More on Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable

I posted today on Big Think about a process from my book, It’s All Politics (PURRR) that can help avoid reacting rather than responding, especially at work.  Often many of us say what we don’t mean, speak before we think, and slip into patterns that diminish the likelihood of work being done well.  Such events raise tension at work and home.

The PURRR process is a device to use in turning around the inclination to speak before adequately thinking ahead to potentially undesirable consequences.  Once you become proficient at this process, thinking about the steps becomes unnecessary — until you find a booster of PURRR necessary because you’re slipping into old habits.

It’s a particularly useful technique if you’re inclined to taking things personally.  There are content and relationship meanings imbedded in much of what we say.  We have the option of attending to either or both.  The example provided in the post shows how to focus away from the personal.  If you don’t know how to do this well, someone else’s bad mood can become your issue and your mood as well.

Choice points (see categories in right column of this page for more) in conversation are opportunities to bring about preferred outcomes.  Often, we can alter the direction conversations take by recognizing choice points and selecting a path forward that takes us away from altercations, hard feelings, or spending the day seething.


Twitter: @kathreardon

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Is There Still an Art to Connectedness?

As human beings we have a need for inclusion — being connected to others. Professionally, such connectedness can be a considerable advantage as well.  As I wrote in a blog at Big Think today, however, it’s easy to forget that “real” connectedness, the kind that matters socially and professionally, requires more than counting links or followers.

Certainly there is something to be said for quantity of connections when attempting to reach people with our ideas or products.  These same contacts can provide advice, at times, and information about other social and professional opportunities.

But being connected in a way that matters is still an art.  As I described in The Secret Handshake and It’s All Politics, one of the greatest gifts we can give or receive is truly listening, truly being heard — truly being present in conversation.  That means taking time to pause, to think, to recall what is important to people with whom we’d like to generate and/or maintain more than just passing acquaintances.

Borrowing from three of the many people I interviewed when writing about politics, the Big Think blog shares one of the key ingredients of the art of connecting.  Employ this approach and what is now merely quantity of connections may be imbued with quality as well.

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Protecting Yourself From Media Lies

The poor quality of most televised and print journalism in the U.S. is an issue that is even more concerning as a presidential election draws nearer.  And so I wrote the blog featured today on Huffington Post about how that kind of coverage will influence the campaign of Hillary Clinton, should she decide to run.

Whenever anyone writes about Clinton, other important points in the article are ignored by many who feel compelled to disparage her.  That’s to be expected as Hillary Clinton generates angst — far more and far more intense than a woman of her extensive contributions to her country warrant.  In the context of reason and debate, such disdain has no place.  The primary issue of how the press is already and will be handling her campaign is important, not just to her, not just to women, but to democracy.

It’s only by obtaining accurate information, to the extent possible, that people can make informed choices.  Resorting to cheap shots, twisting of the facts, poisoning of wells, and other underhanded forms of influence are less likely to occur and catch on in cultures where more than “some people say” journalism is the status quo.  Yet, that’s what is most common in the U.S.

Having studied persuasion, influence and politics all of my career, I’m concerned.  It used to be that you could expect junk journalism from sensational rags.  Now, standards for superb journalism have given way to demands for profit.  Who loses?  The voter trying to make an educated decision.  It falls to each of us then to bring to the forefront of our minds when ingesting information whether that source can be trusted — not whether their writers agree with us.

Being even adequately informed is a tall order now days.  With so much polarization and overt disdain among our leaders, once considered unprofessional, the 24 hour news and entertainment cycle and an absence of vigilance on the part of viewers, we are at risk of being duped — often.  We all need a little voice inside our heads, that we teach to our children, asking, “How credible is this source?”  In persuasion study this is referred to as generating counterarguments.  Essentially, being wary of one’s sources involves forming counterarguments when what we’re hearing or reading lacks adequate support and yet is passed off by media owners as “news” rather than free-flowing opinion.  There’s nothing wrong with the latter, so long as we recognize it as such.

This is all common sense.  Yet, it’s uncommonly applied.  We need to change that for our own good.

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Debunking Myths That Stall Women’s Careers

Shellie Karabell, leadership writer for Forbes, helped debunk some myths about female leadership this week in her blog about female killer whales.  Apparently if the male killer whales fretted as much as male and female humans about whether females should lead, they’d starve.  It’s the females who learn where to find salmon.

My blog posted today on Big Think  draws upon her analogy, to look at some of the ludicrous assumptions that not only hold women back but deny organizations the advantages women bring to senior management and executive boards.  I don’t think, for example, that I’ve ever heard of men wondering if they were chosen to be on a board because of anything other than their competence.  And yet we’re told that women invited onto boards, especially due to quotas, may feel that the reason for their selection had more to do with gender than merit.

From the Big Think blog:

Apparently, there’s no panicked silly “scrambling” among male killer whales over where to find enough experienced females, no “grooming” obstacle regarding claims that females haven’t been sufficiently mentored. No wringing of fins and flexing of hubris goes on about lowering the bar. They’re hungry. She knows where the salmon are. That’s critical. Case closed.

Researchers do not appear to have found female leader whales haunted by being “required” leaders. Maybe they even skipped the “token” period that supposedly made women insecure for decades. Somehow they lead undaunted despite smaller pectoral muscles and tail flukes.

If you’ve consulted for boards as I have, you know the selection criteria often has less to do with competence, often a given, than it does with power, connectedness, creativity, money or visibility.

Quotas like the ones put into law in Germany last week wouldn’t be needed if the assumptions treated as fact were questioned more often — especially that companies need to “scramble” to find women for executive boards.  That should be funny.

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Comebacks at Work Opportunity

About a month ago I noticed that Comebacks at Work had been reduced from around $11.99 to $3.99 on Amazon Kindle.  I mentioned it on this site. Shortly thereafter, it went back up.  It’s now back down again to $3.99.  Thought I’d let you know. Amazon works in mysterious ways.  Best, Kathleen  (Sorry, it was just raised again to $11.99.  I’ll post again if it drops back to $3.99 and I catch it).

**As of March 26, Comebacks is at $3.99 again for the moment.

P.S.  And if you didn’t read the announcement, They Don’t Get It, Do They? is now on Kindle for only $2.99.  If you wonder why it’s still a struggle for women to communicate effectively at work, this is why and how to change it one dysfunctional pattern at a time.

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Unwanted Repetitive Episodes — Breaking loose at Choice Points

Unwanted repetitive episodes (URPs or UREPs for short) are the patterns we develop with people at work, at home, in friendships and even with acquaintances.  They’re unwanted because they’re dysfunctional.  I’ve written about them in my books on politics at work and at this website (see category section to the right) and about choice points in conversations where we can break free of these patterns.

There are choice points in nearly all conversations where it’s possible to alter the direction and bring about an entirely, more productive outcome.  There is considerable attention being paid now days to “mindfulness” — part of that being able to be in the moment.  So much of conversation is scripted and gets away from us.  We engage in them as if on autopilot.  Only by being more aware, mindful in a way, of our interactions and how we contribute are we able also to alter what happens to us everyday.

In the video segment below, there’s an example and brief discussion about UREPS.  This is a segment of a larger talk and uses a domestic example in which a wife says, “My mother is coming to stay for four weeks.”  The husband is at a choice point.  Since communication is a lot like chess, where every move we make limits the options of the other person(s), how we use choice points shapes our days and also our careers.

We all have the ability to break free of patterns, especially at choice points, if we’re aware of where they’re taking us and where we might go instead.

video here  UREPSReardon – Small

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Speaking Like a Woman at Work

A few words on speaking like the “duck” at work — and the latitude to make mistakes on route to your own effective ways of communicating conviction and competence.



KathleenReardon – click here for video excerpt

I mention in this segment speaking “like the duck,” which refers to talking like those above you and is from my book, It’s All Politics.  There’s a time and place for speaking like the duck.  You can’t do well at work if you sound too foreign to those deciding whether you should be promoted.  Whether male or female, sometimes you need to sound somewhat like the duck.  Does that mean adopting the entire language?  No.  More promising is crafting your own, adding duck-like aspects when suited to the task.  High in priority is conveying competence and conviction when much is on the line.  The latter may require working on tone, volume, intensity, gestures, eye-contact, emphasis on key aspects of an idea and learning to be concise.  It’s a tall order at times, but over time, with observation of the “duck” and experimentation, it can become second nature.



(More video on politics and gender to come.  For women in particular, my book They Don’t Get It, Do They? was re-released last week in Kindle form ($2.99) mainly because little has changed for women at work. Based on years of observing politics and communication patterns peculiar to work relationships between women and men, it focuses on the communication obstacles that hold us back, patterns (ones imposed on us and ones we create), unwanted repetitive episodes, land mines and traps, and what it takes to change them for the better)

Click here for They Don’t Get It, Do They?

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