Sunday, August 25, 2013

How to Avoid the Diva-Doormat Syndrome

It is very human that we swing from extremes in behaviors as we attempt to develop new and healthier habits. No where else is this more evident than in the "Diva-Doormat Syndrome" where as women who are owning their power more, both personally and professionally, can flip-flop between Diva Mode; being very demanding and self-righteous when expressing their needs, to Doormat Syndrome; being wishy washy about their needs and overly apologetic.

What do you do while you're trying to strike the happy balance of being able to communicate your needs with grace and elegance, and assertiveness?

Try these four top tips:

1) Become crystal clear with what your needs are- Get support to know what your top and bottom line needs are in any situation. For example, if your co-worker is finishing your sentences for you and it's really annoying you, you can just breathe, look them in the eye and nicely say, "I would really appreciate it if you'd let me finish, and then I'm happy to hear your thoughts." Often we squelch our feelings and then it comes out sideways.

2) Untrigger Regularly- Sometimes we are just too angry to say anything, or even speechless. Take a break and excuse yourself. Go to the Ladies Room and use gestures and even silent screams to vent your frustration. Take some deep breaths and ask yourself, "What do I need to do right now to take care of myself?" and in time, you'll get the answers.

3) Script the more difficult conversation starters- Just as an actor must memorize their lines in order to inhabit a new role, so do we, as women need to have some key phrases or sentence stems in our back pocket, for these specific purposes. While you may want to blast the person or just hide out, simple phrases like, "I'm curious and I'm hoping you can clarify something for me," and let them know where you feel the disconnect in the communication. Or another key phrase is, "When you did (fill in the blanks), I felt or took that to mean, (fill in the blanks)," and let there be silence. Most of the time when people hurt your feelings they have no idea. A gentle nudge that their behavior has impacted you is a great gift to them, as well as advocating for yourself.

4) Celebrate your victories and give up perfection- Reaching this gentle balance takes time and won't happen overnight. Celebrate every victory you have and brainstorm the ones that don't work out so well, to evaluate how you'll do it differently next time.

Lois Barth
Motivational Speaker

Saturday, July 6, 2013

5 Tips to Keep Your Communication in Tip Top Shape

It's very easy with the hustle bustle of most businesses to let all sorts of "pink elephants" (issues that have gone unaddressed) enter the room and camp out forever. When communication falls by the wayside, so does any form of real trust, team efforts, and ultimately morale.

Being a professional seminar speaker, I believe when you implement these five very simple (not easy) powerful principles, then the very foundational aspects of building a strong morale, seem to fall into place.

1) It Starts from the Top Down - Key elements of leadership are important in building a positive productive work culture. It's essential that leaders must live according to the principles and rules they ascribe to.

So if the CEO says, "We are a transparent culture," than they too, need to follow it in their own life. It doesn't have to look like a 2 hour download sharing their Social Security number
and intimate financial information to the employees, but rather finding ways to be transparent, in small, but powerful ways.

A simple, "How was your weekend?" to an employee and really listening to the answer, and sharing something personal but appropriate with them, such as "Our daughter got into Leigh University, and we were both relieved and grateful, since the competition is so steep." A simple statement like that, sends a message of challenge, victory and also vulnerability, which allows the people who work for the CEO to start seeing them in a more human accessible way.

2) Save as Draft - One of the most important part of communicating is knowing when to and when not to. When you find yourself triggered by someone's behavior, feeling the need to defend yourself, or mildly distracted or overwhelmed, write down everything you want to say in an e-mail and then hit those three magical words "Save as Draft." Buy yourself the gift of time and a renewed perspective. Often
when we go back even 20 minutes later, we can see, what we want to say, with a fresh perspective.

3) Get Curious versus Critical - It's very easy when someone says or does something that bothers you, you either ignore it, or you go out of your way to get the last word in, which ultimately, is a mistake. Do whatever you can do to release the upset (journaling, talking to a trusted friend, etc.) clarify what you need and go to the person, first, to understand what prompted the response and then share what you need around it. It's a good tip from my Life Coaching programs.

For example, if you ask someone 4 times for the same document and they keep saying "Yes," and then don't, you can easily say, "I'm curious, we spoke several times about you sending me the X document, but it still has not been delivered, can you explain what's holding it up, and how do we move forward on getting it handled?"

4) Mirror Back - Just so that there's no confusion, it's always a best practice to reflect back what the person has said and have them "sign off" on it. Sentence stems like, "If I heard you right…." "Did I get that right?" "Is there more?" let's them know that you're listening and interested in addressing their thoughts and concerns.

5) Establish Next Steps - One of the biggest challenges about meetings is that people think of them as big waste of time. One of the reasons for that is there is no system for accountability and implementation. After the myriad of topics that have been covered get addressed, make sure that there's a round-up where everyone says what they are taking on, and attach a date for the deliverable. This takes the guess work out of whether the task will get handled.

Integrate these five actions and all those "pink elephants" can go back to the "Communication Breakdown Zoo."

About the Author

Lois Barth is a Motivational Speaker, Coach and Trainer who support groups and individuals in thriving both personally and professionally, but helping them clarify their goals, navigate change, communicate better and stress less and lighten up.

Visit her website at:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Have You Addressed Your Inner Saboteur?

After months of the 3 P's; persistence, polite and purposeful follow-up, you finally landed that coveted meeting with your ideal client that if you get the account, will make a great difference to your income, self-esteem and career trajectory.

You're a pro! You know what you need to do to prepare powerfully for your meeting. You know the basics, a good night's sleep, allowing enough time for transportation, a decent breakfast, and really reviewing your materials thoroughly, and clarifying your outcomes and desired results. Heck, you can write a book about it!

The next morning arrives, and you're all flummoxed. The alarm clock didn't go off (you forgot to check the a.m./p.m. button when you set it), your great charcoal slacks had a stain on it from who knows where, and the traffic is so bad; you are hoping to get there in time for the closing statements and handshakes. You are filled with frustration, shame, impatience and anger- mostly at yourself.

Your reputation to not only your clients but your colleagues is in jeopardy. How could you let this happen? You planned it all out. Guess What? So did your Inner Saboteur!

We hear a lot about sabotage in the workplace, or in our personal relationships, and while that's real and important, we really don't spend enough time to unpack the intricacies of our Inner Saboteur who's more in the driver's seat then we may realize. Perhaps we can fluctuate between excessive naval gazing and paralysis-analysis when it comes to exploring, why, when how, but we rarely make any headway in terms of dislodging that all-to-prevalent-hard-wiring that consistently undermines our efforts to move forward. 

No worries, there are some ways out! Here are five principles from my life coaching experiences that if you integrate into your life, will allow you to get to know your Inner Saboteur, but also let go of the negative and undermining pattern it has in your life.

1) Tell the Truth

Don't beat yourself up, but don't lie to yourself either, instead get real with the impact it has in your life. The truth will set you free. It will just irritate the hell out of you in the meantime. Let it do just that, so you can get real with both the general and nuanced ways it impacts your life. Write a truth list and get specific!

2) Move From Criticism to Curiosity

When we start to look at patterns in our life, people either go into beat up or denial, as stated above, never productive, and it keeps us further away from our goal. But when we adopt the spirit and curiosity of a child, "curious" of the pattern, from a fresh perspective, like the first time a child sees a new person or animal they've never seen before, they are infinitely fascinated by it, then you are in a place of openness and creativity imagination and most of all healing can start to take place. 

Even looking at your patterns and say, "I'm curious as to why I need to go to bed so late when day after day I know it leaves me exhausted and not on top of my game!" It starts to soften it a bit.

3) Give Language to Your Inner Saboteur

Recently, when I worked with my spiritual mentor to break the pattern around sabotage as it spoke to my self-care (running late, not enough sleep, eating on the run, and not exercising enough), Randy said, "Say I love to rebel." I looked at him cross-eyed because "consciously" I was very distraught by the behavior my Inner Rebel drove me to, so to think I liked even loved them, totally confronted me.

He went on to explain that since the pattern continues and produces unwanted results, it is unconscious versus conscience. I soon realized he was right, and decided to get to know this rebel by giving that part of me its voice.

Later that night, I was tired and really wanted an ice cream even though it's not good for my health or weight-loss goals, but instead of resisting or simply observing the impulse, I started stomping along the streets of NY (it was late, thankfully no one was on the street) and with fists in the air, started proclaiming, "I want ice cream. I want ice cream now. I want ice cream. I want ice cream now." It was actually magical.

As soon as I gave that part of me a voice, and the permission to rebel, and put it in my body, I no longer needed to eat the ice cream. A simple stamping of your foot and saying, "No!" or placing an imaginary person against a wall and saying, "I won't, and you can't make me," will open up the dialogue and move your behavior from unconscious to conscience.

4) Honor the Payoff You are Getting from Your Inner Saboteur

Even if that payoff  is outdated, we always get a payoff for every behavior we do. If you grew up in a toxic and emotional mine field family, the need to stay safe was a really smart thing to do for your survival. The problem was the only option to you at the time was to not express any needs and stay under the radar.

But guess what? You're 35 accomplished and have big dreams, and you're still fighting against the impulse that feels hard-wired into your survival to stay safe by not expressing your needs or fully going for your dreams, which is totally counter-productive because you are more interested in thriving than surviving. The need for safety will most likely always be there, so up-level that need for safety by creating advocates in your organizations, or a spiritual ritual that can ground you and connect you into your inner guidance.

5) Get Support and Be Patient

Patterns didn't evolve over night, and they won't be overridden that way either. Build a support team, whether it's a coach, a therapist, a support group or a team to really move your vision forward. Be transparent with them with where you are at, so they can support you in moving towards your goals and dreams. The brain is a living breathing organism, and like roads on the highway, we can build new tributaries of positive messaging and outcomes in our lives if we just stay the course.

Lois Barth is a Speaker, Coach and Motivational Expert, who works with groups and individuals to support them in thriving both personally and professionally. She is a regularly quoted expert in The Wall Street Journal, SELF, FITNESS, Weight Watchers and over a dozen national publications. She is a regular guest as the "Stress Less…Thrive More Lady" on CT Style TV(ABC Affiliate). Visit her website at

Monday, April 22, 2013

What is Spiritual Clutter and What to do About it?

We talk a lot in our culture about physical clutter and the impact on well-being when one’s environment is cluttered, but we don’t talk enough about the impact of Spiritual Clutter. What is it and how does it affect us? 

I think of Spiritual Clutter as any person, place or thing, behavior or mind-set that separates us from our spiritual connection. It could be going it alone, feeling the whole world is on your shoulders and it’s not OK to ask for support, or feeling you have to muscle your way through life, and there’s no benevolent force working with you. 

It’s so many things to so many people, but whatever it is, it certainly doesn’t prove helpful is one looking to move forward in life.

The good news is that there are things one can do to both identify it and overcome the systemic issue that most people suffer with as it speaks to Spiritual Clutter. 

Here are a few tips that can make a difference in FITBLOG (Sears) by reading an article called Spring Cleaning Your Spirit, which is a wonderful piece on the importance on decluttering effecting not just physical but spiritual clutter.

I hope you enjoy it!

Lois Barth

Monday, April 8, 2013

Talk To Strangers To Get Out Of A Rut

Want to get out of a rut? Start talking to strangers, you never know what can happen.

I grew up with a mother who, within 5 minutes of going anywhere, would create bonds with all those around her. As a child, I found it incredibly annoying that I couldn't leave a grocery store without the group hug between butcher, baker and cashier. It was years later, that I realized what an incredible lesson she provided for me, that I now integrate into my life (with far greater moderation) and that really allows me to feel connected to the world around me.

I've gotten numerous perks from talking to strangers to having a great gym buddy and friend, learning about the history of typesetting and why comic sans is a design disaster if you want to take yourself seriously, the history of Maltese and the aristocracy, to a beautiful moment of prayer with a Christian woman who I bonded with when I found a pile of brand-new storage bins on the streets of New York, and she asked if she could possibly share the wealth. On a business level, I've also gotten business speaking engagements, clients, referrals and met new friends that are now in my life, simply by being open and initiating a contact with a so-called "perfect stranger."

These strategies, by the way, are also wonderful in networking situations as well, for those times you feel a tad reserved or find talking to strangers daunting.

1. Wake up and pay attention to your environment - Maybe someone on a bus or grocery line has an interesting pin, hat or accent. Be interested and then act interested. One woman in an elevator had sparkled Vera Wang flats that I commented on, which ended up leading to a relationship with an association that I had several speaking engagements with. Years ago by joking with a person in an elevator, I ended up getting a commercial audition a week later. While you don't want to go into these encounters with an agenda to get anything, it's a nice perk when it happens.

2. Don't be afraid to ask someone a question or ask their opinion - People may at first be taken a little bit aback, but ultimately, as long as they are not in a hurry or in some form of upset, are complimented that you want their opinion on something. One of my most tender moments with a stranger, started by her asking for directions to a certain gate, where we found out we were going to the same place, and I escorted her there. It lead to a heartfelt conversation about her losing her husband suddenly and hoping a certain retreat may allow her to heal. While we never stayed in touch, I came away with a tremendous gratitude for my partner, Charlie, and the fulfillment of having supported another human being that day.

