Category Archives: Communication

Those Awkward Moments -- :

One minute… watch this! Those awkward moments can be big opportunities!

SeizetheAwkward.org serves as a great new resource that features tutorial videos, information on warning signs, conversation starters, tips on how to sustain a conversation around mental health, and personal story videos from inspiring influencers like Hannah Hart, Liza Koshy, Remi Cruz and Tyler Posey.

Find out how you can use an awkward silence to check in with a friend about how they’re feeling at SeizetheAwkward.org

This may not be easy, but it can be simple!

Expanding Our Worlds

The song suggests, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” and even provides some reasons. “With holiday greetings and gay happy meetings… when friends come to call….”

I’ve found this to be true and almost unconsciously allow more time when I “run into town for a few errands” this time of year. For one thing,  there are more people around doing likewise. For another, most–even though busy–are feeling a bit festive and anxious to get and give a handshake, a hug, and a hearty hello.

“There’ll be much mistletoe-ing and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near…” Well, given the current political environment we may choose to suppress the “mistletoe-ing,” but our hearts do glow when loved ones are near. Much like plugging in the lights on the tree, we seem to get more connected this time of year. That’s a good thing.

But I recently ran into a sobering statistic. A public health survey conducted in 1980 showed that 20% of the people surveyed described themselves as “lonely.” The survey was recently repeated and 40% of the respondents described themselves as “lonely.” So in spite of technology and social media, there’s been a doubling of “loneliness.” How can that be when we live in such an expanded world?

There are those suggesting we are actually losing the ability to connect in a nurturing, meaningful way. There are, it seems, some interesting social trends that deserve our attention. Consider a few:

  • online shopping–it’s now possible to do all of our holiday shopping without contact with a human being. Yes, it can be quite efficient and cost-effective. But it also means we don’t “rub elbows” with others… share frustrations, ask others opinions or just occasionally allow someone to go ahead of us in the check out line because they have only one item.
  • celebrating occasions–I recently discovered the death of a friend by reading a Facebook Post. There will be no services, but I am invited to post my condolences online in a “memory book.” I find myself wishing I could hug some of the people he has left behind. And, while we weren’t really close, I wouldn’t mind getting a hug back. I liked him and will miss him.
  • distracted everything–most people acknowledge the hazards of texting and driving (but do it anyway). But what about distracted visits? Another friend posted a funny-but-not Christmas Photo on Facebook. She and her entire family are sitting on a comfy couch, looking very festive, the obligatory Christmas tree in the background. The caption was something like “A (last name) Family Christmas.” Of course, every member of the family is not looking at the camera… they are looking at their cell phone screens.

Technology has, in one sense, expanded our worlds but with it comes the danger we actually become more isolated. Social media is about big numbers–big numbers of friends and frequent contact. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it’s not very nourishing and nurturing.

Maybe instead of sending emojis and stickers, we make this a wonderful time of the year with some connections that include a warm touch and a look in the eye. It’s a wonderful time of the year to delve into our humanity in addition to our technology.

 

 

Unintended Consequences -- -- the good, the bad, the ugly:

A recent post on Facebook told the story of a teacher shopping for school supplies. She was approached by several parents shopping together (who had their school-aged children with them) and subsequently forced to listen to them complain about how much they were spending on back-to-school supplies and how teachers must think parents are made out of money. Apparently, they didn’t notice that the teacher was spending even more money than they. Her cart was full of things she needed and supplies to help out the students she knew would not have what was necessary.

It was an interesting story, certainly. The teacher handled a potentially ugly situation gracefully and sympathetically. I admired that but felt a real kinship with her when she described what she really wanted to say those parents.

Adults often “thing” children. We forget they are there and, more importantly, forget they are watching, listening and learning.  It’s a mistake that’s easy to make. Even teachers must guard against it. We see them as “kids” or “students” and lose sight of the fact they are small people with big brains that are like sponges.

Not only did those parents not notice the teacher’s cart was full, they forgot there were little people watching, listening, and learning.

So the teacher wanted to remind those parents there were little people there and what they were hearing was, “School is not important enough to spend money on, teachers are not to be trusted, they have bad judgment, and learning does not require investment.”

In fairness to those parents, they (hopefully!) didn’t want their children to hear that. We sometimes call this “unintended consequences.”

I watched a child tugging on her mother’s hand as they walked down the street, almost yelling, “Mom! Mom!” Mom was totally focused on her cell phone screen and it appeared not even acknowledging the child. I don’t know what was so important on the phone. I don’t know why the child needed her mother. But I’m fairly sure I know the message the child was getting. I also know that a few simple words and eye contact with the child could have conveyed a very different message.

When it’s back to school shopping time–or school budget time–I believe all adults have a responsibility to “watch our words.” We may be frustrated at the expense while we’re shopping and angered with increasing budgets and taxes but because we’re adults we should be able to express our frustrations and anger in an appropriate manner.

Let’s not teach our kids to disrespect schools and teachers. Let’s be careful we do not devalue learning and education–even unintentionally.

Education is expensive. But it’s also important. Let’s teach our children both of those truths and model good problem-solving skills.

Sometimes unintended consequences can be good. Another time in a store, I heard a young child ask what might have been a fairly simple question–I honestly don’t remember it exactly, but it was relative to why something was where it was.  The parent stopped and looked at it with the child then said, “That’s interesting. Why do you think it’s there?” I didn’t need to eavesdrop on the entire conversation to know that child was learning he and his thinking is important. I also hope to have that child in a classroom I’m teaching some day.

Thinking is not only allowed, it’s needed. Not just in classrooms, but in life.

Just How Busy Are You, Really?

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”

David Allen

Well, that quote got my attention! The article it was in was about productivity–something that’s been weighing on my mind during what is traditionally one of my busiest months of the year. The article also mentioned a recent article in The Atlantic  suggesting that being busy may have become a status symbol.

I’m chuckling at the thought I currently have lots of status.

In a more serious vein, let’s go back to the quote. I think it, like most good quotes, gives rise to a number of thoughts and considerations.

I’ve always believed that there really aren’t time management problems–there are priority issues. Too often we are not conscious of what is getting our attention. I recently emailed someone for some fairly simple information I needed. When I didn’t get a reply, I emailed again. This time I received a fairly lengthy explanation for his failure to reply–he explained that he is extremely busy. What I found most interesting about his reply was that he could have given me the information in the amount of time it took for him to explain how busy he was, but he didn’t. Isn’t that interesting? I can accept that my needs may not be a priority, but I’d like a little honesty.

I think his failure to provide had less to do with how busy he was and more to do with him judging my need didn’t make it to his priority list.

Some time management/productivity gurus suggest managing energy rather than time. I’ve found that’s a great way to justify procrastination. “I don’t have the energy right now, so I’ll do something else.” For that matter, it works the same with time. “I don’t have enough time to do that (even though it’s really important) so I’ll wait until…” It’s certainly not hard to find reasons not to do things!Notice, though, procrastination is still about priorities. All we’re really doing is justifying the shifting our priorities.

Notice that procrastination is still about priorities. All we’re really doing is justifying shifting our priorities. That may be okay, but let’s recognize and admit that we’re doing it. We can at least be honest with ourselves.

When we’re less than honest with ourselves–that’s when we end up giving things more attention than they deserve. Anyone who’s ever tried to have an important or urgent conversation with someone who is constantly checking their smartphone and answering text messages knows exactly what I mean. And that’s just an example.

What does have your attention? Is that what’s important to you?

How busy are you, really?

Emotionally Intelligent Communication

Here’s a short video (seven minutes) that demonstrates a couple of things… First, a currently “hot” presentation method called “Pecha-kucha.”

Second, and more importantly, the presentation offers some great examples of “emotionally intelligent signage.” Understand this is not just about signs, it’s about communication. It might even be about “emotionally intelligent teaching.” It’s definitely about how we can connect with those to whom we are sending a message.

Pecha-kucha presentation on emotionally intelligent signage from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.