I have been interviewed on the Wheel Escapades blog

Today I’d like to share something from Gemma’s blog – Wheel Escapades.

Gemma interviewed me for her disability-related 20 question series. You can check out the interview here, and don’t forget to have a look at Gemma’s other articles while you’re there – especially if you’re interested in tea, accessibility, and travel.

I think it’s really good to follow other blogs and learn about people’s accessibility needs that are different from our own.

In other news, don’t forget that my Summer giveaway is still open – so why not have a look and enter if you haven’t already. The giveaway is international and it’s open until 15thJuly 2018.

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20 things you shouldn’t do to win an argument or get your point across in a discussion

I wrote this for my communication skills series on my business blog, but decided to share it here as well.

English with Kirsty

I used to work with lawyers. That meant I had regular sparring partners and lively debates. They challenged me to think about my ideas, put them across, deal with counter arguments, and persuade the other person that I was right. Most of the time it was light-hearted fun, and I enjoyed myself. I’m not a lawyer, but I liked the challenge – and sometimes I won!

However, it isn’t fun if you get into situations at work, or even outside of work that become heated. So in this post, I’m going to talk about 20 things that you shouldn’t do if you want to win an argument, or at least maintain a good relationship with the other person.

1. Don’t raise your voice

Nobody likes being shouted at. It’s a form of aggression, shouting the other person down, and the person who shouts the loudest is not always right. Apart…

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Unseen Beauty Summer giveaway

This giveaway has now closed. You can find out who won here.

If you want to find out when the next one will be, you can either follow the blog on WordPress, or sign up for my email alerts about new posts.

It’s time for my Unseen Beauty Summer giveaway! Here’s what’s in the box this time:

  1. Sanctuary spa Green lemon and orange blossom body scrub
  2. MUA 12th night palette with 12 shadows
  3. 2 Wax melts
  4. Affect matte effect loose rice powder
  5. Lavender solid shampoo bar
  6. Magnitone Wipe Out Cleansing Cloth – a dual-sided microfibre cleansing cloth designed to remove impurities, dirt and make-up using just warm water.
  7. Mudmasky facial detox purifying mud mask
  8. Makeup sponge
  9. Mini Vita Liberata Body Blur
  10. Eyeko fat liquid eye liner
  11. Coffee scrub sachet – this isn’t really part of the give-away, but it’s a little sample that I won’t use, so I popped it in too.

Your answers to the questions on the form will help me to get to know what my readers like and where they are. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use CAPTCHAs on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

It’s one entry per person, but if you don’t win and would like your entry to carry over into the autumn giveaway, don’t forget to tick the box to give your permission for that.

So to be in with a chance to win, fill in the details on the form below:

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on Sunday 15th July 2018 and I’ll draw the winner on Monday 16th July.
  2. I will give each person a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I don’t like Rafflecopter and want to make it as easy as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or ticked the box to carry your entry over to the next giveaway. Otherwise it will not be retained.
  4. I will email the winner on 16th July to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.

  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

New and favourite things in June – beauty box, Braille ring, body yoghurts, and bedroom furniture

So it’s time for my favourites again, but I want this to not only be about new things I bought, but other random things that made me happy! Let me know yours in the comments, and also whether you’ve tried any of these things.

1. M&S Beauty Box

I saw a post about this box, but I didn’t get it because I wasn’t planning to get anything from M&S. However about a week later, my Mum surprised me with it! I would link it, but it has already sold out. It was the same idea as with the Advent calendar – there is a minimum spend price for M&S, and then you can get the box for a good price.

The first thing I picked out was the Eos pink grapefruit lip balm with SPF, because of course it was grapefruit! I’ve already used a lemon one, but this grapefruit is amazing and it smells and tastes so good if you love grapefruit as much as I do!

I am also enjoying the Sheer Radiance perfume, which is a blend of citrus and floral scents. I think I probably like it because of the mandarin, but there are also notes of gardenia and pink pepper. This is a 30ml perfume, so really good for a beauty box as well.

2. My spinner and Braille rings

My friend Amy has started making her own silver jewellery and after I admired some of her rings, she offered to make me a spinner ring. I didn’t actually know they were a thing, but I like the idea of having a spinner as something to wear. Anyway Amy made the ring and she also made another one as a surprise – my first Braille ring. No pictures yet, but look out for them in an upcoming post where there will be an interview with Amy. The ring says “friend” in Braille. As a non-Braille reader, we were teasing her about maybe writing fried or fiend – but it definitely says friend! Amy looked up the Braille letters online and pushed the dots through with a pointed tool so that they were raised.

3. Body yoghurts

The Body Shop has brought out some new products ready for the Summer. The body yoghurts are like the butters, but a much lighter formula that absorbs into the skin really quickly. They’re moisturising, but you don’t have to wait around for ages! I got the mango one and the almond milk one. I like this concept – they’re a bit more runny than other products I’ve used for the range, but you don’t want to be caking yourself in thick cream when it’s hot outside. I love the mango range anyway, and the almond milk is a nice change – especially good for those who don’t like such a strong scent.

4. Nail varnish remover pads

I know this could be seen as lazy, but I like this idea. Nail varnish remover is by nature thin, and it can come out too fast sometimes. So having preloaded pads is efficient! These pads from Waitrose don’t even smell like nail varnish remover!

5. Sweet as cherry pie hand cream

I got this sweet as cherry pie hand cream from Patisserie de Bain in my Latest in Beauty box, so I’ve linked to it on Amazon. These hand creams are a bit unusual in that they apply like a normal hand cream, go a bit sticky for a few seconds, and then dry completely. So not something if you want to slap it on an run, but if you have a couple of minutes, it is worth it, because they are really moisturising, and as long as you wait that minute or so, they are not sticky at all. I really liked the lemon one, and this one, which smells strongly of cherries, is good too!

6. New furniture

2 weeks ago we took a trip to Ikea for some new bedroom furniture – specifically storage for my make-up, skincare, haircare and bath products. The little desk and drawers I had been using had been around since I was 15, so I decided it was time for an upgrade! We got a little dressing table, that has a draw and a lift-up lid, a pouf and a set of draws with a lift-up lid on top. There was a set of draws with the table, but we found a taller one with more drawers. We spent the rest of the day putting everything together and moving my stuff in. It’s now so much more tidy and easier to find things, which makes me happy! Putting together the flat-pack furniture with my sighted partner although I couldn’t see any of the instructions was also a great team-building experience – and we were still friends afterwards!

7. Lib – great variety this month

I still have my May Latest in Beauty post to write, but I just wanted to mention how pleased I was with the selection for June. There had been a few complaints recently about a lack of good new products in the Latest in Beauty edit. This month I picked up two shampoo and conditioner sets that were full-size. So two full-size products counted as one item, and the plan that I’m on means I get each item for £2. Bargain!

8. Finally got my book finished

June was the month that saw my second book available online. I won’t write much about it here – you can read about it in my post from the beginning of June, but the final stage is always the hardest for me. Writing is fun. Formatting and getting everything ready for uploading and getting the cover done – not so much! So I’m pleased that we got this project completed.

9. Coffee sweets – who knew that was a thing?

We went to a Thai festival in June. Apart from buying a carved wooden horse’s head and trying out mango wafers and green tea Fanta, I also discovered Kopiko coffee treats made with real Java coffee. They are basically like coffee-flavoured boiled sweets – good for those days when you’re out and about and can’t get your usual coffee fix. Or for when you have to do a lot of talking!

So what were your favourites this month?

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.

Being female and the face of your business can lead to unwanted attention – don’t suffer in silence

Unseen Beauty isn’t my main job. It’s my hobby. The place where I can write about things that have nothing to do with my job. Things that I care about or want to share. To be honest, I haven’t had much trouble here. There’s been the odd bit of spam by way of private messages, but so far nothing crazy or inappropriate.

I work as an online English language training provider for adults. I want members of the public to contact me, because that’s how I find new customers. I’ve been doing this since 2012 and during that time, I’ve met a lot of kind, hardworking, and interesting people who want to learn English.

And then there are the others. There are actually all kinds of annoying messages that you get, but today I’m going to focus on the inappropriate ones from people who think that just because I’m a woman working for herself, it’s ok to send me explicit, suggestive, disgusting, creepy or unwanted messages.

It doesn’t happen all the time, but I’ve had a couple recently, which made me want to write about it.

I’m not going to copy the text here. Partly because they were explicit to varying degrees – some openly so, others being really careful not to use words that may cause the message to get flagged, or caught by a filter. They don’t deserve space here, but I want to write about it to
1. Highlight the problem and
2. say to anyone in a similar situation that you don’t have to just put up with it.

So what should you do?

Block and report where you can

It’s harder to do this if someone contacts you directly, although you can set up rules to send emails from a specific sender straight to the bin, or permanently delete them. If it really becomes a problem and you need to collect evidence, this is not the way to go, because if you want to prove a crime such as cyberstalking has taken place, you need evidence, but it is a way to make sure you don’t have to see them. This can be particularly useful if you get repeated attention from one person, but I find the problem is more that it comes from different accounts, which limits the usefulness of such rules.

