Communication skills

Mirror, mirror on the wall, will I get promoted today, at all?


Marcus had been talking to his boss about a promotion to VP for quite a while without getting any closer. Marcus found the discussions stressful and the endless waiting frustrating, which is why he came to my workshop on Causative Communication.

The mistake Marcus was making is the same one I’ve seen MANY people make:  He thought the decision (if and when to promote him) was not in his hands.  He thought it was up to the people doing the promoting.

Most people in Marcus’ situation believe they can present their case, but that after that, they’re powerless. They have to sit back and wait while the “powers that be” decide.

What they don’t realize is that those making the decision are just reflecting you back to yourself.

It’s very much like an ice-skating competition. If you skate perfectly, the judges HAVE to give you a 10.  If you stumble at the beginning or if you are less than flawless, they’re forced to give you a lesser score.  

All the judges are doing is reflecting back the skater.

It’s actually entirely up to you what happens. Can you believe that?

Most people experience stress when talking about why they should get promoted. They’re uncomfortable. Their minds are full of doubt. Their communication is full of strain.

The decision that comes back is simply a reflection of this.

This is true in all your communication, not just situations where you want a promotion. The reaction you see from the other person is a reflection of how well you’re dealing with the situation.

When your communication is flawless, there’s a transformation that happens in the other person, even if they’re a “judge” of you.   They can’t help but give you a “10” and decide accordingly.

It’s the same thing when communicating about a promotion.

If you feel powerless about the outcome, that will be reflected back to you.  The reflection will show powerlessness.

If you feel the outcome is in “their” hands, you will come across as someone who does not deserve a promotion.  Especially if you’re trying to get promoted to the higher levels like VP and above.

The decision you receive will be a reflection of your own powerlessness.

You don’t have to work hard to get the outcome you want.  You simply have to communicate with clarity, certainty and intention.

Many people confuse these three things with conviction.  Conviction is how much you believe in something.

Your promotion does not at all depend on how much you believe you deserve it.  If it did, there would be no issue, you’d have it.

Many people go into these conversations with the idea they need to convince the other person to achieve the outcome they want.  But the harder you try to convince someone that you deserve something, the more powerless you seem.  In terms of getting a promotion, this “convincing” approach is the kiss of death.

It’s the difference between communicating for the purpose of getting them to agree with you (which will always make you seem UNcausative), and communicating for the purpose of real understanding (which will always make you powerful.)

One of the biggest mistakes people make when wanting a promotion is talking about why they deserve the promotion. This makes you come across as imploring, anxious, in need.

It’s not a question of what you deserve. It’s a question of where you belong.

When you communicate that you belong at the VP level with complete clarity, complete intention to be understood, and complete certainty that you will be fully understood, you come across like the promotion is the only right course of action, no question about it.

The decision that comes back will reflect that.

Marcus ended months of circular conversations by doing just what I described to you. And wouldn’t you know it, “they” made the decision to promote him to VP within hours, not weeks or months.

Be the cause!

You’re “too” direct


You're “too” direct.  Has anyone ever said that to you?

First of all, before I comment on it, I’d like to point out that any feedback that starts with the word “too”, is never going to be good.  They never say, “You're too interesting, you’re too fabulous, you’re too much of a leader, you’re too dependable.”   Whenever you hear the word “too”, it always means something bad is coming right after it.

This past week I had many people calling about our Causative Communication Live! workshop and a number of them said, “I've gotten feedback that I'm too direct.”

I laugh when I hear this because I know I’m probably 5 times more direct than they are, but no one ever tells me I’m too direct.  I’m happy to teach them how I do it.  They’re getting into trouble because they just don’t understand what being direct is all about and how to do it effectively.

In the dictionary, direct is defined as “proceeding in a straight line or arriving by the shortest course.”  It means “straight”.  How could that be bad?

Direct comes from the Latin word directus meaning “straight” and “set straight”.  To set straight means to make certain someone knows the REAL facts about a situation.

How could that be bad? How could you be doing too much of it?

Well, if you’re being told this, the problem is NOT that you’re too direct.  The problem is that you’re doing something else that’s upsetting.  I have found that most of the time when people are being told they’re “too direct”, they’re not being direct AT ALL.

For example, this happened today.  One of my clients, a Senior Director named Bill (not his real name), is going to an offsite this coming week.  His boss, a VP, has asked his team of direct reports to each prepare a question to ask him that will promote better understanding between him and the team.  The VP said, “This is your opportunity where you can ask me ANYTHING.”

Bill, who’s been frequently told he’s too direct, was planning to ask the VP, "Why do you tolerate mediocre performance from others?"  Bill really wanted to know the answer to this question, but was concerned he might be perceived as being too direct by asking it, so he asked me what I thought.

I told Bill he wasn't actually being direct at all by asking this question.  The problem with the question was that it was too INDIRECT.  The reason I say that is because it wasn’t going to lead him DIRECTLY to his desired outcome.  It was going to take him somewhere he DIDN’T want to go.  Let me explain.

I asked him what outcome he wanted. Bill said, “My boss holds himself to an extremely high standard.  But he doesn’t hold others to that standard, which causes our team to have mediocre performance.” The outcome Bill wanted was for the boss to hold EVERYONE to high standards so that he could be part of a high-performing team.

Another aspect of this that created a problem was that, because the boss wasn’t holding the team accountable, Bill ended up trying himself to hold everyone on the team accountable and this was creating problems because he wasn’t really in a position to do it – you can imagine the problems he was having I’m sure, everyone was ignoring him.

I explained to Bill that asking, “Why?”  was not going to get him that outcome of the VP holding everyone to a high standard. It was not the direct way to get the outcome. 

First of all, he didn’t need to ask his VP, “Why?”  I can answer, “Why?” for him.

There are two parts to the answer.

  1. I’ve coached enough people to know the VP doesn't have any idea why he tolerates mediocre performance. So if you ask him that question, he's just going to DEFEND and JUSTIFY, but not give you the real root cause.

The ONLY time it's safe to ask, “Why?”  is when the person KNOWS the root cause. So, for example, if I ask my gardener, “Why did that azalea bush die?” He might say something like, “You didn’t water it.”  In this context, the question makes sense because my gardener knows the root cause.

One of my clients recently discovered her son is doing drugs. She’s been asking him why he’s doing drugs. I’m sure he has no idea.  He’s going to try to pull reasons out of thin air to satisfy her.  He’s going to look for ways he’s been victimized.  He’ll justify and defend.  But none of these mean he knows the REAL reason why.

Asking “Why?” can also upset people.  In the VP example, you can see how he could easily be upset by being asked, “Why do you tolerate mediocrity?”

2. I can tell you why the boss is tolerating mediocrity, you don’t even need to ask that question. The VP is tolerating mediocrity because he doesn't have the skills to do anything about it. He probably doesn't even know what those skills are. 

As someone who’s coached people for 30 years, I can assure you the reason they are doing what they're doing is because they don't have the skills to do something else.

As soon as they have the skills, they WILL do something else. I see this ALL the time.

People mistakenly assume the other person doesn't WANT to do something else. That’s not at all my experience. If this boss has high standards for himself, which I believe he does, then I don't believe he wants to tolerate mediocrity in other people. That would be terrible!  If you have high standards, you hate tolerating mediocrity in your direct reports.  It makes you crazy!  I just don't believe he has the skills to do anything about it. 

So if Bill wants to be direct about achieving the real outcome that he wants, what’s the RIGHT question to ask?  What’s the most DIRECT question to get to his outcome?

I suggested saying this, “You set such a high standard for yourself, what would it take for you to set the same standard for everyone else and make sure that everyone else achieves that high standard?”

I’m not saying this is ALWAYS the right question.  I don’t believe EVER in tactics, techniques, or gimmicks when it comes to people and relationships.  And I don’t teach, “Always ask this question ….”  I just don’t think human beings operate that way. 

I believe it takes a lot of skill and judgment to know the right questions to ask and when you understand the science of relationships and have these skills, you’ll KNOW the right question to ask.  And it won’t be the same one every time.

This particular question of “What would it take …?”  is MORE DIRECT than the question he was originally thinking of asking.  It's a better question. The reason is because it puts the focus on the outcome and what’s needed to achieve it.  It bypasses asking a question that the VP can not only not answer, but one that will just make him defensive and justify what he’s doing.  This question bypasses upsetting the VP and gets to the desired outcome directly.

Most of the people I coach who have been told that they’re too direct are making similar mistakes.

Just as an aside, most of the people I coach fall into 1 of 2 camps.  They’re either told they’re “too direct” or that they “don’t speak up enough” (or they “don’t speak up clearly”). 

Both camps are missing the skills they need to be successfully direct.

There are about 7 different skills that you need to master to be EXTREMELY DIRECT yet VERY WELL RECEIVED. 

In other words, after you’ve been direct, the other person says to you, “Thank you, that was VERY helpful.”  Or, “Thank you, that was very powerful.”  In other words, they are GRATEFUL that you were direct, and you made CHANGE happen.

I’ll be talking about these skills in next week’s issue of Causative Communication.

Being direct is GOOD. You just need to be aware of and make sure you master ALL the skills needed to make you EFFECTIVE at it. 

And then you’re going to find being direct to be exhilarating and productive and people are going to say to you, “You really helped me.”

Master these skills and go ahead and be VERY direct!

The power to transform any situation or any person begins with your ability to assume the cause role in your communications. 

Be the cause!


How to talk to a room full of idiots


Steve, one of our clients, had the idea of the century. Unfortunately, nobody was buying it. He had been presenting it to management with zero success.

He brought this idea to his first presentation in the Transforming Your Presentation Skills workshop.

His attitude was, “You idiots! You need to really get this.”

Of course no one got it. It’s no surprise that nothing happened with an approach like that.

It’s never smart to present to a group of people you feel are idiots. In Steve’s case, he just couldn’t find anything good about the people he was talking to.

At the workshop, that was the first thing we changed.

And when he increased his affinity for the people in his audience, everything was different. Suddenly everyone was willing to listen to him. It was a dramatic shift.

Understand this:

Whatever you’re thinking about the person (or people) you’re speaking with is clearly transmitted directly to them in ways you might not realize.

The way you look at them, the tone of your voice, everything gets through.

We humans are WAY more telepathic than is commonly realized. We think we’re hiding our thoughts, but we’re not. We can’t! We’re energetically broadcasting everything in many ways.

Your attitude toward the other person reflects your opinion of them. And people are VERY sensitive to others’ opinions of them. It’s one of the things they are MOST sensitive to.

People will respond more quickly and more forcefully to your opinion of them than to the words you are using. They will do this every single time.

If you’re talking to your boss and you have the opinion he has more authority and influence over your future than you do, that belief gets transmitted and puts you in a “one down” position. This is going to mess with your intention and negatively impact any conversation you have about requests, promotions and raises.

If you’re are talking to your teenage child and you have the opinion they don’t know as much as you do, or that they’re making a mistake with their life, this is going to provoke an immediate and strong reaction that is not going to help your cause.

Anytime you have the opinion the other person is wrong, you’re asking for trouble.

Your opinion of them is the FIRST thing they pick up.

It is what they respond to.

This works in positive ways too. Did you ever have a teacher who thought you were really smart, good, creative? How did you respond to that teacher?

Does this mean you have to have a phony opinion of people? Do you have to pretend that they’re right when you really think they’re wrong? No! You need to stay true to yourself.

Pretending will work against you. When the other person senses you’re pretending, you will come across as condescending. And that spells doom.

If you want to be successful in one of these difficult situations, you need to take your attention OFF the negative opinion you have, and find things that you do like and do respect about this person. You need to genuinely prepare yourself for the conversation.

This is a skill. You have to practice it to master it.

When you can do this in any conversation, with any person, under any circumstance, even when they’re pushing your buttons, then you are on the road to becoming a world class communicator.

Be the cause!

The dark secret about why audiences multitask


The only reason audiences multitask during presentations is because the presenter is not good enough to captive and keep their attention.

No one likes to hear this, especially presenters!

People like to think there’s something wrong with the audience. They blame it on bad manners. They blame it on shrinking attention spans. They blame it on corporate culture. They blame it on how busy people are that they need to do multiple things at one time.

In other words, they blame it on the audience.

This line of reasoning might hold water except for the preponderance of proof showing it’s wrong. The fact is, there are presenters in this world who are good enough to make it impossible for an audience to multitask. 

It’s never the audience.  It’s always the presenter.

One time I was asked to give a one-hour presentation at a brown bag lunch in a major Silicon Valley corporation.  150 people came, 150 laptops were opened along with lunches.  When I started to speak, no more than five people were making eye contact with me. The others were somewhat listening along, doing email and munching.

I didn’t view it as their problem.  I viewed it as a test of my skill. 

Within 10 minutes, without my ever saying anything about it, 149 laptops were closed.

I really connected with the audience.  One person at a time.

I made a very strong visual connection with them.  It was all about presence. And I delivered what I was saying with very strong intention. Not passion or effort…INTENTION.  I made it look effortless.

I didn’t wait for them to connect with me.  That’s not their job. It’s mine.

There was one guy in the back who didn’t stop multitasking.  A couple minutes into my presentation he looked up and gave me a very dirty look, like he was seriously annoyed with me.  A couple minutes later, another dirty look.  Then a couple more. 

Finally, he looked at me with complete irritation, stood up, picked up his computer and left the room.

After the presentation I found him working outside the conference room. Curious about what was so upsetting that it made him leave, I went over to him and said, “I’m sorry you didn’t like the presentation. It looked like what I was saying was really not to your liking, I apologize.”

He said, “That’s not what happened, it’s actually the opposite. I’m on a deadline to get this report out right now. I was hoping I could work on it and listen to you at the same time. But it was impossible to work on the report, I kept finding myself pulled into what you were saying. The only way I could concentrate on the report was to leave the room. So I was pissed off that I couldn’t stay and hear you.”

This isn’t some gift I was born with. It’s a skill. What’s great about that is it means it’s something you can master.

I hear from my students all the time that they used to have audiences that multitask and now their audiences are completely engaged.

This is one example of many from one of my students:

“The entire room was in complete silence and so engaged during the entire hour that you could practically feel the energy from their eyes and minds. If you have ever sat in a meeting with the senior leadership team, you know how unusual that is. Normally it is a multi-tasking fest!”

The longer you think it’s something about the audience that makes them multitask, the farther away you are from this skill. The sooner you decide to be a presenter who makes it impossible for your audience to multitask, the closer you are to mastering this ability and making it happen.

There’s little more gratifying than having an audience on the edge of their seats, utterly captivated. Can you handle that kind of power?

Come and discover how to do this at an upcoming Transforming Your Presentation Skills

I guarantee you won’t be multi-tasking while you’re there!

Be the cause!

The secret to persuasion


Katie told her boss she was ready for a promotion. Her boss said, “No, I don’t really think so. I think you need to demonstrate some key leadership skills in several upcoming projects and then we can take a look at it.”

Most people at this point would do one of two things:

  1. They would give up and acquiesce, say, “Okay, but can we talk about it again after I complete these projects?”


  2. They would try to change the boss’s mind. Maybe present data, give some examples, politely argue that they’re ready, get into a discussion.

I have never seen either of these paths be successful.

The problem with #1 is that it makes you wait for something you don’t want to wait for. Waiting strips you of causativeness. I never recommend it.

The problem with #2 is that it puts you into a lengthy discussion or debate that will most probably get you no results.

The mistake most people make in this scenario is they try to CHANGE the other person’s reality. This for sure will get you nowhere. Let me tell you why.

Every person on Earth fully believes their version of “reality”. Katie believes she’s ready for a promotion, that’s her reality. Her boss’ reality is that it will take several more projects and more demonstration of skills. It’s not REAL to the boss that Katie is ready.

Here’s a natural law.

When you try to change the other person’s reality, they resist you. Pure and simple.

This is why people encounter resistance. No one likes to have someone else try to change their mind or their view of reality.

But realities do change. People do change their minds. How?

The only thing you CAN do with another person’s reality is listen to it with great interest, understand and acknowledge it.

This is usually done very poorly, but is important beyond belief.

When we don’t like another person’s reality, we’re usually not that keen on hearing or understanding it, and we give very weak, usually dismissive acknowledgments.

Big mistake.

This point is so important. The only thing you can do with another person’s reality is listen really well, understand and acknowledge it.

Here’s another natural law.

If you do that skillfully, they will be satisfied that you really understand them.

At that point, and ONLY at that point, they will automatically open up to what you have to say about your reality.

Up to that point, they’re not really hearing you.

Creating that moment where they open up and are interested in your point of view is key.

All you have to do at this point when they are open and interested, is communicate your reality until they totally get it. Most people stop short of the finish line on this step.

There’s a world of difference between trying to change the other person’s reality and communicating your own reality.

It’s worth spending a couple minutes working this out for yourself with examples that are real to you, because I have seen this one point be the success “make or break point” in persuasion.

It’s an attitude of: “I fully understand where you’re coming from. I’m not trying to change your mind. I really get it. I just want to let you know what I think, where I’m coming from. I just want you to understand that.”

In other words, full mutual understanding is your goal, not persuasion.

The conversation may continue back-and-forth, but if it’s done skillfully in this manner, the other person starts to incorporate your reality into their reality.

This happens naturally, organically, automatically. They start to be able to think with your reality. As they do that, their reality changes because it now includes yours.

That’s exactly what Katie did. And in only one conversation she not only got the promotion she desired, but a salary increase that made her do a spontaneous joyful dance when no one was looking.

She said it felt like magic. Probably because it is. Causative communication is magic, no doubt about it.

If powerful, authentic, non-manipulative persuasion is a skill you’d like to perfect under the guidance of an expert coach, I invite you to our next Causative Communication Live! workshop. What would you do if you could remove every obstacle in your path?

Be the cause!

The source of powerful body language

Communication - Powerful

Last week I delivered a workshop to 42 extremely bright design engineers.

I asked for a volunteer and a real life situation so the group could see exactly the change I was teaching.  I like to demonstrate everything and everyone loves these demonstrations.

The volunteer came up with a difficult scenario relevant to the group. She was trying to persuade me to try a new design that threatened the status quo and my firmly held beliefs.  I was stubbornly yet realistically (exactly the way it happens in real life) not going for it.  

She talked and talked. It was tense, uncomfortable, she was unsuccessful.

I coached her and had her do it again.  Suddenly she got through to me.  With just one sentence.  It wasn’t what she said, it wasn’t the words.  

It was how she said it.

The senior executive of the group burst out with, “Her whole body language changed!” 

It was true.  Everything about her body language had changed. Her eyes, the way she looked at me as she was leaning toward me, her hand gestures, her shoulder position, the expression on her face, her whole face, her whole body, everything

She had real power.

It reminded me of all the times I’ve been asked in my workshops questions about body language, its importance, how to make it effective.

If you start focusing on your hands, whether your eyes arms are crossed, your facial expression, leaning in, your hand gestures, what your feet are doing, any of this, you’ve got way too much attention on all the wrong things.

Body language comes from within.  

When everything INSIDE you falls into place, your body language will be perfect.  

When you achieve a calm stillness, a presence, complete certainty, total confidence, a feeling of real warmth for the other person, inner strength, positive intention, unhurried poise, pure understanding ... believe me, at that moment, your face is radiant and your body language is powerful.

That's what I coached her on.

It wasn’t that her body language was suddenly effective and therefore so was she.  It was the other way around.  What was inside her suddenly became powerfully effective and her body language was a reflection of that.

The place to focus is within.  That’s where the source of being causative is located.  In your heart, in your mind, in that place where you are really you, the best version of you.

Bring that out and get that right, believe me, you will be causative.

And your body language will reflect your power.

Be the cause!


The shock of coming back to work

Communication - New Year

What makes the winter holidays great for me is the abundance of love, creativity and freedom that flood into my life.  The love of close friends and family, creative expression decorating and gift-giving, freedom to spontaneously do the fabulous, like drive down the California coast to Big Sur with my tight little family.

It’s a bit of a shock to come back from the holidays and enter “the real world”.  It can easily feel I’m surrounded by less love, less opportunity for creativity, restricted freedom.

That’s where being causative comes in. To me being causative means being able to create as much creativity, love and freedom throughout my day-to-day year as I do on holidays.

It doesn’t happen on its own. It takes causative intention.

Being causative is a viewpoint, that’s where it starts. With a decision to be causative. That decision gives birth to ability.

From that decision you get intention, an invisible force that powers your communication. 

Communication requires skill. How skillfully you communicate defines how well you manage the people and the world around you, and is your primary tool for changing minds and bringing new realities into existence.

Many of my clients don’t initially realize the power of this.  They believe things are happening to them.

They don’t realize that their own intention and level of communication skill (or lack of one or the other) shape reality. 

They haven’t yet experienced first-hand that these are skills (not personality traits which should always be left untouched) that can be developed into a super power.

At the end of the year I started a new project with a new client.  The Project Manager they put in place is one of the most negative people I have ever met.  Her immediate reaction was to try to stop the project. Her second was try to get out of the role.  When she couldn’t, she started doing everything she could to sabotage it.  She blamed me. In our meetings she was seething with unexpressed resentment.

I requested a phone call with her before the end of the year.  She “no-showed” for two of our scheduled calls before I finally got her on the phone, and when I did, she was openly condescending, stubbornly resistant.  It was clear where the conversation was headed. I had 60 minutes.

It was enough.  She completely turned around and became a true teammate.

Going into it I knew I had to take full responsibility for both sides of the conversation and for how it turned out. 

I knew I couldn’t leave it up to her, that I couldn’t complain, that I couldn’t get her off the team. 

I was surrounded by barriers. The only freedom I had was to use all my communication skills.

It took every skill I had, but most important was my viewpoint and my certainty that I could cause an extremely positive outcome, that I’m never at the mercy of anyone, especially not anyone negative.   Also my decision that my intention would not waver.  

With that foundation, I used all my communication skills and created a very different outcome than where it was forcefully headed.  

She is now eager to work with me, eager to see the project succeed, eager to help, eager to do whatever it takes. She knows it’s going to take a lot from her because it’s a large organizational project.  She’s all in. Completely different than where we started.

Was it easy?  No.  

Did I enjoy it?  Most definitely not at the beginning.  

Did I want to do it?  I would’ve gladly chosen not to if I’d had a choice.  

Am I glad I did?  Most definitely yes.  

The next five months are going to look completely different as a result.  Not just for me, not just for our team, but for the whole organization. 

The positive effects of this project will last for years for the organization, for a lifetime for the individuals involved.

That was one of my last client calls before I started a wonderful week celebrating the winter holiday and it ended on a total high. 

Now it’s the new year. Stepping away from the comfort and warmth of my family back into the harsh realities of the rest of the world is a bit like diving into ice water.  I’m going to spend this week easing into it gradually, but by next week it will be full bore again.

Possibly you can relate, possibly you feel what I’m talking about in your own life as you make your entrance into this new year.

A solution is to be causative, to create the reality you want with a recipe of intention and outrageously great, super-power level, communication skills.  

Then you will create all the love, creativity and freedom you desire throughout your day-to-day life for the next 12 months and have a grand year.

If you need any help doing that, I can help you develop all the skills you need in our Causative Communication Workshop. Three days of hard work.  A lifetime of amazing results. 

Wishing you a happy new year! May it make your heart sing and your spirit soar.

Be the cause!

The day intention saved a life

Communication - Norma

Norma works with me and I wish you could meet her.  She’d win your heart in 5 minutes. 

Norma’s from El Salvador. The reason she came to America is because she witnessed 3 men murder her husband’s cousin. They gunned him down in the street while he was standing in front of her, and drove away. Then they realized they’d left behind a living witness and started hunting for her.

Norma received numerous death threats so she left her home for another village.  The 3 men were relentless in pursuing her and were closing in on all of her hiding places.

Norma stopped going outside at all.  She lived in constant terror.  

It was emotional torment beyond endurance.

Finally, unable to bear it, she took her 6-year-old son and, with her husband, WALKED day and night for 3 days, staying off the main roads, through the jungles of Guatemala. She arrived in Mexico with bloody feet and legs that couldn’t carry her further.

Then she asked for and received asylum from the US and came here.

When Norma started working for me, she didn’t speak much English. I hired her because of the look in her eye. 

What I saw was bigger than words. 

I saw a depth of character that is rare. 

At first we used Google Translator to communicate. Then I gave Norma a Spanish version of the training material I use when I teach Learning How to Learn, because I wanted her to know that she could learn ANYTHING. It inspired her to sign up for English classes and she learned so fast, it was like lightning. 

Although Norma had a green card that allowed her to work in the US, becoming a US citizen was a very BIG and challenging goal.  I helped her study for her US citizenship test and she passed it.

Then it was time for the critical interview where it would be decided whether she was given the right to become a US citizen.

I told her I would practice the interview with her. She was still a very shy woman and couldn’t look me in the eye as she answered my questions. She sounded very unsure of herself, even though I knew inside she had all the right answers.

I coached her until she was comfortable, could look me in the eye and speak with real intention.  Not aggressively, but with deliberate intent so her communication would fully reach me and have an impact.

