Category: Emotional Intelligence

Public speaking is for humans, not chatbots

Posted on 13th February 2023 in Emotional Intelligence, Public Speaking

Is humanity on the way to becoming redundant? If the worst predictions of science fiction are to be believed, then it would seem so.

From classic sci-movies such as Blade Runner (1982), and the Terminator and Matrix franchises, to more recent films such as Ex Machina (2014) and HBO’s serialised re-boot of the 1973 film Westworld, the notion of artificial intelligence (AI) that has become self-aware – and that views humanity as a threat – has been an abiding preoccupation.

A central theme running through all of these fictional narratives is a fear of technology and its power to either destroy or replace us. It is a fear whose origins lie in the dawn of the industrial age, and which has grown with successive industrial revolutions.

It is hardly surprising, then, that the spread of AI-generated artwork and, more recently, the use of AI-driven chatbots such as ChatGPT to write anything from poetry, to news stories, to programming code, to feature articles has generated a huge buzz – and more than a little concern.

Chat GPT Programme

Most recently, the ChatGPT chatbot designed by Silicon Valley firm OpenAI managed to pass the final exam of an MBA programme at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, according to a study carried out by academics at the institution.

Stories such as these are laden with anxiety. Are journalists and copywriters going to be out of a job? Will manufacturing and retail jobs disappear? Will artists’ and poets’ work be indistinguishable from that of robots? Are college students simply going to delegate writing their papers to a chatbot?

What such narratives often miss is the importance of the human element. While people have their flaws, especially when compared to AI or robots, their humanity is a great strength when it comes to creative thought and expression.

This fear of replacement is also experienced by people in management or leadership positions – and is amplified whenever they are required to stand in front of a lectern and speak to an audience. 

Does the speaker appear confident or unsure of themselves? Are they engaging, or do they lack personality? Are they fluid in their delivery, or halting and awkward? Are they, dare I say it, too robotic?

Of course, you could always engage ChatGPT to write the speech you have been wrestling with. And with advances in speech synthesisers and deepfake image technology, it would be tempting to get an AI-generated version of yourself to broadcast speeches.

But what this AI-driven approach to public speaking would be lacking is the human element. Delivering a compelling presentation is about telling a story that people find both interesting and relatable – and a key part of that relatability is you.

No technology can replace the boundless creativity of the human mind and the subjective nature of the human experience. No technology can effectively replace the complex chemistry of human interactions.

In a world where we have a growing reliance – sometimes needlessly – on technology, real human connection will become even more valuable.

As French philosopher and sociologist Jean Baudrillard wrote in Cool Memories (1990): “The sad thing about artificial intelligence is that it lacks artifice and therefore intelligence.”

Just as theatre, television drama, and cinema use artifice to create compelling narratives, so the skilled orator can learn to make use of gesture, expression, tone of voice, and personal anecdotes to convey a human story that audiences will respond to.

As an audience, we want human frailty, vulnerability, power, stoicism, adventure. Honing your vision, strategy and message through storytelling will be as powerful as ever in the age of AI-assisted narratives – perhaps even more so. 

That’s where Dynamic Presenting can help you.

Written by Gavin Bradshaw

Conversation Skills Training

Dialogue Succeeds Where Monologue Fails

Posted on 26th February 2018 in Communication Skills Training, Emotional Intelligence

Have you encountered people who talk AT you rather than WITH you? It can be so boring and frustrating when people talk at us, sharing all of their thoughts and information without any consideration for us absorbing / digesting what they want to tell us….zzz. This can happen in our personal lives as well as in the workplace. It leaves us switching off, holding the phone away from our heads or rolling our eyes thinking ‘blah blah blah…!’

If you want to communicate something to another person it is important to consider the other person when talking. Nobody wants to hear a monologue!

In business today people expect to have their say and no longer accept top down only communication. We want to question, disagree and debate what is being discussed and ‘dialogue’ is essential if you want your employees / team members to feel valued.

It is essential to note that ‘dialogue’ isn’t the same as ‘negotiation’ or ‘discussion’. Both of these represent speaking where one person wins over the other one or convinces the other person to their way of thinking. A real dialogue is when hierarchy is put to the side and there is NO attempt by either party to gain any points. You’ve got to be prepared to put your opinions to the side and genuinely look at and listen to the opinions of others as if you are equal colleagues.

