We can always improve our communication skills, especially with our kids. Please read and share my most recent post on Lifehack to get ten practical tips for parents.

Check out and share my newest article about forgiveness on Lifehack.org:

There are reliable, predictable and teachable components to the forgiveness process and they have nothing to do with the person who hurt you. They're all about you and the story you tell yourself.

Check out my latest article on Lifehack.org:
Overreactions are rooted in our behavior and emotions. To go from overreacting to acting resourcefully, we can tap into resources that we learned as children.

by Jeisyn Murphy

I just did a search for the term "loneliness" on Google. In .18 seconds, 40,100,000 results were returned. As I read through a few of these links, I found many articles about how to deal with loneliness, saw some statistics showing that loneliness is increasing, and noted various ads for drugs and counseling for people who are lonely. But is being lonely really just all in our head? Researchers from UCL think so and what they've found is fascinating.

Dr. Ryota Kanai of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience says, “What we’ve found is the neurobiological basis for loneliness. Before conducting the research we might have expected to find a link between lonely people and the part of the brain related to emotions and anxiety, but instead we found a link between loneliness and the amount of grey matter in the part of the brain involved in basic social perception.” You can read all about the processes of the study here.

For our purposes however, I want to distill the information into a single point: Loneliness is tied to how well you perceive social cues. If you feel lonely, you might not find the answer by creating an account on the next pleasedateme.com site. The researchers suggest (and what I can verify from my coaching and NLP Training practice) is that people can be taught how to read social cues better and learn key patterns regarding social rules in order to increase their success at making lasting friendships and even finding a compatible mate. Put simply: Change your brain, change your reality!

Before continuing, I want to underline the fact that the feelings of loneliness are very real and can be debilitating for some people. I am not discounting this reality. The exciting part of this research however is that the emotion we call "loneliness" is not coming from the part of our brain responsible for other emotions. Rather, loneliness is a signal from our mind telling us that we need updated strategies for making connections to people. If we listen and respond to this signal, we can overcome loneliness. But how?

Three Ways To Overcome Loneliness

  1. Recognize, as soon as possible, that feeling lonely is a signal that you need to learn how to improve your social life. One way to do this is to get some coaching on how to overcome social anxiety and build rapport. Another option for you is to take some classes on networking (check your local university's informal class schedule or look for webinars on this topic). You may even want to learn how to fine-tune your ability to read social cues (non-verbal micro-behaviors that relate to socialization) and you can do that right here at Bright Mind!
  2. Join a support group or interest group in your area. A great non-therapeutic resource is meetup.com. You can find various meetings (some free, some for a fee) that center around a plethora of topics.
  3. Go where people are. Ultimately the best way to meet other like-minded folks is to go where they are. If your thing is spirituality, visit different synagogues or churches. If you like to dance, take dancing lessons or enter competitions. Whatever it is, go for it. And remember, bringing along another friend or acquaintance can help you overcome the awkwardness of visiting some place new.
So take the plunge. Try out new skills and do something (or a whole bunch of things) differently and you'll have great results. Good luck!

by Jeisyn Murphy

How do you feel about having to make an impression on someone? For some it's a daunting task. For others it's a chance to make connections, do a little business, find friends or even a mate.  

Are you good at it? Do you think you have room for improvement?  According to a recent study on Facebook profile photos, people who include social cues in their profile photos are perceived to be more socially attractive. A social cue might be you playing catch with your kids, holding a drink and smiling, playing the guitar or any information that shows who you are and what you're about.

That may not be such a surprise but the real catch to creating a good impression on Facebook is to make sure others are saying good things about you, especially near your profile photo. The study concluded that other people's opinions matter more than the information you portray about yourself.

Properly maintaing your Facebook page could probably take up a lot of your time.  But what about your real life impression? Do you have a good handle on how to create and keep up your real-time profile? 

One of the services a life coach can provide is image consultation. This type of session isn't just about how you dress, although that is considered, but the focus is much broader than the makeover shows that are now a staple of any "self-respecting" reality programming.
When you're looking to upgrade your reputation, your mannerisms, speech patterns, and social cues are assessed. We coach you in the areas you need to strengthen. We also train you in important behavioral skills such as persuasion, how to exude confidence, and to develop deep rapport building tools.

