Last month I suggested that looking fully at the outcomes you want can significantly improve the results you get. This month I want to look at the effect you have on any interaction.

We often forget how powerful we are. Our body language, our voice tone, the words we use, will all affect how well or badly others react to us. We are not usually conscious of this and therefore can take our bad mood, fed-upness etc. into a meeting and wonder why, despite our efforts to be polite and constructive, it doesn’t go well. It is because how we are really feeling shows through despite our best intentions, and has an effect on others involved.

So an important part of our preparation for meetings and conversations takes place just before the event. It is the way we choose to set ourselves up. So often we rush from one meeting to another without stopping for a moment to establish how we want to be in this next interaction, which means we take with us the mood and attitude we finished with in the last one. Now if this was a good meeting and we are feeling good, that could be useful. However, if we have run out of energy or been disappointed, then those are the things we will carry over.

It only takes a few moments to reset ourselves, yet it can make a big difference.

  1. Shake off any negative effects from the last thing you were doing – move your body and release the tension.
  2. If your energy is low, give yourself a moment to recharge your batteries – have a cuppa, look at something to make you smile.
  3. Take a deep breath or two and see yourself having a constructive and useful next meeting.
  4. Set up your expectations that it will go well – imagine coming out of the meeting feeling good about it.
  5. Remind yourself of reasons for the other party to want this to be a constructive meeting as well.
  6. Picture times when similar meetings have gone well.
  7. Take another deep breath, let your shoulders relax, and smile to yourself.
  8. Now go into the meeting.

All this doesn’t take long at all – not much more time than it takes to read it – but it does change your state and give you a much better chance of a useful meeting.

The extra moments used to prepare yourself properly can really make life easier for you. Try it out for yourself and see…

Di Kamp

Leadership Director of Meta

Comments are closed


‘If you haven’t thought about what you really want, you may get something you don’t want.’

When we are preparing for meetings or important conversations, we’re usually good at making sure we have all the relevant information, and have thought of answers for questions that might be asked. These are the things we call good preparation.

And I want to remind you of a couple of other areas of preparation that we often forget to do so thoroughly. This month, I’m looking at defining the outcomes you want from the meeting or interaction.

Now most of us will be clear about the result we want: that the others agree with us, approve our plan of action, act on what we’ve told them etc. However, this result is not the full story of the outcomes we want from the interaction. If it were, then we would never encounter those times when we do get the result we wanted, yet still feel a bit disappointed.

For example, you may have wanted your team to agree to focus on an area of work where performance has slipped a bit, and everyone agrees that they will. And there are a lot of miserable or fed up faces around, and your ‘demand’ gets thrown back in your face if you ask about any other aspect of their work. The focus is happening, the performance is improving, but there is resentment in the air.

If you fully think through your outcomes, you realise that it’s about more than what you want them to do; it’s also about how you want them to react to your request, and wanting them to approach it constructively. So the second stage of the outcomes is to think about what will motivate the team to want to focus and improve that part of their performance. It also prompts you to think about how you can present your request in such a way that it doesn’t feel like a reprimand or restriction.

There is a third stage to a fully formed outcome. This is where you consider, not just the immediate impact on the others, but also the longer term impact or effect. You don’t want the improved performance at the expense of slippage in other areas of their work, nor do you want increased resistance to or resentment of any other requests you may make in the future.

What the act of thinking through, fully, what you really want as outcomes does for you, is to help you prepare far more than just your facts and arguments. It helps you to clarify the approach you will take, the way you will engage the others with what you want to achieve, and how you will make it an attractive proposition.

And as you think through these different aspects of your outcomes, you will find that your mind automatically starts to think of ways you can do this. It’s worth the extra time thinking it through, because it can enhance the likelihood of useful results significantly.

Di Kamp, Leadership Director of Meta

Comments are closed


We all have those tasks to do that we put off, because it looks like a big job. It may be a report, or sorting out your inbox emails, or those meeting notes you’ve taken at the time but not really looked at – you get the gist. They are usually tasks that are a mixture of being somewhat complex and also not very exciting or motivating.

The trouble is, the longer we put them off, the bigger they seem to get, so we need a way of tackling them that is not daunting. So, my suggestion is to break it down into smaller chunks – as the saying goes, the way to eat an elephant is to take small pieces at a time!

Clear 10 extra emails a day, sort through one set of meeting notes, get the info you need for the report from one of the sources – just do some small piece towards it. Those small pieces don’t take too long or too much effort, and cumulatively they bring the task down to a manageable size.

Now sometimes we tell ourselves off, because we know it isn’t really such a big job – but we still don’t do it! There’s no point in judging ourselves or being logical about it, because that doesn’t help to get the job done. What does help is still to break it down into even smaller chunks. For example, to respond to that email requires checking your diary to see if you’re free, checking what else you are doing that week, and doing some prep for it – the travelling time, the info you’ll need. So make it a 5 or 6 step project. Once you have started it, it will get easier to finish.

Things that are left hanging because they feel daunting don’t usually go away – in fact they occupy a part of our mind all the time they’re left, and often seem to keep growing bigger! That uses energy we could more usefully put elsewhere. And once you start chipping away at them, they almost always turn out to be easier than we thought.

So come on, do that first small step on that thing that’s hanging over you, and make your life easier.

Di Kamp
Leadership Director of Meta

Comments are closed


I remember my boss at the time once asking another member of staff to bring him the report on his clients by the end of the week, in the middle of talking to me. Dave said: ‘Yes, of course,’ and carried on to wherever he was going. My boss turned back to me and said: ‘He won’t, you know..’ And he didn’t. And the boss was angry with him. Yet he knew that the verbal agreement was not what was really going on with Dave.

Do you recognise this syndrome? I have since seen it repeated many times, and it still seems daft to me that we will all sometimes accept words alone as being the communication with us, and then complain because the words were not fulfilled.

If we take a moment or two to notice what’s really going on with the person, we can respond to their full communication. The tone of voice, the language used, the manner of speaking all give us more information about how that person is, and how they are reacting to us, or the particular message. Their body language tells us even more. That ‘knowing’ that my boss had, was because he had picked up more information about Dave’s response, yet he chose to ignore it, to everyone’s cost.

In that instance, Dave was distracted and about to go into an important coaching session, and he just forgot. It could have been that he was unsure how to do the report, or already feeling he had too much to do, or resenting the way in which the boss had asked him. We don’t necessarily know why we’re getting a mixed message from someone, just that it is a mixed message.

If we take the time to notice what’s going on, and check it out, we can do something about it. We can ask them if there’s a problem, and if we can help with it. That way we can avoid the likelihood of failure on one side, or resentment and annoyance on the other.

And of course, if we know we are the one giving a mixed message, we could take the time to say: ‘I’ll do my best, but I’m really busy this week, and I’m not sure how I’ll fit it in’, or: ‘Can you put a note on my computer – I’m just going into a meeting and I might forget.’ Or whatever may clarify our response.

Words are great and we can’t do without them, but they are never the full message. Just take a moment to notice what’s really going on, and you can save yourself a lot of extra hassle.

Comments are closed


We’re told that we need to learn from our mistakes, and there’s no doubt we can, if we can get over feeling bad about making them in the first place, and if we can then work out a better way of handling whatever it is. It isn’t the most effective way to learn and develop though. If it were, we wouldn’t need teachers or role models!

However, the prevailing culture is one that emphasises mistakes and problems. We analyse them to death: why did it happen; what caused it; whose fault is it; and eventually, what can we do about it. If something has worked, we usually just tick it off the list and return to problems.

Excellent people take a different approach – they learn from what went well. Imagine if we spent as much time on those things we do well, asking similar questions: what worked; what helped it to work; what contributed to the success; what made the difference; and then, where else could we apply what we’ve realised.

When we do begin to analyse what went well, we discover good practice that can be used in lots of situations, in terms of the approach used to achieve this specific task or project. Most things work well when the people involved are motivated, and really clear about the outcomes they want to achieve. People usually need to feel it’s something worth achieving – there’s some benefit or value to it. It also tends to work better if those involved work together well and all value each other’s contributions. The list goes on, and each point identified can be used to enhance the likelihood of success in other aspects of work.

This form of analysis gives us immediately useful information for planning the next project or task, as well as making us feel even better about our achievements!

I’m not suggesting that we stop paying attention to mistakes and problems. It just might be useful to give an equal amount of attention to the good stuff – it has rich information to give us.

Di Kamp
Leadership Director of Meta

Comments are closed


Last month I wrote about using your critic more effectively. This month I am looking at the other half of the story: continually growing the habit of appreciating all the helpful things that others do.

It is easy to take for granted the everyday things that people do. We notice the big gestures of course, when someone goes out of their way to be helpful, but we don’t tend to pay attention to the smaller, more routine things that people do. Yet these are the building blocks of relationships, which create the environment for successful teamwork.

On any given day, it is likely that some of the following happen at work:

  • Someone does their part of a task and hands it over on time
  • Someone makes a cuppa at just the right moment
  • Someone lightens the mood when things are tough by making you laugh
  • Someone takes a message for you while you’re away from your desk
  • Someone has cleaned up the office before you arrive for work
  • Someone has made sure the technology is working
  • Someone has solved a problem that could have landed up on your desk.

(And of course, there is a long list of things that ‘someone’ does which make it easier for you to be at work; the chores that you don’t have to do, whether that be gong to the supermarket, looking after the kids, or driving the bus or train you catch!)

We forget, sometimes, how reliant we are on other people to make our lives easier; and, of course, you do some of the same things for others as well, so we can justify not always appreciating what others do by saying that it balances out. However, we re missing out in thee big ways when we don’t show appreciation to others.

  1. Positive appreciation of what others do creates that environment of helpfulness and cooperation, and encourages people to do those helpful things even more. We all like to be appreciated, and respond positively to it.
  2. Everyone involved gets a boost to the feel-good factor – those you are thanking, and you as you thank them. And this encourages more people to appreciate others more often, continuing to build that useful environment.
  3. Our lives get even easier! People are more likely to help us out if we appreciate what they do already.

And it doesn’t have to be a grand response: ‘Thank you for..’, ‘It made a difference when you..’, ‘I notice that you…’ Just a simple sentence can make a big difference. Just for one day, notice all the little ways in which others make a positive difference to your life, and say thank you whenever possible. You will be surprised by how much others make your life easier.

Di Kamp, Leadership Director of Meta

Comments are closed


We have all learnt to notice what others do wrong or don’t do, and we’re good at it! This is not surprising, because we live in a culture where the media reports predominantly on the mistakes and wrongdoings of others, so that ‘flavour’ is constantly in front of us. What’s more, most of us have been brought up and ‘educated’ through having our faults, weaknesses and wrongdoings pointed out to us – they are what drew attention to us more than our good behaviour.

However, the fact it’s normal doesn’t mean that it’s effective. Being critical of others doesn’t make us feel any better about them, nor does it improve the situation. It also makes them feel bad, if we voice it, and often resentful of us.

So what can we do that would be more effective?

Firstly, we need to ensure that whatever we are criticising is in perspective. Do they always do it? With everyone? Is it in certain circumstances? Or is it a one-off? And when are they getting it right? In most cases, the focus on their bad behaviour causes us to forget to notice the things they do well, and the times they perform well.

Secondly, we need to think about what outcome we want. Do we just want them to know we’ve noticed, or to feel bad about it? Or do we want their behaviour to improve? I assume that most of us would prefer the latter!

Thirdly, we need to consider what might help them to improve. Often, people don’t realise the impact their behaviour has had on others, so they don’t see it as a problem. For example, someone who leaves things till the last minute may not be aware that this makes those who pick up the next stage of the task anxious, in case this time they don’t deliver. Since the negative impact on others is not deliberate, it is important to just make them aware of it, not use it as an accusation.

The other aspect of helping them to improve is to identify what exactly would be an improvement. I find it useful to complete this sentence: ‘It would make a real difference if you could..’ For example: ‘It would make a real difference if you could show that you are going to complete your part of the task on time, instead of dismissing queries about it from others.’

Finally, having expressed a clear positive step to them, it is important to check out what might help them to do that. After all, if it were obvious to them, they would probably have done it already.

And of course, we also all notice our own faults and mistakes and beat ourselves up about them with our inner critic. Wouldn’t it make sense to apply this same process to ourselves?

  1. Get it in perspective: It’s not my constant or only form of behaviour.
  2. What outcome do I want? I want to feel better about my own behaviour.
  3. What might help me to improve? What is the one thing I can do next time the same situation occurs that would make a difference.
  4. What would help me to do that?

Our critical voice can be really useful in helping us and others to develop, if we use it as a starting point, an identification of a possible improvement, rather than as a finishing point, a judgement.

With that in mind, we wish you a wonderful month ahead.

Di Kamp, Leadership Director of Meta

Comments are closed


Do you love your work?

I ask that question every time I have a new group. I tell them it’s a challenging question, but what’s interesting is that almost everyone finds something that they love.

It might be the team colleagues that they work with, it might be that they do something that supports or helps others in the organisation, it might be that they love the challenge, that no two days are the same, or that they have an enlightened boss who is a great leader to work for – there are many different things to love about almost ANY role.

I remember when I was younger working in retail. I used to work in the formal wear department of a large clothing store in the west end of London. I loved selling suits. I loved finding someone that special suit and shirt and tie combo that would make them stand out from the crowd. I loved serving people, finding what was just right for them. I also loved to create the displays, matching ties to formal shirts, and shirts to suits – it allowed my artistic creativity to come through. I rose through the ranks until I ran my own formal wear department and then I loved sharing my love of suits and I loved mentoring and sharing my knowledge with the new staff members. I took a pride in my work and although the work wasn’t particularly amazing and I knew it wasn’t my life’s vocation, I made it work for me, by deciding to find things that I could love about it.

As soon as you mention the word LOVE and business in the same sentence you can literally hear and see people switch off. Oh boy, here we go – more hippy stuff; he’ll be talking about hugging trees next!

Actually no, it’s about time that we did bring the word LOVE back into the workplace. Most people don’t work just for the money; they need something more purposeful than just money to stick at a job. So if work has got a bit boring for you, or you feel that you’re stuck in a bit of a career rut, now’s the time to start noticing what you LOVE about your job, what you enjoy doing, what makes you feel that what you do is worthwhile.

Over the past 17 years of doing this work, I’ve come to realise that people love the strangest things! Some people LOVE the pressure of a full-on work day, some people LOVE proving people wrong, some people love to be challenged, some people love punching in code. Some people love doing something that makes a difference, some people love filling out excel files with data, some people love to be strategic, some people love to support and care for those around them. Some people love the fact that they have no idea what to expect when they arrive in the morning, some people love the order and repetitive nature of the work they do.

We’re all different, we all love different things.
That’s what makes work, WORK: the fact that we aren’t all automatons and all have different preferences for how we work and what we do.

There is a universal in this though, and that universal is LOVE. If you don’t choose to see what you LOVE, you’ll see what you don’t like, what’s wrong with what you do in your work.

It’s all about what you filter for. Do you filter your work experience in terms of what you love about it or what you don’t like about it? Do you collect the evidence that you hate work or the evidence that you LOVE work? Whatever you look for, will generally be your experience.

So I’m suggesting that in February, the month of LOVE, you change your filter when it comes to your work. How many things can you find that you love about your work? The world is so doom and gloom these days – just turn on the news and there are so many reasons to be fearful, to focus on the negative. I think it’s about time we focussed on those things that we love. It’s time to bring work back into balance.

Call it a re-frame, call it a re-balance or just call it what it is – a reason to be cheerful, a reason to get up and out of bed and go to work in the morning.

Now I’m saying look for the things you LOVE in what you do, but what if you don’t find much, no matter how hard you look? Well, I’m not an idealist, I’m a realist and if you can’t find enough to LOVE then it’s time to find something new, to move on, to create the next chapter in the book of the story of your work-life.

I’m just saying that it’s time to stop looking for what’s wrong and finding that, and start looking for what’s right and find that!

LOVE is one of the greatest motivating factors there is and when you love your work it’s amazing what you can achieve. When you love what you do you can not only deliver, but you deliver at a higher and higher quality. And those things you don’t love? You find creative ways to get around them or reduce their impact, because you know that ultimately you DO love your job, and so you find more and more creative, innovative ways to make it a job you love even more.

So why not write a list about what you LOVE about YOUR work?
Open a file on your desktop, and keep a note of the big and small things that help you to love what you do.
Then when you’re having a bad day, or finding work a real challenge, why not refer back to that list and remind yourself why you do what you do?

LOVE motivates, inspires and brings meaning to everything in our life, so let’s use this month to look for what we love in our work.

Have a wonderful month everyone,

In peace (and love! :P)

CEO of Meta

Comments are closed


As you restart ‘normal service’, how about making it a new normal? We’ve all slipped into habits that are not useful to us, so let’s not fall back into those same habits as we begin our normal life routines again.

Have you been working too hard and exhausting yourself? Work smarter: take breaks, do something different when you’re fed up, get more sleep.

Have you been feeling stressed? Take more care of yourself: allow yourself to stop sometimes, give yourself some treats, do something that relaxes you.

Have you been finding it hard to fit in time with family and friends? Timetable them in your planner: make one night a week your social time, your family time, and stick to it.

Have you had so many items on your list of things to do that it’s overwhelming? Pick three out each day that you’ll do and leave the rest on a different list in a different place. Choose one that has been hanging over you, one that really matters, and one you fancy doing. And if you have time to spare, do a bonus one from the other list!

Have you had days where you didn’t have a moment of happiness or laughter? Make it a priority to find something that makes you smile, gives you a warm glow every day.

Above all, remember that this day is your life – keep some perspective. Each day can give you a sense of satisfaction, of achievement, and of loving and being loved. If you put off the things that really matter to you until you have time for them, they may never happen.

Make each day count in making your life happy and fulfilling – we never know if it may be our last chance.

Happy New Year – and new normal!

Comments are closed


Every year in December, we like to just remind you that this is a time of year to take more care of yourself, rather than become even more frenetic and busy.

We are heading towards the shortest day, and those extra hours of darkness do have an effect on us. Biologically we are still designed to sleep when it’s dark, so when we push ourselves past that internal ‘clock’ we are using extra energy, even if we don’t realise it. It takes a toll on both our bodies and our emotions.

And we have the added pressure of getting ready for Christmas – it’s supposed to be a celebration not a pressure! Yet all around us are adverts suggesting that others are choosing the perfect (and expensive!) gifts for each other and preparing to give their loved ones a banquet fit for a king.

Christmas also seems to create a deadline for all sorts of work and home projects. We tell ourselves we have to get stuff finished and give ourselves even more stress before we have those few days off.


We can take a different perspective:

  1. Give yourself a little more leeway, to account for the extra stress of our natural reaction to shorter days and cold weather. Sleep a little more, take a few more breaks, have that cup of hot chocolate, sit in front of TV and watch a good movie.
  2. Remember that, above all, Christmas is about spending time with loved ones, being loving, having fun, and relaxing. No one has that perfect Christmas – it’s a myth – and it certainly won’t happen because you’ve spent heaps of money – it’ll happen if you decide to make it enjoyable and full of love.
  3. You are going to have a few days away from the computer, the emails, the projects. If you use those days well, you will come back to it all refreshed and re-energised, and it will be easier to be productive. Everyone else is doing the same, so nobody is waiting for you to do your bit. Most of your ‘deadlines’ can be relaxed.

We all need to revise our perspective and take it easier at this time of year. Be a little kinder to yourself, take a breath, and prepare yourself to have a relaxing and refreshing break for a few days. Make this a fun time of your year and take some care of yourself.


We at Meta wish you a peaceful and joyous Christmas period..

Comments are closed