If you can get into respectful dialogue with your colleagues and team members you will see how much you can learn from them and their perspective. You will see how dialogue can boost morale and productivity overall. What you learn from the dialogue will most likely widen your perspective, helping you in your role and also totally boosting your relationship with them.

Want to learn something? Start a dialogue 🙂

Do you have emotional intelligence?

Do you have the emotional intelligence needed for leadership?

Posted on 13th December 2017 in Communication Skills Training, Emotional Intelligence

Are you able to control your temper no matter what problems you are facing? Are you easy to talk to? Do you have the total trust of your teams? Do you constantly make careful, informed decisions?

Emotional intelligence (also known as EI) is the ability to understand your emotions and those of the people around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they are feeling, what their emotions mean and how these emotions can affect other people. This is an essential characteristic of a successful leader in today’s working world.

Self Assessment
Are you able to analyse your own abilities, emotions, strengths and weaknesses? Are you able to analyze how your actions affect other people? If you have the ability to look objectively at yourself and therefore improve yourself regularly you can increase your success rate in any part of your life.
Self Regulation
Can you calm yourself down when you’re stressed and angry and can you jolly yourself up when you are feeling low? If you have a sense of panic about you so will your teams. If you are calm and strong they will feel reassured and won’t panic. Do people respect you for being organised, calm with an assured ability to get things done effectively?
Empathy & Compassion
Empathy is more than being sympathetic to another person’s situation. Empathy is the ability to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions and experience of others. Are you able to truly put yourself in the position of others? Can you imagine what they are feeling and thinking? If you empathise with and truly feel compassion for other people then you can truly help them and they will in turn be able to help you as they will know they are supported by you.
Relationship Management
Our working life is more enjoyable when we have good working relationships with our colleagues and boss. For leaders this means building real rapport with your team members. Would your team consider you more of a ‘friendly senior colleague’ or a ‘boss’? In order to manifest an enjoyable workplace for everyone (which essentially leads to a more innovative and more productive workplace), It is essential that you can make strong, solid relationships with everyone you work with. Take the time to find something you have in common and make the effort to create rapport with EVERYONE you meet.
Effective Communication
Ineffective communication in the workplace leads to confusion, feelings of not being listened to and under-valued and is the beginning of anything that ends up in disaster. Are you a good communicator? By that we don’t mean speaking clearly and pronouncing each syllable correctly. Are you able to communicate with people so they instantly understand what you are saying to them? This could be verbally, through tone of voice, expression or physically through body language.

If you think you have a high score on the emotional intelligence richter scale, then congrats! If like many people you are good at some areas and not so strong in others all you need to do is become more aware. More aware of yourself, your actions and emotions. If you can see you’ve upset somebody, rather than feeling defensive, thinking they are idiots, ask yourself why they could be feeling that way. What could you have said / done or communicated that made them feel upset? Ask yourself what you could do differently next time to have a more successful outcome where they feel happy and you feel happy from the communication.
Meditation improves your brain power

How meditation improves your brain power

Posted on 30th November 2017 in Emotional Intelligence, Mediation Training

So many people I know consider meditation as hippy and flowery and don’t really understand it at all. ‘What, closing your eyes and trying not to think of anything for thirty minutes, listening to the softest music with birds and waterfalls in the background…You what?’ I can hear a couple of my male friends say..!

Meditation is an enlightening practice which can change people’s lives for the better and should be part of everyone’s daily lives. We should all take the time to get away from digital screens, tv ads, traffic and general day to day hecticness and take time out to just be at one with ourselves. A little bit of time out each day means you can actually cope with more, much more easily.

The practice of meditation has always been associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation. Yogis have practiced meditation for centuries with the practice originates from Hindu traditions of Vedantism (Hindu philosophy and religious practice) around 1500 BCE. Meditation of course, is not only a religious practice today, it is being used as a way to exercise the brain and mind to help us cope with our fast-paced modern lives.

