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The following scenario is based on an actual event. Imagine this happened at your office. A co-worker is hanging up decorations for Pride Month, when another co-worker passes by and says:

“What’s this? Are we having a Care Bears party?”

The decorating employee stops and glares at their colleague, who proceeds to saunter along, adding:

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I’m an ally.”

Before reading any further, ask yourself: How would you handle this situation, either as a recipient or as a witness to the exchange? Would you:

  1. Call-out: reprimand the person in public?
  2. Call-in: take him aside and give him feedback in private? …

New Study: Smartphones Make Us Dumb

We all know that smartphones are a productivity challenge. They steal our time, attention, and energy. But a recent study suggests the situation is more dire than we think.

The study, published in the Journal of the Association of Consumer Research, concluded that the mere presence of smartphones — even when powered off — impairs our cognitive capacity.

Researchers had participants (N = 548) engage in cognitively challenging tasks (completing math problems and memorizing random letters) while being randomly assigned to one of three conditions:

· Phones placed on desk = high salience

· Phone placed in bag = medium…

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January 1st: Drunk with optimism.

February 1st: Slapped by reality.

How can we avoid the all-too-human tendency to set unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, get depressed as we regress to our mean, and return to the same-old unproductive habits that keep us from living the life we want to live?

Here are 5 research-driven and counter intuitive tips to help you set the right commitments in 2019.

1. Create a plan.

We often think that the key issue with achieving our resolutions has to do with motivation. If we only watch Creed enough times, then 2019 will be the year! But the science tells a different story. When it comes to reaching our goals, the secret lies in the planning more than in the feeling. Individuals, for example, who write down when and where they are going to exercise are 3X as likely to follow through on their commitments than folks who only learn about the benefit of exercise. …

Confucian Musings: Always be learning

  • The following is part of a series of musings on the wisdom and applicability of Confucius’ teachings for our own lives. In part 4, I explore the the enormous importance Confucius placed on constant learning and edification.

The Master said, “Even when walking in a group of three companions, I will surely find instruction. I select what is positive from them and pursue it. I reflect upon what is negative — inwardly correcting similar negative qualities I might have.” (7:22)

Confucius believed that learning was something you acquire not only through books, but also by observing your environment (in vivo). Life and people provide constant opportunities to reflect and improve one’s character. …

Confucian Musings: Creating a Feedback Culture.

  • The following is part of a series of musings on the wisdom and applicability of Confucius’ teachings for our own lives. In part 3, I explore the little-known Confucian concept of remonstrance.

The Master said, “Not speaking with people who truly can benefit from your words is to let those people go to waste. Those who are wise never let people go to waste, and yet neither do they squander their words.” Analects 15–8

People understandably don’t associate Confucius with speaking truth to power, yet core to his teaching is the concept of remonstrance: the moral obligation of underlings — from children to political subjects –to provide guidance and correct wrongs committed by their superiors. …

Confucian Musings: Leading with Humility.

  • The following is part of a series of musings on the wisdom and applicability of Confucius’ teachings for our own lives. In part 1 below, I explore the Confucian idea of leadership.

“Zohn You asked about governing and the Master said: “Put others first and give credit where credit is due.” When Zhon You asked further, he said: “Do these two things tirelessly.” Analects 13–1

When we think of leadership, we often think of big personalities and even bigger egos. Figures such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos loom large. We celebrate individuals –heroes! …

  • The following is part of a series of musings on the wisdom and applicability of Confucius’ teachings for our own lives. In part 2 below, I explore the Confucian value of asking questions.

“When the Master entered the Great Ancestral Temple, he asked questions about everything taking place. Someone critiqued, “Who said that this fellow from Zou village understands ritual processes? When he enters the hall, he asks questions about everything!” When the critique was reported to Confucius, he said, “That, too, is ritual conduct.” (Analects 3:15)

In a culture — much like ours today — that equates certainty with power, Confucius defaults with both humility and confidence into a mode of inquiry. He does so in order to gain insight, demonstrate respect, and show care for both person and ritual. For Confucius, developing curiosity is at the heart of authentically embodying ritual action. …

Tonight We Bow Back: A tribute to Prof. Timothy H. Smith

  • The following is a transcript of a speech I gave at Prof. Smith’s memorial at Hofstra University on 9/22/18.

Hello everyone,

My name is Roi Ben-Yehuda, I was (and will forever be) a student of Timothy Smith.

Everything I have to say here is really a footnote to that sentence.

I met Tim Freshman year (Fall of 1996) when I was assigned to his Human Values course. …

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As someone who speaks in front of people for a living, I fully understand the sting of a bad review. No matter how many people think you did well, or how many positive points you received, less than stellar feedback enters your mind like an uninvited guest munching on your self-esteem.

Psychologists call this a negativity bias, our tendency to give significantly more weight and attention to negative rather than positive experiences. Studies have shown that this bias is apparent in infants as young as 7 months. Now before you judge your brain for being such a downer, keep in mind that negativity bias is what helped us survive as a species. If your ancestors did not have a keen eye for dangers and threats (“Watch out! Tiger!), …


Roi Ben-Yehuda

Leadership trainer at LifeLabs Learning. Roi specializes in communication, conflict resolution, and negotiation.

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