Holding Up The Mirror


July 25, 2011

I had an interesting conversation a couple weeks ago when I called in to the HR Happy Hour radio show.  The guest was Matthew Stillman, consultant and author of the Stillman Says blog.  His blog is the way he records his account of an experiment he started in April 2009 in Union Square in New York City.  He showed up with two chairs, one table and a sign that read”Creative Approaches to What You Have Been Thinking About” and a smaller one that read “Pay What You Like or Take What You Need”.  People wander by and sit down.  They talk with him about every topic imaginable.   The stories on the blog are fascinating and Matt’s creative recommendations and approaches are quite inspiring.

That said, I was a little skeptical.  After all, I am from Missouri, the “Show Me” state.

This particular night, Mr. Stillman was taking questions from callers on a wide array of topics.  He’d already dispensed advice regarding tattoo placement so I felt confident that if I called in with a parenting question, he would be able to use his creative solutions to point me in a new direction.  Fortunately for me, he did not disappoint.  The one thing I found to be almost disarming was his approach to my question about my daughter’s recent behavior.  He directed the focus of the questioning and conversation squarely back on me.

On ME.

At first, not worried about how she felt, what she heard, what she said.  But, on me.  Why I was reacting the way I was.  What did I think about that?  It was one of those “ah ha!” moments. Matt gave me some creative ideas and a couple books to read to help me approach my situation in a new way.  I’ve since purchased one of the books and am trying some new techniques with my daughter.  I can tell you that we’ve already noticed a change in her behavior with regard to being grateful for what she has.  This is no small feat since she is seven years old and quite self-absorbed at that age.

The bigger lesson I learned was that when someone comes to me for advice or to help think through a creative approach to a problem, I am far more likely now to focus the approach on that person.  On their behavior.  On their feelings about the situation.

It’s really interesting to have someone new hold the mirror up to you so that you can really see how to approach things in your home life or work life differently.  I encourage you to give the HR Happy Hour episode a listen.  Please click through to hear Matt Stillman’s approach.  It just may help you hold the mirror up too!


  • Hi Trish-
    I listened to that show, and I was wondering if your daughter took dance lessons. Then the next time you bought her dance shoes, you could explain why you had to give one of them to your son! She could choose if it was the right one or the left one, because that would be “fair”.
    Actually, I thought cutting the sox in half was a great idea.
    I also noticed how you handled it when he put it right back on you, as you noted here. He made you aware that you hadn’t looked at all the information yet, that you had to step back and see your role in the current process, not just the desired process. I’d have to admit, when my children knew I was angry or disappointed, I got a different response from them. Logical discussion only goes so far.
    Thanks for sharing your story and the progress.

  • I did that once and the damn mirror cracked. Now I have seven years of bad luck…. stupid mirror.

    : )

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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