I feel like my thanksgiving post every year is my favorite post to write.

I;ve written a few posts on thanksgiving - here

Mostly - what I am thankful for - is the fact that I am even alive. A few years ago - I almost died. But - because of modern medicine, my life was saved. Beyond that - it's really stunning I am alive at all.  My parents met and because one particular sperm of my father's and one particular egg of my mother's met up - I exist.  If she had gotten pregnant a different month - someone else would have existed.

It's the same for my son. I get pregnant in a different month and I have a completely different kid.

A lot of life is about chance. It's chance that we exist at all. It's chance we have managed to live as long as we have  - however long we have been alive.

A lot of people struggle with uncertainty and chance. I don't. I accept it as - life. That's just how things are. I can try to fight it - but - it would be pointless as things just happen.

To me, as a Humanist, I feel it is better to just accept that change plays a part in my life and work around it. I can do what I can to change the odds in my favor, but really - I can't totally control what happens.  So - I chose to be grateful for what I do have and can control.

I am thankful I am alive. Despite the fact it is sometimes hard and painful. I REALLY like being alive. It beats the alternative. I really am glad that I have wonderful people to share my time on earth with. As annoying as they can sometimes be - I'm glad to know them.

And that goes for everyone I've met. It's all part of the experience of being alive.

So - thank you - my readers - for being on this journey with me. I am humbled by your support of this crazy thing I do - teaching people about Humanism. 

What is the Key to Employee Engagement During Staff Training Programs?

Many of my customers think they need live training in order to ensure that staff are actively engaged in the training program so that they learn.  I'm obviously quite happy to provide a live training - especially if it's in a location I'd like to visit, but live training aren't necessary to engaged participation in a training.

In fact, when customers want a live training, I often require them to participate in an online training to prep participants for the live discussion by providing education on key concepts prior to the live discussion.

To help you understand the problem of employee engagement and why I don't think live is necessarily better - here is a recent Q&A I did with a reporter. 


What is employee engagement? And why has it become so crucial in the present day? How does staff training play a key role in employee engagement?  How can brands increase their employee engagement during staff training? What are the key factors?


The training – has to be of interest to them. Something they want to learn. If they aren’t interested in learning whatever it is you are teaching – they will be disengaged and it really doesn’t matter what sorts of whistles and bells you add to the training.  An example – harassment training. Most of this training is geared towards managers telling them – to not bully or harass employees because – it’s illegal.  Any manager who is bullying or harassing employees – isn’t interested in stopping and doesn’t really care about the training – it doesn’t apply to them – it’s just a requirement they are forced to sit through.  If … on the other hand – you approach this as a training for people currently being harassed or bullied – and you teach them – how to make it stop – you will have VERY engaged learners. 

For things where everyone has to learn whatever it is – to get engagement  you need to provide a reason why they should care. Not just – why do they need to learn this to do their job – but why it matters?  Caring and mattering are moral and ethical judgements. Without a moral reason to learn something – why would anyone care? A moral and ethical dimension that should be included in any training. For example – when I do leadership training – I not only provide practical skills – I also provide philosophic tweaks. I appeal to people’s sense of morality and ethics – how the world should be ideally. What sort of person/leader do they want to be – ideally. Once I activate people’s moral compass and encourage them to think of themselves – not just as a manager – but as  a quality human being – we can use that to discuss how good people – behave in certain stressful situations and now people want to learn – because this is about them – being moral and ethical and the person they aspire to be. If you can activate people’s moral compass and make learning a skill seem like a moral imperative – you will engage them more readily than if you just – present information.

Some things – can’t be made all that engaging. For the things that aren’t engaging – you can at least make them fun and use gamification to help – keep people interested and participating. But even these things can include moral and ethical considerations. Even if you are just training someone on how to clean up a mess – how they impact others. How this impacts work flow – matters. 

To me – I distinguish between engaged- and active. Engaged learners – want to learn. Active learners – are actively learning – even if they don’t want to learn. 

If you want to learn more about how ethics impacts employee motivation - I am speaking with Prof. Manuel GuillĂ©n on Nov 30th for a live online Q&A on the importance of morality on motivation. Information and registration for this free event here:

And if you would like to organize a training for your leadership team or staff - please let me know. I offer humanistic management training that is both practical, science based and integrated ethical philosophy so that people participating in the training - really want to learn and more importantly - change what they are doing so that they can be more effective and ethical at the same time. A list of my humanistic management programs are here: 

The Golden Rule - 2 ways to understand it

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There are a variety of reasons why this is good advice. They key - is how we understand what exactly this means.

Brooke Gibbs, an anti-bullying educator, has a great video on this. 

In it - he talks about how treating others nicely initiates our innate feelings of reciprocity.  When people are nice - it makes us want to be nice back. Even if we are mad - it's REALLY hard to resist our instincts to mimic the behavior of others - in this case - niceness.

When I teach the golden rule, I teach it in terms of both reciprocity and as enlightened self interest.

You are not only modelling the behavior you want to see. You are also encouraging good people to want to be around you.

Even if mean people don't reciprocate - good people notice that you were not a jerk back to someone being a jerk to you. And this encourages the good people of the world - to want to help and support you - which is really helpful as life is often quite difficult and stressful and having good people on your side - makes it so much easier.

So yes - the golden rule - because enlightened self interest encourages us to manipulate people's sense of reciprocity. And yes - that sounds like a horrible reason to be good. The other reason? Being good - feels good. Triple plus good.

To learn more about how I think of and use the golden rule - get my book The Humanist Approach to Happiness - to find out what I think the true holy trinity really is.

What can companies actually do about harassment?

Google was in the news this week because - 20,000+ of their employees walked out to demand better treatment of women.  Their demands include not just pay equity, but also - improvements to how the company deals with harassment problems.
Photo by Russell Brandom / The Verge

Their list of demands seems quite reasonable and can be found here:

The catalyst for this was that an executive at Alphabet - the parent company of Google - stepped down amid harassment allegations.

This was an is a global movement within the company and the company was supportive of the walk out - meaning - they were not planning to retaliate against employees who participated. Which is good.

The basic demands are pay equity, transparent policy regarding harassment, an end to force arbitration, a diversity officer that reports directly to the CEO and employee representation on the board. These all seem like reasonable demands.

But this does bring up the question, what can companies realistically do? Obviously - conducting a harassment training isn't enough. A training won't change behavior and it certainly won't change processes that are in place to protect the company instead of processes to protect the employees.

This last bit is the important part. What the employees want - are processes that protect them. The problem is that even with processes in place, they aren't always used and processes can often protect the accused and cause harm to the victim.

So what should companies that take this seriously do?  Find out what ideally should be happening.  And I don't mean - the basics - have a whistle blower program and polices etc. Though you should have all that.

What I mean is that employees and lawyers advising employers need to know what exactly should be happening to make the unwanted behavior stop. It should be pretty clear to everyone that telling someone who is abusing an employee to stop - doesn't actually work. I get called in when companies have an employee they want to "fix." And if that is your attitude, you aren't going to succeed.

Harassment is a behavior. Unwanted behaviors can be eliminated but you need to know the science of how exactly that happens so you can build your process to accomplish that. Legal concerns are important, but legal processes are almost always after the fact and designed to protect the employer against claims made by an employee. And yes - you need to do that - but again - that leaves your employees vulnerable and tends to protect the abuser and actually increases the harm done.

So let's stop putting the cart before the horse and start focusing on what actually has to happen to help employees protect themselves and their co-workers from the bad apples in your organization.  Learn what works to make unwanted behaviors stop!

I have a lot of courses on this and if you are a labor lawyer and have not yet been taught the behavioral science of how to get unwanted behaviors to stop - I have great news for you - I have courses approved by the FL Bar for CLE credit. So please start learning this and lets start changing how we handle these situations.

Behavioral Science Based Bullying & Harassment Courses:


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