The Subtle Art of Changing the Subject

There are few things about which I could teach a lecture that would possess any academic merit. I am the classic jack-of-all-trades, master of none. I do basic home repair, car maintenance, and rudimentary technological patchwork. But I am first level support – the kind you typically get on the phone after twenty minutes of pushing buttons in answer to rudimentary questions until the annoying voice finally says, “Please wait for an operator.” I don’t know enough to be the operator.

I am, however, an expert at changing the subject. This gift is something I discovered in my teenage years. I found it handier to change the subject than actually deal with things that a teenage boy might be doing that could potentially be frowned upon by elder members of the home, who had likely once been teenagers but have long since forgotten the fun things that can happen if done without the knowledge and consent of the elder members of the home.

Gather round children, I want to tell you the key. This instruction will take you far in life. The first step to change the subject in any conversation is to LISTEN – not necessarily to the words being spoken, but listen for the opportunity to insert a more favorable alternative topic. Once the insertion point arrives, there are several approaches – I want to highlight those I relied upon in my early years: Read More

The Winner

“Winner! Winner! We have a winner!”

The ebullient sound of victory could be heard above the constant drone of the casino. In fact, the level of noise tempered slightly as gamers paused to take in the sight of a bald man at the roulette table with both arms raised in victory. His jaw dropped as he surveyed the enormity of the winnings before him – knowing this event completely changed his future. With tears in his eyes, he watched as stack after stack of chips were raked toward him by a portly croupier who seemed a sour fellow.

Several employees were summoned to help the bald man collect his good fortune so he could cash out. Each was tipped handily by the generous winner, none so much as the hand that had spun the wheel. The croupier’s attitude improved as his pockets bulged under the weight of the gift.

When the tally was exchanged for legal tender, the winner searched out a quiet place to rejoice and contemplate his haul. Beyond the rows of gaming tables sat an open bar that looked somewhat removed from the madness. The buzz of the casino resumed and seemed to have forgotten the interruption that had occurred just moments before. Aside from a few congratulations on his way to the bar, most of the gamers had already moved on from his win as they gave their concentration wholly over to chips, dice, and cards. Read More