Still, if someone contacts you through a social media or other site, make use of the functions to block the user or report unwanted messages. Getting the account suspended is often more effective than trying to enter into a dialogue with the person yourself. Blocking means that they may go to the trouble of creating a new account, but at least you won’t have to deal with them. Blocking and reporting is even better for sites that offer both.

Usually it’s best not to engage

Sometimes people are just looking for a reaction, and even a bad reaction is still attention from you. You may feel better for telling them exactly what you think of them, but some people enjoy that because they are getting your attention. I will never agree to work with someone who has made me feel uncomfortable – whether it was a blatant suggestion of something that had nothing to do with language lessons, or a creepy guy saying he wants to learn. It’s not going to happen. So I don’t give them any of my time.

We seem to have this belief that just because someone has tried to contact us, they deserve a reply. This may be the policy in larger companies, but if you’re running your own business, you make the rules. I don’t reply to spam, and unwanted or inappropriate attention is a particularly annoying type of spam as far as I’m concerned. I have a low stupid behaviour threshold and it saves me a lot of trouble down the line.

Often our natural reaction is to respond if something isn’t ok for us, but you’re unlikely to change their mind. If you want to respond, then keep it really professional with no emotions. I’m not convinced that this will help, but if it feels as though ignoring the message is condoning the behaviour – keep it detached and objective. .

Try not to take it personally

If someone makes a comment about your looks or something personal to you, don’t feel it’s a reflection on all the hard work you put into being good at whatever it is that you do. You deserve more than to be objectified just because you’re a woman. Men like that would have the same reaction to any woman in your situation, so try not to see it as a reflection on you or your business. I want to be judged on the level of service I provide, not the size of parts of my female anatomy. But there are people out there who won’t ever show us that degree of respect. That’s a thing. Unfortunately.

I know that this applies to men too, but I’m focussing on my own experiences here.

Talking can help

Everyone will be bothered by different things and everyone has different boundaries in terms of what’s going to offend or upset them. If I got together a list of all the things people have said to me over the years, the ones I found most offensive were actually not the most graphic. It would be different for other people because we’re all shaped by our life experiences or what we’ve been exposed to in other jobs. I saw a lot of people at their worst in a previous job, and I thought nothing much would shock me, but there is a more personal element to it when it’s specifically directed at you.

So as above, you can complain if there’s a way to flag the inappropriate messages, or you can at least find someone to talk to. It could be a partner, a friend, or someone in a similar situation. You may find it helps to say what happened and how it made you feel, before getting on with the rest of your day. In a company, you have colleagues, but when you’re working on your own, you don’t. Don’t let that make you feel isolated – there is always someone who could listen and help you.

To be honest, there are a lot of occasions when I haven’t told anyone – I just thought it was irritating and got on with my day. But there are occasions when talking about the things that happen to us is useful – whether it’s something like this or a work-related situation that would benefit from a second opinion.

Someone raised the issue of unwanted attention in a group for teachers and the thread went on for quite a while. To be fair, I think some of the guys had had had unwanted advances too, but it was generally the women who were adding their comments and experiences, and there were quite a few of us. It felt good – it didn’t fix the problem, but it was good to know we weren’t alone.

Legal action

Of course there are situations in which you need to take things further. I’m not an expert on legal action, but I’ll include some links from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Cyber Bullying UK because I don’t feel qualified to give advice on that.

So will things improve?

This isn’t just a problem for those of us who work online. I’ve seen inappropriate behaviour at work in larger organisations to, and not just from members of the public.

In some small part of society, there’s the belief that those of us who are female and work on our own are fair game when it comes to unwanted attention. Yes, I use a camera, but it’s for video conferences with learners. And only that.

I’m talking about the online industry because that’s where I am right now. I’ve never worked for example in the hospitality industry, but I’m sure there are similar problems there too. We’ve seen people coming forward publicly from the sports and entertainment industries – I actually think it’s everywhere. This is why it needs to be addressed and talked about. Because it’s not ok!

It’s also not the majority. I tell my partner and male friends about the stuff I have to deal with, and they’re shocked and appalled that some men behave like that. My male customers are genuinely decent guys who respect me as a woman and a service provider. But there is that other element in society that thinks it’s acceptable to treat women as objects, and they need to be exposed. I don’t actually think you’ll ever stop it completely,. Most of the people who send obscene messages to women who are just trying to get on with their jobs are probably sitting alone in their rooms, knowing that what they are doing is wrong, and doing it anyway. Half of them say things like “I hope you’re not offended by my proposal”, which suggests they know I might, or probably will be.

I try to be detached and professional, but every now and then I’ll read something and think WTF? It’s normal to have feelings of anger, disgust, or however you feel – sad, uncomfortable, triggered because it reminds you of something else. You shouldn’t have to be subjected to it, but your reactions are not wrong and you should never be afraid to ask for help dealing with them. Sometimes you won’t feel anything – and of course that’s fine too. I’m just making the point that it’s ok to ask for help if you need to.

Do you run your own business online? Do you know what I’m talking about? Do you have tips to add for dealing with this problem?

If you’re just thinking about starting an online business, I want to keep things in proportion. It doesn’t happen every day or even every week. I’m talking about it now because I’ve had a couple of incidents in the last week, but then I could go a couple of months before anything else happens. But we don’t gain anything by pretending that this isn’t an issue. Talking about it and our strategies for coping can be empowering, and it also prepares you so that it’s not such a shock if it does happen to you. If nothing else, it shows that you’re not alone.

I’d like to work in a world where this wasn’t a thing. But it is a thing. It will take time to change the world, expose the behaviour, find and punish people who do it. But as a realist, I don’t know that we’ll ever be rid of it completely, so I think it’s just as important to equip people with the strategies they need to take appropriate action and manage any emotions or issues that come up as a result.

Although there is more openness now and the topic is more widely discussed, I don’t actually think that things have improved over the last 6 years since I’ve been in this area of work. We talk about how to deal with angry customers, so I think there’s a place for talking about dealing with sexually inappropriate comments as well.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.

Bath box – a subscription box for bath lovers

This week I want to tell you about something a bit different in terms of subscription boxes – the Bath Box!

So, if you’re someone who only likes showers and can’t see the point of lounging around in the tub, this isn’t going to be one for you!

I love baths. They’re a place where I can block out the world, take a few minutes – ok often close to an hour – to unwind, stop doing things, stop thinking about things and just be still for a while. I love it.

When we were doing the bathroom for the new house, we decided to get a whirlpool bath because I thought it would be amazing and I knew I would get plenty of use out of it because of the time I spend in the bubbles!

So anyway, I heard about the new subscription box from Bath Box and decided to give it a go. I liked the fact that you can either subscribe or just try out the box once to see if you like it.

The box contains things for the bath, and I think this would make a good present too if you know someone who likes a pamper session in the bath, or if you would like to buy something for someone, but you don’t want to get them a make-up or skincare gift because you aren’t sure about their preferences.

At the time of writing, the box costs £9.99 with £2.99 delivery, and for that you get 5 items, which works out cheaper than similar products if you buy them individually. At the moment, it’s delivered to the UK, Republic of Ireland, and France.

In my box there were two bath bombs (my favourite had to be the banana one!, a bath melt, some green tea bath salts, and a shampoo bar. I haven’t actually used the shampoo bar because it’s going to be part of the Summer giveaway, but I’ve used the others and was happy with the quality and the scents – especially the banana!

The products were well-packaged so the bath treats didn’t bash around against each other.

If you want to get £1 off your first box, you can use my affiliate link, which also means I will receive £1. If you decide to keep up with the subscription and you save 10 of your little tubes from the bath salts, you can send them back, and then you’ll get a free bath bomb.

From an accessibility point of view, I had no problems signing up for a box using my screenreading software and no mouse.

So, have you tried out the Bath Box? Do you think it would be something that you would like? Let me know in the comments.

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.

My second book -Achieving results online with adult language learners

I don’t know how many of my language teacher friends and contacts read my personal blog, but I posted something on my business blog today about my second book, which has just come out, so I thought I’d share it here as well.

English with Kirsty

So, my second book is now available to buy, and this time it’s one for people who are thinking about teaching English online.

I never thought about writing on this subject, but after I wrote the first article about working with blind students, more followed, and they seemed to be well-received with shares and comments from other teachers. Sometimes it was other online teachers, sometimes it was people who wanted to set up their own language teaching business. Sometimes it was people who had been working in schools, giving face-to-face lessons for years.

I knew I didn’t want to write a step-by-step, how-to guide, because a lot of the time, we are our brand, and the unique and individual things that people bring to a business are what set it apart and make it unique. However, what I can do is share my experiences, ideas, tips and knowledge, so that…

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