It was Easter morning. The husband and wife had attended a sunrise service and held hands while everyone worshipped and sang song songs of praise.
Afterwards, he said, "Let's go by the car wash before we go out for brunch." Feeling particularly amenable even though her stomach was growling, she said, "Sure."
As soon as they pulled in to the car wash, the attendant waved and said, "We'll be with you in just a minute. We're still getting set up." No problem, they waved back. As the husband and wife cleaned out the gum wrappers and old gas receipts (sorry, Zev Edelman, they were thrown away----you can't collect them), they were both jolted upright by a "THWUMP!" "What was that?" she asked. They turned around to see a minivan way too close to their rear windshield. Oh no! A fender-bender in the car wash line.
The husband and wife jumped out.
"Let me see if it's okay", the husband said of his sports car/baby.
"Let me see if he's okay", the wife said of the man in the now-too-close-to-the-sports-car minivan.
When the man got out of his minivan, he put up his hands in an immediately apologetic stance. "I am so sorry! I leaned over to reach for something and I lost my footing."
"No worries," the husband and wife said in unison. "Are you okay?"
I'm find" said the man, who was dressed nicely with a cap on his head.
Just then, a car wash attendant walked over and said, "Let me see if I can buff that out. It might not be a deep scratch." The man in the cap got out his insurance card and said, "Take my information---I feel badly about this."
The husband and wife told him it was no big deal and thanked the attendant for being so attentive.
As the cars were taken back to be washed, another gentlemen who had witnessed the whole thing walked over to the husband and wife, who thought he was going to offer to be a witness if necessary. Instead, he took the husband's car wash receipt and said, "This is taken care of----you don't need to pay today. It's nice to see people handle things the way you did." He did the same for the man in the minivan.
After a series of "thank yous", the minivan man and the couple sat on a bench waiting for the car washes to finish. The wife said, "I see you are wearing a Vietnam Vet hat. Did you serve in the war?" The gentleman's face clouded and he answered, "I did. It was pretty rough. I was there for 4 1/2 years and I'm still dealing with stuff from that war. They call it PTSD, you know." They talked for a few minutes and the man continued to share some stories of war and of healing. The cars were finished being washed too quickly, and it was time for goodbyes. The man in the hat shook the husband's hand and said, "Thank you for being such a good man". The wife hugged the Veteran and said, "God bless You and we will pray for you and your continued healing." The man said, "You don't know what that means to me."
As the wife made her way to the car, she watched as her dear husband handed a very nice tip to one of the car wash attendants, then to another, then to another, then to another.
As they drove away, the husband and wife watched as the attendants high-fived each other and celebrated their Easter tips. They trotted away to greet the next customer. I'll bet that customer got the special treatment.
What if the wave of goodness that happened to us this morning continued to wave through Tucson and to other cities and states and to other folks in other countries? What a wonderful world it would be.
And to think it all started at the Octopus Car Wash......or perhaps not.
One of the great people with whom I work from Eye on Education Publishers sent me an article today about how the CEO of Campbell's Soup came in to the company when it was fraught with morale issues and low sales. The CEO explained he had found the company stagnant with a toxic working culture. He said he had to start with the top down and change the way staff felt about the work environment and leadership."The number one expectation was inspiring trust--and that meant managers had to have a certain level of both "competence and character," he said."
I found this completely fascinating and validating as this was exactly the subject on which I did my dissertation research. Apparently, trust, competence and character are issues in big name companies such as Campbell's Soup, as well as in schools around the nation.
Great article if you want to check out the entire thing. Thanks, Toby Gruber, for sharing it with me.
When talking to people about communication in professional or private lives, I see two distinct categories of miscommunication that take place.
One is in the area of what wasn't said. For example, many, many moons ago (before my sweet Dave came along), I had a boyfriend who was a man of few words. We lived in different cities and, in trying to figure out when we might next get together, he said something like, "It's too soon." I took that to mean, "Any time you suggest would be too soon to get together" when I later found out he meant, "It's too soon for me to know what my plans will be in two weeks". The problem was (well, let's be honest----there might have been more problems than this, but I am keeping the focus) those too-few words left a lot of room for interpretation, interpretation that turned negative pretty quickly.
How does this manifest itself in a work environment? As an example, a supervisor might say to an employee, "I will check" or "We'll see..." in response to a request for information, and the employee is left to wonder, "Ok, but when can I expect you will get back with me?" Don Gaetz, who was first the superintendent who hired me as a principal in Florida and later went to become a Florida senator (and who is now President of the Senate) told me once, "Tell it all. Get it all out there----it leaves less room for misunderstanding". So true...
Another area of miscommunication is simply words that were misunderstood. My father found out he might be able to collect on a life insurance policy. He was happy to think he might be getting $4000 but when I later spoke to the insurance lady, she said, "No, I said the policy was for a thousand dollars." See the problem? If not, say that last sentence outloud.
What we hear can sometimes simply be a problem of too much wax in our ears. But....it could also be an interpretation based on emotions that cloud our hearing.
Just for today, why not take the time to clarify your own communication, in your personal and professional life---to ensure effective communication?
One of my very best friends in the world is Robin, whom I met the first week of college. She just sent me the book "Balcony People" by Joyce Landorf. In it, the author describes people as being affirming or evaluative----in relationships, work, whatever. She talks about how affirming people are our balcony people, those who cheer us on from the balcony. She even said she believes her mom, who had passed away years before, was not only cheering her on but saying, "I told you so" about "making it" in the world. Evaluative, critical, judgmental people are our basement people------those who want to drag us down (I think, so they won't be alone in the miserable section of life).
The charge is to stick with folks who are our balcony people.
Balcony people in my life are ones who have shared their spirituality and love for God with me. They have listened to me unconditionally. They have laughed with me instead of wallowing in self-pity with me. They have built me up instead of tearing me down. Joyce Landorf said, when she made a list of her balcony people, she was amazed at how few could fit the bill.
I am so grateful for those people in my life. My mother was clearly my first---she believed I would be a teacher, a writer, a "presenter for lots of people" (her prophetic words when I was just out of college). Dave is clearly my best balcony person now----he is the one I run to for every good news and bad news and he listens unconditionally.
Robin and Kelly from college, Denise from high school, Theresa (Mama in Christ) and Cindy (Scarecrow) from Edge are all my balcony people ---- then and now. I am blessed to have them and several more. So very grateful ----
Now, just for today, why not make a list of your balcony people and also make a list of those for whom you are their balcony person?
And then, why not take a minute to go affirm someone who might need that affirmation to
This past Saturday, Tucson hosted an amazing event---the Festival of Books. This event draws 80,000 - 100,000 people each year. I was able to sell and sign my books (Communicate and Motivate and Letting Go of K.C.). Although the main draw is selling books, I found the most incredible side effect --- getting to meet people. We had put up a sign that said "For all dog-lovers", and it was great to see folks who would walk past the booth then do a double-take and come back to say, "I had to stop. I just love dogs." What I found so fascinating was how much they wanted to find out about K.C. but also to tell me about their own dogs and, in many cases, how much they miss their animals who had passed away.
One lady in a wheelchair was dressed in multiple layers with a wide-brim hat on (it was chilly and rainy that day). She almost rode past when she glanced at the sign then immediately whipped her electric chair around to face my table. "I love dogs---they just provide so much joy, don't you think?" We talked for a few minutes about the book then she told me about her current boy at home, a mixed breed. I asked, "What do you think he has in him?" as I looked at the picture of a beautiful dog on her phone. She looked up at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, "I think his father was a handsome young gentleman who didn't stay anywhere for too long." Loved her!
By taking the time to not only talk about MY stuff but to hear what she wanted....no, needed to tell me, I gained some valuable memories, for sure.
Just for today, why not take the time, really take the time, to listen to another? You might just find yourself feeling truly blessed!
Whatever it is or whomever it is, you should likely make sure you get more of it. I have a few really great friends who can make me laugh at the drop of a hat. When Kelly does her Ethel Merman impression or Robin and I reminisce about college or Michelle and I recall moments of our doctoral program together, I can be sent into fits of laughter.
And, besides that, I married the man who made me laugh, even when we danced together. I love to laugh----laughter is a sign of intelligence and is also one of the top factors in resilience. Frederic Flach, a renowned author and psychiatrist, said a sense of humor could help people who had experienced some tragedy begin to make progress towards "normalcy" again. Not surprising, right?
It's why we have our favorite shows (my current one is "Big Bang Theory"----Bazinga!) or we flock to particular people (Kelly Edelman and Megan Sanders are two people in my life who can always make me laugh)
It just feels good to laugh. So why not, just for today, find something or someone who makes you laugh? It will surely make your day! It does mine!
"A chicken crossed the road when he encountered James Bond. The chicken asked, "What is your name?" 007 answered, "Bond. James Bond. And what's your name?" The chicken shrugged and answered, "Ken. Chick Ken."