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2 Things That Build Strength among Leaders (aka "Why Violence Doesn't Work")

Ronald Reagan said, "There's only one way you can have peace - surrender." He went on to say there are only two options: fight or surrender. But we really don't live in a black and white world, at least when it comes to homes, schools, and offices, and that's an important point to understand when it comes to effective communication.

I can passionately stand up and fight for what I believe in from a state of peace.

I can listen to other opinions and start the conversation from there, staying curious about opposing positions, and at the same time, comparing them with my views.

I can learn from and about the other person and use effective communication and emotional intelligence to express my views in a conversation that allows us to come together, to narrow the gap. And all the while, both parties can fully represent their views and satisfy them as well, better than either had imagined in some cases.

What I can't do if I really want or need something is be violent. Violence just makes...

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Why Elephants Make So Much Noise

listening skills Jun 14, 2016

I can't not address the elephant in the room this week. The world's cage was, once again, rattled by terrorism that a group has taken responsibility for. Some people are encouraging people to turn off the media - "Don't Listen!" Others feel fear and anger. Some are completely silent. You may hear, "We need to do better" or "Love each other" or any number of other things in the aftermath. And those are not wrong - I certainly want us to do better, love each other, and not be overwhelmed. And I also believe one way for us to do better, love each other, and not be inundated with media reports to the point of overwhelm in the future is to listen to each other. We need to develop and use listening skills in the schools, in the home, and in the office as well.

The scariest thing for me isn't having someone hollering at me, but the point at which they are done talking if they are still angry. As long as they are talking, there is something I can do - listen. Not in the sense that you sit...

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How to Drive Change without Causing Whiplash

Change. It's a dirty word for some people. I mean it can be just rude. And even people who handle change well may find it rude to be faced with change when it occurs suddenly, without context or warning, creating a whiplash effect. This is particularly true if the people you are changing the rules on happen to be your clients.

In a world where so much happens online, change can and does happen quickly. There are many things that can change the dynamics of a team; some of them are out of our control. That's all the more reason to be particularly careful with the ones we do have control over, because when you have happy clients and staff, change may very well be seen as unwelcome and more restrictive.

Take changes in rules, for example. It's pretty safe to say those are likely to mean added restrictions; we are taking choices away from people. Or if we aren't a judge may be. And clients you are dealing with may be used to calling the shots, and would take particular offense...

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Warning: Losing Blood Flow to Your Little Finger May Cause Uncontrollable Contentment

One Easter I was out on a walk when I heard a child crying. I was heading toward some apartments, so I didn't pay too much attention, figuring parents were nearby. But as I continued to walk, the crying turned into full-on panic-stricken wailing that not only went unchecked, but continued to escalate. Snagged. Even as I felt the screams radiate through my body, they led me by the heart strings until I laid eyes on a toddler who was going to every door, trying to get in. She ran toward me when I squatted down, called to her gently, and held my hand out, smiling encouragingly.

She was obviously terrified as she stifled sobs, clutching tightly to her doll and her newest acquisition - my little finger. While I was looking for her, I saw other people rush right by her, visibly shrinking as they rounded their shoulders, ducked their heads, and took smaller, quicker steps, almost as if they didn't want her to see them. How was it, then, that now this busy apartment complex, previously...

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Why Labeling "Difficult People" May Stunt Your Growth

There are a lot of classes about how to "Deal with Difficult People," and I am concerned that will not lead to effective communication or de-escalation. Though I realize the title may be a marketing ploy, just the assumptions within the title raise doubts about how effective they can be. And if that is a ploy, then it points to the fact that other people are using that term to identify their problem.  But are there really "difficult people" in the world? I mean, is that all they are? Or is the use of that label allowing us to get lazy in our response, making our results mediocre at best, not to mention dangerous at worst?

Terms like that suggest other people are the only issue and we can only deal with the people, but that is far from the truth.  We can respond in the heat of the moment, and the best response will probably involve collaborating. In fact, that is the epitome of effective communication and de-escalation, not to mention staff communication. Before we can do...

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