Monthly Archives: March 2017

How To Sharpen Your People Skills

Life would be great if everybody got along and agreed on everything. But that is not the world we live in. To get along in the real world you need people skills and more. Whether to maintain relationships at home or at work, you need to know how to listen, how to make your wishes known, and how to resolve differences without conflict.

There are several strategies you can practice to improve your people skills in dealing with different personalities and challenging situations … and boost your confidence level in the process.

1. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence allows us to be aware of and in charge of our emotions. Sharpening your emotional intelligence can help you to keep your emotions balanced and boost your confidence.

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These strategies will help you develop your emotional intelligence:

Learn to become more aware of your emotions and responses to certain situations. “Awareness is the foundational skill along the path to improved interpersonal skills,” explains Tres Roeder, founder and president of Roeder Consulting in Cleveland, Ohio.
Keep your emotions in balance. “In order to be in rhythm with others, you have to be in rhythm with yourself,” notes Debbie Mandel, MA, stress-management specialist and author of Addicted to Stress.
Recognize when you or others are stressed. When it comes to dealing with difficult situations, keep in mind that “proper timing can lead to a better outcome. If you or the other person is stressed, you will lose common ground,” advises Mandel.
2. Resolve Conflict in a Positive Way

Be it at work or at home, a certain amount of conflict is unavoidable in any relationship.

Try these three ways to improve your people skills and resolve conflict in a positive way:

Focus on the present. Holding onto old hurts or grudges makes it hard to move forward and build a better future.
Think about respecting the other person, not controlling them. “The goal is to adapt to situations and people, not impose yourself on them. You can show respect for other people’s opinions without agreeing with them,” Mandel notes.
Focus on compromise rather than on winning or losing. “In a constructive conflict the goal is to aim for an equitable compromise. There are no winners or losers,” says Mandel.
3. Learn to Listen to Others

Talking is simple; real communication requires good listening skills.

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Practice these tips to become a better listener:

Pay attention to inflection. “Research shows the vast majority of communication occurs at the non-verbal level,” advises Roeder. “Pay attention to not only what people are saying, but also how they are saying it.”
Take time to really listen before you respond. When others are speaking, instead of actually listening to them, many people are concentrating on what they plan to say next. Doing this can cause you to miss key elements of the other person’s point and results in a lack of true communication. Take the time to be patient and simply listen before launching into your own point of view.
Don’t interrupt. “Let the other person speak without interrupting. Focusing on what another person is saying and making eye contact helps us truly understand what is meaningful,” notes Mandel.
4. Ask for Feedback

When you take a moment to ask for feedback, you communicate better and you are more likely to hear and share ideas.

Understand why feedback is important:

No one likes to be preached to. People don’t want to feel like they are hearing a lecture. By asking for feedback and other people’s opinions on a matter, you show that you are willing to hear and explore other points of view.
Interpretation counts. What one person says and what another person hears are often two strikingly different things. Taking time to ask for feedback such as “Do you understand what I mean?” or “How would you have handled that situation?” is a good way to see if you are communicating effectively.
Maintaining a positive attitude makes understanding easier. Asking for feedback shows that you have a confident and positive attitude. “People gravitate to positive people because good moods are contagious,” says Mandel.
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5. Respect and Be Aware of Cultural Differences

We learn most of our people skills from our parents and others in our community. When communicating with someone from a different culture, however, it is important to acknowledge cultural differences.

Try these approaches to ease communication:

Understand eye contact. In our culture, direct eye contact often indicates sincerity while in another culture it could be considered rude.
Expect some misunderstanding. In cross-cultural communication, it is best to go slowly and step back instead of getting frustrated. In our culture we like to get to the point. In other cultures it may be important to establish rapport before discussing potentially controversial issues. Keeping these differences in mind can minimize your frustration if and when you encounter any snags in communication.
Get some help. To foster improved communication, it can be helpful to rely on an intermediary who understands both cultures.
6. Seek out New People

Meeting new people can enhance your creativity, help broaden your perspective on life, and improve your emotional intelligence. Remember these people skills when meeting someone new:

Use body language. Pay attention to non-verbal communication cues such as good posture, appropriate eye contact, and friendly gestures.
Listen up. Rely on good communication and listening skills. Truly get to know people by allowing them to express themselves without immediately interrupting with your own ideas.
Be aware of the situation around you. “That includes awareness of yourself, awareness of others, and awareness of the situational context within which the relationship is occurring,” says Roeder. Keeping external factors in mind, such as potential stressors and distractions, can make it easier to help navigate new situations with people you don’t know very well.
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7. Maintain Relationships

Healthy relationships boost your confidence and make your life more rewarding. Here are some final thoughts on people skills that promote good relationships:

Take the time to be aware of the important people and relationships in your life. “People are more intuitive when they have the time to be intuitive,” notes Roeder. “In other words, if you are constantly running from one meeting to the next you may be missing important clues in how to get along with others.”
In order to respect others you must respect yourself. “Self-respect means knowing what you uniquely bring to the table. When you feel good about yourself, you will be positive and affirming to others,” says Mandel.
Have the right attitude. The emotional intelligence needed to maintain relationships is more than just people skills. It also involves having the right attitude. This includes expecting challenges along the way, keeping things in perspective, having a sense of humor, and not taking yourself too seriously.
Practice even some of these skills and you may be surprised by the results.

Best Tips for Healthy Living

A nip is in the air, as summer eases into the fall season. Football season starts, and so does school. The holidays are right around the corner. So is the flu season. To help keep you healthy over the next few months, we’ve got these tips:

1. Take a Tailgate Time-out

It’s an all-American past-time — the tailgate party! Tailgating today has progressed far beyond burgers and chips. You’ll find everything from cheese dip to spicy chicken wings.

Don’t despair: Your tailgate spread doesn’t have to sideline your weight loss plan. Grilled kabobs are great fare on the field. Just skewer veggies, fruits, and lean meat, and soak in your favorite marinade. Seafood, salsas, wraps, and stews are good eating, too. A Crock-Pot of chili — loaded with high-fiber, high-protein beans — is a classic tailgate dish (don’t forget the Beano).

Just remember, alcohol is packed with calories. Enjoy your favorite brew, but switch it out for zero-calorie beverages as the party rolls along. It’s all in how you play the game!

2. Sleep Tips to Help Kids’ Weight

Does your child get enough sleep? If not, it could affect more than sleepiness at school. Studies suggest there may be a link between skimping on sleep and being overweight. Sleep shortfalls may increase hunger hormones — so kids eat more. Also, kids are less likely to get exercise (and burn off calories) when they’re tired.

To help kids and teens get a good night’s sleep:

  • Remove TVs, computers, and gadgets from kids’ bedrooms.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.
  • Develop a regular bedtime routine.
  • Set firm bedtimes and wake times.
  • Make sure the bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing — and not too hot or cold.
  • Help kids quiet down a few hours before bedtime.
  • Heavy studying, text messaging, or video games should end in early evening.

How much sleep do schoolkids need? It depends on the child. But here are some general guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Ages 3-5: 11-13 hours
  • Ages 5-12: 10-11 hours
  • Ages 11-17: 9.5-9.25 hours
3. Quit Smoking: You Won’t Gain Weight

If you’ve finally decided to kick the habit, there’s good news: Quitting smoking won’t make you gain weight over the long term. Some people pick up 4 or 5 pounds early on, but that’s only temporary.

Tips to Stay Safe in a Blizzard

Old Man Winter is taking over parts of the nation with what the Weather Channel calls winter storm Juno. The fact that naming winter storms has become common practice may seem a bit silly, but the sub-zero temperatures and messy roads are not. Here’s some advice for how to stay safe, warm, and dry during this and future winter snowstorms.

Stock up on food and water. No, the lines at grocery stores the night before a storm are not pleasant, but neither is living off the strange canned items everyone inexplicably has in their cabinets. (Try making a dinner of black beans and sauerkraut — you can’t.) Don’t count on carryout and delivery to keep your stomach filled. Some restaurants may close early or forgo delivery to let workers get home. Make sure to have some bottled water on hand, too, and check that your heating system is up to snuff.

Have an emergency medicine bag. Think ahead about which medications you and your family members will need, and which medications you should have on hand in case of emergency. Double check any drugs needed to treat a chronic condition, such as insulin or statins, to make sure you’re not in need of a refill. It’s also smart to keep an emergency kit stocked with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and Benadryl, since drugstores may close during a snow emergency, says Robert Glatter, MD, attending physician in emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and a contributor to Forbes magazine.

Stay indoors. There are very few things that would justify braving a blizzard in your car or on public transportation. Weather experts recommend you stay inside if at all possible. Driving can be treacherous, and roads may shut down. Check local government websites for updates. It’s also important to make sure you know when the snow might start — because you’ll have an easy time getting to work doesn’t mean the commute back home will be as easy.

Watch for frostbite. If you do have to go outside, dress properly. Dr. Glatter recommends wearing three layers: one that can absorb sweat, a second to serve as insulation, and the last to seal out cold temperatures. Even the warmest clothing becomes ineffective if it gets too damp from absorbing sweat. Be sure to wear a hat and gloves, as the parts of the body most vulnerable to frostbite are the ears, earlobes, tip of the nose, cheeks, fingers, and toes since they’re at the edges of blood circulation. People with certain conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, are more likely to experience frostbite because of poor circulation. Glatter says tingling cold and numbness are precursors to frostbite, so if that occurs, get inside immediately or seek medical attention if the area is already turning white or black. Glatter suggests dipping the body part in warm (not hot) water to revive it.

