Are you okay?

Simple questions. The answers seem straightforward. But are they? It’s a matter of interpretation. And misinterpretation can lead to fractured relationships, undercut credibility, and delayed projects. The question: “Are you okay?” Pat: “No.” Devon: “Yeah.” What Pat really means: “I have a headache and I’m tired; I don’t feel well, and that’s not okay.” What Devon really means: “I have a headache and I’m …

gljudson Better conversations

Does empathy belong in the workplace?

What’s your biggest challenge in feeling understood? Not just thinking or believing that the other person understands what you’re saying. Truly feeling understood. Does that seem like a weird question? I ask because for each of us as individuals, the deepest goal of communication is to feel (not just “be”) understood. This is more than intellectual understanding; it’s the experience of connection with another person …

gljudson Better conversations

Are you … manipulative?

What do you think: are you manipulative? I wish there was an easy way to pause the display of this page for 60 seconds for you to think about your answer – and not just your answer, but the whole experience of reading the question and then answering. What does the question feel like? Where does it land in your body? …

gljudson Better conversations, Values

Words matter

Recently, a friend mentioned that her partner had written her a note before heading off on a business trip. “Please remember to water the baby peas.” My friend told me she’d have no problem remembering – and, more importantly, doing – this. If the note had read, “Please remember to water the garden,” it might not have ended well for the seedlings. The words …

gljudson Better conversations, Success

An alternative to “safe space”

“This is a safe space.” We hear that a lot in coaching, counseling, consulting, and even in business meetings. Groups on Facebook and on LinkedIn are touted as “safe space” where we can feel comfortable in the company of like-minded people: no one will push our buttons. Educational institutions are under pressure to create “safe space” where students and teachers …

gljudson Better conversations, Conflict

Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer

It’s an old saying. “Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.” Despite the passionate counter-statement “There are no stupid questions!”, there absolutely are questions that invite a stupid answer. How does that happen? All too easily. A question asked without providing context for how the answer will be used significantly reduces the likelihood that there will be a real …

gljudson Better conversations

Sticks, stones, and name-calling

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” It’s a familiar refrain we learn from our parents as children, meant to soothe the pain of being called nasty names by playmates. However, if you’re like most of us, you’ll remember that it wasn’t particularly effective either in helping us feel better or in stopping the name-calling. The …

gljudson Better conversations

Don’t clothe the skeleton!

“So, I’m going to tell them that I know this has been hard for them. I understand how the disagreements we’ve been having have triggered a lot of unpleasant memories of things that went badly wrong under past leadership. For instance, I know Sam really feels – ” “Wait! Stop!” I said. My client and I were planning an upcoming meeting …

gljudson Better conversations, Leadership

Hearing – or understanding?

“I hear what you’re saying.” Whenever someone says that to me, I always want to reply, “Sure. I hear the birds chirping, a car driving past, and someone on the phone 20 feet away. So what?” People are hesitant to say, “I understand you.” Maybe they don’t understand. Maybe they fear they’ll be misunderstood as saying, “I agree with you,” when, in fact, …

gljudson Better conversations

Why “thank you” isn’t enough

“Thank you.” It’s the nice thing to say. It’s what our parents taught us. Even when it’s no more than a polite reflex, it’s still a real expression of gratitude or appreciation. And when you’re in a casual situation with someone you don’t know or with whom you don’t have an ongoing, meaningful relationship – such as the clerk at the grocery …

gljudson Better conversations