A Myth Misquoted Misinterpreted and Misunderstood: The 7% Rule: Fact, Fiction or Fallacy By Carmel O’ Reilly

7% of meaning is communicated through spoken word, 38% through tone of voice, 55% through body language. 

A Myth Misquoted Misinterpreted and Misunderstood: The 7% Rule Fact, Fiction or Fallacy is part of a series of stories of when studies or stories were taken out of context, stories of when facts were not checked causing them to be misreported, resulting in misleading people.

A Myth Misquoted Misinterpreted and Misunderstood: The 7% Rule Fact, Fiction or Fallacy: A Case Study

Misquoted Misinterpreted Misunderstood

7% of meaning is communicated through spoken word, 38% through tone of voice, 55% through body language.I’ve lost count of how many times I heard or read these words being quoted over the years, mostly back in the days when I first became self-employed and there were various government-backed training initiatives for people setting up in business, mainly to do with giving presentations. My approach was always to go with an open mind, which allowed me to learn new ways of doing and thinking. Afterwards I would retain what I considered to be helpful to me in my WorkLife and I would disregard anything I didn’t consider to be helpful. I was quick to disregard these words. I didn’t over-question or over-think them, I just dismissed them right off the bat because they simply just didn’t ring true for me.

This misquoted, misinterpreted and misunderstood myth came back into my mind recently, because of how many studies and stories continue to be taken out of context, and how so many facts are not being checked, causing them to be misreported, resulting in misleading people.

So, I went back to investigate what Professor Albert Mehrabian had actually said, and in what context. This is what I discovered:

In 1967 the results of the two studies Professor Mehrabian had conducted into human communication patterns were published in professional journals. 

In the first study, subjects had been asked to listen to a recording of a woman’s voice saying the word “maybe” three different ways to convey liking, neutrality and disliking. They were also shown photos of the woman’s face conveying the same three emotions (These facial expressions came to represent body language). They were then asked to guess the emotions heard in the recorded voice, seen in the photos, and both together. The result? The subjects correctly identified the emotions 50 percent more often from the photos than from the voice.

In the second study, subjects were asked to listen to nine recorded words, three meant to convey liking (honey, dear, thanks), three to convey neutrality (maybe, really, oh), and three to convey disliking (don’t, brute, terrible). Each word was pronounced three different ways. When asked to guess the emotions being conveyed, it turned out that the subjects were more influenced by the tone of voice than the words themselves.

Professor Mehrabian combined the statistical results of the two studies and came up with the now misquoted, misinterpreted and misunderstood study that communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal. The non-verbal component being made up of body language (55 percent) and tone of voice (38 percent).

The study has been widely circulated across mass media in abbreviated form. It has been suggested that because the figures were so easy to remember, that either people had forgotten what they really meant, or actually they had never known in the first place.

The fact is Professor Mehrabian’s research had nothing to do with giving presentations, because it was based on the information that could be conveyed in a single word through different tones of voice and facial expressions. In this context it’s easy to understand how the words have least importance, and how communication is more about the tone of voice and body language.

In terms of presentations how you communicate through your tone of voice and body language play an important part for sure, but in terms of communicating an idea, you absolutely need words. Words are the way you can construct an idea that matters. Language is everything. 

Imagine for a moment, if you will, you’re interviewing for your ideal role at your ideal company, or you’re pitching your product or service to your perfect client. You’re required to give a 10-minute presentation as part of your interview or pitch, as to why you, your product or service are a good fit for the role and the company, or the client, in line with their core values, but only 7% of your presentation can be words! Case in point.

Words of Wisdom

So what does this mean in the context of how many studies and stories continue to be taken out of context, and how so many facts are not being checked, causing them to be misreported, resulting in misleading people? Does it mean you need to fact check everything? Well probably not, but it is good practice not to believe everything you see and hear. You could follow my approach of having an open mind to learning new things, while also paying attention to your initial instinct or gut reaction. Then retain what you consider to be helpful to you in your WorkLife and disregard anything you don’t consider to be helpful.  

Book Wisdom

As I was pondering all of this I came across the book Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. He shares forty lessons learnt over ten years of experience as a new kind of entrepreneur. He was a successful independent musician who just wanted to sell his CDs online, then helped his friends sell their music too. Eight years later he sold his company for $22 million. The book is designed to be read in about an hour. 

A lot of what Derek wrote really resonated with me, in particular around believing and questioning things that don’t ring true or sit right for me.  For example, in establishing yourself in business, there’s an expectation you need to write a business plan, with projected income, and everything else that goes with that. The thing is it’s really hard to know all of this, and I’ve always believed it shouldn’t be hard, it should be simple, because as Derek says: “The best plans start simple”. So despite what business advisors and banks have said and requested over the years, I just didn’t buy into it, and resisted it wherever and whenever I could. So, I read with great interest how Derek approached writing his ‘business plan’.

He was already living his dream life as a full-time musician, and he didn’t want anything to distract from that. He didn’t want to think about making it big, he wanted to keep it small. So he wrote down his utopian dream-come-true distribution deal from his musician’s point of view. In a perfect world his distributor would:

  1. Pay him every week;
  2. Show him the full name and address of everyone who bought his CD (because those are his fans, not the distributor’s);
  3. Never kick him out for not selling enough (even if he only sold one CD every five years, it would be there for someone to buy);
  4. Never allow paid placement (because it’s not fair to those who can’t afford it). 

And that was it. That was his business plan. 

He went on to share these words of what I consider to be:

Sage Wisdom

“When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia. When you make it a dream come true for yourself, it’ll be a dream come true for someone else, too.”

Now that to me makes perfect business sense, and it makes perfect sense of why a lot of so-called business thinking has never rung true or sat well with me. I’ve always questioned it within myself, with friends, with business advisors and bankers; but until I read Derek’s book I could never put it into words, and certainly not in a way that would have made sense to anyone. 

The lesson for me from all of this is: it’s important for me to question my initial reaction or gut reaction to something that doesn’t ring true for me, or doesn’t sit well with me. It’s a simple lesson, but then again, as with business plans, the best WorkLife lessons are the simplest. 

I leave you today with a simple question. When you see, read, experience something that doesn’t ring true or sit well with you, ask yourself ‘Why?’ Then take time to reflect through self-feedback on what this brings back for you. The answer may come to you quickly or it may take time, but it will come, and when it does it will make perfect sense; and it will instil the importance of trusting your initial reaction or gut instinct. 

Epilogue

Trusting your intuition is the ultimate act of trusting yourself in knowing what to believe. Let this be your guidance throughout the continuing chapters of your WorkLife story. 

Today’s book of the blog is: Anything You Want by Derek Sivers 

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife story. 

Most Significant WorkLife Transition: From Supreme Judge to Nomadic Social Media Marketer By Carmel O’ Reilly

Most Significant WorkLife Transition is part of a series of stories of people who made changes to their WorkLife to live it with a sense of passion and pride. Stories of people who actively shaped their WorkLife so that the choices they make will bring about the satisfaction they seek. Stories of how people discovered or rediscovered their Worklife purpose. 

Most Significant WorkLife Transition: From Supreme Judge to Nomadic Social Media Marketer  A Case Study:

Nomadic WorkLife

Because my work in helping clients make WorkLife transitions into often quite completely new areas, I often get asked the question “what’s the most significant WorkLife transition you’ve seen take place.” Now I happen to think that every WorkLife transition has significance to the individual going through the process, after all they’ve chosen the WorkLife they consider to be inspirational and motivating to them and they’re making it happen.

But I get what people are asking. They want to know about the successful business person who gave it all up and became a circus performer or set up their own little cottage industry that is now a thriving business. Now I haven’t had the circus performer scenario … yet. But a number of clients are doing something completely different in terms of setting themselves up as independent freelancers or consultants, setting up a business or joining a different company, and are leading a more fulfilled WorkLife as a result.

Katie’s story is one of such significance. Katie studied law and worked as a lawyer in Eastern Europe before progressing to become a judge. She was actually quite young when she achieved this, and when I met her was still in her 30s. Now she could have stayed where she was and would have had a very successful career and a very comfortable lifestyle, but she knew this wasn’t what she wanted to do forever and that there was a lot more to life for her, both in her work and personal life.

And so she came to London and we met and began working together. Now, Katie is extremely accomplished and talented, and in terms of careers the world was her oyster. I knew once we discovered what her ideal WorkLife was, she would do what it took to make it happen. The thing was to identify what that was and so our journey to discovery began; and because there were so many options available, we needed to come up with a stringent criteria to evaluate those options in line with her values, motivators, skills she enjoyed using, personable attributes along with her WorkLife vision in terms of where she wanted to be in the next five to ten years. 

We had to rule things in or out; or if they fell into the maybe category we had to find a way of understanding why this WorkLife choice may or may not work and then rule it in or out. And so the process continued.

Travel and autonomy were really important to Katie, and so her WorkLife needed to be one that was mobile, that allowed her to work from anywhere in the world. After much exploration she identified the arena of helping people develop their business (she has an MBA) through social media, by way of offering support in building websites and following this through with ongoing social media marketing campaign strategies. And so she set out to gain the expertise she needed to put this in place, and as I said earlier I knew once she discovered what it is she wanted to do, she would make it happen, and make it happen she did.

A year later and Katie has successfully established herself in business supporting individuals and organisations develop their websites and offers social media marketing campaign strategies. Her business is beginning to thrive and when I last met with her, she was passing through London on her way to live in Phuket for a few months. When I think of the book and film, Eat, Pray, Love I smile as it brings Katie to mind.

Book Wisdom

In Chapter 3 of my book Your WorkLife Your Way, Your WorkLife Vision and Core Motivation, I pose the question: Are you in the right place in your WorkLife or do many of your hopes and dreams remain unfilled? 

I encourage you to reflect upon that question. I like to suggest journaling as a way to explore what you’re thinking and feeling, which in turn will allow you to give yourself meaningful self-feedback on changes you need to make and steps you need to take.

I go on to ask: Is it possible to actively shape your life so that the choices you make will bring about the satisfaction you seek?

I happen to think it is, and share stories from three people at different stages in their WorkLife – early, middle and later stages.

This is a direct link to the chapter for you to work through:    

https://worklifeincorporated.com/?s=chapter+3+your+worklife+your+way

Words of Wisdom

We all have more than one career within us should we choose to change our WorkLife path.

Sage Wisdom

“And suddenly you just know it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” Meister Eckhart

Epilogue

Your WorkLife is a series of chapters. The joy of your imagination will allow you to explore and develop these to allow you to make the transitions that are important to you.  This is your ongoing WorkLife story. 

Today’s book of the blog is: Your WorkLife Your Way By Carmel O’ Reilly

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

Creating a WorkLife You Love That Fulfils Your Wants and Needs By Carmel O’ Reilly

What do Westminster, A Village Hall and Knitting Classes have in common?

What do Westminster, A Village Hall and Knitting Classes have in common? Is part of a series of stories about how people created a WorkLife that fulfilled their wants and needs at their different WorkLife stages. Stories about how people got creative and inventive in doing what they could with what they had – their skills, attributes and experience in creating opportunities for themselves, and making good money while doing this.

What do Westminster, A Village Hall and Knitting Classes have in common? A Creating a WorkLife That Fulfils Your Wants and Needs Case Study.

Loving The Life You Live

I was at a networking event some time age with fellow business owners and met a lovely woman called Terry whose business is about teaching people how to knit and she runs classes in Westminster. I’m not sure what Terry did before this and I do hope I meet her again as I’m intrigued to know. 

It got me thinking about how inventive people are about developing their WorkLives in line with something they love and are good at, that fulfils their wants and needs. Who’d have thought a cottage-industry business in knitting would successfully operate in the land of politicians! And while I’m not sure if any members of parliament pop into Terry’s classes, I’ll be sure to ask if I meet her again.

What Terry is doing resonated with me because many years ago my oldest sister Anne, who trained as a nurse, gave it up once she started her family to stay at home to bring up her boys. Anne had always knitted. She once told me when she was four or five our mum first taught her, and she hasn’t stopped since.

While Anne enjoyed being a stay-at-home mum she also wanted to earn her own money. But anything she did needed to fit into the lifestyle she’d carved out for herself. Anyway, she came across a company who wanted people to knit Aran jumpers (a traditional Irish jumper) for export to America. Apparently, there was a large demand for this style of jumper – among Irish ex-pats I guess. And this is what Anne took on and did for many years to come. She doesn’t remember how much she was paid for each jumper, she thinks it was £10 -£15. This was the 1960s, when my sister Lily, who worked in our local post office, was earning £1 per week! 

Many years later when she was in her 50s Anne returned to work in a more formal environment, putting into practice the skills she’d gained in her nursing, and worked with people with intellectual disabilities supporting them to live independently in group houses in their community.

She has since retired, and when I last spoke to her she was back to her knitting and selling her wares at local craft fares. She’s actually doing quite well from a financial perspective. .But probably more important to her is the network of friends she’s building and the social interaction she has.

She’s been asked to run knitting workshops in our village hall, and while the village we grew up in is many miles away from Westminster on many levels, I think the satisfaction she gets from her little cottage industry is similar to Terry’s and indeed to anyone who creates a WorkLife doing something they love which meets their wants and needs.

I love the podcast: Side Hustle with Chris Guillebeau. I never cease to be amazed by how inventive people are in doing something that fulfils their WorkLife wants and needs and earn good money doing it. For some it helps to supplement their income, for others it helps to finance something important for them – something they’re passionate about, or an experience of a lifetime. Some people are happy to keep it as a side hustle alongside their regular job, and others develop it into a full-time job or business.

