Framing and the words we choose

When someone gives you advice that starts with “Here’s what you should do…” it can come across as: “If you were smart…”.  Not the best way to prime someone to listen.

Context and the way a message is framed can be more important than the message itself.  Imagine a letter with the most brilliant and valuable words, stuffed in an envelope.  It all becomes meaningless if the envelope is tossed in the garbage.

Prime people to receive helpful advice by making sure it actually sounds helpful, not judgemental or critical.  One example is: “Here’s something that worked for me in the past…”

The truth about drama

I’ve never met anyone who confessed to loving drama or dramatic situations.  Yet it seems to surround some people.  For those who are and care to remain truly drama-free, the occasion to even hear the word “drama” – let alone be exposed to it – is rare.

If you find yourself constantly surrounded by drama at every turn…it’s possible that you are the source.  And if that’s true, you can change it.



Three ways to stop taking things personally

One of the Four Agreements (all of which are life-changing if you implement them) is “Don’t take anything personally”.  Here are a few tips that may help with that:

1) Know that most uncivil behavior is a reflection of others’ issues and not you
2) If it’s even possible that something hurtful could have been unintentional or meant to be helpfully constructive, learn to apply the most charitable interpretation
3) Even if a charitable reading is wrong and it IS personal, remember that your character and self-worth are not defined by your mistakes or others’ views

Character over reputation

Perhaps character could be described as our reputation with ourselves.  In that sense, we can strive to be the kinds of people that we ourselves hold in high regard, improving our internal character/reputation/image.

Let’s not pretend that it doesn’t matter what others think about us.  Of course it matters.  Yet it’s still possible to prioritize character over reputation.  In the end, both your character and your self-worth is determined by you, not what others might say about you.

Saving time isn’t the end goal

Productivity tips help us get more done and save time, which is only valuable if we have meaningful ways to spend the time we’re saving.

Without a way to fill the void, most of us will default to activities that distract us from doing deep work, and non-urgent but meaningful tasks, or the introspection that we’ve been cleverly waiting on the “right time” to execute.

So if you’re saving time, have a plan to spend what you saved.  Even if it’s just intentionally, blissfully doing nothing for a change.

New habit hack

Developing a new habit is more about creating the habit itself than the actual behavior. Exercising is far easier than creating a daily habit to exercise.

Knowing this, the hack is to create a routine that takes 30 seconds to accomplish and repeat it for 21 days in a row.  Floss one tooth.  Do only three pushups.  Sit and take just three breaths without trying to meditate for 30 minutes.  Resist the temptation to do more.

After 21 days, you’ll have done the hard part (creating the habit), and you can add as much time or as many reps as you want.

The essential soft skill

No matter your age, experience, talent or skill level, anyone can improve one of the most essential soft skills: being coachable.

Consider how difficult it is to interact with those who are never open to being wrong, have over-inflated egos, and are incapable of processing feedback to appreciate how valuable those with exact opposite traits are.

Being coachable is an important quality to look for in employees, business associates, and friends, and important to encourage in children.