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4 Tedious Conversation Topics to Avoid

4 Tedious Conversation Topics to Avoid

Roman sculpture of a face with a water spiget placed where the mouth is.

Know when to turn your faucet on and off!

Your Speak For Yourself® guide

Conversation topics that can best be handled with Zen minimalism

Don’t be the one that shares too much detail on subjects with limited interest to others.

🎤  Tedious Topic #1: Your driving mishaps

🤯  You have a wreck. Or you almost have a wreck. You delve into the details. “I was in the left lane on Northwest Highway, going west, and this other guy who is two lanes over veers into my lane…” Stop right there! We are already lost trying to figure out where you are.

✅  Try to pare down the details and say, “I’m shaken by an almost wreck last week. I got lucky.”

🎤  Tedious Topic #2: Your technology hassles

🤯  Technology – you can’t live without it, and sometimes you can’t live with it! Your Wi-Fi goes away, your calendar doesn’t sync, you get to the last step and the system doesn’t accept your zip code. I won’t even mention worse tech nightmares. Stuff happens. And the less you tell us the better. It’s horrible for you and boring for us.

✅  Try saying, “I’m having tech issues. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s been a bad Monday morning!”

🎤  Tedious Topic #3: Your medical challenges

🤯  “First I had a twinge of pain on the back of my left knee. It hurt whenever I took a step. Then …” Stop!  “I take xxx for high cholesterol, yyy for high blood pressure and zzz for insomnia, and my test results were …”  Stop! Too much info!

✅  Try being very broad and make sure you have empathy for the other person’s situation. Say, “It’s been a rough time but it’s temporary. It makes me even more aware of your strength in dealing with your [fill in the blank] chronic issue.”  Or, “I have good days and bad days. I’m taking this one day at a time. Thanks for asking.”

🎤  Tedious Topic #4: Your vacations

💤   Do not give us a day-by-day rundown of your itinerary, meals and adventures. It’s boring.

✅  Try picking one story of something that went wrong! While that sounds counterintuitive, we love to hear how you handled a travel snafu. We can relate and it helps us figure out how to handle calamities on the road or at home. Plus, good stories include conflict.

Exceptions

Only go into detail if your listener keeps asking questions. Their interest stems from having similar experiences. They had a wreck in the exact same place as you. They have a very similar medical experience or they’re going to the same vacation destination. Or they are your beloved family and friends who really care. Talk away.

Truths

  • You and I have made all of these errors… sharing too much detail/pain/aggravations on these topics.
  • Why? We want you to share in our pain and joy.
  • Try the Zen approach going forward. I will too.

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo taken by Karen in Rome, Italy

Everything in life needs a good edit – your diet, your closet & your words

Everything in life needs a good edit – your diet, your closet & your words

Cross out your deletes!

If you’re like me you have thousands of digital pics on your phone or some other cloud storage. You spend precious time scrolling through them to find The One You Want To Show At Your Dinner With Friends.

Wirecutter expert, Max Eddy, has some advice on cleaning out your camera roll. The solution? Build in a “delete day” habit. Take a few minutes daily to search that day’s date in past years and then whack away. Delete, sort into albums, or save. With time you’ll see a transformation from photo warehouse to “curated gallery”!

Everything in life needs a good edit from time to time.

I’ll leave your diet, closet and photos in your hands. As for your words, build in this Wirecutter strategy. Here’s how to clean it up.

“Words ‘n Phrase Delete” habit

Salty Sailor Words. I am walking again! I had a knee surgery 10 weeks ago that left me non weight bearing for 6 weeks that meant using a walker and a wheel chair,  followed by just the walker and then a cane. Why am I telling you this? Because I found myself using curse words to describe my situation! Yes, I admit that my frustration over the whole deal brought out some graphic phrases. I am deleting these words NOW. They detract from my gravitas.

🎤  What words belie your personal brand?

Overused Cliches and Phrases.

  • “At the end of the day” – this one wins an award for excessive use.
  • “To be honest” – is everything else you say not honest?
  • “You know what I mean?” – ummm, yes I do, unless you confused me, in which case I’d ask you to clarify.

🎤  What phrases are you using that add nothing to your meaning? Be intentional.

Verbal Clutter. The main offenders include ➜

  • “Umm”, “You know”, “And, so… anyway”.
  • I also can’t stand the “Illy Family” – filler words we can all do without. “Really”, “Actually”, “Basically”, “Truly”, and “Literally”.

🎤  Monitor your use of word clutter. Wear your “Anti-Verbal-Clutter Hat” in non-stress situations and practice deleting these superfluous words.

😳 I’m embarrassed to share that I have 21,539 photos and 641 videos on my iPhone. We all need to edit something from time to time!

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo ©:  123RF Stock Photo

Your #1 Clue to Great Email Openers

Your #1 Clue to Great Email Openers

You’re wasting crucial digital real estate with weak email openers.

Don’t state the obvious. Especially in your first sentence.

You’re thinking, “That IS obvious. Why would I start an email with info my audience already knows? I don’t do this.”

But, you do.

Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company, the president of a small business, or writing your annual holiday letter to friends/family/clients … you’re starting your emails with this: “As the year draws to a close, we reflect on the challenges…”

Can’t argue with that sentiment, but is this Non-Newsflash the way you want to gain your audiences’ attention? Hint: you’re NOT!

Our finger is itching to smash the Delete Key before we even read your second non-helpful line, “To be honest, this hasn’t been the year we had planned.”*

Your #1 clue:

Lead with your need.

❌ Do NOT state the obvious. (And please stop saying “to be honest”! Is everything else you write/say dishonest?!)

Your BONUS CLUE:

✅ Start your emails with the word “You” or “Your” and make your info about your reader. Ex: read the first line of this blog!

❌ “I wanted to follow up with you about…” 😬😬😬

You can do better!

*Source: we won’t reveal it! This sentence is verbatim from a city-wide newsletter we received.

5 Phrases You Should Never Say to Your Partner, According to Therapists

5 Phrases You Should Never Say to Your Partner, According to Therapists

Warning! This list will help you navigate personal and professional relationships.

Adapted from a New York Times article written by Jancee Dunn she shares what phrases therapists are sick of hearing and what you can say instead.

#1 😬 phrase: “You always…”

#2 😬 phrase: “You never…”

Both of these phrases are generalizations. These terms veer into exaggerations that escalate defensiveness and decrease opportunities to problem solve. Plus you get into the past rather than focusing on the present. Bad move! Whether you’re having a frustrating dialog with your partner or you’re giving feedback to your VP of sales stick to the current issues. Say, “I’m noticing you’re doing (or not) doing x and it seems to cause y.”

#3 😬 phrase: “Yes, but …”

#4 😬 phrase: “I never said that.”

These two aggravating phrases are deflections. In a response to your partner or your EVP you deflect and/or disown what has been said. Your “yes” implies agreement followed by your “but” which means you’re doing a u-turn! Your added caveat negates the “yes” in a nano second. Try saying, “I hear you saying x” and go from there.

Rather than saying “I never said that” which plummets your conversation into argument territory, say “Give me some background about this issue.”

#5 😬 phrase:  “You’re overreacting.”

Jancee Dunn nails it when she writes that this is a dismissal statement.

Dr. Alexandra Solomon, a psychologist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University and the author of “Love Every Day,” shares, “No one person is the actuary of emotional responses. One person does not get to determine which reactions are appropriate. This phrase bypasses accountability.” Try to acknowledge the other. Dr. Solomon’s suggestion, “Instead of judging say, “‘OK, I’m listening. Tell me more. Help me understand what you’re having a hard time with.’”

Again, a warning! During stressful times, which could be all the time, you may find yourself using these self-defeating phrases. I know I have.

Breathe. Smile. Print out this list.

Got other phrases that derail conversations? Share in comments.

Attention Crisis – Best communication antidotes to get heard above the noise

Attention Crisis – Best communication antidotes to get heard above the noise

I planned to write this blog an hour ago. But Cyber Monday got in the way. I’m distracted by a great deal!

Welcome to your world.

Did you know that your attention span now trades on the open market?

Graham Burnett, Alyssa Loh and Peter Schmidt write in the New York Times,

“Increasingly powerful systems seek to ensure that our attention is never truly ours… We are witnessing the dark side of our new technological lives … Vast quantities of high-pressure media content are pumped into our faces.”

You know this because you too are distracted by emails, breaking news and discounts.

This guest opinion NYT essay goes on to share, “You are lucky these days to get 47 seconds of focused attention on a discrete task.”

How do you get heard above the noise when you only have 47 seconds?

  • Be unique from the get go. Do not begin a meeting, presentation or even a Linked In post with generic pleasantries. Start with a startling statement, a story, a quote, or a solution to a problem targeted to your listeners.
  • Tell good stories – in a speech, at your holiday party table, or in the hallways at your next conference.
  • Schedule carefully. Place your presentation mid-morning if possible. Caffeine has been injected and your digital life is under control.
  • Insert breaks – if you’re talking for more than 90 minutes.
  • Mix it up. If you’re giving a presentation of any length keep your content moving and include your audience in nonthreatening ways.
  • Be organized. Tangents will kill you.
  • Use humor. Carefully. I’m not a fan of jokes because you might alienate others. Use self-deprecating humor. One time my computer blew up. Another time someone stole it. Painful then, funny now … and lessons abound. (Always bring a backup and put your info/ppt in the cloud.)
  • Bribe often! I always throw snickers into the group to bring home the point that we need to snicker/chuckle more. Take your work seriously, take yourself a little less seriously.

Catching a small piece of chocolate – perfect attention crisis antidote!

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