Category Archives: Relationships

How to Deal with Your Adversary

I’ve always had some level of anxiety when dealing with conflict. Maybe you do too. I don’t relish being the centre of attention, especially that kind of attention. If there is some productive way to handle my adversaries, then I’m all for it, whether it is in my professional or personal life. Fortunately, a recent adventure in outdoor paintball gave me some valuable tips about how to deal with opponents.

If you haven’t played outdoor paintball before, it’s a series of game zones in a large, enclosed area. Each game zone has a different theme, such as Prison Break (where you negotiate your way around some buses and cars, D-Day landing (where you locate and defeat the enemy in their bunker), and Speedball (where you are protecting fuel reserves from terrorists). Your friends work as a team to battle against another team of people who have showed up to play at the same time. Some zones require more cooperation between team members than others. Oh, and you shoot the other guys using a gun loaded with colourful paint balls. The way I decided to defeat our opponent (the other team) was using the following tips.

Tip 1: Network and learn about your adversary

After arriving at the paintball location and signing a waiver, I had to get my gear on. I knew the event organizer, as well as some of the others in our party of about fifteen. I asked people in the group about how to put on the gear – some of the apparatus was intuitive, while other bits were not. Those who had played the game before had some useful advice for me while we got to know each other at base camp prior to the start of the game.

By talking to people, I learned more about the players themselves. The ones who were confident, with paintball canisters strapped and ready for quick access (like they intended to take a lot of shots), were likely to be the ones attacking the opponent. The people who said they’d never played before and were anxious for the game to start, were likely to be more on the defensive. I exchanged names with some team members I hadn’t met before: whether they’d played before, how they knew the organizer, and what sports they played when they weren’t shooting paint. The people we were playing against looked like seasoned players. No one seemed to be wondering which way a piece of equipment was supposed to be put on. That had me worried about my lifespan once I entered a game zone.

Tip 2: Make yourself some allies

I already knew what my strengths and weaknesses were for games like these: I can duck and cover, but I’m not good at shooting moving targets. Still, my video game fantasies kicked in, my imagined military skills fluttering through my mind as I hid behind a tree. Ideally, I would dart out at the opportune moment to shoot and take down the enemy one by one while under heavy fire. They would be too slow to catch me as I flew through the obstacle course to the target zone in enemy territory.

How it really played out though, was I used the camouflage of a tree. Chatting with people before the game gave me a chance to find the fearless snipers, the risk takers, and the reluctant players. I formed a kinship with one of the reluctant players. Her goal was simply to try out the games and see how she did. Our strategy was to shoot the enemy from a safe hideout and keep an eye out for each other’s backs. Having her as an ally doubled my chances of survival. I felt safe knowing she and I were in the same boat. Until she disappeared behind another tree when an opponent came close, and then I found myself surrounded by shrubbery and quite alone.

Tip 3: Share strengths to defeat the rival

My strength, as I’ve said before, is in hiding and observing. It’s not a strategy I’m proud of. Dealing with your adversaries through passive rebellion is not at all heroic. There is too much dependence on others – the ones recognized as the stars of the team. These allies of mine were the ones who took the big risks and charged, fully exposed on all sides, into enemy territory. They were the ones who claimed victory for the team, such as capturing the enemy flag.

I helped by advancing when they advanced and taking on defense. When the fearless team members launched themselves deep into enemy territory, I followed and hid behind a wall or tree trunk where I could fire at others with minimum risk to my own safety and provided them with cover fire. I also helped by donating paintballs from my supply to the risk takers. They ran out of paintballs at twice the speed that I did. My very conservative contribution benefited the team.

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Paintball game zone

Tip 4: Let your opponent see your human side

It was in the last game zone, while my team was cornered and being slaughtered, that I realized I needed tip 4. In paintball, once you are hit, you must walk out of the active game area to show that you are no longer playing. That area is marked with a ribbon that shows the boundary of the game zone. After I was hit, I and other teammates stood along the ribbon, unable to go further because there were dense shrubs behind us. We started a lineup.

