Talking Past Each Other

In watching the recent debates, I’ve noticed the candidates talking past each other. They don’t listen to the other or answer the questions. How often do we do that in our own lives?

Just like the presidential debate, these two candidates are a mirror for how we treat each other on a daily basis. In the debate they created a loop that didn’t resolve. Both sides were questioned; then talked about something else. They weren’t listening to each other. They would simply keep talking in order to try and overpower whomever they were speaking to. Nothing was solved. We walked away from that debate with no solutions, or even answers. Sound familiar?

This is happening to us a lot. You can tell because we are all worn out from trying to resolve it for ourselves. Want to make some changes?


  • Always start with yourself. How much am I contributing to the problem?
  • Are you talking specifically to the person in front of you, or to some absent group?
  • Am I pausing and listening to what the person says, or am I just trying to win?
  • Are you thinking about what you want to say?
  • Did they hear me? How would you know if they didn’t?
  • Do I need to ask for the other person to pause and listen to what I say?
  • Are they listening?
  • Am I answering the questions being asked?
  • Is the other person answering the questions being asked?
  • Do we need to stop and find an answer before moving on?

This is an extremely difficult endeavor. Partly because we don’t have complete control over it. If we are unable to reduce how much we talk past someone, we will stay stuck in this loop of not resolving conflict. It starts with you. –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Different Kinds of Tired

I’ve posted previously about how we have different internal centers (intellectual, emotional, physical). Because these centers each function in unique ways we can also have different kinds of tired.

How well do you observe fatigue in each center? Remember being intellectually exhausted after finals in high school? Remember being emotionally worn out from fear or sadness? How are those two things different than being physically tired? What if two of the centers are tired, but not three? Could you tell the difference?

Because these centers fatigue differently, they also rest differently. Using your go-to resting method may only refuel you physically, but not emotionally or intellectually. If you are able to sort out the different kinds of tired, how would you best rest each center?

The answers may be unique you. The practice though is we all have these different engines that run inside of us. They are there for different reasons and use different fuels to recharge in different ways. Being able to recognize the differences creates the opportunity to rest those centers as needed. –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Our Great Debate – Rhoads Life Coaching

I would be impressed if you did not know anything about the first presidential debate of 2020. It was painful to watch and read about. These are the individuals who represent all of us. Our great debate, however, isn’t about winning political battles, it is how we are going to treat each other.

I know individuals that only made it a few minutes into the 90-minute debate before having to turn it off and walk away. A week later I know folks who are still struggling to reconcile how unsettling it was to watch. It seems we had a common experience of anger, disgust, fear, and sadness in being subjected to what was likely an inevitable outcome.

Why was it inevitable? Our political candidates are a reflection of who we are as a country. They end up being a mirror for us as individuals. Ironically the concentration of the dissonance in that 90-minute conversation says more about you and me than it does the candidates themselves.

If possible, set aside the political content of the debate and just look at how the candidates treated each other. This is happening in nearly every corner of the country. It saturates our social media. It is difficult to remove it from nearly any conversation. Again, how these two men treated each other is a reflection of how we are treating each other.

If that is true, then change has to start with each individual before those chosen to represent us can change. Do you want the election to be different? Would you like for the country to be different? Then use the debate as the template of what needs to change inside of you.

Do you interrupt before someone is finished speaking?

Are you pausing to listening to the person speaking and hear what they are saying?

Do you look for a sarcastic reply to questions, or are you actually trying to answer the questions given to you?

Is your negativity clouding your ability to see the person next to you?

Do you vent on social media instead of trying to solve actual problems?

We are all doing this to some extent (even by pretending these problems don’t exist). Given how painful it was to see ourselves reflected in the “great” debate this past week, our leadership needs guidance on what to represent. For anything to change we have to take responsibility for changing ourselves first. –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Back To Basics (To Adjust Course) – Rhoads Life Coaching

It is normal for life to get moving so fast we drift away from the fundamentals of who we are and how we function. It is important to reset and get back to the basics in order to stay on course.

Where have you been drifting away from the core of who you are and how you do things? There have been so many disruptions this year, I would be surprised if you have not been pushed off course.

Regardless of the pandemic, drifting away from fundamentals is natural. That’s why athletic teams practice so much! What are the core components of who you are that have drifted lately? Are they personal? Professional? Is it an internal mindset or relationship that needs priority? How do you define The Basics for yourself?

Take some time this week and review where you might be drifting. What are the basics that bring you back? Journalling? A review of your values and strengths? The notes from a leadership program or certification? Prayer? Meditation? A meaningful poem or song? Your favorite movie? What practice brings you back to center? What are the basics of your practice? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

What’s The Plan? – Rhoads Life Coaching

It is starting to cool off! The days are getting shorter! This winter is going to have additional obstacles to overcome in terms of the pandemic and isolation. How are you going to survive it? Now is the time to prepare. What’s the plan?

Have you thought about that?

It has come up in several coaching sessions lately. The worry and dread of dealing with the pandemic during the winter. We have so far benefited from the spring, summer, and fall of being able to be outside and active while trying to social distance and stay safe. In hearing the concerns from some of my clients of coping with Covid in the cold and dark, now is the time to prepare!

From a coaching perspective, we have the ability to plan for the obstacles ahead. What new activity can you learn? Will you use your creativity to find a unique solution? What would be a different way to develop yourself? How are you going to intentionally make this winter different from other years?

Given how quickly each month seems to pass, if you do not prepare now for January and February, they will be here before you are ready. Now is the time to prepare! If you are passive you will find yourself on the couch watching TV with the same doldrums we struggle against now. What is the plan? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Thresholds In Behavior – Rhoads Life Coaching, LLC

Independent of our beliefs and values we each have thresholds in our behavior. These thresholds are specific to each situation and are influenced by the behavior of those around us. Knowing how they function helps to understand how we work.

Mark Granovetter and other social scientists developed theories around predicting behavior based on the peer pressure of the group around an individual.

Some of us have high thresholds that resist changing behavior in a crowd. An example could be how emergency responders might run toward an emergency instead of away as crowds tend to do.

Some of us have low thresholds where we change our behavior quickly with the crowd. An example being when someone calls for quiet and a group stops talking all at once.

These thresholds come into play for all of us and are unique to nearly every situation we encounter based on the size of the group, the situation at hand, and a wide range of other variables. Granovetter observed how sometimes we even work against our own beliefs and values once that threshold is triggered. The group has influence on the individual based on the threshold.

Have you seen this play out recently? It is possible for one individual to have a low threshold for needing a stockpile of toilet paper and a high threshold of resisting wearing a mask.

How does the threshold model play out in your life? Do you know it is there? What are your thresholds? What are the tipping points for your family, friends and co-workers? Is your low resistance or high resistance to a threshold helping or hurting you? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Acedia (Drifting Into Not Caring) – Rhoads Life Coaching

The ancient Greeks had a term for the apathy of sustained isolation. Acedia is the sense of drifting into not caring. Knowing it is happening is the key to getting out.

Remember the poppy field that Dorothy and her friends wander into in the Wizard of Oz? Or the dwarves getting lost in the forest of Mirkwood in the Hobbit? We sometimes find ourselves wandering through a monotonous dreary stretch of life that creates an apathy that almost puts us to sleep.

I have been battling this myself for the last few weeks and have coaching clients who are describing the same thing. Virtual hang out with friends aren’t as novel as they were 5 months ago. I’ve watch ALL of Netflix and am almost finished with Prime. Who cares, right?

If the ancient Greeks had a term for it, it can’t be something new to the human experience. In my brain, the fact this malaise isn’t new is helpful. Someone has been here before. How did they get out?

For the Greeks they found help in reconnecting. When they found themselves experiencing acedia they would double down and reconnect with those they cared about. The relationships and sticking together was they way through.

The first step to reducing this apathy and anxiety is to recognize that it is there! The second step is to reconnect. Who have you lost contact with in the last few months? Who do you need to reach out to? Now that you have completed step one, who do you need to call? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Was the Message Received? – Rhoads Life Coaching

One of the fundamentals of communication we sometimes miss is verifying if the message we sent was received correctly.

How often do you send a text, email, or even have a phone or in-person conversation and assume that the message you delivered was understood in the way you intended? We fall into a trap of believing a conversation that made sense in my mind made sense in someone else’s.

To be clear, I am not talking about obsessively texting your friend to ask if they got your text. I’m talking about walking away from a conversation where both parties agreed, but were still on two different pages.

Our assumptions prevent effective communication. The reverse is also true in assuming that I understood the message I just received. By not verifying that I understood correctly, I run the risk of moving forward with poor information.

The antidote? Verify the message! Ask if you understood correctly. Or, ask for the message you sent to be repeated back. It takes extra time. It may even sound a bit silly. But how much time and energy will be saved by not having to go back and correct the errors created from miscommunication? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Our Service to Others – Rhoads Life Coaching, LLC

We hold up as heroes those who make it their career or calling to serve others. Part of our own development is to find our own way to find purpose and meaning the service to others.

Who are the everyday heroes you hold in high regard? Our military service members? Our law enforcement officers? The medical community? Teachers? Those stocking the shelves at the store?

We have been doing a lot of that lately. Lifting those up who stand at the front line of our communities and serve us unselfishly. Putting the needs of others first is a trait we value, all the way down to our philosophy and religions.

What if these heroes weren’t just meant to be public servants, but also role models to emulate? How are you developing the service part of yourself? What would it look like to put the needs of those around you above your own? As it turns out, the meaning and purpose we find in the world comes from that connection of helping each other.

What prevents you from developing your service to others? It could be as simple as feeling patriotic in wearing a mask in public. Not for your own safety, but the safety of those around you. Maybe you could be just like our heroes. What do you have to lose? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Back To School – Rhoads Life Coaching, LLC

Each of our different communities are headed back to school in the next few weeks. In whatever form that may take, it is going to be a big transition. Anxiety is increasing as we get closer to this change.

A friend who is a school administrator related his experience of heading back to school last week after being away since March. Even without the students there yet, he found himself exhausted heading home that afternoon. The thought occurred to me that we will ALL be exhausted at the end of each day as schools try and find their rhythm. Having not been in this cadence since March, and given all of the new challenges, it is taking a lot of effort just to get to where we stand today.

I have a few requests.

Pay attention. Pay attention to your own fatigue and the tiredness of those around you. We are all going to be worn out.

Be patient. Even if you don’t have school-aged children, we are all going to be impacted by the next few weeks.

Be grateful. There aren’t any clear decisions about what is the best way to educate during a pandemic. Try and show some gratitude to the teachers, administrators, staff, and students who are doing their best to move forward.

Thank you to those who have the courage to keep moving during all of this uncertainty. Thank you to those who care, serve, and teach our children at all levels. I wish you the best of luck in the coming weeks. May you have a successful school year. –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life