Book Wisdom

In the book Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau, he’s created a step-by-step methodology for imagining, building and launching side projects that can earn real serious cash. Gretchen Rubin describes his book as: “The essential guide for anyone who wants to create more freedom, opportunity, and security by launching a profitable side hustle” On his popular podcast, Chris often says, “Inspiration is good, but inspiration combined with action is so much better,” and Side Hustle provides both. It’s packed with practical tips and strategies–illustrated by compelling stories of real-life hustles–that will inspire readers to start their side hustles now.”

I love the question that Chris poses: “What if we could quickly and easily create an additional stream of income without giving up the security of a full-time job?” That’s because I love “What if” questions. I’m often known to say: “What and If are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side by side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life.” A quote I’ve taken from the book and film Letters to Juliet. 

I think it’s an important question to reflect upon to help address any obstacles or fears we may have which are holding us back, perhaps the most common being “I don’t have the time”, or “I don’t want it to take over my WorkLife”.

Reflect on this question and see what it brings up for you, then through self-feedback consider what you can do to overcome the obstacles and/or fears that may be holding you back. For example, in understanding the block or fear of not having enough time, or not wanting it to take over their WorkLife, people were able to address and alleviate this by: 

  1. Identifying what little time they did have, and for some this was as little as thirty minutes a day; but the thing is thirty minutes adds up over the course of a week, a month, and a year. What people found was the most important thing in achieving their goal was consistency, and every small piece of input, action, and step took them a step closer. 
  2. For those who were concerned their side-hustle would take over their WorkLife, they simply came up with a plan to ensure it didn’t, after all they were in the driving seat, and this was very much within their control.

Sage Wisdom

“Hobbies cost you money, legit side businesses make money. If you want to get on the road to financial freedom and enjoy more passion and choice in your life, Side Hustle can help you take the first critical steps.” Jessica Herrin

Words of Wisdom

“In a changing world, so much has shifted in the last few months, people want to invest in themselves, want to create more security for themselves, because they recognise that the world we live in is not secure, and trusting your future to a corporation, or to a government or organisation, even if it’s a good corporation, government or organisation is not wise, even if you love that job and want to keep going to it, you also want to build something for yourself.”  Chris Guillebeau

Epilogue

Creating a WorkLife you love that fulfils your wants and needs, will be ongoing throughout the chapters of your WorkLife. We all have more than one career or side-hustle within us, should we choose to change our WorkLife path at our different WorkLife stages. 

Today’s book of the blog is: Side Hustle By Chris Gullebeau

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

My Plan B: Making My Book Available For Free By Carmel O’ Reilly

Your WorkLife Your Way Free 9 Week Programme. Managing and Navigating Your WorkLife in Times of Change and Uncertainty.

My Plan B: Making My Book Available For Free is part of a series of people’s Plan B stories. Stories of what people did when life threw them a curveball, when they had to regroup and rethink their WorkLife plan. Stories of sometimes unimaginable pain and loss. Stories of courage and strength in the face of adversity. Stories of resilience, reinvention and ultimately recovery.

My Plan B: Making My Book Available For Free A Case Study:

My Plan B

Your WorkLife Your Way Free 9 Week Programme. Managing and Navigating Your WorkLife in Times of Change and Uncertainty.

Those were the opening lines of a message I shared across all of my social media platforms. This is my full message: 

Your WorkLife Your Way Free 9 Week Programme: Managing and Navigating Your WorkLife in Times of Change and Uncertainty.

I hope you’re staying safe and healthy. During these strange times which we’re all living through together, while apart, I thought of ways I could give back. My inspiration to create WorkLifeIncorporated came from a lifelong passion for learning, which has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning.

Since 2003 I’ve worked as a WorkLife Consultant helping people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in both good and challenging times. My work and subsequently my book: Your WorkLife Your Way focuses on helping people live their best WorkLives by managing their learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful questions and the ability to shape and tell their unique story. 

Now more than ever, I want to uphold what life has taught me. To do this I’m making my book available for free. I’m doing this chapter by chapter three days a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays over the course of 9 weeks from Tuesday 14/4/20 to Saturday 13/6/20. It’s structured as a course which people can work through. It’s the same structure I’ve used to support many people in navigating their WorkLives in times of change and uncertainty. 

The ‘Look Inside’ view of the book Your WorkLife Your Way, which you can see on Amazon, and on my website will allow you to know the topics covered. If you think this will be helpful to you or to someone you know, you can subscribe to read. If you can help to share this, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you. Be Well and Stay Safe.

That’s my Plan B. This was my Plan A:

  1. Publish my book Your WorkLife Your Way by the end of 2019 – I accomplished this;
  2. Launch a weekly series of WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories in both Blog and Podcast format beginning January 2010 – I accomplished this;
  3. Publish Your WorkLife Your Way The Workbook companion in February 2020 – I accomplished this;
  4. Develop a series of in-person workshops ready to market by March 2020 – I accomplished this, but then the pandemic hit and so I had to cancel the events I had planned, and put them on hold for now;
  5. From April 2020 begin to approach bookshops, libraries, local business and community groups with a view to doing book readings and/or short workshops – that has had to go on hold for now;
  6. Have an official book launch in May – that has had to go on hold for now;
  7. Throughout the summer do a wider book tour both here in the UK and in Ireland – that has had to go on hold for now;
  8. Throughout this time work on my next book, ready to send to my publisher by December 2020 – I am working on this, and hopefully I will accomplish it. It’s a book to help people find, develop and tell their unique WorkLife Stories – Watch this space!

I’m actually OK with where I’m at with everything right now. I’m really pleased with everything I have accomplished. I’m really pleased I was in a position to have my book ready to make it available to people for free, because it’s a core value of mine to help people, to give back or to give forward. As I mentioned earlier, it’s the same structure I’ve used to support many people in navigating their WorkLives in times of change and uncertainty, while managing both the emotional and practical needs these times both inflict and demand. In time I hope to be able to pick up and complete the things I’ve had to put on hold, I have to admit I was looking forward to running the workshops, along with the book launch and the book tours, and hopefully I will get to do those in person. 

In the meantime, I’m working on virtual courses, a virtual book launch and a virtual tour behind the scenes. I’m actually taking quite a slow approach to this. I know I could have worked to launch these earlier, but I chose not to. Instead I’m making the most of my isolation by reading, researching and learning as much as I can to help my writing, and in turn to continue to help people in managing, developing and navigating their WorkLives.  I’m enjoying this so much and getting a lot of writing done as a result. I’ve got a few projects in mind: the book I mentioned earlier about helping people find, develop and tell their unique WorkLife stories, this blog/podcast which I’ll publish as a book at the end of the year, and a number of other books – the ideas of which I’ll share with you sometime in the not too distant future.

Book Wisdom

A book that has helped me throughout this time is Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. It’s about facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy. From the inside cover: “After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again.” She said: “I was in ‘the void’, a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend and psychologist Adam Grant, told her: “There are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.”

