The Ultimate Packing List

Use this packing list to make sure you remember everything when you go away on a trip or on holiday.

This is my “away list”: the master list that I use whenever I go away from home.

For any single trip, I use it like this:

  1. Take a copy of the list and remove all the things I don’t need for that trip
  2. Then I tick things off as I get them ready to pack
  3. Whenever I think of something that isn’t on this list, I add it to the list I’m using
  4. I copy any new items to the master list

Why not make one of your own? The advantages are:

  1. It saves time.
  2. You never forget anything when you go away… not twice, anyway.

Preparation

Purpose

You know why you’re going, right?

Paperwork

Make sure you have all the essential paperwork ready well in advance:

  • Passport
  • Visas
  • Tickets

Itinerary

Have a good idea of your itinerary, both in outline and for the first stages of your journey:

  • Length of stay
  • Where you have to be and when
  • Who you are meeting

Shopping

Is there anything you need for this trip that you need to purchase before hand?

Car

If you’re using it, get your car ready.

General Packing

Personal Care

  • Day bag
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Glasses
  • Contact lenses + solutions
  • Medication
  • Bible

Communications

  • Mobile phone
  • Mobile phone charger

Paperwork

  • Tickets
  • Timetable
  • Maps
  • Notebook
  • Pen

Misc

  • Multi-tool
  • Cash

Overnight Stays

Clothes

  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Trousers
  • Shorts
  • Shirts
  • T-Shirts
  • Shoes
  • Jumpers
  • Shoes
  • Jacket

Wash Kit

  • Wash bag
  • Shaver
  • Flannel
  • Towel
  • Tooth brush
  • Tooth paste
  • Shower gel
  • Deodorant
  • Loo roll
  • Nail scissors / clippers

Night Things

  • PJs
  • Dressing gown
  • Cuddly toy
  • Alarm Clock
  • Torch

Activities

Shopping

  • Cash
  • Bags

Entertainment

  • Headphones
  • Books
  • Indoor games
  • Outdoor games

Study

  • Books
  • Paper
  • Stationary
  • Laptop + power
  • USB stick

Swimming

  • Bathers
  • Goggles
  • Towel

Picnic

  • Blanket
  • Food hamper

Special Places

Beach

  • Ball
  • Bucket and spade
  • Sandals
  • Wind break

Weather

Wet Weather

  • Waterproofs
  • Boots

Hot Weather

Cold Weather

  • Jumpers
  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Gloves

Special Events

Smart Event

  • Suit
  • Tie
  • Cuff-links
  • Watch
  • Tie Pin
  • Smart socks
  • Shoes

Interview

  • CV
  • Portfolio
  • Details of company
  • Details of post

Celebration

  • Card
  • Present
  • Invitation

Camping

Travel Abroad

  • Passport
  • Travel adaptors
  • Phrase book
  • Currency

Jobs to Do Before You Leave

  • Switch off alarm clock

 Other People’s Lists

Acknowledgements

14 Principles for Tackling Information Overload

Are you suffering from information overload? Let these principles guide you as you take control of your information.

Principle 1: Take Responsibility

Accept responsibility for your information assets. This is your information, your problem. You can and will be able to take charge.

Principle 2: Apply Effort

Accept that managing your notes takes time and effort.

Your aim should be to get more value from your information than you’re putting in to maintaining it.
If you don’t get that value, just dump the information.

Principle 3: Know the Value of Your Information

Not all information is created equal.

In order to be worth keeping, your information must be:

  1. Applicable to a problem you want to solve, either now or in the future
  2. Able to make a significant contribution towards the solution
  3. Easy to locate when you need it
  4. Easy to apply to the problem.

De-cluttering your information will depend on assessing each information item against these criteria.

Some of your information is high-value already, whereas the value of other information may need to be enhanced with little work, the rest.
The rest is clutter, and needs to be disposed of.

Principle 4: Know Your Goals

In order to have value, information needs a purpose.

In order to have value to you, your information needs a purpose that is related to what you’re trying to achieve.

Decide what you’re trying to achieve in your life. This may include a grand over-arching purpose, and will certainly encompass the day-to-day running of your life. Without a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve, you will be unable to place proper value on your assets – your time, finance, information and so forth.

Principle 5: Develop a Strategy

The Two Areas to Tackle
There are two basic areas you need to tackle:

  • Your information backlog
  • Your tendency to add new information

You plan should be to develop strategies that will tackle both of these areas, and then build habits that help you implement these strategies. Some of the solutions you come up with will work for both, others will only tackle one or the other.

Principle 6: Accept Imperfection

Recognise that when you reduce the information you hold, you will inevitably make mistakes. That’s OK. Sometimes you’ll fail to capture information that you need, or you’ll miss-file it or it will be illegible or whatever. Don’t worry – few of these incidences are end-of-the-world territory. In fact, occasional lapses like this are beneficial, in that they are:

  1. Often cheaper than the cost of information hoarding
  2. valuable learning experiences in that they teach you what really matters to you

Principle 7: Allow for Information Growth

We are constantly acquiring new information. Accept that you’ll always hold more information that you strictly need: the important thing is that you can find the important stuff when you need it, and that when you find it, it is easily applied.

For paper notes, I suggest a decent filing system. For digital notes, I suggest a system that allows tagging and search.

Principle 8: Use Simple Systems

You need systems to manage your information effectively.

Keep the number of systems you use to a minimum. One email address, one notes application, one calendar, etc. No one system will work for everything, but the more systems you employ, the harder your job will be.

Use the simplest systems possible.

Principle 9: Focus on Big Wins

Focus on the areas where you’ll make the biggest gains most quickly.
For example, it is fairly easy to eliminate the junk email by simply un-subscribing from mailing lists. Where you can, do so.

Principle 10: Build Habits

Take action regularly. Setting aside regular times for dealing with informational clutter (or any other type) will help you reduce it.

Principle 11: Automate

Where possible, automate. I found, for example, that a sticker on your front door that requests no junk automatically eliminates a significant amount of paperwork from your life. Similarly, email rules can ensure that certain types of information automatically make their way to the right folders.

Principle 12: Delegate

Where possible, delegate. Getting my 9-year old son to sort his own magazines is better than doing it myself.

Principle 13: Filter

Where possible, filter your inputs. Filters can be automatic or manual. Automatic filters (spam filters, a sign on the door requesting no junk mail etc.) are most effective.

Principle 14: Organise

Where possible, make information easily searchable. A good system of organisation can help with this, as can good software.

Picture Credits

Image courtesy Hemera, used under licence.

10 Myths About Style and Appearence

I’m no certainly no style guru, but I am learning. Here are 10 of the biggest myths about men’s style and appearance.

Myth #1: It Doesn’t Matter What You Wear

…it’s who you are that counts.

I used to believe this – seriously I did – and I looked absolutely awful.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that who you are isn’t important. On the contrary, I’m absolutely sold out on the idea that who you are is far more important than the way you look. I’m sure we’ve all met someone who looks quite fine but who, on closer examination, turns out to be a complete… well, you know. Who wants to be that guy? Not me, that’s for sure. Id choose substance over style any day of the week.

To be, not just to seem to be.

Great motto, that.

But that’s not the whole story, is it? Just because the way you look isn’t as important as who you are, that doesn’t mean that your appearance is something to neglect altogether. On the contrary, how you look is really rather important.

Nobody Wants to Hang with Mr Messy

If you look a mess, then you’re doing my friends a disservice in more ways than one:

  • They have to look Mr Messy… and that’s not nice
  • The way you look reflects badly on the people who spend time with you

To those who chose to endure my looks back in the day: I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

The Way You Look Tells People Who You Are

I can’t lie to you: people judge you by the way you look, and first impressions stick. If you want people to take you seriously, if you want them to discover the treasure you’ve got within (and believe me, there’s more treasure within you than you know), you’re going to have to advertise. Your exterior is your shop window: dress it well.

When You Look Good, you Behave Better

When you know you look good, you’re more confident. And when you’re confident, you’re more productive, more outgoing, more relaxed, easier to be with. I’m not saying that dressing like a king will make you a saint, but looking like a pauper surely won’t improve your demeanour.

So do the world – and yourself – a favour, and smarten up, OK?

Myth #2: Men Who Dress Well Are Self-Centred and Vain

It is true that some of them are. But there are other reasons to dress well:

Looking Good is an Act of Appreciation

The human body is a marvellous thing. When you dress it well, you express your appreciation to God / your parents for the one that they’ve given to you.

Looking Good Improves The Environment

Have you noticed that you feel happier in some environments than others? Isn’t one the main reasons for this aesthetic? I’m certainly more cheerful when I’m out in beautiful countryside than when I’m surrounded by urban sprawl. Looking like a scruff isn’t doing anyone any favours, whereas looking smart can benefit others.

Looking Good Makes Others Look Good

When people are seen with someone who looks good, some of that goodness rubs off. Your friends / girlfriend / wife will appreciate the effort you make to make them look better.

Myth #3: Dressing Well is Dressing Up

Dressing up is fundamentally about costume: it is what clowns do, what actors do. Dressing up is about presenting yourself as something you’re not. In contrast, dressing well is about wearing what’s best – for your body, your personality and your lifestyle.

So, being stylish isn’t about wearing your suit to play footy, nor wearing your tux to the pub! On the contrary, one of the cardinal rules of men’s style is to dress appropriately for your environment and your activities. It’s about wearing the right thing as well as wearing it right.

You don’t have to wear a suit – just take care not to look like a tramp.

Myth #4: Being Stylish Means Following Fashion

Oh, dear me, no!

  • Style is based on principles that have stood the test of time, whereas fashion is about being trendy.
  • Style expresses your personality, whereas fashion is focuses on what everyone else is wearing.
  • Style makes you look good, whereas fashion is about making clothes look good.
  • Style is based on what you like, fashion is based on what other people like.
  • Fashion is fleeting, style lasts.

Of course, there is some overlap between fashion and style. There are several reasons for this:

  • The stuff in most shops is influenced by current trends.
  • You may not want to dress too differently from your peers.

Nevertheless, the overlap is often much smaller than people think.

Myth #5: If You Want to Look Good, You Need Lots of Clothes

Dressing well isn’t about quantity, but about quality and versatility. You’re better off with a few really good pieces than a room full of clothes that don’t really work for you. You really don’t need a lot of clothes as long as every item you own:

  • is a good fit for your body
  • is a good fit for your lifestyle
  • is of high quality
  • goes well with everything else in your wardrobe

Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity.Dame Vivienne Westwood

Myth #6:

If You Want to Look Good, You Have to Spend a Fortune

You don’t. But, as with all spending, you need to treat buying clothes as an investment rather than an expense. So, if you’re currently buying cheap clothes then you may need to pay a little more for individual items, but:

  • if you buy better quality items then they should last longer
  • if you buy more versatile items then you shouldn’t need as many clothes
  • if you focus on style and not fashion, your clothes will look good longer
  • you don’t have to buy everything all at once

One strategy to avoid spending too much is to check out second-hand clothes. A quality vintage piece may be far better value than something new, even if you have to pay several times the purchase price to have it adjusted to fit just so.

Which reminds me: one place not to skimp is on tailoring. Having clothes altered so that they fit you perfectly is a worthwhile investment.

Myth #7:  It Takes Too Much Time and Effort

Sure, it will take some time and effort. But “too much”? That depends. Will the benefits you get out are greater than the resource you invest? If so, then the investment is worthwhile. And to be honest, it needn’t take all that much time and effort, as long as you stick to the basics.

Myth #8: I’ll Need to Start Again from Scratch!

There are two good reasons why this isn’t true:

  • There is a good chance that at least some of the things you already own are already stylish.
  • I t takes time to build your personal style, so you won’t be replacing everything all at once.

At the end of the day, it is your wardrobe, so you can upgrade your style as quickly or as slowly as you like. If you only ever replace your clothes on your current schedule, you just need to make sure that you upgrade your style with each new purchase.

Myth #9: Dressing Well is Fine for the Ladies, but I Ain’t No Big Girl!

It’s true; the ladies generally take better care of their appearance than us chaps. But does that mean that looking good make you any less of a man?
I don’t think so.

In my view, taking responsibility for yourself is the epitome of manliness, whereas slopping around in any old thing is just childish. Dressing well isn’t matter of gender, but one of maturity. It is about taking care of your body and presenting yourself well. What that means in practice may very from man to man, from situation to situation, but whatever it means, it is about being more manly, not less.

If you doubt me, you could always ask one of your female friends. Better still, just take it from another dude: some of us need to grow up a little (me included).

So, if you think that dressing well is feminine, that may say more about your idea of being stylish than it does about actually means to be well dressed. See, dressing well isn’t about looking fancy. If you got the difference between dressing up and dressing well than you’ll get this one, too.

Myth #10: There Are No Rules of Style (Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder)

This is a common misunderstanding that isn’t limited to the world of style. For example, taste in music, art and so on is often understood to be a matter of personal preference: something is good if you like it, but bad if you don’t. Therefore, say some, the only guide to good art / music / style or whatever is whether people like it or not.

Of course, there is a lot of truth in this. I don’t generally wear clothes if I don’t like them. I wouldn’t hang a painting on my wall if I thought it was ugly.
But I don’t believe that is the whole story.

Consider this: there are certain pieces of music that I dislike, but at the same time I can appreciate the genius of the composers and musicians who make it. For example, I recognise brilliance of Freddie Mercury and I understand why other people recognise his band, Queen, as one of the greatest bands of all time. For example, I am very much aware of the originality of the music, how powerfully evocative it can be, of its dynamic range and of its technical merits. At the same time, however, I don’t actually like many Queen songs.

Consider another area – painting. It is generally agreed that there are principles that make a piece of artwork aesthetically appealing: the golden ratio, colour theory, the way that certain shapes draw your eye across the canvas and so on. Many of these principles arise from the way that human perception works, others from the conventions that artists have developed over centuries, and by which they express certain ideas and evoke certain emotions. For this reason, a painting can be technically brilliant, powerfully evocative and generally considered a masterpiece. At the same time, it may not be to my personal taste.

Finally, then, the same idea applies to personal appearance, where there is a similar difference between preference and style. As we’ve said, preference is about the things you like and dislike. I don’t especially like Polo shirts, for example, so I wouldn’t wear one. Style, on the other hand, recognises the intrinsic value of something, even when you don’t like it yourself. I understand that there’s nothing aesthetically wrong with Polo shirts, I just don’t choose to wear them.

So, whilst it is true that people have different preferences, that doesn’t mean that there are no principles behind what looks good and what doesn’t. There most certainly are – and if you want to look your best, you would do well to learn them.

Some people say that style is just a matter of taste. I agree: good taste and bad taste!

Bonus Myth: You’re Already the King of Style

I’ve met chaps who think that they’ve already got everything sorted. They imagine that they already know everything there is to know about style, and that they don’t have a thing to learn.

They’re mistaken.

Don’t be one of those guys.

After all:

  • Your body is always changing
  • Your circumstances are always changing
  • There is always more to learn

For my own part, I’m happy to admit that I don’t know a lot about style. Part of my reason for writing about style (and everything else on this site) is that it helps me to learn. And I am learning.

Further Reading

Acknowledgements

Image courtesy barun patro via Stock.Xchng.

Is Your Car Prepared for Emergency?

Prepare your car for any emergency by stocking it with the appropriate gear.

By the way, when I use the word, “emergency” I ‘m being melodramatic. Being able to deal with minor upset is often just as important as dealing with a major incident. Indeed, the ability to do so will often prevent an inconvenience blowing up and becoming a major catastrophe.

This is a special post for Father’s Day – not because I think its only chaps who need to know this stuff, but rather because I want to dedicate it to my Dad, who always looked after this sort of thing when I was growing up. He is much missed.

Introduction

The two best ways to deal with a crisis are:

  • Prevention
  • Preparation

Prevention

… is better than cure. So:

  • Keeping your car well maintained will help prevent accidents and emergencies on the road.
  • Plan your journeys in advance
  • Don’t let your fuel run low (why not set an alarm on your phone to remind you to check it regularly?)

As they say in the aviation world:

Truly superior pilots are those who use their superior judgement to avoid those situations where they might have to use their superior skills.

Preparation

When all else fails, you need to take appropriate emergency action. To this end:

  • Keep the right equipment in your car
  • Learn the knowledge and skills you’ll need to deal with any emergency

How Do I Deal with a Crisis when it Happens?

The main thing to remember in an emergency:

  • Stay safe
  • Don’t make things worse

For example, if you’re stranded, your preferred course of action would be to:

  • Stay in your car
  • Put on your hazard lights
  • Call for help
  • Wait until it arrives

What Equipment Do I Need?

I compiled this list of useful equipment for the car, especially so that we can cope with crisis when we’re out and about. To tell the truth, I don’t have all this gear my car at the moment, but the list has proven invaluable in identifying gaps in our current provision. I hope it can help you, too.

By the way, remember that the best equipment is no use to you unless you:

  • Have it with you when you need it
  • Keep it in good working order
  • Remember to use it when you need to
  • Are able to get at it when required
  • Are able to use it safely and effectively

But without further ado, here’s my list:

Take Care of People’s Health and Hygiene Needs

You may need to deal with injury:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Eyewash

To be ready for a long stay:

  • Toilet tissue
  • Long life drinking water
  • Long life emergency food ration

And to protect your hands:

  • Work gloves

Be Prepared for All Weathers

Rain
  • Rain poncho
Cold
  • Foil blanket
  • Blanket
  • Hand warmers
Snow + Ice
  • Snow shovel
  • Cat litter. It works as well as sand beneath the tires for traction and weighs less.
  • Windshield ice scraper.
  • De-Icer spray
  Sun
  • Hat
  • Sun glasses

Improve Visibility

In an emergency, it is important to be able to see and to be seen.

If you need to stop in the dark or in an awkward spot then one of your first priorities is to make yourself visible to others. Primarily, this is to prevent additional accidents, but has the additional benefit that it will enable helpers to locate you easily. If it is safe to do so, stay in or near your vehicle, as this will make you a lot easier to find.

The following can help:

  • Warning triangle
  • Emergency light sticks
  • High visibility vest
  • Torch and batteries

You may also need to improve your ability to see, especially if you decide make emergency repairs or if you end up on foot. To this end, a good torch is essential – I recommend a head torch as this will enable you to work hands-free if you need to. Also, if you wear glasses or contact lenses, it doesn’t do any harm to keep a spare pair in the car, jut in case something happens to your regular set.

So, pack the following:

  • Head torch
  • Spare glasses

I suggest making a note in your calendar to check torch batteries regularly, and replace them regularly.

Be Ready to Make Emergency Repairs

A wide range of breakdowns can be tackled with a few basic tools. Ideally, you should get to know how to use your tools yourself, but even if you don’t have the know-how, carrying the right gear is a good idea anyway – you never know who’ll be available when you get into trouble.

Suggestions include:

  • Foot pump
  • Tire gauge
  • Foam tire sealant
  • Duct tape
  • Multi-tool
  • Rags
  • WD40
  • Empty fuel can
  • Oil (appropriate for your vehicle)
  • Spare bulb kit (the right set for your vehicle)

Keep Records

  • Notepad and pen
  • Camera

Stay Informed

Having the right information available can be very beneficial:

  • Your car’s owner’s manual
  • Emergency plans
  • Emergency numbers
    • Breakdown service
    • Family and friends
    • You regular garage
  • Insurance details
  • Identification
  • Medical details
  • Maps

Make Escape Possible

In extreme cases, it may need to escape your vehicle or help others escape from theirs. If so, the following could be useful:

  • Emergency Glass Hammer
  • Seat belt cutter

Obviously, kit like these needs to be kept within reach if you ever need to use them to free yourself.

Be Prepared to Get Help

Sometimes you can enlist help from others:

  • Cell phone
  • Sturdy boots

And they can get you moving:

  • Tow Rope
  • Jumper cables

Be Ready to Tackle a Small Fire

  • Fire Extinguisher

Keep it All Clean and Tidy

  • Tarp
  • Paper towels
  • Something to store it all in

 Acknowledgements

  • Image via shutterstock, used under licence.

Sun Glasses: Choosing Your Lens Colour

What lens colour is best in for your sun glasses? Find out in this brief guide.

Grey

Grey lenses maintain natural colours and offer good protection in all weathers.

Yellow

Block blue light. Glasses with yellow lenses distort colours but enhance contrast, depth perception and visual acuity. Good for fog or low-light conditions, and often used by drivers.

Brown or Orange

Distort colours but enhance contrast and offer all-round protection.

Green

Slightly in creases contrast. Dark green lenses are best for precision sports. Light green are only have cosmetic value.

Blue or Mauve

Glasses with blue or mauve lenses provide good protection in moderate sunlight conditions.

Pink or Red

These offer an alternative look for evening / low light conditions.

Acknowledgements

Image courtesy stock.xchng.

100 Instant Fixes for a Better Life

Looking for instant fixes? Here are 100 things you can do to improve your life in just 60 seconds or less. Which ones will you try today?

All too often, I find myself looking at the big changes I’d like to make in my life, and realizing that I really don’t have the resource and commitment to make them happen. As a result, I often miss the small, simple improvements that would be so easy to make if only I stopped and thought about it.

Whilst none of the things on this list are amazing on their own, small differences add up. So, why not pick something off the list and do it right now? After all, it’ll take longer to read the list than to do many of the things on it.

