(Roger Fisher and William Ury)

You can change the game. You start by changing your attitude.

Separate the people from the problem.

Attack the problem and never the people.

Focus on interests, not on positions.

Invent options that benefit both sides.

What is your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement, your BATNA?
(Dr. Norman Vincent Peale)

Always play with abandon.

The next time you’re faced with a problem, try a new approach.

Make up your mind to win and nothing else.

It is always too soon to quit.

All the resources you need are in your mind.

Failure comes most often to people who are unable to focus themselves.

We tend to become precisely like that which we habitually imagine ourselves to be.

(Robert M. Bramson)

Do not automatically respond by trying to solve difficult people’s problems.

Do not automatically agree with difficult people even if you think they are right.

Never argue with difficult people.

Always feed back the difficult person’s main points before you do anything else.

(Hermine Hilton)

Remember people’s names and what they tell you.

Remember what you are doing, what you are supposed to do, what you have and have not done.

Be sure what you want to remember is collected and connected.

Link what you do not know to what you do know.

(Dave Winter)

Do you always follow through on promises?

Do you get back with people who are trying to get in touch with you?

Do you communicate a sincere interest in the person with whom you are communicating, even if he or she is boring or difficult? Do you give the person the impression that you want to help?

Do you take the initiative to find a way to help, a way to say yes?

People do not want to know what you cannot do for them; they want to know what you can do for them.

Clear communication is your responsibility, not the other person’s.

You cannot listen and talk at the same time.

(Peter F. Drucker)

It is your vision or its absence that shapes your future.

Assignments change all the time and unpredictably, although the job may not change.

You cannot build performance on weaknesses; you can only build it on strengths.

The things you did to get a promotion are not the things you need to do now.

The ultimate test of success is success.

(Zig Ziglar)

If you don’t think you deserve success, you will do things to keep you from getting it.

It is not the lack of time that is the problem, it is the lack of direction.

How can you reach a goal you do not have?

You will get everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.

You cannot reach someone else’s goal.

In order for a goal to be effective, it must affect change.

You go as far as you can see; and when you get there, you always will be able to see further.

People who wait for an external change before they make an internal decision will get cooked in the squat, never succeed.

Just because you are running doesn’t mean you have to like it.

Stinking thinking leads to hardening of the attitudes.

You can only start from where you are with what you’ve got.

You don’t climb the high mountain by yourself; it is in conjunction with others that you really accomplish the major things in life.

(Michael Korda)

If you don’t have power, you cannot do anything, you cannot protect yourself, you cannot get anything done yourself.

Your interests are not the interests of somebody else.

The best way to think about power is to think about it as a game, a game with rules and moves.

No one ever succeeded in business by sitting quietly at their desk and doing what they are told.

Do everything you do as if it were the only thing that mattered.

(Nancy Campbell)

When dealing with a challenging person, analyze the problem and not the person.

What are you expecting the person to do? What is an acceptable response? Specifically, what is the difference between what you expect and what they are doing?

Start by asking the person what’s the problem? They will likely tell you.

Focus more on what the person is doing right and less on what they are doing wrong.

Be sure to follow up, give feedback.

How you say something is often more important than what you say.

If everyone only did what they were supposed to do, nothing would get done.

(Denis Waitley)

Winners never pre qualify in advance in the negative.

Winners dwell on the rewards of success and not on the penalties of failure.

Look for one good idea to pull your trigger on.

Your performance will move up or down to meet your self image.

There is still plenty of time to win but never enough time to lose.

(Stephanie Winston)

With papers (or information in general), you can trash it, refer it, act on it, or file it.

Follow up on each action not complete at the time you take it.

Deal with things when they come up, not later.

Any task is a priority that requires you to be at your personal best.

Spend your time doing what you can do today, a day’s work for today.

(Kevin J. Murphy)

Do you relax and concentrate on the moment at hand?

Do you think about your response while the other person is talking?

Are you often disinterested in what the other person is saying? This usually reflects a disinterest in the person as well as in what they are saying.

Do you have pre conceived thoughts, opinions, and ideas? As soon as your mind senses similarities, it stops searching for differences.

If you always judge new experiences based on past experiences, you will never have any new experiences.

Do you interrupt people before they have finished talking? Thinking about what you want to say while they are talking is a version of the same behavior.

(Ralph Johnson)

Think about what you want to say before you say it.

In one sentence, what do you want the listeners to do when you have finished talking?

In one sentence, what is your main idea, the point of what you will say?

Your listeners will not wait for you to become interesting. You have to interest them from the beginning.

Dive right in. Do not apologize or explain why you are not more prepared or a better speaker.

Plan the ending or close before you plan the middle. Know where you are going before you plan how to get there.

(Michael LeBoeuf)

Creativity is the ability to imagine that which does not exist; but does not mean imagining something completely new.

Waiting on an inspiration is useless. Start on the problem and then the ideas will come.

Inspiration usually comes to those who have done the groundwork.

If you look, think, and behave like everyone else, you will look, think, and behave like everyone else. If you are just like everyone else, who needs you?

Losers think there is nothing they can do; winners think there is always something they can do.

Do not set a single win lose goal. set a range of success criteria.

It is impossible to come up with a creative solution when you have not yet come up with a puzzle to work on.

Ask yourself; what can be added, what if this were exaggerated, what else can this be used for, what is being wasted that can be put to use, what else is like this, what else can be adapted to do this, how can this be done better or more cheaply, how can this be made more appealing, what can be substituted, what can be subtracted, can it be done faster, what ideas can be combined, how else can this be arranged?

Fear of failure, criticism, rejection, or ridicule are the greatest barriers to your creativity.

(Milo O. Frank)

Most speakers bore us in minutes when they could interest us in seconds.

No matter how long you have to talk, the heart of the matter should take no more than thirty seconds; the rest is preparation or follow through.

Have a clear cut objective, only one, and stick to it.

What is your game plan, your thesis? In one sentence, capture the essence of your approach. How does it relate to the needs and interests of your listener?

Know what you want, who can give it to you, and how to get it.

Always plan your close ahead of time.

(Mary Heideman)

Do not be a stress sponge, absorbing the stress of others, thinking you should fix their stress.

There will always be more things to do than there are hours in the day to do them.

Do not be a stress spreader and stay away from pity parties and gripe sessions.

Look ahead and try to anticipate potential problems.

Things always take longer than you expect so plan on it, add an extra half hour to how long you think any task will take.

(Michael G. Trachtman)

Just because you have it in writing does not mean you have a contract.

Just because you did not sign anything does not mean you have not made a deal, no matter what the amount.

Be sure you understand everything to which you are agreeing including the fine print and what the other person thinks you are agreeing to.

You are always judged by appearances.

Always try to be the one who is making the offer, writing the contract.

Have a healthy skepticism for what can go wrong.

You usually do not get what you do not ask for.

(Jeffrey P. Davidson)

You and you alone are in charge of your own career.

In one sentence, what is it that you are marketing; what is it that you have to offer the world?

Take on jobs others do not want; go the extra mile; work harder when unsupervised; get credit for and give credit to the group; make your boss look good; help younger and newer people succeed; know what’s needed and not just what’s asked for.

Look for the facts and feelings behind what people are saying or doing.

Show that you understand that other people have ideas, problems, and solutions that are worth attention.

After someone has spoken to you, ask questions, reflect on what they have said, discuss what actions you will take based on what they said.

(Robert B. Tucker)

Your awareness of change and ability to deal with change are the keys to your success in today’s world.

Master the skill of changability.

Think about what your customers want or might want if you had it.

Be an opportunity spotter.

Ask yourself; what’s really going on here; what am I missing; where is the unexploited opportunity in this situation, problem, development?

How and where can I improve my company, improve the way we create customer satisfaction, improve the way we meet the needs of our employees, the way my company operates.

Winners trust their intuition and act on it with little hesitation.

Read/listen for what jumps out at you, what does not fit.

Look for patterns and connections in what you read and hear, including incongruities and what does not fit or belong.

Improve the speed or delivery of your product or service; Make it more convenient; go for lowest possible cost or highest possible quality; make it less complex for your customer.

(Dave Winter)

Over using your best people equals playing favorites. It may feel like the only reward for good work is more work.

Praise should be reserved for the employee’s best work, not as a comparison to other employees.

When two or more people work together, there will be conflict. If the conflict is not resolved, it will sabotage the work and the team.

Conflict is only bad if it becomes personal, destructive, or lasts too long.

Beware of conflict that resolves because one person or side simply caves in for whatever reason. That is just trouble waiting to happen.

Do not put out your plan, solution, or idea before everyone has had a chance to put out their’s.

It is your job to keep the discussion going until all the good ideas are on the table.

Now you know so there you go.


