Managing Distressed Workers & Friends

Most industrialized cultures have become increasingly sensitized to the
impact of stress on workers and the workforce.

Let’s face it, distressed people are bad for business; Productivity, Morale, Health, Safety and more can be compromised. And, these liabilities are equally problematic outside the workplace.

Trauma causes stress that may be PHYSICAL and/or MENTAL. It may affect an Individual or a Group.

Whatever the source, I believe there are THREE (3) Golden Rules in dealing with Distressed Individuals:

  1.   Address the issue in a timely fashion.
  2.   Determine appropriate Action/Assistance, then
  3.   Implement and Follow Up.

Ignoring or delaying unnecessarily is imprudent. Failure to Recognize, Accept and Address problems usually allows them to ferment.

Correspondingly, rushing in like a bull in a china shop is usually unwise. Judgement is required.

It is important to first consider the nature of the distress we might be addressing…

I have seen people (Adults and Children) react to Physical Trauma in vastly different ways. Within these TYPES of response, some cry, others complain incessantly, some go into a shell (even sleep) and others become loud or outwardly vocal.

Even very similar traumas can illicit strikingly varied responses from different people. We react differently to the same problem; the variations can be surprising.

Similarly, the response you might see from a particular individual to PHYSICAL harm will generally be quite different to their response to MENTAL Trauma. Differing stimuli effect different reactions.

Responses to a specific TRAUMA can vary by Age, Personality, Fatigue, Health, Strength, Experience and more. It’s never certain what response you might witness. And, with each general type of response there are innumerable, personal variations.

When dealing with distressed individuals, it’s important to first recognize Clues alerting us something is wrong. These may be subtle changes in Attitude, Behavior, or perhaps even flagrant Mood Swings and Outbursts.

Whatever the situation, something tips us off; we become Aware.

A person who’s upset or out-of-sorts should only be approached by someone they can trust and do respect. If that is not you, channel a discrete alternate to intervene.

Approaches to distressed individuals should be private and not-too-invasive. Allow the person (s) to open-up or back-away if they must. But there should be an approach, whichth occurs in a safe, neutral place. And, always begin by establishing rapport.

It’s typical to open the discussion by generally noting an individual doesn’t seem themselves, or appears troubled by something.

Next, asking if everything is OK, or is there something I can help you with is a simple, open-handed introduction to identify and address the problem.

Be sensitive to the person’s distress. Downstream you may consult, advise or even direct the individual concerned, but not at the outset. Job one is to LISTEN and LEARN; so, be authentic, empathize.

Once the root of the problem is clearly understood, get the best expertise necessary to help resolve the issue(s). You may be the right person, you might not; recognize your limits.

If third parties are brought in, make sure they are acceptable to the distressed individual(s) and offer no further threat or complication to the existing problem(s). Such outsiders must be appropriately discrete and confidential in their dealings.

When the person is on a recovery path, check in on them. Do this regularly and as non-invasively as possible. Again, offer authentic, appropriate support; never be an unnecessary crutch or that person who interferes inappropriately.

People are traumatized by so many elements of life. Small things to some are life-changing to others and vice versa.

Correspondingly, something traumatic to someone one day might be only a simple annoyance at another time. We each react differently and in sometimes inexplicable ways; the dynamics can be complex and varied.

People in the workplace and your personal life are constantly barraged with challenges and difficulties. Sometimes they suffer set-backs from these impacts.

Even though we should not stick our noses into everyone’s affairs, there’s often times when it’s our job or responsibility. Then, we are the ones who need to make a difference and ease the load.

And note, when in any doubt about the underlying seriousness of someone’s trauma, we should ALWAYS seek professional advice.

So, take a look around. Has someone’s behavior changed? Are there subtle or obvious symptoms of Stress, or Distress?

When people are in trouble, address the issue. By all means take a moment to prudently consider the appropriate approach, but don’t ever fail the person; step up to your responsibilities.


Post Script: For purposes of brevity the clinical meanings of Stress, Distress and Trauma have been applied loosely in the most generally accepted terms.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Enjoy Business, Work & Life: Choosing Buckets and Balloons

Image result for choose your attitude quotesWhen it really matters, you choose your mood. At some level, everybody does.

We put on the face/front for that meeting, party or social event. We are already choosing our demeanor.

