Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Happiness is Overrated

Pamela Jett, CSP

Trouble ahead, Businessman with umbrella standing in front of stHave you ever found yourself in a situation where “choosing to be happy” or any of the other peppy pieces of advice often given by professional speakers from the platform just don’t seem to be working? Or, in a serious situation where being perky, upbeat, and a ray of cheerful sunshine doesn’t seem possible. Perhaps you’ve even found yourself facing a challenge or loss where being upbeat and chipper may even be downright inappropriate.

When challenged to “choose to be happy” or given other motivational nuggets, you might find yourself occasionally cringing and thinking, “here we go again.” Or, “Nothing is that simple. Things are complicated. My pressures and stressors are real!”

Eggs emotion concept. Clenched teeth. Angry and annoyed. Photo for your design

A perky, positive attitude has its place. Exuberant cheerfulness by choice can, without a doubt, help create a positive environment. Yet, after over 2 decades of working with professionals to enhance their communication and leadership skills, and frequently encouraging people to “choose to be happy,” I’ve recently decided that happiness is overrated.

Choosing to be happy is good. It is powerful. And, sometimes we need something more.

In the midst of challenges, and without a doubt we live in challenging times, what individuals, teams, and leaders really need is the ability to move forward and be productive while simultaneously acknowledging the impact change, crisis, and serious challenge has on people, teams, organizations, and even cultures. Failing to recognize these very real struggles can cause leaders to lose credibility and for teams to be less effective. Failure to acknowledge challenges minimizes psychological safety, a key driver of success.

Imagine if a leader had to lay off a substantial number of employees on a Friday. It would be not only absurd for them to come into work on Monday all chipper and upbeat, it would be counter-productive for them to do so. Team members would wonder “don’t they know our friends and colleagues are without a job? Are they that insensitive or delusional?” Leaders would lose credibility if they were chipper and upbeat. Teams would no longer trust their leader or feel safe. And yet, leaders are still tasked with moving projects forward, charting a course for success, and setting a positive example. That’s a tough spot. Happy and upbeat is a poor choice. Morose and depressed isn’t good either.

It’s in times like these that what we really need is the ability to choose to be relentlessly positive. Relentless positivity is the constant application of effective and productive optimism.

The constant and unabating application of effective and productive optimism-3

Based in neuroscience and with a focus on business application, the art of choosing to be relentlessly positive is something everyone can master. Relentless positivity moves us beyond the power of positive thinking and into the mindset and language crucial for resilience and success in today’s world.

Pamela Jett, CSP is a leadership and communication expert based in Phoenix, AZ. Delivered with energy, humor, and a dash of neuroscience, her latest keynote presentations, The Relentlessly Positive Leader and The Relentlessly Positive Communicator, provide audiences of all types new, evidence-based tools to overcome adversity and challenges.

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Why Leaders Need to Stop “Making Changes”

by Pamela Jett, CSP

Group of successful young business persons together

A few days ago I had the privilege to work with one of my favorite clients, Norton Healthcare in Louisville, KY.  I’ve been working with them for the past several months facilitating their Women’s Leadership Academy.  This academy is made up of bright, motivated, and professional women leaders from around the healthcare system.  Discussions are consistently robust, thought provoking and lively. In addition to sharing communication and leadership skills with them, I always learn something from the attendees.  This session was no exception.

As leaders, the words we choose to use and the words we choose to lose can make all the difference in our effectiveness.  During this session we were talking about how to best navigate the pushback or resistance that teams will often display when a new policy or procedure is being implemented or when change is happening. An attendee, Beth, made a very astute observation. An observation that got me thinking and all of us talking.

Beth mentioned that she has learned in her leadership role that often team members have a very adverse reaction (notice, I didn’t say response) to the mere uttering of the word “change.”  This is true even if the “change” is a small one, or a change with extremely obvious positive benefits, or one that people have been lobbying for.  Team members often hear the word “change” and immediately go into resistance mode or become skeptical. Some team members can even become downright angry or hostile towards the change process before it even begins.

Has this been your experience?  It has been mine.  It also makes sense.  One of the things we know from neuroscience, is that the brain classifies “change” as “threat.” When humans feel threatened, all of the adverse reactions noted above are not only understandable, they are even predictable.

So, what can a savvy leader do?  Clearly, creating a team where nothing changes is not only a poor choice, it is not possible. Change is inevitable. Without change there is no growth. Change is necessary for teams, organizations, and even societies to thrive. The question becomes how to best manage change and lead people through the change process.

Good advice on that subject is easy to find.

Good leaders typically implement that good advice.

And yet, people still are resistant.

Here is where the Women’s Leadership Academy participant, Beth, made an astute observation and offered a savvy tip. Stop using the word “change” as often as possible. She shared that it had been her experience that if she could replace the word “change” with a different word, the resistance was less instantaneous and often less intense. Here are some of the words Beth and the other attendees agreed could work.

  • Adjust
  • Tweak
  • Upgrade
  • Enhance
  • Fine-tune
  • Refine

Obviously, this is only the start of what could be a very long list.  What words can you think of?

Words matter. From the receiver’s perspective, it is much more palatable to hear “we are going to adjust this process” or “we are going to upgrade this process” than “we are going to change this process.”

“It’s time to fine-tune our approach” sounds, and is, more positive than “it’s time to change our approach.”

The new wording sets people up for a positive experience and is less likely to trigger the “threat” reaction. It also allows people to know what they have been doing wasn’t all bad or all wrong. It allows leaders to stay positive (relentlessly positive), even when delivering a message that can sometimes be negative. 

Savvy leaders know that the words the words they choose to use can make all the difference. Making the effort to choose positive words as opposed to negative words (and change is often perceived as a negative) can become a key leadership success differentiator. Take the opportunity to replace “change” and watch resistance and pushback lessen and compliance and even enthusiasm increase.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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How to be Your Own Career Superhero

woman opening her shirt like a superhero

woman opening her shirt like a superhero

Have you ever wondered why some people’s careers simply seem to skyrocket?  Or, wondered how some people seem to get more attention and opportunities than others?   Have you ever wondered if there was some sort of way you could launch yourself onto the fast-track?  If so, take heart.  There are ways you can be your own career superhero and “save the day.” All you need are a few simple strategies to unleash your own inner superhero.

Embrace this Truth – No One is Rushing to Your Career Rescue

 For over 20 years I’ve been speaking about communication, leadership, and career advancement.  One of the most common comments from audience members is something along the lines of “I work hard and yet I don’t seem to get promoted.”  My follow up question is typically “what opportunities have you put yourself forward for recently?” The response?  Crickets.  It seems that many professionals are waiting for their good work to get noticed or for their leader to suggest they apply for an opportunity.  That RARELY happens.  Professionals who want to get on the fast-track know they need to make it happen themselves instead of waiting for their leader to place them there. Stop waiting for your good work to get noticed and appreciated.  Start taking proactive steps to be your own superhero right now.

Know Your “Superpowers” and Leverage Them

Here is some common advice “you want to uncover your weaknesses and shore them up.” Good advice?  Not really.  Of course we want to improve if we are weak in crucial areas.  However, if we place all of our efforts on getting better at something we are not good at, the best we can hope for is mediocrity or being average in most cases.  Why not take that same effort and energy (or at least a substantial portion of it) and look at what you are good at… really good at and figure out how to use that to make an extraordinary contribution to your organization’s success?  THAT will get you noticed.

Track Your Success 

Research reveals that we tend to remember our mistakes 7 times (yes, 7!!!) longer and with much more intensity than our successes.  Think about that.  If I were to ask you to “share your biggest win this quarter” it might be rather hard to come up with something immediately. Some of you might not come up with anything or if you did you would immediately downplay your success in your mind or even feel guilty – as if sharing it would be bragging.  However, “share where you really botched it recently” would likely generate an unlimited stream of mistakes, missed opportunities, and other errors.  This is human nature (seriously, there is neuroscience which backs this up.)  A great way to make sure this doesn’t happen to you at a crucial time (like a performance review) is to keep a “glory file.”  Whenever you have a “win” record it in your “glory file.”  When your leader compliments you, make a note for your glory file. If you receive a complimentary email, print it and file it!  Track the good things you do so that you can review it when you are feeling low or before a crucial conversation.  Trust me, you are letting a lot of “wins” slide right past you.  By tracking them you increase your ability to recognize them, remember them, and leverage them.

