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By Ozlem, Oct 31 2014 02:18PM

The Greek philosopher Epictetus once said: “First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak…”

In the last few years, I've been giving greater attention to my words and the words of others as I'm quite fascinated by the subconscious mind and the effect of language on it. And it seems like we've gotten into the habit of over-using some phrases. We use them so automatically, we often don't fully acknowledge what we really are saying. In fact, at times we end up being more on the offensive side than being helpful.

More importantly, our greater realisation of the value of emotionally intelligent communication encourages us to consider the impact of our words as well as our intentions before we speak. And I'm finding more and more that asking explorative, open ended questions is better in communication to understand others and ourselves than just offering automated comments...

Here are a few of these daily phrases that need to be urgently replaced by more thoughtful ones. I’m pretty sure you can add your own ones to the list.

1. You are so lucky.

A well- meaning phrase a lot of us use to remind people to appreciate the things they have in their lives. But does it really have the impact of 'realisation' for the person hearing this phrase? For me, often than not telling someone they are lucky undermines their hard work and efforts. Saying what they have is sheerly down to luck, assumes they didn’t have to do anything for it. Years dedicated to hard work, education and endless, persistent efforts, is not luck. And even in cases where people are born into ‘lucky’ circumstances many of them work hard and make constant efforts not to ruin it all- this once again has nothing to do with luck and evereything to do with planned, persistent, motivated action.

How about being a bit more emotionally intelligent and offering appreciation to people instead: "You have such a great life/ family/ marriage/ job. I very much admire your success-and you've worked really hard for it. I'd like to be/ do/ have that too. What are some of the tips you can give me?"

2. I know exactly how you feel…

Well... Really? Instead of creating the effect of 'support' this phrase often minimises what the other person is feeling because other people seem to know 'exactly' how a situation feels. Can we ever know 'exactly' how somebody feels? No. Because we are not them! We do not have strictly the same circumstances, character, background or experiences. We can empathise. We can remember the times we might have had the same difficulty. At most we can appreciate their situations and try to understand. But, there is no way we can 'exactly' know how a challenge may feel to somebody else, as we are all different.

How about using our words with care and offering them a supporting ear: " I can only try to imagine how you might be feeling. Tell me more..."

3. It’s not a big deal.

For the person using this phrase, it might not be. But is it our place to judge what a big or small deal an event or a situation may be to someone else - no matter how close they are to us? As an example, I find it particularly unhelpful when children and young people are told something they may be experiencing shouldn't be 'a big deal'... The fact is: many things are a big deal for children and young people and we do not want to unintentionally undermine the impact of a situation or a person on them. So, how about replacing this phrase with: " Tell me how you feel about this a bit more, so together we can brainstorm and find a solution..."

4. You are/ this is so nice.

Again an incredibly well- meaning phrase but so over used, it has totally lost it's meaning both for children and adults alike. In fact psychologists suggest that just saying something or someone is nice seriously diminishes the quality of the thing or the importance of the person.

They add that we must clearly explain the reasons why we think someone is nice so our appreciation does not lose it's meaning.

" The way you communicated your feelings to your brother was impressive. You were thoughtful yet assertive. I really appreciate this quality in you. That was so nice!" This way, we are pointing out the precise reason why someone's behaviour deserves recognition and as a result they feel truly valued.

5. Chill out!

When someone is angry or upset, the last thing they want to hear is a patronising: Chill out!

Once again this phrase diminishes the person's feelings completely -yet we think by telling someone to chill out we will prevent the situation from getting worse and psychologists claim the opposite.

Instead, getting the person to look into their emotion and to understand why they're feeling what they're feeling is a more effective way to calm them down, without undermining their emotional state.

"What are you exactly feeling? What is causing you to feel this way? Tell me more " are the types of questions we can ask and things we can say instead.

Hope you find this piece useful and thought provoking.

Until next time, wishing you fun and growth!


By Ozlem, Sep 24 2014 10:37PM

Recently I had to say "No" to a business opportunity I previously was quite keen on. But when it came along, the reality of it was there were far more cons than pros for me. Combining the facts with my gut feeling, I said "No”. To my surprise, instead of feeling worried or guilty after delivering the message, I felt empowered, free and happy. This got me thinking more on our difficulties around saying “No” and how some of my clients, friends and family members also struggle with the word.

Funnily enough, most of us can remember how easily we used to be able to say “No”, when we were young children… For young children “No” is equal to saying “I’m my own boss and I don’t want to do it!”. It’s a fantastic way by which children define their boundaries and separate themselves from others.

So, why does this tiny word become hard to articulate as we get older?

Here are some possible answers:

. We want to be liked.

. We want to maintain good relationships with people.

. We don't want to hurt people's feelings.

. We feel responsible for others- especially for their emotions and their actions.

. We are unwilling to admit that we have limitations.

. We want to look good by giving the impression that we can do it all (and sometimes we genuinely think we can)!

Although all the above reasons seem understandable and of course we need to do our best to maintain caring and kind relationships, we are not responsible for the feelings and actions of others; we all have limitations and nobody can take on endless amount of duties/ roles or spend time with countless amount of people… And here's the thing: None of us can do it all!

So, below are 5 reasons why it is great to say “ No”.

1. Saying “No” is honest and kind.

Yes, it is. Being true to ourselves and others is much kinder than saying "yes” to things and never following up, hence leaving people confused because we meant “no” in the first place. It is honest because it tells the other person that we are truthful to them- when we say "no" we mean it, and when we say “yes” we genuinely will keep to our words.

2. “No” keeps us in control of our lives.

It is an empowering word and it reminds us that we are in charge of our lives. We have choices and we can freely make them. No one else is in control of our lives, but us. The moment we say "yes" to situations or people without really meaning to -we are allowing either to take control. "No" also has a clear message to others: This is me. Acknowledge and accept my boundaries.

3. “No" saves us time and energy.

Our time and energy are the two most important resources we have to create and live the life we want. And unfortunately both are limited. This is the most important reason why we cannot say "yes" to everything and everyone. We have neither the time nor the energy to do it all. The moment we start using them carelessly, we can say ‘goodbye’ to the things and the people that we care about the most. As we only have limited time and energy, we need to use both for the experiences that genuinely matter to us.

4. "No" saves us from burnouts!

When we take on more than we can, in order to show we can do it all, we will be in the panic zone most of the time. Our mental, emotional and physical well-being will suffer terribly. In order to serve ourselves, our families, colleagues, friends...we firstly must be well. How can we perform at our best if we're unwell?

"No" makes us realise we cannot do it all and accept we have limitations. Because we all do and that's alright.

5. "No" helps us prioritise.

The reality is we cannot be everywhere and with everyone. Every time we say "yes" to things we DON'T want, we are saying "no" to things we DO want. The times we say "yes" to people when we we're meant to say "no", we are automatically missing out on time with people that matter to us the most. Saying "no" reminds us what is really important to us and therefore helps us prioritise. It aligns us with our purpose, passions and ambitions. Any activity that is not aligned with our purpose shouldn't be on our list. And it's best to say "yes" to experiences that will excite and energise us.

I can definitely tell you that in order to protect my emotional, mental, physical well- being, my time and my energy, I will be saying " no" much more often than I used to. I hope you do too.

Wishing you all fun and growth!


By Ozlem, Jul 14 2014 10:15PM

We make decisions everyday and we’re constantly told that successful people are decisive. However, we all find the decision making process difficult at times.

Below are 4 limiting beliefs we need to eliminate to make decisions quickly and effectively!

1. A good decision takes a long time to make

One common, unhelpful belief is that we should always spend a considerable amount of time to make a decision- otherwise it won’t be a good one. Of course depending on the type of decision you’re making, you may need to do your research- be more informed about a topic, a person, or a situation. However, if it’s taking you months to make a decision as relatively uncomplicated as ‘which TV you should choose to buy', you may want to check your beliefs. Most decisions are indeed made in an instant. The thing that generally takes time is not ‘making the decision’ but people getting themselves ready to decide. If you align your decisions with your values, beliefs and goals, you will speed the process up.

An example of what you can tell yourself when you feel you’re taking too long to make a decision: I’m intelligent and resourceful to make the best decision on this matter, the latest by….(date)

2. Decisions are hard

Here’s a belief that will stop or at least slow you down from moving forward. And it roots from another belief you may have picked up from your family or community while growing up: Achievement should be hard-earned, in other words: life is supposed to be hard.

If you have this belief, you might think you need to go through pain and feelings of discomfort to make the best decision. And surely the more you think this way, the more the process will get challenging and painful. It is not the decision itself that makes decision-making hard; it is what you say to yourself while making the decision.

For example, if you continuously repeat to yourself that changing jobs, being honest with your friend, talking to your boss about pay, communicating effectively with your teenage- daughter, saving for a new house… will be hard, impossible or painful- be assured that it will be.

But when you change what you repeat to yourself, you will find the motivation, courage and positivity to decide quicker.

An example of what you can tell yourself when you are finding making a particular decision hard: I make this decision with comfort and ease. I choose to learn from the outcomes whatever they may be.

3. I cannot afford to make the wrong decision

Naturally, nobody wants to make the wrong decision. We all want to make the decision that will result in the best outcome. We want to be winners and feel good! And at the heart of this belief lies 2 most common fears: fear of failure and fear of rejection. The truth is: at best you can predict or calculate the outcome of your decisions. You can never be 100 percent sure or can have all the information you need. Yes, chances are, it may be the wrong one. You just need to accept that sometimes you will make the wrong decision and it’s important to recognize that this is essential for learning and growth. You will come out of it stronger.

An example of what you can tell yourself when you’re worried about making the wrong decision: I am making the best decision possible with the information I have. I like and respect myself regardless of the outcome.