And, given a level of commitment and practice we can similarly start, or reset each day to the tone we’d most prefer.

Rather than drag ourselves out of bed and run into the turmoil of the day we can set ourselves up for a happy daily entre and even recover crisply from (seemingly inevitable) emergent setbacks.

Most folks carry around their personal, “bucket of troubles.” It seems we all choose how many woes and problems we’ll take on.

Some carry larger buckets than others; that’s a choice. And then, we allow those buckets to fill till they spill over. Only in this way do we limit what we take on.

By analogy, the larger the bucket, the heavier is the load. The weight (burden) is determined by what we are prepared to accept.

What if we simply chose not to allow deposits into that bucket? Just shrug things off (responsibly), don’t let them weigh in immediately and only fully embrace troubles when we choose.

Simply put, take on the issue later when preferred and only drop a note to address the problem into the bucket, for now. (SIDE NOTE: truly immediate issues are just that, so act accordingly. But, most things are not).

This doesn’t mean we ignore problems, concerns or issues. It does mean we should not burden ourselves with unknowns until we’re ready to focus.

Such an approach is truly Zen-like. We should “eat when we eat,” just attending to that of immediate concern to us. In this case, it is the simple, need-to-addresslater note.

This unburdens us nicely. No rapid-fill of that bucket.

We might even soon learn to reduce that bucket’s size as our skills develop. Why leave room to potentially unnecessarily burden ourselves with things we often can’t address till later, anyway?

Buckets weigh us down. Similarly, balloons can buoy us up. So why not carry a few of those around?

Happy thoughts, good news all serve to lighten our footsteps.

Image result for colorful balloonsWe begin each day with a host of blessings to enjoy. Our relationships, work, family, friends, even possessions can boost happiness, enjoyment and self-worth.

So, reflect on a few of these positives to start each day and renew yourself throughout. Carry a few happy balloons around and offset the weight of that essential bucket.

Realistically, we cannot expect to exist in a bed of roses on a flat, stable and worry-free plane. Yet too much volatility in our ups and downs is ultimately wearing, dulls our judgement, exhausts the ability to enjoy life and often harms our health.

Daily routines and encounters can be a grind. Things can wear on us and beat us down.

Life is not all smiles, happiness and positive events. It’s pretty tough for everyone. We need to both reduce our burdens and lighten our steps. So, a handful of balloons and a less substantial bucket can serve us well.

How is life wearing on you? Need to downsize that bucket and lighten the load?

Make life more enjoyable: every morning grab a few balloons, choose a smaller bucket and enthusiastically greet the coming day.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



How Sharp are YOUR Mental Skills? Important Insights

Image result for brain gamesI’ve always personally enjoyed mental exercises and games.  They can be great time fillers, keep you alert and in the moment. I believe they offer some level of personal improvement and improve mental acuity.

It turns out the research and writing around this subject area offers some useful additions to my personal perceptions.

A whole industry surrounds the training of the brain. It’s generally accepted that improvements can be made in personal function for Flexibility, Speed, Memory, Problem Solving, Learning Power etc. Progress can be measured on these fronts and dozens of exercises and games can be readily found in books or on-line.

Healthy lifestyle advocates promote Brain Fitness, which includes Proper Nutrition, Sleep, Physical Exercise and Stress Management.

Similarly, it’s accepted that cognitive skills are harmed by Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Aging, Air Pollution and internal Chemical Imbalance (both hormonal and drug induced).

Cognitive Training (aka Brain Fitness) promotes the idea that skills can be developed or maintained by exercising the brain in much the same way physical condition is improved by body exercise.

Scientific material rarely supports or advertises the concept of brain fitness, but personal development materials have promoted the idea with products and books since the 1980’s.

In practice, mental exercises can have measurable benefits; even more so the lower the starting base of the trainee. Any way you look at it, you can improve your brain function to some degree by practicing and training appropriately.

There’s recent evidence that mental training leads to a decrease (33% reported) in the risk of dementia onset. And, training children for academic improvement only appears to have benefits where the specific training is obviously and directly applicable to the specific area of study involved.

So, there is no silver bullet here where one approach fits all needs.

Certainly, some games and puzzles are fun and I personally enjoy a sense of accomplishment taking on new challenges and becoming more skilled and proficient over time.

Many people turn to outlets such as Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku, Solitaire, Bridge, etc. as a more productive use of otherwise dead time. It’s common to see people engaged in such activities in waiting areas, when travelling etc., even where other (such as TV) entertainment is present.

There is undoubtedly an increasing cultural search for alternative occupations that often more directly physically engage and personally challenge us. And there is a huge proliferation of available options.

Whatever our reasons for doing a little personalized brain-training (or self-entertainment), it typically provides us an enhanced sense of accomplishment and is usually a lot more fun than the other immediately available choices.

So, as another alternative suggestion, let me offer you a brain teaser to consider over time. You may solve this in a few minutes or be working on it many weeks from now. Either way, consider this…

There are twelve (12) natives stranded on an otherwise deserted Island.

Eleven (11) of the natives are the same weight, but one (1) weighs slightly less (or more) than the others.

Also, on the island is a see-saw (teeter-totter) that you may use in your investigations, but only three (3) times.

Your challenge is to discover which Islander has the different weight AND if that weight is more or less than the other eleven Islanders.

End of Challenge.

Whatever your predilection for cognitive development, let me recommend its benefits to both your practical personal development and self-esteem. Wishing you the best on your chosen path!


Image result for brain games

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Travelling? Watch Out! Scams & Risks to Avoid

Image result for travel scamsI’m barely half way into a two week jaunt through France, Spain and the UK, unfortunately encountering unprecedented Scams and new Risks.

In just 72 hours after landing at Paris (CDG) I’ve run into some ten different types of problems, which include:

Overbillings/re-imbursement issues: Taxis, Hotels and Flights

Unwanted assaults by Petty CriminalsImage result for travel scams

Robbery and Theft

Personal Security Risks          

Persuasive Extortion

Local Driving restrictions

I’ve been ducking problems like these during decades of global travel. Yet it appears these kinds of liabilities are now on the increase. Attacks and affronts have become more insidious and aggressive.

It’s tough to admit, but I did just fail to thwart a couple of my own problem travel situations. And they occurred, despite considerable prior exposure and much past experience. Fortunately, in these recent situations I can view myself as VERY lucky in the way my troubles were resolved, this time.

Now to business: Its true Petty Theft warnings (primarily for pickpockets) are often well signposted in most high-traffic tourist areas; even helpful cab drivers will provide you with unsolicited warnings. Yet there are a host of other (mostly) organized Scams and Liabilities to avoid, too.

Rather than detail the incidents to which I was personally exposed, let me provide some useful suggestions you can keep in mind to avoid unwanted impacts on your own travels.

Good TRAVEL practices should include:

Online Bookings

Watch out for built-in fees on Hotels and Flights. Check what IS and IS NOT included and keep a print-out or copy readily on-hand of what you bought. For Example: Airlines sometimes charge for bags up-front and then demand payment again while you’re trying to check in. Also, Hotel advance payment and cancellation policies often need checking closely.

Again, it’s essential you can quickly SHOW confirmations and complete, relevant copies, on-the spot.

Street Vendors

Don’t get hassled into the waves of seemingly innocent surveys, petitions or suchlike. Often participation quickly produces unexpected downstream demands for donations as you’re trying to extricate yourself. You’ll be fighting off purveyors once you engage.

Unwanted Purchases

Flower (or other) vendors often gain access to restaurants and bars, twisting the arms of couples and travelers to buy considerate or loving gifts. If you DON’T want them, decline firmly. If you do buy, politely NEGOTIATE on a price. It may not be seem appropriately romantic, but you’ll usually more than halve the initial asking price.

Taxis and Other Transports

Whenever possible know the regular fare involved for where you’re going; ask someone credible if you don’t. Legitimate operators are generally endorsed or secured by Airport/Hotel service staff. Prices are often posted for specific trips. Don’t get suckered by vendors who produce a surprise fare AFTER you’ve made the journey. Ask before embarking and be aware that even pricey Hotels have valets that’ll put you in a known-overpriced Taxi; it’s sometimes surprising to discover who’s working with whom.


Watch over your luggage and bags, always. If you’re in a group have one person keep vigil when working through distractions (like getting a cab, renting a car, etc.) in busy areas. Purses, carry-ons and baggage can be lifted, disguised and gone in seconds. So, carry all critical goods in a single closed bag and never release it; money, travel docs, tickets, credit/debit cards and mobile devices are best kept together whenever possible.


