Imagine a world where communication was consistently effective, where misunderstandings were easily rectified and conversation was productive…

Amazingly I don’t believe you need mood altering substances to achieve this state!

In the office


Listening is a foundational communication skill, and one that we can never learn enough about. Watch what Kevin Sharer (CEO, Amgen) has to say about listening and how it can be the highest form of respect you can give someone:


At home

For those of us who dread the festive season because it means spending time with some of our objectionable relatives and their curious habits… (yes, we hear the collective sigh)…

Fear not, help is at hand as we have whipped up a seasonal suggestion:

  • First think about or write down exactly what the issue is that you are dreading, be extremely specific and include all the details.
  • Go through it with a friend and ask them to challenge you to see if the issue is ‘yours’ and/or if it really belongs to the other person (pick a friend who doesn’t owe you money).
  • If it’s your issue, think of 3 things you appreciate about this person: “he makes a yummy tiramisu” or “she tells great jokes” and focus on those points during your visit.

This will help you to feel less frustrated during your time with them and may even reduce some of your feelings of frustration.

If it’s their issue, consider following these steps:

  • Find a time before the holidays (if necessary engineer one) where it’s low stress and private, to have a conversation with the person in question
  • Ask them if it’s ok to let them know something that’s been on your mind which you are a little nervous about discussing
  • Tell them the issue, let them know how you feel about it and make a request of them to do something differently.

For example: let’s imagine you are going to talk to your brother-in- law, Victor, about his overly festive drinking. (Deliver in a calm voice and a slow pace.)

You: Victor, I was wondering if I could talk to you about something that’s been on my mind.

Victor: yeah, sure.

You: this is something that’s been concerning me for a while and I am a little nervous about discussing this with you.

Victor: now I am getting worried (as he laughs nervously).

You: I notice that sometimes when you drink you behave quite differently afterwards (wait and allow Victor to respond if he wants to).

You: when this happens, I feel (fill in the blank, for example: disappointed and frustrated) because I would like to connect more with you and enjoy our time together.

(let Victor reply)

You: Victor, would you be willing to drink less alcohol while we are together?

It’s possible that Victor will get defensive, though he’ll be less likely to if you say it slowly and calmly, expressing your feelings while explaining why it’s important to you.

The bottom line here, is that we often do not express the simple things that make a difference.

If you say nothing, it is likely nothing will change. By experimenting with what we are suggesting, there is a good chance that the dynamics might shift and you will find yourself actually looking forward to the next family gathering!