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The Power of Written Praise

Writing a letter of praise is a positive gesture, and, collectively, a building block to a healthy and sustainable society

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In this day in age, when it’s so easy to file a grievance or slam some group on social media, for balance alone, it’s ultra-important to write letters of praise when someone or some organization does an excellent job.

Yes, it’s quite noticeable when something goes wrong, but how often do we just skip over those things that go well?

The letter that you write and send, usually shared by those who receive it, does more good than you might presume. It is beneficial to you, to acknowledge those who have served you well. It is a reminder to you personally, that many vendors and service providers do an outstanding job and that too often we take this for granted.

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Can I Give you a Lift?

Here are two examples of letters I’ve written over the years. The first, via mail, is 19 years old, before the widespread use of cell phones, and before Uber and Lyft:

May 6, 2002

Commissioner
Taxi and Limousine Commission
40 Rector Street
New York NY 10006

Dear Commissioner,

In my hour of need, New York City taxi driver Shahnur Talukder stepped up in a big way. Shahnur has only been in the U.S. for one year, hailing from Bangladesh with his wife and child.

When my pre-arranged van pick-up fail to arrive early yesterday morning as scheduled, I suddenly found myself without a ride to JFK airport and no one willing to accept payment by credit card. I had, perhaps unwisely, spent all of my cash the day before, but went to bed with my van reservation phoned in well in advance.

Following the van service letdown, I had no idea that New York taxis do not accept a credit card (as they do throughout North Carolina.) Six drivers out of six said “sorry.”

When I hailed Shahnur’s cab, his first action was to take me to a bank to see if I could get a cash advance on my credit card. I didn’t know the pin number, however, as I had not conducted such a transaction previously. The time was slipping away and my margin evaporating for getting to the airport on time.

Without prompting, Shahnur decided to drive me to the airport. He trusted me to mail him the fare (which I did, along with several gifts). New York has many heroes these days and, for me, Shahnur Talukderof is one of them.

Yours truly,
Jeff Davidson

cc: NY Times, Office of the Mayor, WSJ, Shahnur Talukderof

 

And Just Recently…

I wrote the following days ago and sent it via email. The performance of the equipment that I had left out in the rain so astounded me, that I knew I had to write to the manufacturer.

April 26, 2021

Product Manager
Olympus VN 7200
[email protected]

Dear Product Manager,

I wish to report a tremendous success story. By mistake, I left my pocket dictator, an Olympus VN 7200, on my porch and due to the strong wind, a torrential rain poured onto the pocket recorder for hours and knocked it off of the railing to the ground.

In the morning, I saw the pocket recorder and realized I had left it there. It was completely soaked. I felt a little disheartened; it was such a silly error to make.

I brought the recorder into my car as I was taking off and put it on the rug between the two front seats. In a matter of about 90 minutes most everything looked dried.

As a test case (and I held my breath), I turned it on, and flipped to a recording I had already made to see if it was retrievable. Not only was it retrievable, it played perfectly. I was amazed.

I’m writing in high praise of this product. Whoever designed it, whoever shipped it, and whoever sold it, should all be proud. Here is something that truly works, and works even when owners are careless!

Yours truly,
Jeff Davidson

 

Your Letter, Today

In this era of political divisiveness, entitlement, and downright acrimony between different groups, writing a letter of praise is a positive development, and, collectively, a building block to a healthy and sustainable society.

So, to whom will you write a glowing letter of praise today? Surely there are vendors and service providers in your life who merit such a letter. Remember, the benefits to you are as great as the benefits to the receiver.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Life

Less Stress, Starting Now

As technological wonders increasingly dominate our lives, it becomes harder to concentrate

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The news each day is bad enough. As the Internet, mobile devices, and many other technological wonders increasingly dominate our lives, it becomes harder to concentrate on any single idea, item, or issue.

Understandably, people everywhere find themselves being besieged by competing demands for their time and attention, practically commanding them to practice multitasking. “Answer the phone.” “Click here.” “Push here.” “Open me.” “Complete our survey.” “Switch me on.” “Do it all at once!”

