Shift the Tense – Shift the Tension! Language for Life.

Shift the tense, shift the tension.

Did you know that by changing tenses in your statements you open up a creative space in your communication which also reduces “tension”?

#tension is also known as stress, anticipation, discomfort, nervousness, conflict and “cold feet”

Did you know that by changing the tense of statements you make, you can challenge the intensity of an embedded limiting belief?

Let’s say you firmly believe that you are not capable of doing something and you say something to the effect of…
I could never do that, or
I would never be able to do that, or
It will never work, I don’t see eye to eye with…
What tense do we have here?
These statements are not based on past experience; they are predictions of something you think might happen and so because you believe you’ll fail, statements like these prevent you from trying stuff! You give up before you’ve even started.

What do the following statements tell you?
I am not a team player, never was…
I am a perfectionist.
I am “compulsive obsessive”.
I’m no good at numbers so that is nothing for me.
“I am” statements put you in a box and throw away the key! You identify yourself as that and that’s it. No change possible here either because when you apply the present tense to negative experiences they become static states. Statements like these are mostly uttered in “autopilot mode” and they manage to dominate and defeat any desire for change in that they strengthen the belief you so casually convey.

Shift the tense, shift the tension

But, what if you were to put them into the past or present perfect tense? Look at the statements again:
“I could never do that” becomes “Up until now I have not been able to do this.”
The tension is removed and there is a subtle shift from “that” – which is out of reach – to “this” – which is within your reach, and therefore possible.
“I am not a team player” becomes “My experience of working with others in a team has proven challenging, but I am always willing to give it go.”
“My … and I don’t see eye to eye…” example sounds decidedly more upbeat like this: “My …and I have had disagreements in the past but, …”
Changing the tense, removes the tension and opens up possibilities and opportunities.

Using the word “now” also mindfully draws others’ attention and participation to the here and now.
“Now” is especially effective when a task or idea requires an immediate decision or action. The question “what do you need now?” or “what do you want now?” is huge in bringing people who are either stuck in the past, or overwhelmed by future options, back into the mindful present. If you’re feeling stuck, or procrastinating ask yourself what it is you want.  #notimelikethepresent

Using the future tense enables you to imagine future possibilities. When people get stuck in present problems you can ask them “what would it be like if/when…?” or “what would you like to have/happen instead…?”. It works. Almost like magic!

Don’t you just love that?

I wish you much success in shifting any tension with tenses, and if you need some support to do that, or simply a little bit of magic for life, contact me! This is what I do! About me.


Shift the tense, shift the tension.


What’s In A Word – What’s That You’re Saying? Part 2

Choosing the spell-binding POW!er of words because you can!

 A lexical approach to discovering more about ourselves, our values, life, cultures and creating a better world through the words we choose to use. 

Following up on “Confrontation Creates Conversation” (What’s in a word – What’s that you’re saying? Part 1) I thought it would be exciting to now, add a bit of POW! to make your conversations more wow!

POW! – can also be described as having clout, esteem, guts, pizzazz, say-so and “what it takes”.

Clout means to have influence, standing and authority.

Spellbinding – means to hold someone’s attention as if by magic. Also known as fascinating, enthralling, entrancing, captivating, riveting, gripping, very exciting, thrilling, absorbing, compelling, hypnotic and magical. Origins: dated back to the 1800’s from the words “spell” (magic) and “bind” (captivate).

Imagine that? You?

Sure you. Here’s how.

But first. Let’s start from the very beginning.

Read more


HOT! Communication

Understanding What Communication Isn’t And How To Become HOT At It

The full article on page 56 of the Business Goa Magazine!


What’s On My Mind And Balancing The Stories We Tell To Sell!

Balancing the Stories We Tell To Sell!

What’s on my mind facebook asks?
This. What am I not quite getting about “tell your success story” stories?
With the start of the new year I decided to immerse myself into the world of online business. I realised – with the exasperated roll of my son’s eyes – that it was hight time to stop my self lies and to also open myself up to the business of passive online income, vlogs, blogs, opt-ins,etc etc. So off I go and do some searching, researching, observing – or as some fundis like to call it: lurking – reach out, touch base, take what I can without going into overwhelm, try it out, sift out and persevere. I have met some incredible people – young and older – out there in the social platform world. Thank you for your open arms, help, advice, challenges and good vibes. I am still an info hungry hunter-gatherer. And growing.
There are also these extremely successful multiple zero earners selling their sob to smile story – and one I’m particularly thinking of is a guy offering free webinars, earning serious shekels (or shackles) by telling how he became an overachiever because his parents got divorced and he felt the pain of not being good enough and I’m thinking like…you’re not serious are you?
And now I feel as though there is this public challenge to see who’s story can be more miserable.
Who’s had the rougher deal?
So you think you’ve got a headache? Well I’ve got a migraine…and…and…and I, me Hester, get to think that if our measure of success is who’s got the best sob story – I’m not going to be a succes? Is this right?

Read more


C#5 – Cross-cultural consciousness


Heaven knows staying on track is difficult!
Keeping up the pace, the motivation, the “being nice”, being friendly, supportive and understanding saps a whole lot of energy out of one – especially when doing this in unfamiliar environments – it’s easy to get derailed and blame others for things gone wrong!
But, If you keep your eyes on the prize – and (all of) you contribute to commitment – you’ll (all) be the greatest contributors (not dividers) to cross-cultural collaboration!

How cool is that?


MA, the power of choice and the power of silence!


A great warrior is known to have advised his troops to “retreat in order to advance”. Interesting thought that…and it makes good business sense!

Here’s another idea. “You can do anything. Once you stop trying to do everything”.

It’s been 3 months since my last newsletter and a lot has happened!
Time really flies when you’re busy trying to master the balance of living life to the fullest and earn a living! The “balancing act” has, at times, proven challenging as well as exhilarating and inspiring! It’s been a great time and I realize more and more how much I love my work, but, I must be honest in saying that I am also very grateful for our longer brighter warmer days and the promise of “time out”, holiday-ing and simply “retreating”!

I’m sure you are too.

And as we all start shifting into “holiday” mode here’s some of the good “skill” stuff which you can pack into your summer suitcase. It’s what I learnt while “re-designing” myself, writing and finishing my first book on intercultural competence and communication, and doing my first keynote talk to an audience of almost 100 people on the subject! Oh yeah!

First, some good old MA – “moments of awareness”.  The term mastery originates from the Sanskrit root “mah”- meaning “greater” with a more modern variation of the medieval French word “maitre” meaning someone who is exceptionally skilled – a master of their craft – or you demonstrating the (upbeat, positive) principles underlying the way you produce results. There is a sense of effortlessness and joy supported by a healthy relationship with your current reality. A deeper awareness of what is going on right now at this moment.

Personal mastery also means mastering matters of the heart. Not easy if you come from a family environment or work in a culture that is more “task” oriented. Making emotional choices and looking closely at current reality takes courage. Are you courageous enough? Or are you afraid of what you want? And if you could “own” it now, would you take it?

Moments of awareness or MA is an exercise in real time reflection; stopping yourself in your “tracks”, sussing out your reality and developing skills to engage consciously, as events happen. You can practice MA anytime, anyplace and the real trick is doing it when you need it most – right in that terribly stressful moment, or right in the middle of a conflict. Get into the habit (refer to my last NL on creating new habits) of reminding yourself of MA. Here’s the exercise; ask yourself:
1) What is happening right now? and then go deeper by asking 3 more questions:
What am I doing right now?
What am I feeling right now?
What am I thinking right now?

2) What do I want right now?
In other words ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. Asking this question will provoke an emotional and physical change without you making a deliberate decision to change. AWESOME or what?

3) What am I doing right now to prevent myself from getting what I want?
Make a choice in this moment. All you need to do is to say: “I choose…

4) Breath deeply, and move on!
Now that you know what you want let your attention and energy move you towards it. Do not stay stuck. Change gears. Shift the focus of your attention.


