228: Do you TELL with eyes open and ears attentive?

It just makes sense, if you want to build positive relationships and improve situations, it matters what you say and do. Especially in difficult situations, where you and others may not see eye to eye, your words and actions really matter. Every person is merely TELLing a point of view. You TELL whatever you see, hear, and pay attention to in a given moment.

The TELL message has made me realize if you genuinely want to TELL for good – build stronger relationships and improve situations…

You interact with open eyes and see beyond yourself. You really look with your eyes to see the other person; you notice body language; you look to see them. You look at them kindly, softly and with curiosity.

You listen and hear with attentive ears. You realize what is being said to you is more important than what you have to say.

You pay attention to the other person. You notice what may be happening in the other people’s lives and recognizing/accepting it may be different than your own life. Somewhere I read, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” So true… when we pay attention to others, we are being generous by looking for their needs, who they are, and where they are coming from.

We TELL everything. We teach and encourage depending on how well we see, hear, and attend as we interact. We demonstrate how well we listen depending on where our eyes, ears, and attention are focused. It isn’t until we have eyes open and ears attentive that we show someone love and care.

To build strong relationships and improve circumstances, it requires seeing, listening, and paying attention in the ways described above. Of course, the best case is when everyone interacts with a set of open eyes and attentive ears, but my experience is that is often not the case. However, each person can choose for themselves to TELL with eyes open and ears attentive.

Isn’t it true that our strongest relationships are with those who interact with open eyes and ears attentive? Especially when faced with a difficult situation where we don’t see eye to eye, or like what we hear… opening our eyes and ears to each others’ point of view is how we get through situations and grow stronger relationships. These interactions make us stronger.

So now, I can’t help but think about the younger person in our lives. The youth and adult will seldom see eye to eye about situations.  The younger person does not have the life experiences to possibly see most situations the same way as an adult. We as the adults have so much to TELL them, and we want to have a strong relationship with them. Yet, too often the youth are expected to do more listening and paying attention to adults. What they really need are adults who see, listen, and pay attention to them.

When we don’t see, hear, or pay attention to another consistently, chances are likely this relationship is not getting stronger. When we do see with open eyes and hear with attentive ears, we are more than likely building a deeper relationship with that person.

Today, can we all put a little extra effort into seeing, hearing, and paying attention for good….especially towards the younger people in our lives?  #TELLforGood

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221: Agreeing to disagree isn’t good enough

Something I have noticed lately is a tendency to ignore rather than discuss difficult situations. So many of us worry about saying the right thing the right way so that we don’t cause conflict or drama. We want the other person to not be upset with us, or reject us. So, for the time being, we believe it’s best to avoid the difficult interaction. We do nothing about the situation or we might walk away saying, “Let’s agree to disagree.”

The more I study interactions and the TELL message, I realize avoidance is actually false logic. Bringing up a difficult situation with someone does not have to imply conflict and drama. Nor does it imply rejection or the other person being upset.

Actually, not bringing up important, difficult disagreements with those closest to you is what may eventually cause conflict and drama in life. If the disagreement is about a behavior that is not benefiting each of your life stories or not benefiting your relationship, it is better to talk about this sooner than later. Learning to TELL better in such moments may not be easy in the short run but worthwhile for the long run. Relationships grow deeper when you can lovingly discuss disagreements.

Having a conversation when there is a disagreement is seldom easy. It requires being bold. It requires focusing on accurate and reliable facts. It requires empathic listening in order to hear the other person’s point of view and bringing out the relevant facts. It requires being able to affirm the common points of view and narrowing in on the actual disagreement. Discussing a disagreement takes courage.


Disagreements become emotional, and that is what complicates matters. We tend to ignore facts and speak emotionally in our pain. We allow our anger, frustration, disappointment, or hurt to be the center of words and actions. When we ignore disagreements, do not talk about disagreements sooner, the emotions definitely build up.

On the other hand, disagreements are how people and ideas grow – for better or worse. Relationships and situations grow when disagreements are resolved. When people discuss facts and have a desire to make the story better, that is how the experience can cause the relationship and situation to become better. When the disagreement remains a conflict, the relationship and situation suffer for the time being.

The other day, I was talking with a friend about having disagreements, and he added, “Well, don’t both people have to agree to resolve the disagreement? What if I want to resolve and the other person just continues to focus on the disagreement?”

It certainly is much easier to interact when both people want to resolve a disagreement; however, your words and actions become even more critical in situations where a person remains in conflict, remains in the disagreement. In those moments, you can be the catalyst toward a resolution by asking questions, by becoming curious to hear the other person’s thoughts behind the disagreement. “Why do you think that?”; “How do you know that?” If it is personal, “How would you like me to respond?” In other words, the manner you handle such interactions can be the difference.  You can be the reason the disagreement has a chance to move toward resolution. At a minimum, you can be the reason the interaction doesn’t grow more negative.

It’s not easy to have these interactions. We all have a tendency to react to the words we hear, the actions we see – especially when the experience stirs emotions. This will continue to be difficult for you unless you start developing the habit to TELL in such situations.

Today, or the next time you are in a disagreement, bring to mind thoughts such as ‘resolution’, ‘curiosity’, ‘listen’, ‘patience’…. it might just turn the conversation around into a good TELLing moment! #TELLforGood

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220: Walking in someone’s shoes… helps or hurts?

Last week, I wrote about a situation where I disagreed with someone dear to me. I talked about why I should have taken the time to walk in her shoes – and how I wished she would have walked in my shoes. I related this to the phrase,”Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” This was post #218 if you have a desire to go back and read it.

Today, I was talking with this same friend, and as I was leaving I mentioned the idea about walking in each other’s shoes.

She commented, “That’s my problem, I am so busy trying to help others by walking in their shoes. I don’t walk in my OWN shoes enough.” Then she continued, “Do you think that’s because I don’t want to deal with things in my own life? It’s easier to walk in their shoes than my own?”

My immediate thought… “What is she TELLing me?” Does she really think she was walking in my shoes the other day?

It sure didn’t feel like it… Instead of judging and responding, I decided to be still and ponder.

Besides, as I mentioned, I was walking out the door at the time. Now, I can’t help but think deeper about this as I write this blog.

Through the years of studying interactions, I have noticed the pattern of trying to help others progress or helping others move toward success. “I’ll do whatever I can think is possible to help them create a better life. I’ve tried this…. I’ve tried that…. I’ll do whatever I can just for them…”

Does whatever you’re doing help? How does the person respond? What message are you really TELLing this person?

One the one hand, it’s admirable to have a desire to help others be better; I believe we all should have that desire! Yet, is this really what they are doing? Are they really helping the other person? I decided to go back to the quote.

The saying “Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” does not mean you take your shoes off and you control the steps ahead. When you do that, you are walking in their shoes, but not really. You’ve just borrowed the shoes for a moment.

For example, I love to borrow shoes from mom when I visit her. She has many; I have few. She buys cool shoes, I buy practical ones. But, she wears a 6 1/2 shoe, I wear a 7. Because of our size difference, some of the sandals fit, but not all; certainly none of the closed-toe shoes fit comfortably. In other words, some shoes I can walk in, others no way! They hurt!

If the size and style fits in the moment, the walk may be okay, but if it is not a good fit, the walk is painful!

If the message you are sharing fits the other person, they may agree and the walk together may be okay. They may even appreciate your advice. But if your ideas do not fit with theirs, or they are not willing to listen, the result is pain.  It may still feel like you are helping, but to the other person it feels like judgment because you are not really walking in their shoes – you borrowed their shoes for the moment.

Walking a mile in their shoes really means walking the journey together. You are walking with them in their shoes, not for them. It means letting them be a part of the steps ahead, not you taking over and controlling their steps. You allow others to evaluate what is acceptable and unacceptable. You allow the person walking beside you to have a thought in the next step.

“Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” has a deeper meaning than the majority of people ever consider.

Today, think about how you walk a mile in someone’s shoes. Do you borrow their shoes and still do the walking by yourself, or do you walk with them in their shoes? Do you walk and listen to them; do you allow them to share thoughts and feelings on the walk? Does your walk and talk teach, encourage, and love others to decide which step is needed to move forward? It’s not until we walk with them, in their shoes, that we begin to better understand and help one another.

My friend’s full statement today was “That’s my problem, I am so busy trying to help others by walking in their shoes. I don’t walk in my shoes enough.” Then she continued, “Do you think that’s because I don’t want to deal with things in my own life? It’s easier to walk in their shoes than my own?”

Her latter comment I am still contemplating – and need to talk further with her about this — maybe you’ll be reading about that in another blog! In the mean time… #TELLforGood.


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219: It is worth arguing over?

I’ve been focused on disagreements lately … We all have these interactions every day if you think about it. The question is more about how we interact when we disagree with someone. In that moment, we TELL for better, or worse. The goal is #TELLforGood. That is, teach, encourage, listen, and love for good – not to hurt relationships and situations.

I was running the other day, and I heard two people screaming at each other, using one foul word after another. My first thought was a public domestic dispute, but the closer I got to the scene I witnessed a man and woman yelling about how awful of a driver the other one was, “Who in their right mind would ever give you a driver’s license!” followed by a series of angry profanity.

It amazes me how complete strangers can get into such heated discussions. People who have never met. People who have no clue what the other person is going through that moment, or earlier that day, or ever; and yet, they judge each other as guilty and unacceptable. The whole exchange is about proving the guilty and unacceptable verdict.

Apparently, both were driving in the neighborhood – a two-lane road. The woman passed the man thinking he was going to turn right onto a street, but he changed his mind. Simple misunderstanding on her part, I thought. He obviously did not see it that way.

The yelling continued “Where do you live?”; “I’m not letting you know where I live, you’re crazy, who knows what you’ll do to me.”; “Me crazy, you’re the crazy one, you #@%$#!” on and on.

I shook my head and asked why? Why would two complete strangers carry on an argument like this?

Is it because they are truly upset over what just happened? Did they feel threatened, attacked, or devalued by how the other person is driving? Or was one or both of them upset to begin with and were they using this opportunity to unload the built up anger? In other words, were they using the stranger as an emotional punching bag to release tension?

As an outsider, I thought the whole interaction was unnecessary and did not make sense. I wondered how many others were listening to this exchange. I decided to turn around and head the other way, best to avoid this exchange all together. This was none of my business!

As I continued to run, I could not help but think more about the heated and hurtful exchange.  Why do people argue like that – and is it any different when it’s a stranger or someone you are close to? Why do people feel they have permission to be so hurtful to another? Is it habit?

If you’re reading on to get an answer… well, I am not sure! But, I do know this. When you use hurtful words, you hurt the relationship… and yourself. You are TELLing the person one of the following messages:

I expect you to see and do things my way, or I will hurt you with words and/or actions.

It is your fault I cannot control my words and actions; you are the reason I had to use those words and/or actions.

I will do whatever I want regardless of how it affects you.

There may be many other messages being communicated in heated arguments like the one I witnessed that day – as well as the ones I have personally experienced in life. Let’s accept that arguments, even heated arguments, happen in everyone’s life at some point in time. The key is to pay attention and realize the messages you are TELLing about yourself in those moments.

You are teaching a message about who you are in the situation and relationship. You are also encouraging, listening, and loving a message – for better or worse. Become mindful of the messages you are giving to others, and maybe one day we all will become better at sharing our thoughts and feelings, even when we are hurting. Or at least, we may be less hurtful to one another.

From this day forward, let’s work on refusing to engage in hurtful interactions. Let’s refuse to interact with cursing and quick-tempered words which lead to rebellion and destruction. Think before speaking, seek to TELL for good. #TELLforGood



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218: Walk a mile in their shoes to TELL better

Have you heard the saying, “Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”?

That phrase hit home for me the other day when I got into a disagreement with someone very dear to me. Neither one of us took a step in the other’s shoes. Instead, we walked and stomped our own shoes!

On the one hand, I felt I should know and do better. On the other hand, this became an opportunity to know more and do better in the future. When there is a disagreement, the messages we teach, encourage, listen and love matter a great deal. The words we speak really do matter. We TELL to make the situation better, or worse.

When we experience a disagreement with someone, it is critical to take our own shoes off and walk in their shoes – at least a few steps. Walk with them and listen to their reasoning. Become curious about the steps they are taking. Why is that? What do you mean? Do you think…? How can I help?

Too often, we are quick to judge and react accordingly.  We judge acceptable or unacceptable – and then we speak with the verdict in mind. We speak using only our own point of view.

How different would it be if we stopped and wondered where are they coming from? What is his or her story? What facts are being used to support the words being spoken and felt? I needed to walk a few steps in her shoes instead of solely walking and stomping my own shoes….

If only I would have thought about this when I was in that disagreement the other day. Maybe the exchange would not have focused on judging one another and defending ourselves. Maybe we would have been able to TELL each other better.

The way I see it now is I did not walk in her shoes, nor did she walk in mine. The heated exchange did not teach, encourage, listen, and love a positive message in the moment. I realize now I need to go back and do better. Relationships grow stronger when we TELL beneficial messages to one another over the long run.

The truth is, we never fully understand another person’s point of view; however, we can aim to understand better by walking in their shoes. Today, become more curious. Take your shoes off and walk some steps in someone’s shoes…  #TELLforGood



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216: Get knocked down, get up again, and TELL

After 10 years of studying TELLing interactions, and even more years of studying interactions in general, I have learned the power in knowing your intentions. Knowing why and how your words and actions impact the relationships and circumstances in your life can transform your life.

I’ve learned the power of looking within and becoming more aware of the thoughts and emotions I communicate in my interactions. When life is ‘not good enough’, I pause and think why, how, and what must I be taught, encouraged to think and do, where should I listen and love right now?

When there’s an interaction with someone that doesn’t go as well as I had hoped, I similarly pause and wonder why, how, and what to TELL. This gives me insight to better understanding the interactions – and myself! Learning to pause and TELL myself and others better is consistent with a positive growth mindset. When you TELL, you do not allow yourself to hold on to a negative and limited point of view.  There is power in having TELLing  interactions when you are living a high-quality life.

There are books available that explain what to say and do in certain situations. These are helpful; I’ve read some of them! Without going into much detail here about what I have learned by reading such books, I will end this post by stating, it’s much simpler when you become aware of the messages you Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love to yourself and others. When the situation arises that you feel ‘not good enough’ – go within and TELL yourself better. Don’t stay stuck playing a guessing game. Keep TELLing again, and again. I’ve learned that’s how you improve and grow stronger and better…for yourself and others!

Have a blessed day; keep TELLing! #TELLforGood

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