October 2015
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.

 Breaking Through Barriers
The human psyche is almost infinitely complex, made up of layers upon layers of thoughts, experiences, emotions, fears, loves, and goals. Those who seek to find the true essence of being or to move past a fear find that there are many intermediate steps along the way. When we first look inward, we look at ourselves as a whole, when in fact we are only seeing the surface. Like an onion, if we move past the surface, we will find another layer. Moving past that, we find yet another layer. These layers are barriers and everyone has them. You may work past one fear only to be confronted with a deeper, underlying fear. Or you may fully assimilate a revelation only to find other aspects of that revelation that you had not discovered. How many layers you will confront before finding a resolution is unknown. This is the journey, this is life.

But the journey to the center of the onion - what they called sunyata in Sanskrit or mu in Chinese - can be an enlightening experience in and of itself. As you break through each barrier, you gain a more profound understanding of your own mind and come to learn the unique facets that make up who you are. You will become intimately acquainted with your needs and wants, reactions, aversions, pleasures, and pains. You will discover qualities within yourself that have been buried by the years or by old hurts. This knowledge is cumulative. As you break through one barrier and confront the next, oftentimes more powerful, barrier, you will be equipped with the knowledge of self that you have gained during your searching.

During the "peeling of the onion," you may feel frustrated because it can seem like progress is slow or nonexistent. But don't let the multitude of layers bother you. Many of the qualities that make us who we are may be hidden at first. The process can continue indefinitely, for with self-discovery comes growth and thus further discovery. The more you learn, the more you will inevitably find, as you travel deeper and deeper within your soul.

Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.

Sometimes work can be a drag. You get caught up in trying to be more productive and suddenly your life turns into a series of to-do lists. You gauge your measure of success by how much you accomplish. You even determine how happy you allow yourself to be by how much you've gotten done in the day.

We spend a lot of time trying to find ways to be more productive. To do things faster, better, cheaper and spend our time more effectively. But instead of just doing more in less time, maybe we should focus on actually enjoying the work we're doing instead.
Here are 8 ways to make work seem like less of a chore and more like a gift:

  1. Follow your natural rhythms. A lot of the time I resent working is because I'm trying to force myself to do something I don't feel like doing. Naturally there will always be some things you're not crazy about doing (like cleaning the toilet). But how often do you force yourself to work more, when you really want to relax? When you force yourself to work when you've promised yourself a break, you'll likely just end up distracting yourself with other things and put off working. Then you get stressed and end up resenting work. Instead, follow your natural rhythms. When you feel like working, work. When you don't, don't. Don't over complicate things.
  2. Do, don't think. I'm going to stay true to this point and not think about writing something elaborate. Just do, stop thinking about it. Fail, make corrections later.
  3. Don't put sugar in your tank. You wouldn't put sugar in your gas tank right? It doesn't make much sense to fill your body up with unhealthy fuel either. If you don't have the energy to get the work you need to done, work will feel forced.
  4. Remove hidden roadblocks. What's making you avoid working? What's making your work seem like drudgery rather than joyful? It might have something to do with your beliefs about yourself. Maybe you believe you're not good enough, smart enough or don't have enough experience. Question your beliefs about what you can and can't do.
  5. Only do your best. Work can easily become a chore when you're trying to constantly be perfect. The truth is, some of your ideas might not be so great. Others will be mind blowing. If you can accept that and just do your best, you stop judging yourself. Guess what it feels like when you're no longer picking over everything you do with a fine toothed comb? It feels extremely liberating. It feels like you can actually enjoy your experience, rather than worrying about how everything is going to turn out. That is working effortlessly.
  6. Act from your gut. When you think you have a great idea, believe it. Follow it. Chase it until you're out of breath and can barely hold yourself up. Because if you don't trust yourself, you'll regret it later. The best way to live is to follow your intuition and trust life. If nothing else, trust yourself. Because if you can't trust yourself, how can you trust your mistrust? That's not very smart is it?
  7. Focus on what matters. Our minds are constantly pulling us in different directions. We have to wash the cat, buy more apple cinnamon oatmeal, finish writing that resignation letter to your no-longer-boss at your dead-end job, and all sorts of other things. We have a tendency to follow what's urgent instead of what's important. In order to get the important things done, we have to be ruthless at removing distractions. If it takes bringing a laptop (or notepad) to a cafe to write your grandiose novel, then do that.  Avoid the vacuum of minutiae urgency. Remove all distractions so you can focus on the important things. I would much rather spend 4 hours working on an important project, then 4 hours spinning my wheels and scratching my head trying to figure out what I did today.
  8. Refuse to do what you don't want to do. I often avoid working because I'm trying to do things I think I "should do." I think I should read more because it will make me smarter. I think I should buy new clothes because it will make me cooler. I think I should work on this project because it will be good for my resume. Forget what you think you should do (except maybe… paying your rent). Do what you want to do. Other people will understand. In fact, they'll probably envy you.
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.

The son decides to admit the father in the old age home

 as desired by the daughter in law.

He brings his father in the car to an old age home,

 run by a Christian father.

The receptionist gives different choices like TV, AC,

Veg etc. Father says No TV, AC etc.


Son goes out to bring luggage from car.

The wife calls up to check whether all fine.

And also insists that father need not come home even

 for festivals .

The Christian  father appears and talks to the old man.