Know the signs of hypothermia. If the body’s core temperature dips below 95 degrees, hypothermia could begin to set in. It’s usually marked by shivering, pale skin, and nails turning blue, but Glatter warns that for the most vulnerable people — the elderly — the first signs of hypothermia could seem less related to cold. “Elderly people may get confused or dizzy,” he says, noting that slurred speech may be more commonly associated with a stroke, but in cold weather, it could be an early sign of hypothermia. Either way, if symptoms like that appear, it’s time to seek medical attention. Glatter also notes that the elderly and patients who live in long-term care facilities are at higher risk of hypothermia, so be sure to check in on them frequently when there’s a stretch of cold weather.

Avoid alcohol. It may seem like the only thing to do is invent a new drinking game while you weather the storm, but drinking poses many health dangers, Glatter says. First, it’s dehydrating, which is often problematic because people are less aware of their hydration level during cold months than warm (even though it’s possible to be dehydrated year round). Additionally, alcohol makes it more difficult for the body to tell how cold it is. This means that while your “beer jacket” may make you feel better, it actually delays the onset of shivering and can make you lose more body heat.

Clear snow carefully. Eventually, of course, you’ll have to come out of hibernation. Once the blizzard or snowstorm has passed, make sure to layer up properly before you start snow shoveling or snow blowing. Stay hydrated, and take frequent breaks to make sure your body is warm enough. If you’re shoveling, remember it’s a strenuous, and potentially hazardous, activity and take care of your back. If a snow blower is your preferred tool, make sure to power it up only outdoors, wear hearing protection, and keep kids and loose clothing out of range.

Best Workout Tips For Beginners

When beginning any exercise program, it’s important to pace yourself and not risk injury by overexerting yourself from the get-go – especially if it’s been a while since you worked out. To prevent that, here are some tips and tricks to get you started on your journey towards a healthier life.

Tip 1: Start Slow

Don’t just jump right in and start exercising five days a week — that’s a recipe for disaster, says John Higgins, MD, Director of Exercise Physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. It’s better that you gradually work up to exercising several days per week while you see how your body responds.

“Start low and go slow,” Dr. Higgins said. “The current recommendation is 2-3 days per week, for at least 30 minutes per day. But for someone who is just starting out, we recommend that they start at 1-2 days per week and ramp it up from there.”

Tip 2: Know When to Stretch

Stretching right before a workout may seem like the best thing to do, but you might be putting yourself at risk of injury.

“After you warm up, you should stretch your muscles and hold it for about 15 seconds,” Higgins said. “You are less likely to injure yourself when you’re stretching if your muscles are already a little warmed up.”

Tip 3: Mix it Up

Whether you’re going for weight loss or bulking up, a mixed regimen of aerobic and strength training is the best way to achieve the body you want. But even within those categories, don’t stick to the same exercises every day, Higgins said.

“Don’t go running every day,” he said. “It’ll get boring and you’ll get to a point where you don’t enjoy it anymore. Try biking, or the elliptical or whatever you enjoy most. If you like to play basketball or tennis, do that, because you’re more likely to stick to something you enjoy.”

In addition, move between the four various types of exercise, which are aerobic, resistance (strength) training, flexibility (which includes yoga) and balance, which is especially important for seniors.

Tip 4: Know Your Weight and the Right Way to Use it

Most people are confused the first time they walk into a gym, Higgins said, but are afraid of asking for advice. But if that’s you — get over it.

“If you don’t know ask,” he said. “By law, gyms have to have people who can help show you how to work out on the machine, and it can save you from badly injuring yourself.”

In addition, many gym newbies go for the heaviest weight they can — a rookie mistake.

“Go on a weight machine and, starting at the lowest weight, pull it down and keep adding on from there. Just keep increasing the weight until you reach a point where you can only do one or you can’t do any. That’s too much”

Once you find your maximum weight, two-thirds of that number is where you should start.

“You should be able to do about 12 reps,” Higgins said. “It should be easy, but it shouldn’t be difficult to the point where you’re straining.”

Finally, once you have a weight you’re comfortable with, don’t get too eager to increase it.

“You should not increase it more than 10 percent in a week,” Higgins said. “If you do, your risk of injury increases exponentially.”

Tip 5: Know When to Take a Break

When people start out, they are often overzealous and try to get to the gym every day, Higgins said. However, by not letting your body rest, you can be doing much more harm than good.

“If you don’t give your body time to heal and repair itself, your performance will go down and you’ll get into a vicious cycle where you never fully recover,” he said.

And if you’re sore after a workout, that’s good — unless it hurts too much.

“It is normal to have pain and soreness after exercise,” Higgins said. “Don’t run to take a painkiller, because that can mask pain and cause you to do real damage to your body. Let yourself recover naturally.”