Equally unfortunate, multitasking is often promoted as a way for us to meet the complex demands of modern society — and accomplish more in the same amount of time. Have you ever attempted to work on two things at once? You don’t accomplish much, and time mysteriously disappears.

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Juggling Tasks is not Pretty

If your like most people, you often find yourself perpetually attempting to do many things at once: continue reviewing a client’s records, handle email, be ready for an important phone call, etc. Yet, attempting to do many things simultaneously can actually have the opposite effect; it makes you less efficient and contributes to stress.

No matter what analogies or metaphors you might have heard, a human being is not a computer. Computers can multitask with ease; the Windows operating system, for example, is capable of running any number of programs without sacrificing accuracy or peace of mind.

While there are some low level tasks here and there in which you can multitask, such as eating and watching television, for you and me, multitasking is an idea whose time should never have come.

Potentially Dangerous

The primary cost of multitasking is, ironically, exactly what you are often desperate to save: time. Multitasking is not only ineffective, it’s also potentially dangerous. On the highway, concentrating on a phone call inevitably detracts from a driver’s ability to focus on the road, putting them at dire risk of injury.

Several studies have found that cell phone use while driving leads to an increased risk of automobile accidents.

Back in the office, how can handle your daily tasks without becoming so stressed or frustrated that you cannot finish any of them? The short answer: less is more. Science has shown that your brain works best when it gives sharp attention in one direction. There is no greater efficiency than focusing on the task at hand and giving it your full concentration.

When an airline flight is canceled and people rush to the reservation desk and scramble to catch the next plane or some other connection, does the gate agent attempt to take on five or 10 people at a time? No.

He or she looks at the computer and handles a particular customer’s rerouting, looking up only sparingly. The attendant is not fazed by a 20-person line because it is practical to proceed through it one customer at a time.

Seek Completions

Suppose you are continually interrupted by the phone whenever you try to work at your PC. You cannot do your best work because when the phone rings you lose your concentration and focus. How can you handle that situation so that both jobs get the best of your attention? The key is a process called “mental completion.”

When the phone rings while you are working on your computer, silently recognize yourself by thinking, “I acknowledge myself for coming this far on this project.” Then save the work on your screen and turn to the phone.

Give the caller your complete and undivided attention; take notes, even smile into the phone. Do whatever you need to do in order to be successful on that phone call. At the end of the call, put the phone down, acknowledge yourself for handling it, and turn back to your earlier task.

The process of giving yourself a mental completion on all tasks, or even thoughts, sets up a mental partition. You gain more energy, more focus, and more direction for your next task. Both your productivity and your peace of mind will improve. And that is worth experiencing.

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Business

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

Throughout their lives, great minds ask confounding questions with child-like intensity

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Author Michael J. Gelb wrote a wonderful book titled How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, which contains many insights.

“Leonardo da Vinci lived to age 67 and during his life pioneered the sciences of botany, anatomy, and geology. He drew up plans for a flying machine, parachute, and helicopter, and he invented the telescoping ladder that’s still used by firefighters today. He also painted The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.” Here is what Gelb said about da Vinci and the topic of creativity:

[ ] Ask Questions. Throughout their lives, great minds ask confounding questions with child-like intensity. For instance, “How do birds fly?” “What makes the sky blue?” The answers can lead to discovery.

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[ ] Carry a notebook at all times so you won’t forget your brilliant ideas. By the way, da Vinci’s wrote many of his notes backward. Some people think it was because he was protecting his ideas from being stolen.

[ ] Challenge your long-standing opinions. You might have formed many of your views during or immediately after important childhood events. Ask yourself whether those conclusions still make sense.

[ ] Use your eyes and ears. Focus on the various parts of an object or scene, not just on the whole. This can help expand your perception. Instead of simply looking at a mountain, notice the rock formations and trees.

[ ] Try to write with your non-dominant hand. Taxing the opposite side of your brain can help you to think in a different way. And some people will think you went to medical school!

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