Depending on the impact these current times will have on our WorkLives, the strength of those muscles we need to build will be different for each one of us. For some, sadly as with Sheryl the loss of a loved one will be the most devastating and painful, for others it will be a different kind of loss, perhaps the loss of a WorkLife they once knew. We all live with some form of option B. This book will help us all make the most of it. 

The book talks about a chalkboard that was put up in the middle of New York City, asking people to write their biggest regret. “Of the hundreds of answers, most had one thing in common: the majority of regrets were about failures to act, not actions that failed.” 

Take time to reflect on the question: What is my biggest regret? 

Then through self-feedback consider what you can do if: a) there’s something you can do to change the outcome to overcome this regret; or b) the time has passed to change the outcome to overcome this regret, consider what you need to do to ensure you live your WorkLife without further regret of this kind.

Sage Wisdom

“None of us can escape sadness, loss, or life’s disappointments, so the best option is to find our Option B.” Malala Yousafzai 

Words of Wisdom

“Both individually and collectively, we all need to understand the power of rehabilitation and recovery if we are to overcome adversity.” Bryan Stevenson 

Epilogue

Your loss from Covid-19 may be great, and it’s important to allow yourself time to grieve. In whatever time it takes that is right for you, accepting that the plans and expectations that you had for your WorkLife have been lost for now and perhaps forever, because of the pandemic, will enable you to find a new direction. 

Today’s book of the blog is: Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

How To Find Your Unique Story and Make It Into a Powerful Presentation by Carmel O’Reilly

Sage Wisdom

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas out into the world today.” Robert McKee

How To Find Your Unique Story and Make It Into a Powerful Presentation … is part of a series of tips, techniques and stories to help you make an impact in all your communication needs, whether it’s conversations, presenting, influencing negotiating or leading.

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas out into the world today.” Robert McKee

Those are the opening words of sage wisdom in the final chapter of my book: Your WorkLife Your Way: Turning Your Story Into a Powerful Presentation.

Carmel’s Story: A How To Find Your Unique Story and Make It Into a Powerful Presentation Case Study:

Book Wisdom:

In my book Your WorkLife Your Way I talk about how truly great stories and presentations live on in the hearts and minds of audiences the world over, that’s a FACT. Everyone has an innate storytelling ability, that’s another FACT.

You just need to think about a time when you were with friends (or strangers!) in a bar or other social setting to know that you’re a natural born storyteller.

Why is that? Because when you’re in a friendly setting, you can be yourself, and you’ll use really direct language (no jargon) to make sure what you say is engaging.

These experiences show that we all have that innate sense of what makes a good story, but we tend to forget that a great presentation is simply a great story and we can also at times struggle to express our natural and true self.

How To Be a Brilliant Storyteller and Great Presenter

The first step to being a brilliant storyteller and great presenter is finding your unique story. But how do you do that? Let’s go back to that social setting and work through the following 5 steps; and I’ll share how I used these steps to find my story.

First a little background:

My area of work is people development. I’ve worked as a career coach and WorkLife consultant for over seventeen years, helping people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives. I work with a team of performing and visual artists to deliver training programmes that combine learning and development strategies with skills and techniques from the Arts. So, working with the:

5 Steps to Finding Your Unique Story

1. Begin by thinking about where your passions lie:

What topics are you most likely going to be talking about?

What are the things that excite you?

What are the subject matters that make you feel you have something to say?

I’m passionate about learning and development – my own and other people’s. I’m also passionate about the Arts, and this is what excites me and what I’m most likely going to be talking about; and I happen to have a lot to say on these matters.

2. Look where you spend your time

What is it you do outside of your work, when your time is valuable, where do you choose to spend it?

I’m always learning, whether I’m listening to podcasts, reading or taking a course, and this together with visiting galleries, museums, going to the cinema and theatre is where I choose to spend my time. As learning and the Arts are my work, this is what I do on a daily basis and at weekends for both work and leisure.

3. Look where you spend your disposable income

What are the things you spend your money on? – your interests or hobbies.

This is also where I spend my money: Learning and the Arts: I recently did a course on Radio Theatre, which was so interesting and great fun. Other spends include: A preview screening of “Liar” (A new TV show) at the BFI followed by a Q&A with the writers, director and leading actor. I’ve seen “Glengarry Glen Ross”, which is on at the West-End, and “Girl From The North Country” – written and directed by Conor McPherson with music and lyrics by Bob Dylan.

4. Think about your struggles

In tough times, what did you do?

What kind of uncertainties did you feel?

I changed my WorkLife from Investment Banking to Career Coaching, returning to college as a mature student, that was a struggle because it was a juggling act initially, I worked to bring in much needed income while studying and gaining practical experience to launch my new career and business.

I felt great uncertainty about whether I could make that transition and if I could make a living from it. There have been many tough times getting things started and keeping them going. I’ve gotten through those by persistence, determination and a positive attitude – I keep on going because I believe our work has a positive impact on people development programmes, and working with learning and the Arts, makes it easy to remain positive.

5. Discover your Eureka moment

What was the moment you had your greatest realisation?

There was a further struggle that led me to discovering my ‘Eureka’ moment: Once qualified, while the one-to-one coaching work came easily to me, workshops and presentations didn’t. I was so incredibly nervous that I would be physically ill before talking in front of people. I was also very inhibited and not my natural self and to top all of that off I became very wooden!

To overcome this I undertook a Foundation year in Drama along with several shorter acting courses and a year-long Directing Course, which led me to being Assistant Director on a production of Hamlet that went on to being performed at the RSC Open Space in Stratford Upon Avon (My claim to fame!)

This is when I had my ‘Eureka’ moment of how the techniques, structures and methods of theatre making are significant in the world of people development. The unique skills sets performing artists have had to develop in their craft brings learning alive. This excited me because I knew with my background in learning and development I could collaborate with artists to create meaningful learning programmes.

That’s how I found my story and it has been helpful in establishing my company brand, and in business and networking situations helping me to talk about what I do. It’s also been helpful in developing presentations and pitches for work.

But what about presentations? How can you adapt your unique story to help you deliver a great presentation that people are going to want to listen to?

Making Your Story into a Powerful Presentation

You need to think about the single purpose of your presentation, the one principle that is most central to what you want to accomplish.

Let me demonstrate with a presentation I’m currently working on. This is part of an application process for funding to deliver community projects.

First a little further background:

As well as working with the Arts in the workplace through people-development programmes, I’m also passionate about bringing the joy and benefits of the Arts to the community. This includes retirement homes and to people who are living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Here’s how my Story/Presentation is shaping up:

“My love of the Arts came from my parents, music, song and dance. Sadly, towards the end of my mum’s life she developed dementia, which progressed quite rapidly, and she had to go into a retirement home as she required round the clock care. As a family we felt we’d lost her. The dementia took away aspects of her personality and parts of her memory, she just wasn’t the same anymore and it was heart breaking.

