Archive for March, 2010

Body language management: a true story

March 31st, 2010 Kevin No comments

Rear-ended on the highway, in the fast lane.

Well, it happened. I was rear-ended this morning while minding my own business in the left lane of the highway. Although I slowed down for the cars in front of me as traffic thickened, the young lady driving right behind me decided to bend down and grab her Dr. Pepper. Bad timing. At least she wasn’t IMing, texting, or Facebooking. She was, however, accelerating rapidly upon my car on her way to high school…


When hit from behind the instinct is to look back there and deal with what just happened. Of course, when you are on the highway there are cars in front of you as well. Lucky I had enough space and awareness to hit the brakes liberally and avoid a front-end collision. Phew. And… no airbag deployment. Double phew.

You’re on a highway in the left lane, now what?

Pull over. Far over into the median (some anxious drivers decided to travel the fast lane’s shoulder to get around the student’s stalled car). Cars zooming by on the median where you are standing as you wait for help to arrive, after just having one accident, are scary. Wasn’t one accident enough?

Quick: rely on body language management.

It turns out I kept my shoulders back, removed the tension from my neck, kept my eyebrows from furrowing, and kept my hands and arms at my sides. With a complete message of calm and openness, of body and mind, I worked my way through the stressful, unexpected situation just fine.

Staying calm of body and of mind pays big dividends.

Body language management caused me to keep calm as I helped the high school student remain “relatively” low on the panic scale, “Take deep breaths.” I also collected my thoughts about next actions, called 911, secured an alternative ride, and let folks know I would miss my plane and an important meeting out of town.

Such as: being kind to strangers who it turns out you know.

The student’s mom arrived and we hugged. It turns out, I know her… we are former work colleagues. In my follow up email with her I learned her daughter really appreciated how, in the middle of it all, I pointed out the field of Texas blue bonnets we found ourselves in, and how lovely they were.

It really pays to be conscious of the messages you send and receive.

Being conscious of my body messaging helped me manage some of the million year old residue of my inherited fear/flight/fight instinct. Pretty nifty since my entire system ramped up rapidly, enough so that I could sense the extra adrenaline. In fact, I knew “I” was working hard to keep “me” from getting overloaded with frustration, anger, sadness and regret (”why me?”). Those states of mind and corresponding body messages would offer little and mostly, would get in the way.

Conscious thoughts and smart body reactions help us sail through a tough situation.

That’s it in a nutshell. We reap big rewards if we train ourselves to consciously address our body and its feelings, instincts, and desires as we navigate a situation that comes up fast, unexpectedly, and that can potentially leave a complex set of issues to deal with after the fact.

Practice body language management: the benefits will blow you away.

Categories: Brain power, Learning Tags:


March 30th, 2010 Kevin No comments

I am working with folks who honor a great notion: appreciation. They do this in the work place, in team meetings, on a regular basis. And I mean, formal appreciations. Notes and all, prepared in advance, of the good deeds people have done.

Appreciations are a powerful business practice.

This is a structured main line into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Here is the formula:

1) I want to appreciate this employee;

2) here’s why;

3) so thank you so-and-so, I appreciate what you did/said/offer.

Formal appreciations are powerful under any circumstances. Let’s share more.

Categories: People, Thoughts Tags:

Dating questions and business questions

March 24th, 2010 Kevin No comments

Early on when dating, questions are filled with wonder.

Early dating questions are full of wonder. They focus on the other person. Over time, patterns form and the questions can change. Or stop. Which is too bad because curiosity can get set aside in favor of an expected set of behaviors.

Familiarity, proximity, and time reduce the creativity of our questions.

Over time, we can get comfortable with one another and the creative, wonder-filled questions can slow down or stop. This is a shame; it is one of the reasons relationship can suffer. People get bored with one another and assume they need no more creative questioning. They rely instead on a patterned-approach to how the other person gets on, a “I know what will happen next” way of thinking. When that happens, it spells trouble for the relationship.

Business suffers from an “I know what happens here” attitude too.

Just like dating, people new to a business are curious and filled with wonder. They ask great, inquisitive questions. They take nothing for granted and seek details with their questions. Over time, though, they become “experts” and “know it when they see it.” There is a push to get more “efficient” when it comes to personal interactions. This too is sad and can be a bad thing. The questions change or stop and the creativity, uniqueness, and out-of-the-ordinary approaches to business get neglected.

Creative, wonder-filled questions help sustain business excellence.

The ability to ask curious, wonder-filled questions, even after someone attains a certain level of business expertise, can help businesses and the people that run them remain relevant and fun. Expecting the unexpected, not giving in to predictable patterns, and remaining true to the use of wonder-filled questions is an excellent way to ensure that businesses remain current and successful.

Dating questions, like business questions, ought to remain wonder-filled.

Categories: People, Questioning Tags:

Musings on China and a call to questions

March 22nd, 2010 Kevin No comments

Questions drive change

The only constant is change. Change is synonymous with China right now. How’s it coming along? Are things alright? What can be better? What are the risks and rewards of what is happening right now? Who’s asking questions about all this?

Questions are a luxury in China

I visited China this month. So much happening there and much of it in the absence of solid questions. Without solid inquiry, things happen fast. Old neighborhoods go away, new regions get favored status, skyscrapers reach ever upward and train routes expand and connect by the minute. Where is the inquiry in all of this? Where do we find solid, smartly-placed questions about China and its growth? Are questions an unnecessary luxury for China right now?

Questions: a non-negotiable necessity for smart growth

I have a hunch that questions are more necessary for China than it thinks right now. Or that it is willing to note. In the rush to advance, create, and produce, what are the costs? What are the risks? What are the alternatives?

Questions drive change for good

There are many unanswered questions about China right now. These questions deserve careful scrutiny. What are the costs and benefits of China’s monumental change? Of course, neither I nor any other but time will provide the true answers. The fascinating explosion of Chinese art offers clues. And judging by how history is written, we may never know true answers, only those that get recorded over time. Being present in China, however, you cannot help but think of questions:

Is capitalism the answer for 1.3 billion people?

What cost has been placed on precious natural resources by China’s fast growth?

What effect on lungs and livelihood is the pollution and poor air quality?

Is bigger, faster, and smarter always the best end goal?

What role do we all play in China’s current development?

What can China’s history of administration and management teach about its future?

What are the underlying benefits of being Chinese?

What are the underlying benefits of China for the world?

What are the obvious, as well as hidden, risks and downsides to all this growth?

History is in the making– may it be smart, sound, and right

With or without questions, world history is in the making. China is dominating the world scene. May it continue to do so with smart and sound decisions that prove right over time. In the balance is far more, I surmise, than we can imagine. It is also far more than we have access to in the continued absence of a free flow of hard-driving questions.

Categories: Questioning, Thoughts Tags:

The idea of fairness when it comes to questions and answers

March 2nd, 2010 Kevin No comments

Fairness, like all things, means different things to different people. This post is about fairness when it comes to questions and answers.

What is fairness in conversation anyway

Fairness in questions and answers, to me, means that after the conversation happens, all involved feel like things happened as best they could. In this sense, what happened was “fair.” So for me, fairness with questions and answers means the questions were fairly asked and the answers were fairly offered in return.

Questions and answers deserve to be in relationship with one another

A key element of fairness when it comes to questions and answers is that they exist in relationship to one another. When they do not, miscommunication and misunderstanding result. Those often lead to a sense of unfairness.

Asking an unfair question is uncool

Often questions and answers go separate ways when the question starts out unfairly. The problem is, often the questioner does not know what is fair or not until the boundaries of what is fair have been established. This is why familiarity with people over time builds trust and a willingness to offer answers.

Not answering a fair question is uncool

At the same time, if the question is fair, there are few reasons not to answer it. Mind you, a perfectly fair answer is, “I don’t know,” or, “Let me think about that.” What tends to not be fair is the complete lack of an answer, or, an answer that no longer has any relationship to the question asked.

A little more fairness in our daily conversations might help a whole lot.

Categories: Thoughts Tags: