Talking to Myself

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” This little rhyme was one my mother told me and I used many times as a child when someone was taunting or teasing me or calling me names. I was trying to convince myself that the words of another did not matter, but the truth is, their words did hurt me. I could pretend otherwise, but inside it hurt. The words cut, they create damage within and knowing that someone said something to intentionally hurt me, did not help.

To this day however, the words of others are nothing compared to the meanness and hurt of some of the words I’ve said to myself. I don’t always say these words out loud, but the inside of my head is not a safe neighborhood to hang out, especially at night. If I had an action figure that represented myself and every time I had a negative or self-critical thought I whacked that action figure, I doubt it would make it through the day. It seems this is common among people I’ve talked to. I’ve worked with dozens of clients who refer to themselves as their own worst critic, but never as their own best friend.

Many psychologists discuss the concept of the inner critic. It’s referred to by many different names, but most agree that it can be directly linked to how our parents talked to us when we were growing up. Throughout our childhood experiences of interacting with our primary care givers, we imitate the parenting we received inside our own heads, continuing the practice of praising, disciplining, etc. One of the ways that shows up is as that critical inner voice. It’s also possible to have a nurturing, supportive voice but this softer, gentler voice for most people is drowned out by the louder, critical one.

In addition to self-criticism, I notice there are times when it seems everything going through my head is negative. No one around me is doing anything right, things are going wrong, and the world is a dark and scary place. When my inner self-talk goes down the fear spiral my mind can really go to town with what’s going on with the economy, and how I have been affected personally. The ‘what if’s’ completely take over and my inner neighborhood becomes a dark storm of disastrous possibilities that show up as loss, scarcity and catastrophe.

The good news is we can actually change our inner self-talk AND we can change what comes out of our mouths. Catching the inner critic before it starts beating us up and shifting our words to nurturing, supportive direction, like a coach would give, can lead to more positive outcomes in our lives. Being conscious, deliberate and intentional about what we say and what we think takes raising awareness, making a choice and acting differently.

Raising awareness starts with becoming an observer of yourself, noticing what you’re saying to yourself, how you’re interpreting situations, and what is actually coming out of your mouth, especially at those moments when no one is there to witness it. I have found the practice of journaling to be very useful in this. There are times when I don’t feel comfortable telling another person what I’m really thinking, but I would write it in a journal I knew was safe from the eyes of others. Once my thoughts and words are down on the page I can often see how my thinking is distorted.

Once I have recognized a negative or disempowering pattern, I can make a different choice. But what choice do I make? After all, my best thinking got me here. It can be really helpful in the beginning to get input from an objective friend or advisor since we can’t always be objective about ourselves. For example, I told a friend of mine that not as many people have been signing up for classes lately. She reminded me that I could look at this as something personally to do with me or I could more accurately conclude that people are reserving funds because of the economy. I realized she was right. If I take it personally, it feels negative, discouraging and disempowering, but with the latter interpretation I can look at it as an opportunity to do some work that I haven’t had time to do because I’ve been training so much.

Acting differently, of course means we don’t just raise our awareness and do nothing with it, it means we follow through and declare our new interpretations out loud. It’s a way of establishing a new pattern.
The most powerful way I have found to make these ideas work for me is by being proactive vs. reactive. If I wait for the moments when my thoughts are negative and self-critical it is much harder to direct myself to a positive direction, but by deliberately choosing to be gentle and supportive of myself as a matter of course, I can create a positive foundation to build from.

To do this, I have developed a daily practice of saying positive, uplifting and empowering statements to myself as soon as I wake up in the morning (typically the most negative time of day for many people). Statements like these are commonly called “Affirmations” because they are validating a positive truth we wish to emphasize and expand. The most gratifying result for me is a reduction in fear and depression, in spite of the constant influx of negative input so prevalent lately in the news and by doing this on a daily basis I have started a new, more positive pattern of thinking that leads to raised self-esteem and more positive outcomes.

