Tag Archives: email

One World: Shiva Ayyadurai on Inventing E-mail at Age 14

Shiva AyyaduraiMost 14 year old boys find themselves interested just in sports, school dances and making it through high school. Shiva Ayyadurai was no ordinary 14 year old.

While his peers were busy just with the traditional pursuits of adolescences, Shiva was inventing email.  This did not mean he was a “nerd”, who sat drinking Red Bull and programming all day. 

He was more of the American kid — the one you’d want to bring your mom home to.  He excelled in baseball and soccer, had a paper route, made extra cash running a landscaping business, and did love the girl next door. 

“It’s been an interesting journey, as I look back on it. It’s a story of what can take place anywhere in the world,” he explained to Deepak Chopra. “Be it in any inner city or in any village, as long as we provide the right conditions.”

Shiva is clear that his success was contingent on a number of factors including his very supportive parents; teachers who stepped up to the plate and changed administrative rules to accommodate his talents; mentors who allowed him to excel well beyond his age, by enabling an environment of freedom and respect, that allowed him to create a computer program that fully automated the interoffice mail system — the system he called “email” — the system we all know and use today.

His creation, though, was not without controversy as his innovation was heatedly debated by academics, huge companies and the media. Shiva sites his political awareness as having been a key factor in ensuring that he was able to survive being raked through the mud by various media outlets as well as the support of Noam Chomsky whom had been a professor of Shiva’s during his time as an undergraduate student at MIT. Chomsky is famously quoted as calling the negative attention Shiva was receiving “childish tantrums” by industry insiders.

A brilliant mind from a young age, Shiva Ayyadurai’s story highlights the fact that so often society assumes that knowledge is owned and monopolized by the powerful few.  Knowledge must be fostered at every age, in every corner of the globe as intelligence is not solely the property of the rich, the powerful or the well connected.

It is a reminder that could help us expand the lens with which we view the world and make room for the next great innovation regardless of from where it may come.  The invention of email by a 14-year-old boy reminds us of a larger truth: Innovation Anytime, Anyplace by Anybody — the motto of Innovations Corps, a new initiative, which aims to unleash innovation among youth, to replicate more “Shivas”.

You can find Shiva’s full interview with Deepak Chopra on Newswire.FM here.

Sit Down with Author Cheryl Strayed for Help Desk on March 22 in Portland!

(Click image to enlarge)

Cheryl Strayed





WHAT:            The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), is seeking participants for the “Help Desk” series featuring renowned author and speaker Cheryl Strayed!

WHEN:             Saturday, March 22, 2014 (specific time TBA)

WHERE:           Portland, Oregon (specific location TBA).

WHO:               Cheryl Strayed is the author of #1 New York Times bestseller WILD, the New York Times bestseller TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, and the novel TORCH. WILD was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Jean-Marc Vallée is directing the film adaptation of WILD, starring Reese Witherspoon, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby (to be released fall 2014). Strayed’s writing has appeared in THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS, the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Missouri Review, The Sun, Tin House, The Rumpus–where she wrote the popular “Dear Sugar” advice column–and elsewhere. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages around the world.


Help Desk is a television show on OWN that features renowned teachers, authors, and experts making themselves available in public spaces to provide advice to anyone who needs it. Help Desk is a deeply substantive series that grounds some of the great wisdom provided by today’s top experts and helps people live better and more fulfilling lives. Although the event is public, we are looking to secure a select group of participants who will be given priority to gain a spot to sit down with Ms. Strayed.

What we are looking for:

We need people who are seeking advice to help them with a specific life issue or circumstance. Below are a few examples but we are open to hearing about any particular issues you would like to discuss:

-Dissatisfaction with career/feeling trapped

-Questioning faith or belief in higher power

-Overcoming addiction

-Difficulties with weight loss

-Overcoming specific anxieties or fears

-Divorce or breakup

-Coping with job-loss

-Issues revolving around sexual identity

-Financial hardship

-Sex and relationship issues

-Loss of a family member or friend


1. We need applicants to be available during the day on Saturday, March 22nd in the Portland area.  Specific time and location TBA.

2. Provide a simple description of yourself (age, profession, relationships status) and contact information (email and phone number).

3.  Photo of yourself.

4.  Specific question(s) you would like to ask Cheryl Strayed.

5.  Single paragraph description of the specific life circumstance that led to your question(s).

6. Please tell us how you heard about this opportunity (specific website, social media, word of mouth, etc.).

7. If selected, applicants will need to sign an Appearance Release.

Send email with answers to the above questions to: cherylstrayedhelpdesk@gmail.com

How to make the New Year a YOU Year (Vlog)

On Intent.com, intentions are set by the community year-round to fulfill personal goals, reach for our dreams and realize our inner potential. What many tend to forget is that the most important step in reaching for the starts is reaching inward, giving ourselves the love and care we need in order to go forth. Whether it’s January 1st or any day of the year, there isn’t one day or moment that isn’t bettered when I take the time I need for me – it makes me a better friend, a better partner, a better daughter, and a better person all around when I have a full tank of my own from which to give to the world around me. Though it may be counter-intuitive, it’s giving myself the love and care I need that’s makes it much easier for me to do my favorite thing in the world: loving and caring for others.

Tell me how you plan to give yourself a little extra lovin’ in the New Year in the comments box below!

For more, check out my website, The Light Files, and follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Like Laura’s post? Support these similar intents on Intent.com!

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Three Benefits to Manage Stress: Better Health, Rejuvenation & Weight Loss


By Louisa Graves

Excerpted from ‘AGE-PROOF: Beauty Alternatives You Need to Know’

Our bodies respond to our thoughts and feelings. When we’re feeling down our bodies become tired and sometimes even sick. When we feel positive, our bodies are healthier; we become uplifted, more energized and enthusiastic about life. If you have a hectic lifestyle or occupation, here are life-changing tips that can help you feel less stressed, more energized and rejuvenated.

The Stress, Weight Gain & Brain Fog Connection

Living in a constant state of stress not only rapidly ages us, but it also affects our health and hormones, impairs memory, and causes weight gain. Continuous stress causes the body to naturally release a hormone called cortisol. As stress prolongs we experience brain fog, irritability and sadness as well as additional inches of fat on the waist, hips and thighs. This can be devastating for many women.

Our stress hormone Cortisol, provides energy. When produced in excess, cortisol blocks the thyroid hormone which regulates how quickly we burn calories. This hinders weight loss, increases belly fat, water retention and cravings for high-carbohydrate foods such as sweets and starchy foods. These high glycemic and caloric comfort foods stimulate our endorphins (feel-good transmitters) in the brain, providing a temporary high that calms us for a short time.

However, high-carb foods enter the blood stream quickly and cause blood sugar spikes that stimulate the production of insulin. When insulin levels rise, the body’s ability to burn fat slows down. As this cycle continues, the pancreas eventually stops producing the correct supply of insulin the body requires, which can lead to diabetes. In addition, sugar and high-carbohydrate foods cause inflammation and aged-looking skin, low energy, sore joints and even some diseases.

Continued stress exhausts the adrenal system, leading to a variety of health concerns such as depression, fatigue, thyroid issues, brain fog, panic attacks, irritability, low libido, restlessness, weight gain and more. Please visit your doctor if experiencing these symptoms.

Reading Emails Increases Stress and Our Waistlines

Did you know that reading emails increases stress? One study revealed that the anticipation of what’s in an email causes cortisol production to rise. In addition, those annoying unsolicited emailed advertisements prey on our fears, increasing anxiety even further.

Everywhere we look someone is texting, tweeting, emailing or phoning someone else. I’ve witnessed ‘texters’ causing traffic accidents and bumping into others. One gal even tripped and fell into a mall fountain while texting and walking!