The day came. She looked the interviewer in the eye, unfolded her story and consciously unhurried, said very clearly, very purposefully, “There are 3 men in El Salvador who will kill me if I go back. I walked for 3 days through 2 countries to get away from them.  I am safe in the United States.  I will be an excellent citizen.”

Her interviewer’s expression changed to kindness.

Then, with tremendous compassion, he said, “I am sure you will.”

I stood next to her during the swearing-in ceremony.  It was one of the happiest moments of both our lives.

The reason I do this work of teaching powerful communication is because many times the difference between success and failure is not because the person (or cause) is worthy or unworthy.  Unworthy can win and worthy can lose all too easily in this world.

What powerful communication does is it allows the worthy to win.

The power to transform any situation or any person begins with your ability to assume the cause role in your communications.

Be the cause!

Making it to CEO

Communication - CEO

He was a fire fighter.  Several fire departments had asked me for a workshop on how to achieve goals.  He sat in the front row.

Afterward he contacted me and said,

“I don't want to be a fire fighter anymore. I want to succeed in business. I'd like your help.”

He took on an opportunity to become a sales rep for a financial investment company.  Before becoming a fire fighter, he had been a cop.  He knew nothing about sales. 

I worked with him on the exact communication skills he needed to be successful and he rapidly became their top sales rep.

So, they made him a sales manager.  He called me and said,

“I'm in over my head, I don't know anything about managing people and they're making me crazy.”

We worked on the communication skills he needed as a manager. The sales department became extremely productive and they made him a Vice President.

He said,

“I had no idea there was this much to deal with as a VP, sales was way easier.”  

I coached him on the precise communication skills needed at a senior level. They made him an Executive VP, and then the Board made him CEO.   

Being CEO had a whole new set of people and leadership challenges.  He transformed each of them with out-of-this-world communication.

The company succeeded and expanded to the point where he purchased land and built an enormous new building to house all the additional employees.

At the stage where the company reached just about $1 billion and 22,000 accounts, Wells Fargo purchased it.  For a lot of money.

He met all his financial goals and started spending a lot more time flying his plane, riding his motorcycle, SCUBA diving, skiing, and generally being outdoors.

Today he works with private clients and spends most of his time volunteering to give back to his community. People listen to him with great respect.  He leaves them inspired.

He’s a leader wherever he goes. 

He succeeded because he did the work (and it IS work) to master the skill of communicating causatively in every situation he faced. He mastered a powerful, non-manipulative, authentic way to communicate, a way that removes every obstacle, a way that leaves everyone better off, everyone wins. 

He could have decided to be anything.  He still can.  He has the communication skills to make it happen.

Everything you want is on the other side of this skill.

Communicate causatively! Create the reality you want.


The person one wants to be

Communication - The person one wants to be

When someone asks me to critique their presentation, I spend much of my time watching the audience as I listen to them present.  I can evaluate an entire presentation simply observing the audience.  The faces in the audience, especially their eyes, as they listen, tell the truth. I can see exactly what they’re thinking.

What is supposed to happen when you’re talking to a group is there should be a mutual interchange of energy and understanding.  

What I mean is that you’re supposed to feel something powerful coming BACK to you, and this energy from the audience should be changing and evolving as you speak.

You should FEEL it. Everyone can SEE it.

If you don’t feel something coming back to you from the audience as you’re speaking, if you don’t feel them changing, they're not fully engaged.  If you can’t tell if they’re engaged or not, they are not, because an engaged audience is impossible to miss.

This back-and-forth energy and understandings between you and the group creates great spontaneity. In you, in them.  

It goes beyond anything verbal. It supersedes logic. 

Their eyes are full of expression, they’re nodding, they’re laughing, they’re leaning forward. You can feel their collective energy flowing toward you.

When you react to that positive energy right in the moment, the audience makes you laugh, inspires you, they bring out the best in you. You find yourself saying brilliant things. You’re the person you’ve always wanted to be.

The skill that enables you to do this is your ability to connect with the audience in a way that taps into the core of you.

Your ability to connect is WAY more important than the content you’re presenting.

When you do make that connection at the core, how you will feel and the response you’ll get in return will astound you, regardless of your content.

I can’t express the joy I feel when I see my students achieve this breakthrough. I just received this email from one of my students who experienced it for the first time:

“I want to write to share that I attained a new career achievement today, thanks to the workshop I took with you. I just presented to executives at a major conference in Silicon Valley. It was a gathering of serious intellectual heavyweights, including technology fellows, international policy-makers, and thought leaders from Google and Accenture. 

"It is a little silly, but I feel like a rock star walking around the conference now with so many people approaching me to meet and to start conversations. I’ve already been asked to speak at 2 more events and I just got off the podium a couple of hours ago.

This is the person I wanted to be when I signed up for your classes, and I am forever grateful to you.”

The person you want to be is within you, patiently waiting for the day you fully tap in.

How to melt a frozen heart

Communication - Melt a frozen heart

“I don’t do affinity,” she said.

These words were spoken by a young woman in her 20's who had recently graduated college and was navigating her first job in a large corporation.  She has great career aspirations for a leadership position.

She was beautiful and well dressed, enough to turn heads. Her face was expressionless and her eyes were cold.  She signed up for the Causative Communication workshop because she wanted to learn how to get other people to do what she wants.

As I coached her through the workshop, she did the exercises well, but with this coldness. I was in the process of coaching her to increase her affinity when she looked at me dispassionately and very deliberately stated, “I don’t do affinity.”

I asked her why not? And she said her attitude towards people was very neutral.  She said, “I don’t like you and I don’t dislike you. I’m here to get the work done.”

Even without knowing her exact back story, how she came to be this way (cold and beautiful), I could clearly see she had had a complete mis-education in the subject of people.

I had no doubt that there had been an intense period of confusion in her life, in the middle of which her solution to the confusion was to shut off her feelings. Young as she was, she had now done this for so long, she had no feelings for others.

She told me she thought that having affinity involved making (or forcing) yourself to like someone you didn’t like. I explained to her that you can’t make yourself like someone.  

I told her the real secret to affinity and then I walked away. I had a lot of affinity for her when I said what I said.  And then I left it up to her.

In the next exercise I watched her from a distance. She was different. She was smiling at the person she was paired up with.  It was not a big smile, but it was genuine, it had warmth. Her partner smiled back.