Room safes are often provided; use them. Check the door of that budget room truly locks when the door closes; amazingly, some DO need to be keyed from both inside AND outside to secure the lock on the handle. And, if there’s a separate deadbolt/chain inside, use that, too.

Money Exchange

Establish what reasonable exchange rates should be expected in countries you’ll visit before you change money. Watch for hidden fees and use ATMs with known-tolerable rates, whenever possible. It’s better to know what your credit/debit card rates will be before travelling, too.

In-Room Services

Honor bars are notoriously pricey. Buy out where you can. Also, keep some track of all in-room purchases for checkout; BE AWARE that auto-recording purchases may occur when you momentarily remove, move or even just lift-up products in stocked bars and refrigerators.


 These guys are seemingly everywhere folks gather in numbers. Keep your valuables zipped, pocketed and/or covered. Even then experts (often in teams) who target you can and will get access. It’s just wiser NOT to be the most obviously tempting prey in the pack; let others be the easy marks.

Car Rentals

Spanish Police are now fining renters they stop who are not driving on formal, International Drivers Licenses. They’ve specifically notified Hertz employees to this effect at the location I used (with my US, Calif. Driver’s License) in Valencia, Spain. Don’t be surprised if other Countries are already following suit.

I find it amazing that every single one of the vulnerabilities listed above was directly relevant and also immediately present during my current travel.

The list of things to watch for is long. All trips can have downsides and even the smallest bad experience can taint highly anticipated journeys.

We should not be paranoid about our every move when enjoying travel or a well-earned holiday. But the consequences of lost funds, equipment, goods or documents can be both traumatic and cumulative. It leaves us feeling violated.

So, keep your wits about you and make appropriate preparations. Be aware of where you are and what’s going on. Better a little vigilance than wasting time downstream to repair avoidable (and perhaps major) consequential damages.

Got any personal travel panned? Have any more business trips looming shortly? Put a little thought to what you’re doing and who’s around; be alert when these liabilities can exist and make sure YOU aren’t a victim. A little attention and awareness on your part can avoid a lot of grief.

Get ahead of the scams, problems and tricksters. Travel should be fun. So, make sure YOU will enjoy YOUR trip.

Let me wish you Happy Travels and Memorable Experiences!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


That Comment: Real or Delusional?

Image result for self delusion

I was sitting at the dinner table during a recent event listening to people’s tales of their lives, relationships and work-related activities. It was a full-spectrum gathering.

When later reflecting on this occasion and myriad other recent and past daily interactions I again became starkly aware just how self-flattering individuals can be and what delusional façades most people will present.

In fact, I believe most folks are frighteningly self-delusional when reporting insights to their lives.

This is not surprising, as in practice, self-confidence is closely linked to self-deception, self-delusion and success.

Indeed, to quote

“…, people in positions of great authority are, and perhaps must be, capable of enormously high levels of self-delusion.” (Health-care Hypocrites, Paul Campos, 3/22/10).

And, the Definition : Self-Delusion (Noun)…

The act or state of deceiving or deluding oneself.

The common scientific belief today is that most people lie to themselves; this done to aid them in considering themselves above average and to help them justify even their unjustifiable actions.

Relatedly and ironically, I suspect many of us attempting to present a truly realistic, unbiased opinion have, at one time or another been criticized as being negative or pessimistic. It appears a more rose-colored account of events is usually better appreciated, too; upon reflection, a very troubling reality.

Oddly, it seems that self-delusion is necessary. One writer (Fine) even mentions that a group of individuals truly capable of seeing reality as it is are the clinically depressed.

So, it appears most of us actually need to delude ourselves to make life bearable. This is a disturbing dynamic and a frightening insight to our suppressed, internal views.

People typically resent being referred to as delusional. It is normally perceived as a human flaw.

Yet, given the apparent role of self-delusion in stabilizing our psyche, perhaps it should be considered an asset?

It is true that great shows of bloated self-importance can be ugly to hear, but they are also just a sad measure of, and insight to, an individual’s insecurities.

In any event, the next time you catch yourself or others making enhanced or exaggerated claims, empathize a little. Sometimes it can be wiser to understand and accept the underlying challenge and then just move on.

Unfortunately, on some occasions it is appropriate or even essential to set the record straight with deluded individuals. This is often better done privately, but perhaps sometimes damaging falsehoods must be challenged immediately and publicly. In either situation, be as discreet and sensitive as circumstance warrants.

