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).
When Red learned that June was Effective Communications Month, she had to laugh, as the first thought that popped into her head was,
Oh, Black will have a field day with this given my tendency to blah-blah-blah. Plus, I don't know how many times she's told me that whatever point I'm trying to make often gets lost in my "sea of words". Of course, when she's told me this in person, I get the added emphasis of seeing her roll her eyes. At least, it's not what I call "The Look", which is a step beyond the rolling of her eyes when you can only imagine what she's thinking, but you know it's not good. But, I digress, which, I guess, is part of my communication "challenge".
The fact Red's warm and fuzzy, and likes to couch her words (whether spoken or written) so as not to hurt anyone's feelings, and to provide full explanations to avoid misunderstanding, is a good thing but is still only half the equation. Communication requires both the sending – and the receiving – of a message. But if the other party isn't listening, it falls on … well, deaf ears. Which often means you repeat yourself (oh, and we all know how our tone of voice changes when we're saying something for the millionth time), and although it may initially have been said with good intentions, ends up being seen as nagging.
Black, on the other hand, has never been accused of being quiet or shy, and given her extremely pragmatic business-like personality, has a much more direct communication style. Some of which Red recognizes can be useful,
I've often said that you write, talk, and probably even dream in bullet points. And while I might think of them as "abrupt" at times, there's no question that they provide a very clear and succinct way of communicating. Which is why I preface some of my longer emails that cover lots of topics and explanations, with, "I'm borrowing some of Black's beloved bullet points …"
So, what's the most effective method? Well, you can spend hours on the internet reading countless articles about the benefits of effective communications, the various types of communications (not everything is verbal and written – think about things like body language and facial expressions), and ways to improve communication skills, but Black tends to look at things slightly backward …
The reality is that we each have our own style of communicating, but we need to remember that communication is a two-way street, and the objective is connecting with other people, and sharing thoughts and ideas. Sometimes the best way to get our point across is to work backward and think how the other person will receive what we want to express. And then listening, truly listening, to their feedback.
Would you hate someone because they preferred rum raisin or coffee ice cream over vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? There’s a reason Baskin-Robbins, famous for initially starting with 31 flavors, was so successful. Because we’re not all alike, and we don’t all like the same things. We don’t know about you, but we choose our friends based on who they are, not what ice cream flavor they like. Or their sexual orientation. And you don’t have to be part of the LGBTQ community to celebrate Pride Day and Pride Month because recognizing, respecting, and celebrating our differences is something to take pride in every day.
And we’re proud to rerun our post on Pride Day from last year …
You can't say this isn't personal … because that's exactly what it is.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, the history lover, felt she should have known about Pride Day, which ultimately led to Pride Month, but Black thinks the history isn't as important as accepting and celebrating the LGBTQ community.
You can't help but notice all the rainbows in recognition of Pride Month, but Red admits that until earlier this month, she didn't know that Pride Day, June 28, commemorated the Stonewall Uprising, which a year later was the date of the first official Pride parade. But she's well aware of the challenges facing the LGBTQ community, and it angers and frustrates her that, as often happens, a group of people is singled out as the target of hate simply because they're considered "different". And while "venting" about it with Black, was reminded that hate often comes from being closed-minded and not knowing any better,
It is easier to hate someone based on stereotypes versus personal experience. Do not underestimate how important it is that our first-known personal relationships with gay people, those who now would identify as LGBTQ, were before we knew their sexual preferences. They were people first, then friends, and almost "by-the-way" gay. And therein lies a powerful difference – we knew them as individuals.
Although Black's words weren't exactly rocket science, they did make Red stop and realize how our experiences shaped our understanding, perceptions, and acceptance of the LGBTQ community because we simply didn't see them differently than other individuals. Red initially didn't think much more of it, recognizing we can only control how we feel and react, but soon after our June 8 post about Pride Month on our Facebook page, a follower commented,
You all are so supportive of all people from all walks of life. It's a pleasure knowing you.
It was a reminder that each and every one of us can make a difference. Sometimes in a small way, and sometimes in a way that makes others take notice. Which is exactly what happened when Red spotted an article about a bakery in Lufkin, Texas, that had baked heart-shaped rainbow cookies in support of Pride Month. (It caught her eye because we did a speaking engagement in Lufkin many years ago that remains one of her favorites.)
The Confections Bakery posted an image of beautiful rainbow cookies on its Facebook page (scroll down to June 2) with the simple message, "More LOVE. Less hate." Did the cookies immediately sell out? Not exactly. They received a backlash of hate, including the cancellation of a significant cookie order. However, by the next morning, the positive response was incredible – the long line of customers at the bakery, countless offers to buy the canceled order, and a considerable number of orders coming in from around the country. Which made Red smile,
A simple post promoting Pride Month cookies and "More LOVE. Less hate." led to a response of hate but ended up truly being about "More LOVE. Less hate."
Trying to stay neutral and not voice our personal opinions about abortions (not an easy thing to do), we still find ourselves filled with a combination of sadness, confusion, anger, and deep concern. Especially as the court’s ruling impacts not only women but the country as a whole, including our standing in the eyes of world leaders.
Red, as a mom to two girls in their 20s, can’t help but think of how it takes away women’s rights to make decisions over their own bodies and gives it to the states in which they live, making them almost second-class citizens. Even recognizing her tendency to be warm and fuzzy, after hearing of the decision, Red finds herself more emotional than she thought she’d be.
Black is flat-out frightened, which is out of character for her. As she initially expressed below (back in March), after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the future of a wide range of rights provided to us are at risk of being taken away … by a majority vote of nine people who we never elected to represent us. And as much as Black likes to be right, in this instance, she’s hoping to be wrong …
There’s an expression … throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Well, Supreme Court decisions on “babies” (well, technically fetuses) may also impact its integrity.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: There’s no question the recent Supreme Court cases involving abortion are controversial and may have a major impact on Roe v. Wade; something that both Red (as a mom to two daughters) and Black (as a highly independent woman who made the conscious decision not to have children) have strong feelings about, albeit focused on two very different aspects.
If you’re like Red, you may be wondering, besides whether you’re for or against abortion, what else is there to consider? Which is why Red initially didn’t want abortion to be the basis of a post.(We try to remain neutral and generate food-for-thought, and given the personal, religious, scientific, legislative, judicial, and practical aspects of abortion, wouldn’t even know where to start.) And is why she thought Black would agree with her.
Which made Black’s response such a shock, but for reasons that even Red never saw coming. And although by the end, it made perfect sense, there’s no better way to summarize what Black had to say than to “borrow” some of her beloved bullet points.
- IS THIS ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION? OR POLITICS? – This should be a constitutional issue, not a political one. The constitutionality of Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court in 1973 and reaffirmed in 1992. What new “facts” have been identified?
- IS EVERYTHING UP FOR GRABS? – Would the Supreme Court overruling itself (granted, decades later) put everything established at the federal level at risk of being re-evaluated (the right to bear arms, women’s right to vote, Civil Rights legislation), or only those items ruled upon by the Supreme Court?
- REMEMBER CHECKS & BALANCES? – The Supreme Court, besides being the highest court in the land, is part of the judicial branch of government and is tasked with interpreting the laws made by the legislative branch and enforced by the executive branch. The logic behind having three branches is to have checks and balances so that no one branch becomes too powerful.
And Red’s response? Besides now realizing the potential Pandora’s Box that overturning Roe v. Wade could open in so many ways,
This is why you should’ve been a lawyer. And probably would’ve been, except Mom kept saying that you should be …
This name comes with a warning ...
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Yes, climate’s a “hot” topic, but summer has only started (marked by the summer solstice), and Red’s already whining about the heat, while Black considersthe logic of naming heat waves. (Really! But it’s not her idea.)
Red’s first reaction to the idea to name and categorize heat waves the way we do hurricanes was to think what a cool, no pun intended, idea. Growing up, heat waves just meant it was hotter than usual, but not at the extremetemperature levels we’re now seeing. And although she wanted to mention the impact of climate change and how it’s contributing to the increase and severity of heat waves, she thought the idea to “name” them might help people pay more attention to what’s happening as well as better prepare for them,
I don’t know about you but hearing that a horrible heat wave’s coming is happening so often that it’s becoming white noise. Not to mention that I’ll never understand the heat index other than it makes “hot” feel “hotter”. But if I’m told “Heat Wave Harry” is on its way, that might get my attention!
Black agrees that heat waves typically do not lend themselves to dramatic TV coverage, although the death of thousands of Kansas cattle recently did. And she didn’t want to confuse the conversation with explaining the heat index (although she loves the quote, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”) And knew that Red’s eyes would glaze over if she started to explain how organizers are suggesting a standardized three-category system with each location’s system to be customized to its particular climate.
But a better public warning system, coupled with people understanding the seriousness of heat waves, especially for vulnerable populations (children, elderly, outdoor workers, those who can’t afford air conditioning), could save lives. So, Black figured the best way to get Red’s attention was to simply state,
Heat waves are the #1 weather-related killer in the U.S., killing more people than floods, hurricanes, or tornadoes.
And it worked.
P.S. – In the midst of all this heat, our favorite Houston weather service sent out these amusing Top 10 reasons to be thankful for our blistering heat and emerging drought (blaming the heat for the “gimmick”, their word not ours).