3. Eye Contact and a simple "How are you?" is all that you need - I heard it said, "We have never been so disconnected in a connected world." People crave contact, depending upon the person and the situation. A client of mine loves to go into elevators and look people in the eye, say "How are You?" and ask them what floors they want to go to, and simply press the buttons herself. While some people are texting and uninterested in connecting, there are often one or two, who will look her back in the eye, with warmth, "Thank you." A stilted disconnected elevator ride transforms into a shared moment.

4. Share an observation with a stranger- While the weather is a common ice breaker, see if you can be more creative with someone. If they're reading a book and the title looks interested and they don't look like they would mind an interruption, and you've read that book, share one thing you got out of that book, and what they're enjoying about it. If they answer with one word responses, then it's clear they don't want to engage, and just move on.

5. Enjoy the process of leaving the same ol' same ol' and getting to meet new people- While you may never find your BFF, Soul Mate, or your next best biz transaction, there is something so rejuvenating by expanding the world you're in by talking with strangers. You'll find that this renewed energy and connections while not only enhance your personal life but professional one as well.

Lois Barth
Seminar Speaker

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

5 Winning Ways To Make A Good First Impression by Lois Barth

The expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is seen as a cliché, and it’s absolutely true. Study after study shows that people make their impressions about you within the first three seconds. What are you doing to make it a good one?

Here are Five Winning Strategies to do that:

1. Lead with Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is contagious, end of story. In a world where people are largely flattened because they are overwhelmed and stressed, just having a natural easy going vibrancy towards life, meeting them, and being there is seen as refreshing and a pleasure to be around. This is not about adopting a personality transplant; it’s just about connecting with your own enthusiasm about life, a particular project, or best yet, the possibility to meet another person.

2. Match Their Tone Levels and Style of Communication

That being said, while it’s important to bring your own spirit of enthusiasm to all situations, you need to match people’s tone levels and style of communication. One of the gifts of being a stand-up comic for several years was getting to witness truly brilliant comics meet the tone levels of their audiences. They may have had very sophisticated humor but when they did a spot at the local comedy club or even performing on the road to a new audience, they made sure to study the audience's overall temperament, sensibility and communication style.

From there, they’d meet the audience from their comfort zone and quickly move up the scale, where within 5-6 minutes they were doing their material, and they audience was happy to come for the ride. If they would have blasted the audience with a total different sensibility unless they were a star or familiar comic, the audience would have backed off. It’s the same with meeting people. Notice their word choices, body language and overall sensibilities and initially match them, so they feel comfortable and can relate to you. It’s not about pretending to be someone you’re not; it’s just about creating a rapport so they are comfortable with you.

3. Be Interested vs. Interesting

One point I am always mentioning in my NYC Life Coaching Sessions is the biggest trap we make with first impressions, business or personal, is trying to win the person over, by trying to impress, dazzle, and show your expertise, when in fact, a simple act of being interested in what they are up to, their experiences, and most of all their needs is the best approach. Even in job interviews, if you are interested in the company, the goals and the mission of the organization, and how that job can support those goals, that’s far more impressive, than trying to “win them over.” It’s not bringing in the WIIFT, “what’s in it for them,” factor. Remember it’s all about them first, then it can be about you later.

4. Do Some Research So You Can Be In Their World

So many times we are so nervous meeting someone that we focus on ourselves rather than being in the person we meet's world. Do research, now with the internet it’s so easy. Google them, look at their profile on Linked In, you’ll soon find lots more common ground. Check out organizations ahead of time and speak to the interesting program they have. Maybe your Alma Maters are the same.  Perhaps you both liked an article, and that can be a wonderful catalyst to have a really interesting thought-provoking conversation that can bypass the same ol’ same ol’.

One client decided to make dating an opportunity to get to know people rather than focus on a second date or her having to meet the man of her dreams. She was on a date, and launched in playfully with, “Wow, I noticed you mentioned on your profile that while you’re a registered Democrat you also voted for (fill in the blanks) who was a Republican. Do you think that’s more of a trend going on, with people being more of a centrist than aligning with a pure party?" 

He literally dropped his fork, his jaw flew open and said playfully, “I think I need to marry you yesterday, this is the first interesting question I’ve had on a date in the last year. Thank you, you renewed my faith that it may be possible to find a woman who I’m attracted to and can have an intelligent conversation with.” While it didn’t end up being a match, her paying attention to the small details opened the conversation for a far more richer connection, where they immediately shared on a deeper (still appropriate) level and came away enjoying the daunting experience of a blind date.

5. Have Fun

If you are having fun and just enjoying the experience of meeting another person, you’ll convey that spirit of ease and comfort to the next person. If you’re less interested in impressing and more interested in entering the person’s world and providing value, your natural charm and vibrancy towards life will emerge on its own.

Lois Barth

Lois is a Professional Speaker, NYC Life Coach and Motivational Expert supports individuals and groups to see their daily life lessons as their greatest curriculum for thriving both personally and professionally.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NYC Seminar Speaker Lois Barth: Is Your Business An Evergreen?

While my classrooms of life include reading books, having thought-provoking conversations and seminars and workshops, perhaps my greatest teacher is the one that's right in front of me; nature. I walk down the country road near more 100-year-old farmhouses, and today's lesson presents itself beautifully; the metaphor of the evergreen. 

Among the plethora of trees that have lost their leaves in the dead of winter, I see cluster after cluster of evergreens, the pines, the cypress and many others, with all their colors rich and their various needles intact.

The evergreens catch my attention because it brings me back to the metaphor of my business, and my work. That while there are different sales cycles to one's business and outside circumstances, just as the seasons are a natural part of life, how will I take these same principles in having a flourishing seminar speaking business, and how I will support my clients and groups as well in doing the same?

Here are some of the principles see for myself and my clients that really make a difference.

Is my business still relevant with the needs of my client?

While it's very important to always do what lights you up and inspires you, you must always "marry" it with what the growing needs are with your current clients and the clients you want to attract.

Are my offerings in line with the changes going on in the world?

Are you noticing the trends or themes that are emerging in the world around you and are you creating services that actively meet those needs? Keeping current isn't always about having top notch technology or knowing every little nuance that's emerging in pop culture, but rather looking at the "collective society cry" based on the shift that you notice. 

For example, we are in informational overload, so yet another information product based on consuming more information, may be a ho-hum more of the same, but a product on how to manage, sift through information, or relaxation tools to get back on track with people's instincts and ability to enjoy life.

Am I still "on fire" with what I provide to my clients or ideal audience, and if not how will I get my mojo back?

Often what inspired us 5 months or 5 years ago about our businesses is no longer resonant or exciting to us, and whether it's a product or service, it's just a matter of time before it trickles down into our work or target market interest. 

  • What are you planning to do about that? 
  • Perhaps it's changing the market you address to one that speaks to your heart more? 
 Maybe it's making a small adjustment in your offering, or simply addressing your own burnout and taking a break for a bit. Maybe you need to fire yourself from things that are not worth your time. Whatever it is, you must look the dragon square in the jaw and assess where the challenges or disconnects are.

Are you evaluating where you are going in your own life, and how your business either supports or doesn't support that?

We can get myopic and think of our life as something separate from our business, when in fact, it's all the same. What shows up in our business, affects our life, and visa versa. Now more than ever, the lines are blurred into one. One of the things to look at is what holds meaning to you in your life, and how does or doesn't your business support that. 

Perhaps quality of life and free time are more important than ever, and the avalanche of business is now landing as a burden more than a blessing. Maybe your lust for travel is screaming at you to create a more mobile business model, or the huge overhead of running your business would be better served by having employees working virtually, rather than in the office. The separation between work and personal is now invisible. As a NYC Life Coach, I always say: "The more you can really clarify what's important and what's not, the more you can keep your work relevant and as a result, keep your "needles" intact."

Do you have any structures in place for the changing circumstances around you?

Now that you see the trends changing, are you looking for the silver lining in those changes that can keep your business current? One example is in the speaking industry, more and more presenters are doing virtual telesemminars. 

Another client had a pet business including grooming and food delivery and started to notice that people were so busy, that they created a pet concierge business, to also include transporting their animals to the vet, and look after them the first few hours after the visit, which became a very lucrative part of their business.

Look to nature to give you the answers. The nature of who you are and how you work, but also our blessed creatures and living organisms like the Evergreen, to inform us of our everyday wisdom.

Lois Barth

Speaker, Coach and Motivational Expert