No One “Just Is”

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

 e.e. cummings

For the past month I’ve been consulting at a family-owned clothing company.

The president of the firm, Rachel (names changed), asked me to coach Betsy her supply manager, a woman who is loyal to the company, is willing to put in long hours and who has strong relationships with manufacturing plants in Mexico.

The one thing she doesn’t have is people skills.

Betsy treats her team with barely a trace of respect – she yells, slams doors and habitually lies when it suits her.

When I asked Rachel why she tolerated Betsy’s antics, she told me, “I need her. I don’t want to go through a search for her replacement.”

Last week I laid it all out for Betsy.

She bristled and then declared,“Betsy is who Betsy is and there’s no changing her, do you know what I mean?”

Yeah, I did – she meant she has no intention of changing!

When I challenged her, she lamented, “I can’t change. This is who I am.”

That wasn’t the first time someone has boasted to me that they “can’t” change.

However, please understand – that statement is simply not true.  It’s a lie. 

We ALL have the ability to change.

We ALL are responsible for how we present ourselves to other people and how we interact with them.

No one “just is.”

Which brings me to Ken.

He and his fiancée Alice are getting married later in the summer and are in the process of interviewing officiants. Ken didn’t smile when we met and seemed uncomfortable when he sat down.

Alice was friendly and engaged (pun intended) as we talked.

Ken never looked at me, never offered an opinion and answered my questions in a low, mumbling tone.

Hey, there’s shy and then there’s “creepy shy” and Ken was creeping me out!

Something seemed “off” and finally I asked him directly if he was happy getting married.

His head shot back, he nervously smiled and said “of course!”

I asked if anything was wrong, as he seemed unhappy or troubled.

Alice gently smiled and explained, “Ken is reserved; that’s just how he is.”

Once again, there’s that phrase, “just is.”

Here’s the thing – if you need your fiancée to explain that you’re reserved, then you’re more than “reserved.”

Just because a person is reserved doesn’t mean they have to present themselves in a rude, weird manner.

Just because someone is loud and impatient, doesn’t mean they have to intimidate team members by screaming, slamming and shutting down.

“Just is” is never an excuse for feeble, off-putting behavior. 

You don’t have to “just” be an a*hole.

You can “just” be someone who strives to be a more dynamically engaged person!


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:


The So–Called Randomness of a Communication Coach’s Life in Los Angeles

A couple of weeks ago, driving south on the 101 freeway, just before I got to the 110, I passed a building I never noticed before. Spray-painted on the side: “You deserve the right kind of love.”

I smiled in ready agreement but then wondered, “what is the right kind of love? Is the right kind different for me than for others?”

Later that day, I met with Rita and Peter (all names changed) who are getting married this summer at a 5-star resort. Rita’s parents are divorced and her father is footing the entire bill. Only catch – if she invites her mother, he won’t pay for the wedding.

Rita wants a wedding that will blow up Instagram but since her father is paying for it all, she didn’t know what to do.

She claimed her father had put her in a hopeless situation. So, she’s caved and isn’t inviting her mother who lives in Florida.

Actually, though, Rita’s dad hasn’t put her in a hopeless position. Rita has a choice and so as to lessen her guilt, she’s chosen to believe she’s caught in a hopeless predicament.

A couple of days later, while waiting for a haircut, I glanced through an Esquire Magazine interview with the actor Tom Hardy (“Dark Knight Rises” and scores of films).  The guy stunned me with this quote:

I have always been frightened with men, to the point where I couldn’t go into a gym because of the testosterone, and I felt weak. I don’t feel very manly. I don’t feel rugged and strong and capable in real life, not how I imagine a man ought to be. So, I seek it, to mimic it and maybe understand it, or maybe to draw it into my own reality. People who are scary, they terrify me, but I can imitate them. I can stay terrified, or I can imitate what terrifies me.

If you’ve caught one of his movies, you would be puzzled by his admission of fear as he presents as a no-nonsense “tough guy.” In fact, he’s so tough, he’s determined not to be held hostage by the fear-inducing lies he tells himself.

Then, while procrastinating writing this post by cleaning my desk, I found this quote I had scribbled on a post-it:

95% of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies and we can suffer because we believe all these lies.

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements

Reflecting on the week’s random moments, I’m now wondering if the “right” kind of love we deserve is the love that allows us to not drive ourselves nuts with lies we tell ourselves!

In my experience as a communication skills coach and trainer, I’ve discovered that the biggest lie of all is the lie that “I have no choice” – the lie that my happiness and well-being rests in the hands of others.

I now tell my coaching clients that maybe the “right kind of love” is a love “right” enough that we can face down the fears that our lies conjure up.

A love that lets us wiggle free of the crippling belief that if we don’t match others’ expectations of us then we’ll be harshly judged.

Maybe the right kind of love (for self and others) is the love we take responsibility for. And that’s why undertaking communication skills coaching really is an act of love!



  • Where are you feeling helpless in your life – professional or personal?
  • Are you really helpless – or are you afraid of the consequences that may follow doing what you know you need to do?
  • Why couldn’t you find a way to manage those consequences?
  • Who or what could help you?

Answer these questions and realize that –

Deserving the right kind of love means we stop feeling helpless.

That’s the “business” of CONFIDENCE!

What Starbucks Taught Me About Difficult People

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Philo of Alexandria

I’m a Starbucks kind of guy. Although I don’t drink coffee, I do enjoy a latte and my favorite is made by Starbucks. Now, I know that many of you might disagree and argue for Peets or Coffee Bean or some local haunt. My taste loyalties, though, are with Starbucks.

Not that my preferences mean much for the purposes of this post; however, I was intrigued when I recently learned that Starbucks instructs its associates to treat customer complaints with the “latte” rule:

Listen to the customer
Acknowledge the problem
Take action to resolve the problem
Thank the customer for bringing it to your attention
Encourage them to return

This guiding rule is so basic. So simple. So humane. So smart.

Yet, far too many places of business don’t have a policy for dealing with customer complaints and don’t have the right instincts for handling those complaints.

Years ago, the Sociology and Anthropology Departments of Harvard University did a joint study researching graffiti. The project’s goal was to determine if there is a common theme among worldwide graffiti artists. They found is that there is!

The common theme of all graffiti can be summed up in the phrase, “I am here.” 

Graffiti artists are seeking not simply attention; they’re seeking acknowledgment of their existence. And this is what we all hunger for – recognition.

A disgruntled customer can be angry for many reasons, but all those reasons can be reduced to the fact that the person feels no one is paying attention to their needs. They think (rightly or wrongly) that they’re being disrespected and ignored.

Offering a “latte” is the most reassuring thing we can give to an upset customer because it reassures them that someone does “see” them.

In fact, a “latte” can be offered to anyone who feels ignored by you – a co-worker, friend, relative or partner.

To listen,

To acknowledge

To act

To show appreciation

To make normal the relationship

are the five keys to dealing with someone during a difficult conversation. 

More times than not, a “latte” goes a long way to healing a potentially ugly situation because the other person feels valued and they feel valued because the person offering the latte is taking responsibility and being dynamically pro-active.

I’m tempted to end with some cute latte joke, but I won’t embarrass myself!

Suffice to say, next time you’re dealing with a complaining customer or colleague, no matter what your business, just remember to offer them a “latte!”