As with most things in 2020, the upcoming holidays are sure to look a little different. In a time when keeping family members safe and healthy is a priority, how you communicate about your holiday plans may take a little extra thoughtfulness and clarity this year. Lisa Mitchell, Communications Expert & Founder of Power Body Language joined us today to help with that.
1. Start Your Planning Conversations Early
Even with long-standing family traditions, how you celebrate the holidays this year is going to require a little extra planning and the sooner you start communicating about your plans, your schedules, and even your concerns, the sooner you can start finding good solutions that can keep your family feeling connected and in the loop. Thanksgiving is a little over two weeks ahead, there’s no time like the present to start these conversations with your family.
2. Be Clear About What You’re Comfortable With This Year
Nobody wants to feel like they’re disappointing their family, but in this time where keeping family members safe and healthy is priority and a real concern, you need to be clear and firm on what you’re comfortable with in regards to gathering for celebrations. You also need to be willing to accept and adapt to what other family members are comfortable with as well, especially if they are being strict about limiting exposure and keeping their circle small this year.
3. Be Flexible And Get Creative!
Just because it might not look exactly like every holiday gathering of years passed doesn’t mean that this holiday season can’t still be meaningful and help you connect with your family in a fun way.
Maybe it’s enjoying Thanksgiving meals together over FaceTime or streaming in a Facebook Live room together while each family is at their own home. Maybe it’s agreeing to all watch the same favorite holiday movie at the same time and text or call each other at your favorite parts. Maybe it’s playing a game online together instead of being able to sit around a table to play together. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a fun new holiday tradition to add by getting creative and putting extra effort in to new ways to stay connected, even if you have to be apart this year.
It’s not unusual for different family households to have different opinions and levels of comfort about gathering for holiday celebrations and it’s going to take a lot of patience, creativity and understanding on everyone’s part to make the holidays feel good to everyone.
For more from Mitchell, visit her website.
It’s “spooky season” as we get closer to Halloween and it’s a time where kids find themselves seeing scary images and hearing spooky sounds that might make them feel afraid or uncertain.
Communication Expert Lisa Mitchell shares a few things you can do as a parent or caregiver that can help the kid in your life feel a little less scared and enjoy the season with more confidence:
- Ask them how they are feeling
Sometimes we assume our kids are feeling one way when they actually are experiencing things very differently than we might assume or expect. By asking them “How are you feeling right now?” when you think they might have fear or uncertainty, you can more accurately assess where they actually are in their feelings and them offer the most appropriate response to them.
You may find that they will answer with “I don’t like this!” or “I want to leave!” instead of them telling you they are scared or creeped out by something they are seeing or hearing. Or they may answer with “That’s really weird!” or “That’s so fake!” and laugh and you know that they are processing it in a more fun way instead of being scared. Don’t be afraid to ask them a next level question like “Why” or “What do you like/not like about this?” to get even more data into how they are experiencing a situation.
- Offer Reassurance and emphasize that they are safe
Once you know how they are feeling, you can offer the specific reassurance they need to help them feel safe. If they express that they are scared of a spooky monster because it might come and take them, let them know that they are safe with you and that no one is taking them away from you. If they are feeling overwhelmed or believing the scary thing is real, reassure them that it’s just pretend and that no harm will come to them. Being able to specifically address their immediate concern and offer reassurance helps them to relax and trust that they are safe with you.
- Reframe the “scary thing” into something silly or fun
Kids are always looking to you to see how you respond to things they are uncertain of to gauge how they should respond or what level of concern they should have as well. If you can show them that “scary” things are actually funny or silly and reinforce that with your words by saying something like “Oh that is just so silly!” or “It’s trying to be scary but I know it’s just pretend so I’m being brave!” can help encourage your child to see it in a new and less scary light themselves.
You set the temperature with how kids react so managing your own response and being mindful of the words you use to describe your experience can help them feel more brave and more at ease in the moment.
To learn more, visit www.powerbodylanguage.com or connect on Instagram at @lisamitchellindy.
Lisa Mitchell, communications expert & founder of Power Body Language joined us today with three key questions you can ask during a conversation to help make it more productive:
1. The Opener: What’s On Your Mind?
This question is a great way to open the door for people to tell you what direction they want or expect the interaction to go in. It gives someone the chance to tell you what they consider most important or a priority when kicking off a conversation.
2. The Follow Up: And What Else?
When a person gives you an answer or shares an idea with you, asking “and what else?” afterwards encourages them to keep talking, providing you with more helpful information and context to keep the conversation moving in a productive direction. It almost obligates the person to keep sharing, which benefits you both in working with more data points as opposed to fewer.
3. What Would Be Most Useful/Helpful To You Right Now?
Asking someone “What would be most helpful to you right now?” especially if they’ve shared a challenge or problem with you is a great way to help them start solving their own problem and giving you an indication of what their expectation is of you. The most frustrating thing for both of you is when you make an assumption and start solving the wrong problem.
By opening up the question to them, you’re letting them provide greater clarity around what they actually need or want instead of just jumping in with ideas or solutions that may miss the mark.
Asking good questions provides you with greater clarity and better data to navigate a conversation in the most productive way. Good questions reduce confusion and lower frustration, not to mention that they also help you look clued in and emotionally intelligent as well!
For more from MItchell, visit powerbodylanguage.com or connect on Instagram at @lisamitchellindy.
There is no shortage of topics that bring strong opinions, especially as we get closer to the Presidential election, continue to deal with COVID-19, and navigate working and learning from home. With strong opinions can come difficult conversations.
Lisa Mitchell, Communications Expert & Founder of Power Body Language, shares a few tips to navigating conversations with people who have different opinions than you.
1. Assume Good Intentions
It’s OK that people have strong opinions. It’s OK that their opinion may be different than yours. It doesn’t mean that they are incapable or unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue so enter into those interactions assuming you both have good intentions for productive conversation. Most people, at their core, really just want to feel seen, heard, and valued.
2. Different Doesn’t Have To Mean Bad
Conversations, by nature, are meant for sharing information and data points. They can drive you towards a common goal or at the least, towards a shared understanding. Sometimes you may find yourself posted up on the polar opposite side of another person’s outlook and that doesn’t mean that either of are wrong or bad, it can just mean that you both are firmly rooted in your beliefs.
There doesn’t have to be a winner and loser, there can just be genuine listening, thoughtful consideration, and respect of each other throughout the interaction.
3. Show appreciation for the person even if you disagree with their opinion or viewpoint.
Sometimes, if the topic is heated enough, it’s necessary to challenge yourself to separate your feelings for the person from your feelings about their opinion of a particular topic. It can be as simple as saying something like, “I don’t think we are going to find common ground on this topic but I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me.”
You don’t have to fight every battle on differing opinions and you don’t have to disrespect or discount the person offering the differing opinion when you can’t find common ground.
Visit www.powerbodylanguage.com or connect on Instagram at @lisamitchellindy.
As we begin to connect in person again while adhering to social distancing guidelines, it can seem challenging to show that you’re engaged, interested, and listening when you’re six or more feet away from the person you’re interacting with. Here are a few easy tips from Lisa Mitchell, communications expert & founder of Power Body Language to help keep you feeling connected when physically separated.
1. Warmly Acknowledge The Other Person
For many of us, we’re used to starting an interaction off with a handshake or even a hug, both of which are frowned upon at the current moment. Just because we can’t greet each other that way now doesn’t mean we can’t still share warmth upon greeting each other.
A genuine smile, yes, even with a mask one, indicates that you are happy to be in the same the space with someone and acknowledging them with a wave, and air high five, or some other type of nod or gesture can let them know that you’re happy to see them and ready to connect or do business.
2. Verbalize Your Intention
When we can as easily use our facial expressions, space, and touch to let people know we are ready to connect and engage with them, it’s important that we use our words more intentionally to help create clarity around our intentions and to reinforce how we feel.
By clearly stating things like “I’m so happy to see you!” or “I’m looking forward to a productive time together as we work on XYZ…” you are letting the other person know directly how you feel since they can’t as easily read your expressions or even hear your inflections as well if you’re wearing a mask.
3. Use More Animation and Gestures To Help Provide Clarity
When interacting at a distance and wearing a mask, the person on the other side of your face is missing out on key data points that they usually count on to help create clarity and understanding during an interaction.
Be mindful about how you’re using your body language, including explanatory hand gestures to illustrate key points, leaning in or away to show closeness or distance, and using more animated facial expressions such as raising your eyebrows to show excitement or enthusiasm can all help compensate for what isn’t as easy to see or hear as it usually would be if you were sitting closer together and not wearing masks.
Just because we’re interacting at a distance and wearing masks doesn’t mean that the impact of our interactions has to be any less effective. Using these mindful and easy communication hacks can help you feel better connected and more easily understood.
For more from Mitchell visit her website or connect on Instagram.
Students are returning to school to kick off the new learning year and many of them are doing so virtually or in some hybrid of in-person and virtual learning. For many students, virtual learning, and the thought of being on Zoom or video calls most of the day is causing them a lot of anxiety and stress.
Here are a few tips from Lisa Mitchell, communications expert & founder of Power Body Language to help students manage their virtual learning and Zoom anxiety so they can keep their focus on learning.
1. Talk to your student about how they are feeling
Going back to school virtually can feel isolating to students. Without the benefit of back to school nights, in-person orientations, and opportunities to connect face-to-face with teachers and classmates, it is easy for them to feel like they are on their own in this back-to-school experience and that can increase their stress and uncertainty.
It’s important that parents and caregivers stand in as a their student’s trusted resource in this time and as such, asking them questions not just about what they have to do to get ready but how they’re feeling about the experience can be a great way to open up the lines of communication, really show them that you are listening to them, and offer reassurance and guidance that they may need to feel less alone in the process.
2. Help Them Prepare Their Learning Space and Remove Distractions
Keeping track of Zoom links, managing class schedules and homework, and controlling what’s happening in the background during their actual virtual classes can all help your student feel better prepared and supported in the virtual learning process.
If they are nervous or anxious about what their background or home environment might look like on video calls or worry that they might be judged by other students, help them set up an organized, clean, and well-lit workspace that may help them feel more confident and able to focus on paying attention to what’s happening in their class and less about what’s going on in their learning space at home. If a neutral background isn’t possible, maybe consider helping them set up a digital green screen background for video calls, may apps have that feature available.
3. Offer Them Reassurance
For many students, virtual learning is a new experience for them and they may feel like people will be “watching” them while in video or Zoom classes. All of these worries can be distracting and can even make some students not want to participate or continue learning. Let your student know that they’re not alone in feeling that way but reassure them that everyone is likely paying less attention to them or judging them less than they feel like or think. Everyone else is busy managing the same feelings and how they themselves are showing up in class to be focused on them!
Remind your student that the primary goal of the teachers, whether in person or in the virtual classroom, is to make sure that their students are learning and that they are all on his/her side, cheering them on to be successful!
For more from Mitchell, visit her website or Instagram.
If you’re looking for a new opportunity, chances are you will be asked to do a virtual interview. For some people, the thought of interviewing over a Zoom call adds an additional layer of stress to an already stressful process.
Lisa Mitchell, communications expert & founder of Power Body Language has good news! She says virtual interviewing doesn’t have to stress you out if you know a few easy ways to prepare for it in advance.
1. Test Drive Your Tech
There is no quicker way to derail your virtual interview focus than having a technical snafu throw you off before or during the interview. Take a few moments far in advance of your interview to make sure that your computer or other device is set up to run the selected virtual platform to avoid any last minute updates or slow downs. Also make sure to check your mic and speaker settings to ensure that you can be heard and that you can also hear the interviewer clearly. Knowing that it’s “all systems go” before you get on your actual interview can help you feel calm and more confident.
2. Prep Your Lighting and Background.
First impressions matter to interviewers and you’d best believe that when you log in for a virtual interview, they are paying attention to how well they can see, your facial expressions, and body language as well as what’s going on behind you in the background. These are things you can be mindful of and have some amount of control over so don’t miss the opportunity to impress by making sure that you are in a well-lit area or using a ring light or well-positioned light source.
Take a few moments to make sure that what is showing behind your on screen is also working in your favor and making the right impression. Make sure the background is tidy and free of distractions, glares, or other things that could send the wrong message to a potential employer. Most online platforms provide a “green screen” or customizable background feature that you can use in lieu of your actual physical space if that feels more comfortable to you.
3. Do A Practice Interview or Record Yourself Answering Questions On Your Own.
Very few people say they like the sound of their own voice. And even fewer say they are comfortable watching themselves on video. You don’t want to log in for your virtual interview and be surprised or distracted by how you show up on camera so set up a practice call with a friend or record yourself answering mock questions and watch the recording back so you get more comfortable and familiar with the virtual interviewing look and feel.
The more prepared, familiar and comfortable you are with the virtual interviewing process, the more confident and relaxed you can be when doing them. A little bit of strategic prep work can save you a lot of stress and let your best qualities really shine through!
To learn more, visit www.powerbodylanguage.com or connect on Instagram at @lisamitchellindy.
For many people, live streaming on social media platforms seems like something that only influencers or celebrities do. The reality is that more and more people are choosing live streaming as a way to stay connected, meet new people and share what they love with a broader reach. Lisa Mitchell, communications expert & founder of Power Body Language explains why you should be going live. Here’s more from her:
Why Live Stream?
Pre-produced videos have been the norm for most people since platforms started letting users share video content. These snippets can be impactful and effective, but they don’t allow for the immediate interaction with those that are viewing it like live streaming does.
Live streaming offers you the opportunity to interact with viewers in real time, and has a more conversational feel versus a pre-recorded video just being posted to be viewed. Live streaming gives both the host and the viewer the feeling of being instantly connected and can lead to a more customized and intimate-feeling experience where a posted video can feel much more one-directional.
Less formality, More Connection
Although it’s always a good idea to have a clear intention in mind before your hit “go live” you should expect that as you react to comments and questions, your content may ebb and flow differently than it would in a more scripted or formal webinar format.
People are responding positively to live streams because they get to feel like they are part of the conversation. They become an “insider” who can get access to you in a way that previously wasn’t available to them. This is a great way to build trust with your viewers/followers and let them see a more casual and less scripted side to you whatever material, thoughts, or ideas you are sharing.
Benefits of Live Streaming:
It’s really easy to set up: almost every social platform allows users to launch a live stream any time they feel like it. On most, it’s just as easy as posting a status or a photo would be with minimal technical knowledge required.
It’s On Demand: You can get connected to and interacting with your target audience any time and from almost anywhere. Unlike virtual events or webinars that require registration and promotion, part of the beauty of live streams is that they feel fairly spontaneous and are easy for people to just click to join in the conversation.
You Can Use Your Body Language and Communication Skills To Your Benefit: Any time you can use video to “show up” in the room (or on the screen) with people, your can use your positive body language cues, facial expressions and vocal power to create a memorable experience with whoever is on the other side of your screen.
Live streaming let’s people experience you and the fullness of your communications skills, so make sure you are using them to your advantage throughout your entire live stream.
To learn more, visit www.powerbodylanguage.com or connect on Instagram at @lisamitchellindy.
As states and communities begin to open back up and we start, in some cases, returning to offices and workplaces, it’s important to adapt your communication style and your expectations of others to look a bit different and accommodate for our new and ever-evolving “normal.” Here’s more from Lisa Mitchell, communications expert & founder of Power Body Language:
1) Things are going to look and feel different. Think through that experience ahead of time and make peace with it.
When we are surprised or walk into something that is unexpected, we often automatically assign a negative or fearful quality to that place or thing and that negative feeling shows up in our communication. We will be more standoffish, we may shut down or be more reserved, or may feel so physically uncomfortable that we can’t communicate calmly or effectively. You may be walking into the same place you’ve worked at for 20 years but coming back in this mid-pandemic reality is going to come with some changes.
By mentally preparing yourself and processing how you might feel in advance, you can walk in to that environment with greater confidence and peace knowing that yes, things will be a little different, but you are prepared and aware in advance so you can handle it like the pro you are.
2) Don’t take things personal.
Co-workers who are usually really friendly and spend a lot of time hanging out together may be more reserved. That’s OK. Your regular lunch partner may decline and choose to eat in their office. That’s OK. A manager or team member who usually always has their door open might now prefer to keep their door shut to create more physical distance. That’s OK.
People are going to do the things that they feel are going to keep them safest and best protected during the return to the workplace. It’s important to remember that this change in behavior is not a personal affront to you or to the feelings and respect that they have for their relationship with you, it’s just a personal decision that have made so they feel a little more in control of their environment and a little better protected. You can communicate your understanding of this need by checking in with them on their comfort level regarding their space, activities, and interactions with you throughout your work day and by respecting what they’re comfortable with without making them feel bad about it or letting it hurt your feelings.
3) Show that you value connection even while maintaining safe physical distance and recommended safety protocols.
Just because you need to be more mindful of space, shared spaces, and your environment for interaction, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make an effect to show that you still value connecting with your co-workers. Get creative in how you communicate with them, even if you’re in the same building or physical space.
Don’t lose sight of the effectiveness of the remote working tools that proved good connectors during work from home or remote working like Slack, messenger, internal message boards and even video meetings. Using your non verbal and body language cues to show acknowledgement (like a wave or an eyebrow raise) and warmth (like a genuine smile, even if wearing a mask) when you are visible but distanced is also a great way to show someone that you see them, you acknowledge them, and your glad to be back in the same space with them.
Most importantly, keep your patience and grace close at hand as you re-enter the work place. Don’t jump to conclusions about why people are doing things they are doing, everyone is going to have a different safety threshold and pace that they are comfortable with. If in doubt, ask them directly if they are comfortable, do they feel safe, and how you can best help them to feel both of those things in how you interact with them.
For more from Lisa, visit powerbodylanguage.com or connect on Instagram at @lisamitchellindy.