onion in mouthA friend of mine posted on Facebook,

“I ate an onion as a midnight snack and I woke up with my mouth tasting like a foot.”

You may have smiled reading that, you may have thought, “Ugh”, or you may have related to it in some way from your own morning breath experiences.

After reading that post, I did three things in this order. 1. Laughed. 2. Brushed my teeth. 3. Wrote these thoughts out about toxic.

A quick internet search for the word “Toxic” reveals this:

Definition of TOXIC 1: containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation <toxic waste><a toxic radioactive gas> <an insecticide highly toxic to birds> 2: exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicosis <the patient became toxic two days later> 3: extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful <toxic sarcasm> 4: relating to or being an asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market

Consider that what we put into ourselves affects what comes out of us.  Usually people are aware to avoid ingestion of food and other things that can harm them. If it is known to be toxic, the rationale person will not consume it. What about toxic words or thoughts? We are bombarded by sound-bytes every day that seek to influence what we think and do. Are there words that have been feed to you, that you took in and they became toxic? As they resided in you, did they later come out as foul, toxicifying words to others?

In the “my mouth tastes like a foot” example the onion a few hours earlier had time to work within the body to do what onions do, both good and bad.  Take away a lesson from my friend’s funny, self revealing post. Recognize what is coming out of us and determine is it pleasant or helpful to us and others. If it is sour, distasteful, even toxic then take action to stop it and reflect back on how it may have come to be in you.

Workplace Conflict

Workplace Conflict

Workplace tensionIn their professional lives, an alarming 88% of Americans cite hostility, desk-rage, and workplace incivility as top concerns. This disabling, sometimes crippling, emotions rob the company of profit and productivity. Executives, supervisors, managers and the people who work for them can learn to reduce workplace stress and avoid the conflict and cynicism that drains profits, resources, and relationships. Protection from the hidden costs of workplace tension and hostility can be put in place.

I can help you:

  • Create a blame-resistant, emotionally resilient workforce that handles the daily onslaught of frustration without losing momentum, mood or confidence.
  • Replace bitterness about the past with shared responsibility for the future.
  • Quickly calm agitated colleagues and customers.

Your conflict behavior in the workplace is a result of both personal predispositions and the requirements of the situation in which people find themselves.

My customized approach for your assessment and training is designed to measure this mix of conflict-handling modes with you and help you find the solution to move forward.

Remember conflict is inevitable. It can be helpful.  It can be only temporary.  It should/must be managed!


3 Things That Steal Joy From Relationships

Joy StealersThese are not the only joy-stealers, but the three things mentioned below will rob you in the workplace, friendships and family!

Let’s look at what the wisdom book tells us about it…

Joy Stealers:

1. Gossip. Idle talk or rumors about others.

The bible calls one who gossips a talebearer, a busybody and a whisperer. Leviticus 20:16 “You shall not go out as a talebearer among your people.” Proverbs 17:9 “He who repeats a matter separates (best) friends. Proverbs 16: 28 “A whisper separates (chief) friends. Proverbs 20:19 “He who goes out as a talebearer reveals secrets; *therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.

* Take special note of the word therefore. Why is it in the sentence? Because there are gossips in the world today and the work place, we are to stay away from them.
Why avoid gossipers?

Because if they are coming to you revealing secrets about someone else to you don’t you think they will leave you and go tell others your secrets?Of course they will. It’s in their nature to do so. It’s what they live for.

How do you stop a gossip?

It’s very simple. Don’t listen. That is all there is to it. It’s just that simple. Don’t give them an ear to gossip in. Tell them this, “I can’t believe so and so said that, let’s you and I go ask them if that is really what they said.

One more thing about gossip…

Proverbs 26:20, “Where there is no wood the fire goes out, and where there is no talebearer, the strife will cease.”  And where there is no strife, there is peace.  And where there is peace, there is Joy!

2. Selfishness. Loving ones self first or self-seeking.

Proverbs 11:26 talks about withholding something good from someone who needs it. “He that withhold corn, the people will curse him, but blessings will be on the head of him that sells it.” If we sell something to someone who has a need for it is good. What happens if we choose to give it to them? Luke 6:38 “Give and it shall be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Mark 10:37 gives us a look at James and John being selfish, seeking the best place. “They replied, Let one of us sit at Your right and the other at your left in Your glory.”  Jesus proceeds to tell them that to be great you must serve, and to be the greatest you must be a servant of all.

How can you change?

Servant leadership is one of the antidotes to self-seeking behavior.

3. Jealousy. Resentfully suspicious of a rival or a rival’s influence.

Genesis 37:4 – Joseph’s brothers. “And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him”

I Samuel 18:8 – King Saul. “Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him, ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘ but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ and from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

In summary:

Instead of Gossiping – Edify one another

Instead of Selfishness – Give to one another

Instead of Jealousy – Love one another.

Talking “about” verses “with” Someone

Talking aboutThere is an important difference in sharing information about a person to others and engaging the person directly.  I highlight the contrast by asking, “Why are you telling me/us this story?  Is it to let us know about this person or are you seeking help in your efforts to talk with this person?”

