Category Archives: Learning Together

“Teach People How to Treat You”

Teaching people how to treat us frees us to be who we truly are and opens the possibility for genuine connection . . .

Early in my career, a wise and far more worldly colleague leaned over and advised, “you have to teach people how to treat you.”  Given societal norms, organizational structures, power dynamics, and my conceptual, flexible, yet fiery tendencies, this would prove to be no easy feat. 

I was clumsy enough at “teaching people how to treat me” that I once hung up on my largest client who was loudly and angrily addressing an error that had occurred.  After listening for what seemed like a very long time without being given any opportunity to respond, I warned, “I am hanging up now” and returned the phone to the cradle.  Shocked, the client immediately called my supervisor, who immediately called me into the office and said that, while he understood how frustrating the situation must have been, if it happened again, I would “be out.”

Clarity Makes All the Difference . . .

Now, in my second, wiser and more compassionate and confident half of life, it has become decidedly easier to be clear with myself about:

  • my goals and values and how, where and under what circumstances I will invest my time, energy and resources,
  • how I will treat people and the way I want to and expect to be treated,
  • when my needs are not being met and how I will handle such situations,
  • boundary violations and their consequences,
  • how I will handle untenable or unfulfilling situations.

It took me many years to learn NOT to assume or ascribe any particular standards of behavior or sets of values to people based on accomplishments, status, or positional power.  I also learned that “trusting” we were on the same page in haste or for any other reason was likely to have an undesirable outcome. 

I have come to appreciate that the time it takes for people to teach me how to treat them and vice versa is well worth the investment.  A good first step is asking how they prefer to receive information and what pace of work they prefer.  From there we can move to more complex topics like navigating conflict, change, diversity, and ambiguity.  These conversations require my full attention and require that I process the information on a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual level.  I’ve learned that when something doesn’t feel quite right and I have even the slightest reservation, it’s best to step back and assess.   

This sculpture reminds me to take the time needed to see situations clearly . . .

Gaining clarity on preferences, values and all-to-often unspoken agreements allows both parties to 1) experience the process of engaging with one another and 2) to ascertain if this is a relationship that it makes sense to forge and invest in.  Should we decide through this mutually-instructive process, that one or both of us has reservations, we can jointly decide how to address them or if it is best to move in a different direction at this time.

Teach me how to treat you.  I want to learn.  And, I will teach you, too.



Take Stock this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day . . . an ideal time to reflect on life & love . . .

Valentine’s Day, a holiday with complicated origins that date back to 496, marks the 45th day of a new year.  Nearly 13% of 2020 is already in the rear-view mirror. 

What better time to check in with ourselves and our beloveds to see just how much time and attention we are devoting to what we love, what really matters.  To:

  • note what’s bringing us joy,
  • what’s raising our energy,
  • what’s piquing our curiosity,
  • what’s warming our hearts. 

And to, as my massage therapist/zero balancing professional once advised, “Do more of that!”

Express your love for yourself and others by looking at life’s flow so far this year . . .

It’s all too easy in our connected world to get swept along in life’s currents, causes, and concerns and for our deeply-held values and our heart’s desires to get shoved off into the margins.  This Valentine’s Day reboot is a chance to check-in and make sure life is flowing in a direction that serves YOU and your highest good. 

Find some time this weekend to ask yourself and those you love if how you’re spending your days now is how you want to be spending your days.  You may find that you are happily on track and absolutely no changes are necessary.  Or you may realize that there are some” spring is on the way” modifications you would like to make.

Either way, you’ll have given yourself and those you love one of the greatest gifts of all – a path to warmth, peace, radiance and, yes, love. 

Ever grateful,


“What is true for me right now . . .”

Even a short winter stroll to the mailbox can help ground me in my truth.

Take a minute (or more) to sit with this simple phrase. I first heard these words uttered by Judy, my dear friend and Catherine Place colleague. Hearing her use them prompted me, in time, to invoke them. This short string of words has become a touchstone, a litmus test, a path toward greater authenticity and honesty in my life.

What is true” are the opening words in this three-part melody. Like many of you, I often know what is true for me in the first three seconds of an exchange. However, over the years, I developed a strong capacity to “override” my truth for one “good reason or another.” After many years of playing with these three words, I’ve come to learn that there are times when I’m absolutely clear about “What is true” and other times that require I step back and take some quiet time to check-in with myself before speaking or acting. Some of my favorite ways to sift into my truth happen on a brisk walk in the fresh air, as I lean and lengthen into myself on my yoga mat, or while washing dishes at the kitchen sink.

Waiting for “what is true” is uncomfortable for me and often inconvenient. In Tai Chi, we are taught to “do nothing when we don’t know what to do.” In a strive, drive world that seems to thrive on rapid responses, taking one’s time feels, at best, counter-cultural and, at other times, downright rebellious. And, yet, experience has taught me that the veracity of the outcome is indeed worth the wait — as unwieldy as it may seem. Some of the most difficult decisions for me to walk back were made when I was uncomfortable with or unwilling to wait.

The addition of the phrase “for me” to this short melody helps ensure we all understand that I am speaking only for myself, not for others. A free and independent spirit, I do not wish to assume that what is true for me will be or in any way needs to be true for you. This is not intended to disregard facts that can be proven, but rather to make way for an individual to share her or his truth from a grounded position of strength and confidence.

Right now,” the last two words of the melody open the field of the conversation and life to space and grace. The one constant in life is change and “right now” anchors my truth in the present moment without nailing it down forever. Like many, I like direction and certainty. The inclusion of the words “right now” helps me avoid an unhelpful tendency toward control that has been well-honed through a lifetime of goals, plans, objectives, and contracts. As situations change and new information becomes available, and as I grow and change, “right now” offers me the latitude to hold people, circumstances and positions lightly and makes it clear that I am free and open to review, to reassess, to reconsider if and/or when something internally or externally changes.

There is a vibrancy, an aliveness, a joy to a life that flows. “What is true for me right now . . .” has allowed me to step calmly into that current of life rather than to swim upstream in someone else’s world. I hope you’ll join me.

Ever grateful,