Eventually the opponent team fought their way to our side of the playing field and started to shoot at us, even though we had our hands up and we weren’t firing our guns. I lay on the ground to be as small as possible but even there I was hit about seven times. It felt more of a zombie hunting game at that point, since the enemy insisted that we could come back from the dead and were fair game.

Which brings me to the next point, that when you deal with your adversary, it helps to humanize yourself. It is harder to bring down an opponent when you can see yourself in their shoes and feel what they feel. To the other team, we were just targets in masks and soldier’s gear. They couldn’t feel the relentless pain of being zapped by paintballs, of getting the bitter, medicinal tasting paint in your mouth while soaking in the heat of padded clothing. Worst of all, I still had a working paintball gun which I wasn’t firing because I was playing by the rules. At that point, the game ceased to be fun until the referee realized what was happening and rescued us by drilling the rules into the opponents’ ears: do not shoot players when they are out of the game!

Tip 5: Separate small goals from large goals

When the game ended, I was a lot more colourful than when I’d started. I didn’t make it through all of the game zones because it was just too exhausting to run around in three thick layers of clothes in warm weather. I managed to survive at least half the zones by setting small goals for myself, such as crawling to a tree while under fire, and making it from one game zone to the next. The main goal, to make it through to last game zone, I did not achieve, but many of the team didn’t either. Most were just too drenched in their own sweat. I concluded none of us would make it as true military personnel.

The most important lesson I got from the game was working together as a team to defeat a common opponent. When you have allies protecting you and supporting you, you will be a lot harder to defeat. Definitely I wouldn’t have survived as long as a team of one. This lesson was one that I could apply to a work situation or even in my personal life.

That was probably the point of the game: for all to have fun and experience an adventure with your teammates.

 

The Importance of Eye Contact

“The simple act of holding someone’s gaze … has the power to ignite or deepen a relationship.”

I’ve had my heart stolen by a man I barely knew – we had spent no more than three hours over six months talking about impersonal things – and yet, when I said goodbye that day and was walking out the door, I turned to see him gazing at me. That look was so intense, his eyes locked on mine like he wanted to kiss me, that I wanted to forget about leaving and just go back and throw my arms around him although we were near strangers.

Eye contact is captivating.

This contact is what humanizes and strengthens connections. I was once mesmerized by the incessant gaze of a seagull as it watched me watch it. I moved around in the room; the seagull paced back and forth outside on the window ledge, its eyes never leaving mine. By the time it flew away, the moment we shared was unforgettable.

It doesn’t matter whose eyes are engaging ours, whether human or animal, alive or pictorial. The contact is a way of sending a message. Researchers at Cornell University did a study on the significance of eye contact using the Trix cartoon rabbit by changing the gaze of the rabbit shown on different cereal boxes. The box that a panel of adults chose most frequently was the one with the rabbit looking directly at them, instead of away.

Eye contact makes you memorable.

The body language of the eyes can be powerful enough to make a person fall in love. A gaze can stop a person from walking out the door. Eye contact can make a moment unforgettable.

We’ve heard the saying, “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” People are more likely to believe someone is being honest when eye contact is made. We think that when we look into someone’s eyes, we can peer into their true intentions. For this reason, holding eye contact during a conversation or a presentation makes your words more memorable. The next time you are giving an important talk, hold someone’s gaze, then look away, or make a sudden hand gesture. Your words at that moment will become more solidified in that person’s mind.

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Eyes can reveal the mental state of their owner.

Eye contact can reveal the truth.

When we hold someone’s gaze, we feel that we can prevent them from deceiving us if they seem a bit shady in character. The truth, however, is that liars are better at holding eye contact than those who tell the truth, perhaps because they are aware that we think a gaze will reveal a person’s true intentions. In fact, we are better able to interpret a person’s intentions from their body language than we think.

A study on a person’s ability to read body language from the expression in their eyes only (the rest of the face was covered), revealed that men could interpret the mental state of the person 76% of the time, while women could guess the state 88% of the time. But it’s not known how we are able to deduce our conclusions from eye contact.

Eyes need to roam to gather information.

Most of us aren’t aware that we also get our information at a subconscious level. When we see someone new from a distance, our eyes go to the face, then the body, and then back to the face. The exchange of glances helps us assess how interesting we think the other person may be. The glimpse of the body tells us the sex of the person we are approaching.

Women are able to gather this information more discretely close up because of their peripheral vision. Men have tunnel vision, so it is more noticeable when they are trying to check out someone from head to toe from close up.

After a meeting, we also check out the rear view of the person as they leave. In a study of job interviews, researchers found that both men and women checked out the physical details of job interview candidates as they entered the room and when they left. Women tended to be more judgmental of the candidates’ clothes and overall appearance. Both sexes needed to give the candidates a complete once-over at the start of the interview. This is a fact to keep in mind if candidates are trying to maintain eye contact the moment they enter the room – it makes the checking out process difficult for the interviewer.

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The duration of eye contact can affect how you feel about someone.

Eyes send a clear message.

Whether or not you are thinking about the message your eyes are sending out, you should be aware that you are always transmitting something. When you hold eye contact, you are showing interest. If you are checking someone out, even subconsciously, you could be creating an awkward situation, especially if the other person is politely trying to hold a gaze. Your emotions are spelled out in your eyes, and people can read your message with over 75% accuracy. Eyes are indeed the windows into your innermost thoughts. So, hold eye contact, be confident, and be memorable!

 

 

Connecting with People in Vancouver

I’ve heard many say that it’s hard to meet people in Vancouver. Newcomers think that locals hang out with their local friends and don’t open up their social circles. Singles go online to meet hook ups, potential dates, or future spouses. People in the same office building exchange polite hellos and smiles without knowing the barest details of each other’s lives. With these habits, how does one break through these barriers to make a new friend in person? Too often it seems people become suspicious when a complete stranger wants to know more than directions to a landmark. Approach someone you don’t know to ask him or her random questions about favourite hobbies and restaurants and you’re likely to get something ranging from a strange look to questioning from police.

People don’t socialize with strangers

Busy people are everywhere. If there is a long lineup at the coffee shop, we take out our smartphones to check our friends’ status on Facebook, text a friend about weekend plans, reach the next level on a game app, or screen work emails while we stand around. There we are, multi-tasking our social and professional lives, considering ourselves efficient in our use of time. I can’t recall when someone turned to a stranger to say something other than, wow, this lineup is long.

We connect with people at events

We open ourselves up to meeting new friends only when we attend an activity or event where socializing is part of the event. For example, at a birthday party, my friend introduces me to her friend who is finally back after six years in Europe and now she’s in the same career as me so she and I should talk. Or, I join a swimming class and one of the ladies lives a block away so we decide to carpool and perhaps have dinner after class since we’re pretty much neighbours.

People have noticed that meeting people through some haphazard coincidence is unlikely. To address this situation, lifestyle coaches and other professionals hold workshops about how to meet people in Vancouver. Yes, they teach you how to do this type of social interaction.

We learn how to connect at workshops

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Vancouver event where people learn to connect with others

I think it’s ironic to sit with a table of strangers and open a conversation with, “Hello! You’re having trouble meeting people too? This problem we both have has finally connected us.”

Apparently, people are so afraid about how a stranger would react if you tried talking with them out of the blue that they’re likely to let the moment pass. So even if you think the woman at the table next to yours might be interesting to get to know as a friend, you will keep your thoughts to yourself and not say anything in case she calls you a freak.

For others, it was a lack of social skills that brought them to the workshop. The presenter taught us how to look a stranger in the eye, begin, and maintain a conversation. We had to be taught these things, because apparently it’s a skill we lack.

I spoke with a few people after the workshop finished about why they were there. They wanted to connect with others, network, and learn how they could increase their circle of friends. Most of them were single and trying to avoid meeting potential dates online. Some still believe in organically starting a relationship.

Generally, I found it easy to meet and chat with people at a How to Meet People event. I exchanged phone numbers with some ladies after a quick chat about interests and what activities we could attend together the next time we met.

Some people don’t feel the need to connect

What surprised me were the people who attended the social event and made their escape as soon as the workshop was over. I had so many questions about their purpose in attending that evening.

Did they have to run because they accidentally ate some chili peppers? Or did they simply want something to pass a couple of hours in their day? Were they learning how to connect with people so they could practice the skill on someone else? Most importantly, did they think the people from that evening were not worth connecting to? I guess I’ll never know because I didn’t speak with them.

Finding chances to connect with others

My biggest takeaway from the workshop experience was that only the brave ones are willing to ask a random person if they are enjoying the sunshine, or if they would like to join them at their table and have a chat over coffee. Trying to make friends with the person sitting next to you on the bus seems almost taboo. Perhaps our culture has to change. Perhaps people need to be friendlier. Or maybe making a new friend each day is too ambitious or unnecessary a goal for most of us. What do you think?

How to Find Your Soulmate

The weather has warmed up for summer, and you’re craving a partner for trips and outdoor activities. You could attend a spring singles mixer in the hopes of finding that special someone. I went to such an event, lured by the promise of hundreds of singles in a wide age range.

The place was crowded and the music was booming when I got there. I was handed a number, a paper with questions, and a matchbox that would lead me to my counterpart. As I caught up with my girlfriend, I saw glimpses of men, some strikingly good looking, others more forgettable. So the adventure began, with the goal of finding my special match by the end of the night.

Step 1: Leave Your Comfort Zone

To find my soulmate, I had to be willing to try out new places and activities. If I hadn’t found him yet, there was the possibility that he wasn’t where I normally frequented. Time to change my routine. This night was unusual for me. Having a number stuck on my arm, like I was an item at the auction house was atypical also.

When I walked into the room, I reminded myself to check off all the pointers on that mental list for making myself more noticeable. Look confident. Check. Meet guys with solid eye contact. Check. Smile. Appear as if searching a crowd of singles for right match was a totally normal activity. Check and check.

Step 2: Engage in Conversation

We were given a piece of paper with statements in a grid pattern, like a game of Bingo. The purpose was to approach guys and ask them questions from the paper. For example, I had to find someone who owned a truck. If the guy I spoke to owned a truck, then he would sign his name in that square. When I filled all the squares with names, I could enter my paper in a draw for a prize.

The benefit of this set up is that shyer folk would have a purpose for approaching a complete stranger and speaking with them. The questions could begin a conversation, or, if the conversation fell flat, you had a reason to move on and ask another guy another question from the paper.

The disadvantage of this set up is that more outgoing folk had to ask questions about things that weren’t relevant to my interests. In the spirit of completing the questionnaire, I had to find a guy who liked the colour pink, and another guy who used to wear braces.

I can hold my own in a conversation with a stranger, and I would have preferred the chance to just mingle and ask questions about what I really wanted to know, such as what brought him to this event. Or whether he was there as a wingman for a friend. And if there was one thing he could change about the world, what would it be. The writer in me wanted to feast on these insightful bits of information.

The most important tip for getting to know someone, though, is picking the right venue. The music was blasting into our ears, dampening the atmosphere for mingling. I spent the next few hours yelling at people, or screaming into their ears.

I would rather have gone on a coffee date in a quieter place. If the chemistry is right, no conversation is ever dull.

Step 3: Look for Common Goals and Interests

At the singles mixer, we were each given a match box. When I slid the box open, the word handwritten inside was WEALTH. A guy in the crowd supposedly had the matching word. Someone, maybe, who shared my dream of having a successful side business that would allow for early retirement.

I wondered what he looked like. I dreaded that he would turn out to be a much older man who would converse about politics until I drowned in the words. Or that he would turn out to be the younger man who was ambitiously drinking several bottles of beer at once. A few guys looked at my Wealth box, and said, I wish I had that, and showed me their box with the mismatched word. But all night long, my box’s mate never appeared.

At least I could still dream, and consider it a metaphor for my life – I was still searching for this soulmate who would say the magic words: We share the same dream.

Step 4: Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In

My girlfriend was disappointed in the mixer and returned to her previous belief that she’d met so many guys – none were The One. If he hadn’t appeared in her life by now, he wasn’t going to. There was someone in her life at the moment – they fought a lot – but she thought  he was okay and she was pushing him to discuss having a common-law relationship. I really hope that she won’t settle.

My soulmate wasn’t at the singles mixer. I laughed, thinking that maybe he’d gone to another event, hoping to meet me there. One of these days, we would cross paths if we continue to do the things that interest us. Just not that day. After I returned home, I placed the matchbox on my kitchen counter. It’s a beacon for The One.

Romance and the Entrepreneur

It’s Valentine’s Day and  most have romance on their minds and in their hearts: roses, chocolate, jewelry, candlelight dinner, or a day with a special someone. That someone is usually a husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend. But… what if you’re still looking for that significant other? Perhaps you could start with treasuring someone you’ve known for a long time. You.

That’s right. YOU.

In my time as an entrepreneur, I’ve learned one important lesson that can be applied to everyone – be the person you want to attract and that person will come into your life. Some of the most vital qualities for success as an entrepreneur works well for relationships too.

Project positivity

If you see life as a glass half full, then it will be full. When that type of mindset is what you live by, then people will be attracted to that strength. Everyone wants a partner in life who is their beacon of sunlight. And when you’re positive, you believe in what you can and will achieve. Great things happen because nothing will stop you from reaching your goals, and people appreciate a person of confidence.

Build a relationship of trust

It’s about getting to know the other person and making him or her your world every time you meet. Give them your attention. Ask good questions that tell you who that person is so you can get to really know them. Understand what motivates them in life. Let them see that you can add more to their life.

One thing I’ve learned about being an entrepreneur is… you’re committed. When you’re set to get something done, you will get it done despite the obstacles. In a relationship, that means we’re in it for the long haul. We make promises that we keep. And we avoid arguments. We agree to disagree. One strategy in business that works well for relationships too.

Adventure and vision

Entrepreneurs fit that work hard and play hard ideal. They will do what it takes to get to their goal. But that means they have a sense of adventure, to try new things and challenge themselves. They are used to getting uncomfortable. So a relationship with an entrepreneur will not be boring. Want some spontaneity? They will be up for it.

For Valentine’s Day, celebrate it with someone you cherish, but also think of yourself if you’re still looking for that significant other. How can you improve in yourself and be the person you want to attract and continue to be with?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee Date Tips to Create a Good Impression

It’s your first date. You met this person online through a dating site or mutual friends set you up. Either way, you’ve agreed to meet for the first time at a coffee shop and you want to impress. To increase your chances of success, start with your preparation.

Check out the set up of the coffee shop

Choose a location that isn’t too crowded or noisy. Yelling at your date is far from romantic. A less busy place has a larger selection of seating areas and arrangements. You could sit across from each other at a table, or next to each other for more intimacy. If the place is somewhat busy, and there is a lineup, you could meet and get to know one another by talking about what you will order. If you find the place is too crowded, you could get your drinks to go and take a walk outside.

Show your date you’re interested

Be on time and dress appropriately to show that your date is important. Smile and have eye contact. In a sense, this meeting is like a job interview. Before the date, you’ve learned a few things about him or her to start a conversation about a favorite sport, recent trip, or pet. Ask questions to show your interest, but share something about yourself as well. An endless list of questions turns the date into an interview, and an endless speech about yourself makes you seem self centered. Be aware of your date’s body language. A lack of eye contact could mean a lack of interest. Touching your hand signals a desire to know you more and is a strong sign that a second date is likely.

End on a positive note

Meeting in the afternoon or early evening allows time for another activity. If coffee ends and chemistry is lacking, thank your date for the meeting. You could also suggest a second date on another day if you’re unsure how you feel about him or her. However, if the date is going well, it will be early enough in the day to suggest another activity, such as a walk or dinner.

No matter how the coffee date goes, have fun and think of the experience as an opportunity to meet another person and get to know each other. Continue reading Coffee Date Tips to Create a Good Impression