“When we went to visit, she always knew us, but as soon as we left she wouldn’t remember we’d been there. We also couldn’t have a conversation with her, because she just couldn’t remember things and she’d become frustrated and agitated. It was too upsetting for her.

“Every couple of weeks a singer would go into the home and have a sing-song with the residents, and when she did, my mum would sing along and she’d remember every single word of every single song, and she’d be talking about it for days afterwards. It lifted her mood immediately and she was so much happier and calmer.

“This is why I want to work with a team of performing artists, to create a programme of events bringing music, song and dance to the lives of people who live with dementia and Alzheimer’s. I know the joys, benefits and well-being it will bring.”

My one purpose: To help people understand the immediate and lasting impact these programmes will have on people’s lives. Wish me luck!

Words of Wisdom

“The difference between real life and a story is that life has significance, while a story must have meaning.” Vera Nazarian

Develop a practice of insightful self-questioning and continuous self-feedback by listening to and reflecting on the stories about yourself inside your own head. Ask yourself: What is it about these stories that make you who you are? Then build yourself out of that story.

Epilogue

I continue to draw upon the following wisdom from Brandon Sanderson: “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon,” by asking myself: What questions do I want to give to people to think upon from my WorkLife stories and presentations. 

Today’s book of the blog is: Your WorkLife Your Way by Carmel O’ Reilly

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

Top Ten Tips to Tell a Story that Makes an Impact by Carmel O’ Reilly

All great communicators are great storytellers. They use their own stories to communicate with power and impact. 

Top Ten Tips to Tell a Story that Makes an Impact … is part of a series of tips, techniques and stories to help you make an impact in all your communication needs, whether it’s conversations, educating, teaching, coaching, mentoring, presenting, influencing, negotiating or leading.

All great communicators are great storytellers. They use their own stories to communicate with power and impact. 

Those are my words, words I wrote a long time ago in a blog post, words taken from the learning from the stories of people I’ve worked with, words that I’m revisiting and revising now as I research my new book, which is about helping people find, develop and tell their unique WorkLife stories. Here’s my original post with some revisions.

Carmel’s Story: A Top Ten Tips to Tell a Story that Makes an Impact Case Study:

All great communicators are great storytellers. They use their own stories to communicate with power and impact. By doing this they have authenticity and presence giving them the ability to influence and lead. 

Sharing is powerful. In his book Every Tool’s a Hammer, the maker, designer, television host, producer, Adam Savage talks about sharing.

Book Wisdom

Savage says: “Sharing what I know is a personal mission. It’s a key part of how I balance the scales for the incredible gifts I’ve been given. Whatever success I’ve enjoyed in my life has always been directly related to those who’ve supported me, and to all the amazing people I’ve been lucky enough to meet, know, collaborate with, and learn from. As a maker and storyteller, I see myself as part of a continuum, going back to the beginning of humans using tools and telling stories, and continuing forward into infinite possible futures.”

Sage Wisdom

To paraphrase Stephen King: Sharing stories is a uniquely portable magic.

My intention in sharing the following tips is to help you to find, develop and tell the right story at the right time.

1. The most powerful communication has a human element. Share your experiences, your successes and your challenges, what you did to overcome them and what you learnt in the process. This gives insight into who you are, allowing you to break down walls and connect with people at a human level. In stories characters will always have flaws, and if you include a past failure, it will add another layer to your story and endear you to your audience.

2. Take time to think about an intriguing way to begin your story. You need to capture the attention of your audience from the very beginning. The beginning doesn’t just “hook” your listeners, it also sets the tone and launches the plot of your message. An example might be establishing conflict from the outset, e.g. “we were halfway to Mars when our fuel tank blew up”. This helps to create a sense of urgency and you can go back and fill in the details once people are on board with the fact that exciting stuff is happening.

3. Take your audience on a journey. Stories are full of events and revelations that take your audience somewhere new. All the best stories contain transformations. Think about what transformations you want your audience to experience by the end of your story.

4. Take your time. The pleasure is in the telling. Remember a pause, a look, a gesture can convey as much as words. Allow yourself to see the pictures, hear the sounds, smell the scents, savour the tastes and feel the emotions, and then your audience will too.

5. To keep you audience on the edge of their seats, use …………. “suspense”. Not knowing what is going to happen next will make people want to sit up and listen. You could do this by posing a “big question” that will keep people hooked until the end. Maybe you’ll have a surprise ending, and who doesn’t love a surprise! A surprise can come in the form of a well-guarded secret revealed at the right time. This is guaranteed to get people talking and your story will spread like wildfire

6. At times when you have to deliver difficult messages, it’s worth remembering that listeners are more open to receiving when they hear the message delivered in a story format. They can lower their walls and defences because the message is coming to them in an indirect way. This helps to replace suspicion with trust.

7. Share your vision stories to inspire hope, stimulate action and raise morale. Telling a story first will guide your audience towards seeing what the future ahead holds and this is particularly important during times of uncertainty. Talk about the obstacles to overcome. When people know the efforts needed to achieve these goals they will appreciate them even more. The old adage of “not appreciating things that are easily attained” comes into play here.

8. The greater the range of emotions in your story, the deeper the connection you will build with your audience. Empathy is important when storytelling: look at the world as though you are experiencing it from different perspectives, stand in the shoes of your audience. This helps to communicate your understanding of what others are feeling and thinking, and shows respect of other’s point of view.

9. Tell stories to inspire people who want change, to sustain positive energy over time. Stories will get people’s imaginative juices working, they will become curious about what else there is to find out and have a greater sense of being an integral part of that change.

10. Finally, if your thought process has dried up and you’re struggling to come up with ideas to get your next story started, places you can find inspiration from include:

Family, friends, colleagues –having an innate interest in people’s lives is a core attribute of all storytellers.

Dreams – we’ve all been intrigued by a dream at some point and have been left frustrated by waking up and wanting to know what happened next. The solution: write it down as quickly as possible and you never know what a seed may germinate.

Ask yourself “what if” then use the self-feedback you receive to open your mind to the infinite possibilities that are empowered through the power of storytelling.

Develop your storytelling ability by making storytelling part of your daily life. After all storytelling is the best communication tool a conversationalist, presenter, influencer, negotiator or leader can use; and as a strategy, whenever you want to make an impact tell a story.

Words of Wisdom

“Sharing information is the fuel for the engine of progress.” Adam Savage

Epilogue

I continue to share the power of story and storytelling in the hope that it will help people to learn, develop and grow through the power of finding, developing and telling their unique WorkLife stories.  

Today’s book of the blog is: Every Tool’s a Hammer by Adam Savage

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

Red Velvet: A Story Both Triumphant and Tragic By Carmel O’ Reilly

Red Velvet tells the true story of African-American actor Ira Aldridge (1807-67). The playwright (and actor) Lolita Chakrabarti brings this fascinating story to vivid life and her husband Adrian Lester plays the part of Aldridge.

Red Velvet: A Story Both Triumphant and Tragic is part of A Story Worth Telling series. Origin stories that matter. Stories, some of which have been forgotten, or never told before, of people’s amazing achievements in difficult times and difficult situations. Stories where people showed courage in the face of adversity. Stories of celebration and suffering.  Stories both triumphant and tragic. 

Today I’m revisiting the story, of a play/book review I wrote some time ago which I’ve revised for this week’s blog and podcast.

Red Velvet: A Story Both Triumphant and Tragic

The story begins and ends in a theatrical dressing room, where Aldridge is preparing to play King Lear in the last year of his life. Adrian Lester, in playing the lead role at the Tricycle Theatre London, beautifully captures the pained dignity and irritation of the ageing, ailing actor preparing to play Lear in white face paint not long before his own death.

The story then moves back in time to 1833 and to the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. Aldridge is drafted in to play Othello when Edmund Kean, the great Shakespearean actor collapsed during a performance.

What should have been a breakthrough for Aldridge became a setback that haunted him for the rest of his life, despite the fact that he was the recipient of many honours, and became the highest paid artist in Russia. This was because of the racist reviews by the British press along with the deep discontent from some of the actors in the theatre over the manager’s decision to replace Kean with a black performer.

Lester gives a strong impression of the power of Aldridge’s playing and stage presence. He thrillingly replicates the charisma of the young Aldridge and the idealistic passion of the twenty-six year old, through to the weight of his weary disillusion towards the final chapter of his life.

Thankfully Lester has long-since broken the mould in roles that Aldridge did not get a stab at, and with a nice twist of fate starred as Othello at the National Theatre London.

Book Wisdom

The poignancy of Aldridge’s story was beautifully told in Red Velvet by Chakrabarti. She gives a social and historical context for the story while also providing contemporary insights. That Aldridge, as a black actor, was not only playing the lead role on a London stage, but the much-coveted role of Othello, was unprecedented. Notwithstanding that he became renowned for the greatness of his Shakespearean performances on his tours outside of the UK, his bittersweet memories of his time in London remained with him.

 Interestingly, Chakrabarti took time to chat to the audience at the end of the performance and told the story of how the play had evolved. She first heard of Aldridge in 1998 and was determined to find out more, but there was little known about him. This was pre-internet, and so her research and her quest to uncover his story took her many years and across continents and finally cumulated in this wonderful story with the support of Indhu Rubasingham, the artistic director at the Tricycle Theatre – another woman on a mission to draw in people who don’t go to the theatre, and her desire to make the world a smaller place through theatre was perhaps a goal she shared with Aldridge. 

“Theatres and the arts are a positive force for our community in turbulent times.” The National Theatre Home

Sage Wisdom

Origin Stories matter because as people we love stories. We’re curious about a person’s story that made them who they are. Stories help us to understand and relate to each other.  

Your origin story matters. To help you tell your story ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What was it that compelled you to do what you do? 
  • What is something you’ve taken a stand on that benefited you?
  • What is something you’ve taken a stand on that cost you?
  • What triumphs and tragedies have you experienced along the road of your WorkLife journey?
  • What has changed over the course of your WorkLife – ask yourself How? And Why to flesh this out more.

Take time to reflect on these questions and use the self-feedback that comes to you through the answers to help shape and tell your origin story.

Words of Wisdom

There are a lot of threads to this story, but perhaps the one that stands out for me is: in spite of obstacles, how talent shines through.  This man, in a period when slavery still existed in America and the British were debating whether to get rid of slavery in the colonies, was performing on a Covent Garden stage. He defied the preconceived judgements about authenticity because of the colour of his skin. Judgements made before he had even opened his mouth, judgements made before he could demonstrate his talent and ability as an actor. It was his talent supported by a determination to make his career happen, the courage to follow his purpose and passion, the courage to fight adversity that won through. 

Epilogue

Aldridge’s legacy is that of an actor whose name has long since outlasted his critics. He is recognised as one of the greatest Shakespearian actors that have ever lived. Aldridge’s story is both triumphant and tragic. His is a story that changed the world, by opening up the world to his fellow actors across many cultures who have followed in his footsteps in establishing their careers while pursuing and fulfilling their purpose and passion. 

The reviews I write are by way of reflecting on cultural experiences to include performing, visual and literary arts that touched my heart and my mind and making sense of them in the context of learning and development in both the work-place and the community.

Today’s book of the blog is: Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti 

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

Identity and Work, The Subtlety of Persuasion and The Importance of Being Present By Carmel O’ Reilly

Two Days One Night (2014) is a film about Sandra (played by Marion Cotillard), a young Belgian mother, who discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job.  In the film, the workplace becomes a battleground, these are struggling workers with families and not CEOs or fat cats. Sandra finds and creates solidarity, uncovering people’s true nature as well as her own. 

Identity and Work raises the question: Is this something that could happen in real life? 

And considers people’s WorkLife stories in the same way the directors/writers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne did. They said the idea came from reading news stories about similar situations where workers solidarity was challenged.

Today I’m revisiting a story of a film review I wrote some time ago, which I’ve revised for this week’s blog and podcast.

In my original post, I posed the question: Has the recent recession added to what Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne said about people competing with each other for their jobs, and if this in fact social realism? Today I’m curious about how the pandemic we’re all living through right now will impact this. Central to the brother’s idea is validation through work, a precarious concept in an era of widespread unemployment. In an interview with the Guardian, the brothers are quoted as saying: “If you don’t have a job, you are made to feel like an outcast from your community. Possibly in the future people will find another way to be part of the community that is not connected to work but for now that is where meaning lies. From an anthropological point of view, that is how mankind feels a sense of belonging.” http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/aug/07/-sp-dardenne-brothers-marion-cotillard-two-days-one-night

Identity and Work

Sandra’s Story: Identity and Work, The Subtlety of Persuasion and The Importance of Being Present

Cotillard talks about the difficulty of portraying her character, Sandra, because basically she has the same thing to say ten times. She had to find the evolution, the slight details that created the drive and motivation to keep Sandra moving even though she is telling people the same thing in her endeavours to persuade them to vote for her to keep her job and give up their bonuses. The tiniest changes in each scene meant Sandra’s confidence would go up and down and everything she could build up from those little differences would help her to identify how to angle each pitch she made.

Each meeting was filmed in real time. This allowed each of the characters to be fully present, and accentuated the tension and the movements within that tension. The shots were addictive, which draw the audience in. It’s like watching a live match: will they score, won’t they score.

The brothers spend a lot of time in the rehearsal process. They talk about rehearsal allowing the actors to be truly present, and it’s only when they are truly present that the scene can exist and the tensions and rhythms arise. They say rehearsals allow the exploration of tracks, which then don’t need to be explored again. They say you only get the picture right once: there’s only one shot possible. There’s room for manoeuvre because they’re on the right track. They acknowledge that while every actor is different, the work of creating a presence is the same. They achieve this by acknowledging that everyone was equally important, making the scenes possible because everyone had a leading role that demanded of them to be truly present in each moment, allowing the actors in turn to have more of a presence.

The art of persuasion, negotiation and influence is built on the same powers of observation, the ability to notice the minutest change, to be fully present in the moment and to react in real-time is of utmost importance. Marion said for her character, Sandra, that this was imperative because these subtleties meant what she was repeatedly saying was almost but not the same thing, and as the brothers say “there’s only one shot possible”.

Actors use a range of techniques when preparing for a role. Let’s consider techniques from the renowned theatre practitioner, Constantin Stanislavski, whose work remains at the forefront of actor training today, and how these techniques are applicable in the world of our WorkLives, and the impact they have on persuasion and being present.

Super-Objective: (Stanislavski) Focuses on the entire situation (film/play) as a whole and serves as the final goal the actor wishes to achieve. For Sandra, it’s to keep her job. This goes to the heart of her identity and to her well-being. 

Working with this objective in mind, the actor must then find the appropriate personal pain that can drive this objective. The pain must be powerful enough to inspire the actor to fearlessly commit to do whatever it takes to win their objective. 

Sage Wisdom

Aristotle defined the struggle of the individual to win as the essence of all drama. As a non-actor when you find yourself in a position where you need to influence, persuade or negotiate you need to start with your super objective (your goal) in knowing what it is you want more than anything from the situation/interaction, then identify your pain: what are the stakes; what is it you could lose; and what are the bigger implications of losses. For Sandra, underlying the loss of her job was the loss of identity her work gave her, and the negative impact on her well-being.

Book Wisdom

In An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski, Scene-Objective focuses on what the actor wants over the course of an entire scene, that supports their super-objective. For Sandra it begins with understanding each of her work colleague’s position on the situation. This inevitably leads to external circumstances that are impacting their decision. 

From this point she can gauge how to pitch her plea to vote for her to keep her job and give up their bonuses. While she may not get immediate agreement, she recognises no matter how small the win is, the important thing is to end the scene in a different position from where she started. She needs to make enough of an impact for them to at least consider their position. She also needs to be prepared to learn which votes she can’t count on.  This information, although crushing, helps her position in knowing where to focus her energy and efforts in the next round of discussions, and what changes she needs to make to her pitch/plea.

The book says: “That inner line of effort that guides the actors from the beginning to the end of the play we call the continuity of the thorough-going action. This through-line galvanises all the small units and objectives of the play and directs them toward the super-objective. From then on they all serve the common purpose.”

Words of Wisdom

When you find yourself in a situation where you need to persuade one or more people, begin as Sandra did by understanding their position and their thinking and circumstances behind this. A question that helped Sandra in preparing for each conversation was: What impact does me keeping my job have on my colleagues’ life? In posing this question to herself, she was able to give herself in the moment feedback by being fully present, in knowing what to say and how to handle the conversation. We tend to listen more when the stakes rise. As the stakes rise we also begin to sense the other’s underlying thought impulses. As the situation becomes more important, we struggle to predict what will happen.  Immersing yourself in the world of that relationship and its parameters strengthens your capacity for clear and honest observation, and will help you to plan, tweak and strengthen your approach. Aim for small wins and remember the importance of ending each interaction in a different position from which you started, learning from this and moving on from a more informed standpoint. 

Epilogue

In a changing world so much has shifted in the last few months because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the past I’ve delivered outplacement programmes to individuals and groups, supporting people in managing the emotional and practical elements in moving their WorkLife forward in times of uncertainty. Throughout this I’ve never ceased to be amazed by people’s resilience, their ability to pick themselves back up, and to come through challenging times and situations with an even greater sense of purpose and determination. If I were to reflect on what’s different about this current time – which we’re all living through together, while apart – it would be the sense of community that’s coming through. The sense of caring about, and recognising the importance of our family, our friends, our neighbours, and our wider community. A greater sense of appreciation of and for life.

I leave you today with a quote from the National Theatre Home to ponder on: “Theatres and the arts are a positive force for our community in turbulent times.” 

The reviews I write are by way of reflecting on cultural experiences to include performing, visual and literary arts that touched my heart and my mind, and making sense of them in the context of learning and development in both the work-place and the community. 

Today’s book of the blog is: An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski 

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

What’s the Best Thing That Anyone Has Ever Said to You? By Carmel O’ Reilly

Your CV Demonstrates Your Loyalty and Ability, and Your ‘Stay Ability” 

Has someone ever said something to you that surprised you? (In a good way). Maybe it was about an attribute or skill you have, which you never gave much thought to, because it was just you being you, you doing what you do naturally, but to other people it was something special.

What’s the Best Thing That Anyone Has Ever Said to You? … are people’s stories of when someone said something to them that allowed them to feel good about themselves, allowed them to see what other people saw in them, that they themselves didn’t see, allowed them to recognise and appreciate their potential, and to take ownership of their uniqueness.

Your CV Demonstrates Your Loyalty and Ability, and Your ‘Stay Ability’

Those words gave Joe a sense of encouragement. He hadn’t considered his situation in that way before. But let’s back up a little to Joe’s Story:

Positive Words

What’s the Best Thing That Anyone Has Ever Said to You? Case Study:

Joe’s long-time role had been redundant, and although he was going through the motions of a government-funded initiative in support of getting people into work, his belief was that at the end of the training course he wouldn’t get a job. You see, Joe was in his early 60s, and his thinking was: that because of his age, organisations wouldn’t be interested in employing him.

Sage Wisdom 

As facilitator of the job-search element of the course, I saw things differently, and I said to Joe: “Your CV demonstrates your loyalty and ability, and your ‘Stay Ability.” I could see those words gave Joe encouragement. I went on to say how his CV demonstrated his loyalty to the organisations he had previously worked with. While he’d been with his most recent employer for over 30 years, his career had been quite progressive and he’d advanced in terms of the roles and responsibilities he’d undertaken. Along with his CV demonstrating his loyalty and ability, it also demonstrated his ‘stay ability’.

To my way of thinking these factors made Joe an attractive candidate to employers. Yes, perhaps he only had four or five years before retirement, but this is actually quite substantial taking into account how much people move around in their WorkLives today. 

Words of Wisdom

Someone younger may perhaps see an opportunity of joining an organisation as a stepping-stone to the next stage of their WorkLife, and will use this experience to facilitate this. Today’s job market is very different to that of when Joe began his WorkLife, when a job was for life. I actually think this is quite positive because it allows a flow which supports people at different WorkLife stages; and when people like Joe want to join an organisation with a commitment to staying with them for four or five years, the organisation will recognise this as being a genuine commitment.

