bearer of peace or a wrecking ball; it’s really our choice.

Hurting People Hurt People

We wonder why we end up in these never-ending cycles of hurting one another with our words. Words get tossed around like leaves on a fall day. Sometimes we are condescending, sometimes we are teasing family members at their expense. Sometimes we use our words to force them to agree with us or to just criticize or complain (nag, whine).  And we don’t give our words a second thought. They just leave our mouth and fly out like darts. Then we are surprised when we get hit by other word darts and we get all defensive. There is a saying that says:

Hurting people hurt people.

How true that is. We are wired to defend ourselves against attacks. We move from defense to offense fairly quickly.

Another saying goes like this:

Treat a man (or woman) as he is and you make him worse. But treat a man as he could be and you make him what he should be.

What amazing wisdom!  What if we could our eyes off of the situation, the offense, the problem and focus on the person and how he or she could be? What if we took our focus off our feelings and emotions and made a decision to use our words to be constructive and encouraging?

It is interesting that dogs always seem to have friends and most people enjoy being around them. Why is that? Well, for one thing, a dog tends to wag his tail more than his tongue. A dog focuses on connection and not conflict. Maybe there is something we can learn from dogs?

The Takeaway

Words have more power than we like to think. They have the power to change the course of lives, to build up people and nations or to destroy them. They leave our mouth and we can never ever take them back once they are released. But we also have power over our words and our thinking. We too can impact the course of lives in a positive way by our words. We don’t have to be a victim of our thinking or our words and others do not have to either. Everything begins in our head with how we choose to think about ourselves and others. Be the change you want to see!

Have a great day!

Read Also

The Seeds of Possibility

Overcoming Fear and Leaving the Comfort Zone

How to Get People to Cooperate

Articles from: Possibility of change

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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5 Ways to Survive the In laws

Category : Life Tips

photo credit: Sharina Mae Agelian @shrnaa

What a tricky relationship the in-law relationship can be. Did we marry them?   Sometimes it seems that way. There are endless stories of crazy, troubling and hurtful in-law relationships and there are also probably just as many in-law relationships that are quite harmonious. Sometimes we may feel that they come over just a little too often and give just a little too much advice on how to best (take your pick) raise the children, be a good wife, clean the house, treat the family etc. The difficult mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is a notorious stereotype.

But, are the in-laws just difficult people who want to make your life miserable? Are they a necessary burden that you have to put up with? For many, this relationship can drive a wedge between you and your partner. It can really seem like an ongoing cultural clash. Many people may feel caught between trying to “please” the in-laws (or maybe, more correctly, trying to avoid problems) and wanting to feel free to be themselves and have their own space.

To work out this sometimes trying relationship, here are some tips to help make it go just a little more smoothly and maybe even turn it into a great relationship.

In-laws Are People Too, and They Are Parents

Firstly, the in-laws are people. Just saying that can open up a can of worms. People come with baggage, perspectives, beliefs, and ways of doing things, which may or may not clash with how we do things. (Most of the time) they are not really out to make our life miserable (in general). What they really want is to feel important and valued in the relationship. In-laws may still be trying to hold on to the parent-child relationship and can feel hurt when they are told (sometimes not so gently) that their role has changed.

It may help to try to put ourselves in their shoes and walk a mile in them. How would we feel if we have spent close to 20 or 25 years in a close relationship (parent-child) with a person, and held a role of parental authority and then, all of a sudden someone else comes into the picture, usurps our role (we think) and becomes the sole focus of our daughter or son? How would we feel to be told that we are to keep our “parental” distance and that our role is no longer what it was?

Of course, I am not saying that there aren’t unreasonably controlling in-laws out there who, no matter how gently, how kindly you try to treat them, will still choose not to understand and will continue to be intrusive. Some can be controlling, manipulative, and dysfunctional.  But, in general, it is good to try to put ourselves in their shoes for a bit and try to understand where they are coming from.

