Crucial Conversations in a Crowd and Other Less Than Ideal Circumstances

Dear Emily, I have enjoyed reading your guidance. Your advice and books tend to assume an ideal environment for communication: face-to-face, alone, and with no distractions. Those conditions are ideal, but rare. Most interactions are constrained: in an open-plan office, with family members, on a car or train, with background noise, or amidst distractions, lack [...]

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Helping an Unmotivated Teenager

Dear Steve, I have a thirteen-year-old son who thinks everything in life sucks. He tends to think everything will be better somewhere else. He asks for things and when we get them for him, he decides he doesn’t want it anymore and wants something else. For example, we bought him a guitar so he could [...]


Help! I’m Stuck on an Airplane and Need Some Skills

Dear Joseph, Recently, I was on an overnight flight, trying to sleep. The person in the next seat was using headphones and laughing loudly every two minutes or so. I told her, politely: “Excuse me, you probably do not realize it, but you are laughing quite loudly, and it is preventing me from going to [...]

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VitalSmarts Blog

How to Manage Tech Teams: Four Unique Rules for Success

In 2015, The New York Times published a damaging exposé on the culture of tech-giant Amazon. The Times reported that among many abuses, employees were encouraged to “Tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late, …and [hold] standards that the company boasts are ‘unreasonably high.’” This unsavory report left many grateful they [...]


How to Raise Sensitive Issues During a Virtual Meeting

Hassan jammed a pencil eraser into his palm over and over to deal with his frustration. He was 80 minutes into a virtual meeting with counterparts from five other countries. A financial downturn had cut their revenue outlook dramatically. Those on the call had been tasked with taking 15% out of their cost structure, to [...]

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