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8 Ways To Show Thanks to Our Essential Workers

As the world has abruptly ground to a halt, the only thing keeping us from complete meltdown as a civilisation is the hard work of many essential workers. These amazing people are the ones who are keeping the hospitals operational, answering the phones at help centres, stocking the supermarket shelves, cleaning the sidewalks, processing the test results, producing the masks, delivering the mail, and so many more jobs to keep our society functioning.

These wonderful people are our new heroes; the essential workers who turn up each day to keep the wheels of industry and the cogs of our healthcare system turning smoothly. In this time of crisis, we finally see how essential they are. 

We want to take this moment to send our heartfelt thanks to the essential workers of our world. We have come up with some ways how we can all show our appreciation for their efforts.

Say Thank You

We think we can all remember to say an honest thank you next time we pay for our groceries or accept a package from a busy postal worker. We hope we will all take the time also to wish them a great day or ask them how they are doing. With kind words and a smile, we can let them know we are grateful for their time and effort in these challenging times. 

Follow the rules

The most important thing we can do to help out essential workers is to follow the rules. This means reading the health signs posted outside a supermarket or business and following the instructions. Many workers at these companies are in the unenviable situation of having to enforce new rules and regulations on a stressed and scared population. These rules are in place to keep them and us safe. The best we can do is to try to follow these regulations without complaints. This pandemic isn’t fun for anyone, but give a thought to the tired essential worker who must keep asking people to follow the safety guidelines and give them a break. 

Stay at home 

Unless absolutely necessary, please stay at home. The fewer people there are wandering around, the less strain there is on our workers at supermarkets, essential businesses and hospitals. Stay safe at home and let those who must move around to keep the world turning do so without hindrance.  

Make signs

Think of fun ways to use thank you signs to show your appreciation. A big smiley face stuck on your door to thank the postal worker or a happy sign on the side of your garbage bin to thank the workers collecting our garbage can show these workers they are appreciated. Find ways to put little thank you signs and notes everywhere an essential worker might see it. Think of sending cards, letters, or posters to essential businesses in your community which they can post in the break rooms for employees to see.

Support essential workers’ families

If you know an essential worker with children, go out of your way to ask if you can help them out. Offer to cook them a meal or do a grocery shop for them. At least give them a call or send them a short message to let them know you are available to help. 

Give Social Recognition

Don’t forget to share your thanks in messages on social media. Tag local stores, businesses and services who are doing a great job and let them know you appreciate them. 

Some of the trending hashtags you can use are: 





Think outside the box about who are essential workers

Our essential workers are not all visible. While we immediately think of the frontline workers who are doing such a tremendous job, we sometimes overlook the many support workers who are working steadily behind the scenes. Newsweek has published a great list of essential workers who could also use our thanks in this challenging time. 

Show Kindness

During these stressful times, we all must remember the importance of kindness. Now is the time to find every opportunity to perform a random act of kindness for an essential worker. You can share your acts of kindness and inspire others on social media using the hashtag #BeTheKind

From the team at ILNI, we send our most sincere thanks to all essential workers. We want you to know we appreciate you and the job you do to keep our world turning as smoothly as possible. 

“I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks.”

– William Shakespeare

Etiquette in Coronavirus Times

Etiquette is about knowing how to behave correctly in any given situation. But how does this change when something unknown, such as a potential pandemic, comes along? We take a look which etiquette points we should adjust for now and which ones need to stay the same during this outbreak of the Coronavirus. 

ADJUST  Your Etiquette On These Points

Greeting Etiquette

If you are welcoming home friends and family who are arriving off a cruise ship or have recently arrived back from an international trip, you may want to skip your usual double cheek kiss. Air-kissing and a hug are perfectly acceptable alternatives. Just make sure your verbal greeting is as enthusiastic as usual to compensate. 

There have been concerns by some that handshakes in international business meetings can be risky at this time. While the risk of passing on any form of flu or viruses via a handshake is low, it is essential to respect other people’s concerns. In this case, you could consider opting for a high-five or a fist bump to reduce the touching time. Or, just agree not to shake hands for the time being. Most importantly, don’t be offended if you find a handshake is avoided. Everyone is reacting to this outbreak in different ways. 