The difference in wanting to talk about a person and seeking ways to talk with a person is very obvious.  So apparent that I almost didn’t think it worth noting in a blog.  However, as I listen to people in my Coaching and Mediation work I hear many stories that fall into the category of being “about” someone. It is not as common to hear someone seeking ways to talk “with” someone.

I understand very well that most of the issues that have brought me and my client together have root causes in lack of communication with someone. So, it is not a surprise that someone will welcome a chance to vent the frustration, hurt, loss and pain from the conflict that exists. What is interesting is the small number of people who are seeking ways to confront the offending person in a healthy way.

Again, I am not new at working with people and relationship problems. I get that people hurt one another through disappointment, let down, ignoring, disrespect, bullying and many other ways.  You can fill in the blank with a way you have been hurt by someone in the past or even very recently. It is ineffable that we will hurt each other. We are human,  not perfect! So, with the eventual hurt as a reality the question is “How do we deal with that hurt when it happens?”

You can pay me to work with you through the details of resolving the conflict, I will be glad to assist. But, here is a free tip to get you started on your own. Work at talking with people. They may have been very offensive, unreasonable, stubborn even mean in your past encounters. You may be so shutdown that you have given up trying to talk directly to them. It may be dangerous for you to try to break down the barrier alone.  I am not suggesting that you put yourself in danger; physically or emotionally. I am recommending that for your own sake you try, (with the help of others when needed), to connect and resolve the impasse. The satisfaction of knowing that you did everything you could to try to work out the issue between you and another person will be a great comfort in your future no matter the conclusion.

I also know it is usually easier to talk about someone than to talk to them. Do the harder thing and speak words that will edify, build up and bless directly.  What the “problem” person will learn from resolving the issue with you may help them avoid creating the same scenarios with others later on.

I would love to hear ways that you have turned the “about” to “with” in your own experiences.

Keith Talks

Keith speakingTo arrange for Keith to speak, coach, or train call 615-596-4474 or email The topics, listed alphabetically, below can be adjusted to your needs.  Other topics can be presented as well.

Speaking Topics:

1.Abortion and Men – A highly charged topic with surprising outcomes! Learn what Abortion does to men and what they can do about it.  Discussion can be tailored for all ages.

2. Age to Age – Life’s transitions are easier when we know three things; who we are, what we need, and how we can finish well. Understanding the truth about yourself and how to be satisfied through every season of life, is possible!

3. Conflict – We all have it in our lives at some level. Learn how to manage tensions, prevent abuse and create satisfying solutions. There are four key stages that I guarantee will lead to long-lasting, satisfying relationships.

4. Death and Dying – Preparing for departure from our earthly bodies is not as hard as people imagine. Know the basic things that legally must be done at death and options you have before and after death. Alternative funeral ideas are included in this presentation.

5. Leading from back stage – Leadership models, principles and “how-tos” abound. Most have you in charge, leading from the front and center. Strength, guidance, vision and direction can be instilled in a team, a family and other groups without having your face or name on the headline and your place in the front of everyone.

6. Marriage and Family – What else could possibly be taught on this topic with so many resources already available? Divorces are still occurring, blended families are now the majority of households, same-sex relationships in marriage and parenting are legal. A fresh, relevant talk on today’s tough issues.

7. Men – The world needs godly men; men who will step up and courageously lead and serve at home, at church, at work and in their communities. Learn what holds men back, how to bring them forward and empower them to fulfill their role and mission.


One meeting – One hour

Women disagreeingI met with two people who had only know each other for a short time so their history together was brief.  We are on a team together providing a service and support to a person going through a transition time. They had a need for clarity, security and understanding between them if their relationship was to continue as friends. The hurts that had occurred between them could not be ignored if they were to work on the team anymore.

They agreed to meet with me for a mediation session. We set the day/time to meet.  I spent about 30 minutes on the phone with each of them prior to the joint session to better understand their position and to explore what were underlying issues, needs, expectations that would help move us forward when we met.  Each person was comfortable with me and trusted that the meeting would be a “safe” place for them to share their thoughts and feelings. Both were also somewhat apprehensive in coming to the table to talk together.

It is so common for all of us to dread something and then when we actually experience it the fear or anxiety we had imagined turned out to be far less that we expected.  This was the case for them too.

Our time together lasted one hour.  It could have taken longer, or it could have been shorter if needed. The process I used to allow them to share, listen, respond and clarify worked as predicted. There is no quick solution or answer when conflict is being addressed.  However there is a way to work through it that is sure and definite. Each situation is different. One key to the quick resolution was they were both willing to try to resolve the conflict without having any guarantees that it would happen.

It is gratifying to be a facilitator of communication between individuals and groups. In the meeting I just described, (and in most of the mediations I lead,) I am an important part of the initiation of the dialogue then I fade into the background more and more as the discussion ensues. Except for an occasional re-framing of a point/position or to ensure we have covered all the issues that were shared, my role becomes a listener.

If you are experiencing conflict, contact me and give me a chance to help. Conflict is easier to prevent than to resolve. If you want to schedule me to come and do training for conflict prevention then let’s make that happen as well.   Have hope!

Conflict Help for Music Artists and Managers

In their professional lives, an alarming 88% of Americans cite hostility, desk-rage, and workplace incivility as top concerns. These disabling, sometimes crippling, emotions rob the company of profit and productivity. Executives, managers, musicians and other people who work for them can learn to reduce stress and avoid the conflict and cynicism that drains profits, resources, and relationships.

Sound Direction can help you:

  • Quickly calm agitated managers, artist clients and customers (fans).
  • Create a blame-resistant, emotionally resilient team of people who handles the daily onslaught of frustration without losing momentum, mood or confidence.
  • Replace current anger in the present with shared responsibility for the future.
  • Quickly calm agitated managers, artist clients and customers (fans).

Sound Direction’s individual, confidential approach to your situation is designed to intervene when necessary and provide immediate follow-up to insure success.

Secrets Shared

by Keith Branson
What would people say if they knew what you had done?
What do you care if now it can’t be undone?
Does their opinion make it better or worse?
Are you living with freedom or a curse?
What if your actions now cause further harm?
The stories you share raise questions and alarm?
Discretion and respect they warn are needed in your plan,
The secrets you have held, when shared cause ripples through the land.
There is a balance I agree to what is said and when.
The truth is best told in confidence to a trusted friend.
If you have a darkness in your past that holds you back from life,
Share it with someone, seek forgiveness from God; end internal strife.


Siri captureI got to upgrade my phone last week. I am very grateful to be able to have a phone and a family plan to share minutes and cost.  It is a privilege among so many that I don’t want to take for granted.

A big bonus for me was that I was finally going to experience this helpful assistant with the cool computer voice accent named Siri. My other GPS helpers have always been my friend in time of need for direction. The English speaking Tom Tom lady in the van always helps me get turned around and guides me on and off the “motor way” with ease. She has brought laughter on many occasions with comments like, “Bear right 100 yards”, causing my son and I to go into our redneck routine and look for the “bear” off to the right somewhere ahead.

So, I introduced myself to Siri with some new excitement.  I am an older kid with a new toy. “Siri, give me directions to The Peoples Church in Spring Hill, TN”.  She calculated and gave me the first directions for the journey.

Let me interrupt right here to tell you that I am direction-impaired. I don’t know if there is an actual medical or mental condition by that name, but where I grew up, it was described like this, “He couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper sack.”

My amazing wife has helped me with this problem for decades now. She will patiently, now almost even unconsciously, tell me to turn at the appropriate time, or warn me of an upcoming exit or of a missed street and the need to turn around.  She was GPS (Good Partner Service) long before satellites tracked me along my journeys. However she is not always with me and my surrogate helpers have been my GPS ladies.

So, you see how Siri was my anticipated support when Rona wasn’t with me. She was glad for me (and looking forward to a break when we ride together I think).

Luckily, I had my experienced navigator/co-pilot in the van with me on this maiden voyage with Siri. She had printed directions and was carefully eyeing the road signs to confirm Siri’s directions were accurate.  They weren’t.  The good news is we saw new back roads in Tennessee. More good news is that Rona helped me know when her commands were not only questionable, but terribly wrong. After a few miles, I sadly turned Siri off when we realized she was trying to take me to a completely different city.

Ok, strike one on that Siri experience.  I defended her by saying it was probably an Apple Maps dysfunction that led her astray.

Yesterday, I am driving and wanted to safely call my friend Jeremy.  I asked Siri, “Will you call Jeremy?” She replies, “I don’t have your call history.”  Humm.  I must have asked the question wrong.  So, I tried again, “Can you find Jeremy on my contact list?”  Siri, (I think she was smirking  but I am not sure, I was keeping my eyes on the road) says, “I never really thought about that.” What?  Siri-ously! Strike two.

My final try came late yesterday afternoon. I was in east Nashville, glowing inside from a great Chicago hot dog and also not sure of the best route to get back on the “motorway”. I told Siri, ( I didn’t ask her this time) “Give me directions home.” Siri says, “I don’t have your home address.  Would you like to add it now?” Ok, now we are communicating.  My phone contacts opens up and I enter my home address.  Boom! Siri is on it.  Perfect coordinates through the city street maze and I have my hoped for travel assist help.

I don’t know how Siri and I will do together in the future, but I do know I still prefer my wife beside me.


TOGETHER utilizes the safe cycle to help with conflict management.  We help you Stabilize the situation.  Once calming and safety is in place, the people in conflict can be helped to reach an Agreement.  A decision on how to move Forward from where they were leads to peace and even Enjoyment again.


Safe Cycle verses the unsafe cycle:

CONFLICT → Stabilize →Agreement → Forward → Enjoy


CONFLICT → Chaos →Disagreement →Stuck → Misery


Four phases from conflict to peace