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5 Steps to Celebrate a Conflict-free (Shopping) Holiday

2 Dec

Is (holiday shopping) credit card debt the kiss of death under the mistletoe?

Do your finances spin out of control while shopping for 8 nights of Chanukah gifts?

Money stress is as normal as holiday lights twinkling before Halloween these days.  A recent LearnVest post discussed couple conflict about over-indulgent holiday spending – and debt.   I started thinking about present’ expectations and how the anticipation of those wrapped packages uncover surprising presence about gifting and celebration.  Especially since I have more good cheer than money these days.

As Black Friday started before the Thanksgivannukah Turkey is cleared from the table this year, I wondered: How special are gifts these days?  While I’m not quite old enough to have received an orange or (more likely) a lump of coal for Chanukah, I remember when shopping the day after Thanksgiving was a rare and special occasion.  In fact, every gift was a BIG DEAL “back in that day” because shopping and “the biggest sale of the season” wasn’t a weekly occurrence.  Back then we walked in parks – not malls.  It’s impossible to turn back time (though I’d love an eye cream that delivers on that promise), but environmentally and economically it makes sense to rethink how and what we spend and consume.  Seems to me celebration should focus on keeping bank balances in the black, while maintaining green, to prevent seeing red credit card bills.

So I thought I’d share my financial gift: 5 steps to work through and talk about money – by yourself, with your partner, or your whole family.

1.  Write out a plan and check it twice (to make sure it will really work for you).  Start and end with how much you can – or want to spend to stay festive.  Most of all be honest with yourself, family, partner, and friends.  If you don’t have money to spend, tell them what’s important to you and why (i.e. not going into debt or spending money you don’t have).  Come up with a list of fun and FREE things to do.   When you find yourself beginning 2014 with a balanced budget and sanity, be sure to write a thank you note to friends and family who helped you celebrate in a financially and emotionally balanced way.

2.  Ho-ho-hmmmm….:  Does your current level of glitz equal fun or frustrating?  Define your meaningful glitz by writing down what you love and not so much about holiday ‘celebrations’ and gifting.  For each, identify what you give and what you get emotionally and monetarily.  Is there a pattern about your spending of good cheer and money?    I love getting little things that are hand-made – what about you?

3.  Gelt:  got it or not…  Gelt, wrapped chocolate coins gambled during a Chanukah game of drivel may be symbolic and insightful about what pot you’re throwing money into.  I used to LOVE buying (what I thought) was the perfect gift – but that was when I spent gelt like I ate chocolate – freely.  Now gifting is laden with guilt over gelt:  how do I explain the low-level glitz to the niece who has everything and whispers in my ear:  “what did you buy me?  Bring me a gift next time.”?    If a relationship is defined by the cost of a gift, is it really a relationship?  Honestly assess your gelt –  and check your guilt at the door: do NOT apologize – spend only what you can afford.

4.  Reframe spending traditions….  Extended family celebration’s at Thanksgiving have filled me with amusement and horror as “the kids” rip off wrapping paper without thanks and seemingly without meaning.   I like my friend Kevin’s family gifting tradition:   Everyone is assigned one person to gift.  On Christmas Day, after the lutefisk, they line up, holding received presents, opening them one by one , starting with 80 year-old Grandma.  Somehow the kids wait till everyone else’s gift had been oohed and aahhed over till they open their own.  Start your own meaningful gifting tradition – or borrow or adapt from these 8 families http://www.learnvest.com/2013/11/8-ways-to-give-holiday-gifts/?gallery=731&pid=#pid-8472_aint-0.  A few years ago I started gifting my nieces with a donation in their name to a charity or cause of their choice.  It hasn’t won me any popularity contests, but I hope it helps them understand the meaning of giving.

4.  Experience the love by spending on experiences, not “stuff”.  Years ago I convinced friends to forego gifts for doing something together.  Sure we might have planned these outings anyway, but they feel so much more special because they force us to be present to celebrate.  I don’t miss the gifts, but I would absolutely miss spending quality time together.  What special outings can you plan that would feel luxurious on the cheap?

5.  Share gratitude.  I don’t know about you but even though I don’t give to get thanks, I love being thanked.  For me, it is a show of love, of gratefulness for the relationship more than the “stuff” given.  If you’re like me and wonder if thank you notes are as endangered as polar bears, give others (especially young people) a gift that will last a lifetime:  a reminder to write thank you notes (or at least thank you texts).  After all, where will they learn if we don’t teach?  And what can be more meaningful and gratifying than being thanked for an act of kindness, time spent together, or a token of friendship?  Now that I’m writing this, I think this might be the place to start your planning with your partner or family.  Most of all, share self-gratitude – try writing yourself a thank you note for being a good soul.

Here’s wishing you a financially balanced and emotionally fulfilling holiday season.  And thank you for reading  – and  hopefully sharing these ideas with those you love.

For Peace: “Practice Friendship with your Enemies” the Adaptive Leadership Way

14 Nov

It’s those lessons people want to teach- but you can’t hear – because the lessons you’ll learn are based on the solutions you’ve earned – working it through your way, based on your problem and situation.

