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The Cue Card

One minute. . .thirty seconds. . . ten seconds. . .wrap. These were the cards that would be held up for me during my time working at a public television station—well, at least until they got these fancy ear pieces and the cues would come right into my ear. That took some getting used to, I might add, in trying to talk to a camera and listen to someone else at the same time. In short, the purpose was simple. You have a time limit and we need to cue you as to when you need to wrap it up. The cues not only served in getting to the final wrap up time, they also helped time out the final messages that needed to be spoken before the wrap. It helped with pacing.

I was reminded of cues in a recent session with a client. In our context, the cues were related to the emotional signals we often feel as humans. For example, I may be really frustrated with someone and notice the cue of frustration, but then I can get curious about what this cue might REALLY be showing me. Why am I frustrated? It may be because someone doesn’t see something from my perspective or maybe there is a resistance to change. Maybe I can’t accomplish something I set out to do. The more I can name the bottom line source, the more I can effectively deal with the impact.

Cues often come in a physical or physiological way. I may find myself sweating, turning red, heart rate increased, be unable to think clearly, etc. At some point I realize I’m stressed. Whatever situation or thought going through my mind right now, I’m stressed. These cues help me identify the first part and then I can get curious about what is causing the stress. I can then move into stress management mode and use my tools. Thank you, body cue card! Once again, you have served me well.

Cues also come from people. If I am having a conversation with someone, I am looking for cues—subconsciously and consciously. Are they with me in the conversation? Are they looking all over for an escape route? Are they saying the words but body language speaks differently? I have noticed that if I can really lean into curiosity and openness to the person I’m talking to, I don’t go into too much of the “overthinking” part of cues. That being said, I am a work in progress.

Cues matter. We use them to sort through conversations, relationships, business transactions and our own personal gauges for how we are doing physically, mentally and emotionally. I invite you to get curious about your cues. Here is a very simple three-step process I use with cues:

  1. When I notice myself getting “cues,” I take a moment to pause and get curious about what the cue is revealing.
  2. Once I know what the cue is revealing, I make a choice about responding or what my next step will be based on the cue.
  3. I notice the impact of this response. Usually I know if I’m on track or not by the impact. Sometimes I have to go back to step one.

PRO TIP: Curiosity is a great tool here. Staying curious about the cue and the process makes a difference. Curiosity also keeps me out of judgment. Judgment around cues can really get in the way of moving forward.


Blessings, Peace and JOY—