Good Fences Make Good Relations

Boundaries are important to preserving your relationship with your partner and maintaining family harmony. It is important to clearly communicate what your limits are to your in-laws so that they can understand and, hopefully, respect them. But these limits need to first be clear in your mind first. What are your limits as a couple? You are, in fact, part of a new family, but you are also a new family within a family, which makes for complications if communication is not clearly established.

Decide ahead of time, not in the middle of family conflict, what your expectations and limits are. Be specific and respectful. Let your in-laws know that you love them and appreciate what they have to offer, but also that, as a new family, you have new family rules. Go the extra mile and include them, as much as you are able, in family activities. Let them know that they are welcome and appreciated.

Sometimes boundaries will mean that compromises need to be made. You may need to add some water to the wine in order to respect your boundaries while showing that you appreciate your in-law’s contribution. Finding common ground may help to appease fiery differences of opinion.

Don’t Take Things Too Personally

At the end of the day, most of what people say is just an opinion and not truth. We can listen to what people say without having to agree. Often what we perceive as intrusive or controlling has more to do with how the other person deals with life than with us personally. Our in-laws can give us advice, criticize our ways of doing things, complain about how they don’t see us enough etc. etc, and we can listen to their concerns without having to give in. We are not obliged to follow their advice or change what we do.

What we can do is listen. We can sincerely listen to hear what their perspective is. And really, that is what they are looking for anyway, isn’t it? They want to be heard. They want to feel involved and appreciated for their contribution.

photo credit: Richard James @richardconr

Separate Your Partner From Your In-laws

Don’t bring your partner into the boxing ring. You don’t have to use him or her as a punching bag to air out your frustration at his or her parents. Doing this will only alienate you from him or her and create a chasm between you. Your partner is not your in-laws even though he or she may be from their family. Actually, a better strategy is to discuss the situation and not the people. Focus on the problem and how to solve it rather than bringing in your personal issues and agenda.

If you take out the personal feelings and concentrate on the problem objectively, it is easier to find solutions. Be businesslike and not reactionary. Analyze and strategize. Being cool-headed about the situation and how to deal with it can help to resolve in-law (and other) problems as well as help to prevent future problems.

Your partner is your team member. You are on the same team. Sometimes it may mean that you have to “take one for the team.” You may have to give a little, compromise a little, or step back and swallow your pride. Sometimes peace will come at a cost.

Go the Extra Mile

Ok, so maybe your in-law relationship isn’t that great. Maybe you feel that you can not even live on the same earth with them let alone get along. Maybe you feel like you have been burdened with this millstone for life. I am quite sure many people are or have been in your shoes.

What about changing things up a bit? What about doing something unexpected and kind for them. What about going out to lunch with your mother-in-law and just taking the time to listen (yes, I said listen, not talk) to her. Focus on her. Ask her questions about what it was like for her raising her son. Ask her about her memories. Go down memory lane with her. She may enjoy the opportunity to share her life with you.  In the case of a son-in-law, ask your father-in-law to teach you about a special skill he has. Maybe you might find a common bond.

The Takeaway

The one thing about this world is that we will all have to deal with people, in-laws or others. And they will have to deal with us. Cultural clashes and values clashes are bound to happen, but they don’t have to be a battleground.  Putting situations into their proper perspective, setting boundaries, communicating and valuing people over differences can all go a long way towards mending and building strong family relationships. It always requires a give and take, and more often giving than taking.

Have a great day!

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Read Also

5 Surprising Things that Cause Conflict

7 Effective Ways to Resolving Conflict

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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What Is Going On In Your Canoe?

Category : Life Tips

 

 

I can’t say that I am an avid canoer, but I do know a few things about canoeing. First off, I know that it is important to get into the canoe carefully so it won’t tip. I know that it is important for the canoers to paddle on opposite sides of the canoe and to balance it with their weight evenly spread out. I know that if one person stops canoeing, the canoe will go in circles, but if both people continue to paddle regularly, the canoe will advance forward. I also understand that one person (the one at the back) is the one who makes decisions about how fast to paddle or when to slow down or stop.

So that is pretty good as far as my knowledge of canoeing goes. The main goal is to get the canoe going in the direction you want it to go and to move along as smoothly and as quickly as you can (but sometimes you can rest too).  It is a team effort and nothing goes well without both people working in synchronization and towards the common goal.