The Art of Win-Win Negotiations

The Art of Win / Win Negotiations !!! by Leslie Choudhury

Ever heard someone say that they ‘gave away the store’? Despite our best intentions, we sometimes give away too much  to arrive at an agreement. Even when we go into our talks with high motivations and a grandiose, exuberant spirit of cooperation, we have to be wary and dip our toes cautiously into the waters to make sure we aren’t about to be devoured by piranha.
Today, many of us have heard the concept of win-win negotiations but do we know what that really means? All too common, most negotiators fail to understand that this term represents both parties achieving a satisfactory negotiated settlement.

“Negotiation needs to start with the assumption that both parties want more to agree than to disagree and there is a meeting point.” – Leslie Choudhury

Yes, win-win is less about the process, less about the “how” of getting there, and more about the destination. How best to get you a win-win outcome, whilst keeping your eyes fixed on that elusive win-win negotiation outcome or goal. Steven Covey’s  quote: “Begin with the End in Mind!” is very appropriate.
The Win-Win Concept

The true meaning of a win-win settlement is a negotiated agreement where the agreement reached cannot be improved further by any discussions. Win-Win does not mean absolute equal outcomes but acceptable so each party walks away with perceived value. So your outcome cannot be improved for your benefit, and similarly, the agreement for the other party cannot be improved further for their benefit either. By definition, there is no value left on the table and all creative options have been thoroughly explored and exploited. It’s what both parties can live with.

What does not constitute a win-win deal?
Many people falsely delude themselves into believing they have a win-win approach and settlement when they adopt many of the strategies described below. However, if we put their agreement under our microscope and look closer, they may have wasted their efforts. Positional and tactical negotiators love less experienced negotiators who do not fully understand win-win. Why? Inexperienced negotiators make for easy targets to be shot down, simply due to their lack of understanding of the win-win concept.

What pitfalls can lead you, your company or team to miss the rich rewards promised by a win-win settlement? (see 1-4). What should we then focus on? (see 5-8).

1. Cookie-Cut Approach
People are not the same, they are motivated differently. We cannot approach each negotiation identically. It’s fine to have a positive mindset going into the talks, but we must be realistic that we do not get bogged down into ‘the end justifies the means’ mentality by sacrificing resources or funds to get that agreement. I do not advocate a win-win in all situations. Where win-win would be an inappropriate commercial strategy to employ would include:
(a) Hostile or die-hard positional negotiation counterparties who only look at you through win-lose lenses.
(b) When you’re negotiating the purchase of a widely available commodity type product or service that makes neither a strategic impact upon your business, nor carries a large price tag.
(c) For business negotiations – either there is no room to manoeuvre (company policy) and/or one party has all the power or options. Neither works.

2. Compromise
Many negotiators falsely believe that compromise is a positive approach to gain a win-win deal. This is plainly incorrect. If you look at the definition of the word ‘compromise’, it means ‘A settlement of a dispute in which two or more parties agree to accept something less than they originally wanted.’ If one or both parties agree to lower their aspirations, this is hardly a win-win outcome, is it? Over-ambition is due to lack of experience or lack of research on the product/service /party.

3. The Relationship
Possessing the desire to create a durable relationship in a negotiation is admirable, but it does not guarantee that you will walk out of the negotiation with a win-win agreement to hand. Mutual relationships are the ideal, with each side creating value for their organisation and for the other’s organisation. If you find that you’re getting the short end of the stick over and over again, then you’ll need to think through how the other side perceives you, and the negotiation frame that’s been set. Almost everyone agrees that it’s important to have good relations with your business partners, but few will agree with what “good” really means. Its best you explore this separately as a company and or team, as assumptions are dangerous.

4. Take Your Time
Many negotiators are under the impression that if they take extra time to negotiate they are more likely to achieve a win-win settlement. The truth is that many studies on this very subject have revealed that extra time does not make much difference to the quality of the negotiated agreements.

