Persuasion Coach News

Voter Protection Info to Take with You to the Polls

I have cut and pasted the most relevant parts of a notice I received about what to do if you observe, or experience, suspicious activity at the polls–activity that appears aimed at keeping people from voting or intimidating them. The hotline numbers are for Texas. I advise those in other states to look online for similar resources.

In case anyone is thinking they would rather not let certain demographic groups vote, just remember, if we tolerate such tactics as late poll opening or intimidation toward one group, we set a precedent. This would allow, or at least encourage, people to do the same to any demographic group. Sometime, someplace, that targeted group could be yours. The only way to be sure you and your descendants can vote is to make sure every eligible voter who wants to vote gets to vote.

Every eligible voter deserves to exercise their right to vote fairly. Together, Texans can work to protect, advance, and defend the right to vote.

Voters like you are the eyes and ears we need at polling locations to report incidents and ensure that every eligible Texan can vote.

During the 2018 Texas midterm election, incidents reported to the Election Protection Coalition affected over 250,000 Texas voters. These issues ranged from late poll openings to voter intimidation.

The Election Protection hotlines staffed by volunteer attorneys are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE – English  or 866-687-8683

  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota – Spanish and English or 888-839-8682

  • 888-API-VOTE – Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Bengali also known as Bangla, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Tagalog and English or 888-274-8683

  • 844-Yalla-US – Arabic and English or 844-925-5287

  • 301-818-8683 – Video ASL or 301-818-8683

  • 888-796-8683 – Disability Rights Texas 888-796-8683


Don’t Shrink Your Brain!


I’m sure no one deliberately sets out to shrink their brain. If anything, most of us want to grow mentally–learn new things, open our minds to different points of view. But did you know that complaining can shrink and rewire your brain, harm your health, and attract more of the very things you complain about into your life?

You can find many articles taking off from a Stanford U. study indicating that stating, writing, or even hearing complaints “actually shrinks the hippocampus–an area of the brain that’s critical to problem solving and intelligent thought. Damage to the hippocampus is scary, especially when you consider that it’s one of the primary brain areas destroyed by Alzheimer’s. [“How Complaining Rewires Your Brain for Negativity” by Travis Bradberry.] This particularly concerns me because problem solving and intelligent thinking are inexorably involved in the consensus building and communication skills I teach.

In addition, nerves that fire together wire together. As Bradberry puts it, “Your brain loves efficiency and doesn’t like to work any harder than it has to. When you repeat a behavior, such as complaining, your neurons branch out to each other to ease the flow of information. This makes it much easier to repeat that behavior in the future…” You notice more and more negative things to complain about and fail to notice positive ways to improve your life and reach creative solutions to disagreements and other problems.

This supports my long-held belief that people are actually becoming biologically addicted to emotionally charged 24 hr. “news” and to repetively preaching complaints to their political choirs, and “Amen-ing” others–on social media, via email, around water coolers, at lunch, anywhere they can find a like-minded audience. It’s another science-based explanation for why the flip side of the Law of Attraction is for real: we actually attract more of the things we focus on and give our attention to, even if they are the very things we deplore and would like to eliminate. As I explained in “Desktop Optimism,” pessimists walk right past money and business contacts that optimists notice and take advantage of.

And of course, directly complaining to someone we want to influence to change, making them wrong, actually causes them to dig deeper into the positions we disagree with. See “People Resist Being Wrong.”

Finally, if all this brain damage, all the complained-about things we attract more of, aren’t enough to inspire us to focus on what we do want, rather than on what we don’t, Bradberry states that complaining releases the stress hormone cortisol that prepares one for flight or fight, and thus, raises blood pressure and blood sugar. All the time we spend on redundant news or Facebook rants is time spent with sustained high blood pressure and blood sugar that is only designed for dealing with emergencies.

