Category: Communication

How to Focus: Lessons from a Banana Cream Pie Debacle

I must acknowledge immediately that I do not count cooking or baking as personal strengths or talents.  As a result, when the holidays roll around, I get a tad nervous about what dish I will be asked to make for potluck gatherings. This year’s assignment was to make a banana cream pie. I jumped in excitedly, because I love banana cream pie, but missing some of the key recipe details turned the pie into a soupy mess. Here’s what I learned about how to stay focused and attentive to the details. Critical for pie -making and any other pursuit you may have…

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Listening re-visited: The closer you are, the less you listen

Recently my sister shared with me a stack of letters sealed in a plastic zip-locked bag she had found amongst my mom’s possessions.  They were love letters from my father written around 1952 in the year before they were married. The letters reveal sides of my father I did not know. Kate Murphy’s new book, You’re not Listening:  What you’re missing and why it matters illuminated how “closeness communication bias” may have prevented me from learning more about this side of my dad while he was still with us.

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Do leaders need to show they like their job and us?

When someone attains a leadership position – whether in politics or business – we assume they’ve worked hard to achieve that role and are likely being compensated well.  Should we expect them to like the job and us? I say yes. 

In his new book An Effort to Understand David Murray’s essay “We deserve leaders who act like they like us” caught my attention.  We’ve all had the experience of working with or for individuals who look like, sound like and feel like they’d rather be doing almost anything else than leading.  It can show up in any number of ways:

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Be Your Own Best Spokesperson – now more than ever

Recently my daughter turned 24 and we discussed the perils and privileges of being an adult.  One thing she said struck me: “As an adult, you become your own spokesperson.”  She went on to say that as a child or adolescent you find that other people are often speaking for you and interpreting what you say into messaging that may be more socially acceptable or conform to the sensibilities of the situation or even the preferences of the adult present.  “What she means to say is…” or “She is attempting to communicate …”

It got me thinking about the world we inhabit right now in which we are flooded with conflicting and contradictory messages from innumerous pundits, experts, authorities, and let’s face it, a fair number of charlatans. In a time when political and social turmoil has reached a fever-pitch and true dialogue has seemed to virtually disappear – how do we find our own voice and become our own best spokesperson? 

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Be in the Conversation about Racism – even if it is uncomfortable

Be in the Conversation about Racism – even if it is uncomfortable. I’ve always thought that the problems of the world could be solved if we would just be willing to enter into deep, meaningful conversations about them.  The wise Fred Rogers once said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable, is manageable.” We are living through times none of us could have imagined.  From the pandemic to racial justice protests to political turmoil – these have left many of us tongue-tied and unsure of how to articulate all that we are thinking and feeling.  All of this is compounded by the fact that we are more isolated than ever before and yet communication – conversation – has never been more essential.

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Shackleton: Crisis Leadership Lessons for Today

I find it instructive to look back and review ‘profiles in courage’ that describe leaders who acted with bravery and integrity in times of crisis.  These stories remind me that no matter how bleak things may get we can be blessed with leaders who stand strong, speak the truth, and care deeply about those they lead.

One of the most captivating crisis leadership stories I have ever come across is that of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic Expedition in 1914.

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