Conversation gets rickety these first days of the Mercury retrograde, so pull out your advanced skills. A spirit of openness and curiosity will be better than inquisition-style questions, which tend to focus on what you're interested instead of what the other person would like to express. When in doubt, "Tell me about..." is a good start to the sentence.
ARIES (March 21-April 19). If you can manage to delay the usual knee-jerk verdicts that humans love to form in the first 10 seconds of another's presentation, you'll set off a series of sweet events, all made possible by your act of listening.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20). Make sure you're on the same track with the other person; that way, you'll avoid the problems that come with making assumptions. Tonight you'll get the chance to show the team that you play fair.
GEMINI (May 21-June 21). With most things you tackle today, the result will be better if you delay the payoff for as long as possible. It will work in everything from relaying information to governing your own willpower.
CANCER (June 22-July 22). There's so much you could say on matters, but since you're all too aware of the short attention spans that most people have, you'll aim your words toward a particular destination and leave out anything that doesn't fit the bill.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22). You'll come across those who've yet to discover their own depths. Maybe they are afraid or haven't had any reason to dig deep. Or maybe they've lacked role models. Regardless, the relationship can only go as deep as the shallowest person.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22). To suspect that you're the underdog isn't exactly an uplifting feeling, although you can take heart in the fact that everyone loves an underdog. Go forward in full faith that you have a chance at victory.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23). Humans love to assign reasons for things that happen, to bridge the gaps of logic and close every case. The trouble is that what follows is often praise or blame. And sometimes there really is no definitive "responsible party."
SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 21). No one ever influenced the world by being the same as everyone in it. But if you don't seem at least somewhat like the others, they'll mistrust you. Group acceptance will be required. Start with what you all have in common.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). It's as if you were designed for adventure. When the others are afraid to go first, your trailblazing nature takes over. March forward and the others will follow.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19). It's fun to be in unfamiliar places when you have a guide. But today there probably won't be a clear model, and you'll have to make due by observing the people around you who seem to know what they're doing.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18). Like a nice neighborhood that wants to preserve the peace, your life could use a few speed bumps — constructs you've put in place specifically to slow yourself down, thus preventing accidents.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20). The scenario is fresh, and you're still deciding who you want to be. Consider what each role requires. For instance, winners take chances. Heroes take risks to help others. VIP's make others feel important.
TODAY'S BIRTHDAY (Dec. 5). Your cosmic gift is one of determined and exclusive focus on the things that are going to make your life better. You'll be freeing yourself of an anchor of sorts over the next three months. In March, family works together and all are lifted. In 2018 you'll take pleasure in the sale of something that helps people. Leo and Pisces adore you. Your lucky numbers are: 6, 10, 23, 40 and 11.
PUPPY PROFILE: If you know when your pet was born, check out his or her sun sign and the personality that goes with it.
VIRGO: Neatness and order are the trademarks of Virgo people and dogs alike, making both a pleasure to live with. This Mercury-ruled puppy learns the rules of the house quickly, and a more considerate dog would be hard to find. Bonus: This pooch doesn't share the bad habits of some of his canine counterparts, and you won't find him digging in the garbage unless there's truly no other food around.
Impeccable grooming is important to this pretty dog, who is happiest when smelling fresh with a shiny trimmed coat and good breath. You might not think such things matter to a mutt, but they are essential to the Virgo dog's self-esteem. A healthy diet and regular exercise will contribute to the happiness of any dog, but for Virgo it's an absolute must.
Virgo dogs are into their routines and once those habits are established, Virgo pups don't like those rituals to be interrupted or changed. Therefore, when you're going out of town, the Virgo dog might prefer to be cared for by a pet sitter who will check in at home rather than kenneled off-sight.
CELEBRITY PROFILES: Walt Disney changed the world with a humble mouse and an intention of making people smile. Sagittarians are driven to explore new worlds, and Disney didn't stop with the world of animation. He applied his Sagittarian expansionism to interactive entertainment, technological innovation, environmental conservation and more. Disney's natal Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were in determined Capricorn.
To write to Holiday Mathis, visit www.creators.com/author/holiday-mathis and click "Contact."