Category Archives: motivation

Constructive Conflict

I found this TED Talk via Dr. Annette Clancy’s blog where she writes ‘most of the time we like to surround ourselves with people ‘like  us’ thereby minimising difference in an attempt to avoid conflict.  It takes a degree of self confidence and assurance to be able to sit in the middle of this kind of disagreement and to think constructively about it.’  For me, confidence underpins everything we do. It gives us the ability to work well, work collaboratively and to speak out, to challenge, to lead to greater things.  The workplace is perhaps the most emotionally charged environment of all.  Let the conversations begin.

Dr. Clancy is speaking at our first breakfast event of this year in Dublin, on the 18th January.  Click here for details and to book your place.

When words don’t come fast enough

Years ago when I was a fairly competent French speaker living and working in Paris, I loved the life I had. The only thing was that no matter how well I spoke the language, I often found that conversation progressed so fast that by the time I’d begun to speak, the moment was lost.  You may have experienced this too. Frustrated and disappointed often, I eventually lost confidence in my ability to contribute as effectively as I wanted to. I feel my employers lost out, I did and probably my clients at the time too – I hasten to add there were no complaints !!


I didn’t want to draw attention to the fact I needed help. My employers assumed that everything was ok because once I was ensconced I managed to get my work done efficiently. No-one asked or guessed anything was wrong at all. I never voiced my concerns. But with the benefit of hindsight, what a lost opportunity for both parties.  I never realized my potential within the organisation and my value to the company was not maximized.  Had I received more than basic induction training, which really revolved around product only I probably would have still been living in France.  Ah. C’est la vie…

Training needs are hopefully better identified these days, but I’m not entirely convinced. Technology is making so many every day tasks faster and in many instances being automated, thereby reducing the need or opportunity for human intervention. And yes, never has the need for human connection been greater. 


If more than 80% of our satisfaction in life comes from our relationships with others, the need to connect and communicate effectively and especially in a business environment  appropriately, boosting core communication skills and language competency where it is most needed has to be an integral part of a continual program of professional development.

I’ve been that executive working overseas, involved in client meetings, team meetings, training sessions. More recently, in Italy where people have been amazingly receptive to any efforts I make, once the conversation gets going, that sinking feeling returns as I cannot keep up enough to join in the conversation and I can feel my stress levels rising as I struggle to make sure I’ve understood the salient points of a meeting.

Emotions play havoc with our minds.  This we know. What we don’t fully appreciate is quite how this triggers unhelpful patterns of behavior, what employers can do to help and how we can help ourselves more.

It’s not rocket science and particularly as in Ireland the workplace is becoming more culturally diverse, we need to be more aware that many international employees are often doing jobs because of their native language and sometimes multilingual abilities  which is great for the clients they service. It may leave a gap where their Confidence and Competence (two words which in themselves can sound remarkably similar when mispronounced by a non native English Speaker!) in using English effectively may be slowing down the rate at which they integrate and contribute within their teams and the company overall. The greater the levels of engagement, the greater the performance.

Many people I work with whose first language is English lack confidence, fear public speaking and hate making presentations so it is easy to understand the difficulties facing non native English Speakers. I know. I’ve been there. And yes, lack of confidence, disappointment can play havoc with one’s emotions !

Much More Than Words specializes in working with International Executives boosting language competency through the provision of Professional and Personal Development.

‘the organisation as an emotional arena’  

18 January 2017 –  7.45 – 9.30 am

Be part of this conversation with Dr. Annette Clancy, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at UCD College of Business as she shares invaluable insights at our first Breakfast Meeting of 2017 for HR Specialists.


proud to be hosted by the Bank of Ireland

at the new Enterprise Lounge at UCD, Montrose

Contact Janie: 086 857 2005 

booking advisable

Glutes ! When did I fall apart?

Today’s post is short.  The focus Glutes. Specifically mine. The solution is fear and I want you on this journey with me. Not laughing at me, just maybe with me.  And feeling my pain or at the very least feeling for me as the pain gets to me!

Now I don’t know about you but the thought of the gym fills me with terror.  As does diving into dark water down at the 40′ now the water temperature has become dangerously low for softies like me.

A Quick Dip in the Irish Sea by Heather McKay

A Quick Dip in the Irish Sea by Heather McKay

Which brings me back to the topic of glutes.  It’s easy to admire fine glutes in a fellow hill walker.  It’s easy to say get out walking more, climb those hills, go up and down those steps and you’ll soon build up. But it’s the time of year when I just want to stay close to the wood burning stove and just, well chill in that way, rather than in freezing water or on the top of some hill.  Yep. It’s all about ‘hugge’ right now when we’re tired, it’s dark outside and coming up to that time of year when we just want to relax a while. What’s all this got to do with Glutes, you may well ask and I hope in time, all will become clear and you’ll just humour me.

Joking aside, back to the issue of Glutes.  I have it seems a few things to contend with right now and I’m not a person to be sick or unwell, rather one who just gets on with it.  But, it has made me think or rather rethink about mindset yet again and know that for 2017, all of my work will have mental toughness as a key ingredient.

Fear stops us doing most things and it is my intention, not a resolution, but serious intention to focus on the fear and use it as my strength. So I am curious, what’s your weakspot?  What’s the one thing you need to do and go to any lengths to put off? Where do you falter? email and tell me all

Look out Glutes, no mercy this time around…

too fast?

Be courageous enough to pause and give your audience time to think. That means slowing down your points of wisdom to the point that people can hear a penny drop. 

-Ron Arden

I just can’t help it. My nerves get the better of me and my mouth just runs away with me.

Well, I am sorry, you can.   

In training people often tell me how worried they are about getting all of their information out in the time they have to present, they felt they just want to get it over with, want to give as much information as they think they can jam in.  The result is they just rush, rush, rush and the presentation comes out almost as a stream of unstructured information. Just think about what this means.  The message a poor presenter who rushes through their slide show or talk says quite clearly:-

a) I have not prepared my work well enough to deliver the salient points succinctly

b) I don’t care if people cannot understand what I’m talking about because I’m talking too fast

c) I do not respect my audience sufficiently to give this presentation the way it should be

And the final message he/she is indirectly giving out is  ‘I do not believe that my reputation or that of the organisation I represent is worth upholding.’  OUCH.

Pretty shocking really, isn’t it?


Now, let’s re-write this scenario and imagine a situation where a presentation has been worked on and you conclude your presentation and receive a great heartfelt round of applause – and know you deserve it.  That is such a great feeling and you can achieve such an outcome when you’ve prepared with the audience in mind. Try using this to guide you:-

First Hot Three Tips – For a Successful Presentation 

I’ve given these in ‘3’s’, as this seems to be easier to remember.

Before anything, consider what the objective of your presentation is and ask yourself why you have been asked to deliver it. Then consider your audience, be it of one or to many people.

  1. Who am I presenting to?
  2. What time has been allocated?
  3. What is the most relevant information can I give in the time available 
What you are doing here is 'starting with the end in mind'


Next Steps

Now you know your audience, time and key information for your content, you need to think about:-

  1. The key message
  2. The structure and delivery –  to make it both interesting and appropriate, making sure you have an opening to get people’s attention, enough substance to hold their interest and a strong closing which reminds the audience why you were the right person for this occasion.
  3. The audience ‘take-away’, focusing on 3 key points  –  ‘sound-bites’ or ‘nuggets’ you want your audience to remember
Try mind-mapping to give you an outline - what I call 'the presentation framework'


Now for the Hard Work

  1. The CREATION, writing, editing, souring of images
  2. Continual EDITING ensuring your pitch, pace and strategic use of pauses all add, never distract and only what is useful remains. You may use story telling, or another delivery style to weave together your content to make your presentation flow
  3. Rehearsal, PRACTICE, time and time again.  Refining more and more each time.


this is the magic of 'how' you bring it together to make your presentation flow


It sounds so easy. And it is .. incredibly easy to get it wrong.  It is all about common sense.

When you don’t allow for the PAUSES, you are not giving your audience time to think, time to process the valuable information you have prepared.  When you talk too much and ad-lib, you are likely to move away from your key message and run overtime, disrespecting your hosts and if other speakers are following your speaker slot, your overrun may literally ‘steal’ their time, as they are obliged to keep to the overall schedule and cut their speech or presentation short.  It will nearly always take longer to deliver than you think, so be stringent in your editing. LESS IS MORE.  More memorable, more digestible, more enjoyable. For your audience and for you.  The more experienced you become, the more competent you will be and the more effectively you will be able to move ‘off script’ but as a new presenter, it is best to follow guidelines.


If you’d like to work with me on a one to one basis, or are interested in group training for your organisation, click to contact me directly or phone me on 086 8572005.





Why do I?

Go for it, that is. And believe me I do!  Why? quite simply because I can.  People ask how on earth I can swim in the ‘snot green sea’ as described by renowned Irish Novelist James Joyce.  For years I would watch others take the plunge and think them crazy.  Not so long ago, at a time of my life when many of my friends and peers were slowing down, I was starting out again, facing many challenging situations.  Some far tougher than I imagined possible.  At that time, I felt if I could get into the Irish sea, I could face just about everything! When now I dive into the water at the 40′ and submerge myself totally, I can honestly say there is nothing as energising.  All stress vanishes whilst my senses zing to life.  IMG_0371

If a day goes by when I don’t get to swim, somehow the day doesn’t feel quite right or have the same energy about it. Even in the winter. Lately, I have heard that in the US, people are paying exorbitant amounts of money to immerse themselves in freezing water.  Here in Ireland, we have it for free. And by contrast, we happily pay for bottled water!!

Like one of my swimming buddies here,I’d encourage you to just go. Push the Boundaries. Go for it. Now is the best time of the year to start!!!

If you are lucky, you may see Dolphins.  If you are very lucky, maybe porpoises breaking the water.  Cormorants. Seals. Wild geese.  Sunrises to make your heart soar.  And should you swim by the light of the moon at full tide, you’ll be very blessed.  Always swim with others. Be safe.  Enjoy what nature gives and we have here in abundance.


if you’ve found this post on Social Media, click to sign up and receive idling musings as and when they appear. If you’re a non native English Speaker, it’s another free way to up-skill !

You don’t sell…. really ?

So many people believe they can’t sell, won’t sell and as a result, don’t sell.  But we all do sell .. all of the time whether we’re aware of it or not.  Friend to friend, parent to child, amongst colleagues.  We’re in a constant flow of collaboration.  What makes each connection work even better? Quite simply, when the focus is on what we are doing for the other person, rather than what we are hoping to get out of it

Listening rather than waiting to jump in with what we anticipate what we think someone wants to hear before we’ve heard them out.  Staying silent when that’s what is needed or appropriate. Being constructive in our comments, not destructive or devastating when there is no need.

Easier said than done. Of course.  But back to selling.  For success in sales, compelling communication is crucial and developing your own style is key. When you’re more comfortable and relaxed,  people feel more inclined to engage with you.  Logical really. It’s a win/win situation.   If any of the following describe where you’re at right now, then take a look at how effectively you’re presenting. Whatever you’re working towards, whether it is a speech, a presentation, a pitch, just remember be clear about what you want people to remember. And most of all, remember…

People remember how you make them feel

Remember…The sales process is NOT about YOU. People prefer to do business with people they like.  The most important reason someone does business with you, is because of YOU and how you make your customer feel. The sales process is about how your customer feels, you  have to give clearly demonstrate  why they should buy from you.  Remember too, just because you are ready to sell something, now may not be the time for them to buy even if they want what you are offering. Give them a reason to choose YOU.  To come back to you if the time is not right.  Think about it, what sets you apart.  What can you do that makes their buying and post sales experience better than anyone else can provide.  Build that loyalty, over-deliver and you’ll deserve their business.  Fall short and someone else will fill that gap…. Fast.

Professional Self Smarter TipRemember…..You are only as good as the service you give your customers
. As well as doing a great job,  It is not enough just to do the job well, you need to over-deliver and give your customers much more in terms of service.  This is what will set you apart and creates customer loyalty. Always remember…..People remember how you make them feel.

Professional Self Smarter TipRemember…..Delivering a good service is only part of the unspoken ‘Rule of Engagement’
Ask yourself each time you meet with a customer, what worked, what can I do better next time?

Professional Self Smarter TipWhen you don’t secure a sale, there’s a good reason why…. When you’ve done your pitch and your customer is  not willing to commit, there’s every likelihood, you’ve not convinced them you’re the right choice. Perhaps there is some fear or risk attached to your customer making that commitment. Some people don’t like to say no or perhaps, the person you’ve just presented to is NOT the decision maker. Price, lack of trust or confidence, unsuitability of what you’re offering are all possible reasons for not buying from you.  All possible reasons that you could, if you had been listening or asking the right questions, have known before the end of your presentation.The real questions after an unsuccessful pitch include…….. Did I establish any level of rapport? Did I know what this customer is expecting out of my pitch? Did I ask enough to establish what their motive for buying and degree of urgency to buy before pitching? Did I make a real value proposal in light of this knowledge? If someone wants to think about your proposition, usually  they want a better price, are not the decision maker, or think they can get a better deal elsewhere. If you find yourself in this position and they want more time to ‘think about it’, ask how long do they think they need and agree a date to revisit. Ask too, what else can you do to help them decide.


