How Do You Communicate? Blah-Blah-Blah Or Bullet Points?
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.
Avoiding Conflict. Avoiding Life?
What’s the cost of avoiding conflict at all costs?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red will admit that she’s always been an ostrich, although she’s not sure whether it was to avoid dealing with things she didn’t like or to avoid conflict at all costs, but knows whatever position she takes, Black will probably take the opposing side just for the fun of it.
Growing up, Red was the “nice” one, wanting to please everyone, which made her very easy to get along with. Black, on the other hand, has always thought of arguing as sport, often not even agreeing with the position she takes, but doing so merely to see if she can win the other person over. Or just to annoy them. (Or, sometimes, both.)
Some things never change. Even today, Red still goes out of her way to avoid arguments or disagreements but has learned that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself. Or, at least, speak up when something doesn’t seem right. No matter how uncomfortable it may be. And that’s where her theater degree comes in handy, as she can pretend to be someone else.
Black, of course, takes a more direct approach as she knows,
Doing nothing is a decision. It is a decision to accept the status quo. And, saying nothing implies you are in agreement.
Which was a difficult concept for Red to embrace as she always thought of herself as the dutiful daughter, and then the dutiful wife, until her “crisis” when her husband got fired. Then she turned to Black hoping for answers, and instead, Black made her realize that she would have to ask some very uncomfortable questions – of her husband and, ultimately, of herself.
It was either that or just remain a passenger in her life, allowing someone else to control the situation and her future. And her daughters’ futures. Sometimes we get forced to the point where we can no longer stay quiet. But along the way, Red made a very interesting discovery,
As much as I always avoided conflict, I never realized that I had the ability to stand up for what I believed. And to confront others when necessary. I may not have done it for myself, but in doing it for my daughters, I found an inner strength I never knew existed. However, unlike Black, I’ll never find it fun.
Sometimes we think we can’t do something until we try and realize we can. But there’s a big difference between standing up for what you believe and looking for an excuse to debate. And not everything’s worth making an issue of, which explains why Red still believes in conflict avoidance … especially when it comes to disagreeing with Black.
Any Idea What The Ides Of March Is? Or Why You Should "Beware"?
Beware the Ides of March! That sounds scary. But what is it? And is it a myth or the truth? Red knew it had to with (Julius) Caesar, and the mere mention of “Caesar” made Black question if we were talking about a General, a politician, or a salad. But it does reveal the power of storytelling, and how a good story can last not only decades, but centuries!
Is "The Ides of March" the day Julius Caesar was assassinated, a famous Shakespearean quote, or a George Clooney movie?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: The answer is "all three" but we'll completely understand if "The Ides of March" means nothing to you, or if you think it sounds familiar but you're not quite sure why.
Well, Black knew nothing about the Ides of March, but when she found it had to do with history and movies, deferred to Red. Interestingly, even Red, the straight-A student who loved history, wasn't completely sure of the origin of the Ides of March. However, being a theater major, she knew "Beware the Ides of March" was one of William Shakespeare's most famous phrases. And even then, although she could tell you that those immortal words were spoken to Julius Caesar by a fortune-teller, she couldn't tell you exactly what they meant other than it was a warning that something dire was going to happen. (For those not familiar with the play or ancient history, dire's an understatement as on March 15, 44 B.C. the Roman general and statesman, Julius Caesar, was brutally stabbed to death in the Roman Senate house by a large group of his opposition.)
Those facts alone make for fascinating theater, and Shakespeare was an unparalleled playwright and could tell a story better than most, which explains why his work has stood the test of time. (Not to mention, many of his stories have been "borrowed" as the basis of new stories.) But it took Red doing a little more digging to learn that the term dates back to the ancient Roman calendar, where they used certain phrases to reference dates in relation to lunar phases. Ides, quite simply, just referred to the first full moon of a given month, which usually fell between the 13th and 15th.
But when it comes to the 2011 movie " The Ides of March" with George Clooney (who also directed, produced, and was one of the screenwriters), Red didn't have to do any homework. And although it's about a rising presidential candidate (played by Clooney) and an idealistic campaign staffer (played by Ryan Gosling), it's about dirty politics and figurative backstabbing. So, if you know your history, you can easily draw parallels to the death of Caesar.
It’s easy to think that Girl Scouts are only about the cookies. But in celebration of tomorrow being National Girl Scout Day, take a moment to remember that they’re about so much more – as the organization was founded with the goal of building confidence, courage, and character. And we strongly support them as we believe girls can do anything!
Of course, you can help support your Girl Scouts by buying cookies, as long as you don’t want the new Raspberry Rally, as they’re already sold out!
Let's play word association. If we say, "Girl Scouts," what's the first word that comes to mind? Ok, what's the second word?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: When Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout meeting – hoping to create an organization that redefined what was possible for girls everywhere – there was no way for her to know the difference it would make in the lives of millions of girls and their communities.
Many people's first (and sometimes only) image of Girl Scouts is as cookie salespeople – either selling door-to-door or at a make-shift table at a grocery or other store (or having their parents hand you an order form). But if you've been a Girl Scout (both of us have) or know someone who has, you know that Girl Scouts are about so much more.
So, as we celebrate the Girls Scouts being around for over 100 years, we should celebrate the years of fun and friendships, and for helping girls learn important qualities such as responsibility, courage, strength, and independence. Qualities that are as important in 2021 as they were in 1912.
And what better way to celebrate than to buy some Girl Scout cookies? Guilt-free as you're helping a good cause.