If you’re here, be here.

It’s a funny thing. Most of us know that when we’re engaged, time passes more quickly. We’re in flow, so we’re not watching the clock, so we’re surprised when we look up and see that an hour has passed.What we don’t quite always manage to implement is our own control over this phenomenon. We moan …

Red herrings.

I love mystery novels. There’s something about falling into the story and then being surprised at how it twists and turns that makes a mystery the ultimate relaxing read for me.   Recently though, reading a book by an author I usually enjoy, I found myself frustrated by just these same twists and turns. The …

Losing our way.

Put this in the “Everything is a metaphor for everything else” category:   We all have times in our lives when we don’t know what’s next. Something we counted on is gone, a person or a place or a job. Times of transition are often like this—“I knew what to expect in the last phase; …

When other people are an agenda item.

As I’ve noted before, everybody is busy. A side effect of that busy-ness is that our interactions with other people can start to have a quality of efficient productiveness, as if “call Mom” was item #7 on today’s list of things to do.   Have you been on the receiving end of that kind of …

“Don’t feel nervous!”

The advice I dislike the most on the topic of communication all falls into a common category, which is basically, “Don’t feel nervous!”   The other versions of this are:   Be more confident! They’re not going to bite! You know your material; why on earth are you worried?   Here’s the problem. When we …

I want to show them I’m right.

This is a really common default intention (I can tell you from years of personal experience.) And it really never helps you.   If your intention is to make sure the person you’re talking to knows that you’re right, how does that make them feel? What’s the upside?   What do you win?


This little word is making a bid to become the most-overused two-letter word in spoken English. We love to use it as a launch pad into our actual thought—“So, I was thinking we could go to Chipotle,” “So, now I’m going to talk you through the budget, “So, how are you?”   You can see …

Do just one thing differently.

When we’re trying to learn a new skill, there’s a lot to think about. If you’re learning to play tennis, you can’t think about your feet and your swing and your serve all at the same time.   The same is true when you’re working to improve your communication skills—you can’t do it all at …

Conference calls are the worst.

Since the advent of the cell phone, people don’t have to be in their offices to talk to you. In many ways, this is terrific. I have a nifty hands-free set-up in my car, and I get a lot done on road trips to and from the airport. But that freedom has a downside, and …

Make an assertion.

In October, I was a student in Seth Godin’s altMBA program. It’s an intense month of individual and group work that takes the form of thirteen projects, three lengthy meetings per week, and giving and receiving lots of feedback.   One of the guiding principles of the altMBA is that you make assertions. You state …

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