Wait A Minute – I Have To Take This Call

Have you even been engaged in deep conversation with a friend when their cell phone rang and you were “put on hold?” Or, perhaps you were in the midst of an important business discussion when a text was received and you were “cut off” in mid-sentence? I’ll bet that didn’t feel good!

How can we balance the extraordinary advances and benefits of digital technology in our lives without sacrificing the irreplaceable and powerful rewards of in-person human interaction and conversation?


Not being a slave to digital technology is one way! Each individual deserves your full attention. For all its significant benefits, it is important not to let technology own you. Cell phones especially can:

  • Distract attention and diminish the quality of conversation.
  • Lack the spontaneity of real-time, in-person conversations.
  • Diminish the quality, connection and commitment of each conversation.
  • Enable us to “hide” from each other by avoiding a person, a problem or a situation.
  • Preclude substantive discussions.
  • Pressure us to always be connected or available to others.
  • Enable people to seemingly be connected but, in reality, they are “alone.”

We all have experienced unpleasant, rude behavior by people on their cell phones. Talking loudly in public. Making or answering calls or texts during conversations or meals. Holding up lines while on the phone. I’m sure you have your own stories.

While spotlighting a few challenges inherent with digital technology, I acknowledge and appreciate the convenience of mobile phones, texting and emails in our lives. A few ways include:

  • Managing logistics and plans easily and quickly.
  • Leaving messages from anywhere, at any time.
  • Sending a virtual “high-five” or an encouraging message.
  • Finding directions and information while on the move, but not while driving.
  • Uniting us easily and quickly with simple messages and answers.
  • Getting simple answers and help fast.

Since we live with great technological advances, it’s important that we understand how to utilize all of the benefits. However, it’s critical to acknowledge how our human interaction and productivity can be negatively impacted. It does require a conscious effort to balance the help and intrusions of digital technology, and the choice is yours to make!

Business gets done by people’s productivity, commitment and relationships, often facilitated by technology. Scheduling meetings. Handling emergencies. Conference calls. However, digital devices often interrupt and distract the real-time, in-person collaboration and engagement needed for having quality conversations and building trust.

Without face-to-face communication, genuine connection, shared experience and spontaneous chats, we lack the substantive conversations that help us learn and clarify our thinking. In-person conversation is an important way of being with each other and includes rich non-verbal messages that build trust, connection, productivity, creativity and understanding.

Our need for human contact is essential and digital technology can foster superficial connectivity, alienation and isolation in a virtual world. Technology will not improve the quality of our lives if we cannot successfully navigate being bombarded with data and disconnected from one another. As we expect more from digital technology, we must guard against expecting less from each other.

Impasse: A Problem Or An Opportunity?

If you have ever played chess, checkers or dominos, you have experienced a stalemate — when neither player can successfully move any of the pieces and neither player can win. Aggravating!

Imagine two large trucks trying to pass on a narrow road. Standstill!

Watch the news and you will hear numerous examples of two politicians unable to reach agreement on a policy. Deadlock!


Another word for all of these is Impasse, which in business is essentially resistance to any workable solution — a clenched state of mind that can stifle creativity and any kind of breakthrough.

Because nothing can move forward, an impasse can be costly. Representing a failure of the ability to reach a settlement, it usually provokes anger.

There are many reasons for a stalemate, which can be caused by constraints of time, authority, scarce resources, personality styles and clashes of values as well as external factors such as politics, economics or health conflicts.

Often, impasse is a result of unmet interests (why someone wants what they want) or emotional barriers to resolution. It may simply mean that someone is not yet convinced, or there’s not enough information. Maybe it’s refusal, a threat, a dare or a bluff. Whatever the cause, it stops things dead in their tracks! The price can be high, so I offer a few tips to either prevent or break through an impasse.

Perspective taking is key

  • See the situation from all sides; go to “the balcony.”
  • Stand in the other person’s shoes.
  • What’s next? Why is that important — to you and to the other person?
  • What’s the primary outcome you desire? Define the qualities of an acceptable outcome.
  • Parties need a legitimate reason to move or change their position (what each person wants).

Tools for breaking impasse

  • Take a break; stop thinking about the problem.
  • Slow down the process; don’t press for an answer.
  • Welcome creative and unconventional ideas.

Showers and early morning mind wanderings are good.

  • Set the issue aside temporarily.
  • See the forest and the trees.
  • Focus on the future, perhaps a year from now.
  • Describe your fears of breaking the impasse, or of staying deadlocked.

There may be a legitimate reason for the impasse. But, it’s not necessarily a block to problem solving. Think of it as an opportunity for a creative solution to a vexing problem. Lean into the process and be receptive to new and unusual ideas.

Living A Life With Purpose

Living A Life With Purpose

By Barbara Meltzer

How many of you have been thinking about wanting to find your true passion and purpose in life? I know that I have. For me I think it is a commitment to something outside of myself — something that is central to how I live a fulfilling and engaged life. My work certainly gives me a sense of purpose. [Read more…]

“Failing To Prepare Is Preparing To Fail” — Benjamin Franklin


“Failing To Prepare Is Preparing To Fail” — Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin’s quote has it exactly right! If you have not made adequate preparations for your journey or project, you are unlikely to succeed. This presupposes, of course, that you have not identified your goal.


Start With The End In Mind

This is your inner guidance system. What specifically do you want to have happen? Decide what is truly important to you, then focus and contribute each day to achieving that end. Working effectively is very different than being busy. Once you have identified a goal, devise a plan, prepare thoroughly for how to accomplish it and then execute it. Remember, if the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall, every step we take simply gets us to the wrong place faster. [Read more…]