Monday, 30 July 2012 00:00

The Mercury - Power in Being Yourself

Claire Newton always loved hats. In fact she bought many, but didn’t wear them for a long time; until a mad hatter tea party to which she decided she had to wear her blue velvet hat. It was a turning point for her: “Perhaps it was because I was older and less self-conscious, but I just felt it was time to do what I wanted to,” she says.

Now she wears hats all the time, even when she is delivering her self-improvement talks, a series of which begins next week, all around the art of conversation.

Newton says she meets many women who don’t see the power in being themselves.

“I like to call it You-Q, being you. It’s not about appearing to be intelligent or appearing to be anything other than authentic, the real you. I talk to women about changing their head talk – this is primarily through positive affirmations, sometimes through deep psychology.

“I also talk to them about relating to others.”

Newton says the ideas are simple, but getting there isn’t always.

“Finding your real self is about really thinking about who you are, what your values are and what your purpose is. It doesn’t have to be grand – consider your gifts, talents and skills and look outside yourself.”

Vision is important too. Once you know who you are, you need a clear idea of where you are headed.”

She also addresses the idea of avoiding conflict.

“Women often think being assertive means being pushy or aggressive. However assertiveness is about speaking clearly, openly and honestly in a way that keeps lines of communication open.

“You’re not being rude or submissive, and what you’ll find is that people will know exactly where they stand with you. The same goes for conflict. You need to reframe it – it’s ok to disagree, but it’s how you do it.”

Newton suggests staying calm, listening to what the other person is saying, paraphrasing it as you understand it for clarity and then offering your point of view. She says paraphrasing helps avoid misunderstanding.

Another pointer she offers is to forget the old wives tale that one should never sleep on an argument.

“If you’re tired sleep. Agree to talk about it later – within 24 hours is fine. It’s far better to stop when you are angry and agree to pick up the conversation when you are calmer,” she says.

She also talks about tone of voice, body language and playing hostess.

Newton’s talk takes place at St James on Venice on August 2. For more information call 031 312 9488. Tickets are R150, all inclusive.

Read the article online.