No matter how well-intentioned:  you just can’t tell people what to do…

As a self-anointed financial yenta and communication coach, my seemingly brilliant solutions can’t be dictated or adopted, but rather (personally) adapted.  The key to solving problems is engaging people and “developing their capacity to solve their own problems”.  That’s adaptive leadership.

Imagine: thirst for blood, leading to a blood drive, leading to best baklava bake-offs.

Ron Heifetz, Harvard’s Adaptive Leadership maven shared (NPR’s Nov.  11, 2013  “lessons in Leadership:  It’s not about you (it’s about them) how reframing leadership as problem-solving did just that in the long-standing conflict between Greeks and Turks.  Heifetz and George Papandreou, Greece’s then Foreign Minister  realized  you can’t just tell people to stop hating each other – it has to come from within.

m6840119_763x260-give-blood

Papandreou extended the olive branch by helping Turkey apply for EU membership.  But that’s not personal enough.  In 1999, Turks helped save Greeks after an earthquake, a month later, it was Greeks donating blood for Turk victims.  It was like “friends helping friends”.  It was emotional catharsis.

In recent decades it became evident that emotional needs are often at the core of the conflict and have to be addressed in order to resolve the conflict, how adaptive leadership connects with Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa post-Apartheid, and in Rwanda’s (controversial) Gacaca courts where the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s victims and perpetrators came face to face to discuss atrocities.

Emotions and connection:  “Practice friendship with your enemies”, NYC artist De La Vega’s saying .

Or so it seems to me – leadership, problem-solving, and managing conflict is personal – it’s all about people tuning their individual radio stations to WIIFM:  What’s in it for me, and realizing to get my needs met, I need you (to care or at least look out for me).  It’s easy to see how adaptive leadership can be a powerful approach when improving a performance problem in the workplace or financial challenges in a family.

I heard this NPR story two days after the anniversary of the (official) start of the Holocaust:  November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht or the “Night of broken glass” when Nazi’s took to Berlin streets breaking Jewish storefront windows and burning synagogues.  I started wondering how this approach could be used before neighbor started killing neighbor (Rwanda), or any genocide erupts.

josephine www.rwandanstories.org

“Whoever confessed would see their penalty reduced, because you cannot confess and remain the same. Confessing is something that changes people.”
Josephine, www.rwandanstories.org

After all, the Holocaust began years before Kristallnacht’s broken glass with Nazi youth breaking legs, souls, and lives in the early 1930’s.   After time, research and stories shared, it’s easy (of course) to have an “ah-ha” moment that a modified adaptive leadership approach ala Papandreou and the Turks/Greeks could have stopped Hitler.  Imagine small group facilitations between Jews and Germans talking about needs and emotions…

Naive?  Sure.  But after the “Never Again” Holocaust, genocides continue to happen – again.   Even now, there is rising anti-Semitism across Europe, in places where there are more ghosts than living souls (and yes, Jewish communities are growing across Eastern Europe).   All the more reason I say to have those who “hate” share a coffee with those who are “hated” and actually talk.  Talk about emotions, concerns, fears – those personal things that make us human – and vulnerable.  It’s a chance for people to share their identity and be heard which is astonishingly powerful.  It’s a chance to build empathy and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Connection can cure conflict.  Don’t you think laughter can save a life as powerfully as blood?

Anyway, I’m free to facilitate and help people share stories.  Call me.  Better yet, tweet me (@katz_communicat) – let’s start a revolution.  One conversation at a time!

Guilt? Obligation? Anger? An Alternative

9 Aug

Would you hide me?

I’m obsessed with this question.  Prompted by Nathan Englander’s story: ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” .

Hiding refers (partly) to the physical hiding in the event of another Holocaust.  And really so much more.  The layered morality  in the action to hide another.

Are you trust-worthy?

Luckily, in this day and age,  I have the luxury to view ‘hiding’ as an emotional act.

Hiding as a metaphorical act focuses on words of  kindness and compassion.  These are the words you say to offer safety and escape from sadness, bullying, self-hate, insecurity, loneliness.

It’s as simple as sincerely saying ‘thank you’ and ‘I appreciate you’.  I may help others because it’s the right thing, not to be thanked.  Yet, it feels really good to be acknowledged.   In fact, when someone tells me they appreciate who I am, it makes me feel safe.  It makes me think they would ‘hide me’ when I feel low.

After all in one small way, holocausts, genocides and hate crimes begin with small acts of bullying, disregard, and unkindness.   And bullies often feel insecure themselves.  Bullies need to hear:  ‘You are good.  You have something to offer.”

Advertisement from NYC subway at Transit Museum

Advertisement from NYC subway at Transit Museum.

Unfortunately, people don’t use these three magic words often enough, do they?  How often do you feel unappreciated?

Hiding can be as simple as, “I know you’ve been having a rough time.  How are you?”

I remember a friend, ‘F’, sharing details of a mutual friend’s , ‘melt-down’.  It had to do with roommate issues and ‘F’ had sided with the roommate.  I can still feel my frustration, reminding ‘F’ to think about our friend’s feelings.   I wanted to hide  her and urged ‘F’ to do the same.

Emotional hiding demonstrates character and strength.   It’s ‘walking the talk’.   Likely all of us, if asked, would adamantly say we’d hide another.   But how do you really know:  you don’t.  Emotional hiding is a pretty good indicator though.  As I’ve written before,  I obsessively ask myself this question to become a better person, the person I know I can be.

Recently my calendar presented a dilemma.  Two invitations on the same day:  family wedding and out-of-town friend visit.

Where to go?  Who to please?  See, by nature I am filled with guilt – I like to do what pleases.

By nurture, I am equally filled with obligation – I am told I must do what pleases.  I am told I should feel guilt.

guilt + obligation = anger

Naturally, the anger is all mine – pleasing others doesn’t necessarily please me!

When it comes to obligation, what will it cost to pay my dues?  Must I go in debt and be buried in anger?

Needless to say, relationships are complicated.  Not black and white, but splashed with shades of grey and lots of red.   Yet, when deciding where I would go to be engulfed by comfort and love, I found myself asking:  ‘Who would hide me?’

Which event would I be most surrounded by love?  Where would I be listened to and supported?  

Sitting here safely, I realized:

  • First and foremost I have to feel I’m worth protecting, worth hiding.
  • It’s important to let others know when their words feel judgmental, unkind, hateful, and hurtful.  A simple:  ‘that’s not nice’ works well.

Oh, and terrible as it may sound, if you want me to attend your event:  treat me like I’m worth ‘hiding’ – and, I’ll strive to treat you the same.

 For the first 2 steps in my series in how to prevent genocide (and bullying):

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/prevent-genocide-and-bullying-12-ways-to-swallow-an-empathy-pill/

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/6-strategies-to-naked-identity-only-you-can-prevent-genocide-step-1/

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/only-you-can-prevent-a-genocide-an-introduction-to-6-actions-you-can-take/

Keep your Dance Partner and Avoid the Conflict Dance with these 5 steps

17 Jun

Toe-tapping and ready to groove to the music?  

Intrigued by a dance invitation?

Well, there’s the 2-step, the waltz, and then there’s the conflict dance.

I always say that every conflict starts with an invitation.  An invitation to get all hot under the collar.  The only dance that’s never cool.

better invite dance

It’s a decision.  It takes two to tango and two to argue.

Your partner has an itch – and ‘dancing’ with you will scratch it.

‘K’ told me how ‘B’ filled her dance card:  they were on a nice romantic cruise after a week of travel and conferencing.

‘B’ brought up the money issue with a huffy ‘I spent SO much money on this romantic cruise.’  He talked numbers. ‘K’s toe started tapping itching to rumba through his rumbles.

pointing finger man at woman

After all, ‘No one puts Baby in the corner!‘ How dare he bring up money?

They  talked about the trip’s finances before they left.  She talked numbers.

I broke it to her as gently as I could:  ‘Sometimes arguments about money aren’t about money.  (Of course, sometimes they are…)  

Money is the number one fight between couples and is a leading cause of divorce!

And then I shared my  3 steps to avoid the conflict dance (and appreciate the perks of being a wallflower:

Step 1:  Avoid the seduction and heat of the moment: Recognize the ‘invitation for what it is.  An invitation to fight/argue.

‘B’ knew exactly which of ‘K’s buttons to push to ‘pump up the volume’ so to speak.  In responding, she did exactly what he wanted her to do:  dance back.

Here’s where you decide:  Do you wanna dance?  Especially realizing you’re not going to be arguing about the ‘real’ issue.

(Note:  if you do want to fight just to fight be aware of your motives. We’ve all known couples (in particular) who get into screaming matches that last for days with no end in sight and so hope of resolving the issue.)

woman aghast

Step 2:  Say:  NOTHING!  Especially if you’re also angry, since before you know it you’ll be in a dancing furry. ‘K’ responded in the way most of us would by telling ‘B’ what she had paid for including air fare and hotel.  While this is true, it was just enough to escalate the situation so they were stomping on each other’s toes.

two dancers dise by side

Better is to stop and just think a minute about what you want:  if you want to preserve the relationship:

Step 3:  Listen.  FYI:  Listening will turn the fastest twirl into a seductive slow dance – and here I mean the good kind. Your partner may not have brought up the main issue, but address it respectfully.  Giving someone what they want will ease the path to communication and connection.

Step 4:  Give your listened response – not your high kick (initial) one. Rather than sharing a detailed expense report, ‘

K’s better response would have been: “I really do appreciate this cruise”, or “I really appreciate us being here”, or “Thank you for this great cruise” or something like that.  Chances are this is what she would have said at a later time. This thank you and acknowledgement would have turned off the music to ‘B’s conflict prance. If your partner drops it, let it go temporarily.

relaxed time

If s/he doesn’t, or definitely at a later time:

Step 5:  Bring the issue a little closer and ask for more (info) The issue will come up again (as we all know), so stand on tippy-toes, and in ‘K’s situation ask: ‘You know the other day when you brought up _?  I wonder if we could spend a few minutes talking about money?”

choose how we dance saying

Repeat:  ” I appreciated the cruise (or what you appreciated!) and would like to know more about how you feel paying for it:

Or

“What would make you feel better considering both of our financial situations?’

