An Author’s Advice

Lucy HoyleBy Lucy Hoyle18th May 202010 Minutes

We interviewed Gill Hasson, an experienced career coach and the author of several personal development books. Here’s what she had to say about positive thinking, learning from other people and cutting yourself some slack.

How does your work as a personal and professional development coach influence your writing?

Working as a tutor and coach means I’m continually working with a diverse range of people; as well as teaching and advising those people, I learn so much from them. Other people’s ideas, thoughts, experiences and opinions are in all my books – as case studies or quotes.

One of my best-selling books, How to Deal with Difficult People, came directly as a result of the assertiveness courses I’ve run over the years. People came to the course thinking that others are often so difficult. It’s not so much that other people are being difficult, rather that you are finding it difficult to deal with them. You just need to learn how to adjust your responses.

What have you learnt about yourself in the process of writing books on subjects like resilience, emotional intelligence, mindfulness and positive thinking?

Quite simply, I’ve learnt how to be more emotionally intelligent; specifically that all emotions – especially the ‘negative’ ones – have a positive intent. I’ve learnt how to be more mindful; specifically that whatever you’re doing in the moment, just do that one thing. And I’ve also learnt that all things will pass, so make the most of the good and realise that the bad is not permanent.

And I’ve learnt to think positively more often; specifically, that all situations can be viewed negatively or positively. But positive thinking in any situation is more helpful than focusing on the negative.

What 3 key pieces of advice do you have for maintaining a healthy mindset during our current global crisis?

  1. Acknowledge the negative aspects of what’s happening, but don’t dwell on them. Instead, move onto identifying and focusing on the positive aspects of the situation
  2. Think about what you can do for others; whether it’s staying in touch with friends, volunteering to make scrubs or shopping for other people
  3. Plan – as far as possible and with what little we know about the future – but make flexible plans. Know that you will have to remain flexible and adaptable

Going with the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, and given that you’ve written an entire book on this topic, why do you think kindness is so important to our mental wellbeing?

Kindness takes you out of yourself; you have to be aware, to actively look for opportunities in the present moment. Kind gestures free you from focusing on yourself and enable you to reach out to someone else.

You may feel you have little to offer, but whether it’s a smile, a cup of tea, an invite to dinner or an offer to help carry something, it’s the act of giving itself that’s important. As Gandhi said, “Almost anything we do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that we do it.”

Instead of worrying about people and events over which you have little or no control, you can focus your time and energy on things you can control; you can reach out to others and make a positive difference; you can be kind. With kindness comes hope. Hope that things will improve, that the world can be a better place.

Chapter 7 of your book, Kindness When Your Life is Really Difficult, feels very relevant at the moment. Kindness towards others is important, but here you focus on being kind to yourself. Is this something we often forget about or shy away from?

Yes; it’s easy to be too hard on ourselves and not recognise that we need to cut ourselves some slack when we’re going through difficulties. You wouldn’t have such high expectations and be unkind to a friend who was struggling. So why do that to yourself? You’re just as deserving of kindness and compassion in difficult times.

Your latest book, Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace, offers guidance on promoting positive mental health and supporting others in the workplace. Why is wellbeing at work (only just) gaining recognition now?

Wellbeing at work is a relatively new concept. The modern workplace appears to be a pressured environment. People are often under pressure to do more in less time with less resources. They’re working longer hours – constantly available on text, email, Zoom etc. Other people at work aren’t always nice. All this is stressful, and stress can impact a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

Recent legislation requires employers to recognise the risks to employees’ physical and mental health – to identify areas of stress and, as far as possible, minimise it. My latest book, written with Donna Butler, has plenty of advice and information for employers, employees and managers to support wellbeing and mental health at work.

All of Gill Hasson’s books can be found on Perlego. For more information about her professional development courses, see her website.