Here’s a real time example borrowed from an situation we have all experienced to some degree, either at work or home.
What is happening? “I am in a conflict situation”.
What am I doing? “I am arguing and yes-butting and pushing back as hard as I can!”
What am I feeling? “I’m mad! I am very upset! I almost feel like crying / shouting!”
What am I thinking? “That this is not worth it, I am dealing with a bunch of idiots, I am leaving!”
How am I breathing? “Fast – my heart is racing!”
What do I want, for myself, right now? “I don’t want this!” “I don’t want to continue with this discussion.
What do I want? “I want this to end; I want him/her/them to listen. I want to be understood and heard and I don’t know how to explain myself better and this is why I am angry and frustrated”.

What am I doing to prevent myself from getting what I want? “I am pushing back too hard. Apologize. Reflect”.
Within seconds your attitude and behavior will change. Reflection helps you to become unstuck and de-escalate sudden bursts of fear, frustration and rage!
MA is very simple but it does need practice. Mindfulness – the skill of being present is an invaluable present to yourself – and others!

Second, the power of choice! Making a choice is more powerful than saying “I want…” When you choose whatever it is you want to achieve, it feels more powerful and your task of reaching it feels more creative. You take ownership of your choice – just like choosing a new job, or choosing to have a baby, or choosing to visit a special country when on holiday. Say “I choose…” (look at Dr Seuss’s good advice at top or learn from Hobbes)

SALT NL062015

Third, the power of silence. Aaaah…silence. We are surrounded by noise. And most of it the “noise” of communication!
When conversation and life seems scattered and loud, when nobody is listening anymore and side conversations are breaking out in corners, or when you’re at an impasse with your partner, bring in some silence – move into a quiet space – for at least 5 minutes. Break the momentum of busy-ness and count to twelve.

When you have filtered and flowed through your internal “noise” and you are centered in your silence, expand your awareness – reflect on where you want(ed) to go as opposed to where you are going – on reflection you will feel your intent pop up again in the sound of silence!
You know what I mean.
Collective silence has a vitality of its own – and it creates space for other points of view, points of you and creativity!
The happiest people are not people who don’t have anything to do, or who have no concerns. Those people are bored.
Research shows that happy people are busy people but don’t feel rushed. Studies about work-life balance report the same thing —rush less and reduce anxiety with a little more discipline. Draw a line. Decide what is important and what isn’t. Prioritize. Be mindful of yourself in your “now”. Choose consciousness. Be present in the present. It is, after all, a present!



Ask yourself this one simple question a few times a day: “What’s the most important thing for me to do right now?”

You can’t do it all and everything is not equally important but you can do anything once you stop trying to do everything – in three simple steps: 1) learn the power of MA, choice and silence. 2) practice it and 3) use it!

Wishing you balmy peaceful days to retreat in, filled with the sound of easy silence.

lots of love and light,


Newsletter February 2015 – Brain and muscle – fit and flexible!

brain train

brain train

In January I promised to share some goal success “science” and reveal “why” we often “miss the mark” when it comes to achieving (some) of the goals we set ourselves. But, hold on to that, I first want to share exciting news with you!

As you all know we are living in very interesting albeit challenging times! Knowledge is migrating, companies are merging, people and services are being off shored, near shored, out- or in-sourced, and we are constantly being faced with massive cost reductions! Whether we like it or not, change impacts all of us, directly and indirectly. Success and “survival” depends a whole lot on how “fit” and “flexible” we are.

I firmly believe that personal development and learning (“job fitness”) should be affordable and accessible to everyone who sincerely wants to get ahead and in order to support you in achieving your goals, I have decided to remove “entry” or “cost barriers”. I am offering you a payment system known as Pay What You Want or PWYW.
This is for you, not companies! You decide what you can pay, commit to the price in writing, and get going with your personal and professional fitness program!

Time and travel constraints are also posing challenges for clients to get to the brain gym and I have a wonderful solution for this too! Skype. No excuses!