Electronic Devices and the Weight Gain Connection

The reality is that to do our jobs many of us must rely on phones, computers and other electronic devices. But the sad truth is that when we’re ‘on’ for countless hours a day, our bodies spew out cortisol. This can drain the adrenal system, cause anxiety, sleeplessness, over eating, and cravings for junk food, which affects our wellbeing and increases our waistlines.

Given the ever-increasing rise in obesity rates I often wonder if using electronic devices are another cause of this skyrocketing phenomenon. Read the alarming obesity statistic below. It’s something to think about. Who doesn’t have a cell phone or computer?

FACT: In the USA, adult obesity rates increased in 16 states during the past year and none of the 50 states showed any decline in their rates of obesity.

If your job requires communicating via email or phone, take two moments each hour of the day to re-set your self back to calm mode. I also recommend that if you have a high-stress schedule to begin your day with meditation,

In addition, set boundaries while away from work. Turn your cell phone off during lunch. Take a quiet 10-15 minute walk by yourself. Walking is a scientifically proven stress buster and can be done easily.

Consider turning your computer and phones off after 7:00 p.m. Time away from work is your time. Calm your mind, nourish your body and just be. This will result in a more focused, healthier and rejuvenated you.


Louisa Graves has appeared on myriad national television shows including The Talk, Extra, and The Doctors, and has been a beauty expert on over 500 terrestrial radio interviews including on WGN, KIIS-FM, and Sirius XM Doctor Radio. Louisa has appeared on the cover of Woman’s World Magazine and is also featured regularly in their “Ask America’s Ultimate Expert” column. Her tips have been featured on MSNBC.com, WomansDay.com, AOL Health and SheKnows.com. Louisa’s YouTube page has had over 1,000,000 views and thousands of professionals and private individuals subscribe to her newsletter. Louisa is also the author of her bestselling book ‘Hollywood Beauty Secrets: Remedies to the Rescue‘. For more information visit www.hollywoodbeautysecrets.com

Meet the Boy Who Invented Email


Article shared with Intent by VA Shiva Ayyadurai

Celebrate the Power of Intent on the Anniversary of Email’s Invention  

August 30 marked the anniversary of the invention of email, created by a 14-year-old boy in 1978. His name is VA Shiva Ayyadurai, an Indian-American immigrant, and he is the inventor of email.

The power of intent is what allowed that young boy, in 1978, working in Newark, NJ, to create email — the same power that created the light bulb, the phone, the airplane, and everything we see around us.

The journey of that 14-year-old  provides a wonderful example of that power of intent, and what can occur when intent exists, and when it does not. Today, at the age of 49, I want to share that boy’s story, because it is no longer my story, it is everyone’s story who cares to see a better world where all of us have an equal chance to express our power to create and innovate — activities, which I believe are the ultimate expression of the life force within all of us.

Prior to 1978, There Was No Intent to Create Email

Prior to 1978, email did not exist. Email did not exist because the intent to create email did not exist. In fact, most researchers and inventors at big institutions thought it was impossible to create email, so they did not even make an attempt.

This lack of intent is crystal clear, expressed unequivocally in the RAND Report, written on December of 1977, which summarized the state of the art of research in electronic text messaging:

At this time, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system. The fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to all users’ needs. (Crocker, D., December, 1977)

The “inter-organizational” or the interoffice mail system was the system used by nearly every office in the world to receive, process and transmit paper-based communications.

This was a complex system of interconnected parts consisting of the now familiar Inbox, Outbox, Folders, Files, Address Book, the Memo (“To:”, “From:”, “Subject:”, “Date:”, “Cc:”, “Bcc:”), Attachments, Return Receipt, Forwarding, Composing, Sorting, and much more, we see in modern email systems. CEOs, secretaries, accountants, and a variety of staff with differing expertise used this system, without which any office could simply not operate.