“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.” – Brian Koslow

5. Ask Open Directive Questions
When we enter a negotiations prepared, we need to know the other parties’ intentions, interests, timeline and priorities. It is a sad truth that in reality, many negotiators do not ask questions to gain a better understanding of the underlying ambitions that lie beneath the other party’s position.
We need to determine whether our goals can be connected to the business goals of the other party. The more we know about their aims, the more we will be able to put together settlement package that better addresses the business goals and priorities of both parties. When we know what’s important to the other party, we can build a beneficial and productive agreement that ensures the concerns of both parties have been taken on board.

6. Play Fair
What do we tell them about our goals and interests? Reciprocation is essential. We have to tell them about our goals and interests so they may better understand how they might not only meet their needs, but ours as well. Best we begin at outset with setting the frame of a cooperative mood to increase mutual interaction. Only then should we progress into fact-finding and option generation. Our counterparts will usually mirror our behaviour, the virtuous and less than virtuous.

“ We cannot negotiate with those who say, “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.” – John F. Kennedy

If we start by openly offering information, they will normally reciprocate in kind. Our initiating the volunteering of goals and interests does not necessarily put us at a strategic disadvantage. Provided we set the frame of reciprocation and gain agreement at the outset, and provided we don’t put all our cards on the table. Reciprocation will prevail. If the other side refuses to reciprocate at any point, and refuses to give a valid reason, this should be our red flag to stop. It’s a bad idea to reveal your BATNA at the outset.

7. Pesent Multiple Options
The best win-win agreements often spring from presenting multiple offers rather than a single, lone offer or proposal. The reason is that a single offer or proposal often has an anchoring effect. Multiple offers tend to stimulate communication. Multiple offers will often prompt or nudge our counterpart into providing vital information about their objectives and the true nature of their business ambitions. Negotiating will be more energetic and productive because several options will likely enhance the possibility of finding even more creative solutions than would otherwise have been possible.

8. Third Party Involvement
Another innovative strategy to maximize your resources effectively is to use a neutral third party to help both parties tease out all goals and interests. In addition, you can ask this third party to suggest an agreement, or for ways in which to improve your existing agreement. Each side should of course have the option to veto the third party’s proposals if they uncover better alternatives. A third party proposal can bring a number of benefits:

Both parties can safely share more sensitive information. Since information is the building blocks required for creative alternatives, this in itself can open doors that were previously not seen.
Trust is fostered under the experienced third independent party’s direction. Often parties don’t share suspicions openly with each other. This format of negotiation is conducive to sharing doubts. With a third party looking out for both sides’ interests, it prevents one sided gains and fosters a free thinking creative process, and reduces risks.

We need to appreciate that not just any agreement leads to a win-win scenario or outcome in our negotiations. Time constraints affect how long and far we can explore. Attitudes, positions and skills set invisible boundaries that constrain what we see as possible. Win-win deals are more likely when set up correctly through effective use of framing, research and building relationships. Ultimately, it’s essential that we remember the end objective is to reach an agreement that both parties can walk away without their tail between their legs!

“The most important trip you could ever take in life, is learning what is important to them and meeting them somewhere in the middle.” – Leslie Choudhury
Leslie Choudhury has been a GM or CEO of 4 different corporate companies in 4 different countries. He has won countless awards for his ability to motivate, influence and inspire changes in staff mentality and results. His awards include: Westin Business Innovation award, the President’s/CEO’s award for running the best Sales team in the world for Sheraton Hotels, Best Service Company of the year award in Singapore, and “EBIT & ME Personality Award for Asia & Pacific. Choudhury holds a BBA from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA and is certified in NLP & Directive Communication psychology, recognized by the American Institute of Business Psychology, the only person in Asia awarded with ‘CITE’ status; and the author of two self-help books – ‘Once Upon A Time’ series. Voted as the world’s number 6 Communication Guru by Gurus International. Leslie is the CEO of Dreamz Image International and Director for Directive Communication International ( ASIA) Pte Ltd. For more info see

We are Born to Succeed !!!

We were born to succeed

“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.” – Dr. Joyce Brothers

We were born with all the tools to succeed and enjoy a wonderful life.
We were born with all the potential to succeed, we can achieve any goal we want… or can we?

We may not think or believe that we can achieve our goals and have a better life.

When we were born we had no negative thoughts.
No Limiting Beliefs.
No self doubts.
We could do anything.

“You can do anything you wish to do, have anything you wish to have, be anything you wish to be.” – Robert Collier
Sometimes we need to observe and listen to children. They are irrepressible. They at an early age think they can do anything, they feel they can conquer the world. My son Zackery, when asked what does he want to become says, ” An Actor, A Movie Producer, A Director, An Inventor ……”  somehow I get the feeling the list keeps growing larger, bigger, but all he sees is possibilities!

We however tend to see limitations, hurdles, prohibitions ….. we see boundaries, problems, we prevent ourselves from moving forward even before we start.

But on our journey through life, we stopped believing. We even sometimes stopped trying!
We started to doubt ourselves.

We started to let negative thoughts fill our mind.

Maybe somebody told us that we can’t succeed or that life is hard and we believed them.

We started to develop limiting beliefs and you began to think we no longer have the potential to succeed.
We may even believe that we were not born to succeed, or worse, that we were born to suffer.

The truth is we still have all that potential, we’ve just burried it, we’ve dismissed it and we’ve let negative thinking, limiting beliefs and self doubt convince us that we can’t or won’t succeed.

So how do we unlock the potential that we were born with?
How do we turn things around and succeed?
Start by changing the way we see ourself, or changing what we think about ourself.
If we feel that we can’t succeed, that we’ll only fail, and that no matter what we do things won’t be better… then change this thought pattern.

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary

Dismiss it.
Don’t accept those thoughts.
None of it, is true.
No matter how bleak things may seem we can and will succeed because we were born to succeed.
We need to tell ourselves,  yes …..say it out loud:

I was born to succeed.
Say it again, only this time with a slight change:

I am born to succeed.
We are born to succeed.
When we think of past failures, or if we think we’ll only fail again, change those thoughts. Think of the times we did succeed. Go back as far as we have to.
I want us all to do this right now, thibnk about the times we succeeded, I do not care in what, or how far back we have to go. Think about those times, see ourselves in that moment, how we looked, how we felt, how we felt others saw us, felt about us.
Our mind will tell us things like: “Yeah but that was then, we can’t succeed now.
Who are you kidding. We can’t do this. There’s no way.” Stop this thinking and stop this right now!

Change those thoughts.
Let’s push our mind to find ways to succeed.
Tell ourself, this time I’m doing things differently.
Give ourself reasons to succeed.
Create affirmations that will help us succeed.
The only reason our mind comes up with these excuses for not succeeding is because that’s what it’s used to doing.

Over the years we’ve developed a pattern of thinking and a set of beliefs that have created our current outlook and our current life.

If we keep the same thought patterns and the same beliefs we’ll always have the same life – I guarantee it. Nothing will change… and that’s not good enough! Is it ?

“The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.” – -Dale Carnegie

But if we change our thoughts, change our beliefs, change our outlook we will change our lives – and I can guarantee that as well. I am living proof of that. Let me say this as simply as I can; “If I can do it, then anyone can!”

We need to understand, our subconscious follows our current thoughts and beliefs like a roadmap.
If we think we’re going to fail or that life is difficult, then our subconscious simply says: we expect failure, we therefore want failure, and guess what we will have failure. Our subconscious will make sure we get it.
So if we change what’s in our subconscious, give it a new road map and we’ll get new results.
But first we have to decide what that map, that path, that direction, that trip  is going to look like. We also have to know what we want, then we can create the thoughts, beliefs, outlook and actions that will help us succeed.

When we do that on a regular basis we’ll be living up to our full potential.
We’ll begin succeeding because that’s what we were born to do.
So don’t believe the naysayer in your head.
Believe in yourself and your ability.
We were born to succeed. You are born to succeed.
You have all the ability to achieve your goals and live your dreams.
Direct the power of your mind and subconscious mind to create the happiness, success, wealth, relationships and life you want today. You have the power, the ability, it is your choice.

Nothing happens unless you take responsibility and make that choice, take the steps and keep on that path and head in the direction called ‘ SUCCESS.’