We’ve all been there.

Our brand new kettle, or flat pack cabinet or even dolls house for our child arrives, and with it a big instruction manual.

Some people will crack open that manual and read it all from cover to cover before doing anything else.  Those people are absolutely in the minority though, and possibly have too much time on their hands.

Most of us will have a flick through the manual to get a rough idea of what we need to do and then just dive in.  Possibly dipping back in now and then when things get a bit tricky.

But why is this?  Why don’t we like to read manuals and follow instructions?

Why don't we read manuals and follow instructions_

One of the main reasons we don’t read manuals is that we don’t have time.

Or more likely we don’t want to spend the time it would take to sit down and read a manual properly.  We would rather just get stuck in and see how we get on.

Sometimes this approach works, but so often it doesn’t and we end up wasting more time than if we’d just read the manual in the first place.

A lot of the time we think the manual is going take longer to read than it actually would, because the same instructions are repeated in multiple languages.  If we would just take a minute to open up these multilingual manuals we would realise that the instructions are shorter than we first thought.

 

Another reason we don’t read manuals is because we think we already know enough to manage by ourselves.

If we’ve had a stereo or microwave before we think we’ll be able to work out how to use a new one without reading the instructions.  A lot of the time with this we’re right, although it does still often end up taking us longer to figure out than if we’d just read the manual.

 

Our past experiences also make us wary of reading instruction manuals.

So often in the past we’ve tried to make sense of them but they’ve been written so badly that we just give up.  And then the next time we have a new product we decide not to even bother trying with the instructions.

Especially because these days we know we can quite easily find videos online to help us if we get stuck, or we can just call the company’s helpline and let them talk us through it.

 

What we really need are manuals that are concise and clear, not overly complicated and long-winded.

More and more companies are starting to realise this, and are making quick-read versions of their instructions alongside the full manuals.  This means that we can use those to get started with our new items as quickly as possible, while still having all the detailed information and technical documentation on hand should we need it later.

 

The thing is we’re all so busy these days, we don’t want to spend valuable time reading an instruction manual.  

But this is one time when it’s worth slowing down a bit and taking the time to at least try to follow instructions properly.  As long as they’re well written, clear and concise then reading them can save us a lot of time and stress down the line.

 

Do you read manuals and follow the instructions, or do you prefer to just dive in and try to figure it out on your own?

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

I think it’s safe to say that the UK is a nation of D.I.Yers.

Every bank holiday you’ll find people all over the country getting stuck in to redecorating their living rooms, refitting their kitchens or building flat pack furniture for the bedroom.

But why is this?  What is it about doing it ourselves that we seem to enjoy so much.  Turns out there is some interesting psychology behind why we love to D.I.Y instead of paying someone to do these home improvements for us.

The psychology behind why we love D.I.Y

 

When we look at our homes and see big jobs that need doing, like repainting, changing the kitchen units or putting up new fencing in the garden, why do we decide to do it ourselves?

With these kinds of things, and especially with really big jobs like extensions and loft conversions, it would make more sense to hire professionals to do the work.  It would, in theory at least, be done much more quickly and efficiently.  And you would know that the work was done safely and to a good standard.  With sites like price your job it’s really easy to find tradespeople too.

 

So why do we choose the D.I.Y option so often?

A lot of the time it comes down to the fact that it can be a lot cheaper to do it ourselves.

Other times though, it goes a bit deeper than that.

 

A paper written by Moisio, Arnould and Gentry found that our lifestyle and what we do for a living can impact our desire to do D.I.Y jobs at home.

For people who work in high-powered jobs where they tend to sit at a desk all day, doing home improvements at the weekends is a way of feeling more connected with their inner craftsman who likes to get their hands dirty.

On the other hand, someone who does a more hands-on job earning less money might use D.I.Y as a way of reinforcing their identity as someone who cares for and provides for their family.  Giving them the home they want without having to spend a fortune to get it.

 

What’s also interesting to know is that we put more value on things we’ve built ourselves.

Even if it’s just a piece of flat pack furniture that we assemble at home.  We tend to have more attachment to these items and feel they’re worth more than pre-built pieces.  The same goes for decorating around the house.

