Every good leader relies on quality list-making and task-tracking. Done correctly, this type of organization can extend beyond simple “to do” lists, providing business leaders with the powerful Big Brain tools they need to maintain excellent relationships and ensure successful communication.

What are we tracking, and how do we track it? Here are three helpful tools to give yourself an advantage in building and maintaining excellent relationships:

In his book, The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell discusses the idea of Dunbar’s number, which refers to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships — generally around 150 people. While 150 not seem like a large number, this actually requires a tremendous amount of relationship awareness.

Facebook lets users update just one Relationship Status, typically one’s significant other. We actually see this as a powerful tool we can use in the real world, to track the status of every relationship we have. So we developed a Big Brain Worksheet to increase your awareness of each these connections. This simple worksheet has just three columns, and you can create one yourself with a blank sheet of paper. Here’s how:

  • Once a month, make a list in the left-hand column, of five people you feel might require some of your attention. Perhaps your Last Impression was a poor one. Perhaps too much time has passed since your last encounter, or maybe you need to use The Apology Tool. Whatever your reasons, you will instinctively identify the five colleagues who will top your list.
  • When this is completed, take a moment with each name to identify the current status of that relationship. Put this information in the center column. By virtue of inclusion on your monthly list, surely the relationship status could be improved. But would you characterize the Relationship Status as “Bad”, “It’s complicated” or “Needs Attention”?
  • Finally, use the right-hand column to note upcoming opportunities to improve the status of each relationship. And, if there are no upcoming opportunities, you will need to create the opportunity. Whether it’s a phone call or a lunch date, truly successful people know how to take the lead and work to improve their relationships.


In a recent article, Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor Mary E. Neil confirms “Good deeds, positive thinking a daily goal“. For those who use a journal or daily planner, she suggests documenting a “Good Deed for the Day”. Mary sees this as a way to be good to yourself, “because it reduces stress and allows you to move on in a positive way.” Tracking good deeds also leads to increased mindfulness and likelihood of performing even more good deeds. Regular readers are aware of our “Live Big – Think Big – Give Big” campaign, and already know what a positive impact this behavior can have.


Understanding how gossip works can teach us a lesson about workplace chatter. Everybody hears everything, so we can use this model of how information travels to our advantage. We can use a technique called Good Gossip to have a positive impact on the workplace. Saying something nice behind someone’s back will have a ripple effect. The people who are talked about during Good Gossip will hear about it. Maybe not right away, but they will hear about it.

One of the many Big Brain Worksheets we utilize during presentations allows attendees to track and implement the Good Gossip Tool. You can try it for yourself: Simply submit your Email address and we will automatically send you a link to download this free worksheet.

None of these tools are difficult to use, and all of them take very little time to implement. But the results will very likely astonish you. Plus, when you complete your worksheet consistently, you will find that the content of the lists change each and every month. When that happens, you’ll be designing your future encounters instead of reacting to them.

What are some tools you use for successful communication and to maintain excellent relationships? Share your story with us. We want to hear from you!

Live Big – Think Big – Give Big

© 2013 Kevin T. McCarney. All rights reserved.


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