Reality Check: A Strength of Less-Social Folks

Do you ever deliberately seek out information that you think you’ll disagree with? If so, why?
One reason could be curiosity: to see what “the other side” is thinking. Another reason could be to try to reduce the effect of confirmation bias on our viewpoints.
Confirmation bias involves looking only for information that confirms what we already believe. For example, let’s say that I believe that having a pet improves health and well-being. I’ll want to do some research on that, so I talk to people.
If I only talk to people who share my belief, I’ll become even more convinced that it’s correct. They confirm what I already “know;” obviously anyone who doesn’t share this belief is wrong. How can there be skeptics when everyone we know agrees with us? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Perfection Trap

How do you feel about this statement: “If I can’t do something perfectly, I may as well not do it at all”?
While different people have different attitudes toward perfection, there are some situations where perfect accomplishment is what we want. For example, if I can choose between a perfectionist and her “win-some, lose-some” colleague, then I would like the perfectionist for my brain surgeon, please.
On the other hand, if I’m paying by the hour to have my firewood stacked, I could be quite happy with an imperfect pile, as long as it doesn’t fall over and saves me some money. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Ready or Not?

Many of us have daily rituals. Some folks check their horoscope, check facebook, or listen to the birthday greetings on the radio. I have my coffee; check my email, and read today’s quote from my book of Stephen Covey’s daily quotes.
Covey is famous for writing First Things First and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. What I’ve taken away from Covey’s philosophy is that to build a satisfying life, we need to think about what’s important to us and direct our attention toward those priorities.
When we have that clarity, we tend to spend more of our time on activities that will help us achieve what really matters. And, it reduces the amount of time we fritter away doing things that don’t lead us much of anywhere.
Because we’re now living in a pandemic-stricken world where some are feeling anxious and uncertain, this recent quote from Covey stood out for me:
“Much of our frustration and anxiety comes from the feeling of being unprepared. Many activities become urgent as a result of lack of proper preparation.”
What does it take to feel prepared? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Every Little Choice

Different stages of our lives bring the opportunity to make different life-changing decisions. Who to marry, where to live, what career to choose, where to work, what house to buy; those decisions, among others, can have significant consequences.

Big choices can be difficult, and I think that many people put considerable thought into their big choices.

We also make little choices. In fact, we make a whole lot more little choices than big ones. Every day, perhaps even every waking hour, we’re making choices. And even though any small choice is not as consequential as a big one, each choice still has an effect on our lives.

For example, it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Will I choose to lounge outside in my lawn chair for a few hours or sit at my computer and work? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Five Second Rule

Do you know the five second rule? Maybe it’s the ten second rule. Either way, it’s the rule/myth that when a piece of food hits the floor, it’s still edible if it’s picked up right away.
You know, of course, that this isn’t offered as health, hygiene, food-handling or any other kind of advice. And if you have a dog in the household, any concern about picking up food from the floor is irrelevant anyway.
The rule becomes more interesting for non-food situations, as it’s suggesting that when a problem is fixed quickly, it’s ok to pretend that it never happened.
Let’s think about how we could apply this rule to conversations. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Above and Beyond

You can tell when you’re dealing with someone who goes above and beyond.
It’s the store clerk who not only asks if you’ve found what you’re looking for, but who makes sure that it meets your needs. It’s the person who follows up on a request when they say they will and who has the information they said they would have. It’s the service provider who steps up to help you out even when it’s not really their job, but because they see that you have a problem and they can help. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Providing Information

“Other people can neither make us miserable nor make us happy. All we can get from them or give to them is information.” At least, that’s what Dr. Wm. Glasser says in Choice Theory.
We exchange all kinds of information. We discuss prices with colleagues, gardening with neighbours, and values with advisors. In this unusual school year, parents may find themselves providing information on topics ranging from fractions to forests for their children. It’s all information. It flows, and it can add value for both the receiver and the provider. Ideally, that is.
If we take it as truth that what we give and receive is information, then we might also believe that the process should not be difficult.
Yet, if you’ve ever been tasked with providing help, training, or skill development, you may know that simply providing information doesn’t always deliver your hoped-for result. Reciting a list of facts is not necessarily very effective.
Here are three tips based on a Choice Theory approach that could help you make the information-giving process a little less stressful and a little more effective. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Stories We Tell

When you roll out of bed in the morning, do you tell yourself, “Today is going to be an amazing day!”? Or is your first thought closer to, “Ugghh. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this day.”
Some folks let the weather dictate their morning story. If it’s sunny and beautiful, there’s optimism and happiness while a nasty rain and wind prompts an expectation of a miserable day.
Other folks go with curiosity, “I wonder how this day will go.”
We could perceive those morning thoughts as a “story” that we tell ourselves about the day to come. Continue reading

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Reality Check: To Speak or to Avoid?

Illnesses, losses and tragedies happen. When you know someone who is experiencing a significant difficulty, it can be hard to know what to say.
How do you react when you see that person coming down the sidewalk? Do you think, “Oh no! What do I do?” In these days of masked faces, it may seem easier to look away; to hide in plain sight. Maybe I won’t be noticed.
Difficult situations bring up valid questions. Is it better to talk to the person about the situation? Or should I avoid the conversation, and even the person, altogether? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Urgent Request

“Trust you are well and keeping safe. Please I need your urgent assistance. Kindly get back to me. Thanks.”
If you received those words in a message from a friend, what would you do?
You’d probably kindly get back to them, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. You want to help people, especially people whom you consider your friends.
So when I got that message, my response was essentially, “Of course. What do you need?”
The next message gave it all away. My “friend” needed a gift card, urgently, for her niece.
Yeah, right. The likelihood that my friend, who lives in Montreal surrounded by family, friends, and professional colleagues, would reach out to me with an urgent need for a gift card are pretty much zero. Zip. Nada.
The fact that I had responded at all to the initial message reminded me of the power of impulse. Continue reading

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