Saturday, August 28, 2004


Receiving feedback is a way for you to clarify how you interact with others, how well your working relationship is going and, from another person’s perspective how they view you in the scheme of things. I stress the words “another person’s perspective”. It’s how they process your interactions based on their own needs, awareness factors and skills. Feedback isn’t sharing what you do that’s wrong. It’s how another person perceives you in various capacities.

What you do with that feedback, however is up to you. If you use it as a way to view yourself through another person’s eyes openly and honestly, emotions aside, you can then work with that person to strengthen the relationship further. If you take issue with the feedback and argue with it, then your relationship will either stay as is or deteriorate even further. The fact a person can give you constructive feedback is a compliment in itself. It’s only when issues are held back that they have no chance of improving. Through the feedback process and verbalizing your appreciations of your colleague as well as your needs, all cards are placed on the table so you can work on them together for the future.

Think for a moment before you react. Did that person have a valid point in sharing something that might have pushed your buttons, and, if so, what are you going to do about it that shows leadership and integrity? Fight, pout or meet with that person to listen, share possible changes and, perhaps in some instances, give them more information so they might have a broader picture of things?

If you believe someone doesn’t see your value, then ask yourself why that might be so. Is it because your communication skills are lacking in some way? Do you seem unfocused? Do you fade in the background and not make your presence known or heard?

No matter how much you accomplish, if your boss isn’t aware of those accomplishments, he/she has no way of knowing how effective you are. Just because everything might be running smoothly does not make you stand out as a valuable resource or leader in the organization. Sometimes lack of information gives the wrong impression; something for you to communicate effectively in a one-on-one.

Instead of reacting to feedback, see yourself through their eyes. Do you like what you (they) see and, if not, what will you do to change so you do?

Donna Karlin

Friday, August 20, 2004

The Power to Decide

Well it’s official! My first e-Book is written and published. Clients, friends and colleagues have forever been asking me to write a short, sweet, to the point quick read to remind them of some of the principles and concepts we work on. Finally I relented. As it was pointed out to me so eloquently, “You can’t be shadowing everyone all in one fell swoop. And we all want a 'piece of you', so it’s only right you should create a guide to keep us on track when you can’t be around.”

‘The Power to Decide: An Executive’s Guide to Conquering a Chaotic Day’ was born. That’s how most of my clients and friends who are executives describe their day….chaotic and insane. If one concept in this guide helps them take back control, then it’s worth it. That was my raison d’ĂȘtre for doing this.

Writing it wasn’t as easy as you might think as I had to think of the key concepts that would keep old clients on track and give possible new clients a taste of what we might cover when I would work with them. It’s a reminder to make that decision and feel how powerful saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is, even if it’s just opening an email. It’s deciding to be in control of the day rather than reactive to it. How many find themselves reacting to one situation after another and before they know it, the day is gone and everything they intended to happen flew out the window? Is anyone not nodding yes to that question?

A book doesn’t have to be long to be powerful. All it needs to do is spark a desire to change something that isn’t presently working for you and give you that bit of insight to do it. What is even more powerful is what you choose to do with those insights.

Stay tuned for the next one which will delve more into choices and their consequences and, as I’ve also been asked for time and time again, perhaps an e-course is on its way as well. Time will tell.

Wishing you the best!
Donna Karlin

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Power of Communication

"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel." - Carl W. Buechner

I was thinking a great deal about what this quote says. This past week has illustrated that to me in so many ways. Being one to experience through multi-dimensions I realised this is exactly how I perceive and experience those around me. It’s by how they make me feel rather than what it is they say. Part of it stems from where others are in their lives and how the communicate (or don’t) with me and a great deal has to do with body language, tone of voice and the unspoken word.

I seem to have experienced the entire range of the spectrum this past week, being with old friends, in that place of comfort where you know you’re accepted no matter what, meeting long time correspondence friends for the first time and experiencing that sense of anticipation, knowing the face to face experience is one I’d remember for a lifetime and meeting new people, some who pleasantly surprised me and others who surprised me in their curtness and coldness. For some reason the latter always surprises me as I can never understand how people can choose to be cold and uncommunicative when there’s always the alternative. But that’s who I am and if nothing else I’ve learned over the years through training and life’s experiences not to expect others to behave as I would in any given circumstance.

…An ongoing learning experience for me, as I’m sure it is for many others.

I do believe, however that if people realised how they made others feel with their words, they might change how they share them. I might not remember specific words someone tells me but I will always remember how they made me feel in the telling, or writing of them.

This was a milestone of a week for me in many ways, one of which was completing my first E-book. (Stay tuned because it will be published sometime this week). I asked some colleagues and clients to give it a read and comment on it. One of them said she’d travel miles to meet the person behind this book. I know she doesn’t give empty compliments. It made me feel on top of the world. Another client who has become friend told me “You are always giving to others on all sides of you” which touched me beyond description. I will always remember how these people made me feel, not necessarily in words but in moments in time.

I suppose the reason I’m sharing this in the first place is because once words leave your mouth or are sent in a letter, you can never take them back. That instant feeling the recipient will have, either of elation or hurt will linger and will not be forgotten. It might fade in time, but some trace of that feeling will remain. It’s all in what you give….how you communicate. How do you want others to remember you? How do you want someone else to feel when they read your words or listen to you? Once you ask yourself that question, the answer will, I hope, help you choose accordingly.

Donna Karlin

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Jester's Family....Meeting Face to Face

This past week I was fortunate enough to meet the Saltzmans, who were instrumental in bringing the book about the Jester and Pharley to children and adults everywhere. (See my post from 5/30/2003). We had been corresponding for years but had never met in person. We lived in opposite ends of the continent, the Saltzmans living in L.A. and us in Ottawa.

This is an extraordinary book, called The Jester Has Lost His Jingle, written by their son David. Tirelessly they spread the word about the book, accompanying Jester doll and the story behind its creation to sick children and adults far and wide. It’s been years since my son had his last surgery, but the book and doll keep a prominent place on our bookcase in the family room. Just glancing at them reminds me to keep my sense of humour no matter what challenges have entered my life. And I know my son feels the same way.

Barbara Saltzman shared story after story with me about kids from underprivileged homes, going to hospitals to read this wonderful story to sick children. I sat there enthralled as she shared these anecdotes with me, shivers going up and down my arms as one story turned into the next. Kids with basically nothing, spent their free time and precious pennies to be able to provide a book for a child in the hospital. Children really needing charity, were giving it instead.

And from a story and a doll came literacy and outreach programs, school curriculum supplements, and smile carts all which enrich the lives of children and adults everywhere.

Once in a while I hear a story such as the creation of the Jester and Pharley Phund and it captivates me…leaving me wonder what it is I could do to help, to make a difference. I know what the presence of the book and doll did in our lives as my son went through surgery after surgery. The reminder alone, to keep our sense of humour, was often enough to make the difference between having an overwhelming day and one we could take control of, at least when it came to attitude.

And what’s more important than that? To be able to smile and laugh no matter what is going on in your life is a huge gift. They give us and so many others, this gift every single day.

And as they’ve shared the gift of laughter with us, I wanted to share it with you, along with a story that tugs on your heartstrings and makes you want to reach out and share with someone else.

After all, it’s not what you get in life that makes a difference. It’s what you give.

All the best…
Donna Karlin

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Giving Up The Power to Change

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.” - Dr. Robert Anthony

A wise man told me a long time ago to look at the last two letters of the word blame…’Me’. He also said the only person to blame for the choices you make in your life is yourself and no one else. You can blame others, circumstance, experience and history for everything bad that’s happening or not happening in your life, but what does that ultimately give you, an excuse to continue whatever it is you don’t like? Is it used for an excuse to continue with what isn’t working in your life or a vehicle to change? That is ultimately your choice.

When you do place blame you ultimately give your personal power away to someone else and don’t take responsibility for yourself. And usually (this is what always blows me away) it’s to someone you least respect at that moment in time. Why is that, I wonder? I keep telling myself, if I’m going to give my power away to anyone, at least it should be to someone I respect and admire. That is rarely the case. Besides which, the choices they might make for themselves aren’t necessarily the best ones for me. So I’d just as soon keep that control myself.

In the Johari Window exercise, we talk about our blind spot, or as some people teasingly refer to it as their stubborn spot. For example, when someone tells you “You are SO stubborn” and you spend the next 10 minutes fighting them on that, it takes the focus away from listening to the feedback and using it to see if you want to change. If you get that same feedback from ten people over a course of time, then may I suggest you look at it closely? If you fight them on it……explain every reason in the book why they might be looking at something in the wrong way (their fault, right?) then you will definitely not have the power to change what isn’t working for you. A mild example, I know.

How many times have you argued about what you know to be true of yourself? And how much more powerful would it be if you listened instead? Who’s in control now?

Donna Karlin