Mad life skills from an FBI hostage negotiator

Empathy. It’s a soft, fuzzy word you’re more likely to associate with social workers than the high stakes world of international hostage negotiation. But for Chris Voss, the former head of the FBI’s international kidnap and hostage negotiation team, ‘tactical empathy’ was his number one tool.

The ‘secret’ habit leading women to the poorhouse?

Ever since The Secret spilled the magic beans on manifesting (if you can imagine it, it will happen!) vision boards have been popping up on personal altars like Pulp Fiction posters in a share house.

Manifesting, for the uninitiated, is the art of imagining what you want to being into your life and then acting as if it’s already there. It’s an energetic thing; instead of focusing on the lack of a Russell Brand lookalike in your life, you act as if he’s already there. This cosmically shifts your energy to the point where the Universe plants Rusty 2.0 in your local coffee shop, and when this happens you write a gratitude list and tell all your friends.

What happens in Men’s Behaviour Change Programs?

It’s a wintry Tuesday night in Melbourne and you’d like to be home watching TV. Instead, you’re sitting in a circle with a dozen guys, trying not to get called on during your first session at a men’s behaviour change program.

There’s one other new guy who, like you, has been ‘directed to attend’ by the courts. But unlike you, he has an attitude problem, interrupting and cracking bad jokes. The facilitator is blunt. He can’t guarantee the man’s partner will take him back, he says, but if he keeps attending he might get to see his kids again.   

The ‘mental load’ burning women out

It’s 6.30pm. The kids are in their high chairs and you’re trying to coax them to eat while keeping an eye on the stove. Your partner comes home, dumps his bag on the floor, pats the baby on the head, and tells you about his day. “That’s great,” you reply, “can you feed the cats?” Two minutes later, “that’s great, can you put this stuff back into the fridge?” “That’s great, can you give the baby something to eat?” “Awesome, can you set the table?”

Is status anxiety ruining kiddie parties?

Two weeks ago I was at a ‘cake smashing party’ – for one-year-olds. Ten babies were lined up in front of ten cakes as ten excited sets of parents hovered with their iPhones.

Unfortunately, one-year-olds are not terribly advanced. Most prefer grabbing at other babies or singing and clapping with people they know over orchestrated photo-opportunities. Instead of cutely gobbling cake as he was meant to, the birthday baby immediately started howling and begging to be picked up. As did the baby next to him. Within seconds all ten babies were crying and crawling away from the cakes while their parents pleaded with them to ‘just smile and smash the cake once, please darling, then I’ll pick you up, ok?”

Is the gender pay gap a myth?

Ever wondered what to say to that friend / relative / co-worker who tells you repeatedly that the earnings gap between men and women is BS because ‘they’ve never seen it’? All the rebuttals at your fingertips. Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! 

I know it’s International Women’s Day because there was a free morning tea at work. By the time I got there the ladies had already scoffed the best muffins, with no thought to me or their waistlines. I left when they started banging on about the Pay Gap …

Don’t you mean the ‘so-called’ pay gap?

Yes! It’s a myth just like the three-breasted woman.

Workplace sexism: Australian women do it tougher

In Australia the ideal female worker is white, good looking, shrugs off sexism and loves being part of the boys club.

It was the first evening of product manager Katrina’s company conference and the CEO had just started the audio visual presentation.

“It began with a woman’s naked silhouette and went downhill from there,” she said. “The company had paid an actress and filmed her sucking on a lollipop and talking about having sex with a piece of equipment our company distributed.”

Things I’d do if I wasn’t afraid of appearing masculine

Reddit recently asked men what they would do if they weren’t afraid of appearing ‘feminine’. ‘I’d knit so hard, bro,’ was one response. ‘Drape myself in velvet’ was another. ‘Wax my butt crack’ was unexpected, but it did get me wondering what I’d do if the question was reversed.

So here are the things I’d do if I wasn’t afraid of appearing masculine. (Ladies and transgender ladies, add yours in the comments!)

Does brain training really work?

(I first published this one in Australian Women’s Health. Loved you in Dead Calm, Our Nic)

On the outside, I am calm and ordered. I’m a massive fan of lists. I keep three jobs on track – uni tutor, writer, yoga instructor. I rapidly switch between tasks without missing any major deadlines. But on the inside … inside my brain there is a pack of wild brumbies, careening out of control.