The stark daily realities we all face can often prove extremely harsh unless portrayed through a biased, tinted lens. So, if such assertions truly do no harm at the time, let the self-deluded enjoy their peace of mind behind that colored glass. Gracefully allow people their space to feel important or avoid their unnecessary embarrassment.

Have you noticed the self-delusion of others? Perhaps you recently caught yourself making exaggerated claims? Take a look behind those stories. It’s amazing the sensitivities and insecurities that come to light.

Above all, don’t fear those delusions. They’re often what’s keeping us grounded and balanced.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



Successful Leaders Work Backwards to Results

Image result for backwards product designWe’re taught from an early age to solve problems. It’s what humans do. Our approach is largely intuitive and dates back to our origins.

Typically, we are at Position A and need to get to B. So we immediately focus upon how to progress forwards and reach that goal.

I believe we can invariably achieve more predictable and valuable results by essentially reversing this approach.

In business it’s been long recommended we do NOT proceed in this traditional way. Specifically, in Marketing the wiser practice is to work in reverse.

With this method you focus primarily on the result and then next on the way to get there. First you must understand EXACTLY what Product your customer needs and at which POINT in TIME. And only then develop a Plan to achieve this overall end.

It’s fairly simple, really. If you understand your clients’ needs you just (?!) have to execute, on-time. This is commonly called being Market-Driven.

Using this approach we are effectively working backwards relative to our traditional and original scheme which focuses us more immediately upon proceeding; pushing forwards with primarily what we already have in-hand. The Market-Driven approach dictates we comprehensively understand the goal and only then flush out the details of what and how to accomplish.

The earlier, original marketing style is generally described as being Product-Driven. It causes us to be focused on the product we can deliver, rather than the true customer/market needs. Such methods of pushing products (rather than carefully satisfying requirements) are woefully inadequate in competitive, modern markets.

But more importantly, this newer, Market-Driven methodology equally applies to many, if not most life situations, too.

Today, both timing and accuracy continue to be increasingly critical in business and private life. So why wouldn’t this intuitively wise and somewhat reverse approach be generally applicable?

Let’s think more broadly than just relative to Marketing. Imagine now (say) a common situation where it’s critical you arrive for a meeting by a specific time. Shouldn’t you first recognize this important result and then work back though your schedule identifying only essential items to retain in your plans so that you won’t overrun the limited time available?

The important meeting in this case is a must do; it is your critical result. It is the particular event that has to happen. Just as in being Market-Driven, you first pick the critical result that is to occur sometime in the future and only then organize all beforehand to ensure that goal is achieved.

Through such events we see our very lives to be essentially market-driven. Additionally, we remain Results Orientated. And, isn’t it a result of these same influences that all achievers either intuitively or deliberately organize their lives, anyway?

Making sufficiently detailed plans to achieve a critical goal is the key to reliably delivering quality, on-time results. Trimming and adequately defining steps of a plan to secure the process are essential elements of success.

Additionally, developing clear mental images and specific details of desired results is a proven, powerful self-motivational method regularly used by both businesspeople and athletes, alike.

And realistically, how else do winners predictably achieve critical results UNLESS they make sufficiently thorough plans and schedules?

Are you reliably getting results with important short and long-term goals? Are your people delivering the right results, on-time?

Maybe it’s time to make your world fully Results Orientated and become more Market-Driven.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



Insecurity Invades: Take Back Control!

Every day we rise, step into the day and interact with others. The people we meet can be colleagues, clients, friends, family or casual acquaintances.

And, our dealings with others are profoundly influenced by their (and our own) intricate personalities and foibles. So, in this regard, which human characteristics might give us cause for concern?

Well, I believe most people to be generally insecure. In fact, I have found that many are very insecure.

Is there really great significance to these observations? Does this significantly affect our interactions with others? Might Insecurity profoundly influence the outcome for many of our dealings?

I believe the answer to all these questions is a resounding yes.

So, it is important we can recognize Insecurity in all its forms.

Indeed our ability to spot this human characteristic empowers us in dealing with others. We are better able to adjust and manage the situations we encounter.

To better understand the nature of Insecurity, consider the following (not prioritized) collection of insights:

Secure Human is an oxymoron.