Or

‘What could we do differently next time that would make you feel better?’

Often, if you are both relaxed at this point, your partner will talk about what the real issue is/was.

In ‘K’s situation, she was talking to me, not ‘B’.  Though she did realize he was probably feeling put off because she had (professionally) spent so much time with  other men during the conference and their travels. As in all conflicts, this one goes deeper…  Next, I’ll share ‘K’ and ‘B’s communication style differences.  I also recommended they go through their values.  It’s all a start – a good start!  And I know they deserve the best.

What causes you to do the conflict dance?

5 Strategies for Secure Identity: Only YOU can prevent GENOCIDE (Step 1)

18 May

Talking about 6 steps to prevent genocide…

While walking through Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery  with my friend Julie, she pointed out nobody cares about genocides.  Not really.  After all it will never  happen to them.

This is to prevent forest firest....genocideourcarelessness.jpg

This is to prevent forest firest….genocideourcarelessness.jpg

People care about bullying.

Bullying happens.  A lot.  School yard bullies graduate to board rooms.

Have you ever  teased a little too far or not acted with kindness when you were feeling unhappy or insecure?  Bullies act because they’re insecure.

Bullying and genocide share DNA.  Genocides, the Holocaust, hate crimes – are merely bullying on steroids.

The Holocaust started as aggressive bullying way before Kristallnacht (1938) and Germany’s invasion of Poland  (1939).  It started in 1933 with Hitler Youth learning to spot Jews, and beat up weaker ‘youth’.  Hitler youth turned in parents who didn’t support Hitler.  They learned new songs…

“Yes, when the Jewish blood splashes from the knives, things will go twice as well.”

Scary…

Hitler youth were primed and ready for genocide.  Why did they get so wrapped up in this identity?  What was wrong with their authentic selves?

I wonder how this relates to  branding on Facebook and Twitter in the wild world of social media.

It’s a similar question to why kids  join gangs:  the need to belong.   To be liked.

After the recent Boston bombings, the ‘experts’ chimed in about what makes a terrorist:

“Terrorists are people who are alienated.  They have a confused identity… not ‘x’, not ‘y’… not connected to family or to parents… they find a new identity on the internet…” (summarized and pulled from various sources)

Red flag: people are turning to the internet to build community, AND to discover who they are, or who they want to be. HUH???

“Those who don’t love themselves as they are rarely love life either.”  Rachel Naomi Remen

For self-love, here’s my 5 strategies for secure identities:

disc improves....

Step 1:  KNOW your strengths, weaknesses, challenges.    Learning about yourself can’t be googled.  It’s complex and includes race, religion, gender, nationality, looks, socio-economics, and, our innate personality or what I call ‘naked identity’:  who you are without your ‘stuff’.

The best way to undress your naked identity is through the DiSC assessment tool.  The DiSC uncovers how you behavior, act, react, deal with conflict, work and your natural abilities as well as challenges.

I had an education student who was told to be an engineer – inside he was an English major.  Look around your office/classroom – are people their inside ‘selves’, or doing/being what others expect from them?

I’d put money on the mean, grumbling person not being their DiSC style.  Don’t judge others for not being like you.  Accepting someone else helps them accept you.  Focus on you.

Step 2:  Let your values guide your action

Identify your values (click here to identify yours).   Live them.  Believe me it’s hard.  And realize:  you and I may value ‘relationships’ but define it very differently. Understanding these differences in defining them is what’s key to security.

Step 3: Listen to yourself 

Everyone has an opinion about who you should be and what you should do.   Chances are those ‘everyone’s’ are telling you what they want.   I bet they have a different DiSC style and values than you.    Moments of Awareness  is the best and easiest way to listen carefully.

Your ‘friend’s’ not quite complimentary comment that leaves you wondering how you feel – about the comment, him/her, and yourself?  Listen:  it’s more about the commenter than you.  Listen to yourself.

Step 4:  Care more about yourself 

This may sound selfish – but just the opposite.  You can’t take care of anyone else unless you’re secure in yourself.  Taking care of yourself makes it easier to listen to others.

Step 5:  Don’t be a victim of Identity Theft:  Believe in yourself 

Knowing your DiSC, values, and regularly using Moments of Awareness to assess your feelings, will secure your identity.   If someone makes you doubt yourself, try

confidence-thechangeblog-com

confidence-thechangeblog-com

to understand which of their values aren’t met.  Learn and ‘listen’ if it is in line with YOUR identity.

Step 6:  Share your identity

D., a young American-Korean woman I met in Berlin said it best:  A secure identity means you can explain who you are to others.  Practice till you can.

What is your identity?  

How does knowing your identity keep you from lashing out to others?

What do you think we need to teach others to prevent bullying – and genocides?

