“Because” – The Most Persuasive Word You Can Use

Photo by Albie Patacsil on Unsplash

I recently took on a client who is focused on changing not just her job, but career field as well. She’s used her past two sessions strategizing for interview techniques.  

One of the techniques I gave her involves the word “because.”  

As odd as this tip might appear, it does impact the tone of a conversation. I learned this technique from a seven-year-old boy.

I loved hanging out with my godson, Finn, when he was young. Smart, bright, funny, one of the things he most enjoyed was to come up with ways to drive me crazy! 

For instance, he’d play that game where he repeated everything I said, exactly as I said it, so I felt like I was in an echo chamber talking to myself.  

The other thing he loved was to ask me, “Why?”  

When I said something, he’d immediately ask, “why?”  and no matter my answer, he’d just respond, “why?”

At first, I tried to come up with a real answer to his “why” question. Eventually, though, my brain would fry and I’d move on to wacky answers, until, I’d just yell, “becausethat’s why!”  

And then he’d laugh.

As annoying as this game was, it actually replicated a common pattern in most conversations and interviews.

Often times, we say something without exactly explaining it.  

Then the other person will ask, “why do you say that?”  And then you try to explain with, “because. . .”

In an interview, if you make a statement without giving the “because” part, the person experiencing the interview will wonder, why does she think that? Why does he believe that? Why do they feel that why?

Giving people the “because” part of why you think something helps to give them a fuller sense of what you mean. 

The truth is, we’re always asking “why?” even when we’re not saying the word out loud.  

Throughout our daily conversations, people will say stuff that makes us scratch our heads and think, “huh?”  

You might ask the other person to explain; often times, though, we don’t.

In an interview, you want to reduce the times the other person thinks, “huh?”  That’s why you want to give them a “because.”

Now, if you’re tempted to dismiss this as a “nice” tip, but one you’ll not use, consider this rather odd experiment. . .

Years ago, a university sociologist conducted a simple experiment at a library: when someone approached the photocopier, another person, an actor, would walk up and ask, “Excuse me, may I go ahead of you? I need to make five copies, because I’m in a rush.”  94% of the people allowed the person to go ahead of them. 

Okay, so people were polite and willing to help out a person in need.  BUT, the sociologist then gave the experiment a twist.  

The actor would next go up to a person at the copier and just ask, “Excuse me, may I go ahead of you because I have to make five copies?”  And this time, 93% of the people let the actor go ahead of them – even though he had offered a ridiculous reason!

How can it be explained?  It’s because of the power of that word “because.”  

People psychologically feel satisfied when their “why” question (whether they say it aloud or just think it) is answered – even with a dumb answer.

Now, I am NOT suggesting you give nonsensical answers to your interview questions!  

BUT, I am suggesting that you give thought to the “why” behind your statements. 

Let interviewers know “why” you think and feel the way you do, without them having to ask, and you’ll give them a clearer sense of you.  

In return, they’ll pay more attention to you, 

which really is what you want an interviewer to do. . .because. . .

you want to land that job!

now THAT is the business of confidence. . .

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence, 

contact me at:


My Weird New Year’s Resolution

Photo by BoliviaInteligente on Unsplash

Mick Short

Do you recognize that name?  

No?  Well, it’s the name of the man of my dreams.  


I’m going to tell you a story that is so odd I’ve wrestled with whether I should even share it in any kind of public arena. I’ve decided, though, that it is too weird not to share. . .

For Christmas a friend gave me a wool ski cap from sportswear company ROOTS. I don’t ski but she knows I like hats.  

One night last week it got really cold here in the Valley and I decided to sleep wearing the cap. That tidbit is not the embarrassing part of this story!

I typically go into a deep sleep and have dreams that play out like movies. 

I don’t actually recall my ROOTS-capped dream except that I woke up remembering that there was a man in my dream named “Mick Short.”  (names and locations changed)

Odd as I don’t know anyone with that name – I don’t even think I’ve ever met a “Mick.”

In the days following, I wondered what could be significant about “Mick Short.” 

Finally, I decided to check if there was a Mick Short on LinkedIn. Yeah, this is the part where things get really weird.

I typed in his name and a bunch of “Mick Short” folk popped up – the first Mick, though, lives in Maine and is an executive. . .for ROOTS sportswear!  


I get a ROOTS ski cap as a gift.  

I sleep with the cap.  

I dream about Mick Short.  

Mick works for ROOTS – in the non-dream world.  

What can I say?  

I have been in awe of the “coincidence” / synchronicity of it all. . .and once again, I am invited to remember that there is more to life than I can fully comprehend.

So, what does it all mean?  

I don’t know.  

What I do know, though, is that I’ve been reminded just how easy it is to take the wonder of life for granted.  

In my life –

I want order and predictability.  

I want apps that will give organization to my day.  

I want food that’s fast.  

I want knowledge and connection and gratification that are at my fingertips tapping on a smart phone or tablet.  

And all of that is beyond great.  

It’s phenomenal really, especially when you know that an olive green princess wall phone and an IBM Selectrix typewriter were the height of my teenaged high-tech world!  

Mick Short, though, reminds me that there is so much more to life.

In his play, “Small Craft Warnings,” Tennessee Williams has one of the characters ask this question –

“What is the one thing you must not lose sight of in this world before leaving it?  Surprise. The capacity for surprise.”

Life, as you know all too well, is full of shocks that can knock us about.  

Surprise, though, is something else.  

It’s what gives life moments of refreshment and healing.  

Surprise can remind us that although life is whacky, it summons us to put forth whatever good we have in us.

If I were a songwriter, I’d probably write a ditty about Mick Short, but I’m not. 

Instead, at the start of this new year, I’m going to let him challenge me – challenge me to renew my respect for the mystery of life and people.  

I’m resolved to renew my commitment to being curious, to letting go and to being grateful.

Okay, that last sentence really sounds nice – but – it masks my frustration. 

Have I done anything differently since my ROOTS-inspired dream?  

Not really.  

Yet, I know that within that dream lies the invitation for 2023 –

To not live in a numbed state.  

To live a life that is as vibrant as my dreams.  

That is Mick’s gift – a call to renewal.

and THAT’s the business of confidence!

The 10 Most Non-Power-Pointed Ways To Lead A Stimulating Workshop

Photo by Product School on Unsplash

In 1982 John Naisbett published his prescient “Megatrends,” in which he predicted ten seismic societal shifts by millennium’s start. Perhaps his most enduring prediction is what he called “high tech/high touch.”  He maintained that as society became more technologized, we would feel an ever-greater need to connect through real-time, sensory experiences. And so it is today.

The majority of us are social-media connected, addicted to our smart phones and in love with anything “tablet.”  Still, though, for all of our linking, liking, tweeting and hashtagging, I continually encounter people who feel a certain dis-connect and isolation.

I spend my days offering workshops on those “soft skills” of interpersonal communication and I’m now convinced that the workshop forum is a prime opportunity for creating a “high touch” experience – a place for people to connect in real time with real people.  

10 strategies for engaging and stimulating participants in your workshop – without using PowerPoint!

1. Check your attitude 

Your goal is “to give” not “to impress.”  Presenters bent on impressing tend to “data dump” which only paralyzes participants. You will genuinely impress with the quality of information you offer – not the quantity. “Quality” means “clarity.” You’ll know you offered clarity if, at workshop’s end, people leave feeling challenged and looking forward to working with you again. 

2. Ditch the slides 

I appreciate the benefit PowerPoint offers certain types of presentations; however, I opt not to use any slides in my workshops.  My reason is this – slides compel people to look at the slides and not at each other – or me!  All the information I could put on a slide I can put into handouts and links that people can read and digest at their own pace.  

If all you’re giving participants are slides, then they don’t need you.

What are you giving them that a slide can’t? Answer: a “high-touch” experience of connection shared with others.

