“Your package has shipped. Arriving …” It looked like the t-shirt I ordered for Hayden would arrive during Spring Break! But Spring Break came and went, and another week, and another week … the package never came. So I followed the steps outlined by Amazon and sent an email to the sender. But wait! Amazon replied that they are no longer working with that seller. I then clicked on more buttons trying to find out what happened to the shirt. And again, Amazon sent the same reply. Finally, I called Amazon’s customer service. After I explained my predicament, the young man commented, “Thank you so much for trying to follow the refund steps. I am so sorry that the steps didn’t work, but we appreciate your effort.” He then stated that HE would now take over the request and make sure that I received my refund. How often do we thank people for their “efforts” when things do NOT work out or go well? I think we are all pretty good at showing appreciation when things are successfully completed or when things go the way we think they should go. But when we don’t get our way, I’m pretty sure that we don’t then say “thank you” after all is said and done. But shouldn’t we? Hayden attended a small high school and was able (and encouraged) to play lots and lots of sports. He participated in cross-country running, golf, tennis, swimming, and soccer. Scott and I became soccer parents and quickly learned the rules of the game to cheer (and yell) appropriately. The action-packed games (I have no idea how those boys could run so much!) were super fun to watch, and we survived heat, cold, rain, and fog to watch Hayden play. Hayden’s first year on the team, they didn’t win very many games. But after every game, win or lose, the boys all crossed the field to high-five the other team. And during that exchange, you heard things like “Good game!” and “Good job!” from both the winners and the losers. After all the aggressive moves and penalties, after all the not-so-nice things said during the game, those boys approached each other with appreciation for the efforts put into that battle on the field. At the end of most sporting events, the players acknowledge each other in some way. They bow at the end of a martial arts event and shake hands over the net in tennis. We can all learn a useful communication strategy from this show of good sportsmanship. etc strategies believes that at the end of that meeting or after the email exchange, we should thank everyone for their efforts, even when we don’t “win”! Cross that field (figuratively) and high-five (again, figuratively) the other team. This show of sportsmanship can build more collaboration, strengthen relationships, and establish your reputation as a positive team player. So a big “thanks” goes to Andre at Amazon. You thanking me helped me share this communication strategy. And sorry Hayden -- the shirt is not arriving ever!
So I have a wonderful dog named Maggie (you’ve met her in a previous blog). And through the years, my other pets, Charlie, Baby Nibs, Socks, Taffy, Callie (aka Kitty), Cookie, and Rebel, have all positively impacted my life. But having pets does not make me a pet expert. And watching a game from your couch does not make you a football, basketball, or baseball expert. And just because you have dated or may be happily married does not make you a romance expert Face it -- we can’t be the “expert” at everything. And we all need “experts” (real ones, not the ones who just think they are!) to help us problem-solve, learn, and grow in our personal and professional lives. This past weekend I had the great opportunity to share my “expertise” at the SAVMA (Student American Veterinary Medical Association) Symposium hosted by Texas A&M Veterinary School. You heard me -- I presented at a conference for future vets! And trust me -- I am as far from a vet as you can get! But this fantastic conference (planned and implemented by a group of unbelievable students) reached out to “experts”- not only in the field of veterinary medicine, but in any and all fields that contribute to the profession. So this blog is my big thank-you note (remember my blog about the importance of sending thank-you notes? ) to SAVMA, the Aggies (students and faculty) who planned, ran, and supported the conference, the many “experts” who presented, and the enthusiastic conference attendees who all understand the value of reaching outside of a profession to find “experts” to support the development of these future vets. Of course the conference offered many, many highly respected experts in veterinary medicine who shared valuable information, research, and methods beneficial to all participants. But then the conference went even further and offered experts in business, finance, marketing, and professional development as well as in wellness and diversity. Imagine being able to attend a lecture on swine reproduction, participate in a hands-on wet lab about ultrasounds, interact with others while learning about contract negotiations, discuss diversity and inclusion in a roundtable format, and collaborate to discover the best teaching strategies to use with clients (my workshop!) all in one day. And don’t forget that you also could attend a yoga class, play badminton in the courtyard, or take a coloring break to help with your mental health and then attend evening activities to socialize with other students and future colleagues. Although I wish that all professional training programs offered conferences like this one (and many do!), this blog’s communication strategy is simple -- etc Strategies believes you should find a way to include “experts” outside of your field to offer innovative ideas, to help in problem-solving, to train on methods that are beneficial, and to provide a fresh perspective on issues. But then you must go one step further -- find the best communication opportunity for these experts to share -- in-house meetings, scheduled trainings, brainstorming sessions, or even professional conferences like the SAVMA Symposium. So thanks again to those Aggies who invited me to share my “expertise”! And although my workshop participants did their very best to share information with me, I’m still not even close to being a pet expert!! But after learning from so many “experts” (both in and out of the veterinary field), these future vets will be ready and willing to become the next generation of “experts”! And I can’t wait to use them!
