Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

Showing posts in the category “Communication”

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  • June 30, 2020

    Making Assumptions: Why Should You Catch Yourself?

    Making Assumptions: Why Should You Catch Yourself?

    In my last post, I posed a question about whether you can catch yourself when you're about to make an assumption about another person's thoughts or actions, and whether you can choose to move toward curiosity instead of judgment--a crucial awareness if you want to have more skilled conversations.

    I think now a more important question than "whether" you can catch yourself is "why you might want to".

    As I read and re-read the post, I came to see it as naive. Those of us who want to catch ourselves making assumptions will do it and get better at it. And there are some who don't want to get better and maybe don't care. If you just want to be right--or know someone who does--read on....

  • June 16, 2020

    Making Assumptions: Can You Catch Yourself?

    Making Assumptions: Can You Catch Yourself?

    Have you ever wondered what was going on in another person's mind when they spoke or acted in a way that for you was unimaginable? Did you leap into curiosity or judgment? 

    When our indoor pool was still open, I was enjoying the hot tub after my daily swim when I was joined by a fellow early morning swimmer. We know each other by name but otherwise not well. Without preamble, he began talking about the news of the day as if I was in his brain, knew exactly where he was coming from, and agreed with his views on the politics involved.

    He was really upset with what was going on in the primary race (COVID-19 wasn't yet a common topic of discussion) and he assumed I was also upset. I couldn't tell if he expected me to engage in the conversation or if he just needed to be heard. I didn't engage. I was enjoying my quiet time in the tub, and didn't want to encourage his strong emotions. I also felt differently about some of things he was angry about. 

    Regardless, he kept up a one-sided conversation, with increasing anger and frustration....

  • June 2, 2020

    Not Too Close! New Normal, New World

    Not Too Close! New Normal, New World

    Friend and colleague, Susan Poulin, produced a sweet video--The Coronavirus Shuffle--when the C-Virus first started making itself known here in NH and Maine. Susan's an author, playwright, and performance artist aka her wise and funny alter ego, Ida LeClair from Mahoosuc Mills, ME. In the video Susan/Ida reminds us what we should do to stay safe, while singing, dancing, and gesturing phrases like: "Wash your hands!" and "Wave to your neighbor!", and "Not too close! Not too close!" 

    Ida would be happy to know how often I think of her when I'm washing my hands, waving at a neighbor, or when I've wanted to respond to a close shopper or runner the way she does: "Not too close! Not too close!" Instead, I laugh at myself and regain my center.

    There is plenty about this new virus that doesn't make me smile, of course, at least not at first. One of the changes I've had to make, for example, is moving most of my in-person training (workshops, presentations, one-on-one coaching) to an online format. What?! Aikido movements on Zoom? How could that possibly work?

  • May 19, 2020

    The Tao of Tea

    The Tao of Tea

    My Ki Moments post today, The Tao of Tea, is by Jonathan Blakeslee, who writes about someone from his past, a role model who used aikido principles to disarm and redirect a difficult customer. As Jonathan puts it, I learned a lot from Veerinder, who in many ways inspired me to walk the path I am on now work-wise.

    If you live anywhere in or near the seacoast of New Hampshire, you probably know Jonathan and his work. He and his restaurant--White Heron Tea--are a wonderful feature of life here. Even in the shutdown, White Heron Tea continues to offer healthy and organic signature teas (and delicious muffins, cookies, and sandwiches). Knowing this, I think you'll appreciate Jonathan's essay even more.

    Whether Veerinder knew of aikido, he certaily understood how to turn an enemy into an ally, and how to advocate without attacking. Thank you, Jonathan, for the wonderful story....

  • March 10, 2020

    Training Your Inner Dragon

    Training Your Inner Dragon

    Wendy Palmer is writing a new book on "Dragons and Power." It's about how to to cultivate benevolent dragon energy. Quoting Wendy: 

    The power within us is like a dragon. In order for our dragons to become protectors they need training. We need to have a way to keep our dragon energy from running wild and becoming destructive.

    I love this concept of an inner dragon and can't wait to read Wendy's book. The concept puts me in mind of the DreamWorks animated movie "How to Train Your Dragon"...

  • February 25, 2020

    The In-Between Place

    The In-Between Place

    I'm excited to introduce a good friend, Susan Poulin. Actor, author, playwright and performance artist, Susan recently created a Talk for TEDxPortsmouth, here in Portsmouth NH where I live. Susan's TEDx Talk--Can You Find Your Identity Through a Heritage-Language--is fabulous. You should watch it if you want to see a really great Tedx Talk, and learn a bit about Susan's journey to re-learn her native French language. 

    As fascinating as is Susan's story of the journey back to her roots, how she achieved the goal of a stellar online video is an education in centered presence and emotional intelligence, and I asked her to write about it. I know you'll enjoy Susan's video, and the tale of discovery that led there....

  • February 11, 2020

    Predict the Potholes

    Predict the Potholes

    Carrol Suzuki is an online friend, colleague, and teacher. Her posts always inspire me to be a better listener, and her "Listening Better" website is a guide and instruction manual for how to do just that.

    Carrol is recognized as one of North America's premier business and workplace listening coaches, facilitators and specialists, and her writing is terrific and to the point. I love how much she says with so few words. I've passed along her nuggets before, and here's another for your learning pleasure.... (Thank you, Carrol!).

  • January 28, 2020

    I'm About to Learn Something!

    I'm About to Learn Something!

    Whenever conflict, large or small, comes along we are about to learn something.
    —Donna Schaper, Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City.

    I write often about the opportunities inherent in conflict, and about the importance of practice. The concept of practice applies to any skill we want to cultivate and, without doubt, practicing new conflict and communication skills requires some risk-taking.

    Yet, every conversation we engage in can be seen as a kind of practice. In the ones that go well, it may be easier to see the skills we used -- I had a clear purpose, I was centered, I asked some useful questions that helped my partner get to what was really bothering them.

    Yet, in my experience, it is the challenging, difficult, risky conversations that offer the greatest learning....

  • December 3, 2019

    In the Spirit of Giving: Respect, Presence, and Pausing for Breath

    In the Spirit of Giving: Respect, Presence, and Pausing for Breath

    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

    -- attributed to Ian Maclaren (1850-1907)

    In this month of sharing gifts, I'd like to share four brief stories from Ki Moments subscribers like yourself. Over the years, stories like these from generous readers demonstrate how big a difference it makes when we pause, take a moment to find our presence, and offer respect, sometimes when it is least expected. 

    These writers' experiences highlight real-world applications of aikido principles, such as respect, moving with instead of against, and that the only real enemy is the one within. When we practice inner self defense, we can manage whatever comes our way from outside...

  • October 22, 2019

    Working On Yourself Alone: A Metaskill for Difficult Conversations

    Working On Yourself Alone: A Metaskill for Difficult Conversations

    I had to have a difficult conversation. I was invited to deliver a training for the organizational development team at a large U.S. tech company. At the last minute the company said they wanted one of their facilitators to partner with me. I was already at the site, and I could see they wanted to give this person (let's call him Max) some experience, and I said OK.

    I explained to Max how to follow my lead. I indicated where he could be of assistance, and asked him to otherwise be an observer of the group. Things went well for a while, but soon Max began to add content, most of which seemed designed to show his expertise but wasn't relevant. When I asked a question of the group, Max spoke instead, taking a "front of the room" position and expanding on the topic.

    At the break I decided to talk with Max. I should tell you first that confronting people is not my favorite thing. My default style in conflict is to accommodate. But there was a job to do here, a group experience at stake, and objectives to be met. A strong purpose to protect the training experience propelled me to speak....

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