3. Create a road-map  –  so as to be able to think on your feet

No matter the length of your workshop, you’re going to take folks on a journey. By the time participants get home from your workshop, they’ll have forgotten at least half of what you said. And 24-hours later, they will have forgotten half of that half. 

When the workshop is over, what do you want them to feel, know and do? Let the answers to these three questions guide your strategy for mapping out your work.

4. Introduce yourself with a story

Tell people the story of your relationship to the workshop’s topic or theme. A resume or LinkedIn profile is not a story. Give people insight into your passion for the topic and not simply recite your expertise. Passion makes you likeable, interesting and trustworthy.  

5. Begin the day’s work with a question

You want to get folks thinking about the workshop topic in a way they may never have thought about before. In my workshops on managing difficult behavior, I begin by asking, “what makes someone difficult for you?” People laugh and write quickly. BUT then I ask, “what makes you difficult for other people?” Hmm. . .tougher question and now they pause. They don’t like to think of themselves as “difficult.” It’s those uncomfortable moments of “pause” that engage people.

The entire workshop experience should be an oasis – a safe place for participants to consider the topic in ways they normally wouldn’t.

6. Get people talking with each other

Workshop learning takes place in three ways – from you, from the information you provide along with the handouts and resources you offer AND from the give-n-take of the participants. Conversation is vital to the dynamic of a workshop.  

Introduce each section of your work with an inventory, questionnaire or question that helps them focus and reflect on the topic before you present your information. When they’ve completed the exercise have them turn to the person next to them and compare answers.  

Getting people to talk with each other relaxes them, energizes them and helps them connect with the material, reminding them they’re not alone.

7. Encourage questions

Perhaps the greatest gift you can give participants is the gift of questions because you want to get them thinking, questioning and wondering.  This is what will propel them in their work after the workshop is over.

Are you comfortable taking questions and thinking on your feet?  If not, ask the participants to help answer a question. A participant in a workshop I offered on cross-cultural communication had a challenge at work that stumped me. I invited him to diagram the issue on the whiteboard (it involved direct reports in four countries). Writing on the board got him clarity in his thinking of the problem and helped us all to visualize it. After a few moments of silence, a woman asked, “what if you. . .?”  and it became an “aha!” moment. He took her suggestion and ran with it, coming up with his own answer.  The room was electrified and we repeated the process with others. No slide could duplicate that exchange!

8. Use humor    

Humor is always a tricky and sensitive skill; however, even if you’re presenting on a cure for some medical malady, tension and intensity needs to be relieved. A light-hearted spirit that reveals the likable side of your personality makes people feel comfortable.  The more comfortable they feel, the more engaged they become. 

9. Don’t give them all the answers 

Rather then “telling” people information or supplying ready answers, see if they can first envision the answers. For instance, in a workshop on motivating employees, I asked “How do you know if someone is engaged at work?” Participants readily supplied what are actually the top ten characteristics of a engaged employee. Then I asked, “What do you have to do to bring about that profile?”  That’s the harder question. Rather than giving them the answer, I broke them into groups. In their totality the groups came up with the answers that replicated those in the handouts I later distributed. Now those handouts made sense!

10. Have them write a letter to themselves  

As your final exercise, have each person write a letter to their own self. The letter is simply a reminder of what they most want to remember from the workshop. Yes, this is an old-fashioned technique, yet, it’s been shown that actually writing something helps us connect more with an idea. You will mail the letter back to them four weeks later. Too often, people go to a workshop, get a nice folder of “stuff” and then file it away back at the office. The letter should be a reminder of what they want to be doing during the following month based on the workshop.  

“Change” only happens through practice. This letter helps with the practice. 

BONUS: Supply follow-up resources

The easiest way to supply handouts is by having people fill out a form that contains a checklist of workshop-related topics on which you can email them articles. I also provide a box they can check off if they want info on my 1-on-1 and in-house coaching  and training programs. This allows us to continue connecting.

Why is this non-Power-Pointed approach successful?  It’s successful because people feel connected – to you, to each other and to the material. 

They feel connected because the strategy of the workshop is based on the power of conversation and story and so “facts” come alive.

This approach ultimately is successful because you present yourself in a way that reassures participants that you are like them – someone who is seeking to improve. Your excitement reassures them that they can take your material and do something with it.  And all of this brings about enjoyment.  

Why give a workshop that people are not going to enjoy?

now THAT’s the business of confidence!

The #1 Thing Confident People Do Really Well

Photo by quokkabottles on Unsplash

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be.

But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.

Ernest Hemingway

Earlier this month I met up at a Starbucks with Peter (names changed), a former UCLA student of mine. As we were talking, a middle-aged woman approached us. She was out of breath as she pointed to Peter’s red water bottle, “Is that yours?” she asked with what I thought was an accusatory twinge.


Peter gave her a startled, “It’s mine!” To my New York eyes she had a “you’re lying” look in her eyes.

Peter stared at her and then did the most remarkable thing – he offered her his water bottle, asking, “Would you like to take it?”

“Is it yours?” she again asked.


“Well, if it’s yours I don’t want it” – she said with more a whiff of confusion than annoyance.

Peter held it out saying, “You can have it – it seems the bottle meant a lot to you.”

This unusually kind gesture snapped her back into the moment. She was thrown off balance. As was I!

She left without the bottle. When I complimented Peter on his kindness, he shrugged, saying, “It’s just a water bottle. She seemed more invested in it than I am, so why not give it to her?”


Peter thought little of the encounter – I, though, was blown away by his composed generosity.

In these weeks following I’ve been thinking about Peter’s particular style of confidence.

He was not quick to feel judged because he has such a solid sense of himself. This allowed him to practice an uncommon generosity to a stranger who was emotionally stressed.

Even as I write this I am in awe of his generosity BECAUSE that generosity is wonderfully grounded in a sense of confidence.

Peter adapted to the circumstance of the moment, took the woman and her situation in stride knowing that life is littered with the whack-a-do!

Doing something unexpected in a conversation, in a relationship – heck, in your life – takes confidence. SO – the question is – how do you develop that kind of confidence?

That kind of confidence is a choice.

Peter reminded me that we choose the kind of confidence we want to display in our daily life.

Confidence is manifested differently in each of us. For Peter – to be confident is to be generous.



We each have to decide what confidence will look like and sound like in our own life.

After writing that last sentence, I stopped and reflected on what confidence looks like for me. I’m not terribly proud of my answer. . .

Because I was bullied growing up, I resolved when I was in college that I would never again allow anyone to verbally intimidate me (and, yes, there’s anger laced in that sentence).

I resolved to not be afraid of others who were physically imposing.

I decided to not be afraid of people whose lives were so very different from mine.

And, yes, because of the confident people who have been so generous to me, somewhere along the way I resolved to ground my confidence in generosity.

However, I’ve yet to give away my water bottle!

What does it mean to be confidently generous and not simply be nice or kind?

It means that you’re willing to act in unexpected ways that surprise both the other person and you!

It means acting out in specific gestures – offered because you want the other person(s) to experience something good.

It means being consistent in surprising others.

And to use my favorite Italian word, it means having a sense of sprezzatura * which is what makes confidence SO attractive.

Sometimes, while going about the business of confidence it’s easy to forget the hidden dimensions to being confident.

Peter reminded me that in its essence to be confident is to be generous.

Do you want to become more confident?

consider this:

·     If you were more confident, what would you do MORE of?

·     If you were more confident, what would you do LESS of?

·     What is the “water bottle” you can offer to someone this week? This month?

I typically begin my workshops with this observation from guru Seth Godin:

We need you to provide the things that are unexpected, scarce, and valuable. Scarcity and abundance have been flipped. High- quality work is no longer scarce. Competence is no longer scarce, either. We have too many good choices – there’s an abundance of things to buy and people to hire.

What’s scarce is trust, connection, and surprise.

In other words, what is scare is generosity.

And the #1 thing confident people really do well? They continually replenish that scarcity!

now THAT’s the business of confidence!

* graceful conduct or performance without apparent effort