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Behavior, conversation, Corporate, debate, Decision making, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Leadership Insights, Literacy, Marketing, politics, social media, Visionary, Wisdom, Workplace

When common sense died . . .

So many meaningful articles are focused on ideas that used to be known as “Common Sense.” It may be common to one generation and not another. Here is an example on innovation. Sound contemporary advice founded on what the Silent Generation already knew!
Consider the American Revolutionary, Thomas Paine, who wrote a pamphlet with that title. His effort to stir the Colonists to oppose British rule was successful because it spoke in “plain language,” everyone could understand and he inspired the readers.
Every generation must define what Common Sense means to them. In the world of social media, abbreviations have become the common language that baffles older folks. However, Common Sense exceeds a simple definition of words.

In my universe, Common Sense is a method of thinking something through to include the impact of the action or words. It relates to timing. It is not just stating the obvious. It opposes short-sightedness. 
Consider the recent statement of Bank of America’s CEO, Brian Moynihan, who said he has a right to make a profit for his company. Is this view one that advances good will or positive presence in the marketplace? 
If he was my client, I would “play back” his response and watch his body language. My guess is he would cringe when he heard his words played back and he could hear them outside his internal voice. We would dig deep to get to what he really meant and craft a new comment in Plain English. We could discuss how it matters what people think, especially when they feel robbed and cheated with the threat of rising fees! 

I would remind Mr. Moynihan about Peter Drucker’s business wisdom about the purpose of business—to create a customer—and, how his focus on profits makes him appear cold and greedy. Also, I would show him how he can drive away his existing customers with his lack of sensitivity that will ultimately cost him money he so dearly protects. A dose of Common Sense would have served Brian.

So,  Common Sense can be a business tool to test a message before broadcasting it:
  1. The unintended consequences of statements made, for example, by politicians and business tycoons, are more powerful than ever because of the speed and repetition of digital media.
  2. Words matter and stand the test of time (and You Tube video!).
  3. Select words that support your meaning rather than have you appear out of touch with the moment. Consider Eric Cantor’s use of the word, “mob”, to describe the Occupy Wall Street participants. Given a do-over, I bet he would choose a different word like “protesters.” See how less inflammatory that word is?
  4. Above all, say what you mean. Ask for what you want. Double talk and hyper-speak turn people off. (Consider the usage of “utilize” when “use” is the accurate word.)
  5. Earn the trust of your audience by being authentic and accurate. The “fact checkers” on news channels and interview programs must have migraine headaches with the tsunami of misinformation pounding us everyday.
  6. Avoid clichés. They muddy meaning because Gen Y does not get the older references, for example.
  7. Offer your audience a message that helps them align with what you are seeking.
  8. Avoid motivating by fear—it is negative and short-term. You will be forever associated with it, too.
  9. Listen to generations different than your own. They “hear” things differently.
  10. Align your actions with your words. Generation Y is watching and they despise phonies—have your word mean something.

Now, go and inspire someone with your ideas. There is so much work to be done. mc

business coaching, debate, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Literacy, Performance, speech

How Do You Listen?

Coach Cubas’ Debate Post-Mortem—What Can We Learn?

The vice-presidential program ended with a huge sign of relief for the Republicans and Democrats. My comments will reflect tactics and technique rather than my personal comments about the candidates.

This program didn’t resemble typical debate format:
“Debate topics are worded so that one team must succeed and one team must fail or in a draw. They must meet the requirements of the proposition.”

Violation of Rule 10—Any gains made outside of the established procedure are disallowed.
What does it say about a participant who denies the rules. Just to declare that one will answer in her own way was defiant, a tone that later led to Palin’s inability to “hear” what was going on around her as she was fed to the “lions” of blame for a failed campaign.


  • Good use of direct into the camera focus by Palin
  • Biden changed his vocal tone throughout
  • Histrionics—Overstatement, overacting, exaggerated responses like inflections
  • Clichés—sound bites ad nauseum, finger pointing
  • “Over speak”—reminds me of students who learn “big” words to sound smart.
  • Inappropriate word choices like, “You betcha . . .”, to sound folksy instead of connecting on a genuine level
  • Insulting references—defining population segments like Joe 6 Pack and Hockey Moms. These sounded like caricatures out of South Park.
  • Opportunistic moves
  • Spelling bee stature (Chris Matthews’ reference)
  • Staged interview rather than a lively discussion of issues. Waiting to speak rather than an authentic response.

To assist you in planning your next speech or presentation, consider these sample references:

  1. Remember, if you’re listener-centric, you’ll always hit your target.
  2. Give the listener time to process what is being said.
  3. Visual references and metaphors are useful tools to paint mental pictures (memory anchors)
  4. Write the end of your presentation first and work it back. That’s what you want the audience to take away.
  5. Speak in a conversational tone—your listener will appreciate your reaching out to make a connection.

Any questions? Please send me an email if you’re building an idea for a speech or presentation.

Your coach,
Michelle Cubas

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