Gathering with family is a time of celebration — but simmering conflict can ruin the night. Here’s a guide to a successful holiday dinner.

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Holiday dinners don’t need to be marred by fights. Photo: NDAB Creativity,

“When are you gonna hear what my mommy and daddy said? They had a fi … they were talking mean to each other.”

Working on my PhD in Communication, I spent 16 weeks with research that sprang from the recorded dinnertime conversations of a few dozen families. They’d invited cameras and microphones into their homes to observe everything that happened from before dinner time until the youngest child went to bed — and the things we got to see and hear were surprisingly candid.

Since then, I’ve thought a lot about five year old Janie, who came to the front yard to tell the research team her concerns about the fight her parents had had over the evening meal. …

There’s a lot of freedom that comes with a “work from home” job — but it can come with great personal cost, too.

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Photo: Maria Symchych —

The CEO of an old-school financial firm invited all employees to a zoom meeting. The pandemic had impacted their business negatively, and it was time for him to provide a candid update on their strategy. Most employees had cameras on, and could see the employee who was lounging on his couch with stacks of pizza boxes and empty wine bottles in the background of his studio apartment — as well as their host who was attending poolside from his own home in sunny Florida.

The disparity in circumstances between the two zoom squares — and the many employees whose home offices fell somewhere in between those extremes — took on a particular poignancy as they heard about the hiring freeze, selective workforce reduction, benefits cuts, salary freeze, and other difficult decisions the company was undertaking to respond to their new economic reality. …

Most Republicans — and Religious Voters — Affirm LGBTQ Rights.

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October, 8, 2019: The Supreme Court of the United States SCOTUS hears arguments on LGBTQ employment rights on Oct 8, 2019. Photo: GreteMiller, Shutterstock.

“I’d like a pretty bra.”

Our homeless outreach team had developed a relationship with this guest, so when she told them she’d reached the point in her transition when she wondered if our clothes closet might have a bra in her size, it wasn’t an unexpected request. And since Care For Friends is committed to meeting the needs of anyone who comes to our door with dignity and respect, the worker wanted to make sure we got it right — asking if she wanted a pretty one, or a more utilitarian athletic style?

Twenty years ago, I began volunteering with the program when it was still run by a local church. …

We love to follow along at home, but most maps are messy to use. I set out to change that.

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When I was in first grade, my teacher sent us home one night with a map of the United States and an assignment to watch the presidential election results on TV. States that voted for Jimmy Carter were to be colored blue, Reagan states colored red. I was too young to really understand what was going on, but it was still great fun.

Want to skip straight to the good stuff? Just download a printable PDF or Powerpoint File of the best color-at-home map for electoral vote tracking. You’ll be glad you did.

Most years since then, I’ve repeated the assignment, printing whatever electoral college map template I found online, and doing my best to stay in the lines as I talled the votes. But the worksheet that almost every grade school teacher gives their class is — honestly — not that great for the task. …

Here’s what to do about that.

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A photo of two LGBTQ Brides Framed On A Workplace Desk

Last fall, I was invited to a reception honoring Chicago’s Notable LGBTQ Executives. As I joined the room of 85 VP- and C-level leaders in Chicago’s business community, I noted that the attendees’ most-common cocktail introduction was “I wasn’t sure if I was going to accept this award — it’s definitely going to shine a spotlight on me at work.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised. The most recent data say that nearly half of LGBT Americans are closeted at work — a rate that has remained stubbornly unchanged for over a decade. …

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Photo Adapted from Shutterstock — New Africa ID 1226517295 — Royalty Free

With a donor shortage, why are we still clinging to outdated stereotypes?

As the CDC launches a nationwide COVID study amongst blood donors and the FDA explores convalescent plasma as a potentially effective treatment for the disease, blood donors are possibly more important than ever before.

Even when we’re not battling a pandemic, thirty-two thousand pints of blood are used in medical treatment each day — saving 4.5 million Americans’ lives each year. Donated blood has a shelf life of only six weeks (and studies say even fresher blood is better), so blood donors are always in very high demand. …

Beyond “work” and “life,” I’ve got a lot of things to get in order to find my own balance.

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Photo Credit: By Michael Tatman,

Over the past month, millions of workers have left the office for their homes, instantly commingling the ideas of “work” and “life” in the same physical space. And as their community and government leaders contemplate what lifting stay-at-home orders might look like, these same workers are starting to think about whether they want to go back, or whether there’s something they prefer about working from home full time.

It used to be that people talked about achieving “work-life balance,” as if they were contradictory ideas that didn’t naturally go well together. But as we’ve grown accustomed to videoconferencing colleagues from their living rooms, with kids and cats occasionally wandering across the background, we’ve learned that “work” and “life” are two parts of our selves that can amplify and grow from one another. …

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Eighteen years ago, I earned a PhD in organizational communication, and today my time has come to use it. As many US companies are implementing work from home policies in the midst of COVID19 quarantines, many American workers are learning for the first time how to telecommute.

My best piece of advice? TURN ON YOUR WEBCAM.

Yes, I know. A few years ago, fears of strangers hacking into your laptop led a wave of workers to cover the built-in laptop camera with a post it note or piece of electrical tape to preserve their privacy. …


JD Miller, PhD

Leading at the Intersection of Business, Technology and Humanity | Conference Speaker | Board Member | Sales Transformations | C-Level Exec |

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