Melody Wilding, LMSW
Executive coach to sensitive high-achievers. Professor. Feat. NYT, NBC, CNN. Get your free copy of The 5-Minute Inner Critic Makeover:
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Emotional depth is not something to be resisted in the workplace. It’s a trait that makes you powerful. Consider this:

  • People with higher sensitivity are consistently rated as the best performers by their managers.
  • Research by Google also shows that teams where the leaders and team members feel free and safe to express their emotions, fears, and concerns are more innovative and productive.
  • Being emotionally aware can put more money in your pocket. People with higher EQ earn on average $29,000 more than people with lower EQ.

Put simply, embracing all of these skills and qualities — your emotional sensitivity, depth, and intelligence — can make you richer, happier, and more effective all-around. …

Communicate concisely in a way that fits your personality and style.

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A common question I get from coaching clients is “how do I become a more concise communicator?”

It’s no surprise because concise communication is more important now than ever before.

Consider these facts:

  • The average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds today.
  • Each day, the typical office worker receives 120 emails.
  • Every time a person is distracted it takes over 23 minutes for them to regain focus.

Given these realities, it’s no wonder that studies rank good communication skills as twice as important as good managerial skills. That’s because, in this age of oversaturation, there’s little margin for error. …

Advice for career planning in the age of COVID.

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Where do you see yourself in five years?

You’re not alone if you’ve been caught off guard by this question in an interview.

The idea of a five-year plan is so popular because it promises certainty — that if we follow a linear path to success, happiness will follow.

But trying to predict the future is a losing battle. It’s impossible to know what your priorities will be a few years from now, let alone the opportunities you’ll be presented with.

How a Plan Can Leave You Stuck

It’s great to be goal-oriented. I’m the first to let my Type-A flag fly high! Yet in my coaching practice, I see how a rigid fixation on planning the future can backfire, closing you off from important opportunities to grow. …

Fight off fraudy feelings so you can start feeling more self-assured.

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In my coaching practice, the most common confession clients share is that they think they’re a failure or a fraud. “Why are other people so self-assured while they struggle with constantly feeling inadequate?” they think.

This feeling of inadequacy followed one of my clients, Mandi, to work and was beginning to hold her back in her career. By all outward standards, Mandi is successful. She has multiple college degrees, a well-paying job, and was recently promoted to a management position.

Yet nearly every day she goes to battle with her inner critic, the voice in her head that says she’s not good enough or smart enough. She worries that someday soon she’ll finally be exposed as unqualified for her job. In an attempt to control her fear, she’ll stay up all night perfecting projects before submitting them. …

Try these three techniques to keep self-doubt in check.

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Angel was working as Human Resources administrator for a city agency when we started working together. Her goal was to move out of her middle management position and into a leadership role. She wanted to move away from recruiting and impact city programs on a broader level. When her department was tasked with creating a new diversity and inclusion initiative, Angel offered to put together her department’s presentation on behalf of her boss. He happily agreed.

Angel’s presentation was not only shown to senior executives at different agencies city-wide but was also so well received that the city decided to use Angel’s work in public advertising to promote the initiative. …

Try these powerful question to uncover a greater sense of purpose.

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Like many Millennials, I was told I could become whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. Before the age of ten, I cycled through dreams of acting, singing, and becoming a veterinary pharmacist (true story).

Finding my passion was a near-obsession that followed me into adulthood. Ironically, all along I ignored what was naturally good at, including my knack for empathy, my love for writing, and an incurable curiosity about human behavior.

They say hindsight is 20/20, so today I clearly see how these strengths shaped my career. …

This tiny gesture gets big results.

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Nothing is more frustrating than pouring time into a well-written email only to be ghosted.

Whether you’re reaching out to an influencer in an effort to build your network, pitching your services to prospective customers, or simply asking your boss a question, we pour a great deal of time and mental energy into our inboxes.

That’s why it can be so discouraging to hear crickets. I’m sure you’ve been there before: you perseverate over every little word that goes into an email response, hit send, then proceed to constantly refresh your inbox until you hear back.

How Do You Get People to Reply to Emails?

It turns out there’s a very effective way to get people to reply to your emails, cutting down your stress with it. …

…Without losing your sanity.

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Your boss is the first one in the office and the last to leave. She’s in every meeting, at every event, and flooding your inbox with updates and to-dos. If you’ve ever had a workaholic boss, then you understand what a struggle it can be.

In an effort to look like a committed team player, you may model her behavior. Soon you realize the demanding pace is unsustainable, and that the constant pressure to accomplish more — better and faster — can be a straight path to burnout.

But there can also be benefits to working with a demanding manager. Leaders with high standards can instill a culture of excellence among their teams. They may inspire employees to develop new skills, set ambitious goals, and achieve results. …

How to prevent your ego from becoming a troublemaker.

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We all have an ego that’s made up of certain beliefs about our personality, talents, and abilities. Your ego — while a necessary part of your identity — can be a troublemaker. If left unchecked, it can cause you to act out in less-than-glowing ways.

When one of my coaching clients, Alex, was passed over for a promotion, she reckoned with a bruised ego. …

Separate feelings from your identity.

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Tell me if this sounds familiar.

  • You work 8–10 hour days hunched over your laptop, hardly stopping for water or food.
  • You go back to work after dinner to knock off “just a few more things” from your to-do list but then go to bed feeling restless.
  • You then dream about work and sometimes wake up with nightmares about the day ahead or things you forgot to do.
  • You spend your weekend trying to “catch up” on work instead of devoting time to family, self-care, or hobbies
  • You feel guilty when you do indulge in well-deserved rest.
  • You tell yourself you should be doing something more productive with your downtime. …

Avoid neglect burnout by exploring your curiosity.

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If you want to understand just how bad job burnout can get, consider the story of Melissa Sinclair, an employee at Time Out New York.

Melissa rose to internet fame in the weeks after Time Out New York inadvertently posted an employment listing on the job-search site Indeed that detailed her current unmanageable workload.

The post explains, “Currently, we have an agreed budget of $2,200 per issue for a freelance Photo Editor, 10 hours work at $22 p/h, which would normally be completely fine, however, the issue is that Melissa physically cannot find good enough candidates to fill these freelance positions, and at the current rate of magazine production, she needs multiple people available to work in multiple cities, simultaneously. …

Play with your thoughts and keep a brag file.

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Michelle woke up every morning with a pain in her stomach.

The thought of going to work made her tense. This wasn’t because she didn’t like her job — it was because she felt like she wasn’t any good at it.

You see, six weeks earlier, Michelle had started a new role as Director of Engineering at a large Fortune 500 healthcare company. …

When the perfectionist feels like a fraud and how to overcome it

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One of the main barriers preventing leaders from reaching their full potential isn’t missing the right skill set. Nor is it experience or training. The biggest roadblock? It’s a lack of self-confidence and its cousin, Impostor Syndrome.

Let’s look at George. He’s a high-achieving new manager at a technology company. George graduated at the top of his class. He was recently promoted and now oversees a team of five other developers. Despite his achievements and obvious aptitude, George worries that he’s not knowledgeable enough to lead effectively.

Then there’s Maria. An accomplished executive who has a hard time starting projects, especially when they are for the Senior Leadership team. At the root of her procrastination problem is a concern that any tiny mistake will expose her as the fraud she believes she is. …

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The COVID-19 pandemic has professionals thinking about how to recession-proof their careers — my coaching clients included. Many are asking me how they can stay relevant as the economy slows down.

You might have similar concerns.

With layoffs and furloughs on the rise, perhaps you’re wondering how to add more value in your current role. Or maybe you’ve lost your job, and want to reengage your network so you can get back on your feet.

The problem is, you might not even be sure what it means to “add value” or understand how it plays out in this new reality where you’re working from home. You may want to build long-term connections at your workplace and with your network, but have trouble making it happen. …

Change starts with courageous conversations

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Over the last two weeks, many readers have reached out asking how to have conversations about injustice with your teams following George Floyd’s murder and protests across the country and world. You may be curious about what actions you can take towards allyship and anti-racism in your workplace.

Right now I believe it’s important to amplify underrepresented voices instead of my own. And I don’t take this responsibility lightly. Given my training as a social worker, I have an ethical duty to pursue social change, promote sensitivity, and provide access to needed information.

To that end, today I wanted to share a few resources you can use to have empowering conversations during the days, weeks, and months ahead. …

Coaching comes with partnership and accountability.

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You’re looking to improve yourself. You’re ready to feel more confident and in control of your life and career. You’re ready to step into your full potential as a leader in your organization. And you’re looking for help dealing with the professional challenges you’re facing — from confidence to communication, and beyond.

Congratulations! That’s a big step.

To get you there, you need to find the right type of professional who can help you on your journey. So you might find yourself wondering, “Do I need a coach or a therapist?”

I’ve worked both as a coach and a therapist and know the strengths and weaknesses of both disciplines. This guide will help you figure out which one is right for you. …

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Busy periods are inevitable at any job. While stress can be manageable in the short term, if you don’t take steps to keep the pressure under control, it can lead to fatigue and burnout.

Burnout refers to a collection of different physical, emotional, and mental reactions that occur in response to prolonged stress and overworking.

Signs of burnout include:

Physical symptoms such as exhaustion most of the time, headaches, and muscle aches

Getting sick often

A negative attitude about work or your career

Feeling like everything is overwhelming or your efforts are futile

Neglecting your own needs, as if you’re a…

Provide value, find confidence, and future-proof your job with these tips

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How do I stay visible and provide value when I’m working remotely?

As more people work from home, I’m hearing a similar concern from many of my coaching clients.

It’s a great question.

Not being physically present with your team and senior leaders has its consequences. It means you have to be more intentional about putting yourself out there, promoting your achievements, and sharing what your team is doing with the rest of the company.

Some people are naturally good at touting their success and making meaningful connections even from afar. …

No matter how introverted or reserved you are, it’s time to start speaking up and getting your voice heard.

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If you want to advance your career, you need to be comfortable speaking up and voicing your opinion on conference calls.

This is easier said than done for Sensitive Strivers.

As big feelers and deep thinkers, many Sensitive Strivers struggle to speak up and be heard on conference calls. They may feel talked over by their dominant colleagues. They tend to perseverate over saying the “right” thing and are fearful of coming off as uninformed.

At best, this hesitancy detracts from your ability to contribute. At worst, it erodes your visibility and your confidence along with it. …

Tips to relax and switch off at the end of the day

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Working remotely comes with amazing perks. No commute, more flexibility, wearing yoga pants at your desk. What could be better?

But if you’re new to working from home, you may be realizing that maintaining some semblance of balance is one of the biggest challenges telecommuting presents.

The boundaries between your personal and professional life blur. It’s easy to let self-care go out the window. And you may find yourself overworking in an attempt to appear productive.

You might:

  • Rationalize knocking just one more task off your to-do list, only to look up and see hours have passed
  • Sit in front of the TV answering emails, even though you’re supposed to be…

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As a product manager, Lisa’s job is to make decisions.

  • What product should the company start developing?
  • How should that product be designed?
  • Should it be for businesses or consumers?
  • When should it launch?
  • How should the product be marketed?

There are hundreds of questions that need to be answered in order to drive the vision, strategy, and direction for each product Lisa’s in charge of.

The only problem was that Lisa couldn’t make a single decision on her own. …

A practical guide to leading a distributed team, minus the stress

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Being a leader is never easy, let alone during times of crisis.

With the coronavirus pandemic, managers across the nation and world are reckoning with a new reality: leading their teams from afar.

Managing distributed employees might be completely new to you. You may have concerns like:

  • How do I keep morale and productivity high?
  • What can we do to communicate differently if we can’t be face-to-face?
  • How do I emotionally support my team and allay their fears about economic uncertainty?

These are just a few of the questions I’ve heard from my coaching clients over the past few days.

If you’re asking yourself similar questions, then the fact that you are says so much about you and your level of self-awareness as a leader. …

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Who controls your happiness? Who is responsible for your income? Your attitude?

Each of us has a belief about how much control we have over the things we encounter in life. We each view life either as something we can control or something that controls us.

The extent to which a person feels they are in control of events that can affect their life, well-being, or success is referred to as “locus of control” (LOC). Locus of control defines who you view as responsible for your successes and failures: yourself or other people.

External Versus Internal Locus of Control

When you feel that someone or something else is in control of your existence and the things that happen to you, you have an external locus of control. …

Unshackle yourself from your busy mind using this method.

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Do you remember the game Jenga?

You might know it. Here’s how it works: you stack blocks on top of each other to build a tower. As you remove blocks, the tower gets unsteady, until it eventually comes toppling down.

When you’re a goal-oriented overachiever, every day can feel a little bit like a game of Jenga.

Responsibilities and expectations stack on top of each other. …

A productivity guide for work and life in the age of coronavirus

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The Coronavirus pandemic has thrust millions of Americans into unexpectedly working from home. Uncertainty is in the air. Companies are shutting their offices until further notice and expecting employees to work remotely instead.

If you’re new to working from home, don’t panic. Working remotely may be a change, but it also presents an opportunity to create more satisfaction in your work, which will be music to a Sensitive Striver’s ears.

You have a unique advantage in this new reality because as a Sensitive Striver:

  • You’re probably comfortable being alone.
  • You function best when you have time and space for deep, focused thought and concentration. …

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