Ask intimidating boss about priorities

How to Ask Your Boss About His Priorities without Sounding Disrespectful

In this time of confinement, we are each more aware of our limited resources: finances, time, energy, focus, humor, patience, and more.

Knowing our priorities helps us invest these personal and professional resources more wisely.

Our work priorities depend upon those of our boss.

Do you really know what three numbers keep our managers up at night? What are they measuring?

They be looking at different issues during confinement than in “normal” times

  • Cash
  • Sales pipeline
  • Employee health
  • Access to technology
  • Employee morale
  • Team communication
  • Employee autonomy
  • Interruptions during a workday

Especially during a crisis mode, it is vital to (re)align our efforts with our boss’ imperatives.

YOU and YOUR BOSS

How is your relationship with your manager?  Do you know there are 150 Million responses to “I hate my boss” on Google?!  (FYI 670 Million search “I hate my job.”)

Few of us are at ease calling our boss to ask about her priorities.  Coaching clients tell me this:

  • “It’s not my job to ask my boss about his priorities. My job is to follow his directives. He chooses. I act.”
  • “It would not make a difference if I asked my boss about her priorities. I still must do the same work.”
  • “We don’t have that kind of relationship. I am not her confidant. She asks us what is going on in the field. We don’t ask her what is going on in the board room. I think she’s a great boss because she listens to US!”

Employees expect the boss to take the lead.

And yet, you have the most to lose by not being aligned with your boss’ prioirities.  Your peace of mind, energy, and possibly job security depend upon it. 

How can YOU take this positive initiative and ask your boss about his priorities with utmost respect?

Prepare both the PEOPLE and the Content

Often preparation for a meeting focuses on getting the content right.

This process prepares the people too.

Prepare Yourself

The first person to prepare is YOU (and me!).  Mindset matters.

We all have some degree of the imposter syndrome. The underlying questions are, “What gives me the right (validity) to …?” “Should I ask my boss about his priorities?”

Try reframing the situation slightly to focus on results. You’ll discover empowering questions.

  • “How can I ask my boss about priorities in a way that makes her want to share them and even appreciative of the opportunity to do so?”
  • “How can I better help my boss perform well during these times of stress?”

Here, we focus on overcoming obstacles. Merely formulating these questions helps us to birth an action plan.

Prepare Your Boss

It is more the exception than the rule to enjoy strategic exchanges with our manager. He might be taken by surprise by your request.

Consider a two-step process to help him adjust.

  1. Tell him you want to ask about priorities
  2. Ask him

Prepare the Discussion Content & Process

I like to have a basic structure when engaging in open-ended discussions. Sounds counter-intuitive?!
Structure provides safety when venturing into less certain territory.

The following steps guides us in launching and closing the discussion with confidence. You will also gain pointers on how to stimulate the exchange if your first attempt does not generate the hoped-for response.

1. Explain the trigger for the discussion

Your boss might be wondering what makes you act “oddly.”

As humans, we fill in knowledge gaps with our own interpretation. And oftentimes with negative news!
Let her know from the onset this is a forward-thinking exchange. 😊

When you explain the trigger for the discussion, point out your motivation to grow professionally.

2. Confirm your objective to support your boss in her/his priorities

Products and services that sell well are those that satisfy a need. Your boss has needs too, among which performance criteria. Assure him that you are committed to those as well.

It sounds obvious, yet we can get caught up “doing our work” and forget the reason for it. The purpose of your discussion is to add purpose to your work!

3. Present the context which depicts the relevance of your question

As we work in increasingly complex organizational structures….and as we work from home during confinement (!)…your boss might not know exactly what you do.

He might be oblivious to the fact that you spend HOURS on projects that get dropped and that your motivation has taken a toll.

This is your opportunity to provide a succinct glimpse into your preoccupations. You can present these concerns in ways that reinforce the interest of the company or of the department.

  • To best use your time and focus
  • To maximize learning for the department
  • To best reach our quarterly objectives
  • To fully tap into collaborative teamwork

4. Make your ask

Your boss is the person who knows her priorities better than you do. There is a time for you to ask that she express them.

Directly.

Expecting an answer.

It’s O.K to leave a few seconds of silence. They might feel like hours (!). Your closed mouth puts the onus on your boss to speak.

It’s O.K to leave a few seconds of silence. They might feel like hours (!). Your closed mouth puts the onus on your boss to speak.

Many of my coaching clients fall into the trap of filling in silence. It makes them uncomfortable, so they speak.

Change your mindset about silence. Remember that when you ask a question and pause, your silence communicates loudly. It speaks of

  • Intent
  • Confidence
  • Self-Control
  • Interest

And more.

I was recently on a videoconference meeting where the decision-maker had been avoiding making a choice about when to kick-in an emergency plan. One of the participants finally presented the issue as a direct question.

“What is the minimum level of cash that triggers the emergency plan?” Silence.

His silence kept us quiet.

Finally, the manager responded. “I guess I have to make a decision.”

The participants remained silence still.

“Ok…” and we FINALLY got an answer!

Be serious about asking your boss about her priorities…and you will be taken seriously.

5. Prepare to listen MORE

Have you noticed how it is easier to listen when topics are relevant to us?!

The more we understand how our boss’ priorities relate to our work, the more fruitful the discussion will be for you or me.

You can guide the discussion with well thought-out queries.

  • If _____(such and such happened) what impact do you see that having on our work?
  • What might maximize our chances of success?
  • Where are the risks higher and where are the stakes lower?

6. Have a back-up plan

I teach a class on resilience. One of the keys to being able to pick up and get back into the game is to have a Plan B.

Think of professional soccer players. They fall all the time. And get back up again. They even have training sessions on how to fall so that they can rise up again quickly.

A Plan B gives room for margin.  You and I don’t have to be perfect on the first attempt.

A back-up plan is like a life vest. When we swim out of our comfort zone and into deep waters, we have something to keep us afloat.

As a Plan B, anticipate several of your boss’ priorities and ask her to comment on those and even to rank them in order of importance.

You could even present potentially conflicting priorities and explore how your manager evaluates and compares them.

7. Link strategies to actions

In the interactive story mentioned above, The Calamities of Jade, Jade had been previously assigned a Project A. She brings it up during this strategic discussion with her boss. “How does Project A fit in with your priorities? “

(We don’t know the answer yet. In fact, it’s YOUR vote that determines it! Click here to vote on #SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork.)

Our companies thrive because ideas get implemented. Your boss’ priorities impact decisions about how you and I spend our time, energy, attention, affection, and finances.

In the end, it comes to “Just doing it.”

Gain clarity on what needs to be done!

8. Close with thanks

Thank YOU!

Working with a Challenging Boss

How is your relationship with your boss?

I help managers and high potentials manage themselves and their bosses with confidence.

You spend most of your hours at work.  If your manager is a source of discouragement, you carry that with you in all facets of your life.  You used to have the commute ride home to unwind.  With confinement, that discouragement enters your own home.

Let’s (re)build your confidence and your positive impact.

Send me an email to share your goals and the obstacles that keep you from reaching them.  Let’s connect to see if my online training and coaching is the right solution for you to boost your confidence and your career.

Cover photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Managing toxic boss during remote work

How to manage a toxic boss during remote work?

Challenging (Toxic) Boss Management

If you have a boss who does not know how to connect when you worked together face-to-face, then you are in for One. Long. Challenge. when you work remote.

Take heart.  YOU can do something about it.

YOUR actions matter.

You may have heard of constructive communication tools or emotional intelligence skills.  Hummm…

We read about them on a blog post and they sound good, yet unrelated to every day life.  It’s like hearing about all the wonderful things we could do outdoors…when we are stuck inside.  Did you put those ideas aside for another day?

Then again, you may have wondered about these tools to create connection; they seem counter-intuitive.  Can you find proof of success before trying them out yourself at work?!

That’s why I created a low-stakes and fun way for you to practice emotional intelligence skills to constructively manage your challening/toxic boss.

Practice Managing Your Boss

Studies repeatedly show that we learn by doing.

That’s why I created an opportunity for you

  1. To act
  2. To be safe from reprecussions
  3. To gain fresh perspectives

And it takes three minutes twice a week.

Help Jade Manage her Toxic Boss during Confinement

Meet Jade French, the finance manager at French Fool and Co.  YOU get to help Jade manager her toxic boss during confinement.

The Calamities of Jade is an interactive cartoon which depicts Jade facing various professional quandries, especially challenges related to remote work.

Managing Toxic Boss

Toxic might be a strong word to describe her boss, nevertheless, he clearly lacks in personal relations skills, so much so that her demotivation follows the corona virus curve.  She’s sick with frustration and it grows exponentially.

Who is Jade French?

Like many of us, she is a highly competent professional who nonetheless questions her own abilities!  She’s a jade and would like to shine bright like a diamond.  She often compares herself to this idea, which only bruises her confidence even more.

Her boss, Jean-Louis de Higgins, unwittingly yet nonetheless very effectively, zaps her motivation.  He does not realize his lack of people skills and believes that “what got him here will take him there.”  He tells himself that his stoic behavior and hierarchical demeanor were and remain his keys to success.

His lack of emotional intelligence might have been tolerable in a conventional work environment.  But with Covid-19, that mindset is dépassé, even destructive.

Help Jade bring Jean-Louis and the rest of their team into the age of effective teamwork and smooth collaboration in the office and with remote work.

How?

On Mondays and Thursdays during confinement, I post the latest episode of the Calamities of Jade on the community #SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork.  These are short videos detailing her situation, mindset, and choices.

YOU select what she will do next!

You give her suggestions for how to handle situations.  You vote on action steps.

And the next episode will feature one of these choices and how it pans out at work.

Vote to Help Jade Manage Her Boss

Here are the first three episodes.  Please join in the adventure and go vote!

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Women Cambridge Crew Team Spirit

Keep team spirit…especially since we are STILL in remote work

Stay Together & Keep Motivated…even with social distancing

Group cohesion used to be easy when you could drop by each other’s desk.

Now, team spirit is work!

Your team needs encouragement.

Employees overcame the technical glitches and found ways to connect when their Internet connection suddenly dropped.  They valiantly try to stay connected when distracted by kids and spouse (the biggest kid of all!).  We all feel flooded by emails and messages that it’s hard to focus.

YOU seek fresh perspective.

You are surrounded by the four same walls.  Literally!

It’s lonely enough to be a leader when the team is together.  It’s even more solitary with remote work!

Tap Into Collective Intelligence & Get Solutions to Online Team Spirit

Meet with other professionals from different industries and backgrounds to share and swap solutions.

Come away with do-able actions steps that you would not have thought of yourself.

Team Spirit with remote work

When: Thursday, April 2 at 6:30 pm

Where: Online via Zoom

With:

Moderated by Denise Dampierre

Participants include managers and high potentials from diverse backgrounds and mutliple companies.  Possiblity to join meeting anonymously.

What you get: 

  • Discover do-able action steps from professionals you wish you could meet
  • Get proven ways to work effectively and without distractions
  • If you’ve been struggling with coordinating your team, this solution-finding is for you
  • Prove your own intelligence and value as you participate in the brainstorming
  • Or ignore this and keep struggling 😞!
Video collective intelligence

Enter your mail address below to join the collective intelligence online workshop.

Corona Virus imposes remote work

How will your team succeed in remote work?

On Monday, a friend announced, “We have our first case of corona virus at the office.  Our company just announced: ‘Presence Optional’. I’m now working remote.”

On Thursday, President Macron of France (I live in Paris) announced that all schools (from day care through universities) will be closed to limit the spread of the COVID-19.

We all now face remote work.  Remote work for the entire team. 

Remote work imposes “new-normal” behaviors.

Remote Work vs. At the Office

What is it like to work full-time remote?

Remote Work:  Individual Benefits

We gain

  • Flexibility with time management
    (you can launch a laundry between conference calls 😉)
  • No commuting time
    (More sleep😴)
  • More time with the kids 😋🙃🙄😖😠
    (Mixed emotions…to say the least!)
  • Savings on meals
    (…yet the distraction of constant access to the fridge…🤔)

Remote Work:  Team Losses

We also lose some of the benefits we might take for granted when we regularly interact with team members

  • Sensing colleagues’ mood
    (“Euh…Let me come back in 5 minutes…”)
  • Getting instant feedback on project progress
    (You walk by their desk and see that they are working on it.)

  • and
  • Feeling part of the team ⭐
    (“Ready for lunch/the meeting?”
    “What do you think of…?”)

Who’s Got Remote Team Spirit?

Technology tools will allow us to stay in touch via vision and audio.  Yet without touch or smell, we lack the human connection which builds trust and belonging.

Remote Team, We want YOU

Employees with soft skills and emotional intelligence will shine as team leaders.  They can keep up a positive connection and professional motivation over weeks of physical distance. 

Will that be YOU?!

Little annoying behaviors become big ones with distance.  Let’s look at two:

Interruptions

In the office: When Joe interrupts during a meeting, it is unpleasant, possibly even vexing.  And yet, we perceive his enthusiasm and give him the benefit of the doubt.

Later, at the coffee machine, we can mention that we too had been enthusiastic about the idea we were presenting.  To his, “Oh, I did not realize it!” we can respond, “Something to be aware of for a next time.  Cream or sugar?”  And the conversation moves on.

With remote work: When Joe interrupts on the phone, he is rude and self-imposing.  (This is a caricature…and notice how previously Joe’s actions were unpleasant whereas now his person is being judged!)  We shut down.  Why bother work with someone who appreciates us so little!

Following up to reconnect requires intentional effort.  Our paths no longer cross casually.  Do I make the phone call or not?  If this is the only topic of conversation, it feels like a reprimand.  Then we are the ones who are unpleasant work companions!

With remote working, “little” annoyances become like French cheese.  They stink with age!  Physical presence creates opportunities to nip differences in the bud.

Emotional intelligence will help you identify and resolve these teamwork-disrupting behaviors. 

How are you building your relationship skills savvy?

Silence

Your boss, Jane, has been anxious to receive the presentation you were finishing.  Satisfied with your work, you zoom it off.

No response.

Questions amass in your mind.  It is normal.  Humans fill in data void with impressions, oftentimes fears.  Did she receive it?  Did she look at it?  Is it good enough?  Is she not answering because I did such a bad job the she has to redo it but does not want to tell me?! We fill in the silence with worst-case scenario stories.

Here is what likely happened. Jane saw the report, was pleased to receive it, made a mental note to review it later, and continued with her current task.  It did not occur to her that focusing on her work (and thus not sending off a message acknowledging receipt) would deter you from your work.

On a time and mind management level, we need to know about next steps.  Is this project complete or will I have to return to it…and how soon?  Should I next concentrate on a task requiring one hour or half a day?

At the office we could drop our head in and ask, “When can you get back at me?”

In remote work, we can send yet another message…and risk more silence.

Besides, who wants to invest time in no-value-added correspondence such as, “Did you get my message?”  It feels like nagging.  It can be avoided!

No malice led to this frustration.  It is simply a lack of emotional intelligence skills.

How to Build Emotional Intelligence FAST?

As your team transitions into remote work, unexpected and challenging situations will surface.

YOUR response with emotional intelligence makes a difference!  So how to gain these soft skills fast?

One of the biggest barriers to mastering these soft skills is not realizing we need them.  In the examples above, both Joe and Jane were unaware.  They were acting “normally.“

We are living exceptional circumstances.  We now require “new-normal” behaviors.

And they will call on

  • Your humility
  • Your vulnerability

Sticky Situations and Constructive Responses

Here are some remote work situations you will likely encounter and corresponding constructive responses:

Emotions

With imposed remote work, emotions will be running high.

Yours and those of team members (and those of the family team…. Have you tried working with kids running around and your partner complaining about the mess?)

✅ Find ways to calm yourself.  Integrate them into the day.  If you have children, teach your kids to do the same.  Coordinate “zen-time’ as well as work hours with your partner

Routines & Rituals

Remote work will get your routines, big and small, off kilter.

Your team might still meet virtually for the regular business brief, but you won’t pass by your colleagues’ desk to walk into the meeting room together.  Gone too is the pre-meeting banter that warms up the atmosphere and directs focus.

✅ Create opportunities for informal exchange as well as for formal communication.

✅ Revisit the purpose of your meetings and have very clear agendas.  Avoid letting folk get into the habit of multi-tasking during conference calls and meetings.

Control & Follow Through

How can you verify people’s efforts in remote work? If we loosen the grips of control, what will happen to quality?  

The goal is to develop intrinsic motivation in your team members.  This means paying attention to the way we communicate as well as to what is said.

“Content + PROCESS = Effective Communication”

Be vulnerable (Yikes!) with your team and let them know you might not be aware of your “controlling” behaviors.   Possibly create a sign  that invites discussion on your leadership and communication style. (an upside-down emoji 🙃, a request to pause 🆘, the words ‘Hummmmm. Encouraging?’)

✅ Learn to laugh more.  Laughter gives you and the other person those few nanoseconds required to calm down.

Laughter also releases endorphins, the “feel-good enzyme.”  In a study led by Robin Dunbar of Oxford University and reported in Scientific American, his team concluded “that the long series of exhalations that accompany true laughter cause physical exhaustion of the abdominal muscles and, in turn, trigger endorphin release. (Endorphin release is usually caused by physical activity, like exercise, or touch, like massage.)”

Just Do It…HOW?!

The above sound simple.  But how to be vulnerable without getting run over?  How to allow for critique without being ridiculed?

(I wrote more about this here:  How to be a team leader, even in a competitive workplace?)

Here is what I learned the hard way:

Be in a group

In a group, you gain outside perspective.  You have accountability to change and grow. We are humans, not robots. Transformation happens through relationships.

Learn step-by-step

Growing in emotional intelligence is like a journey. We can reach the same destination by going through different paths.  On our GPS we can choose various routes.  At each intersection we get to choose again what path to take.

Soft skill questions aboutnd with remote work
Which way to “Motivating-Leadership-Skills & Team-Engagement” ?

It takes courage to change. We climb a mountain one step at a time.  We gain soft skills in the same way.

The term “Soft skills” is a misnomer.
Soft skills are TOUGH to learn and STRENGHTEN relationships.

Plan for the long haul

Prepare yourself with encouragement and accountability to stay in the game.  You (and I and your team members) will mess up. We need help getting up, learning from mistakes, and getting back in the arena.

Humans are creatures of habit. Lasting change means breaking old habits and developing new ones.  That takes time and accountability.

Practice makes better.

So, what is the IDEAL SOLUTION? 😀

Get onboard with the BE YOUR TEAM’S M.V.P. (Most Valuable Player) program. It’s

  • Online training in emotional intelligence
  • Private community to ask questions to experts and peers
  • Coaching (individual and group) to set measurable growth goals and to stay on track

Interested?   to see if you qualify.

 

So, what are you doing to get your team successful in remote work?  Tell us below.

 

 

 

unanswered emails

Collective Intelligence Solutions – “No one answers my emails!”

Do you ever feel like your communication goes into a big blank void.

“Hello, is anyone out there?”

A client, let’s call her De Nise 😉, shared this challenge.  She sends out emails…and no one responds.

Silence.

 Avatar SafePlaceToTalkAboutWorkDe Nise shared:  “It’s an important issue I am writing about.  Does no one care?  How can I make them more responsible?”

Tapping into Collective Intelligence

I proposed we try a collective-intelligence solution-finding.  It is a tool available to you on the Facebook private group SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork.  Click below for your invitation to join.

Here is how it works:

  • A person shares a work challenge
  • I work with that person to clarify the context of the issue
  • In a moderated discussion led by me, we invite members of the community to share their perspective and what they would do if they were in this situation.

Did you catch that?  NOT what the other person should do. What they would do if they were in that situation. 

Why go through this process?

What Collective Intelligence can do for you

You and I can get stuck in our mindset.  We think the same way over and over.  People are creatures of habit, and each of us has thinking patterns as well.

These thinking routines are helpful in many situations.  We don’t have to reflect deeply on how to sit down on a chair during a meeting or on how to open our computers.

Yet we get trapped in patterns of thought.

I remember a very aggitated fellow conference speaker.  We were before an audience of several hundred people and he could not get his password to work on the computer.  He muttered under his breath: “I have not changed the passcode…The computer worked yesterday!…Do I have a virus? 😨…Why did I not put my presentation on a USB key!….”

And he retyped his password over and over again to no avail.

I suggested he might check the Caps Lock key.  “What is it?  I never use it. That’s not possible.”  Yet this key on the keyboard can get accidently pushed and stay pushed and changes lower case letters into CAPITAL LETTERS.  Well, he was typing 3pASSWORD3  instead of “Password” and no wonder his computer did not open.

An outside perspective gave him a solution he would not have considered in his habitual thinking.

Collective intelligence brings fresh perspectives.

Collective Intelligence at #SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

So what happens on the Facebook private group SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork?

Below is a recap of the exchange between myself and my client as we tapped into collective intelligence.

YOU TOO can experience this constructive group brainstorming first-hand on Thursday, March 12 at 2:00 p.m. Paris time.  Click on the button below to get your invitation.

Collective Intelligence Business Case:
No one answers my emails!

My client (we are calling her De Nise) shared her frustrations about no response to emails.  Faced with a communication void she lost confidence in herself and began questioning the value of her contributions at work.

(You may have experienced similar feelings over different issues.  Feel free to post your specific situation on the group SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork and we’ll help you find alternative answers.)

Example of discussions on SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork:

 Avatar SafePlaceToTalkAboutWorkDe Nise No one answers my emails! It’s so frustrating. 😠
Aren’t they concerned? How do I get others to be responsible?

Denise Dampierre SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

Denise Dampierre It’s a bummer De Nise to feel in an information void. Did you know that our brains are wired to fill in these data gaps…and it does it with thoughts of what we fear:
– “Are they speaking behind my back?”
– “Are they questioning my performance or capabilities?”
– “Is my work insignificant?”
– “Do I have the email version of bad breath (people stay away and you are not sure why)?”

So let’s get a fresh, more positive (and productive) perspective.

We can start by focusing on a specific situation so that we can fill in the data

  • To whom was the email addressed? (ex. just to my boss, to my 5 colleagues, to….)
  • Can you summarize the message in one sentence?
  • How long was the email?
  • What did you ask?

 Avatar SafePlaceToTalkAboutWorkDe Nise – In this one urgent case, I addressed the email to 5 people, a mix of clients and of suppliers. We are working on a full-day presentation for the client company and the day’s program is timed to the minute. I am the event coordinator. At our rehearsal, the client managers were not ready with their individual presentation. We are heading for a disaster if the client managers speak overtime…and when they prepare at the last minute that is what usually happens. I sent the email to my boss and colleagues at the event management firm, to the client coordinator, and to the venue manager.

No one seems concerned. Am I the only one to be responsible?!

Denise Dampierre SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

Denise Dampierre – Would you be open to a fresh perspective and to hear what other people might do in your situation?

 Avatar SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

De Nise – Sure , why not .

Denise Dampierre SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

Denise Dampierre – I presented this situation to my own mastermind group and here are people’s response to the question: “If you were in this situation, what would you do?”

  • “I would re-read my email from the perspective of the receiver. Is it clear what is expected of them? Where are there ambiguities? Then I would re-write a short email making a clear request.”
  • “I would call up each person concerned and ask them how they view the situation and what they suggest to respect both the timing and the managers’ egos.”
  • “I would send out a note about best practices for presentations at an event like this. It would include tips about slides (one point per slide, limit the text, make it legible from afar…). It would indicate an approximate minutes per slide (ex. from 3 to 8 slides for a 5-minute presentation).”
  • “I would write an email entitled ‘Action Steps’ and indicate a clear next step such as ‘Managers to submit their slides for a 5-minute presentation by ____ (date).”
  • “Are there regular follow-up meetings? I would do nothing now and add ‘Timing and Manager Presentations’ to the agenda for the next meeting.”
  • “I would ask my boss what is expected of me. Whose job is it to manage the timing? If it is not my job, then let the other person do it. If it is my job, then I would connect with my counterpart at the client to see how we can better communicate the time-limit to the managers.”
  • “I would not take it personally. We get so many emails; they get lost in our mailbox. I would simply send another email…and make the title catchy.”

 Avatar SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

De Nise – WOW!  I had not realized there were SO MANY WAYS to address this issue !

Denise Dampierre SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

Denise Dampierre – So, which one will you try this week?

 Avatar SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

De Nise – I have to choose ?

Denise Dampierre SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

Denise Dampierre – You mentioned you were willing to try something new. That begins with choosing a novel approach. Which one will you try?

 Avatar SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

De Nise – I am not comfortable with some of these ideas, but I could send out the guide for best practices with indications of how many slides per minute. This would give us all a reference point and if a manager submits 40 slides, I can refer him back to the guide. I feel more confident this way.

Denise Dampierre SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

Denise Dampierre – Great, let us know how it went.

A week later…

Denise Dampierre SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

Denise Dampierre – De Nise Sooooo…. How did it go?

 Avatar SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

De Nise – Well, I ended up doing nothing then and waiting for the next meeting. No one mentioned my email, but we addressed the issue. I realized after our exchange that my email was not clear. It only mentioned a problem and no solution. And it would have been more effective if I addressed the issue either directly with my boss or with my client contact. I am now more conscious of how I write emails.

Thanks. I had felt quite vulnerable, but this ended up being very HELPFUL.

Denise Dampierre SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork

Denise Dampierre – That’s what the group is for.  Keep it up!

Get your issue resolved with Collective Intelligence

Soooo…what did you think?  I would very much appreciate your feedback.

You might prefer to do so in a setting with more confidentiality and even anonymity.  (You can use your first name only on Facebook)

Rendez-vous on the Facebook private group SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork !

team leader

How to be a team leader, even in a competitive workplace?

Do you too find yourself managing colleagues?  It’s not just the boss who is the one to redirect a team member and give feedback on the quality of work.  It’s also you!

You might be working in an Agile team, or you have several bosses, or you are recently (or hope to be) promoted.  You were hired for your specific expertise and discover that managing people and their performance is expected from you…and it feels overwhelming, especially since you did not have the training!

If this resonates with you, read to the end of this (long !) post.

Loving work and life

“Denise, how do you simultaneously tell people they are doing the wrong thing and get them motivated to perform positively instead?

It’s novel, and I want to do it too.”

Comments like these help me realize how far I have come…and the (long and lonely)  journey traveled to become a “go-to person” to resolve relationship conflicts and to work effectively as a team leader.

What makes a great team leader?

What would it take to be your team’s most valuable player?  What does it look and sound like to be the person that bosses and colleagues WANT to work with?!

Is she/he the Superstar?

Many professionals enter the workforce wanting to prove their value.  (Who doesn’t?) It often translates into showing cohorts who is “better.”  Who works harder, longer, and attends more meetings.  

It’s a game of comparison and one-upmanship.  Not to one’s best potential self, but to others in the team.

Superstar Motto:
I am great by being better than you.
Admit my superiority.

As stellar celebrity, it is hard to celebrate colleagues’ contribution to the group’s performance.  Their success diminishes our stardom.

Yet star players still need to progress or be replaced.  To whom do they turn to grow and improve?

Not many folks.

Who sticks around to be reminded of their “lesser” status?

It’s exhausting, lonely, and, in our fast-paced world, vowed for failure.

When I graduated from Harvard Business School, I did not know of any other option than competition.  Of course, I had heard of win-win solutions but, in my entourage, where there was a winner, one would also find a loser.

Seeking superstardom often harms the team.  We talked about teamwork, yet we performed as individuals.

Are they born leaders?

Students I teach in business school ask me whether leaders are born or made.

by Dr Seuss
The superior Sneetches are born with stars on their bellies. Woe to the plain-bellied Sneetches! from “Sneetches on the Beaches” by Dr. Seuss

You have surely heard it said, “He’s a born leader.” (Hopefully you also heard, “SHE is a born leader” too!)

That is relegating people-management skills to characteristics like height or hair color.  You or I cannot change them.  We have them or we don’t.  Period.

Born Leader Motto:
I am a leader for life. Not you…ever.

But how does that function in our complex world and global economy?  How does it work for the American or French “born leader” when integrating Indians, Chinese, and Nigerians in her team?

Humm.  Awkward.

Our definition of “valuable team member” has evolved as technology rendered borders fluid.  When working with similar folk (all engineers, all of the same nationality or race…) we could imagine “one best process.”

Today, we face diversity and the most valuable employees are those that can connect with a wide variety of people, bring out the best in each, and integrate these differences into building ONE. TOP. PERFORMING. RESULT.

Team Leaders Build Strength
– theirs & others’

Studies now show that teamwork is like a muscle.  The more you use it, the stronger your collaboration skills.

Muscle Builder Motto:
What does not kill you or me
makes US stronger.

It sounds sooooo easy, yet this kind of teamwork requires humility, courage … over and over again.

Humility to admit a relationship challenge exists.  Courage to bring up and resolve the sensitive issue with the other person. Belief in the other person’s positive intent and in the possibility of an alternative outcome.

Here is an example.  A mentor of mine was honored to introduce a prominent female politician for a speech on gender equality.  After exposing her credentials, he closed his presentation saying, “She is with us today speaking about a subject close to her heart: opportunities for women.”

“If it is a worthy topic, should it not be close to men’s hearts too?” I wondered.

This one comment is no big deal.  Why not let it slide.

And yet…many such comments over days and months become demotivating.  Additionally, if I was bothered by the remark, others probably reacted to it as well.

Teamwork muscle-builders nip relationship challenges in the bud. (Scroll to the end of this post to find out what I did 😊)  They respectfully address vulnerable topics to gain clarity for all to move ahead.

How to become a TEAM LEADER?
Be the Most Valuable TEAM Player

Today, to get promoted, you need to know your expertise AND master teamwork skills (often called soft skills).

That’s quite a challenge when many of us face some these obstacles at work:

  • When a colleagues does not complete his work and it negatively impacts our performance
  • When we question our boss’s support. When you or I take initiatives (and therefore risks), would the boss have our back, or will we get the blame?
  • When we receive negative retributions (condescending comments during a meeting or being removed from the interesting projects)
  • When we have to sit through ineffective meetings where too many people attend, and previous decisions are called into question
  • When we walk on eggshells in anticipation of colleague’s or bosses’ rampant emotions
  • When our work is not recognized…or when someone else takes the recognition for our work

These situations invite competition, not collaboration.

Today, because of the fast-changing business climate facilitated by the Internet, organizations succeed by their capacity to learn and adapt quickly.  The most valued employees are those who can transform challenging situations into opportunities for teamwork.

M.V.P. (Most Valuable Player) Motto:
Transform challenges into opportunities
to learn & grow.

And it is transformative for oneself and for the team.  Wouldn’t you want these?

  • To give and get helpful and constructive feedback
  • To know where you stand and to ask for support
  • To be a contributor, not an order-taker
  • To have work recognized…and be motivated to take more initiatives
  • To manage emotions instead of being controlled by them
  • To have your time respected

When we can turn around a tense situation and bring collaboration and solutions as a team, it’s ENEGIZING for all.

It’s the thrill of leading a life of impact.  It’s the satisfaction of making a positive difference and creating a virtuous circle of enthusiasm among colleagues.

 

HOW to be a team player in a competitive work?

Yes, it is possible.  Yes, it is transformative.

Yes, there are skills to learn.  Yes, it’s confusing at the start.

Yes, it takes practice.  Yes, it takes getting back up after we fail.

And yes, it can be lonely.

What makes it soooooo hard to be a Most Valuable Team Leader at work?

Let’s look at how skills are built.

The Traditional (and less effective) Approach

Here is what often happens:

An employee with high-potential is sent off-campus for training in teamwork and leadership skills.  They learn about positive mindset, emotions management, active listening, delegation, connecting before correcting, effective meeting management, and more.   They leave the training INVIGORATED and ready to apply new communication tools.

Back in the office, reality hits.

She needs a colleague’s input in order to finish a project on time.  He gives her five reasons why he was not able to execute the task. She responds by countering each of the excuses.  The discussion focuses on the past.  She is frustrated because she cannot advance on the project because of another person’s fault.  He feels judged and not appreciated.

Wait!  What happened to the skills learned during the training?  Was there “connection before correction”?  Who practiced active listening?!

An opportunity to strengthen teamwork muscle just passed by…and no one noticed!!!  Everyone fell into habitual behaviors.

The Novel & Impactful Way

Learn 🤔🤓

Practice 😨🙃🙂

Grow 😃😍

As I look back on my career, I noted the turning points in becoming proficient in team building, overcoming conflicts, and developing mutually positive relationships.

  1. To realize I did not know how to motivate others

I began noticing moments when I was annoyed at others or myself, or when I was in the middle of a power play.  When I began naming these feelings, I realized there must be ways to prosper at work.  But how?

  1. To discover constructive communication tools

As I became interested in working more effectively and enjoyably with my colleagues, I became attentive to how we communicated.  I realized we used tools…like impatience, critique, or questions.  Some of these create connection while others result in distance and misunderstanding.

Learning constructive communication tools is foundational in building mutually respectful and fulfilling professional relations.

  1. To test and try the tools at work

The biggest step in the journey to a positive work environment is taking that first step of trying out a different approach to a recurring challenge.

That too was a process.  At first, I recognized missed opportunities.  “I could have managed that situation differently!”  It took weeks before I could recognize a negative relationship pattern and plan an alternative strategy.

I was alone trying to identify unhelpful habits and what triggered my responses.

It took stepping back from the day-to-day and a full agenda!  Introspection is WORK!  It is what Steven Covey describes as vitally important but not urgent.

Ah! I wished for a colleague with whom to review my actions and others’ reactions.  Even more, I wished for a sparring partner:  someone who could share a fresh perspective with me and that I could help too.

  1. To try again when the first attempt did not work

People are humans, not robots.  We do not have an “off/on” button for bad humor or for trust-building.  In other words, the same approach might not work at every time.

Abraham Maslow said,
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

Creating a virtuous relationship cycle does not mean picking up a velvet cloth (in place of Maslow’s hammer) and treating every challenge as if it needed a good rub.

Not quite.

We each go through a process of trying to connect in a situation which had previously created stress.  And we use different tools according to the situation and the people involved.

Sometimes we recognize their emotions and manage ours.  Other times we listen and ask questions with a goal for understanding.  Some moments we might even admit that we may have contributed to a misunderstanding.

With practice we learn how to handle various instances.  Until then, we test and try.

When we resolve an issue, it feels AWESOME.  When our attempt failed to get the desired result, we feel discouraged…and even vulnerable.

  1. To get support…to keep on trying again & again

Don’t follow the Lone Ranger.  Be a Beatles groupie instead.

“Get by with a little help from my friends.” – The Beatles

I love this video of the beginner martial artist.  He made it, thanks to the insistence of his coach and the encouragement of his buddies!!!

We need that too.  Folk who tell us we can do it when we barely believe in ourselves and fall back into critique or judgement.  A team to celebrate with us when we succeed in being the team leader we want to be.

Become Your Team’s Most Valuable Player

This is the program I am now developing.

Learn

Online Training – 24/7 access

The online training modules (24/7 access) teach you the mindset, self-awareness, communication & soft skills, and insights to become your team’s Most Valuable Player.

Practice 

Weekly Group Coachings

Every week, we gather online for a group coaching to resolve together a workplace challenge:

  • A colleague who lags behind on his commitments
  • A person to whom we repeat, repeat, and repeat the same request
  • Someone who makes demotivating comments…maybe without even realizing it
  • A request for a raise

It’s a collective intelligence activity that boosts novel thinking and results in creative solutions.  We all gain in confidence and energy!

Grow

1-on-1 Progress check up – every 2 months

We’ll set YOUR own growth objectives to be the leader YOU want to be in YOUR organization.

Secret Facebook Group – 24/7 access

We are an online community meeting through a secret Facebook group.  You can join anonymously.  This is a safe space to talk about work.  (Your “toxic” colleagues won’t know what you think of them!)

It’s our space to ask questions, share insights, and get encouragement as we test, try, and grow.

Wanted: Super-motivated pilot testers

The program is still in finalization stage of the personalized follow-through and coaching program.  As a believer in collective intelligence, I want to build with pilot users.

If this is your situation:

  1. You were recently promoted and realize the need for leadership skills
  2. You have a new boss and are trying to find your place
  3. You are working in an Agile team and want to collaborate better
  4. You have been in the same position for several years and seek a promotion

…AND:

  1. You are super motivated
  2. You are ready to make changes in your life within the next 4 months (or now)
  3. You would like to be coached as you as you apply new skills and turn them into positive habits

Please connect by filling out the form below.

I look forward to speaking together (and if you are in Paris to even meeting in person).

Si vous êtes francophone, SVP écrivez-moi en français.  Je le considérerais comme un signe de respect.  Vous me respectez en m’accordant la liberté d’écrire dans ma langue natale … et je souhaite vous rendre la même considération.

Maybe this program is not for you but you have someone with high potential in mind.  Please forward them this email!

P.S. How did I respond to the presenter who introduced the woman speaker talking about gender initiatives?

I SHOT UP my arm during the Q & A period and asked, “You introduced our speaker by saying that gender intiatives are an issue close to her heart.  She has devoted much of her talk to the proven benefits of diversity in the workforce.  Shouldn’t this be a topic on the hearts of men too?!”

He smiled and responded, “Point well taken.  Thank you.”

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – The POWER of Vulnerability at Work

Hi folks,

Last week was intense as I led four days of training You get the insights through our TGIF:  Trust – Gratitude – Inspiration – and Fun.

Trust

I’m trusting in the power of vulnerability.  Yes, even at work.

I’m still on a “high” from the feedback of last week’s training groups.  Folk shared how much they learned about themselves and how this stimulates them to change attitudes and behaviors.  Wow!

It happened by creating an environment of trust which paved the way for authentic exchange over both strengths and weaknesses.  Vulnerability was given and received.

Team meeting

People realized they are not imposters; they have strengths that are recognized and visible to others!  They also learned that challenges present opportunities for learning.  Bye, bye to “I’m a failure.”  Hello to “I can grow.”

Here are some feedback highlights:

“I realized that I was not invisible.  It was empowering to learn how my example of doing my job with dedication and a goal of excellence has inspired others.”

“I learned that I am already brave and strong.”

“I don’t just want money.  I really want a LIFE.”

“I should stop telling myself that I’m not confident.  I discovered this is not what people think when they meet me.  It’s time for me to stop degrading myself.”

Gratitude

Thank you to my clients who trust me.  It is a real privilege to be welcomed into their offices and given the opportunity to challenge employees out of their comfort zone…and to come out stronger together 😊!

Inspiration

One of this past week’s clients is an up-and-coming startup, WeMaintain, and their daring talent strategy inspires me.

They hire for potential…which can differ from past achievement. 

Laughter at work

We met the expert on Internet of Things who learned his skill by making connected skateboards as a hobby.  A previous journalist joined them as a front-end coder.  The list goes on.

The team overflows with mutual respect.  Here is what they say about each other:

“I have such admiration for each person in this team who fully invests in the work and is ready to grow further together.”

“I feel a sense of fullness as I admire the richness of the team.  We can go far together.”

Fun

During my trainings, I use scenarios to stimulate aha-moments of learning.  The goal of one of these scenes is for participants to realize that they cannot change other people’s behavior.  They can change their own…. which then will produce a different response from the other person.

We change first.

In one of last week’s training, the role play ended up being particularly hilarious.  The principle I had hoped participants would grasp did not come through. ☹  And yet, the scene generated roaring laughter which woke us all up after lunch. 😊

Fun at work

To paraphrase the authors of Fail Fast, Fail Often (Ryan Babineaux, PhD and John Krumboltz, PhD),

Fail fast.  Tweak often. Laugh as you learn.

 

Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt, Denise

Neat & New Stuff

Enjoy these posts inspired by my father’s wisdom:

“Aging isn’t for sissies!”

What’s YOUR Focus Word?

Boy looking through telescope. Searching Focus word!

As life passes, one realizes time is…limited.  That’s a focusing thought!  Read on…

 

When It’s Urgent to Reflect

Man reflecting in parkI wrote this post after a hearing a professor speak on leadership and reflexion at a Harvard Business School reunion.  My father had encouraged me to attend the school and the place holds a soft spot for us.   Read on…

Serenity.  To Accept the Things We Cannot Change

Serenity of lighthouseWe cannot change the passage of time and the impact it has on our bodies and our relationships.  But discover what we can do about it!  Read on…

Interview with Elizabeth Moreno, CEO of Lenovo France

Jumping across rocks. Risk taking.Lenovo speaks of taking risks:  how she learned how to embrace risk-taking with confidence and thrive.  Read on…

How to move from book-wise to street-smart

I help teams collaborate constructively, to work smart together.  It means training them in positive teamwork theory and creating the environment of trust so that they apply what they learn.

Knowing what to do and doing it are two different stories!

To do this, I lead workshops and create “Aha! Moments” of self-discovery where participants realize how their behavior impacts other people.

  • “You mean when I say, ‘Whatever!’ it gets my manager really frustrated?!”
  • “You mean, the way a person listens determines the kind of information the other person shares?!”

Once they have grown in self-awareness, we move on to learn tools to build both performance and connection.

Knowing what to do and doing it are two different stories! 

Nike says, “Just do it.”

Even the Vice-Dean of Sciences Po business school, Olivier Guillet, calls for action.  In his interview, he recounted the incident when a philosophy professor sought business advice.  The insights he needed to hear (know what you can control, act on those, don’t sweat the rest) were those he taught in his Introduction to Stoics class!  He had not transposed his knowledge into the situation.

This story resonated with me as I notice a similar trend in my trainings.  People love to learn.  Applying the learnings are more of a challenge!

How can we accompany folk in translating a fascinating concept into a helpful new mode of operating?

Some people refer to this as moving concepts from the head to the heart.

Albert Einstein also talks about this phenomenon.  He challenges us to step into a new kind of thinking:  we cannot resolve our challenges by applying the same reasoning that created them.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”
Albert Einstein

Avoid getting lost in translation

Confusion

Changing our behavior is like learning another language.

Speak a Foreign Language

The first stage is confusion and discomfort.  We are out of our comfort zone!

To translate this into business terms, we might wonder why bother even learn about emotional intelligence or constructive collaboration skills.  It is unfamiliar vocabulary…and you have lived without it until now.

Most of us lived without romance…and then it swept us off our feet.

Translate from Theory-Wise to Street-Smart

Let’s consider the foreign language of listening.  Listening to our colleagues, our bosses, and our clients.

Most of us think we do it well…until we have a mirror-like experience.  That is when we discover that instead of asking open-ended questions, we make inquiries that can be answered with “Yes’ or “No.”  Or we think a colleague is rude and interrupts and we realize that in our moments of enthusiasm we cut her off in mid-thought.

Until we open ourselves up to feedback, there is no realization that there might be a better option.

One Phrase

Next, we can manage using one new relationship tool in a specific situation.  It’s like knowing one sentence in a foreign tongue.

Speak a Foreign Language

I recall being in a French boulangerie (bakery) and an American tourist walked in and very carefully pronounced the sentence he had practiced, “Je veux une tarte tatin.” (“I would like a‘tarte tatin.’”)

The baker responded, “Hein?” (“What?”) before she understood the words spoken with the unfamiliar accent.  Then she rattled on in French about how he had chosen the right bakery for this French delicacy because theirs was definitely the best.  And so one and so forth.

The tourist gave her a blank stare, took a deep breath, gathered his strength, and responded, “Je veux une tarte tatin.”

Translate from Theory-Wise to Street-Smart

In a training context, this likens to situational activities or role plays where we simulate a typical professional interaction.  Participants are engaged and learn.  Yet they refer to a skit; this is not about them.

One exercise consists of five types of listening:  distracted,  critical, and eventually to active listening.  Learners can name the listening styles, yet they do not realize how they listen under varying circumstances.

First Exchange

At the close of my trainings, I ask learners to share what they will put into practice.  Many pause, almost with surprise.  It is a moment when they realize they attended the workshops looking for tips to change other people (!).  They are invited to alter their own behaviors.  Yikes!

Be prepared to not get “it” right the first time.  As one start-upper called it, “Test and try.”  He did not say, “Practice in front of the mirror, record yourself ten times, then test it.”  Get into the discomfort zone and learn so that next time it will be easier and smoother.

The biggest change is more about deciding to change yourself than in applying any one specific tool.

Speak a Foreign Language

It is like going to the bakery and using sign language to point to various desserts and asking, ”Café?  Caramel?  Chocolate?!” and with your fingers indicating that you’ll take two, please (smile and make a happy face).  The purpose is to communicate and move forward.  Forget the perfect phraseology.

Translate from Theory-Wise to Work-Smart

In my trainings, learning is enjoyable and engaging.  It is also for a purpose.  Which relationship do you want to take to the next level of trust and cooperation?  What will you test and try?

Conversation

After practice and repeated efforts, we learn fluency.  This applies as much with new modes of behavior as it does with a foreign language.  When we learn to drive a car, it is hard to light the turn signal and focus on the road.  Soon it becomes automatic.

Speak a Foreign Language

I have been living in Paris more than half my life.  People no longer ask me, “Do you think in French or do you think in English and translate your thoughts?” It’s now a non-issue.

Translate from Theory-Wise to Work-Smart

At the start, it will feel awkward to listen differently.  In fact, when we first try to change the way we listen…we usually don’t change!

And yet, we become aware after the fact that there might have been an opportunity for a different outcome to a conversation had we managed our side in another way.

We might then ask trusted team members to provide a feedback loop.  “If I talk before I listen, let me know.”

With practice, we recognize the cues on our own and learn to adapt even while during a conversation.  We learn to put aside that super-interesting thought we wanted to share soooo badly and concentrate on what other folks have to say.  We even notice that team members may be more intelligent that we had previously thought!

Practice might not make collaboration perfect.  It sure makes teamwork more productive and enjoyable. 

And the person who looks back at us in the mirror SMILES. 

Father and son spending time together

Give the Gift of Time

The holidays are just around the corner.  Will you celebrate with loved ones?  I hope you can.

For the lovers among you, scroll down to the end of this post for your gift. 🙂

For the parents among you, why not make this an opportunity to teach your children about leadership by letting them take the lead with you!!

You offer your time. The children choose how to spend it.

Children (of all ages) spell love: T.I.M.E.

Children (of all ages) spell love: T.I.M.E.

Time as a present to offer

Money cannot buy time.  Not when it comes to time spent with kids.

Play-together-time often misses the Christmas list…AND yet, it’s the gift kids crave.

How does one “give” time?  How can one make it feel like a present?

That’s why we created these Gift Certificates.  Personalize with your child’s name and you signature, et voilà!  You have a valuable stocking stuffer you and your children will cherish.

Click here to download Gift Certificates.

Kids and Parents Learn Through Play

Play teaches children how to overcome boredom, to set and follow rules, to win and lose with respect.  Those are leadership skills!

Let kids direct the play (that’s your gift). You’ll discover them WHILE helping your child learn to thrive….even with challenging team members (you?).

You thought your daughter was impatient? She spends ½ hour dressing and undressing a doll! That will stretch the fortitude of many adults.

One Mom’s Story

The first year I offered these gifts to my sons they all invited me to play their favorite video game. “Oh, no! Wrong gift!” I thought.

These shared screen times taught me so much.  This time was “extra video time” for the children and since the intent was to share a moment together, they willingly spent 30 minutes teaching me why they like this particular game, what makes it exciting, and how to win.

I observed their skills (or lack of) in anticipation, in strategizing, in concentration, and more.

And the following week when they struggled with homework, we applied ideas from the game to help concentration. “Let’s create levels.  When you finish your first math problem, you reach level 2!”

The next year, I gave each child two gifts of time. One could be used for games on screens. The other was for something else of their choice.  One child wanted to learn more about his bank statement.  Another wanted to go shopping.

I kept doing this for years, even when our eldest was in high school.  He asked for a visit to the ophthalmologist to see about contact lenses!

You Don’t Feel Like It

Screen games or doll dressing isn’t your cup of tea? Is homework theirs?

Look to the bigger picture.  Model leadership and balance long term gains with short term costs.

You’re creating memories, proving their importance, and connecting on their level!  You’ll be amazed how that encourages them to seek to connect on issues of importance to you…like picking up their bags and coats in the front hallway.  Seriously.

The Children Don’t Feel Like It

Kids might act like they don’t want to play with you.

“Children often resist love when they need it the most.”

“Children often resist love when they need it the most,” assert Dr. Scott Turansky and nurse Joan Miller, authors of Parenting is Heart Work. Be creative and kindly insistent. They might be testing the sincerity of your offer.

If the kids don’t want to play, consider admiring them for 15 minutes. No words. No judgement.  Simply seeking to understand them in their environment.

Say “Thank You”

That magic word for all ages concludes your time together on a positive note.

The Biggest Kid of Them All

How about playing with your spouse……! We’ve got a gift certificate for them too!

Gift Certificate for couple's romance
Gift Certificate for couple's romance

To receive Gift Certificates click here.

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash.com