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.
Two years ago, on MLK Day, Red learned the power and inspiration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the power of dreams. And as long as there's social unrest and social injustice in the United States (stop and think about the first word … as we’re supposed to be united), the more we can learn from him … as not only did he fight for equality for all, but his approach is proof of the power of peaceful protests.
For most of us, writing and delivering one powerful and/or inspiring thing would be a very difficult task. To be remembered for hundreds is truly amazing.
We grew up in New York, where bagels are almost sacred, but even though they may have started as a Jewish food in Europe, they’re now enjoyed by everyone everywhere (including Red and Black, but in very different ways) – why else would there be a National Bagel Day?
National holidays aren’t the time to count calories.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We both agree that happiness has a hole in it, although one of us may only eat one bagel a year while the other tries to keep it to only one bagel when she does indulge.
Red admits that although she knows bagels aren’t a healthy choice, she’ll occasionally treat herself, not only because they remind her of growing up in New York when almost every town on Long Island had at least one bagel shop, but because she loves whipped cream cheese almost as much as the fresh, squishy bagel on which she smears it. And while she was a fan of both cinnamon raisin and onion bagels as a kid, the introduction of the “Everything” bagel was a turning point. However, her all-time favorite is technically not a bagel, as it’s a bialy.
On the other hand, it only takes one look at Black’s “selfishly svelte figure” to know that she has the willpower to resist bagels (including her favorite, sesame) as well as all the other carbs that she loves, but when it comes to National Bagel Day and the “health” issues of bagels, she has an interesting perspective,
Bagels are one of life’s true culinary pleasures, often tied to wonderful memories, so you cannot always measure their value in terms of nutrition. But, when it comes to healthy eating, it might be interesting to remember that bagel-cutting injuries are common and result in thousands of people having to go to emergency rooms or urgent care centers … so, celebrate carefully.
Another year and another National Clean Your Desk Day (yes, that’s actually a thing). So, is Red’s desk any better than the “disaster” it was last year? Well, believe it or not, it may not be perfect, but it’s significantly better. Is it because she finally listened to Black’s advice (see below) or somehow found a “secret” of her own? As it turns out, it was a combination of the two as Red discovered, even if the rest of her life isn’t “nice and neat” (that’ll never happen), she loves walking into her workroom in the morning and starting the day in a (somewhat) organized space, which provides the best motivation for keeping it that way. (Luckily, Black never brought up the science of messy desks.)
A day to clean up your desk?! It will take way more than a day …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: No one is immune from piles of paper, not even Black, the master of organization, but there’s a huge difference between a desk with a few small piles and some scattered papers (although her laptop’s keyboard needs serious cleaning) and Red’s “workroom” that usually looks like a tornado hit it.
Which is why Red rolled her eyes when Black mentioned today’s National Clean Your Desk Day, as it’d take her significantly more than a day to “clean up this mess,” but then she remembered Black’s advice on how to keep her piles (and piles) of paper under control and felt inspired. Red admits often feeling like she’s drowning in paper, but that’s because she lets the piles get out of control before reminding herself of Black’s very easy, straightforward approach to turning her mountains of paper into small manageable hills. And, significantly reducing stress along the way, because as Black points out,
Sometimes, it is more important to know what you are ignoring than it is to deal with everything in the piles.