My six year old grandson came for Christmas. We did a Dream Board together for a project. I want him to get use to prioritizing. I showed him some examples of Dream Boards. I had him make a list of things he wanted to do or happen. I collected a bunch of magazines for us to cut out pictures and words or phrases. I purchased a small tri-fold display board so it would fit into his suitcase when he flew home. With markers, sticky buttons, and stencils we were ready to begin. He did an outstanding job.
One of the things he wanted on his Dream Board is, for someone in particular, (not me thankfully) to know how they sound when they talk to him. We came across a caption that said, Seriously, check your voicemail! He got very excited and said, I want that on my board, Papa.
If you’re Generation Y, Echo Boomers or Millenniums, you may not be that acquainted with voicemail. Opting for email or text messaging instead. In fact, if your’re under 40 chances are you don’t utilize a TAD. Why bother? You can FaceTime or Skype faster. But for us Boomers and early Gen X members, we came to appreciate such an advance in technology. This was cool, man!
Knowing that my grandson had no experience with a recorded message machine I wondered how this fit his need. I asked him, why do you want that on your board? With great command he said, because people need to know how they sound to other people. OMG! The message we deliver with tone and attitude. Wow!
I learned a few things from a study I did about communication skills. Psychology Today, Sept. 30, 2011 presented the following; Communication is believed to be 55% body language, 38% tone, and 7% spoken words. There is some debate about exact numbers. Albert Mehrabian gave us the 55/38/7 rule. Two research studies in 1967, Mehrabian & Wiener and Mehrabian & Ferris, addresses this conclusion. Another popular formula is the 60/40 rule. It applies 60% to facial expression and 40% to vocal expression as components of a person’s attitude.
I spoke to someone at one of the writers groups I attend. I told them I would like to get to know them. I find them interesting and want to learn from them. They said, really? smiled and thanked me. After the meeting I mentioned that I started a Blog. I didn’t expect them to follow me but asked if they would take a look at it and give me any advice. They gave me a look of, you must be kidding. They turned away from me while I was still talking. I walked off disappointed. But had no doubts about their level of interest in my blog. Or me.
Relationships are the corner-stones of life. I want to be accepted, appreciated, and affirmed. The way I communicate is key to success. If I only want people when I need them chances are they won’t be there for me. If I see people as an option it might be unreasonable to think they will take me earnestly. A little respect goes a long way.
I communicate. Everyday. With multiple people. What is my level of proficiency? I want people to talk with me. Interact with me. I desire to share ideas. Life is a collaboration to me. Why perfect a message, brand, or image if I will be the only one involved? I believe words are a sacred exchange between people. I ask myself; how big do I want my life to be? I don’t want to be small, selective, and closed. Not every person will click with me. Or I them. But if there cannot be a union let it be because of substance and not attitude.
It only takes a few words, with a less than virtuous tone, to lose a potential ally. Even my loved ones can feel cheapened by inappropriate syntax and emotion. What is more distasteful than to sense rejection? Ridicule? Belittling? Being dismissed by condescension invites withdrawal. This level of communication is perfect for a lonely hearts club. I remind myself that position is everything to opportunity. Not titles. But how I treat others. People will want to be around me because of how I make them feel.
I’ve recently wadded into social media. An activity I have avoided for a long time. The recklessness and insensitivity I see staggers me. I agree that I have the right to say whatever I want – the way I want. But should I exercise that right without being responsible? Poor manners corrupt good communication. The virtual world is real. It involves people. It is a platform. It has a diving board. A launch pad. Every time I engage it I telegraph my value and values. I choose to be involved. I get that. And, I accept.
A good place to work on myself is while driving. I can’t believe what people do while operating a motor vehicle. It’s hard for me to understand the way some people endanger others. I cannot believe my eyes half the time. I confess, I talk. All the time. I call names. I’ve even made gestures. Alright already; I’m embarrassed to admit it. It dawned on me that my time behind the wheel is a great opportunity to tighten my conveyance techniques.
I know other drivers don’t hear me, but I do. My transmissions affect me. I create a space of diminishing returns. I don’t want to be effective some of the time. I want the whole world to follow my blog, buy my book, (coming soon) and hear my message. I can help others. I have something to offer. But if I’ve treated people with disrespect I probably won’t get invited in.
We all have different gifts, talents, and capabilities. We have varying degrees of education and economic status. We represent multi faceted areas of authority and decision making. But let’s get jiggy wit it. All human value is the same. It never depreciates. Its one of the few constants we have. I want to recognize every moment as an occasion to show reverence. I know this is about my ability to minimize self-centered thinking. And, elevate others to their rightful place. Even if I can’t appreciate the behavior I can value the person. The world if full of systems that don’t work. I’m smart enough, capable enough, and determined enough to rise above them.
I owe my grandson a debt of gratitude. He made me look at myself through his innocent eyes. He has reminded me about what’s really important. Whether I’m in a car, in front of a computer, or interacting with a real person I want to be a safe place. Because of a precious little boy, I have…. Seriously, checked my Voicemail!