Your content is your message

Your content is your message

Put your stories to work

Put your stories to work

Use research to craft your stories

Use research to craft your stories

Humans understand stories

Humans understand stories

How to improve your life by 200% in 2018

How to improve your life by 200% in 2018

We are already speeding along in 2018, fast moving toward February, and some people – like me – only now come to their senses and realize that we have had a Christmas and a New Year’s, with all the implications. (Overeating, family, long-simmering days in Africa, too much wine, a budget that went totally bust, family arguments, forced reunions…)  The full catastrophe, as Zorba said.

I believe though that many people may indeed feel a bit cheered and rested, and have started tackling 2018 in high spirits and new hopes. But we all know how that goes out the window when the enthusiasm for the gym, the right eating habits, and the new attitude to never-getting-angry and road-rage slowly creeps in.

But. I have one of the best plans ever to change your year into an adventure and ecstatic journey. You need a little bit of money, a scoop of patience, and a chip of your heart to spare. Now is the time to get one, two or three.  Maybe even three. I once took seven, and I am still reaping the benefits of that insane decision. That’s another story for another day. One of my personal biggest achievements ever, if I may say so myself.

A dog. A canine. Get yourself a dog if you do not have one yet, or get yourself another if you already have one. You can also just fall deeply in love in again with the one you have by having some new conversations and outings.

This I know for sure.

We humans, as a species and as individuals, do not quite deserve the powerful magic and blessings and miracle of dogs. Dogs are far better creatures than humans. Dogs embody the best characteristics and feelings of people, in one wiggling body and a wagging tail – everyone, trust me. Some may be a bit more introverted and shy; others are the consummate extrovert and party animals. Their facial expressions are more refined than the most expressive of actors. They can look ecstatic and curious, baffled and dilly, admonished and apologetic, funny and tragic. No wonder the internet is crawling with dogs just being their miraculous selves.

I know – and I understand – that some people are cat-people. They are contented with the cool feline relationship with their cat. I have nothing against cats, but they are often aloof, and impassive, and can take care of themselves while they look at you in a pitiful way. Like saying:

“Okay, that’s enough adoration for now. Don’t be so needy. I must now go my way and do my sexy shimmy on the wall in the dark shadows. So that I can sleep all day when you go to work or need to get out. Do not worry about me; I am just fine. Simply put out the food and mineral water, and I will come for a purr once you get home before I go out for the evening (or night). I will join you later”.

You do not always know what cats are thinking. They look at you with their sphynxy eyes blinking slowly and consider whether you are worth a meow or a purr or a tail that slowly, lazily gets into motion.

But canines. O man. Dogs. This is my kind of love. There is nothing more loyal, more honest, and more supportive than a dog. Any dog. If you put all your best friends and family (that you get along with well, mind you) into one huge crate, it will amount to the love contained in one dog.  Sometimes all of one’s persons are not even equal to the love of a dog.

So, when you consider this, and think about your life and realize what you need most this year – even more than food or money or work or sex – is someone to love you without reservations, for at least the next ten years, or maybe fifteen. A breakup or divorce will never be on the cards. Not even vaguely.

When you do get into your car or your Uber to go search for this magical encounter, please let it be a rescue from a shelter. Not to be a do-goodie and feel smug and superior or anything. But simply because pavement specials and gangster dogs with dubious bitch-mothers and absent fathers are the most loving and giving and appreciative of them all. They are passionate and alive.

If I take all the nice and good and positive words that I can find in one dictionary, you will also find it all in one dog. A dog is simply God’s gift to man. We do not deserve them. What is most amazing though, is the fact that they have these very individual personalities and attributes. They are again like people that you fancy, but better.

So, how many ways can I put it to you? You will, beyond any doubt, find these twelve things in any dog, particularly in a rescue of indeterminate origin.

  1. A dog’s joy at the smallest thing, like a short walk, or her owner coming home, or her little bowl of food, or just a good cuddle, knows no bounds.
  2. Appreciation and thankfulness. They acknowledge every word and act of love, as if it is the most momentous thing that’s ever happened.
  3. You get a doctor with the dog. When you are sick and hurting, your dog will not move away from you, and look at you with worried eyes and a helpless expression of “what can I do for you, please tell me?” A dog’s support is the most ideal support there can be.
  4. They will never embarrass you when others want a part of him or her. Because he or she loves you, they will put their best foot forward when visitors or children or strangers want to pet them. They will tolerate it, but they will send you quick emotional WhatsApp’s to assure you that his or her heart still belongs to you, and they are only accommodating to please you.
  5. The honesty of a dog is incomparable. I love those ones who have a tiny temper, and when you sternly talk to them, they walk to their beds, all huffy and puffy. Just to be overcome with joy five minutes later that you have chosen him or her as your dog.
  6. They are communicative like no person can ever be. Just watch those eyes and ears and tail. Best of all, you can tell your dog your biggest embarrassments and secrets, and they will only love you more for it. In other words, a best friend who will never ever tell, and never judge.
  7. Number 6 means that you also have a therapist for free. A very qualified one, a natural.
  8. They do excitement about the smallest thing like nobody’s business. Say “walkies”, and they get giddy with elation.
  9. If you ever want to feel wanted and indispensable, just watch your dog when it’s feeding time. The anticipation and appreciation are more than enough to sustain you through your most suicidal moments of feeling not being needed. And maybe you’re privy to those fingers-licking smacks and little grunts.
  10. Every dog has a funny quirk. Whether it’s yelping when they are dreaming, or whether they cannot run elegantly or whether they have the funniest bark ever – it gives you content for posting on the social media. You will get followers by the dozen because of your adorable dog. Marketing 101, dude.
  11. Rescue dogs are feisty. They seldom need a vet. You give them half a paracetamol, and they are right as rain, ready to love you even more than yesterday.
  12. And please don’t give me the story of “I live in a flat, or have no space”. All European and Chinese dogs live in flats and small homes. Toilet-training is a walk in the park. Dogs are respectful beings when they have a bond with their humans.

So what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a/nother dog. And have the best year of your entire life while you slowly start the best love relationship ever.  (And remember to post photos on Instagram.)

I’m saying it by way of conclusion and encouragement: dogs save the human race, every day all over the world.

 

 

 

Research

Research

Research is the most important tool to get to know your audience and destination

What good communication means

What good communication means

As a student of good communication, I look differently than other people at many dialogues, conversations, and interactions. I myself still understand so little about it, but I do know that successful communication between humans is hard.  Most of the time, it slips into misunderstandings, insults, heartache, rejection, confusion, regrets, anger and shame. We start a new conversation when we have to find out exactly what went wrong.  Very often, it is a single word. Or it was the right words, but the wrong tone of voice. Or it was even a nice tone of voice and the right words, but a facial expression that said something else.

Sad Facebook communication

I read the sad, angry strands of a conversation between two former acquaintances and confidantes on Facebook,  and I decided to again look up the definition of communication. I am aware of the theories and models about communication, but alas, that is not the general person’s understanding.  So come on, Google, help me out.  What do you say about the definition of successful communication?

The first three or four hits all had it wrong: imparting information to another person, sending or receiving communication (e.g. phone or satellite communication), transferring information or connecting people.  This is the problem: we all think that sending a message or explanation or fact to another person is communication.  But that is one-directional or one-way communication. Sending and receiving puts all the messaging in one direction from A to B.

So let us take an example here.  Two lovers agree that they are getting married and will be happy for as long as possible, together, making a new family.  Abraham, person 1, is the communicator.  Person nr 2, called Zena, is the receiver in this case.  Abe says to Zena that he would please like a small wedding.  Zena nods, and says fine, she also only wants only her closest family and friends at the wedding.  Three months before the date, they start the arrangements. Abraham wants to have a look at a place near the beach, and Zena is happy with that; she has heard great things about it. They have both agreed to keep it small, and this place seems perfect for small weddings.

Getting there, they are very impressed and excited. The organizer from the venue asks the radiant couple how many guests they would like to prepare for. Abe and Zena speak at the same time.  Abe says ten; Zena says sixty.  Abe and Zena, both shocked, stare at each other. How many, asks the organizer?  They both agreed to a small wedding?

stocksnap_t5zr7ksjzq

Problem is, they never shared meaning about what “small” means for the other.  How many people make a small wedding? Ten, certainly. In normal terms, 60 could also be small (if one compares it with 100).

Sharing of meaning.  That’s what was missing.  It is like two people talking two different languages that the other one does not understand.  They conveyed words or facts, but without understanding, or even trying to understand.

Sharing of meaning means precisely that: that we always have to try and share what we mean, rather than just speaking and hearing words. It means focussing on the other person’s or group’s meaning, not only their words.  It is any wonder that we so desperate at times like no-one understands us?

Understand me, understand you = good communication

We always have to relentlessly try; really try and say and understand what something MEANS to us. Because communication is about the sharing and common-making of meaning. Not mere information, or words, or looks.  We have to go to the trouble to explain what it means to us and others.  Shared meaning makes good communication. Not only proper speaking, but also good listening.

Maybe, if Abe and Zena got clarity in the beginning about what the word “small” really, deeply meant to each of them, there wouldn’t be a case now of “I said, you said; I heard, you heard”.  There will only be: we shared what ‘small’ means to you and what ‘small’ means to me.  With an open heart and open mind, open ears and open attitude.

Yes. It is very hard.  But try.

Communication workshops and coaching

Communication workshops and coaching

We can all improve our communication skills and get a happier life

Storytelling equals great communication

Storytelling equals great communication

We are wired for storytelling and stories

Editing and proofreading

Editing and proofreading

A well-written and edited document gets the attention