Son wonders and asks the Christian father whether he knows his father

before as they were talking as though they knew each other.

Christian father says..yes.

He came here 30 years back and took with him an orphan boy in adoption.

Son was stunned.
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.

It might come as a surprise but kids are unusually perceptive and smart about worldly things, if you really, really think about it. Don't believe us? Take a look at 11 things you, as a fully functioning, capable adult, could learn from kids.

1. Its really okay to cry.

As we grow up, we find it extremely difficult to vent our emotions. We feel scared to cry or openly express t
hings and feelings that hurt us. Sadly, thats not how it should be. On the other hand, children are all out there with their emotions. Theyll let us know when they are low, sad or angry. And it'd be a really good idea if we incorporated that in our lifestyle.

2. Forget everything and play together.

Yesterday was katti and today is abba. Its that simple for kids. Conversely, for adults it becomes this never ending saga of ego. Children dont make their tiffs last for ages, and neither should we.

3. Asking questions without wondering if they are silly or not.

We become so conscious as we grow up that we begin to over-analyse things. We think 100 times before asking a question. Wouldn't it be great, if, just like kids, we could do whatever we want and not feel scared about becoming a joke?

4. Not making a fuss about saying 'sorry'.  

Kids are quite sensitive at heart and they are quick to understand when they are wrong. They become teary eyed in no time and dont think twice before uttering 'sorry'. What about us? We take forever to apologise, if at all.

5. Not taking scars so seriously.

No matter how badly kids hurt themselves, they always return to their game. Bruises or no bruises, the game always goes on.  

6. Paying attention to the little things in life

Its amazing how kids can find interest in the smallest things. They can spend an entire day staring at a leaf or just playing with water droplets or a paper plane. Everything and anything can amuse them. Growing up takes us closer to material things like bigger pay checks and fancy cars. We forget that little things can make us happy too.

7. How not to judge.

This is the most important thing we should learn from kids. They are not prejudiced, racist, sexist, opinionated or anything of the sort. They dont care at all. If they like you, they like you the way you are. Ring a bell?

8. Failure is not an option, only determination is.

Kids fall down endless times and they learn to pick themselves up. And all they do is get up again, again and again. That determination is something we should hold on to for the rest of our lives. Well fall and we'll fail, but we shouldnt give up on ourselves.

9. Being the hero of our own story.

Whenever a child narrates an anecdote, it is always in first person and they themselves are the hero. Some people might perceive this as living in a fantasy, but isn't it a great way to inspire yourself? Grown ups like ourselves are pros at pulling ourselves down. We really are.

10. Being happy for no reason.

Kids smile for no reason. Theyll laugh out loud if you carry them and play with them. As for adults, laugh-less days are far too common, and people actually sign up for things like the 100 Happy Days Challenge, that encourage one to make a conscious effort to be happy. What kind of a life are we leading? Ask yourself.

11. Being spontaneous

Kids dont have a filter or a guard; they are completely in-your-face. They will call you bad if they dont like you and theyll give you a peck on your cheeks if they are fond of you. They dont think before they act and thats good in a way. On the other hand, we think too much and act too less.

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Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.