100 Instant Fixes

  1. Drink some water
  2. Delete an email
  3. Breathe
  4. Smile
  5. Give thanks
  6. Take of your shoes
  7. Eat slowly
  8. Open a window
  9. Gaze at something beautiful
  10. Water a plant
  11. Put something away
  12. Look up a word in the dictionary
  13. Meditate
  14. Write the first line of a poem
  15. Throw something away
  16. Get up and walk around
  17. Stretch
  18. Encourage someone
  19. Eat some fruit
  20. Make a note in your journal
  21. Sing
  22. Learn a word in a foreign language
  23. Think about a loved one
  24. Put the kettle on
  25. Give someone a hug
  26. Improve your posture
  27. Put on a light
  28. Skim a stone
  29. Close your eyes
  30. Forgive someone
  31. Pick up some litter
  32. Sharpen a pencil
  33. Ask someone how they’re doing
  34. Put on some music
  35. Switch something off
  36. Delegate a task
  37. Adjust your attire
  38. Bag up some rubbish
  39. Remind yourself that you’re loved
  40. Just listen
  41. Wipe your screen
  42. Doodle
  43. Oil a squeaky hinge
  44. Notice what your body is telling you
  45. Wash up a cup
  46. Say a quick prayer
  47. Unsubscribe from an email distribution list
  48. Water a plant
  49. Be still
  50. Put your phone on charge
  51. Turn down the heating
  52. Reply to a text
  53. Decide on a goal
  54. Put on a jumper
  55. Put up a reminder
  56. Empty the receipts out of your wallet
  57. Wash your hands
  58. Read a psalm
  59. Write down your feelings
  60. Solve an anagram
  61. Pay someone a compliment
  62. Check your to-do list
  63. Admit that you’re wrong
  64. Smell some flowers
  65. Stroke a pet
  66. Tell a joke
  67. Clean the fluff out of the tumble dryer
  68. Pull faces at yourself in a mirror
  69. Check your pens to make sure they work
  70. Blow up a balloon
  71. Say you’re sorry
  72. Look at the sky
  73. Light a candle
  74. Start a Mexican wave (even if you’re the only one)
  75. Turn off your email alerts
  76. Decide to go to bed early (+ set a bedtime alarm)
  77. Let your hair down
  78. Lift something heavy
  79. Put something in to soak
  80. Plump a pillow
  81. Nip to the loo
  82. Notice your habits
  83. Put your phone on silent
  84. Shout “whoo-hoo!” as loudly as you can
  85. Refocus on what you’re supposed to be doing
  86. Pop £1 in a savings tin
  87. Hold a door open for a stranger
  88. Take a vitamin
  89. Take a photograph
  90. Check the smoke alarm
  91. Say “no”
  92. Greet a stranger
  93. Stick a “No junk-mail, thanks” label on your letterbox
  94. Write down something that went well today
  95. Send birthday greetings
  96. Look for beauty in simple things
  97. Ask for advice
  98. Check your fuel gauge
  99. Decide on your highest priority
  100. Tell someone you love them

Bonus: Instant Fix 101

Share this post, or make a comment.

Acknowledgements

Are You Heading for a Winter of Regret?

Will your life be a life half-lived? A life of regret?

…or will you live wisely, love well and serve greatly?

Leadership guru Robin Scharma often begins his talks with the following poem from Shesh Lehka by Rabindranath Tagore:

Why not print it out and put it somewhere so that you can read it regularly?

 Acknowledgements

Image courtesy Brian Lary via freeimages.com.

20 Questions to Really Get to Know Someone

If you really want to get to know someone, ask them these questions. You might be surprised by the answers.

  1. Who matters to you?
  2. Who inspires you?
    • What is it about that person that inspires you?
    • How has your behaviour changed as a result of their influence on you?
  3. What are your greatest strengths?
  4. What have you done that you’re most proud of?
  5. What do you want to change about yourself?
  6. What is your passion?
    • What appeals to you about it?
    • What are you doing about it?
  7. If you had unlimited (time / money / resources) what would you do?
  8. What makes you laugh?
  9. What makes you cry?
  10. How old are you… on the inside?
  11. If you had one last piece of advice to give, what would it be?
  12. What is the biggest change you’ve made in your life recently?
    • Why did you make it?
    • What did you learn on the way?
  13. What frightens you?
  14. What makes you keep going?
  15. What is holding you back?
  16. What gets you our of bed in the morning?
  17. What films / books would you recommend to me?
  18. When did you last experience a shift in your world-view?
    • What brought it about?
    • How has it changed you?
  19. What do you do with your time?
  20. How do you have fun?

Bonus Question

  • What should I have asked that I haven’t yet asked?

Acknowledgements

Image by Sigurd Decroos via FreeImages.

Your Turn

So, what is your answer to question 21?

Credible vs Trustworthy: What is the Difference?

