Do You Lose Friends and Alienate Others? 12 Suggestions for Talking about Political Topics

Although many people have had business communications training, some still approach difficult conversations with a degree of fear and trepidation. In fact, ever since Donald Trump won the presidency, I have had a number of people call and email seeking advice and asking for suggestions about how to talk about politics. Many of these folks have done damage to their current relationships in the way that they have broached sensitive topics.

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Are We Becoming Past Feeling? Eight Ways to Bring More Light to Your Holiday Season

As the year comes to an end, I have become increasingly disturbed at some of the behavior that we have witnessed this year. How can we justify a person driving their car into a group of innocent bystanders? Or a group of young boys lighting a handicapped boy on fire because he was different? Or when was it ever appropriate to burn and destroy the property of others as a way of expressing disagreement? Can we judge others based solely on opinion in the absence of concrete evidence?

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How Can You Make Your Words Work? 10 Tips to Improve the Clarity of Your Conversations

Words all by themselves don’t create anything. But the words you choose and how you put them together will influence the thinking, feelings, and actions of others. In short, your language will help to achieve the results you want, improve the quality of your relationships, and create the respect that may be lacking. I was fascinated years ago to learn that the Aramaic phrase “abracadabra,” so frequently used by magicians, means “I create as I speak.” This left me wondering what I was creating. I first started to notice the results that my words were creating when instructing my two young...

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What Should We Remember on Memorial Day? Seven Values To Remember

A number of years ago, I was doing some work in Washington D.C. I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to see some of the sights around town, so as soon as my work was over, I did a quick tour in the early evening. I went and listened to an open session of the Senate, attended a concert of the Marine Band on the steps of Congress, walked up the Washington Monument, and finally made my way over to the Vietnam War Memorial.

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What We Can Learn from Our Fathers

This Sunday is Father’s Day. A day that is set aside for celebrating and honoring our fathers. Whatever your personal circumstance, there are things that we can learn from our fathers or the father figures in our lives that will help us to not only be better people but also help us to decide who we want to become and how we want to influence others. My father was a good example to me and had many characteristics that I admire. His example taught me a lot about strengthening relationships and influencing others for good. Here are a few examples of things I learned from him that have made a real difference in the way I interact with others.

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Six Questions to Help You See More Clearly and Increase the Power of Your Presence

Years ago during my first job in corporate America, I experienced firsthand the power of presence. There was a woman in my department that everyone referred to as "Crazy Mary." I thought the reference was uncalled for--until I had an experience with her. Once day she called me into her office to review the progress I was making with a project she had assigned to me. She was more than cordial as we discussed my work and review the milestones of the project. I remember thinking as I left her office how kind and considerate she had been. The very next day, she came into my cubicle and demanded I follow her immediately into her office. When I entered her office, she began to yell and belittle me for the very accomplishments that she had complimented me for on the previous day.

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A Gift Given is a Gift to Give

How do you create more joy this holiday season? Obviously the holidays are a time of celebrating, feasting, relaxing with family and friends, and reflecting on the bounties of the season. I have found what adds to our joy is to recognize and receive the gifts that are given and in return to give them to others. You may be aware of a situation that occurred in late October here in Utah which received national attention on the Today show. Ethan Van Leuven was diagnosed with  leukemia when he was 22 months old. From that time on he underwent the use...

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Can You Connect with Different Communication Styles of an Audience?

Of course no one sets out to intentionally offend or cause friction when they speak or communicate with large groups of people; and yet, everyone has a unique style of communication--which can differ dramatically from group to group. Because of our inherent style differences, there is a chance that we might unintentionally offend someone or create unnecessary conflict. When speaking to large groups of people, it is important to recognize the interaction or communication style of others and then mirror or “match” that style when communicating with them. Your interaction will be more effective, you will increase engagement and create rapport, and you will be more likely to achieve desired results. The challenge for any professional is...

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How Can You Put More “Thanks” in Your Thanksgiving?

Years ago, I had the opportunity to attend an experiential training that was designed for individuals to get outside of themselves and to experience the power of a focused intention. Ten of us were given the assignment to create a Thanksgiving meal for a needy person or family out of nothing. “Out of nothing” meant that we could not spend our own money to provide the feast. We divided ourselves into groups and descended upon the public to accomplish this task. We had two hours to complete the assignment. Some members of our group went to supermarkets in the area and...

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How Do You Strengthen Your Presence?

I was recently asked to write a piece for a magazine on developing presence. Because of the short deadline, I was disappointed that I had to decline the opportunity. However I believe this to be an important topic for not only leaders but also anyone who works with people to carefully consider because it impacts the influence and positive effect you can have on others. With more time to reflect on the topic, I couldn’t help myself. I would define “presence” to be the vibe, energy, frequency, or power that emanates from us. When I think of presence, I think of...

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7 Tips for Improving the Quality of Your Feedback

People often ask me for advice on how to give "negative feedback"--which is apparently something that no one enjoys either giving or receiving. Constructive feedback, on the other hand, which is feedback that helps people grow and improve, is on everyone’s most wanted list. So what’s the difference between negative feedback and constructive feedback? The challenge you face when you give someone this helpful feedback is to speak in a way that allows people to hear and understand your message without causing them to become defensive, resistant, or emotional. Some people advocate a "rip off the Band-Aid" approach to providing feedback. This approach can be traumatic--it hurts the receiver and causes more...

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7 Ways to Improve Your Capacity for Compassion

I attended a leadership conference a few weeks ago at which I had been asked to speak.  In one of the sessions, I was surprised when a senior executive stood before a group of newly promoted leaders and said, “I want to remind you of the importance of really loving the people who work for you!”  I have long believed that leaders who truly care for their people become the leaders who are able to help others to create extraordinary results.  I just had never heard anyone express this sentiment so directly or openly. Caring for others really does have an...

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8 Strategies for Creating Rapport

Years ago, I was doing research on how we can more easily establish rapport with others.  While I was working on developing my ideas, I took an airplane flight one day and had an interaction with the woman who sat next to me that served as a real lesson in relationship building. On the flight, I was passing the time by drawing and writing in my journal. The woman sitting next to me asked me what I was doing.  I told her I was working on understanding how people develop rapport with others.  The hour-long flight passed quickly as we...

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