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Archive for the ‘communication tips’ Category

I’ve been really interested for the past several months with the idea of “power.” It’s rife with misunderstandings and negative connotations… and so much potential. For some, power equates to “power over” – where one person must win out over others. As the media, both alternative and mainstream, regularly depicts both abuses and atrocities by those who possess power, this is of course a common misunderstanding, But it’s not true power.

True power does not arise from oppressing others or through fights. Speaking with power does not mean anyone else is being diminished or controlled. And it doesn’t mean that you have to Push to make your Point. It also does not mean you are trying to influence or control others – or please them.

Next: the real deal.

You know that you need to deal with the hard issues. But it’s not fun. Perhaps there’s an easy approach to it, eh? How about the idea that you actually don’t have to try? Here’s a little procedure:

  1. Think of something that really needs addressing. It could be an email or phone call that needs taking care of, or even a task you’ve been putting off.
  2. Picture it in front of you. Take long, deep breaths while visualizing it.
  3. Whatever image that comes up for you, imagine it getting smaller and smaller. As you breathe more deeply, let yourself get larger and more spacious.
  4. Know that whatever needs doing is already done. It’s in the past. All you have to do is step  over and do it, and it’ll nicely be behind you.
Really, it’s all about our frame of mind. Let it be simple – the work, much of the time, is in the avoidance. So try this technique out. Send me your results.

I just saw a blog post put on a LinkedIn group to which I belong. It followed the correct marketing structure to grab people’s attention – “5 Ways to…” – and had a title that pulled in attention: “5 ways to Take the Anxiety Out of Public Speaking.” Now, since I coach clients on this every day, I was intrigued to see how someone else would do it. Was it different than my work? Effective?

Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. The author suggested that a nervous speaker simply make sure to include standard speech components, like a strong structure, to alleviate nervousness, and to only make eye contact with the “friendly” faces. But to someone who’s nervous, this false reassurance does bupkus (Yiddish for “zilch”). They’re still freaked out.

Part 2: How can we address core issues, rather than a polite nod toward them? How does true transformation happen?

Want to make someone’s day? How often do you tell someone what you appreciate about them – either as people, or what they’ve done for you? Whether it’s the person selling you produce at the farmers’ market or the supermarket, or a good friend, have you recently told them directly how they influence your life for the better?

And – do you feel appreciated yourself? Per the Law of Attraction, giving is the best way to initiate receiving very soon. Plus, it also feels good!

Action: Notice those around you. Express what a difference they make in your life. You’ll definitely make their day.

I went to a café yesterday, and while trying to get to the cream to add some to my coffee, a woman was reaching across and was rather in the way of getting access to the condiments. She saw me and apologized, and said, “You gotta watch out for those short people – they’re pushy because people don’t see them.” (She was a bit shorter than me, but I hadn’t paid that fact much attention.)

I looked at her and said with a kind smile, “Maybe people see you more than you think they do.”

She said back to me, “I bet someone like you sees everybody.”

That made my day. I wasn’t exactly trying to do anything special. All I did was be present, patient (not that I always am, mind you), and notice someone else.

Action: Notice what’s around you. Let obstacles – people or otherwise – become  opportunities for noticing the gifts in your path.


Let’s sum up acting and reacting – and bring them together by looking at Japan.

We want to be fully aware of the world around us – and yet also empowered to choose to act differently. Yes, following the earthquake today in Japan, with horrifying tsunamis and 50 countries alerted. However, does it serve anyone to panic? Think of it this way: if someone you know is in hysterics, does it help them more to be there for them, and hold them… or to also go into hysterics?

Obviously the latter isn’t helpful. This reacting does nothing but reinforce helplessness and add more pain to a situation.

However, our reaction is likely connected to our ingrained societal scripts – which is part of how we act. Both, in fact, are part of our learned identity.

It doesn’t help to get caught up in our stories. So what’s an alternative? Awareness practices assist us in watching them, and creating some new breathing room for new aspects of ourselves to emerge, in tune with the environment.

Perhaps, with their assistance, we can move into a new place of action – a combination where we are able to react consciously. Or, to act in attunement with both our centers and with the world. That is to be in tune with the environment, but also to find our center.

So: don’t ignore what’s happening in Japan, or when disaster strikes in the world or in your life. Do what’s needed. But don’t simply get wrapped up in how it’s presented in the media. Choose to act in the best way you can: send love and any assistance you’re able.


As we’ve seen, both acting and reacting have their upsides and downsides. Now, obviously we’re taking “acting” away from its theater meaning… or are we?

Acting on Stage – and in Life

An actor, in a traditional play, has a script she has learned, rehearses, and then performs on stage. We too, have learned scripts we’re playing out, often without realizing we’re doing so.

In improv, however, the improv actor’s job is to react to the current moment. Now, a lot of “bad” improv is out there – where the improviser is trying to be funny (e.g., create a funny character) rather than truly listen and respond, which makes it feel inauthentic. Similarly, if you are not appropriately responding to the current moment, you might appear a bit fake too.

Next: integrating the two.

Being an Actor, Acting, and Action

Last post we addressed reacting. Now, let’s focus on acting – being an actor in your own life. To act is to choose how you move through the world. Your actions originate with you at the center of your universe.

Benefits: You have more power to determine your own destiny.

Drawbacks: You may in fact be disconnected from other people, and could act inappropriately to the present circumstance.

Worst case scenario: You’re in your own head and not aware of what to do. Or, you rebel from the status quo, trying to be your own person – but in fact rebellion is still a type of reaction.

Best case scenario: You can walk through life and make conscious choices for the highest good, regardless of what is happening around you.

Part three: how these relate to “acting” on stage.

In your life, are you an Actor – or a Reactor? Both are essential. Let’s take a look at them, and how they can work together.

Reactions, Responding and Reacting

The most typical way of being in the world is to react. This is understandable, as it’s fairly habitual. Social constructionists say that our personalities are formed in response to everything around us – and we continue to reify and reenact those patterns unless we undertake an act of intervention (e.g., therapy, meditation, or a dramatic life event).

Benefits: You’re in tune with everyone else.

Drawbacks: Everyone else determines your reactions, triggering your own habitual responses.

Worst case scenario: Being a “nuclear reactor,” where external stimuli set off internal explosions that ricochet back to others and create unhappy dynamics.

Best case scenario: You know what’s happening with others, and are in touch with the best way to respond to them.

Next, we’ll take a look at acting.

Sometimes we have strong feelings about something – but we’re in a situation where it’s tricky to share. Perhaps it’s at work, or with family, and you don’t want to rock the boat or are worried about keeping your job. Unfortunately, this means that you can end up taking care of other people at the expense of yourself. Here’s a guide of what to do:

  1. Speak from your own perspective. You don’t know universal truths. If with a boss or colleagues, you can use phrases such as, “In the past months I’ve noticed…” or “This is a situation where we could improve some things, if it’s okay to give some input?” And with family or friends, “I feel” statements – rather than “You did this…” are essential.
  2. Be a little vulnerable. It helps to let others see our humanity and our soft side – especially if we say something that’s hard to hear.
  3. Frame it in terms of desiring to see something change for the positive. Always seek a solution, rather than being stuck in the problem. Express your desire for change.
  4. Ask for what you want. If you need something in particular, don’t expect the other person to somehow know.

This is truly just a start – but an invaluable one. If any of the above are steps you’ve skipped, try to add ’em in to your process.

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