If ever there was an emotional topic that needed a pragmatic approach … it would be the COVID-19 vaccine.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It's very frustrating and heartbreaking that so much of the recent COVID-19 surge of serious cases and deaths could've been avoided, but regardless of your beliefs, it's certainly an emotional topic which is something that comes naturally for Red, while Black (in her typical fashion) approaches it pragmatically.


Red was initially apprehensive about the "newness" of the vaccine, but ever since the pandemic had started has done everything in her power to protect her family, admitting at times that she's gone overboard but she prefers to take more precautions than not enough. So, when she and her daughter were eligible for the vaccine, she decided the fear of getting a serious case of COVID-19 was reason enough, not caring which vaccine they received. And although it's been months since they've been fully vaccinated, and Red's recently started to go out to eat and to the movies, she still wears a mask and socially distances as much as possible.

But now, the Delta variant's running rampant, is highly contagious, and causes severe cases requiring hospitalization. Of course, Red was alarmed by all the "news" that the vaccinated can get and transmit COVID-19 until Black explained that you needed to look at the actual numbers and small percentages. But that doesn't change the fact the variant's spreading at a similar rate to chickenpox. And it doesn't stop Red from feeling sad, angry, and frustrated, especially when she hears the stories from moms and nurses about seriously ill people who had chosen not to get vaccinated,

It's heartbreaking. I look around and see people who didn't need to get sick and so many vulnerable people, especially children, that are at risk. I don't understand why anyone would take that chance when a vaccine's available. And why put others at risk? I agree with the argument that everyone has the right to their own body, but at a certain point, doesn't public health override personal freedom?!

Black, on the other hand, although she shares Red's concerns, has a very different (and pragmatic) way of looking at the current challenge of changing people's minds, knowing that unlike herself, most people don't respond to statistics and studies (except when the "news" takes those numbers and "spins" them to make headlines), or being told what to do. Instead, they need something more emotional – or personal – to engage them. Or to get them to at least listen, which is where the power of stories comes into play.

Unfortunately, as the Delta variant continues to spread, hospitals are again becoming overloaded with cases, and deaths are growing week-by-week. Maybe that will help convince some of the people who previously refused the vaccine, no matter the strategy used, to reconsider,

I will not get into the issues of sensationalized headlines and mixed (and unclear) messages coming from the CDC. Or, the politics of it all. Or, that many businesses and organizations are starting to require vaccination, while others fight whether that is even legal. Forget trying to tell people what to do and guilt trips (being raised by a Jewish mother, I am immune to guilt trips). Acknowledge that many people are reluctant for a variety of reasons, and that respecting their right to a different opinion is different from agreeing with it.

Instead, if we focus on the real issue at hand … preventing serious illness and death … the answer is very easy. We all should get f-ing [four-letter expletive deleted] vaccinated.

We're starting to see that not everyone that has refused a vaccine remains steadfast. We're sure there are studies and statistics about why they changed their mind, but the point is they changed their mind and are getting the vaccine. Which means that there's the potential for millions of others who can be persuaded.

Ok, let’s be clear (pun intended) … Communication is critical. Whether in your personal life or in business, not to mention communication skills are transferable between the two (Black even suggested Red hold family “business” meetings). And what better time to work on how we communicate, and maybe even have a new attitude toward vocabulary and “50-cent words” (Red loves those, but terminology scares her!?), than during Effective Communications Month.

Talking isn't the same as communicating. And hearing isn't the same as listening. Think about it.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Being an effective communicator, whether in our personal lives or at work, is a critical skill but one-size-doesn't-fit-all as we each use very different methods and styles … ranging from lots of words and talking stuffed animals (Red) to bullet points and racing flags (Black).

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