Self-Awareness Training…I know someone who needs THAT!

looking for shellsWhen I describe what I teach, so many people say that they know someone who needs this training.  I hear stories such as “My co-worker is so awkward that he shared with our boss that he (the co-worker) is lazy and only does the minimum” or “Joe is always yelling – his voice is so loud but he does not realize this at all.”  Not once does someone say to me.  “Self-awareness training? Oh I need that!  Sign me up!”.

Are you a self-proclaimed assessment geek?  Do you love those quizzes on Facebook?  You know the ones…What animal would you be?  Which Disney princess are you? or Which Harry Potter Character best describes you?  I have a wonderful friend and colleague, Tami who states that she has done so many self-assessments.  She truly wishes to know more about herself and how she relates to others.  So, often we are working with rediculous deadlines and feel that we don’t have time to “work on ourselves”.   So many of us wish to find out more about ourselves but the term self-awareness training seems to have negative connotations.  Let me make this term a bit easier with an example of self-awareness done right!

One of my favorite self-awareness models is Ingham and Luft’s Johari Window model diagram.  This 1955 model is an oldie but goodie.  I love to use it working in groups.  But, it is very helpful when beginning a class about self-awareness.  This model has four regions

  1.  The open area – what you know and understand about your self and others know too
  2. The blind area – what other people know about you but you do not know about yourself (Joe in the above example)
  3. The hidden area – what you know and understand about yourself and don’t share with others
  4. The unknown area – what you don’t know about yourself and others don’t know either.

This model is graphically represented as a window with 4 panes.  Imagine a square with a plus sign through it and each of these areas are a pane in the “window”.

When I share this model with individuals in my classes it seems that they never realized how multi-faceted their world is to them.  This model seems entirely self-explainatory until area #4.  I get questions about why this is even in the model if know one knows.  I suggest that you CAN bring out characteristics, strengths, behaviors,  feelings or attitudes.  Can you imagine learning about one of your strengths that you’ve never explored before?  Realizing that you are more empathatic than you ever thought you were – but only around your family.  Suddenly becoming aware that you have a more positive attitude than you thought you did?  These are all “light bulbs” that went off in the heads of participants in a recent class I taught.

Now isn’t that fun?  Learning more about self-awareness models can be a first step to self-awareness training.  It is exciting to learn more about yourself and your colleagues, friends and family.  So I challenge you to listen to others.  Elicit helpful feedback.  Then you will be on your way to discovering more about yourself!  Becoming more self-aware should be a treasure hunt for all of us.

lori photo 10-2015Lori Ann Roth, Ph.D., CPLP, is the president of Learning and…  She is a life-long learner and self-awareness expert who is dedicated to helping individuals learn so that they can be their best selves and work with others.  “Be the best YOU” is one of her favorite sayings.  She is a creative and experienced learning and development professional who has been in the field for over 35 years and loves to help adults learn about facilitating a fun and yet educational experience.  Get this free and fun eLearning training now!  Lori has transformed individuals and teams to be more productive, communicate better and solve problems faster through training, coaching and facilitation.  See more at


#self-awareness   #johariwindow   #training  #learning




The strangest answer ever to the question…What is your greatest strength.?

What are your strengths and weaknesses interview questionMarcus Buckingham said, “Teams that use strengths, massively and consistently out preform teams that don’t use their strengths every day even if you are slightly positively deluded as to what your strengths are – it doesn’t seem to matter” in the video Marcus Buckingham presents the Business Case for Strengths.  This is a great video that discusses great teams not great companies.  According to Buckingham rarely 1 in 10 people feel that their strengths are in play in the workplace.  It is important when interviewing to know your strengths to be productive in your new company.  But, what if you really don’t know how to find your strengths?  I had that happen recently.

While teaching a class on Interview Skills I had a huge range of participant’s age ranges and experience levels.  One 19 year old man, we’ll call him Joel, had never held a job and had absolutely no idea how to interview.  He had no idea that most interviewers ask that fated question, “tell me about your strengths and weakness”.  When we did a role play he was absolutely lost – he joked around because he was feeling incompetent and did not want the group to know that he was lost.

I realized what was happening and listened in as his partner said to him, “Dude, I really care about you.  I want you to get a good job.  Let’s really work on this.”  I was touched and asked Joel what is your greatest strength?  Now I have asked that questions to probably over 100 people in the last 10 years.  He gave the strangest answer I had ever heard.  “My thighs”!  (WHAAAT?)  When I asked if I heard him correctly he said yes. His thighs.  I asked him what was so great about his thighs.  He said he works out every day and he used to be really skinny but now this is his greatest thing about him.  OK…I decided to go with that thought and try to move him closer to an interview scenario. “So, you work out everyday?” I asked, “Even when you don’t feel well?  Even when you have something better to do?”  “Yes”, he said, “everyday”.  Well, you have great discipline!  That is an excellent strength in the workforce.  People know you will come into work on time and do your job with great discipline.

He was shocked that he had discipline.  He thought he was mostly lazy and that is why he never had a job in the past.  He liked to play video games at his parent’s house.  But, now he realized that he had to get a job and was attending this class.  Now, he had to learn to apply his greatest strength to the workforce.  But, that is another story.  So, back to Marcus Buckingham’s quote about being deluded as to what your strengths are.  In fact, Marcus said, “positively diluted as to what your strengths are”.  Well, Joel was diluted when he said, “my thighs”.  If he were the mail deliver in a company and walked (using his thighs) each day would that make his team great?  I am still trying to come to grips with the Buckingham quote.  What has your experience been with people who truly do not know their strengths or have been “positively deluded” as to what their strengths are?  Sure, they can take the assessments – but some do not have the means.  Let me know your experiences.


#strengths   #funny   #Interviewskills

30 Years and NO progress! Or Drifting all alone…

driftingThis is the most difficult blog that I have written because it is so personal and evokes horrible feelings.  It started when Woz, a friend from college, messaged me for some help.  Her daughter, lets call her Karen, was having some problems in the workplace and Woz was a stay at home mom then worked in the family business, an orchard.  Woz has never worked in an office or in Human Resources and she was seeking some real life answers from someone who had lived what her daughter was now living.  So, I suggested that she call me so I can get all of the details.  The rest of the story resulted in a huge realization that after 30 years there has been little change in workforce civility.

Karen was an intern at a utilities company in a Michigan.  She did so well that her boss, Bob, offered her a job after she got her BA degree.  Karen was thrilled that she had a job right after college, different from most of her friends.  Bob told her that she was very intelligent, a go getter, very hard worker and a fast learner.  He was thrilled at how quickly she learned how to create a risk management document for this company.  She worked well with others in the company and collaborated to get the information she needed for the risk management assessment.

Bob retired and she was now supposed to report to Joe.  Karen was not happy to report to Joe because at the company Christmas party last year Joe was drunk and said some very inappropriate sexual comments to her and another female colleague. She was shocked but let it go because she never saw Joe in the workplace.  Now, she had to report to Joe and he had no idea what a risk management assessment was or why it was important.  Joe began to make comments about her being too young to be working at the company and he documented her to HR because he thought she misused a credit card (her old boss Bob approved the purchase – but he was retired) and was 2 minutes late for a meeting.  There were other comments about being fired.   Karen was getting stressed and went to the doctor who recommended drugs for anxiety.  Her new boss told her to write a letter documenting “how sorry she was” for not complying with the policy.

I suggested that Karen go to HR (they call it compliance) and get a champion.  Compliance told her to write a letter documenting that she read the policy (they also said that she did not misuse the policy).  Cut to the chase… she was told to take a “career day” to decided if she wanted to keep working for the company (paid leave – but everyone knew she was being disciplined).  She tried to get in contact with HR but no one would call her back.  She tried to document the sexual harassment, the comments Joe made to her each day threatening to fire her.  When I spoke to Karen she kept commenting, “why can’t he just let me do my work and stop threatening me?”  She felt like she was drifting all alone on the ocean.

