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.
Some things never change, like our Thanksgiving routines. But that’s ok, as Thanksgiving’s about traditions, so it seems only appropriate that we’d like to repeat what we’ve told you before …
We'll keep this simple and to-the-point … Happy Thanksgiving!
Comic strip or reality show: A group of bachelors participates in a foot race, and whoever's caught by the single woman in the race will become her husband.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We may be sisters, but except for growing up with the same parents in the same house in New York, that may be where the similarities end; especially in terms of dating "protocol" as Black never thought twice about asking boys (and later men) out on a date, while Red never gave it any thought, accepting the convention that boys did the asking. (She did make an exception for her senior prom but was shocked when he accepted.)
When it comes to Sadie Hawkins Day, we both agree it's a quirky holiday that makes it "acceptable" for girls to ask out boys, but of course, we have very different perspectives. For Red, it conjures up images of Sadie Hawkins Day dances, although she never went to one and doesn't even remember how she knows about them. While Black's fascinated by how it all began with the cartoonist Al Capp and his popular "Lil' Abner" comic strip and quickly became a pop culture phenomenon.Now, over 80 years later, if you were to analyze Sadie Hawkins Day, you would probably find it outdated and sexist. But why not just laugh at its silly beginnings and enjoy the day. The funny thing is Red still thinks men should ask out women, while Black always believed that every day's Sadie Hawkins Day.
Tomorrow’s Election Day, and our thoughts about the importance and challenges of voting haven’t changed since last year (see below) – although the stakes may have gone up. (Think Roe v. Wade and how the Supreme Court has sent it back to the states.) Black wishes more states offered referendums so we could vote on specific issues instead of trying to find the candidate that most closely represents our positions and then actually stays true to their word. Which, unfortunately, makes voting much harder than it needs to be …
So many people have fought for the right to vote, yet so many don't even bother to vote.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Like many of us, Red can come up with a whole list of reasons why she didn't plan to vote this Election Day, but what she thought was a sarcastic comment from Black would point out the challenge of balancing philosophical beliefs with reality.
Red, being that former straight-A student, remembers the first time she voted and how she felt it was her civic responsibility, but that she'd never just vote by party line (for her, it was never that simple, especially not these days). That each vote needs to be a conscious one. But that takes lots of "homework", so unless it's a presidential or gubernatorial election, she tends to sit out most of them. Which she felt was just fine, until Black pointed out,
The prior few presidential elections aside, I could argue that non-presidential elections have a far greater impact on our lives. Because state and local issues, such as school board elections and amendments to state constitutions, can make a huge difference to your daily lives.
Now, Red thought, there's an understatement. Especially in the state of Texas. But even on a local level, as Red had recently found out that one trustee on her local school board has created such a huge uproar that all the other trustees called for her resignation. When she first heard the news, she couldn't quite believe the accusations, except most of them were officially "on record", but then, as a parent, Red was appalled that such a person was sitting, of all things, on a school board. But until Black's comments, she didn't connect the dots between that and her responsibility as a voter (not to mention a parent) to take future school board elections more seriously.
Of course, Red still feels an obligation to research the candidates and learn not only what they claim to believe and intend to do, but to try to have a better understanding of who they really are. Which given the times we live in, and the power of social media to spread misinformation, is more challenging than ever. And when she asked Black what to do, she heard a familiar analogy, but with a different spin,
You can eat an elephant (and I am not referring to the GOP/Republicans) just not all at once. Same holds true in terms of the candidates and issues. Review the ones you feel strongly about and then vote. Remember, you are not required to vote the entire ballot.
Well, Red realized that although she hadn't prepared to vote, ironically, it was her desire to make the right choices that led her to make no choices. Now, she realized it was not only her civic responsibility to vote but something that was truly important. For her, her family, her community.