4. I must not make a decision that will upset people

This belief is directly connected to the fear of rejection. Most of us try hard to make sure others around us are happy and well. We do not want to intentionally cause upset and it 's important to empathize with our loved ones and colleagues - which is great. However, it’s not our responsibility to make people around us feel good. It is an important quality to be aware of the feelings of others-but there’s a difference between being aware of the feelings of people in your life and getting caught up in their feelings. The truth is your decisions must be helpful to you and must contribute to your happiness first. Your decisions must support the things in life that are important to you, that you are passionate about. If you are not happy and well yourself, would you really be a good partner, friend, parent or colleague? At times, people around you might get upset with your decisions. However, if your intentions are good and you make an effort to explain yourself to the best of your ability, you have nothing to worry about. You are on this earth to fulfil your potential first and then help others to do so. Just like on a plane: “you firstly put your life jacket on, then help others”.

An example of what you can tell yourself when you worry your decision might upset people in your life: I have the best intention for myself and others while making this decision.


1. You will never have all the information you need to make your decisions.

2. You can never definitely know the outcome of a decision.

3. There is no perfect decision. Just make a good one, instead of a perfect one using all the information you have.

4. Give yourself a limited amount of time to make your decision.

5. Ask the opinions of a limited amount of, key people.

6. Catch yourself when you procrastinate and: Act , Act, Act!

Until next time, wishing you fun and growth!


By Ozlem, Jun 22 2014 09:21PM

Love and connection are core human needs we all have to satisfy. We care about other people and we want to be liked. So, worrying about people not liking us or accepting us is normal…until we start behaving like what others think of us has more weight than what we think of ourselves.

Here are 8 reasons why you must stop worrying about what others think of you:

1. People do not think about you. They think about themselves and their own challenges.

As the quote by David Foster Wallace goes: “You will become way less concerned with what people think of you when you realize how seldom they do”. Do not do the mistake of thinking it’s all about you. And don’t take things personally either. The reality is after a meeting, while you unstoppably ask yourself whether you said the right thing, you behaved in the right way or you came across in the way you hoped, the other person has moved on!

2. You can never really know what others think.

You truly cannot- sometimes, even when the other person tells you what they think. We cannot know what others really think of us and we have no way of controlling their thought process. However, we can be aware of and control our own actions, thoughts and emotions. So, notice the power of ‘not really knowing’ and be comfortable with it!

3. What people think of you is their business.

You are on this earth to fulfill your potential. What do you think? What do you want? How do you want to live? What are your values? These should be more important than what others think of you or believe about you. If people would like to find out, they can ask rather than judge or speculate. How people see you is their own interpretation, shaped by their own beliefs and at times judgments- therefore it’s none of your business.

4. You don’t need other people’s approval to be happy.

Don’t wait for permission from others to live your life and be happy. Your confidence and self -worth must not depend on whether others will approve your decisions or not. Continuously looking for approval will result in loss self-confidence and self-belief. It is important to recognize the opinions of others that are close to us, but those opinions cannot be the drivers of our lives or our happiness.

5. Time and energy wasted worrying must be used instead to fulfill your dreams.

Worrying about what others think of you costs you time and energy. When you stop worrying about what others think, you will notice an increase in your energy levels. This energy will allow you to act on your goals. Similarly, the time you spend on worrying can be spent on working towards fulfilling your dreams and actually using your time in a meaningful way.

6. It’s in your interest to assume people will see the best in you.

Yes, people will criticize and judge. If you try to control what they think of you by behaving and speaking in certain ways so that you give an impression that is not authentic, you will not be true to yourself- which will frustrate you and cause you to be unhappy in the long run. So to keep your positivity and motivation high, it is best for you to assume people will see the best in you. This will also make you a more open person and see the best in people yourself.

7. You can only please some people some of the time.

There is absolutely no way of pleasing everyone. Some people will like you and connect with you and some won’t- no matter what. So why try to control what people will think of you? Instead why not control your own thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

8. Accept yourself.

Here is a thought: Being you- is enough! Self-acceptance means you know who you are and you can assess your strengths & weaknesses. This does not mean you won’t change and grow. In fact, self- development comes more naturally to people who like and accept themselves because their self -awareness will allow them to confidently look into themselves and feel responsible for their development.

Until next time, wishing you fun and growth!


By Ozlem, Apr 3 2014 08:30AM

As you begin to implement these 10 steps, you will start seeing the differences in your confidence levels.

I can almost hear you ask: Great- but how do I do all these things on my own? And the answer I’ll give is the obvious one folks: Hire a coach to support you:)!

But alongside that, remember how resourceful you are! You have colleagues, friends and family who can help you. Never ever shy away from asking! There are many books you can read, websites you can visit and a variety of audios you can listen to. You are full of knowledge, connections, and creativity. You just need to tap into your immense potential.

Here is a practical exercise you may find useful:

1. Begin with rating your confidence on a scale of 1-10 in every area of your life.

2. Then think of this: What makes you more confident in some areas of your life than others? What strengths, skills and strategies do you use to have faith in yourself in your most self-confident areas?

3. How could you apply those qualities and strategies to the areas you feel less confident in?

4. Who can support you? Who is the person or people in your life that seem to be confident- talk to them. Find out about their strategies…

5. Write these down and start working on your confidence IMMEDIATELY!

Until next time, wishing you fun and growth!


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