Professional development is much more than going on a course, and I’m always looking out for ways to help my clients.


I’ve spent much of the past 10 days at Cheltenham Literature Festival, both volunteering and attending sessions. Many of the speakers had books to promote. Some such as Oliver James and Office Politics is clearly related to my work as a Career Psychologist but I could also find lots of relevance in sessions that were not work related. (I wrote this over a week ago, thought I had posted it when I went ‘off grid’ and just realised I never uploaded it!).

Oliver James – Office Politics

I agreed with much of what James spoke about, we need to understand and use office politics to our advantage, and I’ll cover more on this in another article. He spoke of the need to be astute, to be able to network and to appear sincere if we want to influence others. He covered a lot in his session, most I was familiar with, and I’d like to share his tips for emotional health.

  1.  Live in the present, have first hand experiences
  2. Have fluid 2 way communication – both being able to speak up and also to listen with interest
  3. Be Insightful to be able to understand why we behave as we do
  4. Demonstrate playfulness, not game playing
  5. Vivacity, not hyper activity
  6. Authenticity – so there is a close fit between the real you and what you present to the world
  7. Astuteness to be able to read people and to know what they want.


At a literature festival a lot of the discussion was about books, and the narrative structure. I use narrative in my work with clients, helping them to tell the story of who they are to help them make their next career decision. Some people can tell a really good story, full of detail, with others it is more of an overview, and they miss the subtleties and the examples that could prove valuable as they make their next choice.
Narrative is also important in job search, we need to find the right stories to share at interview and to be able to clearly pull out the relevant facts. Interviewers want specific details that show how you meet a competence.


Alongside paying to go to sessions I also volunteered. I love customer service roles and it was lovely that another volunteer recognized me from last year. She said I was memorable because I had energy, was happy and smiley. I take on different roles, sometimes sitting in on the sessions after making sure everyone has their seat and then going on microphone duty.  I loved listening to Sebastian Faulkes talk about Birdsong; I’ve never read it and another book to add to my reading list. I was also fascinated by another very big book – ‘A Dance To The Music Of Time’, 12 volumes covering a 25-year period, and another book exploring the vagaries of human behavior.
Part of the discussion was on how the book changes over time, well of course the book doesn’t change but we do and how volumes that were difficult to read when younger are much more approachable now. I think I should maybe return to other books I never got on with in the past.
This series of books is also meant to be the book to read if you want to really understand punctuation.
I learn in so many different ways, and I hope this has prompted you to think about wider sources of learning. As always I’d love to read your comments so please let me know about your sources of learning.

Published On: October 22nd, 2013 / Categories: About Denise, Career Management / Tags: , , , , /

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