Fruitful Discussions

I liked this guidance from Dr. Britt Andreata on addressing conflict through managing difficult conversations

Here’s how the typical bad scenario unfolds:

1. Problems begin with another person (e.g. annoying or unwanted behaviors).  

2. People start building their cases – listing the wrongs done to them, collecting corroborating evidence, and seeking validation from others.

3. There is a tipping point in terms of frequency or intensity of the problems that lead to a confrontation where accusations are made and blame is attributed. 

4. Then the aftermath in terms of a animosity, loss of trust, and a damaged relationship.

Here’s a better way to deal:

1. Problems begin with another person.  

2. People spend some time reflecting on why the behavior is affecting you, getting clear on what you want to correct it, and trying to see from the other person’s perspective. 

3. The tipping point is sooner in terms of the frequency and intensity of the problems–so you nip it in the bud earlier–and you have a conversation with the other person where you have reframed the other person from an adversary to a partner (e.g. you’ve questioned the facts, assumptions, conclusions along with your emotions, beliefs, and actions–and you’ve looked at alternative narratives to these) and you take responsibility for your part, share your experience and goals to improve things, invite their perceptions, and “co-create solutions.”

4. Follow through with the other person to work together, implement the changes, and hold each other accountable to address the issues. 

The amazing thing about this approach to conflict management is that assuming the other person isn’t truly bad, evil, or gunning for you is that we can look at things from constructive perspective where we own our part, and they own theirs, and together we work together to make things better for everyone. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


Project Manager – The DIRECT(or)

So I learned this cool acronym for the roles of a project manager:


The project manager directs the project (similar to a director who is the project manager of a movie).

Here is how the project manager DIRECTs the project:

Define – Identify the opportunity or issue that the project will address including, the vision, scope, resources, and measures of success. (i.e. the “Charter”).

Investigate – Explore options and pros/cons for each (i.e. an “Analysis of Alternatives”).

Resolve – Solve and resolve (i.e. commit to) the course of action that will be pursued (i.e. “Project Plan”).

Execute -Do the project and track/manage cost, schedule, scope, quality, risks, and actions items (i.e. “Scorecard”).

Change – Identify process and technology techniology changes, test these, fix outstanding items, and make the cutover (i.e. “User Acceptance Testing,” “Punch List,” and “Go Live Plan”).

Transition – Migrate people to the new solution, communicate the changes, overcome resistance, and conclude the project (i.e. “Communications Plan” and “Lessons Learned”).

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s All In The Interpretation

So a friend sent me this hilarious spoof about automatic transmissions, and it goes something like this…

A guy calls up the car service hotline and asks for help with his car.

What’s the matter?

Well the car works perfectly in the daytime, but it refuses to drive at night. 

The lady on the customer service line is baffled.

Then he explains:

– During the daytime, I just put the car into “daytime” (D) mode, and it drives fine.

– But then at night, I put it into the “nighttime” (N) mode, and it doesn’t move.

– What’s worse yet, when another car tried to jump ahead of him, he puts the transmission into “race” (R) mode, and he ends up hitting the car behind him!

At this point, the customer service representative is completely cracking up laughing. 

Apparently not everyone has the same notion of “drive” (D), “neutral” (N), and “reverse” (R)–and frankly, maybe we shouldn’t take so much in life for granted.  😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to AliExpress)

@Takoma Park Folk Festival


So today we were at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. 

It was a combination of food, chachkas, art, dance, and music–thank G-d, it was a good time!

When we were going through the booths, I came across this one artist pictured here. 

A little scary looking at first, but actually seemed nice enough and he stopped to speak with us. 

I asked about his very cool jacket.

And he told me, how he had actually made it with all the artistic things on it, including spikes, skulls, medals, patches, and even a pair of teeth!

Then he took off his jacket and turned around to show me his vest. 

On the back was this awesome fighting foe.

I said feigning surprise:

“Oh, and it says RESIST on top?”

He replies:

“Yeah, never miss an opportunity to share a message!”

I thought to myself this guy is pretty smart, especially as he started to explain not only his jacket, but the meanings behind some of his other artwork. 

Creativity is a wonderful thing–especially when no one gets hurt :-)–and it immediately sparks interest and dialogue.

How’d you do that?  What gave you that idea?  How do you use it?

The boring becomes exciting when another soul expresses itself. 

Yes, we’re all the same, but also we’re all different!

It’s by “going there,” you explore and learn new things.  😉 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When You Need To BLUF

Bottom Line.jpeg

Most professional (and even personal) communications should start with…


BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front).

This means that you start with the ending–in mind, on paper, verbally, and in digital format. 

You provide the conclusion and/or recommendations right up front.

Rather than first wadding through all the details–context, analysis, considerations, assumptions, risks, etc. 

Let the reader know right away what it is you want. 

Generally, this is different than an abstract or summary that provides a synopsis and leading evidence for the argument put forward. 

Tell me what I need to know and get right to the point! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Going From Hearing To Listening


I thought this was pretty good. 

How do we go from hearing to listening?

We have to be silent (and contemplative)!

– Check out the letters in the word silent.

– They are exactly the same as the letters in the word listen.

Keep the mouth shut and really listen to the what the other person has to say, and you might actually learn something. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Is It I Don’t or I Do?


Wow this was tough…

I was at a luncheon with some friends, including a couple we’re friendly with that’s been dating a while.  

At one point, the young man gets up to get some more food, and the young lady all of a sudden asks me, “Do you still live around here?”

I said “Yes, not far from here,” and in turn asked whether she was still living in {blankty blank neighborhood}.

She said, “Yes, {and continues sort of out of the blue} and we’re not going to live together until we get married.”

I was sort of surprised at the turn that her answer took about their relationship, and innocently asked, “So does that mean you guys are planning on marriage then?”

Just then the man comes back and I must’ve been reading the tea leaves {and the ominous music for the laying of the trap starts playing in my head}…

Immediately, the young lady says to him before he even sits back down, “He’s asking if we’re getting married {and for some reason she’s literally pointing at me or am I imaging that finger like a dagger coming out}!”

At this point, I think my eyes started to bug out a little as I must’ve had this look on my face like what the heck is going on here. 

But if this isn’t going bad enough {what in G-d’s name did I walk into with this?)…

This older lady across the table, starts blurting out loudly saying, “How would you like if she ends up with another guy?!!!”

Holy sh*t {where is that coming from now?)!

The guy next to me is obviously at the point of fury {I can’t say that I fully blame him}, and he packs up his stuff and sort of storms off from the table.

The young women is still there trying to make conversation as if this whole thing just somehow didn’t happen. 

But it did and it was pretty ugly!

The older lady {not stopping–this is madness} then chimes in again and says, “Look at what he did, he stormed off–if I were you, I would just drop him!”

We’re all sort of sitting there in complete shock now. 

Pulling for a straw to somehow make this scene go away, I ask the young lady, “Should I go out and see if I can speak with him?”

She’s shakes her head and says, “No. We’re almost done {done–in what way…?}!”

Within a couple of minutes, we excused ourselves and headed out–sort of not believing how this whole scene went down. 

One thing I can tell you is do not get ANYWHERE near people and their relationships–there are a whirlwind of just under the surface feelings, agendas, and finger-pointing ready to take flight and eradicate everything in the vicinity of ground zero. 

Anyway, I hope everything works out okay for this couple…they actually do seem really nice together.  😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)