Life and Spiritual Coaching

November 19, 2008

Being Creative

Filed under: Communications — by Donna Ritter @ 1:46 pm

Here are 9 practices I personally use to help me in ‘cultivating’ creativity.


  • Being Relaxed – Take a moment to do something that makes you happy; that brings you joy; that you love; that centers you. Meditate, take a walk, go for a swim, read something that puts you in a good mood, journaling – writing down your thoughts (this can be so rewarding!).
  • Gratitude – Thinking about all things you are grateful for produces a positive energy flow and vibration. As you feel the love in your heart for all the wonderful blessings and gifts in your life, you will instantly relax and feel all warm-and-fuzzy inside. In that moment of warmth and love, you are open to creative energy.
  • Tickling Your Imagination – Imagination is highly visual. I’ve found it helpful to practice seeing vivid images with my eyes closed.
    • Try it. Close your eyes, and imagine that you are in a scene, any scene. Okay – pick your ideal scene, practice seeing the details of your environment in this scene. See the colors, the textures, touch something. What does it feel like? What do you hear? What do you smell? What is the temperature like? Etc.
  • Being In the Moment – Every outstanding musician or artist will tell you that when they are creating great music or art, there are no thoughts, they are completely in the moment, and experiencing flow. Athletes call this ‘being in the zone‘. You can practice present moment awareness by giving full attention to whatever you are doing: eating, washing dishes, making your bed, etc. Meditation helps tremendously. The book “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle is also highly recommended.
  • Being Inspired – Practice seeing beautiful things that moves you emotionally. Flip through a book containing thought provoking images, go to an art gallery, read something inspirational, talk to someone who calms you.
  • Drawing – This may sounds funny, but one of the effective ways to practice getting in touch with your creative side is to start drawing. Drawing forces you to see things differently. I highly recommend the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” and the workbook by Betty Edwards. This book was designed for people who has never drawn before. I first heard about this book from a psychology textbook. I have gained much from its insights.
  • Seeing Alternatives – Be curious. Practice asking yourself how to do something differently. When seeing the solution to a problem, ask yourself, “What are some alternative ways to doing this?“. Develop the mental attitude that “there is always another way” even when alternatives seem ‘impossible’.
  • Being Open – Never shut down any idea that comes your way, do not make judgments about it. Appreciate any idea that comes to you, even ones that seem “stupid” or “obvious”. This way, you encourage more creative ideas to surface from your being.
  • Think on Paper – With a bunch of loose paper (or notebook, I prefer loose paper so you don’t feel restricted that you have to keep the page ‘straight’ and organized.), start jotting ideas down. Write everything down that comes to your head: random words, phrases, ideas, thoughts… sometimes you might want to circle things and draw lines to connect ideas. When an inspiration hits, follow it. If you suddenly have a different idea, jot it down somewhere on the page or in a new page. This is how I construct blog articles. I start with ideas and points, sometimes really crappy points at the start, and once I fall into ‘flow‘, the article will take shape before my eyes .

October 23, 2008


Filed under: Communications,Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 5:46 pm

An important part of using others as creative problem solving resources is, of course, making sure you understand their ideas and suggestions. One technique used to do this is “paraphrasing”. This is the act of summarizing someone’s thoughts using different words. It is important to check your understanding, even when you think you understand. It is a natural tendency to not check our understanding when we do think we comprehend. However, because our understanding is based on not just what was said, but also our interpretation of what was said, the understanding could be way off the mark. In order to avoid this misunderstanding, when you paraphrase a thought, be sure to check it with the person doing the communicating. A paraphrase is not complete until the person offering the suggestion agrees.


When paraphrasing, it is important to not only understand what the person said but what they meant! Even if you think you hear the words correctly, your understanding of the intended meaning can still be off the mark. It is important that you check your understanding, especially in these situations:


·    Prior to developing someone’s thoughts or to make a final decision to accept or reject them.

·    Prior to agreeing or disagreeing with someone’s view or information about a problem.

·    Prior to judging or evaluating someone’s work or actions.


Paraphrasing is not only useful in confirming that you have understood what was being said, but it is also the only way the other person can be sure you were actually listening. In addition, a useful, though not foolproof way to use paraphrasing is to try to manage someone who is rambling or repeating. If, as a facilitator, you can step in and paraphrase what their thoughts are, you can more effectively capture their idea and then move to the next person.


Here are six steps to effective paraphrasing:


1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.

3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.

4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.

5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.

6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.


October 21, 2008

8 tips to great listening skills

Filed under: Communications,Life Balance — by Donna Ritter @ 4:12 pm


To become a good listener you want to hear the other person. Think about your own experiences. Didn’t you feel much better when you were truly listened to? Here are eight ways to help you become a better listener:

1.   Look at the speaker and keep your eyes on them:

The whole listening process begins with giving the person your undivided attention. Do not catch up on other work, read your email, take calls or shuffle papers. How would you feel if it were you in this case? If you don’t have time at that instant, make a new appointment as soon as possible.

2.   Don’t interrupt:

Most people react badly to this and at the very least are hurt by it. People who interrupt to so for several reasons:

·         They care about what the person is saying

·         They want to impress others (or themselves) with how smart they are

·         They are too excited by the conversation to let the other person finish!

If you have this habit (one of my faults I am working on) examine your motives and determine to make a change. Would you like to be around someone like this? Let the other person express themselves and also to feel comfortable if there happen to be silences in the conversation. This gives each of you time to take notes (if applicable).

3.   Concentrate on Understanding:

Have you ever noticed how quickly people forget what has just been said? Communications also includes noticing tone, body language etc. – not just the words being said.

4.   Determine the need at the moment:

A lot of people find themselves in conflict because they occasionally communicate at cross-purposes. They neglect to determine the need of the other person at the moment of interaction. Men usually want to fix any problems they discuss. Women are more likely to tell about a problem simply to share it; they neither request nor desire a solution. Anytime you can determine the current need of the people you’re communicating with, you can put whatever they say into appropriate context. And you will better understand them.

5.   Check your emotions:

Most people carry around a lot of emotional baggage that causes them to react to different people or situations. Anytime a person has an axe to grind, the words of others are drowned by the sound of the grindstone. Anytime you become highly emotional when listening to another person, check your emotions – especially if your reaction seems stronger than the situation warrants. You don’t want to make an unsuspecting person the recipient of your venting. Always allow others to finish explaining their points of view before offering your own.

6.   Suspend your judgment:

Have you ever begun listening to another person tell a story and just started to respond before he/she was finished? Just about everyone has. The truth is that you can’t jump to conclusions and be a good listener at the same time. As you talk to others, wait to hear the whole story before responding. If not, you might miss the best part!

Experts agree that listening is most effective when you’re active. If you train yourself to comment meaningfully, the speaker will know what you are saying and may offer further information.

7.   Ask questions for clarity:

Looking at the person, focusing on what they are saying for understanding, suspending judgment and summing up what the person says is a key technique that most interviewers use. Another skill that helps to gather more information and increase your understanding is to ask good questions.

8.   Always make listening your priority:

The last thing to remember when developing good listening skills is to make “listening” a priority, not matter how busy you become or how far you rise in your organization. These skills serve you well with family and friends as well.



October 14, 2008

Saying “No” When it’s not that Simple

Filed under: Communications,Life Balance — by Donna Ritter @ 12:11 pm
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Saying “No” When it’s not that Simple

Sabrina Schleicher, Ph.D.


As a psychologist and life coach, I often find myself discussing the importance of saying “no” with busy, stressed out business owners and professionals. Everyone likes the idea of saying “no” more often, at least in theory. But, when it comes to actually doing it, I hear a lot of “yes, buts.” In other words, “yes, I could say no to that, but then who would do it?” or “yes, I could say no to that volunteer project, but then I might disappoint them.” Why is it so hard to say “no” to others?

Most of us experiencing success in our careers have learned one lesson really well–if you want to move ahead, you have to be willing to do the work. Translation, say “yes” to opportunities that come your way–you never know where it will lead. Well, look where that has led you. . . right to reading this article, looking for a solution to managing the stress from your busy life!  
The truth is, we are much better at saying “yes” than we are at saying “no.” Saying “yes” is easy, even if it means more stress and frustration down the road. When you say “yes,” the person asking something of you smiles, thanks you, and you are left feeling as though you have pleased someone. There is a lot of emotional payoff in that.


Saying “no” is not immediately gratifying to us. Although rationally we know that saying “no” will mean we will feel less stressed in the future, when we say “no,” we may feel guilty about disappointing the person who has made a request of us. Or, we may fear the consequences of saying “no.” What’s so good about that? Not much. That’s why simply telling yourself to say “no” more often is not a very effective means of managing your busy life and career. 
So, what’s the alternative? Contemplate saying “yes” with awareness of what the “no” is in every “yes.” For every task or project we agree to do, we are saying “no” to something else. For example, when you are starting a small business, there are a lot of start-up costs. You also are investing your time and energy into developing your product, building your customer base, and networking to promote your business. Your resources are limited and you have some difficult choices to make about where to invest your resources. Your time and energy are precious resources, as are your financial resources. Yet, we tend to believe we can stretch ourselves thinner and thinner by cramming more and more into our day. This simply does not work in the long-term because you deplete your energy.

Instead, think of your time and energy as being limited, just as you think of your financial resources as having a limit. This will help you to use all of your resources wisely. When you say “yes” to one opportunity or project, you are saying “no” to something else in your life. So, when you say “yes” to volunteering on a project, you will be committing your time and energy to that project. What are you saying “no” to? Where else would you be spending that time and energy? Perhaps you are saying “no” to some relaxing time with your family, or time spent developing your product. It becomes much simpler to say “no” to others when you are fully aware of the impact your choices have on your business and personal life.

Being fully aware of our choices allows us to make choices congruent with our goals, values, and life purpose. This brings us closer to a sense of balance.  


Try this over the coming week: Each time you are presented with a new opportunity, project, or task, ask yourself, “what am I saying ‘no’ to by saying ‘yes’ in this situation?” Write this question on a piece of paper and post it where you will see it often. You will soon be making wiser choices about how to allocate your precious time and energy.


October 11, 2008

Five Keys to Great Relationships!

Filed under: Communications,Life Coaching,People — by Donna Ritter @ 4:26 pm
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Everyone has had the experience of “connecting” to someone almost immediately when you meet. This is the art of building solid relationships. When you feel this connection you are glued to the conversation and sometimes can finish each other’s sentences.


Just about everything you do relies on teamwork. It is vital to a well working Project team, a family, lasting friendships etc. These are five things to look for in a solid relationship:


1.   Respect: Everyone wants to feel important and that they matter. The key is that you show respect to others even before they have done anything to warrant it. You respect others because they are simply human beings. At the same time, you should have to expect to earn it from others. This makes working through conflicts much easier.

2.   Shared Experiences: Respect can lay the foundation for a good relationship, but it’s not enough. You can’t be rational with someone you don’t know. It takes shared experiences over time. This is easy in families, but if you have a project team with high turnover, you need to work at building those relationships.

3.   Trust: When you respect people, and build shared experiences, you are in a position to develop trust. It is essential to every relationship.

4.   Reciprocity: One sided relationships don’t last long. If one person is the giver and one person is the receiver, there is no win-win dynamic. You should ask your teammates, colleagues and friends about their dreams and hopes. Give people your full attention and look them in the eye when you are in conversation.

5.   Mutual Enjoyment: When relationships start to grow really solid, the people begin to enjoy each other. Just being together can turn unpleasant tasks into positive experiences. Becoming a master at building relationships brings individual and team success.

August 12, 2008

Listening and Understand other People

Filed under: Communications — by Donna Ritter @ 1:34 pm
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Do you remember that saying “Before I can walk in another’s shoes, I must first remove my own?” Communication is the deepest need of the human heart and soul. Everyone wants to be respected and valued for who they are. If you want someone to open up to you, they need to feel safe and understood.  

The number one thing you need to do is to listen. Most people have poor listening skills though. When people are talking we seldom listen because we are busy thinking about how we will respond. These are the most common poor listening styles:

·         Spacing out: the typical adult human’s attention span is about 20 minutes, but if they aren’t hooked, spacing out can be a problem. You need to actively listen to people to keep your mind on what they are saying.

·         Pretend listening: Some people make comments like “yeah” or “sounds great” when all along they still aren’t listening.

·         Selective listening: This is when you pay attention only to the part that interests you. This won’t win you any lasting relationships!

·         Self-centered listening: This happens when we see everything from our own point of view instead of trying to understand how the person feels.

·         Judging: Sometimes, as we listen to others, we make judgments about them and what they are saying. If you are busy judging, you are not really listening are you?

·         Advising: This is when we give advice drawn from our own experience – they typical “When I was your age…” speech you get from your elders.

Genuine listening:

First listen with your eyes, heart and ears. Listening with your ears alone isn’t good enough, because you typically only pick up 7% of what is being said. The rest comes from body language (53%) and the tone or feeling reflected in our voice (40%).

To hear what people are really saying, you need to listen to what they are not saying. No matter how hard people appear on the surface, everyone is tender inside and has a desperate need to be understood.

Second, stand in their shoes. To become a genuine listener, you need to put yourself in the other persons place.

Third, practice mirroring. This is very effective. Repeat back in your own words what you here the other person saying. Mirroring phrases are “As I get it, you felt that…” or “So, what you’re saying is…”

After you have mastered actively listening to a person, you are half the way to a great communicator. Next, seek to be understood. Giving feedback requires that you first understand the person and then you can get your message across to them in a way they will understand.

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