But how does one go about breaking a habit, especially if the habit has become biologically supported? Don’t think of a hippopotamus. What just popped into your mind? A hippo, right? Your brain’s auto-pilot doesn’t hear the “don’t.” Telling yourself not to… doesn’t work very well, It can even reinforce the habit you wish to break. Here are some more effective alternatives:

  • Set up a reminder system for noticing positive things. You can put three rubber bands around your left wrist in the morning. Every time you notice, reflect on, or comment on something positive, move a rubber band to your right wrist. Try to move all three rubber bands by lunchtime. In the afternoon, try to move all the rubber bands back to your left wrist. When you get home at night, try to move the rubber bands to the right one more time. Whenever you move a rubber band, take a moment to enjoy feeling good about the positive thing you have just noticed. If rubber bands don’t appeal to you, put three peppermints in your pocket or on your desk and eat one for each positive, replacing the peppermints every time you have eaten them all up.
  • It also helps to keep in your mental hip pocket a positive image or memory, something you are grateful for. It can be a memory of a beautiful outdoor scene you visited. It could be an actual picture of a child or grandchild in your actual pocket or on your actual phone. Anything that helps you feel calm, serene, and joyful. Next, think of a positive trigger word you associate with the image, such as “peace” for the scene or “love” for the child. Then, whenever you catch yourself about to complain, especially if you’ve said it before and/or you know your listener already agrees, mentally say your trigger word, then, call up your mental scene or look at your picture. Think of a positive comment or question, or simply remain silent.
  • Before turning in for the night, think back on any times during the day when you complained. Rewrite those scenes, imagining yourself making positive statements instead.
  • Every day, write down at least five things you’re grateful for.
  • Consider limiting contact with people who simply won’t, or can’t, stop complaining about things you’ve heard before.

As you practice one or more of the above remedies, make a note every evening about how you are feeling in general. Are you happier or calmer than before? Have you found yourself noticing more positive things in your life, things you can use to make life even better? The things you used to complain about–have they been getting worse, staying about the same, or getting better? If you are like me, you’ll find that things have been getting better. And that includes my efforts to improve the very things I used to complain about.

Check Out My New Persuasion Coach Website!

At last, my wonderful new website is live at my old, familiar url, All the info on persuasion, consensus building and communication skills you’re used to, plus new features and updates. I encourage you to get your first view on a computer if you have one. The site looks different on a phone or tablet screen–though all the info is still there.

As before, my blog is included within the site. So if you’re reading this blog post, you are on the site. You can use the menu buttons in the purple and white headers above to navigate to other pages of the site.

I suggest you start at “Home”. For your convenience, we’ve got more on the Home page now, so be sure to scroll all the way down. Then, please visit other pages such as “Live Training,” “Consulting,” and “Margaret’s Books.”

All previous blog posts have been migrated to the new site, so you can still go back to reread favorites or catch up on any you might have missed. Take advantage of the site’s own internal search function (upper right) to help you find them, or to find additional posts on similar subjects.

We’ve established different categories of posts so you can narrow down your search. The “News” menu button will take you to announcements, like this very announcement of the new site, and to recent, current and upcoming events, such as my classes and speaking engagements. The “Blog” menu button takes you to posts featuring true stories about persuasion success, tips, excerpts from my books, and more.

One of the great things about online publishing is that it’s easy to make changes and improvements. So, by all means, send me your feedback.

And please share my new site with your friends.


Margaret presented a 50 min. workshop on “Getting comfortable with Negotiation” for the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Gulf Coast Section, Women in Energy Congress, Jan. 18, 2019.

Getting Comfortable with Negotiation, Abstract:  What if reaching agreement didn’t have to have to mean haggling and compromise? Imagine not guessing how much to exaggerate an opening position, or how much the other person exaggerated hers. Imagine not taking positions on a number line, then, trying to drag each other closer to the middle. Margaret Anderson calls haggling “number line tug-of-war.” Instead of a win-win, it often ends in a lose-lose. But when you learn how to get off that number line and into a completely different paradigm, you’ll see what a true win-win looks like and how to achieve it—at work and far beyond.

Mid-Course Corrections

To hear Margaret present “Mid-Course Corrections,” click hereJust when you think you’ve found your direction, your focus, life can spin you around. Margaret shares some of her own turning point stories and offers tips for dealing with the unexpected changes in your life.

People Say….

While reading “Bridges to Consensus”, I volunteered to organize a project with my quilt bee, 15 professional, talented, and strongly-opinionated w… Read more
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