How To Listen Better
“Start by doing everything you can to fire up the ‘mirror neurons’ in your brain, which mimic what others are experiencing.
You can subtly imitate the other person’s posture, even match the pace and depth of their breathing.
Your words can also mirror what the other person is telling you. For example, you might say, ‘What I’m hearing is that it distresses you when your husband wears his tiara in public’ or ‘Wow, I can tell just from your voice that you’re under serious pressure.’
Don’t add advice or commentary — just reflect. If you simply must add something, ask the speaker to disconfirm what you say.
In other words, ask to be told where you’re mistaken — and mean it. ‘I’m thinking it’s not so much that you’re embarrassed as that you want a tiara of your own — am I wrong about that?’
Do not ask to be told that you’re right; it turns a listening ear into a bid for authority, and no one will want to talk to you then.”
— Martha Beck, O’s resident life coach and author of Finding Your Way in a Wild New World
How To Spot A Good Opportunity
“A lot of people ask me how I knew ‘Mad Men’ or ‘Breaking Bad’ would make great TV. I knew because when I read those scripts, I felt something. I didn’t do any market testing or focus groups — I just asked myself, ‘Would I want to watch this?’
When you’re weighing an opportunity, make the question that simple: ‘Do I really want this, or am I doing it for the money or the prestige or because I think I should?’
It can’t just be about those things. It has to make you feel good, too. And by the way, if opportunities aren’t knocking, you can make your own.
When I was looking for work several years ago, I took everyone I knew in New York, where I’d just moved, to dinner or drinks or tea. I explained that I was open to anything. Six months later, one of those dinner dates called about a possible job at AMC. If I hadn’t put myself out there, that never would have happened.”
— Christina Wayne former senior VP at AMC, current president of Cineflix Studios, and an executive producer of the new BBC America series “Copper”
How To Laugh At Life
“The tap water hits a spoon in the sink and sprays you.
You pull a window shade and it just keeps going and going.
You can’t roll up a garden hose in any dignified way.
You have to become a connoisseur of these events — ‘Wow, look at that, that’s great.’ You have to hope that a higher power is saying, ‘That was a good one!’ And that you’re sharing the divine pleasure it’s taking in your misfortune.”
— Ian Frazier, author of The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days
Simple Ways To Look Polished
“Start with a great haircut, neat nails, and well-shaped eyebrows (if eyes are the windows to the soul, eyebrows are the frames).
Spend the time to get ready for the day because it will make you feel good.
Invest in a tailor — and in a few no-fail items that will help you look pulled together. Whether it’s a black blazer with a structured shoulder and nipped-in waist or a little leather jacket that looks great over anything, the right jacket projects confidence. And isn’t that what polished really means?”
They say shoes define the man, so take care of your shoes.
How To Delegate
“Make certain the people around you have good values, good judgment, and are loyal.
Allow them to impress you but be sure they’re comfortable coming to you for feedback.
Most important, hire people smarter than you!”
— Ivanka Trump, executive VP, Trump Organization; principal of Ivanka Trump fashion and accessories lines
How To Know When To Quit
“After my first book was published in 2000, I spent two and a half years writing a novel. But it never felt right.
I didn’t even name it — it was the poor, misshapen beast child I kept hidden under my bed. Then I showed it to my agent. ‘None of the things you do well are in evidence here,’ she said. I was devastated, then relieved: I had failed, and now I could stop.
If you don’t feel a shiver of excitement or fear, if there’s no emotional risk involved, let it go. You can’t discount how hard it will be to leave your bad marriage or stop writing your bad book, but if you’re unhappy, nothing can get better as long as the status quo stays the status quo.”
— Elissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls
How To Comfort Someone
“We’re a block from a hospital, so in my 31 years here I’ve met many people who’ve just received bad news.
If you see someone in distress, don’t hesitate to talk to them. Once you’ve heard their story, sometimes all you have to say is ‘I’ll be thinking of you.’