Prior to 1978, dating all the way to the Morse code telegraph of the 1800s, people were intent on creating systems for the simple exchange of text messages, like SMS, instant messaging, early predecessors of Twitter using the “@” symbol. There was, however, no intent “to emulate”, the interoffice mail system.

Intent Leads to the Creation of Email

In the summer of 1978, 14-year-old Shiva had just completed an intensive immersion program at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University (NYU), where he learned seven computer programming languages, including FORTRAN. Following this, he was bored and was planning on dropping out of high school, much to the concern of his parents Vellayappa and Meenakshi Ayyadurai.

His mother, intent to see her son stay in school, realized he needed to be challenged. She introduced him to Dr. Leslie P. Michelson of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), located in Newark, NJ.

Dr. Michelson provided Shiva a challenge: Create the electronic version of the interoffice mail system then in use at UMDNJ. This was something that researchers had found “impossible” and had made “no attempt” to pursue.

This challenge became Shiva’s intent and obsession. From this intent, Shiva envisioned an electronic system, which would contain all parts of the interoffice mail system. He envisioned a system that would be easy-to-use, so people of “differing expertise” could transition from typewriter, paper memos and files, to an electronic equivalent.

Using the FORTRAN language, he wrote 50,000 lines of code to create that system. What emerged in 1978 was the first version of this system. He called this system, “email”, a term that had never been used before, and was not so obvious then.

In 1980, the Copyright laws were amended so software inventions could be protected. Shiva applied in 1981. On August 30, 1982, he was awarded the first US Copyright for “email”, “computer program for electronic mail system.”

August 30, therefore, is the official anniversary of the invention of email.

The Reaction to the Power of Intent

For some, the power of intent can be threatening, for it demonstrates that creation can occur anytime, anyplace by anybody, beyond the control of a few.

On February 16, 2012, Shiva’s papers, computer code, artifacts, demonstrating the invention of email were accepted into the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) at a special donation ceremony.

Following the Smithsonian ceremony, industry insiders, including those who had forgotten they had authored the RAND Report, unleashed a series of vicious attacks. For over 30 years, Shiva neither attempted to profit from nor promote his invention. When the Smithsonian news came out, industry insiders were threatened.


Starting in early 2000, these industry insiders supportive of Raytheon/BBN, a multi-billion dollar defense contractor, had begun to rewrite history that their work in electronic text messaging, created prior to 1978 was “email”. The purpose of this was to ensure their place in history, as well as to create a false brand as “inventors of email,” which would guarantee them lucrative cyber-security contracts in a highly competitive industry.

However, facts are facts. Email, the electronic version of the interoffice mail system, which Shiva created, and the term “email,” he coined, did not exist prior to 1978.

Experts and insiders cannot simply alter the facts by shouting louder, because it is to their benefit.

Celebrate the Invention of Email

As Noam Chomsky reminded everyone during the height of the attacks on Shiva last year:

The efforts to belittle the innovation of a 14-year-old child should lead to reflection on the larger story of how power is gained, maintained, and expanded, and the need to encourage, not undermine, the capacities for creative inquiry that are widely shared and could flourish, if recognized and given the support they deserve.

As we reflect on the anniversary of the invention of email, let us celebrate the facts of that 14-year-old boy’s creation in 1978, which are now here for all us to understand and to reflect upon. For in doing so, we celebrate our children and ourselves.

This celebration is particularly needed in today’s world, where we need to move beyond old and false narratives, that only a few, in big institutions, large universities and big companies, can create.

His journey is ultimately our journey.

Celebrate the anniversary of the invention of email!

