How To Have a Better Conversation

"When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have conversations — and that most of us don't converse very well. Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations."

In the video above, Celeste talks about texting, and how we think we are connecting. These days it seems to have become the norm to send texts and emails rather than to call someone. In your life, how many texts or emails do you send? Do you prefer texting or emailing to face to face conversations? Sadly many relationships are suffering because we are no longer truly connecting with other important people in our lives.

Who could you call today for a conversation?

Forget big change, start with a tiny habit

What if someone told you to floss only one tooth everyday? Or start the new year, not with grand resolutions, but with a simple challenge.. like ONE pushup a day? BJ Fogg shows us that the key to lasting change does not lie in planning big, monumental changes, but in thinking really, really small.

Reducing Anxiety with Music

"Researchers at Mindlab International in the U.K. wanted to know what kind of music induces the greatest state of relaxation. The study involved having participants try to solve difficult puzzles — which inherently triggered a certain degree of stress — while connected to sensors. At the same time, participants listened to a range of songs as researchers measured their brain activity, heart rate, blood pressure and rate of breathing.

What they found is that one song — “Weightless” — resulted in a striking 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates.

Interestingly, the song was specifically designed to induce this highly relaxed state. Created by Marconi Union, the musicians teamed up with sound therapists to carefully arrange harmonies, rhythms and bass lines, which in turn slow a listener’s heart rate and blood pressure, while also lowering stress hormones like cortisol.

In fact, the music is so effective, that many of the female participants became drowsy — to the point where lead researcher Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson advises against listening to it while driving."

Music by Marconi Union

Information from: Carolanne Wright.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotions matter. What we do with our emotions is especially important. When perceived accurately and regulated effectively, emotions help us to focus on important tasks, make effective decisions, enjoy healthy relationships, and manage life's ups and downs.

Part 1 of a workshop by Marc Brackett, co-creator of the RULER Approach to Social Emotional Learning

Click on image to enlarge.

How Victim Thinking Stops Innovation

There is a story about two young twin brothers who walked into a barn with their grandfather. One boy complained about the foul-smelling manure and ran out of the barn while complaining about getting manure on his shoes. The other boy raced through the barn with excitement and yelled to his grandfather, "With all this manure, there must be a pony somewhere!" The first boy saw himself as a Victim of the manure and its smell. The second boy saw the manure and linked it to greater possibilities. Which boy do you identify with?

Do you complain about life's bumps, or do you see challenging issues as an opportunity to innovate and create new possibilities? Tough times can magnify your view of situations. If you see difficult issues through the eyes of a Victim you might say: "The budget has been slashed so there's no way we can accomplish our goals" or "I'm at the mercy of my bad boss" or "voters won't approve of that idea."

Victim mentality sucks the life out of innovative energy. People with Victim-like thinking can be addicted to the drama and complaining rather than seeing the possibility of innovation and new approaches.

The Creator/innovator, on the other hand, clarifies what they want and goes after that outcome step by step. Not brought down by the situation, they ask themselves, "What do I want to focus on despite this challenge in front of me?" The fundamental difference between the Victim mindset and the Creator/innovator mindset is the quality of attention. When in the Victim orientation, the focus is on what you don't want.

With a Creator mindset, the focus is on what you do want, rather than focusing on setbacks or obstacles. Often it is two steps forward and a step back. But with each step the Creator trusts they are getting closer to and clearer about what they want. It is no secret that now, more than ever, people feel victimized by circumstances such as toxic politics, not having enough time or money, their poor work environment, an illness or their bad childhood. Despite these challenges, the Creator/innovator mindset sees failure as an opportunity to grow, and trusts in the cycle of breakdown to breakthrough.

Staying in the Creator/innovator mindset is not always easy----it goes against our human tendency to see problems first. It takes commitment and desire to remember that your true essence is as a Creator/innovator. People who forget their true essence as a Creator are at risk of taking-on Victim thinking. That's how thinking like a Victim stops innovation!

The only thing Victim thinking creates is more misery for their co-workers, family members and themselves. Because Victim thinking can be very subtle and unconscious, we encourage you to notice your Victim thoughts and feelings when they arise. When they do, learn to shift your perspective by asking: "What's the outcome I want here?" and "What conditions can I create that foster a Creator/innovator mindset?"

Now the conversation has an opportunity to shift from complaints and problems to a more inspiring destination. When you begin to do this, others will ask you to join their conversation and share your knack for turning problems into opportunities. This is a powerful shift, but no one can do it for you. The fact is, only you can notice the lens in which you relate to the world. It's your choice. Do you see a barn full of manure or look for the pony?

This article is by By David Emerald & Donna Zajonc, MCC website:

Learn more about The Drama Triangle - click here

Dr John Gottman - How to Build Trust and Positive Energy in Your Relationship

What are the keys for building trust, at any stage in your relationship? What can you do to amplify the things that are going right in your relationship? What has research revealed about the secrets that make love last? And what can new parents do to ensure that their relationship stays strong even as it changes with the new addition to the family? On today’s episode, we’re going to hear from one of the world’s foremost experts on how to build a successful relationship - Dr. John Gottman. In his second visit to the Relationship Alive podcast (see Episode 1 for his first visit), John Gottman offers answers to these questions and more expert wisdom on how to take your relationship skills to the next level.

Trust is the core issue for new relationships. People new to their relationships are constantly wondering: Do you have my back? Can I trust you? Will you be there for me? The majority of arguments and conflicts are, at their core, about trust. Trust is absolutely essential to build safety in a relationship (new or old). Trust stems from the ability to think about your partner’s welfare as well as your own, and to work towards maximizing both simultaneously. It is only from this knowing that you are being cared for as much as you are caring for, and being loved and appreciated as much as your are loving and appreciating, that you can withstand the risks, doubts, and conflicts that inevitably arise in partnerships.

Build your trust metric: Trust is something to care take and to cultivate. It is an aspect of the relationship that needs continual attention. One important way to build trust naturally is to listen to your partner’s negative emotions. Really hear them when they are sad, angry, disappointed, etc. Listen with curiosity and openness and respond from this place, rather than from defensiveness or a desire to dismiss. Continual attunement means that at any point you are able to switch and see things through your partner’s perspective with empathy and compassion. Continual attunement not only builds trust, but it nearly immediately de-escalates the you/me tension that leads to criticism, contempt, conflict and disconnection. In fact, with adequate connection and empathy, conflict can be constructive in leading to creative problem solving.

Have each other’s best interest in mind. Adopt the motto “Baby when you are in pain, the world stops, and I listen”. Let your partner know that you are going to be there, even when they are upset with you. Turn the screens off and make time to listen and be with your partner with your whole heart and attention.

Good relationships require trust and commitment. Commitment is absolutely necessary for building safety in a relationship. Commitment is different than trust- commitment is about really saying “you are my journey, I have chosen you and I cherish what I have with you”. Couples that do not build this kind of investment in their relationship, or who make negative comparisons to other relationships, end up betraying the relationship. In fact, this alone is a predictor of infidelity. Check in with yourself frequently and ask yourself if you are thinking that the grass might be greener with someone else, or if you are starting to meet needs outside of the relationship through others. Remember- commitment is about loving THIS person- all the good and the bad.

Choose gratitude instead of resentment. Given that negative comparisons to others begins the cascade to betrayal, be sure to return often to gratitude for all you share, experience, and love about your partner and your relationship. Resentments and conflict are inevitable, however do not let this set the tone of your love. Look for the unique aspects of your partner that you can cherish. During times when you are having a harder time accessing this love, try to be honest. Avoiding conflict and avoiding self-disclosure threatens commitment and leads to infidelity.

Nurture and cherish! Gottman poses that “commitment is about going the extra mile- it means that even when your partner isn’t with you, they are with you in your mind, and that you are really thinking positive things about your partner’s character and the relationship”.  

Invest in the relationship: Make sure that the time you spend with your partner involves 100% of your heart. Be ready and willing to invest and sacrifice for your partner. Dare to care more about their well-being than your own (over time these become one and the same).

Happy and strong couples tend to: Say I love you and mean it! Kiss passionately! Cuddle! Give romantic gifts! Show affection in public! Have a weekly date! Prioritize sex! Stay friends! Make time for each other! In conclusion- they engage in behaviors that foster oxytocin which increases pair bonding, and builds a deep sense of safety.

You can be great friends and great lovers: The essential elements are simple- keep touching each other and keep...

Article from the above podcast by Neil Sattin

Embracing Ageing

I've put this image of the front yard of an old house we once rented in a sea side town in NSW, as I'm particularly fond of old beac...