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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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Why the Victoria Line might not be the best place to display your dirty undies……

Last Saturday, in the space of five hours, I witnessed three unusual events. Three deeply private conversations conducted in public. The first was in a packed tube carriage. A young couple were engrossed in a heated argument about his (alleged) lack of empathy in the relationship. The girl was upset and angry. He remained mostly silent, and was clearly in a state of excruciating embarrassment. Later that afternoon I cycled past a middle-aged man and his son who were having a forthright discussion while walking across Clapham common. As I pedalled by, the dad was saying “And why is it…

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The most precious Christmas gift of all – no wrapping required (it’s not a scented candle)

I’m going Christmas shopping today.  On my list are a variety of gifts including Ferrero Rochers, a suitcase, a kettle, posh pants and a onesie. Obvs also a brace of scented candles. I can’t wait to see the faces of the recipients when they open them. These are things I know they want because I’ve been listening out all year for small references to coveted items (admittedly nobody ever mentioned the candles but who can resist the subtle aromas of pomegranate and cardamom????). But there’s one gift I want to give everyone this year, even people I won’t ever play…

Inclusive and effective communication – we need to learn to ‘read the air’

I’ve just finished reading Erin Meyer’s fabulous book, The Culture Map (https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-culture-map/erin-meyer/9781610392761) and I wanted to share some of its content with you because she’s opened my eyes to some surprising and immensely useful tools which can help us all communicate more effectively and more inclusively. Meyer is an INSEAD professor. Her ideas on cross cultural communication draw on three decades living and working around the globe. She’s identified the differences which exist between cultures in 8 areas – general communication, giving feedback, persuading, leading, decision making, trust, disagreeing and scheduling. And her premise is that if we understand these…

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