Professional Self Smarter TipRemember…. People Buy from you because of YOU……

So…. You need to be liked and trusted to secure the sale. Finding your own style of presenting yourself and your company is crucial.  When you feel comfortable, you’ll communicate well and with integrity.  Then, you begin to build trust.

Professional Self Smarter TipSee Failure as an opportunity.  When you don’t get the result you anticipated, it’s a great opportunity to learn from the experience.  An experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want – and is worth it’s weight in gold !

Perhaps MOST important of all..

221-121aRemember… you have two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason !!

So, in the words of Oscar Wilde “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”. Develop your own style that you’re comfortable with and see your business relationships flourish. where you’ll get practical advice, build on the skills you already have, and remind yourself of skills you’ve forgotten!


Being a ‘Plus’1

Being a ‘Plus 1’ unexpectedly can go either way and last night I had the pleasure of being at a company gathering in Dublin.  Aside from the extremely high level of thoughtfulness that had gone into ensuring guests were looked after, what struck me the most was how ‘in sync‘ the team were.  For the first time in ages, I experienced the great feeling of a company culture, that was exciting, a company ethos that didn’t need words, you felt the loyalty.  Each and every person I encountered showed a genuine interest in getting to know you and just as remarkable in the true sense of that word, was the feeling of PRIDE in being part of the company at a pivotal time in the company’s re-structuring.  A sense of quiet confidence which comes from excellent product quality and leadership with vision and a real desire to do what’s right for the future of its employees, just ‘doing’the right thing.’  My faith in good business practice thankfully was given a big reminder there are still great companies out there 🙂

challenging myself…every day

On top of the usual daily challenges, there’s one in particular that I dread and simulteously relish.  A quick dip in the Irish Sea.  Yes, absolute madness and really no big ordeal really.  At the very moment my body hits the water, I can think of nothing else.  Any worries or concerns I have are gone.  In this beautiful moment, I experience the joy of utter clarity for I can think of nothing else. I know I am truly alive and thankful for being so.  My kiwi friends on the beautiful island of Waiheke think I’m crackers and swear I can only do it thanks to my ‘Irish wet-suit’ and they are right.  A few years ago I used to think exactly the same.  With changing circumstances, I knew there were going to be many things I would have to push myself to do and thought if I could get into the Irish Sea even in wintertime, then anything is possible.  And so it is and most days I’ll zip down to the Forty Foot in Sandycove for a quick dip.  Mind over matter, yes it is!

If you’ve challenges to meet, sometimes you’ve just got to tackle them head on and push through those seemingly impossible barriers.  The real question is do you really want something enough to make that commitment to change?

A Quick Dip in the Irish Sea by Heather McKay

A Quick Dip in the Irish Sea by Heather McKay

Click for details of the 2013/14  “Communicate with Greater Confidence” Workshops and to talk to Janie.

Asset or Liability?

With family on the other side of the world, I often read their national newspapers on line just to see what’s going on.  Quite often there are similarities in trends, research and events and it helps to get a different perspective on what are common human issues.  Take for example, a recent survey carried out by Ernst & Young on Productivity in the Workplace.  The New Zealand Herald reports (June 10th) that being treated badly in the workplace and poor communication were the biggest obstacles to increasing output.  Whilst some time was spent on social media during work hours, waiting on other people and time spent on unecessary emailing accounted for an average of one hour and nine minutes time being wasted daily. What workers want it appears to be universal.  Workers want more effective management, more motivation and more recognition.  The question is if what workers want is seemingly so simple, why is it so difficult to get it right?

don’t copy, be inspired

there’s so much stuff that you can sign up to and learn from for FREE.  So much that we’re in danger of not being able to think for ourselves.  Does it matter if you take an idea from somewhere else? There are some bloggers out there who inspire and write for people to take the germ of an idea and run with it.  There are others who want to frighten the pants off you, so you don’t take a single word from what they say.  It all comes down to choice.  You can control what you think, what you write, what ultimately bothers you. Everything in life is kickstarted by something someone else has done, or something that already exists. It may be in nature, it may be something that is there but doesn’t provide the solution sought and so inspires a new product or service.  Does it matter?   Take the learning and do not copy or imitate.  Make something better and then be proud of your work. Even if it is simply being inspired to do something that already exists and making it far better, go for it. Just do the right thing and don’t forget to respect, really respect the work of others. Edward de Bono says that thinking is a skill that ought to be developed, so let your imagination be fired and challenge yourself through thinking. You’ll amaze yourself!

 janie-says be inspired by what strikes a chord, follow your intuition and always, do the right thing.