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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

Relationships

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A less-masked future is near, and our facial expressions will matter more than ever

Illustration by the author

As vaccination rates increase, we’re getting closer to a future where masks are less of a presence in our lives, and our smiles (and non-smiles) will once again be visible to friends, co-workers, and the strangers we pass on the sidewalk and in the grocery store.

If that sentence didn’t make you smile, please keep reading.

Until I looked into smiling while researching my book Works Well With Others, I didn’t realize how powerful a force it is. The simple act of smiling can change you and everyone around you, and that’s true now more than ever. A smile —…


🥝 Today’s tip: Try an unexpected kind of fruit.

It’s really hard to come up with anything interesting to say over dinner when you and your kids have been in the same building staring at screens all day, or when the only new thing on the horizon is a vaccine appointment. But rather than just stare at each other blankly over your next meal or social zoom, try this tip from Catherine Newman: Buy a social fruit.

Newman writes in Cup of Jo, “Whenever someone is shopping or ordering groceries online, I say, ‘Oh, and get some social fruit.’ This…


🤐 Today’s tip: No “buts” allowed.

Here’s a great example of how not to apologize: “I’m sorry you felt upset about that, but it wasn’t actually that big of a deal.” It looks like an apology; it smells like an apology; but an apology it is not.

And yet, while they can seem tricky, a good apology is not actually that hard to master. As Nikki Campo writes on Elemental: “Validation underpins all good apologies (accepting the other person’s reality as true, without judgment), believability matters (no “buts,” defensiveness, or excuses), and the undesirable behavior must change in the future.”…


💃🏾 Today’s tip: Take a virtual dance class together.

You miss your people, but can’t bring yourself to do another Zoom where you stare at each other’s faces and try to find new things to talk about (“So, made any more sourdough lately?”). Why not do something together instead?

On Curious, Kate Stone Lombardi writes about the virtual dance class she’s been taking with her daughter, who lives on the other side of the country. It’s called Dance Church and it streams live on Sundays. “I dance with an abandon I’ve never felt before,” Lombardi writes. “I’m free in mind…


A fashion maxim that works for the rest of life, too

Image: Kurt Brodbeck/EyeEm/Getty

It would probably surprise a lot of my current colleagues to learn, but I once worked “in fashion.”

I loved this part of my magazine job precisely because I’ve never been all that interested in how to dress. As a story editor, I could look at the subject unburdened by, well, a refined sense of style — a beneficial quality because my job was to take the fashion department’s ideas and present them in a way that made sense to any reader, regardless of their sartorial predilections.

When you come at fashion that way, you’re able to see it for…


☎️ Today’s tip: Call an important woman in your life.

Women’s History Month is a great time to remember all the women who have helped to make this world a little better — including the women who have made your world a little better. Should we do that every month? Yes, yes we should. But still, there’s nothing wrong with taking it as a nudge to call Mom, Grandma, or some other woman-identifying figure who has meant a lot to you on your journey through life. They’ll be happy, you’ll be happy — it’s a win-win,

And hey, just in…


Today’s tip: Start small. Schedule a coffee date.

With more and more people getting vaccinated, it seems likely that life will soon be feeling a bit more normal. And while this is exciting, you’d be forgiven for worrying that your social skills might be a tad rusty. So if you’re worried that you’ll find yourself totally misunderstanding rules of personal space, or lapsing mid-conversation into the voice you use to impersonate your dog, maybe it’s best to take baby steps back into human interaction.

As Ashley Abramson wrote for Forge (when we were optimistically anticipating the pandemic’s wane, uh…


In Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah yesterday, Harry explained where things stand between him and his brother, Prince William — and his answer was a reminder that…


🧽 Talk to your partner every day about who’s doing what tasks.

The division of household chores can be a sore spot for even the happiest couples. One simple solution comes via Don and Carrie Cole, therapists and master trainers with the Gottman Institute, a relationship-focused research organization: Have daily check-ins to ensure that each of you feels okay about who’s doing what household tasks.

As Brigid Schulte writes in Forge, couples should approach these check-ins as “a regular ritual of connection to make sure you’re both on the same page.” All it takes is a few minutes of each…


🔥 Today’s tip: Ask someone about their favorite low-stakes hot take.

Recently there was a flurry of conversation among Medium’s staff about, of all things, Grape Nuts, the world’s most boring cereal. Turns out people feel very strongly about it.

“I eat it dry sometimes,” said one of our colleagues, who shall go unnamed.

“There is no un-dry way to eat it,” replied another.

“It’s so good when it gets cement-y,” someone else shared.

The discussion was revealing — and a much-needed break from the seriousness of daily work life. It turns out trading spicy opinions about something inconsequential is…

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