Big ears


Listening is a multi-layered skill. Harder than we think to do really well. How often when someone is talking do we jump in, add our bit, or hijack the conversation? It’s a tricky balance to give someone the space to express him or herself without interruption and still manage to be an active participant in the exchange. Risks of uninterrupted listening include glazing over or letting our own silent thoughts take over. We all do it.

Talking therapies and helplines are clear on the purpose of listening to someone in need. The client, or caller, is unconsciously (for most part) seeking validation from the listener. They want their issues, their predicament, their concerns to be heard, before they move on to resolving anything. They know they have been heard once the listener has validated their experiences. How the listener validates varies of course. In many ways it’s about ‘siding’ with the talker, even if the goal is to move the talker on to more constructive resolutions in due course. For example, the talker is frustrated,  disappointed, or impatient, the listener validates with, “That must be very frustrating for you”; “How disappointing for you”; “It takes a lot of patience to deal with such things, it’s a wonder how any of us can”. Validation is not a contrived script however, it must be genuine to be effective. We still need to listen carefully to ensure we’re hearing exactly what is being said so we can respond earnestly.

Big ears – all the better to hear clients’ burning issues with – are a must for a work life mentor. Listen up.

 © Amanda Yensa Manor 2015

Reference to talking therapies from ‘A brief guide to brief therapy’, Brian Cade, William Hudson O’Hanlon, and to helplines from first hand experience as a helpline volunteer


Fresh eyes


On the subject of (our) memory storage and how patterns of association are made in our brains, Dr Edward de Bono (father of Lateral Thinking) wrote “patterns are picked out of the environment solely based on the basis of familiarity, and through such selection become ever more familiar” (1971, p.124).

In some scenarios, our familiar patterns of association are good safety valves. In others they stop us from opening our eyes to new possibilities. Or worse, they inhibit us from doing well or even great things, as we are stuck in old – unproductive, possibly destructive – patterns.

To see new patterns (ideas, behaviour, responses) or to accept that the familiar is not necessarily the best or only way to go, we need to use fresh eyes. Get new perspectives, and be open to these. Explore our situation from new vantage points. Sometimes our own eyes can bring fresh angles to a challenge. Mostly though we need other people’s fresh eyes to give our own the chance to break the pattern.

Fresh eyes as a work life mentor is a pre-requisite. Watch out.

 © Amanda Yensa Manor 2015

5 clues on motivation


Clue 1 / Read the signs

When something we do makes us smile or feel energised, it is motivation we experience.

Clue 2 / Bank the rewards

When we run out of motivation, it’s good to recall how rewarding things have felt previously, and bring that feeling into the present.

Clue 3 / Avoid energy sappers

We usually know what saps our energy and demotivates us, so avoid these fair and square.

Clue 4 / Make the boring interesting

We all have dull tasks on our plates, find novel ways to make these interesting, appetising.

Clue 5 / Take a break

A change of scenery (real or visualised) allows us to recharge, giving our motivation a better chance of lasting.

   © Amanda Yensa Manor 2015

One talent or many?

AYM personas

There’s an argument that if we specialise in a single field, or career, we have a better chance of digging in, making our logical way up the food chain – possibly to the top, if that’s where we want to be.

Like a ladder the steps to our progression are linear.

The other school of thought is that a portfolio approach to work gives us more opportunities especially when markets duck and dive.

Like a Swiss Army knife we pull out the required skills du jour, showing flexibility, range, resourcefulness.

One practice doesn’t necessarily discount the other. Both ladders and Swiss Army knives come in handy whether we’re a single field expert, or a portfolio professional. Though it depends on our individual motivation as to which we prefer or which we excel at.

A portfolio approach has suited me best in the 30 years of my career to date. Individually motivated by variety, new challenges over and over, change, creative processes, and working closely with all kinds of people, from diverse industries and sectors, I have a treasure chest full of pearls to share. There’s plenty to go round.

  © Amanda Yensa Manor 2015

A mother’s motivation


To the mothers who work tirelessly bearing, raising, loving, supporting, mentoring children, let today, Mother’s Day (in the UK) be a tribute to our ceaseless motivation to make sure our offspring have the best chance at success and happiness in their lives.

  © Amanda Yensa Manor 2015

5 advantages of a good mentor


A mentor may bring a number of advantages to our personal or professional development. Here are five to remember, when considering one for yourself or organisation.


None of us are immune to being stuck, confused or held back at various stages in our work life. A good mentor brings fresh eyes to the situation, looks at it from different angles, explores new vantage points to open up possibilities and simplify choices.


Sometimes all we need is an understanding ear to listen to us. A good mentor has big ears all the better to hear us with, and validate our burning issues that we must air if we are to progress.


Our knowledge is collated from experience, learning, set-backs, successes and it comes in all shapes and sizes. A good mentor knows a huge amount about people, problems, processes, in given fields of expertise, and is prepared to impart it, personally and professionally.


Despite our impressive abilities to communicate via multiple channels and platforms, using empowering technologies, the sound of a voice reminds us we’re human. A good mentor creates opportunities to speak face to face, on the phone, via skype for sound guidance and feedback to be expressed clearly, and directly.


We are required to toughen up, win the day, produce results, and though these practices have merit in some circumstances, we neglect the part of us that needs encouraging. A good mentor has a light touch – not a bootcamp approach – to bring out the best qualities in individuals, groups, and organisations.

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© Amanda Yensa Manor 2015