CONFIDENCE BOOSTER No.7: Get a Positive Charge

It’s a simple fact that the more external negativity you allow into your life the more down you feel. Now, there are sources of negativity over which you have no control and very little influence, but there will be areas where you can make a positive difference to your environment.

THE CHALLENGE: To create a more positively charged environment in which to live.

If you allow yourself to be surrounded by ‘down beat’ and depressed energy from people, places and media, you are at a disadvantage before you even get started. Is there any benefit to your confidence in permitting this to continue? If you wish to up, maintain or enhance your confidence, it will be more difficult if you are weighed down by the burden of a negative environment. Remember that negativity is contagious and it loves company, but the same is true of positivity, so….



  • Seek out the company of supportive, positive and motivated people (this means reducing exposure to pessimism, doubt and psychological lethargy)
  • Do not allow your enthusiasm and motivation to be eroded by the negativity of others – you’ll know who they are. Where possible keep a distance because they just love to spread frowns.
  • Look out for negative judges, labellers, self confessed control freaks, or those who are simply unkind. The time may come when you may be able to help them….but you first.
  • Seek out different physical environments – try something new: gym, pub, café, restaurants, clubs, sporting clubs, parties you attend etc. Taking positive action will create positive change.
  • Beware what you read, listen to and watch. The constant media flow does have an affect how you feel – it’s your call.
  • Adjust your social media friends / likes as this alters the tone of your feed. Or take a holiday (temporary or permanent) from certain social media altogether.

This may seem obvious, however, so often  we can run our lives on auto pilot which will obscure what needs changing. It is said that if you own the action you own the consequences so a number of small adjustments can have a greater impact than you can imagine. The trick is in the doing.


THE CHALLENGE: To overcome inaccurate statements, self-talk and mindset. 

My clients get to hear about this over and over because accuracy has a complex role in combating a very powerful adversary of self confidence: cognitive distortion. This may sound complicated (it is) but if I highlight the most popular forms you will know what I mean:

  • Filtering – amplifying negative information while diminishing or completely excluding positives
  • Polarised “black & white” thinking – leaves no room for manoeuvre for yourself & others & leaves no room for balance
  • Overgeneralisation – With sparse information, creating strong opinions on a wide range of people, subjects or situations
  • Rushing to assumptions – not waiting for all (or any) available information on a subject & so assumptions are drawn & decisions made in considerable ignorance
  • Catastrophising – Why settle for a drama when a full blown crisis will do? This is when everything is bad even if it has happened only once. “I’m rubbish at this”, “No one likes me”, “You cannot trust anyone”, “Today was disastrous” etc etc.



It’s called tracking which is, in this context, keeping a log / diary of instances when you are inaccurate in any given situation about yourself, people, your day etc. If you are unaware of behaving in a particular way then how can you do anything about it? Just being aware of it will make a huge difference.

BEWARE: real and lasting shifts in deep seated mind set and behaviour takes hard work and consistency

Now you may be thinking that this is all a bit obvious and that calling yourself ‘useless’, for example, is merely a turn of phrase. But words have a huge significance: not only do they tell the outside world a great deal about us, but they also say much about our moods and mindset. Get control of them and they WILL begin to affect your attitudes and emotions for the better. 

CONFLICT RESOLUTION AT THE OFFICE – Does familiarity really breed contempt?

“I do not like that man, I must get to know him better”

Abraham Lincoln (attributed)


Serious disagreement and disaffection between colleagues in the workplace is a huge drain on businesses which can ill afford distractions. Strife and the stress and unhappiness that come with it can affect productivity, cause absenteeism and increase staff turnover – aka damage!
While human behaviour is complex, most particularly when under stress, the same trends and themes are often repeated. An understanding of what is really going on and the dynamics involved is half the battle when seeking to neutralise and resolve conflict. By upping their Emotional Intelligence (EQ) skill set, managers can become more proficient at spotting the early warning signals, and are far better placed to anticipate and then influence what happens next.





We often draw conclusions about people within moments of meeting them, or even just seeing them across the office – this is the ‘first impression’ trap. Once in place such preconceptions can condition our views of what others do and say from then on. We should therefore take time to find out more about those around us, or at least be aware of not forming our opinions before we have had the chance to do so in an informed manner.



Do we ever get the wrong end of the stick? Of course we do. The best way of avoiding this is, of course, communication – there is no better antidote to adjusting a negative impression of someone than simply taking the trouble to fill in the blanks.



Often these are born of ignorance and misunderstanding but also the baggage people take to work can have a huge effect as exterior problems may spill over at the office. This is not excusing ill manners or bad behaviour but if we begin to understand the causes of someone’s behaviour it could at least change our reactions for the better.



This is about our territory, and our desire to protect what we have or what we should like to have. If we feel threatened we are unlikely to be at our most reasonable or generous, and in such a frame of mind there are short steps between viewing a colleague as a rival, a threat, and even perceived as an enemy. Once this point is reached it is hardly surprising that relations can deteriorate very badly.



This is always a good trip wire to tell us we are not confident about a particular issue. Therefore, when we are on our guard we are alerted to anything we interpret as challenging or threatening in nature – and with our shields up we have difficulty telling them apart which can then lead to the next issue.



A form of social myopia obscuring a wider picture can develop, as we do not want to be seen to be giving ground. Our opinions become beliefs and therefore part of us so it can be very easy to slip into taking challenges very personally. So often when we ‘believe’ something it becomes regarded by us as the ‘truth’. Our conditioned sense of justice is ingrained in us to defend what we believe to be the truth, to be right. Of course there are very clear-cut instances of right and wrong, truth & falsehood; in human relations, however, things are rarely so straightforward.


Understanding the nature and origins of conflict gets us well on the way to preventing them from escalating or even occurring in the first place. The most important thing, as in the quote attributed to Lincoln, we have to be bothered to look behind the façade in order to drastically improve the chances of conflict resolution.



Offering patience as a possible option in fashioning new life strategies can meet with short shrift – and that’s putting it mildly. Patience is often regarded as ‘off the pace’: a waste of time when we should be out there ‘making things happen’. Patience is seen by many as too ‘wait and see’, or being passive, docile and even weak.



Most of us know of individuals who on deciding to make a new life change just do so: quitting smoking, training for their first marathon, losing 40lbs… they seem capable of a 180 degree with unshakable determination. We can respect and applaud such discipline & force of will but revolution is not for everyone. AND we certainly must not make comparisons and use those as a stick with which to beat ourselves. For many people evolution is a better fit: a more measured planned approach can get us to where we want to be.



It’s all bout forward momentum. Have you ever put a toddler down and turned away, only for a matter of seconds, and then turned back only to have to begin trying to track them down? Well, there’s nothing wrong with baby steps! So the sort of patience I refer to has nothing to do with ‘wait and see’ but is all about planned persistence at your pace. It does not signify lack of proactivity – quite the contrary, it’s all about devising an action plan combined with perpetual and most important of all – relentless forward momentum:

  • you do not lose sight of the target
  • you will not be knocked off course
  • and you’re not stopping for….anything!



By setting your own pace, you can manage your own evolution by taking measured and positive steps every single day, for example:

  • going for a walk
  • not tackling a pile of mail but one piece at a time
  • making a point of smiling at shop assistants and bank workers
  • avoiding emotional vocabulary
  • periodic ‘turn ‘em off time’ – TV, tablets, smart phones etc (tough one!)

To achieve goals it’s not a prerequisite to take giant leaps, or to turn lives upside down (however, if that’s the pace you want to set that’s fine). Change can be gradual: it evolves, and as such is grows into a natural fit and this time it will take!

The practice of thinking in new ways and doing new things often enough can alter lives a piece at a time. Quick fixes and short term enthusiasm so often leads to short lived benefits, disappointment & regression. Evolution can be the key to real change in thinking and in behaviour and replicates how we took on bad habits – we’ve just reverse the flow. So positive changes can ‘take’ and become our new good habits. What took decades to condition our lives cannot necessarily be turned around in weeks, but real beginning can be made – in bite size pieces….buon appetito!

Alan Keyse is a fully qualified Business and Life Coach who now applies his 30 years of experience as a sales executive to coaching Emotional Intelligence to business leaders, executives, managers and their staff. Alan specialises in stress reduction; conflict avoidance; & employee engagement. 




Most entrepreneurs will be all too aware of the pressures that go hand in glove with being self-employed. The pressure not only to succeed but also to be seen to be successful, is inherent within the very fabric of our society. 



We are taught to want to ‘succeed’ from a very early age, and once past infancy the forces at work, driving us forward: our parents; our teachers; and our friends, are irresistible. We become conditioned with the need to compete and in a competitive society this is a useful driver to have. However, if we become conditioned to value our worth by what we believe the world thinks of our success, our thought process and behaviour can create huge dissonance with our core values.



Most of us at some time in our lives have uttered the plea ‘stop the ride, I wanna get off!’ but seldom do we question that urge. What many of us do not appreciate is that we do not need to ask permission of a third party to stop the ride, in fact all the controls we require are in our hands. This does not mean have to mean walking away from existing life styles, nor for abdicating responsibilities. Rather, it is a call for regular pauses, short periods of reflection to re-evaluate our understanding of our lives, our aspirations and our emotions.



How often do we question how we personally measure success & why? Our social and cultural conditioning measures success by whether or not we surpass those around us. We spend our time, therefore, making comparisons with our peers and competing on that basis. We often fail to explore what success really means to us. As a result we spend our time chasing goals reactively preset, and which may have absolutely nothing to do with our innermost desires and core values. Only by matching our lives to those desires and values can we attain our own true success and fulfilment.


It is for all of us to challenge our own thinking and, possibly for the first time, take a serious look at what makes us tick as opposed to what convention dictates it should be. If we take the time to take a look, we may be pleasantly surprised.


. Alan specialises in helping executives, entrepreneurs & their staff to manage stress levels, conflict resolution, self confidence & potential burnout! In doing so he employs mindfulness, emotional intelligence, life coaching/CBT, & more than 3 decades of experience as an international sales executive.



FEAR OF FAILURE: The Claustrophobia of Creativity

‘Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt’



Fear of failure is, more often than not, the fear of not measuring up to others in our peer group. It can also be a fear of falling short of what we believe to be other people’s expectations of us. Such anxiety does not originate from within us but is acquired over years of social conditioning and learnt behaviour. The good news is that it can be identified, observed, & left far behind us.



Our desire for external appreciation, approval and esteem is perfectly natural for us. We are after all a social animal and so need to find cooperation within a very complex social structure. This desire, however, can compel us to abandon any consideration of ourselves in favour of a futile search for external affirmations of our worth. The desire to please others in order to feel of value becomes a need that can never be fulfilled –  and can distract us from focusing on our own potential and fulfilment.



If we are trying to live up to the expectation of others this is often because we imagine what they want, what they are thinking. In such cases we are second guessing what they are thinking and are invariably wrong. The fact is, we have no idea what other people are thinking.



How often do we hear this brand of 1980s movie mantra rattled out as the worse kind of tough love / hard motivation in the workplace? Well, we’re human beings which means we are going to fail – so we’d better get over it. What really sets us apart is our ability to learn from mistakes/weakness/failure, whatever we want to call it. Every advance of the human race has been hard won through trial & error. From Shakespeare to Michael Jordan the ethos remains the same: the worse thing we can do is not even try.



Through regular mindfulness practice we can make positivity of outlook, clarity of intention, & compassion, our moment by moment priorities. As a result, the external approval we once sought so desperately fades in importance and we no longer have that overwhelming need to satisfy others. Instead we find a profound sense of our inherent worth & our core values. With this comes an underlying strength & calm which gives out very positive energy to everyone we come into contact with.

Whatever we seek to achieve, we should allow ourselves the luxury of the compassion, the patience, and the common humanity we so easily afford to, for example, our close friends. We see our friends strive and fail and yet we are there supporting them all the way. We are no less entitled to the same understanding. Once we have thrown off the shackles of fear ‘lest we fail’, we will meet challenges, be they in business or at home, with an enthusiasm that views errors and failure as merely signposts on the way to greater successes and achievement.

Alan Keyse is a fully qualified Business and Life Coach who now applies his 30 years of experience as a sales executive to coaching Emotional Intelligence to business leaders, executives, managers and their staff. Alan specialises in stress reduction; conflict avoidance; & employee engagement. 



bulling at work


Following on from a recent blog about the benefits of acknowledging weakness , a blind alley that individuals, managers and organisations need to be aware of is when fear is confused for respect.

Actually, such confusion should never arise as they are so completely different, but alas it is all too common. Fear, if unchecked, can create and spread a sense of malaise within a corporate body that can, at best, impede growth and at worst will wreak havoc within the entire structure of an organisation. Pretty soon, management and staff can find themselves operating in the blind: a culture of fear.
In recent times, many companies and organisations, large and small, have found themselves in a position when difficult decisions needed to be taken in order to ensure survival and growth (albeit modest). Such measures impact in a very personal way on the lives of individuals be it restructuring, cost savings, maximising on synergies etc. That is not in question here – a good entrepreneur at some point will have to take decisions that require a strong stomach – they are there to lead, even in the teeth of the storm.

Managing through fearful times is not the same as using that fear as a tool of management. That is a poor substitute for leadership, in fact, it indicates a lack of any leadership at all. If management by fear becomes a de facto policy, we should ask on which planet would a negative, vulnerable and scared workforce operate better than one that is positively motivated, focused and inspired – recession or no?

A kingdom founded on injustice never lasts


When the ethos of excess pressure and fear (aka bullying) exists then this is a sign that troubled times lie ahead – and such a culture will begin to display structural flaws most particularly when an economy begins to emerge from recession:
An organisation’s strongest and most able people will be gone at the earliest opportunity (if it has not already happened) – with predictable results
The chances of enticing high achievers will be jeopardised. How can a business take full advantage of increased opportunities when it’s most able people work for the competition?
Leadership through fear is like ‘one club golf‘ and has no inbuilt flexibility and a very limited life span.
Shaking off the effects of a fear culture takes time and radical change – but since when did the world of business and opportunity proceed at a leisurely pace?
If fear runs through an organisation there is very little that can be done without a radical and imaginative approach from the executive. This has to come from the top and starts with the core values of the boardroom. A good executive can lead it’s people through the toughest times but once opportunities become more plentiful, the whole corporation will come into its own.

In the depth of winter
I finally learned that there was in me
an invincible summer

ALBERT CAMUS, French Nobel Prize winning writer

In the next blog we shall look closely at how individual managers, regardless of the scale of their responsibilities, can maintain awareness of their performance and in doing so ensure that their people are lead and not pushed.