Prejudice and The Fallacy of Average

There is usually at least a tiny grain of truth hidden somewhere behind even the most absurd belief. For example, if you lend a book to someone, you might as well kiss it good–bye. You won’t get it back without asking for it back, and maybe not even then. If you’re a library, you’ll probably get it back; but for anyone else, lending books is about the same as giving them away.

What is the belief? People don’t return borrowed books when they borrow them from other people.

There is a grain of truth here. Some people aren’t good about returning borrowed books and perhaps that’s most people, depending on who you lend your books to.

Is this true on average? I don’t know and doubt that you know either. Even so, I believe it. How about you? Do people return books other people lend to them?

Now suppose that I ask you to lend me a book. If you think people don’t return borrowed books, you might give the book to me, not expecting it to be returned. However, if you think people are good and usually return borrowed books, you still may not lend it to me, depending on the value of the book to you. But why?

When we make choices involving other people, we are always playing the odds, using our own idiosyncratic computational system. We attach odds to their doing or not doing something, the likelihood of their behaving one way or another, the probability of their reacting as we expect or surprising us instead. Our action, behavior or involvement with them then depends on those calculations. First comes the calculation and then we act, based on our nearly instantaneous decision process.

When dealing with other people, we may occasionally stop and think, do some research, carefully consider why we will or will not make a particular choice, and otherwise be more deliberate than we typically are. Even then, we mostly focus on our side of the equation. Will we be better off or less well off, what is or is not in our interest, what will be the consequences for us if we do or do not proceed? Most of the time though, we just go with our first calculation. We make a flash judgment about the person and the situation and then do or not do whatever the calculation calls for.

Do we often get burned or disappointed? If not, we are definitely toward the safe end, running the risk of being too skeptical, too mistrusting. If we often are disappointed or get burned, we are too far toward the other end where naive and gullible come to mind.

As we see, whether borrowing a book or having any other interaction with people, we infrequently give much if any consideration to the criteria we use with respect to the other person, especially if we haven’t spent much time and effort in getting to know them. –– And we have actually invested that level of time and energy in only a very small minority of people we know or come into contact with. – For most people, most of the time and in most situations, we put them into our sorting algorithm, assigning them to “average,” on whatever sorting criteria we are used to using.

How do we know what is average? Well, we usually don’t. It’s like people who borrow books from other people. On average, do they return the borrowed books without needing to be reminded? We don’t actually know; but nevertheless, we likely have a quick criterion we instantly apply whenever anyone asks to borrow a book, particularly if they want to borrow our first edition of a rare book or perhaps our checkbook.

Here’s the rub. It’s that idiosyncratic computational system and its algorithm. The automatic criteria we use to judge people and to make decisions and choices is based on averages, as we understand them. The problem is twofold. First, “average” is a tricky concept. If on average, men are more violent than women, knowing that tells us nothing about most men or most women, because most men are not more violent than most women. It’s only at the extreme that men are more violent than women. If we drop the extremes from our algorithm, men and women have about the same tendency toward violence. Along with being true for men and women, it’s also true for whites and non–whites, citizens and emigrants, younger people and older people, poor people and the more affluent, or most any other way you tend to classify people.

The same fallacy of average slips into our computational algorithm in far more insidious ways. Let me repeat an earlier sentence. “Along with being true for men and women, it’s also true for whites and non–whites, citizens and emigrants, younger people and older people, poor people and the more affluent, or most any other way you tend to classify people.” Is it still slipping past you?

When talking about violence, the point was made that, at the extreme, men tend to be slightly more violent than women. In the same context, there is an unspoken implication that extreme violence somehow applies to whites and non–whites, citizens and emigrants, younger people and older people, poor people and the more affluent, when it only applies to men and women as classifications. Whites are no more violent than non–whites, citizens no more than emigrants, younger people no more than older people, poor people no more than affluent people.

We could spend an hour or so just enumerating the classifications we use in our computational algorithms for relating to and interacting with other people. For each classification, we have automatic criteria we use to signal us about who they are, how and what they think, how they do and do not behave, what they will and won’t do, what they can and can’t be trusted with, where they do and don’t fit in relation to us, and on and on. For a few of those criteria, we know why we use them, how valid they are, when they do and do not apply, and when we tend to misuse them. Think of these as our carefully curated criteria for judging others. We also know that they are based on more solid ground than tradition, culture, group norms, and personal belief and preference. They have a strong claim to reasoned and validated truth.

Along side our relatively small stash of carefully curated criteria for judging and relating to other people, we have a much larger stash of non–curated criteria that we regularly use on a day to day basis. We are not aware of most of those criteria; and for the ones we are aware of, we don’t know much about them or where they came from. We just have them and use them with confidence. Those non–curated criteria are the foundation of our prejudice and more often than not, are that prejudice itself.

Are we prejudiced? Most definitely – every last one of us. We all have our supplies of non–curated criteria we use when judging and interacting with other people. The good news is that most of our non–curated criteria serve us well enough, are usually reasonably in sync with reality and are seldom harmful or counterproductive. They serve us and our interests without impinging on the rights, interests and well being of others.

The bad news is this. Far too many of us do have non–curated criteria that are harmful to the needs, interests and well being of others. Many of us also have what we think are curated criteria that are little more than inherited beliefs and values that we think are real and valid but are not. They represent what we can think of as our cognitive and cultural blind–spots. Collectively these represent prejudice in its worst sense. When this level of prejudice spreads too far for too long, as it has, we end up with xenophobia, institutional racism, ideological schisms and pervasive divisiveness.

What to do? Try to initially relate to and interact with everyone through a default filter, using the same set of criteria for each person with whom you have contact. Avoid classifying anyone. Force or at least encourage yourself to withhold judgment until you know enough and have had enough experience with the individual or group to have an opinion and perspective informed by their actions and behavior, not by your non–curated criteria. It’s pretty simple, although not all that easy.

Please relate to me and judge me based on who my actions and behavior tell you I am and not on who you assume I am. If you’ll do that for me, I’ll for sure make my best effort to do the same for you.

The Key To Virtue

The Key To Virtue

“When one ceases from conflict, whether because he has won, because he has lost, or because he cares no more for the game, the virtue passes out of him.” –– Charles Horton Cooley

There are three concepts here that represent an unusual juxtaposition: “conflict,” “the game,” and “virtue.” Robert Lynd said, “No doubt there are other important things in life besides conflict, but there are not many other things so inevitably interesting. The very saints interest us most when we think of them as engaged in a conflict with the Devil.” Conflict can certainly be interesting either as a participant or as an observer; but “the game” and its relationship to “virtue” may be even more interesting.

The game must first offer real and present, win/lose possibilities. If it doesn’t, the virtue passes out of you. More to the point, an immediate possibility of losing is the key to virtue. Here, “virtue” is doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong.

The virtuous person pursues winning while doing only what is right. “Conflict” is, then, not the tension between winning and losing. Rather, it’s the responsibility of “right” vs. the risk of “wrong.” The truly fatal risk is not losing. It’s succumbing to the temptation to sacrifice one’s virtue on the altar of success.

It’s tempting to put forth a few moral pronouncements about right and wrong; but it’s your call. The take home point is simply that, if you are a virtuous person, you know what’s right and understand what’s wrong. “The game,” for you, is doing what’s right and avoiding what’s wrong, while playing to win, every time. To do otherwise is to let the virtue pass out of you.

Perfect Virtue

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” –– Aristotle

The idea that excellence is a product of training isn’t surprising. Athletes, musicians, and those who achieve preeminence in other areas requiring superior personal performance are well–aware of the necessity and value of continuous training. The point that may not be as obvious is that training and habituation are prerequisites for areas of excellence beyond developing physical skills and individual talents. They are necessary for emotional excellence, moral excellence, interpersonal excellence, as well as intellectual excellence. The point that may be even less obvious is that Aristotle also said that training and habituation are prerequisite to virtue. People have the capacity to be virtuous but become virtuous people only through training and habitually acting rightly. One becomes virtuous by acting virtuously.

How does one act virtuously? Cicero advised, “It is our special duty, that if anyone needs our help, we should give him such help to the utmost of our power.” Confucius said, “To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue… gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.” Although how one practices “gravity” is less than obvious, the other four requirements need no explanation. John Wesley was even clearer when he said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” Now that leaves little room for doubt or negotiation.

The message has not changed over the millennia. Dante said, “He who sees a need and waits to be asked for help is as unkind as if he had refused it.” Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Is virtue the path to personal joy and fulfillment? Probably not. George Bernard Shaw said, “Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.” Why? As George Eliot put it, “Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds.” Remember Aristotle’s message, “We are what we repeatedly do.” The choice is to habitually act rightly or to act wrongly. At that level, it’s not much of a choice. The key is remembering that acting virtuously is an essential part of one’s ongoing excellence training.

Now you know and there you go.


I’m a shiny little paperclip.
I hold on tight so your papers don’t slip.
I’m here to help you stay organized.
That’s what I do so don’t be surprised.

I can be made of wire or sometimes I’m plastic.
Either way, I’m totally fantastic.
If there are just a few papers, I slip on really quick.
You have to be careful if the stack is very thick.

If you use me correctly, on me you can depend.
It’s okay to stretch me, but a problem if I bend.
If I get out of shape, my clipping days are through.
Stretch me too much and I’ll quit working for you.

I can lose my zip and forget how to clip.
The papers I hold will all start to slip.
Grab them fast before they fall on the floor.
I think I won’t be clipping anymore.

It’s sad, but I’m too bent to squeeze.
I’m about as useless as a box full of fleas.
Are you talking to me? Do you have a plan?
That’s a great idea and I will if I can.

It’s time for you to take a look.
I’ve twisted into a fishing hook.
If you’re ready to fish, it’s time to start.
I’m ready to help you because you’re soooo smart.


What would you never say to your five–year–old? It’s hard to say exactly what goes on your list but I suspect that things on your never say list all have a negative or critical tone or message tucked in there. I doubt that any of us would tell our five–year–old that he or she is stupid, ugly, lazy, in the way, too much bother, or anything else implying that the child is not valued or not okay. At least I hope none of us would relate to or respond to a child in ways like that.

Even so, there is definitely another side to that coin. Our five–year–old certainly needs feedback, and sometimes, that feed back needs to be negative or critical. Children need to learn how to do things and how to behave. They also need to learn how not to do things and how not to behave. They require guidance, coaching and the opportunity to take advantage of our experience, awareness and judgment. They also have to occasionally deal with a firm and unequivocal “No!” The issue isn’t whether they should receive our guidance and feedback – they should. Rather the issue is how and when that guidance and feedback should be forthcoming.

You may be thinking that I’m about to offer some advice about how you should or should not go about providing guidance and feedback to children. Not this time. Instead, I want to share with you my father’s first principle for offering guidance and feedback to me growing up. As much as I have read about and studied child development and parenting over the years, I have never come across any childhood scholar or parenting expert who even mentioned Dad’s first principle, little lone recommending it. Nonetheless, I think you may find it worth your consideration.

Let’s call Dad’s first principle the “He’ll figure it out principle.” When I did something that Dad thought I shouldn’t have done – which I occasionally did –– or something that did not work out very well or just wasn’t working for me, he asked one of two questions. Question one was, “Do you think that was your best choice?” or question two, “How do you think that is working out for you?” Here is the key. He actually listened to my answer. Usually, I just acknowledged that it wasn’t my best choice or that it hadn’t worked out very well.

Sometimes I would tell him that it seemed like a good idea at the time. He would only chuckle and comment that maybe the next time, it wouldn’t seem like such a good idea.

Dad also had what we might think of as the first corollary to his first principle. Most of the time, he didn’t say or do anything when my decisions and choices had negative outcomes or didn’t work out. He usually just gave me credit for figuring out for myself that I had made a bad decision or poor choice. He might ask if I wanted to talk about it but usually not. Unless the issue came up again, that was the end of it.

Although I don’t think I saw it at the time, I eventually came to see that Dad had a backup strategy or way of being sure that I did get the guidance and advice that would serve me well over time. Some time removed from the incident that included my bad choice or poor judgment, Dad would share an anecdote or in some other way share his thoughts or experience related to the incident or situation that I had already resolved or worked out. He never pointed out the connection but it was there for me to notice or think about, should I choose to do so and I usually did. The best part was that I always knew that we could talk about the issue or situation if I wanted to talk.

Dad’s first principle worked out pretty well for me growing up. The key point that I want to share with you is that it has continued to work out for me when working with people as a coworker, supervisor, manager and administrator. Sure, there were times when I had to take control and insist that people do some things in a specific way and never do other things. There were also times when those expectations had to be enforced, especially if people would not or could not conform to expectations. But for most people most of the time, Dad’s two questions were enough:

• “Do you think that was your best choice?”

• “How do you think that is working out for you?”

My only goal here is to encourage you to consider always starting with one of Dad’s two questions whenever you think someone has made a bad choice or poor decision. That’s enough to be sure they know that you noticed and are there to consult if they want your advice or guidance. Even better may be to do nothing, just assuming that they will figure it out for themselves and not repeat their miscue. An interesting point worth knowing is that the worse the bad choice or bad decision, the more likely most people are to never repeat that choice or decision. They just figure it out for themselves.

Now you know so there you go.