Not only is an image coaching session a great way to increase your ability to compete for a job, it's a fun way to learn about yourself, and it makes a great gift too! 

Need to make a speech but are terrified of public speaking? Want to spruce up your interviewing skills? Have a friend who gets nervous talking to members of the opposite gender? Schedule an image consultation for you or someone you care about and start seeing results right away!

by David Joyce, MA

How People who Trust are Better at Spotting Liars

Turns out, it’s better to see the good in people more than to distrust them. A study published by Nancy Carter and Mark Weber of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, shows that people who consider themselves trusting of people are not only better at recognizing lies and liars, but that people who are generally DIStrustful of people are more likely to believe someone who is out to deceive. In other words, people who think they are protecting themselves by being distrustful of their fellow man set themselves up to be even further disappointed much more than the people who retain their belief in the positive intentions of others.

You can read the details of the study for yourself, but the implications of this are remarkable. It’s the reverse of what most people expect, though it makes certain principles very clear once you think about it. When

I train, and sometimes when I coach someone, there’s a presupposition that I work hard to get people to understand, which is, “Every Behavior Has a Positive Intention.” I’ll tell folks not to worry about whether it’s true or not, but to simply go out and test it because they’ll get better results if they do.

This study shows, in part, why they WOULD get those better results. The subjects who presupposed people were basically truthful had unconscious minds that were able to recognize when something was “off,” and they reported that they would not want to hire the folks who were lying in the interviews. People who presupposed negative intentions, who assumed that people are not worthy of trust, misperceived cues given off by the liars, making them more willing to hire liars than otherwise. By LOOKING for liars, they wound up accepting the lies. You’re safer to give the benefit of the doubt to the people around you, and that’s a daunting concept for many.

I have heard that when they train federal agents who will be hunting counterfeiters, they NEVER expose those agents to counterfeit money. Not once.

Instead, they train the agents only with real money for a very long term, showing them how real money is made, exposing them to money in its early stages as well as the completed product. They learn the feel of money, the smell of it, the colors of the background and the fine lines hidden within. That way, when the agent is out in the field, they are able to recognize the fake simply because it’s different from what they’re accustomed to. Agents who are trained with counterfeit money as well as the real never quite get it, and are easily fooled by good counterfeits. Something about exposing them to the lie early on actually impairs their ability to spot it later, and, if this study I mentioned earlier is accurate, might actually make them more prone to accept counterfeit OVER the real!

So perhaps we should presuppose positive intention in others. Learn to experience the goodness in humans, the feel of sincerity in someone we talk with, how it looks on the face and in the eyes. Expect the truth and get comfortable with it.  That way, when we’re exposed to the fake, it will stand out as clearly for us as counterfeit dollars for federal agents and liars to the people in this study who were willing to presuppose the best in those around them.

by Jeisyn Murphy

Conflict between people is a symptom of something deeper. Whether it be co-workers or couples, unresolved issues lead to seemingly irreconcilable differences.

As a manager, I have seen co-workers "come to blows" over a territorial dispute about who gets to schedule time in an open office space. There happened to have been at least five other meeting spaces available but they chose to fight over the same one (and it certainly wasn't the most desirable space!). As a life coach, I have witnessed couples argue about who would take the kids to school when both parents professed that the children's education was of utmost importance. What is really going on?

Generally, people tend to argue about surface life-matters rather than the deeper issues in their relationship. For example, it may be "easier" for an employee to have a dispute with another co-worker around a meeting space than to address the fact that a few months ago, that same co-worker said something really hurtful about the employee's attendance to her supervisor. When it comes to choosing, given the employee's internal resources and limitations, the meeting space problem vs. gossip may win out.

So what's a mother to do? Ignoring this problem won't make it any better. No matter how it has come to your attention, if you can make a difference and bring something positive to a bad situation, you really should get involved. Here are three simple steps to get you armed and ready to help.

Clarify The Issue

The first step, and it really is key, is to gather information and clarify the issues. This can be the single most important area for a coach, manager, parent (or whatever your helping role is) to resource right away. You need to listen objectively to both sides (often in private), ask questions in order to drill down into the subject at hand, and unearth the root cause. Once you think you have it, it is important to test your hypothesis with the other person to make sure they agree this is the root cause. Their body language will usually tell you first: letting out a deep breath, color returning to their face, relaxed muscles and less tension around the lips. However it is also wise to get verbal, conscious agreement because you'll use this later to anchor the discussion when both parties meet.