We take more pride and see more value in rooms that we’ve taken the time and effort to paint or wallpaper.

 

The thing is, according to a survey or around 2000 people, almost half of the D.I.Y jobs we start don’t get finished.  And 25% of the time that’s because we don’t have the expertise needed to complete the job.

So before you get caught up in the excitement of home improvements, take a few minutes to decide if it’s really something you can do yourself or if you’d be better off calling in the experts.

Do you like doing D.I.Y jobs at home?  Do you have any tips for making a success of it?

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

If you have children who are often anxious and who lack in confidence then there’s a trick you can try to help them feel braver and more confident.

What’s really great about it is you only need a few minutes to try it.

All you have to do is get your child to stand in an open, powerful stance for 2 minutes.  These power poses have been found to influence our hormones so that we’re less reactive to stress and get a boost of testosterone which makes us feel more confident.

The power poses that can boost confidence in our children

 

This idea of power poses was made popular by social psychologist Amy Cuddy in a TED talk in 2012.

She discussed how she and her colleagues had found that holding our bodies in a way that opens them up instead of curling in on ourselves can have a big effect on how confident we feel.

In her talk she mentioned that standing in a power pose before an interview can reduce our anxiety and make us feel more confident.  Doing it before the interview starts means that we walk into the room feeling more powerful and much less nervous.  It’s not really about standing in a certain way so that others view us as more confident, it’s about doing it to change the way we feel about ourselves.

 

Now, there have been various studies carried out since Cuddy gave this talk that seem to dispute her findings.

But I think there’s still something in it, even if it’s more of a placebo effect than an actual biological change brought on by standing in these power poses.

 

For children who are nervous about going in to school or scared about starting a new club then getting them to stand in one of these power poses for 2 minutes before you go could really help them.

It’s like how faking a smile can actually make us feel happier.

If we stand with our bodies in a big, confident pose then we’ll start to believe that we are genuinely more confident.

 

So if you’d like to try this with your children, here are 3 different power poses they can try:

 

The Wonder Woman pose

For this pose your child should stand strong with their feet a bit wider than hip width apart.

They then need to put both hands on their hips.  If they want to they can make fists, or just put their hands straight on their hips.

Power pose wonder woman post boost confidence

 

The superhero pose

Get your child to plant their feet firmly about hip width apart.

They then need to make a fist with one hand and then put it up in the air, like a superhero about to fly off to rescue someone.

Power pose superhero pose boost confidence

 

The performer pose

For this pose your child needs to stand strong with feet a bit wider than hip distance apart.

Then put their arms up in the air in a ‘V’ shape, like a performer in front of the crowd at the end of an amazing show or an athlete celebrating winning a race.

Power poses help boost confidence

 

The key thing with all of the poses is for your child to stand straight and tall, and take up as much space as possible.

When we make ourselves big and visible (even when we do it private) we feel more powerful and, as a result, less anxious.

A big part of this is that it’s not about changing how other people see us and what they think of us.

It’s about changing how we feel about ourselves.

A study by Binel et al 2012 found that people who stood in a power pose like the ones mentioned above were more likely to rate themselves as feeling confident than people who stood in a smaller, ‘doubtful posture’.  And it does make sense.  If we stand in a hunched position with our arms crossed in front of our bodies we tend to feel smaller too.

Opening up our bodies and standing tall does make us feel more in control and ready for action.

 

So next time your child is anxious or scared about something, try getting them to stand in one of these poses for a few minutes and see if it helps them feel more confident.

 

This post is linked up with KCACOLS.

Life as a parent is so different from life before you have children.

If you’re the first in your friendship group to have babies it can sometimes make things hard, and chances are you’ll want to branch out and meet some new mum friends.  That can be easier said than done though and it can be quite scary approaching people and hoping they’ll be friendly and want to chat.

With that in mind, here are 5 psychology-backed things you can try to get people to like you more:

5 psychology-backed ways to make people like you more

 

1. Be there

I don’t mean this in the deeper sense of being there for someone in their time of need.  Although that will naturally help them like you more.

In this instance though, I mean literally be there.  Show up and be a familiar face in their lives.  Go along to baby group regularly or get to the school gates a bit early every afternoon.

Studies have found that, due to the mere exposure effect, people tend to like other people that they’ve seen before more than people who are completely new to them.  This applies even if we don’t actually interact with these people.  And the more we see people the more we end up liking them.

 

 

2. Act as if you already like people

Once you get chatting to people act as if you like them already.

There is an interesting psychological phenomenon called ‘reciprocity of liking’ which basically causes us to like someone if we think they like us.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo and the University of Manitoba found that we act more warmly toward people if we expect them to accept and like us.  This then increases the chances that they will actually like us.

So basically, if you act as if you already like people when you first chat with them then chances are they’ll like you back.

 

 

3. Find a common enemy

One psychology-backed way to bring people closer together is to give them a common enemy.

A study by Weaver and Bosson, 2011 found that people who shared a dislike of the same person with a stranger stated that they felt closer to that stranger and felt that they knew them better.

So if you want the other parents at the school gate to feel closer to you then start up a conversation about how bad the communication is with the school, or how rammed the carpark is every afternoon.  If you can find this kind of common enemy you’ll start to form a strong sense of shared identity with the other parents.

 

 

4. Show your imperfections

I think most of us like other people to think we have it all together, but don’t worry about trying to be too perfect all the time.

Research has found that we tend to like people more when they show that they’re human, that they’re not as perfect as they seem at first and that they make mistakes too.  This is known as the pratfall effect.

So when you arrive at babygroup on time and looking relatively put together, make sure you then tell the other parents that you put the baby’s nappy on the wrong way round last night.  Or that you put the keys in the fridge the other day.  Revealing a mistake you’ve made or letting people know you have struggles too will make them feel warmer towards you than if they think you have it all perfectly together.

 

 

5. Ask them to do you a favour

This last one is possibly the most interesting.

It makes sense that we like people who do us favours and help us out, but it’s a bit more surprising to know that asking someone for a favour also makes them like you more.

For a long time psychologists believed that this was down to cognitive dissonance.  They thought that it was mainly due to us thinking that we must like someone if we’re willing to do them a favour.

There might be more to it than that though.

A study carried out in 2016 found that when we’re asked to do a favour for someone by a third party, we don’t like the person as much as we do if they ask us for the favour themselves.  So it’s the act of actually asking for the favour that makes us like someone.  Them asking suggests that they have a desire to be closer to us, or that they feel close enough to us already to ask.  We then pick up on this and want to be closer to them too.

So, ask someone to watch your baby for you at group while you go to the toilet.  Or ask another parent at school to text you the words that the children need to learn for their spellings that week.  The person you ask will be flattered that you’ve asked them and will warm to you more quickly.

 

 

Venturing out to new places and meeting new people can be really daunting.

But hopefully with these tips in mind getting people to warm to you and want to be friends should be that much easier.

I have a feeling that every parent at some point has felt that all they do is nag or shout at their children before they seem to listen and do what they’re being asked to do.  The thing is, so often the answer to the problem involves looking at our own actions and behaviours.

It’s so easy to get frustrated and think ‘my child never listens to me’, but the best way to help the situation is to stop and think about how clearly we’re actually communicating with them.

Here are some things we can do to get our children to listen, without ending up shouting.

How to get your child to listen to you

 

Think before you speak

You can’t expect your children to listen to you if you randomly shout instructions to them from another room.

So before you speak make sure you’re standing close to them, or at the very least are in the same room.  Then make sure that you have their attention by using their name and speak clearly while looking directly at them.

 

Keep it simple

When you need your child to do something, keep your instructions as simple as possible.

Young children especially can find it hard to remember 2-stage requests, so stick to asking them to do one thing at a time.  So if  you need your young child to put their shoes on, instead of giving a long-winded speech about it, stick with a simple “shoes on please!”.

Older children may well start to tune you out if you ramble on too much about them needing to do something.  So again, keep it short and snappy when you ask them to do something.

 

Focus on what you DO want

This is a piece of advice my sister gave me years ago and it’s brilliant.

