The known or the unknown? That’s the question!

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Imagine going to a new restaurant… Will you choose a dish you’ve never tasted before or will you go for something you know? Or do you tend to go to the same restaurant where you will always order the very same thing? And when you do choose the same thing: is it because you really love it or because there won’t be any negative surprises?

Don’t worry these are no tricky questions… There is no right or wrong.
I like to think you always have a choice, but… that shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course!

Did you know that many people don’t like change? They like the familiarity of things, people and realities they know. Obviously this is not always possible. Sometimes changes are imposed on us (reorganisations, illnesses, relationships going wrong, losing a job, …) and sometimes we choose to change. And this can be stressful! There are many theories on change management and I am not going to go in detail on this now. However, in one of the courses I give, the exercise is to also be aware of what remains the same instead of only focussing on what actually changes.

For example: a reorganisation at work:

  • What changes: new procedures, new working groups, new direct boss
  • What remains the same: I keep on doing the same tasks, I keep on working with 2 of my favourite colleagues, I will still be in the same building which is very close to the station (unlike some of my former colleagues…), etc…

So basically, try to put things into perspective by finding a ‘balance’ between what’s new and what remains the same so you don’t get overwhelmed.

And this brings us to choosing the known or the unknown, or in other words: choosing routine or going for something new.

Recently somebody discovered a pattern I have when travelling (for business, it doesn’t apply when I travel for fun). I travel a lot and there are periods that I am in a different hotel every week. The travelling itself can be quite stressful: very long days, having to rush for planes, having to get familiar with the local public transport system… To compensate I find myself booking the same hotel, or going to the same place to eat, … It’s as if I am creating a ‘local’ routine, which will balance out everything that is NOT the same.

For instance: this week I was in Luxembourg but it was only for one day (and night). I went to my ‘usual’ hotel that I like because I can walk (30 minutes) to a shopping mall where there is a restaurant with healthy fast food. I will also visit some of the shops. This routine satisfies some of my needs:

  • The hotel room is quiet, clean and has a good bed and wifi.
  • The walk helps me to get to my 10.000 steps AND it is pleasant (green environment).
  • I don’t like going to restaurants on my own AND I like to have healthy options, therefore the bio fast food is a perfect option.
  • When I’m at home, there is little time to go to the shops and so I like to do it when I’m away.

Will my trips to Luxembourg all look like that? No! When I am there for a couple of days, or even a week, I have options: I might go to a movie, meet somebody or … the less ‘exciting’ option: I will be working in my hotel room.

What is the point I am trying to make? I think it is useful to stretch both capabilities. On the one hand it’s good to be able to deal with change without getting stressed while it can also be useful to create a routine to fall back on when a lot is going on already…
This gives you options and … choices… and it makes it easier to manage your stress.

Tomorrow I’m going to Helsinki, where I’ve chosen the known: I arrive after midnight, I will be tired so I’ve chosen a hotel close to the airport bus and the training venue.

And… when I work a couple of days from home, I can choose to cook a meal I’ve never cooked before because within the routine, I want some variety. I will choose the unknown.

Where do you choose routine and where do you prefer variety? I’d like to find out in the comments below. And remember: you always have a choice!


PS: One the photo you see my favourite snack at Frankfurt airport: healthy and delicious!

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What’s keeping you from giving negative feedback?



Even though I love positive feedback (in case you didn’t know, check out this section!). There are situations in which negative feedback is necessary. And when I say negative feedback, I mean telling somebody you do not like something they are (not) doing.

Many people find it difficult to give negative feedback, both at work and in their private lives. Of course there are some ticks and tricks that can help you to get better (and more about this next time!). But in most cases, we first have to work on our beliefs. Beliefs?

Everybody has thousands of beliefs… Beliefs about themselves, the others, the world, life in general… And these beliefs determine how we are going to behave.
If I belief one should have a good breakfast in the morning, what am I going to do? Indeed, have a good breakfast.
And therefore: if I believe it’s not up to me to give feedback, what am I going to do? Indeed … I am not going to give feedback (because it’s not up to me).

So let’s start by having a look at some beliefs that might keep you from giving good feedback. You might recognize some of them…

He must know he’s doing something wrong. It’s so obvious! How is telling him going to change that?
Well, he doesn’t have a crystal ball at home. Most people do not do something ‘wrong’ on purpose… Most of the time they think what they do is ok. And should he be doing it on purpose, like ‘testing the limits’, it’s up to you to give feedback that this is not ok or off limits…

If I tell her that she is doing something wrong she will be upset with me and I don’t like conflicts.
Maybe she’ll be happy and not upset because at least now she knows what you are expecting. Furthermore she might like the feedback because it means you are noticing what she is doing, it is worse to do you best, work hard and never receive any feedback. And last but not least: when people get upset when receiving feedback, it has often more to do with how it has been giving instead of with what has been said.

I will wait a while, the problem will sort itself out.
Every once in a while this can happen. For instance: somebody is arriving late consistently because they are having some issues at home but once this is over, they are back on time. Now if it doesn’t take very long, it’s probably ok. However, if things go on for a while, you might get more and more upset and start to focus on everything the person does ‘wrong’ and you will stop noticing what he’s doing right. And it’s very likely that, when you are finally going to give feedback, it’s going to come out more ‘aggressively’ than you would have liked/imagined… And even if it’s only a couple of times, this could have serious consequences… So you need to say something. Furthermore: what if they really don’t know they are not doing it right?

I will wait until the official annual evaluation (= work environment): that’s the time and place for feedback. I can then say everything at once. So much easier.
Actually: nothing of what you say during the annual evaluation should come as a surprise… It is supposed to be a summary of all the feedback that has been giving over the year. What are the 2 disadvantage of waiting for a whole year? First of all: if John does something wrong in March, and you’re only going to tell him in January (next year), he might keep on making the same mistake for 10 months, with serious consequences… And secondly: if John will have to listen to a list of 27 things (=big and small) he did wrong over the past year, he is more likely to get a bit defensive and not very open to what you have to say…

Now that I’ve given him the feedback, things will change.
Not necessarily. If you just gave feedback without having a real conversation, in which the other person can also express himself, it is possible nothing will change. Maybe he doesn’t agree there is a problem. Or maybe he doesn’t agree with the solution you proposed/imposed… It might also not be under his control… My point? Giving feedback is not a one-way-street. You give your ‘view’ of the situation and you are also willing to listen to the other person’s view. And… should he tell you he’s going to change and then he doesn’t, you should address it again…

What’s keeping YOU from giving negative feedback?

Share it in the comments below and we might find a ‘solution’ to it!


If you liked the above, you can sign up for more Tips & Tricks here. Looking forward to hearing from you!
If you want to work more on your beliefs, I recommend my free mini-course ‘Don’t believe everything you think!’

If you want to improve your assertive communication, sign up for my online assertiveness course ‘Say the right thing, at the right time, in the right way!’ 



The Parable of the Porpoise

Some people know me as the ‘fish lady’… Not because I love eating fish… No, I like to ‘give’ them…

‘Giving fish???’ – I am sure you are dying to know more so you can start spreading the fish yourself!

What do I have to make your life easier?

  • I have written two blog posts about it: This is the first one and this is the second.
  • I have even created a template you can use:  Fish template (print out 2 pages and then copy recto verso)
  • And where did I get my inspiration? I was first introduced to it in a train-the-trainer course at NLPU – Here you find more information.

What’s keeping you? Go spread the fish!

If you liked the above, you can sign up for more Tips & Tricks here. Looking forward to hearing from you!