That Look On Their Face

So I love that look on people’s face when I say something that just startles them or takes them back a little. 


The other day when I got a haircut, the barber lady was talking to me (BTW, she’s a very nice person).


At one point, she says something about my hair being a little different on each side. 


So I blurt out something like:


“Well, that’s because my brains are pushing it out!”


I got the funniest look from her…yes, it was priceless.


First, she’s like right, of course, your brains are pushing out your hair!


Then, she looks at me, and I start smirking, and she gives me the big eyes and raised eyebrows, like a combination of that’s funny and now don’t be such a wise guy. 


Then, we both started laughing. 


I love that. 


I love doing that with people. 


Being alive. 


Getting a reaction. 


Making them wonder for a second. 


Getting them to smile and laugh. 


Maybe my brains are pushing my hair out!  😉


(Source Art: Sean M., 8th Grade Montgomery County and Photo by Andy Blumenthal)

Compassion Instead Of Anger

Compassion and Anger

So I was speaking to someone recently about how angry they were with some stressful things and people in their life. 


I listened carefully and tried to empathize–also in full transparency, it got to be a lot and I at some point was begging them to stop!


At one point, I just said, instead of being angry maybe try to be compassionate. 


And I could see in other person’s reaction that they thought perhaps that I had hit on something a little eye-opening here. 


We can get angry about all the stresses and injustices that we perceive in our lives. 


People blame us, attack us, don’t appreciate us, talk down to us, disrespect us, even bully us or try to hurt us.


Also life throws some pretty stinging to earth-shattering circumstances upon us.


And maybe we have every right to feel angry.


But usually the anger, unless we need the adrenaline-rush in fighting for our survival and for our core beliefs and values, doesn’t help us achieve what we really want. 


What we want most of the time is to resolve things!


But getting angry and lashing out often only makes things worse. 


We act rashly, we overreact, we say and do things we may regret afterwards, and the consequences of our reaction can be severe to us afterwards in terms of alienating and harming others, escalating the situation and making it worse, creating hurt and destruction in our own wake, and even losing jobs or getting yourself in trouble and sent to the pokey.


If instead of getting angry and flinging arrows, we look at things from eyes of compassion, we can listen to others more carefully, understand the situation better, and try to rectify bad relationships or cope with stressful life events by employing emotional intelligence and a soft hand/skills. 


This is not to say that we should excuse really bad behavior or truly unforgivable misdeeds, but rather that we should look at things in a larger context, the role we play, and as part of our our life challenges to make things better and overcome.


Anger and the associated response is appropriate when the little devil is doing their misdeeds (lashing out severely and/or repeatedly with harm and intent), but compassion can help to see everything else for what it is or isn’t and gives us an opportunity to react with a level head, a stable hand, and humanity as a first resort. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>How To Brainstorm and Not Tempest

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Thinking “out of the box” is fundamental to free us from the prevailing status quo. Brainstorming can enable us to tackle problems creatively and open up new possibilities for the future.

An Insight piece from Psychology Today (February 12010) called “[How To] Brainstorm” by ChiChi Madu points to some of the typical challenges with brainstorming and offers a new approach to it.

The challenge: “A typical brainstorming session can involve clashing personalities, uneven contributions, hurt egos, and hours of precious work-time wasted.”

When people come together to brainstorm, there are two things going on—one is the brainstorming and the other is the interaction between the people. And if the interaction is not collaborative and is dysfunctional because of the pervasiveness of functional silos, groupthink, competitiveness, or power politics, then the brainstorming and overall problem solving is going to suffer as a result.

Let’s face it, productivity is in large part of function of people’s ability to pull together rather than push apart!

A new approach: One way to work more collaboratively comes from an approach called “brainwriting,” by Peter Heslin. Brainwriting works as follows:

  • Write—Everyone writes an idea, in a different color pen on a piece of paper and passes to the next person.
  • React—Each person reacts to the idea they received and adds their own idea—“feeding off the others.”
  • Review—Once the slips of paper have about five ideas, they move to the center of the table for “systematic consideration of each.”
  • Select—Everybody lists their favorite ideas and the most popular ones are selected.

What is great about brainwriting is that everyone has a chance to contribute ideas, to have their ideas considered by others, and for them to consider the ideas of their peers carefully and thoughtfully. Moreover, brainwriting actually facilitates ideas to be incrementally built and improved on by having group members feed-off of the idea they received, rather than just hastily dismissing them or talking over others. Finally, since everyone has to put ideas and reactions to ideas down on paper, no one can just “sit it out” and not participate—and the more earnest the participation, the better the brainstorm will be.

People can innovate amazing things, solve problems, and really work together constructively when: the underlying process facilitates information exchange, collaboration, and the freedom to say what they really think. If we encourage and facilitate more brainwriting activity and other constructive engagement between people, we will be able to take on and resolve the ever larger and more challenging issues facing our organizations and society.