In my 30 years in the working world I have been bullied by 4 different people and sexually harassed once.  For most of the jobs I put up with the bullying until I found a new job (which usually took 6 months to a year).  Listening to Karen’s story and hearing the frustration in her voice brought back that anxiety – those horrible feelings of being bullied and feeling unempowered, helpless and lost.  Drifting all alone on the ocean… no one to help me.  All that I wanted to do was to collaborate with people, do my work and help others.  I realized that negative and snide comments by my boss was not helping me do my job.  I needed helpful, supporting comments and resources that only a boss could provide.

Then I realized through supervising highly productive, intelligent people how to get the most from them!  I needed to provide resources that they request, be there to brainstorm or suggest options and to motivate and support them.  I needed to seek out what they were doing right and comment on that action.  Or give them a little treat or a card or email (I was known as santa claus by one group) when I saw them do something particularly wonderful.  I even had a “gold star” that I gave when they did something absolutely amazing that I would have never thought to do.  Literally I would give them a gold star sticker.  Those gold stars were only given out about 1 time every 3 months to someone.  People like Karen and other highly productive, intelligent employees do not need to be micromanaged.  They need support.

How do we give our managers that education?  How do we let them know that positive reinforcement is so much more effective than negative?  Sure, there are a million management programs out there – but why do some people NOT get the message?  I really did think that the workforce has become more positive in the last 30 years.  But, I am naive.  There are still those people out there who were bullies in school and that worked for them  – so they continue that behavior in the workforce.  I have worked with Dr. Laura Crawshaw the boss whisperer and Dr. Gary Namie Workplace Bully institute who are making progress one day at a time.  But this is still a huge problem in our workplaces.  There is only so much emotional intelligence and strengths training can do to help us deal with this harassment.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions.  I will look forward to your comments.





#civility  #bullying  #humanresources #emotionalintelligence #strengths

Best friend at work – is this good or bad or generational?

best-friend-at-workI was teaching a class today and this item came up in conversation.  Does having a “best” friend at work increase productivity?  Gallup’s research says “yes” – Having a best friend at work means workers are more likely to report that they are recognized, listened to and encouraged (I am paraphrasing).  But…my class was against having a best friend at work saying that they would socialize too much, take too many breaks and not get as much work done.  If their best friend did not work with them they could concentrate more.

Being intrigued, I did a bit of research.  After a while, Gallup changed the word “best” to “good” making it a different question because audiences were having a tough time with the word “best”.  Gallup article.  The question did not produce the same results.  It seems that having a “best”  – not just “good” friend at work produces more productive teams.  So, having a best friend creates the best workgroups (highly productive vs mediocre).

Next, I realized that most of these participants in the training today were either older Gen X or younger baby boomers.  People from about 40 – 58.  My train of thought went to Generations…are they different?  Maybe Gen Y and Z love the best friend but the earlier Generations were not too sure about this “fact”Forbes article.   I am a younger boomer – on the cusp of X (if you will) and I thought about having a best friend at work.  I agreed with my class that on days that I was not focused, it would seem easy to hang out and discuss all kinds of topics with my “best” friend.  However, if my “best friend” (and here I am thinking of my actual “bestie” Carol) were on my workgroup team and we were competing for the award of the most highly productive team (stay with me on this)… we would do great.

My best friend and I would be great together in a work group.  This is not big news but, Carol and I can read each other’s thoughts; I bet you can say the same about your “best” friend.   If we have a disagreement, we have navigated that path before and know how to compromise, compete, accommodate or any of the other Thomas-Kilman Model dimensions.  Been there – done that – we can communicate faster than with just anyone on any team.  We can encourage each other and call into memory a time when we did something great.  We know each other’s strengths.  We also have that dimension of Trust.  And as we know The Speed of Trust is real.  The more you trust the faster the interaction (or communication) will be – and with good results.

My class still did not agree with the research.  What do you think?



