Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

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  • November 6, 2018

    Civil and Respectful: How to Argue Civilly

    Civil and Respectful: How to Argue Civilly

    I'm a subscriber to the VitalSmarts Crucial Skills newsletter. VitalSmarts is a training company and a team of authors responsible for excellent books and trainings, like Crucial Conversations, Crucial Accountability. and The Influencer. You can find them all on Amazon and on their website, along with downloadable free resources.

    In a recent newsletter, Joseph Grenny's post on "How to Argue Civilly" is a brief summary of best practices for the kinds of emotional conversations we might have with loved ones, especially around the holidays. I got curious about who else is writing on this topic, and did a little research on "how to argue civilly." A quick Google search returned pages of possibilities. I list three here that I found particularly useful.

    In this time of unrest and polarization, I'm doing what I can to engage my own difficult conversations with respect, curiosity and compassion. If someone thinks or feels differently about a candidate, a policy, or a party, what harm can come from learning how they arrived at their opinions? Most of the time, I find differences fascinating, not frustrating. 

    That said, I've written a lot recently on how to communicate successfully, so I'll stop here and let you read what others are saying.

  • October 9, 2018

    A Failure to Communicate: Part 3--Consider Your Purpose

    A Failure to Communicate: Part 3--Consider Your Purpose

    I titled this post before I started writing it, with the intention of talking about the one piece of a difficult conversation that steers the ship--my purpose for holding it. Then, it occurred to me that the purpose of any conversation is intimately connected to the purpose for my life, my work, my reason for being. For example:

    • Why do I hold certain conversations and not others?
    • What makes this one worthy of my energy and time?
    • How would things unfold if I didn't bring up the issue?
    • What are the consequences of this decision, pro and con?

    A lot goes into the decision for me and, I hope, for you. Because whether and how I express myself, listen, acknowledge you (if I do), and look for mutual ground (or not), says a lot about who I am...

  • September 11, 2018

    When There's a Failure to Communicate: Choose Love

    When There's a Failure to Communicate: Choose Love

    We appear to be taking sides on everything.

    • Immigration
    • Gun control
    • The economy
    • Our schools
    • Workplace and family issues 

    Even Nike commercials. 

    We've stopped talking with each other. And we must find a way to reverse this trend--somehow....

  • August 14, 2018

    Internal Aikido: Being and Doing

    Internal Aikido: Being and Doing

    The new owner and chief instructor at Portsmouth Aikido, Aaron Cass, gave a seminar at the dojo recently on "Internal Aikido." It was enlightening, and fun. You may say this is what I do, and to some extent you'd be correct. I help individuals and organizations use the aikido metaphor to think and act more purposefully in stressful situations, like conflict. I teach them how to incorporate aikido principles, such as blending and redirecting energy by using words to listen, acknowledge, and express a point of view.

    However, Aaron was teaching something else--specifically  how to carry ourselves physically so that our posture is aligned in a way that allows for efficient and effortless body dynamics.

  • July 17, 2018

    Questions in Service of the Asked

    Questions in Service of the Asked

    I first heard the phrase--"questions in service of the asked"--as a participant in a workshop with Essential Partners, originally the Public Conversations Project, in Boston. It took me some time--and a lot of practice--to figure out what it meant and how to do it.

    I've written previously about the power of inquiry, curiosity and discovery, of asking useful questions, and of acknowledging what you hear to make sure the "asked" knows you're listening. After almost 25 years of teaching, coaching, and my own experience in conflict situations (yes, I have them, too), I can still get stuck on what questions to ask. What would help unravel this conflict knot? How can I better see where this person is coming from? What needs to happen here to find resolution?

  • June 19, 2018

    Making "I Statements" Easy: A Feeling, A Need, A Request

    Making

    Reading a recent online post, I was struck by the author's thoughts on the "I-statement." She was referring to the sometimes tricky communication technique by which I express to you a need, a feeling, or a request, by putting the responsibility for clarity or understanding on myself, rather than on you. It helps me communicate the impact of your behavior, whether positive or otherwise.

    Think of a recent verbal conflict. Did you make accusations like "You always ___! You never ___! You are such a ___! You make me feel ___!"

    Notice how the focus of those statements is on the other person--the "you" you are facing in the fight. An "I" statement shifts the focus and helps you express what's going on for you, as in, "I'm feeling surprised at your remark. I need to hear more in order to understand what's behind it. I'm asking you to elaborate." Your conflict partner is less likely to feel defensive, when you leave the "you" out. And you're more likely to connect by stating the need behind your feeling.

  • May 22, 2018

    How Not to Take Yourself So Seriously: 5 Practices

    How Not to Take Yourself So Seriously: 5 Practices


    "Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive." -- Elbert Hubbard


    Last week I was offered another lesson at the indoor pool where I swim. Sunday, it seems, has become everyone's favorite day. The pool was packed. Lane designations are important when it's crowded, and two lanes are reserved for slower, leisurely swimmers--like me.

    So, I was in the first leisure lane with two other swimmers, while another very slow swimmer was in the second lane. Things were flowing well until three guys got into the second leisure lane with the slower swimmer. They were much faster and kept running into him--literally.

    I got upset and finally spoke to the guys...

  • April 24, 2018

    Defusing Customer Disputes: 7 Strategies

    Defusing Customer Disputes: 7 Strategies

    Defusing difficult or angry customers calmly and assertively benefits the company, the customer, and the service representative. Managing any difficult situation requires clear communication and intention. You improve with practice. And the rewards, both in terms of personal comfort and bottom line profit, are great. The key lies in your ability to manage yourself so that you can manage and support the customer.

  • March 27, 2018

    Aikido Off the Mat: Tenkan and Acknowledgment

    Aikido Off the Mat: Tenkan and Acknowledgment

    (from my new book, Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace, to be published April 2019, by Career Press)

    Quite a few Ki Moments posts over the years have focused on the power of acknowledgment in difficult conversations. I've even called it the "secret sauce" on occasion, because acknowledgment demonstrates respect for my partner’s position, and respect is a powerful thing.

    In aikido, there’s a body movement called tenkan, most often translated as “convert” or “change.” Tenkan “converts” the aikido attack into energy I can use, and is a physical embodiment of acknowledgment...

  • February 27, 2018

    From Adversaries to Partners: Resolving Co-worker Conflict

    From Adversaries to Partners: Resolving Co-worker Conflict

    In my last two posts, I asked you to help me name my new book. And I received so much useful feedback--thank you! I asked for specific suggestions for the title, as well as your vote on the top four. I got all of that and more. I received some really helpful advice. For example:

    • I believe the title needs to clearly say what the benefit is to me. It has to get me to go, "Hmmm....," tweak my curiosity and compel me to to pick it up.
    • I wouldn't limit it to managers. If it says "leaders," both leaders and managers will think it applies to them.
    • The focus should be on WHAT you want to achieve through the book versus HOW. So I'm thinking Aikido isn't necessary for the title despite how integral it is to your message. 
    • My "take" is including aikido in your title will distinguish your book from the profusion of books in this field just as aikido distinguishes you professionally.
    • The title should make a prospective reader feel like the author "gets them" and knows what they most need and want and fear and hope for.
    • The word ‘aikido’ begins to define the book. It would be attractive for a certain segment of the population but might not be helpful for a broader audience.
    • "From Adversaries to Partners" paints a vivid picture of the issue (adversaries) to a desired solution (partners), which is much more powerful than just 'getting along'.
    • It sounds like the idea is to train the employees to resolve their own conflict so the manager no longer has to be in the middle.
    • As you look at all those titles, remember to breathe and pick the one that most resonates for you!

    It was tough, because some viewpoints directly contradicted others--just like life! ...

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