Communication Skills Training

What Are You Talking About At Work?

There are three kinds of work conversations; task conversations, relationship-building conversations, and gossip. 

Task conversations are the ones focused on aspects of your work; exchanging information about what’s happening, who’s doing what, when it’s due, and what’s next. These are most common between co-workers, at meetings, and between bosses and their employees. These conversations are necessary and should be done within a spirit of mutual benefit and respect. (more…)

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Taking A Digital Holiday

Like many families, ours struggles with the insidious, addictive allure of electronic devices. Our smartphones are with us at all times. When we aren’t holding them, they sit within close reach so we don’t miss an incoming snap or text. Sometimes it seems we are connected to everything…except the people next to us.

This holiday season more than ever I am looking forward to spending quality time with my family. Two of my daughters are in college, so time at home with them is more precious than ever. I want to find a balance between healthy use of our devices, and quality time together. Here are three strategies I am going to try this holiday season. (more…)

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Ten Permissions That Will Add Positive Energy To Your Life

Do you live with silent “inhibitors” in your life, those ingrained beliefs about what you should or shouldn’t do? “Work before play,” “Don’t have too much fun, “Never take credit.” Over time, without even realizing it, these inhibitors infect our lives and can really hold us back.

That’s why I am so grateful for the Ten Permissions given to me by Taibi Kahler, award-winning psychologist, developer of the Process Communication Model (PCM®), and a father-figure/mentor for me. Permission is one of the most important and valuable gifts we can give ourselves and others. These have helped me through many stuck points and sleepless nights. I’d like to share them with you. (more…)

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Imposing Your Solution vs. Living Into The Answer

Recently I was conducting a Leading Out of Drama Provider Certification and we were reviewing one of the Choices To Move, “Let Go and Move On,” a skill for practicing Compassionate Accountability and moving from Resourcefulness to Persistence on the Compassion Cycle. A participant was explaining the concept in his own words and shared this;

Those who can’t let go and move on often choose to teach others instead.

He didn’t mean it as an indictment of educators, but his comment underscored a powerful dynamic of drama, the urge to give unsolicited advice to make others better instead of focusing on our own decisions and consequences. (more…)

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Tools Don’t Work. You Do.

“Now I don’t know but I been told
It’s hard to run with the weight of gold
Other hand I have heard it said
It’s just as hard with the weight of lead.”

-Grateful Dead, New Speedway Boogie

How many tools are in your tool belt?

Why did you get them in the first place?

What problem were you trying to solve at the time?

How well do you use them today?

How many are gathering dust? Why?

Most people and organizations who become overburdened by tools have followed this path; (more…)

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Is Your Personality A Liability, Or An Asset?

Newsweek magazine published a language analysis of US presidents done by FactBase concluding that Donald Trump speaks at a mid-fourth grade level, the lowest of all presidents analyzed, more than one grade level below the next lowest, Harry Truman. The analysis assessed the first 30,000 words each president spoke in office, and ranked them on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scale and more than two dozen other common tests analyzing English-language difficulty levels. FactBase compared these findings to Trump’s own claim that he is a genius.

Fake News Alert. Language reading level has very little relationship to traditional measures of intelligence (IQ).

(more…)

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In My Humble Opinion

Is anyone else curious or perplexed by the use of IMHO – In My Humble Opinion?

If brevity or efficiency is your motivation for using an acronym, why not get rid of it altogether and just say what you have to say?

If making sure people know you are simply sharing an opinion, my guess is your readers, friends, and colleagues already know your typical perceptual filter. They don’t need to be reminded.

If you feel compelled to advertise that your opinion is humble, consider the irony.

Nevertheless, opinions are an valuable filter or lens through which some people experience the world.

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Eliminate These 3 Toxins For A Healthier Work Environment

I was recently in China for four days launching our Leading Out of Drama program. On the flight from Chicago to Bejing I noticed a lot of people wearing masks. In recent years, poor air quality in Beijing has closed schools and caused farmers in the region to panic over the lack of sunlight. Protective face masks have become a common day-to-day sight, helping to protect people from the toxins in the air.

Work cultures have toxins as well. Toxic habits cloud the air so people can’t see clearly through issues of accountability, and choke out morale and productivity. Here are three behavioral toxins that make it hard for people to breathe around you, and what you can do to improve the quality of your workplace environment.

Toxin #1: Giving In

Compromising to keep the peace has dangerous long-term consequences. It undermines your credibility, keeps important issues hidden, and erodes your sense of self-worth.

  • Remove this toxin by sharing your feelings and asking for what you want. Doing so doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it, but it sends the message that you, your feelings, and your ideas are worthwhile.

Toxin #2: Giving Unsolicited Advice

Nothing is more cancerous to morale and self-confidence than nonconsensual helping. Just because you see a solution for someone else doesn’t mean they want your help.

  • Remove this toxin by letting people know you are available as a resource if needed. If you really feel compelled to offer a suggestion, check your ego at the door and ask permission first. Let go of your need to rescue others. Focus instead on helping them find their own solutions.

Toxin #3: Giving Ultimatums

In China they call this “the final warning,” and it means you are laying down the gauntlet. Usually ultimatums involve threats and attempt to instill fear in another person to motivate behavior. Ultimatums are great if you want to be like the substitute teacher whom everybody hates.

  • Remove this toxin by sharing your boundaries and principles in an assertive way, without threats. It’s OK, and possible, to remind your teammates and employees about deadlines, ask them for commitments, and enforce consequences without resorting to Orwellian tactics.

Do you want cleaner air where you work? Replace your toxic behaviors with compassionate accountability and watch people thrive!


Get training to end drama in your workplace. 

Get certified to train others in our powerful positive conflict curriculum 

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Is Full Disclosure Required For Authenticity?

Authenticity is pretty basic on the surface; be true to yourself, with others.

Beneath the surface is where it gets complicated. That’s because humans play a lot of games with themselves and each other about what (and who) they want to share with others.

If you are being true to one of your own goals or principles, but you haven’t shared your honest motives and feelings with others, you are being deceitful and inauthentic. Defending a motive or end goal that has not been stated is justification, not authenticity. Withholding your feelings about what’s going on is also deceitful.

The first step towards authenticity is to disclose your motives and feelings. Ironically, these statements aren’t about your values or principles, they are about how you are feeling right now and why you care.

You can wax piously about your values and principles all day long, but if you don’t get vulnerable about your feelings, you are keeping a distance between yourself and others. It may be safe, but it’s not authentic because it’s only part of you. You can live consistently with your beliefs all year long, but if you don’t share with people what’s going on inside of you, you haven’t let them beneath the veneer to see all of you.

Authenticity starts with transparent, vulnerable disclosure. How will you tell the whole truth today?


Become a more authentic leader and communicator. Attend one of our communication and conflict training seminars.

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I Don’t Have To Like You To Empathize

I was recently coaching a client who wanted desperately to rebuild a relationship with with a key person in his life. At some point we got on to the topic of empathy, and how important empathy is for relationships. After I’d explained a little about what empathy is, he blurted out, “But I don’t really like him, so how can I empathize?”

Great question!

Empathy is the capacity for finding common ground around emotional experiences.

Empathy can be developed. Although liking someone helps, it’s not required. All that’s required is you care enough to do the work and take the risk.

(more…)

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