So What Is Happening In Your Canoe?

Maybe you are wondering what on earth I am talking about. What about my canoe? Well, the canoe is an analogy for a relationship, for a marriage partnership. And before you jump to conclusions, let’s look at how canoeing and a marriage partnership are a lot alike.

So, in your canoe, you each have a paddle to paddle with. One of you is paddling on one side and one is paddling on the other. In the canoe, since you are stuck in the same boat, supposedly, you are heading in the same direction. Hopefully, you don’t want to jump out into the water. First of all, you will get wet and quite possibly, the whole canoe might tip over and everyone will be in the water (even the dog if he is with you). It is probably best to keep paddling to keep the canoe on course.

Don’t Capsize the Canoe!!

So, if you do feel like jumping out of the canoe, maybe you should talk with one another first about what that will do to both of you, the canoe and about how hard it will be to get the canoe right side up again and on course again. Communication is key here. First of all, does each of you know that you have decided to stay in the canoe? You should let one another know. The ride may not be easy. It may seem more like whitewater rafting sometimes and there may be branches in the way. Someone may need to call out ‘BRANCH!!” Definitely, communicate about your commitment to stay in the canoe.

Paddle on your side of the boat and trust that the other person is doing his job. You can’t both paddle on the same side – the canoe will go in circles. Make sure you communicate who is doing what and who is paddling on which side so you don’t get confused. Have an idea of where you are going and who needs to do what. And please, don’t smack the other person on the head with your paddle. The paddle might break (hopefully not) or you might give the other person a massive headache!  Don’t smash the paddle!

Everyone Has a Job

Don’t worry too much about how the other person is paddling; just concentrate on how well you are paddling. It doesn’t do any good to criticize their paddling skills, You won’t get to your destination any faster and the other person might just whack you over the head with their paddle. Each of you has a job to do and each is part of the canoeing team. It might be good from time to time to tell the other person what an awesome job he is doing and that you are glad you are in the canoe together.

How are your paddling skills? Hopefully this is not your first time canoeing and hopefully, you have practiced and improved your canoeing skills. It takes practice and, of course, you have to learn from your mistakes. Sometimes learning from other more experienced canoers can help you to get better. Each of you can develop your canoeing skills to work better as a team.  But always remember, stay in control of your paddle. You need your paddle to keep the canoe going forward.

Someone Has to Steer

You can’t both sit in the back of the canoe; the canoe would rise up at the front with all the weight at the back and that won’t get you anywhere. You might just flip over backward. One person has to sit at the back with a good vision of the canoe and where it is headed. You can’t see the person steering because your back is to him, but you need to trust that he can see where you are both headed and follow the lead. Remember, you are both in the canoe together, so he has a vested interest in the canoe staying afloat. Let the person at the back steer and you take care of your paddling.

Make Sure You Don’t Put Holes in the Canoe

Holes in the canoe are both people’s responsibility. Holes can mean water will slowly start to fill up the canoe and it will eventually sink. You may have a bucket to take out the water, but if the hole is too big you will have a problem on your hands and you won’t be canoeing for very long. It is best to make sure that the canoe has no holes and that you avoid anything sharp like rocks that could puncture the canoe and cause it to sink. Also, it is a good idea not to slack on the paddling; keep paddling and it the canoe is filling up with water, make sure you pitch in and dump out the water.

Relax!

Remember why you decided to go canoeing in the first place. You both like canoeing, right? Didn’t you both decide to do this? So, it’s a nice day, why not enjoy the ride and the time together. Enjoy the peace of the river or lake you are on. Don’t worry so much about all the rocks and messy stuff. It will get dark soon and you will need to get to your destination before it gets dark. You certainly don’t want to be stuck out on the lake in the dark, do you? So, have fun and paddle on!

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Read Also

5 Ways to Survive the Inlaws

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

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5 Mistakes Not To Make as a Holiday Guest

Category : Life Tips

photo credit Erwan Hesry @erwanhesry

(Satire)

You have been anxiously awaiting the holiday celebrations – the parties, the get-togethers. Now is your time to shine! Now you can let everyone know what has been going on in your life and what your year has been like. With a little practice and preparation, you can pull off a good show. You too can become an expert at being the guest no one wants to invite back again. Really, there are some very simple rules to follow.

Rule Number One

Always arrive late, make a grand entrance, and talk loudly to make sure everyone knows you have arrived. Seriously, just monopolize your entrance. Expect the host to hang up your coat (stand there until the host offers to do so) and of, course, just walk right in with your outdoor shoes on. Go right on in and announce that you have arrived, so the party can begin (after all, that is what everyone was waiting for, weren’t they?) Just hand over your platter of food that you brought to the hostess (with a “here, take this, will you.”) and head off to the group of guests. Don’t bother offering the hostess any help.

Rule Number Two

Be the center of attention. Don’t give anyone the chance to get a word in edgewise. Why should they interrupt your running narrative about yourself and all your super funny stories? They can save the questions until after you are done, right?  Be the one with the best jokes to tell and don’t worry too much if they are sexist, or in anyway inappropriate. I mean. the others will understand and overlook these details, won’t they? Remember that when others are talking, you can always interject with something to say that is funnier or more interesting. After all, you are wittier, have more things to say and are just generally a more interesting person.

Rule Number Three

While you are at it, being the center of attention, you can also be the one who knows everything, is good at everything and has done everything. Of course, the food is tasteless and generally badly cooked in your qualified opinion. You could certainly have done better. Please, by all means, let the hostess and any others who have contributed food know about their failings. Give them some of your expert advice on how to do it better next time. You certainly will have people talking about you then. Be sure to let everyone know what a masterpiece you have brought as a contribution and about how it took you three days to prepare it to perfection.

Rule Number Four

Be the ultimate gift giver who outshines everyone. Let others know how you were able to find just the right gift for each person and how you are master at finding sales and wrangling deals. Comment on the gifts others have given and about how you could have found that at a really good price. Alternately, you could talk about how expensive yours was but “you were worth it”.  Yes, definitely make the others feel inadequate. Add in, for good measure, about how you have a similar item but it is so much better. Make a big show when your gifts are being given. Let people know in an elaborate way that you had to go out of your way to find this most extraordinary gift. It is simply amazing!

Rule Number Five

Absolutely do not offer to help with anything. Keep your position as the center of attention and make sure everyone is listening to you instead of helping out. Why should you help clear away plates or clean up? It’s not your house and you’re a guest, right? Let all the women (if you are a guy) do the cleaning. That’s what women are for, right? Just keep on with the jokes and entertainment. Nope, it is not your job to help out in any way. And, as you are leaving (and the others are helping out), just give the hosts a jovial goodbye and let them know how much you enjoyed yourself and add a “let’s do this again, next year” passing comment.

So, if you practice hard, plan well and adhere to these five guidelines, you will definitely be remembered by all. People will certainly remember you next time they are planning a get-together and might “neglect” to put you on the guest list. You will have had your show and been in the spotlight, so no worries, right?

Have a great day!

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please leave a comment.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

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Focus On THIS To Improve Your Finances

Category : Life Tips , Success

photo credit: Michel Longmire @f7photo

Sometimes it seems like the whole money thing is a big mystery. It comes in one door and slips out the back door and we never see it again.  We think we are earning $$$ ( X amount) each month and then it suddenly seems that there is more month than money. The money didn’t wait until the end of the month to disappear. And on and on it goes month after month like a revolving door.

So we say to ourselves “If only I made $$$$  (more than X amount) each month. Then my money troubles would be resolved. But, is that really true? Does it really depend on how much we make each month or year?

No, it doesn’t.  If you have bad money habits with a little money, you are going to have bad habits with a lot of money. The difference is that the crash hurts a lot more when you take a downswing with lots of money than if you lose with a smaller amount of money. The stakes are higher, the more money you make, but both scenarios can lead you into broke and even bankruptcy.

So, What’s the Secret?

The secret is Financial Literacy. It is understanding and applying the practice of giving yourself a security net so that when the gut shots come and when you get hit hard, you have a something to buffer you so that you don’t crash and burn. Think of the trapeze artists. When they practice and when they perform, they know that there is a net below to catch them when they fall. So, it’s basically the same idea.

Financial literacy is rare in our society. It is certainly was not taught in our schools (maybe it is now, I don’t know).  The banking industry does not stand to profit from a society that is financially literate; they need for people not to understand these basics. It is in their best interest for you to be their asset and your own liability. They depend on you to rack up interest payments on your credit card (s) for things you bought but didn’t have the money to pay for.

What Exactly Is Financial Literacy?

Basically, Financial literacy is having a complete understanding of money. It is the application of financial principles to give yourself a protection against financial hardships (like job loss, medical emergencies and other situations that dig into our money bag). Just ss book literacy is the key to opening up many opportunities, so financial literacy opens you up to a freedom from debt bondage.

What About Financial Security – What Is That?

Financial security describes a situation where even if you lost your main source of income for a significant amount of time (6 months to a year) or a medical emergency came along, it would not send you into a tailspin or a panic. It would not mean that your current lifestyle would change in any major way. It describes a situation where you have put measures in place to buffet these “forks in the road” and you have time to adjust.

Without Financial literacy and applying the principles of financial literacy, you are simply not going to be able to have financial security. You may have the “appearance” of doing okay, but the backstory of a debt lifestyle will catch up to you. Maybe you are thinking that it is normal to have debt. Everyone has debt, everyone has a mortgage (or two). Maybe you think that being able to live debt free is (1) unthinkable, (2) not normal and (3) not possible. But have you ever thought about where we got these ideas from in the first place?

A debt lifestyle has not always been an everyday reality. There was a time when people simply did not buy what they did not have the money for -they lived without. We are conditioned to think and live like this. It is ingrained in our society to have a microwave approach to living. Advertising has conditioned us to want “stuff” and get it now. We are conditioned to feel that we deserve what they are selling and to buy it immediately rather than wait until we have saved up for it or rationalized that we don’t actually need it.

Money Will Either Work For You or Against You

Ask yourself the question “Am I waking up poorer or richer each day?” The answer to this question will show you where you are with regards to Financial literacy. The principle of compounding is either working in your favor or it is working against you. For example, if you are accumulating credit card debt, this is an example of how compound interest is working in favor of the banking institution and against you. You may say “Oh but I have a retirement savings plan that pays me interest”  That may be true, but if the credit card interest you owe is higher than the interest you are getting in your plan, you are going backward.

If compound interest is still working against us evidenced by whether we are moving forward or backward financially, we have not yet mastered Financial literacy. You might be saying right now that, with your job and family situation, it is near impossible to get to that point. You might be saying that money is tight and you simply don’t have it (the time is not right). Well, the reality is there never, ever will be a good time. Time does not wait for us to decide or to act. There is a saying that says:

When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. When is the next best time to plant a tree? Right now!

If you want results, if you want to improve your money situation, if you are just starting out in life or if you are advanced in life:

(1) Begin as soon as possible.

(2) Stick to it, don’t give up and let time work for you.

(3) Be careful who you give your money to. Evaluate fees and services.

Ok, So Where Do I Start?

Sit down and determine what you can do without each month. Be ruthless, but don’t put yourself in the street (so to speak). Where is money being spent wastefully? Are there any habits you could change that could bring down costs? Groceries are a big-ticket – could you adopt a once a month shopping excursion and bi-monthly cooking plan? Could you thrift shop for clothes or just find new ways to wear the ones you have? There are many ways to cut back.

photo credit: Jonathan Brinkhorst @jbrinkhorsr

Do you track your spending? Do you know down to the penny (yes, I said “down to the penny“) how much money is going out of the household each week or each month?  Do you keep a ledger to track this spending and do you compare your spending from month to month?  Like I said, getting back on track with your finances requires being ruthless. It requires separating the necessary from the non-necessary.

Do you know how much money is coming in? This is your net salary, not the before taxes salary. Do you make buying decisions based on the actual money coming in or based on what they say your (pre-taxes) salary is?  There is a financial principal which says that we should not spend more than what we receive (living within the limits of our takehome pay). Keep track of this as well. Know how much is coming in and track what is going out and the second should be less than the first.

Last Tip: Invest In Yourself!

One of the biggest “money mistakes’ that people make is that:

They spend when they should be saving and they save when they should be spending.

Your brain is a powerhouse of potential wealth. Investing in self-education (apart from traditional and conventional education) is the number one (bar none) that you can do to progressively increase your wealth. Investing in your mind through reading good books (ones that help you to think differently and encourage you to grow), listening to stimulating and empowering audios and getting around people who also desire to improve themselves is the very best way to put yourself on a new path of improvement all around: better career opportunities, promotions, better skills and improved personal and business relationships.

The Takeaway

Making money is not as complicated or as hard as people like to think it is. We have just made it seem complicated. The secret is simple (note: I did not say easy) and effective: follow principles and not emotions. That’s it! Learn to say no to yourself and others. Tune out the advertisers and their megaphones. It’s just nose anyway. Remember who the most important person is: You! Treat yourself as important and invest in yourself, but don’t buy any excuses from yourself.

Cheers to a new start!

Has this post been helpful to you? Please leave a comment.

Click and share below.

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

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This blog post was inspired by:

Financial Fitness (The Offense,  Defense and Playing Field of Personal Finance), Chris Brady & Orrin Woodward, Obstacles press, 2014

This post does not propose to give any financial advice; It is meant for educational purposes only.

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Do These 5 Things for a Successful Interview

Category : Life Tips

There are many articles out there on what to do to have a great job interview.  I certainly could list all the techniques. But really, when all is said and done, it really comes down to whether you and the interviewers click. It comes down chemistry and likeability. For sure, qualifications are important, but when everything else is equal, it comes down to a question of whether they like you as a person and would like to work with you.

Of course, it goes without saying that you need to be prepared, that you need to research the company and that you should have appropriate and pertinent questions to ask. Beyond all this, however, your people skills (some call them “soft skills”) are what are going to make or break the interview. The interviewers want to know if you are confident and teachable. They want to see if you would fit in well with the rest of the organization (the other employees). They want to know if you have good adaptability skills. Your ability to deal with and get along with others is an important factor in hiring.

Make An Effective and Positive First Impression

First impressions say a lot and how we are dressed and groomed speaks volumes. When we dress appropriately for a job interview, we are conveying the message that we respect the company and the people interviewing us. A neat and appropriate appearance speaks to how we value ourselves as well, the respect we have for ourselves. Employers want to see that we carry ourselves with confidence and an attention to detail. For them, this is an indication of how we will approach our work at their company or business.

Pay attention to every detail. Be punctual and courteous. Interviewers do not have time to waste waiting for late candidates and lack of punctuality will be seen as a clear lack of respect for their time. Remember to greet the receptionist with as much regard as you would for the person (or persons) interviewing you. And while you are waiting for your interview, please don’t have your cell phone out. Keep it away and on mute.  No one enjoys watching someone tapping away at a cell phone or being disturbed by someone talking (or texting) on his phone. Furthermore, this only shows that you are disinterested in the company and the people around you. Remember, the receptionist has her eye on you. He or she is the “eyes” for the employer and the official “gatekeeper.”

The time you are waiting for your interview is an excellent opportunity to look around and get a feel for the company or business. Try to gauge the atmosphere and the social temperature. You can pick up clues from this activity that will help you in the interview. Don’t waste waiting time just waiting. You can also spend this time working on your own mental image and how you see yourself. Build up your confidant and friendly self right there while you are waiting. Have a heart to heart talk with yourself to make sure you have a winning mindset from the gate.

Use Body Language to Your Advantage

The interview begins well before the actual job interview. It may begin in the parking lot or the lobby. You never know who is observing you, so it is a good idea to exude quiet and friendly confidence wherever you are. Your body language conveys a good deal of information about you.  Even if you are not aware of it, other people most certainly will be.

Walk confidently and smile (be friendly) to everyone you meet. Even while you are waiting for the interview, don’t sit hunched over or slouch down in the chair offered you. Good posture shows confidence, friendliness, and preparedness. Smile! Smile at everyone who speaks to you. People will perceive you as friendly and approachable and a smile will put you at ease as well. A smile can break down a lot of barriers. Good eye contact shows sincerity. It reveals that you can be trusted and that you trust the person you are speaking to. And, finally, a firm (not wimpy or bone crushing) handshake shows confidence and connection. It seals the connection.

As you are being led into the interview room, respect protocol by following the lead – walk behind, not in front of your escort. Wait until being offered a seat before sitting and sit with good posture. Be balanced in everything, including your hand gesturing. You certainly do not want to give the impression that you are overly excited with waving hands. Also, while it is good to make eye contact, it is best not to sustain prolonged eye contact-that would just look weird and intimidating.

Be a Respectful Conversationalist

Good conversationalists are good listeners. Listen thoughtfully and attentively. This is how you will be able to come up with pertinent questions to ask and the interviewer will see that you have been listening. Don’ t be afraid to ask for clarification. The interview is as much an opportunity for you to see if the position is a good fit as it is for the interviewer. Above all, don’t talk too much. Don’t ramble on about yourself or your accomplishments. You will just come across as being a conversation hog. No one enjoys listening to someone ramble on about all they have accomplished.

Ask pertinent questions. Ask the interviewer to clarify or expand on points made. Pertinent questions relative to what was discussed show your interest in knowing more as well as sincerity. When you are asked questions, consider the question thoughtfully. A thoughtful response shows respect for the one asking the question. A hasty response does not convey a positive image. On the contrary, you will come across as someone that does not think things out carefully, which does not reflect well.

Show Appreciation for the Interviewer’s Time

The interviewers have taken time out of their busy schedule to meet with you. Let them know that you appreciate their time and use it wisely.  Be courteous and respect the time frame. You are probably not the only candidate; they have to meet with many others. Get right to the point when answering and asking questions and only ask questions which are directly pertinent to the position. Wait until they indicate the interview is over, but don’t try to prolong it with unnecessary talk. For a good ending to a job interview, rise smoothly and offer a firm handshake, a warm smile, and friendly eye contact. Thank the interviewers for their time and affirm that you look forward to seeing them again.

On your way out, remember to greet the receptionist again and thank her for her time. Remember he or she is the gatekeeper. Leave him or her with a good impression of you. Follow up your interview with a thank you note (or email). This detail is always appreciated. Let them know again that you appreciated their time and that you look forward to hearing from them.

Remember:  The Soft  Skills Matter

Of course competency and experience count for a lot. But, what people really want to know is whether they like you and will be able to work with you. If you come across as a well-skilled, but unenthusiastic or unconfident candidate, they will for sure wonder if you will be able to fit in. If you are highly competent but neglect the basic courtesies, your chances of being hired are less. A candidate who talks too much about himself will leave the interviewers thinking that he is more interested in himself ( and his accomplishments) than working with others on a team and for common goals.

People always appreciate a person who is interested in them and who expresses this interest. They love people who are good listeners and who ask pertinent questions. Interviewers are looking for people who have good communication skills, can work well in a team environment and who generally have a positive and friendly outlook. No matter how competent you may be for the position in question, if you do not possess good interpersonal communication skills and a positive attitude, this lack will lessen your chances of a successful interview.

The Takeaway

You can ace the interview. You can leave a great lasting impression. It really comes down to some very simple things which are really all about valuing the other person and his time. Be likable in your approach. Take an interest in others. Show appreciation and courtesy. Listen more than you talk and smile with your eyes as well as with your mouth.  Great people skills can make up for any competency holes you may have in your résumé. this doesn’t mean you should apply for a position for you are completely unqualified, though. It just means that you can make up for any weakness with a winning people-oriented approach.

Have a great day!

Read Also

5 Ways We Block Our Success

5 Essential Factors For Success

How to Be the Person Everyone Likes

Has this post been helpful to you? Let me know in a comment.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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