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Monday, October 28, 2013

"Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness"

     The truth is black or white.  There are no gray areas.  It either is or it isn't.  Statements and actions can't be partially true.  Whenever any part of a statement is untrue, that makes the entire statement untrue.  If you're not telling the whole truth, you're lying.  Bottom line.  At least from my window into the world.
     Consider this:  a man with a gambling addiction tells his wife that he's going over to a friend's house to watch the ball game with a bunch of friends.  He does indeed go and watch the game, but at the same time, he indulges in a few hands of Poker and loses a couple hundred dollars.  It is true that he went to a friend's and watched a game.  But the truth falls apart when his real motive is revealed.  His intent was to play Poker; to gamble.  In essence, he lied.  Regardless of the fact that he actually did what he said he was going to do, the motives behind what he was doing were false.  Therefore, his words were too.
     Leaving out important information or even nonessential information doesn't make a statement true.  Just because it's not said doesn't mean the intent of the behavior is permissible.  If a person has to hide what they're doing in order to make an action credible, then that means they already know they're perpetrating fraud.  Therefore, modifying the truth to cover wrongdoing is a flat out lie.
     Your integrity ought to be one of the most important characteristics that you want out front about you.  You should protect it with everything you have.  Sometimes a person's word is all that matters.  In the past, many a deal was forged based only on a handshake and a promise.  A person's reputation and credibility is worth more than money when someone is willing to take a risk based only on what's believed about them.  Unfortunately, many of us have lied enough to ourselves such that we believe that we can get away with little things that are meaningless to us.  We call them "little white lies".  And though they may seem harmless, they can start off as minor and become distorted enough that they take on a life of their own.  Before you know it, you don't even recognize the truth anymore.
     So why do we do it?  Some of us feel that we are protecting other people's feelings by hiding the truth on occasion.  Others of us just want to keep the peace so we don't speak the truth for fear of somebody else's wrath.  And still there are those who want to make themselves appear grander than they really are.  They are putting up a facade to impress people who oftentimes couldn't care less about the things they place a high value on.  People lie for a variety of reasons, and they convince themselves that it's okay.  Here's the real deal:  The reason people lie is because the truth is too hard to deal with.  It can be ugly, brutal, and heart-wrenching.  People used to say "Give 'em hell, Harry" in reference to Harry S. Truman's direct and no-holds-barred approach in leadership.  But Truman said, "I never gave anybody hell!  I just told the truth and they thought it was hell!"
     Let the bottom line be this:  Truth does not need any accoutrements to make it believable.  It simply is.  Anything added to it changes its properties, and it is no longer truth.  It is something else.  It is a lie.  Make it easier for people to be truthful with you by not becoming angry when it's told to you.  You may not like it, and yes, it'll probably hurt.  But if you need to hear it, then it's not the other person's doing that needs changing, it's yours.  Be truthful with yourself first so others won't have to struggle with how to be truthful with you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

How to Say "I Was Wrong" and Remain Strong

     "It wasn't me."
     "Nobody told me."
     "That's not my job."
     Personal accountability is as fleeting these days as a Kim Kardashian relationship.  However, it is as necessary as toothpaste and mouthwash--refuse to use it, and you stink!  Unfortunately, there are a lot of us who refuse to own our part in mishaps that are bound to happen.  For whatever reason, we seem to think we must be perfect in all things and so should everyone else.  To make a mistake is to seem flawed.  Well duh.  Aren't we all?  I have not yet met perfection, and I much more prefer those people who drop the ball every now and then.  I would rather associate with a person who has failed and learned from their failures than to be with someone who presents him or herself as never having blown it at all.  Mistakes are our teachable moments.  They show us our vulnerabilities and keep us grounded--at least for those of us who are willing to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.  Those who have not learned that it's okay to blow it every now and again, are not inclined to admit their mistakes.  They deny, justify, and excuse their behavior.
     Admitting our mistakes is difficult at best.  It says we've failed.  It says we fell short, and few of us want to admit that we don't always get it right even though we say the words.  "Nobody's perfect!" we yell, but we treat ourselves and everybody else like they ought to be.  We criticize and ridicule when people get caught or get caught up, and that's why many are reluctant to admit when they are wrong.  I've seen two erroneous reactions to failing.
     1)  The attitude that only other people fail.  We stand around and tsk, tsk at them for not living up to our standards.  We act as if we'd  never do anything as careless as the people we whisper and gossip about.  Then when we do, we don't hold ourselves accountable.  We find every way to duck our responsibility for our part in what broke down.  Somehow, people have come to think it makes us weak to say we didn't do something right.  What we don't realize is it takes a strong man or woman to say those three little words that make us human:  "I was wrong."  To refuse to admit the errors we commit is to be arrogant and egotistical.  To be either means you are destined to repeat your mistakes.
     2)  The attitude that you are an utter failure.  The person who takes on too much personal accountability is at the other end of the spectrum.  They beat themselves up for what they did wrong, and they find it hard to let it go.  They are their own worse critic, and they are annoyingly apologetic.  They then, indeed, appear to be weak because of their inability to check themselves and move on. 
     So consider this:  You said something that was offensive to someone.  You calculated wrong and cost someone a ton of money.  You were supposed to follow up on a promise to a customer, and you forgot.  You were picked to lead a project, and you are failing miserably at it.  Here's what you do right away:  1) admit your error, 2) say you're sorry, and 3) fix it.  Afterwards, do these three things:  4) reflect on it, 5) learn from it, and 6) never do it again.
     How you overcome adversity is what makes you strong.  Choosing not to make excuses but to hold yourself accountable builds your influence in the minds of those who watch you lay down your ego and pick up your reputation to fight another day.

Monday, October 14, 2013

MEN: How to Listen to a Woman in 4 Easy Ways

     So fellas, I know you may feel at times that women are an emotional mess of disjointed thoughts, endless chatter, and crazy impulses.  Some days you have the patience to listen to your wife, mother, boss, girlfriend or some other female in your life, and then there are days that you just don't want to be required to respond to anything she says.  I get it.  So let me help you out.  There are four things you can do right now that will help you in communicating better with females, and it all involves listening.
     1)  Don't try to fix everything she brings to you.  Yes, she wants to come to you and complain about issues at work or in the family, but her intentions are not always to have you throw out some hard-nosed solution.  Sure it may make perfect sense to you to tell your wife that she needs to tell her sister she doesn't have the sense the Lord gave a turnip and that's why men use her, but don't say it.  Women aren't always coming to men for solutions or their opinions.  Sometimes we just want a sounding board.  You'd do well to just sit and listen, nod a few times, throw in a "you're absolutely right" or "what would you like to see happen", and the conversation will go much better.  CAVEAT:  Be careful not to be patronizing.  Most of us are pretty smart, and we'll know immediately if you're just pacifying us!
     2)  Listen with your eyes.  When she is talking to you, don't look distracted. Give her your full attention.  Let her know you're interested in what she has to say even if you're not.  What you're saying to her is that she's important even though you feel what she's saying is not.  By showing her that you are willing to hear what she has to say, you're also saying you value her input, she matters and so do her comments.  The benefit to you is that depending on the setting (work or home), she may finish talking sooner because now she feels heard.  And if you've got a bright lady in front of you, it would do you well to pay close attention.
     3)  Don't interrupt her when emotions are high.  Let her get her feelings out in the open because women are at the very core sensitive beings.  We were created to be nurturing, compassionate, and emotional so that we can be mothers to offspring who in turn will possess some of those same qualities.  That's how we continue the pipeline of love in the world.  I get it that not every woman is a mother and not every mother is nurturing and loving.  But the majority of women yield to their special design, and they put more compassion out in the world than what's withheld.  And we do live in a world that's lacking compassion and sensitivity these days.  With that in mind, if she is upset, interrupting her will only worsen the situation.  Cutting her off will only make her repeat herself or start from the beginning again.  You want to end this thing if you want to act like a leader (even if she's the boss).  So let her speak.
     4)  Don't ask her to repeat herself over and over again.  This point complements point number two.  Showing a female that you're listening is one thing, but ACTUALLY listening is quite another.  By tuning in to what she has to say, you prevent that awkward moment of having to ask her the same thing she's already explained to you at length when you weren't listening.  Sure, you caught a word here and there to give the impression that you were tracking along.  But the minute you come back and ask something that she's explained before (and she knows exactly what she said to you and when), then she now knows you weren't listening.  That bumps you back to point three, and trust me, you don't wanna go there!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

WOMEN: Do These 3 Things to Get a Male to Listen

     It's no secret that most women feel men don't listen to them.  This belief  is especially prevalent in marriages.  Not surprisingly, men agree.  They don't listen to women that much.  A husband may tell his wife, "Yeah, I'm listening."  But as soon as she says what we all say ("Then what did I say?"), he tells her what he thinks she may have sort of kind of said if he were really tuning in.  Well ladies, there is an art to getting a man to give his full attention to you when you are speaking, and it doesn't involve talking about sports, money or sex.  Most men will try hard to listen if you do the following three things:
     1)  Make most of what you have to say substantive.  As women, we know we tend to ramble.  We will chatter on at length about almost anything.  This is not a criticism.  Actually, it's a skill.  We are witty, intuitive, opinionated, and compassionate.  We need all of those qualities in being effective communicators because they help us in our flexibility to communicate a variety of needs for ourselves and as a help to others.  As women, we get it.  However, if you're male, you may wonder if the woman in front of you is mayor of the Town of Babel.  She is all over the topic map, and all you hear is yak, yak, yakkety, yak.  So ladies, do this:  speak to the specific topic at hand unless you're in a social setting, and even then, you may have to tighten up the idle talk.  Stay focused because men don't travel from one topic to another as rapidly as we do.  If you move too quickly, you may cause them injury.  Give them time to follow you.  Make sure you get to the point and be done because they will surely turn off the rambling.
     2)  Be expressive but not emotional.  Say what you mean in as animated a way as you choose, but don't get all screechy or whiny or catty.  In other words, express emotion without becoming all emotional.  Avoid any loss of self control.  Are you raising your voice to some high-pitched decibel that resembles the caw of a crow?  Are your words quivering and cracking like your level of confidence is as fragile as an egg shell?  Though I don't suggest you try to present yourself as a wall of steel, I do recommend you try to temper your emotions in business settings, during difficult conversations, and in high stakes negotiations.  Always come to men from a position of strength with a bit of vulnerability that says you're not trying to emasculate him, but that you command a modicum of respect as well.
     3)  Show your intelligence.  If you are knowledgeable and smart about business, life, and/or your craft, then put it on display.  For too long, the wrong qualities in women have been exhibited by unwise females.  We've not been taken seriously, and men have overlooked us for opportunities that could contribute to our success, and even to their own with our help.  The media has helped perpetuate female stereotypes to the point that most of what our counterparts see is sniping, manipulation and selfishness.  Women on a large scale are better than that.  We have to make sure we show it more to dispel the foolishness that masquerades itself as truth.
     Therefore, ladies, be direct, focused, smart and self-controlled.  If a man still doesn't hear you, then he's not only tuned out, he's turned off.