The Assertive Way to Fight Body Shaming

For years and years, the practice of making fun of fat or thin people has been a staple of cartoons, picture postcards, film and television comedies, books and stories.

It’s what we do, mock and marginalise our fellow humans who don’t conform to some manufactured ideal of physical appearance. The shame is on us, not on our bodies.

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Talkin’ ’bout your generation — How to overcome generational differences in communication

The phrase ‘the generation gap’ came into common usage in the 1960s. It referred to the lack of understanding between the older generation, born earlier in the century, and the new tribe of teenagers and young people which emerged after World War Two.

Depending on your viewpoint, the younger generation changed a moribund society into one which was better, brighter and freer, or it plunged the country into the depths of depravity, permissiveness and uncouth behaviour.

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How to Deal with Workplace Jargon

The Oxford English Dictionary has asked the public to contribute examples of the work-specific language — slang, technical terms, acronyms, ‘in’ phrases — which is current in their profession.

The fine lexicographers at the OED are following the practice of Sir James Murray, who in 1878 took on the huge task of preparing and editing the dictionary. Sir James asked people to send in examples of words and the contexts in which they were used, so that every word in the dictionary was accompanied by references and quotations to illustrate its range of meanings and usages. Information and evidence continue to be key components of the fascinating task of tracking and recording our language as it changes and develops.

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The Assertive, Friendly Way to Refuse a Drink and Keep Your Personal Power

It can be very hard to resist the pressure to drink, and to deal with the suggestion which is sometimes implied that your refusal means that you are boring, or weird, or a killjoy, or that you are being judgemental about other people.

What could be more social than a bar or a pub, right? It could be your local pub-grub watering hole, or a sophisticated cocktail lounge (get you), or an old-school tavern with a darts board and other trad cons, or the kind of party at someone’s house that turns it into a bar of sorts for the evening.

These and similar situations have two things in common — they encourage fun and sociability, and they share an assumption that having a few or more alcoholic drinks is the way to a good time.

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How Parents Can Manage the Stress of Exam Results

Once upon a time, way back in the day when there were only two television channels available and they were both in black and white, the only people interested in exam results were those directly involved. The results arrived at your house by post, in an envelope addressed to you, the exam candidate, and could be opened when and where and how you chose.

You could absorb the grades in the privacy of your bedroom, or in the company of your parents or a friend or a sympathetic dog, or sitting on your backpack ready to hit the Kathmandu trail if it had all gone Pete Tong, as we didn’t say in those days.

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It Is What It Isn’t

The expression ‘it is what it is’ has been in use for a good few years, but seems to have extended its reach to all kinds of situations in which it is too often used to mask attitudes which limit rather than encourage communication and understanding.

In some contexts, the phrase expresses a wonderful philosophy. It suggests that we should accept the unique existence of something without trying to change it or subjugate it to our own wishes. Who better than Mr Bob Dylan to express this: ‘I ain’t looking to simplify you, classify you… analyse you, categorize you… or inspect you or reject you’.

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How to be Properly Busy

We tend to use the word ‘busy’ to indicate being active and having a lot to do. But the term has lost its neutral descriptive quality and become loaded with implications and judgements about the value of our lives.

Perhaps it’s the word which is offputting. ‘Busy’ isn’t a great word. It sounds like the irritating buzzing of a wasp. It brings to mind the old-fashioned term ‘busybody’, a pejorative term which in the olden days would be applied to people who meddled in others’ affairs.

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How Words Can Cloud Our Thinking

The words we use in everyday interactions are under intense scrutiny. In some contexts, we are increasingly aware of how language can be used to hurt, to demean, to belittle, to exclude. We choose words carefully, not wanting to offend through carelessness or ignorance, and not wanting to take offence when none was meant.

In the new atmosphere of heightened awareness of, for example, equality between sexes, we could take another look at some of the habits of language and communication that we have taken for granted for years.

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How to Stay Authentic in Difficult Situations

One of the most well-meaning but useless pieces of advice that many of us have received and that many of us have given (come on, hands up) is the recommendation to ‘just be yourself’. They’ll love you, we add. Of course you’ll get the job. Of course your date will like you. Of course you’ll get on with the other kids/your prospective in-laws/your new workmates. Just be natural. There’s nothing to worry about, you’re great!

The urge to be our authentic self is a sound one, particularly considering the barrage of examples of fakery and fraudulence which we face every day. Now more than ever, perhaps, we value what is genuine, sincere, authentic, and want to be perceived as such in the way that we present ourselves and in our dealings with other people. However, strange as it may sound, being authentic does not mean that you have to be consistently open and honest, or that you have to behave in the same way to everyone.

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When a Phone Call is Better than a Text Message

Text messages are, naturally, indispensable. It could be argued that the ability to exchange text messages is a major marker of our development as human beings (insert emoji of your choice).

Instant communication has transformed the way we interact in our personal and professional lives. We have evolved to meet the changing world but there are times when it really is better to make a phone call rather than text a message.
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Don’t Box People in by Making a Gift of Gender Stereotyping

‘Tis the season to be gender-stereotyped. We may think it’s been a long struggle, but that at last the cause of equality is making some progress.

Belatedly, we are publicly addressing issues of power and imbalance between men and women. We are careful to use gender-neutral language. We don’t think in terms of boys’ careers and girls’ careers. We don’t assume that certain toys are suitable for girls and certain toys are suitable for boys. And then…

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