Three Reasons Why You Should Stop Being Responsive

Google declared being responsive as the Gold Standard for web design, so the responsive vs adaptive argument is over.   Responsive design usually refers to a website that adjusts it size to fit the dimensions of your device … resulting in just the right display size for your phone, tablet or large screen. Adaptive, on the other hand, refers to changing not only the format of the information, but changing WHAT is presented based upon your device and a number of other factors.

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But this (repackaged content vs. highly customized content)  is the age-old challenge of not only marketing, but of all communication, including interpersonal communication. Do we simply fit what we have to say into a convenient package for each audience or person (respond)? Or do we adapt, and present what each audience or person perceives they need?  Google can’t answer that one for you. Continue reading “Three Reasons Why You Should Stop Being Responsive”

Comments Policy

Like most of us, I’m all for open, respectful dialog. I am also aware that you might not know what I mean by that…specifically. And maybe it’s one of those “I know it when I see it ” things– or, in this case, “I’ll know it when I’m NOT seeing it”

So, to help clarify it for you AND for me, here is my comments policy.

By posting on my blog, you agree to the following: Continue reading “Comments Policy”

Where Grace Always Shows

where grace showsI’ve got the mountains here around me
Like sentries about the sand
Guarding everything I can see
Across these lush desert lands

Not ever letting me forget you
Like stones stacked in the river bed
No matter what this all comes down to
The rocks live long after I’m dead

But it’s one thing to stand in the mountains
And look at the valley below
Another to live down there
Wandering tangled roads

But from where I’m standing now
I suspect what the mountain knows
About living down below the clouds
Where grace always shows

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

What Would Don Quixote Do?

They’re saying
I’m just some kind of fool
Enumerating
how I’ve been taken to school
Might be breaking
Some of the unwritten rules
Contemplating
what Don Quixote would

It doesn’t really matter
Doesn’t matter what they say
Doesn’t really phase me
If they’re thinking that way
I know what it’s gonna take
I know it — but I’m gonna wait

I’m trying
To keep it all under control
I’m dying
Yes I am dying to know
I hear you sighing
When the west wind blows
Just trying
What Don Quixote knows

It doesn’t really matter
Doesn’t matter what they say
Doesn’t really phase me
If they’re thinking that way
I know what it’s gonna take
I know it — and I can’t wait

I’m finding
What it takes to be loving you
Never minding
What everyone says I should do
Now it’s unwinding
and it all feels a bit unglued
I’ll be trying
What Don Quixote would do

What Don Quixote would do
What would DQ do?

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

a mystery

You’ve gotta wonder, gotta scratch your head and squint your eye
You’ve gotta be amazed as you try to figure the how and why
How could love like this ever happen to someone like me?
I still haven’t figured it out, but I know it’s gotta be

It’s gotta be a mystery
A real who-dun-it
A riddle that’s hard to unwind
It’s quite a perplexity
But I want it
A love like none other I’ll find

It’s confusing, it doesn’t make much sense at all this way
How you found me, gave me everything I need in my day
But I am learning I don’t understand everything I see
And I see that your love is what I needed to be free

It’s gotta be a mystery
A real who-dun-it
A riddle that’s hard to unwind
It’s quite a perplexity
But I want it
A love like none other I’ll find

Now I’m thinking, this is a mystery I don’t want to end
Don’t want to figure out how I came to have such a friend
I want all the usual suspects in one place at one time
And I’ll point you out as the one who’s always on my mind

It’s gotta be a mystery
A real who-dun-it
A riddle that’s hard to unwind
It’s quite a perplexity
But I want it
A love like none other I’ll find

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

Mom Taught Me These 4 Ways to Transform Conflict

A mother’s wisdom is seldom appreciated when we’re children. It’s only after we get to be as OLLLLD as mom was that we begin to be as wise as she was. Growing up with three sisters (two older, one younger) gave me plenty of opportunity to be in the midst of conflict.

I know I started my fair share of these conflicts, although I’ll never admit that to my sisters! My mother, the peacemaker, always made sure that some timeless principle accompanied her immediate discipline.  Because of her faith, those principles were often in the form of quotations from the Bible — although I think Mark Twain was in there a couple of times.

In an age where hyper-contentious conversation seems to be the preferred way of communicating (via social media and even in person), Mom’s wisdom is more cogent, more relevant, and more needed than ever.

My mother’s approach to transforming conflict was rooted in a firm belief that everyone (sisters included!) has inherent value,  and a conviction that empathy, intelligence, and persistence are better resources for dealing with conflict than ego, strategic acumen, or deadly weapons.  These four foundational principles have value not only in resolving conflict, but also in creating a lifestyle that redeems conflict and brings transformation.

Listen Completely

Our language is holographic, and yet we often use it and hear it as though it is one-dimensional. we ignore or fail to perceive all that is meant by what we and others say. Listening must be an attempt to go beyond one dimensional processing of sounds, to a multidimensional exploration of the breadth and depth of context, emotion and thought that precedes each word, each sentence and each paragraph. To do that, we have to take ourselves out of the center of the universe, and give consideration to the totality of what others are saying, feeling and experiencing.

“Put yourself in her shoes” was one of my mother’s instructions. At the time, I usually thought (but never dared say) “they won’t fit!”  Holistic listening is first of all empathetic.

And this is exactly where our public and private discourse fails so epically.  Empathy is the antithesis of the kind of “I-win = you-lose” competition that is encouraged. Rather than recognize how others are similar to us, our dualistic nature focuses on differences, distinctions and contrasts.

I didn’t fully recognize my own connectedness with others until I regularly encountered people whose life situations were vastly different than mine. They were addicted, messed up, seemingly unsuccessful – and yet they weren’t really any different than me.  Their choices had created their circumstances.

As I listened to them, I realized that I too was capable of those decisions, and therefore capable of creating the same results.  Unless we deeply acknowledge that we “all bleed red,” we’ll separate ourselves from others with comparisons — and comparisons almost always put me in the category of “better” than the other guy.

U.S. Army Psychiatrist Captain Gustav Gilbert, at the Nuremburg trial of Nazi leaders, made this observation:  “Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.”

Let empathy be the beginning and end of listening.

Respect Humbly

Empathy should naturally flow into respect, which William Isaacs defined as looking “for the springs that feed the pool of their experiences.” My mother believed that when we acknowledged that others are what she called “significant,” then we will recognize their needs. By honoring the boundaries others set, by making ourselves available to them, and willing to be taught by them, we acknowledge their legitimacy. We grant them significance.

Respect not only gives legitimacy to the person, but also acknowledges their values.  The fastest way to alienate anyone is to not acknowledge their values, ideas and boundaries.

This was perhaps my mothers most often cited verse: “Respect what is right in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.”  She usually added “and ‘all people’ includes your sisters!”

Hold Your Position — Loosely

We’re often expected to watch movies with a  “willing suspension of disbelief,” in which we voluntarily set aside truths, assumptions and expectations,  and believe whatever premises the movie puts forth. It’s the only way we can thoroughly enjoy the movie.

In conflict, a “willing suspension of belief” means dangling our opinions openly in a way that lets both us and others examine them.  We mindfully acknowledge and observe our own thoughts and feelings as they arise without being compelled to act on them — or to convince others to adopt them. It’s not a matter of NOT having an opinion, and it’s not about devaluing your own opinion. Rather, simply examine your opinion without the normal cheerleading and superiority.

Be Honest…In Love

Listening is important, but it’s equally important to give voice to what is true for you. As Isaacs describes it, it “encourages us to learn to tell the truth about our own and other’s inconsistencies in a way that begins to enable us to transform them. It encourages us to reflect on our own responsibility and to build a culture where this is seen as a strength rather than as a weakness.” If we are speaking to ourselves in honesty, we gain influence even before others listen to us.

My mother put it this way:  “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects.”  My mother emphasized to us often that unless the truth was spoken in love, and unless we first spoke it to ourselves, we could not hope to uncover the weaknesses, deception and injustice around us. To speak the truth without the balance of love, she said, would only cause greater injustices.

But what can motivate us enough to enable us to pursue this when the going gets tough? My mother believed that transformation sprang from a realization that Someone Else had listened to our inner cries, respected our humanity, suspended judgment, and then spoke truth to us with unwavering love. Once this transformation takes place, we can turn toward others in a similar way. We can love, because we were first loved.

Conflict seems to stem from the notion that there is not enough (of anything) for both “them” and “us”, and because of our ultimate self-interest, we will go to any measure to ensure that we have captured enough for ourselves. The fundamental paradigm shift required to transform conflicts is more than simply finding shared values: it is finding a purpose for sharing. The purpose for sharing seemingly limited resources can only come from a spirituality that sees life as bigger than resources, others as more than competitors, and ourselves as less than infallibly right.

It can only come from the redemptive transformation of sacrificial love. It is then that we can follow Mom’s admonition to “pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” (Romans 14.19 NASB)

[reminder preface=”Your turn:”] How do you transform conflict?[/reminder]