My husband, Dave, and I were driving through Tucson on Saturday, looking for items for our new house. As we drove, we found a new Sirius radio station we both liked. I asked if he wanted me to save it to his Presets. He said "yes". I said, "The presets are all being used. Which one are you willing to "lose" in order to take on a new one?" He said, "I don't know---tell me what is in each location." When I said, "How about seven?" he said, "Seven is good" and quick as the blink of an eye, I had it switched out. He asked, "What did you do?" (which, if said to our 3 yellow Labs, will make them slink away with their tails tucked). I said, "I just changed preset 7 to The Bridge" He looked at me like I had grown three more heads and said, "But I said that preset was a good one". "Precisely." Oh!! We both realized at the same time----he meant "It's a good channel----don't change it". I meant "It's a good one to change".
This is a perfect example of how two people communicating can both be right and neither has to be wrong. The only problem occurs when one or both parties is not willing to "seek first to understand" the other person's perspective.
In our case, we laughed it off and said, "How could we have made that clearer to each other?" But miscommunications don't always have such happy (or even mundane endings). We can get wrapped up in our own mess so far, we forget how little the issue was in the first place.
Just for today, why not seek first to understand? You'll be happy you did!
I joined a gym this week. They gave me a "free" fitness session (you know it wasn't really free, right?).
I told the trainer I sometimes had problems with Charley horses in my calves. I suppose this might be due to not drinking enough water. Technically, I drink a good bit of diet coke but I guess I need to drink REAL water. Alex (the trainer) suggested I get some more electrolytes. I asked what added electrolytes. He looked at me and said (now this is what I heard), "Fries---and get some Pedialite". I was dumbfounded. Seriously, french fries could actually become my friend???? While I daydreamed on that thought, he said, "Shelly, are you okay?" I said, "Did you really say 'fries'?" He said, "Yeah, you just got to Fry's and get the Pedialite" as he gestured out the front door to the local grocery store. BIG FAT DOWNER alert! "Oh!" I exclaimed. "I thought for sure I wasn't paying enough for this amazing gym who would suggest I eat french fries in order to be healthier!". As soon as we both stopped laughing, he said, "I forgot you weren't from here."
Happy communicating, friends!!
I heard this morning on the radio about a well-known religious talk show host who was taking phone calls and got one from a 17-year old kid. The young man wanted to know what to do as it appeared his parents' marriage was failing. The talk show host gave him this advice: "Your parents need some romance in their lives. Why don't you send them out on a date, maybe set up an overnight trip for them? They just need to get some romance back in their marriage." WHAT????!! (That's what I thought and said outloud to the radio). How about, "You know, as much as you would like, you are simply not responsible for your parents' marriage. You can pray for them, but what happens between married couples is not something you have control over or should think you do." ?
What if the young man sets up "date night" only to find out his parents file for divorce the next day? That is a lot of pressure for a teen to take on.
The Serenity Prayer is awfully helpful in times like this. I can do what I can do and I can let go of the rest. We are only responsibility for our own actions, behaviors, and feelings and can NOT control others. Anyone involved in any 12-step recovery program learns that the first day. And the rest of the world could use a dose of that as well.
When I was the guidance counselor at Edge Elementary School in Niceville, FL, I wrote a poem/chant for kids about responsibility. It goes like this:
I always have a choice,
no matter what I do.
I make the choice
and I can't blame you.
I now totally realize this advice is not exclusively for kids. It's our adult choice, too.
This morning, I had to drive on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey to teach teachers about the Danielson Framework for Teaching. Driving up the Parkway, I was struck by how grateful I was it was not a typical Monday workday. As it was Martin Luther King, Jr. day, the Parkway didn't have much traffic. Nonetheless, I still had to contend with the toll booths, which by the way, are clearly random and unpredictable in their amount charged. Can we not agree on a round 50 cents for all of them?? But I digress.....
I made it up to the school and enjoyed a great day of training. On my way back to the hotel by the Newark airport, I got in another cash only toll line, in which the price was 50 cents (exact change only). The line didn't move for about a minute and the two other cars in front of me began to honk at the first car in line. The gentleman finally got out of his car, waving a dollar bill. The two people in front of me just shook their heads at him with their windows still rolled up. I rolled down my window and asked, "Do you need change?" He was so grateful, he looked as if he might cry. Truly. All I could think was Stephen Covey had it all right when he said we need to "Seek first to understand then to be understood."