Originally published at

#bestfriendatwork #Gallup  #Strengths   #conflict


Five skills and attitudes Technical Professionals should invest in for the Future

keyboardjpgYears ago I worked for a SAN software (and hardware) Engineering company.  I taught SAN software engineers how to rack and stack the equipment, how to configure a switch and other equipment such as storage arrays and blade servers during a 5 day class. I also taught a 2 day class called “Consulting 101”.  In this class the engineers would learn how to talk to the client, how to escalate a situation that they could not handle and practice various situations through role plays.    One of the engineers stated in a very frustrated voice, “I’d rather take a month of technical classes than a day of this people stuff!”  All of the other engineers agreed with him.  WOW!!!  I had no idea that these “soft skills” were so difficult to learn.

I ran across an article by Lei Han Soft Skills List – 28 Skills to Working Smart that defined and listed soft skills that we all need in the work environment.  He grouped these skills into four groups that we all need in our work life.  These skills and attitudes mirrored Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence model and the 15 factors in EQ-i Bar-On model.  The 15 factors of the Bar-On model – – Reuven Bar-On .  I added the last group – gratitude attitude because I think this is lacking in most organizations.  It is a skill/attitude that we can learn and develop; it can make a true difference in our lives and the lives of our colleagues.

  1.  The ability for Self-Management.  We all know those people who “lose it” in the workplace.  Sure, all of us have our breaking points but usually we can manage our anger, behavior and emotions.  Being aware of and able to identify feelings is the first step to perceive and accept ourselves.  Knowing our strengths, personality and preferences helps us to get along with others in the workplace.
  2. People Skills include Communication Skills and the ability to get along with a team.  This is critical in any work environment but tech environments seem to be more team oriented these days.  Gone are the days when one person was in charge of all of the IT in a company.  Now there are customer service support teams, help-desk teams, server teams and teams to trouble shoot.  Leadership is also included in this area of people skills.
  3. Work Attitude is the willingness to learn and loyalty to the organization.  We all know people with great attitudes at work.  We want to work with them, to talk to them when we are having a rough day and wish we had their attitude.  These are the people who are not Polly-Ana and dream of rainbows and unicorns but realistically optimistic and helpful.
  4. Professional Attitude includes what we expect from people in the workforce each day.  Dressing professionally (for the work environment), getting to work and meetings on time, common courtesy.  Not, people who think that the workplace is an extension of their (dysfunctional) family where they are the “boss” and can do whatever they desire.
  5. Gratitude Attitude is the ability to appreciate all people in your workplace.  To appreciate your job, team, boss and organization.  This is not the rewards and formal recognition program that many organizations boast about but the ability of each person to sincerely look out for the other.  To help, support, encourage, uplift and inspire others.

This is a great list for technical professional who wish to advance in their careers.  Having the proper soft skills and attitudes can lead to leadership opportunities, leading a team or department.  It can also work for non-techs as well. I try to develop these skills and attitudes as I work with different groups and teams.  Not only for them but for myself.  So, instead of learning the next new tech app today, try on a new attitude or soft skill!



Originally published at

#softskills #tech  #Peopleskills   #emotionalintelligence



Are you a Motivational Listener?

motivational-listener“I need to keep my mouth shut”, Debbie said as we were discussing talking to people of all nationalities and backgrounds on our trip to Cuba.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Debbie is one of the most nurturing, generous, loving and caring people that I know (and I know a LOT of caring people).  “I just get myself in trouble.  For example, I asked one lady about her husband and he recently died.  I felt awful”,  Debbie explained.

Our tour guide, Jorge, talked non-stop for four hours about Cuba and their culture.  On the four hour trip back from Havana, he asked us questions.  Leslie and I were in the front seats of the bus and I was listening as he asked her, “I hear that American doctors are so rich that they never touch their patients”.  I realized that people in Cuba have a strange idea of what an “American” is – they may see some TV shows (although they need to buy “the package” in order to watch – Internet is not available).  Leslie listened to his entire question and answered in a most interesting fashion… she said that this was not her experience but possibly other people have had doctors like that.  she went on to describe her experiences with doctors.  As I listened to their conversation I realized that Leslie listened to his question then gave him both sides of the answer.  One from her point of view and one from an opposite view.  She is very diplomatic.  I learned a lot from listening to them talk about America and his perception of Americans.

Then Jorge asked me, “I hear that Americans don’t know their neighbors”.  I decided to not just be diplomatic but use what my colleague, Rick Holt, calls “Motivational Listening”.  This is where you ask questions to get people to talk and open up about themselves.  He believes that we learn more by listening than talking (I’ve heard that there is a reason we have one mouth and two ears).  So, I asked Jorge.  “Do the people in Cuba know their neighbors?”  He explained that each community is VERY close and everyone helps each other.  When you don’t get your ration of  eggs from the “notebook” because all of the bakeries got them – your neighbor will loan you eggs.  He says that most people do not travel much or leave their place of birth unless your job is in another city.  But, most people and their children stay in the province of their birth.  Hmmmm.  Interesting.  I listened and now I could answer his question with more detail – understanding his perspective and what type of answer he was seeking.  “More Americans are moving  around now for jobs or military than in the last 50 years.”  I told him where I had lived in the last 25 years (Michigan, Maryland, DC, Virginia, Texas and now Florida).  “I have always known my neighbors and if I run out of eggs or milk I can also go to my neighbor and borrow something instead of going to the store.”  I told him that each neighborhood is different and that it just depends on the people but in my experience I have always known my neighbors.

Instead of putting my foot in my mouth and just blurting out my perspective, I realized that it was important to practice Motivational Listening when interacting with Jorge.  This is tough for me, because like Debbie, I am such an extravert that I love to blurt out my opinion and ideas per my perspective!   I’ve learned much from Rick on the topic of Motivational Listening.  I learned that instead of asking “about your husband”.  I ask “Please tell me about your family”  – asking more broad questions instead of such direct questions seems to help.

Jorge and I are now Facebook friends and I have received a few emails from him in the last week.  I am trying to practice motivational listening via email – and FB.  I’ll try to see his perspective and ask the correct questions – broad and open-ended.   I sincerely think it helps with my Cuba – American relationships.  Try some Motivational Listening today.  It may surprise you that if you change your questions – then listen, you will notice people open up, express themselves, and feel comfortable with your conversations.



Dream Big and Choose Joy!

choose-joyHappy New Year 2017!  It seems that everyone that I talk to is so excited and looking forward to a new start this year.  2016 was challenging for most of us.  My year was particularlly difficult because I set my goals high and I had some major challenges and setbacks.  Looking back on my journal from January 2016 I set many goals – as I do each year.  I would like to share them with you because I feel that I am just starting to realize that I CAN create the life that I wish to live.

These are not in any particular order

  • sell house in Virginia
  • buy house in Florida (see details of exact house in dream book)
  • move by July
  • create own business
  • get 3 clients by Sept 30
  • speak at conference in LA
  • speak at ICE
  • celebrate July 4th at Moose Lodge in Anna Maria Island with Angel
  • join a Toastmasters club in Florida

As you can see, this is a very aggressive set of goals for one year.  I had been in the VA house for over 18 years, at my job for over 10 years.  I was comfortable but I was not living my dream.  I had planned to move to Florida, I had dreamed of moving and changing my life – Dreaming and Planning are not doing.

I am not some special person who can make her goals and dreams come true all of the time.  I put a lot of effort into my dreams and plans.  I made smaller goals, I visualized,  I planned to make things happen by a certain date.  Sure, some took longer than I had planned, sure, I had setbacks but I was persistent.  I am now beginning to realize that I CAN create the life that I have always dreamed about.  If I can do all of these things in one year – just think of all of the things that you can do in one year.  My wish to you is to dream big.  Go for that life of your dreams!  And above all else – Choose Joy!  Best to you in 2017!


Happy Holidays – be joyful

happy-holidays-to-all-from_learning-and-reflective-growth-2Learning and Reflective Growth is not just the name for my company, it is my passion.  My number one strength according to Gallup’s Strengthsfinder (C) is Learner.    My wonderful business coach suggested that I put pictures on my blog – people are visual.  My first thought was that I did not have time to create pictures with captions.  I did not wish to learn something that would eat up my precious time.  I actually told her that I feel it would be a “time suck”.

As usual, I listened to her advice and now I am getting pretty good creating pictures with captions for my blog.  In fact, I decided that I would use my own pictures and my own captions from now on.  I create an original quote everyday as a discipline.  Being creative makes me happy, it gives me such  joy!  As I create these pictures with captions I realized that I am not too bad of a photographer.  I now have a reason to use my own quotes that I have been putting in a book for posterity.

I wish you Happy Holidays and challenge you to do something that is your strength.  Using your strength will bring you joy!  I promise.  Be joyful this holiday season.  Best!





Outrageous Abundance

outrageousabundanceYes, self-development is my “thing”.  As I was researching “Mission in Life”, “what is your purpose in life” and other such topics I happened upon a daily quote application from Ester and Jerry Hicks (Abraham).  I’ve read a lot of their books and materials so I opted in.  Little did I know one of these quotes would change my attitude and vision for the future.  The quote mentioned the concept of “outrageous abundance”.

This is what I would like out of life!  I want outrageous abundance.  But, what does it look like to me?  I was hoping that it means: many friends, perfect health, prosperity, much wisdom, the most I can get out of life.  I meditated I focused on outrageous abundance for the last two weeks.  I was not sure how to visualize this concept.  I was a bit stumped but just kept saying the words in hope for clarity.

As I walked on the beach yesterday morning I was thinking about outrageous abundance -then I saw it.  YES!!!  I saw outrageous abundance.  I noticed that that particular day there were piles of shells scattered around the surf.  As I walked I saw shells sparkle up at me.  I bent down and saw what I call the pointy cone shell (I am sure it has a very scientific name but this is my wording).  I love these shells and began to collect them as I walked.  By the time I had walked a mile I had many of these shells in my hand.  I realized that there were so many shells on the beach…it was outrageous how many shells had washed up that night.   I started to connect the dots.  How much water was in the Gulf of Mexico?  Yes, an outrageous amount of water.  How much sand was on the beach.  You guessed it…

I experienced outrageous abundance during that walk.  I saw it with my own eyes.  I can now picture and visualize so much of something that now my meditation and visualization has become so much easier.  For my friends in the north and midwest I challenge you to take a walk in the snow and experience your outrageous abundance (just bundle up).  Sometimes if you think about something and have it in your mind the thoughts, concepts or ideas will become clearer.  Here’s to clearer thoughts for you this holiday season!

I almost died surfing on South Beach or how emotional intelligence can save your life

i-almost-died-on-south-beachorhow-emotional-intelligence-cansave-your-lifeI was teaching a class on Emotional Intelligence to a group of men who were various ages.  The Amygdala hijack and the pause between stimulus and response (Viktor Frankel) were the topics of the moment.  Mike, about 25, was quietly listening in the back of the room when he suddenly burst out of his seat leaning forward almost standing.  “That is exactly what happened to me  – I totally get it” He had so much passion and energy as he told his story to the entire class.

The wave demolished me as I was surfing on South Beach.  It pulled me down, down.  I got caught in the current – rip tide – rocks.  I felt stuck.  I panicked.  I couldn’t breathe.  The current was all around me pulling me, pushing me.  This was the closest to death I had ever been in my life.  Then everything suddenly went into slow motion.  I slowed down – totally – got my head straight.  I knew that I needed to let go and let the current take me – let it pull me out.  Then I had to swim diagonally with the shore to get out of the rip tide.  I made it to the shore.

He then explained that he started meditating about two years ago because of his anger management issues.  He learned how to calm down when he felt his body get tense, hot and angry.  Mike had never heard of the Amygdala hijack – when the emotional part of the brain takes over the prefrontal cortex (the logical part of the brain).  As we were discussing  the emotional intelligence concepts in class his near death experience suddenly came flashing back to him.  This time he now understood what had happened.  He realized that his meditation and training his brain and body to relax had saved his life.

Yes, research shows that for humans there is a pause between stimulus and response.  That pause is usually only lasts for a second – but as Mike described- that second can go into slow motion and feels longer.  We can train our brain to control our bodies to relax so we can think more logically without the clogging of emotion.  I am not saying that meditating can save your life one day.  But, Mike sure did.