I don’t like seafood… never have. Over the years, I have tried all types of fish, crab, shrimp, even lobster, and nothing tastes good to me. When Scott and I were first married and in the throes of a “disagreement” (that I was obviously winning), Scott tried to think of a snappy comeback to whatever I had said, so he shouted, “And you disliking seafood is going to be a detriment to my naval career!” What?? That statement quickly ended our “disagreement” as we both busted out laughing. Disliking seafood has NEVER been an issue in my life (or Scott’s career) because I have a sure-fire strategy to overcome this obstacle -- I just order chicken! When he was little, my oldest son disliked swimming in lakes. In his mind, the murky water hid slimy things that might bite. But he really wanted to learn how to waterski, so he developed a strategy to help him overcome his dislike. He would sing to take his mind off of the slimy things. As soon as he got in the water, he started singing. And I have no doubt that his dislike of the water totally helped him to get up on those skis the very first time he tried. As he smiled at his accomplishment and glided across the lake, you could see his lips moving. Yep! He was still singing, and I’m pretty sure that he still sings every single time he waterskis. Face it -- we all dislike “things” in our lives. Some people hate being late. Others dislike shopping in a mall. Some people hate sappy movies. Others dislike mowing the grass. But here’s the deal -- we all develop strategies to change or overcome the things we dislike. So people set clocks ahead, shop online, only watch comedies, and hire a yard service. Just like in life, we dislike certain things involved in communication experiences and misunderstandings top that list. Effective communication occurs when a transmitted message is received and understood. Misunderstanding that message can be frustrating for both the sender and receiver and cause wasted time, ill will, and even safety issues. So what strategies can we use to overcome misunderstandings? As a sender, make sure your message is clear. Others can’t read our minds, so work to clearly present your thoughts. It’s easy to forget important details in the middle of the communication experience, so write things down. Repeat important ideas. Make sure that both parties are engaged in the communication experience and not distracted. Work to communicate the message and not your emotions. Finally, take responsibility for a misunderstanding, and don’t blame the other person. Evaluate the experience and work on strategies to help you avoid misunderstandings in the future. It can be easy to overcome “dislikes” … I order chicken at seafood restaurants, Austin sings when waterskiing, and etc Strategies believes that there are easy ways to avoid communication misunderstandings. Now if I can only find a strategy to overcome my dislike of cooking ...
About 20 years ago, a wonderful group of ladies at Seabrook United Methodist Church organized a women’s retreat with the goal of reaching out to the young moms of the congregation. They designed the retreat to fill multiple needs of these moms - needs of the body, spirit, and mind. I was one of those young moms (it was over 20 years ago!).
Looking back, I have to admit that I attended that first retreat hoping for spiritual inspiration, but I also attended because I (and all the other young moms) just needed the rest and the fellowship. Yep -- we needed some time for ourselves away from taking care of babies and husbands and some time with other women who can relate to the experiences and challenges we all faced. And those wonderful church ladies knew that getting away for just a weekend would help us recharge in every way! Last weekend, I attended the 20th anniversary of the women’s retreat. I don’t attend that church anymore, so when I walked in and saw so many of those same church ladies and young (well now older) moms, I just couldn’t help but smile. And I spent the weekend doing the same thing that we do at every retreat -- laughing! Wait a minute. Did you think I was going to say filling a spiritual need? Did you think I was going to say taking care of those who are struggling? Did you think I was going to say recharging ourselves? Through laughter, we did ALL of those things! We laughed at Lauri telling us the story of putting just a drop of bubble bath in the jetted tub during a romantic weekend away. We laughed as she described trying to get out of the tub as the bubbles almost covered her head. We laughed as we relived a previous retreat where my aunt was snoring so loudly that no one could sleep. We laughed as many of those same young moms now shared stories of grandchildren. We laughed at stories of husbands and parents and friends. We laughed and laughed and laughed. But you may be thinking -- how is laughter a communication strategy? Research shows that humor builds trust and builds relationships. In a professional setting, humor can help increase productivity as these stronger relationships can better solve problems and create new ideas. More importantly, research also shows that there are physiological, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual benefits to laughter, both professionally and personally. Having a good laugh can relieve stress, elevate your immune system, help in healing, create new perspectives, and much, much more. Wow! All that from a good “Knock, knock” joke? etc Strategies believes that humor can be one of your strongest communication strategies. Don’t worry. You don’t need to run out and buy a joke book. Just take time to find the humor in the world around you -- trust me -- it’s there! And then be willing to share with others. But if all else fails --
Cows go who?
No, silly. Cows go mooooooo!!!