It Takes Tact

Have you had a conversation that went really well or an ask that was warmly received? I bet you used tact as part of your approach. You might not have even realized it.

In connecting so much of the outcome involves the very first actions. Even before those actions we can prepare ourselves with a proper mind set that leads to tact.

Webster defines tact as “the ability to do or say things without offending or upsetting other people. A keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense.” My favorite is the last one, “sensitive mental or aesthetic perception”.

I asked several friends what words came to mind when they thought of the word tact. Here are some of them:

-Respect

-Assume-good-intent

-Genuine,

-Just like we teach our kids, listen more than speak.

-Questions

-Consideration

-Patience

-Listen first

-Gentle

-Lack of tact

-Be considerate of other’s time

-Love

-Slow to speak

-Tact vs. authenticity

-Bring life

-Tact is moot if you’re really connected.

-Be silent

-Less words

-Polite

-Humility.

From the responses I would say everyone both wants tact and appreciates it when others use it.

All of these words are reflections of mindfulness. They reflect the actions of a good listener. Someone who is not rushed. They are characteristics of people who are outward focused.

I think this will be a fun book chapter to write.

133 Email Drafts

How mindful are you with your communication? My friend Peter Biddle a couple days ago noticed a detail of my professional life in an Instagram picture I shared. He commented “133 emails in your drafts folder? Do you ever hit send?”

discardThe answer is yes. I hit send all day long. But more than that I pause before sending even the shortest email. It has become a habit of mine to re-read each sentence before launching a message out into someones inbox. Most I do send. Often, I ditch it and call the person, write a quick text or delete the draft.

My step dad once told me that he thought about everything he said to someone once before letting the words cross his lips. He had a filter that would judge the worthiness of his speech. His practice wasn’t hesitation, double mindedness or indecision, it was great wisdom.

One of the best ways I have found to connect with someone is to learn how they communicate naturally, how they preferrer to communicate and most of all being present and mindful.

Mindfulness is a casualty of our current age. Busyness defaults to hasty words, disengaged hearts and rudeness.

Some of those 133 drafts were extremely long emails. In many of those cases I realized that there is no way I would be able to take the time and read through it myself. Why should I expect the recipient to read it. A phone call or in-person meeting would be much more appropriate.

To end this I thought Tiffany Shlain’s short film on tech etiquette she published this week would sum it up well. Check it out. My favorite was the section on email.

Oh and Peter, I deleted those drafts to make room for more. ;)

1000 More

I have published over 200 posts (a few others on others sites as well) all about human connection since November 2008. I took Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice in his book Crush It and focused on something I could easily write 1,000 posts on (he actually said 500 but I like

photo (1)

the idea of 1,000). So really I am just getting started. But before I write more I want to know what you would like to read. What subjects on human connection do you want explore? These have everything to do with the technology we use to connect, how we do business, the impact our marriages have on the world, how we raise our children and the  art we create.

So please leave a comment telling me what I have missed or send me a note on my contact page. Let me know if you want to write something about connectedness. Thanks!

Willfully Ignoring Inputs

In Steve Jobs’ Biography Walter Isaacson writes “as usual, he was good at willfully ignoring inputs that he did not want to process”.  We all find ourselves here. For Jobs, it was a big one. He was diagnosed with cancer. It was early enough to possibly cure.

inputThese inputs show up most in our relationships. As we connect, work and create we expose the weakest parts of ourselves. Have you ever wanted to hang up on someone? Has a conversation left you red faced? If so you have experienced an input.

Like a chemical reaction, change takes place and we are never the same again. We have a choice each and every-time it happens. We can embrace the often painful experience that can make us flinch, letting it run its course. We choose to address the input and grow.

We can also choose to ignore.

“As usual, he was good at willfully ignoring inputs that he did not want to process”.

There is no softening this. It is one of the hardest things we can ever  choose to do. What lies on the other side of it is humility, intimacy and vulnerability.

Best of all we connect at  a deep part with those around us. We learn and we love. Most of all we change and grow.

 

He turns 13

Even though I have known it has been approaching, my son’s 13th birthday has really taken me by surprise. It has also made me think about how the most important connections we make are with those we are closest with.

On October 24th 2000 my life changed so much.  I will never forget the love I felt for him the second the doctor handed him to me. His birth was not at all how we had planned. Kristine’s pregnancy was healthy but we got those surprising words “surgery” when we were expecting a normal delivery. He had to be rushed into intensive care immediately. The doctor honestly briefed us that he would be fighting for his life every minute of first week. On a lone drive back to our house that week a rush of emotions hit me like I had never experienced before.  I knew that if my boy pulled through I would do everything in my power to be the best dad he could possibly have.

photoAll these years later he has grown into one of the most caring and smart people I know. He has taught me to slow down and enjoy nature when life gets too busy. He regularly stands up for anyone being left out or bullied. And now he is teaching me all about physics.

But as I think about all that is ahead of him in his teens, his 20s, 30 and beyond I can only reflect back on that moment alone in my car. No one really knew if he would live. I had spent hours next to him praying and hoping for the best.

But now I know the most valuable thing I have is my connection with him. I know that it is often just my presence at the right times that matter most. Knowing I am there or available when he needs me has proven to be the difference between success and failure so many times.

So today he is healthy, strong and no where near as delicate as he was that frightful first week. I still have that deep heartfelt commitment to be the best for him.

You can connect with August on many subjects from art, physics, space and time travel or lighter matters like Dr. Who on his blog at www.augustbergquist.com

Happy birthday son!

Are you gushing over?

I had just sat down to lunch after a morning of biking up the steep roads and narrow streets of Guanajuato, Mexico. I was very hungry. I was also thrilled to know we would be eating some great cafe food. In front of me was a plate of wonderful local tacos and quesadillas. That alone was enough. But then it all changed for the better. fullWhat was missing was my favorite mexican sauce. Before I could ask for it a big bucket, (yes bucket), of tomatillo verde sauce was placed on the table equipped with a cup sized serving ladle. I had more than enough to make my meal complete.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”  – Socrates

In connecting we do our best work when we are doing it from a place of abundance. The opposite is true when we are busy and stressed. Socrates said “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Just like the sauce on the table, where I had more than enough to make my meal perfect, when my cup is full I notice more about others, I feel energized to get to know people. We only get there from guarding our time, resources and above all else, our hearts. Second we get there by filling up on things that replenish and equip us.

Are you gushing over with abundance for others?

 

We see them as we are

We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are. -The Talmud.

I read that yesterday morning in Brian Solis’ latest book. The wisdom in this simple statement has been something I have been reflecting on a lot lately. We don’t see things, people, events the same way as we would have a year ago or even a week ago. We were different people then. Our perspectives, intuitions, interpretations are always changing as we change.

oldhandsThere is a scene I love in Robert Redford’s film and adaptation of Norman Maclean’s book A River Runs through it. Norman in his sage years is on his beloved Big Black Foot struggling to tie a fly on his line. The film begins with this scene and sets the stage for the whole story.

“Long ago, when I was a young man, my father said to me, “Norman, you like to write stories.” And I said “Yes, I do.”

Then he said, “Someday, when you’re ready you might tell our family story. Only then will you understand what happened and why.”

The people we meet and the experiences we have are going to be far from things we completely understand today. But that is ok. The pressure is off. Really we just need to be present in the moment. It doesn’t mean we can stop learning and growing. It just means that there is always more than we can ever imagine still to be discovered in those around us. And that is pretty exciting. Like Norman, some day we will understand. Until then we get to dig in and explore. Who will you look at differently knowing there is way more to them than you could ever imagine….today?

Orange Juice and Coffee

It is interesting what makes us think of friends. This morning I sat down in Mel’s Dinner in the South of Market area of San Francisco. I ordered an orange juice and coffee. When it arrived I just looked at it and instantly thought of my friend C.C. Chapman.

You see, he once in a while posts pics of his own breakfast (orange juice and coffee). And it has become something that makes me smile when I see his posts. We all have our habits, little things that make our actions our own or a trademarked look. Often it takes some noticing to see them in others. But seeing sets us apart from many people (I think a majority).

When we pay attention we can easily see the things that make a person unique, one of a kind. It makes our connections rich and abundant. Take some time today and watch your friends. Take a few mental notes on the things you see. Then watch for things that bring that person to mind. It will make you smile and look forward to the next time you see them.

First in line

This was a week of firsts for our family. Kristine became a high school teacher after a long career of k-8. Our kids started new grades. What really struck me was how well they all navigated the changes. Everyone came back with great stories. They also embraced the weeks events with an attitude of adventure. This has been a common theme lately for us. You can read more about that on our family blog. 

How often are you first in line during change? I naturally think of connecting with others. Are you the first to risk and help someone in need? Are you first to greet the new person at work? Do you go out of your way to shake someone’s hand or put your shyness aside and risk connecting with a stranger when thrown into a unfamiliar situation?

This summer I took this picture shown here. The little girl was first in line to play a scrappy game of baseball. She and her classmates had no idea how to play the game. That did not stop her from volunteering. I love the look on her face. Was she scared? Of course she was. But she was also very brave.

 

Getting Glass: A Connectors Pre-Glass Notes

A little over two months ago I received an invitation from Google to be part of the Google Glass Explorer program. Today I pick up my Google Glass at the Google Headquarters in Mt. View California.

A month and a half before that  I had entered Google’s If I Had Glass. (See the bottom of the post to see what it took to enter.)

The part I really enjoyed was making the 15 second video of how I would use Glass. The idea came to me right away. I can’t help writing and speaking about human connection and technologies role in it. I knew I would use Glass to better connect with the world around me. I got out my camera and shot the video and then edited the final version. I think the whole process took about 20 minutes.

It is estimated that Google had an estimated 145,000-200,000 entries. only 8,000 were chosen to be the first owners of Google Glass. Last year at Google I/O developers were given the opportunity to sign up. They received their Glass last month during the 2013 conference.

Thinking back now over my entry I have been trying to brainstorm how I can not just use the new tech to connect with others but how I I can use the whole experience of being a Glass Explorer as well. I remember back over my tech life to the first time I used my iPad 1 in public. It drew in conversations that started with people shyly trying to figure out what I was using. But quickly through friendly engagement that initial curiosity tuned in to a chance to connect. I would hand it over saying “have you had a chance to play with an iPad yet?”

As a technology tester and innovator I have had the opportunity to do that over and over from prototype Samsung phones to cutting edge tablets and Ultrabooks, often well before they are publicly released. I also receive a couple software beta invites from entrepreneur friends regularly. I thrive on new innovation and I love to share that experience with others.

The main reason I am into new tech is also because we are in a connection revolution where new new ways to communicate are being developed every day. Ten years ago we would never have imagined the location based services and devices that connect us today. That tech connectedness has even reached a level where it takes effort to make sure we don’t get lost and miss out on the face to face interaction  But I believe that tech like Glass, with wise use will let us see each other in a greater, clearer and deeper way. More on that soon

So as I write this aboard Virgin America flight 817, I look around and see galaxy tablets and iPhones. The seat console has ways to chat, text and communicate with the world outside the plane as well as the fellow passenger. We are meant as humans to be connected. And we are only getting started.

You can track my expereince in regular posts here as well as on Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.

 

To be considered entries had to have the following

Essay (Mandatory)

  1. The essay must not exceed fifty (50) words in length (or for Twitter Applications, one hundred forty (140) characters, whichever is shorter); if it exceeds this length, only the first 50 words (or for Twitter Applications, 140 characters, whichever is shorter) will be evaluated;
  2. Must contain “#ifIhadglass”;
  3. Must address the statement “What I would do if I had Glass”;
  4. Must be posted publicly (for example, Applications cannot be posted to limited circles on Google+);
  5. Must be in English.

Video (Optional)

  1. The video must not exceed fifteen (15) seconds in length. If it is longer than 15 seconds, only the first 15 seconds will be evaluated.
  2. The video must be non-commercial in subject matter (for example, the video cannot be a television commercial or an advertisement for a product or service).
  3. The video may be included via a link to a 3rd party site.

Still Photos (Optional)

  1. It cannot contain more than 5 photos. If it contains more than 5 photos, only the first 5 will be evaluated.
  2. Photos must be in .jpg, .gif, or .png format with a maximum file size of five (5) MB/each.
  3. The photos may be included via a link to a 3rd party site.
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