Uncategorized

Develop effective communication skills in children by Eunice Musiime

Angry image

At the beginning of 2017, i listened to an eloquently delivered talk about the need to help our children develop effective communication skills. Undoubtedly effective communication skills are considered critical for one to thrive in the 21st century, yet as parents or guardians we have made limited investments in horning this skill in our children.

I am learning and having greater appreciation that a lot of the world’s problems could be avoided, if only we learnt how to communicate better. Better still, a lot more could be accomplished if we had strong communication skills. All the leaders that have had a huge impact at national, regional and global level have been great communicators. We pay huge sums of money to listen to inspirational speakers or buy their books, and other related materials.

On the other hand, we have all interfaced with individuals who clearly could benefit from a class on communication 101. Certain basic skills such as please, thank you and excuse me are nonexistent in their speech. More, scary is the increasing lack of basic public speaking skills and writing skills among recent graduates. I recently received an application for a job from a stranger that read, “Hi dear!”

Given our busy schedules as a family, it is sometimes next to impossible to find time to stop and talk about things, unless of course it is scheduled. One of the instructive strategies that the speaker shared with us was having regular scheduled times as a family to collectively connect.  For instance, she shared how her family holds weekly scheduled meetings where they are expected to share their highs, lows and plans for the following week. Through this space, the children learn to share their stories, feelings and key learning.

Additionally, the speaker encouraged us to ensure that as parents we use this space to actively listen to our children. We were encouraged to desist from defending ourselves if our children share their feelings and we don’t agree with what they were saying. When we listen to our children, it helps to make the child feel loved and valued.

Technology has also become a killer of effective communication among families and friends as it has replaced interactions. I often come across families on a date or an outing but they are still busy on the social media. Equally, in the home settings, technology has replaced time for face to face interactions.

In my family, we usually touch base for an hour on Mondays, we begin by spending time in worship, share testimonies, read a portion of scripture and pray together. A family ritual of weekly meetings augmented with probably daily interactions without distractions can definitely make a big difference in fomenting good communication habits.

Such spaces also help us to understand a little better these little beings that have been placed in our care. If your child is sad or upset, a gentle touch or hug may let him know that you understand those sad or bad feelings. We should not tell our child what they should think or feel. We should let them express those feelings. And be sure not to minimize these feelings by saying things like, “It’s silly to feel that way,” or “You’ll understand when you get older.” His feelings are real to him and should be respected.

As parents, we could make this world a better place by raising great communicators; it all begins with us first becoming great role models in good communication skills. Finding ways to better communicate with our children will go a long way in helping them reach their full potential.

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Society, Uncategorized

How about we stop policing women’s bodies! By Eunice Musiime

On Friday 22nd September, both the traditional and social media was awash with the story of a female court clerk/ interpreter a one Rosemary Namuwanga, who was suspended for dressing provocatively. According to a correspondence from the Permanent Secretary of the Ugandan Judiciary, Josephine Mawunge (Mrs), Rosemary has been suspended for two weeks without salary, as her mode of dressing is frowned on by the Ugandan Judiciary.

The Uganda Public Service Standing Orders, 2010, stipulate that officers shall always be required to dress decently and in the generally acceptable standards in the Uganda Community. They however do not highlight what would constitute decent, smart and reasonable dressing.

Recently, in her establishment notice, PS Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire says all female members of the public service should dress in a skirt or dress that is not above the knees, with a smart, long or short sleeved blouse. She adds that sleeveless and transparent blouses and dresses will not be tolerated at the work place while all clothing is expected to cover the cleavage, navel and the back.

While the principle stands that one should dress professionally at the work place, the problem comes when wider sexist attitudes towards women and their bodies are projected in an attempt to define what constitutes decent.

It is no coincidence that office dress codes contain far more rules pertaining to women than to men. The rational for policing women and girls’ bodies is often said to avoid tempting the male of our species on the presumption that men have no self control. Rather than promoting positive masculinity and men’s responsibility, women are punished.

Rosemary’s case and many others who have been victims of body policing highlight the need to apply extra scrutiny to dress codes, to ensure that girls and boys, and women and men, are treated equally.

The second is to challenge what we have accepted as the norm and yet continues to reinforce disparate treatment of the genders, which subconsciously has affected how we treat our children, our friends and our colleagues. This will allow us to examine our motives and perhaps proceed with caution when we have an urge to police girls and women.

Leadership, Society

Emotional Intelligence makes Leaders Effective by Eunice Musiime

Anger image

As a student of leadership, I have become intentional about observing the difference between strong and weak leaders for my own learning and self improvement. One quality, I have come to admire, seek, covet, envy in great leaders, is Emotional Intelligence.

For years, educators, human resource professionals, corporate trainers, recruiters, managers and others have known what sets apart the average performers from the stars. It isn’t technical skills – those are easy to learn, and it’s easy to determine if someone has them or not. It isn’t necessarily intelligence, either. It is something else, something that you knew it if you saw it, but which was difficult to clearly define. It was called ‘people skills’ and now more recently, emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence was coined in 1990 in a research paper by two psychology professors, John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey, who defined it this way:

From a scientific (rather than a popular) standpoint, emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions.

The five components of emotional intelligence that allow individuals to recognize, connect with, and learn from their own and other people’s mental states are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation (defined as “a passion for work that goes beyond money and status”)
  • Empathy for others
  • Social skills, such as proficiency in managing relationships and building networks

Have you come across adults who find it difficult to say I am sorry? Or find it difficult to acknowledge their role in a not so good situation. Or unwilling to discuss possible ways that the situation could be handled differently or adults who throw a tantrum if things don’t proceed the way they envisaged? We could all benefit improving our intrapersonal and inter personal skills.

To begin with, how self-aware are you? Self-awareness is about achieving a realistic view of one’s strengths and weaknesses and of how those strengths and weaknesses compare to others. Not an easy process if you ask me but one that harvests great benefits if properly employed.

Real self awareness will not happen, unless one gets accurate feedback from either respected friends or a 360-degree process of assessment. A 360 degree assessment or personality tests are great tool to help us uncover EQ-related blind spots, not least because other people are generally too polite to give us negative feedback.

Equally key is how self-aware of others’ emotions that helps a leader to strengthen their emotional intelligence.  Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference. A Leader who is in tune with the team is likely to succeed.

Finally, how a leader navigates and builds strong social networks determines how better informed, more creative, more efficient than those with limited social networks.  By having a trusted set of advisors and advocates, effective networkers make better decisions faster and are more likely to have support for their ideas and plans. Relationships will not just happen, it requires one to invest time, plan activities and anticipate likely spaces to make great connections.

In sum, technical skills and intelligence are great, the missing link is a leader’s emotional intelligence to propel one to greater heights. The next time, one is tempted to throw a tantrum, it would serve better to keep calm.

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Should Women be Assertive? by Eunice Musiime

assertiveness picture

On average, women are disparaged more than men for identical assertive behavior such as speaking out against injustice, negotiating for a higher salary, or merely going againist the norm. On the other hand, men, are judged less harshly for being domineering or being controlling.

Culture and I dare say religion have conditioned us to glorify meekness, humility, and gentleness. One often quoted proverbial saying is that a good African women should be seen and not heard. Assertiveness in women is therefore frowned upon especially when people equate it to being aggressive, pushy, or bitchy.

Assertiveness is a characterization of how a person responds in a situation in which her positions and/or interests are, or could be, in conflict with others’ positions or interests. Leaders, subordinates, and colleagues vary in their assertiveness and, accordingly, most of us can think of yielding and passive coworkers who have been swallowed up as well as bullies and jerks who have been spit out.

It is important to make a distinction between being assertive and aggressive as the line can be blurred. While assertiveness is based on being forthright about your wants and needs while still considering the rights, needs, and wants of others, being aggressive on the other hand is based on winning alone. It requires that you do what is in your own best interest without regard for the rights, needs, feelings or desires of others. When you are aggressive, you take what you want regardless, and you don’t usually ask.

Being assertive is not necessarily easy, especially when the power dynamics might cause unfavorable consequences. Yet, I believe that more harm is done when people are either under assertive or over assertive. For instance, those who don’t assert themselves can be keeping critical ideas hidden, because they are afraid to speak out.

To a great extent, some level of assertiveness seems essential for personal and organizational effectiveness and yet, like so much else in life, too much assertiveness can be a bad thing. Getting assertiveness ‘‘right’’ appears to be a prevalent challenge for many women. When one is able to balance this critical skill with other vital leadership abilities, it can greatly amplify their power and impact.

Some of the ways to begin developing the “right” assertiveness are as follows;

  1. Know your rights, needs, and values
  2. Learn the art of developing consensus without shutting down any contrary opinions
  3. Choose to lead a revolution instead of a rebellion. Revolution is about inspiring people to come together to create something new. You build on hope and possibility.
  4. It is okay not to be liked. There will always be people who find fault with authority. There will always be people who are intimidated by strength, especially in women. There will always be people who don’t want to be accountable for their lives so they want to spend their time looking for what they can attack in other’s people words or personalities. Don’t give in by mirroring their behaviors. Let them call you whatever they like.

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Self-reflection a critical tool to becoming an effective leader by Eunice Musiime

Yoga poseAt a recent Feminist and Transformational Leadership training, organized by Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) and Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD), one of the skills that the facilitators sought to hone, in the over 20 young women that participated, was the value of self-reflection as a critical tool to becoming an effective leader.

While at the work place we periodically reflect on our activities, milestones, at personal level, I have never really developed a systematic way to self reflect on my own accomplishments, failures, hopes and dreams. For instance i have a number of friends who journal as part of their daily de-brief.

However at the beginning of 2017, amidst all the furor of the New Year celebrations, I made a decision to become more intentional about this practice. This was partly informed by the fact that I shall be turning forty years and at the same time marking ten years of marriage. As I celebrate these two major milestones in my journey, I have dedicated lots of time to reflect on where I have been, where I am and where I want to be.But this has largely been an adhoc process.

Of course, self-reflection has never been an easy process, besides many of us aren’t inclined to spend much time on self-reflection. It can easily degenerate into self-pity, self-condemnation, self-denial and many other things. Even when personal feedback is presented to us, we are not always open to it, because feedback isn’t always flattering.

Consequently many of us have pretty low levels self-awareness leading to either having oversized egos or low self-esteem.  I know that if i am to grow in my leadership journey, self-awareness is an essential step because it can help improve my own judgment and help me identify opportunities for professional development and personal growth.

Self-awareness is knowing your personal characteristics and how your actions affect other people. It therefore imperative that we become more self-aware, of ourselves in many areas such as our personality traits, personal values, habits, emotions, and the psychological needs that drive our behaviors.

Understanding your own feelings, what causes them, and how they impact your thoughts and actions is emotional self-awareness.  If you were once excited about your job but not excited now, can you get excited again?  To answer that question, it helps to understand the internal processes associated with getting excited.  That sounds simpler than it is.

When we understand “what make us tick”–what gets us excited, why we behave the way we do, etc.–we also have insight into what makes others tick.  To the extent that other people are like you (and, of course, there are limits to the similarity), knowing how to motivate yourself is tantamount to knowing how to motivate others.

I have recently embarked on a coaching journey and the first thing that my coach requested me to do was to carry out a personality test as part of a process to sharpen my leadership skills. It was interesting to receive the results and confirm some aspects about myself that I have always known but sort of never really articulated. While we don’t normally change our personalities and values based on what we learn about ourselves. But our understanding of our personalities can help us find the areas in which we thrive and avoid the situations in which we will experience too much stress.

I am excited to have a personal development coach who is supporting me on this journey of self reflection and i look forward to becoming the better version of me in the next few months. I know it will not be easy, but watch this space for a new me. Uuuhuuuu!

 

Uncategorized

Leaders are readers by Eunice Musiime

Reading Image

At the beginning of this year, I joined the Worship Harvest Leadership institute, a leadership development space hosted by Worship Harvest Church in Uganda. A key requirement of the institute is to read on average two books per month and provide a synopsis. It follows therefore that we have so far read six enriching, life changing books.

Of course at the beginning of the course, the news was received with measured excitement and a bit of ambivalence. To many of us it seemed a daunting task ahead especially given our busy schedules and equally competing demands such as family, career, friends and other social commitments. However, six months down the road this is arguably one of the most enduring life skills that the institute has imparted in all of us.

As a keen student of great and not so great leaders, I have observed that there are a few traits that distinguish a leader. The conceptual clarity and depth of knowledge of a leader is what makes one stand out.

At a recently held Fearless Summit 2017 an annual gathering of church and market place leaders who are passionate about bringing godly change to every sector of society, speaker after speaker exhibited deep knowledge of the subject matter. A number of the speakers if not all had published a series of books on the subject matter that they spoke about. One would therefore conclude that beyond being led by the spirit, they had taken a lot of time to research, reflect and engage on the subject matter.

In the book of first Chronicles chapter 12:32 it says that from Issachar there were 200 men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do. In short the 200 men were certified solution finders. It is very disheartening when you interact with leaders who lament about situations until the cows come home. It seems to me that to know what one should do, is not rocket science, but an intentional, exploration and reflection on the subject matter will lead one to find pathways to the challenges of our generation.

One of the speakers at Fearless Summit chastised us to ensure we become the best there is in the trade that we have chosen by simply doing our home work a.ka. research. We can all make Dr. Google our friend, especially in this age of free access for all.

In sum, reading and more reading therein lies the power to create a shift in the way we respond to the myriad of crises of our time. As the famous quote by Jon Byler says, “those who don’t read, have no advantage over those who can’t read.” May that not be our portion.

By Eunice Musiime

Development, Society, Uncategorized

How to raise feminist sons

Boys washing plates

Many of us must have watched this commercial that seeks to promote a new women’ television station and are wondering how come the regulator has not recalled it nor has there been massive public outcry.  Yet it is sending the wrong message to our children on gender stereotypes. It actually exemplifies the pervasiveness of misogyny in our society. It goes “who does all the chores?” and the answer “girls” who takes selfies and the answer “girls” and on and on it goes.  When little girls and boys watch this absurd commercial, they don’t just accept this as the norm but it shapes their long term perspective. This is how stereotypes hurt all of us and are passed on from generation to generation.

In fact my sons have already started to refer to this advert to challenge some of my efforts to reject gender stereotypes. The generation of kids we are raising need feminist men and women more than ever. And not just “oh, men and women are equal” but feminist men who will stand to men who aren’t and say “No, that is not ok”

In previous engagements, many feminists have shared that it is critical for us to begin early to create gender awareness. Between the age of three and five the consciousness of gender transforms into solidified opinions informed by the culture around children. What they learn about gender at this young age will shape their world view. For example, Dr. Maggie Kigozi who has broken many ceilings, being among the first woman in male dominated sectors, at recent Women in Leadership platform asked why girls are given dolls to play with while boys are provided with science gadgets to stimulate their minds and then we continue to decry the dominance of men in STEM.

As mothers it is also important to lead by example and show our sons that women are just as strong, smart, just as capable. We have to share stories of amazing things that women have done historically and doing now. The other critical thing is to ensure that when they say things that uphold oppressive social norms is to immediately correct him. I know kids pick up a lot of stuff at school but we can counter it. When my sons go to school and their friends’ call girls names, I want them to be able to say “Man that is not cool.” On the other hand I will also let my sons know that it is okay to cry and help them redefine strength if his instinct is to clench his fist.

We also need to de-emphasize labor division in the home and the whole stereotype that girls cook and do dishes while boys sit and watch television or help daddy wash the car must be tackled head on. There is no women’s work. There is no mans work. There is work and we are a team. Every member is valuable.

There is definitely no silver bullet as to how to raise sons to respect women, but instilling the value of gender equality from birth means that our sons will be better equipped to operate in a world where women are increasingly and rightfully in positions of power. I can only hope that by planting seeds which grow into the movement that will.

Eunice Musiime