* * *

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, Ph.D., the inventor of email, is a systems scientist, inventor, author, and entrepreneur, who holds four degrees from MIT and is a Fulbright Scholar, Lemelson-MIT Awards Finalist and Westinghouse Science Honors Award recipient. In 1978, at the age of 14, he invented email, the electronic version of the interoffice email system, while working as a research fellow at the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), now Rutgers Medical School, in Newark, NJ. In 1993, he invented EchoMail, a technology platform for managing large volumes of inbound customer service email as well as for outbound marketing email. In 2003, he invented CytoSolve for mathematically modeling complex molecular pathways of the human cell, towards providing a new in silico paradigm for drug development. As an educator, he has created Systems Health a new curriculum for medical practitioners that integrates eastern and western systems of medicine, and teaches Systems Visualization at MIT. He serves on the Board of several companies and is also the founder of Innovation Corps, a project of the not-for-profit International Center for Integrative Systems, which aims to provide a new vehicle for youth to convert their ideas to innovations and tangible businesses.

Why We Can’t Blame Stress on the Internet and Modernity

wilder11_lgI’m a fanatical reader of children’s literature, and one of my favorite authors is Laura Ingalls Wilder. In fact, Happier at Home’s conclusion–which I think, in all modesty, is one of the best things I’ve ever written in my entire life–centers on the last few sentences from Little House in the Big Woods.

A thoughtful reader suggested that I might enjoy Little House in the Ozarks, a collection of the pieces that Wilder wrote for regional newspapers and magazines. Heck yes! I got my hands on a copy right away.

I found much that interested me, and I was particularly struck by one paragraph.

“We are so overwhelmed with things these days that our lives are all, more or less, cluttered. I believe it is this, rather than a shortness of time, that gives us that feeling of hurry and almost of helplessness. Everyone is hurrying and usually just a little late. Notice the faces of the people who rush past on the streets or on our country roads! They nearly all have  a strained, harassed look, and anyone you meet will tell you there is no time for anything anymore.”

Remember, she wrote this in 1924 when she lived on a farm in a rural part of the Ozarks in Missouri.

I think we often assume we feel rushed, hurried, and overwhelmed because of the internet, email, TV, and other newfangled contraptions. But here’s Wilder describing the same phenomenon. Maybe that rushed feeling is an aspect of the experience of “today” for many adults; while we assume that it’s the new gizmos (whether that’s locomotors, automobiles, telephones, or email) that make us feel that way, it’s really always ourselves.

Speaking of Happier at Home, a large part of that book describes me grappling with the challenge of slowing down time, and creating a sense of leisure.

Do you struggle with this? To develop a sense of unhurriedness, amid the pace of everyday life?

* * *

What’s more fun than a great temporary tattoo? If you love them as much as I do, check out my friend Tina Roth Eisenberg’s site Tattly. Amazing variety!

Would you like a free, personalized, signed bookplate for your copy of The Happiness Project or Happier at Home? Or, if you have the e-book or the audio-book, a signature card? Or would you like these for a friend? Request as many as you want, here. Alas, because of mailing costs, I can now mail only to the U.S. and Canada–so sorry about that.

Letters Unsent. My New Intent.

Yesterday I was cleaning my loft as my daughter read in the other room. I came across a letter that I wrote last spring to a woman who is very important to me that for a variety of reasons, she never read. I opened it and as I read it again, I realized that as much as I had agonized over it at the time, it was probably better in the long run that was still in my hands and not hers.

For someone who enjoys communication and conversation, and fancies themselves quite the wordsmith, the thought that something I had crafted, and put so much energy and effort into, was better left unread was quite a shock to me to be honest.  But this letter gave rise to my new Intent, something that my friend Tamsin first turned me onto, the idea that sometimes the most important communication can often be about what you say to yourself, not to the other person.

It’s always better to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, it lets you express your feelings, your thoughts, it helps you clear the air in your own soul that needs clearing but that’s not the same as having to send the letter, or hit send on the email.

The important part is that you get your chance to set your ship right, you get the emotional satisfaction of getting to express what is bothering you, or what your hopes and dreams are. You get to tell the other person how much you miss, need, want, hate, dislike or never want to see them again. You get the craft those words exactly how you want, and make your feelings extremely well known. But what you avoid, especially in a stressful situation, is the reaction from the other side, especially when your email or your letter or your Fedex package arriving at exactly the wrong time.

I am very experienced in this and trust me, even the most basic email, received on the other side of town or the other side of the country at exactly the wrong time can be borderline disastrous. (The woman in question is, I might add, one of the most patient souls I know I might add, and when I have sent the occasional flame throwing email, somehow, it makes her calmer and stronger, which I find remarkable. And deeply annoying at the same time.)

So my intent for the New Year is to always express myself, to be stronger in standing up for myself, to always be heard when I want to be heard. But in doing so, I am going to create a special folder in my Gmail, I think I will call it “Emails Best Unsent.”

Maybe you will join me.

Then the next time you want to scream, yell or express your undying love for that special someone, try this out. Write out the email and leave it in draft. And then the next morning, if you still want to send it, send it. But the last time I did this, the next morning I discovered the reason I hadn’t heard from her was that she had left her phone in a yoga studio. My email would have been waiting for her when she actually then had to get up early the next morning and drive back to the studio, phoneless and annoyed. See what I mean? You might as well let the email gods help you, I think that’s what the Draft folders was actually meant for.

I would have gotten some minor satisfaction of sending the ‘you never call when you say you will email’ and trust me, mine was brilliant. Snarky, snappy, it was going straight to the Email Hall Of Fame, but instead in the long run and in the short run as well, I was much happier learning about the phone miscue with my email tucked safely away in Draft.

Here’s to 2012 and to always communicating well with those important to you.

And remember that sometimes the best communication is the communication you keep to yourself.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / dampeebe 

Leaving 2011 Where It Belongs

As we welcome the completion of 2011 and open the door to an inspiring vision for 2012, there are a few things that are imperative to do before the year ends. Some of you know what I’m going to say and others of you are asking, “What?!” Well, I’m not talking about cleaning your house although that would be great. I’m talking about cleaning up your communication and forgiving those who have hurt you. Communication and forgiveness are ways of being kind and loving to all those who interact with us and more importantly it is a way to be kind and loving to ourselves.

As I began to explore cleaning up my own communications, I saw that there were a few people whose calls or emails I hadn’t returned. I want

ed to let them know that it wasn’t personal and that I love them but that I’d be off email and the phone for another six months or so. I saw that I needed to call my Aunt Laura and Uncle Sandy who I’d been out of communication with just because I’ve been off the phone. And I realized that I needed to clean up my communication with somebody who I was really angry with in the past. She knew I was angry and I could feel her continual pain as she kept reaching out to me for closure. I had long since released my anger and I wanted her to know so that she could let it go as well. In going through the process of identifying and then cleaning up these communications, I had the opportunity to set new healthy boundaries and I released myself and them from any unfinished business between us. 

This is the week for you to look for the should-haves and the need-tos in your life and to address as many of them as you can. Even if you send a short email or text or tell someone you’d like to set up a time to talk to them in the new year, take action to close these open loops. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just make a list of these incompletions as they occur to you and handle as many as you can. If you see you can’t handle any more of them, just pick a date in January where you will sit down and recommit yourself to this communication cleanup campaign.

It’s amazing what happens as you embark on this process. You’ll notice that as you move forward, you will watch with greater care what we commit to. Or you will clean up your communication in the moment so you don’t’ have to carry it around with you like an old bag of garbage.

I promise you that when you clean up these communications, they will stop floating around in your consciousness and new energy will be able to emerge. As you complete 2011, you are clearing the space for creating an inspired vision of the future. So allow this be a breakthrough four days when you clean up anything that’s left over.

I hope you’ll consider joining me for one or both of the community calls I’ve set up on December 31st and January 5th. I’ll be leading processes to support you in completing 2011 and envisioning 2012. I love you and I am wishing you the happiest and healthiest new year.

With love and blessings,

p.s. Come share your clean-ups with me on Facebook and Twitter.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Tim Morgan

The Importance Of Live Conversations

For this week’s audio podcast, click

Have you ever had a conversation, disagreement, or conflict escalate over email?  Do you sometimes find yourself engaging in difficult or emotional conversations electronically because it seems "easier," only to regret it later on?  If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know and work with, you can probably answer "yes" to both of these questions.

In the past few months I’ve had a couple conflicts with important people in my life get blown way out of proportion, mainly because I engaged in them via email, instead of talking live to those involved.  As I look back on these and other similar situations I’ve experienced in the past, I can see that it was my fear to connect live and my poor judgment in using written communication that contributed to the increased conflict and lack of resolution.

Why do we do this (even though most of us, myself included, know better)?  First of all, email (or other forms of electronic communication – texting, Facebook, Twitter, and more), tends to be the primary mode of communication these days for many of us – both personally and professionally.

Second of all, it can sometimes seem easier for us to be honest and direct in writing because we can say what is true for us without having to worry about the in-the-moment reaction of the other person.

And third, electronic communication (or even one-way verbal communication, i.e. voice mail) takes way less courage than having a live, real conversation with another human being (on the phone or in person).  When we talk to people live we have to deal with our fear of rejection, fear of being hurt, and our tendency to "sell out" on ourselves and not speak our full truth.  Avoiding the live conversation and choosing to do it in writing sometimes feels "safer" and can allow us to say things we might otherwise withhold.

Regardless of why we choose to engage in important conversations via these one-way forms of communication (email, text, voice mail, etc.), it is much less likely for us to work through conflicts, align with one another, and build trust and connection when we avoid talking to each other live about important stuff.

Anything we’re willing to engage in electronically can usually be resolved much more quickly, effectively, and lovingly by having a live conversation, even if we’re scared to do so.  The fear may be real, but most often the "threat" is not.

Here are some things you can do to practice engaging in live conversations with people more often and, ultimately, to resolve your conflicts more successfully.

1)  Be clear about your intention – Before sending an email, text, etc. (or even leaving a voice mail), ask yourself, "What’s my intention?"  If you’re about to engage in something that is in any way emotionally charged, about a conflict, or important on an inter-personal level, check in to make sure you’re not simply sending the message to avoid dealing with it and the person(s) involved directly.  Tell the truth to yourself about how you feel, what you want, and why you’re about to engage in the specific type and form of communication you’re choosing.

2)  Don’t send everything you write – Writing things out without a filter and just letting all of our thoughts and feelings flow can be a very important exercise, especially when we’re dealing with a conflict or something that’s important to us.  However, we don’t always have to send everything we write!  It’s often a good idea to save an email in your drafts folder and read it again later (maybe after you’ve calmed down a bit or even the following day). 

3)  Request a call or a meeting – Before engaging in a long, emotional email exchange, it can often be best to simply pick up the phone or send a note to request a specific time to talk about the situation live.  Face to face is always best if you can make it happen, but if that poses a big challenge (i.e. you’re busy and it might take a while to set up) or is not possible (i.e. you don’t live close enough to the person to see them easily), talking on the phone is another option.  A great email response can simply be, "Thanks for your note, this seems like something that would better to discuss live than by email, let’s set up a time to talk later today or this week."

4)  Speak your truth, without judgment or blame – When you do engage in the live conversation (in person or on the phone), focus on being REAL, not RIGHT.  This means that you speak your truth by using "I statements," (I think, I feel, I notice, I want, etc.).  As soon as we move into blame or judgment, we cut off the possibility of any true resolution.  Own your judgments and notice if you start to blame the other person(s) involved.  If so, acknowledge it, apologize for it, and get back to speaking your truth in a real way, not accusing them of stuff.

5)  Get support from others – When we’re dealing with emotionally charged conflicts, it’s often a good idea to reach out for support from other people we trust and respect.  If at all possible, try to get feedback from people who will be honest with you, won’t just tell you what you want to hear and agree with you no matter what, and who aren’t too emotionally connected to the situation themselves.  Whether it is to bounce ideas off of, get specific coaching or feedback, or simply to help you process through your own fear, anger, or tendency to over-react (which many of us do in situations like this), getting support from those around us in the process is essential.  We don’t have to do it alone and we’re not the only ones who struggle with things like this.

Living life, doing our work, and interacting with the other human beings around us can be wonderfully exciting and incredibly challenging (or anywhere in between).  Conflicts are a natural and beautiful part of life and relationships.  We can learn so much about ourselves and others through engaging in productive conflict and important conversations.

The ultimate goal isn’t to live a conflict-free life; it’s to be able to engage in conflict in a way that is productive, healthy, kind, and effective.  When we remember that live conversations, even if they can be scary at first, are always the best way to go, we can save ourselves from needless worry, stress and suffering – and in the process resolve our conflicts much more quickly, easily, and successfully.

Are there situations in your life that require live conversations where you have either been avoiding or emailing – and they’re not getting resolved?  What can you do to address these situations directly – and have live conversations with those people?  Share your ideas, commitments, thoughts, dreams, and more on my blog here.

To listen to this week’s audio podcast, including additional thoughts, ideas, and tips, click

Facebook, Twitter and E-mail, Oh, My! Tips To Get Control Of Your Digital Life

We live in a fantastic age. Computers that used to fill a room can now be held in the palms of our hands. We have social media, like Facebook and Twitter, email accounts for work, others for friends and family, smart phones, and e-readers. All of these devices are meant to simplify our lives and help us stay connected, but you might feel like road kill on the Super Highway without some ways to control the vast amount of data and communications that is literally your fingertips twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Here are some great suggestions to help you maintain sanity and clarity in the digital world.

Email can stack up like a game of Tetris in a matter of days, sometimes hours. You can easily miss important communications or fun things to read if you ignore the pile up. Here’s how to keep email accounts tidy:
·       Delete. Repeat. I bet a good 50% or more of my email can be deleted upon receipt. Use your delete button frequently and trash all those messages that you don’t care about, won’t read, or will never read again once you’ve perused it.
·       Pass It On if the task the sender asks you to do truly belongs to someone else, delegate. Don’t let it sit idly because it doesn’t fall under your purview.
·       Create Folders for messages that you do not have time to read/respond to when they first arrive. Arrange them by priority. Resist the temptation to read it and “get back to it later.” You may well think, because the message has been marked as “read” that the item or request has been taken care of.
·       Switch to a Web-Based Email System, such as Google’s Gmail. You can access web-based email from anywhere, even on your phone and you will never have to worry about losing your emails should your computer crash, as Google backs up and archives all communications.
SOCIAL MEDIA (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc)
·       Stay Off! It can be immensely tempting to check your Facebook account constantly. However, if you are working, the best thing to do is NOT log on. You wouldn’t want your surgeon wondering who was on Facebook as he’s operating on you, would you? Your job many not be as life-altering as surgery, but you still should devote your time and consideration to your work when it is truly necessary. So….
o      Turn off your Instant Messaging
o      Turn off pop-up windows
o      Turn off your phone
·       Trim Your Friends List. While the average Facebook user has approximately 130 friends, many of us have hundreds, sometimes thousands more. Get that list under control:
o      Take a long, hard look at your list. If you don’t have the faintest idea who some of these people are, delete them.
o      Most of us will accept a new friends if they have other friends in common. Before accepting, ask one of those mutual friends if they honestly know the person requesting you, and if so, if they are worth adding. If not, don’t feel badly about not accepting. Some people like to feel important by having hundreds of friends, but they don’t really know or much care who you are.


·       Create Separate Accounts for Friends, Family, and Co-Workers. You probably don’t want your mom, or your boss, hearing the details of your hot date. It’s easy to create separate accounts, so make sure you keep those worlds separate.

PHOTO(cc): Flickr / the tartanpodcast


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