Today's Reading


A research laboratory asked me to conduct interpersonal skills training for their security guards because of visitor complaints about how they'd been treated. Before I designed the training, I sat down with the guards and asked what they thought they needed. Their reactions were enlightening: "No one told us about the complaints!" and "What do they want us to be, receptionists or security guards?"

Then one guard said, "We can welcome people. We don't need any training. Someone just needed to tell us that our job has two parts: provide security for the facility and make people feel like guests. We can do this." Everyone agreed, and the complaints went to zero.


Some of the most troubling perspectives for meetings are ones we have drifted into over time without thinking about it. If you pay attention, you'll hear people expressing, almost without realizing it, a series of comments about meetings that are not positive.

This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and meetings are almost doomed from the start. Here are two perspectives that provide a refreshing starting point for meetings. First, meetings matter—they are high-leverage events at the heart of effective organizations. Second, choose ownership for each meeting you attend.

On a recent visit to a corporate office building, I saw a series of images of employees with the phrase, "I own the moment." This single phrase captures two powerful ideas: being present and being responsible. Each will have an impact if you apply them to meetings. For example, if everyone treated each meeting as if it were their own and walked in looking for what they might do to make it successful, your meetings would improve.


One of the fundamental variables in whether your meetings improve is how determined you are that they change. I love the term intention when it means "this shall be." Intention is different from a New Year's resolution, which tends to be treated as a wish—hoped for but quickly forgotten in the demands of daily life.

Knowing you want something is not the same as being intentional about making it happen. This book shows you how to design, lead, and participate in meetings to make a difference. The question is, will you make it happen? It's not that difficult. Just take it one idea at a time, one meeting at a time.


* Slow down, do one thing at a time, and treat this person, this
conversation, this activity as if it matters.

* Find a phrase that captures the new mindset you want for

* Collect seven phrases that help you to be at your best.

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." — Maya Angelou, American Poet



"Each conversation we have with our coworkers, customers, significant others, and children either enhances those relationships, flatlines them, or takes them down. Given this, what words or level of attention do you wish to bring to your conversations with the people who are most important to you?"
—Susan Scott, 'Fierce Conversations'

Conversation is at the heart of being effective It's so easy to take something for granted until you don't have it—like breathing, until you suddenly can't catch your breath. Conversation is like that. Conversations are the threads that weave the fabric of our lives, yet we don't pay attention until they're unraveling.

We work on specialized conversations—presentation skills, negotiating skills, sales approaches, conflict resolution. We have not been students of how to be great with people by paying attention to how we converse with each other. We tend to take conversation for granted.

Yet we raise kids with conversations. Relationships are created and shaped by conversations. Having influence in an organization depends on social skills and meeting skills. And we also know the impact of gossip and other disempowering conversations that are not worth having. The quality of our conversations matters.

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