It has only been about 10 years since I went in for my first pedicure and waxing of my eyebrows. I will never forget asking the gal who was putting hot wax on my eyebrows if it was going to hurt. She smiled sweetly then promptly ripped the wax (and what felt like all the hair on my entire head) off my brows. "Ouch!" I yelped. "Sorry!" she replied in her sweetest and softest voice, all the while smiling like a Chesire cat. I've learned. Let's just leave it at that. I've learned.
I went in for my way-overdue pedicure and waxing yesterday, fully expecting them to recoil in horror at my overgrown bushy brows (not to mention my berry-berry-black eye (see previous blog)). But no. They are the consummate professionals. Well, kind of ....
While getting my pedicure, I was made aware of several things. As much as we sometimes feel like there might be a bit of need for Rosetta Stone when talking to folks with heavy accents, it is no surprise they feel the exact same way about us. The gal (angel in disguise) doing my feet was Asian, as was the pedicurist (made up word? Oh well....sue me) next door. The lady getting her pedicure next to me tried to strike up conversation with the gal doing her feet. "My...what a pretty bracelet. Is that stone?" Pedicurist looks at her with blank expression. So the lady tries again, "Your bracelet. Stone or is it plastic?" Pedicurist nods her head. Conversation over. Although, technically, she is likely correct---it is likely plastic or stone.
When I was taken back to have my eyebrow hair forcibly removed from its follicles, an older gentleman had just sat down on one of the great vibrating chairs, to have his own feet done. Since they were busy, they just had him soak his feet while a pedicurist could finish her current pedi and get with him. So....to no one in particular, older gentleman pipes up. "I'm just warning you....I have never had a pedicure. I don't know what to expect."
The girl torturing me (I mean doing my brows) started giggling quietly.
He kept on. Apparently, he needed no encouragement to keep talking. Dave says I operate this way.
"I'm warning you guys right now. My feet are ugggggg-ly!"
One sweet pedicurist made her way over to him, finally, and said, "Okay, let me see", to which the girl doing my brows began giggling again, a bit more intensely. "Okay, simmer down. just don't shake while you put on that hot wax!" I thought.
Just then, my brow gal noticed my black eye. She poked it and asked, "Does this hurt?" Good grief, I thought. This is what my sister and I used to do to each other's bruises just to torment each other. "Yep!" I said. "My dog jumped up and head-butted me......" I began, only to see a glazed look cross her eyes. She does not give a rip.
In walks a lady wanting to get a manicure. The nail spa pimp (I mean, owner) looks around at the busy store, walks over to her and asks, "Can you come back in 30 minutes?" The lady hesitates, "Ummm...errr....hmmmm....well, I guess I could." She turns to go then looks back and asks, "Do I have to leave? Why is it a problem if I just sit in a chair and wait for 30 minutes?" Seriously?
You see, just because our mouths are moving and just because we are talking to one another does not, for one second, mean that we are communicating.
Communication requires sending and receiving of messages, not to mention a bit of understanding to take place.
Just for today, maybe we can remember that in order to make sure we are communicating, we need to somehow send a message that is understood to the other person. And that sometimes takes time and patience. But it's time and patience that are well worth it.
Dave and I have spent Memorial Day weekend in the mountains of Northeast Arizona. Beautiful area, great hiking, and total relaxation. Except that is not exactly what happened yesterday. L.N., one of our Labs, has had some issues with her back end. No, not that kind of issue. The kind where her back end doesn't seem to work as well as it should and when she gets up from a nap, it looks like she has baby fawn/Bambi legs for a few minutes. So, when we get the dogs up in the SUV, we lift her up. Except that isn't exactly what transpired yesterday evening. Nope. As I tried to lift her into the SUV, she threw her head back and head-butted me....in the eye. A bit sore but no blood, I figured all was good. Until I woke up this morning and my right eye looks like I played dress-up with some spare blackberry juice. Dave has been great about it.....and by that, I mean he laughs every time he looks at me. :)
So, what better activity to do than to take the Labs for a 6 mile hike in the mountains, far far away from civilization. Translated, that means we hiked through creeks (which results in muddy mess after the girls jump in the creek than hike along the dusty trails), climbed under huge felled trees that had been victims of the Wallow fire in 2011 (resulting in soot on our backpacks and arms and legs), and just had an overall filthy time. So...(see previous post about the use of "so"---I'm still in therapy for it) we were all alone except when we came back towards our cabin, I had to stop for a Diet Coke with crushed ice at the local Circle K.
As I entered the store, a couple were getting in their old, beat-up pick-up. It was way too loud but the sound didn't stop a gal from almost backing into them. I shook my head at Dave as if to say "Oh brother....great company around here, right?" When I checked out, the man in front of me (who may have actually had some leftover breakfast food hanging from his beard) was buying a 12-pack of beer. The clerk said, "Hey there, how are you doing?" to which the guy with. the. beer. answered, "Just headed in to work." Good grief, I thought to myself, as I quickly tried to check out and get back to the SUV.
As I climbed back in the SUV, I began shaking my head at Dave, regaling him with tales of "the sorts of people" who happened to be in that Circle K. Dave simply nodded his head slowly at me, as I looked down at my shorts that had dried mud streaks from an excited Lab jumping up on me after jumping in the creek. As I looked in the rear view mirror to back up, I caught sight of the beauty that is me right now complete with berry-berry-black-eye. As I reached up to touch my tender eye with my Cheeto-stained finger that must have handed the money to the store clerk only moments ago, I had to laugh outloud. What Dave was quietly and unassumingly trying to point out to me, I was finally realizing: I was being critical of the locals when I, myself, was looking like a zombie swamp creature loose and in town for the day. Black eye, muddy, Cheeto-stained and all, everyone had actually been really friendly to me. Maybe, just maybe, I should be less critical and seek a little more to understand.....
Just for today, perhaps we should remember that everyone has stuff with which they are dealing. Maintaining a sense of humor and love for our fellow man will likely aid the process.
If they said it on the Today show, then it must be true, right?
A couple of weeks ago, they reported that the word "So...." is one of the over-used words in 2014. Now, we're not talking about the use of "so" in a sentence like, "My dishes were so dirty, they were about to revolt and wash themselves." Or even "I paid cash for the shoes so my husband wouldn't see the receipt" (this isn't necessarily true confession time, but what the heck?)
No, I'm talking about the use of the word at the beginning of a sentence, maybe even at the beginning of a speech or talk or lesson "So, today, we are going to talk about....". While the use of "so" has been trending this year, that is not necessarily a good thing, especially if it becomes the thing we do. Anne Curzan, a linguist professor at the University of Michigan, says we ought to be careful with our use of such a word as our audience may begin to pay attention more to the amount of times we say it versus the message we are really trying to convey (http://college.usatoday.com/2014/02/14/so-why-is-everyone-saying-so/). Uh-oh! Houston, we may have a problem.
Now that I am aware of it, I hear it all over the place, and that ummm....er....includes when I listen to myself!!
Not to mention these other over-used gems:
I think the caution is that we tend to be using these words or phrases as pauses or natural breaths. Why not just take the time to breathe and pause, instead?
As a dear friend, Michelle, always says, "Everyone has a 'thing' they do or say." I think the trick is to be sure your thing isn't the most annoying one of the bunch.
So....(see, it's right there, all the time, ready to rear its ugly head)...what is your thing?
Just for today, perhaps we can recognize one of our bad communicating habits and maybe not put it completely to rest but at least tone it down a bit. I'm just sayin.....
“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Perspective is such an interesting topic to me. Take the following examples:
*A co-worker once asked me, "How do you always look at the bright side of things?" The way she asked it suggested that perhaps what she really wanted to know was WHY do I always look at the bright side of things.
*Leaders are tasked to take the 30,000 foot view to get a broader perspective of any current issue in their organization, in order to be more objective about the situation.
*A popular but perhaps over-used phrase in our current world is "It is what it is", while other people are screaming at the top of their lungs for something to be done about a frustrating situation.
How do we gain a clear perspective?
I'm not sure but I do know this: it is important to see things from different angles and to be willing to open up different lenses. My dear husband bought me a telescope last year when we moved to Tucson, so I could finally learn how to look at the stars and the moon and whatever else is up in the Arizona sky. This telescope has 50 (or so it seemed) different lenses of various sizes and shapes. A year later, I know not how to use them but I do recognize that they are geared to give us differing perspectives on the night sky.
As I was drying my hair this morning in my hotel room, I glanced over at the close-up mirror jutting from the wall. What a frightening scene. Whereas the big bathroom mirror allowed me to see the gestalt of my morning self in order to get ready, the evil, Satanic close-up mirror gave me a differing perspective---one that made me almost shriek aloud. I could see the following: a true need for some waxing need on my eyebrows, a few pores on my face that were entirely too large and laugh lines that indicate I may have laughed enough for a lifetime.
Maybe I don't want that perspective, is all I could think.
In all seriousness, I believe our communication with others is like this. We can either talk about things on the surface or we can get down and dirty, pores and all. I went to dinner with fellow consultants last night, sat with a group of five folks and literally talked for 3 and a 1/2 hours about life, childhoods, family and love. It felt so good to go more deeply than we might normally delve.
Just for today....if you are willing....perhaps it is worth the risk to dive more deeply into our communications with others. 30,000 foot level is needed at many times, but that close-up mirror can really be beneficial as well....if we are willing to take a risk.
You may wonder how this topics relates to communication, so let me head that question off at the pass.
The way we act and behave has a direct connection to our integrity and character, which are communicated to those around us in a multitude of ways. Watching people can't reveal everything about their character but it sure does tell a very interesting story.
Just sit in an airport or at a restaurant for awhile and you'll see the most interesting things. There are actually websites devoted to the art of people-watching. I may not have taken the official course, but wowee, I feel I have some auditing credits under my belt.
I was in the breakfast area of my hotel this morning. After jockeying for position at the toaster ("oops, is this your toaster slot?" "Nope, go ahead, I think that has been sitting there awhile"), I sat down to enjoy a nice bit of people watching with apricot preserves. A well-dressed gentleman entered the breakfast area holding his briefcase. A very polite server asked him if he wanted to take a seat. The gentleman replied, "I'm not sure I'm going to eat breakfast" and continued towards the food as if he was going to check it out or maybe see if a colleague was already there. I happened to have a bird's eye view and, as the server turned away to wait on someone else, the very nicely dressed gentleman walked over to the buffet, grabbed a banana and a muffin and......wait for it!.......shoved them into his briefcase. WHAT? Did I really just see you do that?
Now, I totally adhere to Stephen Covey's habit of highly effective people to "seek first to understand". Perhaps he was on a scavenger hunt, and items 8 and 9 on the list were "a banana and a muffin from a hotel breakfast buffet". Perhaps he lost his wallet and simply couldn't find a way to pay for his morning sustenance. But....really???
Just on the heels of that gem, I saw a beautifully-dressed woman walk by our tables. A gentleman at a neighboring table gazed at her walking for a good 2, 3, 4, maybe 10 seconds...... as his wife and two little girls sat by his side. Did I really just see you do that? Again, seek first to understand. Maybe even though he seemed to be looking at her like I look at the Culver's cherry-chocolate concrete, maybe--just maybe---he thought she looked like his long-lost cousin and he was staring to be certain.
Just for today, perhaps I should remember that no matter what we do, someone is likely always watching us. I am going to be determined to act in a way that I would not be embarrassed to be seen doing everything I do today.
Caution: MAY BE HOT!
This was the warning label on the bag that held my taco that I ate for lunch, in honor of Cinco de Mayo. In truth, I ate it in honor of "I have 4,000,000 errands to run before a conference call this afternoon" but why not build on a good thing?
Another truth is that the bag might have been more accurate if it said, "May be hot, may actually be luke-warm, but don't get mad at us either way." I ate it anyway. I always do.
I began thinking deep thoughts as I nibbled on my lunch. Maybe people should come with warning labels.
For instance, when approaching the airline customer service representative at the Houston airport to get my meal and hotel vouchers because I was stuck in Houston overnight, I saw fatigue, frustration, and maybe a tiny bit of "who-cares" mentality. I trod with caution because I had an inkling humor and grace would work far better than fighting frustration with frustration. But for those times where I am less savvy, a warning sign would be handy. This gal's sign would say, "Caution: May be grouchy and may bite if provoked."
How about a gentleman with whom I used to work, in a land far, far away and a time long, long, ago---who needed to be asked his expert opinion because if you simply said, "I think we should......" his response would be "nope, that isn't the way to go". He was amazing as long as it was his idea, by the way. His sign would say, "Caution: don't tell; ask". Wouldn't that be convenient?
Many folks I know would have signs that say: "Caution: Don't talk to me before 8:00 or without coffee" or "Caution: Feed me if you need me to do something for you". How about you? Your loved ones? What caution signs are needed?
Just for today, perhaps we can speak to others in a respectful manner that allows for the missing signs. While it may come across pedantic to say, I believe we had better treat others the way we wish to be treated. Communication is not just about the words we say but also about the way we send and receive messages. While we can't always control the way the receiver will "accept" our message, we can do our level best to send it in a way that it might be received well.
Caution: Might change the world!!