Being both trustworthy and credible is essential to your career, your business and your happiness.

I recently shared my view that credibility is essential in both business and personal relationships: beneficial interactions are based on trust, and trust cannot be established without credibility. In this article I delve deeper into the relationship between credibility and trustworthiness, and why both matter so much.

How Does Credibility Relate to Trustworthiness?

Your trustworthiness concerns the degree to which you can be relied upon, both in what you say and what you do. If your speech is trustworthy, it is for two reasons: first because you are honest about your perceptions, and second because your perceptions are actually accurate. If your actions are trustworthy, it is because your deeds are consistent with what you say.

Trustworthiness is an objective fact: in principle you could measure the difference between what someone says is true and what is actually true, and between what they say they’ll do and their deeds.

In contrast, your credibility concerns not your trustworthiness, but other people’s perception of your trustworthiness. You may be trustworthy, but if you are not credible then people still won’t trust you. In contrast, someone may be downright dishonest, but can appear credible and therefore win people’s trust.

Credibility is subjective. It depends upon the way you present yourself, and upon the accuracy of other people’s perceptions of you.

What are the Four Credibility Quadrants?

Broadly speaking, we can divide people into 4 groups based on their trustworthiness and credibility. Note that these categories are caricatures, but we’ll deal with that in the next section. In the mean time, see if you recognise any of these people:

Q1: Neither Trustworthy nor Credible

People in this quadrant are unreliable, and everyone knows it. You wouldn’t want to work with them or make friends with them, but at least we know who they are and you can avoid the mistake of wasting your time on them. Their one redeeming quality is that they’re honest about their dishonesty, even if they don’t mean to be.
Nobody want to be these guys.

Q2: Trustworthy but Not Credible

The folk in this group are misunderstood. They are good solid citizens that everyone would benefit from knowing a little better, but there is something about them that makes them unwelcome in business or as friends. They don’t sound quite right, even when they are right. They don’t ring true, even when they are true.

Sadly, people in this group will most likely feel lonely and undervalued. They often feel as if nobody ever really gave them a chance to shine, and they’d be right. These people are classic underachievers, undiscovered gems that are likely to remain so. They often end up miserable, angry and unfulfilled outsiders who never get the girl (or the boy), and who never get their due.
You really don’t want to be these guys, either.

Q3:Not Trustworthy but Credible

People who appear highly credible but who are untrustworthy are the worst people to deal with in any kind of relationship.

In the short term, they develop strong relationships because they talk a good talk. But they don’t follow through. In the end the let everyone down and they’re always found out. But along the way they’ll waste everyone’s time and money and cause untold injury to the people they encounter. The break your heart, get you pregnant, make you responsible for their lives, take your money, eat your food, create more work to put right their mistakes and are generally make everyone’s lives a misery.

Over time, they’ll develop the reputation they deserve, and they’ll join the ranks of the “Not Trustworthy and Not Credible” group, but this can take time – especially if they move on frequently. As a result, these people are often superficial drifters and chancers who have the gift of the gab, but who can’t hold down a job nor establish long-term friendships.

These people are dangerous, and in the long haul they earn nothing but contempt. Heaven forbid you join their ranks.

Q4: Both Trustworthy and Credible

The members of this group are easy to trust and are worthy of that trust. They build valuable relationships most quickly, and are able to sustain those relationships over the long term. These are people you choose to work with – the manager you would choose, the co-workers you trust. They are the ones whose potential is recognised, so they have no trouble getting hired or promoted. In consequence, their salaries grow because their good work is appreciated. They also the people who build lasting friendships, because their worth is obvious and because they don’t let you down.

We all want to be one of these people, but the truth is that many of us struggle, either to be consistently reliable or to convince others of our reliability.
But, before we start addressing this struggle, we need to check our assumptions.

Is It Really That Simple?

Of course not!

As I mentioned above, these 4 categories are a caricature that don’t tell the whole story. There are several reasons for this. Although they apply to trustworthiness as well as credibility, I’ll focus on the latter here as that’s the topic that I’m especially interested in at the moment.

Credibility Comes in Shades

Credibility isn’t a black-and-white, all-or-nothing affair. Rather, we all have degrees of credibility: none of us is irrefutably convincing, and few are absolutely unbelievable. In other words, there is always some room for doubt in either direction.

Because credibility is a continuum, it is possible to rank people according to their credibility in a particular area. For example, witnesses to a crime can be ranked regarding their credibility on the basis of things like prior convictions, their reputation for dishonesty, known bias, motive to lie, intellectual capacity, consistency of statements, and physical limitations to hearing, eyesight and so on.

This ranking is important in the wide variety of situations where people make choices based on people’s relative credibility. If there are several candidates for a job, for example, recruiters base their judgements on the relative credibility of candidates. Similarly, someone looking for a marriage partner may choose their future partner by comparing the credibility of potential spouses.

Bear in mind this ranking isn’t always accurate. As we’ve seen, credibility isn’t the same as suitability. Someone might appear to be a great bet as a potential employee, but may ultimately prove a poor investment. In contrast, someone may not look like marriage material, but would have made an excellent choice of partner.

Credibility is  Situation Dependent

People may find you credible in some areas but not in others. For example, they may recognise you technical skill, but find you less credible as a business partner. They might perceive you as financially astute, but doubt your ability behind the wheel of a car.

The specific method you use to establish credibility in one area may not work as well in another. For example, academic qualifications may go a long way if you want to lecture at a University, but serve you less well if you are looking for a job as a life guard.

Credibility Depends on the Observer

Not everyone will agree on your credibility. Some people may find you very credible, whereas others may not believe in you at all. People make judgements about your trustworthiness based on a wide variety of factors, and the emphasis people place on these factors will vary between individuals.

Many of the factors effecting someone’s judgement of you have little to do with you. For example, some people may be unable to trust you because they find it difficult to trust anyone. When it comes to establishing your credibility, there is little you can do about someone’s past experience of other people, about there prejudices and about mid-perceptions. Consequently, there may be times when you are unable to convince someone to trust you. Frustrating as this may be, it is just something we all face at one time or another. The only option we have is to accept this and move on.

Conclusion

Being trustworthy is important, but it isn’t enough. You also need to be credible if you want to fulfil your potential. I plan to discuss some of the ways that you can maximise your credibility in future posts, so watch this space!

Acknowledgements

Original image by FarkFK, photographed and modified by Kramii.

Credibility: Does it Matter?

What is credibility and when does it matter?

The first of a series, this articles introduces value of credibility in human relationships.

What is Credibility?

The word “credibility” comes the word, “credo”, which is Latin for “I believe”. Credibility concerns the believability of the source of a source or message.

For example, if a doctor prescribes a certain pill for a particular ailment then she has a measure of credibility as a result of her professional standing. As a result, most people would accept her advice and take the tablets. On the other hand, if the same suggestion from a used car salesman, you would expect most people to taking the advice less seriously: purveyors of used vehicles typically lack credibility when it comes to recommending medicines.

When Does It Matter?

If you have credibility, people believe in you, and will place their trust in you, but if you lack it, they will feel unable to rely on you. For this reason, credibility plays a vital role in both business and personal relationships:

In Business

The ability to establish trust is essential in any kind of business transaction.

  • Business is fundamentally concerned with exchange – of finances, ideas, work etc.
  • Successful exchange requires a measure of trust.
  • Credibility is the basis on which people establish trust.

For this reason:

  • Leaders need it: you have little influence when people don’t trust you.
  • You need  it you want people to take your ideas seriously.
  • If you’re looking for work, you need to have credibility with your prospective employers.
  • …and employers need it to hire staff.
  • You can’t buy anything unless you can persuade others to believe that you have credit.
  • You can’t sell things unless people believe you have something of value to sell.
  • Without credibility, teachers can’t teach, doctors can’t give advice, preachers won’t be given a hearing, bankers won’t be trusted with funds, pilots would not be allowed to fly and so on.
  • Scientists need scientific credibility and journalists need journalistic credibility. Even hip hop musicians need “street cred”.

In Personal Relationships

Believability important personal relationships, too – perhaps more so than in business because you can’t fall back on the legal system when your friends let you down.

For this reason, most people shy away from developing friendships with people that they can’t trust, so if you want friends you need to be credible. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to develop a romantic attachment to someone you can’t believe in, so if you’re looking for love you need to present yourself as someone who can be relied upon.

If you lack credibility in your personal life, people will be unlikely to invest in any kind of relationship with you. When you are perceived as unreliable, people are more likely to want to spend time with you.

Conclusion

Credibility is essential to all human relationships. Without it, both personal and professional life becomes difficult if not impossible. In future articles I plan to explore the topic of credibility more deeply, and to look at some of the most effective ways of establishing credibility.

Acknowledgements

  • Original image fark. Photographed and modified by Kramii.