Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gifts and Emotional Intelligence

It's the thought that counts??

Well the holidays are over, and now the Valentine's displays are up in the stores ... another great occasion involving gifts to loved ones.

A touchy subject - yes, it is.

I received several requests for interviews on this "etiquette" from national publications ... about what to give whom, when and how. Is money OK? What about gift certificates? Hand made items? What if your husband's secretary clearly picked out your gift? Clearly a last-minute effort at having flowers delivered?

I thought this article made some good points about the thought behind the gift.

From the article Why Women Love Giving and Receiving Gifts
For the full article, go here:

Unfortunately, this is why so many women may seem disappointed in gifts that they are given. It is the thought behind the gift that a woman is interpreting and when a gift is of something that the woman feels represents a lack of planning or is something that shows that the other person does not listen to their opinions, their likes and dislikes, they take offense.

To many women, a gift is an emotional representation of the other person's feelings about them.

... [I]f gift giving time is the only time a woman is really shown an
outward example of how she is appreciated, then the woman may have a valid point to put so much stock into the gift. In the same way, women as gift givers, who spend so much time and energy on finding the "perfect" gift, should not be using this situation as the only time they show their gratitude and love toward the people that they are giving them to. If such is the case, then they are as guilty as everyone around them. Gifts should never be a replacement for showing our love and gratitude for our family and friends. It all comes down to daily appreciating those around us in our words and actions and then any gifts that are given or received will only be extensions of those emotions.

Love the women in your life by showering them with praise and attention and whenever possible give them a gift ... to be even further evidence of your feelings. She will, in turn do the same for you.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gordon Brown - Emotional Intelligence

Gordon Brown is a turn-off for women : December 2007 : Three Line Whip : Politics : Telegraph Blogs
From the article
Gordon Brown is a turn-off for women by (Iain Martin)

Put to one side that what is sometimes called Brown’s lack of emotional intelligence is more obvious now than it was in the summer. There is a much more practical reason for the backlash. When the records of 25 million people were lost ...

Can't really "put aside" is lack of emotional intelligence, can you? Can you do that with anyone?

Is this the year you want to improve yours? The great thing about emotional intelligence is that it can be learned.

What is emotional intelligence? Until you get familiar with the competencies, it's like "personality conflict." Hard to define, but you know it when you see it. You can take the EQ Map to see how yours is doing. Some of the competencies are flexibility, resilience (the master stress-buster), authenticity, and intentionality.

They all work together. You can see that someone with "intentionality" could barrel in over other people and defeat their own purposes, if they lack the balancing competencies of empathy (knowing that other people have feelings), flexibility (because you can't always move people the way you can data) and gut-instincts (that give you a sense of timing).

Email me at for more information.

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"Your course saved my mind." (K.T.)
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From a client:

"The classes I took from you saved my mind."

Ready for a new start for the new year? Try the EQ classes.
Why not make improving your EQ one of your New Year's resolutions?
Email me for information at .

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Friday, December 21, 2007

An All-Year Kinda Partner

The effect of the emotions and the pressure of the season ...
The email bag indicates the climate of the times. Concerns popping up now --

1. Pressure on relationships. Old flames coming back. Lonely people trying to reconnect. Remember - you want an all-year kinda partner.

2. Frustrations with family members escalating. Just that time of year.

3. Why doesn't he know - flowers, perfume, jewelry. Why DON'T men know?? Or is it obstinacy. Any of those will please any woman, any time. If you're a guy and need gift suggestions, email me,

4. Mixed emotions .. memories pop up, fantasies of ideal Christmases. When I get in the email "Just for once I want," I know there's trouble brewing. That's too much pressure on the situation.

5. Exhaustion. Also the problems that alcohol bring in. Are you getting enough sleep? Eating right? Limiting the 'partying?' Getting too tired makes everything look 100 times larger than it really is, because it limits your ability to cope. When you're tired, sleep!

This is a great time for a coaching call. Email me at to schedule yours. It helps!

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Be Friendly at Work - not Friends?

Great article on RevolutionHealth about Knowing Your Boundaries at Work.
Excerpts ...

Understanding co-workers' skills can be powerful — knowing their scuttlebutt can be problematic.

"Your ability to carry a conversation is crucial in building
relationships with fellow employees, but boundaries must exist," says Susan Morem, a Minneapolis-based business consultant...The border separating professional and personal relationships isn't easy to patrol, especially at smaller, informal offices ... [b]ut conversational boundaries help to determine the reputation of an employee and staff. Simply put, boundaries preserve integrity."

Beware of feeling informal ... "There's generally no clear rule
about where to draw the line, so a good rule of thumb is to avoid issues that might make someone uncomfortable."

"Refrain from gossip," Morem advises. "Remember: Those who talk to you about others will also talk about you to others."

Morem says most gossip and other inappropriate conversations occur in places that feel informal, such as elevators, hallways and bathrooms. But co-workers should never get the false sense of security that they're off duty in these locations.

"It's better to pretend your personal microphone is always on. Don't
say something if you don't want it heard or repeated."

While it's natural for employees to show interest in one another's
lives, someone has to be courageous enough to cut off a co-worker when warranted.

Just as informal places can get co-workers into trouble, so can seemingly informal methods of communication. {Like email)

Forge office friendships with care "Make sure you know and completely trust this kind of co-worker friend."

Expect boundary differences

Because those differences are widespread and co-workers' boundaries are subjective, office humor is risky.

If a co-worker says something that offends or upsets you, try to respond instead of react. "Reaction is immediate and emotional. When we react to something, we are more likely to say or do things we might later regret," Morem says. "A response is planned and controlled, and it leads to fewer communication issues."
THIS IS ALL ABOUT EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. See yourself headed for troubles? Constantly having the same problems? Get a crash course from me on the landmines. One-time and long-term coaching consultation.

Email me at .

Take The Difficult People Course - it helps! Email for information.

Go HERE to read the full article.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Emotions and Wall Street

From the article, How to Stop Your Emotions from Wrecking Your Returns in the Wall street Journal this week (Getting Going -

Make no mistake: Emotions can hurt your investment results. For instance, a
study published in Psychological Science in June 2005 found that people with impaired emotional responses made more-sensible financial decisions.

These folks, who had lesions on their brains that limited their emotional reactions, were more willing to take gambles where the potential payoff easily outweighed the potential loss. "When people with normal emotional reactions lost, they got discouraged and stopped gambling," notes one of the study's authors, George Loewenstein, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon

Emotions can also help, supplying the motivation to focus on our finances, plan for retirement, save diligently and avoid excessive risk. "Without emotion, we wouldn't be able to make the sort of trade-offs essential to our financial survival," argues Andrew Lo, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Laboratory for Financial Engineering.

As you might gather, handling our emotions is a juggling act. Intense
emotions can be helpful, making us more engaged in what we are doing. But to be successful, we also need to figure out what's going on with our feelings and then limit the impact, suggests a study in August's Academy of Management Journal.

"People who can pinpoint their emotions are less likely to be affected by them," explains Myeong-Gu Seo, co-author of the study and a management professor at the University of Maryland. This self-knowledge is part of a broader notion sometimes dubbed "emotional intelligence."

"Women have greater emotional intelligence than men," notes John Ameriks, an investment analyst at Vanguard Group.

A few notes here. First of all, according to Reuven Bar-on's exceelent research, women do not have "greater emotional intelligence than men." Men and women actually test the same overal. They vary significantly on how they test on the individual competencies however. If you'd like more information on this, email me at sdunn@susandunn.

And if you'd like to INCREASE YOUR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, email me at for some coaching. It's what I do.

Monday, December 10, 2007

How To Decide Who to Marry


Well, here's what some kids had to say.

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming. -- Alan , age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with. -- Kristen , age 10

Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then. -- Camille , age 10

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids. -- Derrick , age 8

Both don't want any more kids. -- Lori , age 8

Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough. -- Lynnette , age 8

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date. -- Martin , age 10

I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns. -- Craig , age 9

When they're rich.-- Pam , age 7
The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that. - - Curt , age 7
The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do. -- Howard , age 8

It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them. -- Anita , age 9

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there? -- Kelvin, age 8

Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck. -- Ricky , age 10

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Friday, December 07, 2007

How to Tell QUickly What Your Client is Like

"Avoid patronizing a thinker at all costs," says the article, which describes nonverbals that can tell a hairstylist how to best please thei customer/client.

Good stuff in here about nonverbal communication.

A Guide to Clients - New York Times

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Good Advice for Holiday Stress

Who do you want to be this holiday season? HOW do you want to be? Emotional Intelligence -- that's the key. Free coaching mini-sessions during the month of December. Email me at to schedule your time.


Rx for Health , Dr. Susan E. AllenEagle-Tribune—

Several years ago, my husband and I and our college-age children gathered for Thanksgiving dinner around a big table in the home of out-of-state relatives. The details aren't vital, but what is important is that when the four of us left to drive home, we apparently couldn't wait to get in the car and let out a collective and negative "Ahhhhh!"

While the food was great, and we all had more than enough, the mood during the day had been very different from what we would have hoped for on this day of gratitude and thanks. We slipped into disappointment, negativity, even judgment.

We criticized one cousin for talking about himself the whole time, expressed anger at distasteful comments, and generally agreed that this was not a pleasant time for us.

I will always remember that Thanksgiving, and in the years since then, I have not been proud of my own reactions to it. In fact, some of those cousins, aunts and uncles present may well have been just as critical of our ways. This is not unusual among families. It doesn't take a professional to realize the heightened emotional energy that many of us feel at various family gatherings, including weddings, summer vacations, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. There is arguably nothing more predictable in the field of mental health than the stresses and emotional upheaval that arise every November and December.

As we get older, there are even more new challenges during the holidays. Aging parents. Parents or siblings who have died. New "significant others" in the lives of sons and daughters. Children who have grown and moved away and are not able to be at home for the holidays. Perhaps the pain of divorce or the energy of a newly blended family.

We are challenged over and over again to face difficult relationships along with the easier ones. We are challenged to engage with people who bring out the less likable parts of ourselves as well as those who bring out the best in us. We are challenged to seek reconciliation and acceptance, as well as to feel gratitude.

So, who do you want to be in your family this holiday season? Here are four steps to consider as you anticipate your holiday gatherings:

* Try to have realistic expectations. Marsha Linehan, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, encourages "making friends with reality." Have realistic expectations of what can change and what cannot. This might include learning to live with hurt or pain, and even allowing it to be the catalyst for a transformation of some kind. Approaching a family event this way will likely lead to less disappointment and some nice surprises.

* Use your emotional intelligence. Notice your feelings and manage them in healthy ways. Our emotions give us good information about ourselves, but it's best not to act on all of them. Notice other people's emotions, too. Can you understand why they might feel the way they do? Can you experience both detachment and empathy in your relationships?

* Be values-based. What are your most important values? How are you acting on them or honoring them in your interactions and behaviors? As we get older, we are called to greater depth, integrity and honesty. When you look within, what is really important? Is your demeanor aligned with your core values?

* Lighten up. Is there a chance you can walk away from this year's family gathering and say, "Wow! That was so much fun!"? Think about what would need to happen for you to have those feelings. What steps can you take to make this a possibility? Imagine the even greater possibilities if you share these thoughts with others. Embrace the goal of making this holiday season even just a bit more enjoyable than you had anticipated.

Dr. Susan E. Allen is a life coach and licensed psychologist in Newburyport who specializes in the second half of life. To learn more, visit

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Music for the Holidays

Free mini coaching sessions for the month of December. Email to schedule yours, .

Pavarotti, Mario Lanza, Beethoven, Verdi, the joy of music.

Let's face it, the holidays work over our emotions. They also work on our emotions, which is to say it's an emotional time. We inherit what seems like another full-time job, we have to cope with Scrooges, grumpy co-workers, stressed our postal workers and shop clerks, increased traffic, bittersweet memories of holidays-past, and ... YIKES!!

What we can we do to soothe, level, motivate, energize ourselves and otherwise get on top of these cascading emotions that won't stress us out more by requiring money and time we don't have?

Well, how about some music! We include the great arts in our highly acclaimed emotional intelligence programs, because culture is one of the components of emotional intelligence. The salutary effects of music are well known, and, for the most part, easy to come by.

When you’re feeling stressed, need to relax or to pep up, get some energy, or work out the kind of nameless sadness that can happen at the holidays, music works. Even if you can’t get your hands on a CD or don't own a big collection of tapes, you can get on the Internet (see Club Vivo Per Lei) or turn on a radio.

Here are some suggestions for how to "use" this to your advantage and good health over the holidays.

1. Need to get solidly centered?

Like, as the metaphysicians say, when you vision yourself growing a tail and having it grow like an anchor down to the center of the earth kind of centered?

Try anything with a big solid bass, up loud, and brass – trumpets! Just make sure the lyrics don’t interfere. The right-brain will dominate and you’ll hear the music first, but your left-brain will still be getting the lyrics. So, for instance, don't use "Oh Elizabeth," though the beat is right, because the lyrics are sad.

OUR SUGGESTION: “I Loved ‘Em Everyone,” by T. G. Sheppard

2. Need to deal with something heavy, such as last year your father died on Christmas Eve and here comes the first anniversary

OUR SUGGESTION: Only classical music will work for this and that’s why we call it classical. For such a deep need, to maintain your grip when something’s rocked the foundation of your world, we recommend, Beethoven’s “Eroica”. Beethoven is the most popular composer in the world, for a reason."Eroica" means "heroic" and that you will need to be. Beethoven lived through the worst thing that can happen to a person, and prevailed. He wrote some of his most triumphant work after going deaf. It’s there, in his music. For you.

3. To get lightly level

OUR SUGGESTION: Pachelbel’s "Canon" tops the list. The Trans-Siberian orchestra has a beautiful recording and video ( ) of this with children singing lyrics they composed. Leveling music contains no crescendos or shifts in rhythm, what you’re after, right?

4. To rip the heart out of Christmas, like when you want to just sit down in front of the tree and cry at the beauty and the splendor of it all and get it over with and then eat a pint of Haagen Daz and go to bed

OUR SUGGESTION: Pavarotti's Christmas video (God rest his soul in peace), Panis Angelicus duet with the little boy, especially if you had a little boy who now has whiskers on his cheeks. Or Mario Lanza singing “Ave Maria” with the boys choir: . Then you can pull out your heart and put it on the table beside you, right there beside the dish of peppermints, and the cinnamon-scented candle, and you'll know you had Christmas.

5. Want something Christmassy but light

OUR SUGGESTION: Harp music is good for this, like for baking cookies to. It doesn’t pull the emotions. It’s close to the lyre, the instrument the Greek god Orpheus played to soothe the savage and to win a favor from Hades, the god to whom there is no altar (death), the god with whom there is no bargaining. He used it to put people to sleep, and you can use it to put your emotions to sleep.

Completely upbeat, light and fun is "A Reggae Christmas," ( ) by Various Artists, and yes, my friend, "sensei" does rhyme with "pear tree." Listen to it on the way in to work. That's girl's laughter will carry you through your day - The Ras Family, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas and June Lodge's "Joy to the World" will add joy to YOUR world.

6. Need to get some physical work done, sick of Christmas,got the kids around

OUR SUGGESTIONS: (1) "Great Balls of Fire," Jerry Lee Lewis. How could you possibly be “mindful” with that going on? It’s great fun. It will clear the air. (2) "Don't Worry Be Happy," by Marley. The key is the beat, the rhythm, and getting away from "Christmas."

7. The out-laws are coming, I mean the IN-laws, and you, exhausted, crabby and high on sugar as you are, must clean the house and you aren’t exactly in the MOOD for a Christmas Carol, if you know what I mean

G RATED SUGGESTION: If you haven’t cleaned house with your two preschoolers marching along behind you to a John Philip Sousa march, you haven’t lived. Give the little one a paper hat and get out his toy drum. Ok, quit laughing and taking photos and get back to work, you!

PG RATED SUGGESTION: Got older kids you need to get working with you? Call it "the main event," and put on the Jock Jams, "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" ( ).

X RATED SUGGESTION: You and your partner put "Cotton Eyed Joe" on -- I mean the Texas version – and invent your own lyrics appropos to the, um, challenges of the moment. (This is popular at office holiday parties with adjusted lyrics as well - at the after-the-party-party, when the "bosses" have left) And DO the Cotton Eye Joe as you push that vacuum around. Here's how: .

8. Need to be inspired and also to get in touch with the spiritual side of Christmas
OUR SUGGESTION: Handel's “Messiah, Hallelujah Chorus,” of course. Just the chorus, unless you're an aficianado and can afford to tire yourself out.

Remember, if you will, that when you hear "The Hallelujah Chorus," you are to stand up. (Traditions and respect anchor us too. They remind us there's always a bigger picture, yes?)

Do this. Right there at home in your living room. In your grubby bathrobe and slippers. It will do something for you.

9. Now, or any time you’re beginning to feel just slightly resentful of all your “blessings”

OUR SUGGESTION: “Lord, What Did I Ever Do?” by the Oak Ridge Boys is great for attitude adjustment.

10. For the peace that passeth all understanding

OUR SUGGESTION: Stille Naq, Noite de Paz, Noche de Paz, Sainte Nuit, Cicha Noc, Glade Jul, Stille Nacht, Po La`i E, or, as many of us know it, Silent Night, the lullaby that's been translated into every language on earth, composed by the greatest unsung duo in musical history, Mohr (lyrics) and Gruber (melody). And here it is in Japanese,, Lee Heung Lan sings it in the Japanese film, “Scandal.”
We also recommend "Ave Maria."

Let them still your heart and bring you peace.

To increase your understanding and enjoyment of music, and help you bring more of it into your life, join Club Vivo Per Lei / I Live for Music, . It's fr**, our gift to you.

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Holiday stresses the heart

Holiday stress - there's no question we all feel it. Emotionally and physically, it is hard on the heart, and the two go together.

It's a good time to watch your diet - food, yes, but also your EMOTIONAL DIET.

It's a good time to increase your emotional intelligence because if you plan it right, you'll have lots of opportunities to learn with. Email me at for a coaching session or consult. It can bring needed relief!elief!


December and January are the deadliest months for heart disease, and many of the things that make the season merry are culprits: Rich meals, more alcohol — and all that extra stress.

But what may make the Christmas coronary more deadly than the same-size heart attack in, say, August, is a double dose of denial. It's not uncommon for people to initially shrug off chest pain as indigestion. Research suggests they're even more reluctant for a run to the emergency room when it means disrupting a holiday gathering, or if they've traveled to a strange city — meaning they arrive sicker.

To read the rest of the article, go here: Holiday revelry brings on heart attacks - Heart health-