Her transformation continued from there into something miraculous.

“Cold and beautiful” melted into someone warm and alive.

She opened up the circle of people she was working with (from only 1-2) and ended up working with everyone in the workshop.  She was forming great relationships rapidly and people were responding to her with great warmth. She looked happy and astonished.

I knew she had never experienced anything like this in her life. She didn’t know I was watching her.  I wiped a tear and went back to coaching others.

At the end of the workshop she looked me straight in the eye and with a great intensity of feeling said, “Thank you.”   We didn’t speak, just looked at each other and shared a long moment of intense understanding and mutual admiration.  Warmth.  Affinity.

The reason she was able to transform so quickly is because the power and knowledge was within her already. I just had to give her a friendly reminder where to look.

I just had to show her the path to being causative.

Once you show someone the right path, they always do the rest.

You can do this too. You just have to make the choice to learn.

Be the cause!

Small change, big impact

Communication - Drop

He walked into the room like an executive. His presence alone calmed everyone. He had an air of dignity. When he spoke, he only had to say it once, everyone listened.

He wasn’t an executive, far from it.  He was an individual contributor.

But the power of his communication had the impact of a leader.

If you had seen him before he took the Causative Communication® workshop, you wouldn’t have recognized him as the same person.  He was fidgety, always in a hurry, very short attention span.  He spoke fast, in short bursts and he stopped listening the moment he thought he knew what you were going to say.

He had worked at the same large corporation for over 10 years, trying to get promoted, but without creating much visibility or recognition.

A year after the class, he had been promoted to Team Lead and then had 2 more promotions in very rapid succession.  He was now viewed as a charismatic and respected leader on the fast track to senior executive.

What was it he changed?

His speed.

Before the workshop he focused on doing everything fast.  We can all understand why, because in today’s crazy world we have to do everything fast to get it all done.  So he did everything fast.  Talked fast, listened fast. That’s what he did until the workshop showed him how to slow down.

You pay a big price for fast.

The price you pay is in the form of quality and presence. Both suffer.

Now I don’t know if you try to communicate too fast, but my hunch is that you probably know.

So here is a very simple shift you can make, right now, today.

Slow down.  

This does not mean be less productive or get less things done. It means slow down to the point where you focus on the quality of your communication, the quality of what you say, how you say it and the quality of your listening.

When you slow down, you make a much stronger connection with others, that deep human connection that enables all good things to happen.  You’ll achieve greater understanding.  

The quality of your communication today shapes your tomorrow, it’s how you create the reality of your very important life.

Be the cause!

How to disagree


Many people in my workshops tell me they want to learn how to disagree. Especially with their boss, or other people that are higher up.

It’s easy.  

Just say, “I disagree.”

I’m obviously joking.  You can see learning how to disagree is not actually what they want.

What they want to learn is how to get the other person to agree with them. That’s a whole different thing.

Last week I had an extremely competent woman in my workshop.  No one does her type of work better than she does.  She was very soft-spoken and very respectful of others.  She avoided unpleasant situations and frequently held back saying which she was thinking.  In a group she was especially subdued.

She was at manager level, but despite many attempts, never moved higher in the organization. She had almost given up making it to Director.

Everyone loves her.  She was frustrated.

It was especially tough for her when she disagrees.

The difficulty most people have when they disagree, is maintaining a deep human connection and a feeling of rapport with the other person.

If you lose these 2 things in a disagreement, you’re going to fight (and lose) a battle.

These 2 are the foundation for every great conversation and every great outcome you’ll ever have.

The mistake people make is they start disagreeing when there’s no real connection between them and the other person. I see this all the time in my workshops.  They’re so focused on disagreeing, they’re not focused on staying connected.  Do that and you lose.  Period.

They think the problem is that they’re disagreeing. 

Not true.

The problem isn’t that you’re disagreeing. The problem is that you’ve lost that strong connection with the other person.  If you never had it to begin with, it’s even worse.

Without the connection, you have no power

I have been receiving a series of emails from this woman in my workshop saying that learning these skills has had a profound impact on her life. She’s speaking up. She disagreed with her boss and swung him to her point of view. She tells me how exhilarating it is to have these skills and how strong, how powerful she feels.  She is dancing through life.

I predict she will be a Director soon, and then not long after, she’ll be a VP.

Build that deep human connection.

Then talk about anything you want.

The power of you

Crystal ball.jpg

I have sat through thousands of corporate presentations.  On the whole they have 1 thing in common: the presenters all look alike to me.

There can be wide differences in industries, job roles, status, audiences, messages, purposes, countries of origin, age.  And HUGE differences in personalities.  Yet, even with all these individual differences, they end up looking alike.

In case this is happening to you, I want to let you know there is a way out. 

You have to start by discarding any faulty education in how to give presentations that you’ve undoubtedly received.  It’s an education that makes individuals look like the masses and makes your presentations look like they were mass produced, not creative, not unique, not showing your true power.

Most people learn how to give corporate presentations by taking workshops and observing others.  The problem is that most training on how to do public speaking or giving presentations focuses on the mechanics and doesn’t touch the core of you.

The core of you is where your power really lies.  

Not in your hand gestures, not in your slides, but deep within you.  

This is what you want to have as your true source when you speak. 

I just wrapped up a series of workshops for 10 individuals in a tightly regulated pharmaceutical industry.  The problem was that all 10 individuals came across as tightly regulated too.  Absolutely no personality was in view, nothing unique to touch the audience. Their slides were cumbersome yet it was mandated they had to cover everything in the slide.  It was difficult for presenter and audience alike.

When they tapped into their own unique core, what was released was incredible. I actually started to cry during one of their presentations, even though I’d heard that slide presented 100 times. Suddenly what he was saying became REAL and I realized the tragic debilitating effect of the illness that their pharmaceutical product was designed to alleviate.  I had involuntary tears in my eyes imagining a young teenager having to suffer without it.

The core of you is very worth finding and nurturing.  Very worth expressing.

It doesn’t matter what your content is. 

What matters is that you communicate from the core of you. 

That is where you are truly causative.

The power of your look


On my morning runs I encounter a mother taking her two-year-old for a walk. He likes me to stop and simply be with him. His eyes meet mine and stay there.  Very calm, comfortable, peaceful.  As I talk to his mother, he and I continue to look at each other.  He is looking straight into my soul and I into to his.  No words are exchanged.  His name is Dakotah.

I saw him again this morning.  Same thing, except this time there’s a clear sign of recognition in his eyes, a signal he knows we’ve met before, I’m a friend.  The look in his eyes says he is happy to see me.

He never looks away, nor do I, for many minutes on end.  No words between us. The most direct communication there is. Pure harmony and understanding, being to being, his soul to my soul.  Our eyes truly the windows to our souls.  We like each other, we haven’t even spoken a word.

All little children are born this way. I’ve delivered my programs in 30 countries and have traveled the world. They all look at me like that.

No adults do.

What happens between childhood and adulthood that makes adults so uncomfortable and tense looking into each other’s eyes, especially with no words being spoken?

This is a question I ask myself every week because in our Causative Communication Live! workshop I teach adults how to regain this lost ability and I always wonder how we let ourselves get so mixed up.

By the time we’re grown, we have suffered so many injunctions about looking and not looking, confusing it with staring, getting it all mixed up with manners and politeness, that we’ve been forced out of this most NATURAL of abilities by the most confusing set of rules ever invented.

My students go through the most wild experiences as they rehabilitate their ability to be there comfortably and just LOOK at another person. They feel an anvil is going to fall from the sky and crush them if they REALLY look at someone.  They are SURE the other person is going to hate it and get irritated. 

It is exhilarating, liberating and freeing to discover there is no anvil, there’s only the pleasure of experiencing another human being.  

The power and confidence it brings when you can look someone very comfortably in the eye, unhampered by all the discomforts of the confusing rules and threats society has imprisoned your spirit with, is a source of great energy in every conversation you’ll ever have.

When you regain this ability, the way you look suddenly transforms the other person. You see this all the time when people talk to children.  They are suddenly transformed when they meet a child. They are softer, gentler, the best of them comes out.  

You can transform the other person just by the way you look at them.

All the intensive communication exercises we teach for becoming a Causative Communicator build on this one key ability. You have to be absolutely comfortable doing this as you add each new layer of skill.

At the beginning of the exercise, most people can’t even do it for 5 minutes. 

These are super successful people who are not used to struggling. So it usually comes as quite a shock.

But I make it clear that everything they want is to be found on the other side of this skill.

It's a must have.

The power to transform any situation or any person begins with your ability to assume the cause role in your communications.

And you won't be able to do that until you can stand there and emit a presence so strong it will literally TRANSFORM the other person.

Be the cause!

Gently, with powerful Intention

intention lion.jpg

In my last article I talked about the power of unwavering, yet effortless, intention. This week I want to talk about how to take even this superior level of intention to an even higher level.

Back when Noah Webster published the first American dictionary in 1828, he stated a great definition for the word intention. He said intention is:  when the mind with great earnestness fixes its view on any idea, purpose or goal, and will not be called off. 

To be in earnest is to be very determined and deliberate in stretching towards an objective. To fix is to establish immovably, without wandering. 

Will not be called off means that nothing – nothing – can divert you.

Communicating with intention means that you will not be called off, nothing can divert you from your goal of being perfectly understood.

How you do it is very, very important. It requires the foundation of your being very simple, very direct, very clear and saying what you have to say with the complete certainty you will be perfectly understood.

If you add any force or effort to this equation, it blows up. The other person reacts to your force or effort and doesn’t hear what you’re saying. They then just want to defend themselves. You are diverted from your goal.

The key to success is to be and sound effortless.

And that’s also where the word gentle comes in.

Most people think gentle equals weak. They have good reason to think this. Most people who are thought of as “gentle” don’t have powerful intention and they ARE weak.

Gentle does not mean weak. 

It means not harsh, not rough, having a light touch, considerate

A gentle tone of voice combined with unshakable intention is powerful. It’s a thousand times more powerful than being forceful.

The word gentle has a most interesting derivation. The word originally meant of noble birth, high social standing, aristocratic.  In other words, high class.

You can see how this is true. Someone who is harsh, severe, arrogant, forceful, rough or brash doesn’t come across as having class.

You have an unmistakable dignity when your communication combines a gentle tone with unwavering intention.

I always make “before” and “after” videos of my coaching clients. In his “before” video, confronted with a difficult situation, a VP I just coached quickly started to sound irritated because I wasn’t doing what he wanted. He became a little forceful, then more forceful, and the conversation ended up going around in circles, without any satisfaction, frustrating to both.

It takes a lot of practice and coaching to develop perfectly executed intention.  We practiced for hours, until he could deliver all his communications (regardless of topic or difficulty) gently AND with perfectly executed intention. 

In his final video, he was confronted with two extremely difficult scenarios. In both cases he delivered his communication precisely, he was very simple, direct, clear, with a warm, gentle tone of voice and unwavering intention.  He came across as high class.  He was immediately compelling.  He only had to say it once.

There are other skills that are vital for complex discussions and difficult situations.

But without intention, there is no hope. It doesn’t matter how many times you say it, how carefully you choose your words or how right you are.

With a gentle tone and powerful intention, you only have to say it once.

When you communicate with that level of quality, with that power of intention, magic happens and you are perfectly understood. And funny enough, when people perfectly understand you, they can’t help it, they start to go into agreement. It supersedes logic. You have entered the realm of magical and causative communication.

The power of effortless intention

Intention mountain.jpg

Initially, when I start to coach someone on developing intention in their communication, they develop a stern facial expression and take on a “I really mean it” tone of voice.  They become rather forceful and sometimes even a little harsh.

This is especially true if they anticipate the other person’s not listening or they’re going to “resist“.

Most people, when it’s important and they REALLY want to get their communication across, say it a little forcefully, sometimes a lot forcefully.

I coached a very successful VP this week. He is brilliant, inspired, has executive level thinking, is passionate and results driven.   He’s a good man. In difficult conversations he starts out calm, but if he got impatient or irritated, his tone became antagonistic.  Afterward he felt bad.

Most people have a lot of trouble finding that precise zone where their communication is penetrating and effective, but not harsh.

That’s because they don’t understand the true nature of intention. Communication is meaningless without intention.

Intention is defined as deliberate purpose.   Purpose is the end result you wantDeliberate means that you consciously evaluated the situation and made your decision. The word deliberate implies the outcome is completely under your control.

When you are deliberate, it’s not so much that you’ve decided what you are going to say, it’s that you have decided the outcome.

This is the opposite of feeling that the outcome is “up to them”. Deliberate means you are in complete control of the outcome.

This is the essence of being causative.

Whether you are going for increased financial compensation, more resources, cooperation, gaining a new customer, a negotiated agreement, executive leadership support, agreement on strategy, whatever you’re going for, when you have intention, true intention, you have decided and are certain about the outcome.

This decision, in and of itself, has no energy, it simply is that you have decided. And you have decided with complete certainty. Certainty means freedom from doubt. Doubt means maybe yes, maybe no, you’re not sure.  Certainty means it’s definitely this, with no doubts.

There is no “trying” involved, nor is any trying needed because the decision has been made.

There literally is no energy, effort or force involved in intention. It’s 100% done on a thought level and not at all in the field of energy.

A big mistake people make is that when they want something from the other person, their intention becomes for the other person to agree with them. When you’re communicating, this is an incorrect intention. It will frustrate you. The more you try to get someone to agree with you the more you repel them, the harder you have to work at it, and the less result you get. Trying to get others to agree with you turns people off and is fruitless.

The only correct intention in communication is to be perfectly understood, and I mean perfectly.  People who come to me for coaching find it eye-opening when they discover how imperfectly they are being understood.  They had no idea. Most people don’t fully realize how imperfect the understanding is when they’re not getting what they want. Imperfect understanding is the foundation for disagreement.

Perfect understanding is not easily achieved. It takes skill. It takes intention.

 It requires saying what you have to say very directly, very simply, very clearly and, most importantly, with a complete certainty that you will be perfectly understood. When you communicate with that quality and that power of intention, magic happens and you are perfectly understood. And funny enough, when people perfectly understand you, they can’t help it, they start to go into agreement.

This is inside of everyone. It's inside of you.



Angela reports directly to the CEO of a large organization and has global responsibility for thousands of people. She interacts directly with the entire leadership team.  It's a high intensity position.  The leadership team is composed of strong, stubborn, driven personalities.

She came for 1-on-1 coaching. Her goal was to develop gravitas and increase her ability to persuade and influence at the leadership team level. 

Gravitas is often expected in a VP or Senior VP position.

The problem most people have developing gravitas is a confusion about what it is and no sense of how to get there.

In the dictionary gravitas is defined as a serious, solemn, dignified manner.  

Serious is defined as sincere and earnest, solemn, no laughing.  Solemn is defined as not cheerful or smiling.  Dignified is defined as elevated self-respect, a feeling of being worthy.

Dignity sounds great, but gravitas sounds rather stern and grim. This is going to be rather difficult for people to sustain.

What if it doesn't match their personality?  Which in Angela’s case it didn't.

In other words, there's a lot of confusion around this word, imprecise definitions, confusion about what it is.  

Having said that, I understand what she was looking for and how to get there. I’ve helped many people develop what others would call gravitas

There are 4 key elements

Note – you can’t fake any of these. They’re skills that you have to develop by doing the hard work it takes to make them real.

The first is being there comfortably.  Most people who come to my workshops or for coaching are agitated. They're a little bit stressed, a little bit anxious. This strips you of any dignity. It strips you of gravitas. You have to be in the moment, calm and comfortable. When you are, it makes you dignified, makes everyone around you relax, get calm and take you more seriously.  Anxiety is a dignity-killer. It's hard to take someone who is anxious seriously because they don't create the impression they're in control.

Second you need to make a deep, strong connection with the other person. If you don't have that connection, that rapport, your words just bounce off.  When you have that connection your words penetrate and create a completely different effect. Clients tell me all the time, “I said the exact same words, but this time they listened.”

Third, you need to communicate with intention. Most people have never been coached on intention and they substitute effort, force and energy. All these strip you of gravitas.  Intention has everything to do with certainty and nothing to do with being forceful. What you see when someone has executive presence, when you see a powerful leader, is not in intensity of energy, it's an intensity of intention. The energy is incidental. Many very powerful leaders speak softly but with unmistakable intention. When you speak with intention, it gives you great dignity.

Fourth is your affinity.  Many people think that in order to have gravitas you have to assume a demeanor that is almost cold.  This will only work to make everyone cold toward you.  That’s not what you want. The warmer you are, the warmer they will be toward you and the more they will trust you.  Affinity is how much you like them.  It must be genuine. It's not something you project.  It's something you feel and it must be real.  Many people feel they can't afford to have affinity because they won't be taken seriously. The problem is never too much affinity. The problem, if there is one, is insufficient intention. Both affinity and intention have to be high.

It is magical that when you put these all together, you have what people call gravitas, you have respect, you have credibility. When you speak, people listen.

I haven't covered building a relationship, listening and other components that are vital to complete the picture and pull the whole thing off, those are for another blog.

My Lead Trainer coached Angela on these points, one at a time, using our unique coaching methodology. When Angela saw her final video, she cried. This is not a woman who cries easily.  

What she saw in the video: Her eyes were sparkling, she was completely comfortable, completely in the moment, dignified, worthy, she made a strong powerful connection, she wasn't forceful but her intention was penetrating, she was loaded with warmth and affinity and she was compelling. You would have followed her in a heartbeat. She was beautiful and powerful.  

She said, “I had no idea I could ever look like that.”  

We cried too.

This is inside of everyone. It's inside of you.

What it feels like to be great


My greatest joy is seeing someone gain their greatness.

I recently coached a Director in a biotech company. Her presentations were considered very good. But she wasn't meeting her own expectations. She wanted to be great. 

It’s a level of excellence that’s not for everyone. Not everyone has it on their priority list to be a world class communicator.

I get the ones who do have it as a priority through the hard work and struggle. What comes out of it is worthy. The joy almost can't be expressed in words.

She just emailed me that she gave a talk to 3,000 at a major industry conference. Huge stage. This is what she wrote:

“The talk was amazing, and I’m going to be completely immodest here. It was the talk of the conference. I could hardly move the next couple of days because people stopped me every few steps to praise the talk, ask questions, ask for follow-up.

“I could tell after the talk who had been there and who hadn’t, because everyone who had been there looked at me with awe in their eyes.

“I was overwhelmed by the number of tweets stating my talk was the highlight of the conference.

I felt amazing up there, incredibly happy and energized. I was in the moment. There was a moment partway through when I felt how well it was going, felt the rapport with the audience, and thought, ‘I love doing this, and I am really good at it.” 

We're not supposed to feel this good about ourselves. It feels like we're breaking some rule. But, let me tell you, this rule was meant to be broken. This is exactly how good we should feel about ourselves.