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Naughty dogs, new tricks, and how marathon training is like public speaking

If you’re reading this with your ‘lockdown puppy’ on your lap, you may be one of thousands of owners whose pooches are proving problematic. Recent research by the Royal Veterinary College reveals that many dogs which were acquired in lockdown now have a range of behavioural issues such as jumping at strangers, tugging on the lead and separation anxiety. Apparently, it’s because they missed out on socialisation and puppy training in their early weeks and months. The pleasing news, according to experts, is that it’s never too late to teach them good habits. So it’s off to puppy finishing school…

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TWO MINUTES OF LIGHT – how will you use yours?

I’ve just ‘phoned an old family friend who’s been ill. She was thrilled to hear from me. The call lasted no more than a couple of minutes. Yesterday, I posted a positive review on Tripadvisor for a hotel I stayed in over the holidays. It took around 90 seconds. Since 21 December last year, I’ve been rather obsessed with the concept of two minutes because that’s how much extra daylight we get each day. In these troubled times, when there’s so much pain and negativity in the world, this has been making me happy. But then I thought – what…

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Flying by the seat of your pants – ad libbing with confidence and skill

In my last post I discussed the issue of speaking off the cuff, the fear many people have of losing control, and the fact that technology hasn’t helped us grow our confidence muscle. It’s the topic most often raised in my training room, by people of all levels of seniority, in all sectors. There are tips on preparation and rehearsal; banishing perfectionism and desensitising ourselves to ad libbing. Here’s another nugget – a magical word. Several. When used in response to a challenge or a tricky, unexpected question, it creates the illusion of ordered thinking, structure and control. You’ll look…

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Stacking the dishwasher can make us better at ad libbing…

I spent some of the bank holiday (quite a lot of it actually) sorting my kitchen cupboards. There was a lot of rationalisation to be done. For example, I discovered three half-empty jars of garam masala (BTW what even is that????). Now there’s one full jar. The contents of several bags of self-raising flour are now gloriously combined, and a random collection of water bottles has been transformed into a shelf of beauty, as you see in the ‘photo above. You may have deduced that I am slightly controlling or, with a more positive spin, I have good attention to…

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Careful not to mistake an innocent for a traitor – the challenge of online communication

One of the most interesting aspects of the excellent BBC TV series Traitors, apart from Claudia Winkleman’s eye liner, was the inability of the contestants to read each other. Time and again we witnessed them analysing their fellow ‘guests’ and getting it wrong. They repeatedly misinterpreted body language, comments and behaviour. They were in a state of high alert, they were being hyper sensitive and observant and still they came to the wrong conclusions. On numerous occasions. It reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Talking to Strangers in which he also explores how human beings are so often so bad…

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