208) Crucial Conversations

No matter who you are or what you do, you can’t avoid an occasional interaction that you sense will be, well, tense, contentious or generally uncomfortable. In these moments, your gut gives you two options: prepare for battle or run and hide.

However, according to authors of the book Crucial Conversations there is a third option. When communication is headed towards conflict, these authors encourage you to ask yourself three questions:

  • One, what do you want for this person?
  • Two, what do you want for yourself?
  • And, three, what do you want for the relationship?

The benefit of reflecting on these questions is that this line of thinking pulls your brain out of the primitive “fight or flight” mindset and engages a higher order of consideration. That alone will soften tensions and get you in the right frame of mind to empower a more productive result.


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207) The Fifth Habit

In Stephen Covey’s renowned book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he advocates that for us to have the best possible relationships, we need to start by employing empathetic listening skills. That is, we should be listening with the intent to understand as opposed to listening with the intent to reply.

Through listening to understand, we place ourselves in someone else’s shoes. We see the world through their eyes. And, as best we can, we understand their way of thinking. In essence, through the level of listening that Covey promotes we achieve the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing.

Certainly, with this level of understanding, we better position ourselves to serve them, which is important. But an added benefit is that by engaging in this empathetic listening we increase the likelihood that people will listen to us with the intent to understand.


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206) Stand Tall

It’s a long-standing Olympic tradition that during opening ceremonies each participating country selects a representative from its delegate of athletes to carry the nation’s flag.

Each representative then carries its country’s flag high and proud as they process around the venue. However, when they pass in front of the host nation’s lead dignitary, they dip their flag in deference to that official and the host country.

Every country does this. Everyone … except the United States.

You see, at the 1908 London Olympics, the United States flag bearer Ralph Rose refused to dip the American flag for King Edward VII. When questioned about it Rose proclaimed, “The American flag bows before no earthly king.”

No doubt, you’re great in your own right. Stand tall with pride. And like the American flag, don’t bow before anyone on this earth.


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205) Exit Conversations Gracefully

Making connections at networking events is great. Remember, however, that networking and these events in general, are about building relationships.

So, you want to become adept at having small talk conversations. But in addition, you need to become skillful at transitioning out of conversations so that you’re able to move on to another.

Here are some great ideas on things to say to help you “gracefully exit” from one conversation so you can engage in another:

  • “Thanks for your time. I told myself I would meet three interesting people at this event. I have two more to go.” OR
  • “Thanks for your time. There is someone over there that I need to connect with.” OR
  • “Is there anyone here in particular you would like to meet? I would be glad to introduce you.”

These statements are all useful in helping you transition from one great conversation to the next. So, keep these statements in your conversation arsenal.


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204) Challenge Equals Change

Try this: Walk 100 steps in any direction and then walk back. Can you feel the burn? Is your body sculpted? Of course not.

Now try this: Go to the library, pick up a business or leadership book and read the back cover. Are your business “smarts” appreciably improved for doing that? It’s not likely.

Final exercise: Log onto social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever) and ‘like’ a handful of posts. Is your network now teaming with loads of great, new relationships? Nope! No way.

These three exercises are meant to illustrate a point. If you want to change yourself, you need to challenge yourself. A healthy life needs you to invest more than a couple hundred steps. An improved business acumen requires real experience and consistent learning. Your network won’t grow appreciably with only a few likes or shares.

The lesson is simple: If it doesn’t challenge you, it’s not going to change you.


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203) Build A Better World

Look around. No, the world is not perfect, including your corner of it.

Things are amiss in society. There are initiatives that are not hitting on all cylinders. And there are some that aren’t functioning at all.

And there are things that are not only amiss, they’re completely missing. There are underserved pieces of your community. There are programs that have disappeared. And there are programs that never were.

No, things are not perfect. But you have a choice. You can complain and rail about what’s not. Or you can roll up your sleeves and become part of what will be. After all, sometimes you have to create that which you want to be part of.

So, if you want a better world around you, take a step today – no matter small it might be – to build your community into what you want it to be.


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202) Move Beyond The Decision

Once upon a time there were three frogs sitting on a lily pad in a pond. Two frogs decided to jump in. How many frogs are left on the lily pad? The answer is three.

Is that a trick question? Hardly. You see, deciding to do something is not the same as doing it.

Yes, there are indecisive people. Those who can’t decide whether to walk away from a situation or double down on it. And those who perpetually mull over a growing litany of options.

Equally bad, however, is the person who makes a decision but takes no action to see the decision through.

Don’t be indecisive. Don’t procrastinate. Determine your two or three best options. Assess the pros and cons of each. Then using this and trusting your gut, decide.

And, once you’ve decided, take a bold step in that direction. In other words, get your butt off that lily pad.


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201) Grow Like A Tree

Have you ever seen a fully-grown tree? No? Of course not. No one has. Why not? Because trees grow and grow until the day they die. As long as they are a live, they reach, expand and strive to be more than they are.

Be like that tree. Reach, expand and strive to be more than you are. Continue to grow your mind. Never stop learning. Be a perpetual student of knowledge.

You never know where that next great idea is going to come from. You never know what you might discover. You can’t predict when a small tidbit of new information could change your world in a big way.

You do not have to enroll in night school or get another degree, but continue to read, attend seminars or programs, and listen to podcasts. Do whatever you can to keep your mind engaged. And commit to doing this until the day you die.

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200) Shoeless Ron Hunter

In 2008, Ron Hunter, then basketball coach at Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis, began coaching shoeless. He did so not because he could not afford shoes. He did so because he could not pass up helping those in need.

You see, Hunter was looking to draw attention to fact that millions and millions of children around the world go barefoot because they don’t have access to shoes … and even if they did, they could not afford them.

Through this awareness, Hunter inspired others to coach shoeless. And through this combined influence, they created a movement that resulted in supporters and fans donating thousands and thousands of shoes for international charities.

No matter who you are, no matter what you do, you have influence. Do your corner of the world a favor: No matter how big or small, use your influence for good.


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199) In Search Of Likability

Of one thing you can be sure, everyone wants to be liked. It’s an innate desire that’s as old as recorded time.

Moreover, people want to associate with those who like them. In fact, they want to surround themselves with those that simply delight in who they are and to achieve that they subconsciously return the feeling. So, here’s the lesson: If you want to build your network far and wide with people who like you, make a point of finding ways to like others.

With everyone you encounter, take a quick survey of their interpersonal characteristics. While they may not be perfect (as none of us are), no doubt there is something about them that makes you declare “I like this person.”

Whatever it is, seize upon that one thing and focus on it. Your affection for them will grow and that will come through as you interact. And then, they will grow to like you in return.


Like what you’ve read? Prefer to hear it as a podcast or daily flash briefing? Subscribe to the Networking Rx Minute podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts.