Posted: August 2nd, 2015

Getting out of your comfort zone is easier said than done

In July I flew to Europe with my friend Pam to hike the famous Haute Route, which starts in Chamonix, France and finishes in Zermatt, Switzerland.  The route is beloved by trekkers not only for its fantastic scenery but also for its relative luxuries; you can carry just a day pack with no camping gear because there are mountain huts…

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Posted: June 5th, 2015

Why do we wait so long to teach interpersonal skills?

This week my two colleagues and I began delivering a “soft skills” class to employees of the federal agency supervisors we’ve been working with for the past two years.  The class is a shorter version of what we deliver to the supervisors, and it focuses on communication skills, conflict management approaches, teamwork and diversity. Predictably, and within the first half…

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Posted: May 1st, 2015

The cult of busy

Reading Tim Kreider’s NY Times article The Busy Trap, I could not decide whether to log a protest, applaud him for his insights about our national cult of busyness, or be offended by his smugness.  His opening paragraph:   If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you…

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Posted: March 3rd, 2015

Cultural faux pas can be serious business

One of the most important things you can teach workers who travel internationally is the importance of understanding the cultural norms of another country.  I don’t just mean customs like whether to bow or shake hands, or how to dress in the workplace, although those things are very important too.   But I also mean the less tangible elements of culture…

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Posted: February 21st, 2015

Single white female has found a tribe

Back in 2011 I wrote a posted titled Single white female seeking a tribe, and it was about how I’ve been part of work teams that had a shared passion for what we were doing but I lost that when I became a consultant, working from home and traveling to different organizations on my own.  I lamented that while it…

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Posted: February 11th, 2015

Team intelligence and emotional intelligence

I’ve been blogging about MIT’s fascinating research on team effectiveness for years, including about: a study by the Human Dynamics Laboratory on team communication patterns correlated with performance metrics; the implications for virtual team building; and the implications for policies prohibiting telecommuting programs.  Now MIT has some new studies that link not only communication patterns but also emotional intelligence to…

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Posted: January 11th, 2015

Memory is fiction

Showtime’s new television series The Affair offers an interesting illustration of the fiction of memory.  It’s a topic that many psychologies and organizational development theorists have written about, and I’ve blogged about it previously too.  But it’s one thing to read a study about how we exaggerate, distort, bury and even invent memories about past events; it’s quite another to…

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Posted: November 23rd, 2014

The more important you are, the more boring you think you have to be

For the past year, I’ve been traveling around the country delivering a soft skills course to the field office supervisors of a federal agency.  The course includes a module on oral presentation skills, and my co-facilitator and I have but one objective during this module: to get the participants to take their stuffy, boring presentations and spice them up a…

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Posted: November 2nd, 2014

Stop romantizing the past and look to the future instead

Jason Feifer recently wrote a great article for Fast Company Magazine called Fear and Loathing of Silicon Valley.  He makes a convincing case that the current dialogue about the internet and social media making us less social, less connected or less intelligent is really just a fear of change that’s been going on since ancient Greece.  Google is not making…

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Posted: September 28th, 2014

Where does all this puffery lead us?

One of my contractors asked me to help the proposal manager put together consultant resumes and bios for a major proposal they were working on. After I finished the first one I sent it to the proposal manager to make sure I was on the right track.  She said, “I need this to be a little more salesy.  It should…

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