When communicating verbally or in writing, it's better to get straight to the point. Ask for what you want directly and be specific. Making a request like: "I really need the Anderson report by close of business on Tuesday 10th" leaves no room for ambiguity. It tells the reader or listener exactly what you require from them. The listener is then better placed to respond constructively.

A less effective comment would be: "I'm sorry to bother you but it would be great if I could have the Anderson report by early next week". Firstly, don't apologise unnecessarily if you've done nothing wrong. It's tempting to start a request with the word sorry, as a tactic to "soften up" to other party, or camouflage the request by saying something like: "normally I would ask John to do it but.." This implies that as a PA you don't have the authority to make the request. This is not the same as giving a brief reason for your request.

Secondly, saying: "it would be really great.." sounds like a hint, not a request. This could cause the listener to become irritated at your failure to get to the point. Thirdly, being direct keeps the request short - no faffing around – and everyone can appreciate that.

A refusal should be seen as just that - a refusal - and should not be taken personally. It's simply the listeners way of communicating directly, which they are entitled to do. Their direct approach will immediately let you know where you stand.


Are you approaching a birthday ending in zero? Want to avoid setting a "not again" goal? A not again goal is a goal you set, time, and time again. These goals are the result of a lack of commitment on the part of the goal setter. Little time is dedicated to deciding if a goal is really worth pursuing.

This is where coaching can help, whether it's corporate coaching or personal/life coaching. Coaching differs from mentoring in that it puts you completely in the driving seat. Coaching acts like a mirror: It forces you to look at your goals realistically. For example, do you have the right skills to achieve your goal? Coaching will identify the type of stumbling blocks that would make your goal unrealistic.

If you're having a constructive conversation about someone's goal, then you're having a coaching conversation. "Therapy" is to comfort those who are worried. "Coaching" is to worry those who are comfortable. The main aim of coaching is to develop self-awareness, goal achievement and skill acquisition. As the "coachee", YOU own the issues, the goals and the solutions.

When making goals, make sure your mind is focused on what you want, as opposed to what you don't want (the glass half full). You may be very focused on the fact that you do not want to continue in your career as a Personal Assistant, and may be tempted to frame your goal in that way - what you should avoid, as opposed to what you should pursue. A more constructive way to frame your goal is to state positively what you do want to do and what your career will look like when you have achieved your goal.

A good question to ask yourself is what would you do if success was guaranteed? This is a loaded question and actually quite profound when you unpack it. If you can truthfully answer this question without fear or limitation, then you will have real insight into the direction you would really like to take. Beyond that, make sure your goal fits the following criteria.

Specific: "I would like to lose 10 lbs." This says exactly what you would like to achieve.

Measurable: "My target weight when I have lost the weight is 9 stones". This identifies a standard that will tell you how you will know when you have achieve your goal. Setting a goal about achieving a behavioural change in yourself or others is not a measurable goal because behaviour varies.

Achievable: Your goal should be within the realms of something you can achieve : if you are going on a calorie-controlled diet: are you trying to lose too much weight too quickly, or perhaps you haven't plotted how to get from point A to achieving your goal, so you don't really know if it's achievable. Will you also join a gym, go jogging every evening, etc?

Realistic: If others have achieved this type of goal with similar means and constraints, then it's realistic.

Timing: It's important to set a deadline so that you don't spend forever achieving it.

Always try to identify the biggest challenge you are likely to encounter in trying to achieve your goal. It could be something like the attitude of a doubtful partner that threatens to hinder your progress, or lack of time.

As an aid to setting long-term goals, try to answer the question: "How am I introducing myself in 2022?"

Finally, test your motivation for wanting to achieve the goal, by asking yourself how you and others will benefit from you achieving the goal.

from Work Stress Expert, Carole Spiers

• Avoid getting angry over things you cannot change

• Learn how to say ‘no’ to unreasonable demands

• Put 20 minutes ‘me’ time into your diary every day

• Set regular times to read your emails, then close your inbox!

• Use the stairs and not the lift!

• Have daily and weekly to-do lists



Join Marguerita King, MD of Personal-Assistant-Tips.com and Carole Spiers, a world authority on executive stress, for this popular and insightful advanced PA workshop in Dubai. Discover how to remain relevant by adding significant value to your PA role and learn how to identify your boss's priorities, while effectively managing stress. To book now and take advantage of our early bird price until 27th October, paste the following link into your brower http://bit.ly/nTzxyT

Show Stress Who's Boss!

4 Easy Steps to Beat Your Stress Today!
Pre-order from Amazon and Receive your FREE Stress Package Now!
by Carole Spiers, Leading Authority on Corporate Stress


Your contributions to the PA survey were invaluable. What was clear from the survey results is that PAs are very keen to develop their people skills. Topics like understanding your boss, influencing skills, managing others, communicating with others, and delegation skills were high on the list of desirable skills to acquire.

Other topics of interest are project management, shorthand, etiquette, advanced IT skills and time management. The survey provided an opportunity to hear your opinion about the PA role and your continuous professional development needs. Future issues of "PA Matters To You" will touch on many of the topics you highlighted.


Our PA Survey prize winner is Yolani Wilson – thank you Yolani for your contribution. Yolani has won a US$50 Amazon voucher. We would also like to thank all of you who participated in the survey for your thoughts and suggestions.


If it's been a while since you've visited the Personal-Assistant-tips.com PA resource website, you will find that we have made some changes. The website is now a membership site with a one-time, one-off fee of just £12.97. This gives you full access to over 150 articles on all manner to topics that affect PAs; including downloadable planning checklists, how-to articles, tips and many useful links. Please paste the following link into your browser to view the extensive list of concise and informative articles. http://bit.ly/nE2ZjR


Marguerita King

Managing Director


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