The Hidden Key to Communication

The Hidden Key to Communication

A lot has been written about effective communication: active listening, recognizing non verbal communication, asking questions, clarifying and summarizing your speaking points, providing feedback and developing trust and rapport. All of these tips make sense and are useful in any conversation. So with everything we’ve been taught to do or say, why is it that so many of us still feel we aren’t being heard? The real game changer, prior to all the techniques and strategies, is bringing ourselves fully to the conversation. The question then becomes: how do we do that?

Most of the time we just assume the person we’re talking to will hear what we’re saying, but how often does that really happen? It’s far more common to have a conversation with someone who’s simply waiting for us to finish so they can either give their opinion, defend their position, offer advice or refuse to be of any help whatsoever. And that’s not what we’re looking for.

Few people experience really being listened to. When the person we’re talking to is simply inhabiting their physical body we get a particular feeling about that. The most obvious indicator is that they’re not stopping what they’re doing to look you in the eye for more than a second because they’re distracted or checking their phone or multi-tasking. Beyond that, you sense the flatness; there’s no sense of connection and your words seem to bounce off a brick wall. Granted, not every conversation is one in which there’s deep connection and understanding. In a business context that’s often not possible and depending on the situation, maybe not even desirable. But what is possible is a simple acknowledgement of our shared humanness and an intention to have a positive exchange.

What if, in order to improve our experience – both for the listener and the speaker – we began by taking into account our state of mind? It’s certainly not the place most people start. It may seem overly simplistic to say that any conversation is significantly improved when we aren’t already preoccupied with a thousand different things, regardless of who’s doing the talking and who’s doing the listening. First you need to be aware when your mind is full of busy thoughts about problems you need to solve or people you need to deal with. That awareness by itself will break the spell of preoccupation and remind you to take a stop and really be with the person you’re talking to. It’s as easy as making sure your shoelaces are tied before you step out your door. Usually we get so caught up in the need to keep running that we don’t even think to look down until we trip up. But once we know the consequences of trying to run with untied shoelaces, we know to prepare in advance. It’s the same with having a conversation, only we look within ourselves rather than at something outside ourselves.

Our state of mind is colored by our mood and the feelings that go with it. We can improve our ability to relate to each other by factoring in the effect of our moods – both ours and the person we’re talking to. This is something that’s so fundamental we almost forget about it entirely. But, in fact, our low moods do affect our ability to communicate effectively. We forget that when we’re in a low mood, our ability to speak clearly or listen fully is minimized. When we’re feeling badly, it’s way too easy to fall into blame or resentment or defensiveness because we’re already feeling vulnerable, as if we somehow need to protect ourselves before anyone even has a chance to get the words out of their mouth.

If we give each other the breathing room to allow our moods to change, we have a far greater chance of engaging in conversation that may that may potentially contain an emotional charge. We start with noticing our own moods and how they make us feel, and then we begin to recognize how other people are also driven by their moods. This is a form of compassion that begins with you, a form of self care, if you will. And once you take care of yourself this way, you find you automatically extend the same kindness to others.

These dynamics – state of mind and mood – are equally true whether the conversation takes place in the office or the living room. For example, perhaps you run a business and have employees working for you, or you’re in a management position and want to be effective in engaging others in your vision. Understanding the nuances of the human condition is invaluable because it both increases your ability to convey what’s important to you and increases the engagement of those you work with.

As you increase your ability to recognize low moods and busy states of mind, you also become aware of the feelings connected to them. Self awareness is the gateway to so many improvements in our lives! We come to see not only what’s in our way but we gain access to our own resources we hadn’t noticed before. You come to see that low moods will pass and busy minds will settle without the need to manipulate them. They’re much like the clouds that cover over the sun; they dissipate on their own without our having to do anything to fix or improve them. Once we understand how transient moods and thoughts and feelings really are, we can either adjust our timing or make sure we create a safe and supportive context for dialogue.

Recognizing the role of our state of mind enables us to become fully present – and presence is transformative. It’s the real source of connection between us, and we all know when it’s there or it’s missing. When we can let go of rehearsing, anticipating or assuming anything about what might occur, we can set the stage for the most valuable and affirming possibilities to occur.

Nina Lockwood
Certified Transformative Coach

nina lockwood image

Nina Lockwood is a transformative coach, speaker, facilitator and trainer with over 30 years of expertise in psychology and personal development and 20 years in the fields of health and wellness. Drawing from an interdisciplinary background, Nina works with individuals and organizations to achieve improved performance, problem solving, productivity and to minimize the effects of stress and pressure.

For more information about Nina Lockwood go to

Opinions expressed by Savvy Women blog contributors are their own.

Healthy Travel Tips

Healthy Travel Tips

One of my favorite things to do is travel! I have gone to almost every state in the United States, and last year, I explored Thailand and Vietnam. I also love to go by motorcycle and check out our National Parks, as well as many other areas. We live in a beautiful country, and the thought of not getting to explore it would be a shame. I also think that planning a trip, and taking into consideration your health is critically important; especially if you are leaving the United States.

When you are excited to travel on a trip, it is easy to get caught up in the planning of where you are going, and how you are going to get there. Also; don’t forget that if you are not feeling well, it may be memorable, but it will not be enjoyable. It is essential to consider your health, and how you can boost your immune system before, and while traveling.

Also, it is essential to consider things like:

Sleep – If you typically get 6 hours of sleep, be sure to get those hours prior, and during your travel. If you usually get 8 hours, then be sure to get at least 8 hours. It is so tempting to stay up late because you do not want to miss anything. But you will pay for it if you end up getting run down and sick, and that is not enjoyable.

Health – I always bring a natural healthy medicine cabinet container in my carry on for remedies like; motion sickness, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, restless legs, and daily nutrition. Remember:  take your daily vitamins; and if you take prescription medications, bring the amount you will need for the entire trip. Bring extra, in case of any delays, or you choose to delay your return trip.

Snacks – Super important if traveling by car; bring a little cooler bag with an ice pack, and; some peeled hard boiled eggs, almonds, and good quality protein bars. Never rely on food availability too much, such as;  junk food, and things I wouldn’t even consider eating. Be sure to bring lots of clean water also. I bring a thermos with ice, and by the time it melts, I have gone through the water bottles I have brought. Try to use glass or stainless steel; it is healthier for you.

Brimmed Hat – Don’t forget to block those harmful rays by wearing a comfortable brimmed hat.  Did you know that you can actually get sunburned on your head? Some people don’t like to wear them. I know I hate it, too; it always flattens my hair. If you are a fashionista, then get yourself a hat. You’ll block the sun,; and stay healthier; so go for it!

Sunglasses – There is nothing like being on a trip and losing your sunglasses. You will have to stop the fun to find a good pair of sunglasses; so why not just bring two. They don’t take up that much room.
Comfy shoes – I prefer to travel in Oofos sandals easy off and on and supportive sandals. My feet are super comfortable in these especially if flying.

Ironing – Nowadays you don’t need to purchase clothes that require ironing so why pack something that will require ironing. You are on vacation! No work allowed!

Sunscreen – Look for a sunscreen that is paraben free, water resistant, oil-free, and one that smoothes easily into your skin and absorbs quickly, without leaving a sticky residue that does not irritate your skin.

Inset Repellant – There are a few choices out there that I would not recommend it isn’t healthy to put chemicals on your skin. My personal preference is an organic product that is safe and effective. 

Pack Ahead
 – I always begin packing two days before my travel because I remember things as the days go by and can add them while it is on my mind. Be sure to have a running list and check it off as you drop it in the suitcase, so you don’t have to go through to ensure it is packed. I always put in my carry on a travel toothbrush, my natural healthy medicine cabinet, deodorant, bathing suit, sundress, and pajamas. In case they have a delay getting my checked bag, I can still take advantage of the pool if there is one and sleep comfortably.

Disinfectant Wipes – I always bring a ziplock bag with disinfectant wipes to wipe down everything that people tend to touch when flying. The ones I use and recommend, kill odor-causing bacteria and 99.9% of Salmonella and E-coli. 

Toilet Paper – In Thailand and Vietnam, the restrooms are a bit different so pack your own travel size tissues. In some locations, there is literally a hole that you squat over so think shoes and clothes that this would be easy to do in. So if you are traveling out of the United States, check what the facilities are like ahead of time. I am sure there are Facebook Groups that you can join and ask. I belong to one called Girls Love to Travel.

Motion Sickness – I get car sick, air sick, and ill on boats. I use peppermint ginger a half hour before my travel, and when flying, I also wear sea bands. Sea bands can be found in most drug stores; the key is the correct placement on your wrists, use two fingers together across your wrist and slide the sea band at the edge. I gave up years ago prematurely thinking they would not work for me, my friend encouraged me to try again, and they actually do work. If you find yourself without any of these remedies and are feeling sick on a plane, ask for half ginger ale and half seltzer that will help you in a pinch.

In February three years ago, we were traveling for a little over 3 months. The first stop was to New York City to go to a birthday dinner and then a Broadway Show and stay overnight before getting back on the road to head south. 
Here is what I did that made it very easy not to have to carry and unpack and repack a huge suitcase. I packed one bag for the first place we were stopping and put all my toiletries in one kit that could smoothly go from each bag. That bag was so much smaller and much easier to carry for a one night stay.

The second stop was North Carolina, where we had expected it to be a little warmer but not super warm. Upon putting the first suitcase in the car, I added my toiletries to the next bag that was packed with less dressy clothes and for slightly warmer weather. 

The third stop was Florida, definitely much warmer and bathing suit weather so that bag had warmer weather clothes and I just added my toiletry kit.

The fourth stop was going to be a bit more of a challenge because we rented a motorcycle and headed down to the Florida Keys. I always have my travel size skin care and toiletries in a bag that is as small as I can make it, so that fit comfortably in the side compartment of the motorcycle. I just needed to fit enough clothes and shoes in the rest of the side bag. I brought lightweight clothing that I could easily wash out at night and hang to dry at the hotel. I always pack a super lightweight sundress that is super thin because I can fit that easily. My sneakers always go in the trunk bag, and my sandals fit nicely in the side bag.

The fifth stop would be back to our friends home, and I was able to do laundry. 

The sixth stop was Houston, TX, to visit my father’s grave and spend some time with my cousin and attend the Houston Rodeo. You got it! Another bag in the back of my Honda CR-V. 

The seventh stop was New Orleans, and no need for another bag as the Houston, TX bag was all refreshed and ready to go.

I think you get the picture having specific bags for each leg of your journey makes it so much simpler when in and out of hotels, relatives, and friends.

You can never be too prepared. After I return from any trip, I do a 7-Day Healthy Cleanse because the benefits are amazing. This helps me completely reset my system, reduce cravings, improves my sleep, and jump-starts my weight loss to get back on track in case I overindulged a little. I love the carefully selected combination of supplements in convenient daily packets with a step-by-step cleanse guide.

Enjoy your travels and remember your not promised tomorrow so DO IT TODAY!

Savvy Blog Contributor:

Deb Darby – It’s rare for anyone to get an hour to explore their wellness goals with a trained professional. As an Integrative Nutrition* Health Coach, Deb Darby creates a supportive environment that enables you to articulate and achieve your goals. Throughout her education, she has been exposed to the most cutting-edge dietary theories and studied highly effective coaching techniques to help you find the right lifestyle that works best for you.

Debra Darby
Vacation Prep and Planning

Vacation Prep and Planning

Often people who have their own business get very concerned that they can’t take a vacation, or they will have to overwork either before/after their vacation like a crazy person.  This does not have to be true.

It all comes down to planning.  If you know that you are going to take two weeks of vacation each year then plan to make the difference up over the other 50 weeks, not the week before or the week after the vacation.

Make sure that you have tied up all your loose ends BEFORE going on vacation, so they don’t unravel WHILE you are vacation.  You need time off. 

Also, look at the possibility of having someone “cover” your clients if an emergency comes up while you are gone.  Communication is key so, let your clients know that you are away and will not be available.  Advise them of your departure and return dates so they know.  It doesn’t hurt to send out an email to remind them.  You may need to also set something up for new or potential clients, so they know you are unavailable.  This can avoid you losing potential business or upsetting a client.

I am all about planning to make sure you can have fun!

On the personal side you also want to do several things like:

  • Having mail held at post office or someone picking it up
  • Notify your credit cards that you will be away (this can save big problems while you are gone)
  • Have someone keep an eye on your house

Remember you can go on vacation and have a great time with some good planning.  Plan to have fun!

What are your tips for planning before leaving for vacation? Leave a comment below…

Blog Contributor:

Colleen Parisi owner of A Walk in the Park with Colleen.  Takes the stress out of planning a trip to Disney and put the fun in!!

Colleen’s belief is that everyone should have a great time at Disney!  Growing up her family called her “Julie” (for those that don’t get it, it is a reference to a TV show called Love Boat and Julie was the cruise director).  Colleen has always been a planner and now does it as a business and to help other businesses.

Opinions expressed by Savvy Women blog contributors are their own.

Chaos in your business?

Chaos in your business?

How often does life seem chaotic to you? Some of us are energized by the chaos. Others are totally thrown off by the chaos……. it’s important to make sense of the chaos AND BE ORGANIZED in order to truly succeed.


  • Review your business goals every day.

