Rule #1 – Everybody Gets to Be Right

woman optical illusion

Perhaps you’re familiar with this optical illusion or one like it. Two of us can look at this drawing and each see a very different picture. One sees a young woman looking away, another sees an old woman’s profile. AND, we are both right! Hmmm, we are both right, EVEN when we are each seeing the picture differently? Hold onto that thought for a moment.

We’ve all been to a meeting or gathering where people later describe it in such different ways that we wonder if we were even at the event. As in the illustration above, the individuals involved were both “looking at the same picture,” yet seeing it differently, from his or her unique perspective. What if both were right?

In my individual and group coaching, I have only one rule, and it’s called Rule #1: “Everybody gets to be right.”


“Everybody gets to be right” is a powerful perspective. It defines a different way of relating with one another; listening for what’s right, useful, or true about my perspective, rather than for what’s wrong with it.

Rule #1 implies a belief that every person has something of value to contribute. Every person. Including the one who is always negative, the one who plays the victim, the one who is producing mediocre results.

To embrace Rule #1 means we actively engage in looking for the value, the “rightness,” in someone else’s words or actions when the value is not immediately obvious to us. Even if we only find 2% that we can consider “right”, it’s a start. Now we’ve got common ground to stand on and continue the conversation from there.

One of my clients told me a story about two members of his team, heatedly debating back and forth. As an observer, he could see that the two viewpoints they were arguing were practically the same, with just small differences. And yet, rather than looking for the sameness or the common ground, the two team members continued their arguing, back and forth, each one trying harder and harder to make their point “right.” And, to make their teammate’s viewpoint “wrong.”

The fear of being “wrong” is a powerful motivator for me to keep my mouth shut. To withhold my opinion, rather than risk your judgment or criticism. Adopting Rule #1 into my interactions helps to alleviate the fears that hold us back in our conversations. The fears that get in the way of us creating more connection, more authenticity, and more compassion in our relationships. For example: the fear of appearing stupid, of offending someone, of being rejected, of alienating ourselves or others.

These fears fade in the face of someone’s sincere listening and compassion. As we open our minds to listen more deeply and hear what another is contributing, we also open our hearts.


Reflection Questions:

  1. What would you be able to say, if you knew that others were committed to finding what’s right about your viewpoint, and not what they think is wrong with it?
  2. What would you be able to hear from others if you knew that they had something of value to contribute. If you knew that they were not “wrong?” Perhaps different. And yet, not wrong.


Dare to Be Personal

deviation for progress


A few posts back, I introduced the Language of Empowerment replacing generalities in our conversations with language that is more specific and more personal. You can read the article here.

A specific language shift that I introduce to my clients and the teams I work with is changing “It” or “You” to “I” in order to:

  • Clearly ask for what I need
  • Own my feelings or my experience of a situation
  • Say what is true for me, even if it is different than what is true for you
  • Share what I want, what I wish for, at the risk of feeling vulnerable

Here’s an example.


“You know how when you are really tired and you just need to take a break?”

Specific, owning my experience and asking for what I need:

“When I’m really tired, I need to take a break.” OR “I am really tired right now and I’d like to take a break.”

Period.  Clearly say what I need.

I was with a team last week talking about this language shift. One of the women on the team commented that she found herself in a conversation recently where the other person was telling her something like the above statement, “You know when you…”  She said she was thinking to herself, “No, I don’t know what that’s like” or “No, I don’t do that.” Rather than say what was true for her – and thereby disagree with the other person and potentially take the conversation in a different direction – she agreed with him.  In her words, “he’d just told me how I feel, so I agreed with him so he’d get to his point.”

This happens all the time, doesn’t it?


Taking personal responsibility for how we feel and for what we need is practically forgotten in our culture today. To say what’s true for me, without diluting my message feels a little too bold. Making a specific request of someone (respectfully of course) in service of meeting my own needs feels “pushy” or potentially offensive to the other person. Sharing with you what I really want, or what I hope for, feels risky and vulnerable.

Boldness, truth, clear requests, and vulnerability are necessary! They are necessary attributes for cultivating meaningful, enriching relationships with other people.

Brene Brown, researcher, author, & speaker says that being fully seen and known by another person is what we fear most. And being fully seen and known by another person is what we want most. Hmm…at once, scary AND satisfying.  Sounds adventurous!

Dare to make your communication more personal. And to take responsibility for what you need, what you feel, and what you want.

HOW?? Start with these 4 steps below :

  1. Replace “you” with “I”. Notice when you use the word “you” when you really mean “I.” (As in the example above). Speak more directly and clearly by daring to own your experience. The use of “You” when we mean “I” is a generic way of speaking that lumps me together with others, which feels less risky. For example, change “When you’re in a meeting and you know you have a different idea, and you…” to “When I’m in a meeting and I have a different idea, I feel ______ and I need ______.” Owning our experience and our needs may feel awkward or vulnerable at first. That’s ok; and often expected when doing something  differently. AND, I’ve found that I feel more empowered and more confident as result of taking responsibility for my own experience. Try it!
  2. Replace “they” and other pronouns: “They won’t have it finished until Tuesday.” “This is how they do it here.” Of whom are you speaking? Replace the generic pronouns with a more specific identifier.
  3. Replace the word “it” in your sentences.  The word “it” is a generic fill-in word for the subject of many sentences: “Thank you. It is helping.” “We planted it in the garden.” “I’m not worried about it.” “It is difficult.” I find this tip especially good to be mindful of when emailing others. After you type an email, go back and re-read your email, looking for the use of “it.” Anywhere you typed “it”, see if you can make your communication clearer or more specific by replacing “it.” Clarity and specificity, especially in emails, helps us have less misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
  4. Replace “it” with “I.”  For example, change “It was good to see you” to “I enjoyed being with you yesterday.” Oooh, the second sentence feels more personal and maybe a bit vulnerable (say the two sentences aloud to experience the impact). Great! I believe more personal, more connection, less distance, less generics are precisely what we need today; And will lead to more empathy for one another.


Ready to lead & live with greater intentionality?  Perhaps a coaching engagement with me is your next step? Let’s talk!

What Game Will I Play?

Lake George

I recently spent a few days at a lovely retreat center on Lake George in upstate New York. Rick Tamlyn’s Bigger Game Expo was what brought me to that beautiful place. As I sit reflecting on the many incredible stories from incredible people who are out in the world “changing the game”, I thought of a story I wanted to share with you.

This story comes from a book called “Love Beyond Reason” by John Ortberg, and it goes like this…

“This is a story about a fourth grade class where the teacher introduced a game called “balloon stomp”. A balloon was tied to every child’s leg, and the object of the game was to pop everybody else’s balloon while protecting your own. The last person with an intact balloon wins.

Balloon stomp is a zero-sum game. If I win you lose. Anyone else’s success diminishes my chances. I must regard everyone else as someone to be overcome, someone to be rooted against.

Balloon stomp is a Darwinian contest- the survival of the fittest- and since ten-year-olds are Darwinian people, they entered into the spirit vigorously. Balloons were relentlessly targeted and destroyed. Some children hung shyly on the sidelines, but their balloons were doomed just the same. The battle was over in a matter of seconds. Only one balloon was still inflated, and of course, its owner was the most disliked kid in the room. It’s hard to really win at balloon stomp.

Then, a second class was brought into the room to play the same game, only this time it was a class of mentally handicapped children. They too were given a balloon; they were given the same instructions, the same signal began the game.

This time though the game proceeded differently. The instructions were given too quickly to be grasped by these children. In all the confusion the one idea that sank in were the balloons were supposed to be popped. But instead of fighting each other off, these children got the idea that they were supposed to help one another pop the balloons. So they formed some kind of balloon stomp co-op.

One little girl knelt down and held her balloon in place, like the holder for a field-goal kicker, while a little boy stomped it flat. Then he knelt down and held his balloon still for her to stomp. On and on it went, all the children helping one another in the Great Stomp. And when the last balloon was popped, everybody cheered. Everybody won.”


Imagine how different each experience described is, one from another. What might the kids in the first class have experienced at the end of the game? Defeat, disappointment? Possibly self-criticism? What about the kids in the second class?

Reflection Questions:

  1. Have you ever had an experience of everyone winning together? What was it like? How did you feel about yourself and others?
  2. How will you choose to play your game today?

Writing our Story

Writing Blog

Everyone loves a good story. My favorites are ones that have adventure, romance, and humor. Most stories follow predictable patterns or themes, such as:

  • Conflict between good and evil
  • A central problem or challenge, followed by various activities leading toward a solution
  • Individual growth (i.e.: from selfish, uncaring and critical through an awakening moment or incident into a “good” person)
  • Relationship triumph (boy meets girl, boy & girl fall in love, boy & girl live happily ever after)

And then, sometimes, a story surprises us by purposefully NOT fitting into a pattern. Robert Munsch’s “Paper Bag Princess” comes to mind. The princess was aggrieved by a fire breathing dragon who burned down her castle and all her belongings, and took her Prince hostage. Rather than playing the victim, the princess dons a brown paper bag (because all her clothing was burned), hikes across the countryside to the dragon’s lair, outsmarts the dragon, and frees her Prince. Upon realizing how conceited and wimpy the Prince is, she ultimately decides not to marry him.

I use Munsch’s creative tale to illustrate the point of this article: We will either live our lives according to some default storyline OR we will live into a new story; one that magnifies our inner gifts and empowers us to access the highest, truest, and best version of ourselves.

For example, a few years back I became aware that I was living in a story that I hadn’t intentionally or consciously written for myself. It was a default story. I was living out the storyline of “abandoned girl” who believed she could not count on others and that she must do it all herself. She must be self-sufficient, strong, and prove herself capable in all matters. The main character in my story was controlling, driven, unintentionally selfish and dis-empowering to others. And boy, was this story laden with victim-mindset beliefs and self-limitation.

This was not the story I had imagined for my life!  I wanted to be graceful and compassionate. I wanted to do work that I loved and that makes a difference in the world. I wanted to be a loving, calm parent and spouse.

Well, the tension mounted in my story long enough… I was finally awakened, picked up my pencil, and the next chapter began to unfold, consciously and by design. You can read all about it when I publish my book 🙂


The “HOW”

Writing your life’s story, chapter by chapter, with intention, is a continual process. What’s the story that is creating your current reality? Perhaps it’s a story entrenched in an old pattern, such as mine was. The exercise below will help you reflect on your story to date and decide how you’d like it to unfold from here. Grab your journal and a pencil!

Following the exercise, I offer a couple of resources to help you get started.


Life Story Exercise

What if today begins a new chapter in your life – one that was NOT pre-written for you? You can write it anyway you wish. Reflect on the questions below to find out how this chapter begins…

  1. What default messages do you no longer want to be in your story? (for example, I knew I had to let go of my default message, “You cannot count on other people. You have to do it all yourself.”)
  2. What are the best qualities, values, or behaviors of the main character (that’s you!)? Which of these qualities, values, or behaviors will you exhibit more in your next chapter?
  3. What will your relationships be like in your next chapter? Remember, you get to make up the story anyway you wish. Envision what you wish for in your relationships, and then write it down. Read my article about Being the Change you Wish to See.
  4. What surprises will this chapter hold? Any exciting twists or turns? We might as well have some fun with this 🙂

Helpful Resources:

Download my free Life-by-Design e-book. This is a great resource with some practical HOW-TO steps.

Like my Facebook page for daily inspiration, ideas, and resources.

Isolated in Community


Isolated in Community


A few weeks back, I wrote about talking to strangers. In addition to talking to “strangers,” I’ve also been experimenting with accepting their acknowledgements and assistance when offered to me. How many times has someone asked, “Do you need a hand”, or “Can I help you with that,” to which my immediate response is, “No thanks, I’ve got it”.

Even when those statements are true – and let’s be honest, there have been plenty of times when I politely denied help that I really did need – why not accept the help? Why deny that individual the opportunity to lend his or her kindness and generosity to another human being? And why deny myself the opportunity to be on the RECEIVING end of kindness and generosity?

We do not live or work in isolation. Yet, we often behave as though we do. As if we are “in it alone” and must bear life’s burdens, big and small, without help or companionship. The truth is we live in a society. A community of fellow men and women. Each dealing with his or her own version of life’s challenges, joys, hopes, and setbacks.  The belief of isolation is a lie (part of the “Lie of Scarcity” which I’ll write more about soon).

Isolation has become such an ingrained and accepted lie that we align our behavior accordingly. Not wanting to share many details of our lives, our default behavior is often to deny ourselves and others the opportunity for connection. Which leads us to feel separate from one another and disconnected, living right into the lie of isolation. This is a common experience in our workplaces too.

The truth is we are always interconnected; even when we don’t feel as though we are. I need you. You need me. What if we lived from the truth of interconnectedness, community, & camaraderie, rather than from the lie of isolation? How do we do that? I wrote a few thoughts in previous articles (links below). And if you’re ready to dig into the how of shifting your own personal beliefs about isolation and scarcity, the best place to do that is in a 1-on-1 coaching relationship. Give me a call or an email. Let’s get started!

Previous related articles:

What was Gandhi Talking About Anyway

Rediscovering Magnificence

Chinwag No More!



Ho-hum, Humdrum Chinwag – No More!

General to specific

I’m laughing about my title above – “Ho-hum, humdrum, chinwag.” I recently discovered the word chinwag.

Chin – bottom of your mouth; outer part of your jawbone.

Wag – to twitch, flap, move to and fro.

What a great word to describe the wearisome, predictable jaw-movements we can get caught in. We talk, and yet, often, we say so little. Think about the questions you’re asked or that you ask others:

  • Did you have a good time?
  • How was school?
  • How was the meeting?
  • How was your day?
  • What’s new?
  • What have you been up to?

And the most likely answers:

  • Yes.
  • Fine.
  • Not bad.
  • Fine.
  • Not much.
  • Not much. How about you?

Boy that sure tells me…nothing.

One of the foundations of my teaching and coaching is what I call the Language of Empowerment. The Language of Empowerment is about shifting common words or phrases that we use automatically, to more meaningful, more personal, more empowered alternatives. (For example, replacing ‘but’ with ‘and’, which I wrote about here).

A core principle in the Language of Empowerment is to raise our awareness to the generalities we use in our conversations. And to be intentional about replacing generalities with language that is more specific and more personal. For example, changing the general, and banal, questions in my list above to ones that will help us KNOW each other more:

  • What surprised you about the field trip?
  • What happened today that made you laugh?
  • What was the coolest thing that you learned at school today?”
  • What did you hear in the meeting that you hadn’t expected?
  • How did you and your boss/co-worker go about working through that issue today? What worked well for you guys?

Now I have information – insight! Now I’m getting an idea of what’s important to you, what engages you, what makes you happy, what disappoints you… Dialogue like this is incredibly valuable.  And not only for the insight we gain. This dialogue facilitates connection and trust in the relationship as well as our mutual learning.

Give it a try! Today, make every conversation more meaningful. Be intentional about creating connection and strengthening each relationship. Use the ideas below to get you started. And download my reminder card here.

  1. Choose one interaction at work and one at home to experiment with specificity.
  2. Ask about what impacted, inspired, or moved the other? What made him/her laugh today?
  3. When they give you their answer, be curious about it. Take the conversation even further. Examples: If your colleague tells you the meeting was ‘fine’ because she received good feedback about her idea, ask her what it was like for her to receive that recognition. If your direct report tells you he is disappointed that he wasn’t included in xyz decision, ask him what is most frustrating about that? What does he need now?

Make conversation not just for conversation sake, but to KNOW each other more.  I’ll bet your questions will help others know themselves more too. What a powerful way to cultivate connection, trust, and mutual respect.

Rediscovering Magnificence

Let your light shine.

“I’m amazing. Incredible. I’m a miracle, a dream come true. I’m marvelous. I’m beautiful. And guess what? SO ARE YOU.”  I’m Amazing by Keb Mo

I think we’ve forgotten how magnificent we are. How magnificent life itself is. Really. Silly as that may sound, I’m afraid it’s true. Unfortunately, I see evidence  everyday:

  • Self-doubt
  • Self-criticism
  • Mindset of scarcity or lack (nothing is ever enough)
  • Negative comments
  • Making adverse assumptions about others’ intentions or motives
  • Jealousies & prejudices

Perhaps you’ve seen it too. I know in my heart, this is not what any of us want. So, let’s work on a shift. A shift in our focus of attention. See if this makes sense….

Have you ever noticed that you will always see what you are expecting to see? When we expect someone to behave in a certain way – for example, my mate to behave impatiently – we will almost certainly be presented with that behavior. It’s not that other behaviors have not also presented themselves. We may not have been watching for those other behaviors and we miss them or ignore them.

Whatever you go looking for, you’re bound to find. If you want to continue giving yourself reasons to doubt the goodness of others, just keep looking for when others disappoint you or behave unreliably. Or perhaps you’re ready for a shift to rediscover our magnificence. And life’s magificence. I’m ready too!

“There’s nothing like looking if you want to find something.” from The Hobbit

What would you like to find today? Joy? Peace-of-mind? Compassion? Beauty? Then look for it! Look in nature, on a child’s face, in conversation with a friend, through exercise, meditation, prayer. And here’s the key. EXPECT to find it. BELIEVE you will find that which you seek. We reap what we sow, right? If I sow tomato seeds, I’ll reap tomato plants. If I sow the belief that what I want is impossible, I’ll reap something less than what I want. Make sense?

Now, here’s the million dollar question, HOW?? How do I shift my focus of attention? How do I discover what’s magnificent in my overscheduled, under-fulfilled life? How do I find belief in something that, well, I’m not sure I believe in? These questions are real – I hear you. There are many different answers and I won’t pretend to know your answer. I offer you these ideas; places to begin you’re looking:

  1. Download my free e-booklet titled, Life by Design, for an exercise to help you connect with the values and qualities that are most important for you to have in your life. Getting clear about what you want more of is a good starting place.
  2. Download this reminder card, tape it to your mirror or keyboard and ask yourself the questions there every day. Slowly shift your focus of attention…
  3. Want more than that? Contact me for more information about coaching groups and 1-on-1 coaching: 610.287.2989

And keep looking!! I promise you, magnificence is there, waiting to be discovered!

I Talk to Strangers












I Talk to Strangers

It’s just one of my embarrassing habits, according to my children.

My daughter, Abigail, and I were in Target the other day. We were browsing in the same aisle as a dad and his little boy, who looked to be about 3-years-old. The boy glanced at me. I smiled at him. He grinned, and sang enthusiastically, “Go, Diego, Go!” So, I grinned back and sang with equal enthusiasm, “Go, Diego, Go!” Then we both smiled and continued our shopping. My mortified daughter whispered coarsely, “Mom! You are so embarrassing!”

Embarrassing as my behavior may be to my children, I am committed to talking to strangers. I promised myself that I will never again pass by a human being without offering some sort of acknowledgement. That might be only a smile.  Often, a “hello.” Sometimes, “can I help you with that?”

Not long ago, I was struck with the realization that I could look right at someone and not even see them. The man in the line next to me at the post office, the restroom attendant, the boy leaving the school office as I walked in, and many others.

Here’s one in particular that really bothered me and led me to my promise. I ran into an acquaintance leaving a restaurant. We greeted each other with the typical, “Hi! Nice to see you! How’s so-and-so?” After a few moments like this, I said goodbye and went on my way. As I got in my car, it occurred to me that my acquaintance hadn’t been alone. I had not even glanced at or acknowledged his companion in any way! Completely unintentional, of course. I was busy mentally scanning my to-do list or the details of my next stop. However, the fact remained that I ignored a human being who was standing right before me, looking at me, for at least 30 seconds. Ouch!

Thus arose my promise to always talk to strangers. In fact, to be on the lookout for a stranger to talk to! The men who do the landscaping in my neighborhood, the people I pass on the hiking trail, the restroom attendant, the boy collecting the shopping carts in the parking lot…

My promise to myself involves taking a second of my time to make eye contact, smile, and say hello. This is validation. I previously wrote about validation & its absolute necessity in our relationships. Being validated, seen, acknowledged, tells us, “You matter,” “You are valuable.” Validation is simple and free to give, yet priceless to receive.

I feel more connected and more a part of a community than ever before. I’ve stopped thinking of people I don’t know as “strangers.” They’re simply people I have not yet had the good fortune to meet.


Needs, Complaints, and Personal Responsibility

Ask for what you need

I published a different version of this article at the start of 2013. Last week, Philly Burbs, an online media outlet for whom I write a regular blog, published this version and it got quite a response. Seems like the ideas herein really struck a chord for a lot of people, so I wanted to share it here with you. Enjoy!


That old saying, “misery loves company” is, unfortunately, very true. Somehow we feel a smidge-bit better when we confer our misery onto others.

I’ve noticed that misery-sharing and complaining have become ‘comfort zones’ that are tolerated and even accepted in many families and workplaces. Yet, in the long run, complaints do not lead to forward movement or to change in the undesirable circumstances.

Think about this: behind every complaint is an unmet need or expectation. When I complain about something I don’t have, something that didn’t happen, what someone did or said, etc, etc, I am feeling dissonant; something I was hoping for or wanting DID NOT occur.

This is important to be aware of. My complaint is not so much about that other person or situation as it is about me and my unmet need or expectation. For example, I notice myself complaining, “I’m tired of you always being late for our meetings.” What’s really going on under my complaint is that I feel disrespected because starting late wastes my time. What I want is to feel that you value my time and that you value ME.

I must change my complaint, “I’m tired of you always being late for our meetings,” to a more empowered statement; a statement that clearly expresses my need, is honest, and asks for you and I to both take personal responsibility:

“It’s important to me that we start our meetings at the agreed upon time. How can we work together to do a better job with that?”

This is a more personal and vulnerable way to engage with another. Complaining about them or to them, is the easy way out. Reaching inside, connecting with what I really need, and expressing that in a clear, non-judgmental way, requires a much higher degree of self-awareness. And a willingness to reveal myself to another person.

When you take the lead in this higher level of honest communication, you make it safe for others to do the same. Over time, you will normalize such crucial, yet disappearing, honesty as:

  • I need your help
  • I made a mistake
  • I want for us to ________
  • I need for us to ________


Light the way for more authenticity and connection in your home and your workplace. Your vulnerability is empowering to others!

Here is an exercise to help you make clear requests for what you want and need

  1. Start by raising your own awareness. Pay attention to the things you complain about to yourself and others.
  2. Write down your complaint. Read it aloud to yourself. What do you feel or notice when you say it aloud?
  3. Can you connect with your deeper need? What is it that you were expecting or hoping for that is not happening?
  4. Think through ways to express your need or expectations. Use clear, non-judgmental language.
  5. Start your sentence with “I have a request”; “I would like…” or “It’s important to me that…” Be careful NOT start your sentences with “You need to…” or “You don’t” or other You-statements that often trigger defensiveness or deflection.


Get my free Life by Design e-booklet at my Facebook page! Click the orange box that says “First Visit?”

5 Ways to Amp Up Your Listening

Validation quote





I’ve been thinking about what’s missing in our relationships (which led me to write previous articles, “The Big Miss” and “The Art of Blanking Out” among others). Another miss I am acutely aware of lately is validation.

Validation – Finding the truth of something; authenticating something or someone; acknowledgment, recognition and acceptance of another person’s internal experience.

Invalidation – Negating or dismissing behavior; To ignore, nullify, reject, or dismiss one’s feelings or needs.

Can you relate with any of these unintentional invalidations:

  • A colleague writes off my idea as incorrect or ineffective.
  • A friend dismisses my concern with “Oh well, this stuff happens.”
  • A well-meaning boss disregards or misses my need for empathy (understanding; someone to “get me”) by offering, “You shouldn’t feel that way. She didn’t mean anything by it.”


When I feel invalidated or unacknowledged, I notice how easily I can go to that primal “preparing to fight or flee” place. I either want to defend myself, justify my idea, or withdraw from the conversation by appearing agreeable, “yeah you’re right, it’s no big deal.” The intensity of my fight or flight response depends on how important the situation or issue feels at the time. And I’ll admit, there are surely times when an outside observer would deem my reaction to be out of proportion with the “offense.”

Validation is a fundamental human need. The more importance we place on a particular relationship (i.e.: spouse, boss, parent, mentor) the more we need that person’s validation. And when we receive it, we experience that warm wash of feeling understood and accepted, which fosters trust, connection, and loyalty. Important qualities within our relationships with direct reports as well as peers (not to mention family members).

Needless to say, validating others is an important tool for leaders to become skilled in and to put into regular practice. With that in mind, here are five ideas to support your efforts and amp up your listening.


  1. Focus and Listen
    Slow down, breathe, place your full awareness on the other person and work to quiet your inner chatter. Listen at Level 2…What’s that mean? Read this.


  1. Start with “I hear you.”
    To be clear, validation is not agreement. When I validate someone, it does not mean I am agreeing with what he or she said. I am validating the person, not the content of the conversation. Literally saying, “I hear you” or “I’m listening. Is there more?” sends a powerful message to the other, letting them know that he or she matters to you, that you’re paying attention and that you care about their experience of the situation. And we can do this, even when we DON’T agree with the person’s viewpoint. Being validated in this way has more impact on the relationship than getting agreement.


  1. Accurately reflect or restate what the person has said.
    “I hear that you’re looking forward to getting started on xyz project!” or “I hear you saying that you need more time to finish xyz.”


  1. Reflect and restate what’s unspoken, what is being communicated non-verbally. Acknowledge and name the emotion(s) you are sensing.
    “Sounds like you’re angry.” “You sound excited!” “I’m sensing that you feel annoyed or frustrated. Is that accurate?”


  1. Be genuine and sincere.
    Allow yourself to see the person, the human being, before you, and to care about him or her. In order to listen with an open heart and a blank mind, we must set aside what is past and stay fully present.

Our feelings and perceptions are very real for us, even when they don’t make sense to another person. When someone is frustrated, sad, elated, angry, etc, understanding is infinitely more valuable – and more fruitful – than any amount of information to convince them to feel otherwise.