Leverage Your “Wins”

While keeping a “glory file” is a great practice, professionals who are their own super heroes are doing something proactive with that information.  One strategy is to send regular “I’m Great Updates” to your immediate supervisor or executive leader.  Of course, you don’t have to title them that.  However, that’s what they are.  They are a tool to update your leader on all you’ve done well.  It’s a brief email focused on the highlights of your accomplishments over any given any period of time. You can send one once a quarter or once a month.  One a week might be too often. Sending this written update is helpful in many ways:

  • It serves as a summary and memory trigger you can use at review time.
  • It can help you leader track your accomplishments and increases the likelihood that the accomplishments show up in your review.
  • The simple act of sending the update sets you apart from others.

Make an Impact

Know how what you do on a regular basis makes an impact on your organization’s big picture goals and strategic vision. Take a moment to determine what you do on a regular basis and then draw a straight line from that activity to a big picture goal or objective. If it is something that can be measured or expressed as a number of some sort, that is even better. Use this strategic language “what this means is…” to point out the impact of what you do. Place these impact statements in your “I’m Great Updates.” Use them in your conversations with your leader.  By pointing out the impact of what you do, you show not only awareness of your contributions, you also display awareness of the bigger picture, a crucial component of career success.

Be Your own Superhero

Stop waiting for someone else to boost your career. Take a proactive approach by using these strategies.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.


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Avoid This One Thing and Stop Sabotaging Good Relationships

Pop art and comic design
Pamela Jett, CSP

I was having lunch with a few colleagues the other day. We were discussing our goals and plans for our respective businesses and one colleague, a colleague I also consider a good friend, admitted one of the things she needed to focus on “wasn’t really very energizing.” Immediately, I piped up with a cheerful, positive and energetic  “yes it is!” This was well intended. It was my goal to be helpful. And, it was also a poor choice. Her response was a very gracious “it’s not very energizing to me.”  Wow!  Shame on me. Too much of that kind of behavior and I could sabotage a great relationship.

What did I do wrong?

My well-intentioned attempt to make her feel better was actually dismissive and disrespectful.  By contradicting her, albeit cheerfully, I was essentially telling her she was wrong to feel the way she was feeling. By piping up immediately, I essentially decreased the likelihood she would want to share more.  Because, who would want to share their truth with someone who tells them their truth is wrong?

What ought I to have done?

A better course of action would have been to ask her some open-ended questions such as “what about it isn’t energizing?” or even a generic “help me to understand – tell me more.”  I could have stifled my urge to cheerfully advise and taken the time to be interested. Chances are, she would have appreciated the listening ear and the opportunity to talk far more than my unsolicited advice and dismissive approach.

What did I do to make it better?

First, when she very graciously corrected me by saying “It’s not very energizing to me” I followed up with an open-ended question in an attempt to repair the damage. And while that was better than nothing, I still felt lingering hesitancy on her part.

What can I do now?

Because it bothered me, I have taken the time to analyze the interaction.  I now know I will apologize for being so dismissive.

What can you do?

Learn from my mistakes. Be conscious of how the words you choose, even the well-intended ones, can impact relationships. Take the time to ask questions and listen to the answers before rushing in to share your thoughts or ideas. Honor others and their perspective.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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Intentional Praise: Boost Performance (Even with Difficult Employees)

way to go, good job, well done, you're the man, thumbs up, you rock - a set of isolated sticky notes with positive affirmation words

We’ve all heard the adage “what gets rewarded gets repeated.” As leaders, giving intentional praise is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, ways to reward employees.  The key is to offer intentional praise in addition to the “off the cuff” or “on the fly” praise  (which is still very powerful and important.) Here are some tips to make your praise intentional:

  • Decide that you will find something praiseworthy in a particular circumstance or person (even a difficult one.) One of the best ways to see something good in a person or situation is to go looking for it.  If necessary, tell yourself “today, I will find 2 good things that Jane does” or “I will find 2 good things to share with my team that they did well during today’s team meeting.” Set your intention. Decide to find something good.
  • Decide to share your praise publicly. Research indicates that if you praise someone publicly it not only motivates the individual(s) you are praising, it motivates those around them. What a great way to impact and influence even your most difficult employees.
  • Decide to use praise that helps people understand the bigger picture and, more importantly, their role in the bigger picture. Many employees have no idea how what they do on a day-to-day basis impacts overall goals or organizational initiatives.  Move beyond the “good job” level of praise and start sharing specifically how what they did makes a positive impact. Help your team know that they make a difference and they will continue to perform at high levels.
  • Decide to praise a variety of behaviors, not just things that can be measured. It can be easy to limit praise to those meeting sales goals or those with low complaint volume. The leader who wants to boost performance will also look at things like attitude, creativity, initiative, and other less obvious behaviors and praise those as well.

How a leader communicates praise is vital. Decide to be intentional. Decide to start today. Decide to find one thing worth praising before the day is done and you will be well of your way to boosting performance, even with difficult employees.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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Leaders Unleash the Power of “Yes”

11107790 - voting concept: set of green yes signs isolated on white backgroundAs a leader, have you unleashed the power of yes with your team?  In particular, are you offering unequivocal “yeses” as often as possible? Every leader or manager knows that saying “yes” to an idea, proposal, or request can positively impact morale, engagement, and performance. The power of a “yes” is that it encourages more problem-solving, initiative, and proactivity in a team and among team members.  Unfortunately, many leaders are sabotaging or minimizing the impact of a “yes” by using phrases such as:

  • “Yes, this is good and we should also…” 
  • Yes, I like it.  But, could you also…”
  • “Yes and I would suggest that we…”
  • Yes, but first…”

While these forms of “yes” are still positive (and have their place in the language of leadership), they are also a form of yes with diluted or diminished impact.  When a leader adds a term or condition to their “yes” they are saying to the team or team member that the proposal or idea isn’t good enough to be implemented as it is. Or, at least not good enough yet.  Or, that it could be much better. This “qualified yes” can be disheartening and can decrease motivation and commitment.

Of course, there are times when the “qualified yes” is the smart choice.  As long as it is a choice and not a habit. If you constantly, habitually, or unintentionally qualify all of your positive responses, you may be missing out on the power of the “unequivocal yes.”

When I conduct programs for organizations and associations on leadership and communication, I often ask attendees what behaviors do their leaders engage in (or fail to engage in) that enhance employee engagement or decrease employee engagement. One of the consistent “engaging behaviors” is the “unequivocal yes.”  A “yes” with no conditions, no added value, no tweaks or adjustments.  A “yes” that says to the employee or team “I trust you.” These “yeses” sound like:

  • “Yes, go for it!”
  • “I like it.  Make it happen.”
  • “Great idea. Let’s do it.”

Think about it. Wouldn’t you feel great if your leader simply said “yes” to your next idea, proposal, or initiative? As a leader, ask yourself if you are using this simple engagement technique as often as you could.  Or, out of habit, do you qualify most, if not all, of your “yeses?” I encourage you to look for an immediate opportunity to give a “yes” without condition or constraint.  Unleash the power of the “unequivocal yes!”

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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Are You Eroding Your Leadership Effectiveness?

If you are like most high-caliber leaders, you are typically looking for your team members to: Continue Reading Are You Eroding Your Leadership Effectiveness? »

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3 Things Emotionally Intelligent People DON’T Do

GotEQ10BB_Cvrs.inddEmotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, manage, and use emotions in positive and constructive ways.

Leaders and professionals who possess high levels of emotional intelligence are able to be the master of their emotions and not let their emotions hijack their success or their intellect.  High EQ is strongly correlated with career success, strong leadership presence and many other positive outcomes. The good news is that EQ can be developed. It is not a “fixed attribute” and with effort, professionals can enhance their EQ or emotional intelligence. A good starting point is looking at current behaviors and mindsets and finding ways to remove the unwanted behaviors and change mindsets that no longer serve you.

Here are 3 things emotionally intelligent people DON’T do.

  1. Emotionally intelligent professionals don’t take everything personally. They realize that not everything, especially the behavior of others. revolves around them. For example, they strive not to let something like the failure of a colleague to say “good morning” morph into “my colleague must be mad at me.” They look for an explanation for someone’s behavior that is less self-centered and more aware of the other person’s internal state or external challenges.
  2. Emotionally intelligent professionals don’t make everything a crisis. We all know a drama queen, the person who blows everything out of proportion and sees disaster and doom everywhere.  This is not the sign of an emotionally intelligent professional. Emotionally intelligent professionals keep their responses proportionate to the issue at hand. So, if something is serious, they take it seriously. However, they don’t make mountains out of molehills or exaggerate issues in order to get others worked up or to feel more important themselves.
  3. Emotionally intelligent professionals don’t react.  Rather, they respond.  Emotionally intelligent professionals understand the difference between reacting and responding.  When we react to things and events, all of the power lies with external things or events. This is sometimes known as having an external locus of control. Having an external locus of control means all the power lies outside of you. It’s a fancy way of saying “victim of circumstances.” Emotionally intelligent people know that regardless of external events, they always get to choose how they will respond to those events (an internal locus of control). They exercise their power to choose how they will behave and communicate and don’t give away that power to other people, events, or circumstances.

Want more on what emotionally intelligent leaders and professionals do and don’t do? Check out this live webinar!

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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Self-Talk for Emotional Control

talk Keys for Better Self-Talk During Emotionally Charged Situations

by Pamela Jett

Key #1 (part 1 of 3)

We all tend to talk to ourselves, especially during emotionally charged situations. If you are looking to stay more calm, cool, and collected during emotionally charged situations, your self-talk can be a great tool if it fits a few key criteria.

The first key is to talk to yourself in the positive, not the negative. Plant the desired behavior in your mind instead of the undesired. For example, say:

  • I am calm. NOT I am not angry.
  • I am patient. NOT I am not exasperated.
  • I am a professional. NOT I am not a hothead.

Neuroscience teaches us that brains don’t process in the negative. So, pump up your self-talk’s effectiveness by communicating in the positive.

Key #2 coming soon!

For more tools to stay calm, cool, and collected during emotionally charged situations, register for Pamela’s webinar series Conflict and Confrontation: Critical Skills at or by clicking here.

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Looking for a Speaker in 2015?


Get a head start on booking speakers for your 2015 conferences and events.  It’s not to early to starting thinking about how to give leaders and team members alike the communication tools they need to be better leaders, enhance employee engagement, deal with difficult people, and drive results.  Pamela Jett specializes in:

  • Keynotes that are energetic, humorous, and loaded with content that get your meeting off to a positive start and generate tons of “hallway conversations.”
  • Breakout sessions that are interactive and loaded with practical tools to solve real world problems.
  • Training sessions that are tailored to meet your specific needs and challenges.

Here is what a few satisfied clients have to say.

“Your speaker evaluations were off the wall! According to 3,000 attendees, your marks were excellent – probably the best speaker evaluations we have ever had!
–Susan Forrester, Central CA Women’s Conf.

“Our off-site was the very best ever! Your presentation was a large part of the success. You made an effort to understand our group’s unique needs and you tailored a session that was just what I was looking for!”     –Phil Marquis, Ameriprise Financial

“Pamela was absolutely wonderful and well received by all! She started the conference on such a positive note – and a sure way to guarantee its success. As I anticipated, her educational session was standing room only. Speaking personally, the information I took away from both her presentations was worth its weight in gold! And more importantly, her advice and suggestions are realistic.”     –Linda Berkerian, NAACO

To book Pamela or to get more information, contact Aimee at 866.726.5388.

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