Humans are petty, frightened, Insecure Creatures.

People are amalgams of insecurities invisible to the Self without Introspection.

All Bad Behavior is based in Insecurity.

Were it not for Insecurity we could not justify our Bad Behavior.

Others would feel less Inferior were we not Insecure.

Self-Importance grows with Insecurity.

Real Self-Confidence is inversely proportional to Insecurity.

Watching someone Control their Insecurities is like watching a balloon squeeze.

Insecurity inflates the Self.

The Showcasing of Accomplishments increases with Insecurity.

Acceptability declines as Insecurity grows.

Boastful Humility is symptomatic of Insecurity.

The need to Control Others grows with Insecurity.

Insecurity drives Importance to Diminish others.

These pointers better help us identify when insecurity is in-play.

Our first step should be to recognize our own insecurities. It’s not easy to do, but the more self-aware we become the more readily we recognize tell-tale behaviors in others.

Ever consider where such issues are already affecting your relationships and dealings? Further, where might they be affected in the future?

I recommend you take a close look at potentially problematic situations and even those that might already seem fixed or established. The better your ability to identify what factors are in-play and then make appropriate adjustments, the more success you’ll achieve in your business and private lives.

Enjoy the investigation. It’s amazing what you’ll uncover.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



Someone Needs Help: When, Where and How To Support

thIn life we frequently come across those who need assistance.

These can be people we know well or folks wholly unknown to us. We see such needs at work, home and in the street; indeed, almost everywhere we look.

It’s generally accepted we should help those in need. I believe that in many ways our ability to offer help actually defines our humanity.

So when do we offer our assistance? Certainly, opportunities exist as others are Failing; this may be Physically, Emotionally, Financially or, perhaps they’re just not getting things done.

Next, consider the question of why we help others. Often we are motivated to:

Resolve a Problem Situation

Bond or Rebuild relationship(s)

Show Willingness

End Suffering

Improve Ourselves

Expand Awareness


And, so on

These goals are both diverse and frequently interdependent. They represent generous and also sometimes self-serving purpose(s). The intermingling of our objectives and motivations is almost inevitable.

And yet, when assistance is rendered wisely, it should rarely be perceived overtly Machiavellian.

It is greatly important how we render assistance. Generally it’s wise to do so with no:

Expectation of Repayment

Taint of Condescension or Charity

Coming to the aid of others in an appropriate manner is a personally healthy practice. It’s typically indicative of a good life-style balance, perspective and self-confidence. Certainly it can demonstrate sensitivity, consideration and the abilities to both empathize and sympathize as applicable.

For those recipients, discrete and more invisible action and assistance is usually most appreciated.

And remember, not everybody truly wants our help. So, be open and willing to back-off gracefully

 when the situation dictates.

Eventually, we all need help. At some time, place and in a particular circumstance the best of us are laid low and need an outstretched hand. This is seemingly one of life’s certainties.

So, are you rendering the service to others that you might? Have you offered the assistance that you should?

Take a look at your Work, Home and general Environment. There are invariably situations where you should step-in. Consider the opportunity; why not give it a try.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

Beware of Sending the Wrong Message

communications-300x197Brevity in communications has become both an Asset and Liability.

Over the last decade we have accelerated our embrace of tech-driven means to speed and multiply our information access and personal interactions.

Texts, Tweets and many more vehicles service these needs, but at what price? The fewer words or characters employed in a communication, the greater are risks to clarity and precision.

Often vagueness truly is better than invisibility. Many times awareness is more important than ignorance. But frequently, there is real liability in lack of clarity or obscure intent.

“Get out, now. There’s fire,” is not the same as, “I see smoke. Anyone called 911?”

As a young graduate I recall being roasted by a Senior Engineer for imprecisely describing a technical hitch. My vagueness showed inexperience, lacked thought and useful recommendations. I recognized the problem and upgraded my commentaries, thenceforth. Truly this was a life-lesson.

Clear communications are normally essential, be they in personal, business, subjective or factual situations. Clarifying exact meanings later is all-too-often a part of consequential damage control.

“I thought you meant…,” or, “what did you mean by…,” are phrases regularly seen when things have already gone awry.

Realistically, can everyone always make sufficient time to optimize what they say or write? Probably not, but when items are Serious, Urgent and/or Important we should always take more care.

Highlighting a problem poorly or making inherently misleading comments can carry a heavy price. Perhaps simple qualifiers (I think that…,” “I believe this…,” etc.) could often be used to offset many liabilities. Certainly this would mitigate a pet peeve of mine exhibited frequently by professionals who freely proffer statements, yet avoid offering the clarification of whether their points are opinion or fact.

I regularly see people write and/or say things that highlight their insensitivity to the importance of words and how they are used. The simplest statement can be massively changed by:

Word Selection

Different words can carry vastly different meanings and cultural implications: “torrential rain” is not the same as “steady rain.”

Word Ordering

Switch the words and change the meaning: “Will I,” is radically different from,” I will.”

 Word Emphasis

What’s important might change dramatically in the same message: “I must go now,” differs significantly from, “I MUST go now.”

Communication Vehicle

Written Texts, Tweets, emails, letters, books etc. all constrain the author to communicate quite differently. Often adjustments are made to mitigate the liabilities (LOL ).

Intriguingly, the voice (eyes and body, too) offers almost infinite intonation and cultural opportunities. Thus the power of F-2-F discourse is obvious.


The pictures we both convey or provide usually carry great weight.

And, more

Culturally, it seems to me that we now more necessarily accept communication errors and often willingly sacrifice quality for quantity. In many cases this is a great trade-off, particularly where some insight is markedly better than ignorance. This approach feeds our inquisitiveness and piques our awareness. It also recognizes and accommodates our inherent physical separation from others.

However, when things really matter it’s generally better to momentarily reflect on WHAT you say, WHEN you say it and HOW. After all, if we get it wrong it often returns to haunt us.

How well are you succeeding with your own communications? Do you ever trip yourself up? Do your people cause you heartburn with some of their messaging? It’s probably time to reflect upon both your and others’ communication behaviors.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

Making a Career Move

In the recent past I read a piece reporting Stats on Millennials’ opinion regarding job tenure. The results proved intriguing, surprising and alarming at the same time.

thIt seems >25% of Millennials believe workers should change jobs within a year and only 13% in the same group thought employees should stay more than 5 years.

Likely the layoff purges and job insecurities from the last (now almost) 8 years have changed perspectives. It’s a sad fact that 20% of American workers were laid off at some point in the last 6 years. Isn’t erosion of loyalty and trust inevitable in such a situation? Perhaps the flood of part-time-only jobs has popularized such thinking?

Whatever the cause these are troubling perspectives with which to approach a career and as such will likely cause us to frequently consider position moves.

Yet, it IS possible to change jobs too often. Similarly, staying in the same role for too long can be a real and perceived stagnation problem. But generalities are NOT useful foundations upon which to build a future.

When you have a choice, NEVER leave a job unless it’s ceased to meet your needs. And, always move TO a new role, rather than AWAY from the old.

Your needs are unique and will encompass some, all even all of the following (un-prioritized):

Personal Growth

Promotional Opportunity


Career Direction



Company Outlook


Social Fit

Hours/ Vacation


Physical Location

Travel Opportunity




Housing Market


And, much more

When you LIST, PRIORITIZE and WEIGHT your own relevant factors you’ll have the unique perspective of what you need from your job. Review these with both short and long-term outlooks.

If your current position is not ideal, you should consider looking around. Perhaps a search will open your eyes to a new set of possibilities? Often your needs from one job are surprisingly different from those of another. Certainly, every position and company offers different Pros and Cons.

Also, our perspective itself changes, grows and evolves over time.

If your needs ARE being met currently, why would you move? Often it is important to NOT succumb to the grass is greener (elsewhere) perspective. Similarly, an innate fear of change is no good argument for job longevity.

It is easy to convince yourself things are better (or worse) at one place than in another. This is an inevitable result of the wanton rationalization from which we all can suffer. So, it’s generally better to review your alternatives and needs with a trusted colleague, friend or mentor. Detached and sound perspective is essential.

There is no universally applicable rule about when to voluntarily change jobs. In fact the notion of this is almost absurd.

A job-hopping individual can be a godsend in some roles as might be a stick-to-it career veteran in another. Certainly your track record in this regard is an important part of what you bring to the table. Your value to any future employer is directly affected by this history.

There is much to be weighed objectively when making career changes. So, don’t blindly follow canned beliefs or opinion; rather, carefully consider your unique personal needs and objectives.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh