I was thinking this morning that we live in a pretty amazing world, one in which we are attracted to folks like us and also to those who have unique qualities from us.
I believe we are alike in that we all have quirky things---mine just might be different from yours.
Take, for example, my love for books. Yes, I adore reading a great novel and love digging in to a really intense mystery. But it is something deeper (and perhaps a bit odder) that I am describing. I love the smell of books. I cannot ever see myself switching to a Kindle or any type of e-reader (until, of course, they perfect the art of adding "book scent" to it).
My love for the scent of books is so well-known, several grade levels made fun of that quality when I resigned from my principalship at an elementary school in 2012.
I even received a video, today, from a dear friend, in which she had her kids sniff books in honor of me, while asking each other to smell the book. My response? "Well, don't keep me in suspense! What does it smell like?!"
In communicating, we tend to have habits and quirks, as well.
A few years ago, after I finished teaching a workshop in Tennessee, a participant remarked to my colleague that I said, "My thing is..." several times. I didn't realize it until he pointed it out, but it was true. I would be talking about something and then, to emphasize the importance of it, I would say something like, "My thing is...I believe we need to communicate better if we expect to build relationships." My colleague (and dear friend) responded to the participant by saying, "I'm sure she will appreciate that feedback, since we all 'have things'. What is 'your thing'?" I'll give him credit---he actually said, "Good point. I guess we all do have 'things'."
I have a friend who, when she presents, says, "Here's the deal..." even though she isn't really going to make a deal with anyone. It's just a habit she has formed in public speaking.
Like any good 12-step program, the first step in dealing with an issue is recognizing that the issue exists. I can happily say I have cut down my "My thing is..." to a negligible if not non-existent status.
What about those common words or phrases that so many people mis-say?
For example, do you say any of these:
a. supposably instead of supposedly?
b. ex cetera instead of et cetera?
c. I'm going to lay down instead of I'm going to lie down?
Just for today, perhaps we can try to figure out what our "thing" is and, if it bugs you enough, perhaps make strides to eliminate it or at least cut down on its use.
Happy communicating!! My thing is....I think we need good communication! :)
I travel a good bit for work, as I train and consult all over the country.
When I was in middle school, I got to fly for the first time----from San Antonio to Houston. If you haven't done that trip, you literally get up in the air then the jet puts its nose back down. It didn't matter. I loved every minute of it----particularly the thrill of taking off. "We are up in the air!" I exclaimed.
I admit I still get a little thrill in flying, although the excitement is often now based on getting upgraded to nice first class seats and even individual pods. I have a dear friend who says, "Just wait. Even the thrill of being upgraded will wear off pretty soon and then you'll hate it!" I hope not.
I love what I do. I get to teach teachers and administrators how to be better in our work and with each day I teach and reflect on my own practice, I pray I am learning new strategies and getting better myself.
This work simply involves a lot of travel. That means I have to change my perspective, some days. Instead of getting sad and weepy about missing Dave and the dogs, I turn that thought around and look forward to seeing Dave again so we can have time together.
I believe we always have a choice. I can look at the travel as a burden or I can look at it as an opportunity to get more work done (prepping for a job, doing edits on a book, or reading for pleasure!). I even got a chance to watch "The Book Thief" on my flight today. If you haven't seen it, it is a great movie to remind each and every one of us to take advantage of maintaining a positive perspective whenever possible.
Just for today, when given a choice between complaining and....well, NOT complaining, why not resist the urge to complain and instead look at our blessings in this day and this life?
"It's not what you say; it's how you say it".
As a teacher, I learned how to word things to my students, especially those who had emotional and behavioral issues, in such a way that would motivate them instead of frustrating them.
When I wanted them to finish their work, it was so much more effective to say, "Make sure you finish those last two problems so we can get to recess on time" instead of "You are not going to recess if you don't finish." If you are still wondering about the difference, just look at the negative words in the second scenario.
The same holds true when working with teachers. After watching a teacher teach, I might have some questions about student behavior. "Why didn't you correct his behavior?" doesn't sound nearly as motivating as "How do you make decisions about when and how to correct student behavior?"
To the huge resort chain whose representatives are trying to convince me to buy a five-night stay at your resort sometime in the next year......we are actually quite interested! However, your customer service representatives are doing a much better job of frustrating me than motivating me.
Here is a sampling of the responses I received when asking for particular dates:
"That date is not available for check-in"
"Nope, that date was just taken by someone else."
"We can't book those dates for you without a credit card."
And then....when I asked for other dates in February---more of the same:
"We can't book dates that far out."
Try it yourself----can you think of ways they could convey the same message that might motivate me with a bit of hope? How about, "Can you give me a couple of other dates that might work for you? I really want to book this for you." or how about "We can book February dates for you in about three more weeks."
What a difference a few words make.
If our goal is to motivate and not frustrate, then perhaps we should look at how we word things. I hope to be enjoying this beautiful resort in a few months, and if I happen to get the chance to share a few tips on communication with them as we book the trip, then all the better!
I hesitated long and hard to write this post because it meant admitting yet one more chink in my now-all-but-non-existent armor. Not having ever gotten into watching "The Bachelor" for reasons I mostly attribute to having better things to occupy the space in my brain reserved for inane nonsense, I somehow fell into the rabbit hole while on travel several weeks ago. I turned on the t.v. and there he was, Juan Pablo, pushing back the hair behind the ear of a beautiful girl and asking her, "What are you thinking?" Wow, he seems so sensitive, I thought. Maybe just one episode....
Fast-forward one, two, three, 18 weeks later to the point at which we got to hear from "the ladies" about their feelings regarding Juan Pablo, who has somehow narrowed down his field to two women, one to whom he might just propose next week (or not----it's a man's prerogative to change his mind, right?)
Here is simply a sampling of what they had to say about the man over whom they had previously been drooling profusely the last few weeks:
*He says "it's alright" way too much
*He never asked me about myself.
*He uses his language difference as an excuse for just being rude.
Here's what I know to be true---sounds like an issue of communication to me. Frankly, it's about relationships, as well. "The Bachelor" is by its very nature a very contrived situation. Guy goes out with girl. Guy kisses girl. Guy goes to talk to another girl....guy kisses her, too. (see the theme?)
The bigger thing is: I wouldn't trade my true relationship with my dear husband, Dave, for the WORLD!! Real relationships are just that---real---filled with give and take, not using excuses for bad behavior, trust, honest conversations, and so much more.
Just for today, perhaps we can be real with those in our lives.