Wednesday, December 15, 2004

2004 - A Year to Adore!

Lousy poetry aside, the title of this posting is what it's all about. Here we are, just a few weeks away from the end of another year. And what kind of year was it for you? Hopefully, it was one to remember - in a good way. So that's the exercise: Take out a clean sheet of paper and write down as many things as you can that helped make 2004 a Year to Adore! Go ahead, I'll wait!


Come on, keep going. My challenge, in fact, is for you to come up with 52 reasons that made 2004 A Year to Adore. Sure that may seem like a lot, but they don't have to be BIG things - it's perfectly okay if they're the tiniest of things. The only requirement is that you're glad they happened.

So make yourself a nice hot cup of coffee, or tea, (or pour yourself something cool and refreshing to drink) and go stream-of-consciousness for 10 minutes or so. See how many smiles you can remember from the year. And should you get stuck, simply stand up, take a few deep breaths, put a smile on your face, and see what else you can remember.

Need some help getting started? Simply apply the "Noun Game" - a technique I wrote about back in April. What you do is think about the people, places, and things (in that order) that were part of your life this year. Let yourself "tune in" to the happy memories associated with them and before you know it, you're list will be complete. This is an especially helpful technique if you happen to find the Holiday Season a particularly stressful time of year.

Finishing the year on a high note makes good sense because: (a) it's a nice way TO end the year; and (b) it sets the stage for an even better next year. So as this is my last blog entry of the year, thank you all for your continued support and readership. And here's looking to 2005 as the year to really thrive!

Family Rituals and Routines

So here's an unabashed plug for an e-book I created a few years ago. It's called Family Rituals: Fun Things Families Do Together and is available at

This e-book contains more than 110 family routines, behaviors, and activities - rituals that other families already practice - rituals that families from all over have come to enjoy. Chapter 3, Holiday Rituals, is particularly heart-warming this time of year.

But don't take my word for it. Here's what others have said:

  • "Barry, thanks for the opportunity to reflect on such wonderful moments in my life. I am truly grateful for my mother's good influence on me with rituals and how our family's honored these & created lots of our own as well!" -MJH
  • "I think this ritual thing is pretty cool. I think many people have rituals and don't even realize it!" -SH
  • "This book is really great. I wish you success - and happiness!" -MG

Fun Family Rituals is available for instant download. So please take a moment and visit to purchase your copy of Family Rituals: Fun Things Families Do Together.


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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Sometimes a Diagram Helps

I was recently asked about the process I use in my coaching. And after talking about it, I thought it made sense to make a diagram out of it. So link from here to see it. here it is:

If you have any questions about it, please feel free to ask.


Monday, December 06, 2004

You Get Unwanted Advice

Another excerpt from "What to Ask When You Don't Know What to Say," by Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman:

One of the most freely given gifts is opinion. Where you work, people are unusually generous. Your coworkers give you their ideas on how they think the work in your area could be improved all the time.

You certainly don't mind new ideas; you're as interested as anyone in finding better ways of doing things. You just wish others would follow your habit of asking people if they'd like to hear your idea before you thrust it on them. But you recognize that any sort of a defensive reaction will label you as closed-minded.

What to Ask: "If I Get the Chance to Actually Try Your Advice, Do I have Your Permission to Use It?"

This question should set back the unwanted adviser, especially if you emphasize the words "actually try." The reaction is likely to be a quizzically emphatic "Of course," to which you respond with a firmly pleasant "Thank you." The message ("Keep your ideas to yourself") may not get through the first time, but if won't take too many
repetitions to get the desired results.

Before you use this question, ask yourself why the advice troubles you. Is your colleague truly being overbearing, or are you threatened by and not open to the ideas of others?

What to Ask: "Do I Give You the Impression of Being Ineffective in My Work?"

The answer is almost certain to be a bewildered, "No. Why would you say that?" This gives you the opportunity to say, "Well, all the unsolicited advice I get around here makes me wonder." Then proceed to give some of the most offending examples of unsolicited advice you have been given. If you mix some of what you've received from this person with that from others, this person will not feel singled out for attack.

What to Ask: "How Do You Feel When You Believe That Other People Are Telling You How to Do Your Job?"

If you hear something such as, "Lousy," say you feel the same about unsolicited advice, especially when you find it to be excessive. If the person doesn't get the message, say, "I even felt a little that way when you ..."

If you hear, "It doesn't bother me at all," respond with, "It doesn't bother me either. In fact, I welcome it, except when ..." Complete this sentence with whatever is appropriate to this situation. You might choose to talk about an offensive or condescending tone you hear in the advice, you might comment on the excessive amount of it, or you might describe distasteful behavior on the other person's part when you fail to use the advice.


Friday, December 03, 2004

When Someone Steals Your Idea

I've been asked by a few clients for ways to handle a situation where a coworker "poaches" one of their ideas. Here's what Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman have to say about that from their excellent book, "What to Ask When You Don't Know What to Say":

"You don't believe what you hear. A colleague you previously considered a friend has infuriated you. She just reported to you how excited the boss was to hear her great idea on how to cut the company's printing expenses by twenty percent while improving the quality of the corporate communications program. At lunch last week you had asked for her comments on this same idea before you would break it to the boss in a meeting scheduled with him the day after tomorrow. You can't let her get away with stealing your idea."

What to Ask:"Where Did You Get That Idea?"

"The answer to this question will determine how you open your discussion with the "thief," but the ultimate thrust of your censure will be the same no matter what the answer.

"With your response, let her know how you feel about plagiarism, especially when one of your ideas is presented to the boss by someone else claiming credit for it. Before you confront this person, decide exactly what you expect as a remedy, and then demand it."

What to Ask: "Should You or Should I Tell the Boss Where the Idea Came from?"

"Unless your idea-stealing colleague is willing to negotiate reparations to your satisfaction, this is the ultimate question. Make it clear that you intend to tell the boss exactly what happened with or without her present. Unless she believes that she has more legitimacy with the boss than you do and is planning to engage in the "big lie" strategy, this should cause her to retreat.

"The question is a forceful assertion of your rights, your anger, and your expectation for redress. You're telling the person in unequivocal terms that the boss will be told, either by you or by her.

"If you sense that the person is experiencing sincere remorse and is worried about being fired, you have two options. The first is to demand the credit you deserve. Choose this if you think the person is playing you for a sucker of if you believe that the deserved kudos are necessary for your career mobility. The second option is to pull back and allow the person to save face. You might choose this if the person manifests sincere regret or if you believe the joy of victory is not worth the pain of the battle."

What to Ask: "Is There Any Reason Why I Should Not Go to the Boss Right Now to Set the Record Straight?"

"The preceding question conveyed your moral indignation and demanded a remedy. This question implies that you might be convinced otherwise. There are at least two predictable responses to your question. The first is for your coworker to defend her claim to the idea successfully, in which case you'll want to forcefully back down. The second is for your coworker to come clean, apologize, and seek your forgiveness. If you can forgive and forget, do so; you'll prove that you're the bigger person. Holding a grudge can rob you of energy better spent on more productive tasks."

What to Ask: "If You Were in My Shoes Right Now, What Would You Do?"

"This powerful question solicits empathy and role reversal. Borrowing a coworker's idea and presenting them as one's own often occurs without thought of repercussions or of the pain it may cause the true originator of the idea. With this question you're implying that there is pain and you want her to describe it.

"If she can't empathize or refuses to do so, tell her exactly how you are feeling and exactly what you plan to do as a result."

These may, or may not be the right questions for you to ask, but hopefully they've given you some good things to think about.