Communicate Clearly

Important caveat! There is a great deal of prep-work involved in this step and some readers may want to get coaching for themselves to learn the HOW-TOs of successful negotiation. Usually a two-hour coaching session can prepare you for this step and can be done on the phone or via Skype/FaceTime. Feel free to contact our coaches at Bright Mind for more information (click the link or fill out the form below). The big idea behind this stage is Franklin Covey's Fifth Habit "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." This is a rule that everyone involved should agree to if resolution is truly the goal. If there are players who are not willing to practice this attitude, it may reveal game-playing agendas that need to be addressed!

Once this understanding atmosphere is in place, guide the people in conflict to a psychological space where they can air out the root cause––this is the real issue at the core of the life-matter. As the root cause is explored and understood, your role is to get each side to look for a win-win. In my nearly three decades of coaching/counseling experience, I've yet to be in a negotiating situation where a win-win did not exist on some level; exceptions being those times when one or both of the parties was more interested in playing games rather than understanding and reaching agreements. If you do the deeper work here, resolution at the life-matter level is almost magically attained.

Contract An Agreement

By this stage, the people who have been in conflict are relieved to be here and the mood has considerably lifted. Arriving at this place is one of my favorite journeys with people as a coach. But the work isn't finished! Conflict can be lurking around the corner especially in toxic work environments or in relationships that are in trouble. Now is the time for you to do the participants a real favor and future pace other times where conflict may arise and plan now the strategies they will use to avoid ending up in a similar situation. You may need to forecast the signs and symptoms of brewing conflict that occur at the unconscious level like physicalized tension in the presence of the other person, ruminations about conversations that didn't go as desired, or distorted visualizations of the person's face or body.

Finally, have the parties agree to behaviors that minimize tension and negativity like avoidance, gossip, assuming the negative, etc. Also get them to agree to proactively speak in person (if possible) to the other person in order to voice their concerns. Encourage them to continue the attitude of understanding and if they start to enter rocky waters, they should agree to find a mediator before the real trouble starts.

by Jeisyn Murphy

There's a notion that gets politely offered (most of the time) by coaches to their clients when they are feeling stuck. It has a variety of forms but the quote goes, "If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got," by W. L. Bateman. The advice hits the ear in a similar way a kid inherits grandpa's favorite tie. It's old, obviously worn by someone else, and it has no intrinsic value but is full of sentiment. Such wisdom should not be thrown on the rack only to be noticed when it is in the way. It is an idea worth revisiting and often.

One of the main motivations for people to hire a coach is that they want different results but don't know how to sort out the issue on their own. Often just scheduling the first session is enough to get the client's unconscious mind to change frames of reference and think about the problem differently. That's because the magic of this little quote happens only when the truism is put into action. So here's a little story about how I utilized it when I was in high school.

I had unknowingly broken a rule at my school and was busted for it. I was to meet with the principal later in the afternoon but my appointment with dread took place earlier in the day when I found out about the mishap. I had to make a choice–spend the rest of the day dreading the meeting or change my state. Luckily for me (and not so lucky for the principal) I had recently attended a seminar with Dr. Richard Bandler, one of the co-creators of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). If you don't know who he is, search YouTube for him and you'll get a quick sense about his personality. He is well-defined, self-sure, abrasive, and a man who will not put up with the blame game. With the energy of the training still fresh in my mind, I decided that it would not be me who would show up for the meeting with the principal, but Richard Bandler. I spent some time "channeling" him using a few useful NLP patterns and soon I wasn't feeling dread anymore. Instead I felt curious and centered. I was able to organize my representations of the facts in an intelligent and persuasive way. Most importantly, I stopped caring about the power differential between me and the principal and decided that I would require respect.

The meeting turned out differently than either of us expected. While I listened carefully to the principal, I didn't back down from my position; a new behavior for me in the face of stress and authority. I respectfully refuted his baseless accusations. I was able to highlight for him that I had made a mistake and that he was looking at the scenario from a guilty/not guilty frame of reference. I convinced him that learning from one's mistakes was far more important than meting out punishment and convinced him to drop the whole issue. I debriefed the episode with my mentor. She helped me integrate the experience and it became a building block for me as I constructed my personality and developed my skills as a communicator.

The takeaway is this: the minute you realize you aren't getting what you want, change your behavior. Do anything but what you had been doing. Keep altering your thoughts and actions until you start getting more of what you do want. This is one of the keys of coaching...the client has to realize that they must change in order to see the change they want.

When someone is paid to "coach" a person or an organization, he or she is expected to have resident within them precise representations of skill sets and patterns the he or she can offer which will help move the person/business from a problem state to a solution. The money exchanged from client to coach does not necessarily cover the coach's experience or education. It is meant to ensure that a true transfer takes place in the most efficient manner.

This transfer can be made in a variety of ways and each one has its cost in terms of quality. The highest and most pure form of transfer is when the client is encouraged to go through a discovery process rather than have the skill sets and patterns imposed on them. The best training environments utilize this discovery process. The draw back, especially in this digital age, is that the process takes more time, is considerably more organic and it requires a depth of skill in the agent of change. The latter will be the focus of this post.

The job of a coach is to create choices that were not available to the client before. It is illogical to say that a choice can be imposed. Therefore skills and patterns that open up choices are truly ecological when they are found by the client in a guided discovery with the agent of change. The market place is saturated with coaches, consultants, and therapists who are all under the guise of agents of change. This saturation creates competition which violates the criteria of quality lacking in many coaches today.

A person wanting to get into the field of coaching can quickly gain a superficial knowledge of patterns of change through various trainings either online or in live seminars. And with true commitment to practice in a disciplined manner with accountability, the student coach can gain mastery. What we have found is that a large number of people can pretend to be a coach while having extremely limited experience integrating and congruently applying the patterns of change first to themselves and only then with others in a supervised context. Those who are willing to market themselves as coaches with such limited experience do not appreciate the importance of their role nor do they comprehend the profundity of the patterns to which they've been exposed.

Perhaps the gravest impact is on uninformed consumers who cannot tell the difference between a coach with deep skills and valid certification and a coach who is green but a good self-promoter.  This disability exists particularly because the customer is looking only at the price tag attached to the number of hours promised to transfer the needed information. With just a little more investment on the consumer's part, well-trained practitioners will demonstrate a difference of quality that is worth more than the price of transfer with the novice.

At Bright Mind, it is our hope to attract clients who can appreciate how tremendously effective someone is when they have been trained and certified by masters of change compared to a product of the "coaching mill" who knows some of the words and scripts and can jam a person into whatever box best fits their training.

Patterns of change are simply areas where coaches fix their attention and the attention of their clients in order to bring that person or group to key choice points which, when discovered, bring about the desired change. They are rituals and nothing more. To be a master of change, a person must demonstrate consistent and successful self-application of these patterns and the ability to change steps in the ritual when the client does not fit the script because the coach 1) understands the intent of the ritual and 2) the objection which has arisen in the client is honored and utilized to satisfy the intention of the ritual but also satisfies the objection of the client. The master is most brilliantly revealed in the second criterion when he remains calm and unshaken by the client who is just being all of who he is and is not "playing along" with the script.

Everyone gets in a rut every now and then. Most of the time we can figure out the problem with our own resources and move on. Yet there are times when we can't see a way out and no amount of "looking under our own hood" can help.

Here's where a well-trained coach can help.

1. You feel stuck.

Albert Einstein said, "You can't get out of a situation using the same kind of thinking that you used to get into it in the first place." A coach who is trained in recognizing the kind of thinking a person is using and who has the tools to help you change your brain's thinking patterns, can be an invaluable resource when you feel you've reached the end of your rope.

2. You have significant, high value choice-points.

The choices we make are often the products of how we feel in a given moment. This is not the best strategy because high stress circumstances can give way to low quality thinking patterns. When you're faced with a decision that requires you to analyze and evaluate multiple steps along the way, the risk for error goes up.

A trusted coach can help you stay resourceful and objectively offer critical feedback in a supportive way throughout your decision process.

3. You are in new territory.

New situations can be exciting but don't let the adventure fool you into thinking that you are immortal. Wise people for centuries have sought out council when fact finding and research were crucial components of success.

When you start a new venture, having a coach who has prepared vital information for you to review makes good sense. Additionally, a deeply networked coach will probably know someone (or at least someone who knows someone) who has been in a similar situation and can provide you with treasured resources like strategies and contacts to beef up your support system.