Keeping your goals front and center allows you to weave through the chaos. It’s an introspective process that helps you hack at extraneous details. It can reveal what is important, what is a waste of time and what you should do about it all.

  • Batch tasks

Batching is collecting all of your similar tasks for the day (or week) and doing them all at once.

Email: Sit down and do it all at once. 
Writing articles: Get it done in a single morning.
Writing your business plan: Take an afternoon and write it down.
Don't let your week be a jumble of activities
  • Work on the one thing that will move your business forward.

For most business owners there’s that one thing in your mind that you know you should do. You recognize its importance and even realize that it has the potential to change your business and dramatically move things forward.

The problem? You feel too disorganized to do it.

A simple way to usher organization into your life is to just do it. Every day when you wake up, resolve to do at least one task that will move your business forward.

Doing so will organize your thinking and your priorities. It will give you a clear and coherent vision for the success of your business. Creating a Vision board helps.

  • Choose a few major tasks for the day.

Staying organized is as much about what you choose not to do as it is about what you choose to do.

Choosing too many “priorities” for the day will crush you and leave you gasping for relief. Before you know it, your day will crumble into a pile of disorganized chaos.

The secret to staying on track?

Select a few things that you need to get done for the day. Maybe it’s a single task — an article, a marketing plan, one step in a new hire, etc., — that you must get done.

Move the Big Rocks. They are the major things you want to get done this week.

Unfortunately, These Big Rocks get pushed back from week to week because we never have time to do them — our days fill up too quickly. Too often we overstep the Big Rocks.

How do you avoid this problem? By planning your week with the Big Rocks first.

  • If you have staff….. delegate!
    The art of delegation may be the difference between businesses who flounder and the ones that succeed. Understand why you’re not delegating.
    Measure how you’re doing.
    Choose the right people.
    Integrate delegation into what you already do.
    Ask others to hold you accountable.
    Really let go.
    Learn from experience.

Things that business owners must learn to delegate:

Anything you don’t enjoy doing.
Anything you don’t do well. 
Anything that will help to increase cash flow.
Anything that is getting in the way of growing your business. 
Anything that is process-oriented (easy to do) but time consuming. 
Anything you want a team member or aspiring leader to learn to do.

If you attempt to operate your business without a thought as to organization, you’ll fail. If you guide your task with an organized mindset, you will succeed!

Need help getting you on the right track?

About the Author: Manuela Broderick

The Professional Organizer, Planner and Stager

If you would like to write a guest post on our blog please email

A few steps to get you started on the path of exploring your personal brand

A few steps to get you started on the path of exploring your personal brand

We have all done it…. rolled out of bed, and hit the ground running with full intentions of returning to “get dressed.”  Now, somehow it’s noon, and we still are not really put together for how we intended. Sure, you never anticipated having to go on three different errands, yet, it happens. Perhaps you had to dash to the school to drop off your child’s project, which was left behind. Or swing into the post office to mail an order to a client. And then of course, there is the practical added errand like getting milk to save a later trip. As luck would have it you run into three people you know along the way…

How do you feel when you engage with these people? Are you happy to see them? Are you comfortable? Do you feel prepared to answer a question about your business? Or, are you just hoping they don’t notice the toothpaste markings on your sweatshirt…?

I am not advocating for perfection. Perfection is not realistic, and it’s not genuine. I am a believer of feeling comfortable. That can mean many things to different people. I know for me when I feel disheveled or drab, I don’t feel my best. This in turn can influence how I interact with others.

How we present ourselves in every area of our lives sets the tone. Whether we are aware of this or not, we ARE our personal image; this influences how others perceive us. While it would be nice to think we are not so impressionable, we as humans simply are. What we wear is a huge piece of how we present ourselves to the world.

Everything we do affects our personal and professional brand. It is up to us to determine whether our brand is affected positively or negatively.

What exactly is Branding?

Simply put, branding is the process of influencing perception. Branding helps people perceive us and our company in the way WE CHOOSE.. notice the words “we choose”, because if we don’t shape our brand, other people will shape it for us… In their minds, they will make assumptions quickly based on what are their impressions of us. Attire is an instant language.

Branding is what helps you stand out in the marketplace. When you step into the glorious person you are and present your unique self that is the best kind of confidence and positive marketing. Why? Because it’s genuine and it’s relatable. With such a fast pace society today, people are craving personable relationships which are authentic. When you are being truly you this assists to ensure trust and supportive attention. This trust is just as valuable if you are forming relationships with other parents or meeting with a client. It’s all related for you’re always presenting yourself in every area of your life. From picking up your “to go” food to walking into a meeting.

Defining your personal or business brand is one of the most special gifts you give to yourself and the world. It is your time to shine! My wish as an image maven is that every woman shine in her own miraculous and unique way! There are many facets that go into a successful brand. Like any task it can be more manageable when taken in steps. Your attire is one piece but it’s also an important one. The beauty of exploring your style is also knowing that it will evolve and change over time. So be patient. Remember, this isn’t about being perfect. Everyone starts somewhere and like anything new it can feel awkward before it feels elegant. This is an invitation to hone in on your unique style which will compliment and attract more positive experiences.

Your clothing is a tool. It can work for you or against you. The key is knowing how to dress your body and honoring your style.

Where to begin?

Following are a few steps to get you started on the path of exploring your personal brand….

Be Unforgettable – Aside from your wisdom and sunny demeanor, what sets you apart? What do you want people to remember about you? Now this doesn’t mean you grab an over the top fluffy jacket fit for show tunes. It means there is something that you add which is noticeable. Perhaps it’s a savvy accent color, a necklace which is unique, or a flattering hat. Having a piece that draws the eye in can not only be a way to be memorable it also can be a great conversation starter.

Be Authentic – Do not try to mold yourself to what others think you should be. If you are not dressing in a style that is comfortable not only will you suffer but it can affect the integrity of the relationship as well. Be the best version of yourself.

Bring In The Troops  –   It is valuable to reach out to those trusted individuals for feedback who will be honest with you because they care. Choose wisely. Gathering some friends for a night in to sift through your clothes can be a blast! If you do not have the right type of support then you may want to consider retaining a professional. We all need a trusted confidant to provide honest feedback, be kind, loving and support our individuality.

Get Inspired And Excited! –  When you look at your closet you should get excited by the items that fill them for they ideally make you feel beautiful and happy! If they do not then that is a place to start. Many times we can get in the habit of throwing on whatever and just getting by. Perhaps it’s because we don’t feel worthy, perhaps it’s we don’t want the attention. Or perhaps we have no idea how to dress our bodies. Remember, if you don’t feel truly magnificent and confident then you will send this message on some level. Whether you are working with a professional or making some changes on your own it does not need to be expensive or labor intensive. Phew! It really can be very easy… you just have to start!

If you are not sure what you like for a style then the best thing to do is to explore. Set aside some you time, pull up a chair and pick a place. It could be magazines, Pinterest etc. Pay attention and note what you are drawn to. Don’t think about the cost, where you’d wear it or if you could pull it off. Just notice what draws you in and how it makes you feel.

Be proactive – This is no time to be overly modest or shy. It’s important to move at your own pace but just make sure you keep moving forward. Refreshing and defining your style really takes very little effort and it can be so very fun! Women have gotten away from dressing up. Many of us didn’t think twice about it when we were younger – clomping around in our Mother’s shoes and pearls and loving it for we were supporting our imagination and self expression. We need to give to ourselves as we often are doing for others. For when we do, we shine both personally and professionally.

About the Author:

brandonBrandon Dewyea
Image Maven of Moxie

How to use Social Media to Brand YOU (your personal brand)

How to use Social Media to Brand YOU (your personal brand)

If you are in business and not using social media to promote you and your business you are a minority in 2016. There are so many different networks to choose from all with their unique audiences, and every personal brand and business brand has their favorite network. The go to network where they spend the most time on, and one that is giving them the best Return on Investment. Tracking results for ROI is a whole different topic, which I will elaborate more on in the future.Screenshot 2016-03-20 07.24.22

Investing the time in a wide variety of social networks is a good idea, and it is always best to customize your posts to the different networks as they are each unique. There are a few things that can be done across all of the social media platforms to make your brand more recognizable.

Here are a few tips to use for consistent branding:

  1. Use the same username across all social media platforms. This will make you easy to find and follow on all social platforms.
  2. Use a similar cover photo. This creates consistency in your visual brand messaging and makes it easier for your community to associate your visual brand with you.
  3. Use a similar description across all social platforms. This again is for clear branding and messaging.
  4. Use a similar profile photo on all platforms. If you are a personal brand this does not need to be the exact same photo but it should be similar enough so that your community knows it is you. Business brands should use the same professional photo or logo.

Consistency is key with everything from the colors and images that you use down to the wording.   The more consistent you can be the more recognizable you will become to your community.


Author: Frankie Mueller, Co-Creator of the Savvy Professional Womens Networking Group and owner of Success Streams Online Marketing Group.   Connect with Frankie personally on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.