Articles by Tom Esch

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This Is Not About Guns

This is not about guns. I do not know enough about guns to be an activist about guns. I do know about communication.  It is about people speaking up respectfully and effectively when something is awry.  This is my business. This is info about a confidential app to report warning signs of possible gun violence or…
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“MeToo” Movement

This is a tough article for me to write. I’ve been putting it off for a while and cannot put it off any longer. I’m nervous because I feel this is mostly a time for us men to listen. And I’m nervous that whatever I say here may be met by some with criticism.
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What Are You Doing?

With the holidays just around the corner I bet we’ll all have the chance to witness people doing things that seem odd to us — both at work and home. If we have forgiven them enough, and done enough of our inner work, can ask—with real curiosity and no anger — “What are you doing?”  We just might get some useful answers.
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Uber’s “Toxic” Culture

Uber is in trouble. After several years of incredible growth things are getting ugly. CEO Travis Kalanick has just announced he’s taking a leave of absence to work on himself and reflect on building a "world class leadership team" in the wake of reports pointing to his company’s toxic culture.
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Disrespect at Work? You Can Make A Difference!

How do we keep our workforce engaged, respectful and working together in harmony? How can you keep your company culture from “going Uber”? Uber’s CEO recently stepped down after a number of crisis moments, all pointing to a toxic work culture and a climate of disrespect. This is a challenge, especially in industries that can’t find a way to pay their entry level workers a living wage.
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Trump Fires Comey: What Can You Do About It?

The whole world knows by now: our President has fired James Comey, the head of the FBI. This was surprising news to almost everyone. It is unsettling. Kind of like the way the election happened: unexpected and dramatic.
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Can you respect a bully? Part II

Yes, you can respect a bully, if you can find a bully-aspect living inside of you and not slip into becoming a victim of that bully.
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Can you respect a bully?

When we perceive the other to be a bully or a tyrant, even if that person is an elected political leader, it is especially hard for us to see the ways we might be acting as less than respectful.
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Courageous Communication—the party secret

Are you looking for innovative ideas to build deeper relationships at work and home? Here is a real simple one that you can do with potentially powerful results.
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Be Brave: Speak Up!

We can model the courage to speak up, or to reach out, before things get to the quitting or firing point. Catch it earlier. The first time you have that unhappy feeling in your gut, or see someone suffering, explore what is happening.
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Post-Election Communication Support

This election process was so polarized, so split on values and so full of the less-than-beautiful that the aftermath is challenging. What can we do to make sure we are not letting our feelings rule our interactions?
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Trump and Clinton: Less to Hide More to Give?

I’ve decided to stop judging Trump and Clinton. I see them as foils who represent parts of us all. And by their not so virtuous qualities, unintentionally inviting us all to begin or continue a journey where at the end we will have less to hide and more to give.
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“Managing Intercultural Workforce Tensions in Racially Charged Times”

Work towards justice and a more integrated workforce, from the top and the bottom. Expect some bumps in the road, but also for your business to thrive as you courageously address these delicate issues and work for genuine diversity at work and at home.
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Maybe FUN is part of engagement

Serious, sometimes I’m just too serious.  You too?  When is the last time you had a big laugh at work?  Maybe “fun” is a more important part of business that we realize.  Maybe laughter is good medicine not just for your health and happiness, but also for building a strong workforce. “Fire signs jiggle the…
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Making the Most of Cultural Differences

These are things we are doing, with companies like yours, to help workers find ways to communicate effectively and respectfully in the midst of significant, interpersonal, racial, ethnic and gender-based differences. It is making a difference.
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Release Your Inner-Viking

You can learn to be more direct and also still the completely nice person you are at your core. It is possible. It can be extra challenging when you work with people whose relatives come from countries other than Norway, Sweden and Germany, but the same basic principles apply.
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Before “The Bigga” Conversation

So you are not getting along very well with that other person and your stress level is high. You have decided it is time for “The Bigga” conversation.  It takes incredible courage to even seriously consider it especially in conflict-reticent cultures.
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When NOT to Have That Courageous Conversation

So many people are talking about crucial conversations, courageous conversations, fierce conversations and constructive conversations. I am all for them. But there is also a time to NOT have that conversation.
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Solving Communication Challenges in Health Care

health care
Do you have unhelpful stress, caused by misunderstandings and challenges related to culture, race or positional power differences? We can help. Contact us via email or phone for a free consultation today.
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Happy Brave Thanksgiving

I challenge you to make space for a variety of perspectives and to modulate the tendency to fight, flee, freeze or appease. I invite you to engage and not let your reptilian brain run the show. How do you do that?
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Spotting a “no” disguised as a “yes”

When someone says “yes” that sounds like a “no” or a “maybe” I believe it is incumbent on the person making the request to gently press for their level of commitment to the request.  When they say a firm “no” it may be best to let go.
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Take The Risk to Engage

When you are at a meeting or a class and you are disengaged what is your usual response?
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How to Maintain Control During a Challenging Situation

Where in your life could you benefit from intervening where others are acting in ways that create difficult situations?  How can you do it more skillfully?
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How to Decrease Distractions and Increase Safety

One of things I have learned is that there is more to safety than simply doing what the manufacturer recommends.  Whatever tool you are using, following the safety guidelines is not enough anymore.
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Expensive Silence

When you know that you should say something and you don’t you may be inadvertently contributing to the problem at hand. Silence does not often help a situation that needs an interruption. And there are often costs associated with that lack of interruption. That is why it is expensive silence.
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The Gift of a True Apology

Sometimes apologies do not work. Sometimes they do. Here are some suggestions you can try on at this holiday time to ease the tension in your relationships at home or at work and achieve a relational breakthrough.
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When and how to talk about GUNS

guns
Recently I attended an open forum on gun control. There were over 150 people in the room. It was really intense.
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Clergy Abuse Conversation

I recently moderated a conversation on clergy abuse with 64 people at a local Catholic university. Part of our vision was to begin to restore trust and safety for people within the Christian/Catholic community impacted by the particular pain that comes from the misuse of power which involves sexual abuse.
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Misuse of Power: Part 1

Tom Esch
I used to be a Catholic priest. It was a good life in many ways. The work was meaningful and rewarding. The people I worked among were dedicated, kind and generous. And I received free tickets to world class college football games! I was living my dream. But the lifestyle—it turned out—was a poor match for me.
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Misuse of Power: Part 2

There are lots of ways in which power is misused. Sometimes it looks like unethical business decisions or sexual misconduct (as I wrote about in Misuse of Power—Part I) and other times it looks more benign—like a leader who is lost in their ego-self or taking up too much air space.
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How to Silence a Barking Dog

dog-with-orange-ball
It was a hot summer. We had the windows open on many nights. Our neighbors, who live about 15’ from us, had a variety of dogs living at their house that summer.
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What’s That Costing You?

money
What are the not-yet resolved conflicts costing your business in dollars and emotions?
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Words Can Wound Deeply

Be aware of attacking others with biting words, or even unconscious messages, they may go into hiding in a corner of your family or organization for a long time. If someone is making you mad at work or home please process your feelings with someone else first.
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How to Handle a Meeting Hijacker

Who at your place or work hijacks meetings or conversations? What is the result of this behavior? Has anyone ever tried to intervene? What might it take to do so and what would be the benefits to the organization?
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Street Fight at My House

There was a street fight right in front of our house, in Minneapolis, on New Year’s Eve last year at about 2 a.m. A group of eight young men, probably 16-18 yrs old, yelling and screaming and punching. They were either drunk or high or both and very loud.
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Your Life Feeling Like a Battle?

Do you feel like your life is a bit of a battle these days? Are you finding conflict in your home or at your place of work? This is an inspiring little story that might give you a helpful insight.
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