Book Wisdom

My words led Joe to re-reading The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker – a book he’d found helpful when at his previous company, when his role and responsibility had progressed.  He was reminded that The Effective Executive focuses on contribution, that he looks up from his work and outwards towards goals. This led him to asking himself the question: “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?” His reason for asking himself this question was by way of researching organisations he was applying to for jobs. This allowed him to prepare his application in a way that demonstrated what he would bring to the organisation, and also helped him to prepare for the interview, by way of being able to verbalise it coherently and succinctly. This question enabled Joe to give himself self-feedback on how his own commitment to making a contribution had always allowed him to think through what relationships his skills, his speciality, his function, or his department had to the entire organisation and its purpose. Thinking in this way had allowed Joe to connect the dots, from an understanding of both the finer details and the bigger picture. Joe began to recognise and take ownership of this being something that he was really good at, and this is something he would bring to a new role at a new organisation that would be valuable.

Epilogue

Joe told me our conversation helped him to overcome his self-doubt and rethink his situation. He approached his job search with a more positive approach. He now recognised and appreciated just how much he had to offer a potential employer, and felt more confident in communicating this.

Today’s Book of the Blog is: The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker

Joe’s story has been adapted from chapter 17 of Your WorkLife Your Way: Overcoming Self-Doubt Through Self-Appreciation

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

Communication and The Power of Words by Carmel O’ Reilly

Words are fundamental in our WorkLives and are the medium though which we communicate who we are and what we stand for.

Communication and The Power of Words … are stories which demonstrate what we can communicate with words – ideas, images, hopes, theories, fears, vulnerabilities, plans, understanding, expectations, a past, a present, and a future, culture, community, ways of seeing … the list is endless, and the power is simply powerful. 

Communication and The Power of Words A Case Study:

I was at a masterclass at the Theatre Royal Haymarket London at which the actor Mark Strong shared his experience of the industry and his career before hosting a Q and A. One of the questions Mark was asked was how he gets into a character – to understand the essence of their being. His reply was that it’s in the writing and he gets everything he needs from the words. He spoke in particular about his role as Eddie in the play: A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller.

Words are fundamental in our lives and the medium through which we communicate who we are and what we stand for. 

Words of Wisdom

Words have the power to change the world. 

Just as Mark used the written words to understand who Eddie is, the people we interact with come to understand our beliefs, values and dreams though the words we use to communicate. Because as people it’s what we can communicate with words – ideas, images, hopes, theories, fears, vulnerabilities, plans, understanding, expectations, a past, a present, and a future, culture, community, ways of seeing …. the list is endless, and the power is simply powerful.

Book Wisdom

In Three Uses Of The Knife,David Mamet says: “It’s in our nature to dramatise. At least once a day we reinterpret the weather – an essentially impersonal phenomenon – into an expression of our current view of the universe: Great. It’s raining. Just when I’m blue. Isn’t that just like life?”

“Or we say: “I can’t remember when it was this cold, in order to forge a bond with our contemporaries. Or we say: When I was a lad the winters were longer, in order to avail ourselves of one of the delights of ageing.

The weather is impersonal, and we both understand it and exploit it as dramatic, i.e. having a plot, in order to understand its meaning for the hero, which is to say for ourselves.”

Whenever we communicate there is much at stake, and perhaps even more so in our working environment. When you’re preparing your next communication – conversation, presentation or talk – to help your process, consider the following techniques actors in training develop to hone their skills in understanding the words, that will allow them to deliver them with the greatest impact:

They are encouraged to read play after play after play because script analysis is the nuts and bolts in the literal fleshing out to bring characters to life. Every line of dialogue, every movement, every action and reaction gives an understanding of a character’s motivations and objectives, emotions and desires, and allows the actor to step in and become the character.

You can apply this technique by following the ‘Thought Leaders’ in your industry: study them as the actor does to gain valuable insights into their characters and stories. Use the same approach to understand what’s happening outside of your industry and sector, to recognise successful trends, practices and behaviours that could make a difference to your world.

Interestingly writers are often recommended to take an acting course to follow this same process, because particularly in the early stages of developing a concept, they need to get to know their characters inside and out; and learning to live in a character’s skin, the same way actors do, sharpens their innate ability to substitute and imagine emotionally truthful stories. 

There may come a time when you think of taking an acting class to develop your understanding of character and voice – technically to develop a great speaking voice and also to develop your unique character voice that will motivate, inspire and impact those listening to you.

For now, you can draw on your learnings from the observations you make as you go about your daily WorkLife – conversing, listening, watching and reading. 

For example, let’s consider how Mark Strong gained an understanding of his character Eddie and the world he existed in, from this analysis by Sparknotes for A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller:

A View from the Bridge is a play largely concerned with discovery. As Alfieri warns, no one can ever know what will be discovered. There are two secrets in the play: Eddie’s incestuous desires for his niece and the two illegal immigrants hiding in the Carbone home, Marco and Rodolpho. The gradual exposition of these secrets destroys Eddie, as he is incapable of dealing with either discovery. An inarticulate man, Eddie is unable to realise, speak or understand his own feelings for Catherine and cannot forgive himself for exposing Marco and Rodolpho. Eddie’s feelings toward Catherine manifest themselves into fierce protectiveness and eventual rage at Rodolpho. Because of his inability to deal with his feelings, Eddie instinctively reveals his second secret—Marco and Rodolpho—which completes his undoing.

Now let’s consider how you can adapt the process of your WorkLife observations to your story – the concept, idea, message you want to communicate – by following these four steps:

  1. Begin by understanding the bigger picture in the same way Strong did. In writing the story, Miller used his prowess in communicating the great conflict between community and American law. The words he used gave Strong a deep-rooted understanding of the world his character Eddie existed in, the challenges and problems, and the changes that needed to take place if he were to be able to move beyond these. You will need the same understanding of the world/industry/organisation/team/partnership you operate in. 
  2. In writing, Miller took time to get to know people at grassroots level, to understand their hopes, dreams, fears and challenges. You need to stand in the shoes of your audience to understand your world from different perspectives. These are the first steps in developing your message to communicate your understanding of what others are feeling and thinking and show respect of other’s point of view.
  3. Having an understanding of both the big and small picture (the world you operate in and the individuals within that world) provides the backdrop to your story (the concept, idea, message you want to communicate), as well as an understanding of the fundamental words you need to use that have the power to arouse every emotion, and how to deliver them with the greatest impact that demands a call to action.
  4. To develop your story from here, begin by asking yourself the questions: From the knowledge I’ve gathered what makes a good story? What makes a good drama? Take time to reflect through self-feedback. This will give you the insight into the words you can use to shape and tell your story in a way that is powerful.

Sage Wisdom

“I love all insider memoirs. It doesn’t matter whether it’s truck-drivers or doctors. I think everyone likes to go backstage, find out what people think and what they talk about and what specialised job they have.” David Mamet 

Epilogue

Words Have Power. You have the power to change the world of those around you. Think of the words you can use to do that. Then: JUST SAY THEM.

Today’s book of the blog is: Three Uses Of The Knife by David Mamet. 

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.