Archive for the 'Musings' Category

Feb 12 2015

The secret to a great Valentine’s Day conversation

Published by under Musings

8551938948_1c2a58ae9c(Do not read this if you are completely prepared for every upcoming conversation that matters.)

Valentine’s Day can be confusing, if not downright depressing. This often stems from the fact that all those little cupids and hearts put pressure on you to have an important conversation. You stress and sweat about what to say, when to say it and where, and even with whom…and the day just gets closer and closer. Well, never fear. There is a secret to finding the right thing to say at the right time. All you have to do is answer this question honestly and the conversation you need to have will fall into place:

 What is your intention for the conversation?

Now, it’s not just the question, it’s also the opportunity to “get honest with yourself”  that solves the puzzle.  Frankly, that may be the hardest part to figure out. But it’s necessary because intention is an aim that guides your action. If you know your intention, you know what to do.

Consider this–  if you want talk to your special someone about a upcoming ski trip, that’s a very different conversation than talking to them about spending your life together. More importantly, saying you want to have a conversation about skiing when you’re really intent on the bigger conversation only leaves people confused. I’m not saying there can’t be surprises in life.  I am saying that once you get clear about your intention, you’ll be much clearer about what to say, when and where. Of course, the hardest part may still be the action piece, but at least you’ll know what you SHOULD say.

To read how this applies to other conversations that matter, please read my post, Intention: The prescription for an authentic voice.

photo credit:  via photopin (license)

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Jan 16 2015

Question your own authority

Published by under Musings

small_2123376519Research has shown that the best way to stick to a plan is to be self-interrogative rather than self-affirming. In other words, new year’s resolutions don’t really work by themselves unless you examine your resolve. You need to question what you are doing and be willing to study your own behavior.  I find it interesting to learn that one of my favorite blogs, Lifehacker, has a post focused on using the Socratic Method when you are in an argument with someone; you can diffuse the heat of the argument by asking questions rather than giving answers (or excuses!) This one is not exactly science, but makes a lot of sense nonetheless.

Is it a surprise that the best plans and conversations take thoughtful consideration?  This is called “inquiry,” and it is a terrific tool to bring to interpersonal communication because it increases understanding and opens doors to innovation.  Here are three more ways that inquiry can help you improve your communication:

 1. Some people get nervous about meeting new people.  Remember that everyone’s favorite topic is talking about himself or herself.  Be the one to ask questions about the other one and you will be their new best friend.

2. The next time you don’t understand someone’s actions, don’t assume anything.  Inquire.

3. When you need someone else to learn something, use inquiry to guide them to an answer.  (Think, “What would Socrates do?”) You might learn something, too!

For more on this topic, please see my post “3 Essential Ingredients of Meaningful Conversations.”

Please visit to learn about an organization that is using inquiry to improve education.

And here’s an organization that is using inquiry to change the way we talk to each other: The Center for Appreciative Inquiry

photo credit: Fred Seibert via photopin cc

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