tips

Judging Others

Have you ever been in a situation where someone is unexpectedly rude to you? Of course you have. And you know that rotten feeling that you get when it happens. You did nothing to provoke it, so why you? Should you be rude back? Is it worth a conflict? Sometimes it’s tempting to lash out in return, but that’s not always a good idea.

A wise older friend once shared with me after such an incident that most of the time when someone blows up at you for seemingly no reason, it’s almost always someone else (including themselves) that they’re mad at. We all handle stress differently. While I do my best to never take out my anger on someone who isn’t responsible, I’d be lying to you if I said I’ve never done that. We all try our best, but sometimes the moment gets the best of us.

Should a Gentleman Hold the Door for a Lesbian?

I had my first experience in training in 1996 when I was an instructor at what’s now Bentley University while earning my Masters Degree. In the brief training I had before getting unleashed upon five groups of mostly first semester freshmen, something stuck out in my mind. The syllabus that I was to hand out to my students noted that the only dumb questions were the ones that were never asked. The point of it was that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask a question out of fear that you’ll look dumb. I get it – and even bought it, for a little bit. But then after fielding some of these questions, I realized that some questions were better off not being asked.

I was reminded of this recently when someone asked me the very question that is the title of this post. It was in response to my review of the book “How to Be a Gentleman.” At first, I thought it was a dumb question. Phrases like “being open minded” popped in my head and I decided to be open minded about the question and my answer. And guess what? It’s actually an interesting question that warrants a legitimate answer.

How I Got Interested in Public Speaking

When I tell people that one of the things I teach is public speaking, the first thing they typically ask is why. Most of the time, they really mean that they wonder why someone would get interested in that particular topic. So as I explain that I actually get a rush from doing something that most people avoid like the plague, the questions become more serious and I’m asked what interested me in public speaking to begin with and how I got to where I am today.

As a kid, I always enjoyed making people smile and I still feel the same way today. In fact, I’ll often go out of my way to get a laugh out of someone, even if I have to make myself look foolish in the process. When I was in my pre-teen years, I had dreamed of becoming an actor. I tried to convince my parents to move across the country to California so I could become one. That didn’t quite work out so I found other outlets for my creativity. In high school, it was sports.

What I Hate About Toastmasters

Whether it’s during one my classes or seminars, or while having a casual conversation in either a business or social setting, if the topic of public speaking comes up, the topic of Toastmasters often follows. If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a few weeks, then you probably know my position on Toastmasters: I recommend it, but only if you choose the right club.

Through the years I’ve come into contact with thousands of people who have been involved with Toastmasters. Some only attended a single meeting as a guest while others have become International Directors. While the feelings towards this organization vary, most people love it and a few hate it. Personally, I have mostly positive feelings and experiences that I accumulated over my four years as a member, but I also had a few not so good experiences as well. So when someone who had mostly negative experiences with it challenged me to write about the not so good things, I figured it would be an interesting challenge. His exact request was “tell me about some of the things you hate about Toastmasters.” Of course, I don’t hate per say anything about Toastmasters, so I’ve listed the things that peeve me the most. Additionally, I’ve include how to avoid or remedy the situations.

Why Most Speakers Are Clueless About Social Media

Many professional speakers use social media but most of them use it wrong. They see it as a virtual extension of their speeches and simply talk to their audience while completely ignoring what’s coming back their way. While this is one way to use social media, it’s not the best. Most people don’t care about your blog posts, coupons, tips, events or products unless they know something about you. So if all you do is post this “me” information– everyone is going to ignore you.

Social media is about interactivity – something many speakers may not be used to with their presentations. I’m connected with a number of speakers on various social media services and I see so many of them posting things such as:

The Worst Type of Risk

I think most people naturally fear taking risks. There’s so much unknown and so many things that can go wrong. Plus, whenever someone takes a foolish risk and falls flat on his or her face, the story of it travels through that person’s network at lightspeed. So add ridicule and embarrassment to results often associated with taking risks.

The topic of risks came up with a few friends recently and I was asked about the worst risk I ever took. While I searched through my memories for the typical things that come to mind like asking out a girl who was way out of my league or investing time and/or effort into a startup, I couldn’t really find anything. Whenever I took social risks when it came to things like dating, I usually was glad about taking the risk – even if things didn’t work out in my favor, I knew to move on. As far as professional risks went, I’ve made my share of blunders with speeches, networking events and even with some of the classes I first offered when I pushed myself beyond my limits. But the blunders were only part of the story – for each of these blunders, there were a number of successes (sometimes just small ones) but these successes (and even mistakes) resulted in a learning experience.

Why People Fail

I’ve never been a big fan of “date” movies – romantic comedies where you know the guy and the girl are going to get together at the end, but not sure exactly how they’ll get through the mess created during the first twenty minutes of the film. With these types of films, part of the plot line usually has to do with a guy who’s afraid of commitment.

I usually get frustrated with this plot line – the gal should just move on (or to make it a movie more to my liking, blow up his car while he’s driving away). But no, it gets drawn out for 90+ minutes and somehow the guy sees the err in his ways and decides that he was wrong to not commit in the first place and spend the second half of the movie trying to correct the situation. In most cases, there’s a happy ending but not always. But what’s interesting is that fear or lack of commitment happens a lot in real life and the results are often not a happy ending.