"There are those whose primary ability is to spin wheels of manipulation. It is their second skin and without these spinning wheels, they simply do not know how to function."
― C. JoyBell C.
Psychological manipulation can be defined as the exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits, and privileges at the victim's expense.
It is important to distinguish healthy social influence from psychological manipulation. Healthy social influence occurs between most people, and is part of the give and take of constructive relationships. In psychological manipulation, one person is used for the benefit of another. The manipulator deliberately creates an imbalance of power, and exploits the victim to serve his or her agenda.
Most manipulative individuals have four common characteristics:
  1. They know how to detect your weaknesses.
  2. Once found, they use your weaknesses against you.
  3. Through their shrewd machinations, they convince you to give up something of yourself in order to serve their self-centered interests.
  4. In work, social, and family situations, once a manipulator succeeds in taking advantage of you, he or she will likely repeat the violation until you put a stop to the exploitation.
Root causes for chronic manipulation are complex and deep-seated. But whatever drives an individual to be psychologically manipulative, it's not easy when you're on the receiving end of such aggression. How can one successfully manage these situations? Here are eight keys to handling manipulative people. Not all of the tips below may apply to your particular situation. Simply utilize what works and leave the rest.
1.  Know Your Fundamental Human Rights*
The single most important guideline when you're dealing with a psychologically manipulative person is to know your rights, and recognize when they're being violated. As long as you do not harm others, you have the right to stand up for yourself and defend your rights. On the other hand, if you bring harm to others, you may forfeit these rights. Following are some of our fundamental human rights:
  • You have the right to be treated with respect.
  • You have the right to express your feelings, opinions and wants.
  • You have the right to set your own priorities.
  • You have the right to say "no" without feeling guilty.
  • You have the right to get what you pay for.
  • You have the right to have opinions different than others.
  • You have the right to take care of and protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally.
  • You have the right to create your own happy and healthy life.
These fundamental human rights represent your boundaries.
Of course, our society is full of people who do not respect these rights. Psychological manipulators, in particular, want to deprive you of your rights so they can control and take advantage of you. But you have the power and moral authority to declare that it is you, not the manipulator, who's in charge of your life.
2.  Keep Your Distance
One way to detect a manipulator is to see if a person acts with different faces in front of different people and in different situations. While all of us have a degree of this type of social differentiation, some psychological manipulators tend to habitually dwell in extremes, being highly polite to one individual and completely rude to another—or totally helpless one moment and fiercely aggressive the next. When you observe this type of behavior from an individual on a regular basis, keep a healthy distance, and avoid engaging with the person unless you absolutely have to. As mentioned earlier, reasons for chronic psychological manipulation are complex and deep-seated. It is not your job to change or save them.
3.  Avoid Personalization and Self-Blame
Since the manipulator's agenda is to look for and exploit your weaknesses, it is understandable that you may feel inadequate, or even blame yourself for not satisfying the manipulator. In these situations, it's important to remember that you are not the problem; you're simply being manipulated to feel bad about yourself, so that you're more likely to surrender your power and rights. Consider your relationship with the manipulator, and ask the following questions:
  • Am I being treated with genuine respect?
  • Are this person's expectations and demands of me reasonable?
  • Is the giving in this relationship primarily one way or two ways?
  • Ultimately, do I feel good about myself in this relationship?
Your answers to these questions give you important clues about whether the "problem" in the relationship is with you or the other person.
For more in-depth information on reducing or eliminating over fifteen types of negative attitudes and feelings, see my book (click on title): "How to Let Go of Negative Thoughts and Emotions (link is external)."
4.  Put the Focus on Them by Asking Probing Questions
Inevitably, psychological manipulators will make requests (or demands) of you. These "offers" often make you go out of your way to meet their needs. When you hear an unreasonable solicitation, it's sometimes useful to put the focus back on the manipulator by asking a few probing questions, to see if she or he has enough self-awareness to recognize the inequity of their scheme. For example:
  • "Does this seem reasonable to you?"
  • "Does what you want from me sound fair?"
  • "Do I have a say in this?"
  • "Are you asking me or telling me?"
  • "So, what do I get out of this?"
  • "Are you really expecting me to [restate the inequitable request]?"
When you ask such questions, you're putting up a mirror, so the manipulator can see the true nature of his or her ploy. If the manipulator has a degree of self-awareness, he or she will likely withdraw the demand and back down.
On the other hand, truly pathological manipulators (such as a narcissist) will dismiss your questions and insist on getting their way. If this occurs, apply ideas from the following tips to keep your power, and halt the manipulation.
To learn more specifically about how to deal with narcissists, see my book (click on title): "How to Successfully Handle Narcissists (link is external)."

5.  Use Time to Your Advantage
In addition to unreasonable requests, the manipulator will often also expect an answer from you right away, to maximize their pressure and control over you in the situation. (Sales people call this "closing the deal.") During these moments, instead of responding to the manipulator's request right away, consider leveraging time to your advantage, and distancing yourself from his or her immediate influence. You can exercise leadership over the situation simply by saying:
"I'll think about it."
Consider how powerful these few words are from a customer to a salesperson, or from a romantic prospect to an eager pursuer, or from you to a manipulator. Take the time you need to evaluate the pros and cons of a situation, and consider whether you want to negotiate a more equitable arrangement, or if you're better off by saying "no," which leads us to our next point:
6.  Know How To Say "No"Diplomatically But Firmly
To be able to say "no" diplomatically but firmly is to practice the art of communication. Effectively articulated, it allows you to stand your ground while maintaining a workable relationship. Remember that your fundamental human rights include the right to set your own priorities, the right to say "no" without feeling guilty, and the right to choose your own happy and healthy life. In (click on title) "How to Successfully Handle Manipulative People (link is external)," I review seven different ways you can say "no," to help lower resistance and keep the peace.
7.  Confront Bullies, Safely
A psychological manipulator also becomes a bully when he or she intimidates or harms another person.
The most important thing to keep in mind about bullies is that they pick on those whom they perceive as weaker, so as long as you remain passive and compliant, you make yourself a target. But many bullies are also cowards on the inside. When their targets begin to show backbone and stand up for their rights, the bully will often back down. This is true in schoolyards, as well as in domestic and office environments.
On an empathetic note, studies show that many bullies are victims of violence themselves. This in no way excuses bullying behavior, but may help you consider the bully in a more equanimous light:
  • "When people don't like themselves very much, they have to make up for it. The classic bully was actually a victim first."Tom Hiddleston
  • "Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others."—Paramhansa Yogananda
  • "I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It's the bully who's insecure." —Shay Mitchell
When confronting bullies, be sure to place yourself in a position where you can safely protect yourself, whether it's standing tall on your own, having other people present to witness and support, or keeping a paper trail of the bully's inappropriate behavior. In cases of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse, consult with counseling, legal, law enforcement, or administrative professionals. It's important to stand up to bullies, and you don't have to do it alone.
8.  Set Consequences
When a psychological manipulator insists on violating your boundaries, and won't take "no" for an answer, deploy consequence.
The ability to identify and assert consequence(s) is one of the most important skills you can use to "stand down" a difficult person. Effectively articulated, consequence gives pause to the manipulative individual, and compels her or him to shift from violation to respect.
Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.

vintage man receiving praise workplace
Editor's note: We previously covered how to give criticism like a man. But it's equally to know how to render effective praise. So today Tom Cox is going to gives us a primer on how to do so.
Tom Cox is a consultant, author and speaker based in Beaverton, Oregon.  He has worked in nearly every private sector industry as well as the public sector, improving any process that involves people. His weekly radio program "Tom on Leadership" is here and his blog is here.
One of the most powerful forms of human communications is praise. We are surrounded by opportunities to use it — in teamwork, in the workplace, in family life, in volunteering, even in dog training — and when we do it well, it works wonders.
Effective praise can permanently raise someone's performance. It can dramatically alter someone's self-image, or even the trajectory of their life. At the very least, it can make their day better.
At the same time, wrong praise at the wrong time, in the wrong manner, can be worse than useless — it can be devastating.
Master a few basic concepts, and you can give truly effective praise every time — you can praise like a man.

Phase 1: Basic Praise

At the very least, your praise should always include these three elements:
  • The name of the person you are praising
  • The specific thing you saw them do, and where and when
  • Sincerity
Their name — you should always address a person by their name because it conveys respect. The sweetest word in most people's ears is the sound of their own name. And, if you address me by my name, it means you know my name — it means you've noticed me. One of the great cravings of the human soul is to be noticed. If you start any sentence with someone's name, you're starting off on the right foot.
The specifics — if your praise is vague, it can sound insincere. As you start to praise more, you will frequently encounter people resisting your praise — they will say "it was nothing" or "I was just doing my job." And maybe, deep down, they don't think they deserve praise, or perhaps they suspect you are trying to manipulate them. If you are extremely specific, you can bypass that resistance and earn their trust.
Contrast these two statements:
"Hey, good job yesterday."
"Hey Jim, I was really impressed with you yesterday — I noticed at three o'clock you had that huge stack of orders to handle, and when I was back at four you had finished all of them. That was some great work."
If Jim is having a hard time accepting praise, the first statement is unlikely to be effective. The second statement, however, demonstrates to Jim three things: that you know his name, that you saw and noticed what he was up to, and that you have a positive opinion of what he did. By anchoring your praise with the specific time and place and other details, you can help Jim give himself permission to believe you.
Sincerity — you should only ever give praise that you actually mean. Unearned praise is mere flattery. A real man doesn't manipulate people's emotions, or use false or empty praise. Think about a  time you earned the praise of somebody you respected. You valued that praise because you valued the opinion of the person giving it. And, you valued that praise because you trusted the sincerity of the person giving it.
As you grow in manliness, you will increasingly become the kind of person whose opinion is valued by others. And your good opinion will be valued in direct proportion to how much your listener respects you, and believes you. (Never try to fake sincerity — the worst thing that might happen is, you succeed and get good at it, undermining your integrity, the foundation of true manliness.)
As I teach people how to give effective praise, this aspect of sincerity can be a real stumbling block. If it is, respect it. Become more mindful. When you are mindful enough to notice that you are struggling with sincerity, you are also mindful enough to start to develop some true sincerity. Contemplate the person whom you would like to praise. Open yourself up to noticing what it is they are doing right. Open yourself up to feeling a true sense of appreciation for what they're doing. Once you're in touch with that true sense of appreciation, you can voice it with sincerity.
And when you praise, you are making a statement about right and wrong. You can only give sincere praise for good work if you know what good work is. You can only praise someone for taking the right path, when you know which path is right. A real man knows right from wrong, and is not afraid to champion the right.  Effective praise is a gentle and effective way to champion the right.

Phase 2: Advanced Praise

Once you are starting to get good at normal praise, you can move on to a more advanced form. This is where effective praise can truly become life-changing.
Before you voice your positive comments, stop and ask yourself "What is the positive character trait that must exist inside that person for them to have exhibited this behavior?"
This is always the hardest thing I teach about praise, so give it some respect. In workshops, I will distribute a list of over 100 positive character traits, and give everyone time to browse through it to find one that fits the circumstance. It may be useful for you to have a thesaurus handy. A positive character trait can be anything from honesty to compassion, from hard-working to having a positive attitude, from being customer focused to being a team player.
Once you have identified the positive character trait that brought about the positive behavior that you witnessed, you add that character trait to the end of your praise:
"Hey Jim, I was really impressed with you yesterday — I noticed at three o'clock you had that huge stack of orders to handle, and when I was back at four you had finished all of them. That was some great work — you were really focused. I like being on the team with somebody who has your kind of focus."
Several things will happen. If the person is inclined to resist, they may resist more strongly. If your details are not specific enough, they may not believe you. And if you lack sincerity, they will sense it immediately, and they will feel betrayed or manipulated. However, if you have done everything right, if you have been observant, if you are right with the details, if you are sincere, then what you are doing is providing them a glimpse of their best self through your eyes.
I truly believe that none of us will consistently behave in ways that are fundamentally at odds with our own self-image.  Everyone's behavior will tend to normalize — to cluster around — the behavior that they expect from themselves. When you truly, and with sincerity, give someone advanced praise, you are giving them the opportunity to upgrade their self-image.
Maybe Jim never thought of himself as being particularly focused. Maybe he even thought he was weak in that area. You, however, with your own eyes saw him behave in a highly focused way. When you share that with him, and you give it the name "focus," he almost has no choice. You've shown the evidence, and you're speaking with sincerity.  At some level, he has to accept at least the possibility that he is a focused person, or that he is capable of behaving in a focused way. When he got up that morning, he didn't think of himself that way. Now, because of your praise, he can see himself standing with a large "F" on his chest — he is Focused Man.
It is hard to overstate how transformational this can be. Under the right circumstances, the right word of praise and encouragement, spoken into the ear of someone who needs it and is ready, can unlock their human potential.

A Warning

Because praise is powerful, it is also dangerous. If you give someone praise that they truly don't think they deserve, they can feel worse than if you'd said nothing, and they can even start to think that you are clueless. Similarly, if someone is convinced they did good job and you criticize or nitpick, that can be profoundly demoralizing.
So, be careful, and practice. A real man can handle power with responsibility. As you continue to grow in manliness, you will find effective praise comes easily to your lips and honestly from your heart.
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Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.

He met her at someone's wedding. He requested her to have coffee with him, she was surprised but due to being polite, she promised. They sat in a nice coffee shop, he was too nervous to say anything, she felt uncomfortable, and she thought to herself, "Please, let me go home..."

Suddenly he asked the waiter, "Would you please give me some salt? I'd like to put it in my coffee." Everybody stared at him, so strange! His face turned red but still, he put the salt in his coffee and drank it. She asked him curiously, "Why you have this hobby?" He replied, "When I was a little boy, I lived near the sea, I liked playing in the sea, I could feel the taste of the sea, just like the taste of the salty coffee. Now every time I have the salty coffee, I always think of my childhood, think of my hometown, I miss my hometown so much, I miss my parents who are still living there." While saying that tears filled his eyes. She was deeply touched. That's his true feeling, from the bottom of his heart. A man who can tell out his homesickness, he must be a man who loves home, cares about home, has responsibility of home... Then she also started to speak, spoke about her faraway hometown, her childhood, her family.

That was a really nice talk, also a beautiful beginning of their story. They continued to date. She found that actually he was a man who meets all her demands; he had tolerance, was kind hearted, warm, careful. He was such a good person but she almost missed him! Thanks to his salty coffee! Then the story was just like every beautiful love story, the princess married to the prince, and then they were living the happy life... And, every time she made coffee for him, she put some salt in the coffee, as she knew that's the way he liked it. 
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  After 40 years, he passed away, left her a letter which said, "My dearest, please forgive me, forgive my whole life's lie. This was the only lie I said to you---the salty coffee. Remember the first time we dated? I was so nervous at that time, actually I wanted some sugar, but I said salt. It was hard for me to change so I just went ahead. I never thought that could be the start of our communication! I tried to tell you the truth many times in my life, but I was too afraid to do that, as I have promised not to lie to you for anything... Now I'm dying, I afraid of nothing so I tell you the truth, I don't like the salty coffee, what a strange bad taste... But I have had the salty coffee for my whole life! Since I knew you, I never feel sorry for anything I do for you. Having you with me is my biggest happiness for my whole life. If I can live for the second time, still want to know you and have you for my whole life, even though I have to drink the salty coffee again."

Her tears made the letter totally wet. Someday, someone asked her, "What's the taste of salty coffee?" She replied, "It's sweet."
Its a lil bit unrealistic story but the moral and the message of the story is wonderful :)

Self Improvement, Wisdom, Professionalism, Inspirational Stories, Positivity, Leadership, Management, Stress, Optimism and Peace, Productivity.

 Sam Gentoku McCree  Share                              
You need other people. Not because you're a needy little wimp, but because humans evolved as pack animals. We lived for thousands of years in tribes. Small tight knit communities of less than 150 people all working together to hunt wildebeests and fight off tigers.
Everybody you'd ever know, marry, have babies,  and get into fights with were part of that 150 people.
While it may have been a bit claustrophobic for some, it did prime us to need deep and meaningful connections.
Now this is the part where normally I, as the insightful and witty author, talk about how the modern world has ruined connection and tell you about Facebook damaging the word "friend" that it's all but meaningless. But instead let's just skip all that and talk about how you can build tribe level connections with people in your life.
Here is how I have formed the most deep connections in my life:

1. Tell The Truth.
Most of us talk on a surface level most of the time, and that's fine for people with whom you don't want to connect. But if you want to create real connections you have to say something real. This means you have to be honest. With yourself and with the other person. Being honest doesn't mean being a jerk, but it does me showing up and saying what's actually going on with you and the world you live in.

2. Ask good questions and then actually listen.
Learn to ask really good open ended questions and then listen closely to the answers.
Don't just wait for your turn to talk. Take the time to really listen to what someone is saying. Take the time to reflect it back, to be clear on who this person is and what they care about.
Become a master at asking and listening and you will create powerful connections with those around you.

3. Spend extended periods of time with people.
We tend to interact with people in 10 – 30 minute chunks and that really isn't enough time to get to know someone.
Instead make plans for a long slow hang*. When I say long and slow that's what I mean. Shoot for spending 2 – 4 hours or more of relatively unstructured time with someone.
If you do this you'll get to experience much more of who someone really is. You'll begin to relax in their presence and that's when the walls start to come down.

4. Do stuff for people.
Always be asking the question, "How can I help or how can I be of service?" Not directly but to yourself. Asking someone how to help them is nice, but it's hard to answer.
Instead, if you notice a way to help, either just do it or offer it to them. Ask yourself, What would I like in this situation? What would help me if I was in there shoes? and offer to do that.
Deep connections are built on service. Not on horse trading.

5. Be continuously vulnerable.
The big key to deep connection is stepping into vulnerability again and again. When you're vulnerable your connection ports are open, but when you're guarded they're not. So be open and vulnerable whenever possible.
Share what you're scared of, what your hopes are, what you're struggling with, your faults of character. And also listen to your friend's problems and complaints without judgement or advice. Simply hear them, witness them, and hold them in your attention.
This is scary, but it's also worth it. Step into vulnerability and your connections will deepen.

*Thanks to Keith Ferrazzi's book Who's Got Your Back for the idea of the Long Slow Hang.
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Relaxation Tips    
The modern rat race can cause us great stress and leave us with little to no time to take care of our health and bodies. However, there are quick and easy ways to improve our lifestyle, improve our mood and improve our health, and they only take about 60 seconds each. Even if you only turn some of these into habits, you'll still enjoy a happy and healthier life with little effort and time.    
1. Take a deep breath
We all get nervous and stressed, whether it be because of work, traffic or even household chores. In our most stressful moments, it's vital to remember that we have an innate relaxation mechanism. Taking deep, controlled breaths for 60 seconds when feeling stressed or tired can completely alter your state of mind. Deep breaths lower your blood pressure, slows down the production of stress hormones and helps to ease anxiety and internal disquiet.
2. Hug someone you love
Hugging feels great on its own, but it also has scientifically-proven health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and stabilizing the heart rate. Hugging releases dopamine - a natural painkiller and can reduce cortisol levels (a stress hormone). A hug can give you more mental energy, and help you handle most obstacles.
3. Laugh and smile
There's a reason laughter has a reputation for being the best medicine. It's one of the body's natural painkillers and shares several physiological functions with exercising. William Fry, one of the pioneers in laughter research, claims that using a rowing machine for ten minutes exercises the heart to the same extent as one minute of laughter. Laughter also improves your memory and burns calories. If you're feeling down or even somewhat depressed, a little smile (even a fake one) can change your mood.
4. Eat some dark chocolate
Isn't it great to know that some delicious treats are actually good for us (in moderation)? Dark chocolate is beneficial for your health, it lowers blood pressure, raises the levels of "good cholesterol" (HDL) and reduces the levels of "bad cholesterol" (LDL). Dark chocolate is also known to be beneficial to the cardiovascular system, and some evidence indicates that it can prevent diabetes and even keep your skin healthier.
Relaxation Tips
5. Stand up whenever you can
Most of us spend our days sitting down: Working, driving and watching TV are just a few of things we do while sat in a seat. A recent research paper found that prolonged sessions of sitting can induce psychological distress. Another study has found that women who sit for 10 hours a day or more are at a higher risk heart and cardiovascular disease when compared to those sitting for only 5 hours a day. Even standing up for a few seconds will improve your circulation significantly.
6. Wash your hands
You may think it's obvious, but this simple and quick action can protect your health more than you can fathom. Most people wash their hands before eating or after visiting the restroom, but washing your hands with soap more times a day will reduce your chances of getting sick by 20-30%. Remember to moisturize your hands from time to time.
7. Wear a seatbelt
As trivial as it may seem, this easy action takes about five seconds and saves thousands of lives every year. Think about it: You're not climbing Everest or running a marathon. You're simply reaching back, and pulling on a belt. This is particularly important when you have children in the car. So don't be lazy and think about comfort first, it's better to "waste" ten seconds than risk your life.
8. Add cinnamon to your breakfast
Cinnamon has a variety of medicinal properties, including helping with diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels. Cinnamon is also beneficial in fighting obesity, lowering bad cholesterol levels, and it even warms up the body on cold days. You can add cinnamon to your breakfast by mixing it in your yogurt, oats, cereals and even your coffee.
Relaxation Tips
9. Wear sunscreen
It doesn't matter if you live in a sunny place or not, UV light is still there, and it's still harmful. Avoiding the #1 cause of skin cancer takes no effort and very little time – simply put on sunscreen before you leave the house.
10. Use the stairs
It doesn't matter if we're late, busy or even just lazy, most of us don't' engage in physical exercise in our free time. The modern world doesn't give us many chances to walk: we get in the car or on the bus, use the elevator and sit at our desks. This is why it is vital that we take every opportunity to exercise. Instead of waiting for the elevator, take the stairs and burn some extra calories. It will also help you avoid stiff muscles and joint pain.
11. Take a break from staring at the screen
If you have a desk job or are just an avid technology lover, it's safe to say you spend a lot of time in front of a screen. Staring at the screen for so many hours is bad for your eyes, so it is crucial to take frequent breaks. The best method is the "20-60-20": every 20 minutes look away from the screen at an object 60 feet away for 20 seconds. If you can, take a moment to walk around the office.

12. Add lemon to your water    
Adding a slice of lemon to your water is not only refreshing, but also has many health benefits. Lemons are a superfood and are considered to be one of the most efficient detox agents, making them a great addition to your diet.
Relaxation Tips
13. Clean up your desk
It doesn't matter how tidy you keep your desk, it still gets covered with germs. Take a minute to wipe down leftovers and crumbs, which are the main source of bacterial contamination in your workplace. Use an antibacterial wipe on your keyboard and mouse, they are the most used items on your desk that come in contact with your hands regularly.
14. Elevate your feet
60 seconds of lying down with your legs raised up and leaning against a wall energizes the body as much as a half-hour nap. Rest your arms at the sides of your body and remain like that while taking slow, deep breaths. Studies have shown that this position helps the blood in your legs to flow back to your chest and head.
15. Chew some gum
Researchers from the University of Swinburne, Australia found that chewing gum improves your levels of alertness and reduces stress. Behavioral specialists recommend chewing gum before an important meeting, a job interview, and while driving. The reason is that chewing gum tricks the body into thinking it's eating, something we associate with being safe and having nothing to fear.
Source: ba-bamail

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Examples of manipulative behaviour

We are all unique and as such, our behaviour will be diverse as well. When it comes to manipulative behaviour there are numerous variations but there is a common framework within which most manipulative behaviour can be identified.
I have put together a list of common examples of manipulative behaviour. By its very nature- manipulative behaviour is sneaky, deceptive and devious. This is why many people on the receiving end of manipulative behaviour are aware that something isn't quite right but they can't come up with any specifics. This can lead the 'victim' to doubt their perceptions and sometimes wonder if they are going crazy.

The Cause of Manipulative Behaviour

Many manipulative people learn these dysfunctional ways of behaving when they are children. A common cause is when parents are authoritarian and leave no room for their children's opinions and input. Their children's natural emotional development is stifled and they are suppressed by strict rules and a general attitude of 'do as you are told or there will be negative consequences'. A child faced with this rigid environment needs to be resourceful and come up with clever ways to 'get their own back'. This will include passive-aggressive behaviours to try regain some control. Such as – they may rebel in a less obvious way by stealing money from their parents, lying or being devious in some other way. Then when their parents are telling them what to do, because they aren't allowed to directly express anger or disagreement, they can comfort themselves by knowing they have 'harmed' their strict parent in some other way. Psychologically, this restores some sort of balance for the child and helps them cope with the perceived unfairness of the situation. This dysfunctional way of dealing with perceived emotional threat then gets carried over into adult relationships and this is where the trouble begins…

The Introduction to the manipulative 'main course'

Manipulative abusers tend to dwell in extremes. They often start off being extremely thoughtful, considerate and attentive. They put you on a pedestal and put in a lot of effort. This is part of the grooming process. Getting you high on the feeling of flattery and feeling special is part of the manipulation. Once they have you emotionally 'hooked' they have a stronger position from which to start manipulating and controlling you. In some cases, manipulators lack empathy and part of the extreme behaviour involves them acting the part of a caring person. As they can lack empathy, they do not feel in touch with their emotions and have to go through the motions of acting in a way that they believe a kind, caring person would. This is when the behaviour can seem a little extreme and unnatural. For example if they are excessively polite and over the top when it comes to complimenting you and giving gifts it could be a sign of trouble. Beware of extremes.

Examples of manipulative behaviour

1) Minimising

Manipulative behaviour involves minimising its effects on others. When the recipient of a nasty or insensitive comment speaks up, the manipulative person, instead of being concerned that they have upset someone, will counter with the reply, "I was only joking. Can't you take a joke?" or "You are SO sensitive!". This completely minimises the emotional impact and leaves the recipient with no where to go. They are left feeling they are to blame.
Another example, "I am feeling so stressed today" (hoping for sympathy and support). Manipulators response: "You don't know what stress is!". If you get upset, you will invariably be told "I was only joking!". There is no validation, empathy or support. Manipulators can also be entrenched narcissists.

2)Never accepting blame

Manipulative people blame everyone else, they very rarely accept their part to play in life situations. Their behaviour is often seen by the  as a response to something someone else has done. If they hadn't annoyed me, it would never have happened. If they had listened, I would need to act this way etc. They like to absolve themselves from any personal  responsibility for their actions. A good example: you trip over their shoes/bag etc in the night as they have placed them too near the doorway. When you fall over them you are blamed by the manipulator because you should watch where you are going or you should have turned on the light (the fact that they left their belongings where people walk is not considered or mentioned).

3) Non-verbal signs of manipulative behaviour

Eye rolling, sighing, head shaking – these are some of the typical behaviours exhibited by a manipulator. They show disapproval or disappointment without having to say a word and leave the victim feeling shame and guilt. It is all part of the process of making another person doubt themselves – a slow-drip erosion of their confidence occurs over time.

 4) Gaslighting

This manipulative behaviour can easily make a person feel they are going crazy. Gaslighting involves planting false information as true in order to make another person doubt themselves and their perceptions. This is cleverly done over a slow period and can leave a person confused and unsure of themselves. Your partner may swear they told you about the party on the weekend and, even though they didn't in reality, the more time goes on, the less confidence you have in your version. There needs to be a deliberate, dishonest aspect to it — in other words, there needs to be lying. Simply telling someone they can't take a joke doesn't qualify as lying, nor gaslighting, nor abuse.Here are signs of gaslighting:
1. You are constantly second-guessing yourself
2. You ask yourself, "Am I too sensitive?" a dozen times a day.
3. You often feel confused and even crazy.
4. You can't understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren't happier.
5. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
6. You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
7. You have trouble making simple decisions.
8. You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
9. You feel hopeless and joyless.
10. You feel as though you can't do anything right.
11. You wonder if you are a "good enough" girlfriend/ wife/employee/ friend; daughter.

5) Thwarting your efforts/efficiency

Behind the scenes, your manipulative partner might be finding subtle ways to thwart and frustrate you. This secret, and the ensuing frustration for you, allows them to feel in control in a passive-aggressive manner. For example – they 'forget' to tell you about an important phone message and as a result you miss an important meeting.  When they know something is important to you, they will adopt subtle behaviour that provokes an emotional response from you. One of the ways they control and manipulative is by knowing your weaknesses and pressing those emotional buttons. For example – I dated a man who would be strict with my dog and shout at my dog, knowing that it would upset me. The dog became a legitimate target for eliciting emotion in me and thereby allowing him to feel in control. When I reacted, it would 'obviously' result in blame being placed upon me and how overly sensitive I am.
If you are in a rush to get somewhere, a manipulative person might drag their heels and delay you even further. Everything is done so subtly that it is hard to point to specific evidence and ultimately the sane person begins to unravel while the manipulator feels more powerful. Withholding information is a very common tactic, manipulators revel in the fact that they have information and that you are none-the-wiser.

6) Telling you that you "don't listen"

A very arrogant tactic that places the manipulator in the 'righteous' position and assumes that the listener is not understanding correctly. A sane balanced person will also look at their own communication skills instead of blaming another for not listening correctly. This serves to keep you diminished and undermine your confidence. It keeps the manipulator in the 'power seat'.

7) Leading statements

"Don't you think that…"
"Why have you done it that way?"
"I am wondering why you…."
"I suppose you are going to…"
"I thought that was what you wanted…"
Manipulators will do their best to change you subtly to accommodate the way they see the world. This ranges from how you should dress, who you should see, how you should do the housework, your shopping habits (buy this product,  not that one), he way you bring up the children, how you behave around others, how and when you need to be available when they want to speak to you…the list is endless.

How to deal with manipulation

Be assertive. No one has the right to tell you what to do or how to do it. Use assertive script to let them know what they do/say that you dislike. For example…
When you….. criticise me, I feel…..undermined, so what I would like you to do is …..stop judging me and try to say more positive things.
Ask questions, this makes the manipulator explain themselves and think through what they are saying. It also gives you a chance to challenge them.
Dont accept statements, reframe them as a question or repeat for clarity…are you asking me if….never allow them to foist their views on to you.
When dealing with manipulative people, answer questions only, not statements. Train your ears to recognize the difference. You must learn to ask the Yes/No question, but not get tricked by a disguised question. Repeat the last 3 or 4 words of the statement back to the manipulator, forcing him/her to admit it was a question.
Ask for time – I want to think about it
Let things slide. Don't respond to bad behavior. Don't reply defensively and avoid saying "I'm sorry but…" You can choose not to fight by using one of the following replies:
"That's my decision"
"I know you're unhappy, but that's the way it is"
"I'll have to think about that"
"You seem upset"
"We'll talk later when you aren't so upset."
"We don't always have to agree."
"I prefer it that way"
"You're right" (and drop the subject)

How to protect yourself from emotional manipulation
– Act on your own merits, not because of how someone makes you feel
– Avoid being completely honest and open with an emotional manipulator – they will use it against you
– Trust your intuition before you offer sympathy and give up your energy with advice – generally their problems don't exist or are exaggerated
– Act with integrity to avoid any guilt trips, you will know you're doing your best
– Keep a log when dealing with an emotional manipulator, so you can clearly see what was said when
– Don't let others affect your energy levels, this is your choice
– Avoid trying to help them change – they are highly resistant to change and won't recognise their problem
– Know your weaknesses and what pressures you to give-in and be conscious of this
Stick to the facts in arguments and don't try to defend yourself (it opens you to more abuse)
– Stop manipulative interactions as quickly as you can – use short responses, end the conversation or leave: limit the time you spend with this person if you can
– Know your boundaries and stick to them
– Don't take threats personally – detach yourself so this is no longer a pressure tactic for them
– Get stronger by knowing who you are and staying firm in your values and beliefs
– Get some validation by sharing the interaction with someone else
– Calmly let the manipulator know that what was said was outrageous and unacceptable without causing the situation to escalate They will probably not acknowledge the way you see things (my minimising and never taking responsibility for their behaviour) but still let them know you don't accept what they are doing or saying.
– Once you have identified that this person uses emotional manipulation tactics: WALK AWAY! Their act will only work on an audience.
Manipulation is not the same as influence. We all use influence with other people to advance our goals, and this is one of the hallmarks of healthy social functioning. Influence recognizes the rights and boundaries of other people, and it is based on direct, honest communication. Influence is one way we have of functioning effectively in the world. Influence recognizes the integrity of the other person, including the right not to go along with the attempted persuasion. Manipulation, on the other hand, depends on covert agendas and an attempt to coerce another person into giving in. Even though it may appear that the manipulator is strong and in control, there is usually insecurity under the facade. The tendency to exploit others and disregard their rights is a sign of unhealthy personality functioning. In fact, people who manipulate others have difficulty in maintaining good interpersonal relationships.

References: www.psychologytoday, alfredmacdonald, lifeesteem, abuseandrelationships, heartless-bitches, way-of-the-mind, happinessweekly, nist6dh, thoughtsonlifeandlove