Why do I always need to make the effort and the other one can keep on behaving badly?

I’m the eldest of 4 and I have 3 younger brothers. When I was a kid, I sometimes got frustrated with the behaviour of (one or more of) them and then my mother said: you are the eldest, you need to be the smartest… I always thought it was so unfair! (And fairness is a very important value to me). 

However, I now find myself saying ‘similar’ things to the participants of my courses…

Let’s look at the working environment (it can also apply to your family, of course ;-D)
We all have a colleague we find a bit ‘challenging’… and often, when that is the case, communication is not optimal.
Have you noticed that whatever they say triggers you? (Possibly also the other way around…)
And sometimes they don’t even have to open their mouth… Just seeing them creates a reaction in your body… ‘Oh no, what is he doing now? OMG, it’s always the same thing with her! How is this possible?’

Sounds familiar? It can be a peer, a boss, a team member… And if you don’t work in a company but you are self-employed, it can be a client, a colleague, a service provider, …
Just take a pick!

Newsflash: if you focus long enough on bad behaviour, it will just get worse.
Your mind will only notice the bad behaviour (because the mind likes to be right and therefore looks for ‘proof’) and after a while it’s not about the behaviour anymore but… the ‘badness’ will expand to ‘the whole person’ …
HE is impossible…
And every time you see him, and you get triggered, YOU get all the stress hormones rushing through your body… Not him…
So where is the damage taking place? Indeed… in YOUR body!

Furthermore, have you noticed that when you communicate with him in that ‘state’, you often don’t achieve what you want, he reacts quite defensively and … you both end up feeling upset? Again… does this sound familiar?

Would you agree that NOT having the stress reaction in your body, having a better relationship and (possibly) getting what you want, beats what I just described above?

This is why I recommend that you make the effort … 
You can only control your own behaviour… not the other person’s. 
And you changing yours might lead to him changing his…

Now how do we go about? This is where assertiveness and stress management come in and… they are very complimentary.

This is a possible strategy:

  1. I remind myself of the theory of ‘my business, your business, God’s business’…
  2. I try to focus on the ‘OK-ness’ of the person (coming up with some ‘fish’ might help here…
  3. I check what I can do about my own situation (apart from my relationship with the person concerned): how come I’m so easily triggered? Am I tired? Is there too much on my plate? Can I take some of my stressors off my plate? Can I look at certain things differently? Usually, by doing some stress management for myself, I become a bit more ‘zen’ and I can better deal with things.
  4. I carefully think about what message I would like to pass. I make sure it’s as factual as possible. I keep a ‘win-win’ situation in mind: me ‘winning’ and him ‘loosing’ is not going to be helpful in the long run.
  5. I look for a moment that suits the both of us. I make sure I am in the right frame of mind for the conversation: calm, ok-ok, win-win…
  6. During the conversation I try and remain calm. (In order to do this, I might need techniques I need to practice beforehand ;-D)
  7. While I come prepared, I also remain flexible. It’s important to truly listen to the other one and by doing so, it’s possible that I might change my mind and/or strategy. So it’s important to keep on open mind.
  8. I ensure that we both are clear on what has been decided.
  9. I follow-up: if things do not go as we planned, we need another conversation. However, I make sure not to have the exact same conversation as the first one (although I can refer to it, of course). But I focus on what happened between then and now.

This is, more or less, what I do.

Does it always turn out, perfectly? No…

Do I then start again? If the relationship is ‘important’ enough to me, yes.

What do I mean by that? The person is important to me or …. the fact of having a good (working) relationship is important to me. Maybe somebody is not my favourite person but … we need to work together a lot so … it’s in my own interest that these interactions are as stress-free and efficient as possible…

If you think this could be helpful, feel free to use my ‘strategy’ or tweak it!

If you want more information: a lot can be found in the articles and videos I created in the past. Check out the website and YouTube.

If you prefer to do it in a more structured way: I have 2 online courses: ‘Boost your resilience’ and ‘Say the right thing, at the right time, in the right way’. They are self-study (but should you want to, you can book an extra coaching session).

I’m curious… which step will help you make progress?

If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no…

In September 2020, I participated in ‘Start to golf’: a 1,5-hour introduction to playing golf.

On the one hand, several women I knew where doing and loving it. 
On the other hand, it was one of the things we were ‘allowed’ to do during the pandemic… 
So, I thought: why not?

I went to the session.
It was a beautiful day. It was in the village I originally come from. People were nice.
At the end of the session, we were offered a slightly longer formula of the same ‘Start to golf’: 4 weeks, 1 hour/week, in groups of 4 to 6 people.
I thought: why not?

