Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation

I just heard one of the best TED talks about conversations. Celeste Headlee covers everything I try to include in my 1-3 hours of training on communication skills, and even more, in just 12 minutes!

The ten tips are:

  1. Don’t multi-task. Be fully present.
  2. Don’t pontificate. Set aside your personal opinions.
  3. Use open-ended questions.
  4. Go with the flow. Let your own thoughts come and go.
  5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know.
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. It’s not about you.
  7. Don’t repeat yourself.
  8. Stay out of the details.
  9. Listen! Be interested.
  10. Be brief.

I also loved these quotes from the talk:

  • “If your mouth is open, you are not learning.” -Buddha
  • “No man ever listened his way out of a job.” -Calvin Coolidge
  • “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand; we listen with the intent to reply.” -Stephen Covey

Mush Panjwani interviewed about Romantic Relationship

One of Hong Kong’s top hypnotherapists, an image consultant and a fellow trainer, Sonia Samtani has been producing a series of videos called Raising the Bar. She interviews people who have done something extra-ordinary that can inspire others.

I was happy to be chosen to talk about romantic relationships, and my love story that started at the age of 15! And I hope this talk inspires people, or even one person, to improve their relationships. Great relationships can often mean more happiness, increased motivation and greater success in everything else.

An exciting first week – after losing my job!

IMG_2218

The only reason I posted the news last Friday, within hours of getting fired from my job, was because it was the fastest and most efficient way of letting everyone in my world know what had happened and that I was actually excited about the situation. I never expected to receive 200+ beautiful messages through comments on the blog, Facebook, emails, SMS, whatsapp and phone calls! I can’t express in words how thrilled, excited, blessed and grateful I felt reading those messages. I smiled, laughed and cried. It would be a huge understatement to say that ‘you made my day/week’. You made my life! Thank you.

To those who keep saying ‘is that true?’ ‘how did it happen?’ ‘but why?’ ‘i still can’t believe’ etc., I can only say, ‘get over it, move on’!

To those who think they have lost a leader, mentor, guru, hero (and all those amazing words I didn’t think I was worthy of), I am very much alive and will continue doing what I do best. Feel free to connect with me through this blog, Facebook, or Twitter. I will also continue to post my photos and videos on Flickr and YouTube.

So what am I up to?

  • I have freelance work from the company till the end of April, to complete the ongoing projects and fulfill my travel commitments to the distributors. That means I get to see some of you soon!
  • I am working on my first CV ever, while also developing certain business plans. Absolutely over the moon about the possibilities!
  • I am doing more reading, more writing and more thinking! I’m still following the diet, and have more time for exercise too.
  • We have leased a much cheaper apartment at one of the edges of Hong Kong, and shifting in a few weeks. It’s much farther from the city but a bit bigger and right on top of a beautiful beach!
  • The family is totally supportive and positive, and we have never been closer!

Thanks again for your wonderful support and encouragement!

Happy Women’s Day! 10 quotes women would love…

IWD

I am not a big fan of “days” – New Year day for resolutions, Valentine’s Day to show your love, Clean-up Day to un-clutter or Women’s Day to acknowledge that women rule… But here’s a collection of quotes for all the women in my life and the female readers of this blog. I know you’d love these:

  1. Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him. –Groucho Marx
  2. Women like silent men. They think they’re listening. -Marcel Achard
  3. Women have always been the strong ones of the world. The men are always seeking from women a little pillow to put their heads down on. They are always longing for the mother who held them as infants. –Coco Chanel
  4. The average woman would rather have beauty than brains, because the average man can see better than he can think. -Author Unknown
  5. Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good.  Luckily, this is not difficult. -Charlotte Whitton
  6. Can you imagine a world without men?  No crime and lots of happy fat women. -Nicole Hollander
  7. A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction. -Oscar Wilde
  8. When men reach their sixties and retire, they go to pieces. Women go right on cooking. -Gail Sheehy
  9. Women always worry about the things that men forget; men always worry about the things women remember. -Author Unknown
  10. Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man and work like a dog. -Caroline K. Simon

Please tell me which one did you like best. And share your own favorite quotes about women too.

[Photo of two of the most wonderful, amazing, funny, friendly, beautiful and inspired women in my life.]

