Welcome to Positive Life Principles. I’m Karol Ladd, and I want this website to be a source of inspiration and strength to you as you serve and love the people around you. You will find resources to refresh you and help you use your gifts and talents to reach out and touch the lives of others. Sign up for my blog below in order to stay connected and receive an uplifting weekly message from me.
Think about the countless people you encounter each day…
…At the coffee shop.
…In the checkout line.
…At the playground with your kids.
…Around the neighborhood.
…In your home.
Now ask yourself, “Do I really see these people as valuable individuals, or do I see them simply as figures passing through my day?” It’s easy to become focused on what we need to accomplish and miss the very present opportunity to interact and engage with the people in our path.
Several years ago, I was getting out of my car for an event at the Dallas Arboretum. The valet recognized me and said she had read some of my books. Trust me, this doesn’t happen very often, so understandably I wanted to visit with her. That encounter at the car led to an opportunity to mentor this positive and gifted young woman, and we are close friends to this day.
What made that connection work? It began by opening our eyes. She saw me as more than just a customer, but rather as a possible mentor. I saw her as more than a valet – I saw a smart girl filled with great enthusiasm and potential. What do you see as you observe the people around you?
How do we open our eyes to the treasure in others? What are some practical ways we can train our eyes to see beyond the immediate? Here are a few tips:
- Strengthen your observation skills. Every time I’m in an airport waiting for my flight, I enjoy watching the people shuffling by me. I try to figure out where they are going and why, simply by observing what they are wearing or carrying. I employ a bit of imagination, but this little game helps me to pay attention to the details and improves my vision. Every person has a purpose or a reason for their journey, it takes a watchful eye to truly see.
- Know their name. Savvy customer service companies are keenly aware of the power of a name. A thank you goes a whole lot further when it is accompanied by the person’s name and a smile. Often the name is easy to find because someone is wearing a name tag or handing you a credit card. If the name is not so obvious, introducing yourself only takes a moment. Use a name twice, then make a mental note of it, and you are more likely to remember it next time. Earl Nightingale put it this way, “Of all things people want, recognition is number one. And recognition means a name. It’s the sweetest sound a person can hear, even though you’ll never get them to admit it.”
- Ask a question. The right question, at the right time can unveil a possible connection, a future opportunity or even a deep hurt or need. Recently, I was buying flowers at the grocery store and the customer next to me pushed aside the veil of isolation by saying, “Those are beautiful flowers. Are they for a special occasion?” What a great way to open up a conversation, when normally we would just stand there looking at our phones, waiting for our turn at the register. Questions are keys to unlock conversation and can be as simples as, “How are you doing today?” Or what about asking a waitress or a teacher or an Uber driver, “How can I pray for you?”
I know it’s a challenge for each of us to slow down, take our eyes off our agenda and pay attention to the people around us. Yet at the end of the day, what is more valuable than investing in another person’s life. It takes just a little extra effort to really see the person in front of us and care about his or her story, and certainly the reward is worth it. When we think about every individual as a beautiful creation of God, rather than just simply someone we pass on the street, it changes our perspective and makes every encounter shine brightly with potential.
Have you ever had one of those awkward times when you felt misunderstood? Recently, while visiting with a colleague, I made a simple suggestion that would typically be warmly received – but not in this case. She snapped back and accused me of judging her, yet condemnation was the farthest thing from my mind. It was then that I had to step back and look at the bigger picture. What made her react in such a protective manner? What nerve did I hit? Why did my simple words rattle her?
When I considered things from her perspective and thought about her current situation, and the little I knew about her childhood, my heart softened and I understood why she responded the way she did. Initially I felt misunderstood, but the resolution came when I attempted to understand the issue from her point of view. Perhaps the greatest need that we as humans have is not only be loved, but to be understood. Choosing to see things from another person’s perspective can not only build connection, but can also reconcile our own feelings of being misunderstood.
This is especially true when it comes to client relations or customer service. When an unkind customer comes to you with an angry complaint, instead of taking it personally, choose to see things from their perspective. Ask yourself:
• Why is this so important to them?
• What could have happened during their day today to make them this angry?
• What’s going on in their personal life that is affecting their attitude right now?
• Are they like this all of the time? Are they a negative person by nature?
Sometimes, I even take it a step further and think about what their childhood may have been like and what kind of hurt or abuse they endured in their life. When we go the extra mile to see past the exterior anger, we can often find an opportunity to open the door of communication. When encountering conflict of any sort whether personal or in business, it helps to selflessly begin the conversation with statements such as:
• Help me understand what you are saying.
• Tell me why you feel this way.
• Let me make sure I hear what you are saying.
• What is it that is making you frustrated?
• In what way can I help resolve this?
Let’s push forward this week to build understanding with the people we encounter. Step into the other person’s perspective and be a thoughtful listener rather than a reactive participant. Ask God to give you His patience, kindness and self-control as you interact with the people around you. Most important, remember that you are loved and understood by the God who sees all and knows your heart.
|Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive: Passionately Living the Life You Didn’t Plan|
Our words matter. They can encourage someone to push forward in life using his or her gifts and abilities, or they can tear down an individual, producing discouragement and bitterness. Last week we talked about the difference between constructive criticism and a critical spirit. As we continue our series on building connections with others, we will take a look this week at ways our words can have a positive impact and possibly change the trajectory of someone’s life.
Think about a time when a person’s words deeply mattered to you. Most of us can quickly remember the negative impact someone’s words had on us, but hopefully we can also recall a few powerfully positive words that helped us along life’s way. My dad, Garry Kinder, was a constant source of encouragement to me. His words pushed me to move forward and do my best. He helped me recognize that God gave me unique gifts and talents to be used in this world. His words energized me to persevere through tough times.
I want to offer you five words that can have a positive and powerful impact on the people around you. Use them sincerely and specifically – not artificially or as flattery. Although they are simple, they can be used to move mountains. Give these words as a gift to others, helping them reach their God-given potential.
See – I see your effort. I see your ability. I see how gifted you are. I see what you are going through.
Believe – I believe you can do this. I believe God has equipped you. I believe you have the strength.
Able – I know you are able to persevere. You are able to accomplish it. God is able to help you.
Strong – You are stronger than you think. God is your strength. Here are the strengths I see in you.
Love – I love the way you use your gifts. I love being around you. I love seeing God work in your life.
Of course the most powerful phrase in the human language is, “I love you.” Use it wisely, but use it often toward those who are dear to you. Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” How will you use your words this week to lift up another person’s life?
When speaking to audiences, I often talk about the importance of being an encourager rather than a discourager. Granted, constructive criticism and wise concern have their place. I’m not saying we ought to be some sort of “Yes” people who always agree with everyone about everything with disingenuous flattery. A true encourager is not only uplifting, but she is also honest, sincere and specific with her comments. She uses her words to help build up and lead others in the direction of their best interest. An encourager is looking out for the good of the other individual and focusing on the possibilities instead of hunting and pecking at what could go wrong and zapping the hope right out of a person. A wise encourager looks with discernment for the solid stepping stones to help a person walk forward into the future, without giving false hope or unrealistic expectations.
Let’s use our opportunities to critique with a judicious sense of caution. How do you know when it is the right time to share a concern or a dissenting opinion? The best way to discern if your criticism is worth voicing is to ask yourself, “Will my comments essentially be helpful to the betterment of the individual and the situation?” Constructive criticism possesses at its very core a desire to create positive change, building others up rather than tearing them down. Bottom line, we must look at our motivation before we spill out a negative appraisals or derogatory comments. Jealousy, envy and rivalry are often the ugly, hidden motivations of a critical spirit. The queen of critique can harm hearts, reputations and opportunities when she spews her poisonous venom. May God help each one of us examine the deep and hidden motives in our hearts and take the log out of our own eye before trying to remove the splinter from someone else’s.
Worries, fears and focusing on the negative outcomes can also quickly turn us into Debbie Downers and Nancy Negatives. These women tend to cause defeat in someone’s life before the game even starts because they feel it is their duty to save people from making mistakes or going down difficult roads. But what if we let people follow their dreams and make a few mistakes in the process? Then haven’t they learned and grown in the process? Let’s not be a discouraging voice just because we are afraid of what may happen. Yes, there is a delicate balance between helping someone see the potholes and discouraging their dreams all together. There is no perfect answer to the dilemma. The most important piece of advice I can give you is to wait before you point out a negative. I have found for me personally, before I allow a negative comment (intended to help the other person see the problems of course), I wait. Often I wait several days in order to see if the situation has worked itself out, and most of the time I never need to say anything!
Criticizing people behind their back is never helpful and is a big red flag that our motivation is not pure. Discretion and discernment are the traits of a wise person who uses their ability to assess an individual, or situation or idea with guarded reproof. On the other hand, the constant dripping of condemnation from a faultfinding friend can cause disunity, generating a negative environment whether it is in a family, a neighborhood or at work.
If you must offer a critique, always do it in the spirit of helpfulness and strength. Begin by praising what you see that is right in the person or situation, then carefully open up a broader perspective. Words like, “Have you thought about it this way?” Or “Could it be possible to…?” These phrases help the recipient take in your idea without feeling ridiculed or discouraged. Whenever you must relay a negative evaluation, try to offer positive alternatives as well. Most important, determine in your heart that you will live a life of encouragement as you see the best in others.
This is an excerpt from Positive Leadership Principles for Women. Get your copy by clicking the info below.
|Positive Leadership Principles for Women: 8 Secrets to Inspire and Impact Everyone Around You
By Karol Ladd / Harvest House Publishers
As a woman you have the chance to make a positive difference in your family, community, and society. In Positive Leadership for Women Karol Ladd uses examples from the lives of people in the Bible to highlight eight godly leadership principles and attitudes that will inspire you to grow in your role as a godly influencer.
When is the last time you enjoyed an undistracted conversation with another person? Whether we are talking with an important client, a close friend or a favorite family member, most of us struggle with staying focused in our interactions. What makes it so difficult to experience a good, healthy dialogue in today’s world? The answer may seem obvious. Certainly with the increase in technology, we have become comfortable with texts, tweets and quick emails rather than enjoying real-life connections. And as much as we love our smart phones, they may be one of the biggest culprits in keeping us disengaged.
Interestingly, a study by the University of Essex revealed that simply having a cell phone visibly present in the room made people less likely to develop empathy or intimacy during meaningful conversations. Even if no one checked their phone – just having it visibly in the room lowered the level of engagement!* Isn’t it amazing to think of the power that little device has in our lives and especially over our ability to listen and focus with others? So what is the key to staying sincerely connected to the person with whom we are talking? Here are a few tips to help you stay mentally focused as you communicate with others.
Reduce Environmental Distractions. Put the phone away and out of site. The texts, notices and emails can wait until you are finished with your conversation. Additional distractions may be noise or other people in the room. Recently I met a friend for lunch at our neighborhood grill, and my chair faced toward the door. Bad idea! I knew half the people coming into the restaurant and felt an obligation to say hello to each of them. You can imagine the depth of engagement I had with my friend as we talked together. The better bet for me is to sit at the back of the restaurant or at least sit in a direction that doesn’t face the door. If there is a television in the room, turn it off or move to a place where it is not going to pull your attention away from the other person.
Reduce Mental Distractions. If you have an important email, phone call or task looming over you, take care of it before you enter into a conversation. Even if you need to ask the person to meet a little later. The less urgent things you have floating around in your mind, the better you will be able to tune into the other person. If at all possible schedule your day so that you take care of the more difficult tasks earlier in the day, then you will be able to focus on the one-on-one meetings you have with people later in the day.
Create a Focal Point. Last week, I mentioned the importance of eye contact when you are interacting with another person. Now, you don’t want to overdo it, but studying the other person’s eyes can help you pay closer attention. Sometimes I will challenge myself to remember the person’s eye color when I am finished with a conversation. Eyes are the window to the soul, so if you can stay generally focused on the eyes, you may be surprised how much you will learn.
Ask Questions. Asking questions (and then of course listening to the answers) will encourage deeper understanding and will help you maintain focus in your conversations. Ask questions like: How did that make you feel? How did you accomplish that? What is your secret? When did this happen? Most people love to talk about themselves or their experience, and asking good questions shows that you care about them and what they are saying.
Write it Down. There are times we become mentally distracted because a thought pops into our mind and we want to share it. Instead of interrupting or allowing your mind to wander with what you want to say, pull out a pen and quickly jot down a word or two to help you remember that thought, so you can bring it up later. I’ve been known to use shopping receipts or paper napkins or placemats to put my thought on to paper and out of my head. This little trick can help you maintain your interest in what the other person is saying without forgetting your thought.
The truth is, the deepest cry of every person’s heart is to be understood. True connection comes through listening well to others, going beyond superficial words and diving deep into the heart. May we sincerely see and hear the people God puts in our path. In a distracted culture, let’s make a deliberate effort to practice focused engagement with each person we encounter.
To love you as I love myself
is to seek to hear you as I want to be heard
and understand you as I long to be understood.
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