Sunday, July 02, 2006


Guest Blog- Alan Weiss

1. Techniques for balance

Eleven responses you may have wished you used at the time:

Comment: "Would you like some advice on how to improve that?"
Response: "Yes, which is why I'm going to ask an expert I know."

C: "I'm calling for a contribution to a very worthy cause."
R: "You may be, but there's so much fraud in phone solicitations that
I only respond to written requests. Send me your background information."

C: "I've never heard of you or your work."
R: "That says much more about you than about me."

C: "You don't need help with that, do you?"
R: "That's not really a sincere offer, is it?"

C: "What about a hefty discount if I start immediately?"
R: "Do you give hefty discounts to your customers who buy
immediately?" ("If you don't, then why should I? If you do, then
that may be your problem.")

C: "That sounds good, but let me tell you of an even better place."
R: "To you it sounds good, to me it IS a better place."

C: "Would you like some feedback?"
R: "No, thanks anyway."

C: "That's not the best way to get there."
R: "There are a lot of ways to get there. I didn't know there was one,
best way."

C: "People have come to me with critique of what you're doing."
R: "If that's true, you're enabling their reluctance or inability to
discuss this openly. We'd all be better served if you advised them to
speak to me directly instead of your serving as a middleman."

C: "I heard rumors she got the job and I didn't because of connections
and affirmative action."
R: "I heard that she got it on merit and because she doesn't bad-mouth

C: "Did I ever tell you about.."
R: "Yes."


The human condition: Escaping the rip tide

One morning I walked into my office and, in the next hour: lost my email
connections, ran out of copier paper, ran low on toner in my printer, had a
fax jam, ran out of money in the postage meter, spilled juice on my checkbook,
and cut myself trying to fix my stapler.

I decided to leave, and went for coffee with the dogs.

There is an often-fatal beach phenomenon called a rip tide. It's a narrow,
violent undertow which drags people out to sea. If you swim against it, back
toward the beach, you are quickly exhausted and perish.

However, you can escape the rip tide. Since they are very narrow, if you
swim ten or twenty yards perpendicular to the beach, you will find yourself in
calm water again. It's counterintuitive, but it works.

If I had stayed in my office that morning, I'm sure the computer would have
crashed or the roof would have collapsed. I was in a rip tide, probably enhanced
by my own anger as one infuriating problem influenced me to act more hastily
and ill-informed with the next (swimming against the tide).

So, I swam out, to the side, to calmer water, with a pleasant experience. I
could have "drowned," but I chose not to.

We all encounter personal and professional rip tides. It may be the fates,
or bad luck, or others' doing, but it's usually simply an accidental confluence of
unfortunate events which we, advertently or inadvertently, create and/or
exacerbate. (We all know how effective it is to throw something when we're angry.
It helps nothing and creates new problems. This is also the case when we "throw"
words when we're angry.)

There are clearly times when discretion is the better part of valor. We need
to move away, to turn the page, to start something else. It is not a positive
commentary on your courage, intelligence, or confidence to refuse to walk away
from continuing disaster, nor is it a negative one to realize that you're losing a
battle and you don't want to lose a war. I don't know about you, but after a
string of bad luck or bad decisions, the last thing I want to do is talk to an
important client or make a key investment determination.

The vicissitudes of life are such that we're all due for "runs" of positives and
negatives, though they are more often judiciously mixed together. Those who
visit casinos and have the benighted belief that they can create more runs of
positives than anything else are due for inevitable failure, for we all know that
the house never loses in the long run. There's nothing wrong with attempting
to exploit a positive run (it's called "playing with house money") and there's
nothing wrong with walking away from a negative run (it's called "prudence").

There's no reason to elevate your stress level and blood pressure when the
alternative of walking away exists. And for most of us, in most instances, it does

So the next time you feel yourself being figuratively dragged out to sea, swim to
the side, get back to the beach, and stay out of the water for a while. Read a
good book or just relax in the sun.

All rip tides disappear eventually, usually sooner than later. Then it's safe to go
back into the water.

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