The first rule is comfort in, dump out

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How Not to Say The Wrong Thing by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman

It works in all kinds of crises – medical, legal, even existential. It’s the ‘Ring Theory’ of kvetching. The first rule is comfort in, dump out.

…Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”


Source: SwissMiss

Talking is like drinking a great Cabernet. Listening is like doing squats.

talking too much


  • “Take this simple test: After your next long conversation with someone, estimate what percentage of it you spent talking. Be honest. No, you’re already underestimating. How do I know? Because it’s more fun to talk than to listen. Add another 20% to your total. If you talked more than 70% of the time, you jabber too much.”
  • “An optimal conversation flow has each person talking about 50% of the time. This is the Ali-Frazier of good give-and-take.”
  • “But, you say, what if your talking partner is just quiet and loves to listen? Stop it. She doesn’t. Listening is like reading a corporate report. Talking is like eating a cinnamon bun.”
  • So how do you achieve this 50-50 conversational ideal? Easy: ask questions. But don’t think that one “How are you?” is going to turn you into Oprah. Actually listen to what the other person is saying, and find openings.”
  • “But if you’re talking about someone whom your conversation partner doesn’t know, especially a mother, keep it short—one minute tops, unless it’s a truly fantastic story.”
  • “I can hear you complaining already: “One minute? But I need to include all the details.” No you don’t…Your job is to quickly entertain and inform, and then to ask good questions…”
  • “Also, let your chattering breathe a little. One dastardly arrow in the big talker’s quiver is to slow down in the middle of his sentence, then to blow through the period so that there’s no opening for anyone to squeeze a word in.”
  • “Another essential rule is to monitor your audience. Is the guy you’re talking to glancing at his cellphone, spinning his Dorito like a paper football or making his tie into a noose? If so, pull the ripcord and ask him if Heineken is his favorite beer, since you’ve just seen him drain five of them. Watch how relieved he is to have a turn to talk!”

~ Rob Lazebnik, a writer on “The Simpson’s. See full article @ wsj.com: It’s True: You Talk Too Much


I have a few ‘acquaintances’ that could benefit from these tips. :)


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Oh, did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

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Riding MetroNorth. In reflection.

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Stack ‘em up and rumble. Dawn till dusk. Conference calls. One on one calls. Meetings. Emails + Texts: 175 and counting (the day isn’t over). Swinging a gas powered weed wacker. The day: A half-high-five. Many routine ground balls. No major drops. Grade? Falling forward.

I’m on the 7:15 pm MetroNorth railroad heading home.  The overhead air conditioning vent is heaven; a cool shower drying sweat from the sweltering cross-town walk.  I close my eyes. And drift back to the day’s highlight. A working lunch. I’m 7 minutes late. I apologize and sit. The team waited for me before digging into lunch.

We’re 10 minutes in.  The racing, charging, driving of the prior four hours burns off.  My heart rate slows. I’m not tapping my foot. I’m not pushing the pace. Not glancing at my watch. Not thinking ahead to the next meeting. I’m watching. And listening.  I’m actually present. [Read more…]

Looking, we do not see. Listening, we do not hear. Loving, we do not feel.

John Daido Loori - 1

“The thing that blinds us and deafens us is the ceaselessly moving mind, the preoccupation we have with our thoughts. It is the incessant internal dialogue that shuts out everything else. That is the problem with trying to take a preconceived photograph. Before you even walk out of the building, you blind yourself. All day long we talk to ourselves. We preoccupy ourselves with the past, or we preoccupy ourselves with the future, and while we preoccupy ourselves, we miss the moment and miss our lives. Looking, we do not see. It is as if we were blind. Listening, we do not hear. It is as if we were deaf. Loving, we do not feel. It is as if we were dead. Preoccupied, we do not notice the reality around us. How can we be present? How can we taste and touch our lives? The answer to these questions is not outside yourself. To see this truth requires the backward step, going very deep into yourself to find the foundation of reality and of your life. To see it is not the same as understanding it or believing it. To see it means to realize it with the whole body and mind. To realize it transforms one’s life, one’s way of perceiving the universe and the self, and of expressing what has been realized…When you practice the Zen arts, practice your life – trust yourself completely. Trust the process of sitting. Know that deep within each and every one of us, under layers of conditioning, there is an enlightened being, alive and well. In order to function, it needs to be discovered. To discover this buddha is wisdom. To make it function in the world is compassion. That wisdom and compassion is the life of each one of us. It is up to you what you do with it.”

~ John Daido Loori [Read more…]

Patience Grasshopper. Patience.

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Michael’s in my head again. Jabbing. Jabbing. Jabbing. Gracefully dancing and landing punches like Sugar Ray. With similar effectiveness. Each one leaving a mark. Punch line popping: You are RUDE.

If you want to pay someone a quiet compliment, give them some serious attention when they are speaking.

I’m in the groove. Making up lost time on a long neglected project with a looming deadline. And, then a colleague with unscheduled “drop-in” meeting walks through my door. My flow is interrupted. “It will just take a few minutes,” was the request. Rather than setting expectations as to my time upfront or scheduling a meeting to accommodate the discussion, I reluctantly shoe-horn it in.
We’re five minutes in. And we are wading. In a swamp. My mind begins to wander. (My foot starts tapping. I start playing with my pen. I sneak glances at my watch. TRIGGERS. Susan’s post intrudes: You see the triggers pal. The alarms are coming at you in waves. Pull up. Pull up. Do not go to the “automated response.”

Billion a Second…

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This meeting was no different than any other.  No different from the hundreds of meetings in the days, the months before.  Where I’m on to the next meeting while attending the one in front of me.  Meetings with a replicated loop.  Mind whirring…processing.  Me pushing. Me prodding. Agitating.  Me wanting and needing more. Extraction. Creating discomfort.  Manufacturing urgency.  I’m not looking for you to love me.  That’s what your dog is for.  This morning, my level of consciousness had been ratcheted up by a few lines from Daniel Bor the night before.  And, I roll into the first meeting of the day.  I’m listening.  I’m watching.

[Read more…]

Appreciate that our civilization has not as yet been evaporated by a supernova…

Salman KhanHere are some excerpts from Sal Khan’s 2012 commencement address at MIT.  Go to Explore for an excellent post and the video of his remarks:

Remember that real success is maximizing your internally derived happiness. It will not come from external status or money or praise. It will come from a feeling of contribution. A feeling that you are using your gifts in the best way possible.”

“…Start every morning with a smile — even a forced one — it will make you happier.  Replace the words “I have to” with “I get to” in your vocabulary. Smile with your mouth, your eyes, your ears, your face, your body at every living thing you see. Be a source of energy and optimism. Surround yourself with people that make you better. Realize or even rationalize that the grass is truly greener on your side of the fence. Just the belief that it is becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy…

[Read more…]