Well documented for reducing levels of anxiety, stress and depression, meditation can be used as a free, daily tool to totally improve your well-being. By regularly meditating you can decrease activity in your DMN (default mode network) which is the part of our brain which allows our thoughts to wander from one thought to another with no particular aim. Mind-wandering is associated with depression and ruminating over and over again about the past and the future.

You could use meditation to reduce nerves before a meeting or a big presentation. As soon as you close your eyes and start breathing deeply you will see how your body instantly relaxes.

However there is more to meditation than that just relaxation. For years practitioners have claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits which persist throughout the day.

Meditation improves your brain power

Meditation improves your brain power

Meditation helps us concentrate, focus better and improves our memory which can assist any of us in our daily lives.

A recent study from a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology reveals that meditation practitioners experienced a thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. The participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises, and this is all it took to stimulate a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus.

Meditators who have been meditating daily for an average of 20 years are shown to have more gray matter volume throughout the brain.

“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. You can read more about the remarkable study by visiting

If you are looking to reduce your stress levels, improve your brain power, feel happier and more in control of your life, then meditation couldn’t be better for you. 20 scientific reasons to start meditating today

There are a few apps which help beginners get started with meditation such as Headspace which can be found here:

Inner Space (a charitable organisation which promotes meditation) is also a brilliant place to start. You can book courses, listen to free talks which get you in the right zone and most imporatntly get you started on your journey into peace and enlightenment.


Meditation improves your brain power

Communicating within cross-functional teams

Communicating within cross-functional teams

Very rarely is one person alone brilliant at many things. Most likely we have one thing that we possibly are brilliant at, a few things we are good at and the rest we wouldn’t offer our services for.

Businesses have always employed diverse groups of people with different skillsets to work as a team. Multiple brains are better than one or none of us is as smart as ALL of us, as the adage goes.

The problem with this team set up is that each person with her different skillset has a completely different idea / perspective / driver to the other and this can cause huge conflict in the workplace.

Retail is a great example of a fast evolving business segment where a diverse group of people work together on large scale projects. Not only does e-commerce mix with bricks and mortar retail, we now have conversation commerce and experiential digital products in store offering the customer exciting new brand experiences.

This means that a hugely diverse range of people, with different skills sets and ways of working are forced to work together. Their unique goal is to create one holistic and continuous brand experience across all touch points. Imagine meeting rooms with creative director, technical director, store development director, ecommerce director, head of social and so on…. all in one room with different priorities and different perspectives.

‘It needs to feel more sophisticated and the interaction needs to be more beautiful…’ Creative Director

‘It needs to function first and that’s the most important thing here, a bit of styling can be done at the end…’ Technical Director

‘Social media is the no.1 way we are communicating these days so I need the social media feed at the top so people can see it…’ Head of Social 

‘That’s not how I want to lay out the page…’ Creative Director 

The key to working in a diverse team is compromise and negotiation, however people just don’t like to compromise, especially when they have strong ideas and think they are right. Compromising and negotiating are important life skills. Without compromise it is very difficult to work together successfully and harmoniously. Don’t we all want a harmonious, relaxed working environment? 


A willingness to compromise is a sign of great conviction and shouldn’t be seen as weakness. All you’ve got to do is give a little to get something that you want in return. 

Can you remember a time when you didn’t want to compromise and this made things worse? Understanding each other’s perspectives is key and often our ego prevents us from seeing the merits of somebody else’s case. The best way to understand someone else’s point of view is by asking open-ended questions and by truly LISTENING to the answers. Of course we all feel a variety of emotions – frustration, anger etc – in the workplace. How we manage our emotions is the important part. Emotional discipline in other words.

  • Why do you feel like this?
  • How can we find a way that we are both happy with?
  • Can you explain your thinking a bit more?
  • What can I do to help you understand my perspective better?
  • How can we come to a solution which works for both of us?


An ability to negotiate means that you have more chance of getting what you want even if it’s not 100%. Negotiation is a collaboration where both parties are winners. 

  • Let people tell their side of the story
  • Create rapport with the person as people are easily influenced by people they like
  • Explain the downfalls if the other person doesn’t take your ideas on board
  • Think Win Win as the best outcome
  • Ask what you can do for the other person
  • Manage your own emotions

 If you are still not getting anywhere ask for a demonstration or visit their side of the office, build rapport and have a really open workshop together.

Diverse teams of specialists are put together to create brilliant outcomes. Try and make the process easier for yourself by learning the art of compromise and negotiation and get great results for everyone.

Read more about Communication Skills Training
Read our other blog posts discussing Communication Skills

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

Improving self confidence

Simple Steps to Improve Self-Confidence

Posted on 24th August 2017 in Emotional Intelligence

Confidence comes and goes for all of us and as with leadership skills and public speaking skills we are not necessarily born with it. The most confident people around us are the ones who hold their heads up high, whose body language is open and relaxed, who speak with clarity and fluidity combining the 3 Vs – Vocal, Verbal, Visual. Confidence or appearing confident is in what you do and how you do it.

Confidence is something you can DO…something you can dial up or dial down to suit the occasion, to suit the people you are with. So if you re not feeling confident you can actively choose to DO confidence. Before you know it this generates a feedback loop which then generates real confidence as you are sending out confident energy to those around you.

Tips to improving your confidence

1. Take small steps outside your comfort zone

If you can regularly step outside your comfort zone your confidence will expand incrementally. If you don’t challenge yourself, your comfort zone will remain the same or perhaps even shrink. Keep pushing steadily bit by bit and see how your confidence will grow. Try to do something different each day that you haven’t done before. This doesn’t have to be a major exercise and can be as seemingly minor as taking a different route to work. Doing things differently each day will help break your routines and patterns and get you used to different situations.

2. Don’t be frightened of failing

Most of us are cautious because we are born with the natural instinct to protect ourselves. Don’t be frightened of failing. It’s not failure that destroys our confidence, it’s the not getting back up. The beauty of failing is that we learn a huge amount so as to help us with our next project, phase or decision – ask most self-made entrepreneurs. The founders of multi-billion pound businesses didn’t ‘make it’ first time. They could have had 3 to 4 failed businesses before they learnt how to become successful. The more you try and fail the more likely you are to succeed. The less you do because of fear and procrastination, the less likely you are to succeed. See some of the stories of our most successful entrepreneurs.

3. Breathe

When we are nervous and lacking in confidence we can very often forget to do the one thing that keeps us alive and will help us in the moment. BREATHE. Taking deep, slow, deliberate breaths fills the brain with oxygen which makes us more awake, more aware and more relaxed. Sounds obvious of course but look at how consciously even very experienced actors and singers work on their breath and voice before going on stage – it’s partly vocal warm up and partly relaxation and establishing a level of confidence. By taking control of your breathing you can take control of your body and in no time you will feel relaxed and everything will seem possible.

4. Do confidence

Confidence and how we feel about ourselves is all in our own minds. We control how we feel. If you are not feeling confident there are two things you can do to change how you feel and how you are perceived by others.
  • Change your state from that of someone who isn’t feeling confident to someone who oozes confidence. Tell yourself that you are totally happy with the situation, smile inwardly at yourself and tell yourself you feel confident. Setting the scene with yourself before you go into that meeting that you are going to make it a big success and that you are going to be totally relaxed in the situation makes all the difference.
  • If you are still feeling a bit nervous, all that is left is to act as if you are confident. Be willing to fake it. Stand up tall, smile broadly, shake the hand firmly and sit in a relaxed style. Speak clearly and with gravitas and you will appear confident which will result in you feeling confident.

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

defensive behaviour

Defensive Behaviour – Understanding Defensiveness…

Defensive behaviour in the workplace is tricky to manage, where a siege mentality becomes the operating system for some people. Defensiveness may at times be the most effective behaviour to exhibit and equally when it is our habitual, subconscious and reflexive way of dealing with challenges and surprises, it can lead to difficulties – we don’t take on other perspectives and ideas, we insist that we are being hard done by, we prevent ourselves from actively seeking out challenges, opportunities and ultimately it is our own growth that becomes stunted.

Common Defensive Behaviours

Masking – often displayed as sarcasm, where true thoughts/feelings are only shared piecemeal

Avoiding – avoiding dialogue about the pertinent issue(s)

Withdrawing – ejecting out of the conversation and perhaps physically leaving the space


To some extent we are hard wired for self protection and defensive behaviour is a natural consequence. And as assertiveness – viewed as the mid point between fight and flight – is a learnt position, we often revert towards either passive or aggressive tendencies when the pressure is on. It is a uniquely human phenomenon. Animals don’t do assertiveness..!

Resolving Conflict

Holding on to a defensive attitude is an exhausting task. And in not dealing with things directly can lead to behaviours that in turn affect the working relationship somewhat more indirectly and make things worse. So it becomes much harder to untangle various legacy issues and resolve the key underlying dispute. Everything becomes confused by this historical baggage. All mediation processes seek to untangle this

Addressing points of conflict with a constructive mindset leads to resolution and often to stronger relationships as trust is forged

Situational Perspectives

People who are more prone to defensive behaviour may perceive an attack in certain situations in which people with resilient and calm temperaments would perceive none. This brings in to play the notion of true empathy. Really being able to visualise the other person’s perspective… of course this is what actors do all day long in creating truthful characters from words on scripts. Understanding situational perspectives in other words.

How we innately or automatically recieve feedback or criticism plays a big part too – this is often embedded since our formative years in our dealings with parents, teachers and anyone who had a position of authority over us. We tend to make active choices to like, dislike, forgive etc. In so doing we adopt positions about other people and workplace issues.

“Resentment, like blame and regret is looking backwards”

Being closed-minded when challenged or given critical feedback detracts from learning and leadership. It is vital to consciously make space to improve self awareness, accept feedback from others, working through points of conflict with open, honest dialogue… This is how we learn, change our defensive behaviour and ultimately, grow.

Fear underpins it all. the first step away from fear is to register our automatic reactions and then mindfully make adjustments. It doesn’t take a lot of time to notice our typical responses but it takes a lot of time, conscious practice and nurturing to enable new fledgling habits to grow and supercede the old defensive ways.

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

role play effectively

Role Play – Learn How to Role Play Effectively

Role play exercises are commonly used as part of recruitment processes, assessment centres and leadership development programs, usually centering around a relevant yet fictional case study. The aim of using role play is generally to see how you manage people, behaviours and how effectively you communicate and engage with somebody else – be they a line manager, peer, direct report, potential customer…

Often as a candidate, you are told the character you will be role playing opposite, say the CEO of a prospective client firm, is actually a professional actor. In the case of development and leadership training programs, the actor may also facilitate the session and offer time outs where needed and provide feedback after the session. But more usually you will find that there are other observers, managers and facilitators in the room whose job is to observe and record everything that goes on in the role play meeting. This is especially the case where recruitment and assessment are concerned.

Having been the role player over 1000 times and also assessor, facilitator, program designer on countless occasions, I thought I would share some tips on how to role play effectively.

1. Effective Introduction

Do relax, smile, shake hands etc. or whatever you would do in a normal meeting. Do listen from the outset to the character you are meeting. How is their energy today? What kind of mood are they in? What is it that they need? Adopt an open, inquisitive perspective from the outset.

2. Rapport & Relationship

Building strong relationships is often cited as one of the most fundamental aspects of business. The first meeting with a prospective client or even regular catch up with a team member are all opportunities to strengthen that bond. So don’t focus solely on “the issue”, whatever that may be. Take an interest in the person sat opposite you – even if you think you know them well, who are they today, right at this moment? This is just as relevant if having a difficult conversation.

Many people in role play exercises simply offer a cursory greeting, pay no attention and then jump into what they think the case study wants them to achieve. That frankly is the difference between a leader and manager. The skill we look for in role play exercises is building rapport throughout the conversation, whilst staying on point re: whatever needs to be discussed. Too many people try “How was your flight?” then move straight into whatever they want.

3. Shared Agenda

If you have called the meeting, you will obviously have points to address and/or a message to deliver. That’s great. But do not forget to ask for the other person’s input. And crucially this should be done at the beginning of the meeting. Scribble down the salient points that you both want to cover. Too many times, I have seen people in situations where they fail to do this and launch into their own agenda, ignoring and alienating the needs of the other. It’s not rocket science so remember to take a moment to invite their perspective.

4. Listen & Pause

Listening effectively is really easy as you simply place all your focus on to the other person. Simple right? Why then do the majority of people in role play exercises fail to listen adequately? And I’m talking about senior partners in law firms and professional services as well as C-level directors..! It seems therefore that listening is a skill we can consciously develop. As actors we are screwed if we stop genuinely listening on stage. The trick is to park our inner monologue and focus on not only what is being said, but how it is being said.

Similarly don’t be afraid of pauses in the role play. A lengthy pause is often the moment the other person is really thinking hard about what you just said so allow them the space to think. Chances are that pause is where a change of thinking will actually occur so the last thing you want to do is break it.

5. Energy Matching

We do this unconsciously all the time. We see a friend who we had, until seeing them slumped at the bar, figured would be in their usual jocular mood. We instantly make an adjustment and decide to not go for the hi-five (or whatever). The trick is to do this consciously. So, you’re meeting a new client for the first time and have no idea what they are like. If you find they are chatty and personable, then mirror that relaxed energy. Conversely if they are brash and impatient, then cut to the quick. The point is to be able to flex your own style in the moment and to be aware of this – improvisation in other words.

6. Questioning

Learn the difference between open, closed, multiple and leading questions. So many people ask a series of closed and lengthy, ineffective multiple questions in trying to get to dialogue in role play. It’s really much easier than that. Ask a short, pithy open question when you need to unearth information or fully understand the other person’s perspective. Closed questions work for clarifying – “Was it red or black..?” And leading questions – “Well I really don’t think that they offer anything of value, wouldn’t you say?”

7. Agree Next Steps

When all perspectives have been shared and discussed, perhaps you’ve been able to negotiate where possible and reach agreed next steps. Do ensure that next steps have actually been mutually agreed upon by checking in with the other person. A common role play mistake is to assume buy-in and launch into “Well that’s all settled then…” mindset when actually things have not been agreed… because you didn’t listen…. because there was no trust or rapport…!!

What works well here is being crystal clear about ownership and who is tasked to do what, next. Lead by example and take ownership of relevant points that you need to in the role play.

8. Summarise & Close

Offering a summary of what has been discussed, any changes made and next steps agreed on allows everyone to take stock and helps to articulate what progress has been made over the last 30 minutes or whatever.

Role play can be strange and seem artificial with observers in the room, watching your every move. It can also illuminate habits, typical behaviour and communication approach. Invariably a role play with an experienced actor/trainer will result in very useful and relevant feedback which is priceless.

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

narcissist nightmare boss

How To Cope With Your Nightmare Boss

The Narcissist can often be found employed in a senior role – I was somewhat surprised to learn this as I figured authoritarian leadership had had its day. It’s difficult to say if this personality attribute has specifically helped them along the way to the top. We all possess some narcissism, indeed we all need an element of it in terms of being able to use and display a degree of agency in the world.

“It’s not easy being superior to everyone I know” – anon

What is a Narcissist?

An individual characterised by craving to be the centre of attention constantly, a very extreme form of self-centredness, having grandiose fantasies of one’s achievements and talents and consequently lacking care and concern for others. Like confidence or self esteem, we all need a dash of it, so we’re all somewhere on the spectrum. But a considerable excess results in behavioural challenges for everyone which is even more acute when the narcissist in question is your boss..!

Narcissists typically:

1. Score low on compassion
2. Are terrible listeners because it’s all about them and don’t you forget it.
3. Don’t take kindly to criticism
4. Believe it’s everyone else’s fault so are incapable of saying sorry, my bad, apologies…
5. Manipulate others in order to get whatever they want
You might be able to walk away from this person in your social life, but if the world of work has thrust this dynamic upon you and especially if you have a nightmare boss, then you’re going to have to find a way to cope. How?

How To Deal With a Narcissist Boss

1. Remember you’re not going to be best friends, (although narcissists can be very charming to get what they want) and that the narcissist’s behaviour affects everyone in their orbit – as a consequence nothing they do should not be taken personally

2. Avoid blaming the narcissist too directly for anything. If a workplace issue arises, use a simple open question to frame the problem eg. “So why didn’t we win the pitch?” “What was the main reason?” etc.

3. Use statements like “I feel…” or “When x happens, the impact on me is y…” By articulating the emotional impact on you of a workplace issue, the narcissist is immediately uncomfortable – they have a tendency to avoid opening up emotionally and feel uneasy when those around them do, which is probably connected to deep seated low self-esteem. But whatever you do, don’t point this out to them..!
4. After any work related challenge has been assessed, the narcissist may feel stuck in problem mode. The best way forward is to be positive and present solutions. If a range of potential solutions can be offerd up, so much the better. The narcissist can often get fixated on just the problem, only their place in the team or perhaps only one possible solution. So by offering up a range of possibilities you are gently nudging their inflexible mindset into considering other approaches.
5. Massage their ego whenever there isn’t a better option – dangerous as you further embed their sense of superiority but hey you’re not their therapist, you’re just trying to get through your working day.


Narcissists often lack empathy, focus on themselves, struggle with relationships and lack trust in others. A lack therefore of fundamental leadership skills. So as hard as it may be, spare a thought for your nightmare boss – surely it’s not easy being so emotionally disconnected? Your empathy and problem solving could win the day and ensure you don’t lose your head in dealing with it all.
Try this quick personality test to see how you score on the narcissist spectrum
Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

Resilience for leadership development

Resilience – How to Develop it for Great Leadership…

Resilience is an indispensable leadership quality – but just how do we go about developing it?

Just how does Novak Djokovic go two sets down against Roger Federer at Wimbledon and against all odds still come back to win 3-2..? Is this resilience stuff rare then? Only for elite athletes? I often think that actors could teach most business leaders a thing or two about the nature of resilience – given the staggering amount of rejection that actors have to cope with means they toughen up quick or change profession.

Is resilience something we can improve? If so, how then do we go about developing it?

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger” – Friedrich Nietzsche

The opposite  is to be sunk and diminished by new and ever changing events, often leading to anxiety and depression. A tired slump where we are unable to deal with change and anxiously defend old ways of doing things. Surely such anxiety is born of fear? And we know that fear is associated with ego or to put it another way our inability to let go lightly of whatever we are holding on to.


When the fuel of adaptability runs out, we are no longer able to bounce back. Resilience is movement, fluid, flowing, motion, energy. It is the opposite of ego, repetition, being stuck, holding on.


A 2011 HBR report found that optimism is absolutely crucial in terms of fostering resilience.

By the way actors are probably the most optimistic folk you’ll ever meet. We are forever, secretly hoping and partly believing that the next agent phone call will be the lead role in that mega budget Spielberg epic, opposite Jennifer Lawrence, filming in dozens of beautiful international locations, a multi million dollar contract which is SO overdue now etc etc. When the agent call actually relates to an audition first thing tomorrow morning for a health & safety training film the actor’s enthusiasm is blunted and a good deal of optimism is extinguished. But within no time that actor has to appraise the situation in as positive a way as possible and understand that the Spielberg epic is just a couple of calls away. And put on a brave face for the training film audition.

Reframing & Mindfulness…

The actor unwittingly uses the experienced mediator’s trick of reframing the situation which helps to take regain a calm perspective. This is a skill that can be learnt and practised where “What..!!! I can’t believe it wasn’t the Spielberg film, what the hell is wrong with everyone, what more do I have to do to get that role…!” transforms into “OK, it’s not the dream job but hey I’ve got an opportunity to get a paid job, if I’m honest I kinda need the camera practice and if I keep working regardless who knows what could happen.”

We can also actively and very consciously develop and practice mindfulness. Focusing on ourselves through meditating, breathing and raising our self awareness promotes growth of resilience too.

Fail, Learn, Fail Again…

Resilience is a natural attribute. If not, we’d have stopped trying to walk, stand, even crawl as babies. It must be that we are born with it – it’s there, hard wired into our DNA and our will to survive.

We need to take the nuggets of learning from events and move on. And guess what, when we move on we’ll experience new obstacles unlike the ones before so we’ll learn afresh… again and again… Knowing this could and should be utterly freeing and liberating depending on our state of mind. Want to be a great leader? Develop your resilience and learn to bend with the breeze.

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication