"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

How Often do you Engage in “Prosocial Deception”?

White lies

A “Prosocial Deception” is a falsehood spoken without the intent to harm i.e. a white lie: “minor or unimportant lie, especially one uttered in the interests of tact or politeness or to minimize harm, embarrassment or distress, often considered harmless, or even beneficial, in the long term.” White lies take many forms, including:

– Out and Out Lies
– Softened truths
– Careful omissions

When we tell lies, we do a form of mental calculus. We weigh the benefits of the lie, both to ourselves and to the other against the downside, the odds of being caught, and the consequences thereof; a cost/benefit analysis that has as much to do with our personality as our value system. What value do we put on time? Some will do most anything to postpone the time of reckoning, even for a short period. Others would just as soon face the consequences now and get it over with. What value do we put on the relationship; on social discomfort, ours v. others?

Factors to Consider:

– Are you being kind? “Selfish Honesty”: bluntness for the sheer sake of itself can border on cruelty; not every truth needs to be verbalized; does it help the situation? The person? Make the world a better place?

– Will the truth come out anyway? Do not compliment someone’s idea to their face and then oppose it elsewhere!

– Is there a better time to tell the full truth? More private time/place? Less stressful? If there is little a person can do at the moment about it, is it the best time to add pressure?

– Will the truth hurt or help?

– Is it your discomfort or theirs (or mutual) you are concerned about?

– Does the Golden Rule apply? Would you want to be told the same lie?*

– If your lie is fear based, is this a fear that you need to confront? (Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway; The Cave We Fear to Enter Holds the Treasure We Seek; Do the Thing You Fear and the Death of Fear is Certain; Our Fears often Point the Way to Our Greatest Growth)

– Does the other need to hear the truth (and in the current context) in order to grow? (“Would that some power give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us” – Robert Burns; being an accurate, if gentle, social mirror is one of the greatest gifts of friendship)

* “A lie is a form of power over someone—it is deceiving the other person in some way—and it can be useful to ask oneself if you would want someone else to deceive you in the same situation,” – William Doherty, marriage and family therapist and professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

One Secret of Happiness: Cultivating the “Active Constructive Response”

way to go, good job, well done, you're the man, thumbs up, you rock - a set of isolated sticky notes

When we receive news or respond to a comment or compliment, we have a choice of 4 styles of response. Imagine a 4-square grid with “Active” and “Passive” along the top and “Constructive” and “Destructive” along the side.


Enthusiastic, Authentic, Fully Engaged, Response Rapport, Non-Verbal Cues: Eye Contact, Wide Smile, Appropriate Supportive Touch

“Terrific! You must be so proud and rightly so! I am happy for you!”: Delivered with a genuine smile, from the heart; response often elaborates, adds in a positive way, looks for the good, shows interest, ask relevant questions, builds up other person, expresses bona fide excitement; contains sincere compliments, legitimate praise


Low Energy, Delayed Response, Flat, Non-Verbal Cues: Little to No Active Emotional Expression, Dead Pan Face

“Oh…how nice for you.”: Delivered without enthusiasm, commitment, no emotional involvement, perfunctory, going through motions


Dismissive, Demeaning, Display of Negative Non-Verbal Cues: Frowning, Furrowed Brow

“A promotion? You must have really brownnosed your boss. Guess you will be working longer hours too.”: Takes the air out of their sails, looks for the negative


Changes Subject, Ignores Speaker, Turns Focus Inward, Non-Verbal Cues: Shrug of Shoulders, Eye Contact Avoidance, Turning Away, Crossing Arms

“Really? Well, something like that happened to me too but more interesting.” Shows no regard for others feeling, disdainful, even contemptuous, belittles, debases, detracts, degrades

An Active, Constructive Response builds the relationship, creates a positive vibe:

In Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, Martin Seligman recounts how Shelly Gable of the University of California at Santa Barbara “has shown that how you celebrate is more predictive of a strong relationship than how you fight. When people share with you a victory, or any positive experiences they have had, how you respond can either strengthen the relationship or undermine it. Research shows that when you respond actively (showing interest and asking questions) and constructively (building up the other’s points), it can significantly enhance the quality of your relationship.”

We can reflexively give non-positive responses: Every time we turn away a compliment, we more push away the giver than display modesty. A simple “Thank you” will suffice, with a “Kind of you to notice” added if you wish. Also, I’ve noticed I have a tendency (socially dysfunctional trait left over from law school?) to point out the other side, often when it is not necessary or productive. I’m learning to simply “accentuate the positive” and focus on giving an Active Constructive Response from my heart.

 Closing Quotes:

“Words are powerful. Whispering words of wisdom can empower, encourage, uplift and help move someone forward. Choose kind words to heal one’s spirit.” – Ritu Ghatourey

“What we say matters. The unkind things we communicate can soil the best of relationships; even with the deepest of regrets.” – Jason Versey

“Kind words are short and easy to speak; but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

“Positive and kind words can empower, encourage, motivate and help move someone towards their goals. Always choose words that can heal not destroy.” – Anurag Prakash

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

Avoiding “Dumsor” Motivation/Energy Levels


Dumsor* (doom-sore) is a Ghanaian phrase used in reference to the frequent power outages and rolling blackouts that are epidemic to the country; it translates loosely as “off-and-on”. Upon reading the term, I immediately thought, “How do we as individuals, how can I, avoid energy or motivation blackouts/outages?”

How can I stay my best self always? Or at least longer for starters? (Baby steps first if necessary, but onward, forward, upward always!)

Several ways came to mind:

– Eliminate negative thinking (BIG energy drain); stay positive in my focus/thoughts, surround myself with positive people.

– Return Frequently/Daily to a Source of Inspiration. At home, my reading chair is surrounded by uplifting literature; most mornings I pick up a tome and open it randomly, read until I find an “ace I can keep” for the day.

Have a plan for the day, week, month, year, and more; targets, deadlines, and dreams that pull you forward, spur you onward. Even something as small as the sense of satisfaction derived from crossing the last thing off your “to-do” list will help you find the energy you need.

Closing Quotes

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962; America’s longest serving 1st Lady

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins, ‘Unlimited Power’, ‘Awaken the Giant Within’

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not of your frustrations but of your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with how you tried and failed but with what it is still possible for you.” – Pope John XXIII

*The term is derived from two separate words from the Asante Twi, the Akuapem Twi or Fante dialects of the Akan language: dum (to turn off or quench) and sɔ (to turn on or to make light), so the term roughly translates as “off-and-on”. The frequent Ghanaian blackouts are caused by a power supply shortage; generating capacity is currently 400-600 megawatts less than Ghana needs thus load is shed via rolling blackouts. As of 2015, the dumsor schedule went from 24 hours with light and 12 without to 12 hours with light and 24 without. The long blackouts contrast with other countries, where blackouts roll rapidly so that no residential area is without power for more than one hour at a time. – Wikipedia

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier