Words & Banter

Protocols That Protect You From … Black?

Ok, I may get in trouble with Black for writing this post, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. So, it all started when Black told me that she was having issues with the clock on her computer. I'm old-fashioned and if I want to know the time, look at my wrist watch. When I suggested that she just do the same ...

she tried to explain how it impacted "time stamps" on emails and documents. It was at that point that it became one of those conversations where I just listened politely, as there was no way that I could add a single thing of value as the topic had to do with computers.

A few days later she let me know that some other issues had come up, so she ended up contacting the DELL service desk. (Disclaimer: Although both of us have used DELL computers for as long as I can remember, this isn't an ad for them.) Anyway, she explains how they ran hardware diagnostics remotely, and while I'm thinking that's kind of cool, I'm also thinking that I'm really busy and wondering if there's a point to all of this? (Ok, now I understand how my blah-blah-blah can make people feel.)

Well, I'm only half listening as she tells me how they'll be sending out a technician, but given the pandemic have numerous protocols. I know she loves bullet point lists, so was relieved when she didn't itemize the protocols but merely mentioned that they're designed to protect their technicians. Yes, all makes sense. Got it. Thanks. Can I please get back to work now?

And then I hear Black say, "The technicians want to keep as much distance from me as possible." Well, when I could stop laughing, all I could say was,

Yes, at some point in time, that's how many of us feel about you.

Because as much as I love my sister, she can be, well, someone that at times you definitely want to keep your distance from. Even my daughters know that. But I'm sure we all have someone in our life like that.

Thank you, DELL, who knew your COVID-19 protocols could provide such amusement?!

When Red first heard Black talking about the importance of "soft skills," she didn't even know what she was referring to, let alone that they would be important to her life. So, Black explained that it was a term used to describe intangible but essential skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, communications, and conflict management.

Red, trying to be sarcastic, then asked if there was such a thing as “hard skills,” Black matter-of-factly told her those are tangible and technical skills such as computer skills.

Of course, Black couldn’t pass up an opportunity for sarcasm and explained that although there’s consensus about the importance of soft skills, there’s debate about what they should be called, with her favorite being the Texas Education Agency (TEA) calling them "21st Century Skills" – although she's old enough to remember they were important in the 20th Century, too.

But would anyone call them “Mom Skills”? Well, Red couldn’t help but remember the time Black told her, “Your job is every bit as demanding as a corporate position, and, in fact, you use many of the same skill sets.”Not something Red could ever have imagined, but it made sense once she better understood what soft skills are and how they are used. But then Black took it a step further,

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Red was your typical straight-A student, getting great grades starting in kindergarten straight through to graduating from college.(Black’s grades were less than stellar, plus she was a discipline problem – some things never change.) And then, excited and proud of herself, Red thought she was done. Black, on the other hand, thinks of education as something that never ends, and much to the chagrin of students, will tell them,

Homework never ends; it just is called “research” when you get older.

Over the last few years, Red has come around to Black’s way of thinking and realizes it’s a mindset. And that education is more than the classes you take in school.

September is when students of all ages are back in school, but it’s also National Literacy Month, which is about so much more than reading and writing. Literacy includes things like Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, and even News Literacy. (As the linked Conversation Starters indicate, Red was the “poster child” of a highly educated person who lacked many of these basic literacy skills.)

So, we challenge you to find a topic that interests you or one you could benefit from learning (personally or professionally) and start doing your homework.

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For many of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer (temperatures aside), and as we switch from a summer holiday mindset back to the “real world”, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed.

You don’t need us to tell you how falling back into a work or school routine can be challenging, especially if you’re facing a backlog of tasks and responsibilities. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, the “silly season” is just around the corner. (Red has been seeing Halloween decorations since mid-July, which means Thanksgiving and all the winter holidays aren’t far behind.)

But you don’t need us to tell you why you feel overwhelmed; you need help dealing with being overwhelmed.

When our new website goes live next year, one of the major sections will be THE DAILY HELP, where you’ll find easy-to-implement tools to get your day back on track and feel more in control.

But that doesn’t help you … NOW. So, here are a handful of our favorite posts to help you deal with daily challenges we all face. (Red admits that she picked the ones she felt she needed to reread.)

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