3 Questions everyone should know: MOMA (per Peter Senge)

18 May

So how do you stay focused and calm in (almost) any situations, from conflict, to over-shopping?

That’s easy:  simply use Moments of Awareness (MOMA), which I first learned about in Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline Fieldbook.

Think of it as the ‘ginzu knife’ of life – it works in EVERY situation.

Plus, it’s easy to transport everywhere, including through airport security.   This is one of the most brilliant tools around and I”ve used in all my communication, conflict management, leadership, financial ‘therapy’, and everything in between, coachings and trainings.

Usually these are used when something is ‘wrong’.  But they can just as valuable when things are ‘right’ and you want to learn from and repeat something.

3 Simple steps:  Learn this.  Practice this.  Use this.  With yourself.  With your colleagues.  With your kids.  Ask yourself and/or ask others.

MOMA:  Moments of Awareness questions:

1.  What are you feeling?

Focus on the body:  the body doesn’t lie.  Think about if your body feels tight?  relaxed?  Are your hands clenched?  Is that smile natural or forced?  Do you all of a sudden feel sick to your stomach?  Feel your teeth clenched?

Focusing on your body will tell about real feelings that may not be expressed in words.

2. What do you want?

Here’s one way to think about your body’s message to your mind:  whatever is going on just isn’t working (for you).  This question will tell you specifically why it’s not working.  Bottom line:  you have a value that isn’t met.  Identify your values NOW.  Then when you are in a situation and your body is screaming it’s time to take ‘flight or fight (or shop, or…)’ you’ll know specifically why.  to find your values just go to the page Values Activity.

Your body may tighten for example when you are with a particular person.  You may think it is because s/he is a jerk.  This may be true.  But the reason you think they are a jerk is because what they say and do doesn’t meet your values.  Now you have a reason to tell them why you have to walk away.  Now do it.  WAlk away!

Remember:  your body will tell you when your values aren’t being met.  Listen.  And find out specifically which value is not being met!

3.  What am I doing to prevent myself from getting what I want?

Now you get to look at your actions.  Wait. Go deeper:  look at your words.  But not the words you say to others.

LISTEN TO THE WORDS YOU ARE SAYING TO YOURSELF.

When it comes to preventing yourself from getting what you want, it is that self-talk that separates out one action from anther.

Listen:  If your self-talk is negative, regardless of that bright shiny smile or firm handshake or perfect ensemble you present to the world – those words rolling inside your head is what the world will hear because that is what you are sharing.  REally.

You are sharing what you are saying to yourself through your non-verbals – the way you hold your body, etc.

Write down those negative terms of endearment (yes, that is sarcasm) you say to yourself so you are aware of what you are saying.  Of what you are doing to yourself.  Now write down – then SAY – to yourself what you would tell someone else in the same situation.

Look in the mirror, then say it with conviction.

Simple.  Try it with yourself.  Try it with a friend till you become an expert.  

2 Lessons I learned from the 10 Commandments

17 May

All those little things we think we know, yet don’t really know  or pay that much attention to.

Like the 10 Commandments.

thecripplegate.com
Not understanding goes deeper than language.  www.thecripplegate.com

I know what the Commandment tablets look like – I know, but more to recite them.  Writing this I’m reminded of how little I know about religion, or even its role in my life.  Or should I say, how its role is woven into my identity.

One the one hand, I know that the basis of all religions can teach us all about how to treat one another.  But I’m a little fuzzy on specifics.

So along comes Shavuot, my perfect learning opportunity.

I’ve always called this the ‘dairy’ holiday.  Though celebrated to commemorate the Jewish people receiving the 10 Commandments at Mt. Sinai during their 40 year ‘wander’ in the desert.

The ‘thing’ to do at the first night of this holiday is to stay up all night and study.  And because it’s the ‘dairy holiday, there’s ice cream and cheesecake.

formerfundy.blogspot.com
formerfundy.blogspot.com

I opted for a good night’s sleep.  With free time in my schedule Wednesday morning, I thought I’d actually go hear the commandments being read.  Something I’d never done before.   I was curious:  why????  Is it a big deal to hear them read? And why is it important to commemorate their ‘delivery’.

The actual reading is short:  a few minutes.  And since I heard it in Hebrew, I could have easily missed it.  One cool thing:  the kids came and surrounded the Rabbi, watching him read.  It’s important to pass on the learning to children.

My greater curiosity about the importance of the commandments was satisfied as the Rabbi shared his thoughts.  Starting first with the last commandment:

10.  Don’t be jealous.

Don’t be jealous of who someone is or what someone has.  Don’t covet their car, their clothes, their hair, or (for me) their silver jewelry.

Don’t be jealous of their phone, their tablet, their shoes. Their job, their life.

Simple:  right?

Ha!  How many times has that green-eyed monster reared its fiery head to singe your self-contentment?  Don’t we all want – or deserve – what everyone else has?

Someone shared that her daughter-in-law wants what her sister-in-law has.  Fill in the blank and that could be me at times.  I’m not alone am I?

Deeper, is the question do I really want or need those things.  Or, is it something much deeper that I want that I’m missing (I’ll pick door #2).

Then the Rabbi (an Orthodox Chabbad Rabbi, at that) quipped:

Well, at least you’ll obey the first commandment, not to kill another, right?

But he wasn’t done.  Actually I thought he was going to talk about Boston, or some other act of genocide/bullying.

But no…

“If you embarrass or insult someone and their face drains of color (blood), it is like you’ve killed them.  After all, killing someone is draining their body of blood.”

Imagine: Being condemned as a murderer by being a bully?

I know that feeling of my body tightening as in rigor mortis, feeling my face grow red when I’ve been attacked by a venomous word.

It brought to mind:  killing someone’s soul, someone’s self-esteem, hope: is as deadly as killing their body.  Either way, the heart dies.

Words have power.  And so do we.  It takes so little to be kind.

So here’s what I think we can all learn:

  1. Don’t be jealous, starting with don’t compare your life to others.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.  Be satisfied with what you have – there is a good chance it is enough (unless it has to do with bad health…).  When I covet something of someone else, I tell my myself I have to take the whole package of who they are to get that one thing.  Somehow, that makes me realize I’d rather just be me with none of that ‘great stuff’.
  2. Be kind and compassionate to others.  Don’t make little jokes at someone else’s expense even if they have a good sense of humor.  Especially if you know someone is feeling vulnerable (and that is most of us most of the time), don’t say things that will belittle them and make you feel better about yourself.

2 little steps that can make my world better – and hopefully yours.  

Best of joy to all of us.

5 steps to Polish your Elevator Pitch to Perfection (thru 3 types of messages)

9 May

Is sharing your pitch as comfortable to you as pushing the ‘up’ on an elevator button?

Does your pitch feel as comfy as elevator chit-chat?pressing buttons

I don’t know about you , but when it comes to selling myself, my words turn into a mouthful of caramels.   Well, maybe not that sweet or gooey.  And, to make it worse, I’m a communication coach/facilitator.

How can this be?

Hey, it’s hard to sell – ourselves – to others we don’t know.  Others who are in the midst of selling to us.  Sometimes it feels like networking events are huge swap meets where there’s lots to sell and let’s of competition for the pennies in people’s pockets.

Realizing this, I knew I had to come up with an easy and fun strategy to share my skills.  Luckier for me, I had an opportunity to share them Tuesday night at Showbiz in NYC with 2 meet-up groups:  Crowdzu and Women’s Business.

Are there new challenges with face-to-face networking?  We’ve gotten so used to doing it in cyberspace and are less likely to reach out in person.  I guess for people

We're all focused on our phones, often more than the people in front of us...

We’re all focused on our phones, often more than the people in front of us…

who have ‘grown up’ this way, it is easier connecting through LinkedIn and Facebook.  Me, I’m old-fashioned.  I’ve been told my ghost-like on-line presence renders me invisible.

But onward…

In person communication is 3D and so is a great elevator pitch.

Light travels faster than the speed of sound:  people see, before they hear us.  And the assumptions begin!.

Meeting face to face here are the percentages for how our messages are heard:

  • 55% of the message heard is our body language, mostly facial.
  • 38% is the pitch, volume, and intonation of our voice, and,
  • 7 (measly) % is our actual words.

That’s 93% of a message ‘heard’ are nonverbal!

Body-Language definitions:images

What you're feeling on the inside shows on the outside

What you’re feeling on the inside shows on the outside

Aware of the power of our presentation, I came up with these 5 steps for a polished pitch:

1.  Purpose:  Decide – and write down why you are going to an event and what you hope to gain.  Doesn’t matter if it is just to get out of the house or if you are looking for a job or funding.  Your purpose will keep you focused and give you extra incentive to walk through the door.

2.  Attitude: Wow!  How are you feeling about the event and life in general?  Your attitude is that 93% of what people will hear when you share your brilliant skills.

For those of us who have been having a rough time ‘out there’, it can be hard to keep a positive attitude and this is why it’s really important to rethink your current situation.  If you are feeling really bad, maybe take a break and rejuvenate yourself.  Watch a TV show or meet with a friend who makes you laugh.  Or get extra sleep which always makes (me) feel better.  Most of all, don’t apologize for how things are.  Write down all the things you’ve learned, all the sock drawers you’ve cleaned up (or socks you’ve tossed), or the number of interesting conversations you’ve eavesdropped at Starbuck’s while whiling away the hours.

Look in the mirror and tell yourself all the things you are good at and all you have to offer.   Remember attitude is 93%!

Good strong handshakes with eye contact are dazzling displays of confidence!

Good strong handshakes with eye contact are dazzling displays of confidence!

3.  6 Parts of the 7% verbal:

  1. Smile, maintain eye contact, and shake hands:  a REAL handshake regardless of gender.
  2. Share your name and title
  3. Present your hook, or question.  This may be:  What brings you here today?  or as a prospective documentary filmmaker learned to ask at the workshop:  ‘Do you know who Major Taylor is?
  4. Tell what you offer including specific skills.  T. shared this first as benefits but these are her skills:  Expert at listening and identifying people’s talents and then connecting the right people with the right position.
  5. Share the benefits of your specific skills.  As S. pointed out, just telling people they will save money isn’t enough.  Be sure to be specific:  for example with T., her benefit is saving time and frustration, which will add to productivity.
  6. Ask a follow-up question to gather more information and keep the conversation flowing.  E. has a brilliant skin care line and her pitch follow-up:  ‘What is your skin care challenge?’

Be comfortable enough with your words that you can customize your pitch.  

Be sure to match your skills and benefits with your audience.

4.  Practice

It’s one thing to put together the right words, but remember it’s the nonverbals that will ‘seal the deal’ so to speak.  I always recommend practicing in front of the mirror.  Say your pitch over and over maintaining eye contact with yourself.   Smile.   Become comfortable with the words and watch the excitement build on your own face. It’s catchy.  The more comfortable you are with the words, the easier it is to customize.

Practice till your thumbs naturally turn up

Practice till your thumbs naturally turn up

5.  Appearance

In our perpetual casual Friday society, the way you dress still matters.  Dress for the job and position you want to have.  Want to be in business?  Wear a suit.  Want to be takes seriously?  Dress appropriately.  You’ll feel different and people will treat you in kind.

Most of all: Have fun!  And follow-up with all those business cards you take!

What’s your favorite tip for elevator pitch presentation success?

How do you prepare for networking events?

Only YOU can prevent a Genocide: An Introduction to 6 actions you can take

2 May

Never Again.  Never again another Holocaust.

Or, Never Again – until, what?  Our human nature overwhelms our humanity?

This year is the 70th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and marks the official day of Yom HaShoah  or Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Shoah (think Steven Spielberg’s movie) means ‘calamity’ and represents the mass murder of 6 million European Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

Unfortunately. the US Holocaust Museum reminds us, ‘calamities’ aren’t just about the past.  Unexplainable calamities and hate crimes of all types  happen in the present.  Too often, as we’re reminded by the recent act of terror in the Boston bombing.

 And think Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Newton…  Think of all the little kids being teased on the playground – or in board rooms

Never again until it happens again... www.westminster.edu
Never again until it happens again… www.westminster.edu

I know many of  us ask ‘WWID:  What would I do?’  if we were in that position:  an almost impossible question to ask.

A better question: WWID (What will I do) to prevent the next hate crime, was posed at the US Holocaust Museum’s 20th Anniversary Conference.

The good news is there are things each of us can do.   And why I think there needs to be a movement.   And a slogan.

An ‘Only YOU can prevent Genocide, hate crimes, and bullying’.

If there is a slogan to prevent forest fires, why NOT genocide and hate crimes?

How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokey-if-not-you-hubpages-com.jpg
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokeyifnotyou@hubpages-com
As a conflict management facilitator, and during my visit to Auschwitz,  I’ve often asked:  what causes people to hate so much they commit hate crimes: Holocausts and genocides?     (I will say though, it’s not the best conversation starter at parties….)  
But here’s the reason I think each of us are the answer:  Hate crimes start small: with one person’s hate.  The Holocaust is thought of as one murder happening six million times.  That’s a lot of individual acts of hate.  If we look at this as a personal, and individual problem, we can do something about it.  
Yes, I’m optimistic and naive.

So I’m proposing these 6 steps we can all take:

  1. We all need to be secure in our own identity
  2. Fill yourself with Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness
  3. Know and apply history – don’t just learn it
  4. Meet people outside your comfort zone
  5. Stay awake and involved in our global world
  6. Stand up and take action on your beliefs

I’ll be writing about these in the coming weeks.  Before I get started though,  I realized:  We need Constant Reminders

Somehow, we need to keep the danger of genocide front and center (so people will follow these steps).    And there are way too many things competing for our attention every second thanks to social media.

My first thought was Smokey the Bear:

A bookmark reminder!
A bookmark reminder!

But I realize that preventing forest fires is preventing an ACTION!  

Genocides are about THOUGHT, EMOTION, FEAR. 

Fires still start by people.

But we need a specific reminder.  Here’s one thought:

Only YOU can prevent genocide.  A bit inelegant, but a start.
Inelegant, perhaps, but I had to add again…

Images can be powerful, especially in our image filled world.  One ‘Smokey’ image eerily coincided with an anti-genocide message:

Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness - of words and action.  Prevent hate crimes
I think this is kind of creepy…. Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness – of words and action. Prevent hate crimes

Next prep:  Sharing stories

I’d like to say we need to learn history and be ‘educated’.  But it seems we’ve tried that.  Stories though, are powerful in learning about the effect of genocide and hate crimes and filling us with a sense of empathy and compassion.  And it’s this emotion we can build on.

The UN Symposium on Preventing Genocide with ‘A Meaningful World’ on April 4th, began with a film:

Starved and ragged men being marched down the streets, officers on horseback rounding them up, children alone and crying on the street, people with bundles of clothing on the street in front of their home.

This was uncomfortably familiar footage:  it looked exactly like what I’d seen from the Holocaust.

neveeragain1915suite101.com

But no, this was from the first genocide of the 20th century:  The Armenian genocide by the Turks in 1915.

Did you know about it?  I didn’t.  How is that possible I had to ask myself.

One speaker shared this thought:  ‘When Hitler was asked about his place in history regarding the murder of Jews he said:

“Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?

Wow!!

And as Dr. Ani Kalayjian, A Meaningful World’s leader said, “When we help another…Both are made stronger.”

What are your reminders to act with kindness, empathy and compassion?

How do you gather stories from others?  What have you learned from them?

Tech Day’s 3 Questions

26 Apr

Trade shows are like Halloween for adults:

You walk in, are given a bag, and then go booth to booth for a treat – seemingly unlimited handfuls of refined sugar.

Orange Tech Day bag along with a Silver Red Bull - to get me through the day

Orange Tech Day bag along with a Silver Red Bull – to get me through the day

The trick:  Talking to the right people and/or getting to the right booth at the right time.

 

NYC’s Tech Day event inside Pier 92 was decidedly Pacific Northwest:  casual and hip.

preview.crowdzu.com My intro to Tech Day was through Crowdzu which is a one-stop crowdsourcing site which will revolutionize crowd funding and sourcing

preview.crowdzu.com
My intro to Tech Day was through Crowdzu which is a one-stop crowdsourcing site which will revolutionize crowd funding and sourcing

There were few card-carrying AARP members, or even people over the age of 35.

preview.crowdzu.com

preview.crowdzu.com

I had a great conversation with the techies here!

I had a great conversation with the techies here!

Does the tech world belong to the young?  Maybe.

Weened on Facebook and the wonder of ‘thumbs’ (vs. ‘tongues’) communication which I’ve written about, technology is part of their DNA.

photo-46

A bit overwhelmed by the energy and buzz of 151 vendors and their admirers, 3 questions came to mind:

1.  How far will technology go in changing our lives?

Cell phones alone have revolutionized communication – how much more can we and will we do from the palms of our hands?photo-41

Technology facilitates shopping ordering food,  making travel arrangements, and finding love, making our life easier, right?

But I wonder what we lose inphoto-39 that ease.  There’s the obvious: no more spontaneous conversations with strangers, no challenge (and satisfaction) in planning a trip and poring over a half a dozen travel books, and no opportunity to touch and feel a new clothing purchase.

Societally, how will this change our interactions with people and products?  As many have noticed, customer service skills are missing:  and I’ve noticed it’s not only service workers unable to converse with customers, but many customers don’t/can’t connect back.  I miss this social ‘kindness’, do you?

There are lots of ‘apps’ that connect us which is great.  But what about the depth of the connection:  how much thought and feeling gets lost in 140 characters or on a face book page?  Are we becoming more or less lonely?

And, is society driving technology, or is technology driving us – like sheep?

2.  Does technology reflect people’s values?

No matter the need or want, chances are there’s an app for that.  Or there will be soon – if it’s profitable.  That makes sense, right?   ‘Build it and they will come’ as Kevin Costner said in ‘Field of Dreams’.  And there’s money in those apps, with an emphasis on fast and efficient from specialty chocolates to real work improvement like echo time (tracking work flow efficiency) and crowdzu for one-stop crowd sourcing.,

Social media - the new 'being social'?

Social media – the new ‘being social’?

Yet at this ‘progressive’ event – there was no recycling.  Not convenient or not on people’s radar?

Orange 'swag' bags and hydration refuse. And recycling is the easiest of all environmental actions.

Orange ‘swag’ bags and hydration refuse. And recycling is the easiest of all environmental actions.

Is it true our values follow the money trail?  

If it’s not profitable – or quantifiable by an app, will our core needs defining our humanity also become non-recyclable throw-aways?

Climate change is real – as real as the devices we hold in our hands

We need clean air and water more than gadgets – don’t we?

April 20th was Earth Day, and the environmentalists had their own trade show.  Why can’t hipster techies and hipster environmentalists be the new peanut butter and chocolate?

green festival nyc

3.  What ‘tongue’ communication skills do people need?

Differences between communication styles parallel age differences.  As a communication coach I am beginning to wonder if this new generation needs, wants or

Wild!

Wild!

even expects those basic communication skills we used to take for granted:  two-way conversations, asking open-ended questions, ability to talk to strangers, listening, and of course customer service niceties.

I’m talking about the ‘grey’ areas in talk beyond the black and white facts of daily life that are easily captured on Facebook and twitter.  The grey areas that make our photo-44

My favorite image- from google ad words!

My favorite image from google ad words!

conversations and lives more colorful.  I think…

There’s an awful lot of ‘noise’ competing for our time and attention these days.  Including all of us who blog, begging web surfers to listen and acknowledge us (thank you!).  Does this count as listening?

And as we evolve in seeming milliseconds versus millions of years will natural selection prove ‘thumb’ communicators as winners?

Change happens – I just hope we all know what we are doing.