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A case for letting relationships reveal themselves without the help of information we’ve already discovered online

Photo: Getty images

I recently got a request to meet with a guy in my town who wants to be a writer. Combine having not made a lot of in-person friends over the past 18 months and most people in Spain thinking I’m a fortune teller because I write on something called “Medium,” I jumped at the opportunity.

Walking home after our conversation, however, I questioned why the guy wanted to speak with me. Not every time, but quite a bit, he would cut me off when I began to explain something or attempt to tell a story. “I just read your status…

Understand the difference between reacting and responding

Photo: The Good Brigade/Getty Images

As an executive coach, I’ve had plenty of conversations with clients about learning to cope with the unexpected. For obvious reasons, it’s a skill that’s become all the more essential over the past year—and it’s one that’s going to stay essential as we navigate all the awkwardness and ambiguity that comes with re-entering the world.

Here’s what I tell them: The only real constant in life is change. And when confronted with it, most people go down one of two roads. They either respond or react.

Reacting literally means to meet one action with another one. It is immediate and…

1️⃣ Tip: Change “any” to “one.”

“Do you have any feedback on my script?” “Is there any way I can support you?” “Please share any ideas with the team.” Put these requests out into the world and you’ll likely hear … crickets. “Any” is too big, too vague, too passive. To spark stronger, more concrete responses, try saying “one.” “What’s one way I can improve my script?” “What’s one way I can support you during this time?” “Let’s all share one idea. I’ll go first.” When people hear that number, their minds instantly become more focused. Hmm, one thing, they…

Social dos and dont’s can be useful guides, but high-quality interactions require “contingent responding”

Warren Wong via Unsplash

“Five things you shouldn’t say to people who are grieving.” “Do’s and don’ts for first dates.” “Three ways to have ‘the talk’ about where your relationship is going.” We see stories with titles like these all the time. Rules of thumb for social situations can be really helpful. It’s hard to know what to say to a grieving person, and who wants to say the “wrong” thing and hurt them more? Who wouldn’t want that first date you’re excited about to go well? And who couldn’t use tips on how to approach difficult topics with a partner, like where your…

💌 Tip: Give a compliment that’s “sticky.”

“You’re amazing!” “Great job!” “You rock!” These words are nice, albeit unmemorable. To share a compliment that stays in person’s psyche, that gives them life, that pushes them forward and ensures they think fondly of you, make sure it’s sticky.

On Medium, Barry Davret writes about what that means: “Compare these two compliments, and you’ll see what makes the second so effective. Compliment one: You’re a great writer. Compliment two: You’ve really mastered the art of triggering vivid images with your descriptive sentences. The one about northern cardinal birds mating is still etched…

A one-week plan to build the boundaries you don’t have

This is part two in a series. The first part explains what a happiness fence is and why you need one.

Life in the modern world is full of dogs shitting on our lawns. That’s how I think about a lack of boundaries. The relentlessness of our lives — the pinging, the ringing, the going, the rushing, the overwhelming calendars — tramples all over our pretty landscaping. We need a fence, a “happiness fence.” Check out my piece “It’s Time to Build a Happiness Fence” to learn what it is and why it is critical in the modern world. Today…

Level up your daily interactions with strategies from My Dinner With Andre” to ‘Adaptation’

“My Dinner With Andre,” Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory, 1981. Photo: Everett Collection

Considering how inherent it is to everyday life, conversation is an under discussed art. But being more thoughtful about how we talk to each other can yield powerful connections.

I thought a lot about conversation when writing my memoir, No One You Know, which revolves around my organic interactions with strangers. Sometimes, those interactions were stimulating, sometimes a drag, and occasionally, they were revelatory. When I think about what makes a fruitful conversation, besides drawing on experience, it’s been useful to consult a resource hiding in plain sight: movies. I’ve plumbed some of my favorites for enlightening clips and lessons…

💡 Tip: Instead of saying “Here’s what helped me,” try asking “What’s helped you before?”

When friends and colleagues come to us with problems, we often—with the best intentions!—make it about ourselves. “Oh yes, that happened to me once. So what I did was …”

A better approach comes from author and Wharton professor Adam Grant, who suggests: Instead of saying “Here’s what helped me,” ask “What’s helped you before?” The question prompts the person to use lessons from their past to overcome the challenges they’re facing right now, a skill they can carry throughout their lives. If they’re still…

Tip: Add that no response will result in you taking an action.

If you’re like many people, you end your emails with the chipper sign-off: “Let me know! Thanks!” And then once you hit send, you sit there in mild distress, wondering if or when that person will ever actually let you know. In those times when you can’t move forward with your own responsibilities until you receive an answer, it helps to include a deadline with your message. Twitter user Angry Rose shares this advice: “Pro-tip: When constructing emails, make sure you write in some way that no…

A therapist and a psychiatrist offer six effective ways to personally help solve a global crisis of connection

Photo: Larm Rmah/Unsplash

In our last post, “Why Do We Hate?” we wrote that our delusion of separateness is fueling systemic racism, violence, war, and impeding our response to imminent, global existential threats like climate change. We argued that it is urgent for us to develop our capability to connect, and extend it beyond our close inner circle.

So what can we do to develop our sense of connection?

There’s no simple solution, as this is a problem that humanity has been grappling with throughout recorded history. But there’s a greater sense of urgency now, given the problems we face. …


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