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Secrets of Success

Odds and Ends

Each month I write about what I see, what I learn and what I think about what I see and learn. “Class” never stops. I see and learn all the time.

This past month I saw and learned a lot. So in no particular order, here are some observations and comments:

The older we get the more we like to complicate the simple.

On at least three or four occasions this month, I observed clients deciding it was appropriate to be unkind, unfair, or go back on their word. When I asked these folks to help me understand their behaviors, the typical response was “it’s not that simple.”

Yes it is.

Right is still right.

Wrong is still wrong.

And how your mother told you to act is still correct.

And all the “it’s not that simples” in the world will not change that.

Stop telling people you’re busy.

I lost track of the number of times this month I heard the phrase: “I’m busy.”

Some random thoughts on “busy.”

People who use the word “busy” act as if they have:

a) Invented a concept


b) Made an earth-shattering discovery.


So we don’t need to point out our busyness to anyone.


Ever again.

We ALL think we’re reasonable.

Sure we are. That’s why other people are so frustrating at times. Because we’re reasonable and they’re not. If only others would see the error of their ways, life would be much easier for all of us.

Nice try.

The problem is that the other side is thinking the same thing about themselves. They are the reasonable ones. We are the unreasonable ones.

Just knowing this basic assumption can help transform communication.

What would happen to relationships if we were open to the possibility that on occasion we are actually unreasonable?

(Numbers of times this month I saw people—including me—get in trouble because of this one.)

It’s not control we want, it’s certainty.

I deal with this one whenever I’m working with owners and key decision makers.

We all have a need for certainty—predictability—in our lives. When we go to start the car, we expect it to start. When someone makes an appointment, we expect them to show up, etc. If, however, we have too much certainty in our lives it can become too predictable and ultimately boring. When that happens, we seek out some uncertainty or variety. Too much variety, though, can make our lives chaotic bringing us back to the search for certainty and the cycle begins all over again.

Some people need more variety in their lives, and some of us need more predictability or certainty.

People who need an enormous amount of certainty often try to meet that need by attempting to control their environment. In the extreme, they will sometimes even try to control other people’s behavior. They don’t really want to control events or the behavior of others; they simply want to make sure their world is operating in an orderly fashion and believe this is the only way to accomplish that. If you can convince them they can still have the outcomes they desire without having to monitor a situation, they are often more than happy to let go of the control.

(Maybe that will help you have a little more compassion and patience the next time you become frustrated with a “control freak.”)

We are most frustrated not when people disagree with us but when we feel people don’t understand or don’t try to understand us.

This I believe is at the heart of most communication problems. We feel people just don’t get us. When we “zig,” they “zag.”

This past month the father of a dear friend passed away at the age of ninety.

He was a master at making people feel understood.

His secret?

He really, really listened.

When he asked, “How are you?” he really wanted to know how you were. And he wanted to know the details.

His eye contact, his body language, and his questions all reflected his interest.

And when you finished speaking with him, you truly felt understood.

It’s a wonderful gift. Take the time to give the gift and watch how it can transform a conversation.

Don’t tell people “I know how you feel.”

You’re in your own head all day and I bet half the time you don’t know how YOU’RE feeling. And I believe you have never been in another person’s head for even a day. That being the case, you can’t possibly know how another person feels. You may know what it feels like for you to be scared, frustrated, confused, etc., but you don’t know what that feels like for another person.

So stop telling them you do.

(I see this one multiple times a month.)

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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488