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Wednesday, January 30, 2013
To Ask and To Listen-A Lost Art?
Listening and acknowledging  are founding principles in coaching.
I hear what you say and it is understandable that you feel like that.
All of us want to be heard, and to feel that our thoughts have some merit.
I have lived in Washington DC for over 22 years.
I have mentored for over 22 years.
While, as a coach,  I can listen and validate
while, having lived in Washington, I can have a spirited debate and/or discussion about anything
without getting irate, irrational, or enraged,
this is not often the case when others initiate conversation with me 
on the assumption that I am completely aligned with their point of view.
I have been hung up on,
I have been stormed away from, 
I have been told--we can't be friends if you feel like that! 
I have been called dumb and just plain wrong,
I have been waved silent with--Let's just stop talking-
all because I asked a probing question or offered an alternate view,

The reason I bring this up is not to complain.
The reason I bring this up is because we are raising our kids 
without listening or communication skills.
I do not care so much about my peers.
I do care that many of our young people have no idea how to listen to someone else's point of view.
Furthermore, they have little ability to intelligently argue their own.

If curriculum were in my hands, 
I would make Debate mandatory.
Debate would do away with the --position by sound bite--approach,
the notion that opinion is truth
and the assumption that emotion equals reasoning.
Debate would require research,
referencing examples,
coming prepared to counter in a clear, reasoned, objective way,

Our youth may have passion but they possess a much smaller arsenal of facts.
They could benefit from more documented information and less interpretation of it, 
greater insight and perspective, and less immediate judgement and conclusion.
But most importantly, 
they truly need to recognize the difference between Opinion and Fact.
It is dangerous when the line blurs,
and our greater society starts to interpret opinion as fact.
So back to basics.
Let's teach our kids how to Ask and how to Listen.
Who? What? Why? When? Where? How?
If our youth can calmly ask these questions
and then listen respectfully to the answers 
if our youth can be asked these questions
and intelligently answer them,
we will be growing better thinkers who will become better writers,
greater communicators who will become better leaders.
And maybe, just maybe the art of exchanging ideas will have a better day.


Special-Thursday September 30 2010


The Death of Rutgers University FreshmanTyler Clementi


Where Was the Humor? Where was the Heart?
Humor? Why would two educated Rutgers freshmen think it was ok to videotape a roommate in a sexual encounter, and then show it to others?  Did they think it would be entertaining? Scintillatingly funny? And that others would enjoy it!

Heart? Why would seemingly well balanced freshmen think it all right to invade someone else’s intimate privacy and then have complete lack of empathy for what that person might feel after such embarrassing public exposure?

Something went terribly wrong here.  And the reality is, a Human Being is dead. Note, I say, Human Being-not student, not promising musician, not an 18 year old with his whole life ahead if him.
A Human Being.
And unless we go back to basics, we will see more Human Beings fall victim to desensitization, depersonalization. And Humanity as a whole will fall prey.

I have met many parents and seen over and over again such relief when their children are doing well academically. They are proud and their relief often turns into a more laissez faire attitude towards their children's social behavior. They stop paying close attention to character development and start giving lots of behavioral passes –after all, things can’t be too bad if the grades are good. These parents seem to think there is a direct link between those A’s, Honor Roll and being well adjusted and emotionally mature. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We need first and foremost to raise a Humane Being.
And a Being needs a great deal of nurturing and guiding before it becomes Humane.
This is what my book (H20 to Go! Growing Emotional Resilience and Navigating Through Childhood with Heart, Humor & Optimism) is all about. (See box below)
In it, I make crystally clear that Heart comes first because it encompasses a great deal more than Love.

Heart brings forth Empathy.
Empathy will bring forth Respect.
Respect brings forth Ethics.
And Ethics will bring forth Principles. 
Under this theory, those two students would never have done what they did.


The grades, the schools and the colleges are all secondary. A child will make his or her own way quite well if emotionally resilient and optimistic. But our children will only become humane if they are empathetic, ethical and principled.

I am sick at heart for Tyler Clementi and his family.
I am also sick at heart for his roommate and his ‘so-called’ friends and their families. They will have to live with this action forever--too high a consequence for not putting Heart and all it encompasses before all else.

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