Children often focus on and remember the last part of what you say to them.  So if you say “please don’t run off ahead of me”, what they might actually hear and focus on are the words “run off ahead of me”, and so off they’ll go.

What you need to be doing is tell them what you do want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do.

So in this example you’re much better off saying “please walk nicely by my side” or “let’s skip along together”.  You’re basically looking at switching from negative “don’t do that” instructions to more positive, “do this please” versions.

How to get your child to listen to you (1)

 

Put yourself in your child’s position

Again this is about slowing down a bit and thinking before asking your child to do something.

If they’re in the middle of an activity, is it really fair to expect them to stop it immediately just because you say so?  How would you feel if someone came and demanded you do something, out of the blue, while you’re in the middle of doing something?

Try to give a bit of warning whenever you can that something will be happening or if they’ll need to do something.

So let them know 10 minutes before dinner is ready that they only have that much time left to play before they’ll need to stop and come to the table.

Now, this can also be applied in a way to situations like children running off in the park or messing around in the library.  As parents we need to stop and put ourselves in their shoes a bit.  To remember that they don’t necessarily know how to behave in these situations.  So we need to talk to them in advance as much as we can, to set our expectations for how they need to behave.

 

Explain things rather than just give demands

Following on from the last point, we need to remember that children don’t know everything we know, and they see the world differently from us a lot of the time.

They may not understand why we’re asking them to do certain things, so it makes it easier for them to go along with it if we explain the why behind our requests.

If we want our children to tidy up their toys it’s helpful to explain to them that they might get lost or broken if they’re left out, that it makes it easier for them to find them next time they want to play if they’re put away nicely and that other people want to use the space and it’s nice to consider their needs and feelings.

Give them options

Children often feel that they have no control over what happens in their day to day lives, and sometimes saying ‘no’ and refusing to do what we ask is simply them trying to assert some control.

One way around this is to give them choices, to help them feel that they have a say in various things that happen.  The key here though, is to only offer a couple of choices and make sure you’re happy with either option.

So, “put this top on, we need to go” becomes “it’s time to get dressed now, would you like to wear the red top or the yellow one?”

“Brush your teeth and put your shoes on” changes to “would you like to do your teeth first or put your shoes on first?”

You can also use options like this to give consequences to your child’s actions.

So, rather than getting frustrated when your toddler won’t listen and hold your hand while walking, you give them option of holding your hand or being carried.  If they won’t put a hat on in the park then you tell them that they either wear the hat or you both leave the park.  It’s their choice.

Just make sure you follow through with any consequences you talk about.

 

Acknowledge when they do listen

When your children do listen and cooperate with you, make a point of acknowledging it.

Give them a big smile and a hug and thank them for doing as they were asked.  When behaviour is acknowledged it’s more likely to be repeated in the future.

 

Not all of these things will work with all children, all of the time. 

But that’s true of most things when it comes to parenting in my experience!

Hopefully though with a bit of time and consistency, you’ll find something in here that works for you and your family to get your children to listen without anyone nagging or shouting.

 

Have you ever had a great idea, or thought about trying a new sport or hobby, but then talked yourself out of going for it because you were scared that you’d fail at it?

I think we’ve all been there at some point.

The fear of getting things wrong, making mistakes and failing can stop us in our tracks.  Quite often before we’ve even started.  But the thing is, we’ll never do anything or achieve anything if we’re so scared of failing that we don’t even try.

Here are some tips on how we can all let go of that fear of failure and stop worrying so much about making mistakes.

How to let go of the fear of failure and making mistakes

 

Change how you view mistakes and failures

We all seem to think of failing as something really bad.  For some reason we seem to believe that we always have to get everything right.

I’m not sure when this happens though, because if you look at babies and toddlers you can see that fear of failure and getting things wrong isn’t something we’re born with.

Toddlers learning to walk don’t have this fear.  They fall time and again, but each time they get back up and try again until they can do it.

We need to get back that mindset that in order to grow we need to allow ourselves to fall, to fail, to make mistakes.

 

Make mistakes on purpose

One way to change our way of thinking about mistakes is to make a few on purpose and see that it’s really not as bad as we think it is.

Now I’m not saying you should go and mess up a deal at work on purpose that would lose the company a fortune.  I’m saying look for something small and safe that you could fail at or do badly.  If you work in an office then maybe you could skip that optional meeting that’s just not important to your role.

Find something small, mess it up and see if the consequences are really as bad as you think they’ll be.  Chances are the impact of you failing will be less than you think it’ll be, which will then make you a bit less scared of making mistakes in the future.

 

Look at other people’s failures

If you’re still feeling scared then try looking into other people’s failures.

Some of the world’s greatest inventions came about either because someone made a mistake, or because someone failed again and again until they got it right.  From penicillin and post-its to the light bulb and artificial sweetener, all sorts of things have been discovered and invented by mistake or after repeated failures.

Athletes and sports stars are also great to look at to realise that success so often comes after multiple failures.

Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”.

 

Let other people make mistakes

It gets a lot easier for us to make mistakes, and fail at times, when we create an environment where these things happening is OK.

A while ago I wrote a post about the things I’d like my children to say ‘yes’ to, and failure is one of the things on that list.  I think it’s important to let our children know that it’s OK if they try things and get it wrong.  Or if they take a risk that doesn’t quite pay off.

We should let our children know that they won’t get in trouble if they make a mistake or if they try and fail at something.

 

I think for most of us the idea of making a mistake or failing at something will always be a little bit scary.

For some people it can be so scary it stops them from ever trying anything new.  It could be that you have mental health issues to work through in order to let go of your fear, in which case talking with a counsellor at thrivetalk.com could help.

As a general rule though, we can take steps to move past this fear ourselves.  The more we try things and push ourselves and allow ourselves to get things wrong, the more we’ll realise that it’s nowhere near as bad as we think it will be.  And the best way to learn and improve at anything is to fail along the way.

 

 

I remember the first time I took Rhys to baby group.

It had taken me weeks to build up the courage to go, and I felt unbelievably nervous as I made my way there.  Part of the problem for me was the fact that I tend to overthink things.  And then I manage to talk myself out of doing them, because I’ve imagined these worse case scenarios.

It’s the same with all sorts of things, from driving somewhere new to starting up a conversation with someone new at the school gate.

This little trick though can really help me (and you) to feel more confident in pretty much any situation.

Try this one little trick to help you feel more confident

 

The trick is to pay attention to the thoughts we have about the situation and basically tone them down.

What I mean by this is, to take that worse case scenario that we’re picturing and question it.  Bring in a voice of reason to argue with the little voice in your head who is busy catastrophizing.  Tone down those worries as much as you can.

Let’s use that first visit to baby group as an example.

Before I went I built up this idea in my head that I would go and no one would talk to me at all.  That I would trip on my way in and make a fool out of myself before I even had the chance to say hello to anyone.  That I would try and talk to people and be ignored and I’d end up sitting by myself.

What I should have done is question all of these thoughts.

I should have reassured myself that no one would notice if I tripped on the way in, or pushed the door when it should be pulled open.

I should have reminded myself that it was more than likely that most of the other parents there would have felt nervous the first time they went.  And that they would be friendly and more than happy to talk to me.

 

This approach can be applied to all sorts of situations.

At work before giving a presentation for the first time you can take thoughts of “I’m going to completely mess this up and I’ll never get promoted and my boss won’t take me seriously” and tone it down to “I might not be amazing at it, but everyone knows this is the first time I’ve done it and they won’t be expecting everything to be perfect”

 

In an ideal situation we’d just tell ourselves that what we’re thinking isn’t true; we’d ignore those worse-case scenario thoughts and just get on with things.  But I think we all know it’s not that easy.  What is more manageable is working to modify our thoughts, little by little.

Toning down our thoughts from the worst case to scenario to one that is a bit less dramatic and catastrophic can be enough to give us the confidence to go ahead and do what we need to do.

Do you have a tendency to think the worst, or build things up in your head so that they seem much scarier than they are?

If your answer is yes, then try this trick next time you find yourself doing it.  See how much more confident you feel once you challenge that voice and start to tone down your thoughts.

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday