Proactive mindset

by Nicole Wong

Dr Alex Cheung, master trainer, Professional Training & Strategy Ltd

Effective communication is grounded in having well-organised ideas, but when things get stressful, our thinking can easily lose focus. In addition, most of us are engaged in some sort of internal struggle between what we want to do and what we have to do, and the frustration this creates can also hamper our self-expression. As an experienced civil engineer who made a successful career change to become a practitioner in behavioural psychology, Dr Alex Cheung, master trainer, Professional Training & Strategy Ltd, is now an expert in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). He provided practical advice on how to adjust the language we use and our mindsets in order to cope with stress and create new solutions.

He pointed out that staying positive is a top priority in difficult situations, but that too few of us realise the power that comes from expressing things positively. Dr Cheung demonstrated how even simple, negative instructions such as "Don't stand still" and "Don't walk away" can easily create confusion, when they are not accompanied by a clear, positive instruction. "When you think 'I don't want to fail', your thoughts are centred on failure, not success," he noted. "To get your message across, simply say 'I need' and ask people to give you what you want."

It is not always easy to respond to the demands of others, but we can always guide them to accept our suggestions by asking the right questions. Dr Cheung referred to the common case of secretaries or personal assistants making a lunch reservation for their boss. They can make the task easier by asking whether a quiet or popular place would be best, and whether it should be nearby. The power of presenting alternatives cannot be underestimated and also shows the ability to solve problems.

"If a customer complains about late delivery of an order and demands a refund, present the problem to your boss by suggesting possible solutions, such as giving a discount or offering a different product," Dr Cheung said. "Your suggestions may not work, but your boss will feel better if there seems to be more than one option." Being able to see things from another perspective is also essential to maintaining a proactive mindset. It enables us to switch focus and reshape our thoughts in testing situations.

"When you can't find the solution to a current problem, it always helps to create a change by adopting new perspectives or making different choices," Dr Cheung said.

  • Stress can cause us to think and express ourselves less clearly
  • In difficult situations, the priority is to remain positive
  • We can guide others by asking questions which include suggestions
  • If we consider alternatives, we also maintain a proactive mindset

  • Taken from Career Times 05 August 2005
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