Information Sharing About The Coronavirus

Be overly vigilant not to engage in gossip, conspiracy theories or questionable information sharing about the Coronavirus outbreak. The internet is buzzing with sensationalist and alarming content about this virus. This creates a digital pandemic or (mis)infodemic and only heightens public anxiety around this disease with devastating consequences for affected communities and fueling anti-Chinese sentiments. If you are unsure about some information, check on Government sites, WHO, CDC or other official health websites for the most up to date and correct information. 

Daily Schedule Changes

The uncertainty around international responses to the Coronavirus outbreak requires a little more flexibility than usual. As international travel and supply lines become more affected, you may need to reschedule meetings or make adjustments to lead times on projects. Be flexible and accept that this situation can have unexpected impacts on our daily lives. 

Accept a Level of Uncertainty  

Be flexible in this fluid situation. Over the coming weeks and months, the information and advice about how to deal with the Coronavirus will change. Likewise, Government responses will change. Keep up to date with the latest news, follow the official advice, and help others to do the same. Don’t waste your energy getting upset if official information or policies change from one day to the next. 

Send a Personal Note to International Business Connections

It is perfectly acceptable to send a short personal email or message to friends, family or business connections living in the affected areas. Likely they are bored and/or worried about the current situation. A kind word of support can be a welcome surprise for them in this troubling time.

Etiquette That Doesn’t Change 

Hygiene Practises

Common hygiene etiquette will always remain the same. Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. As long as we are all adults and are following normal hygienic practises of washing our hands and sneezing into our elbows, there is no need to go overboard with the sanitiser or by burning our banknotes. 

Common Flu Etiquette

If you are feeling unwell, or have flu-like symptoms, take the usual precautions and stay home while sick. No one is going to wish you were in the office sneezing around everyone. 

Show Understanding

Everyone reacts to risks and fears a little differently. Be understanding if someone in your office or family is feeling worried or anxious about things. Listen to their concerns and help them find information that may help allay their fears. 

Stay polite or don’t respond at all. 

We can get overly concerned when someone is sharing incorrect information online. As always, think before responding negatively to comments online. Reacting with anger or outrage is counterproductive. Instead, consider a polite response using official information and links to refute the false information. Hopefully, this will encourage others to seek out the correct information too.  Read more about this in our post The Online Hate Culture and How to Stay Out of It.

Civil Etiquette

Even in times of extreme unease, discrimination is not acceptable. We cannot let the fear of the unknown take over or give oxygen to racism or discrimination of any kind. We are all in this together. And it is together that we will get through it. 

Help Out

Donate to organisations on the ground who are coping with the full extent of this outbreak. Many great organisations are providing shelter, masks and medical supplies to the most affected areas. 

Show your smile. 

Unless your government has mandated it, there is no need to wear a mask at this current time. Leave the masks for the medical practitioners and for people who are sick. Instead, make the most of being able to show your smile to everyone you meet. 

Finally, remember to always show kindness, tolerance and understanding in your daily interactions; these basic etiquette rules will never change. 

Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water – it will make ripples throughout the entire pond

– Jessy& Bryan Matteo 

Responding Not Reacting – How To Deal With Criticism Like A Stoic

One of the downsides of living in a world that is more connected is that there is little or no buffer of time or space to soften online criticism. We are in the habit of instantly responding to messages, posts or news with the first thought that comes to mind. We feel pressured to react and do not pause for reflection before we write. 

As we become more connected, we have become more critical of each other. We give criticism to people we don’t even know, as though it is our right to do so. We do it instantly, without thought, without pause. All this criticism creates massive amounts of data flowing around our online worlds. Worse, it also creates massive amounts of hurt and anxiety among those on the receiving end. One only needs to scroll to the comments on a few news articles or an Instagram post to find examples of unsolicited advice and criticism of the writer.  

Unfortunately, criticism is now part of our daily lives, and there is no way to put this genie back in a bottle. While we may not like this, we can learn ways to cope better with it. The stoic premise that we cannot control external events; we can only control ourselves and our responses, is extremely helpful when dealing with criticism. Here are some of the key points we can learn from this approach.