I traveled from the East Coast, where I had been for work, to Las Vegas this past Thursday. After being jostled and thrown around on flights, I was thrilled to get to Las Vegas Thursday evening. Much to my sadness, however, my luggage was not as lucky. It was lost. The gentleman in baggage services said, "Are you sure you checked it?" Hmmm....pretty sure. I have a baggage claim ticket, so I think so. Next, he said, "Maybe another airline knows where it is." All I could think was: I just hope someone knows where it is.
I left the airport with a claim filed and a website on which to check later about my purple bag's status.
I checked (9:00 p.m.)......and re-checked (10:00 p.m.)......and re-checked (11:00) on the website, only to see the message "Your bag has not yet been located." Really? Wow, I am not feeling the love or any confidence. Finally, I went to sleep ---having nightmare thoughts of what it would truly be like to have to go into my business meeting the next morning without any undergarments and wearing the same outer garments I had worn ALL DAY the day I traveled.
As I was sleeping, I had a dream. A flight attendant was at the front of the plane, calling my name...."Shelly...." As I looked up, he said, "We have something for you." At this point, I realized I was awake, no longer dreaming. I had heard my name called outloud, I was certain. But no one was in my hotel room with me. I looked over at the glowing red lights on the clock. They read "1:30".
I reached over and checked on my computer. I prayed as I logged onto the luggage website.
I read the words, "Your bag arrived in Las Vegas at 1:30 a.m." (Cue the Twilight Zone music).
Several hours later, the hotel called and said my bag was there at the hotel. I very humbly begged them to simply bring my bag to my room.
Lesson learned: When talking to folks, how about we tell them what we WILL do for them, maybe not just what we CAN'T do for them. Instead of saying, "We can 't find your bag", perhaps it might be more helpful to say something like, "
On the way to the airport this morning (at 4:00 a.m., I might add), the taxi driver wanted to talk, I could tell. During the course of our conversation which lasted about 30 minutes, he told me about his mom dying in a tragic car accident, his aunt and uncle being killed in another car accident, two family members killing themselves in response to tragedies in their own lives, and what he was doing in his own life now.
I have NOTHING to compare to, in this regard. While I have certainly had my share of sad moments through the loss of my mom, the death of K.C. (our first Lab and subject of my book "Letting Go of K.C."), I simply can't relate to a life that is fraught with more tragedy and drama than "good stuff and blessings".
This gentleman wanted nothing more this morning than to have someone listen to him, and I believe God wants me to listen more and better, so this was truly a win-win.
We had just boarded a flight to Tucson, when the pilot came on and said, "Folks, we have a problem. The beverage truck just ran into our aircraft. This is not a small dent we are talking about." He proceeded to tell us maintenance would have to come check out the size of the dent to determine whether or not it was safe to fly this particular, dented aircraft. Well, that is a good thing.
I decided, once again, it's not what you say, it's how you say it.
As I am traveling across the country training schools and districts on Charlotte Danielson's framework for effective teaching, I notice a common thread. We want to hear what we need to hear, but we prefer to hear it in such a way that is a bit more palatable to our emotional state. Instead of saying, "You will never achieve the distinguished level of this rubric", teachers respond a bit better when they hear, "The distinguished level of this rubric is where you will want to work towards".
We see it all the time-----examples of people saying, "I can't do that right now" instead of simply phrasing it in a positive way "Let's see when we are both free to meet about that". Randy Pausch, in "The Last Lecture", gave the best example of this. He said at Disneyworld, the employees are taught to talk about closing time in a positive way. If a guest asks, "What time does the park close?" the employee is taught to refrain from saying "We close at midnight" and instead say "The park will remain open all the way until midnight tonight?" Is is the same thing? Yep, 'tis true-----no matter what----that park is not going to be open past midnight. HOWEVER..........it is a difference in positive perspective.
Just for today, turn your words around so that folks who hear you, hear the good news, not just the bad news!