Back to the “brain science”…

So. You have a new goal. Let’s say you “decide”, by using a few imperative forms, that you must/should/have to get fit so you take yourself to the fitness center all fired up with the flames of enthusiasm and a vision of sexy bi- or triceps – and, you want to start off  by lifting a 500 pound barbell. NO WAY! It’s not going to work! Here’s why…

Just like going to the gym, we need less “won’t power” and loads of “will power” for a new goal, and the brain cells that operate “will power” are located in the prefrontal cortex, right behind your forehead. The prefrontal cortex is good at keeping you focussed , your logic and reason, short term memory and solving abstract tasks.

So when you say to yourself you’re going to get those biceps, or quit smoking (from sixty to zero),  or lose lots of weight, or learn a language in 20 units, I say STOP! Just the thought of it gives me a prefrontal headache! You’re going to go into cognitive overload and your “will power” is going to collapse and return to “won’t power”!

Here’s a thought. Did you know that almost all the techniques that truly work for successful change do NOT rely on willpower?

Now, try this. Imagine getting up at “sparrow’s fart” every day to start training for whatever it is that you are a champion at. Imagine yourself standing on the #1 box with applause and cheer thundering through your universe.  How did you get to that #1 position? You trained.

Back to the mind gym. Change the routine.

It’s quite simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple.

Did you know that more than 40 percent of the actions we perform each day aren’t actual decisions, but habits?

Habits (good and bad) get “formed” because they are linked to specific behaviour known as “triggers” or “cues”. Your brain cannot focus on new goals which aren’t bound to behaviour. Goals need to be “instinctual” to succeed. Success is bound to good habits. Make your new goal a habit. Out with the old and in with the new! YEAH!

So how do you break old (bad) habits?

  • Replace them. A habit is made up of 1) “the cue” (what makes you crave whatever it is you crave), 2) the routine (the eating or drinking or smoking) and 3) the reward (the “good” feeling afterwards). The secret is to keep the same cue and reward, but to replace the routine.
  • Change your environment –If there are no cookies in the house, you’re not going to be eating cookies at 3am? Manipulate your environment so that what you should be doing is easy and what you shouldn’t be doing is difficult.

Charles Duhigg, author of the book “The Power of Habit” has a a great short video on how triggers and replacing habits works!

Examples on how to get clear and fit on the habit!

  • Goal: Quit smoking vs. Habit: Stop smoking that 1 cigarette you have as soon as you get in the car.
  • Goal: Eat healthy food vs. Habit: Start replacing that 1 muffin with a mango!

By breaking each goal down to the tiniest habit your chances of success will be much higher! Isn’t that awesome?

Now once more, brain train fitness, step by step:

  1. Pick one new habit – the one goal that’s most important to you.
  2. Take baby steps – make it a tiny habit.
  3. Commit to it. Do it. Marry it to action.
  4. Focus on the carrot – reward and celebrate tiny successes.

I am so convinced good new shiny things are going to happen this year – we just have to reach out and get them!  If you can do German, here’s a great song to put a “spring” in your step!

I’m off to the bush again to hand over your donations, see my rhino, and talk with nature so you know that your next news is going to be more bush stories! See you on Skype or in the seminar room, soon! All the best, Hester



Feeling bogged down!

Coaching and skills tip for the week: Feeling Stuck !/? 

What exactly is stuck or bogged down? Well it’s when you feel like you are not making progress, not moving forward. You’re experiencing a deflated “do” and “low on confidence” moment (or period)!

Here’s what you can do in 5 steps! Simple enough but not necessarily easy AND,  it is necessary that you follow the instructions otherwise this exercise just isn’t going to work for you!

First. Fast forward to 6mins 25sec on the video to get a real idea of what “stuck” is! Watch for about 2 mins and pause.

Now, do this:

1) make a list of your 5 most outstanding accomplishments to date and put a date to them!
2) answer these questions: what did you do? what did you have? who helped you? what was your motivation and how did you overcome procrastination then?

3) Now go to 5mins 15secs on the video – fast forward now… and get rid of all the excess baggage in the form of limiting beliefs and negative thoughts that you are thinking at the moment

4) CELEBRATE the fact that you have been very successful in accomplishing great things before
5) and MOVE! get going! go after whatever it is you want!

Good luck – and if you’re still feeling stuck come get me!



Newsletter January 2015 – NYRs and falling in love…beCOS it matters!


Welcome to 2015 with SALT!

Remember the days when it was easy to fall in love with everything and everyone? Remember when you used to get really excited…like jump up and down excited…wave your arms in the air excited…grin from ear to ear and laugh out loud excited…like on the day you got your first valentine’s card or your first car or the yes to that “dream” job you so badly wanted?

Do you remember the time?

Remember how you wouldn’t listen to any “words of warning” or have any place for negativity? How present you were? How curious, open and spontaneous you were? How you washed the car weekly and walked around at work with a spring in your stride and your shoulders high? And how it all changed over time?

As we approach every New Year we do mental scans over the year done as well as mentally project into the year ahead with the eager anticipation of personally designed changes – just like a new English vocabulary book with 365 pages for your new SALT course or seminar. Did you enthusiastically set yourself some NYRs on the 1st of Jan? Or have you already given up because, despite the fact that you have set them SMART-ly or according to other expert models, they (still) don’t work…the vocabulary book’s somewhere at home or in the office…the short and tragic life of a new year’s resolution…RIP!

Here are some interesting stats on NYRs (seems the Europeans aren’t particularly keen on being transparent about things like this). Not exactly an impressive success rate for the millions of people that kick off each January 1st with the best of intentions.

stats NYR

You know why? There are really good expert explanations like…

– Scientific studies have shown that you’re not attending enough SALT skills seminars and communication courses

– You’re being too vague

– You fear failure,

– You procrastinate

– You’re not hanging in there long enough, 21 days to be exact, to reap the rewards of the new habit(s) AND

– You’re formulating  your goal or New Year’s resolution with modal verbs e.g. must, should, have to, ought to, need to etc. You seriously rebelled against a parent part or others telling you what you should or must not do so why do you think your own “instructions” are going to work?

…but the one that is never mentioned is that falling in love is also the secret to success. That’s right. Fall in love and feel it with all your senses. I realise it sounds crazy to tell a business person to fall in love but you know as well as I do that if half the managers had to fall in love with goals and plans what a wonderful place our working world would be! Close your eyes and imagine a person freshly “in love” (frisch verliebt) – they are delightfully energising and carefree and they swoop us up with all that feel good stuff they’re feeling!

Fall in love with your goals. Fall in love with the things you want to achieve because, just like your first love, your first car and that dream job you got, you will be prepared to put that little bit of “extra” into whatever it takes to make it happen.  Fall in love like in the beginning.

But, before you do that, do this little check. Ask yourself these questions:

– What do I really want? Start your answer with “I want……”

– What does that mean for me? Is it the beginning or the end? Think about this carefully. If you think something (your marriage / relationship / job) is over, finished, the end you’ll treat it like that, but if you treat it like it is a new beginning you will put the spark of passion back into success. All around you “new” things are filled with a different kind of energy to things thought of as point- and useless!

– What am I prepared to do for it i.o.w how badly do I want it?

– What will be different/better if I achieve it, and what will happen if I don’t?

If you clarify these points, you’ll either make and succeed in your goals…or you won’t.

In my next newsletter I’ll be telling you more on the “neuro-science” of why resolutions and some goals fail, why we hinder ourselves from achieving our goals, why we procrastinate (self- and time management) and I’ll give you good tips on how to integrate new habits so that they stay – for as long as you want them to! Science it is but you don’t have to be rocket scientist to succeed!

I wish you lots of falling in love in 2015 beCOS it matters. Remember to be curious, be open and spontaneous. Also to be present and to look out for our skills and language offers – beCOS it really matters.

Good things are going to happen!



PS: So where does this all new year resolution stuff come from anyway? This tradition is woven deep into our heritage going back to the Babylonians who promised their gods that they would return borrowed items and pay their debts at the first of the year, the knights of the Medieval period renewed their vows to chivalry and the Romans made their promises to the god Janus for whom January is named.


2015 Presence Present

Don’t think outside the box. Understand that there is no box.

Presence Present - there is not box