Jun 242012

I recently stumbled across a blog written by Sam Parker. In it, he gave some terrific tips for speaking “no ego:”

  • Be humble. Understand you are a (small) part of the world. Service and patience should be your
top priorities.
  • Be teachable. Focus on what you can learn, rather than showing what you know. Remember that almost everything you know began with the work of someone else.
  • Listen more. Make every effort to truly understand what others are saying (beyond just words). It makes for better connections. Allow a small gap of silence before responding. Ask questions (and listen, again).
  • Appreciate people. Enjoy others’ contributions. Don’t squelch ideas or defend territory. Encourage people more.
  • Relax. Let go of the need to be right or win every time.



Mar 072012

Nothing spotlights sagging self-esteem stronger than when people judge others. Growing up, I was the supreme judge. A fat kid (I had to wear “Husky” brand pants), I constantly put down others in an attempt to pull myself up.

Looking back, I had good teachers; my family members were masters in the art of judgment. Around the dinner table, we would take turns picking on and judging one another. It got so bad during one Sunday supper that my brother’s new bride fled the dining room; our cruelty had reduced her to tears.

Teachers used to preach, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything.”  Even when I don’t verbalize judgments, I subtly communicate them and damage relationships.

I now know that judging serves me poorly. My judgments separate me from others, and above all I want connection in my life. I also know that self-esteem is an inside job; it must come from within, not by putting people down.

When judgments bubble up, they must be examined. Writers Carol Kurtz Walsh and Tom Walsh recommend applying “The 90/10 Rule.”  When judgment rears its serpent-like head and we experience a strong negative emotional reaction to another, assume that only 10 percent of our reaction is based upon the situation, leaving a whopping 90 percent that belongs to past.

Old habits are hard to break. Although my self-esteem is much stronger than it once was, I still catch myself becoming judgmental toward a person or situation at times. When I do, I try to remember the 90/10 Rule and these wise words: “When you point your finger at someone else, there are four fingers pointing back at you.”

Feb 062012

Last week, I wrote about the power of attunement. I wrote: “To find attunement, we must first be attuned to ourselves. The journey toward connection challenges us to become more self-aware. By shifting from hypervigilance to attunement, we own our feelings, become more open and receptive, and pave the way for authentic communication.”

To find attunement, we have to separate our feelings from those of other people. We have to monitor our emotions, thoughts, judgments, tension and calm. We have to ask ourselves, “What am I feeling now?”

Psychotherapist Charlotte Kasl in her wonderful book If the Buddha Married offers these additional questions to help us be more attuned to ourselves and others:

  • What is going on with me?
  • Am I afraid?  Am I angry?  Am I hurting?
  • Am I calm?  Am I open?
  • Am I really asking for what I want?
  • Did I agree to something that I don’t really want to do?
  • Are feelings of inadequacy or confidence underlying my words?
  • Am I being honest?
  • Is there a more skillful way to handle the situation?

Finally, when we think we know what another is feeling it can be valuable to ask if we are projecting our own feelings onto others. Is it us or them who are feeling angry, elated, hurt or content?



Jan 302012

More than twenty years ago, I was appointed general manager of a large public relations firm and charged with building the Atlanta office. Although I did my best to cover it up, I lived in constant fear I might fail.

Uneasy in my new role, I became hypervigiliant. Something as simple as an employee’s suggestion that we do something in a different way felt like a direct assault on my authority. I heard the employee’s suggestion as a criticism that I was not good enough.

Once I became more self-aware and comfortable with myself and my abilities, I began to operate from a place of attunement. I was more relaxed and receptive. My desire was to know, understand, communicate and connect. I was no longer threatened by suggestions.  Instead, I welcomed them.

When we are attuned, we resonate with ourselves and other people. We seek connection over safety.

To find attunement, we must first be attuned to ourselves. The journey toward connection challenges us to become more self-aware. By shifting from hypervigilance to attunement, we own our feelings, become more open and receptive, and pave the way for authentic communication.

Nov 162011

Friend or “friendlie?” Marketing guru Seth Godin says friends are those people who we have a real relationships, while “friendlies” are those we share a digital link but no real connection.

I heard a story the other day that made me laugh. A man who is active in a social network was in a chat room with his favorite online community when his spouse walked in, looked over his shoulder, and teased, “You’re must be talking to your imaginary friends again.”

While imaginary friends are okay (I had one growing up named “Johnny Angel.”), they aren’t the same as real friends. At this point in my life, I want connection. I want friends.

Do you consider yourself my friend or friendly? If I am a friendlie, how can I earn your friendship? E-mail me. I want to know.

Oct 172011

This wonderful clip is on the power of vulnerability. It features a researcher with a great sense of humor Brene Brown. http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html.

My friend Greg McVoy sent me it to me. His timing was impeccable; I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately.

One of the things I’m beginning to understand is that vulnerability and authenticity are first cousins, and together they create connection. To connect, we have to allow ourselves to be seen.

In this clip, Brown also addresses shame, love, and belonging. Do yourself a favor and watch it.