After that, another offer came: a ‘winter package’. 
We would again meet once a week, in small groups (different ones) and there would also be some social events. 
It would be until the end of March, and if we liked it, in April we could become ‘real’ members of the club. 
Unfortunately, because of lockdown (number 2, if I’m not mistaken …), the social events were cancelled. 
We were, however, still allowed to have our lessons, because it was outside and there was enough distance.
I went to all the lessons, even when it was dark and cold (and even snowing on a couple of occasions). And I practiced once or twice a week on top of that.

Mid-March 2021, I listened to a podcast, where I was reminded that there are 168 hours in a week. 
I did trigger me a bit and I decided to further explore this.
As a coach, I have a lot of exercises to choose from and I decided to take the balance wheel and to write down, for every category (8), my absolute ‘musts’. 
Then I wrote down how much time these ‘musts’ would take.
It will not surprise you that when I started to add them up, the sum was higher than 168. Clearly there were not enough hours in my week?!
Because I couldn’t add any hours to the week, I was forced to examine the current situation.
I realised that, because of covid and some other reasons, I couldn’t ‘group’ some of my ‘musts’ and that was part of the problem.
I also noticed that golf took a lot of hours.
There was the lesson and the practice, there was the one-hour commute, the total was more or less 10 hours/week. 
Those were valuable hours and… all of a sudden, I wasn’t sure anymore if I wanted to give them to golf. The ‘why not’ had just become a ‘do I really really want to do this?’.

And then I just knew. No, I don’t… 

Let’s be clear: I had nothing against golf… but there were other things I would rather do…
I liked combining walking with seeing my friends, for instance…
And if I had to choose between seeing my friends and going to practice golf on my own … I knew what I would go for.

This clarity gave me a sense of relief. 

I knew I was not going to become a member in April. 

And it felt like the right decision.

There were still 2 events. 
A last lesson with the group and then a closing event of the winter package.

During the last lesson with the group, I told the others (all men) that I was going to stop. They all tried to convince me not to do it. 
I shouldn’t quit. 
I needed more time. 
If I got better, I would like it more, etc… 
I just let them talk.

The day of the closing event was also a beautiful, sunny day. 
And again… everybody who heard of my ‘decision’ tried to convince me to stay…
And to cut a long story short: I went for ‘why not?’ again…

Not only did I become a member, I also took 10 private lessons.

And during summer, I hardly went… 
I did feel a bit ‘guilty’ for having spent so much money and then not ‘using’ it.
Also, some family members and friends kept on insisting I should go more… ‘It’s such a nice sport…’

You’d think that by now I would have learned my lesson…


In September 2021, I was again invited to join the winter package.
And while I already knew I was not going to renew my membership… guess what… I talked myself into it!?
My motive? 
‘If I do the winter package, and it allows me to pass the practical test, I didn’t ‘waste’ the money I paid for the membership… ‘
I paid for the winter package, I went 4 – 5 times and then … I didn’t. 
There were valid reasons: I had to work, I had to travel… 
But I also noticed that, when I was at home, and the sun was shining, I was never thinking: how about going to the club to practice a bit?

And it dawned on me that I had to take a decision.

I’m happy to tell you that last week I gave my golf bag to somebody from my group. And it felt good.
On Wednesday I gave some other stuff (balls, tees, … ) to somebody else. And again, it felt like the right thing to do.

What’s the moral of the story?

No, it’s not that I don’t like golf. I liked it but I like other things more.
No, I’m not upset with the people who tried to convince me to keep on playing. They were meaning well.
I am a bit upset with myself for going with the ‘why not’ for so long.
For being so easily convinced and for not respecting my gut feeling from March 2021.

But I also learned a valuable lesson: if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.

That’s going to become a new motto to live by.
There are so many things I still want to do, and so little time. 

How about you? Are you still doing something which deep down you are no longer that excited about? And you keep on doing it because…
… that’s what you do?
… you must finish what you’ve started?
… that’s what people in your family do?
… you’ve paid for it?
… it makes sense (even though it doesn’t feel right anymore…)?

Maybe it’s time for an evaluation?

PS: I’ve learned that having a spontaneous smile on my face when I’m doing an activity is a pretty good indicator.

PPS: I’ve kept a couple of balls and tees to put in prominent places to serve as a reminder … ;-D

Getting things done while working from home


Many of us have been working from home for a long time and it looks like it’s not going to change any time soon.

How has it been for you?

Based on the input I get in my courses, some people find themselves to be more efficient since they are working from home, but others are struggling….

The struggling is mostly linked to the changed circumstances.

  • Some have to home school and/or take care of small children: it’s almost impossible to be as effective as before…
  • Others are worrying about loved ones, suffering from Covid, or in the worst case, even mourning them.
  • Many complain that they can’t get anything done (often people managers) because they have to be ‘available’ all the time and therefore they are constantly interrupted.
  • I also hear that the constant stress and the lack of perspective is starting to take its toll.

Besides, the mere fact of being at home could be distracting: there are so many other things to do…

If you are struggling, my first advice to you would be to take good care of yourself (oxygen mask first!) and to go back to previous articles I wrote.

I have already talked about Stress management in times of a crisis (in March) and I shared my Lessons from Lockdown (July). While these are still valid (do check them below), today I would like to focus on efficiency.

Please find below 10 tips:

  1. No endless to-do lists

Endless to-do lists are not inspiring. Often you get only half (or less) of it done and because of that you feel frustrated at the end of the day. It’s better to only have 3 ‘must do’ items on the list. I try to come up with 3 for the week and then each day 3 for that day. Of course, I will also do other things but … the 3 planned items are a must.

  1. Make sure to also put something ‘important’ in the ‘musts’

… and not only ‘urgent’ things… Even if you can only spend 1 hour on it… this is the way to make sure the important also gets done and you will feel less frustrated.
Besides you do know the story about the vase and the rocks, right? (If not, let me know!)

  1. Start with the hard thing first or … ‘eat the frog’ (another one of those stories)

I agree that for many of us it’s a good thing to do hard things first and get them out of the way. However, if you function/focus better in the afternoon (for instance), it might be better to start your afternoon with it. It is always good to know at what time of the day you function best. The important thing is, make sure that also the hard things get done!

  1. Do not disturb

I am a big fan of helping yourself NOT to be distracted: no mail, no phone, close all the tabs you don’t need. Just do what you need to do. For some of you this is very scary, for a few of you this is almost impossible. But… why not start with 25 minutes? (Remember my article on the pomodoro technique?)

  1. Breaks

Going back to the pomodoro technique which I just mentioned, after every 25 minutes of focus, there is a 5-minute break. Why? Our brain cannot stay focused for too long. Now more than ever: being glued to the screen all day long, as well as being interrupted all the time is very tiring for our brain. So… take a break, and make sure it is away from the screen. If you need inspiration, go back to the articles I mentioned at the beginning of this one.

  1. Mono-tasking

We are all so proud that we can multitask (no, you can’t). Multi-tasking is ineffective and harmful. We need more time to complete a complex task, it exhausts us, it reduces our memory quality, it reduces our IQ… Need I go on?
Again (I know, I’m repeating myself), the pomodoro technique can help: how about working on one thing for one (or 2) session(s)?

  1. Batching

Have you heard of batching? You group similar tasks together and deal with them all in one go. For instance, I did already do some batch cooking: during the weekend, when I have more time I cook bigger portions so I have some meals ready for during the week (=more efficient!). Translating this to work: there are definitely things you can batch: replying to email. Making a series of phone calls. For me it could be writing articles or making videos. It is a way of monotasking. You will be more focused and waste less time. You still need breaks, though!

  1. Parkinson’s law

Have you heard of it? “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
What does it mean? If I have the whole day to do something, it might take all day… or if I have a week to do it… it will be spread out…
How to deal with it? Break down tasks and deadlines, set clear boundaries. The planning and prioritizing from above will also help.

  1. Take note

When you are in the middle of something, and you are thinking of something that also needs to be done. Don’t start doing it (because that would be an interruption and you might lose focus) but … take note. By writing it down, it will stop distracting you and … you can remain focused. It is recommended to have a system for these notes… Post-its tend to disappear, have you noticed?

  1. Working apart together

When you are working at home, on your own, distractions are everywhere. You can already try and apply the tips from above but … sometimes you need something extra. Working apart together. People work together, everybody from their own home (so corona proof), but they work at the same time, they share their objectives and somehow this creates accountability. It becomes easier to stay focused. In the morning, they say they are going to do xyz, and by the end of the day they want to be able to say that they did! I’ve tried this out in different environments and for me it works. Not every day of the week. But 1 day, if I can organize my time, it really does.

On Sunday I got the idea: why do I not host some of these ‘Working apart together’ sessions? And I will. Starting from Friday. (YES – tomorrow, Friday, February 5 and NO, it will not always be a Friday)

How does it work? We start at 9, work in blocks of 1 hour (50 minutes focus, 10 minutes break), with a lunch break and some catching up. We end at 16.30 or 17.00 (depending on whether or not you want to briefly catch up afterwards.)

If you need to get things done and you could use some accountability, this might be something you want to try out… Let’s help each other to be more efficient.

If you are interested, you can sign up here. I’l send you all the practical details and I’ll even throw in some tips for resourcing breaks! (it’s free! No strings attached!) Let’s do this!

Did you find some of these tips useful? Do let me know!

Would you like me to expand on some of them? Let me know too!

Have a lovely day!