Your words are more powerful than you think.”
— Jimmy Vecere, bartender at 12th Street Irish Pub, Philadelphia
How To Make Conversation At Parties
“First, get a drink. If it’s a cocktail, it’ll loosen you up, but even if it’s just club soda, it’s good to have a prop to hold if you’re feeling nervous.
Next, approach someone — a person, not a group — and ask how he or she knows the host.
After that, be authentic and interested and ask questions, and others will float over and join in.
A good host will have considered the mix of people, so when you arrive, ask, ‘Who should I meet?’
Most important: Even if you won’t know anyone and you’re feeling intimidated, you must go.
Do not stay home. So many people are afraid that no one will talk to them and they’ll leave feeling awful — but has that ever happened to you? Me, neither. Usually I end up laughing and eating and drinking and making friends, and that’s what it’s all about.”
— Marjorie Gubelmann CEO of Vie Luxe and society hostess extraordinaire
How To Stay In Touch
“I don’t often get to see or even talk to my closest friends from various stages of life (including the 16 who were my bridesmaids).
But I stay connected with them — and the thousands of others in my BlackBerry.
The key is managing your friending: The more organized and accessible your friends’ information, the easier it is to stay in touch.
So you have to set calendar reminders for birthdays (I do it for anniversaries, too), and keep your address book up-to-date. And when someone pops into your mind, let them know, even if it’s just with a ‘Thinking of you’ text. Don’t let the moment pass; treat it as a reminder to reach out.”
— Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, cofounder of the five-million-member Gilt Groupe; keeper of 16,500 BlackBerry contacts
How To Let Go Of Anger
“Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness.
When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath. Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body.
Then look at, or think of, the person triggering this emotion: With mindfulness, you can see that she is unhappy, that she is suffering.
You can see her wrong perceptions. You can see that she is not beautiful when she says things that are unkind. You can also see that you don’t want to be like her.
You’ll feel motivated by a desire to say or do something nice — to help the other person suffer less. This means compassionate energy has been born in your heart. And when compassion appears, anger is deleted.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and author of Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
How To Forgive Yourself
“You have to find a way forward. You can say, ‘I’m going to work to improve myself so I never hurt another person that way.’
And then you need to atone, to make the lesson you learned mean something.
Do this, and you will be able to look in the mirror again.”
— Jennifer Thompson, rape victim whose testimony sent the wrong man to prison for ten years
How To Make New Friends — At Any Age
“I tell my patients, ‘Food, alcohol, and drugs are no substitute for a relationship.’
If you’re lonely, do something about it.
If you love the arts, take a course at your local community college. And if you can’t find a place to get involved, create one.
Besides seeing patients several times a week, I’m thinking about starting a group where immigrants and refugees can talk about their feelings. It’s important to be part of a community!”
— Hedda Bolgar, 103-year-old practicing psychoanalyst and cofounder of the Hedda Bolgar Psychotherapy Clinic in Los Angeles
How To End A Friendship
“Be clear that you need distance, but avoid getting into specifics. You might say, ‘I’ve realized I need to take a break from our friendship. I have so much going on in my life right now, and I need to take more time for myself.’
Now isn’t the time to try to change your friend or teach her a lesson. (If you believed you could see things the same way, you wouldn’t be breaking up in the first place.)
Above all, be sure you want to break up. It’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to return to the same level of intimacy.”
— Irene S. Levine, PHD, author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend
How To Not Sweat The Small Stuff
“The thing that’s grand about spending your time thinking about the universe is that it makes you feel insignificant. I don’t mean that in a bad way.
If you understand that we’ve now discovered entire solar systems that contain planets similar to Earth — and that those are just the ones we know about, since most of the stars we’ve looked at are within about 300 light-years of Earth and the distance to the center of our galaxy is nearly 100 times that — then you realize that the laundry you’ve left undone and the dumb thing you said yesterday are about as significant as slime mold.”
— Alyssa Goodman, professor of astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics