Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

A friend on Facebook recently posted the following image:

Although the message is humorous and one that is sure to be liberally passed around to friends, family members, and office colleagues alike, there is a lot of truth behind it.

There are people in our lives–whether intimates or casual acquaintances–who are haters. For whatever reason they choose to focus on the differences rather than the similarities. They prefer to hoard offenses, point out deficiencies, and recall failures.

Who knows why? More importantly, who cares?

There are individuals who revel in generating poison and being bossy, and no amount of your trying to clean up their outlook or reset their attitude or change their point of view is going to have lasting effect.

Good News: Your job is not to win over the haters. You are not the Jerk Whisperer.

Think about it for a second.  What are you trying to win them over to? Your point of view? Your ideas? Your ideal? And while certain things may work fabulously for you, obviously it is not the philosophy they have chosen for their own life.

Who’s to say you are exactly right and the other person is so wrong anyway? Frankly, your consistent nagging and criticizing and quarreling (trying to win them over) creates a strong argument for your being labeled a hater. >Ouch<

How about a little more kindness and flexibility in your approach? Why not give the other person the benefit of the doubt now and again?

What would happen if you would agree to disagree (without serving up a side dish of malice)? What would it take for you to find some common ground to build upon?

Remember, “the ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but hold hands” (unknown).

Whatever you are, don’t be a hater (or a jerk whisperer),


Stevens Creative Consulting

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“A single lie destroys a whole reputation for integrity.”
Baltasar Gracian

In the days of old, or so I’m told, one could tell a liar by the fact that his pants were on fire.  Oh, that it were so easy to distinguish between honest men and scoundrels today!

Why do people lie? And why in the world do people lie on behalf of other people? Politicians, plagiarism, manipulation, cheating, lost in the mail, dog ate the homework, affairs, tax fraud, half-truths, out right deception — it’s all so ugly.

Now, I’m of the opinion that life would be more enjoyable if one’s pants were to spontaneously erupt in flames as a result of an untruth — and — there would be a good deal fewer false statements blowing around.

It doesn’t matter who says it, or what it looks like or sounds like, or what it’s wrapped up with, or how often it’s repeated, a lie is still a lie.

On the other hand,

Honesty has a beautiful and refreshing simplicity about it.
No ulterior motives.
No hidden meanings.
An absence of hypocrisy, duplicity, political games, and verbal superficiality.
As honesty and real integrity characterize our lives,
there will be no need to manipulate others.
~ Chuck Swindoll

Why not be truthful today? Break through the fear. Face the facts. Take honesty for a spin. Quit lying to yourself and others. Become a person of character. Stop playing fast and loose with the facts. “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters” [Albert Einstein].

Isn’t your integrity, character, and reputation more important than the perceived convenience and comfort of the untruth you are preparing to speak?

Whatever you are, I hope your pants are not on fire!


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The past several days I have been hibernating at home, dealing with a nasty cold that has used up all of my energy.  Between naps, I have been working through a stack of magazines that, during healthy times, rarely warrants a glance.

One magazine that has caught my attention is Traveler. Each issue includes a section entitled Etiquette 101, where readers are provided guidance on how to properly behave in foreign countries. The insider tips and observations, which cover business interactions and casual encounters, make for interesting reading.

In the December issue, the publisher discusses proper etiquette one should observe while visiting Russia. Two suggestions, that have far-reaching implications, caught my attention:

1.  If something isn’t going your way — at the post office, at the hotel — politeness may work, but at some point you might have to stand your ground. “Don’t take no for an answer.”

2.  Contrary to popular belief, Russians do believe in lines. They became experts at lining up during Soviet times. But they also figured out how to look for an opening.

Don’t leave too much space in front of you or someone will conclude that you don’t want what’s at the head of the line badly enough to mind if they cut in front of you.  Yell out, “Ya poslyedniy!” (“I’m last!)  if someone tries it.  It’s considered a helpful reminder to the prospective cutter.

What great recommendations, regardless of the country or situation you find yourself in.

Depending on how badly you want it, sometimes you just have to stand your ground, refuse to take no for an answer, and remind others not to cut in front of you in line.

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be” [Socrates].

We’ve heard it since we were children. “Honesty is the best policy” [Shakespeare]. Were you aware the quote continues, “If I lose mine honor, I lose myself”?

I’ve been wondering if honesty is still the best policy?  Does anyone care if they lose their honor? Or lose themself?

I’m just asking because I see so little of honesty these days.

What I do see . . .

– Politicians who say they love their families but stash lovers across town or around the globe.

– Deceptive lending that has brought the housing industry to its knees.

– Small print. Long disclaimers. Full page apologies.

– Neglected safety procedures. Misplaced documents. Pleading the fifth.

– Big proposals. Multi-million dollar lawsuits. Bait and switch.

– Fact finding missions. Special prosecutors. Testifying before Congress.

– Falsehoods instead of facts. Corruption instead of conviction.

We nonchalantly read the stories and listen to the reporting, and with a bite of toast and a sip of coffee, we begin another day in paradise.

Where has all the honesty gone?

And why aren’t we more enraged at its absence?

Perhaps, we’ve become so accustomed to fraud and deceit, that Ponzi Schemes and corporate corruption and government  bailouts have *yawn* lost their ability to outrage.   “It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit” [Noel Coward].

Maybe honesty is “out of fashion” like gas guzzling cars, 8-track tapes, fur coats, and Tiddlywinks.

I hope not.

Honesty isn’t always easy, and at times it can be more costly than cheating. (I know this to be true from personal experience.) But I really like what Dr. Seuss said,

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

Regardless of what is being asked, or who is asking, or how it is asked, the correct answer is, simply, an honest one.

“The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy” [Robert E. Lee].

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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Blah, blah, blah.  Blah — blah, blah” [Ralph Waldo Emerson].

“So, what do you think of my blog?”

I asked that question recently, just to see what kind of answers I would receive. The bogus Emerson quotation I opened this post with was a verbatim response that someone shared.  Which, by the way, caused the entire lot of us to collapse in a fit of giggles.

Some people believe that all of the pondering, the wise quotes from philosophers long gone, and the positive affirmations from success gurus are fantastic.

Others think they’re okay, if you like that sort of thing.

Some days, you tell me the topic resonates, the thought inspires, and the calls to action prompt a response and strengthen your resolve.

Other days, though, it’s too much!  The ideas are vanilla, or they are too surreal, or too sugary. It’s all dessert and no protein! You need something you can sink your teeth into.

Maybe, it’s just that each one of us takes away what we need for that particular day. Today might not be an Emerson type of day, maybe what you needed was Mark Twain or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Robin Williams.

Perhaps, what you were hungry for was confidence or contentment or courage, and I served up imagination, potential or responsibility.  No worries.

Check back tomorrow to see what’s on the menu. I bet you’ll find something that will satisfy.  If not specifically for you, then something you can take away to share with someone else.

Keep reading, I’m sure you’ll find something that lights a spark. I do every single day!

“Be yourself.
Above all, let who you are,
what you are
what you believe,
shine through every sentence you write,
every piece you finish.”
~ John Jakes ~

I guess today was a John Jakes kind of day. Thanks for stopping by!

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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Everybody hears, but few listen” [Bobby Knight].

Do you have something to say? Do you need to be heard?

We have so many ways to communicate:   newsletters, post cards, telephone, e-Blasts, email, fax, commercials, infomercials, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, web sites, text, face-to-face, blogs, YouTube, magazines, and the list goes on and on and on.

If you have a thought, opinion, or idea, you can post it for public consumption in as little as a few seconds. While we are drowning in communication, we are in the midst of a drought of listening — prompting even more communication.

We grade ourselves on the quantity of our communication (and the number of responses we receive) — not the significance of the message.

We chide friends with, “I haven’t seen you on Facebook recently, what’s up?” No matter that their last posting was something similar to, “My hair hurts.” (Which, by the way, prompted seven of their closest friends to reply.)

Another comment recently “overheard” on Facebook was, “Isn’t it sad when you post something and no one responds?”  Not really.  Perhaps what you are saying is inconsequential. Maybe your posting wasn’t as compelling as, “My hair hurts.”

We toss out senseless words and meaningless postings because, like fishing, we think if we throw enough stuff out there someone will bite, and that will prove our importance. Not stopping to realize that maybe the stuff we’re saying, really is just “stuff” and rather than building our case, it dilutes our message.

Picture this:  A child attempts to get her parent’s attention. A pat on the arm is ignored. So there is more patting. Then calling, “Mama?” Still no response. Which brings about stronger patting and louder calling. Again, no response. In frustration, the child becomes even louder until the parent finally responds with impatience, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?”

This scenario plays out repeatedly with parents and children, employers and employees, customers and organizations, citizens and governments, athletes and officials.  A breakdown in communication results in distrust, impatience, frustration, or apathy.

I’ve compiled a small sampling of news stories from this past week:

  • Thousands of Americans organize a Tea Party and march on Washington, D.C., this weekend to demand the attention of government officials.
  • The President’s televised address is interrupted by a Representative’s outburst of “You Lie!” and the nation takes sides.
  • Serena Williams’ expressed her frustration with an official at the U.S. Open with a tirade that cost her a point and the match.
  • If nothing changes at today’s mediation session, the Sheffield-Sheffield Lake Teachers Association union will strike on September 30.

What is going on? We talk and type and text from our first waking moment until we close our eyes in sleep. We flaunt a protected right of freedom of speech, but where is the obligation to listen? To really hear what the other person is trying to say?

Can you hear the unspoken message beyond the words, outside of the outbursts, and behind the screen?

Many times it is simply, “Listen to me!”

If you want to make a difference — to influence, impact, and engage — take the time to listen to what is really being said. Don’t listen to respond. Listen for the sake of connecting with the other person. To understand. To uncover the truth. When you listen, you show you care, not only about what is being said, but about who is saying it.

“The first duty of love is to listen.”
Paul Tillich

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself” [Abraham Lincoln].

In my neighborhood, there are three churches on the same street. Although I have never set foot inside any of them, I’m sure each of these buildings are filled with loving, kind, devoted followers. I would imagine it is also safe to speculate that all the churches embrace similar goals (impact the community, increase membership, promote God, etc.).

Regardless of how similar these churches appear, they are quite different in their approach and methodology. Here’s how I know: during the past week, the following messages appeared on their signs, advertising upcoming sermons:

Church #1: Come to me all who are weary and burdened.
(Conventional message. Probably safe, but boring.)

Church #2: God’s Holy Wrath
(Holy Smokes — literally! I wonder how many new members will visit?)

Church #3: Everyone is Naked Underneath Their Clothes
(These people have a sense of humor; they must like what they do. I’d stop by.)

I found the odd collection of phrases to be quite humorous. While the intent of the ministers was to make a positive impact, their signs were not equally successful in communicating the message.

And, well, this started me thinking about the signs we carry around everyday — the ones we use to announce our attitudes and communicate our thoughts. Even though we don’t actually carry around pieces of cardboard with words on them, our signs are quite evident; people read them loud and clear!

Here are several signs I have “read” recently. Any sound familiar?

  • Why doesn’t anyone appreciate me?”
  • “How can I help?”
  • “Look at Me! I’m very important.”
  • “You’re not part of our group.”
  • “I don’t really care what you had planned.”
  • “Thank you for (finally) leaving.”
  • “We’re glad you’re here!”
  • “I value your input.”
  • “Your ideas are insignificant.”
  • “I’m grumpy. Stay out of my way.”

Think about this important truth: Perception is Reality. The perception you create through your actions — the manner in which people perceive you — becomes their reality. Your intent may be one thing, but the message you display is the real thing.

You may honestly believe people are important. But if you fail to return phone calls in a timely manner, regularly speak in a critical tone, or constantly run late for appointments, you are writing a different message. One that says,”You are irrelevant.”

You may have the best of intentions, but if your message is misinterpreted because of your actions, you’re in trouble and your effectiveness is compromised. As Mark Twain said, “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I can’t hear what you are saying.” Talk about miscommunication!

So, what does your sign say? If you don’t like the message, the good news is that our signs are easily erasable. We have the ability to update the message instantly by changing our actions and readjusting our attitude.

Ian Percy said that “we judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” Don’t forget that others are reading our signs and using that same standard to judge us right back.

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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