Consider the Motives

When we are on the receiving end of some sharp criticism, it can help to consider the motives of the person giving it. Don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that they want to hurt you or put you down. Perhaps the person letting you know this concern cares about you and actually wants to help. There can be a hundred positive reasons that someone is sharing criticism of you or your work, so how about keeping in mind the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty, and assume the best, instead of the worst. This way you can respond from thoughtfulness and understanding, which is far more productive than responding from a place of anger and hurt. 

Respond With Care

Criticism, from anyone, feels like an attack. Remember this when you are tempted to dish out some criticism online. When we receive criticism, our natural response is to get defensive. This natural defense can cause us to respond in ways that we would not normally do. We step into the mode of defending ourselves or our work. Before you respond to criticism, pause and consider all the options. Take time to respond instead of instantly reacting. Reacting relies on reflex, using our fight or flight tendencies. There is no need to react on reflex to an online comment. A slow and mindful reply is the most powerful way to respond. Detach yourself from the reaction, take a deep breath, consider the motive of the critic, and then formulate a response. If you can respond carefully, with kindness and understanding, you may turn a critic into a fan, avoid an argument or save a friendship. 

Ignore The Distractions

Don’t be influenced by critics. There comes a point when we must learn to stop caring about what others think or say about us. Don’t be distracted by others, especially if the criticism is not sincere or appropriate. Ask yourself if there is any point engaging with someone who is only trying to put you down. Consider the possibility that you are not obliged to respond at all. Many times the best response is none at all. Getting involved in a pointless argument or trying to explain your point is likely to be a big waste of your time. Let it go, move on and focus on the important stuff. As in the famous quote “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” (Bernard Baruch).

To Err is Human

Our final suggestion for dealing with criticism is to accept that we are all flawed. None of us are perfect or infallible. Understanding this can help us be more balanced in how we receive criticism. Criticism can often come from a misunderstanding of our message. Instead of seeing the critiquer as in the wrong, understand that perhaps your message is not clear enough and is being misunderstood. Being mindful of the message we are sending, and ensuring it is clear can avoid such misunderstandings. 

When we start to deal with criticism in a mindful manner with compassion and kindness, we can do our part to reduce the harm of wild thoughtless criticism that wastes everybody’s time and energy. Let’s instead use our time and energy to focus on creating, learning and building a better world. 

As an antidote to battle unkindness we were given kindness  

Marcus Aurelius

12 International Gift Giving Blunders That Could Ruin Your Christmas

When it comes to giving gifts to friends and family internationally, it is essential to know how to avoid insulting or offending anyone with your well-intentioned gift. Here are 12 of the most important gift-giving blunders to avoid this Christmas.

1. Refusing a Gift

When giving a gift in China, be aware that it is customary for the recipient to refuse the gift three times before finally accepting it. As the giver, you must continue to insist on giving the gift until the recipient agrees to accept it. Don’t fall for the blunder of thinking your friend doesn’t want the gift! 

2. Giving The Gift of Time

In Hong Kong, the gift of a clock is a major no-no. In Cantonese the word for clock ‘sung jung’ sounds the same as the farewell you would say to a dying person. 

3. Red Christmas Cards

In Japan it is essential to avoid giving red Christmas cards as this is the colour of funeral cards announcing a death. 

4. Evoking sadness

In Italy, a gift of a brooch, handkerchief or knives symbolizes sorrow. In Japan white flowers are a symbol of mourning, while in Hong Kong a gift wrapped in blue or white signifies mourning. Do not give a bunch of even-numbered flowers in Russia as these are reserved for funerals. Also, avoid lilies, yellow flowers or carnations. 

5. Inadvertently breaking off a friendship

Sending a gift of knives, scissors or sharp objects in China or Hong Kong indicates that your friendship is over; severed with the sharp gift. In Korea, signing a card or letter with red ink also shows the relationship is over. 

6. Giving the wrong message with your gift:

Beware of giving hats in China as a gift of a green hat to a man indicates his wife has been unfaithful to him. In Italy beware when gifting flowers; red flowers indicate secrecy, while yellow flowers indicate jealousy.

7. Inappropriate Giving

In Kuwait, if a man must give a gift to a woman, he should say that it is from his wife, mother, sister, or some other female relative to avoid inappropriateness. 

8. Don’t take offence

In Saudi Arabia, the recipient of a gift is likely to open it and give it a very close examination. Others in the room may also want to examine it. Don’t take offence; this is the way of showing appreciation for the gift. Likewise, don’t take offence in China or Japan if the recipient does not open your gift. These cultures consider it rude to open a gift in front of the giver. They will open it later when they are alone. 

9. It is not always the thought that counts

In Korea when a person receives a gift, it is customary for them to give another gift of similar value in return at a later time. It is, therefore, essential to give a gift that it is compatible with the recipient’s economic means because if he or she cannot reciprocate, they will feel a loss of face. 

10. Ripping open a gift

In Thailand it is considered the height of rudeness to rip open a gift. Wrapping paper should be carefully removed, folded and put to one side. 

11. Giving a Gift

In Yemen, giving a gift to anyone who is not an intimate friend is so embarrassing as to be offensive. It is also not done to express admiration for something belonging to another as they will then feel obliged to gift it to you.

12. Being too generous

If you are giving a gift in Russia, keep it simple and inexpensive or risk the recipient seeing it as a form of bribe. In Thailand also give inexpensive gifts or risk the recipient refusing it due to embarrassment over the cost. 

The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than its value. 

Nine Fantastic Autumn Fashion Trends That Will Make You Look Forward To The Cold

Although Summer is all but over, we are actually starting to get a little excited about the next season. The reason? We have nine good reasons in the form of Autumn fashion trends that have got us quite excited. Here are our picks of the best trends for the upcoming coming cooler months that we think will make you look forward to the cold too. 

#1 Millennial Purple AKA Lavender

While last season was all about millennial pink, this season lavender is the hue of choice. We love this gorgeous orchid shade which can be used in head to toe monochromatic outfits, to make a statement with a key piece or to add interest by way of accessories. It is bold and beautiful alone or paired with black, white, navy or brown. 

#2 The Cape

The cape makes a comeback in the Autumn fashion trends. These strong shaped outerwear pieces are a fabulous alternative to the trench coat or denim jacket. They look strong, stylish and great. And, dare we say, heroic! 

#3 Satin Blouses

It must be the romantic in us that just goes weak at the knees for a beautifully shaped satin blouse. Paired with a slim-fitting skirt, these shirts are anything but average. While off-white shades are the most obvious hue to wear, Versace showed of satin in neon hues with contrasting lace trims for those of us who like our fashion with a little more edge. 

#4 Super long coats

Longline wool coats that almost skim the floor are the way to make an entrance this Autumn. The style is structured heavy wool coats that fit perfectly and go all the way down to your ankles. Suddenly all our coats feel a little too short and lacking the drama of these statement makers. We all want to go out and immediately buy something much bigger, longer and in a more striking colour like blue, yellow or teal. 

autumn fashion trends argyle

#5 Argyle Knits

Yes, these are the original old man’s golf sweater, but this season they are anything but old fashioned. In fact, they are looking very cool with a cute skirt or fitted pants. The classic diamond pattern showed up in navy and black combinations as well as the traditional forest green and cream. These cosy old fashioned knits are perfect for keeping warm and stylish as the temperature drops. 

#6 Butter Yellow

Yellows of all shades are popping up all over the place in Autumn fashion trends, but our favourite is the buttery yellow hue. Worn in a monochromatic outfit it looks amazing in suiting, evening wear or in one of the aforementioned floor length coats. This colour is perfect for those of us who like to stick to the classics as a nice alternative to black or beige without being too colourful. Butter up your style this Autumn by popping some yellow in your outfit. 

#7 Refined Handbags

Handbags are going back to the classics this season and we are loving the shapes. The trend is for top-handled, sleek-looking handbags that feel ultra ladylike. The vintage vibe is strong with classic frame bags that are large enough for your essentials and classic enough to treasure forever. 

#8 Blazer + Blouse + Skirt Combination

This triple combination is a strong trend this Autumn and we are fans. The formula is a tried and true one that anyone can wear and look great. Satin blouses in cream and off-white are paired with classic blazers in beige, with a tailored midi skirt completing the vintage office wear look. Soft fabrics and hues make this look ultra feminine and give endless possibilities to mix and match all season long. 

#9 Dark Florals 

Summer may be almost over, but this Autumn the florals stick around. This season’s florals are darker, richer and bolder than their summer cousins. Featuring gorgeous realistic blooms in deep wine red, greens and purples that are romantic and a little bit gothic. We love the deep floral midi and maxi skirts that are here for the season and that pair perfectly with boots for cooler days. 

We think the designers this season had a blast while coming up with these looks. They feel fun, romantic, and easy to mix and match. We can tell already that we are going to enjoy this season. So roll on Autumn!  


Small Steps Towards Uniting Our Divided Society

We live in a divided society where arbitrary divisions between the left and the right have become progressively wider. When did we start labelling everyone? And, how do we step back from the edge of this divide towards some civility and humanity? It is time we looked deep into the divisions in our society, and time to consider where this is all heading, and most importantly, how to stop it. 

Most of us have grown up with the knowledge that we have inalienable rights to certain things; what we believe in, how we vote, what we think and what we say. We are the lucky ones in this world to have these rights protected by our laws. But, somewhere along the way, we have grown intolerant of people who disagree with our point of view. We think our right to vote, gives us the right to judge someone who votes differently. We presume our right to choose what to believe in gives us the right to condemn someone for believing in something different. We conclude our right to freedom of speech, allows us to trash and put down someone exercising their right. Especially if they say something we disagree with. Let us be clear, having rights does not entitle us to judge others for exercising their rights. 

Our rush to judgement has let a divide open up right through the middle of our society. On each side stand those with opposing ideas on how the world works. We have labeled these two sides the Left and the Right. And, we face each other over this chasm, throwing hate and inflammatory slogans back and forth across the divide. Each side accuses the other of being prejudiced and having a myopic view of the world. We label each other with terms that should have stayed in the trashcans of history; Nazis, communists, alt-right, white nationalists… We fling these cruel and oppressive labels around like confetti, covering everything and making a huge mess.

This divide has left many feeling the need to choose a side. The endless rhetorical hatred we see daily in our news feeds and on social media only entrenches each side further and improves nothing. We have allowed tensions to be stoked in all sectors of society. As more people are encouraged to choose a side, emotions begin to run hotter than logic. After-all, fighting about our political views feels personal and deeply connected to our values. The fight becomes a battle over perceived right and wrong, good and evil, black and white. The battle ignites online fires of hate that only add to the polarization. It is time to put out these fires, back down from the fight and find a way to cross the abyss that divides our society. 

While we don’t pretend to have the ultimate answer for putting out these fires and mending the divisions, we do have some ideas for small steps in the right direction. 

Get out of your bubble

We are fed a diet of media that is based on our likes, viewing habits and algorithms. What we see and read helps reinforce our views one way or another. In this world of over-information sharing, many individuals are less informed or misinformed. Being willing to read an article from a source you wouldn’t normally visit is a good step towards seeing another point of view. 

Get informed

Getting news sources from social media can mean it is not always the full truth. It is scary to note social media is the main form of news for many people. Inaccurate pages often get the largest attention and shares. Find good sources of information and dig deeper into current events by finding out more about the situation beyond the inflammatory headlines.

Get into a conversation 

Start talking with someone who has a vastly different point of view to you, someone with different moral values or beliefs. Respectful, thoughtful and honest dialogue around controversial topics is the best way forward to mend the divides that keep us apart. 

Listen with understanding 

With openness and kindness, listen to someone with a different point of view and get to understand the things that they place value on. Understand that opinions are formed by the set of values we hold as the most important. While one person will hold liberty, free speech and human rights as their most important values, another person may consider patriotism, loyalty and hard work to be their defining values. 

Ask questions rather than arguing

In an argument, both sides become further entrenched in their own positions. We convince ourselves that our argument is based on logic. But actually, most arguments are based on emotion. Asking someone why they believe that idea is more productive than attacking their point of view. 

See people as people

Our best hope to end this divide is to see the ‘other side’ as real people with their own fears, goals and beliefs. Stop seeing them as a caricature of the liberal left or radical right. They are all human beings. No one is going out of their way to be evil. 

Remember social media lacks context

Our social media feeds provide short, angry bursts of reaction to an event or topic. In a rush to respond we often miss the context. When we forget to consider the context of a retweet or share, we miss the chance to understand a different point of view. We instead add even more fuel to the fire. 

While we may not have started the fire, our hope is that these small steps can unite us in the intention to put it out. After all, it will take a united effort to begin closing the divides that separate us. 

Despite the many issues that still separate us, what unites us is far greater than what divides us

Pope Francis

11 Old-School Etiquette Rules That Still Make The World a Nicer Place

We hope that good manners will never go out of fashion. These 11 old-school etiquette rules are part of a necessary code of conduct that, we believe, makes our world a nicer place to live in. They are the types of rules our grandparents learned in their childhood. And, as the world moves swiftly from one trend to another, these elegant etiquette tips remain a universally recognised standard of behaviour. Old-school etiquette rules maintain a common courtesy that should never be lost and, we believe, they go a long way towards keeping out interactions kind. 

1. Saying ‘Excuse me’ 

When you accidentally bump into someone on the street or in the supermarket acknowledging the other person and quickly apologising for walking into them is the politest thing to do. In return, if someone knocks into you and apologises with an ‘excuse me’ it is polite to acknowledge this without a fuss. Do not be tempted to respond with anger or by accusing them of not looking where they are going. 

2. Please and Thank You.

These two tiny little phrases are essential words in your vocabulary when interacting with others. They show kindness and respect to the other person and soften what could otherwise be interpreted to be a command. 

3. Smile, often and to everyone you meet and interact with.

Some people seem to forget that this expression is free and it is better shared. Smile when you order your coffee, smile as you say hello to someone you pass in the street, smile as you open the door to the postal delivery. Smile and the whole world smiles with you – try it out and see if it is true.

4. Hold the door open for the person behind you.

It doesn’t matter who is behind you; the common courtesy is to hold the door and ensure it does not close just before they get to it. If someone does the same for you, be sure to thank them for showing the courtesy. 

5. Look at the person speaking to you.

Don’t look at your phone to see who just messaged you. This is so extraordinarily important when at the counter in a shop. There is a real person in front of you who is helping you, either to make your coffee or to help you purchase a new item. Give them the respect of looking at them, smile and interact, put that phone away until you are finished.

6. Let someone go ahead of you in line.

This is one of the sweetest random acts of kindness. We all know what it is like to be stuck in a long line at the check-out when you only want to buy one thing. It feels so fantastic when someone ahead of you suggests you go ahead of them in the queue. Do the same for others and see how good it feels to be randomly kind


7. Be on time

Being at a place at the time you promised is a sign of respect for the other person. It is not ok to leave someone waiting for you and it is not ok to send a message at the arranged meeting time saying you will be late. 

8. Cut the cussing.

There is no need to sprinkle swear words through our conversations. If you feel you need to swear for impact, please learn a more extensive vocabulary and find a new way to express yourself without using a commonly overused swearword as an adjective. 

9. Wait a day or two to respond to a mean or nasty email or message.

Give yourself time to cool down after receiving an unpleasant message and avoid replying in a way that would not be appropriate. Better yet, don’t respond. Often a non-response sends a far louder message to nastiness than a reply would.

10. Let people off the train, elevator, bus, or tram before trying to get on.

Give passengers room to walk out by politely standing to one side of the door.

11. Welcome a new neighbour.

A small gift of chocolates or cookies is the perfect gift to give a new neighbour when you knock on the door to introduce yourself and welcome them to the neighbourhood. Start this important neighbour relationship with kindness. 

By remembering these old-school etiquette rules and practising them daily, we are showing respect and kindness to others, which is essential in a world where we see division sown by words of contempt and disdainful actions. These rules of conduct help us keep kindness as the standard in our world. And we are all for that!

Seven Sanity-Saving Tips For Dealing With Difficult People

Dealing with difficult people is something we all hope to avoid, but unfortunately, we all must face difficult people whether in our workplace, social life or online. These experiences can be confronting, awkward and just wholly unpleasant. Therefore, we decided to put together our best sanity-saving tips for dealing with difficult people. So, instead of getting frustrated and screaming to the ceiling ‘Why is this person being so difficult?’ you can remain sane and handle the situation with class.

  1. Be The Calm One

When faced with someone being completely difficult, being the calm one allows you to maintain some control over the situation. Being angry or frustrated is likely to inflame the situation further. Breathe. Relax your shoulders and let the tension of the situation go before you respond. Be slower to react, allowing your stress levels to decrease first. By remaining calm you are refusing to let the other person trigger you. If your conflict is happening via email or texting, it is crucial to avoid replying when upset. Rise above the conflict and do not allow yourself to react emotionally.

  1. Practise Engaged Listening

People who will not listen to reason or let you have a say can be the most frustrating type of difficult people to deal with. When you are both intent on getting your point of view across, no one is being heard. Be the one who steps back first and actively listen to all they have to say. Practise engaged listening by ensuring that the other person knows you are really listening. Tilt your head slightly and nod as you listen, these actions give a strong non-verbal cue that you are indeed listening to them. Stepping back can quickly deescalate the tension, and you might actually find you can understand why they are being so difficult.

  1. Seek to Understand

Try to see the situation from the difficult person’s point of view. Ask yourself ‘what could they be trying to achieve by being so difficult?’ or ‘what are they trying to avoid?’. With a different perspective on the problem, you may be able to help them move towards their goal without all the drama.

  1. Get Assistance

If the difficult person is someone you are continually having problems with, it can help a lot to talk with others about the situation. Other people can have a completely different perspective on a situation and may offer some good advice on how to handle the situation better. The key is not to use these times to moan and complain to others about the person, but to try to keep the discussion focused on the actions and reactions triggered when you face this person.

  1. Steer Clear of Contempt

Is it possible that your reactions to the difficult person could be interpreted as disrespectful? Any interaction that has a hint of contempt will be doomed to failure. Be careful that you have not used a put-down or acted arrogantly towards them. Stay respectful, and you may find they follow your cue and change their path of difficulty.

  1. Focus on What You Can Fix

Narrow your focus onto the situation at hand and how you can work together to solve it. Take your focus off your emotional reactions to the actions or words of the difficult person, as these can blind us to simple solutions to the problem.

  1. Remove Yourself From The Drama

If you have done all you can to try to work with a difficult person, but you seem to face the same issues with every interaction, simply reduce your contact with this person as much as possible. Often people will use challenging behaviour as a way to control a situation or person when they feel out of control or insecure. Trust your instincts on this one. If you feel there is no way to amend this conflict, remove yourself. Choose your battles wisely. Remember that not every fight needs to be fought and you get to decide when to engage.

Difficult people are always going to be around and finding good strategies to deal with them is essential. Every interaction with a difficult person should be seen as a chance to learn better skills for dealing with them in the future.


Difficult people are the greatest teachers – Pema Chödrön


We’re Dreaming of a Green Christmas- How To Go Green This Festive Season

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year to share goodwill and kindness to all. So this year we want to share some ideas for a greener way to celebrate Christmas that is kinder to our planet and all who live on it.


Gifts of Kindness

Every year we give and receive gifts for Christmas. Sometimes those gifts are unwanted or wasteful excess stuff that we don’t really need. This year try a gift of time or experience to those you love. Our favourite choices are movie vouchers, tickets or memberships. For those who have everything, consider donating to a charity in their name.

We suggest choosing something from the World Vision Gift Catalogue to donate to a child in need.

If you really want to give an actual wrapped gift, consider gifts that are made sustainably from renewable materials, made locally or made by artisans.

When you are buying for children, consider gifts that are battery-free, as every year discarded batteries end up in landfills and eventually into waterways.

If you do end up with excess or unwanted gifts, please donate them to a charity store. Many unwanted gifts simply gather dust in our closets for years when someone else could be using them. Give them to a charity that will ensure someone who wants them can use them.


Wrapped up with love

When wrapping gifts buy recyclable Christmas wrapping paper. The best and simplest is brown paper with ribbons. We love the ideas for wrapping gifts using recyclable materials over at EcoCult


Deck the Halls

Every year thousands of trees are used for Christmas, only to be discarded in January on bonfires. Instead, this year go for an alternative Christmas tree. There are many alternatives such as a potted tree that can be planted afterwards or a wooden tree frame that can be reused each year. Eco-Age have the best guide to eco-friendly Christmas trees including some fantastic alternative tree ideas.


Decorate your tree and home this year with natural decorations – pinecones, eucalyptus, holly, ivy and dried fruit. Or buy well-made decorations that will last for many years. Look out for beautiful handmade or artisanal items that you can enjoy for many years.

Consider your energy usage over the festive season by putting your Christmas lights on a timer. We love the look of homes decorated in lights, but don’t leave them on all day and night. Set a timer that will turn your lights on for a few hours once it gets dark each evening.

Decorate inside with candles that are made from beeswax, soy or vegetable wax to avoid paraffin wax that comes from petroleum.


Eat, Drink and Be Merry

We all love to overindulge at Christmas, but this year, consider reducing the amount of food you prepare. Not only will you do everyone’s’ waistline a favour, you will also cut down dramatically on the amount of unnecessary food waste that is thrown away every Christmas.

Remember to recycle all you can after your festivities. Bottles, plastic, paper – you know the drill.

Plan a vegan or vegetarian dish for Christmas dinner. You know it is better for you and for the planet. Check out some of the great vegan recipes online and get inspired. We love Jamie Oliver’s collection of Vegan Christmas dinner recipes that are guaranteed to inspire you to try something new this year.


Send E-cards

By sending all your cards digitally this year you can save paper and fuel for transport. And, bonus, you can leave the task of writing them right up to the last minute before you push send as they will be delivered instantly on time.


Enjoy the Season

Lastly, our best tip for a green Christmas is to just slow down and enjoy the season of goodwill. Spend time with friends and family doing things together at home. Christmas is the perfect time of year to gather with friends and family. Spend time cooking together, taking evening walks to see the Christmas lights in your neighbourhood or sitting by the fire playing a board game or watching a Christmas movie with your kids.

Instead of being caught up in the commercialisation of this season, make Christmas a reason to connect to others and share gifts of time, love and goodwill with everyone.


Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.

The Grinch


Everyday Should Be A World Hello Day

What is World Hello Day?

World Hello Day was established in 1973 as an international day of communication in response to the conflict at the time between Egypt and Israel. The aim of World Hello Day was for people to set an example to leaders of the world by saying hello to 10 new people. The point was to encourage world leaders to choose communication rather than force to end conflict. The perfectly simple premise behind World Hello Day a simple hello could spread around the world and help us come together to reduce conflict and build peace.

The official World Hello Day is November 21, but you may be forgiven for missing it, as it seems to have lost much of the momentum it had in the 70s. These days simply saying hello to 10 people doesn’t really sound like a movement that could change the world. Especially when we often interact online with 10 times that number of people daily.

However, we love the bigger idea behind World Hello Day. We love the idea that communication can reduce conflict and bring peace. This is an idea we can really get behind as we think every day we need to be reminded to use the power of communication for good.

The Power of Communication

We believe strongly in the power of communication to reduce conflict. And, we know that communication is the key to increasing understanding and kindness in a world desperately in need of more compassion, empathy and love. We strongly support the power of communication for these reasons:

Communication reduces the risk of using force in a conflict and therefore contributes to a more peaceful world.

Communication can increase compassion by building a deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering.

Communication spreads kindness by being warm-hearted, considerate, humane and sympathetic.

Communication builds empathy through comprehension and sharing of another’s life, feelings and way of living.


How can we use the power of communication for good every day?

Seek first to understand

When talking with others consider carefully their point of view. How might we see the situation differently from their side?

Listen genuinely without interruption

Taking our time and really listening to the other person is an important key in reducing conflict. Listen before jumping in with your opinion, be courteous and open to hearing what others think and feel. While you may not agree on everything you should be open to letting others have their say.

Avoid escalation

Make a personal commitment to use kind communication to overcome any disagreements. Avoid escalating an argument and instead seek to find a solution by talking it out.

Treat all people with kindness

Every person deserves to be treated fairly and with kindness regardless of his or her race, gender orientation, political views or religion.

Speak up

Do not be afraid to speak out when you see injustice or discrimination. Be the voice that calls out an injustice and encourage others to do the same.

Help share the message of peace

Support local organizations that work towards fighting for equality and human rights for all. Use the power of your words to share their message to a wider audience.


“Never Believe That A Few Caring People Can’t Change The World. For, Indeed, That’s All Who Ever Have.”

– Margaret Mead