 

The lies we tell…

201301 sunrise

The lies we tell ourselves and others…
Lie: I am late because of traffic
Truth: I am late because I got up late; I am late because I am not organized…

Lie: I don’t have time to read/exercise/call…
Truth: I am not really interested or committed

Lie: I am not good enough for…
Truth: I haven’t learnt how to…

And some more…
There’s plenty of time/life for…
It’s just one bite…
People are no good…
I’ll be happy when…

What other lies can you add?

[Photo of sunrise in Hong Kong. Some more photos of the sun and moon between 31st Dec and 1st Jan here]

It’s not them; it’s you!

Who is bothering you today?

Kids who don’t think or behave exactly as you do? Or your spouse due to his annoying habit? Or the driver in front of you that’s too slow? Or someone else who is incompetent, rude, inconsiderate, uncaring…? If other people’s behavior is going to bother you, chances are you will always be angry, hurt, disappointed or frustrated… because ‘they’ are not going to change any time soon.

So there are only two choices: accept everyone as they are, and focus on your own imperfections. Or continue to be annoyed at everyone who is not ‘perfect’ by your standards. Hint: One of the choices will give you lots of stress!

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change; courage to change the one I can; and the wisdom to know that it’s me.”

Inspiring moments in Laos
Inspiring moments in Laos

The power of three words or less

All of us have experienced the positive feeling when someone says something nice to us and we know they mean it. A genuine compliment or appreciation often takes 2-3 words but can result in instant happiness and an immediate shift in your mood. Here’s a list of some of those 2-3 word phrases that can change somebody’s life, even if for a few hours or days – of course, you can’t use all of these with everyone:

  • Thank you
  • Appreciate it
  • Great job
  • Fantastic service
  • Excellent idea
  • Nice shirt / shoes / bag…
  • You look gorgeous / pretty / young…
  • You’re so kind / thoughtful / amazing…
  • You’re the best
  • I love you

I think someone’s quality of life and level of happiness can be measured in the number of compliments they give and receive. What was your last compliment?

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” -Leo Buscaglia

[A year ago on Mush’s blog] Keeping promises

[Here’s the original post a year ago on this blog]

This post is inspired by someone I met today in Colombo. When he decided to move back to Sri Lanka from the Middle East 15 years ago, his wife wasn’t too happy with the decision. She loved Dubai too much. This man promised his wife that he’ll bring her to Dubai for at least ten days every year. And he hasn’t missed a year since. He told me it was difficult at times to take the ten days off because of work pressure, or other priorities, ‘but a promise is a promise’.

How often do we sabotage our relationships, health, productivity, talent, dreams… by not fulfilling the commitments that we make to ourselves or others. Whether big or small, every broken promise adds up to create an unhappy situation. Some of the most commonly broken promises I can think of:

  • To our loved ones: I’ll call you back in a minute. I’ll do it during the weekend. I’ll be there for the… (birthday party or the game or the parent-teacher meeting). We’ll take a vacation this year.
  • To our kids: We’ll read it tonight. Yes, I’ll help with your math. I’ll fix it tomorrow. We’ll go there during the weekend.
  • At work: I am working on it. I’ll email you today. I’ll clean up my desk. I’ll call you back. I’ll learn the new… (skill, system, program, equipment) soon.
  • To ourselves: I’ll start exercising. I’ll read that book. I’ll eat healthy. I’m off desserts. I quit coffee. I’ll wake up earlier. I’ll clean up. I’ll volunteer. I’ll start saving.

And I am as guilty as anybody else. What about you? Let’s promise to keep our promises!

[Photo during a take-off from Hong Kong last week – totally unrelated to the topic, of course]

Read more about self motivation in my new book: Dhinchak Life

Free ebook: 47 Tips for Enhancing Life

Today (April 12) I turn 47 years old. It amazes me that I’ve been around that long. I feel like I’ve barely begun. As always, it’s an opportunity to reflect on what I’ve achieved, what I’ve learnt, and where do I want to be in five or ten years from now.

Through this photo book, I am sharing 47 tips on happiness, health, relationships and productivity – all of which can enhance life. The photos used in the book are from my personal collection. You can download the book by clicking on the book cover, or from this link. If you find this useful, please share with others too. I will consider that your birthday gift to me.

7 Reasons Why New Year Resolutions Don’t Work

A new day in Africa! (Sunrise at Hoedspruit, December 2011)

Most of the research suggests that majority of the people do not stick to their resolutions beyond a couple of weeks or months, if at all. And most of the goals established before the New Year end up way short of achievement. Having spent almost 30 years doing resolutions (a few times every year) and working with thousands of salespeople and managers who established annual goals, here’s what I think causes any New Year resolution to fail:

  1. Too casual. Some people come up with resolutions for the sake of resolutions, without giving serious consideration to what they really want.
  2. Not committed enough. Any resolution without total commitment is as good as a dream.
  3. Not specific enough. ‘I’ll lose weight’, ‘I’ll save money’, ‘I’ll travel’ are all examples of non-specific resolutions.
  4. No deadlines. Open-ended resolutions like ‘I’ll quit smoking’ are like any other promise without a time frame that we can easily postpone.
  5. No planning. A resolution without a plan is like a destination without a road map – without knowing how to get there.
  6. No follow-up. Milestones and checkpoints are critical in any journey. Resolutions that are not reviewed periodically often come to haunt us at the end of the year.
  7. No action. You know where you want to go, and how to get there, but you can’t there unless you start moving. Lack of action, laziness, and procrastination are often signs of lack of commitment.

If your resolutions haven’t worked well for you in the past, it’s likely because of one of the above reasons. This year, come up with fewer resolutions but make sure they are very specific, backed up with a full plan of action and have your total commitment. Then take the necessary action with perseverance, and review results often. In short, you need to know what you really want, by when and how… then act now!

Related reading:

The power of commitment

“When you are interested, you do what’s convenient. When you are committed, you do whatever it takes.” 

This post is inspired by someone I met today in Colombo. When he decided to move back to Sri Lanka from the Middle East 15 years ago, his wife wasn’t too happy with the decision. She loved Dubai too much. This man promised his wife that he’ll bring her to Dubai for at least ten days every year. And he hasn’t missed a year since. He told me it was difficult at times to take the ten days off because of work pressure, or other priorities, ‘but a promise is a promise’. 

How often do we sabotage our relationships, health, productivity, talent, dreams… by not fulfilling the commitments that we make to ourselves or others. Whether big or small, every broken promise adds up to create an unhappy situation. Some of the most commonly broken promises I can think of:

  • To our loved ones: I’ll call you back in a minute. I’ll do it during the weekend. I’ll be there for the… (birthday party or the game or the parent-teacher meeting). We’ll take a vacation this year.
  • To our kids: We’ll read it tonight. Yes, I’ll help with your math. I’ll fix it tomorrow. We’ll go there during the weekend.
  • At work: I am working on it. I’ll email you today. I’ll clean up my desk. I’ll call you back. I’ll learn the new… (skill, system, program, equipment) soon.
  • To ourselves: I’ll start exercising. I’ll read that book. I’ll eat healthy. I’m off desserts. I quit coffee. I’ll wake up earlier. I’ll clean up. I’ll volunteer. I’ll start saving.

And I am as guilty as anybody else. Let’s promise to keep our promises. And commit to fulfill our commitments.

[Photo of Fauja Singh, the 100-year old runner. See the story here]

Check out Mush’s photosvideos and Facebook page

37 things we take for granted, every day!

‘Take for granted’ in the sense that we don’t notice, acknowledge, enjoy these things fully, and even complain about sometimes…

  1. Waking up alive in the morning – thousands die every day
  2. Seeing everyone else in the family also waking up alive and safe – no disasters
  3. Having running water for brushing, shave and shower – millions in the world don’t
  4. Having a choice of hot or cold or warm water for shower
  5. Wearing nice clothes, with lots of choices and matching shoes and bag and jewelry
  6. Eating breakfast and other meals – millions are starving to death
  7. A job to go to – how many are jobless in your city/country?
  8. A car, or other means of transport that allows you to get to work on time
  9. Traffic that keeps moving
  10. Weather that’s live-able – would you rather be at the poles or Sahara?
  11. People trusting you with their problems at work
  12. Appliances and technology that (seem to) make life easier – imagine life without a microwave, washing machine, mobile phone, computer…
  13. Stable electricity – many places have daily power cuts
  14. Getting paid on time
  15. Our ability to see, hear, taste, touch, read, write, think, walk, talk, work, pray, love…
  16. Our education, knowledge, skills, experience, values…
  17. Having a home with furnishing and comforts
  18. Someone waiting for you at home, someone to wait for
  19. Someone that loves you, someone you love
  20. Kids – so what if they are not like us
  21. Friends, and people who care about you, people you care about
  22. Home-cooked meal
  23. Enough clothes to change a couple of times within a day
  24. The air we breathe, water we drink, the variety of food we eat
  25. Money in the pocket, money in the bank, credit cards – millions live under $1 per day
  26. Newspapers, magazines and books to read
  27. TV with 100 channels, and movies to watch
  28. Games to play
  29. Clubhouse or gym to workout
  30. Parents – they are the reason for our being
  31. Good health and fitness – thousands of hospitals in the world full of millions of sick
  32. Functioning government
  33. Good school for kids
  34. Weekends, public holidays
  35. Faith, religion, beliefs and values
  36. Nice bed to sleep in, pillows, blankets, reading lamp, alarm clock…
  37. Trees, flowers, sunrise, sunset, stars, moon, sea, mountain, rivers, breeze…

How different would our days (and therefore life) be if we noticed, acknowledged, enjoyed and were grateful for even half the things we take for granted every day? Would we be happier, more cheerful and have more enthusiasm? Would we complain less? You bet.

Right now, I am grateful for the long battery life on my mac, the comfortable sofa, the cushion on my lap absorbing the heat from the notebook, the lamp, the cool breeze from the window, the family sleeping quietly, the calm of the morning (4 AM), WordPress, Facebook, people who ask me when they don’t see a new post on my blog… a fridge full of stuff, mostly healthy!

Please share through comments (here or on my Facebook page) what else we usually take for granted, every day. Thanks for reading and sharing.

[Self photography during a beautiful drive in Surabaya yesterday, feeling the rain and breeze]

Free ebook: Focus – a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction

I just finished reading this wonderful book by Leo Babauta. It’s an important reminder of the importance of focus in this age of distraction, and how to achieve it. The book is available for free and is ‘un-copyrighted’ by the author so you can share it with as many people as you want. Just click on the image to download the PDF version.

It’s an essential guide for everyone who needs to focus, and covers lots of useful stuff like:

  • the importance of finding focus
  • the beauty of disconnection
  • how not to live in your inbox
  • creating an uncluttered environment
  • strategies for prioritizing
  • systems for getting amazing things done
  • single-tasking and productivity

Download it now.

5 things everyone can learn from the Aussies

Having spent ten days in Australia, I was reminded of the many good things about the Aussies:

  1. Good day, mate! It’s the local greeting but also an attitude of happiness and friendliness. You can only greet each other with enthusiasm if you are really happy and grateful with your life. Otherwise, it will be the usual ‘how are you?’ and ‘not bad’. That attitude is also reflected in their choice of vocabulary. It’s not ‘nice’, it’s ‘fantastic!’ or ‘awesome!’ Simply put, ‘life is good!’
  2. Work to live. Most Aussies don’t live to work. A standard working day for most offices is 8-4:30 and 9:30-5:30 for most shops. This means more time for life outside of work – family, socializing, sports and hobbies. Yes, many Australians actually have hobbies like gardening, woodworking etc. Do they get less work done compared to those who regularly work overtime in many other countries? I don’t think so.
  3. Sunday is family day. Unlike many of us, most Aussies actually have a ‘plan’ for Sundays. And the key elements of the plan are family and outdoors – beach, picnics, parks, hikes. That’s not only great bonding time for the family, but also very healthy.
  4. No worries, mate! That’s also more of an attitude than just another local phrase you hear often. Aussies seem to genuinely believe that no problem is big enough to worry; given some time, most situations sort themselves out; getting stressed doesn’t make things easier. I wonder if they have one of the lowest rates of stress-related illnesses in the world.
  5. Play to win. Aussies are clearly one of the most competitive people, and it’s not just in sports. I think they generally like to excel at whatever they do – be it making a coffee, raising a child or winning an olympic gold. This is also obvious in a higher standard of services.

I am sure some readers will have many negative things to say about the Aussies. Every one of us, every nation, every place has negatives and positives. But I find myself much happier when focusing on the good rather than the bad, particularly when I am traveling. Please share your positive thoughts about your favorite place.

[Photo taken from a boat in Sydney. You can see some more spectacular photos here.]

The Worst Uses of Your Mobile Phone

I was in a business meeting recently where the other person kept looking at his phone for messages or emails every time it vibrated. He even typed a couple of messages during the hour long meeting while we exchanged important information and discussed a possible business relationship. Do you think I want to do business with this person?

I was reminded of a time when an estate agent was showing me an apartment when his phone rang and he started chatting non-stop. After waiting for about five minutes, I just walked out of the apartment. When he called back to ask what had happened, I told him exactly what had happened and never met him again.

Whether you are in an important business meeting, or having quality time with a loved one, responding to a call or looking at messages/emails only communicates one thing to the other person: You are not as important as the person calling/messaging/emailing me right now. I think these are some of the worst uses of your mobile phone:

  1. Holding it in your hand or placing it in front of you during a business or personal meeting. If you are expecting a call, let the other person know.
  2. Looking at it every now and then, and reading emails/messages during important conversations. If you must read or send an urgent message, please excuse first.
  3. Immersing yourself in your phone when in a social gathering. That only means: Do not disturb, or I am not interested in any conversation.
  4. Talking loudly on your phone in a public place without any consideration for other people. Either talk softly, or move away from the people.
  5. Typing on your phone while walking, and expecting other people to watch and move out of your way. Ever seen a collision of two people typing on their phones without looking up?

It’s funny how we use our mobile phones to connect with everyone in the world, and often forget to connect with all the people around us – often the most important people in our lives that we just take for granted.

Here’s a funny video clip of Jerry Seinfeld talking about the ‘iPhone and Blackberry People’.

    Do You Respond or React?

    In every situation or problem, we have a choice to respond or react. And our choice determines how we get affected by the situation or problem. My favorite example is that of a delayed flight. Most passengers choose to react by asking for an explanation for the delay, calling up family and friends to share the anger (‘why does it always happen to me?‘), demanding to ‘speak with the manager’, expecting free meals, continuing to be angry even after taking off and landing at the destination and perhaps for the rest of the day. If you choose to respond, you could be grateful that they found out the problem with the plane or the pilot or the weather while you are still on the ground, rather than finding out when you are 35,000 feet up in the air. You could catch up on some phone calls or shopping or reading, or simply enjoy doing nothing for a change. If the flight has been indefinitely delayed, you can also respond by trying to find another connection to your destination.

    When someone criticizes you, you can react by offering explanations or starting an argument. Or you can respond by trying to understand the other person’s perspective, by accepting that you aren’t perfect and by being grateful that someone cared enough to tell you about your weakness. Continue reading

    Daniel Goleman on Compassion

    An inspiring talk by the award-winning author of Emotional Intelligence. Daniel asks why we aren’t more compassionate more of the time…

    If you like reading this blog, subscribe for email updates. You may connect with Mush on FacebookTwitterFlickr or YouTube.

    45 Tips for a Happy Marriage – these still work!

    A repost from last year:

    We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, and we consider ourselves very fortunate to enjoy a great relationship and still be in love. Considering that we are so different from each other in so many ways and that we rarely agree on anything, we often wonder what has kept us so happy together. It’s a few things.

    We realize and accept the fact that everyone is different; everyone has his or her strengths and weaknesses. We don’t try to change the other. We choose to focus on the strengths and accept the weaknesses – unless one needs help and encouragement in overcoming a certain weakness. We have come to understand that being in love is not enough for a happy marriage. Happy partners choose to be happy, and they do certain things in a certain way. We have been following a certain unwritten code of conduct about how we treat each other and how we deal with our differences.

    Communication is the key. Like in any other relationship, good communication is the key to a happy marriage. You don’t need a degree in communications; it’s mostly common sense. It’s Ok to argue, but you must follow certain rules. Few tips to enhance communication with your partner:

    1. Be honest.
    2. Talk to each other often.
    3. Listen when the other is talking.
    4. Express any concerns quickly.
    5. Compliment often; criticize rarely.
    6. Never criticize in public.
    7. Never yell at each other.
    8. Never bring up mistakes of the past.
    9. Never use the word ‘always’ and ‘never’ in arguments.
    10. Don’t go to bed with an unsettled argument.
    11. Say ‘I love you’ often… and mean it.
    12. Be quick to say ‘I am sorry’.
    13. Forgive and forget quickly.
    14. Never keep secrets from each other.
    15. Keep the in-laws out of your marriage.

    What happened to the romance? Remember the first time you started seeing each other? You used to dress up, make-up, put on your best self, hold hands, and do things to please your partner. Why does it have to be any different after few years? Keeping the romance alive is an essential part of being happy with your partner. Some tips for the un-romantics: Continue reading