“How to Say It When You Don’t Know What to Say”


“How to Say It When You Don’t Know What to Say”  in challenging situations,  in social or business situations, is most difficult since we are not sure how our words will be construed. We may have the best intentions, and we may weigh our words carefully and still have not said what would have helped the individual cope with the challenge they are facing. We will experience insecurity or fear about approaching someone who is in pain. I heard of people who crossed the street as to avoid confronting, actually comforting, an individual who had a loss.

Robbie Kaplan, in her book; How To Say It When You Don’t Know What to Say, writes about the loss of her baby and delves into the words people said and the discomforts in accepting those words. She wrote this book to exemplify the nuances with which we need to become acquainted. In her case it was dealing with a death of a child. We also deal with deaths, loss of jobs, disappointments, broken promises etc. It is our responsibility, as coworkers, leaders in the community or work environment, friends, aquaintenances, family members, bosses, coaches, etc to do our best to comfort the one who had the loss of one kind or another.

I often write about the need for Leadership Presence: being aware of the situation and the individual with whom we are communicating and having the emotional ability to reach out. Watching for non-verbal clues is a means of communicating as well. Listening is as important as communicating. Sometimes, that is all we need to do to let the individual know we are there for them. “We cannot feel their pain; we do not know what they are going through”. So, saying those words really does not comfort. They could anger the individual since we all experience “life” in different ways. No two losses are felt the same.

Here is a list of some things to do and say when you really have a challenge: (from Kaplan’s book)

To do:

  • Being willing to listen without giving advice
  • Be a support for that person
  • Communicate at a good time
  • Listen with no judgment
  • Write notes, emails, make telephone calls
  • Offer to do specific tasks-don’t ask what you can do: provide an idea.

To say:

  • How very sad I was to hear…
  • I am thinking of you
  • It must be difficult to get through this
  • I am here to listen if you want to talk
  • Take the time you need

Coaches are listeners. We listen so the client can think about how he/she feels and where he/she would like to go with the conversation. Listening takes energy and intention. I recommend



and the references that are made available to give you some guidelines as a boss, leader, community worker, family member, colleague, etc. to know what to say in a challenging situation. When called upon, your actions will be a comfort and allow for healing.

How to Say it When You Don’t Know What to Say

“There is all the difference in the world between having something to say and having to say something.”-John Dewey


Life is a Dance-you need the right music to get in step


Imagine dancing the rumba to swing dance music or the waltz to bosa nova. I’ve tried it and for some creative beings, it might work. But not for me. When we dance, we take in the whole idea of step by step to the rhythm of the music we have decided on using. And then, there are those who would rather sit on the sidelines and observe what others are gracefully, or not so gracefully engaged in.

Life is a dance. We take steps by steps every day of our lives to the beat of what goes on in our heads. And again, some of us sit on the sidelines preferring to disengage for whatever reason. I don’t know if we need talent or if we just need the confidence to know that to miss a step is just a way of telling us that we need to work more diligently the next time. We will need to have the right music, attitude and tools to be the dancer we want to be.

Yes, Life is a Dance: This title came to me during a coaching session when I asked a client to tell me what he thought he could accomplish based on his strengths or talents. “I can, can…. that is a dance.” he said. So from that point we realized that it is more productive to look at the “can, cans” instead of the “can’t, cant’s” and there certainly is no dance for that.





The chatter in our heads can give us two left feet if we do not arrest the negative thinking. To be a better “dancer”, one must consider one’s ability at other things done in the past. Think confidence, think strength in being, think strength in doing. Consider standing tall, looking great, remembering compliments others have given you, and of course your unique qualities.  Become your own advocate. Step by step, beat-by-beat…you will be dancing in no time.

“Life’s a dance you learn as you go

Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow

Don’t worry about what you don’t know.

Life’s a dance you learn as you go”-John Michael Montgomery (Country Music Singer)




This Can Be The Year-Learn a SMART way to achieve your goals


This can be The Year for you to achieve greatness, prioritize your goals, and integrate your work and life routines. This can be The Year to be who you know you can be, go where you have always wanted to go, and breathe the fresh air of success. Just like last year, right? -Did you make those things happen? On a scale of 1-10 where 10 is the highest level, where would you say you are based on your dreams of achievement?  And if you did, good for you!  Keep up the great work and mentor others.


With the proper process you can move along the scale of 1-10 and measure your achievement.

I recently rediscovered a book by Brian Tracy: Flight PlanThe Real Secret of Success. This book was written as a metaphor to prepare for a flight. To have all systems go, the pilot must have a flight plan. Tracy states that to get anywhere, you need clear goals, plans, and a schedule. Of course it take courage to then “lift off”.


Each of the 12 chapters of this book addresses, in metaphorical flight terms, how one can achieve success if one follows the author’s process:


“Choose Your Destination, Review Your Flight Options, Write Your Flight Plan, Prepare for Your Journey, Take Off at Full Throttle, Plan for Turbulence, etc.” Most importantly, I believe that your ability to know what your barriers have been, usually related to fears and the acceptance of the origin of those fears, will empower you to “Master Your Fears” and “Persist Until You Succeeed”.


It takes SMART goal setting and commitment to be able to even prepare for your “flight”. Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely goals. I have included some information to assist you as an individual or a leader of a team to assist others in Goal Setting following a SMART Goals oriented process so that you can say: “This Can be the Year”




As a leadership coach, I have worked hard to overcome my fear of flying.


Perhaps this article will inspire you to get to where you have dreamed of going instead of flying stand-by. Become present to your strengths and work toward building on them. As Brian Tracy says in his chapter titled “Make Continual Course Corrections,” Take Control of Your Mind. : What are you trying to do?  How are you trying to do it?  Is there a better way?  What are your assumptions?  What if your assumptions are wrong?  What actions would you take…?  What is the first action you should take?

What was was, what is is, what can be, CAN BE. Yes, THIS Can Be The Year:Learn a Smart Way to Achieve Your Goals.




“All the calculations show it can’t work. There’s only one thing to do: make it work”. Make it work for you………

  • Pierre Georges Latécoère, early French aviation entrepreneur.

Trust Me: Developing a Culture of Trust is a Leader’s Responsibility


I recently had the privilege of speaking to the leadership of a woman’s organization. The goal of my ice- breaker was to establish an atmosphere that could be tested for the individual to feel or not to feel a sense of trust with the person with whom they connected. They had three questions to ask of several people: name, how many siblings do you have and discuss briefly the hardest part of growing up. It didn’t take long for all to engage and engage they did. Actually, this was a group of women who said, at the end of the exercise, that they were able to open up freely with one another.

We discussed the purpose of the activity and how a trusting relationship is needed to create a common bond or move toward accomplishing the goals of an organization. Also, “The most important aspect of an individual that will create a lasting presence in an organization ‘s culture is TRUST.”

What you must know, as a leader, is how to affect cohesiveness, commitment, accountability and trust needed to establish a shared, vision, mission and achievement of goals.

What plays into this is the importance of Leadership Presence: As referenced in Leadership Presence by Halpern and Lubar, “Leadership Presence is the ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings of others in order to motivate and inspire them toward a desired outcome.” They use the acronym: PRES to make their point: Presence is being available and flexible, Reaching out, Emotional, compassionate, and Self-knowing (authentic) with strong uncompromising values.

Kristie Hedges, in her book, The Power of Presence, uses the I PresenceÔ model-Intentional, individual and inspirational. These qualities develop the leader’s credibility and power to move the group toward success.

The cultures of organization vary and the members come with their own perceptions and conditioned attitudes. Even in families, we cannot always see eye-to-eye even for the good of the group. We as leaders may notice the inability to move forward and the root cause could be a lack of trust.    

   Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, uses a triangle model showing that the absence of the foundation being Trust, will cause a fear of Conflict not allowing for a Commitment that is then an avoidance of Accountability leading to inattention to Results. See model below.



Lencioni says the role of the leader is to go first, mine for conflict, force clarity and closure, confront difficult issues and focus on collective outcomes.

The impact of trust, or the confidence in someone to keep a commitment, show integrity and be reliable will create a following and acceptance to move up the triangle to avoid the Five Dysfunctions of a Team so goals can be realized in an effective and efficient manner.

Stephen Covey stated that there are 13 Behaviors of High Trust Leaders Worldwide: These behaviors included demonstrating respect, righting wrongs, clarifying expectations, listening first, keeping commitments and extending trust to name a few.

Assess your behaviors and become that leader who will establish the trust needed to advance your organization.

“Come on baby, light that fire”…Becoming Motivated and Staying Engaged in the New Year



In 1966, Robby Krieger wrote the song, “Come on baby light my fire”, sung by the Doors.  However you want to interpret the song is up to you, but just consider you might need that fire to get going in the New Year.

Before January 1, 2017 is upon us, I wanted to relate a question I was recently asked.  A young woman approached me at a meeting and after our 30-second elevator speeches, she asked, “How can I get motivated?” As a coach, I had to answer her with my own powerful question.  “What feeling do you get when you have accomplished something regarding your work?” I asked. As her whole demeanor changed, she easily had several positive and beneficial statements.

Thinking of the positive instead of how do you feel when you are not engaged in your work, takes us to a dimension where we can see possibilities from our efforts.  We are uplifted at knowing we CAN feel good.   We are capable of pulling it off.  So why is it that we get excited or motivated and then after a while find ourselves in a funk, unproductive, just plain stuck?

In an article from Forbes magazine some reasons for this funk are habit, we don’t have the means available; money, knowledge, contacts, the risk or cost is too great, or we are not being true to ourselves about what we really want.

So, I ask you, what would it take to get you started and stay actively engaged? Or as I was asked, “How can I get motivated.?”   First, consider what do you really want, how does it feel when you are actively engaged in your work, and who can help you become accountable to stay motivated?  That person can be a friend, colleague, or a coach.  This person is your accountability partner with whom you will discuss your goals, strategies, and possible actions.  Commit to a time when you will start and what you will accomplish in a set time frame.  Set up a schedule when you will get back in touch to share the results of your actions.  If you don’t accomplish your tasks, you can discuss why this was so.  The fruits of your labor can be seen after planting the seed, nurturing it and keeping it fertilized.

Get a new start, break the old habits, define the costs and benefits, be accountable, forge ahead, and have a happy productive new year!

You can get a start on being motivated, being accountable, and being successful in what you really want to accomplish.


Contact Isabel today to start on your unique pathway to new horizons.


Even Extroverts Can Overdose On Excitement

extrovert overdose excitementNo doubt in anyone’s mind, anyone who truly knows me, I am an extrovert personified.  What that means is: give me something to do, give me more to do, give me even more to do, tell me to meet and greet with several groups in a short period of time, present me with a challenge of a life time, ask me to research ,etc and I will accept all this with open arms.  For me it is stimulating, enriching, exhilarating, value added, and just plain reaching a “high.”  Ask an introvert to accept all of the above and watch him/her retreat perhaps with anxiety.  This isn’t saying that one is better being an extrovert or an introvert.  Actually there are benefits within both types of behavior.

Many people are in job positions where they must be out in the public selling, reporting, making speeches, and facilitating.  The extrovert will handle this with less anxiety than an introvert, not that one has more knowledge: it is the individual’s make up in behavior that dictates the comfort level.

But the show must go on.  And so it does.  The introvert can become overwhelmed by the activity in a room socially or during an organizational meeting being expected to come forth with a solution to a problem immediately.  He/she needs thinking time to come forth with a valuable answer to the problem situation. The extrovert thrives in this environment. However, his/her answer may take less time and thus may not be as thoroughly thought out.

Susan Cain, in her book Quiet-The Power of Introverts, draws out the benefits of being an introvert even though in society most regard being an extrovert as more positive. Leaders of organizations must be attuned to the benefits from both types of individuals.  Leaders themselves will find themselves in the position to relate to the many obstacles that their employees face.

I started this with me, the extrovert personified, and will end it with how I dealt with being overwhelmed and overdosed on the excitement that I looked for and accepted.  “What would it be like to be an introvert?”, I thought.  So I actually went to extremes.  I booked a cruise, by myself, made arrangements to dine by myself and spent time being by myself.  I shut myself off from what normally creates my happiness and excitement. I really had to work at being in the moment and less gregarious and definitely less talkative.  I was discovering a new world: it was peaceful, relaxing, and afforded my mind to be creative without the usual foreground and background noise.  On the next to last day of the cruise, the waiter walked me to a shared table.  At first I wanted to say,” No I would rather be by myself”.  But I didn’t.  I actually had some anxiety about being back in my usual element since it had been several days where I had been living in a different world, so to speak.  I took a deep breath and realized I hadn’t lost my step.  I was back in my extroverted self, however this time, aware of the other people’s needs and conversational view points.  I became a full-fledged listener and learned a lot.  It really was a wonderful experience.  I encourage you, who are one type or another, to try something different sometime.  You will learn more about how you operate and how others around you view you, and what you have to say.


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