Getting Out of My Own Way

Of late, I’ve taken on yet another new assignment.

I’m “chat coaching,” a steep-learning-curve experience I assure you.


Should you be unfamiliar with chat coaching, I shall explain. I log into a website from my home computer, which is connected to a main server in cyberspace. On the other side of the void, should someone need guidance, they click on a button on their screen and their “call” is routed to me on my computer. He or she types. I reply via the same method. If you were asking, “Wouldn’t it be easier with a phone?” The answer is probably “yes.” However, that’s not how it works and I’ve agreed to the terms. To be honest, I’m actually growing to enjoy the procedure – short of the carpal tunnel issues for which I must be on guard.

In effect, this type of communication can be best analogized as a very slow moving conversation, especially since the policies require appropriate grammar, correct spelling, and avoiding emoticons and abbreviations (like “BTW” or “LOL”). The repercussions of having such time in between transactions allow one’s thoughts to drift, which lends itself to me making judgments — fair or otherwise — about who is on the other end, based entirely on how long it takes for a reply and what shows up when it happens.

With that as backstory, today someone logged in and began the conversation with the most ridiculously moronic questions.

“Really?” I thought, “Are you serious?”

Her query was so “beyond the pale,” that I first assumed I had snared a “troll.” (No, not the long-haired, full-bellied, naked toys of the seventies. Rather these are nasty individuals who enjoy annoying, frustrating, or insulting other people in cyberspace, merely because they can get away with it.)

Yet, with the passage of a few paragraphs of correspondence, I understood that the young woman on the other end wasn’t trolling, but was instead severely developmentally disabled. Obviously, her skill set allowed use of the system but her text was burdened with so many typos, it was near impossible to untangle, and the speed at which she replied would make a beginning typist feel like a thirty-year executive secretary. But most importantly, she couldn’t grasp even the simplest concepts.

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Dealing with Holiday Food Pushers and Food Cops


From Hanukkah gelt to peppermint bark to reindeer cookies; you can’t toss a Santa hat three feet without it landing in a mountain of sweet, sugary treats this time of year.

The holidays also bring out two characters extremely challenging to dieters attempting to stay the course through the most difficult time of year. So, in the interest of peaceful family get-togethers and company parties, I provide advice on how to deal with the ever-present “Food Police” and “Food Pushers.”

One can tell when the former is within earshot because you’ll hear: “Is that on your diet?” or “Should you be eating that?” Unfortunately, no matter how carefully worded and lovingly delivered, it always comes across as (delivered in the tone of a schoolyard taunt), “Neener-neener-neener! I caught you cheating!”

First tip: Override the initial reaction to share what you are eating rather forcefully by shoving it in his face.

The sad truth is that will not make the situation better; worse yet, your next meal might be served through bars.

On the other extreme is the “Food Pusher,” who sings a different carol, attempting to stuff you with all manner of delights. One recognizes her by the guilt-inducing expressions, “I made it just for you” or “One bite won’t hurt.”

Although these personality types appear opposites —one at-tempts to keep you from what you want and the other is forcing on you what you don’t — they are actually related. Each person’s is really trying to help you be happier. The “cop” does this by attempting to keep you on the straight and narrow, while the other provides “permission” to relax and cut loose.

Once we understand that motivation, we can handle them — without violence — by utilizing the “3 Rs.”

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State Your Intention Clearly

What is your intention?


The spoken word is the least important part of communication.

Studies have shown that over 90% of communication is non-verbal, such as tone of voice and body language. So, since attitude obviously communicates, make sure you attitude is “clean” before talking to others.

Ask yourself, “What do I want to come from this communication?”

For example, some intentions might be:

  • I want someone to know how I feel
  • I need more information
  • I want to “teach a lesson”
  • I am looking for a deeper relationship
  • I want to resolve a conflict

Notice how each intention will change the outcome of the communication.

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Are you Sure You’re Really Angry?

The anger you feel might not be real.


The four “primary colors” of emotions are:

  • Sad
  • Mad
  • Glad
  • Afraid

Virtually all other feelings come from some combination of those.

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Good Relationships Can Be Painful

Even the best relationships cause some pain.


To expect your relationships to function “glitch free” is unrealistic.

No two people, whether co-workers, friends, or life partners; will always agree. Therefore, there will be times when you will be at loggerheads.
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